Week 45 - August 13, 2012
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,