Monday, May 30, 2016

JT - Another transfer in the books.

Dear Everyone,

This week is the start of the new transfer already... So fast! I am now a 15th transfer missionary. If you don't know what that means, I'll tell you. I'm an old missionary.... My trainer was 15th transfer when I became his companion, and I thought he was such an old missionary. And I still don't know Japanese... Yay!

We still don't know anything about transfers, but I am pretty sure I am staying. We have no idea what my companion's fate will be. He has just about a 50/50 chance of transferring or staying. I guess we'll find out some time this week. (Still hate that we need to wait to find out.)

This week was just another week in the mission. Had an Exchange in Tsuyama, came back, taught lessons, helped a member move, played basketball with the ward. Pretty normal week. I'll give an update on the people that we are working with.

Moose is our 18 year old college student friend. He was supposed to get baptized last week, but because of parental opposition, he was not able to get permission to get baptized because they feel that he needs to focus 100% on his schooling and work. However, he is committed to coming to church every week and following the commandments and basically acting like a member who hasn't been baptized. In fact, he's been helping us with teaching a couple of our other investigators. Having non-members fellowship your investigators and teaching them gospel principles is really cool. He's a great guy and hopefully someday, his parents will allow him to take this step.

We have his solid network of Vietnamese people. There are now 7 of them who we are working with. The cool thing is that that number keeps adding because they have other Vietnamese friends. Three of them have a great possibility of getting baptized soon. However, like most people, there are a few things that are stopping them from fully committing to baptism and choosing a date. Everything from word of wisdom issues, no free time, can't wake up to go to church, and the fear of getting judged by his future coworkers that he doesn't have yet. So many little problems that if they understood and felt the joy of the gospel could be solved instantaneously. However, they are all "thinking about baptism" and they realize that yes, the reason we visit them is because we love them and want them to experience the blessings that only come from Priesthood Ordinances.

I've come to learn that the real joy and power that comes from the gospel is found only in the ordinances of the priesthood. I love the quote by President Monson that says "Until you have entered the house of the Lord and have received all the blessings which await you there, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer. The all important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God.” I testify that that is true. Baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel and until we enter the gate of baptism, we do not experience the great blessings. So, we are pressing forward. Doing all that we can to help these people commit and make the first step to receive those blessings of the temple.

Love you all so much! Hopefully we both stay in Okayama for another one, but we'll find out some time soon (maybe). Have a great week and know that the Lord is in charge of all!

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


   
My new ride!


After District Meeting;  the last one of the transfer!  So fast!

Curry party with our buds!
We taught the lesson for Gospel Principles and we were teaching about the war in heaven.  We made a play and had these members (and Moose) act it out.  It was great!

Monday, May 23, 2016

JT - Mission Conference Week!

Dear Everyone,

Whoooooo, crazy week! We had a few highlights and only one low light. Let's talk about the low light first.

So, because of the aforementioned Mission Conference on Sunday, we weren't able to go to our own ward for church this week. So, we get a call from Moose, our investigator who is supposed to get baptized this Saturday. Well, he said that he talked to his parents more about his decision to be baptized and unfortunately they are now against him being baptized. They say that it's too fast and that he is too young to make this big decision in his life. So, for the time being, Moose will not be getting baptized this Saturday... Very disappointing, but hey, it happens on a mission. He'll still get baptized. He says he will still go to church and everything else, so it will all be good. Sometimes, it's frustrating that things like this happen, but I know that God has a plan and everything happens so that we can learn and become better from it. Ugh.

Well, now for the high lights!

On Thursday, we had Zone Conference and we we all taught by President and Sister Welch. Ahh, I love Zone Conferences so much because we get together with the zone and we listen to President Welch talk. I always learn so much from them. The main thing I learned this time was the power of the scriptures and the importance to really know them. In the training, we made a list about all of the things that we as missionaries struggle with. There was a big list ranging from personal weaknesses to investigators progress. President Welch looked at that list and then pointed us to the scriptures to figure out how to fix those problems. He pointed us to 1 Nephi 3-5 and we had a discussion on it. We honestly spent 2 hours talking about a couple verses from that section. I never knew you could go on and on and on about a story that we have heard ever since we could talk. And we were able to talk about all of the problems on the list and all found ways to fix those problems personally. I learned the importance of treasuring up in your heart the words of life. If you do so, the scriptures will have new meaning and it becomes fun. It was so cool. Another cool thing that I learned was "don't prepare a talk, prepare yourself." Before my mission and the start of it, I needed to have every word of my talk or my lesson written down so I can read it word for word. But, now I can go up there with a couple notes and can talk for a long time, in Japanese even. Crazy stuff. Mission changes you.

Then, on Sunday, we had the amazing opportunity to gather as a mission to hear Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak to our mission. It was the first Mission Wide conference we've had since Elder Nelson came last March. This was a really short one though, only 2 hours. It was so nice to see everyone in the mission and old friends from the mission. Really, friendships among the missionaries are one of my favorite things about the mission. I love everyone in the Japan Kobe mission.

The biggest thing that I learned from this conference was an answer to one of my questions that I had for it. That was "how can I make these last three months the best of my mission?" That answer came very directly to me. I learned that all I have to do is to my best that I can do everyday. Put it all in. Love God and serve him with all my heart, might, mind and strength. Focus 100% on my mission. See baptisms. If I just trust God and give it all to him, he will bless my life after the mission and everything will work out. It was so comforting to know that everything will work out. So simple, but for me now, that was so reassuring. Everything will work out in the end. Don't worry about it. It was a great conference and a special opportunity.


Well, that's the week! Probably no baptism this week, but we are still working hard and the baptisms are going to come flowing into our area! I know that! This church is true. So, so true. Joseph Smith is a prophet. Revelation is real. Book of Mormon is true. Have a great week!

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

  
P-Day last week, Elder Racker came from his area and we went to a mall in Okayama.  Elder Racker served in West Okayama last year, so he wanted to come visit some people.

This is sad..... ¥118=$1.18... For an absolutely tiny piece of crappy
pizza. That's about the size of my index finger. I could easily eat
that in one bite. Ugh... Never take pizza for granted America.
McDonald's with a recent convert and a member!  Taught a sweet lesson about scriptures afterwards.


We used Skittles from America to teach our investigator about Tithing in seminary!  Nothing beats Skittles in the early morning!
Zone Conference

Baseball with the Ward!  It was a ton of fun!


I made Lumpia for the lunch after baseball!  Look how good it looks!  It tasted great and all 60 were gone super fast.

Whipped Cream finger?


We spent the night in Akashi so that we could make to to Kobe in time for the Conference that started at 2:30.  We took a little walk in the morning to the Pacific Ocean!

A bunch of us going to Church in Akashi ward.  There were 16 missionaries here and we all sang a musical number during sacrament.  The ward loved it.

I translated Sacrament meeting to these three awesome Filipino members!  The cool story behind this is, on day last year, I went on exchange in Akashi with the Zone Leaders and we went to go teach a few Filipino investigators/members at their house.(The two in the middle and a few friends)  Fast forward to yesterday where i randomly came to Akashi and they came to church and I translated for them.  They even remembered me and said I look like a Filipino.  Also, the guy on the left just go baptized in January.  The missionary that helped him get in the water was my last companion Elder Clarkson.  It was sweet!  They are so awesome.  I also was asked to teach Gospel Principles class to them in Sunday School with no preparations.  It went really well.


Adventures in Okayama!
   

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Weston - May 16, 2016

Last Sunday I was at the church and I found a book that they were trying to get rid of. It was Parley P. Pratt's Autobiography. I took it home and started reading it. I found the chapter where he meets a Mr. Lamoreaux who says, when he hears the gospel from Parley, "if this is Mormonism, than I am a Mormon." He then helps Parley shows him how to get around that part of the country. Parley said that no matter how much he tried to quiet Mr. Lamoreaux he could not get him to stop preaching the gospel to everyone they came in contact with. He would apparently yell at people at a distance trying to get them to listen to the gospel. When I read that I thought about how bad I want to be like that ancestor. I've been trying recently to follow his example and teach everyone that I can. Because I know that's what he did and what he would do if he was still here.
I love you all very much!
Elder Lamoreaux

JT - Give me a Pizza and a Burrito and I will give you anything you want!

Dear Everyone,

This week was a pretty normal week and so there isn't much to report on. We are still working with our investigator on date and things are looking good with him. We will finish teaching him the lessons this week, get his parents permission (pray for that!) and then get his baptismal interview next week (pray for that as well!!) and then should be good for baptism on May 28th! It's getting really exciting here. Also, we are working hard with one of our Vietnamese investigators and he is currently praying about getting baptized with Moose on the same date! We've taught him all of the commandments and told him all that he has to do after he gets baptized and he totally could get baptized on that date if he desires it. So, looks like we will have at least one baptism on that day, likely two. Please pray that all will go smoothly with Moose and that the Vietnamese friend can receive an answer and testimony! It would be much appreciated!

So, other than meeting with those two, we were also able to find a few more people to teach! A man saw that we had a free English class and he called us and came this week. Then, yesterday, he randomly called us and said "I've recently been studying Christianity, could you teach me stuff?" So we met and answered his questions and gave an overview of our basic beliefs. He seems interested and wants to meet with us more. He has a ton of questions and it's way fun to answer them and connect it all to the gospel and the restoration. This is missionary work.

So regarding the title, this week, we found a Mexican restaurant one day a few weeks ago, so this week, we decided to go!  It was the first one I have seen in Japan, so we had to go try it. It was a cute little place, but not worth it. Let's just say with the price that we spent, we could've gotten over 100 Del Taco tacos on Taco Tuesday and the Del Taco tacos would've tasted better... But hey, do it for the experience! I guess.... I miss Mexican food...
   



The next day, Moose wanted to go with us to a $5.00 pizza restaurant that he found. We went there and ordered 3 pizzas. They were a little bit bigger than my hand and they were barely thicker than a piece of paper. Two inches of sauce-less crust and barely any cheese. In America, it would probably cost 15 cents... It tasted good at least... It's definitely not your Hot 'n Ready Little Caesar's pizza...

   


I just want real Mexican food and real pizza. Japan tries, it really does, and they are so close. Their food looks cute, looks delicious, but the taste isn't always there and the size is tiny, for more expensive. I would do anything for a burrito, pizza, steak, hamburger, even a hot dog. But, you know what, i have sushi and ramen and other awesome Japanese food, so I can wait a bit longer. Maybe...

Well, things are going great here in Okayama! It's been super fun and there are new experiences every single day. I love it out here. This week, we have Zone Conference and we also have the Mission-Wide Conference with Elder Stevenson, Elder Whiting and Elder Choi in Kobe! I am so excited for that! I have a feeling that something BIG is going to happen. Update on that next week!

Love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部


   


So we went to a nearby super market who was having a Costco Fair!!!  We got real pizza!  So, so good!! I miss Pizza...

Sleeping on the roof of our apartment with the district!

We made Curry with a less-active member who works at a Curry place.

On Kokan in Tsuyama with the district leader.  Taught this awesome member!

This building is a turtle...


So we got stopped at a railroad crossing and there were so many people stopped to take pictures of the train.  There are a lot of people who love trains in Japan.
   

Monday, May 9, 2016

JT - Another great week in Okayama!

Dear Everyone,

Wow what a week! Life is way good right now. I just Skyped with my family and I am just めちゃ元気now. A couple awesome stories from this week.

Wednesday was a day that started off pretty slow. We didn't have any appointments so we had all day. We decided to bike pretty far and see what happens. Well, this day was insanely windy, probably the windiest that I've seen. It was pretty hard to bike around because the wind was so strong. Every time we would park our bikes, we come back and see that it fell over because of the wind. So, one time, we stopped and decided to knock on some doors. We did a whole apartment complex, but only one person answered. She was Chinese and didn't know any Japanese or English so we kind of awkwardly gave her a flyer and went our way. Went back to our bikes and they were both fallen. We picked them up and tried going, but mine wouldn't go. My chain had gotten super tangled in my gear and pedal. We had to get our hands super dirty to fix it. We said a prayer to help fix it and after about 15 minutes, we were able to fix it, but our hands were filth. We were in the middle of no where with not even a 7/11 near us. We decided to go back to the only apartment that answered us and tried to see if she would let us wash our hands. It was so awkward because she didn't understand a thing we were saying. We showed her our hands and waved them around in washing hands motions and she understood and let us in to wash our hands. It took a long time to get our hands clean, and the whole time we were trying to teach her about our church. Bless her heart, she thought we were crazy and had no idea what we were saying. After it all, we gave her a Book of Mormon in Japanese and asked if it would be okay to come back sometime with a Chinese version and she agreed. Definitely one of the most interesting ways I've ever given a Book of Mormon out. I also learned a lot about repentance from this experience. The bike grease was so bad that no matter how much we tried to wash it off with just water, it would spread. We tried scraping it with our hands, but it just kept getting worse. Everything that we touched turned black as well. It wasn't until this lady gave us dish soap that the blackness started to come off of our hands. The blackness of the grease is our sins and guilt and bad feelings. By ourselves, there is no way that we can be cleansed and freed. It might help a little, but you will spend a lot of time and it is really hard, almost impossible. But, if we apply the soap called the Atonement and help from Priesthood leaders, we will be cleansed and freed from all of the blackness. Repentance and the Atonement allow us to be clean. I really felt that after this experience.

At the end of that same day, we decided to go visit our Vietnamese friends. They let us in and we were able to talk to 3 of the 4 Vietnamese guys that live there. One of them has been to church before but the other two have yet to come. They expressed their desire to come to church and they apologized for not coming last week. We taught them about prayer and they said that they would come to church this Sunday. After that lesson, my companion and I were talking and kind of jokingly we said "ha, what if we got all four of them baptized on the same day as Moose? How crazy would that be?" We laughed and imagined a bit and then we stopped. We were like "hey, why not? That could totally happen!" We thought about it and prayed about it and we decided to make that our goal. 5 baptisms in one day. Absolutely insane, but it is possible. Imagine having 5 guys getting baptized on the same day!?!? We have Moose on date for May 28th and he looks pretty solid for that date. We are now working on getting the others committed for baptism.

Since that day, we have been working with them. Unfortunately, yesterday, only 1 of the 4 came to church, which kind of hurt their chances for getting baptized on the 28th (because of the qualification of being to church 3 times before baptism). But, they had legit reasons for not coming. We went to their house after church and had a great lesson with 3 of them. We gave them a Book of Mormon in Vietnamese and taught them about baptism. We were able to commit two of them (the two who haven't been to church yet) to be baptized when they know that these things are true. The other one said he would think about it. So, in regards to this goal of 5 being baptized, I can honestly see 3 getting baptized that day. Moose has also become friends with them and because he is committed to it, he will help to encourage the others to get baptized with him. So, I have faith that on May 28th, 3 of our friends will start their journey to the celestial kingdom. How amazing is that! Please pray for this to happen!

Things are exploding here in Okayama! I really love it here. Thanks for all of your love and support! I have the best family and friends in the world. Have a great week, and always remember that the best way is the Gospel. It might not be the easiest way, but it is the way that we can receive "never ending happiness." Mosiah 2:41.

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


   





Tuesday, the ward had a Day Camp activity!  They do one every year.  We had a BBQ and did some games and also went to see tomb of a former king.  This is probably a little more than 1/2 of the ward.  We also had 3 investigators come.  Tons of fun.
Also, miracle with this one.  The weather report said that it would rain on this day.  The ward told everyone to pray that it wouldn't rain so that we could have a good time here.  Everyone prayed and it ended up not raining.  As soon as we started heading home, it started pouring.  Prayer is real and it works everyone.  If you have faith, anything can happen.

   
   

Okayama Zone Training Meeting

Love my family!!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

JT - Productive and fun week!

Dear Everyone,

Man, this area is killer. Pretty soon, we are going to see a lot of miracles. We already are seeing many! I went to my first real church meeting in the ward yesterday and it was so much fun. Everyone was so welcoming and happy. There are also a TON of kids here. Sacrament meeting was really loud, which I haven't really experienced since America. So awesome. Also, I think there are more young women in this ward than there were in my home ward... It's been a lot of fun recently. Also, we were able to have our investigators come to church and had great fellowshipping from the members. There are a lot of members; about 100 every week, so getting names down is a work in progress... But, everyone that I have talked to has been super nice and I am so excited to be part of the ward family, because it feels like a family. Anyways, quick update on this past week!

We had a cool day on Wednesday. It was raining all day, and no one likes going out in the rain, so we really tried to visit some people so that we have less time outside. We had a few hours and only a couple people to visit, so if they didn't answer, we would have a lot of time on our hands. But we went with our plan and tried visiting them. The first person we visited answered and we were able to talk for a while with her about who we are and what we do as missionaries. Not very interested, but worth a shot. Then we went to go visit one of our progressing investigators who is working on quitting smoking. We tried it, but no one answered, so we went back to our bikes, a little disappointed. As we were just about to mount our bikes, we see our investigator biking toward his apartment! We were so grateful for that. We were able to go inside his house and talk to him and teach about how prayer can help him quit smoking. Smoking is the only thing that's stopping him from getting baptized. We committed him to cut down to a certain number the next day and we would follow up with him on it. It was a really good lesson and he accepted the challenge. We called him the next day asking how he did and he actually smoked less than the number we challenged him to! Such a big step for him. I have a lot of hope for him. He comes to church every week and has a lot of friends in the ward, so it's just a matter of time for him until he gets baptized.

Our Vietnamese friends are also doing pretty well. We taught them about prayer last week and they tell us that every night before they go to bed, they try to pray. Those two also came to church with a member and I think they had a great experience. They asked a lot of questions and was dialed in to the Sunday School lessons (which I had to translate again.) they will also be coming to an activity that we have on Tuesday with the ward. And, get this, they just asked if they could invite two more of their friends. So, if we could get them all to commit to being baptized, that would be so cool!! Please pray for them to accept the commitment!

Also, Moose is doing way good. We went hard talking about baptism this past week. he committed to get baptized, but still has some concerns with it, so it was a pretty soft commitment. We don't have a solid date for him yet, but we want to try for before May 22. However, we do know that it is not our timing. As a mission, we are trying hard for every companionship to have a baptism before the mission-wide conference on May 22. We have spent a lot of time with Moose since I've been here and I know that he will make the step. He just needs to gain a testimony by doing the little things; praying, reading the scriptures and going to church. He is still going to Seminary every morning and we have played basketball with him and other investigators this week.

Speaking of Basketball, we had a chance to play with a big group of people when we went with Moose. After a game, we would share a message about Jesus. This is something that I've never done before, but it is getting people interested. We are getting quite a bit of people to come play with us and it gives us a chance to show that we are normal people, but we also have a special message that we love. People see that and their image of religion changes. Many people in Japan at least think that religion is scary and it only leads to war. But, as people come and see what the church is about, they come to realize that religion is a way of life and that the people in a religion are normal, fun people. If church isn't fun, people won't want to come. That's something that I've learned recently. Missionary work is more than just going door to door or street contacting.

Another thing that I've noticed about effective missionary work is that if members are not involved, than the work is hindered. Members and missionaries have to be united or else the work just won't be done. It is so much more effective for missionaries to work closely with the ward than for missionaries to go knocking on doors. A great way to do missionary work for members is by setting up different kinds of activities that the missionaries and members can invite people to. In the week and a half that I've been here, I've been to a handful of activities. Whether it be a special seminary class, a dinner at a member's house or even a sports night, it gives the missionaries a great chance to get investigators to meet the members. We had a Sports night on Saturday where we were able to have 5 investigators come. Then, when they come, the missionaries can teach them a lesson and they can have more of a desire to learn more and get baptized. Missionary work without the members is honestly so ineffective. Missionaries aren't having fun, the work is hindered and people won't come. Just something that I've learned since coming here to Okayama and since I've been a missionary.

This was another long one! I'm sorry! I'm loving the area and the people that I meet everyday. Have a great week! Remember, keep smiling and give 'em Heaven!

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


   


The district for this transfer.  You got the DL - Elder Johnson and Elder Trinca, Elder Wride and Elder Van Cleave (former comp!)  Sister Nielson and Sister Uchida and then Elder Ray and I.  Fun district!

We had seminary activity on Saturday where the Elders had a chance to give a lesson.  We decided to do it on the importance of families and Temple.  We "copied" Elder Cook's talk "See Yourselves in the Temple" and gave each of the people a mirror with a picture of the temple with "See yourself in the Temple" (in Japanese) written on it.  They loved it and it was an awesome lesson.  This ward is so great! 

This was another part of this seminary activity.  Three young women are preparing to go on a mission and  so they made missionary tags and they shared a lesson with all of us.  (BTW, the one in the middle is not a member yet...Her parents are against the church, and won't allow her to get baptized, but she is still a very active non-member and so soon as she is able to get baptized, she will).  It was way cool to see.

We had a barbecue that we were invited to by some investigators.  We had a few investigators and member show up and it was a great time.  We were also able to teach a couple lessons to them.  Missionary work is awesome.

We got to ride in an investigator's Jeep!  it was so cool!