13 September 2011

Email from Elder Wyman 9-13-2011


     This Monday we started our Family Home Evening activity. There were six people there including us missionaries. It was a blast! So much fun that no one came the next week. It may be a challenge to get this thing up and moving with people coming to it regularly. If we can get it going though it will make missionary work so much easier! Last time we did a puzzle per say where you lay 6 pieces of paper on the ground in a grid shape. One person who is in on the secret turns around while everyone picks a square. Then the other person points to various squares and the person will know exactly which square was chosen. It took them forever to figure it out! Next I took three umbrellas and depending on how they were arranged they made different numbers from 1 to 5. One by one they realized that the numbers had nothing to do with the umbrellas and a lot to do with how many fingers I was holding up. It was a great time.
      On Sunday a friend of some members came to church. He is busy working and taking care of both his parents at the same time who are in the hospital. It’s been really hard on him so he's all ready for some gospel healing action in his life! We had a really good lesson with him and he agreed to try reading the Book of Mormon. That will help him more than anything right now.
     So there's plenty going on over here, and I'm pretty tired which is a good sign right?
  Love you all!

Email from Matlock – 5 September 2011

Dear 家族

       The beginning of this week while we were still in a 3 man companionship we went to see the daibutsu (大仏) which means big Buddha. And it was big. As it pointed out in 15 different places on the daibutsu ground it is 2-3 times bigger than the statue of liberty. They just didn't want anyone to leave without knowing that. You would think that would mean that tourists would be flocking to this place but much to Buddha’s chagrin that is not the case. In fact I didn't know about it until I went to Ushiku and from the apartment on the 7th floor looked out the window and said "hey what’s that giant statue way out there?" For a sacred religious site it was amusingly blasphemous. Near the base of the daibutsu is one of those cutouts that you can stick you head into and take a picture. Hard to take Buddhism seriously when they aren't taking themselves seriously! The inside of the guy is pretty interesting as well. It’s like a museum. This place is 3/4ths museum/ Attraction Park and 1/4th a place of worship. Some people pay the 800 yen to go in and pray. Just felt weird.
       While in the company of a Brother from a different ward we had a long discussion on how Buddhism is Christianity that apostatized and lost most resemblance of Christianity. He has done extensive study on the subject and brought up some fascinating points. I requested a copy of his book and hope I eventually get it. Buddhism itself has broken into many many different sects but the older Buddhism has beliefs eerily similar to ours. There are stories of the sun disappearing for three days and stuff like that.
        Well back in the Christian world, we still don't have any people to teach. (Maybe we should focus a little less on other religions and get back to preaching our own...) We do however have some activities getting up and going. One is a family home evening which will start tonight, and then an English class on Sunday morning before church. This will focus on topics like loving your neighbor and Christ like attributes. The idea is that it’s easier to get people to these activities than to church which doesn't have the best image among the Japanese people. More than that though it gives the members something to invite their friends to that isn't intimidating and mysterious like an hour of singing and listening to stories about the gospel. That’s just terrifying isn't it?
       The great accomplishment of this week however took place in a bike store. I reached my limit and bought new grips for my handles. Now my hands don't stick to it! Riding away from the shop I was startled when I pulled the brake and I stopped! Forgot that the brakes aren't a handle for you to hold on to as you drag your feet on the road trying to stop. Also while in the shop I rode a unicycle for the first time in a year and a half. I can still do it!
           Love you all! Keep it real

03 September 2011

Email from Matlock – 29 August 2011

     This week was interesting to say the least. Right now I'm in Ushiku. You may be wondering what happened to my companion and time in Abiko. Nothing at all actually in fact my companion is still here and we are still working in Abiko. A missionary in my district ended up going home and so we became a three-some covering two areas. On Wednesday we got the call saying we would be a three-some and on Thursday we combined. It’s been the most hectic week ever! Both Abiko and Ushiku have a lot going on and it’s been almost impossible to cover both of them. President called yesterday however and said that there is a missionary who is getting transferred up here. So tomorrow the three man madness will come to an end. Not a moment too soon!
     One interesting thing about my extra Ushiku companion is that he will be getting his 21st companion tomorrow. That is a lot. He will have had four companions in this transfer. Or that could be five different companions in the space of three weeks. I'm only on my 11th companion. He's certainly had an interesting mission experience.
     I'm not sure what to tell you about this week since it was all a blur of riding the train between Abiko and Ushiku and trying not to go crazy when one of my companions went into planning overdrive and was trying to come up with plans for the week after 10:30 when I was in bed trying to go to sleep.
     Well before all this madness happened we got to meet with one of the investigators we met housing last week. He took us to a huge Buddhist shrine and showed us around. So cool. I had no idea it was even there. It was surrounded by a huge park and we walked around and talked for quite a while. After all was said and done he told us his school would start back up soon and so it would be impossible to meet from now on. Looks like we're going to have to go out and find someone else now...
      On top of that none of the people we were trying to get to church came to church so Sunday school turned out to just be the missionaries and the teachers. We spent the whole time talking about activities we could do so it was really quite good. I had suggested a few things and everyone was really on board with it so it should all go into effect in the near future! There will be an English class on Sunday morning before church focusing mostly on gospel principles and well church words, as well as a family home evening every other Monday and a sport/ game night every other Saturday. If these all go through and become consistent activities...I will be very happy!
       Well I suppose I will wrap up my letter here. Since today is our first and last P-day in Ushiku we're all going to go see the giant Buddha that’s in this area. Apparently it’s bigger than the statue of liberty. All I know is that we can see it from the apartment and it’s a pretty far ways off!
      Love you all!
-Matlock Wyman

Letter from Matlock – 22 August 2011

Dear Family (in Japanese characters)
            Abiko is fantastic! I love this area. We have great members, great people to work with and the place is just beautiful! The road to the church winds between a lake and an expanse of rice fields and bamboo forests. Spectacular – so you would think. I had a chance to talk to a member about the lake.  It used to be the dirtiest lake in Japan but now it’s only the second dirtiest. I don’t know if that means it’s getting better or other lakes are getting worse.
            The people on the other hand are not the second dirtiest people in Japan that much I have been able to confirm. We went with a sister to visit a 93 year old member.  When we knocked on the door the Jehovah’s witnesses were sitting in the living room.  We got invited in anyways.  Uh-oh.  I felt entirely unprepared for a bible bash since I had not brought my bible along and Book of Mormons are a bit thinner and lighter than bibles.  So we go in and the Sister we were with says “Yeah, I used to be a part of your church but I converted to this one.” Bam! I no longer feared.  Those two actually excused themselves after exchanging pleasantries so I didn’t get to see any action.  I suppose the JW translation cuts out and alters too many important parts of the bible so it is also much thinner, lighter and unprepared for a good bible bashing.
            Once they were gone the Sister we came with sat down with the 93 year old Sister and told her how she knows that the JW’s are nice and everything but their doctrine was wrong. She got straight to the point there! Love it! What happened next however inspired me quite deeply and I won’t soon forget it. This 93 year old woman recommitted to following Christ, recommitted to sharing the gospel with her family and to do her best till the end of her days.  That could be 10 years later or 10 days later for all we know. Inspiring, simply inspiring.
            Then the miracle for the week would be yesterday.  We wanted to find 3 more people since on our potential’s list we had 3 empty spaces. That evening we had dinner with a member and instead of idle chit chat afterward we booked it. I found a 7 story apartment building just down the street that was just inviting me in so we went to that one.  We started at the top and by the time we made it to the bottom we hadn’t met anyone who would give us more than 5 words.  Then on the bottom floor two guys opened the door heard our introduction and said something that caught me a little off guard. “Come in! Come in!” Huh? Ok! The family is Vietnamese but is living in Japan since who knows when. (So Japanese is the primary language for them.) One of the sons who is 20 talked to us for a good 45 min. He was genuinely interested and had lots of questions! Apparently another set of missionaries come to their door every day trying to…do something, he doesn’t know and they creep him out. When he saw us though he saw something noticeably different and just had to hear more. Miracle! There were 3 people that we talked to in that apartment! We filled the three spaces!
Gospel’s true
Love you all
Elder Wyman