Monday, January 30, 2012

再び転送! Transfers Again! 30 January 2012

Adam with his companion Elder DeMille (the one referred to in this Email) on a Pday outing last Fall in Kamikochi. 

Hey everyone! 

    Whoa, wait, what?? I didn`t know that Brother Kaye speaks Japanese!  Much less Portuguese and Romanian...the only one I knew about already was Dutch. That`s crazy! Is he fluent in all of those languages? That would be pretty interesting to have someone in our ward at home who can speak Japanese...I`ve been thinking all along that I`m going to come home and there won`t be anyone who can. [Referring to Brother Kaye's talk in Sacrament Meeting that we told Adam about--no, Bro. Kaye is only fluent in Dutch, but learned to bear his testimony in the other languages for that talk] 
      Anyway, I guess on to the events of the week! Transfers were a little unusual this time...or should I say completely usual? Not sure, but anyway...heading into my 14th of 16 total transfers, and I will be staying here for my eighth transfer in Matsumoto! Actually from what I`ve been hearing, I`m only the second missionary in the history of the mission staying in an area for that long...the only other one being Elder Brown, my MTC companion. It will make 11 1/2 months here in Matsumoto...and I`m excited for what this transfer is going to bring! I will still be a zone leader for Nagano Zone, but Elder Wilson is transferring to Toyama to be with Elder DeMille (pictured above) for his last two transfers...and Elder Skankey is coming over from Ina to be my new companion. I`ve already mentioned a lot about him in previous e-mails...but he is from Arizona, and was in the group of missionaries right after me in the MTC. It will most likely only be one transfer that we are together, due to the fact that I`ve already been here for as long as I have...but we`ll see! There was a bit of a surprising change with the districts this time around too...both of the sister missionaries transferred out of Matsumoto out to a place called Shizuoka on the coast, and new set of sister missionaries are transferring up to Nagano City. We`ve become a district with Nagano and Ueda for this transfer. I guess the most interesting part of the whole change that from now on we will be taking over the sister`s investigators and other people they were meeting with! This is going to be a busy transfer! 
      There was some exciting things that happened this week! (other than the stuff I just wrote about... ;) ) S----san has a baptism date for the 19th of next month! :) We met with her again at the house of the member who referred her, and finished teaching her about the  Restoration, after which we invited her to prepare to receive baptism on that date. She told us that she received baptism in the catholic church at the age of 30, at which point her life totally changed...but that much like Joseph Smith, she noticed that the doctrines of the different churches didn`t agree with each other. She said that she has been searching for truth since that time, and that she feels that search has ended upon learning about our church! She expressed that when she reads the book of mormon, prays, and also when she meets with us, she has good feelings, she feels like the teachings of the gospel are correct. SO awesome! She came to church yesterday, and is already becoming fast friends with a lot of the members...things are going great with her :) I think that she is definitely someone that I would say is an honest seeker of truth. 
        O----- wasn`t able to meet with the date that he had for the 29th...still some things that he is working through right now. I feel like I might have mentioned this in last week`s e-mail...but he has a new date for February 26th, and so now we are working with him to achieve that. 

        We also had interviews, and then went on exchanges with the which I finally got the opportunity to work with Elder Rust! It was a great exchange...we found some great PIs and taught a couple lessons together :) Actually on a somewhat related topic...(not really I guess, but anyway...) it has been SOOOO cold! From what everyone is saying  , the temperature right now between here and Sapporo up in Hokkaido is about the same. It reminds me a lot of Suwa...everything is just frozen. haha.

         I`ve got to run, but thanks as always for being the wonderful family that you are :) You`re the best, I love all of you guys! Have a wonderful week! 

                                                                                Elder Voss

偉大な今週 Great Week! Sunday, January 23

                                                      The Darumas are visible at the bottom

I just realized that I forgot to answer any of your questions in the other e-mail! Umm, no that`s great that you put up those pictures! Thanks :) I didn`t know they were called that [Daruma dolls pictured previously], but since you sent that we have learned a lot about them from the members. I actually have seen several people playing shamisens...there were a couple last summer at the taiko drum festival...they were electric, and they had two people "dueling" with them on the open air stage. Haven`t seen a whole lot of art galleries...but there actually is a big art museum here in Matsumoto...just haven`t gone yet. There are a ton of shrines EVERYWHERE. No matter where you go there are always shrines...big ones, small ones...all over the places :) This past week there was actually a Ice Festival at Matsumoto castle. Ice sculptors from all over Japan came to compete and create the "best" ice sculpture. they did it with chainsaws, and then set up the statues all around the edges of Matsumoto Castle. It was pretty cool! Got to run...

Elder Voss

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ヘイ Hey!

Japanese Daruma ceremonial doll used in the bonfire celebration pictured above--paint one eye in when you make a wish, paint the other eye in when it comes true, then burn it on the end of a stick. The people pictured are also  roasting rice balls. Learning about Japanese traditions!


        This week has been awesome! I feel like our prayers have really been answered for finding new investigators. We went to a recent convert's house for the after baptism lessons that we have with him every week, and just out of the blue this friend of his drops by to see how he is doing. He introduced us to her--She started telling us how she has a lot of interest in Christianity, and how she loves pictures of Jesus Christ. We had a great conversation with her right there for about 15 minutes, and invited her to come to church on Sunday...which she actually declined, because she felt she would be too busy with her kids on that day. We thought to ourselves "okay, well I guess we`ll just have to meet up another time next week or something like that", and ended up leaving shortly after that. Well, Sunday came around and we had our co-ordination meeting that morning like usual, and then when entered the chapel, the member that we had visited was there, along with his friend! He apparently hadn`t given up on getting her to church that week, and she had worked really hard to make sure everything at home was taken care of early so that she could go! She ended up staying for the whole three hours of church, participating in the branch lunch that we had afterward! We have an appointment with her and the member this next Friday, and she says she has a lot of interest in learning more. She also wants us to meet her husband, who is from Sri Lanka and apparently speaks English. Oh, AND she has a lot of friends who are interested in learning English, and so it looks like we will be having the opportunity to start another English class where we could meet a whole lot more people with interest in learning about the church :) 
          We actually did end up moving this week! We only moved a few blocks away, but it is a super new, super nice apartment that is quite a bit bigger than the old that is a really nice change! We spent most of Thursday with the elders from the Honbu moving all our stuff and getting everything set up. It`s still really close to the church, so that`s nice. I think this new apartment is pretty much the first place with security cameras that I have ever lived`s pretty weird! haha. 
           O----- is doing really well! We had a lesson with him while we were actually on exchanges with the Ina elders. He is continuing to get ready for his baptism date on the 29th :) 
            I have to run because we have to catch a train down to Nagoya for leadership training tomorrow morning.  I love you all, have a great week! 

                                                                                                    -Elder Voss

Monday, January 9, 2012

それは美しい日のように見ているのだ ! It's lookin' like a beautiful day!


          Well, it`s probably one of the warmest days that we have had in a good little while! It`s not in the negatives at all...oh and by the way, speaking of cold...I actually don`t need gloves anymore. (Hopefully you haven`t bought any yet...) So, turning twenty is a big deal in Japan, and every year they have something called a 成人式 (seijinshiki) which is basically a coming of age ceremony that everyone goes to. I of course wasn`t able to go to that, but because I turned twenty last year, the neighborhood authorities (that sounds kind of odd...I can` t think of the proper word in English...) came by our apartment yesterday and gave me a coming of age present...which was a 2,000 yen gift certificate to one of the department stores here! I was pretty surprised, but it turned out perfectly because they had a really nice pair of gloves there at the store for just that much. 
          We had zone leader conference down in Nagoya this week so that was`s always a great opportunity to refocus on what we want to do with dendo in our own areas, and get recharged on dendo fire. Part of the zone leader conference is discussing the goals of last month, and the ones that we have set for the new month...the new January baptism goal that we have set for the Nagano Zone is 2-7. We were able to achieve the low range end of our goal last month, and we have lots of great investigators getting close to being able to receive baptism, so everyone is excited to see what we can accomplish in January. :) Going back a little bit to the zone leader conference...we also got to have a lunch made by Sister Baird, which was DEFINITELY worth the trip. I love Japanese food, but it is amazing to have an American style meal! 
           We were actually scheduled to move this week, but I guess a few complications with the apartment are causing it to maybe get moved to next week sometime...not really sure when it will actually happen, but we will be changing apartments sometime in the near future. 
            We had a pretty neat experience with O----- this past week! Actually we weren`t able to contact him for about 4 days over New Years, and we were getting really worried about him, but on Thursday we were able to meet with him three times! He called and said that he wanted to take us out to lunch and talk, which we did...and then later in the day we saw him as we were biking, and finally we had a lesson with him right before we went down to Nagoya for Zone Leader Conference! We really felt that was a huge blessing. He is doing awesome! He set a goal to stop smoking on the first of the year, and has been keeping it ever since! He is so much more focused on his baptism date now, and it`s awesome to see him making such big progress :)
            I actually just remembered...we are finally getting family history facilities here in Matsumoto! It`s been kind of frustrating to not have anything like that to help investigators get interested in family history, but our branch president just installed the computers for it and it looks like from now on that is something we will be able to do! :) 
            Oh yeah some of you have been asking about culture lately, and last night we got a new little culture experience. When we were leaving for church yesterday we were heading through the park, and saw these HUUUGE bonfire heaps with these ceremonial heads on poles and stuff like that and had absolutely no idea how they got there, or what it was all about. Well, in the evening, after dinner, we were heading out of our apartment to go visit some people and saw that there was a really large crowd of people streaming into the park, and there was a bunch of smoke rising. We went over to check it out, and found that they had lit both of them on fire and the whole crowd was just standing in a circle, with multi pronged sticks in their hands. We watched the fire as it burned down to a smaller size (the ceremonial heads made little explosions and flashes of fire when the fire reached them) and then everyone crowded around with their sticks, on the ends of which were little balls of mochi (pounded rice) and roasted them in the fire like marshmallows! I can`t remember if I`ve mentioned mochi before, but it`s kind of a sticky, doughy texture, and super delicious. Anyway, I`m not exactly sure of the whole significance with that event...but I thought it was pretty cool. I guess you`ll be able to see a better idea of it with the pictures. 
           Kind of a little side note from something that I mentioned when we talked on Skype...I have continued reading Jesus The Christ, and am enjoying it so much! It has drawn my attention to so many things that I never noticed before while reading the scriptures, and I have spent a good number of personal studies just on a few pages of it, reading through all of the cross references that it has to the scriptures. 
            I actually wasn`t looking at the time very closely! I`ve got to get going...but as usual, have a great week, and I love you guys! The gospel is true! :) 

                                                                                -Elder Voss

あけましておめでとうございます(新年に言う言葉) Happy New Year!

Hey Family!

         Sorry I didn`t get e-mails off last week or yesterday...last week I figured we had just talked so there wasn`t really any need to, and then yesterday we actually ended up getting called by a member randomly and asked to help them move some stuff. We had just enough time to look at the e-mails we received, and then had to jet off to a lesson that we had scheduled for right after p-day ended. Sorry for the wait :) 
          It was awesome to see all of you last week on Skype! I love you guys so much :)  It`s crazy to see how everyone is changing while I`m gone...and Nathan`s voice is soooo different! I kinda felt like I had tons of stuff that I wanted to talk about before, but then in the moment I couldn`t remember any of it. haha. I think that I probably will end up taking the mother`s day call...we`ll probably want to figure out flight plans and all that stuff. (At this point I`m sure you are all laughing to yourselves and thinking "Ha, yeah we knew that all along..." ;P ) Anyway though, yeah the time on those calls always seems so short, but I guess that we will have lots of time to catch up on things in about 5 months.
         The last couple of weeks really have been good! I mentioned a little bit about that little event that we had with the hospital for handicapped people when we talked on phone...that was probably one of the neatest experiences that we had for Christmas this year. The people there were severely  handicapped, most of them to the point where they couldn`t really move much at all or even talk...and to be honest it kind of ran through my mind at first whether they would be able to recognize or enjoy the songs that we were singing or the other performances. Elder Wilson and I dressed up in the Santa suits though, and along with all the members from the branch start singing the songs that we had prepared for them. We completed all the songs that we had, and then Elder Wilson and I went out in front and put on our best Santa voices and started saying things like "Hohoho Merry Christmas!" and "Merrrrrrry Christmas everyone!" Their reaction to that is something I don`t think I will ever forget. As soon as they heard that and saw us in our Santa costumes, their faces just lit up, and they started stretching out their hands to us while doing their best to talk. The nurses and doctors helped those that couldn`t move at all to sit up on their beds, and we walked throughout the room, shaking their hands and saying Merry Christmas to everyone. By the time we finished, the atmosphere was completely different in the room...when we had first walked in I had felt so sad to see all of them in that condition, but when we left everyone was happy and smiling and as we walked out there was one person who actually start waving and saying "bye bye" to us. I think that made one of the best Christmas experiences that I`ve ever had...I felt so much love for those people there at the hospital, and felt so strongly that despite the less than ideal physical circumstances that they are in, that they are such special spirits.
        Our investigator is doing really well! We have another date that we were able to set with him for January 29th to be baptized! Still has those difficulties that he has been trying to overcome, but we feel like we are unified with him to do everything we can for him to receive baptism on that date! :) We have still been in a kind of slow spot with finding new people to teach, but we are doing our best to work through the members to find new investigators. We actually do have one other investigator...I can`t really remember if I told you about him before. He is from the Congo and was taught in the past by the missionaries, but now we got back in touch with him and started teaching him again. He grew up speaking French, but also speaks English and Japanese. Really really great guy and we are excited to meet with him again. 
        We also had a really good New Year! On New Year`s Eve we had a Nabe lunch after church with a few less-actives which was a lot of fun, and then that night we were invited over to the senior couple`s apartment to have the special New Year`s dinner that they have in Japan. By the way, Nabe is basically a have a huge pot in the middle of the table, and as you eat you just keep throwing more ingredients into the pot where they cook super fast. Basically a soup buffet...from one pot. haha. Anyway, it was a ton of fun being with the Matsuhashis...their kids came from other places in Japan and we had fun talking with them while we ate.
       In answer to some of the questions you had...yes, Elder Wilson actually knows all three of those people in Huntington Beach. Doesn`t know them very well, but has definitely met them. Also, yes, there are lots and lots of traditional looking houses...with all of the crazy tiled roofs and sculptures and stuff. It looks pretty cool :) The shoes are great mom, thanks! We don`t see Japanese women in kimonos a whole lot...but they wear them a lot for festivals and other special occasions. Anyway, I`ve gotta run! Thanks for all your e-mails, and for being a wonderful family! I love you!

                                                                                                                                          -Elder Voss