Sunday, August 30, 2015

Misawa Transfer 4 Week 6

Hey friends and fam,

Transfer calls came in hot Friday night, a day earlier than usual. The results are here. *Drum Roll Please*! Elder Erickson and I will be saying goodbye to our companionship, but not goodbye to each other as he was called to white wash Hachinohe, an area just a 30 minute train ride south of Misawa. Hachinohe and Misawa are in the same district so we'll still see each other about every week. I found out I'll be training a new missionary by the name of Elder Bruce. An American (I think) Fresh out of the MTC! Scared out of my mind to take the reigns here in Misawa managing the two wards with a new missionary that might not know much Japanese at all, but I know the Lord trusts me with this, and that's all the confidence I need. 

Had a really awesome week! Splits with a missionary from Hachinohe on Wednesday by the name of Elder Tachibana. He came up here and Elder Erickson worked down in Hachinohe. We had a great day of hectic bike riding to and from appointments but got one of the best meals ever that night from the Parkinsons and the bishops family- the Nelsons. The dish was garlic chicken sauce and pasta, bread sticks galore, cucumber-crumbled fettuccine cheese-basil and tomato toothpick things, and for dessert- the small little bread cups with yogurt and raspberries/ blueberries on the inside. And the fun fact is- the parents weren't the ones who made it! Their oldest daughters, probably 13 and 12 years old, made it all and served it to us as we sat. It was so dang good. We had another amazing meal the other night and the night before that.. my belly is blessed! And we have ward members that buy us American cereal from on base. Its amazing. So glad I'll be here for another 6-12 weeks. Make sure to get on my case if I start looking chubbier- so far the scale hasn't indicated so but still keeping a watchful eye.

On Saturday we had an awesome awesome experience. The same family that fed us that amazing meal had one of their daughters baptisms not at the local chapel, but at the ocean beach! Here's the funny part- the night we went over for dinner when we were on splits is the night they decided to inform us that the previous missionaries had promised them, the family, that they would sing at their daughters baptism... I thought they were joking at first but as I played along with the "joke" I soon realized it wasn't a "joke" as their big smiles started to droop a little bit and they were both looking at me waiting for me to say something... I couldn't decline the desperate request with the bishop there also! SO, ends up, we- some of the two least musically talented people in the mission- got up there on Saturday at the beach and sang I Am a Child of God for them in Japanese, in front of the crowd. Luckily, it was really windy and the waves were nice and loud so everyone couldn't hear just how ungifted we are but we survived. We were also chosen to be the witnesses for her baptism and to join the circle the following Sunday to bless her with the Holy Ghost. It was a fun, fun time. Pictures attached.

Other than that, nothing too crazy other than the fact that we have 34 missionaries coming in the next 2 transfers with only 10 or so leaving. I'll be going down to Sendai tomorrow through Thursday to meet Elder Bruce and stay there for his orientation and whatnot. And then next weekend the base is having a fireworks show we will be attending. Looking forward to it!

God is aware of you and He loves you. We all go through heartache and suffering- it's part of life and part of what our Heavenly Father wants us to experience. Some go through things much more intense or severe than others, but whoever it is and whatever it is, you'll get through it as you rely on God. Those challenges and struggles will help us become better, more refined, wiser individuals with skills and attributes that will bless our lives and families in the future and in the eternities.This is something I will need to keep in mind as I begin this, what I'm sure will be a, very challenging and trying portion of my mission:)


a) elder Erickson at the beach pier. Would've sent a picture of me, but my camera died right after this picture 
b) tryna be artsy
c)at Brother Tomita's house- he loves his Japanese wrestling.

Elder Robins

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Misawa Transfer 4 Week 5

Friends and family,

This week on the 28th is the birthday of the best mom in the world- that's right, Laurie Robins! Please, if you know how much of a saint this woman is, or even if you haven't met her, please pamper her with love and chocolate and flowers cause she's amazing and deserves the best. Love you mom!!!

Got an email from Zach the other night (the boyfriend of one of the young women in the ward who visited for a few weeks from Nebraska that we taught a few times) and he said a lot of nice things but among them was that he believes he has found the true church of Christ. That was way cool to read.. and he's also, on his own, been cleaning up his music selection, been receiving answers to his prayers and buying books so he can be smarter and more educated... this guy is doing a lot of good for himself and he can feel the happiness we promised him as he chooses to follow Christ. Super exciting stuff!

Haven't mentioned my good friend Brother Uno in the Japanese branch. This guy is the best. Baptized a few years ago and one of the only other priesthood holders in the branch. It looks like he always has a frown on his face and not a very happy guy but man when we go to visit him every week, it's a party. (Except for the fact he always gives us anko- sweet bean paste pastries :p) The questions he comes up with are nothing short of interesting to talk and study about whether it's what happens to animals after death, what manna was and taking of the daily bread is, where the land of desolation is, the stuff about the 12 tribes of Israel and translations of certain words in English to certain words in Japanese. It's oftentimes over both of our heads which makes us both stop and laugh and Brother Uno's laugh -- is the best, I love it so much. This old guy with a funny looking hair-do that just cracks up every time like he hasn't heard something that funny in years type of laugh.. always love talking with him and visiting. Brother Uno. 

Had our Zone conference in Aomori this past Friday- that is where our president comes and does a training that he calls spiritual feasts. This one started at 9:30 and finished up around 4:30... super long day haha but the theme of this conference was DC 128:19  19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? voice of gladnessvoice of mercy from heaven; and voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joyHow beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!
Talking about just how great the message we have to offer is and how we should be happy and glad and stern about sharing it with everyone! Learned a lot of good stuff and came away feeling enriched and motivated to keep on trying my best.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have in this time of my life to serve these amazingly kind, friendly and generous people of Japan. Although finding people that want to hear the gospel is like finding needles in haystacks, we don't like to let that get us down because we know they're out there and just waiting for us to come and teach them. 

Thanks for the prayers the notes and the thoughts! I hope you all enjoy your week starting school and finishing up your travels for the summer! Love you all!

Elder Robins

Monday, August 17, 2015

Misawa Transfer 4 Week 4


Had a pretty awesome week, I hope you did as well. I'll jump right into it.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that story about that referral from one of the military families, how excited we were initially but how we probably wouldn't see much from it. His name is Zach. And, well, these past two weeks, (his last two weeks visiting), we were invited back over two more times to teach him! In addition to him coming to church every week he was here. He's the man. Basically, he had restarted reading the Book of Mormon to more fully understand it and planned to finish it before his airplane landed home (super fast reader!), he has prayed about it and received an answer that it's true and he said he has no problems with anything else. He is golden! And the family who's daughter he came to visit have been awesome in helping him learn and progress along the path. We're guessing if all goes right he'll be baptized pretty soon here in Nebraska. Awesome guy, built a solid relationship with him and look forward to seeing where he goes in life! Super cool experience that has been a huge faith booster in just seeing how far a good influence can go. 

On Wednesday, I went up to Aomori for our Zone Leader Splits. Elder Smith and I had an awesome splits and saw some good success. That day consisted of doing a practice lesson with an ex-sumo wrestler (who's a total beast now, not fat anymore) and then went running with him for 20 minutes afterwards. Then we went to the beach! First time I've seen the beach and sand and everything probably since last year. There were a lot of people to talk to on the beach so we spent a good amount of time there. Right by the beach is a free public zoo! So we got to check out the crazy baboon I later named Paul, the most majestic peacock I've ever seen with tail feathers several feet long, and then some turtle doves and roosters. Paul the baboon was by far the most entertaining but he wasn't in a very charming mood and didn't want to listen to our message about God's love for him.. 

Other than that, we had a very busy, productive week. Our investigator Kimura san is still struggling with some things like believing in Jesus Christ (even tho she believes in the bible) and she has the same question Joseph Smith had (about why there are so many churches and which one is right?) Right now, she's having trouble connecting some dots. We are going to be patient with her and try to help her understand. Patience, once again, is the theme of the week. 

Thank you so much for reading these boring letters! I appreciate the love and support and prayers. Have a good last or second to last week of summer! 

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō

Monday, August 10, 2015

Misawa Transfer 4 Week 3

Konnichiwa ai shite iru hito,

I dont even know what to say about the heat here- it's not very fun, lot's of sweat, we bring sweat rags and fans to lessons cause no one has AC and your body just explodes with moisture once you sit down. But I know other people have it much worse:) so I AM grateful to be so far up north for the summer. 

Had a solid week! Highlight was definitley the Nebuta festival in Aomori on Friday. We went up Friday morning for Zone Conference, after which President Smith said the zone could stick around (sleepover that night) to watch the festival and fireworks, experience the culture and to DENDOU! (preach the word)! It was super funny, as we were walking the streets we see this lady across the street waving to us. She's wearing big sunglasses, a hoodie jacket, shorts, high heel flip flops and a hat over her pony tail'd hair. And she was not Japanese. Turns out, it was good old Sister Smith, the mission presidents wife! Not even wearing her name tag (she said when she's dressed like that the church doesn't want her repping the name! Haha.) She was just walking around by herself in the streets of Aomori, buying things and having a jolly ol time while her husband was stuck in the hotel room preparing for our zone conference in a couple weeks. And she can talk. So after telling us about her daughters wedding plans and this and that, we parted and went our separate ways. It was a classic Sister Smith moment.

Back to the festival. It was way sweet! The floats are incredibly big, incredibly heavy (it looks like), and just incredible in general. Pics attached at the bottom. We were lucky enough to be there for the last day of the parade which meant there was a closing firework ceremony on the port! They put all of the floats out in the bay on barges, turned on the lights to the floats which made them glow and they went out chanting and floating around while the fireworks went. The fireworks started at 7 and went til 9... super long show! They got off to kind of weak sauce start and we began to make the classic american assumptions that fireworks were much better in America. #Merica. But we were proven wrong. As it continued, they started bringing out the big boys- emphasis on big. And it only seemed to get bigger. These things were huge and expensive looking fireworks with a massive boom- as if it were a bomb, you could feel it on shore. Since the apartment was about a 45 minute walk from the beach, we had to leave shortly after eight, but as we walked the rest of the night home, we were still able to see them easily and the booms seemed to get louder as we walked away from them. Probably a kilometer inland we were still able to feel the boom from some of them. It was so cool. It sounded like a war zone with the continuous sound of booms and explosions. 

Super cool, fun experience and ended up being a pretty effective missionary opportunity. 

One thing I've been studying these past couple weeks is the concept of patience. Reading from the Bible in James 1: 2-4 it talks about "counting it all joy when we experience diverse temptations (many afflictions), for the trying of our faith (bearing through those afflictions and holding strong) worketh patience, which patience has a perfect work in us that makes us entire, wanting nothing." Rough elder robins translation, but time and time again the Lord has lead me during my study or during my day to remember to be patient, and how as I become patient and continue to trust in the Lord and His timing, I will be made whole and want for nothing. Such an important thing to remember for me right now and I'm sure for a lot of you. We all may be wanting for something, for me- to become fluent with the snap of a finger and to have more investigators, for you, maybe to be able to get to go to Venice or something... but in the end, it's the Lord's will. The Lord's timing. The Lord's plan.

Love you all so very much and appreciate all you do for me! 

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō
Another float

Last float of the festival. Everyone follows it to the bay.

The floats lit up out on the water - way cool looking!

One of the Nebuta floats, Notice the power system behind it. When I saw that, I was reminded of America's grim history of slavery. Although some countries have done away with it, it seemed to have made an appearance here in Aomori, Japan. Poor fellas.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Misawa Transfer 4 Week 2

Minasan konnichiwa,

Real busy week up here in Misawa! Lots of visiting recent converts, less actives, doing mogi's, or practice lessons, with members. 
We got a call during Japanese class on Tuesday night from a military member family who's been in Hawaii the past month and on their first night back they had someone they wanted us to meet! We got super super excited- getting referrals isn't very common, but she continued to explain the person she wanted us to meet. Among other things that makes a missionary drool when they hear it, she mentioned somewhere in there that this guy, whoever it was, wanted to be baptized! I tried to maintain my composure. We went home thinking we'd have a baptismal date set up in a week or two and we were pumped. We visited that family the next evening to meet him. Turns out, it's her daughter's boyfriend visiting for just a few weeks from Nebraska... We were hoping he lived here so we could teach him regularly,, but he had some good questions, he's been reading from the Book of Mormon, came to church yesterday and has been searching for a religion that's right for him which is super admirable for an 18 year old with a lot of other things going on. Anyway, had a great discussion and hopefully we at least helped him on his path to finding that right church for him. 

We had some good, growth-proving times and we had some harder times. We had a lesson where neither of us knew what was really going on cause our investigator's Japanese was insane and she wasn't making it easy for us. She's been "investigating" for too long now and doesn't seem to be putting forth effort to really progress so we think we'll continue to visit and share messages but maybe drop her for now. But overall, lessons haven't been too much of a struggle for us young missionaries- which really goes to show God loves us!

A lot of other cool little miracles along the path this week. It's always from the little things here and there that we find our faith growing and that we see God's hand really taking control in this work and in our lives. 

Gotta go and no fun stories or pictures this week, sorry! Love you all so much!

Elder Dallin Robins
Robinzu Chōrō