Dear Friends and Family,
This week I have been thinking a lot about what the Angel said to the shepherds at the time of Christ's birth. In Luke 2 verse 10 we read, "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." As a child growing up we have a tradition in my family to act out the Nativity. Growing up I was the lucky one in my family to play the Angel and stand on the piano bench as my dad read from the scriptures, this verse. It really hit me this past year what "good tidings" really means. In Japanese the word for the gospel is fukuin or 福音. The meaning of the first character is good 福, and the second character means sound, or report 音. So I'm Japanese good tidings means the gospel. So the Angel was saying in effect. I bring you the gospel of great joy, which shall be to all people. I love being able to help spread "good tidings" this Christmas season!
After our studies and lunch we headed over to the church to grab those good ole emails and then went Christmas Shopping for our families! It was a blast, who knew there was so much neat stuff crammed in this city. After finished, we went back to the church to write emails, then went to Seiyu for groceries. I was having a real sweet tooth, which is pretty rare for me so I grabbed a bag or macadamia nut Oreos. I will tell you they are grand. Then we went to Mitaka for a 4 man kubari with the other elders. I stopped one woman and talked to her about why I am here in Japan and she said that she'd met Mormons when she was living in New York City and has been wanting to meet us again! We exchanged contact info, and will hopefully get in touch again. We all stopped various people, I have found most people are more willing to take a flyer of you say "merry Christmas" instead of "free English class"! After kubaring we went to McDonald's to warm our hands and toes and grab a drink then headed home before curfew.
Since Elder Ishikawa is leaving he needs to pack,which also is the same day as the big transfer cleaning so the elders who aren't leaving clean the apartment for as long as it takes. Well when your house is this big it takes forever. Elder Gerard and I worked hard to get this place spick and span. Elder Mukai dropped off our bunk beds too. So we had to hoist them from the window in order to get them to the second story, the stairs are too narrow. After they finished Elder Ishikawa and and I went to the Matsumoto families house to charge a Christmas message with them! It was a fun time, their daughter reminds me of the boys back at home. When we asked for a referral they pointed us in the direction of some less active who lived in some nearby apartments. So we headed over there and found a woman who had a lot of interest and was probably really lonely, but she wouldn't accept any of our commitments. It was kind of sad. We continued housing but sadly no one wanted to hear of our Saviors Birth.
After our studies we headed over to the church to meet with Adachi-San! He is so great, we taught about the Word of Wisdom and he took it all in! He said he has been following the commandment for over 20 something odd years! That is usually the hardest commandment to teach investigators because they see it for all the bad, not all the blessings that are available from following the council. After that great lesson we prepared for Eikaiwa for a little bit then went to go streeting in the park, only we ran into all the new missionaries there talking to people, so that was a little embarrassing, so we went up a side path and invited people over there, sadly no one was super jacked to listen to the missionaries so we weren't able to teach anyone, it was a bummer. After we met up with the other Elders and went out for dinner at a tsukemen (ramen with the soup separate) shop. I ordered 500g of noodles, and it was so delicious. It has become one of my favorites. After we went back to the church to split for two separate lessons. Sadly Ishikawa-San didn't come so we weren't able to teach him, but Michael came about 30 minutes late, so we hurried and had a simple lesson about prophets before Eikaiwa. It was a good lesson, simple but effective. We planned on skyping a former missionary for the lesson but come to find out he overslept his alarm. Maybe next time. Eikaiwa was great, it was Elder Leachs last time, which was really sad, because we have been teaching together for over 6 months! One of the students was so sad after class she ran out the door and ran to a waffle stand nearby and bought him some waffles. The new missionaries there seemed excited, I hardly saw them because they all went to different classes but they seemed happy. Right after Eikaiwa ended I ran into Ward Council to report about the work in the ward. We got some good feedback, but they are a little lukewarm about missionary work right now.
Elder Jennings and Elder Ishikawa were grumpy during studies and kept arguing, I think they were a little stressed about leaving. After an interesting companionship study we took them to the train where we dropped them off, and at that point, Elder Gerard became my new companion! We are both pretty excited! It is hard to believe that I am in the same shoes by follow up trainer was in a year ago! Crazy! We went out for lunch at Shakeys, then went to the church to get our weekly planning done. I have noticed it is important in the first weekly planning session to set up expectations for each other so you know what you can expect fro, each other as well as understanding how you will accomplish this great and marvelous work. After we came home and ate dinner then housed around the church before sports night. There we taught an old drunk man in English about the plan of salvation and Christmas...it was an interesting lesson, especially since his wife had hung up the intercom on us after saying, "where are you..." Then he walked out and said, "Americans?". "Yes sir" we responded. "I like you people, why are you here?" I love lead ins like that. It was fun teaching and testifying in our native tongue. After that we went to sports night and balled it up with the people there, sadly there weren't a whole lot of people there so we will have to work on fixing that.
After studies we went to the church and had 12 Week, it was weird having that again. It was fun to teach and train though. We made a goal that day to pass out 6 copies of the Book of Mormon to people. So we headed over to Kogane and began housing. We talked to a man a little bit about the Book or Mormon and offered him a copy and he accepted it! Sadly he told us he didn't want to talk to us anymore though. The next lady we found was so sweet but said she wouldn't read the book because she was worried we would be like Muslims. Which turned into a giant hole of, "you don't watch the news? Really?"...it was exhausting. The next person we found is a Jehovah's Witness, they have a pretty strong religion here, sadly the woman only wanted to argue our beliefs, she seemed kind of disturbed that we are paying our way to come out here and are completely volunteer based, but we shared what we believed and bid her goodbye. Then we went home ate dinner and got ready for district meeting. I a, slowly getting the hang of district meeting, it is just a lot to be in charge of. My district is the biggest in the mission since it includes the mission office as well. Busy busy busy.
After 12 week, we rode to kogane to meet with Michael, but he was asleep so we had to call to wake him up. While we were waiting for him we street end a few people, and talked to some nice people sadly none had interest. Then Michael showed up and he took us to his apartment where we had a lesson! It was a great lesson! The Spirit was so strong, he really wants to improve his life and he knows the gospel will do it for him! After the lesson we ran home, changed, then went to the ward Christmas party. Japanese Ward Parties are insane in the membrane! The Elders Quorum did the Scrooge play, the High Priests made these intense flower arrangements (made by Brother Naka the fashion designer in our ward), which told a story about Christmas, the primary sang, the missionaries told the nativity, and the ward choir sang, all while we ate dinner! It was awesome! Eikaiwa students came, and we had a potential investigator come with his family. His name is also Michael, he is American/Japanese and loves talking to missionaries. I think he tries to corner missionaries with his words, but Elder Gerard and I had no part in that, and we just testified over and over. At one point we testified about the importance of learning how to fall, I have never felt more like a parent in my life. It was kind of scary. After that we helped clean up then housed around our apartment before going home, but we only got yelled at by old men.
DCS was great! We really are getting this ward moving, the ward mission leader wants to change things which is great! Michael our investigator with a baptisimal date came to church, and made a bunch of friends too! It was grand! He loved it so much he asked if we could come next week! Uhhhhh...of Course! After church we went home, sang Christmas carols in the park, and then we ran to Ueki Kyodais house for a quick visit before going to the Stevensons house for dinner. Brother Stevenson is American but sister Stevenson is Japanese, and their kids are all grown up, they are a fun family. The whole district came which was a lot of fun. One of the daughters, who served a mission in Hawaii really got after Elder Gerard for not speaking enough, it was pretty funny. After we played some games and had a short message, we sprinted home to make our curfew.
Half a kilogram of ramen
A bedazzled hummer near an apartment we housed.