05 March 2012

Email from Matlock 5 March 2012

 Dear Family,

       It would seem that I am coming back home next week. Weird. It doesn't feel like I'm going to stop being a missionary and start eating cereal and speaking English every day. I had a great week which made me want to stay here in Japan for a bit longer but right now its pouring rain and freezing cold so I think I'm alright with taking off now. Due to the weather conditions today will be packing day.
       Started the week off with my last zone conference with President interviews. They were short since we'll be having another one at the end of the mission here in a little bit. Right after the conference we had splits which I was notified of the day before. The assistants wanted to go on splits with all the new missionaries in the zone and that meant my companion. So I went with another Elder to none other than Tokorozawa. It was so good! Felt so great to be back in that area. At the time I went to Tokorozawa it was the busiest place I had ever served in. Having been in Tokyo for the last six months it’s looking super empty. Couldn't believe just how small and spaced out everything was. I'm going to have a huge shock when I step foot in East Lyme again cause I'm sure East Lyme is even quieter than this suburb of Tokyo Japan. Anyways, we had about half the people we stop talk to us on our way to meet a ward member to help him with his English class. We made it to the station a bit early and it was proposed that we pass out English fliers, but I having grown tired of that insisted we did Book of Mormon pass along cards instead. This kid came up to my companion and talked to him for a long time! Then the teacher came and we brought this kid along with us to the English class. The class was grueling. I thought the church class was hard to teach. The class was full of 60-70 year old grandma's who can't speak English at all and just can't register English words at all. I was in a small discussion with two of them and I had to explain everything I said including the spelling using both English and Japanese. I was exhausted after that! Afterwards the teacher took us out to dinner and our new friend came along too. That was fun. The teacher is a member from Sir Lanka who I enjoyed talking with while in Tokorozawa and it was good to see him again. We traded contact information with three guys we met on the street one of which lives closer to Kichijoji than to Tokorozawar. A member contacted me and said that he invited they guy who lives close to Kichijoji to the baptism they were having on Saturday and it would be good if I came. So we did, explained all about Baptism and the Atonement and such. Afterwards gave him a tour of the building, went out to eat, went to Kichijoji and gave him a tour of that building and finally gave him a Book of Mormon and sent him on his way. We spent about 5 hours with him all in all. Woah nelly. It was good though, we had a chance to explain and testify about a lot of things.
       That went great and the next day it snowed like nothing else. It was increadible. We shoveled the walk way to the church to prepare for eikaiwa but hardly anyone showed up. That meant we combined intermediate and advanced and I only had to teach one eikaiwa that week. Thank goodness.
       Sunday went very well, right at the beginning of Priesthood meeting an investigator showed up unexpectedly and was able to attend our discussion on....baptisms for the dead and temple work. Perfect right? It actually was. After the lesson we had a smaller lesson with him to explain what baptism is in the first place and talked about how though Christ that is possible. Then everything clicked and he said his parents had passed away and if there was something he could do for them to make them more comfortable and happy he wanted to do it. What do ya know? We have something like that. That went very well too. We're going to go out to eat with him before I leave.
       It was a great week. Hope this week goes just as well.
Can't wait to see you all!

Matlock Wyman

Email from Matlock 27 February 2012

 Dear Family,

     I hit my two year mark this week. Strange having finally hit this point. We decided for two weeks we're going to not use the "T" word. But I'll tell you I'm feeling pretty hunky. As hunky as an elephant with a long  runk....    Ok you can probably tell how it’s going over here.
     Had a good eikaiwa. Finally got some new male students which means lessons for us! Finally! Lately Eikaiwa has been so ineffective for our missionary work I've considered not going. One of them said that he was actually interested in coming to worship on Sunday and if the introduction lesson went well then he would consider coming with his wife. The man in charge of Kichijoji Eikaiwa told this all to me, said that his becoming an investigator and ultimately his eternal salvation was all contingent on how well this 30 min introduction lesson went. But no pressure. That ended up going pretty good however. A Brother in the ward helped us teach and I was almost over my head in Keigo. The man in question, is a middle aged business man who is very clean cut, sharp, precise and businessy. Which means he speaks Keigo. Japanese is Nihongo, Nihon being Japan and Go being language or words. Kei is respect or honorific meaning Keigo is a whole 'nother language. I could understand what was being said just fine but seeing that everyone was using it meant I had to as well. I've been practicing Nihongo so much I'm lacking a bit in Keigo. But I managed and he will discuss with his wife about coming to church next Sunday.
     The other new student was also very good but before I tell you that story I have to tell you this story.
      On Wednesday evening the screen on our laptop stopped working. The computer was on but the soft humming of the hardware from inside was the only reassurance we had that the computer had any life to it at all. The soonest we could get it looked at by the Mission Home Computer Specialist (yes we have that calling in our mission now) was Friday. Friday I was on splits so in the morning we headed down to Nakano to get it checked out. Once we arrived and pulled the computer out of the box the Mission Home Computer Specialist took the thing out of the box put it on the counter turned on the power button and it turned on like nothing had ever happened.
"Is this what it was doing before?"
"No sir it is not."
"So it wasn't working until you brought it all the way over here."
"It would seem that way, yes."
Houston, never mind, we're ok now. Unbelievable. So we grabbed a handful of candy from the jar on the front desk and beat it back home. With the time we had we had about two hours to pick up trash off the road around the church before our lesson. Which we did. Right as we finished up and were walking into the church we said Konnichiwa to a guy walking by and he actually said Konnichiwa back and started talking to us! He had seen missionaries a lot before riding their bikes around and he thought we were really erai, or in other words, great. We asked if he would like to see the church and he said yes so we showed him the inside. We showed him the chapel and unfortunately there was a sister in there playing weird music on the piano so it was hard to feel the spirit. She goes to the church every day to practice the piano. She's there basically every day all day. Once we walked out of the chapel however the other investigator was there for his lesson. Not wanting to lose the guy that we just found and not wanting to chase away this man with whom we had a lesson appointment I executed some quick minute thinking and got both of them to attend the lesson. The new guy said he just had about 15min so we put in the 15 min video gozonji desuka without delay.
       After the video we were able to have a good discusison and they had some good comments and questions. Turns out that the one originally scheduled for the lesson has a Morumon Kei which is one of the old, old translations of Morumon sho. So we gave them both a newly translated version. Thirty minutes past and the new guy was still there and seemed to be enjoying the discussion. So we ended and went back to the chapel since the scheduled lesson guy hadn't seen it yet. Right as we walked in the all day piano sister started playing the church song Army of Helamen and the spirit swooped down like a falcon. Uh, I mean dove. The lesson guy mentioned that there was no crucifix or statue of Christ being crucified. I then had the opportunity to explain that through the atonement Christ overcame death and sin so that we could overcome death too. The crucifix is the symbol of Christ's death and He overcame death, so the symbol of the cross is irrelevant. The symbol instead is the lives of the saints who are changed through the resurrection of Christ. The symbol is the light and hope that shines in the lives of every saint who lives this gospel. So that is why we don't have a cross.
       Bearing that testimony with the music and everything I felt so powerful. You could tell that they felt it as well. The spirit was tangible in that room. We spent some time just standing quietly listening to the music and feeling the spirit. I asked the new guy who only had a few minutes to spare if he was alright on time and he said, yes of course I have plenty of time. Who doesn't have time for that?
       The new guy agreed to call once he got his new phone. He was on his way to replace his phone when we met him so we couldn't get his contact information. The next day he still hadn't contacted or come to sports night like he said so I was just a little concerned. We had some work on the computer scheduled for that day so we did that and about the time we had to get going I felt like working on the online area book for just a little longer. I for some reason felt like putting in just a few more names. So I did then we booked it out of there. Right as we stepped out of the church guess who was walking down the road by the gate of the church parking lot? The zone leaders! No, it was the new guy. We got his phone number and then we both had some free time so we went with him to go eat. We ate udon and it was good. Afterwards we said hey let’s have a church lesson and he said ok, once I do some shopping really quick. Really quick turned out to be an hour but we were able to contact a joint and plan a lesson out. It went really really good. Talked about baptism and he said that would be good, to purify yourself by baptism. He said the prayer at the end of the lesson and then mentioned that he now understood what one of the missionaries he had talked to before was talking about when he said "warm feeling". I generally try to avoid referring to confirmations from the spirit as a warm feeling since it’s so much more than that but in this case it was just the words that helped him make the connection. So wonderful. He said he would come to church if he could wake up and he couldn't wake up so....
      He didn't come. Sunday did prove to be plenty interesting though. An investigator who I found forever ago came to church out of the blue and had a good time. After church there was a youth family home evening which we were trying to get people to come to but we were explicitly told that we could not be there for the last bit of it. It was a secret and missionaries were not allowed. This was told to us by a ward member who was at the time holding a stack of pink and red paper and scissors. We thought to ourselves, I wonder if we're going to get paper hearts taped all over our apartment door? During lunch we got a call from the same ward member confirming our apartment address. We thought again, I wonder if we’re going to get paper hearts taped all over our apartment door. During our Sunday study session someone rang the doorbell. I peeked through the peep hole to see a silhouette of a tall man saying "hello! hello!" Half blocked by a heart shaped piece of paper. I open up the door to meet a man I've never met before who introduces himself as Micheal from the Jehovahs Wittnesses.
"Hello I'm Michael, we're Jehovahs Wittnesses."
"Hey Michael."
"You must be Mormon."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Well you've got paper hearts all over your door."
"Oh do we now?"
"Yes you do, you haven't seen it? Come look!"
"So we do."
I wasn't so surprised that we had paper hearts on our door as that that gave away the fact that we were Mormon.
"So the message we are sharing with everyone today is about Armageddon."
He then goes on a bit about God waging war with humans.
"If you will look here in Revelations 16:16 it reads..."
Never in my life will I trust what it says in a Jehovahs Wittness bible.
"Uh, hang on a sec, can I grab my bible?"
"Oh sure by all means!"
I grab it and read up Armageddon in the bible dictionary figuring that would be enough to give me a strong enough base to have a discussion on it.
"Ok could you read that for us?"
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
You have five minutes to introduce your religion in such a way that I will want to convert and you share this one?
He then had a present for me in the form of a few editions of the Watchtower and I, being overwhelmed with gratitude, decided to give him a present myself in the form of a Book of Mormon. After a short discussion about the book our religion and what the bible did and didn't say about the Book of Mormon he politely declined. And they took off. Until the next three month cycle that is.
      After that we decided our study was done and headed off to a member family’s house for dinner. I wasn't feeling like stopping people at all, and pretty tired of being rejected ignored and hearing lame excuses like I'm Buddhist but I don't know what I believe and I'm not doing anything right now but I'm in a hurry. There was one person I saw that I really felt like stopping. He didn't hear me but my companion got him behind me. Turns out he spoke English and we were able to testify in English. We told him about the restoration and encouraged him to know if it was true or not. It went well! Couldn't get his contact information but he took a Book of Mormon, said he would share this with his friends and possibly come by if he had the chance. It went so well I was really glad I had the prompting to stop him. Apparently my companion felt the same way when he saw him and thought I really really want to talk to this kid.
      So things have been going good. One detail I forgot to mention. At the beginning of this week Elder Oaks came and spoke to our mission. It was a privilege to hear the words of an Apostle. I was impressed with his deep knowledge and even stating simple principles he seemed to approach them from a different angle than most folks and it was evident that he had studied and meditated deeply on every point of doctrine he talked about. I was very impressed. And his wife served in Sendai! She spoke some Japanese with us and used some Kanji to make some points in her talk. That was pretty cool.
     This letter was rather long for only having two weeks left in the field. I'm ending now.
Love you all!
--Matlock Wyman

Email from Matlock 20 February 2012

 Dear 家族、

        I got my flight plans today! I'm going to be leaving at 2:50 in the afternoon and arriving at Dallis at 1:30 in the afternoon. I travel back in time! Bottom line is I have 16 hours of flying and layovers. Just can't wait I'm really super excited for everything.
        Right, missionary things. We've been doing missionary training for a young man. He is my favorite member. He's been planning on going on a mission so we're trying to train him a little bit in the ways of missionary work. Other than that we have no real investigator lessons.
        Our finding efforts have been interesting. One guy wouldn't acknowledge my existence so I followed him talking to him and testifying hoping that he would notice that I was there. Without even batting an eye or even looking at me he walked straight into a police box and started complaining about me. Oh goodness. I just walked away and of course the police man didn't care about this man complaining about how he can't deal with a 21 year old foreigner trying to talk to him. So there was no problems.
        I'm starting to change my strategy a little bit. No more chasing people down and a lot more going to parks and talking to people who are just doing weird things. We met a guy playing these African tribal shaky balls. He was cool.
        Had some zone leader splits and those were interesting. We went to Sukiya and had some gyudon together. There are about 5 different sizes you can get ranging from tiny to mega, but the biggest one of all is not actually on the menu. It’s the king size and its about 2-3 times bigger than a mega. So naturally we all got it. My companion and one roomate finished theirs, I had about a fifth of it left and decided that I could either not eat it and fail or eat the rest and be in great pain and picked option #1. The other roommate got down to just one bite and had to go to the bathroom and almost threw up but didn't. Afterwards we spent a good three hours or more cleaning the apartment. The district and also the zone theme became clean your apartment so the Zone leaders decided that during splits we would do that. I never realized just how dirty it was until I went to clean it. It’s bad. We have a mountain of garbage in our genkan now. Fun splits though.
         A former companion called and said that he met a member and his fiancé from my first area and they wished me well for the last bit of my mission. And he said that on Monday he wants to go tour some places with his parents and he needs someone to come along so naturally I'm coming with. So exciting! Can't wait for everything. Can't wait to see everyone and get back in touch with everyone. Elder Oaks is coming tomorrow and we'll have a big conference.
         I'll do what I can to have as much fun as I can these last few weeks and still get stuff done.
      Love you all!
--Matlock Wyman

Email from Matlock 13 February 2012

Dear Family,

     I never realized how long one month is until now.
     Started off this week with pretty dismal weather. It hasn't been cold enough to snow so any precipitation we get comes in the form of pain and suffering. Tuesday and Wednesday were particularly bad not so much as the weather but in the sense of getting completely blown off by every living soul around. I came pretty close to giving a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to a few of these people. Then the next day I went on splits with the district leader and for some reason we saw a ton of success. Within two days with four hours to do finding altogether we found about 9 people who traded contact information with us. I don't know how that happened. A few of them said they want to be baptized even. Following up with all of them will be the tricky part but with that many people surely at least one of them will start learning about the church! Those splits went really good and I learned a lot of great stuff. One thing that the district leader is good at that I needed to learn was being super bold and not taking no for an answer. You feel much more accomplished when you do. And more people get angry at you which makes everything more fun. Those spits were just way too much fun. I wish I was companions with him, but that would be just too good.
      Also had something fantastic happened. There was a person that I found a long time ago who seemed to have lost all interest and friendliness when we called him back so we lost all hope for him and deleted his number. We got a call yesterday from none other than this guy! He said he wanted to go to church next week. So he is back on the radar. Also my companions called an African guy from the area book and it was hilarious. The conversation sounded kind of like this- "wait- who are you? Elder T? I don't know no Elder T? Hey how'd you get my numba? From Elder E? I don't know no Elder E! How'd you get my numba? Oh I see, I see- you from da church!" Way too funny. And he's coming to church next week. At least he better, he swore on God’s name that he would come. Perhaps eventually we'll tell him not to do that...
     Church this week was plenty interesting. For some reason things are going really good. Tons of members are recognizing our existence and trying to help us out a lot with the work. It’s weird. For the longest time I have had to go out of my way to talk with the members. If I were a normal person or investigator I would have been long gone! Sometimes missionaries take lower status than normal members and we have to prove ourselves before we can make any friends. But not this week, it was great! There's even a member who went around taking pictures of everyone to make a member book for the missionaries! Those are one of the most useful and most difficult to compile tools as a missionary and we're getting one made for us! Hallelujah!  After all the fun at church we were advised by a member of the bishopric to put our suit pants under our futons and sleep on them instead of ironing them. So we tried it and it half worked. You can indeed put a nice crease into your clothing by sleeping on it.
     Other than that we visited the Elders Quorum president’s family and he gave us an assignment to teach the lesson next week in Elders Quorum. A daunting task. It’s good though because now the members are trusting us and involving us. It seems like a pretty simple thing but I feel like I'm actually helping the ward and I'm a part of it not just that kid who has one job of getting people to church and can't even do that right.  Then we went housing around their neighborhood and found a less active member! They already know about her. Once the sister missionaries find out about her it’s all over.
     I'm still working hard but I will tell you it’s hard to fight the trunkyness. If there's something exciting going on I'm usually ok but mornings are especially difficult. I have to focus on study but trunky is stronger than my concentration. Trunky has been growing more and more powerful. Compared to the four other people I sent home I'm doing pretty good however. Though the last two weeks are the real test. Pray that I pass!

Love ya all
Elder Wyman