31 January 2011

Email from Matlock – 31 January 2011

Dear Family,

Once again I don`t feel like writing a letter. So don`t expect anything for a while.
Well I`m officially 20! Not a teenager, not a child I`m twenty years old. I don`t feel too different though. I kind of wish I was still 19 since there’s nothing too special about being twenty. Since the Japanese people are not considered adults until they turn twenty, they are always very surprised when they find out that I`m only 19 yet out in a very foreign country crying repentance and whatnot. For my birthday we had a very typical missionary day. It was good I suppose.

At a ward activity I met a less active youth who loves ping pong. I played him and was able to hold my own which impressed him a bit. Hopefully I can do some ping pong reactivation missionary work. Wow, anyone who read that sentence without any background on this would probably be really confused.

My scripture study has actually become very interesting lately.  My companion and I have an ongoing discussion about agency. So agency is such a valuable gift that even God cannot force us to do things. Physically cannot make us do anything. It’s against the laws of heaven. Instead of that he just humbles us and tells us what to do so we don`t get cursed again. We`re also trying to decide which is more powerful, faith or agency. Faith can move mountains, but no matter how much faith you have someone can still decide to not accept the gospel, not come back to church, continue being a dolt, etc, etc.

So today we`re actually going on splits to Brazil. No joke, we`re going to a Brazilian area in the mission, where they find, teach, and work with Brazilians. Hence the early email. But here`s the thing- yo no se en el portugese. I can probably pick up enough phrases to be slightly useful but this may be the most relaxed splits I ever go on. Relaxed except for.... getting there! Its a three hour train ride! I`m going to go broke or crazy I don`t know which will come first.

Well thats all that stuck out in my mind this week. Take it easy, have fun with your new foreign family. Oh, Dad and Becca, please practice your language skills all the time! It’s such a good opportunity!

Love you all,
Elder Wyman

Email from matlock - 25 January 2011

Dear Family,

I don`t feel like writing a letter today- so I`ll email.
This week was busy with splits and district meetings. We traveled two and a half hours by train, half an hour by foot to attend a district meeting.  That was expensive and exhausting.

Yesterday we had about an hour to go streeting after we ate at a nearby ramen shop. I`m going to backtrack a little here- ramen! They serve gyoza with the ramen thats as big as your fist! Never seen gyoza that big in my life! Anyways we were streeting and my companion was looking at something behind him and I saw a guy coming towards us and I just felt like he needed to be stopped. So I did. The thing about this guy that was different from any other Japanese person we`ve met is that he has actually thought about things! When we asked about God he had his own ideas and opinions beyond uuhhh I don`t know. Then he said something I`ve never heard from a Japanese person on the street before- I have interest! Then we had about ten minutes left and were at a crosswalk waiting for the light wondering where to go to kill ten more minutes, and I see a guy walking on the other side of the street. He`s wearing the same thing as all the other Japanese business men who are returning from work, and those people have zero happiness in their lives. Nor patience for Christian foreigners. I felt like he needed to be stopped right then. Absolutely had to happen. We walk quickly across the street and call out to him just before he rounds the corner and passes us. Turns out he was Islam, but fluent in Japanese, and before we could say more than we were volunteers for Jesus Christ he asked us for our phone number so he could give it to all his friends. He said he knows lots of people from Brazil, Phillipines, Japan, who all believe in Jesus Christ and he said he would introduce us to all of them. We were astonished. I still can`t believe what happened. You have no idea how exhilarating it is to have an urgent impression from the spirit, act on it and see miracles like these!

In other news after this week I should be as proficient in kanji as a second grader! Still, nothing makes sense, but perhaps third grade is where its at.

take care- love you all
--Elder Wyman

17 January 2011

Letter from Matlock – 7 January 2011

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                         28 December 2010
Well this Christmas pretty much fell flat on its face.  My companion was so sick we didn’t even leave the apartment that day.  We did get a few visitors though.  A brother from the ward came to drop off some Christmas presents and while he was over I solicited him to help with a priesthood blessing.  Then later the a member family came over to drop off the ward Christmas presents and some medicine.  For the rest of the time I just sat there.  I quickly realized that studying gets old after 3-4 hours.  Missionary work is interesting like that.  Having free time is actually the last thing we want.
The day after that was So’s baptism!  I was a little concerned about who was going to do the actual baptism.  But it ended up being a brother in the ward who also became her home teacher from that point on.  I liked how that worked out – a nice transition from missionary lessons to fellowship in the church.
All for now
Love to you all
(Elder Wyman in Japanese character stamp)

03 January 2011

Letter from Matlock – 30 December 2010

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                         20 December 2010
Well its election time around here.  I can’t tell you how much I hate election time!  In place of putting signs and posters in everyone’s yards they drive around in cars with megaphones on top blasting their propaganda everywhere.  Then in the morning they stand outside the train station (which is right next to our apartment) and scream into their megaphones for a good hour or so.  This is at the exact time that we are quietly trying to study the scriptures!  I was about to go down there and smash some things!  If I were a citizen here these people would be getting negative votes.  Absolutely ridiculous.
The good news is we found a new investigator!  He lived in Australia for three years and he wants to keep up his English.  He came to church and afterwards when we talked to him he went into a lot of deep psychological stuff and I had no idea what he was talking about but as far as I could gather he wants to find more happiness in life.  I’ve found that people will not have interest unless they’ve thought about things before…anything like God, church, meaning of life, happiness, afterlife, or even morals.  Most of the people here don’t give a second thought to any of these things.  I guess that’s what I’m here for…
I just realized that we’re 5 days away from Christmas.  That really pounced on me.  I guess that it doesn’t help that only half of the population celebrates half-heartedly.  Togane ward however takes good care of its missionaries!  They put out 2 big boxes labeled Elder Wyman’s Christmas presents, and Elder (my companion)’s Christmas presents.  I was pretty surprised!  I’ve never had someone put out a collection box for me!  It feels weird because I don’t think I’m getting anything for anyone this year besides Book of Mormon’s and free lessons on how to find happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
We have started emailing our investigators every night now (via phone).  This is something we learned from a conference.  So we tell them to read every day and we read the same chapters and tell them what stood out to us, what to look for etc.  It’s yielded fantastic results!  They both came to church this Sunday which makes one of them eligible for baptism next week!  And the other is eagerly working towards her baptism next year.
Who didn’t come to church this Sunday however was our brother investigator!  He called later in the afternoon and said he was up all night at a farewell party and was too tired to come to church.  Aaaaaaand – he was talking with his friend who told him a bunch of nonsense about Mormonism that we’re not true Christians, super weird, different living standards, different scripture and even told him his Aunt and Grandma would be mad at him if he told them he was baptized Mormon!  Now we’ve met with this friend, so we gave him a Book of Mormon and he actually introduced us to another investigator.  Apparently he went on the internet and found a bunch of rubbish.  So our brother investigator was fretting a bit so we told him to meet us at the church and we sorted through his concerns.  Mainly his problem was that there are other sincere Christians out there, who are not of this church how do they play into everything etc, etc.  We basically went over the restoration and told him that he other churches have “small pieces” from the big complete puzzle of the gospel.  Then God gave us a new puzzle, so there are still scattered pieces everywhere.  It went well, we knew he’d be just fine and afterwards he gave a great prayer where he really rededicated and committed himself to following the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’m really glad that happened because it will be a lot harder to shake his faith now!  He’ll be able to stand up to Mormon haters now.
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

Letter from Matlock – 24 December 2010

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                         14 December 2010
Last Sunday one of our investigators had his baptism!  I did the baptism and my companion did the confirmation.  When we did the baptism we found out our investigator has a small fear of water.  When I went to dunk him in he stiffened up like a board so we had to do it three times.  It feels so great to have a baptism!  I feel really blessed to have been able to find, teach and baptize someone.  He gave a really great testimony after the baptism. He said that he desires to become a faithful Christian and that the four most influential people in him learning about and accepting Christianity are his aunt, grandma, my companion and me.  The ward has done a great job of taking him in as well.  Everyone showered him with gifts and cards and love.  He is also thinking about going to America to study and wants to go to BYU!  Apparently he has a good chance too.  But I’m going to sit on my excitement about that one until I see it happen.
One of our other investigators is also coming along well.  We’ve taught her everything and it’s a little surprising to her but because she has a “warm feeling” about church and meeting with us she wants to follow the commandments!  If all goes well that will happen this week or next week.
We finally got back to touch with one of our original investigators!  He’s been going crazy with work and hasn’t even been close to this area for a few weeks.  Well, he still really wants to be baptized and so we’re aiming for next year on the 2nd. 
I forgot to mention in last week’s letter.  Right after we went to bed one night the fire alarm in the apartment started going off!  We start going down the stairs from the 12th floor to the 1st floor and get half way down when they tell us it was a mistake, go back to bed.  What I want to know is how you mess something like that up?  Either there’s a fire, or there’s not a fire!  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out!
Speaking of accidents after eikaiwa we were heading back home through the rice fields and I turn a corner at the same time an old man was coming around the same corner.  I slammed on both my brakes but unfortunately my front brakes were stronger than my back ones.  So then I flipped over my handle bars and landed in the irrigation ditch by the side of a rice field.  So then I had the pleasure of riding the 1-2 mile ride back home on a chilly evening half soaked.  Yea that’s what I call fun….and of course the old man didn’t stop long enough to say “oops” and just took off.  I need to talk to him about a little doctrine called repentance…well that destroyed my dictionary which was already pretty battered, and I had to take all my clothes to get dry cleaned since they were covered in mud.  Not doing that one again.
There was a free Christmas concert at the church this week and I was really excited to hear some good Christmas music.  A famous flute and piano player came to do the concert and I think somewhere along the way the concept of Christmas was lost!  Only one song had anything to do with Christmas.  It seems I won’t be able to truly feel immersed in Christmas as American’s know it until, well, I’m back in America.
Probably left out some big details of this week, but no time for that now!
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

01 January 2011

Letter from Matlock – 17 December 2010

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                         7 December 2010
Well, despite the fact that it’s getting closer and closer to winter it feels like it’s just getting warmer and warmer.  I have yet to put on a coat, and one day it even got up to 23 degrees Celsius!  We were sweating even without suit coats!  Just incredible.  Togane is the place to be.
We were meeting with an investigator who doesn’t believe in God and after I offered a prayer he said it was really great that I expressed gratitude for the warm weather.  He’s actually starting to progress!  He’s reading the Book of Mormon even if at 1 page a day, and he’s starting to enjoy it and our little lesson/messages!  It is fantastic to see him taking these little steps that will lead to a mighty change of heart.
So we had Family Home Evening the other night and guess what game the ward family pulled out!  Scotland Yard!  There has never been a trunkier game.
Things continue to get even more nostalgic as my companion has a Praise to the Man CD supplemented with the gloriously rich sound of the bagpipes.  So as you can see there’s a lot working against me right now.  Nothing like Scotland to remind me of America while I’m in Japan.  Somehow I feel like this would only apply to me….
So one of our investigators continues to not answer his phone and doesn’t show up to any appointments that we make…but on the other hand another investigator is all set for his baptism this next Sunday.  Can’t tell you how happy I am for him.  Just can’t.
Oh – this week my dictionary relinquished itself from its cover which held it bound.  And I’d like to point out that this happened after getting a Japanese companion.  Maybe I can say my companion destroyed my dictionary….but that’s alright cause another Elder in our district just went back home and left a nice electronic dictionary for me!  I should get that on Thursday when we have district meeting.  I was planning on going old fashioned paper style for the rest of my mission but this is probably better.
Well I’m off.  Have to go get prepared for this year’s white Christmas.  White because we’ll be wearing baptismal clothes the whole month!  Woo!
(Japanese Characters),
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)