Wednesday, February 27, 2019

General Authorities Are Objectively Funnier than Normal People

Konnichiwa minasan! 

Well this week sure has been crazy busy what with Wada 長老 being in town and all. I feel like I was out of my area more than in it! But that's okay because a lot was learned and I'm excited about it. I really loved how he focused on expanding our vision of teaching. As a missionary, my favorite part of the whole thing is being able to teach, so I loved all the training on being able to teach more frequently and better. I think it's going to help us really make every moment with every person a teaching moment, especially with members. Just this week we went out to visit some former investigators with one of the members, and over lunch we discussed the temple and were able to start her really considering going and receiving her endowment. We're super excited about it. She's really awesome and already really loves the temple, so it's cool to be able to see her make steps further along the Covenant Path.

As for investigators, we're still doing our best. Iwamoto san is really open to learn, but progression is a whole other ball game. We've been struggling to teach for understanding, but I'm not sure how we could possibly be teaching more simply. Cooper 長老 suggested we go over plan of Salvation again, so we're going to try that, but as it is I'm just very confused as to what the problem is. A puzzle of the ages indeed, but so it is when you work with people I guess. Any and all prayers would be much appreciated. πŸ™

We also had a lot of fun this week teaching the Kitamoto family. We do 30/30 with them, but because the kids are small, the English usually becomes some sort of game or song. This week I introduced them to Pterodactyl, Ooga Booga, and Bunny Bunny, and let me tell you, there is nothing funnier than watching small Japanese children playing American camp games. We followed it up with a family history lesson and gave each of the kids a "my family" booklet and they worked on it with their moms. It was super fun and the kids really liked it. Hopefully through family history the mom will be more interested in the gospel.

We're also planning a really awesome culture party for right before we transfer so the ward can have more ways to meet and friendship our investigators, and also so the ward can be more unified and friends with each other. We're each gonna teach how to make a food from our country and I'm really excited about it. Everyone will learn to make real brownies lol.

But yeah that's the general kanji of the week! Tune in next time to hear Sherwood Shimai sing something probably.

Sherwood 姉妹

1.) got to see the MTC squad! 
2.) fun times at stake conference todayyy

Monday, February 18, 2019

Too Much Chocolate Has Been Eaten

Konnichiwa minasan! 

It's been a good week! We've been doing a lot of different things and had a surprising amount of appointments. Unfortunately, we've had to drop quite a few investigators after those appointments, but that's just a way to find new people to teach, I guess.

We've been working with a newly picked up investigator, Iwamoto-san. She's really sweet but she's got this problem where Satan keeps telling her that she doesn't need to be baptized, so that's annoying. We're planning on teaching her more about the understanding and recognizing the spirit, so hopefully that will help her to be able to realize that it's Satan who's telling her that baptism is unnecessary. I really feel like once she understands that baptism is personally critical for her, she'll progress fairly quickly. 

DCS this week went pretty well. Ejima ε…„εΌŸ, our ward mission leader, brought us Costco pizza so that was super nice. He also went on a small rant about how we need to be using more psychological and emotional persuasive tools in our dendo. I can kinda see where he's coming from, and he's right that we need to be refining our teaching skills, but I'm more concerned about teaching by the Spirit. Thinking about it though has helped me in the PMG challenge for teaching in the Savior's way. I've really been considering how the Savior does teach and how he does not. It's really cool actually, considering how Christ was always straightforward when he taught doctrine. He used tatoes and object lessons, but he always gave the people he taught a clear choice.

This week we also had a koukan with the Hirakata shimai, and I spent the day with McCuen 姉妹. We didn't have any appointments scheduled, so we went and visited some less actives and potential investigators. The crazy thing though is there was this one guy, Oku ε…„εΌŸ, who'd been baptized ages ago and remembered the church, but because of poor teaching on the part of the missionaries who baptized him, he didn't know anything about Jesus Christ. So we asked him if he wanted to learn about Jesus Christ and he straight up just said "yeah sure please teach me" and so we were able to set up an appointment with him and we even invited him to church. He said he might like to δΉ…γ—γΆγ‚Š come back and visit. It was crazy. I've never seen a less active in Japan that open to hearing the gospel again. It was also valentine's day so we got to use that in contacting teenagers and kids. It was super fun. 

Other than that, we had a great eikaiwa on Saturday. Taniguchi 長老 and I were working with the more advanced learners' side of the room and we ended up teaching about the law of the fast and how strengthening the family strengthens society during the English part of the lesson. It was super great, and one of the students lined me later saying that she had shared what we taught with her daughter. It just goes to show that teaching how the core of the gospel solves the problems our students face sparks interest in them. I'm super excited about it. 

Also on Friday we have game night with this less active member, Q-chan, and we basically just play random board games with him and other members/investigators who join, followed up with a spiritual message at the end. This week was super great because the elders did a message on family history and they asked me to share an experience from my family history. So I got to share about my great grandfather and how his autobiography has helped me on my mission, and it was super great because Q-chan seemed really invested in the lesson, and the elders are going to try and start working with him to get him to the temple. 

But that's about the general main stuff of the week! Tune in next time to hear all of my probably many thoughts about the Wada 長老 taikai.

Sherwood 姉妹

1.) We hiked (and by biked I mean pushed my bike) up a hill and the view was great
2.) I'm 90% sure this tree has cancer
3.) I solved this rubiks cube all by myself
4.) game night! 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Ninja Van

Konnichiwa minasan! 

We went to Nabari this weekend, and it was very enlightening experience. So much so that I don't really remember what happened before Friday and I'm too lazy to go look at my journal. From what I remember, we mostly tried to visit less actives or people with potential interest and also Kitamura Shimai gave us a really yummy lemonade thingy that's like a goop made of lemon and sugar and water that you put in your glass and when you combine it with water it becomes lemonade. It's my treasure. 

But anyway when we got to the Nabari apartment at the end of the day on Saturday after spending the day with Imoto Shimai, I had a series of interesting discoveries/insights. (btw the level of clutter in the apartment is appalling and have decided that I am very grateful to be a shimai and would be glad never to have to step foot in an elder apartment again after my work here is done) Sitting on a swivel chair in the middle of the kitchen area is a little meishi book filled with meishis from leaving elders to incoming elders. It went from the elders of ancient times past (ie 2009) all the way up to, wait for it, Hatchett 長老! Yep! That's right my district leader last transfer used to serve in Nabari! It was really interesting reading the little messages, especially how they changed tone over the years. The beginning is really member fire, and then it changes to more of a "get ready to grind it out here" vibe until it settles with Hatchett 長老's last words, "This place needs joy."  I think that he's really spot on. I think it's true in Nabari and Yamatokoriyama and honestly the rest of the world too. I'm not really sure why people struggle to feel joy, considering that the gospel is the greatest source of joy, but it is a problem and one that I've been trying to figure out how to solve for ages now. I'm not 100% sure what the answer is, but I think I'm on the right track now.

Mom suggested last week that I read "Saints" and "Daughters in My Kingdom" to help with President Nelson's challenge to participate more fully in Relief Society, and little did she know that those books were just what I needed to figure out what to do to help the people here feel joy. As I was reading these histories of the women of the Church especially, I came to a profound realization of the sheer power that lies in the hands of the Relief Society. It seems to me that a major part of the change in the members that President Eyring was talking about is going to be headed by the Relief Society. I've been thinking about President Kimball's prophecy, “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.” I really feel that this is a critical part of the changing of the hearts of the members. I'm not sure what will come of it yet, but I feel very impressed to begin working more closely with the Relief Society and helping them remember the heritage of their sisterhood, what Emma Smith foresaw. “We are going to do something extraordinary...We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.” I feel that this heritage of charity, the pure love of Christ, when understood, will help lead the sisters here in Japan to reclaim the joy of the gospel.

So in accordance with this impression, we've come up with a bunch of ideas for how to minister more effectively to the members in Nabari through technology. We can't be there in person, but we can be there for them through LINE. We talked to the branch president and set up a group chat with him and the elders so we can hopefully have a LINE video call meeting with him this week about how we can help Nabari. We also asked him if we can join the Nabari Branch LINE group and post encouraging message/spiritual thoughts the weeks we aren't there so the members don't feel as far away from us. He agreed so we're going to start doing that, and also start seeing if we can't start working with the Relief Society and Elders Quorum over LINE. I really feel like if we as members understand our heritage and identity as Latter-Day Saints, we'll be able to access greater love and joy in the gospel. Through the blessings of the temple and eternal families, all the hardship in our lives is made not only worth it, but sweet in and of itself. As C. S. Lewis said, "[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. … The Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven." And I feel that the understanding of this is going to come at least in part from hearing the stories of saints who have gone through much the same things as they are, and the vision that they worked so hard to leave us. We'll see where it leads, I guess.

As for Yamatokoriyama, we're doing good! We had dinner with Bishop yesterday and got a lot of awesome direction for where we need to go with the area, specifically with recent converts and family history. I am very excited. Other than that though I don't really remember what happened this week because it was all so eclipsed by the weekend. Slowly but surely the work of the Lord is rolling forward. It's a good time.

Sherwood 姉妹

1-3) We went to this castle sorta thing in the city of the origin of the ninja. I think it's just a fancy house made by an old rich guy though. I did not really understand the conversation
4.) ninja van πŸ—Ύ

Monday, February 4, 2019

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Apostles

Konnichiwa minasan! 

It sure has been a crazy week what with MLC and zone taikai all in one go. I feel like I've been outside my area more than in it! But it's okay because a great many things were learned and a lot of good things happened.

We had a lovely lunch appointment with Hattori Shimai, and it was actually really awesome because I discovered that she is basically me if I were old and Japanese. She's got a lot of awesome insights about the gospel and cares a lot about whether or not people are truly converted to the Lord, or if they're being cold gravy disciples. We had an awesome conversation about what true faith and conversion really is and how to help other people along the covenant path. We're really feeling like the key to the members here is friendshipping them.

Also! We picked up an old investigator this week! Her name is Iwamoto san and she's really cute. We're not super sure how it's going to go or if she'll be ready this time, but I have faith in the guidance of the Spirit so whatever happens it'll be fine.

On Wednesday we taught Los Angela san and her family, and it went very well. Taniguchi 長老, having the superpower of Portuguese, was able to teach the mom and the rest of us were able to help out the kids with English and teach them how to pray. I really enjoy teaching children. They're so pure. So willing to listen. I wish more people were like that. Our problem is that the kids speak Japanese as their first language and the mom speaks Portuguese as her first language, so it's hard to teach all of them together. We're trying to figure out how to set it up to be most efficient, but ideas are slow-coming currently.

Also we had a great meeting with Hasegawa Kyoudai, the family history specialist of the ward. We talked about how to get people to start, and it turns out that most people just have no idea what they're doing and are too afraid to ask, so we've got a plan to start meeting with everyone and teaching them about FamilySearch. Also we learned about how to get the family registers from the government! Because Hayashi shimai is Japanese, she needs to go get hers, and we found out that you can send for it real easy by mail or the internet. Hashimoto Kyoudai gave us a whole guide on how to do it and I sent it to the tech elders because it's actually brilliant and really helpful when trying to help members get going on their family history.

We also had a meeting with the bishop and the elders and got the whole lowdown on the ward vision. We learned a lot about the general state of the ward and where bishop wants us to help move them to. We can tell he's been thinking about this a lot, so we're going to move forward there and try to focus on bringing the spark of the joy of the gospel into the members' lives.

Sherwood 姉妹

1.) the garland of Apostles in the abeno apartment and origin of today's title. I want one. 
2.) proof that Japan is stuck in the 90's

Sherwood Chourou - Week 38 in Japan

Konnichiwa! We are back to the slowish days once more. We've been dendoing and teaching plenty, but nothing outstanding has arisen ...