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)