Thursday, May 9, 2013

Things are going great here in Kanagawa. A couple recently finished their mission and a new couple, the Addington's, have come into the zone. Elder (Forest) Addington was a military chaplain for 15 years. They most recently lived in Fresno, California and say they are very good friends with Uncle Curtis! It's a small world in the church.

Speaking of missions beginning, my return date's been changed. Beginning in August, returning missionaries will return on Fridays instead of Tuesdays, so instead of Oct. 29, I'll be going home on Nov. 1. I've been a missionary 19 months now and it's going way too fast.

This past Thursday we had the first ever mission leadership council. Elder Cody Rindlisbacher wrote a little about it in his letter. This is in place of what used to be zone leader council. There is a new calling in the missions: 'sister training leader.'  So at mission leadership council, President, the assistants, zone leaders, and newly called sister training leaders all meet to discuss the needs of the mission and how we can further the work. It was great. I'm so grateful to have such great leaders.

Yamate Ward, a ward in our zone, held an open house from Friday to Sunday. They have a very nice church building with a good location on a pretty famous road. Apparently it's where the first foreigner communities were first established in Japan. Now it's a popular tourist attraction for the Japanese people. This past week was Golden Week here in Japan, a week of holidays, so there was a lot of people walking down the street. Elder Hill and I were able to coordinate with the zone as well as a few other couple missionaries from the mission and have about 10-14 missionaries there throughout the open house. We ended up being able to get just over 600 people through the church for tours.

Watabe Sensei met us there on Saturday and took Elder Hill and I to lunch at a good Chinese Restaurant. It's in a place near the Yamate church called Chukagai. Watabe Sensei said it's the largest Chinatown in the world. It was big.

Kotsubo was confirmed on Sunday and interviewed for the priesthood after church. He should receive the Aaronic Priesthood this next Sunday. His countenance has been changing a lot. I see him smile very often now, whereas I would maybe get a smile out of him once a meeting. The holy ghost and the church will be so great for him.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview an investigator in the zone for baptism. Going into the interview I was prepared for something to come up because the elders teaching him had said a little about how he may have committed a serious crime in the past. All of the other interviews I've done have begun with a lot of BRT (building relationships of trust) where we talk about our families, hobbies, etc., because they're usually very nervous and I like to wait until they're calm and there's a nice feeling in the room before beginning the interview. So most of the interviews I've done have lasted about 45 minutes. With this interview the investigator was very serious and ready to begin so it only went about 20 min. As we were going through the interview the investigator talked about how he hadn't committed any serious crimes as pertaining to the law, but he had participated in two abortions. That was about in the middle of the interview, so we continued on through the rest then went back to that. I talked with him about how I don't have the authority to handle cases where there's been participation in abortion so he'd need another interview with another leader. We talked about repentance and I shared a few scriptures. It was a humbling experience for me. It was the first time I've interviewed someone and not been able to say that they could be baptized. I shared 2 Nephi 25:26, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write  according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” and testified of being cleansed through Christ. I shared a scripture I had read that morning, Mosiah 27:25-26, “And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” With that I focused on 'becoming new.' Elder Holland once spoke about repentance being related to a post and a nail. The post representing us and the nail sin. We sin and the nail is driven into us. Through repentance, though often difficult, the nail is removed. Removing a nail from a post would leave a hole that would always be there. However, complete repentance through the atonement of Christ is not like that. There is no hole left in the post, because it is not the same post. It is a brand new post. I testified that complete repentance and baptism would render him a completely new person, with no mark left whatsoever, and urged him to continue to work hard and do all he could to receive baptism. We closed  with his prayer and it was very spiritual. After walking out of the room we talked with the other elders for a few moments and called President Budge. President said that he would be able to interview him over the phone, did so right then, and told him that he would be able to be baptized! They're preparing the service for this Saturday.

That investigator’s story is a great miracle as a whole. He's been Christian for awhile and has been going to a Protestant Church. He met the missionaries a while ago and took a Book of Mormon. He wasn't very willing to listen to what they had to say or set up another time to meet, but did end up taking a Book of Mormon. A while after that he opened it and began reading. He knew right away that it was true. Shortly after that he saw the elders, by now another set,  standing in front of a train station. He went up to them and told them that he wanted to learn and be baptized. That was about four weeks ago. Talk about the power of the Book of Mormon, as well as the humble knowing the truth when they see it.

Today we had the opportunity to attend the temple, always an amazing learning experience.

Mother's Day is coming up so you'll be able to call if you'd like. We have 40 minutes, so I was thinking of having you call from 8:00-8:40 pm Monday night. That would be 3:00 pm on Tuesday for me. That would be the day after Mother's Day, but maybe it could be a good family home evening. Let me know what you think soon. I'll check email quickly again on Saturday (Friday for you.) The number to call is: 011-81-80-2149-6155.

Anyway, all is great here. It sounds like you're all doing great. Keanu's fifth grade trip looks like it was a lot of fun! He's getting old. It's too bad Keawe's volleyball team didn't make the state tournament. What will he be doing now? Just prepare for basketball? I hope the Brantley's are doing okay. Let me know what I can do to help with anything. I love you!!!

Elder Rindlisbacher

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