Sunday, March 27, 2016

Aomori Transfer 9 Week 6

Hey guys!

Transfer calls came in hot as always. Results: I'm staying and getting a new companion! Elder Kugai is off to a new area doing something we call "white washing" where they start a brand new companionship from the bottom. Good luck to him! My new companion is Elder Okamoto! I lived in the same apartment with him back last summer and man am I excited to work with him. I've been wanting to work with him since then and my wish has been granted! We're going to put in work. 

This week was fantastic! More new investigators and committed 2 of our new investigators last week to shoot for baptism! Unfortunately, it seems a lot of our investigators don't have too deep of an interest and meeting with them again is tough so if y'all could pray for their hearts to be softened so they can consider the incredible change that could be just ahead for them in their lives. Made lots of contacts and had good conversations with lots of people this week. Also had a day in Hirosaki, a nearby area for splits with Elder Barton from Highland, Utah. Had a great day and witnessed a lot of miracles! Also, Hirosaki is home of the most delicious makeshift American joint in the mission (Japan's version of an American diner.) As thus, it's custom to hit it up when you're on splits there. So we got cover from the snow storm while we enjoyed our burgers, milk shakes and onion rings. SOO good and natsukashii (reminiscent of the past.. Pretty much means wow, haven't felt this or had this feeling or done this thing in a long time!) Enjoyed Hirosaki and hope I can work there some day! 

Weather Report: Rain showers turned into a snow fest on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Other than that, we had some sunny moments and some flashback to winter moments as well. The snow is almost completely melted now! 

Gave my Easter message yesterday to the members in sacrament meeting. If you remember my email a year ago around this time I mentioned how Japanese people, even Christians, don't really celebrate Easter nor make mention of it. And most have no idea what it is! It's crazy. So after last year's sad Easter in Akita, I had a determination to make my peace this year in my talk. I told them in an American sacrament meeting on Easter Sunday, the speakers have quite a large responsibility of conveying such an important message. Besides a few quiet reactions in the congregation when I first announced that "today is Easter!," I don't think people really cared and the speakers after me yesterday still made no mention of it at all. Haha, oh well! It was a great study for me this week preparing that talk and I was able to learn quite a bit about what the resurrection means to and for us! 

Quote from elder holland I used in my talk (this was a tough one to read in Japanese!)
[ So today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced--to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins. That victory is available to us because of events that transpired on a weekend precisely like this nearly two millennia ago in Jerusalem. That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life. ]

- HALLELUJAH - in Hebrew means "praise ye the Lord." 
- Easter is the oldest and most widely celebrated holiday in the Christian calendar. 

Here's some pics! また来週!(see ya next week!)

Elder Robins
God saying 'what up' to Aomori

Sleet in Hirosaki with Elder Barton 

The beach that was a winter wonderland 4 weeks ago. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Aomori Transfer 9 Week 4

Minasan konnichiwa!

Can't believe it's been another week, time is flying out here! This week was lots of good, solid get out and work time.

Weather report: the transition into spring continues but not without random blasts of winter. Like a car at the end of its tank- the last little bit still puts out exhaust with transitions of dying and restarting again, kicking out gusts of its last exhaust - it's the same as Aomori weather. The winter had to kick out the last couple of snow storms it has left before it dies completely. (Don't know if that made any sense but I tried..) It's currently sunny and beautiful outside with dry surfaces just about everywhere except for the melting snow mounds.

We had splits with the Misawa elders on Tuesday! I had the rotation of staying in Aomori this time but it was a solid day full of finding! Lots of walking and talking but ended up having some really solid conversations and were able to make a lot of good contacts. No new investigators but definitely contacts with potential. The cool part was running into two travelers who were stopping in Aomori for a few hours waiting for their next trains and whatnot. They had just met eachother no longer than an hour prior at a tourist attraction shop and then ran into us. One was from France on her own doing some part time job something. The other was from Germany there for traveling only I think. They both spoke very good English, the Germans English was near flawless but anywho, we were able to have a nice discussion about the Book of Mormon, the word of wisdom (our standard about what we eat and drink) and did all we could to encourage them to go find missionaries when they return. Always an interesting experience getting to talk with people that actually have a religious background and like talking about religion!

Had splits again on Thursday with the Hachinohe elders, just 30-40 minutes south of Misawa. I worked in Hachinohe with Elder Daly from American Fork Utah, where my grandparents live. In fact he had a Robbins in his home Ward too, except their name had two B's in it. There's like 5 people in the zone from highland or American fork Utah and none of them knew each other before the mission despite how close they all live to each other.. Utah is nuts. Anyway, elder Daly is a great elder! His dad is Korean, mother Japanese but his dad was adopted by an Italian couple so he has the last name Daly. Pretty wild. We too had a nice full day of finding, talking with people and making good contacts. 

Elder Kugai and I have been working on being bold, trying new things, and pushing harder this week to eventually see more baptisms! We've had a lot of awkward moments, a lot of funny moments, a lot of awkward and therefore funny moments, and saw some improvement and potential from a few individuals. It's a quote that rings in my head every time I want to see change in an area, a companionship or anything - "If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always gotten." The quote doesn't mention anything about what happens when you make changes and the result thereof, but it does have a promise that if you don't make an effort to change your circumstances, they won't change. We have to sometimes change who we are and what we always do in order to reach goals, see improvement and grow. What I've learned is even when we do make changes, the result isn't exactly what we want right off the bat! It'll never be the exact result we were looking for right away. But perhaps it's growth towards that goal and we have made it that much closer to what we're striving for! So, let's all try to change up what we do so that we can continue to learn, grow and improve who we are and what we're doing. 

Love you all, enjoy the transition into Spring and make the change you want to see!

Elder Robins
Dinner last night with the Kanai family! It was a blast.

Elder Daly and I enjoying McDonalds Cafe strawberry ice something in Hachinohe 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Aomori Transfer 9 Week 3

This Monday we had a lesson with Fujita san at a mall food court type place. We did 30 minute English lesson and 30 minutes of gospel. Midway through the gospel lesson, we noticed a ruffling and bustling at the table beside us. We were thinking, with all the open seats to sit in this place why is this person choosing to sit right by us... I then glance over to see who it was, then had a double take and noticed it was one of the members we have been working with! He's a bit of a stranger, older guy that keeps us on our feet with what he comes up with which made it funny that he was the one to sit coincidentally by us. Anyway, we made eye contact and I nudged elder Kugai to inform him of our visitor. He was just as surprised as I was! We asked if he wanted to join in on the lesson but he refused and placed an invisible wall with his hands between our two tables. 5 minutes later, he joined in on the lesson teaching all over the place about this and that, drawing diagrams and explaining things in his own wisdom, kind of destroying the lesson but it still turned out to be good in the end, thanks to our investigators patience:). Pretty funny part of the week. We call it the miraculous un-needed joint lesson.

Tuesday morning- bus to Sendai. Tuesday afternoon- dendou in Sendai. Tuesday night- business and training at the mission home. Wednesday morning- discussion and training from Pres Smith. Wednesday afternoon-evening- bus home to Aomori. We  reviewed the Zone Conference training from Elder Choi, things we learned and things we want to commit ourselves. The new theme of the mission is baptism, baptism, baptism. Think baptism. Speak baptism. Act baptism. And make it the character and destiny of the mission. 

We went to Misawa last night to interview Nakabayashi San for baptism! The man I was blessed to start teaching there. He needs just a little bit more work with quitting coffee completely and wants to study a little bit more but he wants to be baptized so bad! He's still riding his little scooter bike in the freezing cold 3 hours from the north horn of Japan down to Misawa in order to have lessons and go to church- from him we can all learn there is absolutely no excuse to not go to church! Haha, he's a stud. He'll be baptized in the next few weeks after another interview. I got to see the members of the Japanese branch of Misawa for the first time in 5 months which was so great! They're all genki and it was good to see them again. And since it was fast Sunday and knowing every fast Sunday in Misawa means that the Larsen's prepare dinner for the missionaries. So we arranged our schedule to be able to go to dinner with the Misawa missionaries and feast! It was pretty much thanksgiving! Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, zucchini, rolls and for dessert, cinnamon rolls. I have forgotten how spoiled I was to be fed like that in Misawa. 

Weather report: Spring is here! All of the snow on the streets and sidewalks has melted (although there's still massive barriers of snow in between the streets and sidewalks.) Temperature is way good and I can now go outside without long-johns, scarfs and beanies. Boots are probably going to be sent home soon. It's a happy time in Aomori. We can also probably start to ride bikes again this week!

What I learned this week comes from a quote from Elder Ballard. Basically, he talks about how we are the creators of success. No circumstance, area, people can take away what we desire to do and accomplish. We simply have to have an attitude, a mindset that we will succeed and see results. Thoughts lead to words, words to actions, actions to habits, habits to character, character to destiny. So, our thoughts are huge and in order to change the end result of destiny meaning a successful mission, we must think success and think baptisms. This can apply to us all! Whatever we want to do we can do. You've literally just got to put your mind to it.

Have a thriller week!

Elder Robins

Me and Elder Daniels with a news reporter at a famous raw fish place in Aomori. (Notice the Book of Mormon in hand;) )

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Aomori Transfer 9 Week 2

Happy leap year day! 

Weather Report: On Monday, the ground had dried up almost to the point where the snow wasn't even noticeable. Then we woke up on Tuesday and it was back to normal with snow all over the place. Temperatures colder than last week, highs of 32 but usually in the 20's. Currently raining. 

Highlight of the week: On Thursday night we took a bus down to Morioka! A place I haven't been to since July, for a mori mori taikai (big mission gathering.) Our zone gathered together with the Morioka zone for a training from Elder Choi of the Seventy and the north Asia area presidency. He is Korean and has one heck of a background- body guard, black belt tae kwon doe, a crazy successful business manager with tons of different titles and an ex-Korean soldier. But most importantly, he is one powerful servant of the Lord. He did two trainings for our mission and we were the second of the two. I heard it was tons different from the first meeting he had but awesome nonetheless. Shared a lot of experiences, had a lot of good jokes and my favorite part, he told it how it is. Simple, bold, to the point. Which made for intense moments but ya, overall just a powerhouse of motivation. 
Three things the Spirit taught me during the conference:
1. "If you don't like it, like it." This was a phrase and example Elder Choi used time and time again that made for funny and bold statements. He talked about liking the grossest of Japanese food (for me, and the very example he used, NATTO- fermented soybeans. Healthy but not very appetizing). He said if we don't like the food or the culture of the people, even one small thing like natto, essentially how can we help the people and fulfill our missionary purpose? And then he said, if you don't like it, like it. Very interesting point. It's a fun phrase to use now in the apartment.
2. The importance of sincere prayer. We are promised God will hear and answer every earnest prayer. There's not really any point of praying if what you say in the prayer isn't from your heart!
3. The importance of being bold. Either the way he talked or what he talked about, he inspired a lot of us to be more bold. If we want something, we can have it. No circumstance, area, companion or people can prevent us from seeing a baptism every week. Or to apply to all of you, if there's something you want to achieve, do, accomplish, see, there's no one and no thing holding you back from achieving it. It is completely up to you. I still think some cases and situations are harder to do some things than others, but in the end I guess it's up to us and our attitudes! - Is basically what I got from it. 

Also got the opportunity to teach a member yesterday from Tokyo. He visits up here in the Aomori Prefecture for work and likes to visit all the different branches. I had already met him once in Misawa and got to know him there and I saw him again yesterday at the Aomori branch! Anyway, Elder Kyle Dana, a childhood friend of mine, had served in this man's home Ward a few months back. This man looks up to Elder Dana and said he helped his family out a great deal and helped them out a lot. Our lesson we had yesterday was about the importance of expressing gratitude in our prayers. It was a spirit filled discussion and what we taught him and something he said elder Dana taught him linked together perfectly and helped solidify his personal testimony! God works is mysterious and unpredictable ways!

Love y'ALL!

Elder Robins

The Choi (Che) Taikai

Elder Daniels (from Highland, Utah) and I on splits, trying to make friends with the ATV

In the summer, this is a beautiful park in Aomori

the coolest ATV I've ever seen