Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

I have no time.

On Tuesday we helped N 姉妹`s husband put up his Christmas lights. He took us out to eat afterwards and said that he feels like the two of them need to start going to church once a month. It will help them grow stronger and perform better in their respective jobs. It was like we didn`t have to say anything, he said that himself. Service is powerful. I called to follow up and N 姉妹 said she would be coming this Sunday, but her husband had work. The branch was stunned to see her. It`s been nearly 3 years since she last came.

We had another dinner with Na兄弟 this week. He`s so much fun. I wish I could have dinner with him once a month for the rest of my life.

Thanksgiving was a day of miracles. First of all, N姉妹 told me she`ll be coming to church. Throughout my whole time in Nara I`ve had a thought in the back of my head to attend seminary. I put if off until Thursday. Monday (today) was Sean-kun`s birthday so I decided to call the seminary teacher and see if it was ok for us to come. She answered and said "Oh, you want to come because Y is coming, right?" I had no idea. Uekubo 兄弟, his best friend from the Yamatokoriyama ward had a sleepover at his house Sunday night with Y and Sean and then brought them to Nara seminary in the morning. Now that`s a young man fulfilling his Duty to God. We see him every now and then at Eikaiwa (English Class) in Yamaokoriyama. He`s my hero.
Here are the seminary students. I admire and look up to each one of them.

We also found an investigator in the freezing cold that night. We picked a random less-active name on the huge list we have that was close to our apartment but I forgot to write down the room number. We decided to just house the third and fourth floor and the first door we knocked on found us a Chinese college student wondering about God. I haven`t worked with any Chinese people since Kobe, but it was really exciting. It was freezing cold when I was in Kobe too. It was just perfect. Teaching Chinese people about religion in the cold. As ridiculous as that sounds, it really was a spiritual confirmation. It felt really good. Like everything is in one eternal round.

We had zone conference on Friday. It was great, as always, to see all of the other missionaries.
As you can see, zone conference was a miny MTC reunion. Sister Ilch and Elder Ewer were there. Sister Ilch transfered to Okamachi and it sounds like she had fun with Sister Myagmarjav last transfer in Tokushima. Elder Ewer is in Hanayashiki. That is the gym in the Ibaraki church, my old area.

We got to visit the Y family who recently moved into the branch from the Sagamihara ward in the Machida stake. They`re darling and my companion really appreciated their clean, standard Japanese.

Your Questions, My Answers:

Q: How’s your Japanese language? Have you had any Japanese dreams? Actually, are you still having English dreams?
A: I`ve never been able to remember any dreams I ever had. I honestly can`t answer that question because I don`t know. My guess would be English though.
Q: Have you learned to like Curry Rice yet?
A: I have actually. But I make it very differently. It needs Masala and any thing else spicy that you can get your hands on. The most important thing: it needs to be topped off with Kewpie Mayonaise. I`m dead serious, you can`t eat curry without it.
Q: How’s your companion doing? I’m sure he’s a great missionary, but is he a great friend?
A: He`s both. We get along really, really, really well. We can talk all night if we`re not careful.
Here is our Thanksgiving. Elder Nukaya`s family very kindly sent some supplies. Instant mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and canned chicken. I`ll never forget it.

I think that`s all. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It sure looks like you did. I hope everyone was smiling and 元気 (happy). I`m happy about our family becoming a little bit more music-oriented too.
Have a good week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Since last Saturday, we were at Irie 兄弟`s concert, we went to the 泉川`s on Monday to go clean up. They need all the help they can get. They feel really guilty about having us clean the place, especially on a preparation day, but I wish there was even more that we could do. I found out on Monday that they don`t leave the store until 1 in the morning so they get to bed at two and have to be back by seven. They`ve been doing this for 10 years. Plus, 泉川 兄弟 is the high priest group leader so he usually has to stay up until 3 or 4 preparing lessons on Saturday nights.
This week on Saturday, it rained from morning to evening so when we got to the 泉川`s they had tons of left over bread and we went home with more than we could carry, as usual. This picture is mashed potato-bacon bread. I had koroke bread for the first time as well but ate it before I even thought to take a picture of it.

On Tuesday I had a exchange with the zone leaders. Hale 長老 from Boise, Idaho came to Nara to work with me. We visited Mama -san. Her real name is something else. Have I told you about her? She`s been visited once a week by missionaries for the last 30 years. When I first got to the area with Anderton 長老, he said he wanted to not go over there because she isn`t interested in the message. I took his word for it and we left her alone. After 3 weeks, she called and told us to come over. That didn't go very well. I hadn`t been back there since then. She has come to church several times and asked us to come over and eat dinner, but I avoided it. For whatever reason, I just felt like we should go over that day. We don`t have anyone to teach right now so I figured we`d just give it a shot. She was the same as always. Speaks like she doesn`t like us at all, but acts full of love, won`t stop feeding us and wanting us to come back. She said she wants shukudai (homework) so we will probably go back and commit her to be baptized. She`s been going to church for longer than I`ve been alive. Who knows.

K兄弟 who we`ve been working with is headed to the temple on the third! That`s really exciting about him. I really wish I could be there. He`s doing baptisms for the dead this time anyway, so hopefully it will be ok.

We went back to the 新本`s this week. They were so excited to hear that you knew his sister. She`s still a very sweet lady and said that she will for sure have me over for dinner before I transfer. Let`s hope so. I`ll report if anything happens.

We found a couple more less-actives this week. It really is such a privilege to meet all of these very different people. One is a man from Utah who works for a radio station. We only met his mother in law, but she like some other people I`ve me - walked right out of a movie. She was tooth-less and almost seemed like she wanted me to get mad at her for smoking (she was baptized forever ago as well). We also met one that was baptized 25 years ago, stayed active for 5 years, and then left activity behind. It`s sad how few of the members that are listed on ward-lists are active. It`s been interesting to track these people down and hear their stories. It`s even more fascinating to see the looks on some of the 40 year old members` faces when they find out you went and visited their old primary teacher whom they haven`t seen at church since primary.

As you can see, Christmas lights are always up in time for my birthday no matter where I go.

A member brought her friend to church on Sunday. There are some really fiery members here. It didn`t go as smoothly as it could have, so she`s not an investigator, but I really am impressed with the effort. I still love this branch.

I don`t really know what else to report this week. There`s a zone conference this week in Ibaraki.

I think that`s all. Do you have any questions? Please don`t hesitate. It will help me know what to say in these emails. I feel like they`re so ばらばら (scattered) and I`m running out of things to say. Have a good week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

I`ll just get to business as fast as possible.
On Tuesday we visited K兄弟 again (he started coming to church after we started visiting him regularly) and he made a temple recommend interview and should be going on the third!
We also visited the H`s during the week. I don`t think I wrote about it last week, but the mother bore her testimony last Sunday and I wanted to go see her and say that I enjoyed it. H姉妹 is from Italy and came to Japan 12 years ago as a foreign exchange student. She now has three young kids and she talked about how people criticize her because they can only speak Japanese. I told her about my family and she said to tell my mom that she understands.
A guy that we see all the time when we go to our email place stopped us on the street during the week and we went into Mister Donuts with him and sat down to teach him a lesson. He is one of those guys that ran into missionaries 30 years ago and stops them whenever he sees them. He knows all about church history and quite a bit of the teachings. He was really fascinated by my companion and how he is 100% Japanese, but had never been to Japan nor heard a word of Japanese before. He wasn`t interested enough to make another appointment with us or come to church, but I`m sure we`ll run into him again.
So this is what a shoyu (Soy Sauce and Seaweed) doughnut looks like. Yes, they taste good.

Mister Donuts is doing a Snoopy promotion right now. I nearly felt guilty throwing this box away. My companion said one of his addictions is point cards. He now has a Misdo point card so we`re going to have to be careful or we may gain a ton of weight this winter.
On Thursday we had an interesting experience. We had been hesitating to visit the O family for a really long time. The wife is in her 60`s but has some health problems. She`s really frail and has to walk with a rolling walker and at church she basically has to be carried around. I always thought that if we went, we`d be a big bother. We decided to go anyway and it was like they were waiting for us. They had just returned from the temple a couple hours before we got there. O姉妹 was baptized at 30 and served a mission a year later. O兄弟 was baptized at 26 and served a year and a half mission at 29 with special permission. O兄弟 served in Sapporo in 1982 and he served in Wakkanai. Do you know him? Anyway, they let us in, fed us a bunch of snacks, told us mission stories and then showed us a slide show that they used on their missions. It was about a mother that dies and touches on the plan of salvation. It was really great. We then shared a message and left. It all timed out to be exactly one hour, like they had a perfect program set for us, even though they didn`t know we were coming.
That night, on our way back, we didn`t have much time or really any good plan. We decided we were going to park at the church and then just house the apartment complex next door. When we went into the underground parking lot, there was somebody else down there in the pitch dark and it was kind of scary. The person immediately said 久しぶり ("It's been a long time") and lo and behold, it was M! We haven`t seen or been able to make contact with him for nearly two months!! He was as nice, mature, and spiritual as ever. His parents strictly advised him to stay away from the church until he is finished with juken (entrance exams) in March. Respecting his parents, he strictly follows their wishes and said he honestly doesn`t really feel a desire to come to church anymore, school is more important. The reason we haven`t been able to contact him is because he stopped using his cell-phone. He wants to study that hard. Nobody can make contact with him. He said he still prays and reads his Book of Mormon daily. I know someday he`ll come along. I really hope so at least. He was and is so ready. He just needs a little bit more freedom and stability to make the choice himself. It`s such a hard thing to know that there is nothing left that I can do. It was really good to see him again though. I didn`t know if I ever would.
Sean-kun took his TOEFL test on Saturday so on Friday night for Eikaiwa (English Class), Nukaya 長老 taught him one on one. I can`t explain how much I just naturally love that kid. As the class finished I went to encourage him and wish him luck on his test and he said he really wants to go to BYU and see me there. I get emotional just thinking about that. I want to be there for him as just a normal friend. My missionary badge limits me a little bit. I`m thinking that if he gets in, I may move down to Provo during fall semester, find work, audition for a show....something....just so I can be there for him and help him out. He really needs it. I think there are reasons that I`m meeting him now that extend beyond my mission. He is an amazing kid. He`s been through everything and just keeps moving forward. I really hope and pray that he`ll get into BYU. It will do so much good for him.
Ok, you know the 新本`s are completely less-active, right? Like, haven`t been to church in years. Do you have pictures or anything? I need to go see them again. That is just too much to be coincidence. I can`t believe that.
For my birthday, it was a pretty normal day. I don`t know if you`ve ever heard of Irie 兄弟 before, but he`s somewhat of a celebrity among Japanese members. He makes Japanese gospel CD`s with Janice Kapp Perry. We went to his concert on Saturday because the zone leaders said I needed to go since it was my birthday. He has the missionaries sing with him at every concert he has so we sang. It was at the Higashi Osaka church, his home ward only about a half hour train ride from Nara.
Church was good yesterday. I was afraid I might get sick of this place since I`ve been here now longer than I`ve been anywhere else on my mission. It`s quite the opposite. I feel like I`m too attached to some of the members. Like I want to just have a normal calling and be their friend and just be spending time with them all the time. Who knows, I may come back here to visit in the future.
Fujita 兄弟 also asked me to ask you to think about sending some sort of Christmas greeting from our ward to the Nara members. It can be something really simple. He doesn`t want to be a burden. It can be a simple thing. I suppose using the primary could be the easiest. Just like a sort of "Merry Christmas from one member to another" deal. Remember, simple. Really simple. Please don`t overdo it. He`s preparing something for a Christmas activity.
Gosh, I`m already out of time. I hope you all have a good week. Have a good rest of the run, Randy!
So we once more went to Nara Park, this time with the district before transfers. It was fun. I don`t really get sick of the place. It`s fascinating just watching people interact with the deer.

We entered Todaiji right before it closed so we were nearly the last group of people to go through and it was awesome. It feels much more mystical in the dark. Since there were so few people, everyone wanted to try to fit through the hole in the pole (ha, rhyme) that is the size of Buddha`s nostril. My companion and Elder Tsushima from Sapporo were able to get through. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011

Sorry, I guess once you`ve been in an area for a while, you forget to take picutres. This is all I took this week. This is the view from our apartment complex if you are to step out the front door. I thought it was cool how the sun was coming through the windows of that building. It looks like it`s on fire or something.

So, we got our transfer calls this morning. As expected, neither of us are moving. The training program is twelve weeks so they`d only consider moving us unless one of us was about to kill the other. I will begin my third transfer in Nara making it my longest area yet. I`ve moved around a lot on my mission. Much more than normal.

On Tuesday I had an exchange with Elder Waterbury who is the district leader`s companion in Nabari. He was trained by Elder Soares (district leader) and they`ve been together for three transfers. He`s a really young missionary, but was really surprisingly capable. He really didn`t have to lean on me at all. I was impressed. He`s about 6`4 or 6`5 and blonde so he`s not hard to notice. It`s very easy to stop someone and have a nice conversation with him standing next to you. I`ve missed that.  がんばるは!

We got a referral from the referral center that day so the two of us biked out to go see it. She visited Temple Square and the Conference Center while on a Nuskin conference and left her contact information. She was really shocked by how quickly we came. We were there around 4:00PM and she had returned the late the night before. Referrals are meant to be contacted quickly. She was a really nice lady, really open to everything. Not sure how far her interest goes right now, but she was willing to accept and read a copy of the Book of Mormon and we will probably return sometime and take some 元気 members with us. She seems to be a pretty sociable person.

Last week, we got a random call from a guy named Bobby Brown who said he wants to play at the Branch Christmas concert. Apparently he`s done it plenty of times before. He`s half British, half Japanese and was born and raised in Japan so obviously, he speaks Japanese. He doesn`t look Japanese, AT ALL though. He had hair nearly down to his waist and was really a free spirit. He`s own of those rare people you meet on your mission that have walked straight out of a movie. He`s a musician, but has more experience than most families have all put together. He`s on par with Warren from Ibaraki (remember him?). No interest in the Gospel really, but we`ll be seeing him in the near future I believe.

This month also started a new month so as with the new training system, we got a new mission training plan. was the exact same one as last month`s titled "Teaching More Effectively and More Often" part 2.

We visited a less-active couple named 新本 and they were so wonderful. They have a hard time coming to church and living the gospel, even though they believe it`s true. Just not enough motivation it looks like. They love missionaries though. The husband came out with his zipper down and zipped it up in front of us like it was no big deal. He shoved us into the genkan and started feeding us persimmons and sweet potatoes like crazy. He was telling me that his older sister owned a Japanese restaurant in Utah. Right when he said that, a light went off in my head. He didn`t know where in Utah the restaurant was or what it was called. The wife finally came out from the back room and I asked her what the restaurant`s name was (she had actually been there) and she couldn`t remember but she did remember that it was in Provo. I then said "my mom worked at Osaka restaurant in Provo about 20 years ago" and they both grabbed their arms and the husband said "さむくなってきた!" ("I've got chills!") They had goosebumps and were so thrilled that I had come. I wrote down the name of the sister that owned the restaurant but since it`s a new transfer I switched planners and forgot to bring it with me. I`ll write it next week. I`m sure you remember though. (Yes, we do.)

We are practicing teaching members as much as possible. We met with the 森下`s again and they were wonderful as usual. Two of the most hilarious people I`ve ever met. I need to remember to get a picture with them the next time we go. We then went over to their daughter`s (they are 泉川 姉妹`s parents) for our weekly service in the pan`ya. They gave us more bread than usual so we stuffed ourselves with carbs on fast sunday. I`m still recovering from it.

We (mostly my companion, for practice) taught two members on Sunday during Sunday School and we should be doing that every week from now on. I think it`s a great idea. Fujita 兄弟(伝道主任) (Mission Leader) came up with it. He is a text-book, Preach My Gospel mission leader. I`ll miss him when I eventually leave here.

Overall, it`s been a good week. It`s still not that cold. I`ve only worn a sweater once. We still open the window when we sleep at night. Sometimes I turn a space heater on during study, but it still isn`t winter quite yet. I`m recalling all my memories of last year and getting my scarf and gloves ready. I came to Japan on December 6. I`m going to hit yet another anniversary in a month. The time just flies.

Well, I`ve got to go, we`re going to Nara koen as a district. It`ll be my third time, but I don`t mind. I love the place.
Have a good week!