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.