Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Week 47 - August 28, 2012
  • Urawa - Transfer 7
How are all of you doing? I am no longer in Sagamihara! I've transferred to an area called Urawa in a prefecture called Saitama. It's just north of Tokyo. My new companion is Elder Kim from Seoul, Korea. He got here to Japan six weeks before I did, so we were in the MTC together for a few weeks. He has pretty good English, he says from watching American TV shows, and he's picked up Japanese really, really  quickly. He's 20 years old, was baptized about a year before his mission, and he's the only church member in his family. All in all, he's definitely a very, very  interesting person and this next while will be a lot of fun!

I haven't met any of the Urawa ward members face-to-face yet, but I hear the ward is pretty big, at about 200 people each week. There's also two sister missionaries that serve here.  I'll be the district leader over this district as well, so that makes three transfers in a row. There's never enough time to do anything in the evenings after we get back to the apartment because I'm always on the phone with district members! But it's such a great joy to serve them, and I really love it.

My former companion, Elder Orton, will be training a new missionary in Sagamihara. He only came to Japan in the beginning of February, so he's really young, and really nervous, but he'll do great.  My last week there in that area was amazing. It was really hard to leave, but I'm really excited to serve here in Urawa.

In celebration of summer, there has been a bunch of natsu  matsuri (summer festivals)  and fireworks  shows. We went to a big fireworks  show with a big group of members, investigators, and potential investigators this past Saturday. It was just about an hour and a half long, with over 30,000 people in attendance. We were able to build a lot better relationships with many of our investigators and potential investigators, and while walking there (we were originally going by bus, but the traffic was so bad that walking was faster) I was even able to teach an entire lesson on the plan of salvation and gospel of Christ. On Sunday, during the second hour of church, Elder Orton and I were able to split with two priesthood holders and teach two lessons. One of the lessons resulted in the investigator committing to be baptized at the end of next month.

That investigator is a miracle. One of our members, a Chinese middle school student who was baptized along with her dad just over a year ago, has been attending a class to learn Japanese, and invited one of her classmates to go to the fireworks  show with her. Her friend came along with her dad because he didn't know that there was going to be other adults going, and he wasn't sure how safe it would be. Anyway, at the end of the night Elder Orton invited him to church and eikaiwa, not really expecting much, more so just hoping that he would come to eikaiwa. The next day before Sacrament meeting as we were talking with investigators and greeting members, we were surprised to see him walk in with his daughter. After sacrament meeting, one of our lessons was with him (his daughter sat in as well, but she only speaks Chinese,)  and he's the one who committed to baptism. In this situation, it's as if we just sat back and watched, as God put his hands straight into the work and placed a prepared person right into our hands. It's amazing; It always is.

Another miracle would be an investigator named Kawai Natsuki (we're in Japan, so thats - last name, first name) coming to sacrament meeting on Sunday. She's a 26 year old eikaiwa student, recently moved to Sagamihara along with her mom. It seems like she's had a really tough time with her family, she never wants to talk about it. But we've invited her to come to church countless times, doing all we can - promising blessings, teaching, testifying, etc. - and she's never gotten anywhere close to coming. She came with us to the fireworks  show and she's the one I was able to teach as we were walking there. It was an amazingly natural conversation about the gospel. Recently Elder Orton and I had been talking about how the Japanese people express their love for family members really differently than in America.  Almost no Japanese nonmember I've met has ever told or heard from their parents the words, "I love you." They only say, "Thank you." They do, of course, love their parents, but saying that they do doesn't really happen in Japan. So I was talking with Natsuki about that, and about how her parents know that she loves them, and how she knows that they love her. She just said that they can 'feel it.' And she actually has a pretty strong 'testimony' of her mother’s love for her. Then we were talking about God, and the three big questions of life/the plan of salvation came up; Where did we come from? Why are we here? And, where are we going? I told her that we knew the answers to those questions, that having that knowledge gives me great peace and hope, and told her to think about them. Then it was quiet for a few minutes as she pondered. She couldn't come to any conclusions, and I taught her what we believe about those questions. Then taught her about the gospel and atonement of Christ  that we have in this life to provide us with happiness and fulfill the plan of salvation. She asked me about when I knew that those things were true, and how I know that they're true. I told her, basically in her own words, that I've felt and can feel in the very core of my heart they are true. I feel it, and therefore I know it. And the look on her face basically said, "Wow, he does really know." Maybe it doesn't sound so dramatic through an email, but the spirit was there. And when the spirit is present, it's felt in your heart. And she came to church the next day.

1 Corinthians 15:10-11 reads:
"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed."
This work is not our work. This work is not the prophets’  work. This work is not any of ours. This work is God's work. And he is in the vineyard. Just like in Jacob 5, he is in the vineyard and is  working, and has been long before us. Manifestations of him in the work are to be seen everyday  if we just look. I loved your talk, dad. Thank you for sending a copy of it. It's so true that if we do all we can,  then we can watch as His mighty arms work miracles in our behalf.

Anyway, I'm really excited to serve here in Urawa. It's such a blessing to serve the Lord as a missionary. I hope all of you are doing great. I pray for you often. Is there anything you would like to know? Yes, my new companion eats kim chee with every meal.

How is  all of the school, work, sports and other activities been going with everyone lately? I'm sure you're busy! Keep up the great work!

I love you!!! Have a great week! Take care!!

-Elder Rindlisbacher

Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 46 - August 21, 2012 
  • Transfers 3-6... 
Our week has been great. It's still as hot as ever. I've heard that October is one of the best months though, and that's coming fast. It sounds like there's been a lot of good things going on back home. Keanu doing cross-country is cool. And when I was in Young Men we started planning a bike trip like that but were never able to do it. How did Mikela and Ashley's senior project go? I read Kauluwehi's talk and it's really good. Could you do me a favor and send me her BYU address the next time you write? Thank you.

I was able to have two great companion exchanges this past week; one with Elder Anderson and another with Elder Peterson. They are both outstanding, consecrated (completely dedicated, like the oil) missionaries, and we had a great time working together.

Sunday was a really good one for Elder Orton and I. A few of the investigators we had expected to come to church didn't show up, but we had another lady come unexpectedly. We met her 17 year old son last Sunday while housing (door-to-door) and invited him to English Class. He came with his mom, and she came to church on Sunday. We taught her a lesson after sacrament meeting and committed her to baptism. She says that she'll be in church again this next Sunday with her son.

After church we had an awesome dendo fireside with the ward S.A.'s and young men. Elder Orton and I were able to speak for about 20 minutes, then we had three workshops; one for young men, another for single adults who have decided to go on a mission, and another for single adults who were undecided. We have three recently returned missionaries in the ward, and they each taught a workshop. Elder Orton and I split with priesthood holders and I was able to participate in the workshop for S.A.'s who hadn't decided whether they were going to serve or not... which ended up only being one young man. The spirit was strong, and I'm sure it made a huge impact on him. The lesson was focused completely on the Atonement of Christ and His gospel. There's no better way to do it... the atonement and gospel of Christ is where everything comes from.

After the fireside, we had lunch at the apartment then headed back to the area we housed last Sunday. We were able to find another new investigator as well as a few good potential investigators.

I love Sagamihara so much. I've really grown to love the ward and the area so much over the past few months. This is the last week of this transfer, and I've been here for a good while, so there's a really good chance that I'm transferring. If I don't get an email out to you next Monday (Sunday evening for you) it probably means I'm in a new area and I'll be able to send one later in the week.

Being that it's the last week of the transfer, we were able to go to the temple today. The spirit in the temple is always amazing. I bought a new triple combination at the distribution center next to the temple that I'm excited for. I heard that there will be an update made to the Englsih scriptures sometime next year. Have any of you heard anything about that?

Please let me know when you're able to send the kanji book, mom. Thank you so much.

Thank you for your love, support, and examples. I'm so grateful and proud of each of you. I love you!!! Work hard, and have an awesome week!

-Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. Here's a good talk given by Elder Kikuchi; read it when you have some time:

P.P.S. My companion thought that Clark Little photo was pretty cool. Thanks for sending it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Week 45 - August 13, 2012

Dear Family,
We are great here in Sagamihara! How are all of you? We had another eventful, but very good, weekend. We had our first all-mission conference with President Budge this past Friday. It was set up a little different than past conferences, in that for most of the conference the mission was divided into eight groups and rotated through workshops taught by selected missionaries. In the past we've stayed together as a big group of about 180 missionaries and received training all together as a whole. We were able to hear from President Budge like that, and the returning missionaries were able to bear their final testimonies. It was really good, and a lot was learned. We'll need to work hard to implement all of the new things we learned.

After the conference, from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon.   I had a great companionship exchange this past with Elder Takaya. He's a great and extremely dedicated young missionary. I would say that this has been the best exchange I have led so far as a district leader these past two transfers.

We didn't have much time after getting to Sagamihara after the conference, but we had the opportunity to talk to a lot of nice high school students on the train heading here. When we did get here, we had just about 45 minutes of handing out fliers for eikaiwa. Saturday though, went exactly as I would like to edify and be edified by every missionary I go on exchange with. During our morning companionship study, we were able to get so much done. We studied about the spirit's role in conversion, prepared for lessons we had planned for later in the day, had a 30min. mogi (mock) of lesson 1, and set specific goals for our time together on exchange. Later in the day Elder Takaya and I taught two first lessons to two new investigators Elder Orton and I found during this past week. One, was a miracle. His name is Yamamoto Kairi, a 17 year old high school student. We called him the night before to confirm the appointment, and he didn't answer. We called him that morning and he didn't answer. We called him before the lesson and he didn't answer. We had just finished our first lesson and were waiting in front of the church for Kairi, not thinking he was going to come, but around 3:10pm (the lesson was scheduled for 3:0pm) he came running around the corner. Both Elder Takaya and I were pretty surprised that he came! We taught him the Gospel of Christ and he committed to be baptized on the 22nd of next month. He said that he has never repented in his life, and he really wants to feel the refreshment that comes from it. He ended the lesson with his first prayer ever. In it he said, "I'm thankful that today I was able to learn the true path back to you." When asked about what he thought about the gospel as a whole, he said, "Today I learned that it actually isn't that hard to follow God." He's a really great guy. He's pretty quiet, but when asked deeper questions he thinks about them and gives good answers. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said that he would read. He doesn't have many hobbies, but reading seems to be pretty close to a hobby. He doesn't really know what the Book of Mormon is yet, but he'll be taught the Restoration. After the lesson we took him around the church for a tour. We talked more about faith in the genkan (using the painting of Christ visiting the Americas), then went to the chapel and taught more about repentance (and the sacrament), then showed him the baptismal font and taught more about that and the gift of the holy ghost. He thought that the chapel was a very sacred room. And when we opened the baptismal font in front of him he said, "Oh! This is where you baptize!" As we stood in front of the font quietly, he was in awe and soaking it all up. The spirit was there, and it was very peaceful. We concluded with just walking around the rest of the church, letting him look at all of the rooms. He said he has time on Thursday (8/16 at 3:00pm)to meet again. We learned that he actually lives in Kawasaki city and it took him about an hour by train to get to Sagamihara for the lesson. He also told us that his phone is a little broken and it can't accept calls, but if you text, he's always very happy to reply. I was very happy to call the Kawasaki elders Saturday night to give them a referral – A referral already with a baptismal date and second lesson! They have already been in contact with him and are excited to keep teaching him.

After that lesson, Elder Takaya and I had time to hit the streets. Most of the goals we set had to do with helping Elder Takaya improve his dendo while streeting. He really wants to be able to have more natural conversations about the gospel. Overall, we just really had a great time. The spirit manifested itself strongly many times throughout the day, and I have still been feeling the power and high from it.

I so love serving and learning from this district. They are all such wonderful examples for me. Each companionship and missionary really seems to be doing great. All of them are happy, healthy, and working hard. They are each so full of love.

Since yesterday, I've really been pondering the Plan of Salvation. Hope and happiness really lie in knowing who we are, where we came from, and where we can go. We taught the plan to Best (Nigerian investigator) yesterday after sacrament meeting, and it was really a testimony strengthener for me, maybe even more than for him. It's just amazing to know that God's plan for us is so much bigger than we realize! This life is short. There's a bigger purpose. We are given so much grace and mercy through Christ. And we have an amazing opportunity. An opportunity to accept and live His gospel. Through which, we find happiness, peace, and joy in this life... and eternal life, life with God in perfect world, with a perfect body. During the lesson we explained a lot about the three kingdoms of glory. We helped him understand that we believe that the Terrestrial Kingdom is a beautiful place where very good people go, but that God and Christ were not there; that the fullness of joy, and opportunity to continue to progress, came with the Celestial Kingdom.

Another thing that's been on my mind, knowing that we're all sons and daughters of God, is how much confidence we're each actually able to pull from that knowledge. God doesn't create junk, or things of no worth, and it's remarkable to feel His love. How much confidence do you pull from that? If you feel like you need more confidence or feelings of self-worth, I believe that all you need to realize is that you are a child of God. Think about it... a child of God. And he loves you so much.

This morning we had my first morning shokuji (meal) with a member. The member who lives on the U.S. base took Elder Orton and I to a very nice bread/pastry place. That was really nice. After that, from 9 - 11am, we spent two hours at the police station getting everything sorted out from the accident. We made full reports of everything that happened just before the accident, during the accident, and after the accident, and made statements on how we wanted to proceed with the charges (two charges: (1) causing an accident involving injuries to others and (2) not fulfilling responsibility to contact and comply with police after causing an accident) against the driver of the vehicle. We were given basically four choices for penalties: severe, mild, not much, according to the Japanese government, or none. We of course chose none, saying that we didn't want him to be punished at all, just to have his car insurance cover our medical bill. The police were a little surprised with that, but I felt bad even with him only having to deal with that. The officer we were working with said that he came in the next day to report the accident, and that he had said he was in a rush to get his son to an important concert. Anyway, that all went well. We had a person from the church as well as an official translator there to help us, but neither of them really did anything. I'm glad my Japanese is good enough to spend two hours giving a report of an accident.

After that, we met up with the other six members of the district and went out to a trick art museum. If you don't know trick art, it's basically where there's things painted on the walls and floors where if looked at at the right angle appear to be three-dimensional and not really a wall or floor. That was a lot of fun, and I've attached a bunch of pictures from that. See if you can see the lines of the walls connecting to the floor, etc. And that's not a real bill of money, by the way.

I love you all so much. Thank you always for your love and support. Have a great week! Have fun and work hard in school and at work!

I love you,
Elder Rindlisbacher

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 44 - August 6, 2012
Transfers 3-6...

Hey Mom and family!
Its been a great week, and very eventful weekend!! I held district meeting on Friday and had my companion do most of the training. He was really excited for the opportunity and spent a good amount of time studying and preparing. The themes of his training were 'Effectiveness in Faith' and 'The Power of One'. It was basically about how we can all individually make a huge difference here in the work, and was really good. We went to his former area, Koiwa, on Saturday for the baptism of one of his former investigators. There were 14 missionaries in attendance. While on our way back to our area (about an hour and a half by train) he accidentally left his wallet on one of the trains. It had everything in it - gaijin card, Utah drivers license, temple recommend, credit cards, and almost all of his money for this month. But, we're in Japan, and despite it sitting on a train in which hundreds of people get off and on at every stop, it didn't get touched until the end of the line (about an hour) when it was found by the train workers. So yesterday after church we got back on the trains to head out to the station where it was found. We had to go yesterday because his gaijin card was in it and he isn't supposed to ever be without that. We got there, got his wallet, and got back to Sagamihara. Then on our way home from there, we had another surprise added to our Sunday - both my companion and I got into an accident with a car while riding our bikes. There was a little intersection, a van went through without stopping, and we basically broadsided it. My companion was a few feet in front and a little to the left of me, and he didn't have any time to hit his brakes, just swerved a little and went into the side of the van. I had time to hit my brakes so I ended up flying over the handlebars and into the van. We both had helmets on and everything and we're fine. The driver was pretty mad when I told him we had to call the police. He waited with us for about three or four minutes, then got in his car and sped off. I had already written his license plate number and a description of the van though. Elder Orton and I both went to the hospital in an ambulance just to confirm that we were fine. The cops and the hospital people were really on the ball and did an amazing job. Besides some really small scrapes and bruises, we're both completely fine. I've got a black eye starting, but it's nothing big at all. Our bikes are fine for the most part too. I think my companion might need a new front tire, but my bike didn't ever hit the car. It was an experience though. I haven't really interacted with the police too much here yet. And we got to ride in a Japanese Ambulance. We were waiting on if they could find the driver to see how everything would be paid for, so we only had to pay a 5,000 yen (~$60.00) deposit at the hospital yesterday. We got a call today saying that he was found and his insurance will cover everything. They told us at the hospital that it will be a very minimum of 35,000 yen (about $445.00) for each of us. But the ambulance was free. We were supposed to eat with the Yamanashi family in our ward last night so we called them to tell them we wouldn't be able to make it... and they showed up at the accident 15 minutes later. They helped SO much - translating hard vocabulary, taking us home from the hospital, and giving us lots of food! They're taking us to go shopping today as well. They have a son in the Kobe Mission on transfer five. The police say the driver is not so happy... but he still needs to be held accountable. We've been praying for him. I feel bad, but I hope everything's okay. And that was our weekend! But don't worry at all mom, I promise we are completely fine. I'll send some pictures. We were blessed that Elder Orton had his wallet at the time. And we were blessed to not have any major injuries at all. The mission is helping withworking with insurance and paperwork, so we're fine with that. The Lord is protecting us.

Here's a little thing I'm going to print and put in my scriptures before the Book of Mormon. I thought it would be good for all of you to read:

The Book of Mormon is of monumental importance to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints should continually study this book throughout their lives because:
1. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.
  It is the keystone in our witness of Christ.
  It is the keystone of our doctrine.
  It is the keystone of testimony.
2. It was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us. From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy. We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world. Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection?
3. It helps us draw nearer to God. “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Prophet Joseph Smith) Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God, to be more like Him in our daily walk, to feel His presence with us constantly? If so, then the Book of Mormon will help us do so more than any other book. It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your life the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.
(President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986)

With that, may the Book of Mormon become the keystone of your life.

And here's a story that I'd like to share from a speech given at BYU-Provo called 'Motivations' by Sterling W. Sill:

"Some years ago I heard a story about a young high school football quarterback. Just before the final game of the year his father died, and the coach said to him, “Now, Bill, we don’t expect youto be at the game Friday. You be with your family and we will get along all right. You don’t need to come to the rehearsals.”

But the boy said, “No, I want to play; and I will be able to play.”

The coach did not understand it, but he thought the boy seemed to know what he was doing, so he said, “Okay, if that’s the way you feel, we’ll let you start and see how you get along.”

The boy went into the game and threw the passes, ran the ends, kicked the punts, blocked the tackles, and generaled his team like Superman. The coach could not understand it; he had never played so well before. They won an overwhelming victory; and after the game was over, as they walked off the field, the coach put his arm around this boy and said, “Bill, would you like to tell me about it? How is it that you could do these things under these circumstances?”

This boy replied, “Coach, what you may not know about this situation is that my father was blind, and this is the first game that he has ever seen me play.”

All of us would be more concerned with our lives if we thought our Father in heaven was watching..."

Thank you so much mom for getting that book sent to me. How will you be sending it? The members really are the key to the work, and they are helping here a lot. The Olympics sound like fun. We see billboards and advertisements around here every once in a while. I'm so glad that Kauluwehi is doing well. Hiking up to the Y to watch fireworks sounds like a lot of fun.

Attached are a few pictures... one of a lunch we had this past Tuesday (leftovers given to us from Monday night on the US Base,) our new mission logo brought in by President Budge (remind me to explain the meaning of it next week,) Elder Orton and I about to leave the apartment on Saturday (those are the slacks we bought in here Japan, they're super durable,) pretzels (before being baked) I made and took to district meeting, the very first Nissan factory ever (it's a lot bigger than the picture makes it seem,) two of my face (just after the crash and at the hospital,) and this months edition of 'The Cause' (our monthly newsletter.) I'll try to send more pictures later!

I love you all so much!! The gospel of Christ is happiness. And the scriptures really are 'the words of life.' I testify with a surety of that. Our Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us.

Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. There really is no need to worry, mom. We are safe, healthy, and happy. :) I love you!!

Week 43 - July 30, 2012

Transfers 3-6...

How is everyone doing? Is everyone enjoying their summer vacations? Mom and dad, how often are you able to talk with Kauluwehi?

Elder Orton and I are both doing well here in Sagamihara! I had a great district leader council this past Tuesday, we enjoyed spending a good amount of time reading the Book of Mormon on Thursday, had a good meeting with the district on Friday, and ate dinner with the Kanda family last night. The Kanda family has a son that recently left for the Nagoya Japan Mission and another daughter in high school. Even though the school year starts and ends at different times here than in the US, it's natsuyasumi (summer break) here in Japan right now too.

Here are three short quotes I shared at district meeting this past Friday:

"Pile up enough tomorrows and you'll find you've collected a lot of yesterdays."
-The Music Man

"If we don't try, then we don't do; And if we don't do, then why are we here?"

"True discipleship precludes any complacency."
-M. Russell Ballard

One of our investigators, Shimizu, is having a really hard time with the Word of Wisdom. I talked with him on the phone last night and he was saying that he doesn't think he will be able to be baptized because it's impossible for him to quit smoking. We'll be working hard with him, and praying for and relying on the Lord's help. Hopefully he can see the importance of the gospel, and find the strength to overcome his addiction.

We're going on the U.S. base tonight to have dinner with a family in our ward, so I'll be sending a box home from there. The box just has a bunch of things I don't need out here (a few pairs of pants, letters, gifts I've been given, sunglasses, etc.) The next time you're able to get a package out here, could you include some more American deodorant? I'm still good on toothpaste. 

Attached are three pictures. The first two are of me at a Risu Koen (Squirrel Park) we went to on Monday. The third picture is at district meeting. It was a sister in my district's birthday, so we tried to make a banana cream pie. It tasted really good!.. just didn't stay together so well.

In ending, a thought from this past district meeting:
We've made covenants and we've made commitments. We are already a covenant people. Let's be covenant-keeping people. What could be more important than a commitment we have made with the Lord?

I love you!! Take care!
Elder Rindlisbacher