Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in Japan!

Dear all,

Today is the 28th of November 2013. Or in America, Thanksgiving. Luckily for me, I have been blessed with the chance to live within a mile of a USAF Base. This afternoon I will be privileged to go and Eat dinner with a couple of families from the Ward and their Guests. I am so happy and thankful for their generosity. I am also really thankful for heated toilet seats in Japan. Its getting pretty cold nowadays and its reassuring that when I use the bathrooms the toilets will be heated.

Its been a crazy week and a half here in Japan. Elder Evans from the 70 came and spoke to both missions (Tokyo and Tokyo South missions) about the work and how to be a better missionary. I also had the chance to see MIDN 3/c Allred there too. It was a pretty cool reunion. Afterwards my companion and I headed out. I have a new companion now. Elder Merrill. He is really cool, albeit a little quiet. His Japanese isnt as good as Elder Nuttall's so im really having to step up to the plate now and talk more in Japanese. He is however much easier to get along with than Elder Nuttall (not that I hated Elder Nuttall) but he just wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with me. I love him to death regardless.

Two really cool things and one not-so-cool thing happened to me this week...

On 19 Nov 13 Elder Nuttall and I had planned to street down to the Kabe eki and kubari there after lunch. The walk was rather long and we had several people talked to but nobody was really willing to listen to what we had to say. Most people politely apologized and went on whichever way could get them the furthest from us the fastest. Elder Nuttall stopped and suggested that we say a prayer. So we found a slightly secluded part and I offered a prayer for help.

We continued on our way down this main road without having much success. We passed out a few flyers and even a Book of Mormon but still nobody was fully willing to listen to us. After an hour and a half or so we finally reached the city of Kabe. We stopped at a street corner and rested for a few seconds as we decided our next move. Elder Nuttall spotted a rather large apartment building across the street that allowed solicitation. Suprised by this, Elder Nuttall said to me that it probably gets Housed all the time by salesmen and also by other religious missionaries. Our chance at finding success there would be slim. He turned to me and asked about what we should do. I suggested that we knock on the doors of the top floor of the apartment building and that if there was no positive reception then to leave.

So we took the Elevator to the 5th floor and began to knock on doors. The first two doors we had no success. Either the people weren’t home or they were avoiding us. Both very probable. The third door however was different…

It was my turn to knock and see if anyone was interested in our message. The door opened and the man who lived there cracked it open. I quickly introduced myself as a missionary for the church. The door closed. I was sad because I didn’t even get to say anything about why I was there.

Suddenly, the door opened wide and the man stepped out! The man introduced himself as Okuda-san. He had met with the missionaries about 20 years ago and was taught by them. They had given him a モルモン経 but he was tripped up by it since it was so hard for him to read. We gave him a copy of the モルモン書 and explained that it was an easier-to-understand version. He gratefully accepted it and we continued to talk about various church related subjects. His knowledge about the Church was amazing. He absolutely loves Utah. And said that if there existed a true church on the Earth, it probably would be the Mormon Church. We had spent over an hour talking to this man at his door and we had an appointment to get to. We apologized for having to leave and traded phone numbers.

Housing might not be the most effective form of finding people. However, we must utilize ALL of our resources in order to find those that are patiently waiting in their homes for us to answer their prayers. We acted on a prompting and as a result we found someone!

A few days later...

22 Nov 13 was a rather interesting day filled with many miracles for Elder Merrill and I. We origianlly had three lessons planned for the evening and were really excited to teach our investigator. We spent our companionship study time getting ready to teach each of these people what we felt impressed to teach them. For one of our investigators, Yamada-san we weren’t really sure what we should teach him. We ultimately decided to go over the word of wisdom and introduce some more of the commandments.

We called our other investigators later that day to confirm that they were still good to go for that evening. Unfortunately, the other two investigators cancelled. We were devastated! However, because they had cancelled this meant that we could spend more time with Yamada-san for his lesson if needed.

The time soon came where we needed to start heading over to the church. We decided that we needed to bike over so we went to where our bikes were locked up and started to unlock them. Elder Merrill was able to unlock his but when I put the key into the lock of my bike, the key snapped inside the lock and I wasn't able to take it out to try the spare. I turned to ELder Merrill and said, “We better get running!”

The Fussa Church is maybe a less than a mile away from the Church. But with stoplights and crosswalks and Trains it a rather lengthy journey. The entire time, I was praying that Yamada-san would be a little late to his lesson and that he wouldn’t have to wait out in the cold for us. As we approached the chapel, we broke out into a full-out sprint. Luckily the Lord had answered my prayers and Yamada-san was just barely walking up the driveway into the church parking lot. We were able to let him in right away!

We walked into the church and remembered that at the same time that a Baptismal program for one of the Base member’s children was at the same time. Elder Merrill and I felt impressed that instead of teaching Yamada-san a planned lesson that night that we needed to go and to watch the Baptism instead with him. We wanted him to come out from the baptism having felt the spirit and be super excited about getting baptized next month.

The baptismal service was not going to start for a little while so we sat around with Yamada-san and talked about him and his life and his interests since ELder Merrill had just transferred in and wanted to get to know Yamada-san a little bit. Yamada-san told us that he loved to sing and that he really enjoys kicking it back and doing some karaoke. Earlier that day while in Kichijoji, I had felt impressed to ask for a flyer for the “Little witnesses” concert in December. I had thought nothing of it until this point in time. I took the flyer out and showed it to Yamada-san. He was super interested in it and we invited him to go. He agreed and we made plans to get to kichijoji with him.

The service began and Elder Merrill and I sat on both sides of him so that we could talk to him while it was going on. The opening song was “When I am baptized.” They only had english copies of the hymn but with the help of Sister Jones we were able to procure a Japanese copy of the song. As we sang, Yamada-san was a little apprehensive at first, but halfway through the first verse he gave in and sang the rest of the verses with us in Japanese.

The song was followed by a talk about baptism. In English of course. I wasn't sure what to do so I started to translate it for him with what little Japanese I knew. To my surprise he was understanding what I was saying! Between me and Elder Merrill, we were able to help Yamada-san understand the talk and helped him to understand better the blessings associated with being baptized as well as receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. He was totally feeling the spirit.

During the actual Baptism, Yamada-san got up and went to the edge of the font with all the other children and watched the ordinance being preformed. Afterwards, we were able to sit with him and read from the Book of Mormon more about baptism as well as explain how the sacrament ties in with it as well. This was followed by another talk and another song.

After the Baptism, we went to the foyer and debriefed what had happened. Yamada-san had enjoyed the service and had felt the spirit. He had gained a better understanding of why such a seemingly simple thing has such big and everlasting effects. He left the church more excited about his baptismal date than he had entered.

Had the other investigators not cancelled, Yamada-san would not have had the opportunity to watch the Baptismal service that evening. It was such a humbling experience seeing how through several very small miracles, the Lord had helped one of his children out on the path back to him. It’s motivating. Also, hes totally stopped smoking. He says that whenever he gets tempted to smoke he eats chocolate. Its super cool seeing how driven he is to follow the commandments.

Now for the not-so-cool thing:

Elder Merrill and I were passing flyers in Akishima near the Mall that is right by the Eki. I put my backpack down so it wasn't in the way and this woman came up to us and told us she was a less active member and really had interest in getting back to church. We got her number and referred her to the sisters and she says shes coming to church this next week (week after fast Sunday). However, After talking for her for several minutes I looked at where I had set my bag and noticed it gone. Somebody had stolen it! Who does that? In Japan of all places! So we cut the conversation short and apologized and found the nearest police box. We reported the bag stolen. They made me describe the bag, its contents, and pretty much everything else. We didn't get back to the apartment until late. Around 11pm because the police officers had so many questions. One of them was really really interested in the gospel and so we testified to him and told him what we were and what we were doing in Japan. He seemed really interested  but couldn't take a book of mormon because he was in the line of duty or something. But when we got back we realized that our apartment key was in the stolen bag. So we had to stay the night at another missionaries apartment. It was quite the interesting night to say the least. There was nothing of real value in the bag. I had both my Journals stolen, my photo Album with pictures of Family, Cathryn,  USNA,  and my interests and what not. So I have no pictures now... Also my really nice Japanese Book of Mormon was stolen too along with my watch which was attached to the outside. As well as my whitehandbook, my clip-on nametag ( I was wearing my magnet one) and my only 3 Pokemon cards! Hopefully I get it back soon or something. That would make a rather nice Christmas present.

Funny story. So last week at our Free English class one of the students asked Elder Nuttall if he wanted a girlfriend. He declined. I thought it was really funny because the question came right out of the blue. That's the first time I have seen something like that. Elder Nuttall was so shocked.

Other than that not much else has happened here in Japan. I haven't eaten any weird foods lately but when I do ill let you all know!

Elder Farr

Attached: Elder Nuttall and I with Sato-Kyodai, a less-active member we've been working with. And me next to a squid/lobster/fish crane machine game that we saw outside of a supermarket one day.

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