Monday, November 16, 2015

Final Halloween as a missionary, meaning the end of mediocre costumes!

November 2, 2015: Week 53
Area: Kitakami

Companion: Trane Choro

Hey everybody! Is everyone on a candy and doughnut hangover?! I wish I could say I was! Halloween looked like a ton of fun though. The kids were super cute and it sounds like you guys did some really fun things to celebrate. I can't wait to take the kids to hee-haws next year! And good job on all of the pumpkins; they looked great!

My Halloween was okay. The Halloween party with the branch was a success with a solid turnout. I'll talk more about that later.

I'll start with last pday, our district pday. The Mower couple drove up to Kitakami to take us to Ichinoseki. While we were waiting for them in front of the church, two cops came up to us and asked for our ID's and what we were doing here and things. I guess two white dudes standing in front of the church looked suspicious or something. It all worked out though; they were pretty nice. Then we went down to Ichinoseki to this place called Geibikei or something. It was this big river gorge where we piled on an old boat and had a river guide take us through the canyon. It was pretty cool. If you compare it to the views and nature you see in Utah this time of year, it's nothing special, but it was cool nonetheless, especially when our tour guide serenaded us with old Japanese folk songs as he rowed us down the river. That was pretty cool. 

Another way funny part was we were looking at a boat that was passing by us and we could see there was a white family riding in the boat. We just thought "oh cool a foreigner family," but then as we looked harder, we noticed it was the Chapman family from my last area in Izumi! We shouted and waved at them. They even waited for us to finish our tour so that we could talk to them. It was fun for me and Elder Hanson, having both served there, to be able to catch up with them. So that was pretty cool.

Tuesday was pretty solid. We had a lesson with the recent less active who got offended by some members and who just doesn't really like them so she went less active. There was another less active there, as well. It was a pretty intense lesson, probably the most intense of my mission. Right as we started, she ranted at me and just laid out all of these different things. It felt almost as if she was attacking me. I leaned over to Trane Choro and said we might have to just call the lesson because she wasn't going to accept anything we were going to say; I felt she just wanted to argue. She also said the church was too strict and that they expect too much.

After she finished, she asked me in a very angry  tone, what it means when it talks about the straight and narrow path and enduring to the end. I answered that I felt it was keeping our covenants, as well as striving to become like Christ throughout our entire lives. Throughout the lesson, we used President Monson's talk "Ponder the Path of Thy Feet" and Elder Renlund's talk "Latter Day Saints are Sinners Who Keep on Trying". We talked that because we are all imperfect, we need to strive to follow the perfect example that Christ set, as well as letting others do the same while showing love, patience, and understanding. We then testified how much the gospel meant to us, how it was the biggest treasure you could have. I told her that she had found the world's greatest treasure three years ago and that she didn't need to throw it away over something so small as this. It shouldn't matter what other people are doing, only your commitment and love to God and Christ. 

After sharing those thoughts and experiences, the attitude of the whole lesson changed. Trane Choro was crying, I was crying a bit, and even she was crying. She definitely felt the spirit. So after almost calling the lesson because of her horrible attitude, the spirit quickly changed the atmosphere and it ended up being one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission. Unfortunately, when I called her a few days later, she said she still feels there are people who are insincere and aren't following in Christ's footsteps, so she won't come to church until they apologize and change. So, I'm thinking we have done what we can, we literally bore our souls to her; it's now up to her to soften her heart or not. We will still continue to meet with her and help her feel the spirit, but other than that, I don't really know.

One cool thing happened on Wednesday. We were housing and we didn't have much time so we decided to knock on one last door and this scary looking lady with piercings all over her face answered the door. She actually turned out to be way nice and she believes in God and Jesus Christ. She accepted a Book of Mormon and said we could come back next week! Yay! Hopefully that turns into something good.

Thursday was way good. We had a zone Conference in Morioka with President and Sister Smith. We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and the converting power it has and how we should use it as a main source in our teaching. It was cool to go to the conference with questions I had been pondering and have them answered throughout the conference. One of them was answered very directly. Since the family we're teaching can't understand the Book of Mormon at all, I was wondering how we could help them overcome that and come to realize that the book will bless their lives. Apparently, the father had quite the rough time with even the first few verses in 1 Nephi 1. 

Another question was why is 1 Nephi 1 the first chapter in the book? Why have investigators start from there? Well in the conference, we had a two hour session about these very topics. We went through the first chapter, picking apart each verse. President Smith pointed out doctrines and insights that can be learned from each verse in the chapter. It introduces the importance of families, prophets, God answering prayers. revelation, etc. It was way cool to see all of the things I hadn't realized when I read that chapter. I now understand why we have investigators read from the start, and to help them understand, we should read it along with them. It was a way cool conference. The spirit was really strong and as always, when President Smith taught, I felt a reassurance that he is called of God and his guidance of the mission is how God would do it. At the end of the meeting, we had a testimony session and I was able to bear mine. It was a really good, uplifting meeting.

Friday was solid as well. We had a lot of finding time so we spent a lot of the day streeting. Usually, streeting is pretty hard here because there usually isn't anyone in the street ever, but this time there were some people walking around here and there. We were able to pass out six Books of Mormon in like an hour which is unusually high for this area recently. You are lucky to see six people period! So that was pretty cool to be able to do. Plus on top of that, we were able to meet with a college kid I met on the street a few weeks ago and teach him, making him a new investigator!! Yay! He seems pretty interested. He believes in God and had some questions about prayer! I'm excited to teach him.

The rest of the week consisted of Halloween. Since me as a missionary has little time as well as few resources, my costume this year wasn't the best. I ended up wearing a Peyton Manning jersey and putting some war lines with marker on my face. That was about it. The party was solid though. We had a great turnout with some Ekaiwa students and investigators coming as well as all of the members. We played some Halloween games and just had a good time. They definitely don't celebrate Halloween like we do in America, but it was still fun.

Well, that's about it. It was a fun week with some intense lessons and some Halloween fun. I can't believe it's already November. I feel like it was just yesterday when I was in the MTC last November. I sure hope you guys have a great time with the approaching holiday season! I love you all and you're in my prayers! Talk to you next week!

Elder Nathan Didericksen

Our trip down the river

Our river guide who serenaded us.

A branch member made this for the party. I guess it's from a movie 
that came out while I've been on my mission. Pretty cool!

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