Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 7 Week 5

Hey everyone!

Very eventful Christmas week over here as I'm sure it was for you all as well. I'll hit the highlights.

Caroling dendou: My district and I gathered on Tuesday night and headed over to downtown where there's a tree lighting all down the street. I dressed up as Santa Claus as the rest of my district wore their Santa hats singing Christmas carols for people as they walked by. My job was to pass out the Christmas church video cards, English class fliers and Books of Mormon/ take pictures with a million and a half people. If you have two or three minutes right now, search on social media and browse near sendai Japan, I bet you can find a picture of me dressed up in a Santa suit with a kid or someone. Endless picture taking that night for me. It was exhausting haha but definitely a fun and memorable night.

Wednesday brought hot chocolate, whipped cream and marshmallows to our English class. Japanese hot chocolate isn't very good at all but with the whipped cream and marshmallow in it too (something they never do with their hot chocolate) it turned out great and was a big hit for the Christmas theme. 

We were on splits for Christmas Eve. I was with elder Larsen! Fun day, taught a few lessons and had a good time riding bikes around and talking with random people. Ended the night at the church to have a little family home evening with some other single adults in the ward who didn't have families to celebrate with. It was nice. They provided a bunch of food, drinks and desserts and had a nice night together again as a district and friends. 

Christmas Day: Started it off right by making my Christmas omelette, a tradition my family has done for years and years. It turned out amazing, if I might say so myself. Then we had Christmas district meeting! We brought the omelette, the sisters brought donuts and cake, and the zone leaders brought drinks and eating ware. We opened presents, exchanged white elephant gifts and had a nice spiritual message at the end about the huge and significant role Christ is in our lives. Then I got to skype my family for the first time since Mother's Day! It was splendid as they commented on how chubby I was looking and my haircut being subpar. Hahaha I'm just giving them a hard time but it was really nice. Everyone's looking so old and grown up except for my parents of course, still living out their prime. Tyler is still as goofy as he was when I left with his random questions but he's so big and growing up fast. Alli is starting to look like her older sister jessi, freshman in high school, unbelievably grown up. Jared is growing out his hair and soaking up the throne of being a senior at SRV. Jake is working hard in school, not dating at the moment as he's "busy" but he seems to be doing well and is planning to enter the Biomed field. My baby niece, Averi, is even more adorable than her pictures and can't wait to get to meet her again! Jess and Wil are looking magnificent as they too are in the midst of their physical prime, doing well and enjoying life as young parents occasionally do. I also got to meet a new cousin and see the rest of my cousins all big and growing up!  
After Skype, we went out to dendou! Saw a lot of success in the 2 hours we had! Thank you Christmas! For the remainder of the night, we went caroling in the freezing cold in an attempt to bring the Christmas spirit to those at work and in need of some cheer. 

In Japan, they decorate for Christmas downtown and hype it up a little bit as a society, but most everybody still works, a lot of the kids still have preparation schooling they have to go to on Christmas Day, and most of them haven't had a tradition in their family of giving and receiving gifts. It's pretty different from America. It was still an awesome experience and we had a great time and have tons and tons of unhealthy food in our apartment from the many gifts we received. 

Another highlight was on Tuesday- two of the four zones in the mission met together here in Sendai and we had a Christmas Gathering with president smith. It consisted of a Christmas video compilation, a video president smith made of pictures of all the missionaries in the mission, a musical number, the reenactment of the nativity in which I was a part- a huge and crucial role- the star lifter. Yes, the audience may have not seen my face, but I was the make it or break it, if my hands weren't as delicate and strong as they are, who knows if the nativity could have actually been a success... ;). Then we had a testimony meeting. I felt the spirit like crazy! Elder Barr and his comp, me and my comp and a pair of sisters were chosen by president smith to bear testimony, on the spot, to half the mission. I talked about how happy I am to be on my mission, about the gift of being able to change, grow, and improve through Christ and how lucky we all are to be serving Him. To end the gathering, we had a big white elephant gift exchange and lots and lots of food. 

This week is transfer calls- I have a good feeling elder Huston and I are going to be staying here together another transfer- which would be a first for me having the same companion for two transfers straight but I think that's how it's playing out this time around, we'll see. Also, for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we are asked pretty much to not do any dendou. Every missionary will spend all of the 31st in the apartment doing a massive deep clean of their apartment and then on the 1st, we read all of 3 Nephi and will go visit a Buddhist shrine with some members- as culture in Japan. I'm way excited and it'll be another fast week.

Love y'all and hope you had an amazing Christmas and will have a safe and enjoyable New Year!

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō

My MTC homies once again reunited for the holidays! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 7 Week 4

Greeting from Wizard Pedestal (Sendai)!

This past week has been full of cool little blessings and lots of small miracles which makes it a successful one! 

Ran into a kid named Lance from South Virginia at a 7-11 one night. We talked with him a bit, he's studying abroad here and turns out he's been searching for a Christian church to go to! So we invited him and he came! I had to translate for him which is still pretty dang tough but I think he had a good experience. Shared with him a Book of Mormon which he seemed intrigued by. Hoping to see him again this next week.

Had a service project here at the church on Saturday. We had a Mizuno San, a less active we've been working come help and get involved with the ward members. After the service portion, the ward was prepared with $225 dollars worth of meat to grill for about 25 people. It was heavenly food with heavenly huge portions. Great event I definitely enjoyed. It was good to get Mizuno there and talking with members, trying to get him some friends in the church besides the missionaries.

Elder Huston and I and 4 other missionaries in our mission had the opportunity on Wednesday to take the brand new subway that opened last week here in Sendai to our mission home to do an online interview with Kelly Mills, the head of technology at the MTC. The purpose of the interview was to discuss these new pamphlets we got on our iPads. The pamphlets are brand new, and designed for Japanese people, a people with no Christian background. We consider them previews to the normal missionary lessons as they prepare those without that Christian background to be able to get to the same "playing field" so to say in order to teach and so they can understand what we believe in our church. Anyway, we got to rip apart the pamphlet- tell them we we don't like about it, what could improve, and what was done really well. Way fun, cool experience to be a part of. 

Thursday was nuts. We had planned to make a trip out to a place called Miyagidai, a place an hour away by bike, a gold mine of members, less active members and people to share a Christmas message with. 90% of the way there we stopped at a families house and had a really good visit and after that we had planned on spending a few more hours in Miyagidai. But on the way out of that first visit, we were met with a bike accident. There were some big pebbly rocks which made for dangerous conditions and next thing you know my companion had a head first baseball slide into the pavement. The bike was fine! But he was hurting a bit so we called up a member, the Satou family, who drove over and took care of us until our appointment with the Satou's son, a returned missionary, and two people referred to us from southern Japan. They drove us all the way back to the Sendai train station where our appointment was. The appointment went really well. The guys are way cool and way funny and I'm excited to meet with them again in the new year. Showed them around the church and got their numbers so I think there's good potential there! 

Since our bikes were still at the Satou house in Miyagidai, Brother Satou (the returned missionary) felt it would be a fun experience to relive his mission and ride one of the bikes from Miyagidai to the church for us the next morning! And then his dad drove the other bike down. Such nice people. We ended up making another trip back to Miyagidai Saturday night and this time, despite it being freezing temperatures, dark and windy, we had a lot of success and safely accomplished the task at hand. 

Sunday, President Smith visited the Kamisugi ward and shared a good Christmas testimony. Lance, our whet friend, was there along with Mizuno. Mizuno ended up caroling with us and the ward at a retirement home which was a blast! Not much different than a retirement home back in America. Still loud mouth grandpas present, crazy old grandmas waving their hands and yelling and a whole lot of expressionless faces in the back as well. Always such a pleasant atmosphere. Mizuno is amazing. He learned just yesterday a little bit about the word of wisdom and how we don't smoke, drink alcohol, coffee or tea and he was immediately willing to follow it, after some expressions of unbelief, to give it up and drink only water, quit smoking and follow it fully from now on. We meet again with him tonight and will see how he's doing with it. 

I'm way excited for Christmas this year. A time in my life where I have nothing distracting me from my relationship with the Lord. I'm so excited to be able to dedicate this day completely to Him who literally made it possible to learn, grow, improve upon mistakes and ultimately to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. He is the gift. Look for Him. Love Him. Follow Him, and we are promised to get through and enjoy life's adventures every single day. 

Have a merry Christmas every one!!! I love and miss you all, email me anytime!
Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 7 Week 3

Christmas is here!
High lights of the week:
A new missionary leader in the ward! He's coming down from the bishopric after 6 years of being there and apparently he's a total stud missionary,I'm excited to work with him. Our old mission leader was called to be our mission presidents first counselor. Not surprising- this guy is a STUD that is guaranteed to work wonders and excel in whatever he does. Devotes his life to God and is the busiest guy I've ever seen. He just got done putting together and executing the ward mission plan here in Kamisugi, executing the very anticipated Christmas party and now he's getting remarried this month (wife passed away from cancer this summer), and next month he's off to work doing a mission tour! Crazy stuff. Anyway, new bishopric and new ward mission leader, exciting stuff.

We had our much anticipated ward Christmas party on Saturday afternoon. Featuring: "chubby bunny" with kids from the crowd and everyone else watched them shove as many marshmallows in their mouth while trying to pronounce chubby bunny; 12 days of Christmas- taught to everyone by the missionaries; videos and narration of Christ's birth; and last but not least, the young single adult skit in which Elder Robins and Larsen were featured as the missionaries who changed generations of lives. It was great fun and the food afterwards was delectable! I love the people here in Sendai!

Splits yesterday with President Smith
Elder Huston and I got a call in the middle of the week from President Smith and he`s like hey! I wanna go dendou with you guys on Sunday! And so the pressure was on. Because we are aching to find people to teach, we decided to consecrate the time to finding and talking with people at the outdoor mall. We call the outdoor mall the arcade so when I told president smith our plans to go to the arcade he thought we'd be going to play some pinball and what not haha. Those two hours were incredible! President Smith has so much power and boldness he can capture anybody he wants and tell them the message he wants to tell them with power and conviction. It was so cool to be a part of. Found some good contacts for us to visit this upcoming week.
A sister in my district from Carmel, CA is going to be transferring out to a nearby city called Tagajo to replace a sister going home because of health problems. So now our district will be the Zone leaders, us and two Japanese sisters. Sister Ellison is apparently acquaintances with many Danville-ites and we didn't have the chance to talk about it yet so it's sad to say goodbye. 

Last night`s miracle
After our time with president smith we watched the Christmas devotional at the church building- it was great and powerful and I loved the theme of the talks. We were in need to teach one more lesson for the week and so we thought and prayed about how we could do it in one hour and we felt prompted to go door to door housing. The day prior, I had seen an American father carry his baby down a street near our apartment and I felt we should try the houses where I saw him walking. We went and door after door of  no answer, no answer, no answer. We approached the next door and rang on the camera doorbell- a camera where the person who lives there can see who's at the door and can talk with them through it, classic Japan. Anyway, the lady comes to the door, which is rare. At first, we talked in Japanese but out of nowhere she flips to way good English! I was shocked at how good her pronunciation was and everything so we asked how she learned. She said she's originally from California. Me being a Californian of course I ask where. She said she grew up in Palos Verdes, Los Angeles! Which is where my dad grew up, close to where I was born, a place I'm pretty familiar with. So that was a shock! And then she went on to say she then moved and went to high school in Moraga! I was blown out of the water. This Japanese lady at this random apartment speaks fluent English and is from the same places as I! She is very familiar with Danville and we talked and talked about religion and California and then she introduced her husband, who happened to be the white guy I saw holding the baby! It was incredible how the Lord led us straight to these people. They were incredibly nice and kind and said we could visit again another time. They also said they had been to our church once before and were impressed with how welcoming and friendly everyone was but anyways, definitely a cool experience where we felt God directly lead us and guided us to this family.

Heres an awesome excerpt from a message from Elder Christofferson called "Be at Peace" that made me feel at peace and has an awesome message behind it. Its out of this months` Ensign. 

"I pray at this Christmas season that you might have some sense of the Lord’s regard for your offering, some sense of how you stand in His eyes, some sense of the beloved status you occupy as His son or His daughter. And I pray that knowledge of that status may give you a great deal of comfort, reassurance, and confidence that you are approved in His eyes.
Take time to relax, be at peace, and see this little child in your mind. Do not be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take a peaceful moment to contemplate perhaps the most serene moment in the history of the world--when all of heaven rejoiced with the message “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
I hope you will take time this Christmas season to sit for a few quiet moments and let the Savior’s Spirit warm you and reassure you of the worthiness of your service, of your offering, of your life. Sit quietly with that little baby and come away spiritually strengthened and better prepared for all that is going to come later. Let that moment be one of rest and refreshing and reassurance and renewal."

Have an amazing week preparing for Christmas and staying focused on the true meaning, love and miss y'all! 

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō

The power. Look closely. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 7 Week 2

Happy December everybody! 

This week our mission has been stressing making inspired baptismal goals before the end of the year. Nobody is making their goal 0 although a lot of us don't have anybody to back up the numbers we shoot for of 1, 2, or even 3. Therefore, whether we have people lined up or not, we are in need of some major miracles, and our mission president knows it. The quote our mission president has been using is "Obedience brings blessings. EXACT obedience brings miracles"- Spencer W. Kimball. In order to fulfill our baptism goals for the month, we need to see some major miracles and therefore, we need to be 110% obedient to every rule that has been given us. 

For returned missionaries, this principle makes sense but for those who have no idea what I'm talking about most the time in these letters, its a bit more difficult to comprehend. 

Basically, we have a small little book full of rules and regulations for us missionaries to follow. They were rules given from God through His prophets that will help us be safe, focused and successful. The rules are sometimes hard and tedious to follow but we're promised if we follow them, we'll be blessed no doubt. 

Elder Huston and I are in need of some crazy miracles and so we are striving to be 100% obedient to every rule and commandment we've been given! Yay!

Mizuno, our Less Active investigator I like to call him, is doing well but cancelling a lot of appointments because of work. We have a BIG ward Christmas party this Saturday and he'll be coming to that but probably wont meet with him til then. Other than that, we're staying busy trying to find prepared people, visit members, Less actives and strengthening the ward. 
The party shall be legendary. Us missionaries have a part in the program where we sing and explain the meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas song. Elder Larsen (zone leader in the district) and I have a part in a skit where we act as missionaries that were thrown into jail because people hate mormons in the town the skit takes place in. Then a guy unlocks us from jail and says he wants to get baptized and so we baptize him! I finally have a baptism!.. on stage. It's supposed to be deeply emotionally moving, so pray that I can draw out the inner drama within me:)

Have a good one! 
Here's some pics! 

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō

Service for an 83 year old lady that believes God has blessed her to look more like 60... She looks her age :)

legendary dinner. A table FULL of food. The leftovers of which filled our entire fridge. Heavenly

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 7 Week 1

Baby it's cold outside! And it's no where close to the heart of winter. The downside of California blood kicking in.

Well, an eventful week!

I got my new companion Elder Huston on Wednesday afternoon straight from the MTC! His name is pronounced Houston but he's from Syracuse, Utah not Texas. He's a great guy, likes martial arts, cooking, plays a little guitar and piano and had the same teachers as me at the MTC! Brings back a lot of memories. He's a great guy and I'm excited to get to work with him. 

For transfers and trainee/trainer meetings, I traveled to Nagamachi, just 25 minutes away by bus and spent a couple nights there with a bunch of other missionaries. Before meeting Elder Huston on Wednesday, I got to work with my old companion Elder Suzuki for a day! We had a great time talking, having fun and getting work done! That was a blast, he's a funny guy and his Japanese hasn't gotten any slower ;) 

On Thursday, we traveled back to Kamisugi where every missionary in the mission that was transferring gathered together to discover their fate for the next transfer. My last companion elder Murakami got transferred from Kamisugi, the biggest city in the mission, to Oodate, one of the smallest places in the mission with nobody there. Pretty funny how that worked out. He'll be great, he's excited and definitely prepared. 

Last transfer Elder Murakami and I found this guy who was baptized but hasn't been to church for years. He was willing to start meeting with us and we've been teaching him regularly for the past couple weeks. There's a lot of interesting things about this guy but the most interesting thing is that he was baptized 25 years ago but has completely forgotten the fact... So he claims, despite seeing videos and pictures of the baptismal service, to not be a member of the church. It makes for really awkward encounters with members meeting him for the first time. ANYWAY, he came to church this Sunday! For all three hours, and he had a great experience although he said he didn't really understand it at all! He's pretty much an investigator- has no knowledge of the church, we're teaching the lessons, he wants to know more and is making steps towards Christ, the difference being, he's already baptized.. His name is Mizuno, pray for him if you get a chance.  

Thought for the week, serve your neighbor. 

Love you all, lets get ready for Christmas!!

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō

After a long, rainy and cold night of work for Elder Huston's first day of dendou, we celebrated and had our Thanksgiving feast at a sushi :D 

asian santa

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 6 Week 4

How's everyone doing!?

Not a whole lot of meat for you this week to be honest. Highlight was probably our zone training meeting on Friday, playing frisbee on Saturday and the children's program for church on Sunday.

Zone training meeting- happens usually on the first friday of every month, the zone leaders are in charge of the program, you travel to the center of the zone, where the zone leaders live, all the members of the zone come and participate in the program. Usually consists of japanese lessons and games, spiritual thoughts provided by an assigned person, business about rules and announcements for the zone, practicing missionary skills and approaches in role plays with other missionaries and to end, trainings by the zone leaders and the female trainers in the zone.
This zone training meeting for me was the most fun and most interactive of all the ones I've attended so far on the mission! One reason is probably because our zone leaders are way fun. Another reason is they played a vocabulary game with everyone and I ended up head to head with my MTC companion Elder Thompson in the finals! That was way fun. But the thing I liked best about it was they had us come to the meeting prepared with questions we had; whether it be about mission work, developing skills as a missionary, doctrinal questions... anything. Then they split us up into a few smaller discussion groups where you asked your question and everyone would talk about it, discuss and help you out with it. Learned a lot from other peoples questions and insights and felt like it was super effective in getting people to open up, get to know one another and to solve personal and general concerns and questions. The question I came with was what can you do to make the night time hours effective? With winter approaching, daylight has been fading out around 4:40 PM and in Japan, when its dark, people kind of shut down and don't like to talk at all with people they don't know- whether it's at their doorstep or on the street, if it's dark, they don't want anything to do with you. And that's not good, our job is talking with people spontaneously and abruptly haha. But when it's dark nihonjin get really paranoid.. especially the women. So, as missionaries you have to get a little creative! cause your day isn't over until 9PM. Anyway, got some good ideas of things you can do to make night times more effective. 

We did park dendo (go to the park and find people to talk to through sports) with the zone leaders on Saturday. I got to throw a frisbee around for the first time in almost a year, which was fun:) And afterwards we played basketball with some kids. Fun stuff and got to talk with a good number of high school students- soccer players, basketball and even skate boarders (surprising that they exist in Japan right??)

Yesterday (Sunday) for Sacrament meeting was the primary program, which it looks like they had it the same day back at home! This one was pretty small- 8 kids but man were they entertaining. The same feel as they are in America- the older kids being embarrassed and not enjoying being a part of it, the in between agers being loud, proud and excited, and then the little 4 and 5 year olds cute as can be having the lyrics of the songs whispered and their lines whispered in their ears and they say it bit by bit up at the mic. I loved it! Super enjoyable and made me feel joy!

This week I've been studying a variety of things: Hope, Christ's grace, Faith and humility. All of these things intertwine and have connection with one another! Yay! First off, you have to be humble and meek enough to admit you need Christ in your life, that you can't do the things you need to do alone. This is HUGE being a missionary I feel but can also apply to college students, parents and grandparents alike. If we aren't humble and willing to submit ourselves, we can't get anywhere or achieve anything. Once you get there, you have established Hope- hope that, indeed, Christ can and will save us in and from our trials and struggles as long as we have faith in Him. Hope is coexistent with faith. Faith is to believe in things which aren't seen which are true. When we have faith and hope in Christ, we can then access His grace, which is sufficient for anyone and everyone to use to overcome any hard ship and trial we may have. 

Enjoy the transition into winter! I know I... am not. :) Have a good week!

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō

INDIAN FOOD. Naan and chicken curry and lassi. Delish. I'm fat.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 6 Week 3

Happy November everyone!

Hope yall had a super fun and exciting Halloween this year and that things didnt get too crazy!

This week I want to share a story/ series of events concerning the Kamisugi Ward Halloween Costume party. As you all know, I got here on the 12th and was presented with this responsibility my district was in charge of. Since the ward had just finished planning and putting together a fall festival party and were also planning a Christmas party, they said to the missionaries, hey, if you want to have a halloween party, its all up to you guys... Thats what I came in to. And then was informed by the Elders that have been here since the transfer before that the ward said that they weren't going to help out with it at all! All of a sudden the pressure was insane! That week, Elder Larsen and I, while on companionship splits, spent an hour putting together a tentative plan for the party with all these great, but very American, ideas. The American part is what made it sketchy near the finish line, stay tuned. 
- A haunted house 
- caramel apples
- a shooting booth
- mask station
- dry ice rootbeer
- costume runway show
- ring toss
- donut on a string game
- Halloween background music
A week went by and not a whole lot of progress towards preparing for the party besides informing the district on the basic outline of what we would want at the party. So here we were a week before halloween, had a handful of decorations we had bought but nothing more and not a whole lot of perspective on how fast the day of the party would actually come. Throughout the week, we had made efforts and had asked members for some various help or ideas of where to buy things but since I'm new here, I didn't know who would be willing and good to ask for help! SO the people we called weren't able to be of a huge help to us at the time.. 
My companion and I attended our weekly meeting with the bishop and other leaders in the ward. We went in wanting to know our budget we would be getting from the ward to fund the party. Mentioned/ confirmed what I had heard from the other missionaries by saying "so its correct that we wont be getting much help from the ward since you guys are recovering from the akimatsuri (fall party) and prepping for christmas, correct?" and the bishop exploded on me with just the opposite! We were told we had support from the ward, plenty of money to spend and to just ask people for the things we need for the party. We were very relieved but still not prepared enough to know what to ask of the ward!
That next week we spent a lot of time finishing shopping for decorations, searching things and prices and places to buy things and everything party related. It was hectic. The dollar stores that, a week before, had all these great party items that would be perfect but that we didnt buy at the moment were now out of stock. Most all their Halloween goods had already been bought and they moved on to Christmas goods. It was unbelievable and we started to panic. What were we gonna do with the little decorations we had!? But on the Thursday before Halloween, we lucked out and found a whole bunch of useful goods at a different dollar store. (The dollar stores here in Japan are AMAZING.. anything and everything they've got it for a buck.) Anyway, Friday comes around. The day before our big party and all we had bought at that point was our decorations! We were in a mad rush and were stressing out about this thing being a huge failure. All the food ideas and stations we had planned on were WAY expensive. Apples were 6$, caramel was 5$ for a 250 gram bag, dry ice was hard to find and obviously needed a car to buy it, caramel apple toppings, and root beer- all way expensive and we assumed that would be too ridiculous. But then came our meeting with the bishop again! This time, the bishop almost seemed frustrated with us for not telling them to do more! But the thing was, we had made some calls that week to people and didnt get a whole lot of energy or help from the members so we were in a sticky situation! Up until that point, we had been the ones doing all the work and preparation, the travel and the expenses. The bishop told me that night, basically, our wish with this party, was the wards command. What a relief, but also a huge shock that was to hear. Why didn't he say that earlier?! He didnt care apples were 6$ a pop nor that all the other food we wanted to use was outrageously pricey for what it was. 
Since Im running out of time, long story short, I went on splits with my bishop and his wife on Halloween morning for all the food we wanted and needed while my companion stayed with other volunteers at the church and finished setting up the haunted house and activities. We traveled to 5 different stores to buy just a few different things and spent a whole lot of money... the zone leaders finally found their costumes, the sister missionaries pulled through with their assignments and 4:30 rolled around, 30 minutes til showtime. Up til this point, we as a district had done close to 0 advertising for the party besides the announcement in eikaiwa (weekly english class) and in church. We were very scared that only 20 or so people would show... 
The party was AMAZING! Everything and more than what we had planned out came to be: 100 people came (members, families, nonmembers and their families, less actives), everyone loved the caramel apple stand and the rootbeer, the Haunted house was a huge success and even made some kids cry, two of our missionaires serving as scarers in it;), the costume runway was entertaining for all, had a pinata for the kids at the end, an usher to run the party and a bowl to guess how many items were in it with an announcement of the winner at the end... it was great! Everyone had a ton of fun. The bishop told me at the end that it was "daisaikou" = pretty much the best ever party that Kamisugi had seen. Such a huge relief and it all happened thanks to the help, service and willingness from the ward. 
The Bottom line, communication, if done right, and preferably not in another language :), is the key to having things work out and run smoothly. Its the key in every relationship, the key to planning anything, the key to executing anything.., its crucial. The more you communicate, the less stress it is for everyone. Thats what I learned from this experience. :) Ill attach a picture with some of the people that joined the party.

Everyone have a good week! Its getting nippy over here so enjoy the warmth while it lasts!

Elder Robins
The Kamisugi district! Such a fun loving group- enjoying my time here!

60 of the hundred. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 6 Week 2

Good morning!

Hope you all are doing well and swell! 
Elder Murakami and I have been working away, doing our best to find those the Lord has prepared for us to teach! But so far, no cigar. Gotta keep working!

A couple things to share: This week was our zones zone conference! That is the one that happens every month and a half or so where our mission president comes and inspires us, teaches us, and helps us be better. This was my 3rd time around and it was amazing as the other two were. The theme was The Book of Mormon. Learned a ton! 

Chiasmus. A form of ancient Hebrew poetry that is used in the Book of Mormon several times. The question came up, why didn't the Lord want the Book of Mormon to start at the climax when Christ actually visited the Americas?? The answer, the Lord made the order of the events in the book the way it is for a reason. And the center of the Book of Mormon is King Limhi saying he would do anything to give away his sins to know God- Emphasizing some of the main and central points to the doctrine of our church- Forgiveness, repentance and change. President Smith then went on to go through the first chapter of the first book of the Book of Mormon and pointed out like 20 different principles of the church all outlined in those short verses. It was amazing to see. The fact that the chiasmus is in the Book of Mormon is just another testimony that Joseph Smith truly did translate this book through the power of God. No way an uneducated man could make up such a book full of amazing truths let alone know what a chiasmus was and coincidentally form the book and the chapters in chiasmus form... Cool stuff! 

And I'm blanking on everything else I learned but just a super awesome experience getting to learn and grow so much in just a few hours. Definitely left the meeting inspired to teach and preach the greatness of the Book of Mormon and how it really is for everyone. I wish I could just have you all watch this conference! Full of amazing insight. 

Still loving the area! Trying hard to make an impact on the ward and influence them to get psyched about mission work. My vision of doing that is to find, teach and baptize very soon here, but its the Lords timing. We just gotta prepare ourselves better! 

Japan is amazing. The people are way fun. They love foreigners. They love practicing their English with us, which is one of our main ways to get people to talk with us haha. Love the culture. Love what I'm doing.

Yall are awesome. Everyone send me a picture of them in their Halloween costume and I'll hold a little costume contest and give the winners a shout out! 
Have a good week yall!

Elder Robins
Here's a picture of Elder Larsen and I on splits just getting done playing playground basketball with future kindergarten teachers!

A, what we realized, was a professional surfer here at the beaches of Sendai! It felt awesome running my toes through the warm sand probably for the last time until next year. Fun day! This was also on splits with Elder Larsen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kamisugi Transfer 6 Week 1

Minasan ohaiyo gozaimasu!

Hope you all are enjoying the cooled down weather as I am over here! I'm way lucky so far with the locations I've been assigned. I've been in a middle-north city for spring, a northern city for summer and now a southern city for winter. Getting the mildest of seasons I can manage which is nice while the luck lasts.

I'm in my new area with my new bean Elder Walker Murakami. SUCH A STUD. Like already way fly at Japanese, he knows most all the terms and the do's and don'ts of missionary work and all the other stuff you learn much later as a missionary. Second transfer missionaries don't usually know as much as he does so I'm way impressed with how well he's killing it. Loving working with him, its the same as working with a 4th or 5th transfer missionary- way easy and smooth.

Kamisugi (downtown Sendai) is way awesome! People everywhere always available to talk to, the environment is easier to work in and there's always effective things to do! Im in my first actual "ward" as a missionary here in Japan which is so different from what I've had up until now. In Misawa there was a branch about 22 members at church each week, in Akita, a branch about 45 and here, a ward of 100. Its awesome. Church yesterday was a blast. The YSA (young single adults, basically the college students who aren't married) are so funny and active and awesome. The other members are the same. Just a bunch of fun loving people. They all have what we call "dendo fire" - means they are all-in for growing the kingdom, getting involved, being behind the missionaries 100% and they themselves inviting their friends to Come unto Christ. Its an awe inspiring enthusiasm. 

I was put here at an incredible time period as well. The ward mission leader and bishop have been working on this ward mission plan for what seems like the last couple years all designed to have an amazing impact on the ward members and the missionary work here. From it, they expect to see tons of new members and growth for the area. It should boost success through the roof. Way exciting. They're calling it a "dendo (missionwork) explosion" and they're launching it in December, which, assuming Ill be here for another transfer or 2, will be in the heart of my time here. I am definitley blessed but also very unqualified to be here at such an awesome time but I am so pumped! This area is awesome, full of energy, and full of focused fun.

This week we met with one of our investigators named Aratani san. 86 year old, fluent in English through teaching himself and loves reading, sleeping and meeting with missionaries. He's been meeting with missionaries for like 20 years or something crazy like that, has met with nearly 100 different missionaries, has a huge stack full of their business cards, its nuts. So, my first time meeting with this guy who's had tons and tons of lessons but not budging on baptism, was a wayyyy spiritual one. We were able to dig right to the core of what his hangup, his concern is with getting baptized. From this lesson, I found an answer to a personal question I've had recently which is "why is having a testimony in Joseph Smiths experience and the restoration of this gospel so crucial for conversion?" I learned personally the power and importance of this very thing from this man. The thing this sweet man is lacking is an open heart to accept answers from God, whatever they may be, and to realize that someone has had the same exact questions of "why are there so many religions, especially within Christianity, and which one is true!?" that person being Joseph Smith. Joseph acted on his question and received an answer! That answer is answered in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That's it in a nutshell. And my purpose right now is to share that with as many people as possible. Its why its called the gospel- it is the good news! Knowing that Joseph Smith established Christs church again here on the earth is key to progression towards Christ. Thats how it works out in my head of why having a testimony in the Restoration of the gospel is important!

Being back in a 4 man apartment is awesome, always getting to interact with more people than just one. My zone leaders are way sweet. My companion is an awesome missionary. The ward and people are awesome. Loving the city life so far. 

Until next week, know that I love you all and pray for your growth and safety! 


Elder Robins
a beautiful Old lady in the new ward who found success bobbing for them apples!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Misawa Transfer 5 Week 6

Hello everybody, excuse me for not sending out an email last week, trying to figure out a new system dealio.

A lot has happened this week. We had our little trip to Oirase Gorge last Monday followed by an awesome dinner and message about Gideon and his 300 which afterwards we had a super intense and spiritual-but-no-cigar lesson with a less active. 

Tuesday was more or less the same as any other Tuesday I've had here for the last 4 months. We visited the sweet old Kashiwazaki Shimai, read with her and she fed us junk food and showed us around her garden. Then we headed over to Uno Kyoudai's home. He was a convert of a few years so he hadn't yet been to the temple! Well, he went to the temple the weekend prior and that's what we wanted to talk about- his experience. My favorite thing he said was that all the tension and uneasiness, the pain in his shoulder and the anticipation of what was to come from this new experience that he had before walking in to the temple flowed out of him as soon as he entered the doors. He said all the noise and commotion from outside in the land of Tokyo was silenced once he entered and he felt an overwhelming feeling of "wow, I'm in a good place surrounded by good people." It was awesome to hear. Following that was the next thing that always happened on Tuesdays. Pizza night at the club with the Mahlums followed by Japanese class at the church. 

Wednesday was splits with my long lost friend Elder Erickson! We did work! Our plan was to visit 3 people- 1 Recent convert, 1 investigator and 1 potential investigator we had never met before. They were all up in the air as to whether we'd be able to meet with them or not which is why we had plenty of backup plans but miraculously, much to my enjoyment, we were able to meet with and have a lesson with all 3 of them! It was a small miracle but a faith-building one nonetheless. Then we had dinner at the Mahlums and a lesson with our American recent convert, Matt. He's been doing practice lessons, we call them "mogis" where we role play and practice teaching. He's great at it and it was fun!

Thursday was good.
Friday morning was zone training meeting in Aomori, a little funky having it on the day of transfer calls cause they make all these announcements and zone goals to a bunch of people who may or may not be there for the next transfer... It was super good though and full of much needed training. Always love zone meetings for the social aspect too! Afterwards were some adventures on the train ride home- left a package a fellow missionary wanted us to send off for him on the train. As it sailed off to Hachinohe, we had to talk with a guy to get the package off the train in Hachinohe, then we had to travel down, pick it up and head right back to Misawa. 2 hours later, what was going to be our time to do weekly planning turned into preparation for our lesson for dinner that evening. Dinner was delicious- with a part member family the wife is a korean and gives us SO MUCH FOOD. Its quite ridiculous matter of fact.

But yes, TRANSFER CALLS came in HOT right after that dinner appointment. The phone call started off, "Elder Robins, I wish I could keep you in Misawa forever but..." at that point I knew my stay here in Misawa was over... I'll be heading down to a place called Kamisugi- downtown Sendai! I'm pumped, I think I'll do well in the city setting, being able to talk with everyone I see and making lots of contacts. There'll be tons of people to talk to all the time, tons of people to teach and we will stay busy no doubt. I'll be second half training Elder Murakami. He was first half trained by who is now the new AP (trained well..) I hope I don't ruin him:) We will be in the apartment with the zone leaders down there- a couple super cool and fun guys. 
Mixed feelings about leaving my home and people here in Misawa as we've seen a lot of success and a lot of potential recently. But I guess the Lord needs me elsewhere! I will go to this awesome area and try to fill in some shoes way too big for me but as I rely on the Lord I'll knoww what to do, how to do it and I'll have a lot of help. 

On Saturday, we did our best to get our general conference sessions in but stayed busy setting up projectors, a member taking us out to an all you can eat meat restaurant and with a lesson with our new investigator, Nakabayashi san!

Japan missionaries recently got new pamphlets that run through three things simply and clearly, and, in Japanese. They go over what to expect from meeting with the missionaries, Who is God? and Who is Jesus Christ? They. are. awesome. So handy. This week with Nakabayashi san we ran through the Who is Jesus Christ pamphlet. We had our branch president and a recently returned missionary join the lesson with us and it was so awesome. He committed to baptism and we were going to set a date but he works on Sundays right now (you have to go to church 3 times before you can be baptized) so he said he'll do his best to make it work. Keep in mind; every time he meets with us in Misawa, he's driving down 3 hours from Mutsu on his little sit down motor bike in coold weather. Commitment. He's awesome and man, he is SOO prepared. The Misawa missionaries should see him getting baptized in the next transfer or two. 

Just got done playing some basketball with some authentic black people. They were blasting some of the music I listened to in "the life before", all kinds of hilarious slang and sayings and man could they jump. So happy I got to ball out one last time! It'll be a while til I'm able to have competition like that I'm sure. 

Alright, well, Misawa has been tons of fun. Seen a lot of people come, a lot of people go, met tons of people, taught a lot of lessons and ate a lot of delicious food. Gonna miss it but I'm excited to move back into what missionary life is really like here in Sendai, Japan. Until next week,

Love you all!

Elder Robins
 my main man Matt


Sho and Ko Sasaki

our pday soccer gang!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Misawa Transfer 5 Week 4

"Howdy howdy"
More miracles and news this week 

Heard yesterday that the boyfriend of the girl in the ward that Elder Erickson and I were teaching a few weeks ago, Zach, is looking at a baptismal date in the next couple weeks over in the states! He's read the Book of Mormon twice through and like anyone else who reads and prays about it with an open and humble heart, he believes it's true! And wants to get baptized. I was thrilled to hear that and I will keep you updated.
Had splits this week on Wednesday. I headed down to Hachinohe and worked with Elder Erickson's bean Elder Brantley. Outstanding missionary already and understands most all Japanese, it's crazy. We had a ton of fun and saw some success that day. Played basketball in our missionary attire for 45 minutes and got nice and sweaty.  Picked up some contact info from the kids we were playing with and gave them all copies of the Book of Mormon. We had a couple lessons and set a baptismal date for one of their investigators. Not sure how solid it is cause the guy is crazy quiet but... Hoping it'll work out! Hachinohe was a blast. Forgot to snag a pic.
On Thursday morning we got a call from one of the adult Japanese service missionaries working in the mission office in Sendai. Maybe the best phone call I've gotten from an older Japanese guy! He gave us what we call a "golden" referral. This guy that lives on the north hook of Japan in a city called Mutsu had been talking with a church member all the way down in Morioka and long story short, we were told he wants to take the lessons and join the church. Ya, its awesome. We have a lesson with him today at 4 and are way excited. The only thing that may be a hold back is the fact that Mutsu is a 2 hour drive both ways.. We'll see what we can do about that but this is nothing short of a blessing straight from Heaven. 
Ryou and his friend Azusa both came to English class this week and said they would come to church on Sunday as well. The next night we met this guy around 8:30PM in a parking lot outside one of our less active visits. He was on his way to his car and stopped and talked with us out of nowhere. He said he's seen our church and has wanted to check it out on several different occasions so we gave him a Book of Mormon, invited him and expected to see him as well at church on Sunday. Well, Sunday rolled around, military Ward ended at 1, ate our lunch and got ready to greet our three expected visitors for the Japanese branch at 2. We were totally pumped and ready to have some new investigators! But time went on and none of the hopeful showed except for the least likely of our pool- Kimura san. Which was a great surprise! But not as exciting to be quite frank with ya. And then our dinner appointment with a family and a potential investigator we had prepared for got postponed a few weeks. A day full of lots of high expectations and great things kinda turned into a day of unfortunate events, but I realize the will of God is different than mine and I need to rely on His timing, not mine. 
I'm continuing to learn as of recent that God works in very mysterious ways. It's almost never the case that you'll get what you want when you want it, even if it's a righteous desire. Usually, it'll be close to the opposite. You'll get what you didn't know you wanted when you least expect it. Sometimes that's great and sometimes it's not as great, but flexibility, back up plans, and the ability to move on are all inevitable and crucial components of being a missionary. 

You're all the best and I really appreciate the support you're all still giving me! Have a killer week full of delight.
Elder Robins