Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mission President's Seminar - Asia North Area in Seoul Korea

November 21 -23 we attended our area's mission president's seminar in Seoul, Korea. We were privileged to have Elder Oaks of the Twelve and Elder Clayton of the Presidents of the Seventy attend with their wives as well as our Area Presidency, Elder Evans, Elder Stevenson and Elder Choi of the Seventy with their wives. Above is a picture of the Japan mission presidents. Elder Oaks is on the far left and Elder Stevenson on the far right. We are next to Elder and Sister Stevenson.

Here we are with President and Sister Tateoka who came out with us and are serving in Sendai. We loved his hat. Sister McIntyre is from that mission and President Tateoka has been a great support in helping Sister McIntyre's mother become more active at church again.

Here we are with President and Sister Daniels. They are Erika's Mission President and Mom in Sapporo.

This was our table for dinner one of the evenings. Elder and Sister Stevenson, with us, President and Sister Daniels and President and Sister Perriton who are serving in Korea.
Here is the whole group at the Seoul Temple. We were able to do a session together one afternoon.
Above is the whole group again as we took a walk through an old palace in Seoul. Elder and Sister Oaks and Elder and Sister Clayton are in the front row with the area presidency. We are on the far left.
Here is Sister McIntyre with Sisters Evans, Stevenson, Traveller (Nagoya Mission), Clayton and Hill (Tokyo Mission).
It was a great three days and will certainly be one of many highlights of our mission.
We arrived home to find the mission still here and doing fine! I only had one phone call I had to take concerning a missionary during the trip.

Zone Leader Council November 17, 2008

On November 17th we held our Zone Leader Council in Kobe. Above are the 12 Zone Leaders and 2 Assistants.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our Reason for Being Here - Rounding Out Transfer Week with Baptisms

Christ is the reason and our purpose is to invite all to come unto Him and repent by receiving baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As transfer week ended with the returning missionaries leaving on Friday, on Saturday (after watching James' basketball game) and Sunday we travelled to Kawachinagano and Wakayama respectively to see some wonderful people come unto Christ through baptism. Above is a picture of the attendees for the baptism of Sister Morimoto and her son Keigo. He is 16 years old and a wonderful young man. The baptism was held in Wakayama church, but they are members of the Iwade Branch. Iwade does not have a font so everyone travelled to Wakayama for the service. This was Elders Mauai and Wintz's first baptisms and the first baptisms in the Iwade Branch in four years. Needless to say the members were excited. Nothing excites the members more than to have new members join them. Nothing breeds missionary spirit better than the fruits of missionary work. We heard many testimonies today from people remembering their own baptisms of many years ago as they expressed their gratitude for the missionaries that found and taught them.
Above are the Elders with the Morimoto's and us. Elder Baldridge who returns home next transfer found Sister Morimoto in the Area Book and contacted her earlier this year. She had been found several years ago and lost contact with the previous missionaries and had had no contact for about three years. Elder Baldridge started teaching her and was transferred a couple of months ago. He was able to come back and attend the baptism with us.
We also attended a baptism in Kawachinagano for Sister Kamimura.
Above- Elders Jorgensen and Andreasen with their newly baptized member, Sister Kamimura. She was found and taught because a member (Sister Soga) started a conversation with her at a bus stop. If we can just get the members to work with us by simply opening their mouths and letting people know they are members of the church, we will see many more baptisms like Sister Kamimura.
Sister Kamimura is sitting between Sister McIntyre and Sister Soga. This was the first baptism for these two elders as well. Oh how we want all the missionaries to have this choice experience. This will not be accomplished without the help of the members. We have 100 missionaries and 22 million people in our mission. We have been called to preside over the mission and missionaries, but more and more I am feeling we need to and can have a great impact and influence on the members here. We speak every week somewhere and have many opportunities to teach and inspire the members and local leaders. It is a great blessing and help to have Rika speak with the members with me as a Japanese member and leader. She can testify as a Japanese member that what we share is not something from America, but something the Japanese can do as well. More and more members are catching the vision and trying to do more to share the gospel. Our belief is that there will be a great change in the hearts of the members here in Japan and that change will bring about a great miracle among the people of this country. Our mission is in part to help that change occur.
We are also just mom and dad to a couple of young men here though. We have to balance our time accordingly! Ricky was away at an overnight basketball retreat on Awaji Island, but Saturday James had a game at the Canadian Academy.
James is #8. They won this week. He is the point guard.
As usual, next week is already planned out and will be another busy one!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Transfer Week - We really love these weeks

We returned 6 great missionaries this week. Elders Murayama, Shultz, Kimura, Lessard and Sister Ichikawa. The longer we are here the closer we become to these missionaries and it is harder to see them go. They testified that the last months and weeks of their missions were the best. All worked diligently to the end. Elder Shultz found many new investigators his last week and had one person commit to baptism after meeting and teaching him for the first time last Sunday.
We had a great dinner the night before they left.
Below are Elders Murayama and Rasmussen. Elder Murayama returned home after serving in Kobe for 9 months of his mission. He serve the last few months here as my assistant. Elder Rasmussen is 6'7" and even when standing on the couch Elder Murayama is not quite as tall as his companion! We will miss him as he returns to Hokkaido. Hope he can see Sister Erika McIntyre there and give her our love.
Sister Ichikawa also served in Kobe and we went to lunch this past week with the Kobe missionaries to wish Elder Murayama and Sister Ichikawa farewell. Elder Christie also transferred from the mission office in Kobe to Amagasaki this week. Below are Sisters Ichikawa and Tsuda and Elders Rasmussen and Nicerio enjoying some shabu shabu.

We sat next to them and ate yakiniku. Below are Elders Murayama and Christie with us.

Sister Ichikawa was picked up by her parents who live in Saitama near Tokyo. They drove all night to pick her up and had breakfast with us. They are not members of the church, but supported her on her mission. Sister Ichikawa and Sister Tsuda had a wonderful baptism this past week in Kobe before going home!

Elder Westover's parents also came to Japan and met us at the mission home. They will enjoy a week of seeing the sights before returning to the US.

Here are the returning missionaries again.

We have 5 new wonderful missionaries! 4 arrived from the MTC in Provo and one from the Japan MTC.
Above are our new elders from left to right - Elder Oshiro from Okinawa, Elder Drake, Elder Reading, Elder Neider and Elder Monson. These are well prepared missionaries that are going to serve the Lord wonderfully here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Week Ending November 9th

Next week is transfer week and we will be welcoming 5 new Elders. This week was largely spent planning and preparing for next week, preparing talks and training and generally catching up on things in the office. We closed an apartment in Osaka and rented a new one in Okamachi for Sisters. Below is our rented moving van and missionary movers. Elders Christie and Nicerio who are our office elders, Elders Rasmussen and Murayama my assistants and Elders Steele and Johnson who serve in Okamachi pose below. Elders Rasmussen and Nicerio got to drive for the first time in Japan and did great. Everyone looks quite different in work clothes! Elder and Sister Wade also helped greatly with the move, but were back still cleaning the old apartment while we unloaded at the new one and took this picture. Sister McIntyre and I attended Kyoto Stake Conference in Shimogamo on Saturday and Sunday. Below is a shot of the stake center there.
After the conference on Sunday, we took a picture with President and Sister Tamaya of the Kyoto Stake. It was a wonderful two days of conference. I was asked to speak in the Priesthood Leadership session on Saturday afternoon and Sister McIntyre and I both spoke on Saturday night in the adult session and both again on Sunday in the general session. One of the focuses of conference was unity. We also had the chance to speak about sharing the gospel and growing the church in the Kyoto Stake. After conference we took a picture of most of the missionaries in the Kyoto Zone. Below are Elders Swartz, Goesch, Moore, Edfrennes, Obata, Maeno, Shoaf and Tibbs with Sisters Glenn and Kogawa.
We also had a chance to walk over to the Sisters apartment (a rented house very near the church) to inspect their living quarters. They live in this very nice old house and have lots of space! The boys have started their basketball seasons at school and we had fun Saturday juggling going to both their games and then trying to make it to stake conference in Kyoto. Thank heavens for nice expressways throughout the mission boundaries. We spend a lot of time driving on them.
It has turned pretty cold the last few days and winter will be here soon. We are starting to turn on the heaters in the mornings and evenings. Erika said it is very cold in Sapporo and they already had some snow. It will only get colder there! I am glad she prefers cold over heat.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mission Pictures

Two weeks ago we had Elder and Sister Evans conduct a mission tour. We held two combined zone conferences. Below are the pictures from those two conferences. These are all our missionaries. Can you parents find your missionary?Above is the conference in Kobe. Below is the conference held in Abeno.We had four Elders miss the picture in Abeno due to riding the wrong train so we took one with them separately below.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Last Week of October 2008 - Halloween, President and Sister Budge Visit and Interviews

This past week Sister McIntyre and James attended the Kobe Eikawa (English class) Halloween party. The missionaries teach free English at the Church once a week and they love to celebrate American holidays. The missionaries have better pictures we can post later, but Sister McIntyre had someone take this one with our camera. She is the M&M in case you can't tell. I had a meeting with one of the stakes in Osaka that evening and couldn't attend. Later in the week we visited Iwade church to interview the missionaries in that part of Wakayama. The branch meets in the building below on the 2nd floor. It is a small branch, but we have a mother and her son scheduled for baptism on the 16th of November. Elders Mauai and Wintz are very excited.

This is the sign in front of the Iwade Church building. Sister Mac is again pointing to the church name, second from the bottom.

We also had interviews with the Osaka North Zone in Ibaraki this week. Below is a picture of the zone missionaries. We have Sisters Kurashita and Meyers and Elders Johnson, Steele, Ito, Campbell, Akagi, West, Baldridge and Merrick. Later in the week we attended a baptism in Okamachi Ward from this zone and last week the Senri Ward, also from this zone, had a great baptism. They are working hard and we are seeing many blessings in this zone.
The missionaries asked us to join them in a pot luck meal that day before interviews started. Sister McIntyre made Sloppy Joes, a treat in Japan, and the missionaries came up with among other things, some lasagna, fried chicken and enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to feed the entire mission. It was delicious!
Earlier in the week we had the chance to meet and visit with President and Sister Budge from Toyko. Todd was recently called as the new stake president in the Tokyo South Stake, our old stake in Tokyo. We served as bishops at the same time in that stake. Their son, David, has been called to our mission and is currently in the MTC. We are excited to pick him up at the airport on December 23rd! Elder Capener, who is currently serving here, is also their nephew and David's cousin. I miss playing basketball with President Budge in the mornings. President Daniels, now serving as mission president in Sapporo, used to play with us as well. Those were the days my friend!
Ricky and James both started their basketball seasons at school. We look forward to watching their games, although I will be away for some of them. They are doing great and have made many new friends. Ricky went back to Tokyo this week as school had a break and saw his old friends there too.
Time is flying by. We have now been here 4 months. While it really does seem like a lot longer in many ways, it has gone by quickly. Missionaries often express the same kinds of feelings. I always encourage them to make wise use of their time because if they are not careful, they wake up one day and realize their time is short and they have not progressed personally as far as they thought they would or accomplished all that they had hoped. We need to realize and work everyday as if time was short. We need to go about our work with a sense of urgency. We are not just passing time. We are inviting all to come unto Christ. What could be more urgent and important than that. We are talking about the salvation of God's children. Let us hasten the work.