Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Field Is White!

Iwade Branch, Sakai Stake - Sister Yamanaka with Sisters Shields and Yamada
Amagasaki Ward, Kobe stake - Brother Hayashi with Elders Campbell and Hoffman
Still missing some pics from the past few months.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

President's Message September 2010

Elders and Sisters of the Japan Kobe Mission,

The summer heat is fading and autumn will soon arrive. It has been hot this past month. We appreciate your diligence, especially during this hot and humid summer season. This summer Sister McIntyre and I have enjoyed travelling to Okayama and Shikoku and meeting so many wonderful members in these areas new to our mission. It has been a wonderful experience putting the mission together with these new areas and additional missionaries. The mission consolidation is now complete. We have fully integrated the mission and the missionaries. I feel that we are unified in this work and truly focusing on our purpose as missionaries. Elders and sisters, now it is time to move forward with greater faith, an enlarged vision and to more fully fulfill our purpose as missionaries in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.

Recently among the members and missionaries here, there has been talk about the dream of having a temple built within our mission boundaries. The stake and district leaders in the mission are excited about the possibility of this. We can help this come to pass as we strengthen the church here by finding and baptizing the elect and helping the members have greater faith to open their mouths and share the gospel with those around them. I know it will happen. When? That really depends on the missionaries’ and the members’ faith and obedience.

As you all know, in July we received instructions from the brethren and the missionary department to alter our schedule by reducing the frequency of interviews and zone conferences with the missionaries and increasing leadership training and other in field training and time with the missionaries. We were also instructed to focus our training as teachers on eight specific principles drawn from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. This past month we have started to implement this new schedule and training focus. It truly is an inspired change!

Shortly after our first leadership training sessions in Kobe and Okayama, I had the chance to teach two lessons with the assistants here in Kobe. In both lessons we focused on the principles learned and practiced in our leadership training. At the end of the lessons we invited our investigators to pray. In both cases, when first invited to pray at the end of the lesson, each of them refused. One said he would do it next time and the other said he was not ready to pray yet in front of people. In both cases however, we did exactly what we practiced in our training and both investigators ended the lessons with a wonderful prayer. It is a joyous occasion in heaven when someone prays to their Father in Heaven for the first time since leaving His presence and coming to this earth. What a blessing it is to be a part of that event. There is nothing quite like it! Both of these investigators are now working towards baptismal dates. I can personally testify to each of you that we need to follow the prophet and do exactly as we have been instructed to do. Obedience truly is the price. We must have the Faith to be obedient. We must have the Faith to be Bold and invite others to repent and come unto Christ. Faith is the Power. The principles we have learned, and will continue to focus on to become better teachers of the gospel, enable us to truly help people feel the Spirit and become converted. Let’s review these principles.

1# The Doctrine of Christ – Our Missionary Purpose
The doctrine of Christ is focused on the atonement of Christ and the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. All must come unto Christ and repent and be baptized. (See 2 Nephi 31, 3 Nephi 9, 11 and 27) Once baptized, they are given the gift of the Holy Ghost and continually nourished so they might endure to the end. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. People come unto Christ through faith in His atonement, repentance and baptism. As missionaries when we truly understand the doctrine of Christ and our purpose, we will be bold and not hesitate to invite people to be baptized. We have been taught in Preach My Gospel and received direct instruction from the brethren to invite people to be baptized and set a goal to work towards baptism in the first lesson. Since we have started doing this more faithfully as a mission, we have seen a significant increase in our investigators with baptismal dates.
#2 Role of Holy Ghost in Conversion
The Holy Ghost plays a critical role in the conversion process. First we must teach with the Spirit and be worthy of the Spirit’s guidance. (See D&C 42:14) The Spirit testifies of truth.
#3, #4, #5 The Process of Revelation (Prayer, Book of Mormon and Church Attendance)
We can help people receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost and come to know for themselves that what we are teaching is true by inviting them to pray about the things we teach and ask Heavenly Father if they are true. We help them know if these things are true by inviting them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. (Moroni 10:3-5) If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet and our message is true. We also help them feel the Spirit and become converted by inviting them to attend church. At church they will learn more about the gospel, feel the Spirit, make friends and learn to obey the Sabbath day. Helping people do these three things, Pray, Read the Book of Mormon and Attend Church is critical to helping them receive revelation and become converted to the gospel.
#6 Teach People, Not Lessons (PMG p. 177)
Inviting people to be baptized is actually the easy part. Once they agree to hear the gospel message, we need to do all we can to help them know for themselves through personal revelation that the gospel is true and that they truly do need to be baptized to begin to follow Christ. As we invite them to read, pray and attend church, we need to listen to and follow the Spirit. The Spirit will guide us and help teach to the investigator’s needs. We also need to listen to our investigators to truly understand their needs. We do this by asking inspired questions that help us teach by the Spirit.
#7 We Invite, They Commit, We Follow Up
As we follow these principles and the guidance of the Spirit and invite people to come unto Christ, we must remember that our main role is to invite and teach them how to find the truth for themselves. They are the ones that commit. Once those we teach commit to be baptized, obey a commandment or read and pray, we need to do all within our power to help them succeed and keep those commitments. However, our success as missionaries is not based on them keeping their commitments, but on our commitment to be bold and invite them to do these things and then follow up with love and support to help them come unto Christ by keeping their commitments.
#8 How to Begin Teaching
Lastly, to be great teachers, we need to start out our lessons right. We need to make sure those we teach understand our role and their role in this process of learning about the gospel and finding truth. We need to let those we teach know up front what our purpose is and why we are teaching them. We should not be afraid to let them know we hope and expect them to come unto Christ through baptism. We need to promise them they can know for themselves these things are true. As we do this, we will find that our investigators will be more sincere and not question our motives. They will be more open to accepting commitments we extend and progress quicker to baptism. Some may choose not to listen. But we can feel assured we have done our part by boldly opening our mouths and inviting them to repent and come unto Christ. When we are honest and up front with people and show Christ-like love for them, people will come to respect us as missionaries and respect the church as a whole. And even if some choose not to listen, they will not have a negative impression of the church or of you as a servant of the Lord.

Elders and Sisters, I know that following these principles of teaching will help you be a more effective missionary. They will help make you a successful missionary. I know they may seem hard to do for some of you at this time. I am aware some of the members are nervous about being so bold with those we teach. But when this is done properly through the Spirit with a love for those you teach, it really works and never comes across overbearing. I promise each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, that this is the way we are to do it. It is not the Japan Kobe Mission way or President McIntyre’s way. It is the Lord’s way. Whether we choose to follow this or not is really a question of how much faith we have in the Lord and His servants. It really is simply a question of faith.

May we all become great Preach My Gospel missionaries as we focus on Being like Christ, Doing the leading indicators and Teaching by the Spirit and these eight principles. Now let us move forward as faithful servants of the Lord in this wonderful part of His vineyard.

President and Sister McIntyre

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ricky! New Elder and Eagle Scout

Today, September 5, 2010, I had the great privilege of ordaining Ricky an elder after church. He turned 18 on July 4th. He leaves for BYUH later this week.Here he is with the family and several members of the Kansai Branch which we attend here in Kobe.He was also awarded his Eagle Scout award today. He finished it back in June before going to the US for the summer. We are proud of Ricky and all he is doing. We hope he gets a chance to play basketball in Hawaii. Either way, he is excited about going away to school. We will miss him! It will not be the same around the house without him. James finally gets everything to himself after 14 years of sharing with his brother and sisters! But I am sure he will miss his brother.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Zone Leader Council September 1, 2010

Our monthly Zone Leader Council was held on September 1st. September 1st is the anniversary of the dedication of Japan for the preaching of the gospel. This year is the 109th anniversary of that historic event. For those staying in Kobe, we ran up to Maruyama Koen and held a short prayer meeting as we read the below address to the people of Japan from then Apostle Heber J. Grant. We also read the actual account of the dedication of Japan from the journal of Alma O. Taylor. We had a great conference that day. By the way, that is Elder Spohr hiding behind Elder Budge in this photo! I think we can see everyone's faces.

Address to the Great and Progressive Nation of Japan - Heber J. Grant, 1901

In company with my associates sent to you from the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City, Utah, an Apostle and minister of the Most High God, I salute you and invite you to consider the important message we bear. We do not come to you for the purpose of trying to deprive you of any truth in which you believe, or any light that you have been privileged to enjoy. We bring to you greater light, more truth and advanced knowledge, which we offer you freely. We recognize you as the children of our common Father, the Creator of the universe. The spirit of man, the intelligent ego, is the offspring of God; therefore men and women of all races and kindred and tribes and tongues on the face of the earth are brothers and sisters. It is, then in the spirit of fraternity that we approach you, desiring your welfare now and hereafter. Our mission is one of duty. We have been commanded of God to proclaim His word and will to the world. It is by His divine authority that we act and not in our own name or for personal ends. We entreat you to listen to our words. There have been in all ages some inspired by the Almighty for the benefit of their own race and nation. The light they brought may be likened to that of the stars in the firmament. It was adapted to the times and conditions when they appeared. They all looked forward to a period when greater light and higher truth should be manifest. We declare to you that this greater revelation has come, and we have been commissioned from on high to expound it to you. The power and might and progress of the nations that are called Christian, proclaim the fact that there is something in their faith which is grand and potent for good. But the division and contention existing among various sects into which they are separated, give proof that there is something among them that is wrong and which tends to strife instead of union; to war instead of peace. The truth is that Jesus of Nazareth introduced to the world the divine religion intended to unite all mankind as one family and redeem the earth from evil. Error has crept in among His professed disciples, and darkness has come over the face of the world, and the pure light of heaven has been obscured. The great Eternal God in his infinite mercy, has restored that faith introduced by His Son Jesus Christ, who has reappeared, and once more organized His Church on the earth and conferred authority upon His chosen servants to proclaim the Christian faith in all its simplicity attended by the same authority and power. This is preparatory to the consummation of all things, spoken of by the seers and sages and poets and prophets of all the centuries from the beginning of time. The great Eternal God has spoken out of the heavens and opened up communication between Him and His people. He commands His children in every country, of every class and creed and position and color, to turn from their evil ways, repent of their sins and approach to Him in spirit, also to be baptized by immersion in water by one holding authority from Him for the remission of sins, with the promise that by the laying on of the hands of His deputed messengers, the Holy Ghost shall be bestowed upon all persons who thus obey His word. This will constitute a new birth and open the door of the kingdom of heaven to every obedient soul. By His authority we turn the divine key which opens the kingdom of heaven to the inhabitants of Japan. We say to them all, come to the light which has been shed forth from the Son (Sun) of Righteousness. We offer you blessings that are beyond price. They are not of man nor do they come by the power of man, but they are from heaven where the true and living God dwells and rules in majesty and glory. That which your ancestors received was good and which leads to do good, was but a glimmering of the twilight. We bring to you the truth in all it effulgence, direct from the great luminary of the day. Come to the light and the truth, and walk in the one way the leads to the divine and eternal presence! Then shall your souls be filled with peace and love and joy and you shall learn how to unite with the great empire of righteousness on earth, and hereafter you shall dwell with the just and the redeemed in the immediate presence of our Eternal Father, and your glory and dominion shall be celestial and everlasting.
Your servant for Christ's sake,
Heber J. Grant (Also Published in the Deseret Eve. News, Sept. 5, 1901)

As I have reread this address by President Grant, I have been impressed with how he positioned this message to the Japanese people. I believe we can learn much from how he first introduced the gospel to the Japanese 109 years ago. He has clearly used many of the same principles of teaching we are currently emphasizing to our missionaries today. Of course the message of the gospel and the restoration were the same 109 years ago, but it is wonderful and even inspiring to see the similarities in how he positioned this message, what he felt was important to include, and how we are taught to do the same today.

1) He begins with a bold invitation to listen to the message and come unto Christ.
2) He does not criticize the truth the Japanese already possess. In fact, he builds upon concepts and words the Japanese already understand to share and introduce the message of the restored gospel. He truly teaches for understanding and talks to them from where they are at or from what they currently understand. This is evident in several places, especially in the words he uses to address the people. For example, his usage of the words 'ancestors' and 'empire' are a clear appeal to the understanding of the Japanese of that day.
3) He teaches we are all God's children and brothers and sisters. He defines our relationship with each other and with God. We begin teaching the restoration with that same principle. He teaches that Christ came and established the church and that there was a great apostasy.
4) He boldly testifies of the restoration and continuing revelation and that the authority of God is on the earth today.
5) He introduces right up front Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost as the way to receive forgiveness of sins and come unto Christ. He even states that God commands all to be baptized. We have been instructed to invite our investigators to be baptized and set a goal to work towards baptism in the first lesson we teach them. Understanding the Doctrine of Christ and teaching it is central to all we do. (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End - The first principles and ordinances of the gospel.)
6) He boldly testifies and promises blessings.

There is more, but I just thought I would share a few personal insights. We are grateful for all those missionaries that came before us and the foundation they and the converts in Japan have prepared over the last 109 years. The work goes forth here in Japan and here in the Japan Kobe Mission!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Toyooka Branch Primary Children - Aug 29, 2010

Here are some of the wonderful primary kids in the Toyooka Branch. We visited the branch on August 29th and particpated in the meetings there.