Friday, January 27, 2012

It Just Looked Right

Written by Elder Erik Anderson

My miracle story is short and simple. In writing this, I want you to understand and know how I feel about the mission.  I love it!  Every day is a different miracle story, in my opinion.  Looking back, I see so many miraculous things that have had happen to me, and have changed my life completely.  I am forever grateful to God for providing me so many different opportunities to find, teach, and baptize, as well as change eternally for the better.

Here is one of my favorite stories.

Elder Orme was my trainer in my bean area, Takayama.  As you know, Elder Orme is a very diligent and hard working missionary, and a friend.  I remember sprinting just to keep up with him.  After morning study, we went to the front door to pray.  (We always did that before dendoing.) We particularly asked for guidance and to find a new investigator.  We opened the door…HEAT WAVE!!  It was only 10:00 in the morning!  And it proved to be one of the hottest days of my entire mission.  We biked in neighborhoods around the mountains for about two hours in the blaring, hot sun, looking intently and persistently for a new investigator.   NO one would even come to the door.  It was either too hot for them to even get up, or they weren’t home.  You can imagine how tired (and discouraged) I was getting.

Elder Orme and I decided that since absolutely no one was coming to the door, we wouldn’t let it discourage us, and we weren’t about to quit.  So we decided to do “Adventure dendo.”  My favorite form of dendo!  We found a good looking mountain and decided to “check it out.”  We hiked up with our bikes (because the route was too steep for our mountain bikes.) While hiking, I thought about and saw an image of a house on a corner that I wanted to dendo on the way down.  It just looked right.  Then reaching the top, sweat everywhere, we found a small park and shrine at the top of the small mountain, overlooking all of Takayama.  Maybe after about 10 minutes of taking pictures, marveling over Takayama, taking in the beauty and sharing how grateful we were for the area and for our missions, we decided to head back down the maintain a different route.  Going down this very steep, narrow, and winding road, trying my best to keep up with Orme’s apparent racing, and trying not to kill myself, I saw a house on a corner that I had seen before.  I whistled at Orme.

I did feel a little badly that I had stopped his spontaneous race and he had to hike back up to me for reasons unknown.  When he got up, I pointed, saying, “I want to dendo this one.”  He, of course, smiled and all he said was “Let’s go.”  I’ll never forget the faith, love, and trust that he had in me.  When we got there, a mother came to the door, and she was so surprised to see two sweaty gaijins all the way up a huge hill at her door.  She had many questions, like “What are you doing here?” and “Why is your Japanese so good?”  She was obviously talking to Orme…Ha Ha! 

The whole time I just stood there with a massive grin on my face, kind of like a hunting dog that just sniffed out and pinned a pheasant.  And I wasn’t catching any Japanese!  Hida-Takayama ben?  I did ask her though, in the best MTC language that I could piece together, if she had ever thought of the purpose of life.  She responded, “Yes.”  And “Actually, I tried praying to God a couple days ago because I don’t know what my purpose is.  And I wanted to know where I go when I die.  And I just don’t feel like the Buddist church is true.  Nobody knows why we have all these traditions.  And now, here are you guys!”  (We found a kin-jin!)  She intently listened to everything we had to say, despite how hot and muggy it was.  She asked almost too many questions.  So we set up a next appointment.

When we were leaving, we asked if we could say a prayer.  Because she thought the entrance and shoe area was disrespectful, she asked if we wanted to come in to a different room.  We declined.  So she yelled, “Wait!” and ran to the other room to turn off the TV.  Then she hurriedly came back to sit “seiza” on the ground for the prayer.  During the prayer, I remember thinking that what I was feeling was true joy.  When we were done we asked how she felt.  She said, “Good, peace, happy,” and that she liked the feeling.

Oshita Shimai was baptized shortly after.
Elder Orme (left), Sister Oshita, and Elder Anderson

Sister Baird, it is stories like these that have taught me so many valuable principles that I will continue throughout my life.  Principles like love.  She was my first investigator and I’ve learned to cherish patience, persistence, endurance, faith, prayer, trust, and how to give my all.  I love my mission!  It has proven to be the best two years.  Even more so, I love the people here and the opportunity I’ve had to be a servant of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and change their lives through this wonderful gospel and message.  You and President Baird will forever be a part of me in this unforgettable experience.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 2012 Finishers

This week, we said good-bye to a really great group of missionaries! It was a large, energetic group of 9 wonderful missionaries! Elder Boss, Elder Hooton, Elder Pearson, Elder Adachi, Elder Curtis, Elder Transtrum, Sister Clark, Elder Valentine, and Elder Stachowski. They are all great missionaries and we will miss them! We love them so much and are so grateful for their examples and their service.

Seated, left to right: Elder Transtrom, Sister Clark, Elder Valentine, Elder Stachowski
Standing: Elder Boss, Elder Hooton, Elder Pearson, Elder Adachi, Elder Curtis, and Sister and President Baird
Of Elder Stachowski, another elder said, "He is a very handy elder.  He can fix anything, any time, anywhere."

One of Elder Valentine's former companions said of him, "He has a very big heart...and an even bigger appetite."

Elder Hooton has a great sense of humor.  One missionary said he was one of the funniest people he has met.  Elder Hooton also enjoys fixing things, and has fixed everything from a dryer to a computer.

Sister Clark loves to teach and be involved with learning.  She may become a language teacher, likely teaching Japanese.  She likes most any activity where there is learning involved.
Sister Clark and Sister Baird at the mission home

Elder Pearson says he doesn't show much emotion, so people can't always tell how he is feeling about something.  But he is almost always positive and doesn't think he has any enemies.  He has finally fulfilled his life-long dream of serving a mission.

Elder Boss is hoping for a business/marketing degree and is interested in advertising. He is a good friend, organizer and has a good sense of humor.  He lived in Japan for 10 years, but attended an American school.

Walking into Chubu Airport
Elder Transtrum knew how to dendo, according to one of his former companions.  He knew how to work hard and, when the time was right, he knew how to have fun.  He also had very good Japanese.

Missionaries who knew Elder Adachi said he loves people and enjoys talking to them.  He always has a loving feel about him and is easy to love.  He had the privilege of serving in the mission at the same time as  his sister for a while.   

From West Valley City, Utah, Elder Derrick Curtis thinks soccer is the all time best sport in the world.  He also loves to read and plans to become an engineer or architect.  Elder Curtis likes to do what he is supposed do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"What We Do Is True"

Experience shared by Elder Dustin Larsen

I remember coming in as a young missionary, ready to work and see tons of baptisms along the way.  As time went by, my work ethic continued to get stronger and more effective, but the baptisms never came.  It wasn’t until January 16, 2010, almost a year into my mission, when I saw my first baptism.  It was an older lady named Osada.  I refer to her as my “Japanese grandma”.  I love Osada san with all my heart and am so blessed to be a part of her conversion. 

I worked with her for six months and after all that needed to be done was finished, she was baptized.  I remember walking into the font with her, saying the prayer word for word, immersing her into the water and lifting her up. 

What happened after that though, is something I’ll never forget.  I escorted her out of the font and I remained there alone for about 30 seconds.  In those 30 seconds I looked up towards heaven and felt God’s love stronger than any other time in my life. I knew that God lives and what we do is true.  I will never forget that special witness after Osada san’s baptism.