Monday, February 29, 2016

JT - Meetings and Asuka!

Dear Everyone,

How is everybody? This week, not much happened, but a lot happened... I'll try to explain.

On Tuesday, my companion went on companion exchange in Abeno while I went to Kobe with the district leaders and had District Leader Council. This was my third DLC, but this was the most fun because now I know just about everyone that was there. My first DLC was last September and most of them were "old" missionaries. This one however, I am one of the "older" missionaries, so a lot of my missionary friends were there, including just about my whole MTC district. Man I miss them. It was good to catch up with them. We had a two hour discussion about the atonement because of the new challenge that was released last week. President Welch got up and said "well, what have you been learning?" That was it. So we all talked about the Atonement.  Recently, I've began to realize why the atonement is the central, most significant event in the history of anything. It is so deep. So far in the challenge, I have only read a couple chapters, but by looking at the Book of Mormon through the goggles of the Atonement, your understanding expands and you begin to recognize the importance of following the gospel and the significance of Christ's sacrifice. At the end of this letter, I'll share one of the things I learned about the atonement. DLC was fun. For lunch, I ate what was probably the best brownie I have ever eaten in my life. Sister Welch made it and I wish I took a picture of it. It was incredible! 

So, Tuesday was all spent in Kobe. Thursday came and we had an exchange with the zone leaders in their area, Asuka (hence the title of the email). Asuka is in Nara Prefecture and it is INAKA! (Country side.) I love it!! I didn't realize how much I miss the beauty of the country of Japan. Not a lot of buildings, no loud cars, cleanliness. The air just feels happier there. Ah,mint was such a good Kokan! I love Osaka and all, but my heart belongs in the Inaka. I didn't realize how lucky I was to be in Inaka most of my mission. I miss it so much! Anyways, we had fun on this Kokan. Elder Eccles and I biked for about 40 minutes and then took a train into the mountains then walked to a less-active member's house. This house is literally a shack on the side of a mountain next to a Japanese shrine. It was awesome! See, adventures like this is what makes the Japan Kobe Mission fun! Anyways, we taught a good lesson to them in their shack and then biked for another hour to teach one of their investigators who is starting to recognize the power of the Spirit and is starting to believe in Jesus Christ. Fun Kokan. I really like our zone leaders that we have. Lots of respect for them.

Had District Meeting on Friday where we again had a discussion about the atonement. Then taught our investigator who is getting baptized next month. Now, this guy has changed so much. When I first met him, he was in a dark mood. He was depressed, always looked down, and wouldn't really speak much. However, meeting him that day I noticed a big difference. He is actually smiling, and having a good time with us. The best word that I can think of is he is bright now. Complete 180 from three months ago. I think of the scripture D&C 50:24 "That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." This man is starting to receive the light of Christ and is in turn changing his life. He still has a few problems to work on, but I have faith based upon his countenance on Friday, that he will do it.

Saturday we had study and then went to Abeno for Stake Conference. I had the opportunity to attend the leadership meeting, where President Welch talked to the ward mission leaders about the Area Plan and how the members in Japan need to change their mindset of missionary work. Then in the Saturday session, they talked about finding Joy in the gospel. We stayed the night in Abeno with 9 other missionaries and had a blast. During the Sunday session, our Stake President gave a talk and talked about when he went out with my companion and I. We got a shout out in Stake Conference! Whoo! He talked about how fun it was and how every member can do missionary work by just doing small and simple things each day. I am always amazed when President Welch talks to people in Japanese. His Japanese is so good and the spirit is so strong whenever he speaks. I am so blessed to have him as my Mission President.

So, busy week, but nothing much happened in our area. I did learn quite a bit this week though. I am so grateful for the Atonement and for my Savior Jesus Christ. One thing that I learned was in 1 Nephi 21:14-16. 

"14 But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me--but he will show that he hath not.
15 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."
The Lord will never, ever forget us. He will never stop loving us. Why? Because he has literally engraved us on his hands. Imagine that. Whenever Jesus Christ looks at his hands, he sees those marks and he, remembers us and he remembers how much he loves us and wants us to accept his gospel. He wants us to return to live with our Heavenly Father. That's why he performed the atonement. He loves everyone individually. Incomprehensible, but I know that it is true. I love this verse so much now.

Have a great week everyone! Love you all!

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

Way fun to see the MTC district again!  All except Elder Otani (who is ZL now)  were here at DLC!  Such a fun time!  Love them all

And I saw Elder Wharton there!  Seeing past companions is super fun!

After District Meeting Crepes!  Hard to believe that was already the last District Meeting of the transfer...

This sister is from Nara Ward.  She is leaving this next week to the Sapporo Mission.  She wanted a picture with us so there ya go.

FHE last night!  Good food and fun!

Crepes from last nights FHE!  Super yummy!

We had a Talent show last Saturday and my companion and I sang with Irie Noudai, the famous singer in our ward.  It was so fun and we sang the song "My Friend My Brother" in Japanese.


Monday, February 22, 2016

JT - Power of Members

Dear Everyone,

This was a great week for us here in Higashi Osaka. We started off by going to Nara last Monday. Let's just say it was the best Preparation Day of my mission so far. It was so much fun!!!! Playing with the deer was insanely fun. I remember my High School Japanese teacher Mr. Park talking about Nara (he served in the Osaka mission) and it made me so excited to go when I learned that Nara was in our mission. So, after a year and a half, I was finally able to go! And boy did it live up to its potential. Such a blast. Enjoy the pics and videos if you want only a taste of how awesome it was. So great.

Preaching the Gospel to our Deer friends.
On Tuesday, we had an awesome day where we spent most of the day with two members down in Habikino (our other area.) One of them drove us around to a bunch of Less-Active members and Former and Current investigators. Man, I love those to members! They help us out so much. We were able to meet with and teach a few of the Less Active members. This is why I titled the letter this week "Power of Members." The longer I have been on a mission, the more I've realized that without members, missionary work cannot happen. It's impossible. The members know what is happening in the ward. They don't get lost easily. They know Japanese fluently. They have had many experiences in their life that we 20 year old missionaries just don't have. So awesome! The best thing was visiting our investigator, the one with all the problems. We were following up on his praying and then the member just went hard on the importance of praying and related it to baptism. We committed him to be baptized on March 27th! If we didn't have that member with us, we wouldn't have been able to address his concerns and help him feel the need for baptism. It was awesome! Working with members is the only way to do it. And then on Wednesday, we went out with a member who is leaving on a mission next month. We taught a couple lessons with him and helped him to gain confidence in missionary work. He will be an awesome missionary. He already is an awesome missionary.

We had Zone Conference on Friday and this time members were invited. There were about 25 members from all around the stake that came, 3 from our ward. It was great to be taught by President and Sister Welch. As a mission, we are starting to study the Atonement by reading the Book of Mormon. One of the scriptures that we read that day was Alma 7:11-13. We learned again that the Atonement does not only cover our sins. We learned that the Atonement is infinite and it covers EVERYTHING. in that scripture it says pains, afflictions, temptations of every kind, sicknesses, death, infirmities (weakness) and then sin. All of the things before sin are things that come to every person on the earth; good, bad or otherwise. Everyone. The only one we choose is sin. Everything else comes naturally. So, the atonement really is for every thing that has ever lived on the earth. It is so big that we can't even begin to comprehend the impact that it has on the world.

Another awesome part about zone conference with the members there as well is that President Welch went hard on Member missionary work. He told the member straight up that missionary work is not effective if the members' mindset is "宣教師たち頑張って!" (work hard missionaries! We'll watch!) it's not gonna work like that. Man, I loved it. Much of Japan is still in the mindset of missionary work is tracking and finding investigators, but now is the time for the members to step up. It was awesome to see that happen and I will work hard to help these members change their mindset and get courage to talk about the gospel to everyone.
Osaka Zone Conference!
My twin Takahashi Choro!  Love him!  My first Zone Leader and my AP for the past 5 transfers.  He is done with his mission in a couple of weeks, so don't know when I can get another picture with him.

Time is flying faster and faster everyday. I have just completed 3/4 of my mission. I only have 6 months left, which is crazy. Days are flying by faster than hey have before. I am so grateful for this opportunity to study the Atonement for the last part of my mission. I truly feel that this study will change my life and will help me be ready for life after the mission. The atonement is more than just erasing sins. It can help us in our everyday life. Everything that you have ever felt, good or bad, the savior has felt before. He knows us perfectly and is therefore the only one we can rely on to make weak things become strong. He loves us. Heavenly Father loves us so much that he let his son suffer for each of us. We can all access the power of the Atonement in our daily lives by living the gospel. Doing our best everyday unlocks the powers of heaven and will empower us to overcome the adversity and challenges we face everyday. The Atonement works. Please deeply ponder Alma 7:11-13 and try to access the atonement everyday. This church is so true. I love it! Being a missionary is hard, but it is so rewarding. I will never comprehend how much my mission is blessing me now and in my future. I am so grateful.

Have a great week! Love and miss you all!

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

Me trying to get a selfie with the deer.

There are deer everywhere here!  You can feed them and pet them and play with them!  It was so much fun!

Nara is also home to the biggest wooden building in the world with the biggest Buddha statue in the world!  That thing was absolutely huge.

So this hole in the pillar is supposed to be the same size as one of the nostrils of the big Buddha statue.  If you can fit through it, it is lucky apparently.  It was a super tight squeeze.

JT - Proselyting with the Stake President, Osaka at midnight! Crazy week!

February 15, 2016 

Dear everyone,

I don't have a lot of time this week. We are going to Nara park to hang out with some deer! I'll write about a couple cool experiences we had this past week.

So, to follow the title, on Sunday the Stake President of Osaka stake came to visit the ward. He is a very good stake president who follows the guidance of our mission president and the area presidency. It was great to have him with us. Last week, I wrote about our Area Plan that everyone in the area should be doing. Well, one of the Stake President's goals is whenever he visits a ward, he goes with the missionaries for a couple hours after church and works with them. So, lucky us! I was pretty terrified to be honest. The pressure was on! How many of you missionaries have gone on splits with your Stake President?? It was way awesome though. We gave out a couple Book of Mormons (Books of Mormon?) and taught a few people on the street. He was also performing magic to some little kids that we saw. We were with him for 3 hours and we were able to get a good relationship with him, learn some things, and now I have a lot more desire and confidence in talking to everyone. It was a great experience!

Next story from this week. Friday night, we were already sleeping when the phone rings at 11:10. I wake up and see that it's from our zone leaders, so it's got to be important. So I answer it and our zone leader tells us to get up and head over to Abeno (the next area over) right now and spend the night in Abeno. Somehow, the elders there got separated and one of the elders was by himself in Abeno while the other one somehow ended up with the Zone Leaders in Asuka (pretty far away). So, in order for the one in Abeno to not be alone, we were told to pack our bags and get to Abeno as fast as we could. Surprisingly the trains were still in operation at 11:30 at night. (People are awake and outside in Japan past 10:30?? Had no idea...) so, Abeno is pretty busy at night. It was crazy to walk around Osaka at almost midnight and to see the night life of Osaka. This was probably the only time I would ever be out past 10:30 as a missionary, so I thought it was pretty noteworthy. How many missionaries (obedient missionaries) can say they were walking around Osaka, one of the biggest cities, at midnight? Anyways, cool but tiring experience. I was so exhausted the next day. Don't worry, everything is all okay with the other Elders. Just a mistake happened.

Well, that was some cool experiences that happened this week. It was actually a hard week, but things ended up working out. This next week is going to be amazing, I can feel it. Sorry for the quick email! Have a great week! The church is true!

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

Last week, we went up to the Sky Building again with the other elders
in the district. It was fun!

This awesome soon-to-be-missionary got his mission call this week! He
is going to the Japan Tokyo South mission leaving March 29th! He will
be an awesome missionary!

On the train in normal clothes for our midnight adventure!  

An awesome family in the ward!

Monday, February 8, 2016

JT - Bible Study Class

Dear Everyone,

Today was a great week! Let's start with another change. I got a call from the Assistants sometime this week saying that they decided to change my district back to what it was before. So now, I'm back to my original district; Higashi Osaka and Sekime, 6 missionaries. Well, the big district was exciting while it lasted.

This week, we worked hard with trying to visit members and teaching them the Doctrine of Christ. To do so, my companion and I came up with a pretty awesome slide show on the iPad's that simply illustrates the Doctrine and was really easy to understand. We also prepared our lesson plan to go along with the Area Plan so that all of the members can be on the same page and follow the plan that was given to us by the Area Presidency. We taught about 6 different members about it. It went really well. I feel that the ones that we taught better understand the Doctrine of Christ and they have more of a desire to follow the Area Plan. I don't know if I talked about the Area Plan last week, but this is what it is.

Everyone will think of goals in order for them to better Love, Elevate, Simplify and so forth, with the main goal of living with Heavenly Father again. I believe that this plan will help unify the ward that I am serving in and will also help the members better fulfill their missionary responsibilities and will hasten the work of the Lord in Japan. So, in order to unify the ward with the missionaries and the Stake, Mission and Asia North area, we really tried hard to get this thing going.

We had a couple cool experiences this week. Last transfer, my companion Elder Parkin felt like we should try doing a bible study class. He loves the bible and knows a lot about it. He taught me a lot about the bible because I have little to no bible knowledge at all. Well, his last week in Higashi Osaka, we finally got it passed with the bishop and they said we will start on February 5th. Believe it or not, Elder Parkin transferred! So the task of starting a bible study class fell on to me and my new companion. Yay.... Because both Elder Clarkson and I don't really know the bible at all, we were panicking and worried about it. I wanted to just stop the class so badly because I don't feel confident with the bible and there wasn't a lot of people who would come. But, because it took about a month to get started and people worked hard to get it going, we decided to go ahead and do it. It felt like Nephi in 1 Nephi 4:6 "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." We were praying for the spirit and that everything will go okay. So, we did it. Only 3 people came; our ward mission leader, a ward missionary, and an  investigator. We talked about Genesis 1-2 about the creation. What do you know, everything went really well! We were able to teach well and those who came enjoyed it. This was really a lesson of faith to me. My companion and I learned that acts of faith are not comfortable. Sometimes, in order to follow the will of God, we need to pass through opposition. Trials always come before the miracle. Whenever something good is about to happen, the adversary tries everything in order to stop you from fulfilling the will of God. But, when you actually do it, God will bless you with a confirmation that it is good. My companion and I felt that confirmation after the class. We know that this class needs to happen. It might sound weird, but we will continue to do this bible study class. I get to learn more about the Bible too!

I've been studying about faith recently. Faith is so simple, but it is so powerful. I know that faith always precedes the miracles. If you believe you can do it, then you can. If you have an end goal, a hope, something to believe and hope for, then you will work as hard as you can to be able to reach that. Because of that effort, you can access the enabling power of the atonement and you will be empowered. God will help you reach that end goal. But, it all starts with faith. Faith leads to miracles and dreams coming true.

Man, being a missionary is great. It is hard sometimes, but never in my life will I have the chance to dedicate myself to the Lord and only focus on the gospel. I am learning so much and I will take so much with me back to Utah.

Have a great week! Love you all! Always remember to put the Lord first! Keep smilin, and give them heaven!

Elder Lamoreaux

Our beloved mission president and his assistants. :) love it!

After visiting a few less actives, this stud of a member took us out to eat.

Monday, February 1, 2016

JT - "Your district is doubling." Wait, what?!

Dear Everyone,

So transfer calls came last week and I stayed in Higashi Osaka! But Elder Parkin gyipsyed (getting transferred out of an area after just one transfer.) so, I now have a new companion! His name is Elder Clarkson and he is from Kanab Utah. He is fourth transfer, only been in Japan for about 5 months. He is way awesome and we get along well. It will be a great transfer and we will see miracles. He has also been really good at helping me out when stresses and frustrations come, which happens every now and then as Senior Companion and District Leader.

Also, another surprise this transfer. I got a call from my zone leader and he says "I've got some news for you! You will have six new people in your district!" So, that happened. For some reason (I still don't know why) they decided to combine the Higashi Osaka District and the Hirakata District, so now I am District Leader over 12 missionaries, twice the size of my districts in the past. Life just got a lot busier (twice as busy) here in the life of Elder Lamoreaux. Please pray for me! I'm gonna need all the help I can get!

But, I am really excited for this opportunity to grow and to help and serve these missionaries. It will be a big learning opportunity for me and I know we will see miracles in this district. Hooray for Dendo!!

Anyways, with transfers, it was a really interesting week. We spent all of Wednesday packing and saying bye for Elder Parkin and then got our new companions on Thursday. The past couple days have been mostly finding; trying to find those who are ready to hear the gospel. We taught a few lessons, but still no real new investigators. But, we both have faith that things are going to turn around and that as long as we try to do what the Lord wants us to do, we will see success here and will see the fruits of our efforts. Friday was particularly hard because it was raining like crazy all day! My everything was wet and soaking and there was nobody outside because honestly, who would want to? No one wanted to answer their doors either, so it was quite a struggle. But we still went out because of the hope that "the more you do rain dendo, the more attractive your wife becomes." I like that philosophy.

So, there really wasn't much going on this week. A scripture that I came upon this week was D&C 64:33-34 "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." I love that and it has given me comfort this week. I have a testimony that this is true. Sometimes in life it feels as if things don't go well, or you don't feel like you are making a difference. My advice and the Lord's advice in this scripture is "be not weary in well-doing." As long as you are doing what you are supposed to do, God will bless you. He doesn't really require the immediate results of our efforts. All he requires is "the heart and a willing mind." As long as we are obedient, we will taste of the fruit of success. It may not come fast, but it will come.

Love you all! I can't believe it is February already! Wow time flies. Have a great week!

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

Final Picture as a district

Last Eikaiwa with Sister Chapman and Elder Parkin