Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 51 - September 24, 2012
  • Urawa - Transfer 7
It's almost the 5th of October... the day I entered the MTC last year. It feels like it was just yesterday, but at the same time it feels like so long ago. I remember us getting to the MTC a little late that day, which was really good because there wasn't the huge rush of new missionaries, giving us time to take pictures and say goodbye. The MTC was such a great place. I probably had about 2 minutes to think about already getting homesick before we were busy and in full-preparation as missionaries. Today Elder Kim and I met with a young man in our ward preparing to serve a mission in Sapporo. It was great to talk to and read from PMG with him and talk about missionary work. It's amazing how much is learned and how much growth takes place personally, through all of these missionary experiences. As we were talking to him today, I was thinking about how I wish I could go back to the MTC and start my mission over, with the knowledge I have now. But then I realized that I'd like to start high school over. Or middle school. And on and so forth. And I realized that I could have these feelings for the rest of my life. The thing I need to do now, is just work as hard as I can with all that I have now. We don't go back to the past. So we need to live in the now, doing as President Monson says, and 'find joy in the journey.' Does it seem like it's been a year to all of you back home? To me, it's a big blur. A big blur that flies through my head, but a blur that I can pause and see individual experiences and periods of growth. In a way it seems like a lifetime... at least a lifetime of growth. And to think that there's more. It's amazing. Do we do this work for God? Or does God let us do this work? I think it's the second one. God lets us do this. He lets us be a part of His grace and His miracles, if we want to. We are all shears, the field is white already to harvest, and it's our choice to be sharp and a good cutter, or not so sharp. If this work was a baseball game... would we be the hitter? No, we're the bat. Of course God is the hitter. But he chooses us, and lets us be His tool in working miracles. Of which, I am so grateful.

This week was good. Yesterday we had two sacrament meetings and three hour programs for church. The first one in the morning at 9:00 am was our normal meeting, then at 1:00 pm there was a program for all of the single adults in the stake. After that at 5:30 pm, there was a nice fireside, in which President Budge spoke. During the second program’s Sunday School hour we were able to get out for just under an hour to dendo (in our kappas because it was raining,) but other than that we were at the church from about 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Ejima  san, an investigator we're working with, was there for the same time! He loves church so much. His mother and sister are against Christianity... but he has a sincere desire to be baptized.

After the second program ended at 4:00 pm, I interviewed one of the Sister missionaries’ investigators, Chin san, for baptism. She's from China and has been in Japan for only about two months. She studied Japanese in China so she speaks pretty well. Anyway, she's ready to be baptized. They are planning on the sixth of next month, so it's really nice that we were able to get the interview done two weeks in advance. She asked me to baptize her, and it's always extremely humbling to use the Priesthood. It might be hard to explain, but I really love the baptismal prayer in Japanese. It goes, "Watashi ha Iesu Kirisuto yori kennou wo uketa node Onchichi to Onko to Seirei no minna ni yotte anata ni baputesuma wo hodokoshimasu." Literally translated, with the grammatical order switched to that of English, "Because I have received authority like that of Jesus Christ, I baptize you through the name of The Father, The Son, and The Spirit. Amen." To say, "Because I have received authority like that of Jesus Christ," brings a reverence and humility unmatched.

Earlier in the week, on Thursday, we were able to hear from Elder Aoyagi of the Seventy. He toured the mission, and held three conferences. The final of the three was for our zone along with two others, and was held at the church here in Urawa. I was selected along with a bunch of other missionaries to be interviewed by him prior to the start of the conference. It began at 10:30 am, but Elder Kim and I were at the church at 7:10 am because my interview was scheduled for 8:00 am. He actually lives in Chiba-ken (the prefecture in which Inage, my first area, is) and he had us over for dinner while I was serving there. I don't think he remembered me, but we had a great interview. He's such a kind and loving person. It's really so amazing to see how 'good' General Authorities are. I understand that they are human, etc., but they are living examples of how life is when you honestly strive to live the gospel as perfectly as you possibly can. I don't think that anyone could sincerely say that they wouldn't want the happiness of a General Authority or The First Presidency. Their lives are not perfect, I wouldn't doubt that they're far from easy, but their personal testimonies of our Savior provide them with such a strong foundation of peace and joy! Note, that we can have a testimony just as strong as well. The pattern has been set forth, it's called the Gospel. And it's extremely clear and simple. In other words, we have the very simple map that leads to TRUE joy, happiness, and peace!

Thank you mom for the Lasagna recipe. We shopped for the ingredients today. It was hard to find some of them, and we never ended up finding cottage cheese, but I think it'll be okay. I'm planning on trying to make it this Wednesday because it's Sister Silva’s (serving here in Urawa) birthday, and her favorite food is Lasagna. We'll see how it goes.

By the way, it's late, but could you call Kauluwehi and wish her a happy birthday for me? I didn't forget, I just couldn't email on the 20th. Thank you so much.

Anyway, do you have any questions about how things are going? Do you have a list of the Korean things you know of or want to know about? I could ask my companion about them. All in all, everything is great here. For all of you who haven't heard, missionary work is the best!!!

Thank you all for your amazing love and support!! I really love you so much!!!
-Elder Rindlisbacher

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 50 - September 17, 2012

Thanks for sending Kauluwehi's address, mom! And thanks for sending a link to that talk, I'll read it soon.

Last week I forgot to mention that our outreach activity (which we have every Friday evening) was on Samoan Fire Knife Dance. So I made a bunch of the practice ones and taught a few easy things. Everyone seemed to have a good time trying. There was a lot more people than usual, and the missionaries (eight total in attendance) were able to talk to and build good relationships with a lot of them. A few people took the knives home to practice on their own.

Anyway, this week has been another good week. There are times when I feel like I'm getting too used to some things here as a missionary and when I email you I forget to mention them or explain more. Things like training other missionaries and teaching Sunday  School lessons sometimes falls right into the normal, whereas before my mission they would have jumped out.

This past Thursday we had a mini zone conference here in Urawa. So our zone (18 missionaries total) all gathered for a few hours, received training, and had interviews with President. President Budge trained on faith and miracles, the assistants on unification, the zone leaders on confidence, myself on faith, the other district leader in our zone, Elder Zamarippa, on hope, and the sister missionaries here in Urawa on eternal life. While we were all training or being trained we had our interviews with President.
I'll list a few things from my training on faith. I'll just put some things we talked about, but not make it into a talk form like you'd hear in sacrament meeting; just some references, etc.:

I was asked to use Ether 12:9 with my training, so we read that first.

You guys have a Preach My Gospel, right? If not, you can find an online copy of it on lds.org. PMG pg. 116, first paragraph on 'Faith in Jesus Christ.'

Christ showed during his ministry that complete confidence can be put in him and God.
Matt. 8:2-3 cleansed leper
Matt. 8:5-7 heals centurion servant
Matt. 8:14-15 heals Peter's mother-in-law
Matt. 8:16 cast out evil spirits, healed many
Matt. 8:24-26 calmed the tempest
Matt. 14 fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish
Matt. 15 fed 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish

"Two men can do anything, as long as one of them is God."

Talked about -- How do we increase our faith so that we can have God with us?
-- All answers were of course, basically: Live the Gospel.

One man that had profound faith - Joseph Smith!
Quote by John Henry Evans:
"Here is a man who was born in the stark hills of Vermont; Who was reared in the backwoods of New York; Who never looked inside a college or high school; Who lived in six states, not one of which would own him during his lifetime; Who spent months in the vile prisons of the period; Who, even when he had his freedom, was hounded like a fugitive; Who was once covered with a coat of tar and feathers, and left for dead; Who, with his following, was driven by irate neighbors from New York to Ohio, from Ohio to Missouri, and from Missouri to Illinois; And who, at the unripe age of thirty-eight, was shot to death by a mob with painted faces."

The Prophet Joseph Smith suffered so many indignities throughout his lifetime. He was falsely arrested 42 times, but was always cleared by the law of the land. He spent almost six months in Liberty Jail with terrible conditions and food not fit for humans. Yet, as Joseph rode from Nauvoo to Carthage, he met Stephen Markham, and was asked, "Joseph, where are you going?" His answer, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and all men."

-- Could we say that? Could we say that? That is what I call amazingly strong faith.

Two more things we can do to further increase our faith:

1. See the Miracle

Poem written by Helen Keller entitled, "Don't Miss the Miracle," in an essay she wrote called, "If I had Three Days to See."

"I, who cannot see, find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf, I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough shaggy bark of a pine... I feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower and discover its remarkable convolutions; And something of the miracle of nature is revealed to me. Occasionally, if I am very fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song... At times my heart cries out with longing to see these things. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. Yet, those who have eyes apparently see little.The panorama of color and action which fills the world is taken for granted... It is... a great pity that, in the world of light, the gift of sight, is used only as a mere convenience rather than as a means of adding fullness to life."

Talked about -- What is seeing? What is a simple definition of seeing?
-- Answer: Perceiving with the eyes. However, in English, we also use it another way. Sometimes we say things like, "Oh, I see." or, "Don't you see that this is better?", right? In that sense we're using 'seeing' as 'understanding' or 'recognizing.'

So, number 1 - We must see the miracle. We must recognize the miracle.

2. Remember the Miracle  
A few paragraphs from a talk given by President Henry B. Eyring in the 2007 October General Conference entitled, 'O Remember, Remember.' The talk in which he spoke of writing each day, about the day, for his children to have later in their lives.

"I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened."

Later in the talk, "My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies."

-- Going back to Matthew 8:24-26, the disciples were scared of the storm and were scolded because of their lack of faith. Could they not remember all the great miracles they had witnessed that very day?

But, we must ask ourselves: Do we do this? Do I do this? Do I see God's kindness in my life, do I see miracles, and then lack faith, or not remember them? As a missionary, do you get a great call from an investigator, or find someone very interested in the gospel, then lack faith in something soon after? I know that you can see a baptism on Sunday - see a Child of God come unto Christ - and the very next day be out on the streets, getting rejected left and right, and maybe have a thought pass through your mind similar to, "Nobody here is prepared." But you just saw a Child of God come unto Christ yesterday! Or you just got a great call from an investigator! etc!

Faith is a principle of action.
We must:
1. See the miracles
2. Remember the Miracle

--The zone leaders are called of God. They receive revelation from God for us. And they have given us the miracle sheet to fill out as we go on through this transfer.

Each missionary in the zone committed to take time at the end of each day to think about God's hand in their lives that day, and to write down the miracles in the miracles sheet we're supposed to be filling out as the transfer goes on. It's important that we all do that every night.
I hope that made at least some sense to you in that format! There was some other things thrown in here and there during the actual training, but minus some discussion, that was pretty much what I shared.

After that mini zone conference on Thursday, I had a great companionship exchange with Elder Nitta from Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the zone leaders. He's half Japanese, but had never been to Japan nor learned Japanese. We had so much fun; It was just 24 hours of smiling and laughing. We were able to talk with each other a lot, work hard, and see miracles. We decided to try a new method of finding, by standing in front of the church and calling out to everyone for a church tour. After a while, we had called out to everyone, talked to a few people, but not had anyone enter the church for a tour, so we went in to turn the lights off and lock the building up. Just as we walked out and around the corner, there was a young boy walking past the side of church, so we called out to him. We ended up giving him a church tour and teaching him the gospel of Christ. The guidance of the spirit was felt strongly by both Elder Nitta and I, and this boy, 12 years old (priesthood age,) said that he wants to be baptized. As he was walking away, we watched as he flipped open the copy of The Book of Mormon we had given him and start reading. It's very true that there are young men, even just 12 years old,  that are searching. It was a great experience, and I hope that he is able to continue and more fully understand the Gospel and Atonement of Christ.

Yesterday after church, Elder Kim and I taught two investigators, Nagata san and Hayata san. They are both eikaiwa students, but both of them came to church today. It was Hayata san's first time to church, and Nagata san's second. We taught about baptism, and they committed to pray on their own. I have a lot of faith and hope for them, and will work hard to continue to teach and help them.

Today we had zone p-day! The zone all gathered at our church and we played basketball, had a big water balloon fight (we spent the morning filling up almost 1,000 balloons,) and had hamburgers. There were a few nonmembers that we and other missionaries had brought, and it was a lot of fun. I didn't take any pictures, but others did and I'll be getting some from them. So hopefully I'll have some pictures of it to send next week.

All in all, we are doing well here. I love my mission. I love working. I love Jesus Christ. And I love his Gospel.

Thank you so much for your love and support! Keep up the great work back home, and have a great week!

I love you!!!
Elder Rindlisbacher 

The mission quilt Sister Budge made. She had all the missionaries sign it at a Mini Zone Conference.

Okonomiyake (cabbage pancakes) that my companion Elder Kim made. Oishikatta!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 49 – Sept 10, 2012

Aloha Mom and Family, 
Our week here in Urawa was good. The area and ward are amazing. Our eikaiwa  averages around 20 people a week, with a beginner and an advanced class. It seems like all of the recent new students haven't heard shokai (introduction) lessons about the church, so I really want to get that going.  I've been able to find a lot of really good investigators that way.

Elder Kim is a great guy and  a good missionary. He has a strong testimony and a lot of faith. He speaks pretty good English and Japanese, but sometimes there's  still small communication problems.  Here's 
a conversation from the other night while we were planning, it was pretty funny:

(Alternating between Elder Kim and I, me first)
"I wish we could use the computer in the clerk's office."
"Clerk?  What is that?  Kent Clerk?"
"No, that's Clark.  Clerk!"
"Yeah, clerk!"
"What is that?!"
"Ah, I don't know what clerk is in Japanese."
"What is that clerk thing?"
"Ok, I'll look it up... ok, this (showing computer screen)"
"Put it in Korean!!!"
"Oh! What? I thought you read kanji?!"
"I don't understand that!"
"Ok, ok. Here (pointing again.)"
"Ohh, that is clerk. Ok, ok."
"Man, you make my head hurt."
"Oh dear (forehead slap.)"

Elder Kim has been struggling a little because he feels like he's becoming not Korean. He has almost no opportunities to speak Korean, so he says that speaking Korean is becoming really difficult. He can read out loud and understand when he hears it, but speaking Korean is hard. He's a hard worker though, and I'm sure that he can't get too far from being  Korean, he did grow up there his entire life.

The above conversation comes from a daily miracle and funnies page that each  companionship in the zone has been keeping. We write down a miracle and something funny for each day,  then send it to the zone leaders at the end of each week. The zone leaders send a weekly  shokan (newsletter) and include a few of them. I'll attach it each week for you all to read. You might not understand some of the things, but it might still be fun to see each week.

Before transferring here to Urawa I gave a box to a member in Sagamihara to send from the US base.  I'm not sure if it's been sent yet, but in it was:

All of my slacks (because I've gotten skinny and they're too big now!)
Some  souveniers that I've been given from members, etc.
Japanese hymn book
Japanese triple combination scriptures
A bunch of letters I've received, mostly from the MTC

So that should be there within a few weeks, or maybe even months, depending on how it's shipped.  It's not urgent or anything though.

Thank you for getting the deodorant, I really appreciate it. The stores here don't even sell actual deodorant, just Axe spray, etc., but I'll be able to get by fine for now. I still have a few things of toothpaste,  I don't know how I've gotten this one to last for so long. But if you're going to buy and send some then I have no preference, you can choose. As far as other things to send, I don't really have a need for anything else, so don't spend a lot of money or time with it.

Oh and before I forget, could you send me Kauluwehi's  mailing address at BYU?

The apartment here is pretty decently sized. We have a normal sized tatami room where we sleep (which is definitely big enough for two futons. It could probably get four in there if they were all right next to each other,) our study room, along with another room that we aren't using, and a good sized kitchen. The kitchen has the stove, sink, and table on one side of the room, then we have a small table in the middle.

I'm glad the ward and boy scouts are doing well. How will the mini triathlon up in the crater work with swimming? How has everyone liked the new Athletic Director at KSM? Hopefully Mikela can work hard with applying for a lot of scholarships. There's  never enough students that realize the importance and blessing of them. It's free money for school!  I'm sure she's working hard and a little nervous for upcoming states. They should do great as always. I hope Keanu does well with the test and interview for KSM in November. I just realized that  that's the test and interview I took to get in for sixth grade... time has flown by. Tell him that I say good luck, I'm proud of him, and that he's awesome. I'm really glad Kauluwehi did well with her two classes. That  BYU vs. HAWAII  game should be a lot of fun.

That is really scary to hear about Doug Birch. I'm glad they were able to find it early. I will keep him and his family, as well as Uncle John Kaiawe and Uncle Charles in my prayers. I hope that their families are doing okay. It's sad to see earthly lives start to wind down, but we're all here as part of a big Plan of Salvation, and we can and should all still continue to grow and progress after this life.

It's nice to hear that you've gotten some rain recently. The weather here has been starting to cool down. It's still pretty hot, especially around 1-4pm, but it's not as bad as it was a few weeks ago. Urawa is in Saitama prefecture, which is a pretty hot area, maybe the hottest  area of our mission. But we're doing good, and it's not too hot to not work.

This past week I held two companionship exchanges with elders in my district. Elder Norman is a fourth transfer missionary from Utah, and we had a great time together. We met a really nice guy named Ken on the street, whose father is a Protestant pastor. We talked with him for a little over an hour, and he was overjoyed to hear about and receive the Book of Mormon. We'll call him later tonight to see if we can't get him out to our sports night, which we hold every Tuesday evening.  Elder Devries has just started his mission as a first transfer missionary. During my exchange with him I interviewed one of their investigators for baptism, and she is really prepared and ready to receive it. We also had a mogi lesson with a recently re-activated member of their ward. We also went out to eat dinner with him after, and were able to talk a lot about missionary work. He's 21 years old, was less-active for five years, came back to church three months ago, and is thinking about a mission! It's so good to see a child of God be baptized and enjoy the fullness of the gospel, but to see a young man return to church activity and leave for a mission, just imagining all of the souls that will be touched because of that, is really so amazing as well.

I love you so much. Thank you for your love, your support, and your prayers. I truly appreciate it. I know that this gospel is happiness. That is so true, and I want all of you to truly and more fully understand that as each day goes by. Thank you for your testimonies.  Please always continue to strengthen them!

Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. Also attached is a picture of my name in Korean!

 Here's a picture with myself, Elder Prince and Elder Nitta, my zone leaders. We went out to lunch after my district meeting this past week.