09 December 2010

Letter from Matlock – 25 November 2010

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                         25 November 2010
So I found out that today is Thanksgiving this morning.  As you may be able to tell I’m not really doing anything to celebrate.  This week’s been a little crazy actually.  Monday we had a huge training from a member of the Quorum of the Seventies.  So then Tuesday was p-day but since that day was a Japan holiday we moved p-day to Thursday.  I wasn’t feeling so well Tuesday however.  I woke up and couldn’t really eat anything.  Absolutely no appetite.  I took a short nap and then went to the church because we had some lessons to teach.
Here I need to rewind a little.  Last week we were housing when we met a new investigator.  She’s very interesting.  She came out and after briefly explaining what we were doing she went back into her apartment, got changed, came back out and said ok, let’s talk.  Where shall we go to talk?  We were a little unprepared for that situation since it never happens and just invited her to church.
Rewind a little more.  We arranged to play ping pong with a young man who doesn’t seem to have any interest in the church but whenever we get together with him he brings along a friend who does have interest.  This time he brought a friend who is a girl, and she was interested in church things.
So – all three of these people came to church, and all enjoyed except for the young man who doesn’t really have interest.  Then Monday the two girls came to FHE and turns out one of our other investigators knows one of them from class.  So they’re all good friends.
Back to Tuesday.  We taught a lesson to the two new female investigators together, and we had a Chinese member there to help us.  It was a really great lesson, we challenged both of them to baptism and they both accepted.  Meanwhile I thought I was going to die during that lesson.  It went pretty long and I was sick and had a full bladder.  Right after that lesson we taught one of our older investigators the word of wisdom.  He had some issues with it but he really liked the idea of prophets warning us that some things were bad before it’s common knowledge among everyone else.  That lesson went extremely well too, but I on the other hand I only got sicker!  At that point we wrapped up as fast as we could (not that fast), went back to the apartment and I hardly left my futon the next day.  I might have been alright for a little bit of work but my companion refused.  He wanted me to get completely better because we have some important lessons – today actually.
Love you all,
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                         30 November 2010
Not a whole lot happened since I wrote less than a week ago.  Except a bat flew into my face while we were riding our bikes one night.  No one can tell me that echolocation works….
We still can’t seem to be able to meet with one of our investigators, but things are going great with another investigator.  He’s really excited about his baptismal date.  We told him that Elder Bee was going to be doing the baptismal interview with him and he said “Bee?!  Is it going to sting me?  This is going to hurt!”  Then afterwards he said “I will change my English name to Bee predator and overwhelm him with the knowledge you have taught me!”  This guy is so funny.  I really want to be here one more transfer so I can keep meeting with him.  This transfer ends next week by the way.  I really, really don’t want to be transferred!  Especially since we have four baptisms next month!
The mission home decided to get new phones so we got an announcement at conference that we would receive a new phone and would start using it the next day.  Well the phones came and their like a brick!  About twice as big as the old ones!  All our excitement over getting a new phone was demolished when we realized it was just bigger, heavier and more troublesome….
The two female investigators are also doing very well – we had FHE at a member’s house with all our Chinese investigators.  He has a lot of cats in his house and the girls became attached to a white one that was lying around.  The white one walked out of the room and after a while a black one walked in.  They got really excited and started yelling “It turned black, it turned black!”  How’s that for a blonde moment?
Well gotta go,  Love you all
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

NOTE: We received an email from Elder Wyman and he is staying in this area for the next while - he did not get transferred to a new area!  He's very happy!

26 November 2010

Letter from Matlock – 16 November 2010 (arrived the 24th)

 Dear (Family in Japanese characters),
Well we still can’t find any Japanese people to teach….we did house a huge apartment complex full of Chinese college students who couldn’t speak Japanese though – that was painful…good thing Chinese use the same writing characters as Japan or that would have been downright impossible.
We’ve been teaching a 7 year old girl the lessons since she’s getting baptized soon.  I just found out that I’m studying the same Kanji she is!  Reading at a 7 year old proficiency is not bad right?  So this week I got a letter from mom and while I was opening it I said, “I love my mom!”  Then my companion said that was such an American thing to say.  So I asked him what you don’t love your mom?  He said he does it’s just hard to say it.  I mean near impossible.  I’m doing what I can to break it but I don’t know if there’s anything I can do.  Aren’t you glad I’m not Japanese?  Love you mom!  Keep sending me letters please.
Oh!  Almost forgot.  We’ve been meeting with an investigator a lot this week - he really enjoys meeting with us and just soaks everything in.  We taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and the five steps to it – faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end.  At the end of the lesson he said, “Wait, so I need to get baptized don’t I?  It’s one of the steps right?  So given the apparent interest he was showing we invited him to be baptized.  That will be December 12th.  All I can say is that I had better not be transferred before then!
So we went to the temple today so I don’t really have time to write this letter but that’s alright since not much happened this week.  About 7 or 8 out of 10 appointments cancelled or didn’t show up.  Actually I did get my butt whopped at ping pong by a Chinese college student.  It’s not just some stereotype; the Chinese will kick your trash at ping pong!
We also housed into a guy from Peru.  I tried to use all the Spanish I knew, failed, but luckily he spoke Japanese, said he would come to church so we acquired a Libro de Mormon in case he was serious about that.  I want to learn Spanish so bad!  It’s got to be way easier than Japanese.
Next week will be the year mark from when I got my mission call!  Where did the time go?  I still feel like I just got here…
Anyways - (Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

24 November 2010

Letter from Matlock – 2 November 2010 (arrived the 23rd)

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),
This week has been fantastic. So much has happened, we’ve found so many people and we’ve met with and have appointments with so many people.  With both my companion and I striving to be consecrated missionaries it’s like this area is overflowing with harvest.
One of the members brought his friend to church the Sunday before last.  His friend is from Cameroon, Africa.  This last Sunday he came again and afterwards we sat down and talked with him for just a few minutes.  We have him a book of Mormon and gave him a brief explanation of what it contained and how it’s helped me in my life.  He accepted it graciously as if he had been waiting for it for some time.  Then he told us that he’s trying to follow Christ and he knows that one can find safely and happiness in doing so.  He also said that he hopes we can help him do so, and that this moment (that moment) was the happiest of his life!
Then Sunday evening we had a church introduction lesson for a new Eikaiwa student.  Now from my previous interactions with him I understood that he doesn’t believe in God at all and doesn’t believe anything that has anything to do with church can help him in any part of his life.  So with this in mind we proceeded with the lesson.  We watched the finding happiness video that we show to many new potential investigators and then discussed it.  In simple Japanese (of course) I told him that our lives are too meaningful to end with death and if we did cease to exist with death, then what would be the point of anything?  I told him I knew we had a purpose in this life.  That got him thinking, and he agreed to meet again!  After reviewing the lessons afterwards it became clear you need at least a small amount of faith in God to benefit from any part of it.  So we’ll see what we can do about that.
Yesterday however the best thing ever happened!  So every Monday we have a family home evening activity and right before that we were wandering rather aimlessly looking for a postbox so that we could send off our president’s letters.  We passed a group of three college aged kids.  After we passed them my companion said to me – they were speaking Chinese – go talk to them their all kinjins (golden investigator).  A little sidenote/tangent – (Japanese Character) or Jin means person and often is used with nationality – Americanjin, nihonjin, mechikojin, etc, and (Japanese Character) or Kin is gold, or money.  So (Japanese Character) is a word we use out here as missionaries.  Anyways – I go and talk to them and as most Chinese out here do they all spoke great English.  I find out that one of them is Christian and he went to church all the time back in China!  He asked when church was and if he could come.  I said “yes, you can come.”  Then we talked a little bit about what we do as missionaries – and when he found out we teach people about the church and about the gospel he asked if we could teach him.  I said, “Yes, we could do that.”  He said that it was destiny that we met.  I said, “No, it’s not.”  Ok, just kidding, I agreed with him.  Then we invited them all to come to the church right then for FHE.  They all consented and we led the three of them over to the church!  It felt like a parade almost.  They all had a great time at the activity, really enjoyed it.  Afterwards the guy I was talking with about church back in China came up to me and said “I really need to talk to you.  I’ve been having a hard time since coming to Japan, the hardest of my life probably.  And you’re a fellow Christian so we’re like Christian brothers, I can talk freely and openly with you.”  So we’ll be meeting today actually.  Then a ward member, the best missionary member in the world, arranged to take all five of us out for all you can eat ramen this week.
I really can’t describe how happy I am about how things are going.  I wrote you about Spirit right?  He’s from china as well, but I challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and he called and told me it was just all words to him and he didn’t understand how it could help him or what he needed to look for.  He told me he needs a guide, someone to teach him, we’re meeting with him tomorrow actually and I’ll have the chance to tell him more about my favorite book.
We have so many appointments this week it might be a struggle to get to them all on time, I like that a lot better than no appointments.
Things are going great with my companion as well.  The culture and language gap is hilarious.  The funniest thing I think that has happened this week is when during study he sneezed and then turned to me and said, “bless me”. I think it may just be the fact that he’s not a native English speaker that made that funny.  He has to work pretty hard out here.  Most of the people we’re working with right now – investigators, less actives, are from China, Philippines, Africa…in other words their English is stronger than their Japanese.  So I’m thriving but it’s a change of pace for him!  It’s fun.
Love to you all!
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

23 November 2010

Letter from Matlock – 9 November 2010 (arrived the 20th)

Receiving mail from him in his new area continues to be a challenge - many letters we are not receiving, and those that arrive are usually more than a week in transit.

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),
Wow.  So much has happened this week I hardly know where to start.  Maybe I’ll just summarize it and talk about the big things.
We’ve been teaching our investigator which is always interesting.  Since he’s a strong Christian we wanted to get him rooted in the Book of Mormon.  To be honest he’s helped my teaching skills so much.  Everyone else we teach from China or Japan doesn’t have any background on any of this so they just accept what you’re telling them.  So we hit a little rut with Jesus Christ as a prophet as well as Savior and Redeemer and I didn’t have any scripture references prepared.  Yikes!  Then we watched the movie the Restoration which illustrates pretty well about the whole Joseph Smith experience.  That didn’t end well…  Apparently before he read about angel Moroni and the handing over of the plates and thought that was what the movie was depicting.  In short he was a little upset that it didn’t match exactly what had happened. We met again Saturday and I had a list of bible scriptures this time!  Basically we just cleared up last time.  When we closed the lesson he asked what kind of confirmation or ordinance we had to do to become a member.  Apparently that’s all he wanted to know the whole time.  Well, next day after church we sat down with him, I challenged him to baptism and he accepted.  That will be Nov. 28th.  So my first baptism as a missionary in Japan will be with a brother from Africa.  Of course.  It’s only logical right?
After that we went out finding since my companion really wanted to find some Japanese investigators.  Basically everyone we are teaching right now is from anywhere but Japan, mainly China.  Honestly, If China opened up and allowed the church in throughout more than Hong Kong area it would blossom and flourish.  Right now the church is spreading underground through faithful members in China.  Anyways – we go out to find some Japanese people.  We housed one apartment and the upper floor yields nothing.  Then on the bottom floor we met a guy who is a college student from…..China!  We talk to him for quite a while, traded phone numbers, gave a Book of Mormon, set up a time to meet and were about to leave when he stepped out and took us to meet all of his friends that were living in that apartment building!  He took us up and housed all his friends that we had already talked to, then back down and housed all his friends that we hadn’t talked to yet!  If only our members were this gung-ho about missionary work as this guy we just met!  Incredible!  We got invited in to one of his friend’s apartments and we talked to the both of them a little longer.  So – we still can’t find a Japanese investigator.
Back a few weeks ago we had interviews with the president and he told me I had grown a lot since coming into the mission and that I was a lot more outgoing and happier.  I said something along the lines of “oh that’s good” and shrugged it off.  But we were visiting a member this week and when she and her fiancĂ© asked about our mission experience as a whole.  I said it was terrible at first but I gained more of a testimony and it got much better.  Then she said, yea I can see that your quite (Japanese characters).  Roughly translated (Japanese characters) would be bright, cheerful/sunny, or radiating as my dictionary puts it.  Then my companion said, Yea, I knew him when he first came to Japan and when I met him again I hardly recognized him – changed completely.  So if it’s from the mouth of three or more witnesses I can’t deny it can I?  I’ll just add it to my list of reasons why the church is true. The list is getting quite long yet most of the people I talk to everyday still don’t believe me…
Well, I’ve gone onto three pages but I don’t have anything more to say.
Love to you all!
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

11 November 2010

email sent 11/8/2010

So our new investigator accepted our baptisimal challenge and will be baptized this month but you don`t know anything about him cause I never got around to buying a stamp for last weeks letter. oops. I tried to but they don`t sell 110 yen stamps anywhere but at post offices and we wern`t around one this week.... but I`ll buy a book of stamps today and won`t have to worry about it for awhile.
Anyways in short, I`m still learning a ton from my new companion. My japanese has skyrocketed. I mean- it all makes sense how it fits together, doesn`t mean I catch everything, but it makes sense. And theres all these small cultural nuanciaces that he`s filling me in on, like your supposed to take your gloves off before entering someones home. To be honest I don`t think I would have ever picked up on that. and this week we`ve found more investigators, taught more lessons, handed out more Book of Mormons - in just this week- than all of my last month.
Anyways take care,
Love you all,
Elder Wyman

02 November 2010

Letter from Matlock – 26 October 2010

A brief explanation.  We let Matlock know that we were not receiving his letters and he used a different mailbox.  It must have worked - so there have been no letters posted for two weeks because we have received none - will post them if they ever come!

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),
I cannot even begin to explain how crazy this week has been.  Wednesday, at the zone conference we received posters for eikaiwa to post around our area.  So we went out to try and post them.  The one board we found said that you had to go to the town hall to get the item approved first.  So we went there and talked to the lady in charge of that.  and still can’t understand – I don’t like being treated like an idiot, etc, etc.  In the end we are not allowed to post any of them because they have “shukyo kanker” or in other words because it’s related to religion.  So that fell through.  Then we go to the church to set up for eikaiwa.  When we walk in a member was there and he said, “Oh!  You’re pretty early!, most likely he didn’t know or forgot that we needed some extra time to prepare and set up.  So I’m running around trying to get eikaiwa set up.  At that conference we also received new teaching manuals so the lessons are completely changed.  As you can tell that threw a brick into everything.
Next day –  we go out to visit a Sister in the ward which we’ve tried to do countless times before and failed.  On the way there my companion gets a flat tire (mind you this is the fourth one between the two of us in the last two weeks).  We continue on by foot since we’ve been deferred too many times now.  We find the house, we talk with her, and we share a spiritual message.  While she is sharing her experience/testimony about what we just told her my companion just passes out!  He came too shortly after he hit the ground but I called the mission president, the mission doctor, and the Sister called the ambulance, and they came to pick him up.  President and Dr. Goth both said he’s probably ok, but he medics were insistent on taking him to the hospital to run some checks.  So we went.  While they were running some checks and filling out some papers with him I went off and called the mission president, his brother and canceling all our appointments.  After all of this when we had returned to the apartment the mission president called and asked me “So what did you learn today?”  I told him that I learned how to say “insurance” in Japanese.  He laughed.
Now I’m with Elder Yamaji who is from Japan.  He was actually my zone leader my first transfer.  He’s a really good missionary, and well, he’s Japanese.  Luckily he speaks pretty good English so I have a last resort if I just can’t get an idea across to him.  And he’s district leader – his plan for our first district meeting is to set some goals and come up with a plan to accomplish them.  Things are going to start getting done!  He knows what needs to happen and how to go about doing it.  Granted I know too, but that’s where experience and the language ties in.
Well, here I go
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

13 October 2010

Letter from Matlock – 5 October 2010

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),
Wow, what a week.  Ok, so…
We had a lesson planned with an investigator so we were trying to figure out what to teach him.  Last time we taught all of lesson 2, the plan of salvation so naturally we figured we would move on to lesson 3, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and ask him if he would like to get baptized.  Well – while we were planning for that we were having the hardest time figuring out how to teach this.  And lesson 3 is not complicated – it’s already planned out!  Yet we could not for the life of us figure out how to do it even with the lesson plan opened right in front of us.  It was in every sense of the word a stupor of thought.  I’ve never felt at such a loss before.  At this point we decided that we need to completely rethink this.  So we do some thinking, pondering, discussing, confirmed our conclusions through prayer and ended up re-teaching some of lesson 1.  Mainly Joseph Smith and the power of the Book of Mormon in peoples lives.  We realized that you probably need a strong grounding on the Book of Moron before being baptized. Ok, definitely need it.  Boy, what would we do without the spirit?  I’m telling you, I’d already have come back home if it wasn’t for the spirit.
The next day we go straight from the apartment to eat sushi with a member from my companion’s old ward.  He gave us each a Ute’s (University of Utah) hat from his trip to America.  I thought it was fantastic and absolutely cannot wait to wear it around BYU campus!
After that we tried to find some people who expressed interest in the gospel earlier, but the apartment we thought it was, was someone else but he agreed to let us come back.  Then afterwards we went to knock a few doors and the only person we talked to agreed to meet again!
In Sakado, I feel like we had to go finding for hours and hours every week to just get a slim chance of getting two return appointments!  Just incredible!
Then we visited a member who is struggling with a few things and tried to help her, then went out to eat again with a pervious investigator, after that we had some time left so we passed out English class fliers at the train station.  There was a man just standing there and I asked him, well tried to ask him, how you say “vest” in Japanese since he was wearing one.  He shut me down somewhere along the lines of “I’m find I don’t need your religion crap” so I tried to explain  that it was a simple Japanese question.  He answered somewhere along the line he used before.  Extremely rude!  Then, the next wave of people to get off at the stop, were not much nicer!  I was starting to glare back at some people.  I was about ready to pop someone in the jaw!  That was the angriest I’ve been in quite a while.  Then luckily two people saved me.  Two foreigners from Canada and America walked by and we started talking a little bit. Turns out they both have LDS friends and were very supportive and had some good words of encouragement.  Then they hopped on a train and we were about to head back to the apartment but I wanted to get out a few more.  Then I met this high schooler and we talked a little and I ended up giving him a Book of Mormon.  I was exhausted after all of that!  Talk about an emotional roller coaster…
So yesterday we were going to visit a few people before FHE at the church but none of them were home so we had a lot of time to kill.  Neither of us had any idea what to do so we decided to go back to the church to try to figure something out. Hanging on the gate to the church was big plastic bag.  We both thought that was a little odd, so I go over to check it out.  I peek in and there was a kitten inside!  In the rain none the less!  We were completely perplexed!  So we spend most of the rest of the evening taking care of this wet hungry kitten. Then halfway through FHE the woman who left it comes back!  Apparently she found it and then left it on the church gate.  The she grabs the kitten and runs off with it again!  We had no idea what to think!  And I’m still confused….
Well, that’s all for now
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)
P.S. I’m really excited for conference but I just found out that it already happened!  Apparently it shows in foreign countries a week late!  I watched a talk by Pres. Monson and thought it was fantastic!  Can’t wait to see the whole thing.