Pretty eventful week this week! I found out about transfers on Tuesday night and they said I was going to a place called Okayama! It is a part of the mission that I haven't been before, so I was way excited to go. Tuesday and Wednesday was filled with packing and saying goodbye to members and investigators. It was a little sad, but I've gotten used to it on my mission. I really love the members in Higashi Osaka and all of the friends I was able to make.
|Saying bye to our Chinese friend and our Napalese friend. Ate lunch at this Indian Curry restaurant. Love places like this.|
|Saying bye to our Takoyaki friend! Last taste of Osaka Takoyaki... It was a sad moment...|
|This is our Tuesday Eikaiwa people. They gave flowers to the transferring missionaries. Me and all three sisters transferred.|
|The former Bishop of the ward. We paid a quick visit to say bye to him.|
|Love these two members!|
|Our Wednesday Eikaiwa!|
|This is one of our investigators! Awesome guy! He's from Iran!|
|Bye Higashi Osaka!|
Transfers now are different than they were when I last transferred. Now, each missionary goes straight to their new area by themselves! So, I travelled all the way to Okayama (a 6 hour trip) with my bike and a suitcase with no companion. It was crazy, but somehow I made it safely and on time.
Okayama is a beautiful area. Back in the day, they had the Japan Okayama mission, so the apartment that the elders stay in now is the old Mission Office and mission home! It is huge! It's right next to the church too which is very rare. Wow I love how convenient it is. We even have mattresses!! I'm not sleeping on the floor! There are only two of us in the apartment, so we have plenty of space. Definitely one of the best places a missionary in the Kobe mission can live in. We've got a lot of cleaning to do, but we're getting there. My new companion is Elder Ray from Nevada. He's half Japanese (almost a Japanese companion like you wanted) and he is now 6th transfer (now the 4th companion that I've had who was 6th transfer with me). His first name is Utah, so that's pretty cool. He's an awesome guy and we are doing well right now.
This area and ward has a lot of potential. The three days that I've been here have been amazing. This is a huge ward; about 130 active members. However, I haven't been able to meet a lot of them because this week was also Stake Conference! But, the members that I have met so far have been amazing and they really help and love the missionaries. Also, we have a few investigators who are really progressing. Let me just do a recap of the past few days.
Friday- We went to Early Morning Seminary at 6:00 in the morning. Super fun! A couple young women and one of our investigators was there. (Yes, an investigator went to Early Morning seminary.) then, after lunch, we helped the sisters with fixing their bike and then tried visiting some investigators who all ended up not being home. We then visited a member who warmly welcomed us in and we were able to have a nice talk and share a lesson with him. He is really fellowshipping one of our investigators who is really close to baptism, so he gave us some advice to help this investigator. (this investigator has been taught everything and wants to get baptized, he just has to overcome a problem with the Word of Wisdom). Then we went to try visiting a referral that we received from the sisters, but they weren't home either. But, we were prepared! We went looking for a less active member who lived close. As we were looking for the house, a couple of older women saw us and asked if we were looking for _____ (an ACTIVE member of the ward). We said that we weren't, but asked them to point us to where she lives. (These older women recognized our white shirts, name tags and helmets and said that she sees us all the time.) we went to the less active house, but they didn't answer either. We then decided to go to the active member's house and was able to talk to her and share a message. Then, she said "hey, come with me, I am going to introduce you to one of my friends!" So, we went with her to a neighbor's house. This friend wasn't interested, but I was so impressed with this member's fire and desire to share the gospel. So awesome especially because this is what I've been trying so hard to do in my last area. After this whole thing happened, we decided to visit the referral's house again to see if they were there. They were there! We were able to talk to 4 people from Vietnam who are really good at Japanese and English. We talked to them about church and they all said they wanted to come! We also invited them to an activity that the YM had the next day. Friday was a day filled with miracles.
Saturday- We had a Young Men's activity at 9:00 where we played baseball with the YM and the leaders and a couple of the Young Women who came as well. 3 investigators showed up; 2 of the Vietnamese people from Friday and the one who went to Early Morning seminary. Let me tell you about this investigator. Let's call him Moose. Moose is 18 years old, just moved to Okayama for college. Moose met the missionaries on the street last Friday. My companion and his last companion found him and invited him to church. That Sunday he came to church in a suit and tie (which is super rare for investigators in Japan). He already acts like a member and all of them thought he was a member visiting Okayama. He really enjoyed church and asked the missionaries if he could go to the Early Morning seminary class. Since Sunday, he has come to Early Morning every day. So, we played baseball and then all of us helped clean the church. During this time, the Young Men's leader invited these 3 to dinner at his house on Sunday night (MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK!!) After that, us and the 3 investigators went to play basketball and we shared a message about prayer with them. We then invited them to go to stake conference. (Stake conference was held in a place that is 2 hours away.) they all wanted to come, so we set up rides for all of them to be driven by a member to it.
Sunday- Stake conference. Again, Moose came in a suit and tie. Moose rode with us and a member family and the two Vietnamese people went with that member from Friday who took us to her friend's house. They all came to Stake conference and all enjoyed it. I translated the whole conference from Japanese to English for the Vietnamese people. (That was fun) Then we got back and went to the Sunday dinner. At that dinner, my companion and I and the YM leader shared the first lesson, the Restoration of the Gospel. We showed the Restoration video and testified about the reality of Joseph Smith and God the Father and Jesus Christ. We shared how we know this because of prayer. It was a powerful lesson, one of the best I've been in. We invited them to pray about the truthfulness of the restoration and they all said they would. (BTW, at the end of the video, there is a scene where Joseph Smith Sr. gets baptized. Moose, after the video, asks, "what's that thing they did at the end?" This guy is golden haha) such a great lesson in the perfect environment; investigators in a member's home.
Man, this was long, but I haven't had this much fun with missionary work for a long, long time. Moose also came to seminary this morning and said that the Joseph Smith experience was "すごいな〜" (it's so cool!) very good hopes for this guy as well as the other two people. Desire to meet, willingness to act, love and support of ward members. That is what helps convert people to this wonderful gospel. God truly prepares his people. Members are the key to missionary work. Without the cooperation and unity between the members and the missionaries, this work cannot happen.
I am so excited for this area and for this transfer. We also have an exciting announcement as a mission. On May 22nd, we will have a mission-wide conference where Elder Whiting and Elder Choi of the Area Presidency as well as Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will come to talk to the mission. I am so excited for that. Also, our mission president has challenged us to have at least one baptism before that day. I truly believe that Moose and the Vietnamese people can get baptized soon. Such a great opportunity to be in Okayama right now.
Hope I didn't bore you with this super long email. I hate long emails, so I'm sorry I gave one out.... This church is true y'all! Love you all so much!
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部