Archive for September, 2012

We got fired

Dear Friends and Family:

We got fired.

Sort of.

In Wakayama we do our weekly Eikaiwa (English Conversation Class). In addition, we sometimes do a similar English class as a service activity for a club of old ladies. But the man who coordinates with us told us that they weren:t going to do Eikaiwa anymore, at least not for a few weeks. So he fired us. Bummer. Now we need to find a new way to render service. That:s really hard to do in Japan. People don:t want to be served or helped in Japan, so service opportunities are hard to come by.

No sign of W-san lately. Bummer. We tried our best to find him. If salvation is still something that interests him, he:ll have to contact us, because we have no means to get in touch with him anymore.

We found a new investigator this week. N-san. He:s American. Anybody who served missions and got to speak their native language…you have no idea how spoiled you are. It was really fun to be able to communicate on a more personal and more meaningful level. He has some cool ideas. His interest might just be casual, for now, but he agreed to meet with us again, so we:ll see what happens. He:s got a really open mind, which I must say is quite refreshing.

Sennan broke another bike this week. That:s six bikes, between the four of them, that they:ve totalled since I:ve been here. They:re averaging two a transfer! It:s probably Rasmusen-Choro:s fault. He brought some kind of weird Canadian curse with him. 泉南の呪い。The curse of Sennan.

K-san is doing well. He came to church with us again, and said that he enjoyed it. We:ve taught him the first three lessons, but he didn:t understand everything in Lesson 1, which is the restoration. This looks like a job for the Finding Faith in Christ and the Restoration DVD:s.

Finding is still our biggest weak point, which isn:t cool because it:s what we spend the most time on. Keep praying that we find the elect. There:s still 24 of them in Wakayama. Just because we got fired from our service activity doesn:t mean we can:t serve. “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not abear that any human bsoul should cperish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure dendless torment did cause them to quake and etremble.” (Mosiah 28:3) We:re trying to save others from being fired in the more literal sense. Urgent stuff, right there.

The Church is true and stuff. I:m doing well. I hope you all are too. Let me know, neh? ;P

平安,

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

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Updates (finally)

I:ve been slacking off on my blog writing, now almost half a transfer has gone by and I need to catch up. This is going to be very minimalist.

I:m still in Wakayama this transfer, still with Elder Cluff. No complaints.

We now have missionaries down in Tanabe, so we don:t have to go down there all the time anymore. Unfortunately, Tanabe needs to travel ridiculous amounts. Gobo and Shingu are also their areas. Pretty much everything south of Wakayama is theirs. They also have to travel back and forth at least to Wakayama, sometimes to Sennan or Osaka or even all the way back to Kobe for district meetings, zone conferences, trainings, etc. So they stay overnight at Wakayama fairly often.

They:re native Japanese missionaries, and the junior companion is just a little green bean. They:re fun to have in the district.

We need all the district members we can get. We did some math and discovered that 27% of the Elect are in our district. That means that a third of the baptisms in the Japan Kobe mission ought to be coming out of this district. Not zone. District.

Investigators. Well, M-shimai didn:t get baptized. The poor thing was all ready for baptism, when all of a sudden her mother showed up at the baptismal service and freaked out and demanded that M-shimai not be baptized. It was a very sad day, especially for poor M-shimai, who has been looking forward to baptism for a long time. She lives in Sennan, so they:re the ones who are primarily helping her. She:s very sweet and she still wants to be baptized if she can summon the courage to talk to her parents about it.

T-san, the investigator in Tanabe, got baptized. Elder Cluff performed the ordinance. It was a great day for everybody.

We picked up a new investigator K-san and gave him a baptismal date.

He:s a good guy.

W-san stood us up for a lesson. He was our homeless man we were helping. He found an apartment and was supposed to teach us where it is. Now we don:t have a way to contact him. Again. But we experienced a miracle last time we lost contact with him. I see no reason to doubt another miracle.

Sister Belnap went home recently 😦 She had been experiencing some health concerns, pretty much from the moment she arrived and even before that. She worked hard and did everything she could to stay, but it didn:t work out. We:ll miss her a lot, but wish her the best as she tries to pick up where she left off. She is a true disciple, and true disciples never die. 真の弟子は決して死なない。

We saved a kid from running out into traffic. He was a cute little guy. His poor mother couldn:t keep up with him. He almost ran out into the street so we picked him up and turned him around and he ran back the other way. Like a little wind-up toy. Japanese kids are cute.

We got to go to the 40-year commemoration of the organization of the Osaka Stake. That was pretty cool. There were some of the original members there. That stake has split now into several more. It:s exciting to watch the work grow. The theme of the afternoon session seemed to be [Go to the temple. If the temple becomes busy enough, they:ll put one in the Kansai area.] Everyone in this mission wants a temple in Kansai – Osaka or maybe Kyoto. I want to see one here too.

I:ve enjoyed everyone:s emails lately, although I do miss getting your letters. Email time is really quite limited compared to letter-writing time. I know snail mail is a pain, but there is always something really cool about getting an envelope in the mail that doesn:t have a [past due] stamp on it.

Those are the highlights. Speaking of highlights, I:ve recently started going back through my journals and doing the highlights of each transfer. After the mission I will maybe go back through all those and compile mission highlights. That way I can remember all of the good stories to tell when I get back. You aren:t getting them here, or if you are, they:re way dumbed-down for times: sake. I simply don:t have time to tell you the best stories in all the neccesary detail.

The church is true, even when that fact is terribly inconvenient.

Which in this day and age, it frequently is. But don:t give up. The Lord has prepared a place for the faithful. Stay strong. If you:ve fallen down, pick yourself back up, repent, and get back to work. You have not fallen beyond the reach of your savior:s love. Or mine.

With Love,

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

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9月11日

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope you will not be disappointed if I deprive you of news and updates for a second consecutive week and again share a brief message with you. There is much news that I could and will report, but on this occasion there is something I would like to speak briefly about.

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? It was a Tuesday, if I remember correctly. I had been awake for maybe forty-five minutes when my mother called me into her bedroom and turned my attention to the television, where one of the world trade center buildings was smoking. She told me that something had happened, something terrible, but she didn:t really know what it was. I agreed that it was terrible, but her reaction seemed extreme to me. I had often heard her remark upon the awful, violent things reported on the news on a daily basis. I was young and had no perspective on the nature of the world. If terrible things on the news were so frequent, then why was today any different?

I was in the afternoon track that year at Northridge Elementary School, which means that I went to school at 9:30 in the morning, rather than 8 with most of my friends. After my friend Rilee had moved away the year before, I felt little desire to remain in the morning track and chose instead to spend time that year with a different group of friends. On my way to school I met up with one of them and told her what had happened. She, like me, was unsure how to react.

My first class of the day was Mr. Bandley:s Social Studies class. He explained to us a little bit about what had happened. That was the first time I heard that the buildings had fallen down. I am unsure if I knew that airplanes were involved prior to that time. What I do remember was that after twenty minutes or so of class time, the principal came over the intercom and explained to the faculty and students what had happened. And then the most shocking thing happened.

The principal asked us to observe a moment of silence, and that in that moment, if prayer was something we practiced, to please pray for the people whose lives were lost and for the emergency workers who were courageously trying to rescue them. In the age of secularism and political correctnessin which I had grown up, I thought it illigal to even whisper the word prayer in school. I:m not exaggerating. I was taught by television and by public education that spiritual things were to be discussed only in Church, and that there was no room for such things in the public square. And I believed it, too. To hear the principal mention, and even request prayer revealed to me something I had never experienced: the adults in my life were scared.

Fear was never something I had experienced before, at least, not like this. There are some things you take for granted in life.

I did not personally know anyone whose lives were lost that day. I did not lose loved ones, at least not permanently, in the violent struggle that ensued thereafter. Some might ask how I can justify saying that 9/11 changed everything. For me, the answer to that question is that this was the day in which my childhood ended. I experienced for the first time the harsh realities of this mortal world.

In that hour, I had to take a good look at myself and decide what I believed. Belief was something that I had thrown around, perhaps haphazardly. I was not at that time, nor am I now ready to admit that the substance of my imagination is as inconsequential as the adults in my life believed it to be, nevertheless I did need to come to grips with what was real and what is not. Many of the realities in this world are not immediately visible. To ignorantly make the claim that truth is only that which can be seen, measured, tested, quantified, and proven, is to deny the existence of things such as gravity, magnetism, energy, wind, consciousness, imagination, love. These are all things whose influence is readily visible, but the exact nature and definite existence thereof remains unproven. Followed to its ultimate reason, one cannot empirically prove that empiracle proof exists at all. Nhilism is not only logically unsound but practically impossible. We all must decide what we believe and what we are willing to accept, without empiracle proof. This is true of our political views, the extent to which we trust in the fluctuating laws and theories of the various sciences, as well as our religious convictions, or our lack thereof.

So, if we set aside the false presupposition that knowledge is derived from empiracle proof and rather accept the axiom that knowledge basically derrives from convictions of personal experience, I will tell you what I know. I know that God lives, that He is the grandest and Most High governor of all the universe. Further, He is the father of the spirits of mankind, and our relationship to Him is derrived from that essential fact. I know that as we walk in His ways, He blesses us with power and with prosperity, in accordance with His divine will and eternal perspective. I know that Jesus of Nazareth, who was slain for the sins of the world, lives again. He is the Son of God the Father, and He and the Father are one in their love and mercy to mankind. I know that through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be saved – from sin, from death, from pain, from weakness, from every concievable frailty of mortality. Through His grace, we can and must minister unto our neighbors and alleviate suffering of every physical and spiritual variety.

My calling, of prophetic origin, is not to the people who lost loved ones in the fires of 9/11. It is to the Japanese, who have their own collective challenges and trials. I have the power of faith and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is in me, and which I have been commissioned to give unto every soul who will accept it. The message I carry has the power to transform hearts and change lives, to bring happiness, fulfillment, hope, and prosperity. I love The Lord and I love this people. I need no empirical proof of that. My hope is to continue to serve them with all dilligence and help them recieve the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This is my desire. I express it along with my testimony, which I seal with my heart, might, mind, and strength, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

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Only After the Trial of Your Faith (Ether 12:6)

Dear Friends and Family:

Tests of faith are marvelous opportunities. They are not easy, but they are opportunities to demonstrate to The Lord that we love him enough to stay faithful even in the face of oppsoition. Tests and trials, endured well, are the catalyst for the transformation from faith to faithfullness (D&C 121:7-8). Faith is a power almost unmatched in the universe. But it is not until it is tried and proven that it becomes capable of all things.

Trials will come our way. This is a fact of life. It is how we meet these trials and challenges that determine the ultimate result. We can choose, in that moment, to complain, to give up, to place blame, to become bitter, to begin judging ourselves and others. Or we can “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20). If we do the latter, if we choose the better part, we provide the Atonement of Jesus Christ room in our souls to transfigure us into True Disciples. Brothers and Sisters, ought not we to do that?

Further, when called upon to walk through the fire of adversity (Isaiah 43:2-3) or the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), we can have the comfort of knowing that we do not have to face that opposition alone. Many of us have the support of friends, family, church leaders, counselors, advisors, coaches, menors, teachers, etc.

And to those that might feel that they have no place left to turn, look up. You will find that The Savior has been beckoning to you all along. With his divine grace, you can be made sufficient to endure whatever he asks you to. It won’t be easy. But you will be blessed for it beyond your capacity to comprehend. This is the promise of salvation.

It is with this understanding that I offer these thoughts. There are people who read my words here that need to know that God loves them.

You know who you are. The Lord is yearning to pick you up out of the dust. We all fall down from time to time. Falling down doesn’t mean the race is over. It just means that you were never intended to run it alone. You don’t need to run to some predetermined relay point before you can hand off the baton of your trials to The Savior. Rather, just when you feel like all is lost, you’ll look back to find that he has been running with you all along, helping carry the burden right from the starting line. So please, don’t give up now. You were destined for great things, even if those things weren’t what you planned on.

True Disciples never die.

Earnestly,

Elder Tobler

トブラ長老

 

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