Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011

Well, before I forget and since it`s definitely the exciting news for this week....transfer calls came a day early. President Zinke wants to do them on Mondays from now on. Any guesses?

I`m going to Himeji! My companion will be Elder Shimizu who I believe will be starting his third transfer. I`m a little bit nervous to go senpai (Senior Companion) but I think it will all work out fine. I`ve heard pretty good things about Himeji and it should be fun. One sad thing is that the castle is closed for refurbishment for the next four years. Really sad. I will definitely miss this small branch out here. It went through the floor right when I got here and we`ve worked really hard to get it back to where it was. It still has a way to go, but seeing it change little by little has been really exciting. When you serve in this branch, it kind of becomes your child. I`ll definitely be keeping in touch with these members for a while. It was time though.

We had a "Meet President and Sister Zinke" conference in Kobe this week so basically our whole week was travel to and from there.

On Tuesday we went out to Mie-ken to visit the Iwamoto family in the afternoon. We were pretty sure they wouldn`t be there so it was basically a trip out there to drop a note off. We haven`t been able to make contact with them so we`ve been pretty worried. As it has been for the past two weeks, it was unbelievably hot. They weren`t there. We tried to talk to a man that was working in a rice field (that`s all there is out there) right in front of their house and he wasn`t really interested.

As we were getting on our bikes to go back, I saw an old man wearing a traditional Japanese gardening hat on all fours on a narrow little walkway just past their house (I sent a picture of what is behind their house before). He was picking at some of the weeds coming through the pavement so I figured he was probably gardening, but then when I looked closer his arms were trembling. I ran over there and asked if he was ok. He was chewing on the weeds. He said he was fine but didn`t look good at all.

We tried to help him up. It took about three tries and when we finally got him to his feet, we could tell there was NO WAY that he was going to be able to stand on his own; like there was no feeling in his legs. We put him back down and had the guy that was in the rice field call an ambulance. The old man then started asking for water.

I ran next door (which is quite a ways out there) to get some. There was an old woman sitting watching TV with the door open. She couldn`t hear a thing. I had to scream "OBAACHAN!!" ("Hey, Granny!") before she heard me and I had to explain the story three times before she finally understood. I ran the water back and by that point, there were little heads poking out of all of the rice fields watching me. Elder Schramm had to grab him by the chest and hold him in order for him to be able to drink.

The ambulance got there shortly after. Everyone saw what happened and the man we talked to earlier seemed really impressed. I wish I could say some miracle investigator came out of the situation, but that didn`t happen. I do know that we were supposed to be there then though. Who knows how long that man was out there and he probably wouldn`t have been found otherwise. Plus, everyone saw the two kids in white shirts cause a scene. I felt good about it. It is so hot out here. We`ve had two old guys pass out on us in a week`s time.

We had to leave Wednesday morning to make the trip to Kobe. The zone leaders needed Elder Schramm to do a baptismal interview so I once again went to Sennan with Elder Cardoso (Elder Cardoso`s companion is also a district leader and had to do baptismal interviews for the zone leaders as well. They had a family baptism plus another so about five people needed to be interviewed) to teach their Eikaiwa (English Class) for the evening. The next day (Thursday) Elder Schramm and Elder Kuroda came back to Sennan and the four of us worked there for a day. It was really fun to work with Elder Kuroda again. I was with him all the time back when I was in the Kobe zone.

These are pictures from the Sennan apartment. It has an awesome, tenth floor view. Sennan is where Kansai airport is. It`s on the very southern end of Osaka-fu. On a clear day you can see Awaji-shima and the Akashi bridge, as well as Kobe.

Friday was the 大会 (Conference) in Kobe. I was really excited to be in Kobe for a little bit. It`s really exciting passing through Osaka Umeda Station when your area is Shingu, plus, I hadn`t been back to Kobe since I transfered out of there in March. President and Sister Zinke seem pretty great. They are definitely going to have some cultural and language learning to do...but their vision is fantastic and I`m sure they`ll do great. President Zinke`s vision is "True Disciples - One and All" (真の弟子一人とみな). He talked a lot about what it really means to be a follower of Christ and how it is essential for us to have the Spirit in every single thing we do. He said he thinks we can add zeroes to our current 200 baptisms per year pace. He`s got ambition and it`s great. It was fun seeing all of the other missionaries (only half the mission was there, they will did another conference the next day in Okayama) as well.

We spent that night in Iwade. The Sennan misisonaries are actually covering both Sennan and Iwade areas. Iwade is a tiny little city next to Wakayama. The branch has lots of members, few of which are active. It is actually going to close soon, which is sad. The members will then have to go to the Wakayama ward which will be a little far. Hopefully the missionaries can transition them effectively.

We then spent 8 hours on Saturday getting back to Shingu. We left Iwade at 8 and arrived at 4. This is really the middle of nowhere.

There weren`t many members at church, but one of our new converts who`s really, really struggled to see why he needs to keep the commandments came, blessed the sacrament for the first time (he received the Priesthood last week), and was as humble as could be. He even bore his testimony and said he`s going to try really hard to change. Holding the Priesthood is a big deal. I think he definitely was changed. It was amazing.

Tsuboi 兄弟 emailed us that night saying that he was getting surgery on his kidney stone the next day. He`s the type of person that is so humble, he won`t ever admit that he`s struggling and he can`t bear to ask for help. We had to twist his arm to let us give him a blessing, but he agreed.

We went this morning and sadly, it was probably the last time I`ll see him since he`ll be recovering from surgery up until I leave. I will miss him more than anything. That man has completely changed my life and strengthened my testimony more than anything I`ve ever experienced. He is frankly the most faithful member I`ve ever met and he does it completely alone. He has some ridiculously difficult health circumstances as well, but that doesn`t stop him from being happy all the time. I`ll be keeping in touch with him for the rest of my life. I`m pretty sure of that.

My last picture with Brother Tsuboi when we went to his apartment this morning. I already miss him.

I guess that`s all for this week. I hope everyone has had a good week. Tell Sam to email me! I want to know what he`s up to. I`ll email Grandma as well. Until next week...

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