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.


GRodenberg said...

great to hear about you guys!

julie said...

I hope the sakura are still blooming when I get there!