Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The blessings of member missionaries

Holy moly this week has been hot. We were slowed down quite a bit by it, taking breaks here and there to cool off. It was so incredibly hot. I mean I don't complain much about the heat now-a-days but man I wore khakis the other day and I sweat through them. I looked like I wet my pants.

I asked more questions to the ward to try to figure out some of the problem that is here. I can say I'm full of excuses when hard things come around. They appear to have done the same. The ward has a lot of less active children that are in their late 20's and 30's who I've never met.  All the members of these children (granted the have probably tried before) say that they are too busy. It just feels like they gave up. But ill talk about that more in a bit.

Monday we had a great meet with A. We met her at general conference way back when and we were finally able to sit down with her and teach her a lesson. She accepted a Book of Mormon and said she will try to read it.

Tuesday we went around to many different places. We tried to find a less active that went missing. We went to his house and his mail box was stuffed with mail. He hasn't been home in a while. We headed off and U called us. We made an appointment with her but she said "come sooner!" So we did and talked to her about the Spirit and reminded her how it felt.

Wednesday we were able to meet E!!!!! I love that woman so much! She said that she prayed a couple of times over the week asking if this message was true. She said she re-read the pamphlet we gave her. She said "when I pray it says the Holy Ghost will speak to me in a quite voice..... I dont know what that is." We rejoiced and we were able to explain that more. Then the member asked her to come to our open house on Saturday.

On Thursday we had a junkai with Elder Vance and Inagaki. I went with Inagaki. He expressed many concerns with being a better missionary. I mean I'm not a great one but at least I knew some basic things that I could help him with. We were super blessed. We taught English to a group of kids going to America for a week. It was super fun and they said they wanted to come to our English class now. Afterwards we went and did some housing. Elder Inagaki said "I've never really handed out a Book of Mormon before." I said that's okay, let's do it right now. The next door we were blessed and gave out a copy of the Book of Mormon. The next door I said "now you try." He did and we gave out another one! It was super awesome! I haven't given out 2 copies on the same day for a long time. We did it back to back. Elder Vance and Knighton went to visit S. He was super awesome and prayed at the end of the lesson.

Friday we didn't have much going because we had zone training and we had to fix Elder Knighton's bike.

Saturday we had our open house. Before that we had eikaiwa where one of the students from Thursday came to our class!!! It was super cool to see her there. One of our new students has a half black baby that is super cute. Every time I would high five a student, she would go and high five them as well.

But the open house was okay. It was not planned out as well as it could have been. I mean we did prepare the missionary things but the members fell apart when the Branch President couldn't come to the open house. We did have 3 investigators come! They said they liked it. E came! She really enjoyed it.

On Sunday it was a bit of a downer again. The members just keep rejecting chances to help. Awhile back we had a family home evening with T. She enjoyed it. She liked it so much she said she would do it again but didn't want to change her religion. That's totally okay with me. At least we don't drop you. I went up to the sister who has helped us with her for all this time and asked if we can do a family home evening. She said "I can't" Stunned I asked "why?" She said "why do you ask why? She said she won't change." I just looked at her and said "she said she still wanted to do this. She may not change now but I still think she can."  She just looked at me and said "I can't." SOOOOOOOOO frustrating. Why? The ward has done this a couple of times. They just drop people when they think they can't change. If that's the case, we wouldn't have any investigators. But people change slowly and sometimes it takes a really long time. If you don't understand that people can change, then frankly you don't understand why Jesus suffered for us, so that we can change. Change from worldly to Godly. The atonement is the source of change. Use it.

Later that day we met this really nice lady who said she loves her family and wants them to accomplish their dreams. I said, "that's exactly what God wants for you. He knows family is important so he made it possible for you to live with them forever." We are able to come back when she has time.

Monday. People seemed to not enjoy our conversation all that much. This man got really angry with us telling us we needed to study Japanese more because he was using words we didn't know. Those words were special to his religious sect of Buddhism. Sooooo a little out of our hands there. All in all people just didn't grab the concept of eternity. Granted it's impossible to do so. It seems that anything that requires them to produce any kind of deep thinking, especially religious, they try to avoid it. They don't try to apply it. Its rough because they don't understand the eternal consequences of rejecting Christ. Recently I've been trying to relate how similar the religions can be. But because of that they say "oh these are kind of the same. I don't see why I need this." Then I bring in the eternal family perspective, then they shut down and try not to think about it. How can we make it more simple so they don't have to think as hard, so they can recognize the richness of the gospel?

We later went with Nakamura to visit his aunt. The same could happened with her but something different happened. With the testimony of someone she knew, she took it a little differently. At the end she said "so all you are saying is I need to read this book and pray about it?" Yes. That's all you need to do. Well you need to have the desire to know and willingness to act on the answer but that's all you need to do. She said, "I'll try my best" What was the difference? The member. The friend. The family. That gives a side of trust. Giving the investigator a better understanding. We need more member help. It's the only way. In my opinion, Japan will start to change quickly. We can have many great works. We can have faith. Still that won't open peoples hearts sometimes. There is a promise from the prophet that Japan will expand only on the efforts of the members. I was able to see a slight portion of that blessing yesterday.

Have a great week!

Jameson Choro

Monday, July 21, 2014

Specialized bikes bring special problems

This week was a little rough to take in. It made me realize the hearts of the members a little bit and led to some discussions with Elder Knighton. In the brightest tone I can muster, I'm trying hard for the Branch, but I don't know how much hope they have for themselves. Granted they do work hard at things and over all I can't apply what I will say today to all the members. But there are key members that expressed things over the past 6 months that have slowly alarmed me. I didn't take full notice of the situation until yesterday when some really dim comments were made. It was all because our Branch President, who holds the branch down, was sick and wasn't there to keep things straight. I'll explain things at the end but I'll review the week first.

On Monday we had a weird day. We went finding and this lady came out and said "are you the Jehovah Witnesses?" We said no. She said "Oh you must be Mormon then." That surprised us because no one ever gets that far. They only know the JWs. Then we talked about different things. With everything we said she freaked out. She then turned to us and said "go visit my friend in this apartment. She is Christian."

So we did but a girl the age of 16 opened up the door. After going over what happened, we think she was a baby sitter but she showed a decent bit of interest either in us or the message. I'm not quite sure which is which but we will try to visit her again today.

We visited a kind-of less active. She isn't less active yet but its been a while. She is so very kind and I love her so much. I'm glad I get to work with her.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday morning we went to the train station to go to Fukuoka for district meeting. I had a feeling we would see the member and it turns out that I was right. We rode with her all the way up to Fukuoka. She expressed many concerns and joys of her life. (She is from the Philippines so this was in English. Yeah for English!) Her son is doing great. He is a less active due to missing meetings because of sports. But she said he wants to be our friends. Then we moved to her husband who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. This is part of the reason she is not coming to church. They have to take care of him. He was progressing a while ago but I haven't been able to talk with her in a month. I asked how he was doing. she said "not good. He has 6 months to live." I just sat there. I had no idea what to say. Then I asked if she has talked to him about priesthood blessings. She said she did and he rejected it. Super sad but we will try to pray for him.

Tuesday we went to an area we haven't really visited before. The first contact rejected us but said "my neighbor is from the Philippines talk to her. She may believe in the same kind of thing you do." So we did. She was busy but we will come back on a different day.

It turns out that we went to visit another lady from the Philippines. I don't know why we visited every person from the Philippines on one day. It just happened to be that way. But we knocked and in broken EnglishR she said "I have  big problem."   I asked if we could do anything. She said with tears "its family problem. Come a different day please."  I forgot to mention during this day it was raining really hard. We were soaked even with gear.

Wednesday, we were riding and Elder Knighton's tire went flat. We were walking around to try to find a shop. It turns out that his bike is so special that we couldn't fix it, or at least the man didn't know how to. Its okay though, we fixed it ourselves with a bunch of ways that aren't really legitimate (aka using a metal file to make a hole in the rim of the tire. This really killed a lot of time on the following days.)

But we were able to met E. She prayed!!!! Yayyyyyy!!!! She prayed about her daughter because her daughter in on the crazy side and after she prayed her daughter called her! ANSWERS YEAH!!!! But she played it off as if it didn't come as an answer. She is a kinjin without being a kinjin. She said great things like "I thought I should have a religion to teach my kids." We will try to hammer the importance of the gospel for families. I think that could help her.

Thursday we went around with the help of Nakamura to get things for the bike. It turns out Knighton's bike had 14 punks. It was losing air quickly and we had to pump it up every 10 minutes by a hand pump. We didn't get much done on Thursday but Nakamura visited T and she said if there is a family home evening, she wants to go.

Friday we went to buy a new tube to replace the old one but the nozzle was too big to fit in the rim of the bike so we had to get a file to saw it down since no bike store had the right tube. That killed some time... well a lot of time. We were only able to meet the H family. The mom wasn't there. I said we wanted to teach the family. To pass the time we played catch with the son who is 20. He was freaking out the whole time saying "I'm playing catch with an American." It tickled me, but it also tickled the mom when she got home. She said "Wow a Buddhist and a Christian playing catch together!" We gave a short message and went home. On Saturday we were able to visit S. she is an eternal investigator. She is one because she doesn't really remember much detail. A little sad but we gave a short lesson.

Sunday. Oh man. the last half of the day was meh okay. We were able to see 2 of our friends and invite them to the open house. But before all of this we had our weekly report.

There were many opinions expressed and hard hearts shared. I tried to remind them that we should act like Christ but I only received negative answers. They support an open house but want to do it following meetings which I doubt will bring in many investigators. It needs to be later in the day. I also tried to get them more involved in member present lessons but was shut down because I was not "leadership."

In a summery of what I have seen over the past 6 months, is that some members have but up walls and defined what the branch is supposed to be. There are some that are great and don't apply to this but they have set up a culture of survival and what ever is not within those walls is not allowed. It's very complicated and very hard to explain. On the surface things are fine but.... I don't know what to do to fix the problem underneath. I have prayed continually about how I can help them but my ideas are shot down. I am doing my best and will continually pray for these members.


Elder Jameson

Monday, July 14, 2014

In the end, He will compensate

Well. To begin this week, I would like to say, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes. But in the end, He will compensate. He will fulfill His promises. We just need to wait until he does.

On Monday we were able to talk to a 19 year old girl we met a few weeks ago. Her name is S. She doesn't really mind us coming so that's good. We don't know how well she reacts to the message. 

After we had family home evening with T. She is now chained to her sister. She won't move unless her sister will. Her sister is now feeding her things to say to us when we talk to her. When we first started to talk to her she said she really didn't understand the Bible or the Book of Mormon. This lesson she said she completely understands the bible and that it supports her church. Also the Book of Mormon is impossibly hard to understand. I'm not quite sure how that comes about considering the fact that the Book of Mormon is exceptionally easy to understand and the principles are simple. She again said she never received an answer.

Tuesday we had zone conferences. It was great! It reaffirmed me because it showed that what I'm doing besides actually teaching, is how missionary work should be done. It showed me I know more than I thought I did. None the less, I still have room for improvement. For example when we went finding after we came home, we found a Korean who's best friend is Christian but still we were able to get him interested in the message. There is something in everyone that will get them interested, we just need to find what that is. 
Photo credit: Nakamura

Wednesday, we prepped a little bit for the typhoon. On the way we met a man who knew a lot about different religions. He said "in japan, the Mormon church doesn't have a good impression. That's because it is a cult." I just looked at him funny and the Spirit really helped me direct the conversation. I asked him and said "do you even know what cult means?" He said no. I just shook my head. I said "people deem things they don't understand bad things. Our message is one that can obtain eternal happiness. Since Japanese people don't really think about after this life, its hard to understand something that can be eternal. But it can. It will. And we want to share how we can obtain it." 

Later in the day we went with Nakamura and did some housing a bit. I feel bad because he really went hard. Afterwards he said "why do these people not have faith?" I wonder the same thing. There is a promise that the work of the Lord will only progress in Japan through the members. If they don't do anything, the work wont do anything as well. We are trying our hardest to get the members going. There is such a strange feeling here. They are really grateful for us, and are willing to joint with us, but I feel like that's all they think they can do. They all say "our friends have all heard the gospel." That may be true. I haven't asked much from these members for referrals. Mostly because the branch president told them all 3 months ago that within the next 3 months he wants every member to give one referral. Guess how many literal referrals I've received. (meaning, lets go to my friend. I've talked a little about the gospel with them and asked them to meet you) I have not received a referral of that sort. The most referrals I've received are from people's neighbors. I don't want to nag or beat up on the members. I know their lives are hard and they try their hardest. I just want to know how we can help them overcome this. It's so incredibly frustrating when they say "thank you for all of your hard work." Frankly we look at the map and say, "who can we visit and where shall we go" and then we just talk to as many people as possible. That's not really hard work. We don't have a great deal of things to work with so we are in the basic stages of missionary work. What adds a great deal of burden to it is the fact everyone says they're busy. It's like we are walking through a maze trying to find people. Every turn there is a wall that says "I'm content with my life." "I'm busy." "I don't see the point."  The point is eternal life. People who are content with their lives are the hardest to talk to. They don't see the need to change so they commit in the hearts they won't. How can we help them see there is something greater? I've tried so hard! How can we help them be compelled to change? In second Nephi 33:2 it says the people harden the hearts so the Spirit has no place to dwell... or something like that. ( 2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.) It's so amazingly frustrating. But after all these thoughts, I'm reminded again how the Lord will fulfill. We just need to remain faithful and think hard.

Thursday we were able to dendo a bit. The typhoon completely passed us. Nothing happened. So we went and worked. We met a guy named S. We met him a week before. He is super kind. He doesn't really have a religion at all. He is just kinda there, but is super kind. I love talking to him because of how kind he is. We housed some other college students. One of which was apparently having a study party. Two kids came up during the contact. One of them whispered to the other (it was a small hallway so you could clearly hear their voice) "it's the Jehovah" I turned and said "oh sorry, we aren't the Jehovah Witnesses." He freaked out and turned to his friend and said "They aren't Jehovah" it was really funny but we can come back.

We visited T. She changed again. She said this time she received an answer of "return to your church." Having Nakamura there was great. He said, "no that's wrong. You didn't get the answer. Let's pray right now." So we prayed. The sister was home but pulled the normal Japanese person excuse of "I'm busy" and wouldnt' come out. Nakamura is bent on meeting the sister.

Friday was a long day of housing. We didn't get much done the first bit but after quite a bit of praying we were directed to an area that hasn't been housed at all by other missionaries. Two women saw us and started to talk to us. They didn't have interest but they were super impressed that we came to that area. We found a lady named F. she saw the 10 commandment movie so she knows a little about Christ. We have an appointment to share more with her on Friday. We met another woman about 10 minutes later who said we could come back.

Last week we met this family called the H family. We went and visited them after a housing an area that I'll talk about in a second. They are awesome. We have a great relationship with them. They have 2 sons, 20 and 21. The mom doesn't really have an intent to change but she is totally okay with listening. I really like them. I hope we can see some progress.

SO we were lead to an area that I've never seen before. I said "hey let's house here for a bit." We ran into some normal people but one experience left a impression on me. We were housing and there was a group of 4 old women who were gathered like the school girls who gossip about the weird kids. Well those weird kids were us. I heard them talking about us, but we housed right pass them. Then one lady said "the next house is mine. No one is inside." I said "okay cool!" and started to contact them. They all turned away and looked the opposite direction. As if looking the other direction is really going to help the situation. But I asked them if they would like to live with their family after this life. Here is the first startling answer "I'm living with them now. I'm okay." That is sad. They are content with life as is. They didn't want to think about what will happen in the future. I pointed that out and said in this world all things end. When they end would you want to live with your family again? They said that would be fun. I said would it be worth believing in Jesus Christ, who died so that you can live with your family? They said "sorry, we are Buddhist." I don't want to be rude but that has no relation to if you want to live with your family. I said "That may be true but what hope does that bring you for the life after this and living with your family?" They didn't answer. They couldn't answer. I hate saying this about other religions but no one else has an answer. They don't have the beliefs to support that kind of answer. The Doctrine is simple. We can live after this life, with our families and without pain or suffering. This is all due to Christ and his love for us. He died so we won't. 

Saturday nothing went according to plan, but it went better. It shows us sometimes the Lord's way is better than our way. We walked out of our apartment and Knighton forgot his keys so we went back in and when we came out again, a woman came out of no where and asked us if we were missionaries. It turns out she is Sister Olsen. Her husband is a less active return missionary who has a lot of hate for a family. They live 40 minutes away by car and it turns out the wife is at our apartment where our bikes are parked. We talked to her and invited her to different things. 

On the way to our schedule, we met an 18 boy who doesn't really know Christ but said he would be happy if he could feel his love. We got his number and we will call F. T. tomorrow.
Photo credit: Nakamua

After eikaiwa we went to visit an investigator. She wasn't home and it started to rain hard. Elder Knighton didn't have his rain gear so we went to the restaurant of an English student who was an investigator 40 years ago. They gave us cake and we talked to them as the rain poured. The man pulled out his old copy of the Book of Mormon. It has marks in it and he told us to sign it. They said they didn't receive baptism but they loved the teachings. They are too devout to their own beliefs to change. After we went with Nakamura to dendo a bit. We met an old investigator and his mom. The mom was super protective but not rejecting us. Eventually we only were able to invite them to eikaiwa but they said they would come. We ate dinner with Nakamura.

Sunday. Another baptismal date is dropped.

We had the K elders visit F to see how he was doing. He told them someone stole his car and he couldn't come to church. Well, he found his car in one day and came to church but he freaked out how the missionaries found him. I told him we work as a team and we were worried about him so we sent the other missionaries. He complained about it and said "the Mormon is scary. I'm done." There was nothing we could do. After the members told us that it was sad that F's family told him not to come. I said "that's a different story from what I heard" Again we have an investigator who lied their way out of a baptismal date. It hurts. To shine some humor on it, it's like finally setting a date with a girl and her cancelling on you. Later that same evening you see her with another person or doing something contrary of what she told you she was going to do. 

Again the Lord gives and takes. I am just the person who has to experience it. I'm trying my best and I know the Lord will compensate. I just need to endure. It was shown in the rest of Sunday. We meet 2 people I haven't met in 3 months. It was super awesome. K and S. They were super happy to see us. Then we met some awesome people on the streets. Like this one couple who were about in their 60's. I said Christ died for us. The man freaked out "whatttttt???" But then I said but he still lives. He freaked out even more. They said if you can have an eternal family, they would want it.

We met S. He is super awesome. Se asked if we could meet him next week. He said yes. We just need to push through and the Lord will help. Do our best and the Lord will provide the rest.


Elder Jameson

Monday, July 7, 2014

We keep pressing forward

Okay we had a rough week. It was seeming like Iizuka was starting to turn bitter towards us.

On Monday we taught T. It didn't feel right. Something was off but we could not tell what it was. We also helped a member in his garden. He is a deaf member so it's really funny to hear him work. He doesn't realize the grunts he makes when he works hard. It is really hilarious.

On Tuesday We had a lot of appointments set up to fill the day. One of which fell through. That was sad but we were able to visit some potential investigators and try to set a better connection with them. We had another appointment with a less active S. He loves the missionaries. When we got there he had 10 hamburgers from McDonald's. It was great! But we taught him and it was a great time. He has cancer so he can't come to church.

We went finding afterwards and found an area that was tucked away behind a forest. Most of the people haven't met missionaries before so they were really nice and surprised to see us. One family has a son studying economics like me!! We hit it off and they seemed mildly interested enough to let us come back.

Wednesday We went finding over by an area we found recently. It was raining and this old lady gave Elder Knighton an umbrella. It was so kind. But it was for the size of a small grandma. Not a 6 foot 4 giant. We went around and lot of people tried to give us things. Japan is so funny. They try to give us things that are against the Word of Wisdom. Some lady the other day said "can i get you some coffee? Tea? Beer?" We just laughed and said water is fine. I usually just say since I'm a swimmer I like water. It doesn't really make that much sense but they accept it.

We met this one man named N. We asked him if he thought God existed. He said yes, because people are too complicated. We taught him and he said he would come to church but he didn't. Everyone seems to have bad memories here. They commit and forget. But we will visit him soon.

Thursday this week... I seriously don't like remembering. T came out of her house saying "moshiwakenai" the thing all Asians say when they are trying to be polite but they are rejecting you. I about freaked out. She said she listened to her sister and her sister told her to stop coming to church and listening to us. So she agreed. It was so incredibly frustrating. She completely changed. We testified to her. Knighton bore the most powerful testimony I've heard from him. We said, "you received an answer from God and at that time what did you think about this church? She said "I thought it was true, but now I got an answer from my sister. My church is true." In all the logic I tried to muster up, I still couldn't rationalize the connection she had just made. It completely blew my mind with how quickly she changed. It was so incredibly sad. She used many excuses that we were able to bear testimony of and give the truth. At the end I said "you received an answer from God. I don't know why you are turning away from that but you need to remember it. God knows he gave you it. We know God gave you it. We know that you know God gave you it. Why would you deny it?" She never answered the question. She just said "I've made my choice." We have a last chance today. The member said "We made a promise for Monday" T said, "I'm good. I wont go." The member said "you don't understand... I made a promise. you have to go." I honestly thought that was funny but we have a chance tonight. I don't know how it will go.

Friday. we went with Nakamura to the H family. We were able to build a better connection with them and they said the daughter can come to church on next Sunday!

After that we went with Nakamura to E to teach her. Nakamura is awesome. He just teaches. Some how we were able to get her from the point of not wanting to pray... to wanting to pray. He got the job done.

Afterwards we went and dendoed a bit. We found this really nice woman who started to cry when we talked about families. She may or may not have interest but she agreed to meet again.

Okay a little venting. I'm getting really tired of people just rejecting us without us really saying anything. I walked into a store to buy cream for a rash that I have. I walked in and called for a worker. the woman came out and said "NO! I WILL REJECT YOU!" I looked at her with a look of "seriously?" and she said "wait... are you a customer?" I said yes and she ran inside and the husband came out. Man. even when you shop people hate you.

But on Saturday we met a lady from last week. She is an eternal investigator. We taught her about the importance and the origin of the Book of Mormon. She said "wow I haven't learned about this before." She has been an investigator for 5 years. and she wasn't told about the first vision......... I'm a little worried what other missionaries taught her.

Sunday we went with Nakamura to teach some people. We taught F which seemed really on the line. We did a mock baptismal interview and it was weird. It had a weird feel to it. We will have to pay attention to him. But we went and taught O. She is really funny. I don't know how much she took in but Nakamura just went for it.

We dendoed with him for a bit. This is the first time I have actually dendoed with a member. As of yet I actually haven't taught a lesson from a members referral. Out of the past 5 years, Iizuka has had 8 baptisms. All but 1 were found from missionary efforts. All but one are less active. The one who isn't was a referral. Things start to add up.

We went by ourselves and met this really cool guy name S. He said we can come again and he was a pretty swell guy. He may have interest in God!

All in all that's our week. A lot of contacts this week were really rough. We didn't really do that well. But we keep pressing forward.
The following photos were "borrowed" from Nakamura's Facebook.

Nakamura and Jarom