Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October, 2012 Transfer Week

Perhaps someone could make money on a book for mission bloggers.  They could suggest 30 new titles for Transfer Week, 30 ways of welcoming new missionaries with words, and 30 ways of sadly saying goodbye to missionaries who don't really want to go, but know they must.  Oh, and 30 ways to let these missionaries know how much you have grown to love them and will miss them. Since that book hasn't yet been written, we will just go ahead and write about five amazing young people, for we have had transfers again.  We will begin with three mature and experienced missionaries who were hard to let go of:

Sister Saito

Sister Saito knows the Savior lives and that Heavenly Father always answers our prayers.  Her Patriarchal blessing and attending the temple helped her decide to serve a mission.  She has been a superb missionary.

Sister Saito is on the left, with Sister Yamada

From left:  Sister Nishimuro, Sister Saito, Sister Clark

Elder Duarte

Elder Duarte's goal on his mission has been to take advantage of every minute.  He is talkative, friendly, loving, and positive. When people are around him, they are generally smiling.  

Elder Duarte just might be a good cook.
(Elder Burnett is behind.)

Elder Ikeda (left) and Elder Duarte

Elder Soliai

Missionaries can do anything!  (But how did he do this?)
Elder Soliai is very good at working with members to involve them in missionary work.  He is exactly obedient and he shows his love to every missionary and every person.  He is very focused on his purpose as a missionary and is an excellent trainer and teacher.
Elder Soliai in Shirakawa-go.

Oh, how we will miss the three of you!

But what joy, to have two new elders come in who were ready to go and excited to try to fill the big shoes of those who left:
Our first peek at our newest elders, coming through the gate.

You can tell these two missionaries are ready to go,
and President Baird is ready to get them started.

Our traditional picture at the dragon.
(It is the Year of the Dragon.  What will we do next year without him?)
From left:  Elder Prestwich, Elder Wilkinson, President and Sister Baird

At Nagoya Eki by the golden clock,  from left:  Elder Clark (Recorder), Elder Ellsworth (AP) Elder Prestwich,
Elder Wilkinson, Elder Ito (AP), and Elder Koesashi (Commissarian)

And finally, meeting their new companion and trainer:

Elder Prestwich with Elder Parra

Elder James Prestwich is a Murray, Utah man.  He is the second oldest of five children and is coming on a mission partly to set a good example to is younger siblings.  His ultimate goal is to live again with God, and his mission is a great help in that direction.  He calls himself an all-around person, enjoying many things, but especially mentions sports, reading and music.  He has a long list of things he loves to do.  He is creative, optimistic, kind, happy, intelligent and fun loving.  And he is
overjoyed to come to Japan.

Elder Parra is extremely patient, 
and is always happy.  He has great comunication skills and is very 
responsible.  He doesn't get irritated if people don't use common sense. 
Elder Wilkinson with Elder Schade
Elder Travis Wilkinson hails from Payson, Utah and says his family is huge. He has two brothers and four sisters.  Elder Wilkinson is the oldest, and he has a special love for his four-year-old sister.  He has completed a year at Snow College and wants to eventually go to the Huntsman Business College at Utah State.  He wants to own his own business.  He plays saxophone and guitar, has done a lot of ballroom dancing, and enjoys working on cars.  He likes working hard and he studies hard.  He worked hard to prepare for his mission with college roommates and with regular scripture study.

Elder Schade's first goal has always been to serve a successful mission, but he wants to obtain at least a bachelor's degree to provide for the family he wants to have.

And after a day of training, off they go, in the work of the Lord!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Listen to the Promptings

Written by Elder Kevin Baker

It was late morning or early afternoon when we were riding on our bicycles alongside President Baird that Elder Finlinson received an impression that we ought to pay a visit to the grandmother of one of our investigators, Shoei. Having ample time in our possession, President Baird and I both readily agreed to this course of action and we promptly set off to accomplish this task.  We rode over to the neighborhood and parked our bikes outside the front of the house.  Before we knocked on the door, however, Elder Finlinson revealed to President Baird and myself some new information which he had hitherto failed to mention, namely that the last time we had visited here the grandmother had told us to never come back.  Nevertheless, we followed through with the course we had set out upon and knocked on the door.

The grandmother opened the door to us and, to our surprise and relief, invited us in.  As we stepped in, we realized someone else was there as well!  Shoei was there !!  Apparently, he had a doctor’s appointment that day, and was staying at his grandmother’s residence until that time.  We (Elder Finlinson and I) then started playing with Shoei while President Baird talked to his grandmother about various subjects.  Eventually, it came to a point where we were about to leave when President Baird asked her about the situation concerning Shoei and baptism.  Shoei had been an on and off investigator for about the space of two years now, due in part to an uncle he lives with that was very much against the missionaries coming over.  This situation had resulted in numerous problems and setbacks which in turn had caused Shoei’s chances of salvation to dwindle down almost to nothing.

Unable to meet or teach Shoei at his home, his grandmother then noted that their one glimmer of hope lay in the hands of Brother Fujii.  Brother Fujii was an active, God-fearing member who lived in the Toyama Ward and had almost a grandfatherly relationship with Shoei.  He took him and his brother camping, did activities with them, and even had restored members of the family (namely this same grandmother) to activity.  It was at this point that Elder Finlinson laid out the suggestion, “What if we taught him at Brother Fujii’s house?”  The grandmother replied that that would be wonderful and would provide a perfect solution to the problem.

This situation only proved to be even better for our schedule since the person we were next scheduled to meet was in fact Brother Fujii.  We biked over to his house and, instead of going over our pre-prepared lesson, informed him of Shoei’s situation.  Hearing our story, Brother Fujii promptly replied that he would take care of everything.  If we showed up, he would have Shoei ready and waiting, and that is exactly what happened.  A few short weeks later, Shoei entered the waters of baptism and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The spirit guided us that day and I will ever be thankful that we listened to and followed the impressions that my companion received.  

From left:  Elder Baker, Elder Finlinson, Bro. Fujii, Shoei's older brother,
Shoei, and Shoei's mother Yoshioka Shimai

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Week in the Life of an Assistant to the President

A Week in the Life of an Assistant to the President, written by Elder Tanner Ellsworth

The following is a retelling of a week in my life as AP. I will admit that this was one of the busier weeks of my mission, but this pace is not unusual for the missionaries here in our mission. Hope you enjoy a week in the life of a missionary.

Left to right:  Elder Koesashi, Elder Kishi, Elder Berrett,
Elder Kervinen, and Elder Ellsworth
5:45- Wake up, quick run around the block, get ready for the day.
6:30- Start weekly reports with Zone Leaders, each Zone takes about half an hour. We discuss investigators committed to baptism and celebrations in finding and teaching from each zone.
8:00- Update/double check all the Key Indicator stats for the week on the computer. Start preparations for President’s report.
8:30- Meet Brother Hisaka at the church. Plan for our lesson with our investigator and drive to her apartment.
9:00-Lesson with an investigator. We talked about the importance of coming to church and invited her to come to church with Brother Hisaka. She really wants to come to church because she feels like it would help her feel closer to God and recharge for the week. Unfortunately, she teaches a yoga class every Sunday, but she committed to pray about asking her clients to switch their class time!
10:00- Return back to the honbu. Finish all preparations for Staff Meeting (President’s report, assignments, celebrations from the week).
11:00- Staff Meeting!! Elder Barney, Sister Barney, Elder Clark, Elder Koesashi, President. Delicious snacks from Sister Baird. Cinnamon rolls. We discuss many things like new email regulations for the missionaries, all missionaries making profiles, revising the list of needed items for missionaries who are called to our mission, etc.
1:30- Staff Meeting ends. We slip out to go to the Ayuzawa family’s house. We planned to do a Family Home Evening with their friend and neighbor. We talk for a few minutes with the Ayuzawa’s about what kind of person she is and how we should present the gospel to her.
2:00- Family Home Evening with the Ayuzawa’s and their friend! She loves music and played the ocarina for us. We play a simple game and then discuss the love of God and how he loves each and every one of us. She cried and explained how she doesn’t know who our God is, but that her own personal God is a huge strength to her and has helped her a lot through her husband’s sickness. We sing “I am a Child of God” and make a return appointment for the next Saturday to meet and talk more about what our church really believes.
Top row:  Elder Ito, Elder Ellsworth, President and Sister Baird
Middle row: Elder Hara,  Elder Kobayashi, Elder Hiruta, Elder Kusume, Elder Tojo
Front Row:  Elder Parry, Elder Ashcroft, Elder Dinkle, Elder Clark, Elder Gottfredson
3:00- Back to the honbu. Meet with President Baird. Discuss the status and needs of all of the people committed to be baptized in our mission. Talk about the needs of our mission. Talk about the upcoming Zone Conference and what we will talk about and what he will talk about. Discuss the upcoming transfers. Who will be training, who will be leaders, etc.
5:00- Finish with President Baird. Gather up our bags and clothes and leave for a companion exchange in Gokiso (about 1 hour away).
6:00- Arrive in Gokiso. Off to an appointment! Meet with Brother Odani near the investigator’s house and go together to her house. We met her mom for the first time, so we helped her mom understand the church and its values, committed the investigator to be baptized, and discussed what steps needed to be taken for baptism. Helped the Mom understand baptism. We still have a little bit of time, so we go to this guy’s house who stopped answering his phone and coming to church. He wasn’t there, but we contacted his neighbors, trying to find those who were interested. Still haven’t eaten dinner, so on the way home, I grab some food from a convenience store.
9:00- Return home. Make plan for the next day. Do the routine Apartment and Area Book Check, change clothes, eat some more of their food, and crash.

6:30- Wake up. Exercise. Get ready. Eat breakfast.
8:00- Personal Study.
9:00- Combined companionship study where we give training and talk about the status of their Zone.
10:00- Visit a less-active member whose children are still not baptized. She was home, but she was busy, so we 10x-ed (contacted 10 people living around her) and moved on.
11:00- The investigator who we visited the night before (who wasn’t home) calls! Says thanks for the note and he will come to church this upcoming Sunday!
12:00-Lunch and Language Study then off on our bikes to weekly service activity!
2:00-We do various jobs and tasks with disabled people at the Himawari Center for Disabled Persons.
4:00-Head home, eat some dinner. Kokan (companionship exchange) review. And then back to Meito.
6:00- Prepare all the materials for the upcoming transfer (getting stuff ready for the new missionaries, planning the last day of missionary activity for the returning missionaries, preparing agendas for the meetings that we have during transfer week).
7:00 Meet ward missionaries Brother Hosoda and Sister Morita at the church and go to the Imoto family’s house to follow-up on the planning that we did a few weeks earlier. Go to the Imoto’s, plan to do a Family Home Evening with their cousin who just moved into town and to invite their two neighbors to the upcoming Halloween Party at the church. Brother Imoto is also going to invite a friend to church, so if his friend comes, he would like us to meet him.
8:30- We use the few minutes we have left to invite a few of our neighbors to the upcoming Halloween Party.
9:00- Come home. Plan for the next day!
9:30-Change clothes, get ready for bed, write in journal, etc.
10:00 Send out a HOIZA Daily Press! Announce all the new investigators who are committed to baptism in the last week and other celebrations from this past week.
10:30- Sleep!!

Elder Ellsworth, enjoying mist fans on a hot day.
6:30- Wake up and play soccer with our investigator, Koji Kyodai, who loves soccer!
7:15- Come home, get ready for the day.
8:00- Personal Study
9:00- Companion Study
9:45- Meet Brother Yamamoto at the church and go to our investigator’s lesson!
10:00- Lesson with our investigator! We were planning on inviting her to be baptized, but she informed us that her cancer has returned and she will be having surgery in a week. So we veered from the plan and shared scriptures in the Book of Mormon that had strengthened us and told her that she too could receive that same power and help from the Book of Mormon. We gave her a priesthood blessing, and in her closing prayer, she thanked God for strengthening her in her times of need. We told her we will call, text, and pray for her until the surgery is over!
11:00 Language Study
12:00 Lunch.
1:00 Sister Baird asked us to visit a certain less-active woman who she knew whose son was looking for a group of friends, so we go to visit her! She was really nice, but busy making lunch for her husband. She gave us ham and Japanese pears (nashi) and asked us to come back another day. We contacted her neighbors, trying to find those interested in the restored gospel. We met a Jehovah’s Witness who said that the Mormon missionaries usually don’t come to this neighborhood! We had a great talk with her and left her with a Lesson 1 pamphlet.
2:00 More transfer preparation!! During this time, we also planned for the upcoming Zone Conferences. Catch up on all the office work we missed on our exchanges.
5:00 Dinner
6:00 Head to the church to meet Brother Hosoda and plan for our lesson at 6:30
6:30 Meet with our investigator and talk about the Joseph Smith experience! She tells us about how that story sounds really familiar to her because, even though she hasn’t seen God or Jesus Christ, she feels like they sometimes guide her through her dreams and feelings. The Spirit was strong, so we invited her to be baptized, but she expressed concern about her family and the difficulty of her getting married if she joined the church. For now, she would like to just keep coming to church and English class.
7:30 From there we go to English class!
8:30 After English class, we talk to our member who brought her friend to English class. He is an interesting guy who loves playing the bass guitar and traveling. He was really easy to make friends with. So we talked to him for a while and set up an appointment to come to his house on Saturday with his member friend!
9:00 Return home. Prepare for bed.
10:00 Reporting with the Kanazawa Zone Leaders where we hear more about the status of those investigators committed to be baptized and how we can help them keep progressing!
10:30 Sleep!

Daisaku Yamaguchi, member from Ichinomiya, and Elder Ellsworth
6:00 Wake up and get ready to go to Gokiso for the first of this round of Zone Conferences. Make sure we have all the materials (translation, taikai box-full of materials missionaries can buy, handouts for missionaries, etc.) Finalize our plans for training and head to Gokiso.
9:00 Help the Zone Leaders set up the church, set up translation, let everyone know about their assignments (opening prayer, accompanist, etc.) Make sure that everyone is quietly waiting for the Zone Conference to begin.
10:00 Zone Conference begins! We hear from President and Sister Baird. We present training, this time about Developing Faith to Find. We eat an amazing lunch prepared by the Relief Society (and then make sure they get paid). And then we hear from the Zone Leaders and have a short testimony meeting.
4:00 Zone Conference ends, and we make sure everyone starts heading home and the church gets cleaned up.
5:00 Come home and eat dinner.
6:00 Language Study
7:00 Lesson at church with an investigator and his member friend. He is trying to quit smoking, so we reviewed the Word of Wisdom, and he seems to have a strong desire to keep it. We made plans and goals, and asked him to read my favorite scripture, 2 Nephi 4, whenever he feels tempted.
8:00 Another lesson at the church with a different investigator and his member friend. He loves church and felt the Spirit very strong when he saw someone get baptized. He comes to church every week, reads the Book of Mormon, and prays multiple times a day. He is working towards a baptismal date, but still thinks he lacks faith. So tonight, we read Alma 32 with him.
9:00 Come home. Plan. Get ready for bed. Etc.
10:00 Reporting again! But this time with the Nagano Zone Leaders.

From left:  Elder Ellsworth (AP), Elder Ito (AP), and
Elder Koesashi (commissarian)
Must have been a stressful day!
6:00 Another companion exchange! Wake up early, get ready, and drive to Matsumoto (about 3 hours) to do another companion exchange.
9:00 Arrive in Matsumoto and do a combined companionship study, followed by a day of visiting investigators, working to find new investigators, and visiting members in Matsumoto.
9:00 Come home and get ready for bed.
10:30 Sleep.

6:30 Wake up and drive home from Matsumoto. Today is p-day! With any time left, do some personal, companion, and language study.
10:00 P-day begins! During p-day, we email our family, go grocery shopping, write letters, and occasionally visit nearby places.
5:45 We get a call from Sister Yui Yoneda. She is at the church with her friend who she would like to introduce to us, so we head to the church and meet her 3 friends. We have a good conversation about the church and what we do. They want to come to church some Sunday.
6:15 Today is a Ward Activity! All the men in the ward rallied together to make dinner for the Sisters. We help serve their food and help with anything they need. A great ward activity! And two part member families came.
8:30 We got all the leftover food. The members are always too kind to us.
9:00 Typical evening schedule, including reporting with the Nagoya East Zone Leaders, and sleep.

Elder Ellsworth and Elder Ogaki

6:30 Wake up. Breakfast. Get ready.
8:00 Personal Study.
9:00 Ward Mission Correlation Meeting with the Ward Missionaries and the Ward Mission Leader. We have this meeting every week to plan who will help with what lessons and discuss the progress of investigators and efforts being made with members and less-active members to find new investigators.
10:00 Church! Church is always an adventure trying to greet everyone and make sure investigators know where to go and have a friend to sit with. Today, three investigators came to church and seemed to have a great time.
1:00 Church ends. And now the work begins. Usually, we have between 5-10 members that we need to follow up with or make appointments with right after church. It’s a fun game trying to track down different members.
1:30 Come home and eat lunch.
2:30 Language Study.
3:30 District Meeting taught by Elder Koesashi. This transfer, we are studying Christlike attributes, and Elder Koesashi does a great job teaching Faith and Hope.
5:00 Shortened companionship study and quick dinner.
6:00 Head to Yokkaichi (about an hour away) to teach a family who only speaks Spanish. Because my companion, Elder Ito, speaks fluent Spanish, President Baird has asked us to teach this family.
7:00 Lesson with the Inoue family. Martin is excited to be baptized, but he has trouble coming to church on Sunday because of his job. So we talked about that and made plans for him to come to church and eventually go to the temple with his family. His kids are really excited because he said they can go to Disneyland in Tokyo on the way home.
8:00 Head home.
9:00 Plan for the next day.
9:30 All of the missionaries Key Indicator Statistics should be sent to the honbu email address by this time, so we take those and make the reports for President Baird that he needs the next morning.
10:00 Get ready for bed and asleep by 10:30.