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!