Sunday, June 28, 2009

Journal Entry Sunday June 28th - A Great Missionary Day in Kyoto and Our One Year Anniversary as Mission President in Kobe

Today was a great day. I felt more like a young missionary than mission president. We attended two baptisms and taught a lesson with two of our elders to a wonderful woman they have been teaching. It is hard to believe a year has past since we arrived in Kobe. We arrived June 28, 2008. So it was our anniversary as well. We now have two years left to further establish the church here in the Kobe Mission!
First thing in the morning, we travelled to Kyoto and attended the baptism of Brother Soga of the Fushimi Ward. He was taught by Elders Shattack and Jones and was referred to them by Sister Matsui. Several members joined in the lessons and helped the missionaries teach him over the past few months. The Matsui family had many of the lessons in their home. This is the way it should be done. The members in the Kyoto Stake have really been catching the vision of missionary work and we are beginning to see the fruits of those efforts.(Sister McIntyre poses in front of the Fushimi Kyoto Ward Building)
Brother Soga was very prepared and shared a humble testimony after being baptized. We are grateful to the Matsui family and all those others that helped Brother Soga prepare for this day.
(Fushimi Ward Baptism for Brother Soga. Pictured here with Sister Matsui and the Fushimi Elders Shattuck and Jones)
After the baptism in Fushimi we quickly made our way to Joyo which is about 30-40 minutes away by car. We made it just in time for Sacrament meeting.
(The Joyo Ward Building, Kyoto Stake)
After Sacrament meeting Elders Budge and Iwasa asked us to join in their lesson with Kamitsuji-san, a 53 year old woman that has been to church 4 or 5 times and is seriously studying the gospel. Today the elders taught her about prophets and the word of wisdom and we committed her to obey the word of wisdom and prepare for baptism. The lesson went very well and we were all able to testify often. Tears were shed by many. She certainly felt the Spirit and expressed a desire to follow Christ. After the formal lesson, Sister McIntyre continued visiting with her for some time, after which we drove her and the elders to Fushimi for the baptism of Brother Yamashiki. She expressed a desire to see a baptism before she commits to a firm date.(The Joyo Elders Budge and Iwasa with President and Sister McIntyre)
It was a special experience to teach with Elder Budge as he was one of our youth back in Tokyo when I served as a bishop and in the stake presidency. He is now a trainer in the mission. Elder Iwasa has only been out for a few weeks. Both Elders did a great job. Sister McIntyre and I felt great about the lesson and felt that Kamitsuji-san is one of the elect prepared to accept the gospel. She told us that she had been pondering about many questions of the soul when Elder Budge and Elder Stennett, his last companion, knocked on her door. We were able to testify to her that we know the Spirit led them to her and it was not a coincidence that they found her at this time. She shed tears as we testified and agreed that she believed it was true. (Katsura Ward (Kyoto) Baptism for Brother Yamashiki at the Fushimi Ward house. Pictured here with Elders Williamson and Drake and Sister Inoue)
After the lesson we drove back to Fushimi where the Katsura Ward was holding their baptism for Brother Yamashiki. This was a great service. Brother Yamashiki was introduced to the gospel by his neighbor, Sister Inoue. The Inoue's have known him for about ten years. Last October, Sister Inoue felt inspired to ask him to attend a church activity. This was first time they had ever done so. To her surprise, he said yes, and admitted that he was curious about the church they attend. Soon after attending the activity, he started taking the lessons from Elders Williamson and Drake of the Katsura Ward. Sister McIntyre and I both had the chance to share our testimonies at the baptism. We expressed our gratitude to Sister Inoue and the other members for introducing and fellowshipping Brother Yamashiki. I shared several scriptures from D&C 18 about the worth of souls and how great your joy will be if you bring save one soul unto Christ. I had just read that section in the morning during my scripture study and I felt it applied perfectly to these baptisms. Both were member referrals. How great will be their joy together in the kingdom of God! And the small and simple act of just inviting a friend to a church activity has had an impact on their lives for eternity. The Lord can work great miracles by small and simple means.
Elders Williamson and Drake had a couple other investigators at the baptism. The Joyo Elders also had Kamitsuji-san there. There is no greater way to teach about baptism than to have your investigator attend a baptismal service. Koga-san, who is being taught by Williamson and Drake, was there and confirmed his baptismal date for next Saturday. We have met him several times over the past few months and he asked us to attend his baptism. So it looks like we will be back in Kyoto next Saturday night for more of this wonderful stuff!
So today was a good day. We saw people repent and come unto Christ and others commit to do so. We were able to testify often and teach with our missionaries. I cannot think of a better way to commemorate our first year here. We did not get back to Kobe until after 8pm. We forgot to eat lunch and dinner as we were busy all day. After meeting with the assistants back in Kobe and getting all the weekly reports in, we were very prepared for a good nights rest. The gospel is true and it changes lives. We see it everyday.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zone Leader Council Held in Kobe - June 2009

In Zone Leader Council we prepared for zone conferences which were held this past week throughout the mission. All Zone Leaders prepared training to be presented in their respective zone conferences based on the training and discussions we had at this council. We currently have 9 zones in the Kobe mission. Each zone has an average of 10 to 12 missionaries. Each zone is made up of 2 or 3 districts led by a District Leader. Each district has 4 to 8 missionaries. I have chose to keep the zones and districts smaller to allow the missionary leaders to really focus on supporting those the serve. Zone Conferences are held once each transfer (every six weeks) and are presided over by the president and district meetings are held weekly under the direction of the district leader.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Miracles in Asahikawa - Sapporo

As we strive to become Preach My Gospel missionaries, we have really emphasized our purpose as missionaries (to find, teach, baptize, confirm and establish the church). On page 40 in PMG it states that we should not hesitate to challenge people to be baptized in the first or any other lesson we teach. Our Area Presidency has challenged us to also be bold in this effort. When the people we teach understand that we are simply helping them find out for themselves the gospel is true, and we are teaching them the process and how to do it, and that baptism is the way to repentance and the gate they must enter, it is easier to set up return appointments and get commitments from investigators. We have been focusing on this in Kobe for sometime now and the missionaries are starting to really get it. Currently we have an historic high number of people with baptismal dates in the mission. Certainly some of them will postpone and a few may drop off, but more people will come unto Christ and all of those we teach know clearly the purpose of our meeting them. The teaching process does not change. We do not baptize anyone until they are ready and meet the requirements. But the quality (in terms of interest in the message) of the people we teach increases greatly. We know that the other missions in Japan are doing the same. We were delighted to get the following email from Erika in Sapporo where she shares a wonderful example of the power of doing this and following the council of our leaders and PMG. See her story below!Sister Erika McIntyre with her new companion Sister Saito in Asahikawa, Sapporo Mission. Preparation day activity. And a zone photo below with President and Sister Daniels.
This may be short, because we are about to have a Zone BBQ!! BUT I have to tell you about Mio. We met her last week Tuesday, as I wrote last week.. and we made the appointment for Thursday. We recently were taught to state our purpose boldly and at the first of the lessons (to prepare those to receive the fullness of blessings through faith, repentance, BAPTISM, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end).
So of course following that, we planned our lesson for Mio. We also decided to set a baptismal date goal immediately after we pick someone up, so we as missionaries can plan according to some sort of goal. We decided she could be baptized July 11. So on Thursday, we met her, and began with a prayer. But before going into lesson one, we talked about missionaries and how we come here for a year and a half. And then stated, "through this Gospel we have received so many blessing as well as our families. We have felt God's love and guidance and want others to feel the same. We want all people to receive the blessings God has in store for them. In order receive them in a fullness, baptism is required. Through baptism, we and our families can receive all the blessings God has in store for us. Our purpose is to help those we meet prepare for Baptism."
Okay, so most Japanese people do not understand the word "baptism".. so this works very nicely. After we finished that, Mio asked, "so what is this.. baptism?"
So then we pulled out pictures of baptism. (Saito shimai has one from her own, and I have one of Chrispy with his investigator when he served in Samoa--thanks Chris!!) we showed her the pictures and told her that we too, received baptism 15 years ago. We testified of the blessings, then asked, Mio, would you like to receive baptism? She answered, "yes! I'd like to see what sort of blessings are in store!" We then told her, "we have a lot to teach you, but we think that you could be baptized 7/11. " And she agreed.
We then started teaching lesson 1. This is the first time ever I have set a baptismal date before even teaching any lessons. The Lord TRULY blessed us. Also, Mio, is absolutely amazing. She wanted to come to church, but only could come for the first hour (which was relief society), because she had work. We didn't know what to do, because we really wanted her to be able to attend sacrament meeting. When she called we expressed to her that all the classes are wonderful, but the most important is sacrament meeting, and if she could maybe go to work 2 hrs later. She answered, "well, that might be hard... hmm... " We kind of worried...
then she said, "I'll ask my boss!" Well turns out when we called her on Saturday, her boss said okay, and she was able to attend all 3 hours of church!
This week truly was a blessing, and I am so grateful for the Lord's help. When we do missionary work, we really are nothing, nothing but TOOLS in the Lord's hands. I know that none of it could be done on my own.. but with God nothing is impossible! =) I will keep you posted on her, and on our other investigators. as for now I better head out!
Love you all so much!
Sister Erika McIntyre
In a note I just got from President Daniels, he said Erika and Sister Saito just got another person with a baptismal date as well. The program works when it is followed!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Baptism Pictures from the Field - June 2009

Here are a few pictures just in from the field.
Elders Lytle and Hobson in Yamato Koriyama Ward baptized Sister Tanaka Honami this past week.
Brother Sugiyama was baptized in the Sakai Ward, Osaka Sakai Stake. He was taught by Elders Obata and Kunihiro.

Above, Kojima Kyodai was baptized in Amagasaki Ward by Brother Nakase a recent convert baptized in March. Elder Shoaf and Elder Ashdown taught him with Elder Tupou who is not pictured.
This is Yumisashi Shimai of the Kawauchi Nagano Ward. She has been waiting for months to be baptized and was taught by several elders during that period. She was finally got her wish this month. Pictured here are some of the elders who taught and worked with her. Elders Fa'aleilei, Williams, Jorgensen, Christensen, Burton and Howells.

We are still waiting on some pictures.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some More June 2009 Transfer Week Photos

Departing group June 2009. This a better picture than the one previously posted. New missionaries June 2009 after signed the mission quilt. These were big groups!
Elders Christiansen, Fishler and Beecher gave me this cane for my birthday in March. They reminded me that we never posted a picture of it on the blog. So here it is. Hand painted with a bell to make sure people get out of my way!
We will miss these elders. Elder Fishler is still here for one more transfer though!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Vacation on the Sea of Japan

With the kids finally out of school and transfers over, we took a one night two day trip to the Japan Sea. The kids will be leaving for part of the summer so this was our only time to do something together as a family. Jeff Evans was visiting as well so we were happy he could join us. He will put in his mission papers in a few weeks. We travelled a few hours by car to Toyooka City and the little beach town of Takeno. We stayed at the Seaside Hotel and enjoyed the beach and hot springs baths.

The countryside was beautiful in this very small town. They did not even have a convenience store which is really strange for Japan. The hotel was pretty nice for a small Japanese style place. The kids had a great night of fireworks on the beach after we drove into Toyooka city for dinner and visited the local bowling alley for a few games. That was our Monday FHE. We then drove back to Takeno and our hotel and we all enjoyed our second trip to the onsen bath. Very relaxing.

This is the hotel behind us in the picture above.

We visited the Marine World located about a 20 minute drive away from Takeno. It was very nice with all kinds of shows and activities.

This was the penguin walk. They just marched around the courtyard and had a great time. Sister McIntyre thought they were cute.

Julie and the kids getting a shot of the little guys.
Mom and Dad out by the ocean at Marine World.
The giant sea lion show was very nice. They loved to dive off the rocks.
An action shot.
They also had a little fishing place where you can catch fish and then they will prepare them for you by making them into tempura right there. We had them for lunch. Real fresh fish and chips!

Everyone caught a couple. It was not very hard.
They were small but great for tempura.

The men with their catch.

Cutting and cleaning.

Batter and fry.

Watching the whole process.
Enjoying the fish. Some of the kids are not big fish eaters, but everyone tried it and actually liked it. Although you would not know it by some of their faces!

The highlight of the trip for Rika was the interaction with the dolphins. She loves dolphins and had a couple chances to touch and play with them.
She got to pet these two in one of the shows and pose for some photos.
They would not let her take them home.
Petting real dolphins was not enough for Sister McIntyre. She had to climb on this statue and pose for a picture as well! A nice family shot by the dolphin.
Mom and the boys.
Being around the dolphins seems to have caused mom to be in a really good mood.

We had a chance to play dolphin trainer as well. Here Julie and Jeff are ready to go.

Ricky shaking fins with a dolphin before getting in the water.

Julie feeds one after he did a trick for her.

Jeff getting ready to give a command.

James takes a turn.
They also had a pair of huge walruses there. This are how big his underwear would be if he wore them! The trainers are feeding the big guy here. He was so big and friendly. Although he is 27 times the weight of Julie.
There was some time for the kids to play on the beach as well. They buried James. That is what you get when you are the youngest.

The boys try a little body surfing.

Yes, we conquered the sea. Way to go Jim!
The water was still a little cool, but very clear. The beach was nice as well and not crowed at all yet. Japan summer season does not open until late July after the rainy season. We are in the rainy season now, but the weather was beautiful. On the way home, we timed our drive to stop in Kita Rokko around 7:45 pm just in time to see the fireflies near the little creek behind the church. It was a great day and a half and the kids enjoyed it very much. They are off to Utah tomorrow. Julie will be back in BYU and the boys at summer camps. Jeff will be getting ready for his mission.