Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 98 - August 26, 2013

We've had a wonderful week here in the mission. So much has happened! Today's Monday and things that happened this past Tuesday or Wednesday feel like they were a lot longer than just six days ago! I hope everyone's been great back home. Are both Kauluwehi and Mikela back home now? I hope Keawe has a good time playing King K soon.

We had a conference for new missionaries (transfer one and two) and their companions this past Wednesday. We spent almost all of the day practicing teaching. There were about 40 missionaries in attendance and we split into groups of about four to five. We had group leaders, who were experienced trainers, zone leaders, or Elder Olson and I, who coached each group of missionaries throughout the day. We mostly practiced how to begin teaching lessons, extending the baptismal commitment, teaching the Restoration using the pamphlet, and reading the Book of Mormon with investigators. Elder Olson and I also demonstrated a bunch of ideas and tips to better find people to teach and trained a little on language (Japanese) study. We had a great time. The missionaries definitely got enough practicing in and hopefully skills have been transferred and they can begin applying them. We're blessed with wonderful young missionaries. Is Elder Hathaway still in the ward? His sister, Sister Hathaway, was at the training as she's training a new missionary now.

We had a lot of time on Friday to be out talking to people and we made a lot of friends. It's always great to get out and talk to people about the gospel. There are miracles to participate in as you exercise faith and open your mouth to everyone around you.

Church on Sunday was good. The missionaries and a few members (about 11 people total) sang in Sacrament meeting. We sang 'Nearer My God to Thee'. We had an eikaiwa student, a boy that comes to our sports night each week, and an investigator who really likes music come to hear us sing. Sunday evening we had a devotional with Brother Matthew O. Richardson, second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, and Brother Randall L. Ridd, second counselor in the young Men's General Presidency. It's great to serve in here Kichijoji because the church building accommodates more people than any other in the country and almost all large devotionals are held here. We had a few hours to be outside talking to people before the devotional and when we got back to the church there were two Chinese people we had met on Friday waiting in the foyer. They had been shopping nearby and decided to come stop by the church, not knowing about the devotional. So they stayed with us and we also had Jett come as well. He really enjoyed it and made friends with many members and church leaders after it finished. We're going to begin planning a big inter-faith concert type thing with him and a bunch of the church leaders to be held here in Kichijoji. Hopefully it can become a regular thing. By the way mom, I wonder if you've received a call from Brother Richardson? If not, you might. We talked with him for a little after the devotional was over and he took your phone number down to possibly give you a call and say hi. The talks given were great and I took a bunch of notes.

Tomorrow we have 10 new missionaries arriving. The time between each group go by so quickly. This time, though, we're having them fly into Narita instead of Haneda so they arrive at about 2:00 pm instead of 11:00 pm. It's a farther drive than Haneda but it should be nice because we can get everyone back in time for them to interview with President and have dinner and a testimony meeting before getting to bed by 10:30 pm. Everyone won't be so tired on Wednesday that way.

I'll end with a thought from Brother Richardson at the devotional last night. He gave a great talk, I'll just share one thing he said, "If you go against what you know to be true, you will always be searching for something to fill you." I believe that's true and know that on the contrary, as we do and follow what we know to be true, we will feel peace and inner joy. For example, we know that chastity and morality is of God and true. If we separate from that, and God, we will begin a journey of trying to fill a void that can't be filled without repenting and doing what we know to be true. The days to say things like, "I'll be good in the future, a few years from now." are long gone. We need to do now what we know to be true. That brings to mind a scripture, which I shared with a recent convert of Elder Olson's we met today, D&C 59:23.

"But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come."

It's true. I know it is. I hope you all have a great week! I love you. Take care.

Elder Rindlisbacher

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Week 97 - August 20, 2013

We took P-day today and went to the temple with Musashino Zone (about 20 missionaries). We've decided to have the missionaries go to the temple each transfer as zones instead of as a mission and I think it's really good. Today was very reverent and spiritual whereas it sometimes got really full and busy when we went as a mission (about 175 missionaries).  

A member family took all of the missionaries serving here in Kichijoji (10 total) to dinner tonight and Elder Olson and I also took two potential investigators as the family told us we could bring anyone else if we wanted. They both had a great time and made good friends with the missionaries. As a message we used the pictures in the Restoration pamphlet to share the message of the Restoration very simply.

Yesterday afternoon we had dinner with an investigator and his wife and the Wada's. It's so nice having President and Sister Wada and their family here. We're always introducing our investigators and friends to them and they really help to love and fellowship them.

Lately we've been busy of course, with things for the mission as well as our own appointments, and it's been really good. Tomorrow we have a conference with all of the new missionaries and their trainers(about 40 missionaries). We'll be doing a lot of teaching practicing.  

The mission continues to improve and improve. The missionaries are getting better at teaching and learning to really love their investigators and receive inspiration for them. Everything is going great. Thank you so much for your prayers and love. Have a great week. I love you!    

Elder Rindlisbacher 

P.S. Attached are a few pictures from last week Tuesday. We met with a family that Elder Olson is very good friends with from one of his previous areas and had lunch and played a little baseball.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 96 - August 12, 2013

I hope everyone's had a wonderful week. We're doing great here. The weather has been fun lately with huge, unexpected downpours and lightning storms hitting every once in a while. Elder Olson and I are blessed to be able to drive places if it's raining; normally we'd only have the choice to either walk or ride bikes. We try to talk and take the trains as much as possible because that way we can talk with a lot of people, but sometimes we don't have time and use the car.

This week we said goodbye to five great elders. They've each worked hard for the past two years and have been blessed to participate in many miracles. It's bittersweet to let them go. Most of them were elders that Elder Olson and I were in the MTC with. Elder Olson and I are the oldest companionship in the mission at transfers 15 and 16. We don't feel that old, though. Of course we feel like we just got here as we still have so much to learn and do.

I went on exchange with Elder Ige this past Friday to Saturday. Elder Olson and I went down to an area called Odawara (almost two hours by train from Kichijoji) and worked with their companionship for 24 hours, myself with Elder Ige and Elder Olson with Elder Ige's companion, Elder Staheli. Elder Olson and I both agreed that it was one of the best exchanges of our missions. We had an amazing time. Elder Ige and I had a great time reconnecting and working together. We haven't worked in even the same zone since we've been in the field so it was really good to work together in a companionship. We saw miracle after miracle as we worked hard to find people to teach. We ended the exchange with long lists of new friends and soon to be friends. 

Elder Ige and I were walking down a street and there was a man sitting on the side drinking a can of beer. We went to talk with him and he was very nice. We learned that he had been working at a big company but had gotten sick and couldn't continue to work. Then he and his wife divorced four years ago and he hasn't really been living for anything since. He told us he really wants to come to church on Sunday and we exchanged phone numbers. Later as Elder Ige and I were passing out flyers for eikaiwa we met a few groups of high school students and one of them really liked us and invited us to come to a school festival they have coming up. On Saturday we were passing out flyers again and a Japanese lady with her young son walked up to me and said with surprise, "A Mormon missionary." We talked and ends up she used to live in Rochester, New York about 20 years ago and attended church there each Sunday and has read the Standard Works. She and her family moved from New York to England and they began attending another church nearby because of convenience. Now they're living in Japan again but not attending church. She said it had been about 20 years since she'd read the Book of Mormon so I told her it's time to read it again. I explained where the nearest church was and hope she will begin attending again. While Elder Ige and I continued to meet many great people, Elder Olson and Elder Staheli were doing the same. They met two younger Filipino boys who were excited to attend church this next Sunday. Overall, exchanges just go really great when the missionaries are 'on the right path' in a sense. When they understand their purpose and do all they can to fulfill it, there really is true joy to be found, and exchanges are just great fun. 

Later that day, Saturday evening, we had a great devotional with Brother Brad Wilcox of the Sunday School General Board, to make the day even better. It was a truly wonderful devotional where I felt great appreciation and gratitude towards the church and the opportunities I've had in my life because of it. There was much humor and laughing as well as great spirituality and humility. I really enjoy the things Brad Wilcox has to say. I've read the talk he gave two years ago at BYU, 'His Grace is Sufficient,' probably about 20 times now.

Some of the things he shared (as the devotional was geared towards parents raising families):

"Sometimes I feels like we're testifying of the best breakfast cereal, but nobody eats breakfast anymore." We live in a world where the majority thinks and believes that there is no need for church. The youth are greatly influenced by that, and sometimes don't realize the greatness of the spiritual blessings of the church. Thus he outlined many of the temporal blessings of the church that we must be sure to help the youth know and understand. He began his remarks with a story from when he was a mission president in Chile. There was a mother who had been less-active for many years. The missionaries visited her and she ended up returning to activity. Her young son who wasn't baptized soon desired to be baptized. His mother was overjoyed, however his father said, "If mom wants to be a part of a crazy church, that's her problem, but my son will not!" The elders went to then President Wilcox pleading for help to convince the boy's father that it was okay for him to be baptized. He said he'd do what he could and set up a meeting with the father. They met, shook hands, and the very first words out of the father's mouth were, "So what does my son get for being a Mormon?!" President Wilcox shrugged his shoulders and said a little sheepishly, "Salvation." That didn't convince the father much because really any church can promise that. Anybody can say that in the world to come there will be roads paved with gold and lined with mansions. So President Wilcox put the spiritual blessings, which are immense, to the side and did his best to explain the temporal blessings of the church. He doesn't really remember exactly what he said to the father but it must have done something because the boy was baptized. The father was at the baptismal service. The boy was dressed all in white. One of the elders all in white as well. The boy's mother beaming with joy and a few tears. And as President Wilcox watched the boy's father as the baptismal service went on he knew that he was feeling the spirit. A few months later there was another baptismal service in that ward, this time for the father. President Wilcox walked up to him and said, "So what do you get for being a Mormon?!" The father looked around and said a little sheepishly, "Salvation." The focus of the talk was on the temporal blessings of the church, things such as an international network of friends, a stronger family and better marriage, and a culture focused on education. It was a really great talk. Elder Olson and I were able to have a friend of ours, Jett, whose Gospel music class we went to, and his wife in attendance and they had a great evening. They were befriended greatly by the church leaders in attendance. President Wada thought the evening with Jett went so well he asked me to document the experience, so I wrote a small article type thing:

"Jett’s a middle-aged man born in North Carolina, moved to California, and lived in Japan for almost the past two decades. We first met him on the street. It was later in the evening and already dark when we called out to him as he was with his wife and their daughter on bicycles. He told us he was busy saying he, “didn’t want none of our Jesus talk.” We persisted a little and he stopped long enough to tell us he’s very Christian and that he teaches a Gospel music class every once in a while. We traded numbers and off he and his family went. We called him the next day and had a great time at his Gospel music class the day after that. In return, two weeks later, Jett attended a sacrament meeting and an hour of Sunday school where he really seemed to enjoy himself. We sat with him and a great member on the third row of the chapel during sacrament meeting, and he met Sister Wada as well as she happened to be attending meetings here in Kichijoji.

Since that Sunday we’d been in touch with him a little but not yet able to meet again. Then this past Saturday we were blessed to have Brother Brad Wilcox of the Sunday School General Board speak at a wonderful devotional. A few nights before the devotional we gave Jett a call to invite him to hear what Brad Wilcox had to say. He was excited and ended up coming with his wonderful wife.

The devotional was really great as Sister Wilcox, Brother Wilcox, and Elder Whiting, (newly called to the Area Presidency,) spoke. Jett really connected with Brother Wilcox’s talk about “What you get for being Mormon.” Along with spiritual blessings and salvation, Brother Wilcox outlined many wonderful temporal blessings such as an international network of friends, amazing role models, and a culture focused on education. Brother Wilcox was very animated and Jett was laughing for much of the meeting. Elder Whiting ended the meeting on a very humble and spiritual note.

The truly amazing part of the evening, however, was actually after the devotional ended. President Wada asked the church leaders present to talk with Jett. In turn, he was able to not only meet, but really become friends with, Elder Ringwood, Elder Whiting, Brad Wilcox, Bishop Martini of the Senzokuike Ward, and President and Sister Wada. Jett told Brad Wilcox, “Who wouldn’t want to be a Mormon?!” and Brad Wilcox replied, “I’d love to attend your baptism!” They exchanged email addresses and plan to continue communication via email. President and Sister Wada also set an appointment to have him and his family over for dinner this next week.

Our investigators need to be converted not only spiritually, but also emotionally, intellectually, behaviorally, and socially. Remember that that is how they continue through the entire path of the gospel. This night was a huge step in Jett’s conversion. He felt the Spirit, he understood many of the blessings of the gospel, and he enjoyed good company and made many great friends in the church.

Some lessons to be learned from our experiences with Jett thus far would include: Love and do things for your friends and investigators. Attend their Gospel music class if they have one. Bring your friends and investigators to meetings and other events. There’s much growth and progress to be made when surrounded by wonderful people listening to a wonderful speaker. Ask members and leaders to talk with your friends and investigators. One member to fellowship is good, but it’s amazing when a group of members, church leaders, or even an entire ward lovingly befriends an investigator. There is power in church meetings and events. There is power in the fellowship church members and leaders can provide.

This is the wonderful work of salvation!"

Saturday was just a really great day. I wrote in my planner at the end of the day, "One of the best days on my mission."

This week will be another good and, of course, busy one. We have two two-zone conferences coming up this Wednesday and Thursday. We'll basically be reviewing all of the training we've given the zone leaders. I know that there is true joy to be found in the world. I know that that is within families centered on the gospel. I know that there is great joy to be felt through sharing the gospel. I know that we are children of a loving Father in Heaven. I love you!! Have a great week!

Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. Pictures:
0023 - Dinner with Bishop Hasegawa and family (8/12/13)
0010 - Dinner with the Matsushima Family (8/6/13)
0003 - With Ryuichi, investigator from Nakano who came to see us here in Kichijoji (8/3/13)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Week 95 – August 5, 2013
We've had a great week. Elder Olson and I have had a good amount of time outside vs. in the office and it's been a lot of fun. I received the book. Thank you so much for sending it. It got here really quickly. And I did also receive Mikela's email. I remember (Elder) Keith. He's from Canada and I think he's married now.So many things happen in just a day it's so hard to keep track of everything at the end of a week. Elder Olson and I are always asking each other, "What happened this week?" But when we sit down and do our best to think about it(and take a look at some of the past pages of our planners) sweet memories and great experiences are relived for a moment.
Elder Olson and I went to the temple on Wednesday because one of his former investigators was going through for the first time. We thought it'd be better to go by car, but we ended up getting stuck in some traffic and didn't make the session. We were able to do a few Sealings and then wait in the Celestial Room. We also had another Mission Leadership Council on Thursday. We've been having them so often lately. I guess in reality we've only had three in the past six-ish weeks, but time goes by so fast it feels like they're all just a day apart. It was a great council though, maybe the best since the mission has opened. The zone leaders have so much to cascade to their district leaders and zone members because we've just been teaching and training them so much lately.

We taught Ryuichi with President Wada on Saturday. Ryuichi's actually an investigator from Nakano who came down here to see us. It was a really good lesson and it's always great to learn from President Wada as he's a great teacher. Hopefully Ryuichi will be baptized soon, he's a really great guy and has been an investigator for a while. It's been great becoming his friend.

We have a lot of potential investigator friends that we're working with. Our goals is to find 95 potential investigators before the transfer ends in a few weeks. With making so many friends we've been able to start having more appointments and lessons. The 'cream rises to the top' in a sense as we start to see who is truly interested in the gospel. We've been doing things like going to lunch and/or playing sports with potential investigators a bunch lately. It's a lot of fun and it's really great being able to share the gospel in a very natural way.

Anyway, the work is great. I'm having a great time and we're safe here in the wonderful Japan Tokyo South Mission. I love you and am so grateful for you. It's great to hear that everyone's doing well. Be sure to read that book. Take care!

Elder Rindlisbacher