Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 107 - October 28, 2013

About four weeks ago a man walked into the church after services had all ended and was met by two of the the elders serving here. They sat down with him and listened as he explained that his mother had recently passed and he was now left alone in the world. He was lost and scared and depressed. They began teaching him about our Heavenly Father's wonderful plan of salvation and soon realized that they were in need of member help, somebody that could relate and communicate better with him. They went to the bishop who suggested the Kubota couple, an elderly couple in the ward. They joined the lesson and Junichi cried and cried and cried as they taught him about how God loves him and about how he can be with his family forever. He left the church that day with a smile on his face.

He came back later that week for English class, sports night, and another gospel lesson. He progressed quickly in the gospel and was baptized this past Sunday evening. With his mother's death he was at a point where he was seriously contemplating taking his own life. He had the courage to seek help and was connected with the missionaries and the church. He says he was, "given hope, something that we cannot live without." He also says, "We can't live in the world alone." His life changed when he learned that he had many brothers and sisters who love him. His heart was changed when he learned through prayer that God was there and truly loved him. We've had a great week here in the mission.

We were blessed to experience the miracle of Junichi being baptized yesterday evening. It was a great service. The sisters serving here, Sister Brown and Sister Lopez, sang 'My Heavenly Father Loves Me' in Japanese accompanied by a member Yoza Masaaki and his own arrangement of the song. The chapel was filled with a truly angelic and beautiful chorus. It was awe-inspiring. Junichi bore testimony and it was so pure and sincere.

I've felt the spirit more lately than ever, something I've been striving for. I have felt joy in my heart often and it brings tears to my eyes. I spoke last Sunday in sacrament meeting. It was a spiritual experience in itself as I bore my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a thriving testimony that the church is true. The gospel is true. I love my family. I love serving.

I had two other opportunities to bear my testimony in a large setting this week as we had two zone conferences, one on Tuesday and another on Thursday. They were both great and very spiritual meetings. They both went from 9:00 am to about 6:00 pm (although scheduled to end at 5:00 pm.) The returning missionaries bore testimony in the end and that's always a very spiritual and inspiring experience for everyone.

Last week Saturday we had an activity with about 70 YSA's from the mission and a little of the surrounding areas. We were able to coordinate for 50 missionaries from our mission to participate as well and we had a great day. We began in the morning with some training, mostly from President Wada but a little from Elder Medeiros and I. Then we were assigned companions and areas, had a quick lunch, and some time to set goals before we headed out for a few hours. Everyone came back with various experiences and things they learned. The missionaries returned to their areas and the YSA's had a nice testimony meeting to conclude. We had two overlying goals/purposes with the activity. One, to inspire the YSA's to serve missions. Two, to inspire and help them to nurture their friends with the gospel. We feel like we did very well in accomplishing both. It was a great day.
Our sacrament meeting this past Sunday was put on by the primary as they had their yearly presentation. It was great as always. Then Sunday evening before the baptismal service the YSA's of Kichijoji ward had a family home evening activity in the Wada's home. That was a lot of fun and very good for them.

The Friday and Saturday before then we were on exchange in an area called Hodogaya. I worked with an Elder McCarty from Stockton, Utah and Elder Medeiros worked with Elder Stevens from Gilbert, Arizona. They're a young companionship and working very hard. We had a wonderful time and talked to many people. We kept track, and out of the about 7.5 hours we were able to spend out talking to people we had meaningful conversations with 65 people between the two companionships. There was a typhoon that hit during the exchange, but the timing of it couldn't be better as it hit during the night and
passed just as our morning study and lunch finished up. There have been a few typhoons lately and more to come, but they aren't as strong as we normally consider typhoons/hurricanes to be in the states. They're strong rain and wind storms, but nothing really scary.

We've been doing great although I hope Elder Medeiros and I can begin teaching more. We've been doing a lot of finding lately and making a lot of new friends, but we've been a little busy and haven't been able to set teaching appointments with many of them.

I love you all so much. Thank you for all you do and are. Take care.

Elder Rindlisbacher

P.S. He was Maui right.

Week 105 - October 14, 2013

What another indescribable week. It feels impossible to describe the things that have happened and truly convey all of the feelings that come with. It has been an amazing week and an amazing day. It's hard that days and weeks can be so good!

I guess I'll start with what's most fresh: today. And I guess that will also take us through some of the earlier part of the week as well. We had an amazing event today which we called 'October Cultural Fest.' It was amazing. It was basically a concert, which we've been planning for the past good while with our investigator Jett, church public affairs, and the stake. We're still counting, but I'd say we probably had a turnout of over 500 people. This would be by far the most successful event I've participated in putting on since I've been in Japan. The last few months and weeks of a mission are generally the most effective. As far as entertainers we had a group of YSA institute students called Little Witnesses, a hula halau based out of Hilo called Hula Halau O Kou Lima Nani 'E Tokyo, a very popular singing/dancing group called Bless4, and Jett and some of his band member friends.

We were happy to see so many people at the event, members, nonmembers, and missionaries. The music wasn't missionary-approved music (but good music nonetheless), but missionaries were allowed to come and participate in the event provided they brought people with them. We were proud to see a completely packed cultural hall. Along with that, there was something I was very proud of personally. This past Tuesday we had 21 new missionaries arrive. They came into Narita Airport around 4:30 pm and we got back to the mission home around 8:00 pm. We had dinner and went off to bed. The next day was full of training and English class in the evening. Everyone had a great day, us and new missionaries included. After English class we had a quick wrap-up of the day in the mission home, talking about things we learned and what we should do as a result of what we learned. Following that meeting I was talking with one of the new missionaries, Elder Hadlock. I asked if he played any sports in high school or before his mission and he said basically, "Not really, I basically just dedicated my life to music before my mission." I asked how he was at guitar because I had been talking to Jett the day before about the upcoming concert and about having missionaries participate on stage as well. He said he would probably keep his keyboard person and drummer, but someone playing guitar might be good. Elder Hadlock said he was pretty comfortable with jumping into a band and being able to play along so I asked if he wanted to get on stage at the upcoming concert. He said he'd love to if he was able so I continued to coordinate with Jett and we got a few mp3's sent to Elder Hadlock for him to listen to to prepare. Elder Hadlock and his two companions (who are zone leaders; we have so many new missionaries we have a zone leader companionship training as well.) were able to get a guitar and amp from their bishops son this morning and got here between 10:00 am and 10:30 am with time to spare for the sound check at 11:00 am. Elder Hadlock really tore things up with the guitar and I'm so glad I was able to get him on that stage. He hasn't been here a week but I think he feels like he really contributed to something great. And he did. Everyone loved him. I have some great pictures and videos of him that I want to put on a small flash drive to give to him.

There's something I realized tonight. Something I've known for a long time but that just came into my mind in words tonight. This sentence, "There's always people to help out." Today at the cultural fest I feel like I spent the two hours it lasted along with the few hours of setting up and preparing and breaking down and cleaning up just walking around doing things for people and saying a lot of, "Thank you." It felt so great to do things for people, talk to people and have meaningful conversations, and just say, "Thank you." It was so good to look people in the eyes as I said that and see their joy! Those times are the times when it is impossible to say that people are not of divine origin with divine spirits within them! It makes me want to just tell people I love them and thankful for them all the time of the day, all the days of my life!

In other news, now it's Elder Medeiros and I as assistants here. Elder Olson returned home on Tuesday. It feels really weird to not have him here. I've been with him 24 hours/day for the past six months! We grew so much together and really came to love each other. We were able to work so well together, especially during the ending portion of our time together. Now he's on to another journey and I hope the best for him. I'm sure I'll see him after I return myself. Elder Medeiros and I are doing well together. We're always too busy to do otherwise! He's great and it's fun to be with a missionary from Hawaii. I began with a Hawaiian companion and will end with one. I've been a missionary for over two years now (as of October 5) and it's really nice to be so comfortable with the way things work, etc. I love Japan and I love The Work.

It's truly scary to be heading home soon, as it will be a big change. And of course it is very exciting to be heading home soon. I have many goals and plans and thoughts for the things I will do. One of my biggest desires right now is to return home spiritual and consecrated, healthy and clean. I hope I can take a lovely spirit home through the way I live these next few weeks.

I love you all so much. I hope you know I do. I hope you know you're on my mind always and that my desires are very much centered around you. I love the work here. I love my mission. I hope I can be a strength to you my family and my friends. Because I love you. Thank you. Take care, and have a great week!!

Elder Rindlisbacher

Pictures attached:
0257 - Hula halau
0279 - Bless4
0293 - Jett and his group
0328 - Elder Hadlock
0357 - Beginning to clean up following the event

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 103 – October 4, 2013

Alright, it's been about two and a half weeks since I've sent a decent email. Sorry it's been so long. We've had so     many things to do that we haven't taken a decent preparation day where I can email since the last one I sent. But    with many things to do there are always so many great experiences. It's hard to know where to begin! And at the      same time I don't want to bore everyone with an email that's too long. 
Two weeks ago Elder Olson and I went o exchange to Shonan. President Wada recommended we go on exchange withthem to help them to find more investigators. We had a great time and I think it was really an inspired exchange. I  worked with Elder Allred and Elder Olson worked with Elder Allred's companion, Elder Peters. We talked with many,  many  people and met some great new potential investigators. I tried my best  to give Elder Allredas many opportu- nities as I could to speak and share insights as we were talking to people. Overall the exchange gave a great boost of motivation. 
The next day we had a conference for the 13 district leaders in the mission and a few sisters. Conferences are always special. It's great to see the missionaries and to feel of their dedication and faith. Sister Hathaway was invited be-     cause we want her to receive some training as she'll probably be asked to serve as a sister training leader sometime  in the future. 
The next Monday we met with the Nagatomo Family and went to a place called Kamakura. the Nagatomo Family is    the one with the 12 year-old son and who we went with the father to a baseball game a few weeks ago. Kamakura is a very historical and popular place in Japan. I believe it was the capitol, over 1,000 years ago. We spent a great day with them and they drove us back to Kichijoji that evening. We took them into the chapel and talked about the gospel and taught about the restoration. They cried as they shared how they were feeling. The spirit was strong. 
I had a great exchange with Elder Larsonand Elder Connell in Tama last week. They are both amazing missionaries    and are doing very well. We were able to have many meaningful conversations over the 24 hours as well as teach      two lessons. I had so much fun constantly talking with people and enjoying the company of Elder Connell and Elder    Larson. 
We took brownies to a few member families the Sunday before last. We made them that morning before our meet-    ings before church and then delivered them in the evening. We  had time to take some to two families The first familywe had planned to take brownies to was our ward mission leader. He's been really busy lately but tries very hard anddoes well with fulfilling his calling. We took his address from our member list and headed over to his apartment... we thought. We got there and knocked and the door. Brother Nishio (not the ward mission leader) came to the  door and we asked for Brother Ito (the ward mission leader). Brother Nishio said he wasn't there and we were confused and    asked where he was. He said he didn't know and that this was his and his younger brother's apartment. They're both  in their 20's. Anyway, there Elder Olson and I were standing in front of Brother Nishio, Elder Olson holding a plate of  brownies, and me holding a note for Brother Ito. Elder Olson looked at me and then turned back to Brother Nishio andyelled, "Just kidding!" and handed him the brownies. I just put the note I had in my hand behind myback. We thankedhim for all he's been doing to help us  (which is a lot and we would have loved to take him brownies as well) and       wished him a good time. We had a good laugh after we got back into the car. 
From there we went to the Maritini Family's home. The Maritini's are the ones I had dinner with last Thanksgiving andwho had us over for dinner with Jett recently. We put the brownies in front of their door and I rang it and ran. They    live in from the street in the middle of a narrow path about the width of a normal sidewalk. Elder Olson was hiding     down the path a ways and it would have been good for me to run to where he was after I rang the doorbell but at the time it was easier for me to head the other way as I ran out of their gate. So I ran down that way and hid.After a few minutes I began to walk quietly down the path to where Elder Olson was so we could head home, but just as I was in  front of the Maritini's home their door started to open. I tried to back up quietly and quickly but realized that I wasn't going to get far enough away in time so I turned and sprinted. I waited a few minutes again and then was able to     make it to Elder Olson and we had another good laugh in the car. The Maritini's gave us a call just as we got home     and thanked us. Also, the  Nagatomo's attended church here on Sunday and had a wonderful time.  
Last Thursday we went with President Wada to Yamate to prepare for a special mission leadership council that was    held this past Thursday. We went there to check the location of what is now a park but was where  Elder Heber J.      Grant and a few other missionaries dedicated the land of Japan for the preaching of the gospel. After that we had       ramen at a place of President Wada's recommendation. President Wada really likes to eat good food (not necessarily  expensive food, just good food.) I'll send a picture of the ramen. I had Hokkaido Ramen (North Japan), Elder Olson   had Shinshu Ramen (Central Japan), and President Wada had Kyushu Ramen (South Japan.) That white/yellow-ish     thing on my ramen is butter. It was delicious. In mine there was also pork slices, corn, and potato wedges along with the vegetables and of course noodles. 
This past Monday we met with Angel at a small bread shop. Angel is a man from Venezuela that Elder Olson met in     Hachijoji when he was serving there about a year and a half ago. They had a very special moment on the street as     they talked and Angel opened his heart and shared feelings that were very personal to him. Elder Olson transferred    soon after and Angel didn't want to meet with other missionaries because he said he had had a special experience     with Elder Olson and not them. Elder Olson's called him a few times since then just to see how he's been and we wereable to meet with him this past Monday. It was such a great meeting. He is such a good person. We had a great talk  and he opened his heart to us. He cried as he talked about the joys of raising a child and he cried as he talked about  how he hopes he can live a good enough life to make up for past sins. He said many things that were very touching.  One thing he said, through his tears, was "When I was young I thought I was having fun. And I hoped I could live     many days so I could have fun. Now I hope I can live many days for redemption." Towards the end of the conversa-   tion he said, "This meeting really means a lot to me. It means a lot for the rest of my life." I hope to keep in contact with him and hopefully meet him at least once more before I return home. 
This past Wednesday we spent some great time with President and Sister Wada. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant    and when we walked into the restaurant it felt like we were in Thailand (although I've never been there.) We had a    great lunch and got Wendy's frostys afterwards. There aren't many Wendy's in Japan. Then we went to the temple fora 2:00 pm session. It was such a great session. The spirit was strong. Driving home from the temple Sister Wada       looked out the window and pointed out a nice big rainbow. She was trying to get a picture of it with her phone when  we went around a curve and there was another one. So two big rainbows next to each other. There was special        meaning in that for us that I'll explain later in this letter. 
We held our special mission leadership council this past Thursday. It went great. We held it in Yamate this time           instead of Kichijoji in honor of the dedication of Japan and to bless our newly opened mission. This is something         President Wada has been talking about and planning with us since he arrived here. We took the missionaries (just       over 20 of us) to the area where the dedicatory prayer was given, sang hymns, shared testimony, and prayed. We     used the same format for the meeting that the early missionaries used as they held the meeting there for the dedi-    cating. We sang 'We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet', had an openingprayer, sang 'Now Let Us Rejoice', had testi-    monies shared by each missionary, a special prayer was given by President Wada, we sang 'Come,Come, Ye Saints', and had a closing prayer. That was the morning portion of the council and the afternoon was spent at the chapel therein Yamate. The afternoon went great as we spoke of and trained on the work. 

Today we've been really busy. This morning at 5:30 am we taught seminary to the Wada boys. That is always great,  they're wonderful young men. We made and had breakfast with them after that and they went on their way to school.Elder Olson and I went on a run and found a nice park not far from the church/apartment. Right from finishing our     workout we got in the car to go pick up Elder Medeiros. Elder Medeiros is my new companion and the new assistant   as Elder Olson returns home next Tuesday. I've spent the last four transfers, just over five months with Elder Olson.  We feel like we've been able to unite like no other companionship in the mission, especially as it's unheard of in the  mission to have a companion for so long. Elder Olson and I aren't very similar in our personalities beside the fact that we're both very stubborn, so we weren't two that connected right away. But I know that President Budge had a lot of wisdom and inspiration as we were called to be companions and to assist the Wada's in opening the mission. We've   grown and learned so much from each other. I'm excited to work with Elder Medeiros over the next six weeks. You  might remember but I lived with him in Kanagawa for a transfer. He's from Wahiawa. 
Today we also met with a member, Masaki Yoza, who's preparing to serve a mission. He's extremely smart and just about as full of love as anyone could ever get. We meet with him occasionally to study from the scriptures and           Preach my Gospel. After our meeting today he showed us a short video of Joseph Smith that had very beautiful back- ground music. After the video he said he wanted to do something for Elder Olson before he leaves the mission and      that he'd been practicing the music that was on the video and wanted to play it for him. We went into the chapel and  were touched by the beautiful music and the love that could be felt through it. 
Other than everything else that's been going on we've been going to each zone with President and Sister Wada for      interviews. Once about every three months each missionary has an interview with President. It was a lot of fun being there and getting to know each missionary better as they waited outside of the room as their companion was being    interviewed. We talked with each missionary to see where we have opportunities for future training and strengthen-   ing. We'll be compiling the results of that within the next few days. 
I love you all so much and am so grateful for you. Thank you for your support and examples back home. I have six    weeks left in the mission. I'm very grateful for this next six weeks as I wouldn't have them if I wasn't able to extend. I hope to make the best of it and serve as much as I can. I love you! Take care! 
Elder Rindlisbacher 

P.S. Sorry if you find the letter long, I wish I could express my feelings and emotions better as I share these             experiences with you. I am having the time of my life! 

I forgot to say that the meaning of the two rainbows was that our decision to have Elder Medeiros come in as the nextassistant was right. That's what we took it to mean because as we left the temple, President said he had had two       distinct impressions, one being that Elder Medeiros was to be the next assistant. Everyone in the office is now joking   that the two rainbows are the two Hawaiians now in the mission home. 
Love you!