We were able to meet with the branch president this week. He`s fantastic. He gave us ten less-active and part-member families that he wants us to go visit and report back to him on. It`s so wonderful to have the bishop/branch president`s support when you transfer into an area. I`m so excited that he`s keeping us busy. We`ve been biking around like crazy, visiting these families.
It`s cool to see the housing all jammed together right above the rice fields.
So the week I got here, there were two baptisms scheduled, but I`m sure you noticed that only one person was baptized. The other is an 18 year old 金人 (golden) of all 金人`s. Seriously. He is going to seminary every morning and according to the seminary teacher, he`s the only one that stays awake through class. Unfortunately, we`ve run into a parent`s approval barrier. The legal age here is 20 and it appears that his parents aren`t ready to let him get baptized. We met with his mother last week. She said she would discuss it with her husband (who is working away from home in Kyushu) and it turns out he`s completely against it. There`s not a lot we can do, besides pray. The incredible thing is how much this investigator loves his parents. He told me last night that he "loves" his dad and will never, ever disobey him. That was a total shock. I was humbled. The word 愛 (love) in Japanese is so scarcely used, ESPECIALLY by 18 year olds regarding their parents. He`s incredible and certainly an example to me. We will continue to meet with him and build his faith until something happens. The Lord will prepare a path, someway, somehow....sometime.
We clean a member`s bakery every Saturday and they always send us home with more bread than we can carry. I love this area. I`ve been wanting to eat real Japanese bread my whole mission. American bread simply cannot compare.
We have a few more investigators. They`re great people. There`s a lot of listening and resolving concerns that we are going to have to do. I need to work on building patience. One thing that President Zinke emphasized in last transfer`s zone conference was teaching and finding "sheep" not "goats." The sheep obviously being the elect who will hear God`s voice, get baptized, and build the kingdom and endure to the end. The goats being the people that want to hang out with the missionaries.
Taken during interviews last transfer
Saturday, the whole zone gathered at Namba (in Osaka) for a zone activity. As usual, we rotated companions around the hour. That place is absolutely insane. It`s nearly as crowded as Shibuya or Shinjuku (in Tokyo), but the people are soooo different. You can meet any kind of person imaginable there. I wish I would`ve taken some pictures. Anyway, it started pouring tidal waves for the last hour so all 20 of us huddled under a building and talked to the construction workers there. We were all soaking wet, but it was a blast. There was a great group picture taken on another missionaries` camera that I`ll have to get a hold of somehow.
Yesterday was stake conference and it was fantastic. This is the Osaka-Abeno stake and I believe it`s the biggest in the mission. I`ve never seen so many Japanese members in one place before. It`s an exciting feeling. Just sitting in the room all together is きもちい (a great feeling). I loved it. The Zinke`s were there and spoke as well.
At Stake Conference I saw Ai Yasufuku again, who I worked with at BYU. I needed proof that we met this time. The A Thousand Cranes` folks will be so happy.
So last Monday was awesome. Here are some pictures, but yeah, we explored Nara Koen and saw the three world heritage sites there. We should be seeing a lot more really cool places throughout the transfer. I`m way excited. (Editor's note: Nara is the original, ancient capital of Japan and was built around the year 710 AD. It's arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the country.)
We went to Nara-koen for temple-viewing and deer-petting. I think this picture is one of the best I`ve ever taken.
I can`t believe those deer. They alone are reason to come to Nara.
I can`t believe how friendly they are. They`re like silent, gigantic dogs. They will come right up to you and nudge you with their antlers, looking for food.
According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine. Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death up until 1637, the last recorded date of that law having been enforced.
And Todaji. World`s largest wooden building and largest indoor statue of Buddha.
Randy, がんばれ! (Work hard!) Get that part! If it ever ends up on film, make sure to get a copy. I want to see that musical someday.
I am completely out of time. I hope you all have a great week. We`re going to go see Horyuji today with the Yamatokoriyama Elders, one of whom is Elder Cardoso who I worked with a couple transfers ago.
Talk to you next week!