Archive for July, 2012

Atsui wa!

It:s hot here. Very hot. Hotter than I have ever been in my life. And we haven:t hit the warmest part of the year yet.

We got our Tenkin Happyo (transfer announcements) yesterday. Neither Elder Cluff or I will be going anywhere. That is what we were expecting\hoping for. Wakayama is way awesome! We don:t want to leave!

Other than that, there:s not tons of news to talk about, so let me just share a couple of cool experiences from this week. Miracles.

On Sunday a former investigator showed up at church. He had some questions and wanted us to teach him. We left priesthood meeting and taught him a little bit about Jesus Christ and the atonement and set a return appointment. Don:t you love it when investigators fall out of the sky?

And then yesterday, we went down to Tanabe for a barbecue. Tanabe is a two hour train ride to the south. It is one of four areas we are responsible for, since those areas don:t have missionaries in them right now. The branch president called us down there for some dendō related activities, and also to feed us. We had to wake up at about 4:30 in the morning to get there on time. We met the branch there at the Church – a building roughly the size of our apartment. Growing up in Utah, you only hear stories about the mission field and the tiny little branches that together represent so much of the strength of Zion. It was really powerful to see for myself the might of Israel, still in its infancy.

We drove out to a little river bank out in the countryside and had lunch. I like Japanese barbecue 🙂 The kids took right to the river: skipping stones, swimming, climbing up big rocks and jumping off into the cool water. The temperature was roughly that of the surface of Mercury, so I was pretty jealous of them. I had to go to my happy place – which in this case consisted of a fantasy of me floating down the Provo on an intertube. And another smaller intertube tied to it with a cooler full of ice and mountain dew. And other intertubes for some friends. Some of whom may or may not have been beautiful women. And then a giant mutant shark comes up from the depths and I akashi-punch it in the face.

Activities like this are incredibly fun, given two conditions. One is that you are able to speak Japanese. The other is that you are allowed to play in the river. When neither of those conditions is met, pretty much all there is to do is to sit on a rock and get sunburnt.

Eventually we packed up and left. On the way back, I fell asleep. I woke up as the car was pulling into a driveway. I was informed that we were there to teach an investigator. And that:s what we did. I wish I had time to transcribe the entire experience from my journal, but suffice it to say that I experienced several miracles throughout the course of the lesson. We watched finding faith in Christ and answered his questions as we went. While speaking with him, everything I learned in the MTC came flooding back to me, along with a full measure of the gift of tongues and unprecedented guidance by The Spirit. Every word I said was in its season. I was able to really participate for the first time – not just be Cluff-Chōrō;s silent shadow. Without having coordinated anything ahead of time, every word we needed was given to each of us in the very moment we needed it. The Spirit was strong in the room. Following a spiritual prompting, I invited him to be baptized. He accepted the invitation. Elder Cluff asked why he wanted to be baptized. He responded, [Because, I want to become pure.] The perfect answer. He brought up some concerns with the Word of Wisdom. He has been drinking and smoking since he was twelve. He knows he needs to stop before he can be baptized, and has made some long strides towards accomplishing that goal, but wonders if he can do it.

We – that is, my companion, the branch president, and I – each offered words of comfort and support. [Brothers,] he kept saying. [We have become brothers.] And it is true. I told him that as his brothers, we can and will help him every step of the way. But more than that, he just watched Jesus Christ give life to the lifeless, sight to them that could not see. [If he can do all that,] I asked. [Do you think he can help you overcome your addiction?]

Again, his response was perfect. [Dekiru, to omō.]

[Yes,] I agreed. [I think so too. In fact, I know so.]

Don:t you love it when yakusokusha fall from the sky?

The lessons of this first transfer are self-evident. The Lord can reward success any time He desires. It is up to us to be faithful to Him in doing His will in all the little things in our day. The Lord is our provider. He will give and take away as he sees fit. When we have faith and trust in him, even when our lives aren:t going as smoothly as we would like, He is able to bless us in exactly the right way to make us most happy. So quit worrying about it! If you:re stuck in your life, if you feel like you:re not recieving the blessings you need, if you feel lost, abandoned, forgotten by God or by those you love – don:t fear. Have faith. It will work out. But we must have enough trust in our Savior to believe that He will help us. He doesn:t ask us to be perfect. He just asks us to have faith. I think if we all understood that better, miracles would be a much more common occurance in our lives. I testify that miracles happen, when they are needed.

And who among us doesn:t need a miracle?

I pray for you always. I always love to hear from you. Keep the faith.

I:ll do the same. Gambarimashō!

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

 

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Blog update July 8

Hey everybody! I;m still kicking, believe it or not! Let me catch you up on what:s been going on.

Last P-day, Rasmusen Chōrō;s bike broke in half. He:s fine, but he had to figure out a new way to get around in his area. Sennan is big and can:t really be navigated without a bike. He:s a tough kid though. Takes everything in stride. He and Elder Wilcox found a way to make it out to Wakayama to go to the castle with us and the Crandall family.

The castle was cool! There were a whole bunch of Tokugawa Jidai artifacts and Samurai paraphanalia inside. See the pictures included in this post.

We:ve been doing a lot of dendō recently. A lot of housing, especially on rainy days. It:s exhausting, but we:ve actually been finding some potential investigators, which is really nice. We really want to give our teaching pool a boost. And things are looking up in that regard.

We also made an investigator out of an Eikaiwa (English Conversation) class. That:s cool.

Eikaiwa is actually how we celebrated our Fourth of July, although it came several hours before you all got it. About five o:clock your time on the morning of the fourth, we were teaching Japanese people about the founding of America. It was kind of fun.

On Friday the whole Zone got together at Mikunigaoka for Mission President Interviews. That was fun! It made for a long day though!

Saturday we found a really cool PI. It was quite a miraculous experience! You:ll have to ask me about it when I come home.

The ward fed us lunch and gave us a bunch of groceries in the [fruit basket.] I love the Wakayama ward!

I:m almost halfway through my journal, and it:s only been one transfer. I imagine once all this stuff becomes a little more routine I won:t be recording in so much detail. Either way, I:m sure I:m going to be glad I have that record. You:re really only getting a taste of everything that:s happening here. I am trying to give you the highlights, but even that I just don:t have enough time to talk about. Must be what Moroni felt like trying to abridge a thousand years of Jaredite history and prophetic doctrinal exposition. Revelation and miracles occur frequently in a mission striving to turn [good missionaries] into True Disciples – One and All. President Zinke really understands what this work is about. I can see the blessings of heeding his counsel everywhere out here. The Church is growing in Japan, and that:s cool. But that:s not what I:m doing here. I:m not here to turn branches into wards or to convince people to live good lives. I:m here to save souls. It is a mighty and a humbling work, and it can only be accomplished under the constant leadership and oft times direct intervention of divinity. I am beginning to better understand the relationship between faith and miracles. I see miracles frequently here, but only by exercising faith can my investigators participate in those. Miracles cannot preceed faith. Faith must come first. But to those who have the courage and trust in God to exercise that faith, they recieve measures of personal power which exceed anything they could have expected. Trust God. Fear not, doubt not.

Sincerely,

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

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Blog update July 2, 2012 助手

Howdy folks!

Quick update on my life! Japan is wet and warm. Japanese is hard.

Oh! Get this! You know that really annoying song that the ice cream man plays when he drives his little clown truck around the neighborhood? They play that here too. Only it:s not the ice cream man here. It:s the garbage truck. L.O.L. Squared.

So last preparation day, we got an email (email is what the Japanese call text-messaging) from Bevan Chōrō at the Honbu asking us to follow up on what sounded like a referral. There were some members visiting Wakayama who wanted to meet the missionaries. We called them and it turned out that they were Americans! The Crandle Family is from Dallas, TX. Brother Crandle is here in Wakayama doing some medical research for a local physical therapy clinic. It sounded like some really arcane stuff – blood flow and how it relates to body temperature regulation, particularly in skin-grafted areas and scar tissue. His company sends him around the world fairly frequently, it sounds like, so he brings his family with him. Whenever they get to an area, one of their first items to do is to contact the mission office and locate the missionaries in that area, then feed them.

Heavenly Father must love us.

So we called the Crandles and set up a dinner appointment. Later that night we actually met them while out prostelyting. They:re pretty cool. They took us out to eat Tuesday at a curry house. It was yummy.

We:re also trying to set up a meeting between their 17-year old son Jacob and our district leader Elder Wilcox, because Elder Wilcox:s father Brad Wilcox was Jacob:s EFY session director. Small world, neh?

This week we tried splitting the road for the first time. We each pick a side and Dendō our way down. It was hard talking to people by myself but it was also quite effective. It:s fun to challenge yourself.

We met with our investigator at the Daigaku and taught her all the remaining lesson material. We talked with her a little about baptism, and she has decided that after her concert in August, she is going to quit choir so she can come to Church and be baptized! I;m so excited for her! See, that:s why you pray for your investigators! The most important part of their conversion is how the Spirit works with them after you leave.

She actually lives in Sennan, which means they will get the credit for her baptism. But that doesn:t hurt my feelings. I:m not here to tally up baptism statistics. I:m here to save souls. And I was privilaged to participate in the rescue of this beloved soul. That is a privilage we should all strive for!

We:ll be going up to Sennan tonight and meeting her at a YSA activity, actually.

If anyone ever comes to Wakayama, go to Gu:s Okonomiyaki Restaraunt.

Before 2pm, you get a HUGE serving of Okonomiyaki (Japanese vegetable pancake), rice, miso soup, and unlimited drinks and soft-serve ice cream, all for less than $6.

Rainy season is picking up a little bit. So;s the heat. But it:s still not the nightmare that Zinke Kaichō was talking about.

We also taught our other investigator and set a baptismal date for her in Family Home Evening yesterday. It was great, and their daughter loved the activity. We had them all write their testimonies on aluminum plates like Nephi did on the gold plates. Haha. I stole the idea from a Sunday School teacher I had years ago who had us do the same thing. If you think writing Kanji is hard, try carving it into metal. After that we bound the leaflets together with three rings like the golden plates and gave it to them. We:re hoping to begin teaching their son, soon, as well.

And the Crandles fed us again yesterday. And there were fireworks for the midsummer festival. It was like an early 4th of July! Heavenly Father must love us!

I guess that:s all for now. I haven:t taken very many pictures, but here are the ones I do have for you.

Keep the faith!

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

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