Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What, We Saw Elder Ballard?

Hey Everyone!
 
You'll never guess what happened.  We had a mini general conference in our mission yesterday!  That's why pday was moved to today instead of yesterday.  We had Elder Melvin J. Ballard, from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Ronald L. Rasband from the Presidency of the Seventies, and Bishop Gary L. Stevenson Presiding Bishop of the Church come to Japan to visit with us.  It was so amazing and spiritual and I was even privileged to sing in a 10 person choir that performed during the meetings.  We sang "Hope of Israel" and I'm pretty sure some tears were shed, not because of the singing, but because of the spiritual presence that having an Apostle in your midst brings.  He talked a lot about the "Preach My Gospel" book and how we need to focus more on sharing the message of the restoration to our investigators.  He wants us to have our investigators pray to God after every lesson to ask Him if we, as missionaries, are "true messengers" from the Lord Jesus Christ to teach them the way to salvation and eternal life.  But that wasn't all.  He read a scripture from Doctrine and Covenants about the missionaries who are teaching in the Spirit World.  He told us that those valiant spirits who are teaching the people after they die, are the missionaries from before and today.  He joked and said that we need to become good missionaries now because we will need to be amazing missionaries when we die as well.  That part really struck me, so now I am trying even harder to be the missionary that I need to be.  All in all it was a great spiritual experience.

Also this week I was able to meet with my friend W... in Togane.  I worked with him a lot when I was here a while ago but he never was too interested, so I almost decided not to try to meet with him again when I returned.  But luckily I did!  We talked to him about the Church and he said that he has real interest now.  He has been praying every day for the past few months and we were even able to set a baptismal date with him for the 14th of March.  The only downside is that he will be moving to Tokyo soon so we will have to prepare him to be transferred to the missionaries there.  It's so awesome to see all of my old investigators progressing so well now. I guess we never know the Lord's timing in missionary work.  But I feel so lucky now to see just how patiently God works with His children to prepare them to come unto Him.

Besides that we didn't do too much, just met with tons of people... oh, and we had stake conference in Chiba.  President Budge spoke at both of the sessions.  I can't remember but dad, did you have the Mission President speak at every stake conference?  Maybe it's just something that they do in Japan.  But it went really well and I got the chance to play the violin for the special musical number in the Saturday session.  We played an arrangement of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and it was so beautiful.  Lots of music this past week! :)

I think that's everything for this week, well except, Happy B-day Alexa!  I am so proud of you for turning 16!  Just don't ruin it by crashing my car!  Lol. It's only on loan you know.  Lol. I have a present for you that I got, it's like something very traditional here that they always give to girls.  You may have to wait for it until I come back home because I don't know if I can send it right now, but I hope that you are excited!  It looks pretty sweet, but a little too girly for me.  Well, that's enough hints, you'll just have to wait to see what it is!  

Well I hope that you all have a great week!  I love you all and wish you the best! 

Love you!

スティーブンズ長老
 
PS
I just had my interview with President Budge and my release date will be on the 24th of July.  So you can probably come and pick me up then.  Then if we stay and tour for a week or so we can go home in late July or early August.  Did they send you the email about returning missionaries?

 
Togane Elders
 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Week To Remember...

Hello everyone again!

I hope that this week was super amazing like it was for me!  Luckily for me, it's hasn't been that cold here, just between 0 and 8 degrees Celsius so not too bad and we haven't had any snow yet so that's a blessing as well.  But just like last year when I was in Togane, it is super windy all the time and it howls whenever we try to go to sleep at night.  It's a good thing that I still have my ear plugs for the nite time.

So this week, I was able to meet with a lot of my old friends that I knew when I was here earlier.  But just like my brother Andrew in Taiwan, we had a lot of lessons cancel as well. :(   But it's been really cool because I was able to meet with two of my old Togane friends this week, A... and K...  Both lessons went really well and it is so awesome to see how much they have changed towards the gospel and how they want to learn more now. Actually when we met with K..., one of the first things that he brought up was baptism and how he hasn't been baptized yet.  He said that he wanted to become more clean so he wanted to be baptized now. We set a really firm date with him for the 22 of March.  We tried for the 29th of March because we didn't know how much he remembered, but he said that was too far away so he wanted to be baptized sooner.  What a sweet miracle! 
 
Oh and also, do you remember the referral that I gave to the sisters missionaries last week?  Well, she came to church again yesterday and loved it so much that they set a baptismal date with her for the 8th of March.  She is super awesome and I'm telling yah, slide dendo is the best!  I will always remember that fun way of dendo.  
 
Well that's pretty much it for this week.  I love you all so much!  Have a great week and I'm excited to talk to you all again soon!  Make sure that Lex doesn't crash my car when she passes her test!  Love you all!

スティーブンズ長老
 
 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Togane Is #1

Hey Everyone!

I'm glad to hear that everything is going well for you back in the
good old USA. It's fun to hear the stories of everyone and to know
that everyone is being protected by the Lord!  Things have been very
interesting for me in Japan.

So to start off, the first part of the week was full of painful
goodbyes.  I hate goodbyes and I told everyone that I said goodbye to
just that.  I feel so loved because we didn't have a minute on Monday
through Wednesday where we didn't have someone that wanted to say
goodbye to me.  I'm sure that you saw all of the pictures on Facebook
and that wasn't even half of the people that we met with.  Our ward mission
leader told me that I needed to come back when I finished my mission
to say goodbye to him again because once wasn't enough.  Tsukuba is
awesome and I am going to miss it, especially the Costco being so
close.  There is nothing like it in Togane.

Then to end the week, it was awesome!  Being back in Togane is the
best, except that everything has changed.  I can barely recognize the
place anymore.  First of all we moved apartments so we are only 5 min
away from the church so now we don't have to bike 30 min everyday to
go to church.  I miss that bike ride so much!  The apartment is really
nice.  I'll have to take a video of it sometime so I can show it to
you all. Also the investigators and people have changed so much!
We have lots of work to do here because this area has
been a little slow recently, but it will be good to get back to the
drawing board in an area I know a little bit about.  Since I have been
here I have been able to meet with my friends K..., A..., and I....
I also got to meet with my good friend T....  It was so
fun to see him after so long.  We became friends really fast again.  My
Chinese companion, I found out that he is actually from Hong Kong not
Taiwan sorry for that, is super cool and works so hard!  Even though
he is only a 3rd transfer missionary, he is a boss at Japanese and we
speak Japanese to each other a lot.  Hopefully I will be able to get
my Japanese up to missionary standard soon because I feel like I've
been slacking recently.  We are still meeting with a ton of Chinese
people but this time none of them speak English or Japanese so I always
have to teach with Elder Lee translating for me.  It's very
interesting because I don't really know what happens most of the time
but it works out. He also smiles all the time, no matter what, so
it's going to be fun working with him.  I want to give my very best here in
Togane and help lots of people come unto Christ.  I'll try my best to see
all the miracles that I can.

So miracle time.  Have any of you ever heard of slide Dendo?  Well I
did it the other day.  I went on splits with a member named O...
K... and we went to a nearby park to talk to people there and we
saw a big slide.  It was almost like the slide that we have in Ohio at Schup
Park by the school.  There were tons of people at the bottom of the
slide so Brother O... told me that I should slide down the slide and
talk to everyone at the bottom and give them flyers about Church, so I
did it.  The slide was super fun, but slow, and at the bottom everyone
received a free Church flyer.  There was this girl that was down there
who read the whole pamphlet and asked me tons of questions about the
 Church.  Apparently she had been to lots of christian churches before
and had read a lot of the Bible before and wanted to learn more about
our Church.  I talked to her about the Church for a long time and then
invited her to come.  And what do you know, she came!  The Sister
missionaries did a really good job fellowshipping her and are going to
meet her on Wednesday again.  She loved church and is going to come
again next week!  So, this experience has helped to strengthen my testimony
of slide Dendo.

Well that's everything that I have time for today.  I hope that you
all have a great week and I love you all!  Talk to you soon!

スティーブンズ長老

 
I Will Miss All Of My Friends In Tsukuba!!


 
Seeing Old Friends Again!!


Monday, February 2, 2015

A Fresh Restart...

Well, hello everyone!  Long time no see!

Sorry I don't have too much time to write today so I can't start off
my letter with Japanese this time.  I hope that you were all able to
read some of it and if you weren't able to, ask my Dad because he got
it pretty well.  Have you studied Japanese a lot Dad?

Man, what can I say about this week.  Well, the first few days were
really slow and not much happened but, the last two days made up for
all the slowness.  On Saturday and Sunday we were able to meet with 11
different people, five of which came to church on Sunday.  I haven't
been able to get that many people to church ever since I left Togane!
It was definitely a great way to end my time in Tsukuba.

Which brings up another point that I wanted to talk about today, we
got transfer calls.  And yes, I am leaving my home in Tsukuba.  I have
been living here for almost 6 months so I'm not too surprised but, I'm
still sad to be leaving all of my friends here.  I bore my testimony
in sacrament meeting yesterday and afterwards everyone told me that I
couldn't transfer because I haven't played the violin enough while I
was there.  Well, I was sorry to tell them that I was leaving in 2 days.
But guess what, can any of you guess where I am going?  I've been
there before...I'm going to Togane!  Can your believe it?  I'm going
back to my favorite area probably to finish my mission.  I will be
going back there as a district leader so I am pretty much picking up
where I left off one year ago.  It seems like déjà vu because a
year ago January 20th I was on my way to Togane from Niigata.  And now
I am going back!  Except now I can speak better Japanese and I have a Chinese
companion to help me with all of the Chinese investigators that I used
to work with.  My companion's name is Elder Li and I think that he is
actually from Taiwan.  I will have to make sure but maybe he is from a
place in Andrews mission!  Should be fun to work with him in my old
area.

As for stories this week, we didn't do too much super exciting stuff.
I guess I tried to take a lot more pictures this week because I knew
that I was leaving so that may make Dad happy.  Lol. On Friday we went
all the way down to Chiba to have a missionary conference with one of
the Area Seventy in the Japan named Elder Aoyagi.  We had a great
conference in which he told us to always dendo with a Book of Mormon in our
hands which is something that I haven't done since I was in
Togane, so I guess I can get back into the habit now.  After the
conference we went to meet with the Stake President to talk to him
about the goals in the stake for baptisms.  We have a goal of 48
baptisms in the stake which boils down to one baptism in every area
per transfer.  Pretty sweet goal, but I bet we can even do better than
that!  Oh also on Wednesday, I went to Mito to give a baptismal
interview with a great Chinese man named L....  The interview went
really well and we were able to learn a lot about each other and grow
together.  It is always such a privilege to hold a baptismal
interview.  L... got baptized yesterday and he is looking forward to
receiving the priesthood soon!

As for our Nepalese friend, he went to church again yesterday so he is
all set to be baptized on the 13th.  Too bad I won't be here anymore
to see it.  He is from the big capital city of Kathmandu in Nepal and he loved it
there.  He always shows me pics of where he used to live. I will be
sad to leave. :(.

Well I better get going now, I hope that you all have an amazing week!
Thanks for all the emails and the love that you show me.  I couldn't
ask for better family members and friends. Thanks Dad for the room
analogy for first Nephi.  That was very interesting to think about, and
I think that it would be helpful to memorize the scripture
stories and where they are located, so if you don't mind
I would enjoy looking at the rest of them.

I love you all!

スティーブンズ長老
Elder Stevens

Here are some pics of me and my good friend, and me eating sushi
with the Nakamoto family.  We ate over $100 of sushi.  It was so good!
Enjoy!


 
Nakamotos



 
Tsukuba Train Station