Long Ago in a Distant Land

Dear Friends and Family:

A lot has been happening lately and I haven’t been very good about keeping you up to date this transfer. I apologize for that. I couldn’t even begin to talk about everything that we’ve been doing here so I’ll just give you one or two little snippets.

First off, I’m doing fine. It’s cold, and the days are long. It’s not cold enough that it snows but the wind and the humidity make it far colder than even the deep of the Utah winter. I often sleep fully-clothed and under so many blankets that my chest can’t fully expand when I breathe. That keeps me warm enough at night, but at some point I do have to leave that little cocoon in the morning.

The Lord’s hand is evident in the work, as you might expect seeing as how this is His work. Our investigator N-Shimai passed her baptismal interview. She’s awesome. The baptism is scheduled for this Saturday. Wycoff-Choro is going to baptize her. We tried to get a member to do it because that creates a really strong bond between the member and the convert in the branch, tying them together and to the branch. But after all she wanted Wycoff-Choro to do it. He hasn’t ever actually performed the ordinance before so this will be a cool experience.

We’ve found some other new cool people lately. It takes a lot of work to find people! There’s very little to do in Ako except housing (tracting). On the bright side, I’m getting very good at knocking on doors. We’ve housed most of the area already. We are actually in the process of creating a giant area map so we can see what we still haven’t done because…we’re getting down to it.

One other exciting finding activity we did recently was an open house at the Ako church. Every year in Ako there’s a huge parade to commemorate the sacrifice of 47 samurai from the Meiji era. At the time, Ako (then called Banshu) was ruled by an oppressive Daimyo who terrorized his subjects. Unable to idly stand by and allow him to continue his reign of terror, 47 of his own samurai warriors rose up and overthrew him. In doing so, however, they broke their sacred code as Samurai and lost their honor (prized above all else). In order to reclaim their honor, all 47 of them took their own lives.

I don’t condone mass suicide, but there it is little wonder citizens of Ako are so proud of these folk heroes. Brave men rising up to resist tyranny – it speaks to my red-blooded American soul.

Well, to celebrate their sacrifice, there was a parade which just happened to run right down the street where the church is. The Branch President and the members did a lot of work to transform the church into an open house – complete with a flee market, booths giving away copies of the Book of Mormon, stands displaying the plan of salvation and message of the restoration, and most importantly a public toilet (with heated seat). While waiting for the toilet, guests would read the displays or watch videos introducing the church in Japan. There was a lot of success! We gave away six copies of the Book of Mormon and passed out hundreds of flyers! Most were referred to their respective areas, since most of the people who came to the parade came from the surrounding areas, some as far as Osaka and Kyoto!

The work marches on, as does the precious time that it occupies. While there are times I miss the creature-comforts of home, the companionship of friends and family, and the pursuit of my own interests, I am glad to be in the service of my God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been more necessary for individuals, families, communities, and nations than it is now. We are excited for the next generation of missionaries on their way in and we urge those of you who are in a position to prepare for full time service to begin doing so as quickly as possible. The harvest is great, and God is with us. Wherein can we doubt?


Elder Tobler




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