Sunday, October 26, 2008

Elder Evans Mission Tour and Maizuru Sunday Visit

The Kobe Mission had a wonderful week with Elder and Sister Evans, the Asia North Area President and his wife, conducting a tour of the mission from Monday October 20th through Wednesday October 22nd. We held combined zone conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday in Kobe and Abeno respectively. All missionaries attended one of the conferences.
It is a wonderful experience to spend several days with a general authority of the church being taught, instructed and uplifted. Much of our instruction focused on how to use the Book of Mormon and help people commit to read and pray about it. Elder Evans also focused on "finding when you teach and teaching when you find." I know the missionaries felt a wonderful spirit and came away with a renewed energy and commitment to apply what was taught. We love Elder and Sister Evans and appreciate all their council and support.
Most all day Saturday was spent in Ibaraki (Osaka) where Sister McIntyre and I were asked to speak to, and train, about 60 future missionaries with Elder Yamashita, one of our Area Authority Seventies here in Japan, and President Kido of the Osaka North Stake. It was a wonderful day. The Kobe Mission provided about 30 missionaries in the afternoon who went proselyting for a few hours with all the attendees. This annual event is coordinated through the Institute and the local stakes.
Early Sunday morning Sister McIntyre and I were off to Maizuru clear across the country along the Sea of Japan to visit the Maizuru Branch.The church is located in the building above on the 2nd floor. As you can see there is book and video store below us. In the picture below, Sister McIntyre is pointing to the sign in front of the building which shows the name of the church. It is the top white sign written in Japanese. Not sure what the bottom sign is all about. But we do think there is a lot of "wisdom" taught in the building every Sunday!
Above: Sister McIntyre and Elders Taketomi and Castleton standing in front of the church doors. The Maizuru Branch had 2 investigators attend today and counting us that brought the sacrament meeting attendance to 13. They do have 2 baptisms scheduled for December. The Branch President is a wonderful young man (return missionary) in his thirties. It was a great day getting to know all the members there and speaking to them and learning with them in Sunday School and the other meetings. Maizuru is home to a Japanese Naval Base and other than that it seems to be basically made up of several small fishing and mountain villages. The two non-members who came to church were both Japanese sailors stationed there. They both had a keen interest in what was taught and were very friendly and likable and said they would come again. These small branches are precious. The members that attend are wonderful. I am still seeking for guidance on how we can better support them.
After church we drove past the port and Japanese Naval Base and found a small village called Mihama located on the back side of a mountain opposite the port facing the Sea of Japan. We stopped to take a picture as we went over the mountain. It was cool and rainy all morning, but cloudy and only threatening more rain in the afternoon. Mihama Mura is down by the sea.I made it a point to walk out on the beach and touch the water. We went from coast to coast and back today. The Sea of Japan faces China and Korea. The mission home in Kobe looks out over the inland sea and Pacific Ocean towards North America.We met a very kind grandma in the village as she was cutting flowers and tending her garden. She told us she was born on Christmas Eve and her father, who was Christian, died on Christmas Eve as well. We shared with her some materials and she gave Sister McIntyre some flowers. You can see a persimmon tree in the background. We saw many growing in the valley there. In the fall the leaves drop but they leave the fruit on the trees to sweeten. Grandma told us she had about 30 wild monkeys down in her garden yesterday raiding the trees. We wish we could have seen that.
These persimmons, called kaki in Japanese, come in a few varieties. Some are not sweet and are only good to eat when dried. You can see below someone drying some kaki by hanging them from their porch.Below is one of the trees nearly picked clean by the monkey thieves.We also snapped a shot of the Daikon Radishes being dried by a local resident as we drove through the village.Here are some more pictures from the Maizuru area...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 9th through the 19th Summary and Osaka Kita Stake Conference

The past 10 days we have been making the rounds meeting and interviewing the missionaries in their various districts. We first started interviews with the missionaries in the Kobe Zone and conducted those at the mission offices. We then spent a day in Osaka at the Abeno church interviewing two districts there. The Abeno church (above) is in the heart of Osaka and is at least 40 years old. I have the exact date it was built somewhere.Above is a different angle. The van is the mission president's vehicle. Believe me it gets a lot of kilometers put on it.Here we are a little closer up at Abeno with some of the Abeno district missionaries. It looks like Sisters Sadler and Yamashita and Elders Stufflebean, Williams and Fruen are with us.

We also made a trip to the Mikunigoaka church in the Sakai zone for interviews. Below is a picture of the district standing in front of the church with Sister McIntyre. The church used to be a fire station. The big garage doors on the left are where the fire engines would pull in and park. They make a nice place for our van now though.

What would the week be without finding an inexpensive all you can eat restaurant with the missionaries. In Mikunigoaka, the district took us to a nice shabu shabu place for lunch and they showed us how much they could eat. It seems they really look forward to doing this once a month or so when we come. The missionaries live on a very conservative budget, but seem to save enough for a meal out as a district once in while.This past week we also made another trip to the Fukuchiyama branch. Here is a picture of the little church in a building we have rented out. We also took another picture of the Fukuchiyama Castle on the way home.

We have made Fukuchiyama a small zone consiting of two districts and 10 missionaries. It includes 4 small branches in the beautiful mountains between Kobe and the Sea of Japan.

Our week was topped off with a great Stake Conference in the Osaka Kita (North) Stake. The Stake President, President Kido, presided at the conference and he asked both Sister McIntyre and I to speak and participate in the two days of meetings. The theme of the conference was "becoming the light of the world" or "let your light shine." The main focus was on sharing the gospel so it was a wonderful missionary focused two days. On Saturday, I was asked to speak in the adult session as well as meet with President Kido and all the bishops and ward mission leaders in a priesthood leadership meeting. On Sunday both Sister McIntyre and I spoke in the main session and Ricky and James also attended with us. We are grateful to the stake presidency and all those others who treated us so kindly. We were given flowers to wear and provided with delicious meals between meetings. The missionary spirit is strong in this stake and we are seeing great blessings in each of the wards. Special thanks to Sister Kido and Tanaka for the meals and Presidents Kido, Matsubara and Tanaka of the stake presidency. Next time we need to take a picture with them!

Tomorrow Elder and Sister Evans arrive to start a mission tour which will consist of two combined zone conferences held on Tuesday and Wednesday. We are looking forward to being trained by a General Authority of the church.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sister Erika McIntyre MTC Photos

Erika sent us her camera chips with lots of photos. As you know she is now in Japan serving, but here are a few pictures from her MTC experience. The one below is her with her companions I believe. This is Sister Tong I believe. Nori Mason's mother!
Here she is with Elder Monson, who I believe will be arriving in our mission next month.
This next one looks like her MTC district before heading out to Japan.
This is nice shot her and Elder Henry Eyring. Henry was in our stake in Tokyo while his father served as Mission President there. We hoped Elder Eyring would come to Kobe but one of the other Japan missions got him!
It looks like she met up with Mika Sawada at the temple before departing.
Here she is with Sister Glenn who is one our newest missionaries to arrive.And last of all here she is with her little sister, Julie at the Provo Temple!

Erika is doing great, but we miss both of our girls!

President's Message October 2008

Elders and Sisters of the Kobe Mission,
We have made it through a hot summer and the cooler fall season is upon us. Kansai is beautiful in fall and it is a wonderful time to be outdoors meeting people and sharing the gospel. I want to thank all of you for your faith and prayers. We are seeing more and more miracles each month. I have been pleased to see how so many of you have taken the challenge upon yourselves to show your faith by talking with as many people as you can each day and are being blessed of the Lord for doing so.
I have received many letters that explain how you went the extra mile in your finding efforts, yielding few or no results at the time, only to find that a member brings a friend to church on Sunday or you stumble upon a person who is really prepared to hear the gospel message outside of your normal finding activities. When we set worthy goals, show our faith to achieve them and ask the Lord to help us, we can see miracles. As I have shared with you before, that is how faith works and often how blessings come. I pray you will all continue to push yourself knowing that the blessings come in due time. In D&C 64:33 the Lord admonishes us:

Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

The truth is we have reason to rejoice and not be weary. New investigators, progressing investigators, yakusokusha and baptisms were all up for the mission this past month. I know our small efforts will continue to produce great results if we are steadfast and faithful.

This transfer period, we want to continue to build on what we have been studying and working on the past few months. Most wards and branches now have a mission plan. We must continue to build a good relationship with the members and help each unit in the mission fulfill and achieve their mission plans. We must continue to open our mouths and exert our own efforts to find the Lord’s elect. In addition, many of you are now seeing the number of people you are teaching increase. We want to focus on helping our investigators progress towards baptism. In order to accomplish this we will be focusing on the following:

1) Being bold without being overbearing in seeking and obtaining commitments (both in our finding efforts and in our teaching)
2) Learning how to plan better for our investigators
3) Learning how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in all that we do

As we continue to do the things we have been, like finding 2 new investigators each week, and start focusing on helping our investigators progress, I know we will see an increase in the harvest here and a change in the hearts of the members in the Kansai region.

This month we will have the opportunity to hear from President David F. Evans, our Area President and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. As part of our preparation for meeting with him in our zone conferences, he has asked each of you to study the attributes, character and behavior of the great missionaries found in the Book of Mormon. Before zone conference, please read Mosiah 17 through Alma 42 in the Book of Mormon. Please note the faith and attributes of great missionaries and prophets such as Abinadai, Alma, The Sons of Mosiah, Alma the Younger and Amulek. As you read about these great men, liken their experiences unto you and your mission. Think about what you can do to be more like them. We are looking forward to hearing form President Evans!
Know that we love you and know that you have been called to this work to succeed. May the Lord’s choicest blessing be upon each of you as you are steadfast and immovable in your faith and works.

With much love,
President and Sister McIntyre

Saturday, October 11, 2008

High on a Mountain Top - Zone leader Council October 2008

Immediately after transfer week, we held Zone Leader Council and training. This time we had the zone leaders come into the mission home and spend a little extra time with us in training. Normally ZLC is held from 10am to 4pm on one day. This time I had the leaders come in and start as usual at 10 am, but stay over night and wrap up the next day at noon. The second day was preparation day so it did not intrude much on their proselyting time. A mission president is a trainer all the time. Since missionaries come and go every several weeks and leaders change just as often, the need to continually train in all aspects of missionary work and leadership in general is essential. Inspiring young men and women and keeping them motivated with a strong desire to serve and work hard can be challenging. But I have found these young missionaries to be so obedient and faithful. They have a desire to learn and grow and please their Father in Heaven. That makes teaching and training them much easier and very enjoyable. At ZLC we discuss the direction of the mission and what we need to focus on to further the work and support all the missionaries in their zones. We set up our training plans and learn our duty as leaders. This transfer we had 3 new zone leaders and 1 new assistant to the president called. That represents almost half our leaders in the mission, excluding district leaders. We called several new district leaders as well.
After our morning session (and a BBQ hamburger lunch at the mission home) where we discussed the role of a zone leader and district leader and talked about our recent output and results as a mission, I took the leaders up on the mountain behind the mission home. The mission home is up on the bench and at the base of three large mountains. A short walk from the mission home is a cable car and rope way tram that takes you to the top of one of the big mountains. From the top, you can see a large part of the Kobe Mission. The view is spectacular and inspiring.
So after lunch we had a 10 minute hike and a 15 minute trek up the mountain and within 30 minutes it seemed we were out of the world looking down on our mission. At the top there is a park and a nice pavilion we gathered in and read scriptures after singing High on a Mountain Top. We studied about the great prophets that the Lord took up into high mountains and taught them and showed them His vision and the work he had prepared for them. We talked about our work and our vision of the work in our mission and our roles as leaders in realizing that vision. We also discussed how the mount of the Lord in the scriptures often refers to the temple. We talked about the need we have to climb our own mountains each day (go up to the mountain often) to commune with the Lord and get guidance in our lives. I think the missionaries enjoyed it and were inspired by the experience. Views from the tram on the way up.Upon returning and having dinner, we had a short family home evening with the boys and then continued our meetings until about 9pm in the mission home. The next morning at 6:30, we had a short service project and cleaned up all the weeds and gutters around the mission home. After showers and breakfast, we had group scripture study time and then finished the morning in our final meeting with testimonies and wrap up training. The missionaries then enjoyed the rest of their preparation day and returned to their areas. I think an extended training session like this could be held a few times a year especially when we change over a lot of the leadership. I believe this will be something they will remember long after their mission's end. The danger is we probably spoiled them with three big meals prepared by Sister McIntyre. I heard comments like, "I have not had a breakfast like that since coming to Japan." Don't worry though, none of these missionaries are underfed. I think they just miss a good meal prepared by mom.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Transfer Week - Week Ending October 5th

Another busy transfer week. These weeks are always busy, but enjoyable. The new missionaries are always wonderful and full of energy and anticipation. The returning missionaries are also excited but a little sad when they think of their mission coming to an end.
The new missionaries always spend a few days with us getting training and orientation. Here is one of the dinners with all 9 of the newest missionaries.
Here is a picture of everyone before we sent them out into the field.
The day we send out the new missionaries, the returning group comes in for interviews and dinner. Here are the 8 returning missionaries this transfer enjoying a last sukiyaki dinner prepared by Sister McIntyre. Ricky and James are with us too.
This was a great group and they will represent the Kobe Mission well wherever they go.
After the dust of transfers settled on Friday the 3rd, we prepared for a fireside/seminar on the importance of families. Sister McIntyre and I were asked to speak at the Yamatokoriyama Ward Sunday after church in special missionary fireside about families. It went well and we had the chance to meet several people interested in the church and how to create a happier family.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sister Erika McIntyre Arrives in Sapporo and Begins Her Service in Japan

Erika (Sister McIntyre, not to be confused with her mom who is also Sister McIntyre!) upon arrival at the Sapporo Airport with President and Sister Daniels September 29, 2008
The new missionaries in Sapporo. The two Japanese sisters arrived from the Japan MTC and Sister McIntyre arrived with 4 elders from the Utah MTC. The Elder the second from the right is Elder Burton. His twin brother (Elder Burton) arrived in our mission from the MTC on the same day! They look an awful lot alike. Sister McIntyre knew both of them from the MTC.
The Sapporo group at the mission home. The couple on the left are the Makise's. They left from the Hanayashiki ward in Osaka in the Kobe Mission and also just arrived in Sapporo. Before leaving on her mission, Erika spent some time in that ward on splits with the Sisters in the Kobe Mission and met the Makise's. Now she is serving in the same mission with them. Small world!
Sister McIntyre and her first companion, Sister Aloi who is from Canada. Her first Area is Ebetsu. We are excited for her!