Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 68 - January 28, 2013

I'm still in Hibarigaoka. This transfer ends on the 10th of February, but hopefully I'll still be here for at least one more; Hibarigaoka is a great place!

Thank you for the humongous package! It did end up at the mission home on Friday, but it was too heavy to forward so we went over there today to pick it up and bring it back. The mission home is just outside of our area so it was only a little over 20min. train ride. It looks like everything made it through customs. I'll be happy to share much of the treats with investigators and other missionaries. I'm sure they'll all love them. Thank you for putting so much effort and love into it. I guess turning 21 is kinda crazy, huh. A lot of things happen at this age. Anyway, this morning the zone leaders, Elder Olson and Elder Jones, surprised us by showing up at our apartment and making breakfast for my birthday. They came while we were in the middle exercising at 6:45 am and made two cans of Spam, a bunch of eggs, and pancakes. They got up just after 5:00 am, and it took them a little over an hour to get here. It was super super nice of them; they're full of love. Tomorrow we're planning on going to lunch (Ramen at a very well-known place called Ramenjiro) with a new investigator we met last Sunday named Kai. He's a 19 year-old college student who really likes English. Then in the evening we're going to the Asada family's home for dinner. I think I'll have been to their home five times now including tomorrow. They're an elderly couple who absolutely love the missionaries. Brother Asada served a full-time mission in his 20's soon after being converted. He's one of the very first Japanese missionaries. Sister Asada loves to collect recipes and food ideas from missionaries and is amazing at cooking. All in all, tomorrow should be a great day.

Thank you also for the pictures of Keanu and his Pinewood Derby. Tell him congratulations from me!

One experience from this past week... We visited a less-active member, Oota, this past Tuesday. He lives closer to the end of our area so we spent a little over four hours walking there and talking to everyone along the way. We had never met him before and we didn't have an appointment, but we just showed up to introduce ourselves. He was really nice, invited us in, and we were able to talk with him a while. He smokes cigarettes and drinks coffee, but is proud to tell people that he believes in Mormonism when religious conversations come up. He wants us to visit him every once in a while, so hopefully we can help him to return to activity! While we were in his apartment he had a TV on and there was a portion I heard of Obama giving his Inauguration Speech. That caught me off guard a little; I haven't really been expecting to hear Barrack Obama's voice while I'm here.

Oh, this week we also used a bunch of milk and juice cartons to make some small chairs/stools to use with our small Japanese table. I'll send some pictures.

If you get a chance to talk to the Kaaa's sometime soon see if they know a Aiko Toma from Japan. She's a member of Hibarigaoka Ward, but lives and works in Provo. She went to BYU-Provo, so she knows Kawehi and Eva Kaaa. And, mom, do you know an Ed P. (I already forget his last name) working at the airport on Maui? An Elder Galbraith (couple missionary who worked in the mission office) knows him. Apparently they went to flight training together for the military.

I'm so happy to hear about the youth in the ward preparing for missions!! They will be such amazing missionaries. And their missions will make all the difference in so many lives, including theirs! They will feel God's love more than they ever have before. I'm so proud of them for making the decision to serve, and hope many more do so in the near future! If they are worthy and able, it is the very best decision they could make in their life up to that point. I'll be trying to get letters out to them, but please wish them all the best for me!
I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. 10 pictures I'll send:
0217 - Elder Nitta, Elder Takaya, Elder Call, and I.
0212 - Me with the two King-Don. I cut my hair the morning before so it's pretty short.
0268 - The two Tokorozawa Elders and the four Hibarigaoka missionaries.
5977 – An igloo we found this past Tuesday.
5979 – Me in the igloo.
5995 – Elder Call's little chair in progress
5997 – My chair in progress
6062 - The two chairs almost completed! We still need to cover them with more tape.
6063 - The chairs next to our small table.
6060 – Me with the package contents
6061 – Me with the package contents holding the poi powder

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 67 - January 21, 2013

We've had a great week in Hibarigaoka! Every week is so great as a missionary! This week has been a week full of finding potential investigators. It seems like we've been meeting and making many new friends everywhere we've been lately. Just yesterday night at a kubarikai (handing English Class flyers out at a station) we met four especially nice people and received their contact information. The trick will be being able to meet with them more to build great relationships and share this wonderful gospel! The sisters (who opened this area for sisters a few transfers ago) have actually been living in the area next to ours and been biking to the area each day (about 45 minutes each way). They were finally able to move into the area, and they and the ward are pretty excited. The ward leadership continues to be amazing and packed full of dendo fire. We've just begun to alternate with the sisters to have a message of miracles and testimony from the missionaries printed to go along with the sacrament meeting programs each Sunday. The bishopric has also asked us to send periodic emails of specific names for the ward to pray for. This may be the best dendo ward in the mission!

On Saturday we had the opportunity to make it out to an area called Yokosuka to a U.S. Naval Base for the baptism of one of Elder Call's former investigators, Anthony. We got up and made a lunch (I taught Elder Call what Spam Musubi's were and how to make them!), went to the church to shovel snow (more like chip ice because it had frozen) because the church meetings were the next day, ate the Musubi's and headed out to Yokosuka. It's at the very southernmost tip of the mission, and took about 105 minutes by train to get there. Anthony has a pretty cool conversion story: One day Elder Call and his companion got a phone call from two guys, Anthony and his friend Fredrick (both from Ghana), who had received their number from a potential investigator. They had no money and no place to stay and the potential investigator had told them that the Elders might be able to help them. The Elders met them at a station; They had only a loaf of bread and two coke's and the night before had slept in a freezing cold alley. The Elders took them to the church, put them in a room with a heater, and began talking with them. Anthony and Fredrick told them that when they tried to receive refugee status they lied to the JAR (Japanese Association for Refugees) about having their own legal place to stay. They had been living in a room with a bunch of other people that had all pooled their money together. Of course the government doesn't like when people lie to them and they were kicked out of the place they were living. We, as missionaries, can't do anything to help people as far as giving money or food, so the Elders weren't sure what to do. They called their Bishop, who works for the church. He was able to get a hold of someone pretty high in the church offices over Japan and he told them to get them into a hotel right away, at least for a few days. All the while that's going on, for about five hours, they sat in the room with them and taught them all about the gospel and the commandments. Anthony and Fredrick attended church, which was fast and testimony meeting. Anthony had been to many different church meetings before then but had never bore his testimony. While others were sharing their testimonies he kept telling Elder Van De Graff, Elder Call's trainer and companion at the time, that he wanted to bear his testimony. He finally asked if Elder Van De Graff would go up with him to translate what he said into Japanese, and he bore his testimony. Anthony said that while he was sitting, there was something that kept pushing his back, encouraging him to bear his testimony. A few days after that Sunday, a call came to their phone by a number that was saved in the phone as 'Manfred'. Manfred was a member of their ward who had just recently moved to another city (Yokohama). The call turned out to be from Anthony and the surprised Elders asked if he was with Manfred. Anthony in turn was surprised that they knew who Manfred was, and they told him that he was a member of the church. Anthony had actually found a job in Yokohama, and the job had moved him into a house where Manfred was living. Anthony continued to attend church down in Yokohama with Manfred, and was just baptized at what is now about four weeks later. The church in Yokosuka isn't actually a church, just a normal building that the church is renting, so they don't have a font. Anthony was baptized on the Naval Base in a Non-Denominational Christian church that has a font for  baptism by immersion. They have an English ward down there for the base, so Anthony will be befriended well.

We celebrated his baptism, and the fact of being on the base, by getting a meal at Taco Bell (which is nowhere to be found in Japan... besides on U.S. Bases). I had some American money on me, so was able to use that, drank some super carbonated and super sweet American soda (way different than the Japanese stuff I'm used to now) along with a big American burrito. As we were leaving the base, Elder Johnson (a couple missionary), drove us along the harbor side of the base and we were able to see a bunch of the huge military ships. I'm not sure what many of them were, but I know there was the 'George Washington' if you want to Google it and take a look. It's huge.

As we were on our way back we saw a great miracle. We met a man from Camaroon named Austin on one of the trains. He had actually lived in Hibarigaoka but had moved out to an area called Takasaki a few months ago. He said that he had met the missionaries a little before and had a Book of Mormon. The conversation continued and he basically said that he'd like to be baptized and he'll need to talk with the missionaries to set up a date! It's just so great to be a missionary, experiencing God's hand so much in the work everyday.

That evening, we “visited” a family (active mom and three less-active kids, 25, 24, and 18 years old). We met the older two kids earlier this week and wanted to try to keep contact up from that. We wrote a message on a piece of paper and left that along with a bag of candy we bought in front of their apartment door, Elder Call held the elevator, I rung their doorbell and we ran. Hopefully we can continue to work with the kids to get them to come back!

We had a really fun day yesterday as well. The Elders in an area next to us called in the morning wondering if we wanted to go out for lunch and bowling with them. We told them if they came to our area we'd be willing to go. So we met them at a station and ate at Sukiya – a really popular gyudon (beef on rice bowl) chain. At Sukiya there's a King-don, which isn't on the actual menu, and has six times the meat as a normal bowl. The King-don's known amongst missionaries, and many have been able to finish it. But, nobody has ever finished two. One of the missionaries we were with, Elder Nitta, is pretty into eating, so we went there with the intention of him and I going for two. We had our first one, and were feeling a little full but still pretty good. But we sat there and debated whether or not we should go for the second for about a half-hour, and got more and more full. Anyway, we got the second one but only got about halfway through. Elder Nitta has a really nice camera and took a lot of pictures, so as soon as I can get those from him I'll send some your way. Bowling after lunch was a lot of fun. I'm no good at scoring anything decent, but it's always fun. Later in the evening Elder Call and I streeted to Treasure Factory (a recycle shop) and back. I got a tie that I think is nice for 200yen.

Anyway, I love you all so very much!! I think about you often and you are always in my prayers. We're having such a great time out here. I love the work and being a missionary so much.

The church is true!

Take care and have a great week!

Elder Rindlisbacher

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 66 - January 14, 2013
Aloha Family!
It's been a good week in Hibarigaoka. How have you all been back home? It snowed like crazy today – probably about 5 inches. Many members said it was the most they've seen here in Hibarigaoka. Hibarigaoka's pretty much right in Tokyo, and it normally doesn't snow much. We also had a great mochi-tsuki taikai today. Elder Call and I were at the church from about 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, making mochi (basically pounding special rice), visiting with many members and non-members, and enjoying a few musical performances. We're still counting the numbers,
but I'd guess that there were about 20 non-members in attendance. In between rounds of making mochi we ran outside and played in the snow a little. We had a great time; I love Hibarigaoka ward so much.

I went on exchange with our district leader, Elder Coleman, this past Monday to Tuesday. He's a great missionary, very hardworking and full of love. We went on exchange when he and I were both brand new missionaries (he had been in Japan about a month and I about two). We had a lot of fun then, and were able to have a great time again. We had a decent amount of time to be out on the streets finding new people, and found an investigator and a few potential investigators,
one of which became an investigator the next day when we gave her a call. We also had a good lesson with another investigator.

While on exchange we met a Russian lady (I'd guess one of probably about two in the entire city) named Natasha. She's married to a Japanese man and they have a four year old half-Japanese, half-Russian daughter. She doesn't speak English, and it was really interesting talking with a gaijin (foreigner) in Japanese. I'm sure many of the Japanese people walking by thought it was weird. Anyway, we were able to get her phone number and call her the next day to meet her for a
little with her daughter. We're hoping we can begin lessons soon.

Elder Call and I are continuing to work hard to get our investigators and potential investigators to progress more. We and the sister missionaries also received a bunch of referrals yesterday at church from members. Three of the referrals are part-member less-active families. Hibarigaoka ward is so full of faith and fire to share this wonderful gospel.

Elder Call is great. He is hardworking and a very likeable person. He knows how to smile and laugh in any situation.

During this morning’s study I thought a lot about desire, studied the scriptures and read a few talks from General Authorities. I'd like to share some insights. I'll start with a few good  scriptures:

Doctrine and Covenants 137:9
“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their  hearts.”

Jeremiah 17:10
“I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

Alma 29:4
“I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.”

One talk I read was entitled, “The Success Formula of Section 4”  by Sterling W. Sill. It breaks down Doctrine and Covenants Section 4. Here's a portion of the talk, about the last verse of the section, for you to think about. Think about the worth of all that we have in this gospel:

“Suppose that we had unlimited funds and were asked to pay for our blessings. What would be a fair price for repentance if you couldn't repent? How much would it be worth to live forever in the celestial kingdom, if you had already been consigned elsewhere? How much would you be willing to pay to get your family back, if they were eternally lost? Try to imagine a fair price for the priesthood, or a godly character, or eternal progression, or eternal increase. What would be
your appraisal of the value of a celestial body, a celestial mind, a celestial personality, a chance to live forever on celestial earth with celestial friends and loved ones?

These and a thousand other things have been provided for us. And what do these traits of godliness and intelligence cost us? Just “ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.””

Here's a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
“It is up to us. God will facilitate, but He will not force.”

And a quote from President Brigham Young:
 “Do you think that people will obey the truth because it is true, unless they love it? No, they will not” We should ask each other sometimes, “Do you love the gospel?” Because if we do not absolutely love it, we won't absolutely follow it. Like it says in the second verse of D&C 4, we need to have our entire heart, might, mind, and strength in it.

I love you all so much! Keep the faith. Live the gospel. Talk with God openly and freely every day. The church is true!

Elder Rindlisbacher

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 65 - January 7, 2013
Aloha family!  
I hope you've all had a great first week of the new year. The ward here was thrilled to have us in their homes for the New Year (O-shogatsu), and we had 10 meal appointments with member families this past week, not to mention ending the week before this one off with meal appointments each night as well. Almost every person in Japan has the first week of the year off of work. Elder Call knew much of the ward before attending the church meetings yesterday.

We had lunch with the Aoki family on Wednesday and helped to translate their family mission statement. It was a really special experience, being able to help them with something that they will use for many years to come. They are planning on memorizing it as well as making wristbands for their two daughters when they're a little older.

Yesterday night at dinner with the Nagata family we shared a message based on acting on faith. The father expressed feelings of wanting to help less-active members who had been active with him when he was a child. We asked him to imagine he and them in white clothes, in the celestial room of the temple. He closed his eyes, and the spirit was strong. They committed to bring 8 friends to an upcoming mochi-tsuki taikai. Maybe you remember some pictures I sent home from the mochi-tsuki I had in Inage. We don't have records or statistics that directly measure building relationships with members, nor for feeling and being led by the spirit. But if there were, I'm sure Hibarigaoka would have broken records this week. The ward is absolutely amazing, and the missionaries have an amazing relationship with the members. Dendo fire is through the roof. This is the most 'at-home', loved, and supported I've felt by a ward since I've been on my mission. I love it in Hibarigaoka.

I was asked Saturday night to teach the Gospel Doctrines class. The lesson was on 'The Gathering of the House of Israel' - a topic that can be confusing to teach in English, making Japanese pretty difficult. I've been gaining a lot more interest in history and the Old Testament lately though, so it was a fun lesson.

Elder Call is a great missionary. I've really enjoyed working with him this past week. He knows how to laugh and enjoy the little moments in each day. I'm excited to work with and learn more from him in the coming weeks! He's the youngest of 10 in his family, his oldest brother is 38 years old. His father and two oldest brothers are mechanics and that's what he did for work before his mission. He's a pretty big guy at about 6ft. 2in. and 250lbs.

I did meet Kazuko Mateaki's aunty in Urawa. As soon as I introduced myself to her and told her I was from Maui she was asking me about the Mateaki's. And it's cold here now, but probably nothing like Sapporo. On a warm day it'll hit about 13 degrees celcius. But it's normally around 0-5. That's awesome that President Reinhardt's mom was baptized.  I'm sure he's been working and praying really hard for her for many years.

We have many investigators we need to work with to get progressing more, along with a few newly found potential investigators that we'll be trying to begin meeting with. We've been seeing many miracles lately, and with our recently extra-strengthened relationship we have
with the ward, we are expecting many more amazing miracles in the coming week and beyond!

I love you all so much! Thank you for your love and support! Take care!

Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. Pictures!

 Christmas Conference Dec. 24, 2012.
Elder Barino from Hanapepe, Kauai. He will be going home soon.
 President Budge (Santa) and I.
 Spam! Preparing our district brunch Dec. 25, 2012.
 Elder Tohara likes Spam!
 District Brunch
 The Hibarigaoka Missionaries as of Dec. 28, 2012,
Myself, Elder Healy, Sis. Nagamine, Sis. Walbeck.
 Tokorozawa Outreach, Elder Tohara's last.
 Ishimine Kyodai (Ward Mission Leader) making Okinawa Soba Noodles Dec. 30, 2012.
 Ishimine Kyodai and Shimai after dinner, he enjoys doing magic tricks.
 Dinner with the Touma Family Dec. 31, 2012.
 Dinner at Bishop Uemura's Home Jan. 2, 2013. The Sisters and one of Bishop's daughters playing a game called 'Fukuwarai.'
Lunch with the Aoki Family Jan. 2, 2013.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Week 64 - January 1, 2013
Aloha Family!  
Happy New Year!  
Thank you so much for the package, mom. They first tried to deliver it on the 28th, but we haven't ever been home when they've come, so I finally received it today. I'm eating the walnut chocolate pretzel things right now! They're delicious! Thank you for the card, it's so nice to see the short messages from everyone. I love you all so much. Thank you for the deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste - they were much needed. And the calendar's really nice, thank you so much.

We received transfer calls this past weekend. Elder Healy transferred to an area called Hachioji in Machida stake (same as Sagamihara.) I'm still here in Hibarigaoka, and my new companion is Elder Call from Spanish Fork, Utah. He came to Japan in the same group as Elder Healy, so he just finished being trained too. I'll send some pictures in another email and he'll be in one.

Anyway, it was a great year 2012. It's been amazing being a missionary here in Japan. I'm looking through my journal so I'm just going to send a quick note with a miracle/something nice that happened each of the last 12 days of the year:

12/20 - We were going to door-to-door late in the evening trying to invite people to the Christmas Party. We had about 15 minutes before we had to head home, and Elder Healy thought we should go out onto a bigger street and try to talk to some people walking. We got out on the street and after a few people who wouldn't listen to us, we met a man named, Shinya, while he was on his way home from work. He was walking towards us, we called out to say hi to him and he kept walking so we turned and started walking with him so we could try to talk with him. He was really nice and he passes by the church almost every day on his way to and from work, so he had some interest in what it was like. We were able to give him a short church tour and sit in the chapel for about 40 minutes just talking about the church and what we believe. He took a Book of Mormon and said he'd read it. Definitely a miracle.

12/21 - We had district meeting, our last of the transfer, and the spirit was very strong. We began with each missionary sharing a scripture they like about Christ, then we had a discussion about the 'Consequenses of Conversion' (basically the blessings of being converted to the gospel), and committed to extend more invitations to hear the gospel each day (each missionary committed to extend at least 15 invitations a day.)

12/22 - We had 100 members and 20 non-members at the Christmas Program/Party. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and the non-members, while many didn't decide to begin investigating the church, they had a great time and felt the love of the members.

12/23 - We went caroling with a few members for a member in a nursing home as well as a less-active family that lives near the church. We made their day. The old member in the nursing home hated to see us leave, she was crying tears of joy and was so grateful for us singing
for her.

12/24 - We had a great Christmas Conference as a mission. We were able to meet President Budge's entire family, have a really nice lunch made by them, watch a nativity with great musical numbers by a few missionaries, and have a quick miracle/testimony sharing meeting.

12/25 - We had a fun District Brunch. Elder Healy and I took a bunch of spam, eggs, miso soup, and cocoa, and the rest of the district members brought some rice, and we had a fun time together cooking and eating. We were also able to meet Oono-san again, a man we met about two months ago at his apartment who had interest in the Book of Mormon, but hasn't been home when we've visited since. He was finally home and we were able to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon.

12/26 - We were finally able to meet a recent-convert/less-active member, Arai-kyodai. We've been trying to meet him since we've been here but he's super busy with work. He has a three year-old son. He has a great desire to return to church, but is always working on Sundays. He says he might be able to come this month (January) sometime. We also had an eikaiwa lesson/discussion that basically turned into Elder Healy and I testifying to the class about the Word of Wisdom, Plan of Salvation, and true happiness. Some of the students asked us questions about our beliefs and why we do certain things, and the entire lesson was turned into that direction.

12/27 - We had dinner with a new family in the ward and were able to share a message that was not really what we had planned, but definitely guided by the spirit. The message was focused on everybody being children of God, with great eternal potential and value. When we can see people as God sees them, we can truly love them. I think it was something that I needed to hear just as much as the family did. It was divine guidance.

12/28 - We hadn't been able to contact Ozeki-san, one of our investigators, lately but were able to have a good talk with him on the phone.

12/29 - We had dinner with the Bishop and his family as well as one of the Sisters’ investigators.

12/30 - Sister Walbeck, Sister Nagamine, Elder Healy, and I sang a song called "I'll Find You My Friend" in Sacrament meeting. It's a great song, I'll sing it for you when I'm home.

12/31 - We had dinner with the Touma family, and extended family, along with a few other ward members. After dinner (delicious Okinawa food,) everyone gathered on the living room floor and they had four chairs set up for us to share a message. We shared the message we had
prepared and they had all of the kids ask questions they had for the missionaries.

Hibarigaoka is just an amazing area with such an amazing ward. It's impossible to not love it here! And it's now O-shogatsu (New Year's) again, so pretty much all of Japan has the week off from work. The ward has had us over for meals the past four nights, and we'll go the next week without eating dinner in our apartment (along with a few lunch appointments.)  Elder Call will get to know the ward really quickly.

I love you all so much!!! Have a great first week of the year. Remember Christ, and read your scriptures every day!

Elder Rindlisbacher