Sunday, May 6, 2012

これは本物です! This is the real thing! 2 April 2012

Dear Family,

            Well as it gets to about this time of year, I always get jealous of all of you guys being able to see General Conference a week early...I`m looking forward to it so much! I know I`ve probably said this as each general conference has happened in the past couple years...but six months is such a short amount of time! I used to feel like there was a huge stretch of time between October and April...but it`s a blink and it`s here. We have been talking with investigators and lots of other people this last week about the amazing opportunity it is to hear from prophets of God, to receive that guidance, and I am feeling that and looking forward to this weekend. We are going to be heading down to Kanazawa to see it...and actually from Thursday we have interviews, exchanges with the Kanazawa elders, and then a zone activity next p-day, so it`s looking like we are pretty much going to spend most of our time this next week down in Kanazawa. Actually, on that note of a zone activity...I love being able to read all your e-mails and hear what`s happening, so it would be awesome if for next week you could send your messages a little bit early. We are only going to have a couple hours to accomplish all our p-day stuff before leaving for the we`ll probably be e-mailing right after study in the morning, instead of in the afternoon like usual.
            We had some more exciting things happen! That soccer activity that happened this past p-day turned into a really good finding opportunity, just as we hoped that it would! :-) There was not only the Chinese 18 year old and his friend that we met on the train, but there was about ten different foreigners that live in or around Nanao. People from England, Australia, Singapore, America, all over the place. They were for the most working here as English teachers and that sort of thing...and they were really curious to know what we were doing here, so it turned into a really good opportunity to explain what we are doing here.
            The next day, Tuesday, we actually went to find a former investigator who had been progressing towards a baptism date...and that led us all the way up into probably one of the most remote places that I have ever been in Japan. We were following the GPS that we have on our phone, and it led us up up up the side of this really steep mountain for a good long while and then finally up on the crest, it dipped down into this little rice farming village nestled in a valley. Really really beautiful area. Anyway, the GPS stopped working, because it didn`t have coverage for that area, and so we went winding our way through the rice farms looking at printed maps and trying to figure out where the house was. In the end, some of the village kids spotted us and were way excited because we are foreigners and so we asked them if they knew where the guy lived. They led us right up through to one of the last houses, and then ran back down the hill. It didn`t  really look like anyone was home at the time, but we knocked anyway and called out a couple times to see if we could get any response. Turned he was sleeping right then, but he woke up, came to the door, and then after saying "oh hey I know who you guys are!" let us in and we sat down to talk in his kitchen. He is Chinese as well, and actually came here to Japan only about a year ago... so Japanese is still pretty difficult for him. We did our best to talk with him though about the things that he was learning before from the missionaries, and he said that all of it was really neat stuff. His biggest difficulty seems to be finding the time to meet, but we are going to do our best to start teaching him regularly again.
              Saturday was really good for a couple, we were able to meet with the couple who are our investigators, and two we met with our branch mission leader and branch president and together we were able to discuss and then set up home teaching for the branch! Home teaching is something that hasn`t really been happening here in a long time it seems...but now branch has plan to do it this next month and they are enthusiastic about it! :) A really good thing to see. The lesson that had with the couple went really well too. They have been saying that church things are really difficult for them to understand, but this past lesson we had a lesson about prophets, and they not only asked a lot of questions, but at the end they said they were really able to understand, so we were really excited to hear that progress.
              Sunday was one of the best days ever! A couple Sundays back, we housed into a guy who told us that he wouldn`t be home, but that we could come by the next Sunday and share our message with his family. We went back last week and unfortunately they weren`t home then, but yesterday we went back and after saying that we talked earlier with their son, the mother of the family came right out and started talking with us. Turns out that she is an English teacher and actually has spent a lot of time traveling or living in America. She speaks really really good English, and as soon as she heard who we are, she started sharing about all of the members of the church she knew in the states and how impressed she was with all of them. She has gone on a tour of temple square, and actually received and read a little of the book of mormon. One of the things that really blew us away was that as we were talking, she said "Yeah so I`ve heard a lot about how the members of your church give ten percent of your income as tithing, and I`ve heard a lot of good experiences about it from people. I think that it`s a really neat way to live, but I don`t really know how to apply that in my life. Maybe there is sometime that we could meet up and talk more!" We were like, " yeah, let`s...let`s do that! " Apparently her sons have just moved out recently and she has a lot of free time now...we have an appointment to meet with her this Wednesday! :)
              I think that is just about all that I have time for...oh yeah, but actually I was curious! Mom, I think before in the e-mail from Cory Smith there was something about a guy in Takaoka who could be contacted by the missionaries? Takaoka is here in my zone now, so I was thinking if there was any more information that Cory could send about that person than I could have the elders there go and contact him.
              I also just remembered your question about birthday stuff...hmm. To be honest I can`t really think of a whole lot of things that I need. Maybe a time machine...that would be nice. I can`t believe that I`m turning 21! (by the way , sorry for the double e-mail...I just hit the wrong key and sent it) Umm, really I would just love anything that you can send. All my socks are getting pretty holey so a couple new pairs might be nice. I`m not sure if my shoes are going to last until June (I know, pretty ridiculous...) but for right now they seem to be okay. Anyway, I`m looking forward to what ever it is that ends up arriving here :) haha. I love all of you guys! Have a great week!
                                                                                                    -Elder Voss

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