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

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