Thursday, September 29, 2011

26 September 2011, this week's letter

Hey Everybody!

       Well, kind of like I was speculating last week...we had a lot of changes for this next transfer! Despite that we were expecting me to transfer, if anyone...I will be staying here in Matsumoto for my fifth transfer, and Elder DeMille is transferring! He is transferring to a place called Toyama up in the Kanazawa area, and his new companion is Elder Kutney! It`s kind of gone around in a big circle...Elder Kutney trained me, I trained Elder DeMille, and now they are comps together. Elder Kutney is actually finishing his mission at the end of this transfer, so Elder DeMille is his last companion. As for me, I am getting another nihonjin companion! His name is Elder Numakura, and I haven`t really ever talked with him...but he was part of my kohai group in the MTC, and I`m looking forward to getting to know him better :) This next transfer will be a pretty interesting one actually...I am still district leader here in Matsumoto, but I will be the only gaijin amidst the five nihonjins in my district! Sister Kumagai left this morning for the honbu because she is finishing her mission, and Sister Shimoji got a new nihonjin companion. On top of that, there is a Japanese senior missionary couple who are coming in to Matsumoto in the next few kind of like when I was with Elder Ogaki, I`m the only American person in the branch! It will be a lot of fun, just kind of an interesting feeling. haha. Anyway, pretty much every area in our zone changed, and we are all going to head down to Nagoya like usual tomorrow to pick up our new companions.
        This week has been a pretty interesting one! Haven`t had a lot of success with getting lessons to hold through again...but we aren`t giving up by a long shot, and we have continued to have really great activities that have been getting our in-actives out with the rest of the branch. We have also been able to see Jeewan some more through those too. We had probably one of the best activities ever this past weekend...we worked out with a member to get a big van together and put together a trip to a place called Kamikochi. It is pretty much the most famous place in the alps around here...and I think that you will probably be able to see why from the absolutely amazing place! We had two in active members, a recent convert, the sisters, and Jeewan all along on it, and it was a really fun day. We actually had the opportunity to talk to a TON of people while were there...Kamikochi is a huge place for tourists, and we ran into a lot of different gaijins while we were there. We ran into a family from France who are living in Tokyo, and got to talk with them for good little while. They were all multi-lingual, and living here for two years while their father works. We exchanged names and phone numbers, and were getting to be good friends by the time that we left. We also got to talk to a really neat Japanese family, also from Tokyo, who all spoke a little bit of English...and a lot of Japanese. ;) haha. We talked with them all the time that we were walking back, and we are referring them to the Tokyo missionaries. They actually kept on telling us that they want us to come over to their house and visit. Pretty awesome!
         I actually don`t have a lot of time this week because of all of the things that we have to take care of...also Jeewan showed up at the church just now. We are having a family home evening tonight and he is coming to it :) Thanks for all of your e-mails, there were so many of them waiting for me! Natalie and Jake sent me some awesome pictures of Quirt...he is getting so big! I love you all so much, have a great week! The gospel is true! :)

                                                                                              -Elder Voss

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This week's letter, September 20, 2011

Hey everyone!

        Wow, well I feel like this is happening a lot lately...but we ended up having to do e-mail today, instead of Monday. We got on yesterday to do it, but ran out of time before we could do anything more than read what we had received. Yesterday, was a holiday our investigators were actually able to meet, and we felt like that was a good sacrifice to make. Anyway though...on to the week!
        This one was a pretty tough week all in all...the busy life of Japan got to everybody again, and despite all that we did to schedule and keep appointments with our investigators, we weren`t able to meet with any of them. We also had a really unfortunate happening with Kasamatsu. This whole week we wanted to meet with him, and we finally got in touch with him on Saturday...but the reply that he gave us when he picked up the phone, was that he was still very depressed, wasn`t in the state of mind to meet or go to church, and that from now he is going to stop meeting with us. Yeah...that was a pretty big downer. Seeing the progress that he was able to make from that first Sunday that he walked into church, throughout the lessons and meetings that we had...and then seeing him walk away from it, was probably one of the saddest things that I have experienced on my mission so far. Seeing someone who had been brought down to the lowest and unhappiest of circumstances in his life, and then seeing them throw away the one life preserver that they`ve been given...I don`t know, this experience in particular hit me hard. I guess I could just see so clearly the ways that it was helping and boosting him up...bringing him out of the unhappiness that he was trying to escape from. On the other hand, I really strongly feel that he was guided to walk into the church that Sunday for a very specific reason...and I don`t think it was just to learn about the gospel and then turn away from it. I think that it might be a little while, but that he will be brought about to realize that this is what he needs.
         In other news from this week...we were able to have some good activities! We had a Taco Rice party on Saturday, for members and investigators which was a lot of fun...and we had the opportunity to go fishing, for the first time on my mission! A member in the branch set up an appointment with a friend of his, who apparently used to take the lessons...and is an avid fisherman :) We all went out to a reservoir and spent a couple hours fishing and getting to know each other. We didn`t any fish except for a little bass...but we became friends with the guy, and he wants to meet up with us again :) So that was a lot of fun. We also had the baptism on Sunday for the shimai`s investigator! It was a REALLY great experience...Kanade was so happy, and so was everyone else in the branch :) The spirit was there so strongly during her baptism, and the four of us missionaries had the opportunity to sing a song for Kanade before she was baptized, and Sister Shimoji gave a great talk too. President and Sister Baird actually came for the baptism as well, and so it was great to have them here again too. Actually, speaking of talks and President Baird and all that stuff...a speaker that was assigned to speak in Sacrament Meeting suddenly canceled, and so late Saturday night we were called and I was given the talk! haha, this is like the third time in a row that that has happened here...kind of funny. Anyway, I was pretty nervous due to the fact that I had so little time to prepare, and also that President and Sister Baird were going to be sitting like three feet behind me the whole time...but it turned out really well :) I had felt prompted when I was preparing, to talk about an article that I had read in the Liahona..."Am I A Child of God?" and I hadn`t even been thinking about Kanade`s baptism, but it turned out to fit perfectly with the talks that had been given there.
       In answer to a question that was asked a few weeks ago(sorry for the delay), for shopping we generally buy as many fruits and vegetables as we can...they are way expensive here, but we both like eating healthy. We also typically get eggs, chicken, yakisoba, sometimes gyouza, juice, milk, bread, cheese, spaghetti, tuna...that kind of thing.
       Another question that was asked...what do I want for Christmas? Haha, it seems so odd to think about that right now...but I guess it really is going to be just in a couple more months :P I`m not sure if things will change between now and then...but I`m thinking that when it comes to clothes, the only thing that I might really need is maybe another pair of shoes. The pair that I have right now are still in really good condition, but I don`t know whether that will be able to last all the till next June. I`m sure that other things will come to my mind in the next little while...but for now that is what comes to mind :)
       Kind of crazy, but this week is the last one of transfers...we have calls next Monday! We`re looking forward to seeing what happens with everything! Gotta go, but thank you for all your e-mails, and have a good week! I love you!

                                                                                           -Elder Voss

Sunday, September 18, 2011

E-mail September 12, 2011

Hello everybody!

         Thanks for all your e-mails! It was great to read about everything that was happening for Melody`s birthday! Dad gave hints at the awesome dinner that Emily prepared for everyone...but wouldn`t describe it...which in normal circumstances, would make me fear that it involved macaroni salad, but it must`ve been something even better this time...I have no idea how that`s possible though. :P In other news I think I`m starting to remember birthdays better...maybe the dendo veil is cutting me some slack.
         This week was awesome! Still a little low on the amount of teaching appointments that we were able to make...but really, really good :) Our branch president`s son was still in town for this week, and we were able to do a lot of things with his help. He just has absolutely awesome dendo fire, and had us call him up every time we scheduled a lesson so that he could help out. We went out on Tuesday to visit one of the PI filipino families that we found last week, and not only did that family become new investigators, also through our conversation the subject came up that was a family of their friends living in the apartment above them, and that it would be fine if we went to visit them too! We did, with the result that we taught for about 20 minutes right there off of the door approach, and they became new investigators too! :) They absolutely loved that we emphasized families in our church, and we spent those twenty minutes getting to know them better and teaching them about some of the ways that we can be blessed and strengthened through the gospel. Before we left, they also accepted a lesson one pamphlet and a book of mormon. Way excited for them!
        We were also able to meet with Abe, for the first time in about a month or so! We went out to a restaurant to meet, and were able to talk more about the way he is feeling about the church right now...and where he wants to progress from here. He was saying that he feels like church is really important too, but that his job has just been sucking up all of his time lately. We`re really hoping that from now on we can maybe start meeting a little more regularly, but we`ll see how things turn out.
        We had a great branch activity on Friday! We went up to the mountains for a campfire activity, and Jeewan was able to come too! It turned out to be a huge success...a fair amount of people showed up, we all helped out preparing and then cooking the dinner of yakisoba and other things over the campfire...and then had a blast talking and playing a few different games around the campfire. I also had my first opportunity to cut bamboo! Yeah I know, random right? Before the campfire started, we went into a bamboo forest that was nearby with one of the brothers in the branch, and cut a bunch of bamboo shoots for the campfire :) Totally didn`t know it before, but when you cut it dry and then stick it in a fire, it explodes...kind of like fireworks, but less expensive. ;) After the campfire we all went up onto a big observation tower and looked out over the Matsumoto City was soo beautiful! Basically, we really feel that through that activity everyone was able to be strengthened as a branch, and also Jeewan was able to make stronger friendships with them. When we were heading home, he told us that he really feels like he needs to meet more with us so that he learn more about church things...I think that increased desire came a lot from seeing the family that this branch is turning into :)
        Things are sometimes such a myriad of different emotions out here...there are days when I feel like I`m struggling to keep going and then other days right after that when I feel so strongly the wonder and power of this work that I feel like I could keep going forever without stopping for a breath. Every single one of those rough times though, brings with it the undeniable sense that I am be supported, that I`m being helped, that I am being lifted along to meet the task...and from every one of those experiences I feel like my testimony of this gospel, of the fact that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love us,  and that they lift and support us through our times of need, is being strengthened. Thank you for all of the support and love that you show to me too, both family and all the others reading this. I am so grateful for that, and love each one of you.
      My time is out, I`ve got to go...have a wonderful week, and again, I love you! :)

                                                                                               -Elder Voss