Saturday, February 21, 2009

Great Baptisms Throughout the Mission this Week

Sister McIntyre and I cannot attend every baptism in the mission. Time and geography prevent that. (And we are happy to report that the number of baptisms in the mission is increasing, which makes it even harder to get to all of them!) Nevertheless, we try to go to as many as we can. What a great blessing this is, but sometimes we feel a little guilty because we just go and see the fruits of the missionary's hard work and the results of the Spirit working in the lives of these wonderful people. It is the missionaries and the members that pay the price to move the work forward here. We are just like coaches that train them and cheer them on. (We do proselyte and teach though ourselves as much as we can!) This past week because some baptisms were held during the week and on Saturday, we were able to attend three!
Below is the Baptismal Service for Brother Li at the Higashi Osaka Church. He was baptized by Elder Tibbs and Confirmed by Elder Bushman. Also pictured are Elders West and Goody, who conducted the baptismal interview.I don't think we have posted a picture of the Higashi Osaka Chapel before. It is a nice size older building in East Osaka.Because Brother Li will be returning to China soon, the service was held in the morning on a weekday. But as you can see below, we had a good turn out from the ward for the meeting considering the time and day. Brother Li is originally from China and discovered the gospel here in Japan. He was found through street contacting by Elders Bushman and Shepley. He is 23 and a wonderful young man who was very prepared to receive the gospel. We have great expectations for him as he returns to China.Brother Matsumoto was baptized in the Nishinomiya Ward by Elder Burton. He was found through street contacting by Elders Shattuck and Johnson who taught him through last transfer. Elders Burton and Shattuck continued to teach him and baptized him this past week. He is 21 years old and has been to many activities for the young adults and attended church several weeks. He bore a very nice and simple testimony at the baptism. The Elders also had another investigator there who is scheduled to be baptized in March. Sister Okamoto was baptized in the Iwade Branch at the Wakayama ward building. She is pictured above with us and Elders Mauai, Wintz and Solomon. Mauai and Soloman have been teaching her and work in the Iwade Branch. Elder Wintz taught her while he served in Iwade and we let him come back to the area to perform the baptism. He helped her commit to obey the word of wisdom and had an important role in her conversion. Sister Inoue of the Iwade Branch spoke at the baptism and helped teach Okamoto Shimai every lesson with the elders over the past several months. Sister Okamoto was found through attending English class. After attending class for some time and seeing many missionaries come and go, finally Mauai and Wintz asked her to hear the lessons. It was the example of all these missionaries that helped her decide to listen. Iwade is a small branch, but they have had three baptisms in as many months. The branch president asked me to send more missionaries to his branch. He said the members are excited about the work and he needs more missionaries! I wish I had more to give and that all the branches and wards in the mission were making the same request!

In between attending all these great baptisms, we have been conducting missionary interviews. Sister McIntyre always makes some goodies for the missionaries everywhere we go. This month it is Valentine cookies. Here are some of the missionaries in the Osaka Zone showing off their heart cookies! (Above Top - Elders West, Tibbs, Beecher, Stennett, Goodey and Bushman) (Above bottom - Elders Cutler, Maeno, Kanno and Latimer with Sisters Meyers and Kogawa in the middle) We have truly been blessed this week here in the Kobe Mission.

Friday, February 20, 2009

President's Message February 2009

Dear Elders and Sisters,
Sister McIntyre and I again want to express our love and gratitude to each of you for your diligent service as missionaries in the Japan Kobe Mission. It truly is an honor and a blessing to serve with you.
We are continually striving to become a Preach My Gospel Mission. We all know what it means to be a Successful Preach My Gospel Missionary. We have studied this and will continue to do so. This transfer I want to focus on one key component of what it means to be a Preach My Gospel Missionary. It can be found in our mission theme. The Spirit is the Key.

President Benson taught that “The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field.” The Spirit will help you draw upon the knowledge and skills you have developed to help you teach more powerfully. (See PMG p. 176)

The Spirit will give you confidence to open your mouth. A bold missionary is not rude or annoying. Rather he is not afraid to testify of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. He is confident in, and understands his purpose, and therefore is not afraid to ask others to make and keep commitments. His power comes from his faith in Christ and he knows that the Spirit is the key. So he strives to be worthy to have the Spirit with him always.

As missionaries, the need for the spirit is two-fold. First, we must have the Spirit ourselves and second, we must help those we teach feel and recognize the Spirit as part of their conversion process. The first always precedes the second. In other words, we must first obtain the Spirit ourselves, so we can teach and testify in a manner that the Spirit can work through us to allow those we teach feel and recognize it and be converted.

“Seek not to declare my word, but first to obtain my word, then shall your tongue be loosed; then if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” (D&C 11:21)

How can we ensure that we are worthy to have the Spirit with us so we can be successful missionaries? The first criterion for having the Spirit is personal worthiness. Obedience is the price. Obedience to all the commandments and the mission rules and guidelines is essential. Sincere repentance can bring the Spirit back if you do not feel the Spirit and need to make changes in your life or mission.

Second, we must invite the Spirit and ask for guidance and strength from our Father in Heaven. As a missionary, we invite the Spirit into our lives and daily activities when we start out the day with Prayer and Scripture Study. The missionary morning and evening schedule is designed to help you invite and keep the Spirit with you always. Obedience is the price. Obedience to the schedule (morning and nightly study and planning) qualify you for the guidance of the Spirit. Pray with faith morning and evening and throughout the day as you seek out and teach people. Effective prayer invites the Spirit and takes great effort. (see PMG p. 94)

As a missionary the Spirit will help you know where to go? What to do? What to say and how to teach more effectively. The Spirit will lead you to scriptures to help you learn and to help you teach others about the restored gospel. The Spirit is the Key.

As you teach people the gospel, testify boldly, use scriptures and share personal spiritual experiences. All these things will help you bring the Spirit which you have with you, unto the hearts of those you teach. (see 2 Nephi 33:1) As you teach with the Spirit and those you teach feel the power of that Spirit, they will be able to make and keep commitments and progress towards baptism.

I testify to each of you that this is the Lord’s work. It is only through the Spirit that we can truly be successful and move it forward. May we all live worthy and strive to have the Spirit with us always.

May the Lord bless each of you.
President and Sister McIntyre

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We Finally Found Some Real Inoshishi (Wild Bore) in Kobe

The sign says to watch our for wild bore! This is a bridge over a riverbed near Okamoto Station in Kobe. It is only about 10 minutes by car from the mission home. We heard the Inoshishi come down to find food in the winter in this area so we visited there one afternoon on preparation day after James got home from school. Sure enough, we found several bore in the river bottoms. They did not seem to mind us as they were down in the river and a safe distance. Below is a medium size female. They look small in the pictures, but the males were over 3 feet long and had little tusk. They must weigh about 150 lbs or more.

You can see three down in the river. They were as big as James.

Sister McIntyre wanted to climb down and get closer but I would not let her!

Here is a good looking male with little tusks. If I were on my hands and knees, we would be about the same size. They did not seem mean but they did seem strong.

Now I have seen monkeys, deer and wild bore in our mission. Having lived in Tokyo so long, where wildlife is only found in cetain parts of the city, I get a little excited seeing real wildlife in Japan.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Family Update: Sister Erika McIntyre in Sapporo and Ricky in China

Sister Erika McIntyre and her companion Sister Aloi serving in the Japan Sapporo Mission. Showing us what it is like to street contact in the snow! Sister McIntyre is on the left.We hope she doesn't catch cold! We are glad it is a little warmer here in Kobe. Sister McIntyre just transferred and is still in the Sapporo area (Kotoni) but now with her new companion, Sister Nishimuro.You got to love the missionaries who work in this kind of climate in the winter! Now we know why they call them the frozen chosen of Sapporo.
Elder Choi of the Area Presidency visited the Sapporo Mission. Sister McIntyre is right behind him in the second row. Elder Choi has the red necktie and is next to President Daniels on the front row.
Ricky spent the week in Guangzho China for his school APAC basketball tournament. They made it to the championship game but ended up in second place. Ricky made the tournament all star team. Above is his team. Rick is right in the middle.
Waiting at the free throw line. #15Awards ceremony after the tournament. Ricky is second from the right.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senboku Baptism and Zone Leader Council Feb. 09

Elders Howells and Ritchie serving in the Senboku Branch in the Osaka Sakai Stake had the wonderful opportunity to baptize Matsumoto Shimai. It was a wonderful service and Sister Matsumoto shared a touching testimony about her conversion and the faith she has in Christ. She was found through housing by Elder Ritchie and Elder Fishler shortly after Elder Ritchie arrived in Japan over four months ago. He performed the baptism.The Senboku Branch has a wonderful building as seen above and below. Senboku is on the Southern end of Osaka towards the border of Wakayama.
The Monday after transfers we held Zone Leader Council at the mission home. Below are the missionary leaders. Some were kind of being silly in this shot and they wanted Sammy (our dog) to be in the picture too. I am the short one in the middle with the dog. A little mission president among giant servants of the Lord. On preparation day after ZLC, Sister McIntyre and I joined a few Elders on a hike up Mt. Maya. We took a picture overlooking the city of Kobe part way up.It was a beautiful winter day with mostly sunshine. Although it rained the night before. This is walking distance from the mission home straight up the mountain. It was quite a steep hike, but Sister McIntyre seemed have enough energy to climb on the rocks and pose for pictures. I am sure she learned these poses from the missionaries. The plum trees are starting to bloom. This is one of the first signs that Spring is near in Japan. February is probably the coldest month in Japan, but we will gradually see nicer days and more signs of Spring as the month goes by. This year the weather seems fairly mild in the Kobe Mission.

February Transfers!

This last transfer was our smallest so far with only one missionary returning home and two new coming in. Elder Lacey returned after two years of faithful service. Here he is after dating the quilt the night before his departure.

Elders Hinton and Stennett arrived and have been assigned to their new areas. They are pictured below with us on the morning of their departure into the field.

This past week, we had the chance to visit the Arima Onsen, hot springs, which is a few minutes by car up the mountain from the mission home. We took Elder and Sister Painter our office couple with us. Sister McIntyre and Sister Painter below prepare to enter the changing room for women at the onsen. They enjoyed the experience. This past week Elder Painter had his 71st birthday. The Painters have about 5 months left to serve and are doing wonderfully. They are a great asset to the mission.Just included this picture below for fun. Elder Rasmussen give James a piggyback ride at the mall. The missionaries are a wonderful influence on our boys and it is a blessing to have them interact with our sons. James is 13 this month and average size for his age, but Elder Rasmussen is so tall that you would think he is carrying a little kid!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kobe YSA Outreach Center Launched at Kobe Stake Center

On January 31st the Kobe Stake, in conjunction with the Kobe Mission and the Church Institute, launched a young single adult Outreach Center in the Kobe Church. The Outreach Center is open everyday and supervised primarily by Sr. Missionary Couples in the Kobe Mission. It is place for the singles to come and hang out and participate in various spiritual and fun social activities throughout the week. Below are President Ooshima, President McIntyre and Brother Yoshino at the ribbon cutting ceremony.Sr Missionary Couples (the Painters and the Wades) greet several YSA on opening night. After the opening talks and the ribbon cutting, they held a dance and ate a lot of food. Below Elder Wade is teaching a social dance move with the help of Sister McIntyre. The young adults enjoyed themselves. The missionaries brought many of their friends and we had about 15 non-members there.
Kobe YSA and friends.
The missionaries from Miki invited several of their English Class students and they were able to associate with the members and had a great time. Of course, Elders and young Sister Missionaries were excused from dancing.
We are very excited about the Outreach program and the role the mission is playing. Bringing the gospel to the younger generation is a charge we have been given in Japan by President Packer. This program is one tool that will help us accomplish this task. We will be opening Outreach Centers in three more stakes within the mission over the next few months.