Week 30 – April 30, 2012
(Dear beloved family)
Thanks for the email, mom! The new area and stake presidency sounds great. President Auna's son was working in the MTC while I was there. He served in Italy. Maybe there's only one stake on the Big Island, but he was in the same stake as Elder Coakley. I think his son's name is Jarom. We had a workshop each Saturday night and we saw him a few times because he was always working at those. Also having two Upcountry priesthood holders in the Stake Presidency sounds great. I'm glad to hear Upcountry is doing so well. There are so many amazing and strong families!
Today we biked out to Costco again to shop, and because I have a family membership card (that I bought with another elder) in order to add Kauluwehi to my card she'd need to have the same address as me. The Costco here doesn't have everything as the one back home, but it has mostly everything.
As far as earthquakes, there's always a few small ones going on. I think the one you wrote about was in Chiba, the prefecture I was in last. It was early in the morning, about 5:25am, so we were still in our futons. It was actually two back to back, lasting about five minutes total. But it wasn't really bad at all here in Sagamihara. My companion and I woke up when it first started, but just went back to sleep.
The area that I sent pictures of is actually probably about 30-40 minutes by bike if we were to just go directly there. It was nice, just at the bottom of the mountains, but still city. The farthest I've biked is probably only just over an hour. There are days that we stay on the bikes all day, we just don't go far. Both of my areas have been pretty small, but my companion and I would like to make some time to visit a family in our ward who lives just about a two-hour bike ride from the apartment. There's an area in the mission in which the church is an hour from the apartment.
As far as an oven in the apartment, we have a small toaster that can also be used as an oven. Last transfer it wasn't really toasting things well so we were able to get a new/used toaster from the mission home. Just before throwing our old toaster/oven out we decided to keep it because of the oven feature. I'm glad we did because I've used it a bunch of times to make a few foods and desserts.
To Keanu: Hello Keanu! My week was great. Many exciting things happened. How was your week? I am doing well, preaching the gospel. Macaroni and Cheese sounds great. I think right now I am the same height as before, but I wonder how tall you are? Do you think you've grown? Do your clothes still fit? Did you go to fun factory for a special occasion? I'm sure it was a lot of fun! Every day we usually preach the gospel for about eight hours. We study for about three hours every morning though. It is a lot of fun! I miss you too, but I think before I come home, maybe you can come visit me here. Wouldn't that be fun? Japan is a fun place. But right now, my plan for when I go home is to spend time with you and the rest of the family. I love you, Keanu! Have a great week, have fun with Basketball, and work hard until school ends!
This last Tuesday we went to the early-morning seminary again. I made lemon bars the night before, using the recipe you sent, so I took those. I think everyone enjoyed them. On Thursday night we had dinner with a new family in the ward, the Kanzakis. Sister Kanzaki served in Hiroshima about 10 years ago. She said she served in Okayama. Brother Kanzaki graduated from Utah Valley State University and they lived in Chicago for three years because of his work, so they speak pretty good English. They have two kids, a five year old son and a three year old daughter. After dinner we taught the parents a mogi (practice) lesson on the gospel of Christ. After, we talked a little about how dendo has changed over the years. With the Tokyo mission being the technology pilot of the world, we have access to so many more technological resources now. We have laptops in each missionary apartment and phones with GPS navigation and infrared technology (to send/receive numbers and information from people on the street.) It's interesting seeing how many aspects of the work has changed. Also with the introduction of PMG, so much has changed with how lessons are taught, etc.
We taught Shimizu kyoudai (the two elders who transferred's former investigator) on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we reviewed the gospel of Christ and taught him the Word of Wisdom. He was really surprised with the Word of Wisdom. He's a pretty quiet and mostly unemotional person, but when we taught him about coffee and tea, his jaw dropped. He couldn't believe that almost all of the people in church each Sunday are following it. He committed to keeping it this week to see how he feels about it. It looks like the hardest thing for him will be tea, so I think we might go out and buy a few teas that are okay to drink and give them to him as a gift. If he doesn't have any teas that are okay to drink in his home, then it will be extremely hard to keep. The Word of Wisdom really is a commandment given for our physical and spiritual health though, and as long as he can understand and realize the spiritual benefits, he will be okay. Really, people who use tobacco or drink alcohol know that it is not good for their health, but of course they still continue. I think the thing that really enforces the importance of the Word of Wisdom is the long list of spiritual benefits. On Sunday we talked with him about how to increase and strengthen faith, and we reviewed the Word of Wisdom a little.
Saturday night we had our "tower game" outreach activity. It was only my companion and I and Okamoto kyoudai, so we each had our own pack of 100 chopsticks and our own box of rubber bands. Even though there was only three of us, it was still a lot of fun. But we've coordinated with ward leaders more and we hope to see more people come out each Saturday.
Sunday night we had dinner at the Yasuda family's home. Yasuda shimai is from Taiwan and speaks Mandarin Chinsese, Japanese, and English... and maybe more. Yasuda kyoudai is Japanese, a little Turk (not Turkish), and a little French, and speaks Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, English, French, and German. They had many people over, including three of our investigators (Okamoto kyoudai, Shimizu kyoudai, and Atsushi kyoudai) and it was a lot of fun. It was great for our investigators and building kankei (relationships) with a few members.
We didn't teach our PMG class this past Sunday because there was a stake PMG class, but we really want to get our weekly class going. We've got so many young single adults and youth (both the largest in Japan,) that they could really benefit from learning more about the text that the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles have given us to guide and help in missionary work. The week before last we had two YSA's with mission calls, another young man preparing, and another sister in the ward who just wanted to learn more about missionary work. It was fun, so we hope to get it going more and more.
Our zone theme this transfer is to "Rise up and Build our Eikaiwas." Our zone leaders used the example of Nehemiah to illustrate the theme. Nehemiah, a cup bearer to the king, was given the opportunity to "rise up and build" the walls of destroyed Jerusalem, it was made an even more monumental task because he was persecuted and threatened constantly by neighboring people. He was diligent and refused to stop working. He refused to come down from the walls he was building and he finished them in a remarkable 52 days. All knew that it was by the power of God. In our companionship we want to start kubari'ing (handing out flyers in front of the train stations) daily and working and coordinating with members a lot more to get their fire going. I found a talk given by Dieter F Uchtdorf http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/we-are-doing-a-great-work-and-cannot-come-down?lang=eng&query=nehemiah where you an hear more about Nehemiah.
Two weeks from Yesterday is Mother's Day, so I'll be able to call then. I was thinking maybe around 6:00 pm your time on Sunday? That means it would be 1:00pm on Monday here. It can be earlier or later, let me know what you think or if there would be a better time. We're pretty open with our schedule right now. And we can use Skype video call if you think it will work. Otherwise, our phone number is 080-2149-6144. There's probably a prefix that you need so I can send that next week.
Also, here's a link to a cool article if you'd like to read it. It was posted on our online portal for us to read and use with investigators and I thought it was cool. It was published in the NY Times and is about a few elders in Uganda. It's really favorable towards the church, and explains a little about full-time missionary work in a fun way. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/education/edlife/at-age-19-from-utah-to-uganda.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
All in all, the work is good and I'm doing well. Thank you for your prayers, love, and support! Our investigators are progressing and we're seeing small successes each day. I love my mission and I love the gospel! Matsu Jitsu Seito Iesu Kirisuto Kyoukai (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is founded upon truths restored in these days through Joseph Smith, the prophet of our dispensation. God loves us. He has a plan for us. And Christ lives! He is Risen! Have a great week. I love you!