Monday, April 25, 2016

Aomori Transfer 10 Week 4

Hello minasan!

So it's springtime here in northern Japan which means Sakura season. "Sakura" is cherry blossom trees. Sakura is practically a worshipped tree here in Japan to the point where if you hurt one there's a penalty. The American equivalent of Sakura season is the equivalent of the Fourth of July in terms of excitement and the presidential election in terms of it being the main and immediate go-to for small talk conversation. In the Aomori zone is a place called hirosaki- one of the most famous Sakura cities in all of Japan with a famous park where tens of thousands visit during this week and a half period of Sakura blooming. As I write this I'm on an absolutely packed train to Hirosaki, having had special permission to leave our area boundaries, and we are going to see the Sakura at its peak as a district! Today is sunny, 16° C and beautiful. By next week, the Sakura flowers will be on their way out and green leaves come in so the timing for visiting Hirosaki is perfect. 
I was in Akita last year during Sakura season, another pretty famous city for its Sakura- again, blessed to be where I am when I am.

Our two main and most promising investigators were able to meet this week and both were awesome meetings. However, bad news came about Fujita- he'll be moving at the end of next month down south north of Fukushima which is close to the radiation zone. I was so saddened to hear that and gave him a hard time. His response to me being sad- you can't talk! You're the one who leaves and moves around all the time with transfers! He had a good point but I'm still a little heartbroken as he'll be moving to an inaka area, a place where no one really lives and is far from where missionaries function. We will be meeting with him quite often during May and try to help and prepare him to receive baptism but it will need some extra help from heaven. 
Sotoyama San is genki and very interested in our church's message and the difference between us and Jehovahs Witness. It's quite funny how often we run into people on the streets and they say they've already talked to people like us before, and we being surprised to hear that ask about what it was like, they always say they were two older women that gave them a bible- Jehovahs Witness missionaries. Pretty funny. Anyway, he's a good guy with lots of good questions and starting to progress well.
Had two splits this week! On Tuesday, with elder Sugimoto who is in my douki! Which means he was in the same group that came with us to Japan last year. It was both of our first times going on splits with someone in our douki and man was it a fun day. Met a member and sang her happy birthday, gave her chocolate and shared a spiritually uplifting message, fed a fish an old man caught to a crow, got ice cream with my favorite English student and her daughter and then had dinner with the funniest couple I've met here in Japan. And found a great PI. Fun day.

On Thursday, I got to return back to dendou in Misawa! I was with elder Hawker, a new missionary from Connecticut! He's a great man with a ton of hope and good attitude. We met with Kashiwazaki Shimai, a recent convert, Ebina Shimai was sick so we gave her a priesthood blessing. Then we found a new investigator who taught herself fluent English and is already Christian- two very rare things to randomly find on the street in a small town like Misawa. Then we had dinner with a member on base. Jumped on a trampoline for the first time in 9 months. we had Mexican food!!! such a wonderful tender mercy for my stomach. That was great. Then we had English class which was a blast! And ended the night by successfully visiting Nagano Kyoudai who is a member who's lost his way and we're trying to help him back to the light. 
Doesn't sound like a whole lot in Misawa but it felt just like home and we saw a lot of small miracles. 

Being companions with elder Okamoto has been such a great learning and humbling experience. But not because he's difficult! In any way! Rather, I'm learning so much every day because of his great and thorough work, his ability to teach and his patience, kindness and firm testimony. Working with him daily helps me keep in mind my weaknesses and improvement points. Something I enjoy. Always learning. And together, our experiences of seeing the great effects of the light of this gospel on others is also increasing! 

I want to add one last thing and that's my testimony about the plan the Lord has prepared for us, His children, after our life here on earth. My little brother Jared was part of a role play at his high school meant to warn and prevent kids from drug and alcohol usage. The program is called "every 15 minutes" and my little brother was chosen to be one who suffered the consequences of those driving under the influence and was 'killed'. Although it was merely a role play, it acts as a good reminder to us all about the short and precious time we have here on earth, to use it wisely and be smart. However, accidents and unforetold events happen and lives are lost but our Father is loving and provided a plan for all families and friends to reunite again during the resurrection. And we can live forever if we live faithfully and partake of the covenants only able to be performed in temples. 

Love y'all! Have a good one!

Elder Robins

Sakura today! 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Aomori Transfer 10 week 3

Fam, friends, others tuning in,

I had a busy, successful and enriching week full of events! It was great. Here's more! (Sorry, it's longer than usual.. But has good stuff!)

Saturday we had Zone conference: the theme being We Are the Message and the light. Some impressions I had during the conference that I think can also apply to everyday people as well but I will write it as it applies to me. 
-who I am and what I do, what I say or what I don't do or say as a missionary matters more than I can imagine. Everything I do, my body language and everything- people are watching and it has the ability to convert. The light I possess and we possess as missionaries has the power by itself to soften people's hearts and eventually change their lives! Our mission president gave examples of this and it's reality, one of them being a true story about a blind woman with two amputated legs asking her daughter, "what are those two lights in front of our house?" The daughter opens the front door and says, "oh just two young men in white shirts and ties." The mother responds, "go get them, they have what we need [the gospel]." The woman and her family eventually converted and found joy again in their lives. Basically, as we are worthy servants and representatives of Christ, the light we illuminate can be physically felt and visibly seen. We are the message of Christ's restored gospel.
-the rewards that come from patience, kindness, and humility towards others. Brother Seza. The most amazing man, Saint, example, and light of a human I have ever met, is a result of two kind, patient and meek missionaries in the past who when they first knocked on his door and presented the message, were rejected utterly by brother Seza. Brother Seza was a punk of a kid and there was no light in him (he showed us a picture.) and through those first two elders utmost patience, kindness and love for this punk kid, he ultimately, 40 years later has turned into a complete role model for me and a huge example to many others. He is now my mission presidents first counselor but he was my first missionary coordinator back in downtown Sendai. Huge hero to me. 

Why I Believe Fireside- a fireside president smith has been doing this year intended to having people share their stories and why they believe in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints along with music and simple power points, the meeting being only 1 hour long. A great event just full of love and good vibes, a great opportunity for non members and members alike. That was yesterday. I went to this same event back when I was in Sendai, and this time was much more relaxed and fun, it was great.

Yamada Youko San. An English student who this week has helped me feel the sheer joy that comes from people realizing they want the gospel in their lives. 
Through a series of events this week including me showing a church video as an English example for class and that same video being shared in the fireside which she attended, she told me "when you showed me that video for eikaiwa,  I didn't know what it was that made me so emotional." She said, "I realize now what it is. It's that this is what I want for me and my family. President Smiths family looks so happy and is so beautiful! That is what I need and want for my family. It's perfect." 
She is the coolest mom with two young kids, single and just an amazingly kind, service giving woman. So funny and cool. And she now sees, feels, and realizes that this is what the gospel can bring to her life and her family. Joy, peace, and love. Fills me with joy thinking about it!

Two splits. One with a new elder in our district from the same exact area my companion is from who's dad actually grew up here in Aomori but moved years ago down to Osaka. We found two new investigators for our companionship. One was an old investigator willing to talk and meet again named Satou San. but the other one was a miracle in our eyes. On our way to a practice lesson with a member, we were walking across the bridge over the train tracks (a very loud and noisy bridge, always windy too, so it's hard to have good convo there) but nonetheless, we ran into a kinjin. He was interested in Christianity, had received a bible from our friends the JW's and we told him we had a another book for him that we would love to share and explain. So, we walked him to the church and instead of doing that practice lesson, we just had the member join in on our lesson and had a good first lesson. Met again with him this week on Friday, again on splits but this time with a younger American missionary. This mans name is Sotoyama San. He didn't feel like coming to church nor to the fireside our mission president had, which was a bummer cause it would've been great for him to see and hear. But he's Great! He's young and asks good but difficult questions. Meeting him again on Wednesday.

 No contact with my man Fujita San this week, a bit worried about him and hope he comes back to English class. Fujita San is such a good man, love him with all my heart and can so clearly see the amazingly positive effect following Christ and joining this church would have on his life. It's tough when they don't desire for more. 

Two weeks later and I realize I can't get back to everyone who wished me happy birthday but I say from my heart thank you to each one of you for your love. I really do appreciate it lots.
Y'all have a good week. 
Here's some pics!


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Aomori Transfer 10 Week 2

Busy week! 

Oddly late on Monday night we dropped off goodies, sang happy birthday and bore testimony to a member! (Who is having us over for dinner tonight, so I think it worked!)

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent traveling to and from the mission home on our infamous 5 hour bus ride each way from Aomori to Sendai and back. It was a good time and awesome to see everyone. On Wednesday morning we woke up early and played some football on a nearby street. After a solid 30 or 40 minutes, police showed up. They told us it's bad to play on the street, especially early in the morning being as loud as we were. I guess it makes sense that they had cops take care of us considering old Japanese people probably have no courage in trying to tell off a bunch of foreigners playing their native game in the middle of the street early in the morning. But it was fun nonetheless and they interrupted as near the end of our game anyway. Moral of the story, there is none! It was a fun time tossin the fake pig skin around. 

Wednesday was meeting and travel back. A member from Hachinohe dropped by our English class that night to say hi!

Thursday was prep/planning for our zone training meeting on Friday along with some finding. 

Friday was zone training meeting which went incredibly well! The atmosphere and vibe of the zone is awesome. Tons of young missionaries with a lot of life and a lot of fun. We had plenty of fun, laughs but also the good spiritual strengthening at the end. The focus and theme was that of the missionary worldwide broadcast a couple months back - Teach Repentance and Baptize a Convert. We felt through more meaningful prayer and through personal repentance and desire to feel the influence of the atonement in our everyday life, we will be more powerful and effective missionaries in the Lords work. 

Saturday was completely filled with general conference and a couple lessons. Sunday as well was mostly general conference with member lessons. 

Weather report: pretty mild and normal week weather wise. Some rain drops earlier in the week. Some beautiful days and some cloudy days. But no one saw what was coming today- I looked out our back window this morning expecting maybe some drizzle from what I could here from the cars driving by but I nearly fainted at the sight I saw. A full on snow storm! We couldn't believe it for the 11th of April... By the time we made it outside it had cleared up and most the snow melted. Walked in a store and looked out the window 10 minutes later, blizzard. 15 minutes after that, we're back outside walking in the sun. Classic Aomori- most bipolar weather in the world. 

I'm a week behind on General Conference here in Japan but man what a spiritual feast it was! Full of amazing talks that lifted, encouraged and inspired I'm sure anyone who tuned in and listened. What a blessing it is for us to be led and guided but these leaders who are so near and so in touch with our Heavenly Father that help us make choices, stay motivated, feel loved and want to do better. Such a blessing- I wish I could make everyone watch it and feel the incredible power and testimony of these leaders. President Monsons messages were short but so sweet and powerful.
 "May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day--whether to make this choice or that choice--if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice."

That's my encouragement to you all this week! Stay true, be good people, do the right moral thing and you'll find peace and power in your souls.

Elder Robins

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Aomori Transfer 10 Week 1

Loved ones around the world,

Elder Robins tuning in here from Japan. To answer some basic questions from y'all, here in Japan we watch general conference (one of the two times a year the prophet of the Lord and his apostles address the church) a week later, so I haven't seen it yet but am pumped for it! It will be my second to last general conference as a missionary! The food is great and not always as Japanese or Asian as you might think, although we do eat a fair share of raw fish, rice, and other strange foods. All of which I love (for the most part)! 
My companion, elder Okamoto is a stud and I am learning and growing so much from him already! He's one of the older missionaries in the mission because of his early on commitments to attempt to get into the best musical college in Japan. He is a musical genius- specializing in the clarinet. You name a tune, any tune at all, and he can play it just about flawlessly, even if he doesn't know it! Don't know how... He's a great companion, way mature and thorough in the work, and I will learn lots with him in the days to come. 

Weather report: A couple days this week of beautiful temperatures- brisk but sunny. Rain for a day or two. Still a bit chilly outside but overall it's getting better!

Elder Okamoto and I had some interesting and memorable first couple of days together. We had a day where it was raining so we had to walk and we decided to go visit a less active way out there. We walked probably about 2 hours to arrive at this mans door. He obviously had no idea who we were but when we introduced ourselves he, without any hesitation, yelled "DAME DA!!!," (... Doesn't translate well but pretty much NOOO!!) slammed the door and locked what seemed to be three or four locks "click, click, click, click." We stood there with smiles on our faces, said "arigatou gozaimasu, genki de!!" (Thank you! Take care!) Gave eachother a high five and walked home. 
Plenty of other interesting and unusual experiences so far with elder Okamoto!

My birthday was another rainy and busy one, a few hours spent on the train, just as last year's was! However, this time around I wasn't sick as a dog which was a sure blessing. For my birthday present from God, I was blessed to be able to go to Misawa, a prior area, and attend/witness a baptism for Nakabayashi San! An investigator I began teaching when I was there back in September. Although we had to run for 20 straight minutes in the rain, in suits and coats, sweating quite a bit to catch our train, it was so worth it! We got there an hour or so early, which meant the military members were still there! Got to see and greet almost all of them again which was so great! Elder Okamoto worked here as well last summer so it was a good and fun experience for him as well. We then taught young men's on the spot and had a good lesson about baptism, the Holy Ghost and how to invite it more into our lives, and enduring to the end. We then had the baptism! Besides the fact I had to give an on the spot talk about baptism at the service and that Nakabayashi San almost hit his head on the faucet on the way down into the water, it was great!! We then attended the sacrament meeting for Misawa Japanese branch and got to see some old faces of those I worked with and loved. The old women are my favorite part- although they don't remember my name, they remember my face and the fact I remember their names makes them so happy:) love Misawa. We visited our ward mission leaders house on the way home which he said never happens (he lives so far away) and taught about finding joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Got back on the train towards Aomori, walked home doing some finding on the way, and finished some studies and on to reporting for the remainder of the night. Busy but good birthday!
 Learned from this birthday experience that focusing less on yourself and focusing a whole lot more on others WILL bring you more peace and joy than if the day is spent celebrated on you. That was what the day was like yesterday as there was close to no celebration on my behalf but much celebration, service and love on the behalf of others. And man was it a rich experience, I wouldn't of had it any other way. 

Thank you all for the birthday wishes, notes and love. I'm so lucky to have such a strong and supportive group cheering me on over there. I love you all and am grateful for what you do for me! God bless!

Elder Robins


Best selfie taker in the mission