Monday, January 26, 2015

Almost Transfer Time

This was the second week in a row that Alexander did not send me a single photo. How could he do this to me??? He knows how much I love photos. Lucky for me, though, one of the other missionaries he rooms with sent his mother a pic that included my son so I got to see him after all. You gotta read his letter to see it (or scroll down).

This week is usually the first week of the next transfer (on a 6 week transfer schedule), but this transfer is going to be 7 weeks long. All things considering, the transfer is nearly over either way. I still can't believe how fast time is going already, it's crazy.

I don't have my journal with me this week (I forgot it at the apartment), but I will do another summary based off of my planner again. So here is this weeks report:

After we emailed on monday, we went back to the apartment to drop some stuff of and then head over to the members house that we went to last week and played in the snow with. On the way back, however, we ran into a woman who goes by the name Debbie. She is American (from Chicago), and she has been living in Yonezawa for the past two years because her husband had a two year contract with his company. We had an interesting talk with her, about all the snow, and about some other things. One of the topics that came up was the Fall of Adam and Eve. She is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and so it was interesting to hear her view on the Fall. I learned that she viewed the Fall as a fault in God's plan, as something God hadn't foreseen in a sense. To use her own words "we don't know what His plan was." I thought this was very interesting, because this interpretation is very different from our Church's. In our church, thanks to the expanding lens of the Book of Mormon, we see the plan as not a mistake, or some hindrance to God's previous plan due to the cunning of the devil, but as a part of the plan from the beginning. From the Book of Mormon, it is revealed that God had foreordained Christ to be the One to save us all from the Fall that would happen. The Fall was also part of His plan, as something that was necessary for His children to grow and learn. He knew that it was only through these experiences that we could grow to know joy, happiness, and peace. As explained in the Book of Mormon, "Adam fell that Men might be. Men are that they might have joy." How great the wisdom of Him who created us! He knew that the Devil would tempt Adam and Eve, He knew that we would come into this state of pain, suffering, loneliness, and sadness; but he also knew that "there must needs be... an opposition," (2 Nephi 2:15) and that through those negative experiences, we could grow to know the good things. Truly, the knowledge of Good and Evil. So much better a thought than thinking that He who knows all was fooled by something of naught!

After we finished talking with Debbie, we dropped off what we wanted to drop off, and then went to the members house. We played in the snow for a bit when we got there (even had a snowball fight), and then went inside and had family home evening with them and the other two missionaries in our district. We shared a message of Jesus Christ's light, and letting our light shine forth. Afterwards, we played a game of UNO (it's a bit different here in Japan), and then got a ride back to our apartment.
Tuesday, we had a meeting in the morning, and then afterwards went with an english class student to lunch in another city. We went to ramen shop, and it was pretty good, but really spicy. Afterwards, on the way back, I got in a conversation with him about Studio Ghibli, an anime move company that is really popular both in America and Japan. I found out some of the names in Japanese (but forgot most of them already :P ), and had a lot of fun talking about that, and what I want to be when I get off my mission (related to the music from the movies). We also talked to him about a program we do that is 30 minutes of English and 30 minutes of Japanese, and we'll be starting that this week (on saturday here). That was basically our entire day that day.

Wednesday, we went to go visit a less active member. He was really busy with work (owns a salon), so we couldn't meet with him then; we did get to talk to him for a bit though, so that was good. We then went to figure something out about some service we'll be doing this Saturday (snow shoveling), and then visited another less active. He said that he was busy with school this week, but he wants to play basketball sometime soon with us. Afterwards, we had a really fun English class, and afterwards I got to practice some piano while talking to some of the students.

Thursday, we went to a local... place for lunch. It is an international center of sorts for those foreigners here in Yonezawa (called YIRA), and that day they had a Chinese lunch. One of the Elder's here, Elder E., can speak a bit of Chinese, so we went. There is also a less active that works there, so we were able to talk to him for a bit. His name is Ben, and he is from America, but lives in Yonezawa. After lunch there, we had an appointment with an investigator back at the church building, so we hurried on back. We talked about his concerns about what he was reading, and he says that he thinks his faith seed (see Alma 32) has broken the surface. From there, we went to a different investigator's house. He is in his 60's. His name is Mr. Kato. Last time we visited him, we committed him to stop drinking alcohol, and when we went to go visit him, we found out that he hadn't drank alcohol at all that week! You could tell a significant difference in his attentiveness and how much there he was (he is a bit of an alcoholic), and it was a good lesson. He also has been doing a lot better in his prayers when we're there. Before he couldn't really get prayers, and thought that we had to recite a prayer from a pamphlet that had how to pray on it, even though we told him that we should speak to our Heavenly Father in our own words when we pray. The last time we went, he actually got it, and actually prayed, and this time at the end of the lesson (after we had testified about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon), he prayed to God to help him understand and be able to read the book. He had committed himself to do it! We tried visiting a different less active next, but she didn't answer her door. We had put some lemon squares in her mailbox weeks ago, and when we checked that day, they were still there! To be fair, she has two mailboxes (she lives in an apartment complex), one on the first floor, and one at her door, so it isn't too much of a surprise.

The next day we had district meeting, and after that, we went back to the apartment to have a weekly planning session. We had decided towards the beginning to call this woman we met on the street the other day, and when she answered, she said that she was headed towards the place that we first met, and that we should meet her there. We decided to go, and when we got there, she showed us a painting she had just finished (apparently she's an artist). We went to a cafe, and she payed for some food for us. She shared interested in reading the Bible, and we told her that we could get her one. She wanted one in english, so we told her we could do that. Afterwards, we went to a members house. She was home alone at the moment, so we couldn't go inside, but we were able to talk to her for a while an share a quick message with her. We then took a bus back to our apartment and we finished our weekly planning.

On Saturday, we had companion exchanges. I was with Elder W., in the other companionship's area. After lunch, we took a bus up to the same sister's house for a lesson with a teenage boy who lived in the area. She was a bit surprised to see me again. The lesson was good, and I think that the preparation that we did before hand really helped with the lesson, because the scriptures we had prepared talked about the exact same concerns the boy was having about following Christ. We then went up to a different less active's house, and talked to her for a short bit. She was busy, and didn't really want to talk to us ( although she was really nice). I think it is so sad that someone can have such a strong testimony of the truth and then through not following the small and simple things like reading the scriptures, praying, attending church and the like, can forget it all. After that we had a long walk back to the bus, and took it back to our apartment. We did what is called the 12 week program (for the first 12 weeks of being infield), and talked about the gift of tongues. I truly feel that I have received the gift of tongues, because I can talk, listen, and understand, even if it is only to a small degree. Debbie, the woman I talked about earlier, said that in two years of being in Japan, she can get basic things across to people but that it is really hard to have a conversation of any kind. I truly have been blessed!

Sunday was pretty normal, with church at 11 to 1, and a potluck afterwards (we have it every week). Afterwards, we went to go visit someone we met on the streets earlier, outside his home. While we were out, we met two men, 20 years and.. 18? years, and they were fun to talk to. They took a picture of us with them, because we were "gaijin" (foreigners) and we are cool. I feel like I am mickey mouse at disney land, but that's fine, because I love it. We call it gaijin power. We walked to the other person's house, and when we go there, we got a call from a neighbor that said she had a member at her house and wanted us to come over. We got there and had some snacks, but she wasn't too interested in hearing more about the gospel at the moment. She gave us a ride to the next area we were going to go to after we were done meeting with her, and even though we weren't able to meet anyone in that area, we were able to get stuff done a bit quicker than we would have otherwise. When we got back to our neighborhood, we noticed that the drain system in our area was clogged with snow from too many people putting snow in it from their driveways and such. The system was made for snow removal, but it got clogged. So we went to the church, got some shovels, and unclogged it. It was lots of fun!

That's my week! Hope you enjoyed! Love you all, and have a great week!

Love, Elder _______
Alex is the second Elder going from left to right

Fun tidbits from his letter to me:

I haven't used my bike at all, because there is so much snow around here that we can't. But all is well, because I really don't mind walking everywhere. We have walked over 200 Km last month, and I think we're going to beat the record this month. My feet are holding up just fine, and same with my shoes. I have only used my boots since coming to Japan, but my shoes haven't had any problems in the MTC, so they should be fine.

I am eating just fine. We have more than enough food and money for food. We don't eat expensively, but we eat well! Normal meals aren't a rare thing here. Thank you for all your love, support and worry. I am doing just fine, and am 61 Kilos last time I weighed myself (yesterday), so don't worry about my food situation :D

My daughter Sabrina asked him some questions in her letter to him. Here were her questions and his responses.

Bri: First, have you gone mostly door-to-door or do people set up appointments or something? Second, have you seen any weird or unusual animals or plants that aren't in Utah? Third, do the missionary peeps ever have a limit of how warm it has to be to go out and teach people or do they let you freeze your bums off?

Alexander: In answer to your questions, I think that we do a bit of both usually. We have a plan of what we're going to be doing for the day, and then we go and do it, but if something doesn't turn out as expected we put pamphlets that the stake made into the mailboxes of houses around the area and then follow up on them a couple of days later. As for weird animals... I saw a dog that was 16 years old (112 years in dog years) yesterday. It was weird/unusual, because it was blind, had no teeth, and would just go in circles a lot of the time. It also had a diaper on. As for other animals, we see cranes quite often over here; they're really beautiful. I can't say I've seen too many weird animals yet though. Same with plants. There isn't a limit on how warm it needs to be to go out, but I don't think I've ever frozen my bum off. We are outside going places, rain or snow, cold or hot, cloudy or sunny. I've got layers of clothes on, so I really don't get cold anyway.

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