Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 2009 Wrap Up

September is ending and it was a busy month as usual. Here are a few pictures of our travels and some recent baptism pictures from the field.
While conducting some business in Downtown Osaka, we had a chance to stop and visit the Osaka Castle. It is located right in the center of Osaka surrounded by a huge garden and several parks.
The walls around the castle entrance are made up of huge rocks. Rika could not stop herself from the urge to climb the castle walls. The inner mote is dry and overgrown with shrubs.
Within the inner courtyard there is park with food shops and many interesting people and creatures. The missionary white handbook says missionaries cannot pick up children, but it said nothing about big reptiles.Earlier this month we took an exploratory trip out to Awaji Island which is located between Honshu and Shikoku, two of the main four islands that make up Japan. There is wonderful bridge that connects the Japan mainland to Awaji Island in Akashi, a few minutes down the coast from Kobe. At the southern end of Awaji, there is another bridge connecting the island to Shikoku which is part of the Hiroshima Mission.
The island is quite rural, but there is a small branch located on the island with a weekly attendance of about 10 members. Above is a shot of the church building. It is located in downtown Sumoto. Awaji is famous for growing onions and other agricultural products. It is beautiful country, but may not be populous enough for us to send missionaries. Also, access to the island is somewhat expenses as the bridge toll is about $30 each way and the only other option is boat.
We were invited to speak at a large YSA event one Sunday evening held in the mountains above Kyoto (about a three hour drive from Kobe). There were over 75 YSA in attendance at the three day event. We held a workshop with them about missions and marriage. On the way down the mountain, we found this giant Tengu mask near a shrine and a small mountain train station and could not resist taking a picture of each other in front of it.
We had a great baptism in Kakogawa we were able to attend one Saturday afternoon. Brother Okuno was baptized. He is pictured here with us and Elders Murphy and Sjavik who taught him the gospel.
Elders Payne and Williams taught and baptized the eight and nine year old Taniguchi children in Tanabe, Wakayama. They were able to find and teach the children through their efforts to reactivate their mother. Looks like Elder Payne related well to the children! Technically, only the nine year old counts as a convert baptism, but it makes no difference to us (or the kids).
Elders Shoaf and Ritchie taught and baptized Sister Eida in the Sekime Ward.
We still have a few weeks until transfers which are in mid October. We are still making the rounds for interviews and also have a trip planned to Tanabe and Shingu next week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Great Baptism in Amagasaki!

Elders Nielson and Monson baptized Brother Kinjo in the Amagasaki Ward, Kobe Stake. He is a second year college student and was truly prepared to hear and accept the gospel. This baptism was extra special for us as two other recent converts (from this year) participated in the baptism. Brother Nakase (next to Sister McIntyre below) and Brother Kojima (in the middle) were both baptized this year in the same ward. Brother Nakase is currently 16 and recently spoke at stake conference. Brother Kojima spoke on baptism and shared a great testimony at this baptism. He will be 19 next year and is already planning to serve a mission. He was baptized three months ago. What a blessing it was for us to see them together at this baptism for Brother Kinjo. Immediately after the baptism, Brother Kojima said to me, "It is nice to have another friend in the gospel." I replied, "Yes, let's find many more!" Find, Teach, Baptize, Confirm and Establish the Church. That is our purpose and I felt like we are doing that in Amagasaki.
Earlier this week we had the chance to stop in Mikunigaoka and meet with Miyazaki-san and Sisters Glenn and Ho. Miyazaki-san is ready to be baptized this weekend and we are excited for her.
This was wax the mission vehicles week. I think the office elders and assistants really enjoy this assignment.
I always wondered what Sister McIntyre does while I interview the missionaries. I still don't really know, but Elder Ashmore looks like he is having a great time!At our last zone conference the zone leaders, Elders Obata and Capener, did not turn in their apartment cleaning checklist so they chose their own punishment during lunch. They did push ups while singing the mission anthem. I think the song was longer than they thought.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zone Conference in Wakayama!

The last zone conference of this transfer period (held in Wakayama) was great. The missionaries had a great time and I believe they were inspired and well taught by each other. The morning was time for Sister McIntyre and I to teach and share testimony. The afternoon, like the other conferences this transfer, was filled with the missionaries using creative methods to teach each other the doctrines of the kingdom and principles of effective missionary work. Again we let them have some fun with this.
The Wakayama Zone
The Sakai Zone - forgot to remind them that we do not allow hand signals/signs in official mission pictures! Although I have been known to do the Japanese "piece" sign once and a while myself.
In these shots the missionaries were practicing teaching while their companions held a mirror to their face. It was an interesting experience for them to see how they look when they teach. (how the investigator sees them) They learned a lot about the importance of body language and facial expressions when teaching.
Below, Elders Capener and Obata teach a principle from PMG.
Elders Williams and Payne teach about using your talents to find people. They have an investigator scheduled for baptism next week they first contacted and got a return appointment when Elder Williams showed a magic trick.
Elder Imai and Remund taught about being bold without being overbearing. Elder Imai demonstrated the difference between a missionary with the Spirit and a missionary who was like a overbearing policeman. Where do they get these ideas!
Sisters Kina and Kurashita, who are both from Okinawa, shared with us how they contact people the Okinawan way.
Elders Magleby and Kunihiro taught us about the 1-2 punch of teach, teach then testify.
Elders Honda and Andrews shared a skit about being bold with Elder Honda acting and Elder Andrews on the keyboard.
Elders Jones and Imi shared a song and taught us from PMG.
Sisters Glenn and Ho shared some great object lessons about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost with Elder Solomon as a volunteer.
The next zone conferences will not be until the end of October after next transfer. The best practices this time were fun and a nice change of pace. The missionaries shared some great ideas and concepts. We were amazed at their talent and creativity. We are now in full swing traveling around the mission doing interviews.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kobe and Akashi Zone Conference - September 14, 2009

We completed another zone conference for the two Kobe Zones. Again we had some fun and let the missionaries share their best practices through demonstration, role plays, songs and skits. One more conference to go in Wakayama this week.
The Kobe Akashi Zone
The Kobe Zone - less two office elders who attended a previous conference so they could man the office today.
Elders Christie and Tupou share their dendo fire through a musical number.
Elders Monson and Nielson share principles from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel.
Elders Fukui and Shinozaki teaching.
Elders Hinton and McLaws demonstrate the principle of keeping your line in the water! In other words, talking with everyone everywhere!
Elders Novak and Tibbs on "bear"-ing testimony.
Sisters Inoue and Meyers quiz the elders.
One of the highlights was Elder Christie tempting Elder Kodama to not open his mouth and speak to the elect (Sister McIntyre). Fortunately he was protected by the whole armor of God!
Elders Mau'ai and Ishihara taught us about several proselyting principles in PMG.
Elders Aguirre and Rhan share their presentation.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kobe Stake Conference and More Pictures From the Missionaries!

This past weekend we attended the Kobe Stake Conference. Rika and I spoke in both sessions. I also had the opportunity to address the priesthood leaders in a separate session on Saturday. In the Sunday session, on the front row of the chapel sat 6 men who were baptized earlier this year. 4 of them were presented to be advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood and made elders. Another young convert (16 years old) spoke in the session. Other new converts sat in the congregation. Rika spoke before me and in tears, addressed each of these brothers. We had the opportunity to attend most of their baptisms and have come to know some of them fairly well. What a blessing it was for us to see the church being established in the Kobe Stake. Our work (missionary work) does not end with these wonderful baptisms. These brethren were greatly stregnthened by the members and through the Kobe YSA Outreach Program. We are grateful we have been blessed to see this unfold here.
Here are some new pictures from the field!
Mamoru Sakata was baptized in the Higashi Osaka Ward. Here he is with Elders Johnson and Starks.
Brother Kubota was baptized in the Kawachi Nagano Ward. He was taught by Elders Solomon and Kimura until the week before his baptism. Elders West and Suzuki joined them after transfers.
Elders Obata and Capener taught and baptized Brother Hoshiyama in the Sakai Ward.
And young Brother Adachi was baptized in the Toyooka Branch by Elders Oshima and Mizuguchi. Pictured here with them is also Brother Miyamoto who is originally from Toyooka, but attends Himeji ward in the Kobe Stake. He was one of the brothers to become an elder at stake conference.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Zone Conferences Completed

As part of Zone Conferences this transfer, we are following the counsel found in D&C 88:77-78 to "teach each other the doctrines of the kingdom." We had each companionship share a "best practice" or something they have learned recently related to becoming a more effective missionary and fulfilling our purpose. We have included a few pictures of this in action below. Parents, see if you can find your missionary in these pictures of each zone!
Above is the Osaka North Zone. Pictured with us in all these pictures is President Iwaki, counselor in the Mission Presidency.
The Fukuchiyama Zone
The Kyoto Zone
The Osaka Hirakata Zone
The Osaka Abeno Zone

Here are some notes on the white board from our study of Jacob 5 and the doctrines of the restoration and gathering of Israel.
Elder Childs shares a song with companion Elder Iwasa.
Some elders enjoying a presentation.
The Sisters from Abeno demonstrate and practice a finding skill on Sister McIntyre
Elders Everts and Everett teach some of the doctrines of Christ from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel.
Elders Cutler and Wiser teach the principle talking with everyone while demonstrating a Japanese handshake combined with bow.
Conferences were uplifting and a lot of fun. We have two more next week!