Tuesday, August 30, 2016

08/29/2016 | Go Tell it on the Mountain...

Well it's been a fairly good week. We've gotten to meet quite a few people, and our teaching pool has gone up. I'm really glad I get to be here to help this area, and hope that when I leave, it will be in a very good situation. One fun thing we found this week was the Sapporo International Plaza. We went in search of volunteer service opportunities, and found out they have this program called "Let's Talk" in which over the course of a week, people gather together to practice speaking certain languages. The two that we joined, were the English, and the Japanese ones. It's super easy. You just go and talk to them, as they ask you questions. In either language it's really easy. Specifically the Japanese one is a lot of fun, because excluding the Japanese Volunteers, My Japanese is better then all of the other foreigners, and then I tell them I've only been studying it for 2 years, and they all flip. They can't believe it. Most of them have been living here for upwards of 5 years, and they still struggle. I guess the while Gift of Tongues thing actually works. They are all really good, though, and it's been fun to meet and talk with them. 

At this last meeting, I got to meet 2 Chinese people, 2 German guys, A couple from Mongol, and a lady who was from somewhere in Africa. They were all really cool, and despite not being fluent in the language, really enjoyed the conversation we were having, and really jumped in on it, and had fun. We even got 2 people that were interested in hearing about the gospel without asking them directly. I think that's way cool. We, also have our information there now, so we have gotten a couple phone calls about our English Classes. It's so cool to find little places like that. So much more fun, and effective then going house to house for 4 hours, when no one is home.

Anyway that's just a cool thing that happened this week. The other nice thing is that we moved. We used to live down next to the old Mission Home, but since the Mission home moved over to the temple, and we didn't even live in our area, which was an hour Bike ride away everyday, we got a new apartment. It's way way cool. Brand new, so there's nothing that past missionaries could have done to make it bad. Now we just gotta make sure we aren't those missionaries. But we have gotten a considerable distance closer to the church. Or in other words, the Church is our next door neighbor. Yeah. It's awesome. Yesterday during church, I had allergies acting up, so between Sunday School, and sacrament meeting, we ran back to the apartment real quick, and I got some meds, came back over, and it was like we never left. Why do I get all of this luxury on the last 3 weeks of my mission... hmm...

So yeah. 

Lastly I want to share some thoughts from some recent studying, and pondering I've done. So the thing that triggered this, was the YSA, and the youth of the ward. They were rather busy in this month of August. So at the beginning of the month, they had FSY (Especially for Youth, with different initials) which they have been preparing for for a while. Then they also had the Cultural Celebration, to practice and perform. And finally the Temple dedication. They had a lot of way cool experiences and, and I got to hear some of them talk about them. Specifically my friend Sanae Maruyama, who is the same age as me, got up and talked about an incredible experience she had at FSY, and was even moved to tears. I'd never seen her do something like that. I'd never seen evidence of her having felt the spirit so strongly before. Well in thinking about it, I wanted her to be able to remember that. 

Then as the dedication came along, and I saw all of the members, and we felt and partook of the amazing experience, and powerful spirit that was there, I thought again. What if we could just stay here forever. That would be nice. Well in pondering, I reflected back to Elder Holland's talk at the last General Conference. If you remember right, he showed us this picture.

Make sure you stop giggling before you go on, but then if you haven't seen what followed, here's this for some more giggles.

OK so he showed us this and talked about how none of us want tomorrow to come. We want to stay in this spiritual experiences at all times. We want to be up on these spiritual "Mountains" forever. Just like Moses, or even Jesus Christ. Both of whom went up to a mountain, and had amazing experiences. I'll bet neither of them want to come down, but the fact of the matter is, life moves on. That's all part of God's plan. We have mountains periodically throughout life, but mountains don't just go up, and up, and up. They have to peak. And that creates a down. Well we can't control that. We have to come back down, to the world. So what can we do so that when a valley comes along in life, we can stay strong? Well we can remember the times up on the mountains. Think about that word. It's used in the scriptures a lot. 

We covenant at baptism to "Always Remember [Jesus]" Think about how much less likely to commit sin we would be if we could remember the spirit that we felt at a temple dedication, or on our missions, or at General Conference. In fact I feel that the only reason we do sin, is because we forget those things. Think about the Israelite's. The Red Sea was parted. They walk through on dry land. The Egyptians were drowned in an attempt to chase them. God literally Miraculously saved them. And what were they saying 2 days later? Just 2 days. "We're hungry" "Why did you bring us here to die" "It would've been better if we had stayed in Egypt" They forgot their God. Or at another time, in the wilderness, when bitten by fiery serpents. Moses raises a snake up on a stick and says "Look." Well I don't know about you, but if it were me, it would've taken more effort to not look. But they didn't remember their God. They didn't remember their prophet Moses. They were prideful, and forgot all of the miracles they had seen. Surely the guy that split a sea, called manna down from heaven, and acquired water by hitting a rock with a stick is pretty powerful. But they forgot those experiences. It's no wonder God was so strict, and stern with them. It's no wonder why the Law of Moses was involving sacrifices daily. 

Why do people in the Church go inactive? There's several reasons, but a large majority of them would be because they forgot the spirit that they had felt before. An interesting note on this from a Japanese view point. In Japanese the word for remember, is 覚える(oboeru). But in the scriptures, when it says remember, it says 覚えて置きなさい(oboeteokinasai). Not only is this a command, but it adds 置く(oku) in to it, which means to place. So the imaginary in my head, is to plant it down in your head, and don't forget it. A little stronger then just remember. But it's true. God commands us to remember. And we know that whenever God commands us to do something, it's not to make an annoying rule, but it's to help us, and to guide us. Next time you're in the scriptures, and you see the word "Remember," remember that it is almost always a command. My plea is for you to remember these Mountainous experiences. Don't forget and fall away. Remember, and be saved. 

 Anyway just some interesting thoughts. I hope you are all doing well. I've now realized, I only get 2 more emails. Can you believe that? Well since it's coming up I guess, if you would like to come, I will be reporting in sacrament meeting on Sept. 18 at 1pm... But I'd love to see you there. Mark it on your calendar. 

Thanks, and we'll see you next week.

Elder Eliot 

If you haven't had a chance to read the article about the Sapporo Temple, go to
The cute little girl that's crying in the picture with her dad is Miku Chan. She is in Shinkotoni, where I'm serving currently. Also, Sister Hosoya, and Sister Sato, are also in Shinkotoni, and are 2 good
friends of mine. Just fun small world stuff for ya.

08/21/2016 | The Spirit of God. Hosanna!‏

This ha been a week that a lot of us have been waiting for for a long time. First off, if you've heard of the typhoon sweeping through Hokkaido, don't worry to much about it. It is Typhoon in definition, but is mostly just A LOT of rain. We're getting very wet, but that's it.
Open Sapporo LDS Temple
So. This week we've had some adventures. We found a new investigator, who is really cool. His name is Papi. If you're wondering it's not Japanese. It's actually a nickname that his friends gave him. He is from Guinea. Not Papa new guinea, but the one in Africa. So he's black. I never thought I would have a foreigner as an investigator, and now I do, and he's black. How cool is that. Anyway he is a student right now over at Hokkaido University. He is working on his doctorate degree right now, and despite being pretty busy, is willing to make time for us. His native language is french, but his English is fluent. Seeing as he has to right his doctorate papers, and thesis in English, he's pretty good at it. But a neat little coincidence, is right now, one of the elders in my district actually speaks fluent french. So we are going to go on splits, and visit Papi together this week.

Temple Waiting Room
Just thought that might be something you'd all be interested it. The other thing of course that was the highlight of the week, was the Sapporo Temple Dedication. The temple was dedicated yesterday in 3 sessions by President Russell M Nelson. He attended along with Elder Gary E Stevenson (who if you didn't know, is the first apostle in the history of the latter days, who is fluent in Japanese), and the Area Presidency. We got to sit in the lobby room of the temple, which is
right below the celestial room, and it was very powerful. Something that stood out to me, was when Elder Yamashita, the 1st councilor in the area presidency, was talking, and he emphasized that bring our ancestors to the temple is very important, but, what about our decedents? 

Baptismal Font
He proceeded to tell everyone to be sure to regularly attend the temple. He told the Priesthood holders, to take their wives to the temple, and to not give up because of trivial things like time,
money, tiredness(in Japanese 疲れているから), or because you have little kids at home. There are lot's of ways around those things, and God will help. He talked about always being worthy of a temple recommend so that you can receive revelation in the temple, for your family. Then as your children begin to grow, to teach them so that they have foundations in the gospel. And to bring them to the temple when they are old enough to do Baptisms for the dead. Help them prepare so that when they are ready, they can go forward and receive their own endowment, so that they may begin to prepare to teach their children, your grandchildren, to be able to go to the temple. He emphasized that the temple blessings, and ordinances are the most sacred and important things we could ever perform on this earth in the mortal tabernacle. It was a very powerful talk. 

Cestial Room
As President Nelson dedicated the temple, their was a sweet spirit that seemed to fill the place the second he said the words "As an Apostle of the Lord, and by the Authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, I dedicate this temple" I will never forget it. Needless to say, by the end of the dedication everyone had shed some tears. The people of Hokkaido have waited a long time for this temple. It has been in their prayers for a long time. I was able to meet several old friends who came to see the dedication. I was able to meet Elder Rostedt, as well as Elder Asato, and Elder
Numano, who all came for the dedication. President Daniels (from the branch presidency in the MTC) was also there. They were all wonderful reunions. It's been a wonderful blessing, to be in Hokkaido as a missionary at this time. I am so grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord and being allowed to be here. It's been wonderful Well that about fills you in for this week. We move to a new apartment on Friday, so wish us luck.
Also because the mission home is moving, the address will change. I'll try to get it to you next week, but honestly with 3 weeks left, I'll be OK if you want to just send things to my home, and I'll get it then. I'll let you know though.
Thanks much
We'll see you next week. 愛しているよ

Sunday, August 7, 2016

08/07/2016 | Transferes

Well we've had a pretty good few weeks. We finally got settled down from the open house, and have had some time to talk about the mission. It was a nice week. The Sisters were able to see a baptism, on the 31st, who I had the privilege of interviewing. She's just a little miracle, and has a really strong testimony. Something that stood out to me in the interview, was that when I would ask her the "Do you believe...?" questions, she wouldn't just say "Yes", but would say "I believe" (it sounds weird in English, but it sounds very normal in Japanese), which was really interesting to me. She really seemed to be telling the truth as she would say it, and it was the feeling, and conformation I needed to say Yes. Aren't those impressions from Heavenly Father just so cool.

Anyway, we had a transfer week come along. I am now on to my final transfer, and sadly had to say good bye to Elder Plummer. He was so much fun to work with, and really easy to get along with these past 1.5 transfers. He headed on up to an area called Takikawa, as the Senior companion for a fairly new Japanese missionary. He should have lots of fun out there. I'm hanging out, and finishing off here in Shinkotoni. It's been such a blessing to come back to an old area, and see what's happened in a year, and be able to help those that are here. I'm really grateful for the chance to work in this wonderful ward, with all the amazing members that are here.

My new companion is.... *drum role commence for last comp* Elder Thompson!!! No not the same one as the MTC, there are actually 2 Elder Thompsons in this mission. He is also part of the same group that came with Elder Pace, and Plummer, and Thurston. Basically other than Elder Bailey, and Elder Vanishi all of my Junior Companions are part of the same group. He's a pretty chill guy, now on his 8th transfer, he had been out here for about 1 year. He is a video game nerd, so we get along pretty well, and he has given me several recommendations for when I get home.

So an interesting experience from this last week. This last Saturday, we had an experience where we really felt as though we had been led by God. So we started off the day by meeting up with the Sisters, to discuss what we wanted to do for Shinkotoni this Transfer. Well unexpected circumstances caused us to be a little late getting there, and then we talked longer than we had planned. I was a little discouraged since our plans were having to change out of the blue like that, but we continued forward. We then took some time to wash the Baptismal font. Kind of an interesting little "ritual" that the sisters did here these last 2 transfers, that helped them see a baptism each transfer, so we decided to do it too.

After we finished with that, I sat down, found the addresses of some people to visit, and then we headed out to go find them. Well we hadn't gone too far, when a voice behind us said "Hello." Now this happens a lot in Japan. You know when you're a kid, and your learning English, but you never get a chance to do it, the second you see a big white guy, you're going to try all of the English you know on them. However what we usually here isn't "Hello," but "Harro." Therefore when we heard a perfect English "Hello" from behind us, we were stunned. We got to talking with her, and it turns out that she got baptized 17 years ago in Shinkotoni. She's had a lot of things happen in her life, she stopped going to church and such, and may have pulled her records from the church, and currently lives in Korea. Well for those that don't know, Koreans HATE Japan. I'm not really sure why, probably something to do with a war several years ago. So she deals with a lot of ridicule there, as well as her kids, and being really concerned for them, she prays every day. She still very much believes in the church, just... various things have happened to her in the past... We were able to give her a Book of Mormon, since she didn't have one anymore, and she was very happy. Then she began asking us if we had any Korean material so she could teach her kids. Well we didn't, but we just happened to be next to the church, so we went over, and used the WiFi to find Korean pamphlets, and emailed them to her. She was extremely happy, as was I.

It's times like these that I really feel successful as a missionary. When even though it seems we are straying from our plan, God knows where he needs us, and helps us to be there. Getting to help this woman, I really felt God working with her through us. He really does love all of his children. Even those few outlier Japanese people that live in Korea. He sends help to all who ask for it. One of the best feelings in the world, is when you find out that you are the answer to someone else's prayer. That's what a mission is like. On a constant basis.

Well I will see you next week I guess. Thanks for keeping up with me this far, only a few weeks left that you have to deal with my emails. I apologize for the few times I have missed. I will try to make sure that I get off a good email every week these last few.

I love you all so much.

Elder Eliot