18 January 2012

Email from Matlock – 1-9-2012

Dear 家族

This week was filled with many wonders. The wonder of the 3 day japanese new year holdiay, the wonder of American culture and I'm still wondering how that guy in the park swallowed that balloon.
     We had some wonderful shogatsu meals- some of which had more symoblism in it than the bible itself. One of the member families took us out to sizzler and once I opened up the menu at looked at the prices of everything I figured out why they call it sizzler. Woazah! Glad I wasn't paying for it! Decided it would be a very very long time before I would go there on my own and even longer before I bring along loved ones.
     For the last day of shogatsu we ate at another member’s house and had a great time there. They brought out these little boards and a calligraphy pen and we did the traditional Japanese writing of the New Year’s resolution. Now it’s written down on this thing so I guess that means I have to stick with it this year. Shucks, darn accountability.... We had a great time there and even played some jenga. As you may recall jenga was referenced in General Conference so it must be ok for missionaries to play.
     Then on Thursday I had an experience that I won't have for another 2 months. We had a zone conference and then afterwards we went to America. Yokota air force base. Oh yeah. We all went to Chili’s and let me tell you, words cannot describe the cultural vertigo that we went through. As we walked in the door two waiters were standing there who said "C'mon in we've been waiting all day for you." I was shocked that they were talking to me like a real person and I almost blurted out "What? Really? How did you know we were coming?!" Good thing I kept my mouth shut. Some how I was half expecting some lady in an intense high pitched voice and a huge fake smile saying "Itarashaimaseeeeeeee!" Everything about that meal was right. It was served right, we didn't have to ask for refills, the portions were right, the service was done in a human fashion and we were bascially allowed to be Americans. Oh serenity now! When I get back I'm going to be acting a little odd but don't worry it'll just be because I'm happy.
     After dinner we had splits with the zone leaders. These splits started off with souvenir shopping. Two last transfer missionaries just grabbing their chance to get souvenirs on base while they had the chance. Just glad I was there and my companion went with the other Zone Leader. Don't need this impression sunk deep into his young impressionable mind right on his first transfer out here. Those splits were some of the most interesting ones I've gone on my whole mission.
     On Sunday I managed to get time off by an hour and we completely missed our missionary coordination meeting before church and arrived just in time for church to start. Just picture the biggest most dramatic forehead slap you've seen in your life and that’s just about how I felt. Oh nelly, I'm getting too old for this.
      Today we had a really good day. We had lunch together with a Brother from the ward and our friend who lived in Scotland. It was a blast. Then we headed down to the park just in time to see a man swallowing a balloon. I kid you not he just slid the whole thing down his gullet. It was one of those long ones that you use for making balloon animals and such. I do know a little balloon sculpture but that’s one trick I'm not sure I want to pick up. Talk about weird.
       Afterwards I successfully bought a takoyaki grill. Now I'm all ready to make my own takoyaki. Takoyaki are little balls with octopus in them. With that I beleive I have finished all my souvenir shopping. I got the construction worker pants and shoes, the wooden sandals, takoyaki grill, and the maneki nekko. My souvenir shopping definitely differs from the average joe here who goes to the tourist trap places and buys a bunch of junk that you can buy anywhere. Oh what I meant to ask was- can you find octopus in America? Do they sell that anywhere? If they don't then I'll just need to bring enough back with me. So let me know.
       Also today we stopped one person outside the church and were able to get his number. It was one of those contacts that was guided by the spirit, and we said all the right things and were able to bear sincere testimony that this gospel helps our lives. He listened and was interested. Don't know how it will turn out but it was great to see how the Lord can make that one person just stand out in a crowd and draws us to that one person at just the right time. Just good, good, good.
well better get going
Love you all!
-Elder Wyman

Email from Matlock - 1-2-2012

Dear 家族、

The year is over! But you probably already knew that. In Japan the New Year’s celebration takes three days and missionary work is completely shot. Just imagine Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a religous tradtion running back for centuries and is only observed once a year and you have three days of Japanese Shogatsu. Members invite us over to their houses and feed us the traditional Shogatsu food. We went to the Kubota's family for dinner last night and it was really good. The Shogatsu food was better than I remembered it being. A lot of it was really good, and some of it you quietly choke down. I could have eaten more but after a while you've eaten enough weird stuff that you call it quits. A lot of it is eaten not for taste but for the symbolism it seems. The shrimp (I mean the whole shrimp) has a curved back just like the old people stooped over with age and it’s a token of a long life. The fish eggs are a token of fertility so you have lots of posterity. You'll never eat a meal that has so much meaning behind it as Shogatsu meals. On New Year ’s Eve we made gyoza and had the traditional end of year bowl of soba. It was really good! Until after tomorrow we're not going to be doing much missionary work though. In the past missionaries have been told not to leave their apartments during Shogatsu unless they had been invited to a members home. Pretty intense right?
      Before the Shogatsu madness began we were doing pretty good. In one day we passed out three Book of Mormons! One was to a former investigator and the other two were to people on the street who didn't give us their contact information. They're in God’s hands, but it felt good to pass them out. Felt like we were scattering salvation.
      Also spent a lot of time this week writing nenkajyo to members and other people we know. Before the New Year everyone in Japan writes postcards called nenkajyo to everyone they know and send them off. Decided we didn't want to miss out on all the fun! Turns out it’s not as fun if you’re writing them for a whole congregation and hardly know a portion of the people your writing to. Acquaintances work differently as missionaries. You can know the missionaries and the missionaries have no idea who you are.
       My companion is doing good as well. He's a pretty quiet guy but he's really funny. I'm still thinking about the best ways to break the ice so to speak. I had plenty of practice with one of my former companions (he went home by the way!) but I don't consider myself a master at it by any means. Probably because none of my attempts with Fukushima actually worked. It’s going good though.
love you all!
--Elder Wyman

Email from Matlock - 12-28-2011

Dear family,

It was great talking to everyone the other day despite Skype cutting out every 8 min. I'll tell you I was trunky like nothing else right after that call but it wore off by the end of the day and I was back to my normal level of trunky.
Things have been going good with my new companion. There are lots of "newbie" things we have to just laugh off such as calling me Elder Hayman and splashing ramen on my shirt and tie from across the table, but things are going good! Yesterday we passed out three Book of Mormons, one to a former investigator and two more to people on the street. If we can keep the momentum going like this we'll be rolling in lessons.
Our one good progressing investigator is looking pretty good. He has a date to be baptized on the 15th of Jan and is reading the Book of Mormon every day. We're praying that his faith continues to build and he'll be able to make this date.
Things are so good so far. No complaints.
This week being the end of the year brought some reflection on this year being my missionary year. This is the deepest I've reflected on a past year in my life. So many things happened, I learned so much, and there was also lots that I didn't do or wasn't able to do or just neglected to do. Next year my mission will go on for two short months and end and so I couldn't help but to think "well, whatcha gonna do now?" It was good. I don't necessarily feel like this last year was all that great. It was great in the sense that I learned a lot and that will help me for the rest of my life. Planning on making the next year a much better one!
Have a happy new years!
Elder Wyman

Letter from Matlock - 12-19-2011

Dear Family (in Japanese Characters),
            This week, the last week of the transfer, was the pinnacle week. Everything led up to this week and I’ll tell you – it was crazy.  We’ll take it day by day.
Monday: P-day.  We did our normal shopping and I got a futon beater.  This comes into play on Saturday. 
Tuesday: The day we wake up and take my companion to the hospital for some tests.
Wednesday: Took it easy this day considering what we had all been through.  The doctor had a look at my companion’s test results.  We didn’t do anything asides from English class that night.  About noon time we got a call from President Albrecht telling my companion that they would have a plane ticket booked for Tuesday of next week.  Say what - ?  His mission is over!  Hit the road!  I am his first and last!  The author and finisher of his mission!  I brought him into this mission and I will take him out of it!  This means I’ve been a “last companion” 4 times and 2 times in a row.  Wow.  So he started packing.
            Before English class we had some lessons with our college student friend and taught the restoration.  Then we talked with the old man from Scotland.  We were trying to get a sense of where he was and found out he believes in Buddah and God.  We didn’t have time to break it to him that those two don’t quite support each other but now we know where we need to start.  God is our loving Heavenly Father.  If you don’t get the basics down you won’t get anywhere.
Thursday:  The all mission Christmas Party.  So fun.  Way too much fun.  The Christmas skits were hilarious; our skit starred Elder “the tank” lifting me above his head while I was juggling.  You better believe it was good.  The white elephants were…interesting.  I gave the bible picture book we received from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  One of the best “Secret Santa” gifts a missionary can get right?  My companion also made a surprise appearance and bore his “final testimony” to the mission.   He wasn’t expecting that and had actually planned on going quietly.  The sister missionaries in Kichijoji didn’t know since he didn’t want to tell them all that was going down.  Surprise!
Friday: The follow up appointment with the doctor was scheduled for mid January but given the sudden turn of events we needed those results and we needed them now!  We arranged to get them Friday which meant another trip to the hospital.  Before that we got a call from the Assistants telling us that they would be in Kichijoji and could come pick up the luggage.  They would be there at 8:00.  District meeting was from 4:30-6:00.  It takes 30 minutes to walk luggage all the way to the church.  Tight…They ended up coming straight to the apartment and just in time to catch us at the end of a packing frenzy.
Saturday: Cleaning day. This is where the futon beater comes in.  I beat enough dust out of those futons to pass for someone’s crematory remains.  My lungs didn’t thank me for that.  Much cleaning happened.  Then we had dinner with the ward mission leader and his wife.  We had a blast at dinner together.  That was a lot of fun.
Sunday: Had church, afterwards helped give a blessing to one of the members.  The blessing was beautiful and you could see a renewal of confidence in him right after.  That was almost the last spiritual thing that happened that day.  We were told by the mission home that a certain Ogawa San and his friend Yanno wanted to learn about God and to meet here at this time.  We went and there was no Ogawa just Yanno and his friend (girl) Yasumura.  They take us to a car and we all get in and drive off.  Already this is turning out a little different then we’re expecting.  When we first got the call my immediate thought was “oh, they want to argue, bash our religion and convert us to Buddhism.”  Unfortunately I gave them the benefit of the doubt.  They take us to this normal looking house, down the driveway and through an ominous looking side door.  There was a huge entryway operators on the phone, piles of literature wrapped in brown paper and now more than ever we are wondering – where are we?  Then they take us into a room with three “sections” with dividers between three tables, we sit down with Yanno and this random old lady.  I can only describe her as Big Witch.  Just witch for short.  She starts asking us questions about our religion and we still have no idea who these people are.  Finally find out they are buddist-nichiren shoshu.  They keep asking questions and asking questions and when we answered Mrs. Witch answered with “Well that’s just a little strange don’t you think?” or “That doesn’t cut it at all!”  She was asking completely ridiculous questions too, like “What are the names of God’s parents?” What? Who even thinks about that?  “Do you have a statue of Christ or God that you worship?” What? No!  “Then you don’t worship anything!  If there’s no statue then you don’t have a God!”  Uh! Baka! Baka, Baka, Baka!!! It became very clear that they didn’t invite us over to learn about God.  They lied, brought us to their place under false presences and started to bash us and make a mockery of our beliefs!  I have absolutely no respect for nichiren shshu.  They are on my hit list.  Elder Jack was about to start using some choice words and I was trying to calm things down so we could leave.  I handed them all the pamphlets in my bag and told them if they really wanted to learn they’d better start with that and that we were done today.  She still tried to throw fuel on the fire but I just told her “read those – we are done today.”  They insisted we take their little pamphlet and so I did.  The cover read –
About the benefits of Nichiren Shoshu
Recommendation to renounce other teachings and embrace Buddism
Wow.  Just – Wow.  This whole “religion” is just trying to tear down all other religions.  That’s all they do.  Reading the thing it made a lot more sense why they asked some of the completely ridiculous and out there questions they did.  Cause they’re Baka.
            Later that night however I was chatting with a member friend on Skype (cause we can do that!)  We hadn’t been able to follow up at all with him on the Book of Mormon and everything.  He said on Skype thought that he felt peace when he reads the Book of Mormon and he really appreciates us and the book.  Music to my ears.  That’s what I want, more than arguing with religious fanatics I want to help the stressed college student feel peace through reading the Book of Mormon and learning about his Father in Heaven, his Savior Jesus Christ and the Plan for his Salvation.  That’s where the peace is, that’s where the truth is and it will never change!  That’s how it is and I will never say differently.  Transfers happened and I will be training for the next two transfers until I come home.  Get my new companion Wednesday.

Glory to God!
Matlock Wyman (& other things all in Japanese characters)

17 January 2012

Letter from Matlock - 12-12-2011

Dear Family (in Japanese Characters),
            A good thing that happened this week was with an investigator.  This investigator is 20, and is going to New York in March of next year.  I am Matlock.  Matlock is 20, and is going to the state next to New York in March of next year.  I would say it’s a big coincidence but I stopped believing in those a while ago.  During the lesson he asked how much a Book of Mormon cost and if it would be ok if he came to church.  We answered $20 and no you may not come.  Ok that was a joke, it’s looking pretty good.
            One last weird thing that happened.  On Sunday we got a ring on our doorbell.  When we opened the door there were two people standing there.  That doesn’t happen every day.  Turns out they were the only thing they could have been – Jehovah’s witnesses.  They found us, I dunno how but they found us… run Marty!  We had a short strange conversation where they tried to convince us there was a supreme creator using crazy scientific facts.  Did you know that all of a human’s DNA stretched out is long enough to reach the moon and back 650 times?  Do you care?  Cause I don’t. It was weird cause it was obvious we already believed in God.  He asked what we think we could do to come to know God better.  This is what we try to get people to do every day, so…yeah.  I answered “Well, reading the scriptures, praying to God and going to church.”  In response he gave me a present in the form of a watch tower like magazine called awake.  So I said I had a present for him too being the spirit of the season and everything.  We gave him a book of Mormon.  The he pulled out a bible story picture book and gave that to us too.  I could just see him thinking in his head “I see your Mormon bible and raise you a…picture book!  Ah – I fold.
            Now I’m memorizing scripture references – gotta get warmed up in case there is a bible bash going down soon!
            Love you all!
            Matlock Wyman

Letter from Matlock - 12-6-2011

Dear Family (in Japanese Characters),

    It’s been a while since I’ve written with my own hand.  Computers are just way too convenient! 
            This week was characterized mainly by problems.  Some problems being solved, some problems still staying about the same, and some brand new problems.  Other problems that have went away have come back again, while others have solutions pending in the next week or so.
            One problem that has a solution coming soon is the shower light.  The light bulb in our shower burned out and so the only light we have in there is what can shine through the door.  It’s just as well being dark – I don’t want anyone to be able to see me in there anyways!  That one will be fixed as soon as we go out and buy a new light bulb.  Hopefully by the end of the year.
            Last tidbit is not a problem but a good thing.  Had a huge proselyting activity here in Kichijoji and 30 some missionaries came and found us investigators.  It was awesome.  I haven’t talked with everyone so I don’t know exactly how much there is, but there’s  an American who wants to be baptized apparently!  Then and investigator who came to the Christmas concert later that day and got fellowshipped to death by members so I have no idea what’s even happening with him.  Last time I saw him he was going out to dinner with the choir.  Yeah – it’s that good.
            Bottom line is – things are looking very very good!
                        Adios muchachos
                        Love you all!
                        Matlock Wyman

p.s. One more problem and solution.  Our Zone leaders, lovely Zone leaders have stayed the night here twice already.  First night they barged in and said “Where’s your juice?  I’m gonna drink you out of house and home!”  Then proceeded to do just that.  Second time our juice again mysteriously disappeared without compensation.  They just announced today that they will have to stay here tonight.  As I like to say fool me once shame on you, fool my twice more shame on you.  Fool me thrice shame on me.  All our juice is safely hidden away on our back porch. J