Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mother's Day Calls!

Sunday May 8th is Mother's Day and we know all you missionary mothers could not be more excited to hear from your missionary on that special day. We are instructing all the missionaries from outside Japan to email their telephone number to their family this next preparation day (which is May 2nd here in Japan). We would ask that you call your missionary on Sunday evening May 8th your time which is Monday morning here in Japan. According to the handbook, calls should be between 30 -40 minutes. We realize families are large and that more time may be needed to speak with everyone, but please keep the call to under 1 hour. Call time details will be conveyed in the email from your missionary.
Japanese missionaries and others in similar time zones, may arrange for calls on Sunday evening (Mother's Day) May 8th.
The Special transfer for Tokyo missionaries returning to Tokyo will occur on Monday, May 2nd. The Mother's Day call should not be affected. Transferring missionaries will probably not be able contact families until Tuesday (preparation day in Tokyo) which is Monday in the US to set up the call.
Missionaries remaining in Kobe will not be affected by the transfer and should be able to contact family and set up the call for Mother's Day on their normal preparation day. In any event, we will make sure you can speak with your missionary on that day. Happy Mother's Day!

P.S. - Please note that the country code for dialing Japan from outside Japan is 81. To call a missionary in Japan you should dial 81 after you dial your international carrier access number (whatever that might be). So the number you call will look something like this:
your direct dialing access number +81-80-2149-xxxx. Your missionary's number will begin with 080, but you must not include the first 0 when dialing it from outside Japan.

Some Tokyo Missionaries Returning to Mission

Next week we will be transferring about half of the Tokyo missionaries relocated here in the Kobe Mission back to safe areas in the Tokyo Mission. The remaining Tokyo missionaries will continue to serve here in the Kobe Mission until they are approved to return to Tokyo.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Departing Group April 2011

Departing group dinner April 2011. We returned 6 great missionaries this transfer. Elders Rahn, Sjavik, McGuire, Pribyl, Hashimoto and Matsuki.

Farewell cake and group picture.

Elder Pribyl got an apron for helping in the office and serving in Kobe.

21 New Missionaries Arrive - April 19, 2011 - Largest Group to Date

April 19th we picked up 21 new missionaries from the airport. They spent an extra week in the MTC due to the tsumami. They were very excited to finally make it here to the mission.This was the largest group of new missionaries we have ever received. Part of the group at dinner the night before leaving to their first area of service. The rest of the group at dinner.
Our three new sisters with their new aprons from Sister McIntyre. Sisters Yuki, Baird and Smith. Morning exercise with the new group was a lot of fun. A 6:30 am run up to the park and a trip through the obstacle course.

25th Wedding Anniversary!

April 19th was also our 25th wedding anniversary. We spent it with these 21 new missionaries.We hope to have a private date sometime next week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Awaji Island, Sumoto Branch Baptisms - We Love Sumoto!

While the work in Japan might have been interrupted a little by the recent earthquakes in some parts of Japan, the work continues to move forward in the Kobe Mission. This past Sunday, the mission saw more convert baptisms in one day than any other day in the past several years (probably decade). This month will also be a record for us.On the little island of Awaji, which lies between Honshu and Shikoku and home to the Sumoto Branch of the Kobe Stake, two wonderful families were baptized. The Tachibana family and the Ebisu Family. The Tachibana's were baptized in the morning and the Ebisu family was baptized in the afternoon after church. Both families are pictured with us above at the beach where the baptisms were performed.Elder Knight preparing with Brother Ebisu while Elder Moffat looks on.
It was a great day in Sumoto.
President Kasai and family with us after the baptisms. He is a very happy branch president. He can no longer fit all his members in the current rented church building. There have been 12 new baptized members added to his branch since we re-opened it about one year ago. More if you count children under eight. They are all active and attendance at the branch has increased dramatically. This has been a wonderful thing to watch. The members have been great at working together with the missionaries and this has made all the difference.

See blog entries February 5th (Re-opening Awaji) and 14th (President's Journal) 2010 for related content about Awaji and Sumoto missionary work.

And the Work Moves On....

More Pictures from the Field...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trials, Change and Choice - President's Message April 2011

Elders and Sisters,

As April begins, we are truly saddened by the disasters that have occurred in the Sendai and Tokyo mission areas. Our love and prayers go out to all those affected by the earthquakes and tsunami. These events have caused us to reflect deeply upon the meaning of life and the power of the gospel and the atonement of Jesus Christ in the lives of all of Heavenly Father’s children.

These events have also caused us to experience some unexpected changes in our lives as missionaries and in our missions. Shortly after the earthquakes and tsunami, we added 42 missionaries to our mission from the Tokyo Mission. This move was sudden and has required a lot of emotional adjusting for the missionaries coming here from Tokyo, and for the missionaries in Kobe who have welcomed them. Emergency transfers caused new and old companionships to be broken up in both missions. Beloved investigators and members were left behind in Tokyo. Subtle differences in mission rules and styles of missionary work have required humility and understanding from all the missionaries. Even with all these challenges, Sister McIntyre and I have been extremely pleased how everyone has handled this great change! Notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstances that brought all of us together, we are so excited and consider it a great blessing and privilege to join forces with these new missionaries. Ultimately, this will be a great blessing to all those who choose to learn and grow from the change that has been thrust upon them. We have a unique opportunity now as missionaries and as missions to learn from each other by sharing our best practices as we work together. When missionaries are finally transferred back and Tokyo is repopulated with missionaries, I am confident both missions will be better for the experience we will have had together. Change can be hard. It can bring trials and suffering. But change can also be a wonderful blessing and a chance to grow and prosper. It is about change and trials that I wish to speak with you about today.

As a young missionary serving in the Japan Tokyo South Mission I had an unexpected change thrust upon me right near the end of my mission. I remember it was difficult for me to accept at first, but the experience has had a positive lasting impact on my life. I was serving as an assistant to President Ryuichi Inoue in Kichijoji where the mission offices were located. I had been serving in that capacity for about 5 months. We had seen some wonderful success as we worked with investigators and members. I was just about to begin my last transfer as a missionary. We had 3 or 4 investigators ready to be baptized. I remember thinking that things could not be better as a missionary going into my last transfer. Then it happened. President Inoue called me into his office and told me of a problem out in the Machida Ward that he needed me to help with. A missionary was going home under unfortunate circumstances. His companion, who would stay in Machida, needed a companion. He then asked me to transfer to Machida for my last transfer and to work to build back the trust between the members and missionaries there. He told me he trusted me and knew I was the missionary the Lord needed to do this. I was shocked. I could not believe this was happening to me. I did not want to transfer. I knew I was supposed to stay in Kichijoji and finish my mission seeing those wonderful baptisms with my beloved companion. I was nearly brought to tears. I asked President Inoue if he was sure this is what I needed to do. He assured me it was as he offered some kind words of encouragement. Then he asked me if I would accept the call. It was difficult for me to accept, but I told him I would do it if it was what the Lord wanted me to do. He told me he would drive me out the next morning.

I will never forget my last transfer in Machida with Elder Aramaki. We had no investigators. Nothing to build upon but our faith and hard work. We could have been discouraged. But instead we chose to set some high goals. We wanted to lead the mission that transfer in finding new investigators. We felt that was where we needed to start since we had none. We also put a plan together to build better relationships with the members. I must have worked harder that last transfer than any other of my mission. The baptisms happened back in Kichijoji, but we did not see any in Machida. But that did not matter to me. Elder Aramaki and I had a great time, loved each other and fulfilled our purpose as missionaries. We opened our mouths and invited others to come unto Christ. We were able to achieve most of our goals that transfer. We even set a new record in the mission for finding people to teach. When I went home after that transfer, I felt good about myself. And I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to serve in Machida with Elder Aramaki. I grew a lot that transfer and I know I learned many things I probably would not have learned had I stayed and finished my mission in Kichijoji. I realized that it is not what happens to us that makes us happy, but how we react to what happens to us that determines our happiness. Happiness is a choice. When faced with change or trials we have the ability to choose to prosper or suffer from that change or trial. Pain is inevitable, but suffering and misery are a choice.

We see this in the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon, Lamen and Lemuel faced the same challenges as Nephi. In 1 Nephi we read about the broken bow. Lamen and Lemuel murmured and complained. Even father Lehi was brought down to murmuring for the desire of food. However, Nephi’s response was different. He was proactive and sought for a solution. Same trail, same circumstances, but he chose a positive reaction to a potentially negative situation. I imagine Nephi was just as hungry as the rest of his family. He felt some pain and discomfort from the circumstances of their trial. But he did not choose to be miserable or complain. He chose the opposite. Because of his faith, diligence and obedience, they did obtain food and the whole family was saved. (See 1 Nephi 16)

The power to choose is a great gift from God given to all men. Remember the adversary’s plan would not have allowed us the ability choose in this life. And today he strives to take away our freedom still. When we complain or become discouraged when faced with change and trials, we allow him to have power over us and forfeit our free agency to negative emotions feelings. This decreases our motivation to do what the Lord wants us to do, and in turn, slows the work and prevents us from achieving our potential and receiving promised blessings from the Lord.

The fact is sometimes bad things happen to good people. Trials come to the righteous. Obedient missionaries are sometimes rejected. Sometimes we are all put in tough or difficult circumstances.

The real test in life is how we deal with what we are given. I have seen how the Lord tests, tries and develops young missionaries. It seems that the Lord knows just what every missionary needs to learn while he serves. And during the course of a mission, He attempts to teach us what we need to know to become the son or daughter He wants us to become by putting us in different circumstances, in certain areas and with certain companions. Where and with whom we serve is not by chance. The Lord guides this work. All these situations are for our experience and good. But the result, whether or not we learn and grow as the Lord desires us to through these experiences and circumstances, is entirely up to us. It is our chosen response that makes the difference. I hope we can always be like Nephi. Father Lehi taught this principle to his sons. We read in 2 Nephi 2:27-28 Lehi to his son Jacob:

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;

I pray we all choose eternal life. And along the way we choose to be happy and successful as we serve where we are called. In the end, it does not matter what mission you start, serve, or finish your mission in. What matters is how you serve. Serve well and faithful my fellow missionaries!


President and Sister McIntyre

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Indian Curry in Akashi

During our recent visit to Akashi for interviews, we enjoyed some delicious Indian food with some of the missionaries.
Missionaries seem to always know the best 'all you can eat' places in their areas.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Interviews and Easter Cookies - 1st week

This month is interviews and as we travel the mission and meet the missionaries, Sister McIntyre always brings them a homemade treat. This month is Easter, so everyone is getting a delicious Easter Egg cookie. Fukuchiyama Zone Part of the Osaka North Zone The rest of the Osaka North Zone at Okamachi The Akashi Zone first group The Akashi Zone second group Kobe Zone first group Matsue Zone in Yonago Okayama Zone in Okayama The cookies are President's favorite too! Thank you Sister McIntyre....more to come. We still have a hundred missionaries to interview!

Matsuyama Branch Conference - April 2011

This past week we attended the branch conference in Matsuyama on Shikoku. After conference we had a meal together. Branch members and missionaries preparing to eat lunch after conference. On the way to Matsuyama, which is about 3.5 hours by car, we hit 100,000 kilometers on the van. Lot's of driving lately!