Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week of September 14 - 21. Interviews and Fukuchiyama Branch Conference

Another Busy week in the Kobe Mission (they are all busy I guess)!

We continued our interviews of the missionaries travelling to Nara on Wednesday interviewing 6 Elders after which we enjoyed lunch with them at their favorite restaurant. Thursday we were off to Abeno in Osaka to interview 14 missionaries. Friday we went to Iwade in Wakayama to interview the southern half of the Sakai Zone which consists of 14 missionaries. While I interview each missionary one on one, Sister McIntyre meets with companions and reviews their area books and visits with them about health, cleanliness and things I do not focus on so much. She always takes cookies, brownies or cinnamon rolls for the missionaries. She makes them herself or if we do not have time because of the travel schedule, she has Sister Ise prepare them for her. Districts also hold district meeting when they all come together for the interviews. This week in Iwade, all the missionaries were looking forward to the all you can eat Yakiniku (BBQ Meat) lunch. It only costs 1000 yen ($10) and the missionaries can eat all the meat and side dishes they want. They were looking forward to that. They live on a conservative budget and really enjoy an all you can eat deal, especially if it is meat!
A happy group at the end of the meal!

On Tuesday night I attended a Stake Coordination meeting with President Sugimoto of the Sakai Stake in Mikunigoka. It was my first formal meeting with him as mission president. I know him well as he works for Franklin Covey and I hired him and was his boss up until I came on the mission. It was nice to meet with him in this capacity.

We are seeing improvements in our efforts to spread the gospel in the mission. Last week we had 6 more people scheduled for baptism than the previous week. The missionaries are catching the vision and showing their faith. Today (Sunday), Sister McIntyre and I attended a branch conference in Fukuchiyama. Fukuchiyama branch is in the Fukuchiyama District which is under the direction of the mission. Branch President Tsujino, Sister McIntyre and I spoke in sacrament meeting. It is a small branch with usually only 15 or so people attending. Today we had about 30 with the visiting leaders from the district and 3 non member investigators. We had a great meal prepared by the members as a branch after the conference. I had a chance to meet a Brother Masumoto who is not a member yet has a son on a mission in Fukuoka. His wife is a member and he attends with her very regularly. He told me he is waiting for a confirmation to his prayer about getting baptized. He really wants to be sure it is true. I told him he already knows. He will be baptized someday (I hope soon) and he is already an active member! We did not get a picture of the members this time. And the building is rented. We will be sure to post a picture next time. Elder Williamson and Elder Varjao are working in the Fukuchiyama Branch. Elder Varjao is new, just arriving last month. He is from Brazil and English is his 2nd language and Japanese is becoming his 3rd. He is a very serious and focused Elder. His companion and trainer shared with me a special story of what happened when they were teaching Brother Masumoto a few weeks ago. They were discussing baptism and Elder Varjao (only in Japan a week or two at the time) had a chance to testify to Brother Masumoto. When he did he spoke wonderful Japanese and went on for some time explaining why baptism was important and testifying. Everyone was very surprised as he did all this in great Japanese. Even Brother Masumoto commented that he did not know Elder Varjao could speak that well. It was certainly a gift of the spirit. Elder Williamson told me the story and shared with me how amazed he was at the experience.

A shot of Fukuchiyama Castle in the middle of town. Taken from the car so not a really good view.

In another area the missionaries took my challenge to talk with as many people as possible as a way to show their faith and find two new investigators each week. Elder Beecher and Elder Ashdown, in order to find two new people to teach that week, set a goal to talk with 150 people in one day. It was hard, but finally one day they exceeded the goal by talking with 153 people. They told me they were a little discouraged though because they did not find one new person who would make an appointment to listen to their message out of the 153. But they said they would try again. The next day was busy with appointments and meetings and they only had about an hour to proselyte. To their surprise, in that hour they found two people and hit their weekly goal! They were really excited and felt the Lord had blessed them for their efforts the previous day. But the next week, both those people they found ended up not being so interested. A little disappointed, but not ready to give up they kept the faith and continued to show their faith by their works. The following week, one of the people they had been teaching that they had hoped would be baptized but had stopped progressing came to church and said she wanted to be baptized on the 21st of September. That was today and we now have a new member in the Kita Rokko Ward. When we show our faith the Lord blesses us. Sometimes the blessings do not come in the manner or at the time we expect, but they come. All this happened this month for these Elders. The goal to baptize in Kita Rokko before transfers (by the end of this month) was achieved even though a few weeks ago it looked like it would be a hard thing to accomplish. A little hard work, faith and patience paid off and taught us all a great lesson.

A shot of the country side near Fukuchiyama. It was a cloudy rainy day. This is a village nestled up against the mountains with the rice fields nicely laid out.Look out for wild bore running across the road sign! They are quite common in the Japanese mountains.
Clouds coming down on the mountains. Fukuchiyama District countryside.


Frank Kuta said...

Once again your blog strengthened my testimony. Next time instead of the all you can eat meal....challenge your Elders and Sisters to buy a non member lunch......or have them bring an investigator to an outdoor activity. It was Sports day last week (or maybe it is the next couple of weeks)I have pictures of 30 years ago on the lot where the Higashi-Osaka building was eventually built, that was the first time I (tried out) my certainly is true that you have the rest of your life to re-live your Mission.

Thanks again for an incredible Spiritual Boost every week.

Francis Kuta
Savage Minnesota

Alex Dan said...

Great to hear that all is going well! I have worked with a number of missionaries headed to your mission while I'm here at the MTC, Elders Miner and Smith, both are really prepared and I think have maybe 5 more weeks until the field. They tell me your daughter is doing really well, as I am sure you know, but good to hear how busy you are!

Alex Carruth

Vanalee said...

I hope they call me on a mission!!! I love the way your blog let's me see what you are doing every week. I cannot wait until I get to serve the Lord full time. Until then, I'll keep teaching my seminary class and pray that I am helping train them to be great missionaries!