Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Strength in Faith

The snow is finally melting enough in Japan for Alex to start riding his bike instead of walking and taking the bus everywhere. It looks like they have a nice big basket to put things in. 
When we sent Alex his birthday package, we sent a tie for each of the other elders in his apartment. All 4 of them have birthdays in March and April. I told Alex to tell the elders to wait for their birthdays to open them, just so they'd have more to open on their birthdays. Alex said his companion, Elder O., couldn't take the pressure and opened it the same weekend the package came. Since transfers are happening soon, Elder P. (below) told me that they all opened them so they could get a photo together all wearing their "amazing ties". So funny. 

Elder P.
But Alex never sent me such a photo. In fact, Elder P. sent me the photo above. So I'm waiting for the photo with the 4 of them. I will be mentioning it in my letter. Haha!
And this photo below is the garbage calendar and sorting instructions in Japan. A missionary dad posted it on Facebook. In the background of the photo of Elder O. below is a dry erase board that has some to-do stuff, which includes "sort garbage". Now I can see how that would be a bit tricky.

I wanted to share this line from his letter to me since it is sweet.
"I'll try not to ask too much from you, because I truly am well off here. In fact, an English class student asked me while we were playing basket ball the other day what I would buy if I had all the money I needed to buy something, and I couldn't think of anything, because I truly thing I'm blessed, and couldn't ask for more."

Here's Alex's letter this week.
If you're wondering why I entitled this email what I did, then I'm sorry, but I have no response to it. I just felt like that's what I should call it, because I had no idea what else to call it.

Here is this weeks Kanji: 米沢  The reading of this kaji is yonezawa, and means, litterally, mountain
stream of rice. This is the kanji for the city/town I am currently in.

Now, onto how my week was:

Monday: We ended up having a very uneventful preparation day, but it was all good, because we got all we needed to in. We got groceries, and went shopping for a hard drive I was looking for. I ended up getting one, and after that we went straight over to a less active member's home. When we got to Brother Gessell's apartment, we talked about missionary work, and heard some interesting stories about his mission in Brazil. He also gave us some tips on how to help others see the hope that our message gives them.

Tuesday: We had companion exchanges this day, and I got to go with Elder Earl for the day. We went to the local museum with one of their investigators, and learned about the history of yonezawa and about the disease cordyceps (or something like that), because those were the current displays. We then went to Mister Doughnuts with him, and after that went to the church with him and taught him a lesson. It was interesting, because we talked about the word of wisdom with him. We hadn't had time in the morning to do our studies, so we did that afterwards, and that ended our day.

Wednesday: We went to a man named Iwai's house, and met with him and his wife in the morning. We had bikes (my first time riding a bike in Japan), and it was a good talk. We talked about how our beliefs help us have a reason to have awe and respect for all around us because we believe that God created all that is in the universe. We then went up to have a lesson with Sister Taira, a member. She is such an amazing and strong faithed member. She said that she has had tough times with paying tithing to the church, because at the end of the month she cuts it close with money. She then continued to say how she read how God promised blessings, and how she doesn't know if the blessings are in her life. Again she went on to say how she decided to test God, by continuing to pay tithing, and serving others, and seeing what blessings God will give her for doing what he asks. She is so amazing in my eyes!

We then had a regular English class, as we do every week. 

Thursday: This was the day that we had lots of planning to do, because we held our weekly planning meeting that day. So, the two of us (Elder Olsen and I), were inside basically all day doing that and studying. We did get to go out and post some of our english class pamphlets, and that was good. We went to one area that we both felt seemed like England, because of the small streets, the houses styles and just the atmosphere around there.

Friday: We had a zone training meeting that day, so we woke up at 5:30 in the morning to catch a train to get us up to Yamagata on time. We got there and had a really fun time learning a lot of stuff. One of the things that was focused on was revelation, and how we all can receive personal revelation for our lives if we pray to God in faith and do as He asks us to do.

After the meeting, we ate at a restaurant called the Indian Tomato, and had curry and nan bread. It is a missionary favorite in Yamagata, and I agree with them. We then studied at the train station since we had a couple of hours before our train left.

We then took a train down to a neighboring town to yonezawa, and had dinner with a member and her daughter (who's also a member). The food was delicious as it always is (Sister Yoshida is a good cook and is very generous), and she even surprised us by making a cookie cake for our birthdays. We got normal size pieces for America, but they are pretty big portions here, and the other three were saying how they're going to die from over eating when they go back because of how big the portions are. We then shared a message with them about revelation, and how they too can be guided in their lives as they pray and seek their Heavenly Father and study the scriptures.

Saturday: As with most Saturdays, we went to the Goto couple's house, and talked with them. We shared a message about the blessings of repenting, and how we can have a fresh start every week when we partake of the sacrament. 

After them, we met an english class student at the local mall for some "local culture." There was a group called ai girls there, and we watched and listened to them for a bit. It wasn't anything too interesting, but he took us out to eat ramen afterwards, so that was good.

Elder O. and his amazing bubbles
We then went back to the apartment, got changed, and went the the local activity center to play basketball. We had a big turn out (we know a lot of high school boys who love to play basketball with us), and we played with them for a while. We then went and housed down south of our apartment after we changed back into missionary attire, and got to talk to a college student that seemed interested in what we have to say. It'll be interesting to see how that turns out.

Sunday: As with all Sundays, we had church meetings. We were able to take the sacrament, and I was even able to bless the sacramental water in Japanese. After church, we had a pot-luck like every week, and one of the members made katsudon, a really delicious food; there was, of course, other foods, but that was the highlight for everyone who was there. 

After that, we had a lesson with one of the other two missionaries' investigators because they were in Fukushima that day when he wanted to meet. In that lesson, we talked about how to be blessed, and get back to live with God in the Celestial kingdom, and also talked about his search for the truth. It was interesting, and I learned a lot of words from it. At the end, he said a 10 ish minute prayer, and it was a good one too.

We then visited a man who's english name is Hudson and his family. He is Chinese, but lives in Japan because of his job. He has a really nice family, and I was able to try chrysanthemum tea, which ended up being really delicious. We talked to the wife a bit about the restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith, and gave them a Chinese Book of Mormon to read.
That was my week, I hope you all enjoyed, and wish you all a good week!
I truly do love you all from the bottom of my heart!
Elder _____
Alex and his weekly selfie for me

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