Monday, June 27, 2016

JT - I feel like a pioneer (kind of). Walking for days!

Dear Everyone,

Well, I am pretty exhausted this week. With many different circumstances occurring, my companion and I walked instead of biked for most of this past week. Also, we had quite a bit of success while walking the first day, so we decided to do it some more. It was a pretty good week, but my legs are feeling it. In total, we had to have walked upwards of 16 miles the whole week. I guess when I write that down, it doesn't seem like that much, but it feels like a lot... Anyways, we had a few experiences this week that were awesome and some that were not so awesome.

We went to try to talk to a less active member who was on our records. We went to the house, but a different guy answered and said that this person was never part of any church. Well, we get to talking, and he just keeps talking and talking. (He is an old Japanese man, so when they talk, they don't stop. And I can only understand maybe 60% of it.) He talks about how he doesn't believe in God and he doesn't understand how anyone could believe in something they can't see.  We basically told him, "we can't force you to believe, but we invite you to hear. We know for ourselves that this is true. After you hear us, then you can decide for yourself if it's good or not." He understood that and, well, we have another lesson with him today! We'll see how that goes.

Another really cool experience was Thursday night, after Eikaiwa. We have a student who found out through the Internet that we had an English class and came for the first time a month and a half ago. He actually has interest in the historical aspect of Christianity and so, just about every week after Eikaiwa, we talk about religion with him. He rented a bunch of different books about Christianity at a library and says he wants to study those. For the past month, we've been trying super hard for him to accept and read the Book of Mormon. Every time, he would think about it and say he's super busy, he wants to read the library books first and he would not accept the Book of Mormon. Every week until last week. We taught a powerful lesson on the power and importance of scriptures and he finally agreed to taking the Book of Mormon and reading at least a verse everyday. Hopefully he will do so and his heart will be softened and he will convert. Way cool miracle!

My companion and I recently watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration". If you haven't watched that yet, I invite you to watch that as a family or by yourself. It is an amazing movie about our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith. It was the first time I've watched it and my testimony of the restoration was strengthened so much. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Reading the Book of Mormon after watching that movie was one of the most spiritual confirmations I have had. Because of Joseph Smith, we have this beautiful gospel, this church, and the Book of Mormon. I know it's true.

I hope you all have a great week! I passed my 22 month mark last week, and I can't believe how fast time is going. I don't have a lot of time left, so I am going to give my absolute best. These exhausting weeks are good. Miracles will happen soon. Have a good week, keep smiling and give 'em Heaven. "The church is true, get married in the temple and have an awesome day!" -Brother Frost.

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

All day, every day!
Kokan in Tsuyama with Elder Anthony.  We ran into a beautiful Japanese garden.  All that green is Lily pads on a lake.  Super pretty!

We found dinosaurs

Our district!  Acting out the story of Momotaro.
 As a district, we decided to perform a play of the story of Momotaro. This is a famous Japanese story that came from Okayama! It's all in Japanese, so you probably won't understand. Basically, there was a grandma and a grandpa who didn't have any kids. One day, the grandma saw a giant peach floating down the river. They brought the peach home and as they cut it open, a baby popped out! They named him Momotaro. Later he grew up and he went on an adventure to destroy the "Oni" or demon. Along the way, he meets a dog, a monkey and a bird and together they fight the Oni. In our story, we teach the Oni about God and he gets baptized. Super fun!

Subway!!!  Not like America... Give me an American sandwich please!

Monday, June 20, 2016

JT - Wicked Stake Conference!

Dear Everyone,

We started teaching this one new investigator that we found last week. This guy seems pretty golden. We met him while housing and we set up an appointment with him the next week. We met with him and he had a lot of questions about who God is, what the purpose of life is, what happens after we die, etc. All of the answers are found in the Plan of Salvation, so we taught him that. He was glued in to it and and a lot of questions at the end. We taught him that baptism is the first step in getting to the Celestial Kingdom. He then said "if these things are true, then I will be baptized." It was way cool and hopefully he can pray and find the answers that he needs in order to choose baptism. We should be meeting him again this week.

So, other than that, the work has been just the same as always. No big changes in our investigators' status. Moose is doing really good. One day, he called us and asked if we could read the Book of Mormon together, so that was awesome. I just want these people to get baptized, but it's all in the Lord's timing.

Cool experience from this week. We rode our bikes a long way to try to visit a member that the bishop asked us to visit. We went (about 11 or so miles) and he wasn't there... (That's happened so many times on my mission.) We were lost at what else to do. We decided to visit an active member who lived about 15 minutes away from this member's house. We weren't planning to do so at all. So we went and it turns out it was the sister's birthday!! Crazy coincidence (or is it?) God is truly in the details of each of our individual lives.

So, regarding the title, Yesterday, all of Japan gathered for a "Stake Conference". We had an opportunity to hear a few general authorities speak specifically to Japan over satellite from Salt Lake City. Elder Maynes of the Seventy, Sister Burton of the Relief Society, President Whiting of the Area Presidency and Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve apostles speak to us. I learned so much from this and it was definitely one of the best conferences I've been to. President Whiting gave his whole talk in Japanese, so that too was amazing to see. I know that the leader's of our church are guided and chosen by God himself. They all spoke about things that the members of Japan needed to hear. Things that I as a missionary have been trying so hard to teach these members and many ways that Japan needs to improve. In particular, Elder Bednar went up there and started listing all of the things that Japan needs help with. He hit the nail in the head with that. Everything he said was so good and so applicable to Japan that if these members apply these things, the work in Japan will explode. Always a great opportunity to hear our prophets speak to us. I also learned a lot personally about the Sabbath Day. I learned that after my mission, I need to do a better job of truly appreciating the gift of the Sabbath, because it truly is a gift. Such a good conference.

This area is amazing! I'm loving it! The people are awesome. All of you are awesome! Remember that God is always first. If God is in the front of your mind all of the time, you will make the right choices. It might be hard, people might not like you, but all those are small in the world of eternity. Life is eternal and if we always choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, your life will be where it is supposed to go. Love you all! Have a great week! Keep Smiling and give 'em Heaven!

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

Found a way cool place next to the water.  Had to take pictures...
We got creative...

The District

Elder's Quorum activity yesterday!  Cutest  little daughters in the world.
Awesome family who had us over for dinner last night.  The dad made this model of a famous Japanese movie that I never seen, but everyone knows.  It's called Castle in the Sky.                        

We showed the Seminary class us eating an egg and so they wanted to do it too... Haha, the influence missionaries have on others.  It's real... We might have started a challenge in Japan like the ice bucket challenge.  Raw egg challenge...Missionaries, watch what you do!  Haha, enjoy.

I love Japan!

Monday, June 13, 2016

JT - Long bus ride, new glasses, hard work.

Dear Everyone,

This week, we didn't have much change in investigator's progress, and there isn't much to report. However, I'll talk about some of our experiences this week!

On Wednesday, we took a long bus ride to go on Kokan with the zone leaders. (One of them is Elder Madruga from my MTC district!) it was a 4 hour bus ride to a place called Izumo. It has one of the coolest kanji's I've seen (出雲). It is a rural place, with not many tall buildings. There are also a lot of Brazillian people there, so the missionaries that serve there are usually ones who can speak Portuguese. I went with Elder Matsumoto (who was trained by my second companion, Elder Scowcroft.) We had a pretty successful day and I learned a lot that I have been trying to apply to my own Dendo. I also learned a lot about faith from him. It was really cloudy, but the weather for cast said that it wasn't supposed to rain, so we didn't have any rain coat or anything. We went into a restaurant to eat food. As we were waiting for our food, we see that it is raining hard outside. We were very worried about going out there, because we still had a good 4 hours left of dendo time. So, we finished eating and went outside of the restaurant and it was still raining. In my head, I was thinking, "I don't want to go out there. It is gonna be horrible." But, Elder Matsumoto said "ahh, I want to help people! It will be hard in the rain." So, we put on our helmets and went. I was pretty amazed because as soon as we started riding out, the rain got lighter and lighter until it stopped. The rest of the night, we went to a few different apartment buildings and every time we were inside knocking on apartments, the rain came back. Every Time we finished an apartment and got back outside, the rain stopped! Now why did that happen? I thought about the attitudes of me and Elder Matsumoto. My attitude was focused on myself. "I don't want to do this. I'm gonna get wet." Whereas, Elder Matsumoto's was "I want to help THEM." Because of that selfless attitude, God allowed the rain to stop while we were outside, allowing us to better help those who need it. Faith is a principle of action and power. Therefore, we look outwards, rather than inwards. We act on faith and then God will provide the way for us to accomplish his works. If it was according to my attitude, we would have still gone out and knocked on apartments, but I'm sure that the rain would've poured and we wouldn't have talked to those that we talked to. It was a cool experience and I learned that there is a lot that I still need to work on.

We had a cool lesson with our man Vietnamese investigator, and Moose with a couple members present. We taught the whole plan of salvation in an easy to understand way and related it to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love how it all just connects and makes so much sense to me now. We used a whiteboard and a cool diagram of the Plan of Salvation. (I don't know who drew it...) I'll attach a picture of it.

It was a busy week and despite being out of our area for almost 2 days, we were able to teach more than 20 lessons. It was a good week; a week that really increased my faith. Miracles will happen here, soon. 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

I bought glasses!  (They are just sunglasses but clear lenses.)  What do you think?

We went to Seminary with my zone leader, Elder Matsumoto, who served in Okayama a year ago, when he was a young missionary.  They remembered him.

Okayama Zone!  I love us.

We watched  "The Testaments" and had a lesson afterwards.

Japanese people eat raw eggs all the time.  Yup...Don't judge me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

JT - Still in Okayama!

My new companion drew a picture of me...I think it looks the same.

Dear Everyone,

Transfer calls came and I am staying in Okayama! I will most likely end my mission here, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Elder Ray transferred out to my first area Nishiwaki!! I told him all about that area. My new companion is Elder Yardley from Enterprise, Utah. He is now 7th transfer and we knew each other back in Osaka zone. It'll be a great transfer.

So, along with transfers, Elder Ray had to say goodbye to a few people. We had a cool experience with one of the people we visited. We visited a less-active member who we have been teaching. We were saying bye and sharing testimony with him when his mom came to the door and started talking with us as well. We commented on her beautiful garden and she then goes off and talks about how she believes that God has created all of this and she really has a belief in God. We asked her "how did you come to believe in God?" She says that she used to believe in Buddhism but that didn't make any sense to her so recently, she has come to believe that God is the creator of all things and she is so grateful for God for everything in her life. So, we told her that we teach people how to get closer to God and she seemed to really enjoy some of the things we were saying. So, long story short, this person is going to be sitting in on the lessons that we have with this less active member. She really seems to have interest. This strengthened my testimony that God truly is preparing the hearts of the people to hear the gospel. Hopefully we can both strengthen this member and help his mother to accept the gospel and be baptized.

We picked up two more Vietnamese investigators who are friends with the other six that we have. They were a little scared to go to church meetings yesterday, but after church, we met with them and gave them a tour of the church and taught them about prayer and Jesus Christ. They felt something, but they are still kind of confused because it is all new to them. It seems like they have a desire to come to church from now on.

I keep learning about how hard it is to teach people when they don't have a Christian background. They don't even believe and haven't even thought about God. Before, I had no problem with teaching people about God and Christ, but usually those conversations have just been to people on the street who don't continue hearing the lessons. Now, we are getting people who want to hear and have potential to become baptized. That means we as missionaries really need to help them understand and build their relationship with a God they have never thought about before. It's hard to help them understand especially if you want them to be comfortable with accepting a baptismal invitation. Faith is such a needed, powerful thing. Teaching people to have faith (believe in something that they have never thought about before) is harder than it seems. That's why it's so important to have the Spirit when you teach and testify. Without the spirit, having faith is impossible.

Awesome scripture that I gained a stronger testimony in this week. Alma 13:24 "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory." This is true. There are people all around you; friends, family, neighbors or coworkers who need the gospel. They could even be active members who need to gain a stronger testimony. They are being prepared by angels to receive the gospel. Have faith that they are out there. Seek for the spirit to know who they are, what they need and where to find them.

Love you all! Have a great week! Keep Smiling and give 'em Heaven!

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

Elder Ray's last couple of days

Ugh, so blurry...

They got us with whipped cream pies...

Bye bye Ray

This is the language I'm supposed to understand.  On Our way to dinner in a Taxi with three of our friends.  They are trying to tell the driver directions.  Crazy right?  Yeah, Japanese is fun!  They didn't teach me this in the MTC...

While waiting for our new companions, we had a flashback to when we were companions in Maizuru.  McDonalds with Elder Van Cleave!

Bought some sweet backpacks with Elder Johnson for super cheap!

These hats are legal now as missionaries...Weird... (Actually, mine's probably not legal...)