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

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