Monday, October 14, 2013

Hey there everybody!

   Thanks to all those of you who sent me birthday well wishes and cards and letters! My birthday actually isn't until Wednesday, but I opened up the package my family sent me this morning, and there were lots of your cards inside. I really appreciate that you all are looking out for me and still thinking about me (at least once a year... haha!)
   So, I suppose first I'll start by giving you the results of transfer calls last Tuesday. I'm still in Fuchu. So is Elder Otsuka. Nothing new. Yay! I was hoping to be in Fuchu all the way until Christmas, but based on what President Wada has told me in the last day or two I'm pretty sure I'll be heading out somewhere else next transfer. We'll see. Sometimes he just likes to mess with people.
   Earlier on in the week, Elder Otsuka and I had our bikes confiscated by the... I'm not sure what you call them in English... let's go with "Parking Police". We had parked our bikes near the train station, and when we came back at the end of the day they were gone. There aren't any signs there that say parking is prohibited, but I guess they decided it was. So, there wasn't much else we could do but walk. We called the mission office and asked them what to do, and they said they would look up the address of the place we would need to go to get our bikes back. When they got back to us in the morning two days later, we headed off to go get our bikes back. It was a good hour walk away, and when we finally got there they asked us where our bikes were taken from. "Fuchu Honmachi station", we said. "Oh. All the bikes taken from that area are actually kept at this OTHER location way over HERE," they say as they point at a map. It was in the exact opposite direction from our apartment that we had come, and even further away. So then we walked all the way back past our apartment, and then another hour and a half or so to this other place. I'm convinced they put these places in the most obscure places on purpose. But, I did see something interesting on the way. We walked past a baseball field, and I noticed all the players were adults. I figured it was just some community league. Then I saw there was a big banner on the fence that said "Tokyo Over 60 Baseball League". I looked again and noticed that these were all a bunch of grandpas. Playing baseball. Hardcore and competitively. Once more I am astounded by the vitality of the old people in Japan.
   General Conference was of course good. I know it's been over a week for all of you, but you'll just have to try your best to remember what was said so you can know what I'm talking about. haha! My favorite talk was probably Uchtdorf's talk from Saturday Morning. He made a really good point that the Lord requires our all, and that as members we must be willing to give everything we have and be involved. It takes more than just "listening to sermons and 'dreaming of your mansions above'". I was also a little suprised that there were several apostles this time around that explicitly called people to repentance. One example would be when David A Bednar ended his talk. "If you are not paying your tithing, I would invite you to consider your ways, and repent." Not always a good sign when the apostles and prophets become blunt like that.
   One last story and then I'll wrap up. We had an experience this last week that I think typifies the direction the church leadership is pushing members to be more involved in the hastening of the work. We have an investigator family, the Shinomotos. We've been trying to introduce them to more members and help them build friendships, but it's been difficult because they're busy and haven't been able to make it to church yet. We talked with out ward mission leader about some ideas we could try, and what was decided on is that we would invite them to a family home evening at the church with a couple of families from the ward (that wasn't even planned at all, actually), and if they said they would come then we would put a FHE together. They accepted, and so we went to work. We invited several families, and the ward mission leader organized getting dinner set up. Everyone contributed a little something, so there was no expense to the ward at all. It was literally just a combined family home evening with the families providing everything themselves. We showed up Sunday evening, and to our surprise there were quite a few more people than we had invited show up. One of the families and taken the liberty of inviting several other members to come as well. When it was all said and done, It was almost like a mini ward party. nearly 30 people came and participated. Before our investigators arrived, we reminded everyone of the purpose and intent of the activity, and invited them to really fellowship our investigators. The entire evening, Elder Otsuka and I didn't have to worry about our investigators once. They were never left alone, somebody was always talking with them. Elder Otsuaka and I shared the spiritual message, and then we had dessert and everyone went home. It was the best to see these people in our ward pull together and put on this great activity just for one family we're teaching.
   That's about it for this week. Hope you all have a great one! Talk to you all more next week!

Elder Blake

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