Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sister McIntyre Should Have Stayed with Her Companion! - Interviews in Nara with the Missionaries and the Deer

President and Sister McIntyre with the deer in Nara Koen (Park)
The deer are so cute in Nara. Awe...Sister McIntyre made a new friend.

But she wondered too far from her companion...and this "guy" deer made a move on her.

She tried to run away, but he called his friends. Where is her companion?!
Run Sister McIntyre, Run! Next time stay with the President! Especially if you have deer crackers!
Erika stuck with the babies. And we did rescue Sister McIntyre.
We have been in Kobe almost a month. Sometimes it feels like 2 years (in a good way!) We feel quite at home and have done so much in the short time we have been here. We have almost completed a first round of interviewing all 100 missionaries. Each missionary is personally interviewed by the president every transfer. Each one takes at least 15 minutes, but most tend to run longer, especially now as we are still getting to know most of the missionaries. In most cases, we travel to a central place in each zone (Stake) and spend the whole day there interviewing. We have 5 zones and each zone takes about two days. So interviewing missionaries takes about two weeks of our time every transfer. Each missionary also writes the president a weekly letter on Sunday night. They usually start flowing in on Monday and I get the last of them on Wednesday each week. I read each one and often have to follow up with questions and/or issues that come out in their letters. So I have to take notes each week as I read them. Reading 100 personal letters takes some time. Some are short and some are long. About the time I finish one weeks letters, the next weeks start to arrive! Through these letter and the interviews, I get to know the missionaries very well. I wish some of the missionaries would write clearer and larger (it is amazing how small some people can write!) and avoid pink and fluorescent green pens! I think I will mention that in our next Zone Conferences.
It really is a special experience to get and read these letters. It has made me think of our prayers to Heavenly Father. While I can hardly handle 100 letters a week, He hears and answers millions and maybe billions of prayers each day. In these letters the missionaries tell me about their week. They share their ups and their downs. They ask me for help and express their gratitude. I have thought that is how we should pray to our Father in Heaven each day. He wants to hear about what and how we are doing. We should share with him a report of our day. We can ask him for help and express our love and gratitude. What a job He has! I am totally inadequate to even handle these 100 letters, but it has helped me feel greater appreciation for our Father in Heaven. In a small way, through reading these letters, I think I have felt joy similar to the joy He must feel when we open our hearts to him in sincere prayer.
On the other hand, when I get a letter that was clearly written in 30 seconds with not much meaningful content or thought, I feel that missionary is robbing himself of a great blessing. Our frivolous and/or insincere prayers must make our Father in Heaven feel the same way. He is there waiting to hear and answer our sincere prayers. All we have to do is talk to him!

Yesterday (Friday the 25th) we travelled to Nara to do interviews with eight missionaries. Nara is an old capital of Japan and it has many beautiful temples and national treasures. After the interviews which finished around 4pm, we made our way to the famous Nara Park where hundreds of "formerly" wild deer run free and love to eat specially prepared "deer crackers" conveniently sold throughout the park. We love Nara Park and looked forward to visiting there on our way home from the interviews. Erika went with us. James was at a young men's campout and Julie was in Tokyo and Ricky still in Utah (he arrives here on the 9th.) Here are a few pictures, including the ones above of Sister McIntyre being chased and running away from charging wild deer!

We love our mission!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Missionaries Come and Go July 2008

These are the first missionaries to arrive from the MTC since we started to serve. Sister Kurashita, Sister Meyers and Sister Notsu on the front row. Elders Smith, Harvard and Ashdown in the back. They are wonderful and full of excitement. It was quite an experience to have them with us for two days in the mission home and then see them matched with their first companions. We will get to know them well over the next few years!

This is our first departing group. They come into the mission home the day the new missionaries go out and spend one night with us. After their final interviews with the President, a dinner and testimony meeting top off their last night in Japan. Pictured here are Sisters Williams, Davies, and Quinn. Standing are Elders Hana, Blankenagel, White, Hansen, Wolfe and Howell.

It is a wonderful experience to hear their final testimonies and how they have grown and struggled at times throughout their missions. I am already convinced that nothing is as great as a mission experience in preparing these men and women for their future lives.

One mission tradition is to climb the hill behind the mission home and take pictures the night before they depart. The view can be great if the weather cooperates. This was a shot from that night. It overlooks part of Kobe City and the Bay.

As a family (still minus Ricky though) we had some time for some fun as well. We visited a ranch in the mountains only a few minutes away from the home. Here are a few pictures. The mountans and views are quite beautiful here.

Check back again for more updates!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Arrival in Mission!

After a wonderful 5 days in the Provo MTC where we were counseled and taught by the prophets and apostles, we had one quick night at home to pick up the kids and visit grandpa before departing for Japan. Our good friends, the Fowers, picked up Ricky as he will stay behind for a month or so in Utah to attend summer camps. The rest of us were up until about 2am with final packing and preparation. Then off to the airport at 6am! Jeff Evans was kind enough to pick us up and take us to the airport.
Japan Bound New Mission Presidents with Elders and Sisters Walker and Stevenson of the Seventy. (Left to right -Daniel's, Tateoka's, Isa's, Brother and Sister Pincock, McIntyre's, Walker's and Stevenson's)
We arrived in Tokyo on Friday the 27th of June. After a wonderful dinner at our hotel with the other new mission presidents in our area and the Area Presidency (Elder Evans, Elder Choi and Elder Yamashita - and their wives) we had a long awaited good nights rest!

James and Sammy on the Bullet Train! On Saturday morning we had additional training with our Area Presidency. The kids went to pick up Sammy. And we were on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kobe by early afternoon.

We were greeted by President and Sister Tucker on the platform accompanied by the Assistants, Elders Hanna and Ahmu, and the Kobe Stake President, President Oshima.
The mission home is only about a 10 minute drive from Shin Kobe station. Upon arrival we were greeted by the two mission home staff elders, Elder Christie and Elder Kunihiro and the Sisters, Sister Bensen and Sister Webb. They had made a big welcome sign for us. We were already exhausted! But our mission was just beginning!!!
The rest of Saturday was spent getting oriented and unpacking. (It has taken us all this week to finally get unpacked with all the other activities and things we have been doing. But it is starting to feel a little like home.) Sunday we attended the Kobe Ward and the Kansai (English) Branch. We had the chance to introduce ourselves and share testimonies in each. After some meetings with President and Sister Tucker that afternoon the mission was officially transferred to us and they left! The mission home is on the right (you can only see a corner). This is the church next to our home.

Monday we held our first Zone Leader's Council. All the missionary leaders came to the mission home for meetings. It was a wonderful experience to finally start to meet these great missionaries. We have 100 in total. We have now met every one of them. This week we held zone conferences and our family had the chance to speak to the missionaries and share our vision for the next three years. The kids all introduced themselves and Erika participated in the conferences as she prepares to start her mission soon.

We felt a desire to create a spirit of unity in the mission and Sister McIntyre made a beautiful Japan Kobe Mission Quilt for each missionary that serves with us to sign and then date it when they return home. The missionaries love it!
Take a look at some of our wonderful missionaries!!

We have another 60 or so just like these! They are wonderful.

Today - Sunday July 6th -After sacrament meeting in Kobe, we traveled to the Sekime Ward in Osaka to attend a baptism for a 90 year old sister we met on Saturday. It was a great meeting and she was so excited to get baptized and follow Christ. It just goes to show you it is never too late!

Sister Tsuji is next to Sister McIntyre. Elder Allen got caught with his eyes closed, but Elder Ring is wide awake! They are the Elders who taught her and the Zone Leaders in the Osaka Zone (Stake).