Monday, August 31, 2015

Weston - Chelsea, Michigan

THE BOONIES! CHELSEA, MI! Its a gigantic area with five townships. Chelsea is the township in the middle of the area and it is also the largest but its very small. The Ward here is amazing and they are very very helpful with missionary work. We are working with members very heavily. It's an amazing ward though. SO BIG! I am trying to adjust but I've been in Detroit my whole mission, so going from a tiny branch to this giant ward is crazy. They have to open the gym and set up chairs to fit all of the people in this ward. The people here are the exact opposite of Detroiters. They are also some of the kindest people I have ever met.... Most of them.... But so far I'm loving it. I have to adjust a lot of my teaching for the people here because they just learn so differently. Everyone We talk to are farmers and Cowboys and I feel like I can connect to them well in that aspect. My new greenie is doing well. I get a long with him great and we can learn together really well. We have a lot of unity when teaching. I'm really excited about this area. It has so much potential. This Ward was just a branch about seven years ago. It has grown so much and is filled to the brim with recent converts. 
I am so grateful to be here and I am learning so much. 
I Love you all so much and am always thinking about you,
Elder Lamoreaux 
My new address is 216 Harrison #102 Chelsea, MI

JT - This whole gospel thing... It's true!!!

Dear Everyone,

Well, this has been a great week! I feel like my companion and I worked our hardest and we are starting to see some results. I have also seen the hand of the Lord in a big way this week. Well, maybe a couple ways. Let me explain.

First off, I want to mention that the Gift of Tongues is real, but it is also very weird. So, as District Leader, we have this thing called "Follow-ups" where District Leaders call each member in their district and and Zone Leaders call each District Leader and we, well, follow up with them; See how they are doing, how the progress in their areas are coming and stuff like that. Zone Leaders and District Leaders discuss about problems regarding missionaries and investigators and ways we could help etc. My district is pretty small, but I still have one every night. So, one night I had a follow up with my Zone Leader who is Japanese. During that follow-up, I felt the Gift of Tongues working; I understood everything and I was able to discuss things without too much trouble. That felt great. Then, the next night, I had my first follow-up with one of my district. It was harder than I thought it would be. She is a Japanese sister and it was weird because I understood everything at times and other times, I got nothing. I think it is interesting that you recognize the Gift of Tongues working really well with you but then other times, not at all. Well, that follow up was hard because I felt like I could've done more, could've said more things to help her, but the words were just not coming. I also realized that because Japanese is not my native language, you cannot truly say what you want to say. You can't really express your true feelings because you are trying to climb over that language barrier. The next night, as we were visiting a member with our Branch President, I again felt like I didn't know Japanese. I could tell something serious was happening during the visit, but I couldn't understand the full thing. I though something bad was happening in the member's family or something. The whole time, I couldn't understand the situation. After the visit, I asked the Branch President what happened and he explained it to me and it was completely different than what I thought was happening. It was actually a really good thing that happened. Like life changing in a really good way. (They told us not to tell what it was). (This is leading to a great experience I swear). As we were riding our bikes back to the apartment that night, I was pondering about why it was like that. Like, I want to help these people so badly, but because of the language barrier, I can't truly express my feelings through words.  However, as soon as I finished that thought I heard a voice come from behind me through the quiet of the night... "Mormons?"

I was shocked and tuned around right away. It was a couple of people hanging outside of a restaurant smoking. I approached them and they asked again, "Are you Mormons?" (English btw). They were Filipino guys. I proudly said "yes, yes we are! Have you met us before?" One of them said, "yeah! There are so many from where I am from! Actually, I play basketball with the missionaries every Tuesday and Thursday back in the Philippines." Woah! What a small world! So these guys (a group of about 7 of them eventually came out of the restaurant.) are temporarily in Japan for work and they are from Davao City. There was also a guy from Nigeria in the group who they work with. They were all speaking to us in English and we were explaining what we do, where we came from and what not. Then one of the Filipino guys says "you know, in the Philippines, I see you Mormons all the time, but I don't know anything about you all. So tell me, what do you Mormons believe? Are you Christian?" That was the first time I have been asked that on my mission. THE FIRST TIME EVER. (Keep in mind, I have been here for a year). We then started testifying that yes, we are Christian, we believe that God is our Father, Jesus Christ is our savior and Heavenly Father created a plan to return to him. Let me tell you, it felt SOOOOO GOOD to be able to testify about my beliefs in English to someone who was willing to listen and willing to learn about our beliefs. The whole time, those people were asking us things and we were having a great conversation. They soon had to go, but they left with a better understanding of the church and hopefully a good view of the Mormons. Now, we'll probably never see them again, but I believe a seed was planted. This small, simple experience felt so good. The timing of this miracle (yup, this is a miracle) was so perfect for me that I know it wasn't a coincidence. This experience felt like a warm hug from my Heavenly Father telling me, "hey, keep your head up. You are doing fine. Don't worry." I might sound like I am exaggerating, but it is true. He blessed me with an opportunity to truly express my feelings and beliefs in my native language. He allowed me to realize that there are people out there who care about what I am doing. All these days of being rejected, all these days of trying to talk to people but them not having any interest at all kind of diminished my confidence in that. But, I know that God is there and he truly is preparing people to hear the gospel, even here in middle-of-nowhere Japan. This will be one of the turning points of my mission.

Also, another amazing experience from this week led to our Filipina Investigator finally accepting a date for baptism! We had this whole lesson set up (refer to picture of chart thing)

We made this to help our Filipina investigator to choose a date for baptism.  It is written in Japanese, English and Tagalog (shout out to Google Translate and knowing a little bit of Tagalog)  Well, it worked!!  (Btw, "Walk with me" is the mission theme.) 

where we had this chart thing with many items that she has already completed/has come to know for herself. I.e. Pray daily, come to church, believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, etc. we had a stamp and every time she said yes to the question, we would put a stamp which meant "completed!" We stamped all the way to baptism. Then we showed her all the blessings that come after one is baptized, I.e. Holy Ghost, Eternal Families, etc. The point of this lesson was to help her realize and feel that she is ready to be baptized, and it worked! She picked a date for October 4 and she will work towards that date! It was so exciting and the Spirit was there as she testified of the things which were on the chart. Her family is so happy about her decision and they are so excited to go to the temple next year to be sealed! I was a great experience and I am praying that I can still be in Maizuru for that wonderful day.

Well y'all, this church is true. God is there and he loves you, there is no doubt in my mind that this is true. I love you all! I am so happy to be serving in the best mission in the world, the Japan Kobe Mission. I feel so blessed. Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部

Monday, August 24, 2015

Weston - Getting Transferred!

I'm getting Transferred!!! We all kind of figured I would be because I've been in Belle Isle for so long. Our district here is changing a lot. Out of all five of us only my companion Elder Brown and one of the companions in the trio is staying. Elder Beckstrom is our district leader, he was only here one transfer which is pretty strange. We received leadership phone calls from our mission president yesterday as well. I must have done something right with Elder Brown:) We just finished the first 12-week program and now he's Belle Isle's new district leader and he's also training a new missionary! Its pretty crazy. I received another leadership position as well. I'm finishing a missionary's training. He's been taught the first six weeks of the 12-week program and I'm doing his last 6 weeks. A long with that I am being white washed into a sister's area. So they are pulling out the sisters and putting us in. White washed means to take out both missionaries and bring in two new missionaries that have never served there before and know nothing about the area. A long with that, President Gerber also told me that, in the ward i'm being transferred to has a  Bishop who is very new and young. President gave me some advice of how we can be a good support for him and the ward. 
     I can't wait to see where I'm going and who my new companion is going to be. We'll be finding out tomorrow! HA! but you all have to wait until next week! No matter what I'm leaving Detroit though, which makes me sad. Sisters aren't allowed to serve in Detroit so unfortunately, you don't need to worry about hearing anymore crazy stories from me for at least another 6 weeks:) 
I love you all! 
Elder Lamoreaux

 On a banner in front of our church area:

JT - Adventures of a 3人

Hello everyone!

This week was, like the title implies, an adventure. First, let me tell you that a three-person companionship is weird in the mission field. This week was filled with getting Elder Brown ready to go home, and "last" appointments with people. Finding was really hard because Japanese people are really scared when they see 2 Americans and a Japanese looking guy who can't speak Japanese (me) coming towards them. So finding was not productive at all. Much of the week was going with Elder Brown getting last things before he goes and packing and also getting the area ready for when he leaves. Very strange week. On Wednesday, we found a pretty cool park where we took some pictures and tried to talk to people. That was maybe the coolest part of the week to be honest! Really, nothing noteworthy happened this week! Sorry everyone!

 



video


Well, this past Thursday (20th) was my year mark (hump day)!! To celebrate, we had lunch at スシロー Sushi roll!! I love that place so much! Sushi is definitely my favorite food in Japan. It was a very enjoyable thing to do to celebrate 1 year. It is crazy to think that it has been a year.

 


I have had some reflections regarding what has happened this past year. I have learned SO MUCH about myself, and about the most important things in life. I have had many hard experiences through which I have learned about my weaknesses as well as my strengths. I have learned to rely and put my whole trust in my Father in Heaven. I have gained a testimony of His love for each one of his children, which love we cannot begin to comprehend. Through serving my mission so far, I realize and am beginning to understand the importance of living the principles of the gospel everyday, everyday, everyday. Things I took for granted before my mission are now my most prized 'possessions', if you could call it that. I gained a better love for my family and friends that I hold dear. I learned the importance of family, and I have gained an excitement to one day have my own family for time and for all eternity. Although I haven't experienced very many "big" miracles, I understand that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that if and only if you abide by the teachings of that book can you find true happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. I have gained an appreciation for the Plan of Salvation, which I never truly understood before the mission. By living in a place like Japan, I have come to cherish the truths which were taught to me by my parents and in Primary. I am a firm believer that "everything I need to know, I learned in Primary." I know that as long as long as I am doing my best, God is happy with me, and everything will fall into place. I have learned to love the Japanese people and I feel so blessed to be able to see the incredible faith of these righteous members in these small branches in Maizuru and Nishiwaki, as well as in a bigger ward, Kitarokko. It has been a hard year, but a great one nonetheless. Here's to one more year of giving your "heart, might, mind and strength."

Well, now we are back to a regular companionship. Right now, Elder Brown is flying in the air on his way to Utah. So, the adventures of the 3人 has come to an end. Well everyone, I hope you have a great week and remember that the Lord is always with you! Love you all, keep smilin' and give 'em Heaven!!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部


video

Lumpia at Family Home Evening!!!  So Natsukahii! (missed, nostalgic, etc)



This is our Eikaiwa that we do every Wednesday (different from the one that the missionaries teach at church).  This was Elder Brown's last one, so they took a picture and had a little party.

3 hour train ride selfie :)

This is the Maizuru district!  Elder Brown's last district meeting.  So from now on, I will be working as District Leader for this awesome district!


Most of Maizuru Branch for Elder Brown's last day!  Love all these people!

Monday, August 17, 2015

JT - Transfer Week!

Monday, August 10, 2015

JT - What happened this week?



We rode our bikes to the beach one day to try talking to some people.  It was so hot and it was like a 1.5 mile ride.  That's why it looks like I am wet...'Twas fun!
Dear Everyone,

So first off, Transfer News!! I am staying in Maizuru, which is expected. My new companion is an elder named Elder Van Cleave. I don't know too much about him other than I will be the Senior Companion. Also, they are making me the District Leader here! I'm actually way excited for this new responsibility and the new challenges that I will have to face. It will be very interesting. I still don't know Japanese, but it will all be good. Also, my current companion Elder Brown is going home a transfer early for school, but because of some weird complications, he can't go home until two weeks after this transfer starts. Which means, for a week and a half, we are going to be in a weird three person companionship. Doesn't make too much sense, but we'll see how that goes. There were a lot of changes throughout the mission this transfer! It's exciting! I am feeling like an old missionary now....

On Tuesday, we decided to ride our bikes to the beach and try to talk to some people there. We didn't expect it to take as long as it did, so we weren't able to talk to too many people, but it was fun! Japan is so beautiful! It was a long bike ride, so my legs were pretty sore after that. This week was filled with us trying to visit people, but most of them not being home. It is summer break in Japan right now and many people are out vacationing, visiting relatives, going to festivals and what not, so it has been very hard to meet with people recently. And it is still flippin hot. I can't stand how hot it is. Whenever we walk outside, I am drenched and dripping in sweat after 2 minutes. It's ridiculous!


















On Wednesday, I had a pretty humbling experience. We taught one of our investigators, but the overall feeling we got from that lesson is that the investigator knows the things that the church teaches is great, but just that. They have great teachings and it's good to learn what other beliefs are. She doesn't apply the things that we learn into action, for example praying and coming to church. After that lesson while riding the bikes home, I was pretty frustrated. "Why won't people do the things that will help them so much in their life? Why don't they act upon good feelings and change their hearts?" As I was thinking about the whole situation, a story from General Conference came to my mind. The story of a missionary who was frustrated with his companion and when he was complaining to the Lord, he heard the Spirit say, "compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different." That came to mind and I thought, "woah. I am just like that." I realized that I have a hard time applying the things that I learn as well. I kind of stepped back and realized that the things I am feeling now are just a smidge of what Heavenly Father feels with me. I learned from this little experience that the Lord puts people in our path so that we can learn about ourselves, as well as learning a bit of how God works and how he feels. I truly believe that God has placed me in these situations so that I can gain a bigger, more heaven-like perspective of life. We can realize our weaknesses and work to overcome them. So, it was a humbling experience and I am very grateful for this chance to serve the Lord and at the same time, learn how to improve myself for my future.

That's the week! I love it here in Maizuru and this next transfer is going to be an adventure. First time being a Senior Companion and District Leader. Crazy stuff!! The church is true folks. Tell your 

friends.

Love,
ラムロー長老 Elder Lamoreaux
日本神戸伝道部 Japan Kobe Mission



Fukuchiyama Zone! We had ZTM in normal clothes! It was so interesting, but super fun. We had nice discussions and trainings right next to the river and it was way relaxing. This was in my first area, Nishiwaki! I love it! It is a place called      日本へそ公園 (Nihon Heso Kouen) (Japan Bellybutton Park) So awesome!

Gotta love Japan English
This is not what I ordered McDonalds ... Even in Japan... So lame...

Cute Japanese kid wearing my nametag!

Monday, August 3, 2015

JT - Re-dedication day!

Yeah Japan

Dear Everyone,

So, yesterday, as the Japan Kobe Mission, we each had the opportunity to do a re-dedication of ourselves and the areas in which we work.  This Has the potential to change each of our missions and to change the people in their acceptance of the gospel significantly. I will talk more about it in a little bit. First, I'll talk about my week. It is dumb how Satan works. Whenever anything good is going to happen, Satan works so much harder to tempt you and to make everything seem to go wrong for you. For example, when people get really close to baptism, or serving a mission or any of those big, righteous decisions, they face so much opposition and trials. That is the pattern throughout all history, and the events leading up to the re-dedication was no exception. I'll be honest, this was one of the roughest, most discouraging week I have had in a long time.

Starting off with last Monday. We were on a train on the way back from shopping and what not for Preparation day. We had it planned so that we would get back with plenty of time to prepare for our lesson that we had scheduled at 6:30 that night. Timing was going to be comfortable for that. However, at about 4:45 on the train, the train stopped at one of the stations and wouldn't moved. It stayed in the same place for about 10 minutes before anybody asked what was going on. Apparently they stopped the train because of rain and they weren't sure when they would be able to continue going. We were still about a half hour train ride away from our station. After about 45 minutes, they had all of the people on the train get off and take a bus instead of the train. So, at this point, there was no way we would make it to the lesson because at 7:30 that night, we had FHE with a family. We wouldn't get back to our station until 7:00. So, we needed to call the person to tell him we wouldn't be making it, however, our phone died for no apparent reason! It ran out of battery even though we knew that we charged the phone. What else? Elder Brown got up and could not find his wallet. It was gone. Also, it wasn't really raining at all but yet they still stopped the trains. That was all really frustrating and super unfortunate. Well, we were able to borrow someone's phone and call our investigator and we were able to make it to the FHE. However, Elder Brown didn't have a wallet, which had like everything in it. So next day, we needed to go try to find his wallet. We had to file a police report, had to walk about an hour to get to a place that the police station told us to go, fill out paper work and then take the hour walk back to the train station in order to get back in time for Eikaiwa. The walk back was pouring rain. Out of no where, pouring buckets of rain. That was insane and so unfortunate. Our week was absolutely filled with moments like that. Also, every single person that we tried to visit this week wasn't home. Every single one of them. We also had a few appointments set up with people, but each one of them either called and cancelled or weren't at home. What's more? Our investigator who said she wanted to get baptized is super busy with work all month with no days off, so it looks like she isn't going to get baptized until at least next month. That I'm not worried about because she will get baptized and it really doesn't matter when she does it, but that was another unfortunate thing that I didn't particularly enjoy. It was a rough week, but I have faith that it will go up from here.

Oh by the way, they were able to find Elder Brown's wallet and we got it back on Friday. Everything was still in it!

So here is what the week was building up to, the thing that Satan was trying hard to stop happening. A couple weeks ago, during Zone Conference, President Welch was talking to us about his mission (He served here in Kobe Japan). He showed us the number of Baptisms his mission had each month he was on his mission. There was one point on his mission where the numbers jumped significantly, like an average of 30 per month to an average of 75 per month. (I don't remember the actual numbers, but it was that dramatic of a jump.) how/why did that happen? He said that the month of the jump, his mission president had all of his missionaries do a re-dedication. That day, each missionary said a prayer in which they re-dedicate themselves to missionary work and each companionship re-dedicate their areas for the people to accept the gospel. They did that and they saw a huge increase in their numbers. President Welch decided that now would be a good time to change the mission by re-dedicating our areas. He told us, "on August 2 between 6:00 and 7:00, we will be doing this as a mission. Prepare for it." So after all the personal preparation and the study that led up to this event, we re-dedicated ourselves to being a missionary as well as re-dedicated the area of Maizuru under the direction of President Welch. It was a great experience and we are all so excited to see the results of this effort. I really need to work harder to be more focused on helping these people and being totally obedient to the Lord in order for this to work out. This requires a lot more work, dedication and consecration in order to bring this to pass. I am way excited because I need a change in my mission and in my life. I have so many things I need to change, I need to work so much harder and I am grateful for this opportunity to do so. So, stay tuned for what happens because of this haha.


This is the place where we did the re-dedication of the area and our
personal re-dedication. Very beautiful place and many bugs that would
bite you.

After the dedication, we looked at the sun and it was a perfect dark red circle.  It was pretty crazy!

So yeah, crazy week. It probably seems like I am complaining a lot in this email, but I know that everything is alright. God is in control of all this and I trust that everything that happens happens for a reason. I trust that if I just keep doing my best to be obedient and doing all I can to fulfill my purpose as a missionary, it will all work out in the end. When things are hard, I always remember the quote that hangs in my Grandmother's house; "I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it." Love you all!

Love,
ラムロー長老 Elder Lamoreaux
日本神戸伝道部 Japan Kobe Mission


Selfie on the bus with some High School kids


Pretty nice view of part of our area