こんにちは！ How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in…坪井 (Tusboi)! Last week I mentioned that I would be transferring, and I did. I moved all the way across the apartment! It was a very difficult transfer. Very far. Very expensive. Packing all of my stuff took a very long time. For those who may not know/probably don’t remember, Tsuboi was the other area in my district. I was in Shimizu area with Elder Stump and Elders Oshima and Yanagida were in Tsuboi. Now Elder Stump is still in Shimizu training a new missionary (Elder Stanger, from Tacoma, WA); Elder Oshima finished his mission and is now back with his family in Nara, Japan; and I replaced Elder Oshima, so Elder Yanagida and I are now working together in the Tsuboi area. It is a lot of fun. Elder Stump is also the new District Leader, so technically I my district changed without me changing districts (if that makes sense; it changed from the Tsuboi to the Shimizu district, since the district leader is now in Shimizu; same areas, though). On Sunday it felt a bit peculiar to greet the members of my new ward (many of whom I already new) before church and then greet the members of my old ward after church ended (as they were coming in for their meetings).
On my first day in Tsuboi we had lessons with three different 60-something-year-old investigators (Uchida san, Mitsuda san, and Kanzaki san), all of whom have very different backgrounds. Uchida san has been married and divorced four times (I think), and currently has a baptismal date (it was this coming Saturday, the 7th, but since he is still working on stopping smoking and drinking and also since we still have a bit to teach him, we moved his date to the 14th). He is a great guy; this past Sunday was his sixth time coming to Sacrament Meeting, and every time we teach him a commandment (except for the Word of Wisdom), he responds with something to the effect of "that shouldn’t be too hard; I’m already doing it."
Mitsuda san is somebody that Elders Yanagida and Oshima met recently, so I don’t know too much about him. However, he has thought a lot about what happens after death and is a bit fearful of it because he doesn’t know. Today we are going to teach the Plan of Salvation.
Kanzaki san is one of our 英会話 (English class) students. Somewhere in Japan (I don’t remember where) there is a statue of Mary (the mother of Jesus) that apparently miraculously weeps. Kanzaki san saw the statue weeping and decided to be baptized into the Catholic church. He came to church two weeks ago since it was Elder Oshima’s last Sunday as a missionary. We read from the Bible and Book of Mormon with him, showing how the Book of Mormon complements, supports, and expounds upon the teachings of the Bible. I am glad that we were able to do that, considering my recent goal to use the Bible (along with the Book of Mormon) more as I teach.
Elder Yanagida is my first native companion; it is nice to be companions with somebody that I already know. Elder Yanagida is so great! He met the missionaries and joined the church about three years ago, and his testimony is so strong! I love working with him. Oftentimes the Japanese missionaries talk about "gaijin (foreigner) power" – and it is definitely true that many people listen to us partly because they have never talked to an American before. However, there is definitely also great power in being a recent convert, as Elder Yanagida can connect with the average Japanese person on a level that I cannot even approach. It is great to hear him talk with people about his conversion story – that he was an "average" Japanese person that didn’t really know much about Christianity or Christian beliefs – and that through the gospel his life has improved and his relationship with his parents (who are not members) has strengthened. I look forward to working with him this transfer (and hopefully a few more! We’ll see…).
Unfortunately today our Preparation Day is cut short by a few hours, but it is for good reason. On Saturday we went to a festival with two of our 英会話 students, "Tommy" (his English name; I don’t actually remember what his Japanese name is) and Shin-ichi. They are two of a three-man group of friends that we call the "swag team" (an appellation given by Elder Gonzalez when he was here; whenever I have a chance to send pictures you will see why). Unfortunately I don’t actually know what the name of the festival is, nor the city that it was in (about an hour north of Kumamoto by car; probably Kikuchi or somewhere around there), nor do I have time today to go to the International Center to send pictures. But it was a lot of fun, and a great introduction to Japanese culture for Sister Magalogo’s new missionary (Sister Popham). Unfortunately Elders Stump and Stanger were unable to come. It was a lot of fun!
I know that this is the work of the Lord, and I am grateful to be a part of it. It is often difficult, but the reward is always worth the effort!
I love you all, and hope that you have a wonderful day, a fantastic week, and a superb year!
p.s. Mom, I am over my bronchitis. Thank you for praying for me! Also, I have not yet received the envelope, but it was probably delayed at the mission office, since they were very busy with transfers. I will probably receive it soon.
p.p.s. Hyrum: you are so good at praying! Keep it up!
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