Saturday, March 28, 2009

President's Birthday

It was president's birthday this month and Sister McIntyre made him a special cookie! He got many notes and cards and some other unique and memorable little gifts from the missionaries. We may share more on that in the next entry! We have some pretty creative missionaries... Not the best shot, but March was a busy month and I think I was little tired here. James made a great chocolate cake and tried to spell something out with peanut M&M's. It was delicious. The office staff (I should say Elder Fukui) made a strawberry whip cream cake (my favorite) and made a very creative poster (using the creative art talent of Elder Andrews) based on the circle of life (Lion King). Everyone in the mission home and office was represented and transformed into an animal character from the movie.
It was a busy day as we attended four baptisms that day starting in Amagasaki at 10 am. We arrive back home at around 9:30 pm after the last baptism in Sekime, Osaka.
Ashley Reese was baptized in Amagasaki ward. She is pictured with her family and Elders Christie and Shoaf who taught her. We will try and post more of our missionary and convert pictures from this month in the next post.
Sister Shimokawa and Brother Sugino were baptized in Sekime. They are planning to marry soon and she introduced him to the missionaries after she was found and started the lessons. They were taught by many missionaries over several months. Most have returned home. Elders Beecher and Stennett taught them this past few months and baptized them. They both shed tears as they shared their testimonies. It was a powerful and Spirit filled meeting. A few days before the baptism, she was thinking about changing her mind because she was nervous and a little scared by the commitment. As they knelt in prayer with the missionaries and the bishop (who attended the lesson!) to ask if they should go through with the baptism, she had a undeniable confirmation from the Spirit that she should be baptized. He also (Sugino) said he felt like his chest was on fire and he had never felt anything like it before. We have seen many great conversions in the mission so far this year and hope to see many more! All I can say is that people can and do change. And true conversion takes place through the power of the Spirit. It is real and there are people out there prepared to receive, and searching for, the truth and happiness the gospel of Jesus Christ provides. We know they are the elect because they hear the voice of the Lord and harden not their hearts. (D&C 29:7) And we have been called to gather the elect!
Sister Yamashita had a birthday this month as well. We thought her cookie and red cheeks were a good likeness.
Sister Erika McIntyre in Sapporo continues to have a great mission experience. Here she is above knocking on doors with her companion. She was made a new trainer this past transfer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

President's Message March 2009

Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary
Developing Christlike Attributes
In our last round of Zone Conferences we learned about the two dimensions of a Preach My Gospel missionary. The first dimension deals with our “Being.” Our being comes from our character, our inner-self. It is what we are becoming. Being a PMG Missionary means we strive to become like our example and Savior, Jesus Christ. We become like Christ by acquiring and developing the attributes of Christ. The second dimension deals with our “Doing.” To become a PMG Missionary, we need to do the things missionaries do. These two dimensions of Being and Doing are essential to becoming a successful missionary. To ensure we do the right things in the correct manner, we first must focus on our being. Just as faith precedes the miracle, our being precedes our doing. If we can nurture our being, our doing will not miss the mark.

The Lord has called you to His work, and He invites you to follow him. The invitation to follow Christ is an invitation to follow His example and become like Him. (PMG P.115)

Preach My Gospel introduces us to nine Christlike attributes. These are taught and found throughout the scriptures. In D&C 4 we have a wonderful list of eight of these attributes. In verse 5 we are taught that Faith, Hope and Charity qualify us for the work. These are the first three attributes of Christ. Further, in verse 6 we are told to remember Virtue, Knowledge, Patience, Humility and Diligence. These are the next 5 attributes of Christ as listed in PMG. Obedience, the first law of heaven and the price we pay for access to the Spirit, is the ninth attribute of Christ.
Christlike attributes can be developed if we desire them. They are gifts from God. To obtain these gifts, we must humble ourselves (which is an attribute of Christ) and pray for them. It is only through sincere desire and the help of the Lord that we can truly cultivate these attributes fully in our lives.
As you study and strive to develop these attributes, you will notice that you can develop them by doing them. For example, we learn charity by serving others. When we have charity, we desire to serve others and to be obedient to all God’s commandments. Exercising Faith gives us Hope to receive blessings. Humility prepares us to learn and gain knowledge. Knowledge through diligent study helps us understand God’s plan and our purpose here, which strengthens our faith. Working on one attribute can strengthen another. They are interconnected and complementary. I believe the Apostle Peter understood this when he referred to the sum of many of of these attributes as the Divine Nature.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4-8)

As missionaries, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ and His church here on earth. We must work daily to develop these attributes of Christ so that we may not be barren nor unfruitful on our mission and throughout our lives.
We can develop these attributes by following the guidance in PMG. First, choose which attribute you would like to focus on. Write a definition for it. What does it mean to you? Support your thoughts with scripture. Get into the scriptures and learn more about the attribute. Make notes in your journal about what you learn. Then, set specific goals in your missionary planner of things you will do to help you develop this attribute. Share your goals as appropriate with me or your companion. This will help you be accountable to yourself and help you follow through on your plan. Pray for help to develop the attribute and to achieve your goals. Evaluate your progress and start again.
There is a wonderful success formula for becoming Preach My Gospel missionaries. It is very simple. “Be” a missionary and “Do” missionary things.
May we continually strive to be more like our Savior, He whom we represent, by developing these Christlike attributes. We love each of you and are so proud of who you are (your being) and all you do (your doing).

Love President and Sister McIntyre

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Transfer Week - March 2009

Our 5 new Elders from left to right - Elders Mizuguchi, Magleby, Sheffield, Childs and Everts. Elder Sheffield tries Japanese Natto (fermented beans) at breakfast. A brave elder in my book! For their first lunch in Japan, they wanted to try sushi. So we took them to the 100 yen sushi shop and they enjoyed it.
Elders Andrews and Everts with us.
Above - Elders Fukui, Mizuguchi, Magleby and Bohman
Above - Elders Rasmussen, Childs, Throop and Sheffield.
A highlight of the orientation was the baptism of Brother Hamaguchi (below), a great young man of 22 who lives next to the mission home. I have never heard such a sincere and powerful testimony shared at a baptism by a new member as Brother Hamaguchi's. His conversion is a powerful story of the Spirit confirming to him the Book of Mormon is the word of God. The promise in Moroni works if people would only sincerely put it to the test.He was taught by Elders Rasmussen and Bohman. Here he is with the new missionaries, the office and Kobe Elders and us. Having a baptism in Kobe one of the nights the new missionaries are here for orientation is a wonderful blessing. It demonstrates to the new missionaries one of the reasons why we are here and gets them excited to get out in the field and find more people like these new converts! Literally a few minutes after we send the new missionaries out with their new companions, the returning missionaries arrive at the mission home and we prepare them to return home. After interviews and some final street contacting in Kobe, they joined us for a nice sukiyaki dinner. After dinner, final testimonies are shared and we drive up the mountain to take some night pictures of Kobe from the mountain top.We are returning 4 fine elders this transfer. Elders Goesch, Anderegg, Hara and Henderson. After breakfast, we take a final group picture and then take them to the bullet train headed for Tokyo. After dropping off the missionaries, we hurried back to prepare for lunch and Zone Leader Council in the afternoon. The weather was nice so we cooked hamburgers on the grill with all 20 or so mission leaders then we met together to plan zone conference and the direction of the mission for the next several weeks.
As transfer week winds down, so does my energy! Sister McIntyre caught me catching up on sleep and Sammy finding a comfortable spot with me on the couch. By Friday evening everything is about done. Too tired to make dinner, we usually try to go out and just relax or have a date night. We still have a busy weekend to look forward to!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

All Mission Conference!

On March 11, 2009, we held an all mission conference in Ibaraki, Osaka for about three hours and welcomed Elder Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Evans of the Seventy with their wives to our mission. I did not have the picture when I made the last post so I waited until I could post it. So this shot is something special as we do not have all the missionaries together at once very often. This is the Japan Kobe Mission! It will be hard to see every one's faces, but all the missionaries are there. I think if you can count them there are 104 missionaries plus 2 stake presidents our visiting authorities and their wives and Sister McIntyre and me. Each missionary will get a nice print out of this picture when they return home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weekly Update - March 15th

This Saturday we were able to visit the Akashi Church where we had two baptisms. First was Brother Masuda from the Miki Branch. He was taught and baptized by Elders Edfrennes and Campbell.Many of the Miki Branch members came to Akashi for the baptism. I was asked to share some thoughts and testimony in addition to the regular program. The missionaries also had an investigator there who is planning to be baptized soon.Later that same afternoon at the same church, the Akashi Ward had a baptismal service for Brother Inoue. He was found in another area by Elder Ito, who performed the baptism, but was referred to Akashi where he lives. Elders Steele, Remund and Andrews taught him in Akashi. Brother Inoue had a bad cold, but insisted on going through with the baptism that day.
Below is the Akashi Church building. It is a very nice 3 story church. The sun was behind the church so the picture is not the best. Well, actually all church steeples glow like this in Japan, especially when there are baptisms inside! This week we finished interviews for the transfer cycle by meeting the missionaries of the Sakai #2 zone in Mikunigaoka. The folders are from McDonalds. You get one free when you order a quarter pounder. I wonder where they ate recently? The folders have motivational phrases on them in Japanese. It is part of a pro baseball campaign.Some of the missionaries enjoyed sushi with Sister McIntyre. Yes, they ate all those plates of sushi. President McIntyre preferred a double quarter pounder.
Sister Erika McIntyre continues to have a great time in Sapporo. She is getting a little tired of the cold, but loves her mission and her companion, Sister Nishimuro.
Next week is transfer week. Time is flying. We will see 4 elders return home and 5 new ones come in. I have basically finished deciding transfers and will spend this weekend pondering and praying to make sure we got it right. Tuesday morning we will call them out. Next week will be a busy one, but transfers are always exciting.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week Ending March 8th 2009

March is turning out to be a great month for the work. We have many baptisms scheduled. Time will tell as to how many transpire, but we are off to a great start. We travelled to the Nishiwaki Church in the Fukuchiyama Member District for the baptism of Sister Shikata of the Fukuchiyama Branch. She was invited to a church activity by a member in late summer and later came to church and started the lessons in the fall. Sister McIntyre and I met her several times and attended Sunday School class with her at least twice. Many of the branch members traveled the 1.5 hour trip by car to the font at the church in Nishiwaki to attend her baptism. Sister McIntyre and I had a chance to share some remarks at the baptism. After the meeting everyone stayed around and ate sandwiches and snacks just like a big family.
She was baptized by Elder Oshiro. It took four tries, but she won't forget the experience. Elder Henderson returns home in a few weeks and this was a perfect way for him to finish off his last transfer and end a wonderful mission. They have another baptism schedule in the Fukuchiyama Branch the end of the month but it is after Elder Henderson returns home.
Early Sunday morning, I traveled to Himeji to attend sacrament meeting and the baptism of 9 year old Jessica Palmer in the Himeji Ward. Her father performed the baptism. He is from Nigeria and her mother, not a member yet, is from Japan. I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting and after listening to the primary kids sing at the baptism, I decided to speak about Christ visiting the Americas after his resurrection as recorded in 3 Nephi. I read the scripture where the Savior prays for the people and weeps and then he tells them to "behold your little ones..." This was a very special baptism for this ward. The ward has put their arms around this family and fellowshipped them wonderfully. Jessica was taught by Elders Sorenson and Matsuoka.
Here is a picture with the elders and some other primary kids. It did not turn out very clear though.
Saturday we travelled to the Senboku Branch again (we were there for a baptism last month as well) where Elders Howells and Ritchie baptized Brother Fukushima. These two elders taught him all the lessons over the last month or two, but Brother Fukushima actually first met the missionaries over 17 years ago. He has dropped into church off and on all these years. He has changed a lot over those years, with some big changes coming in his recent commitments to prepare for baptism. He bore a strong and humble testimony and expressed great gratitude for the gospel and for the chance to be baptized. It just shows that people can and will change and sometimes it takes time. It also takes missionaries not afraid to ask people to formally listen to the message and help people make and keep commitments.
Right after the baptism the Branch President, President Tonomura, had Brother Fukushima in his office interviewing him about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. I was impressed as this is what needs to happen to truly "establish the church" and retain converts.
Right down the street from the Senboku Church is a plum tree park and the trees are in bloom. We stopped on our way out for a few pictures.
A wonderful weekend.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March Begins!

You may have noticed we have tried to include a little more information about the mission itself and our purpose and vision on the blog. I know we have many parents of our missionaries visiting the blog regularly to get an update on the mission and to perhaps see a picture of their missionary. We have also had some of our newly called missionaries checking out the blog before they enter the MTC. Welcome to all of you! We do not have a lot of time to spend with this and I mainly use it to get pictures and information out to our family and friends instead of using email and letters, but it is a great tool for sharing information with parents about our vision and progress in the mission. Of course, I leave out a lot of personal and sensitive data and details regarding the mission and missionaries, but try to share whatever I can as appropriate. Hope you enjoy our family information as well. It is a unique and amazing experience to serve the Lord full time with children at home, away at school and on a mission.
We picked up Elder Throop from the hospital this afternoon after interviews in the Osaka North Zone. Sister Throop will be very happy to see that he looks really good. We will keep him in the office for a little while as he cannot ride a bike yet and risk another head injury. He was happy to get out of the hospital. I think he was getting bored. We gave a Book of Mormon to the gentleman he shared a room with who will be in the hospital for another several weeks having suffered from a motorcycle accident. He said he would read it and he does have a lot of time on his hands!
Here are the missionaries from the Osaka North Zone enjoying their cookies. There is an investigator and member pictured with them.
We took a break and had Indian curry and nan for lunch at a restaurant near the church. They served unlimited nan and I could not believe how much the elders ate.
This past week we also interviewed the Yamato Koriyama District missionaries in Nara. After the interviews Sister McIntyre and I met with a wonderful sister, a single mom, from the Nara Branch who has not been to church for some time. She has a 15 year old son that attends church every week by himself as well as early morning seminary everyday. We were happy to become friends with her.
Earlier this week we visited Wakayama and interviewed 12 elders in that zone. We have a lot of personality in this zone.
On preparation day several missionaries got together to play volleyball in Ibaraki, Osaka. Sister McIntyre wanted to play so we drove out with the assistants and joined in.
Some of the missionaries made Kobe Mission rugby shirts. Here Elder Latimer shows off his with Sister McIntyre and Elder Bushman.
They had fun. Some played soccer outside and then several stayed and played basketball after volleyball wrapped up. Everyone finished by 5:00 or 5:30 so they could end preparation day by 6pm and start working again!
It must look like we are having a lot of fun in this assignment. is because we are. Nothing could be better than working 24/7 with these wonderful servants of the Lord in this great work. And yes, it is a 24/7 job. I have worked hard throughout my career, but I am not sure I have ever felt as exhausted as I do at times in this calling. A lot goes on when you have 100 missionaries. But it feels good being anxiously engaged. We just keep focused on our purpose and everything seems to work out.

Monday, March 2, 2009

February Wrap Up

James turned 13 on February 22nd. The missionaries made him some ice cream and a handmade card. He is officially a teenager now. Our last one!

On preparation day, Feb. 23rd, some of the missionaries wanted to try an all you can eat buffet at a downtown Osaka Hotel. It featured all the crab you could eat. And they ate a lot! Sister McIntyre with Sisters Wade, Yamashita and Tsuda. Elders Burton, Shoaf, Christie, Shattuck and Wade with the sisters after eating several crab legs.

This past week Elder Throop had a bad bike accident and was hospitalized. He is fine now, but he took a pretty good blow to his forehead. He was wearing his helmet, but he hit the ground face first. He is smiling and healing fast. He does not really remember what happened. Elder Ashdown and Elder Ito administered to him the night of the accident and the doctors were amazed that he was so well the next day and that some of the fractures they had diagnosed in his face the previous night seemed to not exist anymore. A great tender mercy of the Lord. February was heart cookie month. Here is Sister McIntyre keeping busy with the cookies for all the interviews. And here are the missionaries enjoying the cookies! This is part of the Kobe Zone.

Here are the Elders of the Fukuchiyama zone.

On March 1st we visited the Amagasaki Ward in the Kobe Stake. The church is in a nice residential neighborhood and the elders' apartment building is right next door.
We have had a few pictures of February baptisms that we could not attend sent to us. Above Sister Okumura was baptized in Higashi Osaka by Elders Shepley and Bushman. You can see the joy on her face!Miyu and Nene of the Yamato Koriyama Ward were taught and baptized by Elders Fruen and Hobson and Elder Burton before he transferred. They are 11 and 9 years old and are from a part-member family.
February was a great month in the mission. We are seeing the work move forward and missionaries learn and grow. March is already here. The weather is starting to change and spring is around the corner.