30 April 2011

Letter from Matlock – 25 April 2011

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                                     18 April 2011
 So I’m reading the book of Mormon in English and in Japanese independent from one another.  Unfortunately my reading in English caught up with my reading in Japanese this week.  Much confusion followed.  I cannot follow the story line at al land the spot around Alma chapter 25-30 is one big jumbled mess.  Oh well…
More exciting than that however is the two new people who came to English class this week!  With two more people that brings our attendance up to…two!  They are both college students and one of them spent the last year in London and has a smashing accent.  We finished the flier and are distributing many in the hopes that attendance will double by next class.  Can’t be too hard right?  Oh, the interesting thing about those two is that they found out about the class on the internet!  The one typed in free English class into a search engine and out class came up!  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the only one to come up!
The other great accomplishment for this week was the new person we found to teach!  We met her yesterday and she really wants to learn about the church.  Now I know what you’re thinking, “but where is she from?”  The answer is not Japan but Brazil.  She actually teaches English here in a Brazilian school so we do all our communicating in English.  Not so great for my Japanese companion, but I’m ok with it, oh – and get this – we just happened to have a Book of Mormon in Portuguese with us.  I’ll tell you; honestly I don’t usually carry one of those around!  We’ll meet with her and her husband this week.  Excellent.          
Love you all,
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

Letter from Matlock – 18 April 2011

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                                     11 April 2011
 Wow, another week went by already.
It’s sakura season here!  If you don’t know what sakura is check it out on google or somewhere.  All the trees are blossoming and it looks pretty cool.  It’s a shame I’ll only catch it one time on my mission…
So general conference showed last weekend here in Japan.  It was fantastic!  Fantastic even though I ended up counseling about companionship problems in between all the sessions.  Later that night they sent me an email saying they got things settled and had a great lesson.  Excellent.  If only not doing anything could work this great every time.
Final update for this letter, transfers, which would normally happen tomorrow, will happen next week.  The next group coming in are being delayed due to – well, current events.  So we’ll see how this turns out.  If one of us gets transferred I will have had quite a few companions in 2 months’ time.  So we’ll see how this turns out!
Love you all,
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

18 April 2011

Letter from Matlock – 13 April 2011

Dear (Family in Japanese characters),                                     3 April 2011
 The interesting part of being down in this part of Japan is that there are more people who speak in strange dialects.  Occasionally we run into someone who I can hardly understand at all!  Apparently there are some parts of Japan like Okinawa that can’t be understood even by a normal Japanese person.  Thank goodness I didn’t end up down there!  That’s the last thing I need is to re-learn Japanese.
This week we met with the branch president and talked about what we could do here in Suzuka.  As he was going through the computer looking for names of less actives he commented that there was a plethora of people on the member list that he had no idea who they were.   So, we volunteered to figure out who on earth they were!   We bought a map and started sticking pins in it and yesterday we finished by sticking in the 118th pin.  If only contacting them could take as much time as it did to pin them on the map!
We were at a member’s house this week.  A few of their kids were around and the mom asked how old I was.  I said, “20”.  Then she responded, my son right here is 20 too!  You’re on a mission and he’s sitting here playing his Gameboy!  How embarrassing!  It’s funny, cause that’s pretty much what I did up to the point I left on a mission.  Then I thought, yeah it’s kind of embarrassing.  I didn’t say that though.
So the Brazilian Elder’s in our apartment were out doing their thing when they met another missionary!  For what religion do you ask?  Take a guess.  It’s not Jehovah’s Witness, not catholic, protestant or any of those.  They met a Buddhist missionary.  And she was American!  At least she was, I don’t know if you can be considered a full-fledged American if you convert to Buddhism.  We all arranged to meet together because I could hardly believe it and had to see this for myself.  They had a Buddhist conference type thing and invited us to it so we decided to go check it out.  I went with the assumption that if someone could convert to Buddhism, then Mormonism wouldn’t be too big of a challenge.  So we get picked up at the train station and they drive us to the house where they were showing the film.  As we arrived a lady came out and asked us to remove all of our crucifixes.  Ok, easy enough don’t have any of those.  Then she requested that we take off our nametags since they had “Iesu Kirisuto” written on them.  She was surprised to hit a brick wall on that as we would not take them off.  Finally she obliged and slipped us into the back so no one would really look at us.  Then the American, Bethan, sat next to me in the seiza position pulled out some beads or something, wrapped them around her hands and started chanting under her breath and bowing.  Anyone else who came in did that too.  Except for us.
On the TV there were just people going up to a podium and reading something.  I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.  Just all nonsense to me.  I looked up a few words as they were talking and was able to follow a little bit.  They were just talking about the earthquake and different peoples experiences that they had…which were basically the same because, well, they were all in the same earthquake!  We asked Elder Fukushima about it afterwards and he said it was the most boring thing of his life.  (ok, he didn’t’ say it exactly like that- I’m taking some liberties with the translation.  It probably was the most boring thing of his life though.)  Then it ended and they escorted us out as they started to chant together.  Good thing too, I don’t know what I would have done in a room full of chanting people.  We walked back to the car and they told us more about Buddhism and what they believed, and we listened attentively.  As it drug on they began to say that their Buddha guy was greater than Jesus because he couldn’t be killed and how unfortunate it was that American’s aren’t truly happy because they are not following Buddha.  I’ll admit I got a little angry.  Usually its common courtesy to not trample right over things that people hold near and dear to their hearts.  Apparently that was not as important at the moment.  I held my peace though because I could have turned it into an argument in a heartbeat and we needed to maintain good relations.  After that they encouraged us to forsake Christianity and to become Buddhists, the path to world unity and true happiness.  Ha ha…I told them, yea…I think we’ll stick with Christianity.  When I pray and go to church I really feel God’s presence and I’ve gained a really strong conviction.  So strong that were I to reject it I would become a liar.  Then I invited them to come see general conference next week and they said, and I quote “no”.  Apparently they cannot fraternize with other religions including reading books or watching their material.  They’re just Buddhist Jehovah’s Witnesses!  I couldn’t believe it!  We went through all of that and they won’t even let us introduce our own beliefs!  I was not happy!  With that kind of attitude all they’ll ever find is contention.  But you know what, that’s ok, they can do what they want.  Philippians 2:10-11.
One cool thing that happened this week – we met a half Pilipino – half Japanese on the train.  I talked to him about how I was using the Book of Mormon to study Japanese, and then gave him a copy!  He was an interesting guy.
Well, that’s all the time I have.
Love you all,
(Elder Wyman in Japanese characters)

08 April 2011

Email from Matlock – 28 March 2011

Dear Family,

       This week continues to be interesting. There was a three day training for all the zone and district leaders in the mission, mainly the ones who came from Tokyo.
      Right as I got back from the conference I had to go to a baptismal interview for the other elders in our apartment. It was in Spanish so basically we both did the interview. Didn't really need me there... It was for a 9 year old kid.  
      I heard at the conference that there is still problems with the nuclear power plant, mainly the fact that they cannot shut it down. It would be simple enough to walk in and push some buttons to stop it but that’s difficult because, well, its radioactive. It sounds like the plan is to wait for it to run out of fuel which could take until the end of next month. There is still the possibility of the reactor exploding but I don't think that’s as likely. We'll see how this one turns out!
      My companion is pretty interesting. I spent a few days just asking him questions about everything. He doesn't really talk unless you talk to him. We were working on getting and contacting referrals from some members the other day and I was pretty much the only one talking. With the language barrier that wasn't the easiest thing I've done.
Well, love you all
elder wyman

Email from Matlock – 21 March 2011

Dear Family,

I can honestly say that last week I did not expect to be here in the Nagoya Mission! My new address is
Japan Nagoya Mission
1-304 Itakadai  Meito-ku
Nagoya-shi Aichi-ken
Japan 465-0028
I’m in an area called Suzuka which is near the southwest part of the mission. My new companion is Japanese and was actually in the Tokyo mission. We are in a 4 man apartment with two Elders who are both from Brazil.
         There’s been so much going on I don’t know how I feel right now. President Baird is our new president. He’s very different from President Albrecht, but I like him a lot. Some of the Tokyo missionaries are excited about the change, some are bitter and angry. President Baird told us to all get 10 hours of sleep for the next two nights and one elder later told us he wasn't about to sleep in that’s breaking rules yadda yadda. Heck. If someone gives me permission to sleep in I'm taking every second of it! Oh I'm district leader by the way. I thought I'd escape having responsibility since I'm in a completely new mission but apparently I was mistaken.
       The two Brazilians in our apartment are cool, but they don't really worry about the rules at all. They listen to Lewy Armstrong and sleep in until they like. I'm thinking really hard about how much of that is my problem and what I can do if it is. From my experience if someone’s going to break rules there's not much you can do to stop them.
        My bikes still in Oyama. We had such a sudden exodus that we couldn't bring everything with us. My old ward mission leader should be sending it, but I still haven't heard from him.
        The branch we're serving in is really cool. It's also quadralingual; Japanese, English, Portuguese and Spanish. I've got two out of four down, and I hope it’s enough. The other two elders serving in this ward can speak all of them. Can you imagine? Is it possible to know too many languages? Maybe at 6 or 7 they'll hit their limit.
        At times I feel this excited energy. It’s almost like the beginning of my mission except I have some command over the language and have some experience. The feeling comes and goes but I hope I can keep a hold of it for as long as I can.
      In our orientation president Baird told us that he was in the same boat that we are in. He was serving in Japan Tokyo when his call got changed to Japan Nagoya. How crazy is that? Then he told us that we were going to love serving here in Nagoya. With the skills that we acquired in Tokyo we would feel like we are cheating out here it will be so easy. I don't know if it will actually be that way but on the way to my new area I was able to give a Book of Mormon to a high school student. It happened so fast I didn't get any contact information or anything. In other words it's in God’s hands now. Then while we were buying stuff for the apartment we made friends with a lady from Robinah, Africa. I'm starting to buy into what Pres. Baird was saying.
       And I miss my last companion a little. We had so much fun, and we were both working hard on being 100% obedient. My new companion is the nicest guy but he's also the quietest. Any communication problem we have does not stem from the language. He just doesn't talk. We'll be doing something and without a word he'll just get up and dart out of the room. This is especially annoying when we're not in the apartment and I have to chase after him. We could be in the same area with the same companion until Tokyo opens up and we're allowed to go back, so we'll see how this turns out. Supposedly they are holding the missionaries in the MTC for a while to see if things change, and I've heard that maybe we'll be where we are until July. Could just be hearsay. I really hope it's just hearsay...
       As I said, I don't know how I feel. Maybe I can just get back to you on that next week.

Love you all,
Elder Wyman