Monday, February 11, 2013

I found a leather trenchcoat at a
second-hand store for $5.
Too bad it's 5 sizes too small
   Hey everyone! So today is the first day of a new transfer! And allow me to say that I totally called it. What does that mean? Well, let me explain. When we went to the temple last week, I saw Elder Mangum there afterwards. He's half Brazilian  and a way funny guy. I started talking to him, and told him to start packing his bags and get on over to Ushiku so he could help us baptize this new Brazilian family we're working with. Well, transfer calls came Friday morning, and wouldn't you know it, Elder Mangum is coming to Ushiku. I started laughing so hard. So yeah, He'll be getting here around 5 tonight. Elder Christensen is heading off to the mission home this afternoon around 2. From 2 to 5 I'll be with Brother Sato from the ward, and it sounds like he's got some sort of plan hatching, so we'll see what that's all about.
   This last week has been pretty good. Elder Christensen has been getting ready to go home, which has made it a little harder to get things done. He didn't really get trunky until this last week, but when it finally came it hit hard. So that's been an adventure in and of itself, but I won't get into that. Wednesday we had a zone conference that President Budge came to. There was a lot of good stuff that went on. President Budge shared with is a theme of sorts (I guess you could call it) that the Kobe Mission President has been using recently: teach simply, testify powerfully, and commit boldly. Well, that about wraps it up right there, we can all go home now! I love that though! That says exactly and concisely what I've been thinking about and trying to put into words for quite some time now. Funny how things like that tend to happen. Also, Last week my Dad was talking to me about belief, faith, love, and charity in his last email. What he had said was that belief and love are inward decisions, but faith and charity are outward expressions of those decisions. Well, wouldn't you know it, that came up during zone conference also. That was pretty cool.
Ushiku Daibutsu
Holds Guinness World Record for tallest
statue; 3x as tall as Statue of Liberty
   So, here's an update on the Comba family; they're doing great! Brother Comba is in the hospital for now, He has glaucoma. They've already operated on one eye, and they'll operate on the other eye in the next couple of days. Due to his eye condition, he's not able to read, but he's agreed to read the Book of Mormon out loud with his wife in the meantime. His ears still work perfectly fine after all. Also, Brother Mitake (the Mitakes are the less active family that brought the Combas to church) told Brother Comba about the audio version available for download for free from the I-phone app store. Seeing as how he's got nothing else to do all day except sit in his hospital room, he's going to start using that too. So anyways, seeing as how he's in the hospital, that means our last lesson with them was there at the hospital. So that's all way exciting, but there's even more good news! Sister Mitake has a younger sister named Hoberta who is inactive. Hoberta and her husband Ronaldo are friends with the Comba family too, and they've been at both lessons we've had with the Comba family. I just found out the other day that Ronaldo isn't a member at all in the first place. Well, he's been listening really intensely to the lessons, and he's just soaking it all in. Before we left the hospital, I talked with him a little bit. I asked him if they had a Book of Mormon. He said no. I asked him if he wanted one. He said yes. I told him I'd bring him one to the next lesson. When I was talking to Brother Mitake about it on the car ride back from the hospital, he was way surprised  I guess Ronaldo doesn't really like religion that much. In the past, if he was ever over at Brother Mitake's house and the missionaries came over, he would find some excuse to leave. That surprised me. Since we've met Ronaldo, he's been really friendly, and he's seemed super interested. People can change. Maybe he's ready this time.
  So, this is kinda random. There's this song I heard at a convenience store the other day. Maybe it's new, or maybe it's 9 months old, I don't know. But, the chorus goes "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me maybe". That song is TOTALLY a missionary song! Every day, we're walking around talking with people, and we're all like "hey, I know we just stopped you in the street like 2 minutes ago, but let's trade numbers and we'll talk with you some more later". Yes, that's that.
   Well, that's about it for now! Everyone enjoy Singles' Awareness day on Thursday!

Elder Blake

Monday, February 04, 2013

   Hey there everyone! It's been a great week over here in Japan this last week. The weather warmed up some, we got work done, and nobody is dead. It's great! Although, the weather is cooling off again. Friday and saturday were warm enough that just wearing the suit jacket was plenty, but then yesterday it dropped again and wearing a coat was definitely a must. I've been told that there's a possibility it will snow again this week. If it does, it won't stick very long. The snow so far has all melted off less than a week after it falls.
Scavenger Hunt: Find a giant, yellow duck
   So last Monday we had zone p-day. We went to Lake Town, which the zone leaders claimed is the biggest mall in Japan, and we had a picture scavenger hunt. That was pretty fun, and there were quite a few funny pictures that everyone managed to get. The mall was actually pretty big. Well, actually, it was two malls that were right next to each other, and connected with a sky-bridge. Regardless, it was big.
   So not much happened on Tuesday, but Wednesday was pretty good. We had district meeting that afternoon, and Elder Taylor said something I really liked. We were talking about repentance, and how when we repent the Lord promises to remember our sins no more. We are not promised, however, that we won't remember our own sins. This is something that comes up in Sunday school quite a bit. Many people wonder if they are really forgiven if they can still remember their sins. What Elder Taylor said to help explain this is really simple, and I think it's actually really helpful. He said, "that's why we sometimes have scars: so that we can be reminded not to do the same thing again". When we first get a scar it can be painful sometimes, but over time the pain goes away. It stops hurting, but it's always there as a reminder of how we got it so that we can avoid making the same mistake again.
Everyone who came to zone p-day
   Thursday and Friday we went on splits with the zone leaders. I went to Abiko with Elder Hansen. That guy is a beast! He is easily the best missionary I have ever worked with. He's dedicated, he's diligent, he's super nice, he knows what he's doing, and he's just good at being a missionary. I don't know how he does it, but when he talks with people on the street, he can get almost everyone to stop and talk with us for a few minutes. Most of the time, as soon as people find out we're not lost tourists they head off on their merry way. Not this guy though. He gets nearly everyone to stop and talk for a little bit. I definitely have a new standard to try and reach. It was a way fun split though. We played soccer with one of their 14 year old investigators. By the time we got to Abiko, we didn't have time to go back to the apartment and change, so we ended up playing in our suits. That was really fun... I guess. haha! No, it was way fun, but my shoes sure got pretty scuffed up. I had just shined them too. Haha! We also taught a lesson with a recent convert. She actually has a pretty cool story. She's in her 70's, and her husband was baptized 9 years ago. She was meeting with the missionaries for a long time, but she has Alzheimer's (spelling?), which makes it hard for her to progress. Some days she would decide that she liked the church, and then the next day she would forget and decide she didn't like it. After a while, she got to a point where she decided she wanted to be baptized, and she passed her baptismal interview and everything, but before she was actually baptized she forgot that she wanted to be baptized and decided that she didn't like the church again. The way Elder Hansen said it, is after that they just kept the font filled up 24/7 waiting for her to decide she wanted to be baptized. A week or two later, she did, and they got her down to the church that day and baptized her. Ever since then she's never forgotten that she was baptized, and she's never gone back to not liking the church. Crazy. It's amazing what the Holy Ghost can do.
More from the scavenger hunt
   Saturday was also a pretty awesome day. We had our first lesson with our new family of investigators, the Comba family. They're from Brazil, and they are the ones that came to church last week with the less active family we've been trying to work with. We went to the Comba's house on Saturday night for dinner and a lesson, and the Mitake family (the less active family) was also there. When we got there, the Comba family was actually not home. The Mitake's let us in, but the Combas were out shopping, so it was just us and the Mitake's for about an hour waiting for the Comba's to get back. By the time they Comba's finally got back and we could start the lesson, it was pretty late. But, the lesson went great though. The Comba family is awesome. The husband speaks passable English, but neither of them speak Japanese. Sister Mitake is completely fluent in Japanese, but her English is kinda weak. So, how the lesson ended up going is we would teach in a mixture of English and Japanese and then wait for it to be translated into Portuguese for the rest of the family. All in all, despite the set backs, it went really well. They all have baptismal dates, and we're going to be meeting with them again next Saturday. I'm way excited to work with this family.
    That's about it for now! More to come next week!