Sunday, April 3, 2016

Last Blog Post of my Mission!

Very eventful week! Started teaching a man named Taira who is in a wheelchair but is gun-ho about Church and being baptized, so we set a date with him for February, met with Tim and watched cheesy 80s seminary videos, had an incredible baptisimal service for 17 year old Kinjou Yuuto (coolest guy ever), took way too many photos at my final Eikaiwa (English Class), ate a bunch of Japan-ified Mexican food, ate American food with American families, celebrated Christmas early at our Japanese ward Christmas party, said goodbye for two weeks to the members here in Okinawa (since my family and I will be here again then), and had one more party last night for the missionaries who are leaving.

We have been doing a lot of finding, it still feels a little too surreal that I'm finishing my missionary service soon, because we've been keeping up with all our usual activities and doing our best to find people to teach and stretch our faith. Only this week I have been getting lots of presents! 

Not sure what to write aside from I'm grateful that I came out here, never regretted it. Personally I feel changed, which I was hoping would happen when I came out here, but more than that I have seen a change in many others - investigators, recent converts, companions and members. I didn't realize that this is how it would end up but I'm far more satisfied about other people's growth than mine. I learnt that that is what really brings joy! Loving and helping others. Who would have thought!
Another thing that has changed is my faith. I came to Japan believing I was here to stretch my abilities and not baptize anyone, but I was wrong about that, and Heavenly Father humbled me and strengthened me to do so much more than I was expecting. This probably isn't the greatest climax to my Weekly Emails, but I love the Gospel, I love the Lord and I love all the people I have met over my two years in Japan. Not quite ready for the next stage of my life - I have another whole two days to get ready for that!

I'm still super lame and say dumb things, so you can all look forward to that. Got dear john'd somewhere along the way, so guess I'm single, now, too. See some of you in a few weeks.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekly Deer Head Mail

Second last week of my mission, want to know what we did?
Bought a deer head and took lots of sub-par videos, had a huge Christmas party with Americans, taught a bunch of people including kids and went out to go housing with a recently returned missionary from Guatemala. He speaks English and Spanish, the two languages no one else here speaks, so we translated for him. We found some people and went back a few days later with him and taught them, probably one of the most interesting finding experiences I've had. I hope to do the same after my mission, but hopefully translating my Broken-Japanese-English to Bogan-Straya-English wont be too hard.
Our zone is seeing some incredible miracles, prepared people committing to be baptized are popping out of every corner in every area (literally), and it's because of the increase of faith everyone in the mission has gained recently. I can see the Lord's hand in the work more now than I have ever been able to. 
If I had one piece of advice to give to the missionaries back home leaving for their missions soon, I would suggest focus on showing your faith to God and baptizing people, instead of what many people do and not worry about baptizing because they heard not many people get baptized in whatever mission they're going to. That's a lie, in every mission there are missionaries with enough faith who baptize many - be that kind of missionary. If you are "serving your mission because you love the Lord" then serve to baptize our brothers and sisters, not to just "serve to grow personally." If you do that you will grow and have joy in bringing others to Christ (D&C 18:10-16). I was too ineffective for too much of my mission because I didn't have faith to baptize, to put it bluntly.
One week left, still a little too surreal to believe but no slowing down here. 

Photos: Christmas Party, free food, and the usefulness of English class flyers - you can never trust public restrooms. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Weekly samuku nacchatta Mail

The second year of my mission was significantly better than my first, my last 6 months was better than that, my last 3 months was even better, and now I'm in my last 3 weeks and so far it's looking like it'll be better than the rest! 
The work is going great, we are teaching lots of people, four of them have Baptisimal dates. It's amazing how much work the Lord can really do through us, through our faith. We have been wanting and praying to find young people and now all of our investigators are younger than 30 - two are young teenagers that are really fun to teach! 
I have really come to be concerned about Japan - I want to adopt Japanese kids and bring them up in the Gospel so they can serve here and baptize, because we need more young people in the Church!
We had a specialized training yesterday that the Mission President came to and gave the Training he gave at MLC, I translated it again (this time it was only 3 hours), but it's incredible how much the Spirit can inspire and change us if we open our minds and hearts to it. My bean-chan Elder Reed was there too, seeing him completed my life.

Photos: Elder Reed & Taunisila at Specialized Training, preparing some vegemite treats for our English Class, Elder Keikyu (who I was in Nobeoka with a year and a half ago) and I after last week's Mission Leader Council (MLC), me and my coat during our three days of Antarctic-like weather, and then Elder Yamanashi (the other Okinawa ZL), Elder Bowler and a I on the plane to MLC.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Weekly Gunjin Mail

Tim was baptized last week! Super spiritual experience, I was just filled with peace and confidence in the Gospel the whole evening. His phone died so we couldn't contact him all day which caused a little bit of a worry, but overall it was another incredible experience that I will never forget.
We went to Missionary Leader Council (MLC) in Fukuoka with the other Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, APs and President and Sister Egan, and I translated the 7 hour event which was a lot of fun. My faith really increased that day, through feeling the Spirit and committing to apply what I heard (and then said into a tiny little microphone). Heavenly Father really does work according to our faith, another huge lesson I have learnt during my two year service. 
Yesterday we were in Nago, north Okinawa, for companion exchanges, and just a few days ago it started to get a little cold. Less than a month left before I finish. This transfer I feel like I have become the best missionary I have been, yet at the same time felt the most adversity and temptation. There hasn't been a greater need to rely on the Lord than now, but doing so is always more worth that not!
My companion is sick as. We dendo. He picked up on the Australian habit of saying "as" and has been practicing it very diligently. We taught a blind as guy, ate at K-Fry which was expensive as, ate with an American as family, and my iPad is lost as in Fukuoka.

Photos are good, and self-explanatory.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekly Ginowan As Mail

P-Days have become a burden because with my e-mail home I'm reminded about how much time I have left. I hope by the time I'm finished I'm ready to move on to my next transfer.
Elder Bunker thinks he's killing me because it's my last transfer, but I'm the one trying to kill him. Our 9am-9pm all-day tracting efforts and lessons with Tim who is getting baptized this Friday are doing more than just refreshing us. We are working equally with the American branch and the Japanese branch now, with investigators and good member work on both sides, so it seems like everything is going the way we have been hoping.
Zone Training Meeting was fantastic, it was my last one but everyone said they enjoyed it. We talked about Faith, Goals, Success and Pushing the Rock. Very uplifting experience, probably more for me than anyone else! It was really humbling too. Although I have become a far more effective missionary over the past 20 months, I have been able to look back and see the Lord's hand in all of it. The miracles have and still are here, I'm just super grateful for the lessons I'm always learning and the help God has been giving me this whole time to make use of it all.
Tonight we are going to Fukuoka for Mission Leader Council and I volunteered to translate the event so I'm looking forward to that.
We have a lesson now so best be off. Next week's p-day isn't till Thursday because of Thanksgiving (you thought I was in Japan; wrong).

Photos: Ginowan zone and our Priesthood BBQ during a thunderstorm (which is why we were inside)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Weekly Goodbye Uratra, Hello Bunker Mail

Elder Urata died and Elder Bunker became my companion.
Before that happened we went to Shuri Castle in Naha again. My neck is huge, just look at the photos of us sitting on the deck. There was also a parade in the way out so we joined it so we could leave swiftly as the footpaths were crowded.
Since Elder Bunker joined my companionship he brought over his investigators, so now we are meeting with a super smart guy named Tim who has been coming to church for a few months and is going to be baptized Friday week. He is in the military and comes to the military branch. He wants to be sealed to his girlfriend who is a member, and I've been chatting with him and catching up with him every week before Church on Sunday's but this week was the first opportunity I had to be in a lesson with him.
Teaching in English isn't necessarily hard, because he knows all the content and has a testimony and strong desire already, but up until this, my last transfer, I could have counted all the times I taught a lesson in English on one hand. Actually I had only done it once. But in saying that, members present at lessons are so crucial - they bring so much to a lesson that the missionaries can't. Their experiences, testimonies and explanations are necessary in so many ways.

So go out with the missionaries しなさい。

and help teach someone

Monday, November 2, 2015

Weekly Play hard but work harder, not the other way around, I promise Mail

Well what happened this week かというと my companion started dying (he finishes his mission this week), I took a million photos, we had a Double Zone P-Day, a Halloween Party and we ate a lot of food. We worked too, I promise.

Our Halloween Party was combined with both American Military branches and the Okinawa Japanese Ward, so there was upwards of 300 people who came. We had a dinner and a trunk or treat. I went as Super Saiyan Wheeler (complete with the kanji Goku wears at one point in the series (I'm talking about Dragon Ball for anyone who doesn't know)), and my companion Elder Urata went as a Redneck.

Our Zone P-Day was combined with Naha Zone (the south and less-cooler Okinawa zone). It was also Elder Urata's birthday this week so we morau'd some goodies from that too. Last night we had a farewell for him and also Elder Richardson who is leaving too.

Okay but here's the part where we worked hard! On Saturday we woke up extra early to complete our studies so we could head out at 9am and go tracting all day (till 9pm). That didn't quite end up happening though because we went to Kawahira Kyoudai's place to heart attack his door and he totally caught us in the act! So we went in and had a discussion and read the BOM together. So in the end it turned out great. For anyone who's wondering, he has been doing great since he was baptised 5 weeks ago.

We did other stuff but I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Also a little birdy told me that I'll be staying in Okinawa but three Elders will be coming here.