Monday, December 28, 2009

Recent Convert Pictures

We are ending the year on a great note. Here are some pictures from the field from the past several weeks. The work moves forward! Brother Nishio was baptized in Amagasaki. He is pictured here with Elders Honda and Ritchie.
He was also taught by Elders Nielson and Monson who returned to perform the baptism.
Brother Morita was baptized in Senri, Osaka North Stake by Elders Matsuoka and Shepley.
Brother Maeyama was baptized in Iwade. He was found by Elders Burton and Magleby and taught by Kurashita and Kina Shimai.
Brother Tsuno Yasuka was baptized in Nishinomiya Ward, Kobe Stake. He was found and taught by Elders Hinton and McLaws.

Recent Baptisms Around the Mission

We had a White Christmas in many areas of the mission. Lots of people dressed in white! Sister Yamaji was baptized in Ibaraki Ward, Osaka North Stake by Elders Kanno and Bunderson.
Elders Kanno and Bunderson also taught and baptized Brother Kawai Yuutaka.
Elders Burton and Cutler baptized Takahshi Tomoko in Wakayama Ward, Sakai Stake.
Elders Burton and Magleby taught and baptized Brother Bunketsu Lee in Wakayama Ward.
Sister Taniguchi was taught by Sisters Ho and Hattori most recently. Elder McConnell performed the baptism.
Sister Mona Nakanishi was taught and baptized by Elders Oshiro and Coburn in the Sekime Ward, Osaka Stake.
Brother Noguchi was baptized in the Yamatokoriyama Ward, Osaka Stake by Elders Cutler and Imai.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Julie's "Seijinshiki" (Coming of Age) Pictures

"Coming of Age Day" in Japan is in January. This year it falls a few days after Julie enters the MTC. In Japan you become an official adult when you turn 20. In early January, all young adults turning 20 during that year are officially recognized by the government as adults and on the designated day (usually January 15th) they hold coming of age ceremonies at government offices throughout Japan.These are Julie's coming of age photos! She is off to her mission in a few weeks to Fukuoka, Japan. We think she is beautiful! It is customary to take photos in traditional Japanese dress to commemorate the event.
Glad she can enter the mission field as an adult! Even though she will be the youngest sister serving a full time mission in the church.Look out Fukuoka. Here comes Sister McIntyre!

Family Christmas 2009

Well with missionaries going home, zone conferences, children coming home from missions and school and all the other normal duties of a family and mission, we did not have much time to plan or prepare much for our family Christmas. But having Erika and Julie home and the whole family together was a great gift. For Christmas lunch we drove to Osaka to the New Hankyu Hotel for a special holiday buffet feast. We took the Kobe missionaries with us as well. The meal featured all the fresh crab you could eat. And we ate a lot! This worked out well since we were pretty tired from everything and could not think of cooking our own Christmas meal.
The elders really took advantage of the "all you can eat" feature.
The sisters did not do to bad either. Hard to believe we ate these guys.
Back home, Sammy had to get into the Christmas spirit as well.
After the meal we went to the mall in Sanda and bought new clothes and presents for everyone. The girls enjoyed meeting Colonel Sanders at the food court KFC.
Erika seems to be back to her old self after her mission!
Ricky wanted to get Sammy into the spirit too. Sammy thought once was enough.
Going back a day, after the zone conferences on Christmas eve, we went out for dinner and stopped and played a few games at the mall on the way home.

The girls model some hats in Sports Authority.
After we got home and read scriptures, it was off to bed. No cookies for Santa this year. Also on Christmas Eve right after conference, Elder Andrews came over the home to pick up a birthday cake his mother had sent to him. Sister McIntyre also made him a face cookie. His birthday is the 24th!

Well I guess it was not your traditional or "normal" Christmas. But I guess we are not a "normal" family. Perhaps we really are a peculiar people. So in the end we did not have time to send out any cards to anyone. We will be lucky to get something out for New Years. But we really did have a great Christmas with family and in the service of others.

Christmas Zone Conferences 2009

We started interviews at the beginning of December and travelled the mission interviewing all 108 missionaries by December 19th. Julie returned to Japan from BYU on that day. We then prepared to interview and have our departing dinner and testimonies with the 4 missionaries returning to the US just before Christmas. Right after we sent them off, we picked up Erika from the airport and welcomed her home from her mission in Sapporo, Japan. The next day (Dec. 23rd) we had our first zone conference of the transfer for over 50 missionaries. We repeated that again on the 24th (Christmas Eve). Feeding over a hundred missionaries is never a small task. Doing it during the holidays with so much going on was a miracle. But Sister McIntyre and company seem to perform small miracles all the time.
The conference focused on becoming more united with the members and included a special Christmas program.
They were a happy bunch despite a few cases of homesickness earlier in the month. The flu is still a concern so those with colds wear masks so not to infect others - just in case.
A few of the pictures were not so focused. Sorry!
We had ham and chicken with potatoes, salad, rolls and cake.
Everyone got a small gift bag with treats, a mission bookmark and a CTR pin.
Some of our helpers with the meal and serving. The Pypers and Wades.
The conferences went well. To top off the week we had several baptisms with 4 actually performed on Christmas day. Yes, we did have a "White" Christmas in the Kobe Mission.

Christmas Transfer 2009 - 4 Missionaries Return

We were able to see off 4 missionaries right before Christmas. We trust they enjoyed being home for the holidays and in time to start the new semester at school. Elders Quilter, Williams, Larose and Sister Glenn all made it home for Christmas after wonderful missions here in Kobe.

Elder LaRose's mother sent us a Christmas present and we opened it the night before he departed. It was this beautiful quilt. Thank you Sister LaRose. It is beautiful and we love it!
Right after the missionaries left we travelled to Kakogawa for a baptismal interview and stopped by the home of Sister Rosario. We baptized her last Christmas day in Kobe. She has several little puppies from her dog's recent litter and we could not resist a picture with them.
The next day, we picked up Erika from her mission (you can see that blog entry separately) and began to prepare for our two holiday zone conferences on December 23rd and 24th. Needless to say we had a very busy holiday season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Congratulations Sister Erika McIntyre - Welcome Home!

Sister Erika McIntyre completed her mission in Sapporo, Japan today and arrived in Kobe this evening. Julie made the welcome sign for her and we all headed to the airport.
Ready and waiting for Erika with this cool sign.
When she didn't arrive we called and found out her flight was changed and she ultimately arrived at a different airport. After fighting traffic and feeling a little frustrated...
and still waiting...
We finally caught up with her at the Kobe airport. There she is waiting for us.Couldn't hold back the tears as we all greeted her.
She served a wonderful mission and we are very happy to have her back with us for the holidays. I had the privilege of conducting her release interview upon returning to the mission home. It was not easy for her to take of the name tag. She will be returning to BYU and seeing Julie off at the MTC after the first of the year. One and a half years goes by pretty fast. Our family has truly been blessed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December President's Message

Our Beloved Kobe Missionaries,

The year is nearing an end and what a wonderful year it has been! I hope we all appreciate the wonderful blessings we have enjoyed this past year as a mission. We have seen many marvelous miracles this year throughout the mission. I want to thank each of you for your faith and diligence in fulfilling your sacred calls as missionaries and representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The past several weeks we have focused on the theme “The Spirit is the Key” as we have worked to better recognize and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. While the Spirit is the Key to this work, we must never forget that CHIRST is the REASON. This time of year, perhaps more than any other, we should be bold in opening our mouths and sharing the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. During Christmastime many people here in Japan become very curious as to why we have this holiday. You might be surprised at how many Japanese really do not know the meaning of Christmas. Christmas is not only about the birth of the Savior, but also His life and His role as Savior of the world. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ was born, taught us how to live, and atoned for our sins. The good news is that He prepared a way for all of God’s children to return home to their Father in Heaven and partake of eternal life and exaltation. This good news is central to the message we share. Without the Savior and his infinite sacrifice, there would be no gospel to share. He is the Reason for this wonderful season. Further, Christ returned to the earth and restored His Gospel through the boy prophet, Joseph Smith. He gave us another testament of His divinity and plan of salvation, the Book of Mormon.

This is the Good News we missionaries must share. God loves all His children and we must declare that message to everyone we can. We must continue to pray that the Spirit will guide us to the elect, those who will hear the voice of the Lord and harden not their hearts. To me, that is what Christmas is all about.


As we close out this year and begin a new one, I hope we can remember the importance of gaining the trust of the members and working in unity with them to share the wonderful Gospel message. Wards and Branches will soon be creating and finalizing their mission plans. We can help them in this process. President Eyring has taught us that there will again be a great harvest of souls here in this land of Japan. He says it will be miraculous and this miracle will occur when there is a change of heart among the members in Japan and we as missionaries, exercise greater faith. We must show love towards and encourage the members and leaders we work with to share the gospel with their friends and relatives. We must show them our faith by our diligence. We must always be an example unto them and do all we can to gain their respect and trust. To be trusted by the members we must become trustworthy. You become worthy of someone’s trust when you keep your promises and when you show them love and consideration. May I suggest a few simple things you can do as missionaries to better gain members’trust:

1. Remember members’names. When you greet them use their name.
2. Always be on time to meetings and appointments.
3. Never criticize or speak ill of any leader or member.
4. Always work diligently and show the members you are serious about your call as a missionary.
5. Keep all the rules and always behave as a servant of the Lord should.

There are many more things you can and should do. But start by focusing on these. We will see an increase in our baptisms next year if we can become more united in this great work with the members. We look forward to studying with you how we can effectively do this in our district meetings and zone conferences this transfer period.

Sister McIntyre and I love each of you are very proud of the work you are doing. We pray everyone can experience a white Christmas and always remember the reason for this wonderful season. Christ is the Reason!

May the Lord Bless Each of You!

President and Sister McIntyre

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great First Half of Season For Ricky

The Kobe Canadian Academy Team remains unbeaten this year as the Christmas break starts. Ricky #15 is having a great year. He is averaging over 30 points and 20 rebounds per game. He really wants to play at the next level so we have recorded his games and are collecting clips of his play so we can send them to prospective colleges. Follow the link below and keep your eye on #15. There are several games on his YouTube site. Go Ricky!

Interviews in Wakayama

Here we are with Sisters Kina and Kurashita. They are working in the Iwade Branch. They had a great baptism last week, have two schedule for Sunday and another one on the 23rd. Both these sisters are from Okinawa. Kurashita shimai returns home in just a few weeks. Great, happy missionaries! After missionary interviews we met with and interviewed Tomoko Takahashi who is scheduled for baptism on Christmas Day. She has most recently been taught by the Wakayama zone leaders, Elders Cutler and Burton.
After the interviews we returned to Kobe and had the Kobe missionaries gather at the office so we could celebrated Elder Shinozaki's birthday with cake and cookies!
Elder Shinozaki loved his cookie!