I hit my two year mark this week. Strange having finally hit this point. We decided for two weeks we're going to not use the "T" word. But I'll tell you I'm feeling pretty hunky. As hunky as an elephant with a long runk.... Ok you can probably tell how it’s going over here.
Had a good eikaiwa. Finally got some new male students which means lessons for us! Finally! Lately Eikaiwa has been so ineffective for our missionary work I've considered not going. One of them said that he was actually interested in coming to worship on Sunday and if the introduction lesson went well then he would consider coming with his wife. The man in charge of Kichijoji Eikaiwa told this all to me, said that his becoming an investigator and ultimately his eternal salvation was all contingent on how well this 30 min introduction lesson went. But no pressure. That ended up going pretty good however. A Brother in the ward helped us teach and I was almost over my head in Keigo. The man in question, is a middle aged business man who is very clean cut, sharp, precise and businessy. Which means he speaks Keigo. Japanese is Nihongo, Nihon being Japan and Go being language or words. Kei is respect or honorific meaning Keigo is a whole 'nother language. I could understand what was being said just fine but seeing that everyone was using it meant I had to as well. I've been practicing Nihongo so much I'm lacking a bit in Keigo. But I managed and he will discuss with his wife about coming to church next Sunday.
The other new student was also very good but before I tell you that story I have to tell you this story.
On Wednesday evening the screen on our laptop stopped working. The computer was on but the soft humming of the hardware from inside was the only reassurance we had that the computer had any life to it at all. The soonest we could get it looked at by the Mission Home Computer Specialist (yes we have that calling in our mission now) was Friday. Friday I was on splits so in the morning we headed down to Nakano to get it checked out. Once we arrived and pulled the computer out of the box the Mission Home Computer Specialist took the thing out of the box put it on the counter turned on the power button and it turned on like nothing had ever happened.
"Is this what it was doing before?"
"No sir it is not."
"So it wasn't working until you brought it all the way over here."
"It would seem that way, yes."
Houston, never mind, we're ok now. Unbelievable. So we grabbed a handful of candy from the jar on the front desk and beat it back home. With the time we had we had about two hours to pick up trash off the road around the church before our lesson. Which we did. Right as we finished up and were walking into the church we said Konnichiwa to a guy walking by and he actually said Konnichiwa back and started talking to us! He had seen missionaries a lot before riding their bikes around and he thought we were really erai, or in other words, great. We asked if he would like to see the church and he said yes so we showed him the inside. We showed him the chapel and unfortunately there was a sister in there playing weird music on the piano so it was hard to feel the spirit. She goes to the church every day to practice the piano. She's there basically every day all day. Once we walked out of the chapel however the other investigator was there for his lesson. Not wanting to lose the guy that we just found and not wanting to chase away this man with whom we had a lesson appointment I executed some quick minute thinking and got both of them to attend the lesson. The new guy said he just had about 15min so we put in the 15 min video gozonji desuka without delay.
After the video we were able to have a good discusison and they had some good comments and questions. Turns out that the one originally scheduled for the lesson has a Morumon Kei which is one of the old, old translations of Morumon sho. So we gave them both a newly translated version. Thirty minutes past and the new guy was still there and seemed to be enjoying the discussion. So we ended and went back to the chapel since the scheduled lesson guy hadn't seen it yet. Right as we walked in the all day piano sister started playing the church song Army of Helamen and the spirit swooped down like a falcon. Uh, I mean dove. The lesson guy mentioned that there was no crucifix or statue of Christ being crucified. I then had the opportunity to explain that through the atonement Christ overcame death and sin so that we could overcome death too. The crucifix is the symbol of Christ's death and He overcame death, so the symbol of the cross is irrelevant. The symbol instead is the lives of the saints who are changed through the resurrection of Christ. The symbol is the light and hope that shines in the lives of every saint who lives this gospel. So that is why we don't have a cross.
Bearing that testimony with the music and everything I felt so powerful. You could tell that they felt it as well. The spirit was tangible in that room. We spent some time just standing quietly listening to the music and feeling the spirit. I asked the new guy who only had a few minutes to spare if he was alright on time and he said, yes of course I have plenty of time. Who doesn't have time for that?
The new guy agreed to call once he got his new phone. He was on his way to replace his phone when we met him so we couldn't get his contact information. The next day he still hadn't contacted or come to sports night like he said so I was just a little concerned. We had some work on the computer scheduled for that day so we did that and about the time we had to get going I felt like working on the online area book for just a little longer. I for some reason felt like putting in just a few more names. So I did then we booked it out of there. Right as we stepped out of the church guess who was walking down the road by the gate of the church parking lot? The zone leaders! No, it was the new guy. We got his phone number and then we both had some free time so we went with him to go eat. We ate udon and it was good. Afterwards we said hey let’s have a church lesson and he said ok, once I do some shopping really quick. Really quick turned out to be an hour but we were able to contact a joint and plan a lesson out. It went really really good. Talked about baptism and he said that would be good, to purify yourself by baptism. He said the prayer at the end of the lesson and then mentioned that he now understood what one of the missionaries he had talked to before was talking about when he said "warm feeling". I generally try to avoid referring to confirmations from the spirit as a warm feeling since it’s so much more than that but in this case it was just the words that helped him make the connection. So wonderful. He said he would come to church if he could wake up and he couldn't wake up so....
He didn't come. Sunday did prove to be plenty interesting though. An investigator who I found forever ago came to church out of the blue and had a good time. After church there was a youth family home evening which we were trying to get people to come to but we were explicitly told that we could not be there for the last bit of it. It was a secret and missionaries were not allowed. This was told to us by a ward member who was at the time holding a stack of pink and red paper and scissors. We thought to ourselves, I wonder if we're going to get paper hearts taped all over our apartment door? During lunch we got a call from the same ward member confirming our apartment address. We thought again, I wonder if we’re going to get paper hearts taped all over our apartment door. During our Sunday study session someone rang the doorbell. I peeked through the peep hole to see a silhouette of a tall man saying "hello! hello!" Half blocked by a heart shaped piece of paper. I open up the door to meet a man I've never met before who introduces himself as Micheal from the Jehovahs Wittnesses.
"Hello I'm Michael, we're Jehovahs Wittnesses."
"You must be Mormon."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Well you've got paper hearts all over your door."
"Oh do we now?"
"Yes you do, you haven't seen it? Come look!"
"So we do."
I wasn't so surprised that we had paper hearts on our door as that that gave away the fact that we were Mormon.
"So the message we are sharing with everyone today is about Armageddon."
He then goes on a bit about God waging war with humans.
"If you will look here in Revelations 16:16 it reads..."
Never in my life will I trust what it says in a Jehovahs Wittness bible.
"Uh, hang on a sec, can I grab my bible?"
"Oh sure by all means!"
I grab it and read up Armageddon in the bible dictionary figuring that would be enough to give me a strong enough base to have a discussion on it.
"Ok could you read that for us?"
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
You have five minutes to introduce your religion in such a way that I will want to convert and you share this one?
He then had a present for me in the form of a few editions of the Watchtower and I, being overwhelmed with gratitude, decided to give him a present myself in the form of a Book of Mormon. After a short discussion about the book our religion and what the bible did and didn't say about the Book of Mormon he politely declined. And they took off. Until the next three month cycle that is.
After that we decided our study was done and headed off to a member family’s house for dinner. I wasn't feeling like stopping people at all, and pretty tired of being rejected ignored and hearing lame excuses like I'm Buddhist but I don't know what I believe and I'm not doing anything right now but I'm in a hurry. There was one person I saw that I really felt like stopping. He didn't hear me but my companion got him behind me. Turns out he spoke English and we were able to testify in English. We told him about the restoration and encouraged him to know if it was true or not. It went well! Couldn't get his contact information but he took a Book of Mormon, said he would share this with his friends and possibly come by if he had the chance. It went so well I was really glad I had the prompting to stop him. Apparently my companion felt the same way when he saw him and thought I really really want to talk to this kid.
So things have been going good. One detail I forgot to mention. At the beginning of this week Elder Oaks came and spoke to our mission. It was a privilege to hear the words of an Apostle. I was impressed with his deep knowledge and even stating simple principles he seemed to approach them from a different angle than most folks and it was evident that he had studied and meditated deeply on every point of doctrine he talked about. I was very impressed. And his wife served in Sendai! She spoke some Japanese with us and used some Kanji to make some points in her talk. That was pretty cool.
This letter was rather long for only having two weeks left in the field. I'm ending now.
Love you all!