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