Friday, October 30, 2009

Julie is called to Fukuoka Japan Mission - We now have three Sister McIntyre's!

Julie, our second oldest, received her mission call today to serve in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. We are very proud of her and her decision to serve a mission and excited about her call! She reports to the MTC January 12th.From little girl in a kimono to high school cheerleader in Tokyo and now a missionary in Fukuoka! They grow up fast!
With Julie entering the mission field, we will have three Sister McIntyre's serving at the same time. Sister Erika McIntyre in Sapporo, Sister Julie McIntyre in Fukuoka, and mom, Sister Rika McIntyre in Kobe. What a blessing that is for our family.

Julie loves Japan and lived through high school in Tokyo. Fukuoka will be a little more rural than Tokyo! Julie just finished her third semester at BYU and is not yet 21 (the normal minimum age for sister missionaries). However, since we are serving as a family, she is allowed to start her mission at a younger age.
The timing will work out well as Julie will finish her 18 month mission the same time we complete our three years. Erika will be returning in Late January or Early February after 18 months of service.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Osaka North Stake Conference and a Fun Family Day

Last Sunday was stake conference in the Osaka North Stake. We had a wonderful time with President and Sister Kido and his counselor, President and Sister Kuroki. Sister McIntyre and I both spoke in the various session and training meetings. We took this picture at the end of conference on Sunday afternoon after we enjoyed a great meal prepared by the sisters.The boys were out of school for fall break on Monday so we enjoyed a family shopping day in Link Town. On the way home he had some delicious okonomiyaki for dinner. You cook it yourself at the table. Don't know why Ricky is making a mean face? He loved the food!
Link Town is on the outskirts of Osaka near the Kansai Int'l Airport bridge. You can see the big Ferris Wheel and the ANA Hotel in the background.
Serving a mission with teenage boys presents some unique challenges. We weren't sure what to do when they rolled down the windows and started saying hello to people while wearing the ski masks! It is Halloween week so I think they did their trick. We did not give them any treats though. It was a fun day!

Friday, October 23, 2009

President and Sister McArthur Visit Kobe

We had a visit last week from the Japan MTC President, President and Sister McArthur. We enjoyed Brazilian BBQ at Harbor Land and had a great visit with them. They spent one night with us at the mission home and had the chance to visit with many of the Japanese missionaries that went through the JMTC while they have been serving there. President McArthur served a mission in Japan over 40 years ago (he also served as Mission President in Fukuoka a few years back) and spent a lot of time in our current Kobe Mission area. We enjoyed seeing pictures the current mission property with the original buildings. Things have certainly changed in this neighborhood. This time we were able to have James join us for dinner as well.
Earlier in the week, we had the chance to eat sushi with a couple districts during lunch break at interviews. Not bad for 100 yen a plate.
Elder Maeno celebrated a birthday last week and Sister McIntyre could not resist giving him a face cookie while he was in the office for interviews.

Everyone enjoyed the cake too!
Elder Maeno is from Amami Oshima which is small island between Okinawa and Kyushu. To my knowledge, he the first missionary to ever serve from that island.

Zone Leader Council and Interviews Begin! - October 2009

This week we held Zone Leader Council and planned out zone conferences for this transfer. Our focus this transfer is the Spirit. We will focus on and study how to better work through the guidance of the Spirit and recognize promptings from the Spirit. This time ZLC council lunch was Costco Pizza and Root Beer. Not very Japanese, but a lot easier for Rika. The missionaries did not mind! We started missionary interviews with the Kobe Zone. Elders Honda and Monson are new companions this transfer. They happen to share the same birthday and earlier in the year on their birthday, Sister McIntyre gave the birthday twins matching ties. Now they are companions and can where them together. Of course this had no influence on transfers and I did not even remember they shared a birthday until they showed up with matching ties at interviews.
Elder Matsuoka enjoys a few minutes in the president's chair and office as he fixes my computer. I think he looks pretty good and could play that role someday!

Tonight we had a rare chance to visit with some friends from Tokyo. Eric and Lisa Evans took us to dinner in Harbor Land. Eric is currently serving as the Stake President in the Tokyo South Stake, the same stake I served in before we were called here. It was great to see them and visit for a few hours.
Kobe Harbor and Kobe Tower can be seen in the background. We had Brazilian BBQ on the deck and it was very delicious! Good company and good view.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

President's Message October 2009

What a great time to be serving in the Japan Kobe Mission! Sister McIntyre and I are so proud of each of you. Through your faith and diligence we have been able to achieve many of our goals as a mission and witnessed many miracles as we see people come unto Christ and change their lives. This past week I had the wonderful opportunity of confirming a member of the church and giving the Holy Ghost to our 100th convert of this calendar year. A year ago, the thought of seeing that happen seemed nearly impossible. I hope we have learned that nothing is impossible with the Lord.
We try to attend as many baptisms as we can. These are very special meetings and the Spirit can be felt as the power of the atonement is realized through the sacred ordinance of baptism. We are continually impressed by the strong testimonies born by these new converts. We are finding the elect, those that are humble and prepared to hear the voice of the Lord and harden not their hearts. I testify to each of you that you ARE CALLED to gather the elect. There are many here in Japan. You will know who they are because they will listen to you and not harden their hearts. (D&C 29:7) We must continue to exercise faith, and diligently do all within our power to seek out these elect while we serve here.
Your time as a missionary is very short. As you begin your mission, you may feel like you have a long time, but it passes ever so quickly. Let us be careful not to waste time and effort on teaching those who are not ready to accept the gospel or on activities that do not directly relate to finding, teaching and baptizing. Remember we are to “find them that will receive you” (D&C 42:8). You must continually evaluate your investigators and focus your time and effort on those who will make and keep commitments. Often we become involved in teaching or meeting people who seem to have potential but never seem to progress. Our desire for them to receive the gospel prompts us to keep hoping they will change. We love all God’s children and hope they will all ultimately accept the message of the restored gospel. We should be kind and patient. However, we need to find those who will hear now. Sometimes I feel the adversary would love for us to be preoccupied with people who seem to be interested, but never progress towards baptism. If he can keep us busy with these people, we will never find the ones who are prepared. Your time is short. Boldly invite and teach. But if they are not ready to accept the message, plant a seed and move on. You have been called to gather the elect. Do not be afraid to move on. We must continually fill the funnel with investigators. Many will drop off and fade away. Some will take with them a seed that may later grow. Some may simply reject the truth. Your duty and calling is to boldly declare the message of the restoration and the gospel of Jesus Christ. As you do this with as many people as you can in the short time you are here, you will find the elect.

How do we find the elect and determine who we should focus on and who we should let go?

President Benson taught that “The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless your talent and ability.” (See PMG p. 176)

You will succeed in this work when you learn to receive and follow personal revelation. The SPIRIT is the Key! We can receive the Spirit and personal revelation through the prayer of faith. (D&C 42: 14)
This transfer I want us to focus our study on receiving and recognizing the Spirit. We will do this by studying pertinent passages of scripture and Chapter 4 in Peach My Gospel. It is my belief that as a mission, if we can increase our sensitivity to the Spirit and follow His guidance, we will qualify ourselves to see even greater miracles and progress here in the mission.
To receive the guidance of the Spirit we must be worthy. We must obey with exactness the commandments and the mission guidelines and rules. Obedience is the Price we pay to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We must also pray for the Spirit. We must pray always. We must pray to find the elect. We must pray for the members. We must pray for ourselves and our companions. We must be united with the members and our companions in this work. But most importantly, we must be one with the Lord.
I pray the Lord’s greatest blessings upon each of you. May we seek for the guidance of the Spirit and be worthy of it!
President and Sister McIntyre

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Busy Week - Transfers October 2009

We had another busy transfer week saying goodbye to 8 great missionaries and welcoming 6 new ones from the MTC.The departing group front row from left to right: Sister Meyers, Elders Obata, Shoaf and Kunihiro. Standing are Elders Tupou, Fukui, Sorenson and Mauai.Elder Tupou gets his assistant to the president's wife apron for all the help he provided to Sister McIntyre while in Kobe as the President's Assistant. A few other elders got aprons from Sister McIntyre for helping her in various ways on various projects.
Elder Fukui's mother drove several hours from her home located in the Nagoya mission area to pick up Elder Fukui as he finished his mission. All the rest caught the bullet train out of Kobe.

The morning of their departure we ran up to Maruyama park. While waiting for the elders in front of their apartment, Sister McIntyre displays her talents on the beam.

Some of the departing group with Sister McIntyre in front of the mission home as we depart for the park.

Several make a run through the obstacle course at the park. It goes up along the hill and back down via the slide on the left.
Sister Meyers and Sister McIntyre prepare breakfast after the morning workout. We first met Sister Meyers in the MTC when we attended the mission president's seminar. She is the first missionary to return home who arrived after we did. We will miss her like one of our own daughters! The night before their departure we had a big sukiyaki dinner and celebrated Elders Tupou and Sorenson's birthdays.
We took a group picture with the cake and Sister McIntyre also made her famous face cookies for the birthday elders. They tasted as good as they look!
Blowing out the candles... We also welcomed six excited new elders this week. Back row Elders Jackson, Escalante, Ellis, Quilter, (front) Coburn and Lee.
Morning run with the some of the new elders and Elders Christie, Matsuoka, Harvard and Tupou who serve in Kobe.
A little morning soccer at the park.

Some of the new elders at Maruyama Park overlooking part of Kobe and the bay.

Welcome dinner with the new group. Yakiniku!On Friday morning just before we sent off the departing group, we had a phone call from the MTC in Utah telling us that we were getting one more new missionary the next day (Saturday). So we will welcome Elder Richardson this weekend. His visa was delayed and just came through so they are sending him out immediately. Not much of a break at the end of a transfer week, but we are always excited to get more missionaries! More to come...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

General Conference Broadcast Sunday

Here in Japan all stakes broadcast general conference the week following conference in Salt Lake City. Live broadcasts are not practical due to time difference and the week delay allows for language translation and DVD's to be sent out to units without satellite capability. So this past Sunday was conference week here in Japan. In between Sunday sessions the Kansai Branch and the missionaries held a potluck lunch with everyone just bringing something and setting it out on the tables the elders set up between the mission home and the church. Missionaries invite investigators to conference and then we talk to them over lunch in between sessions.
Elder and Sister Pyper dish up some lunch, but did not know they were caught on film.
Here are a couple shots of the line and tables. Above is James (on the right) and Sister Yamamura with her two children (on the left). Sister Yamamura was baptized later that evening in the Akashi Ward. Below is a picture of Sister Meyers. She is completing her mission this week.
After conference, we drove to Akashi for the double baptism of Sister Yamamura and Brother Yanase. They were both taught by Elders Fukui and Shinozaki also pictured.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Elder Pyper Celebrates His 78th Birthday!

Elder and Sister Pyper are our office couple and have been serving with us since around May.He had a birthday this week and Sister McIntyre made him a big face cookie. The missionaries made a cake and we all surprised him with a happy birthday song.
They are a great missionary couple and do a wonderful job helping run the office. We would be lost without them! By the way we can use more couples!!!

Here is a nice picture of the office staff, Sister Ise (our house helper), and the Kobe missionaries.

Typhoon Slams Mission - A Little Wet, But Safe

Last night about 3am a large scale typhoon made landfall in southern Wakayama near Shingu and Tanabe. The storm affected the whole mission and stretched from the Pacific across the mission to the Sea of Japan. Damage has been reported in most communities throughout the mission (and in many parts of Japan), but all the missionaries are safe. I was traveling with the assistants to do interviews in Tanabe and Shingu that day (in Wakayama). We knew the storm was coming and was scheduled to hit in the middle of the night. It was raining pretty good by the time we arrived in Tanabe. After the interviews there, we drove to Shingu as the rain and winds picked up. I did interviews that night in Shingu and we ate dinner with the elders there. The assistants stayed with the Shingu elders in the apartment and I stayed in a nearby business hotel. Sleep was difficult as the wind and rain beat on the buildings. The power went out at one point and roads were closed. Shingu is only a few miles from Kushimoto which took a direct hit as the storm made landfall. By morning the storm had blown through and the sky was a beautiful blue. Shingu church, however, was flooded and part of the roof of the building was torn off. The missionaries live in the same building but were fine. The carpet and wall in the church will need to be replaced. Back in Kobe the sisters lost some pieces of their balcony and some of the shrubs near the mission office were uprooted. Other than that we can see signs of the storm all around the mission. Since it hit at night however, all the missionaries were warm and safe inside. A benefit of the storm, the drive back to Kobe via the coast of Wakayama was one of the most beautiful trips I have taken. The ocean and sky were crystal clear.Picture of the Tanabe elders and the assistants after interviews.

Shingu elders and assistants in Shingu after we had a meeting together.Photo opportunity on the way home in Kushimoto. We bought some mikans from a vendor near here who said the storm tore the roof off his home which is right across the street from where we took this picture. No sign of the storm when we too this shot though. The Nagoya Mission also took a big hit from the storm and then it moved on towards Tokyo and beyond.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Field is White Already to Harvest!

For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul. (D&C 4:4)Elders Cutler and Wiser just outside the Nara church preparing for the harvest!
This past week as we drove from Hirakata to Nara for missionary interviews we snapped a few shots of the ripening rice fields. The rice harvest will start soon in this part of Japan, but the field we labor in is already being harvested. As you can see, at this point, the rice fields are a golden color. The countryside is beautiful and our pictures do not do it justice.The tops are heavy and the shafts are beginning to wilt over from the weight of the grains of rice.The fields are flooded and by the end of the summer they dry out and the plants mature and are soon ready to harvest. As the grains ripen and the plants dry out, the tops do start to turn a white color.The field is white and ready to harvest in more ways than one here in the Kobe Mission.
I hope I can share some other harvest pictures as the season moves on!