Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013 - Week 51

Hey Mom and Dad,

It snowed about 15 inches or so over the course of Saturday and Sunday.  It makes getting around by bike wicked fun and a bit of a pain.  But it warmed up yesterday afternoon and it's sunny today, so at least the roads have enough clear space that we can ride in relative safety.  If I can, I'm going to try and find a pair of boots or something that I can wear.  I've stolen a pair of overshoes and a pair of bigger rain boots from the house here, but those look rather strange to wear if I'm not wearing my rain gear, and they also have the draw back of not keeping my feet very warm.  I was thinking if I could find some decent looking and decent priced boots that would keep things warm and dry it would be nice.  If I do find something, I'll purchase it with my debit card, just heads up.  If I don't find anything, then no worries.

I feel like I'm losing my mind.  Time is going so fast.  Another transfer has passed and in just a week it will mark one year from when I entered the MTC.  Elder Hoshino and I are both staying in Toyooka, as it were.  There are a few changes in the Zone with folks transferring out and in.

Yesterday I conducted Sacrament Meeting in Japanese.  It was definitely an interesting and fun experience.  I'm sure I'll be doing it quite often from here on out.  So that will be fun and it's definitely something I'm hoping to improve on.  The conductor of the meeting has quite an influence on creating a spiritual atmosphere in the meeting.  The tone of voice, level of formality (especially in the Japanese language), speed you talk, and the way you conduct yourself factors fairly heavily into whether an environment where answers to prayers and guidance from on high can be felt through the Holy Ghost is created.  Other than conducting sacrament meeting, another responsibility I have is to help with Dendo in the branch.  We don't have a Dendo Shunin (Mission Leader), and the Branch President is rather busy, so I play a supporting role there.

I wish to express my thanks for the Christmas cards from the family and neighbors.  I've gotten one from Alan and Brenda, Larry and Hattie, Craig and Whitney, the Teasdales, among others.  It makes me happy to see the pictures of everyone and getting the chance to see how everyone is growing.

I enjoyed the call.  It was nice to talk for a bit to everyone and hear how you're all doing.  I'm sure grateful that nobody has spontaneously combusted or anything like that.  It's nice to not have to worry much about home and family and be able to just dendo (do missionary work).  I've been meaning to send out some letters lately, by the way, and I hope to do so soon.

For whatever reason, as I'm drawing near the half-way point in my mission, I've been thinking a lot about belief.  In the Japanese language especially, there's a real difference between how they interpret "I know..." and "I believe...".  It's fascinating to me, but it's led me to realize a few things.  Life is good.  We have no reason to despair.  Either there's a God in heaven or there's not.  As I've chosen to test if there is a God and to follow what God has said, I have come to firmly believe that God exists.  He's always kept His promises, and even when it seems like there's no reason to trust Him, just following His way has never brought me regrets.  I've never seen Him, or heard His voice so I probably can't say that I know for sure He's there, but because of what I HAVE experienced, felt, and seen, I have no grounds to deny that He is not and I choose to believe that He is.  I don't know or understand everything, but I don't care to.  I know enough.  I believe He is there, I believe and trust in what He has said, and I'm not afraid to change what I am in order to fulfill what He wants.  I do believe He knows better than me about everything, so why on earth would I question His ways, character, and current or past works?  I believe that as a man I can't comprehend all that God has done or will do.  But I also firmly believe and have faith that trusting Him will only lead to good for me, for now and forever.  Sometimes believing has been really hard for me, even as a missionary.  But I've gotten comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling of taking the step into the dark, letting go of what my physical senses and brain tell me makes sense, and trusting in His ways.  I do believe His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.  What I believe to be God's way has only brought me joy and joy to those around me, so I aim to keep on going in His way.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013 - Week 50

Mom & Dad,

I sound like a broken record, I know, but it's really freaking me out how fast time seems to go.  I feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes the way things are going.

This last Saturday evening we got an e-mail from a member of the District Presidency who lives in our branch.  He said he was going to need to talk to us the next day during Dendo Chosei Shukai (Missionary Coordination meeting).  "Okay," I thought, "Probably just something to do with how the missionaries in the Zone can work better with the members."  Then we got another e-mail which said he'd be interviewing us one by one, I'd be first, and that he'd gotten some sort of OK from Zinke Kaicho.  My thoughts quickly turned to, "What's going on, eh?  This doesn't seem normal."  It certainly didn't stress me out or anything, but it definitely got me to thinking; yet despite all of the thinking, I could not come up with any particular reason such an interview would be necessary.  Sunday morning came and we were in DCS discussing our Progress Record and how things had been going for the week and such.  Then in pops the District Presidency member and motions for me to come.  We sat down in the Branch President's office and had our interview.  I don't feel it's all too necessary to go into the why, but I was extended the calling to be the second counselor in the Toyooka Branch Presidency.  I accepted the calling, and as such I have various responsibilities pertaining to it.  I was sustained in Sacrament Meeting and in this case I was set apart.

It's not so far fetched for a missionary to serve in a Branch Presidency, because I know of many cases where they serve as the Branch President, etc.  But never in a million years would I have thought that I would ever be in such a situation.  I'm a missionary, a Zone Leader, and now the Second Counselor in a Branch Presidency.  It's a really humbling thing, and it's really lead me to realize that the Lord trusts me.  That's a realization that carries with it some weight - knowing that the Lord trusts me implies that He expects a lot of me.  But I'm also filled with the peace of mind that I have the Lord's help and that He will prepare a way for me to fulfill the responsibilities He has given me.

As a side note, Elder Hoshino is now the Elder's Quorum President.  We've both got a bit more on our plates now.  But I have great confidence and a firm belief that it will only be for our benefit and for the benefit of God's children.

This last Saturday night our branch had the branch Christmas-kai.  It was loads of fun, and there was an excellent turn out from members' friends and family, and 2 of our investigators in Toyooka came too.  We've been practicing a couple of songs with the Sister missionaries and a few members over the past few weeks that we sang.  It went well and was a lot of fun.  I'll send some pictures if I can.

It's been a full week full of many other happenings which I wish I had the time to write about.  I am so happy and am finding an incredible and soul filling joy in the service of the Lord.  Thank you so much for all of your love and support.  I'm looking for ward to the call this week.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

PS.  I got the package by the way, thank you so much!  Elder Hoshino is way happy about the Snickers.

Christmas-kai.  I'm not going to lie, I think I had more fun here than at most ward Christmas parties.

I wore a santa hat at the Christmas party.  I also let my buddy Shoya kun (he's a potential investigator) have at things with my camera.  He took a lot of really funny pictures.

This is what I see in the train ride to District Meeting Friday mornings.
 Really pretty sunrises and clouds and stuff.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013 - Week 49

Mom and Dad,

Every night Hoshino Choro and I seem to have the same discussion - how on earth did we get here?  Didn't we just get out of our futons not just 30 seconds ago?  And now we're here again!  It's kind of spooky just how fast things are going.

So about the Christmas call.  Just like on Mother's day you'll need to call me because our phones can't make international calls.
You'll need to call me when it's Christmas for you.  It would be best if you could call at about 9:00 our time.  If I'm not mistaken that should be around 5:00 in the afternoon for you.  Or it could be 6, I don't remember how it goes with daylight savings time and all.  Again, 59 minutes maximum.

So an update on T.Kyoudai - he has a member record!  Yoshi!  We know he's been baptized, but we're not sure if he's been confirmed yet.  The mission office said that the record will be sent our way soon, so we're curious to find out a little more about him.  We're still meeting with him and working closely with the Branch on helping him out.  He is absolutely incredible.  He has so many awesome questions and he has such a sincere desire to learn and grow closer to God.

It's been hanging around 0-5C this last week and we finally got a good few whacks of snow.  It was snowing a little when we left our house to go visit some potential investigators (who live about 30 minutes away by bike) so luckily we wore our rain gear.  Nevertheless, wearing rain gear and biking almost always leads to sweat, and so when we got there and took our gear off, we froze.  The ride back wasn't much fun, either.  But we're going to be gearing up today and getting a few things to make working in the cold a wee bit less uncomfortable.  The snow hasn't been sticking around, but I'm sure that will change over the next few weeks.

So about money and stuff, I (so far as I know) don't have control over which account I pull out of when I got to an ATM here.  I had no idea that it was pulling out of savings.  In any event, I don't foresee any huge need to pull out cash in the near future, but I'll likely be making some debit purchases, just FYI.

Funny that you mention the light display in Osaka.  There have been a lot of advertisements for it in trains and such over the past few weeks.  Looks like it would be pretty cool.  Definitely nothing of that sort in Toyooka, but a few folks put Christmas lights on their houses.  Yoshi.

Yesterday we went to Fukuchiyama and the branches combined their church meetings.  There was an excellent shokujikai (food fest) afterwards, and then everyone watched the Christmas Devotional.  I would say that I absolutely loved the Christmas Devotional, but I actually didn't get to watch it.  Because we're Zone Leaders, Hoshino Choro and I ended up having a meeting with the District President during the time everyone else was watching the Devotional.  I caught the last few minutes of Elder Nelson's talk and the last song, it was nice.  Maybe I'll watch the Devotional someday, maybe not.

I love you.  Thank you so much for all of your love, concern and support.  I'll try and send some pictures if I can.

Elder Kyle Hutchings
Elder Hoshino and I may or may not have bought some way cool glasses at a recycle shop and then vainly took our photo in the reflection of a train.

Some way cool natural formations called the Genbudo caves.  Not too far from where our house is.

Last week we went to Mister Donuts.  They had Charlie Brown sweets.  Couldn't resist.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013 - Week 48

Mom and Dad,

This last week came and went in a flash.  It's been a full week.  I feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes because of how quickly everything is moving.

I got the envelope!  Thank you so much!  I love the hat!  It will be perfect to put in my bike basket and wear when I get to places.  I anxiously await the next package!  Please express my thanks to Grandma and Sister Shepherd for the money, it means so much to me to have their support.  I send my love - and somebody hug them for me (I can't hug them because I'm in Japan and also I can't hug females anyway, so onegaishimasu!)  It's been chilly and humid as usual here - I'm glad to hear things are frigid in good old Utah.  We haven't gotten any snow yet, but the way things are looking and feeling, it's an "any day now" kind of situation.

This last week we had an incredible experience.  For privacy purposes, I'm only going to refer to people by initials.  On Thursday we we received a phone call around 3:00 in the afternoon.  It was from a man who addressed himself as T. Kyodai (brother) who said he needed help.  He asked us if we could meet at the church at 6:00, and so we agreed.  Because of the kyodai thing, we figured he might be a less active and decided that it would probably be best to have a doseki there, so we called the incredible M. Kaicho and he graciously agreed to help us out.  We ended up going to the church at about 4:30 for some reason or another, and when we got there we received another phone call from T. Kyodai.  He asked us if we could meet right away instead of at 6:00, and we said, "Uh...sure.  That shouldn't be a problem.  Let us call our friend and make sure that's all right and we'll call you back."  After asking the M. Kaicho (branch president) if he could come right away (to which he responded yes, and in super-heroic fashion arrived at the church only a few minutes later) we reconfirmed things with T. Kyodai.

While we were waiting at the church, we filled in M. Kaicho on everything we knew to that point.  He went in and checked the membership records and we found nobody with the name T..  Shortly thereafter, T. Kyodai showed up to the church.  We sat down with him and simply started talking.  We started by expressing our love to him, and expressing how much we wanted to help him.  We pointed out just how awesome we thought it was that he had sought help, and started asking him some simple questions and he opened up and told us just about everything.  He's 54 years old right now and his life has been pretty stressful lately.  He's concerned about his job, his and his sister's health, and how his breath smells (legitimately, he was concerned).  In trying to find help he had sought out a lot of other churches and religions, but hadn't felt like it was helping him like he needed.  Somewhere along his searching, he remembered that he'd received help from Mormons in the past.  He also remembered that he had been baptized by Mormon missionaries about 30 years ago.  Because he remembered those things about Mormons, he decided to try and get a hold of them.  Somehow he got a hold of a missionary in Kobe, and they gave him our cell phone number.  He then called us (the call we received at 3:00).  Between calling us the first and the second time, he told us he had called a Protestant Bokushi.  But when he was talking to the preacher, something just felt wrong, and there was something different about us, and that's why he called again and wanted to meet right away.

After a little more discussion, we came to find out that after being baptized 30 years ago he moved around a lot, had plenty of hard times, and thought a lot about God and who God is.  He really just wanted to do what is right and grow closer to God.  He had been praying for all of those years, but he never had felt he was doing it right.  What he really wanted was for us to teach him how to pray.  Thinking through things, though, before we went guns blazing into how to pray, and thinking things through, we asked him more about God and his personal image of Him.  We explained how important it is to know who you're praying to, and then simply explained who God is, and what that means to us.  It was moving to see just how excited and right it seemed to him - to see his face and his eyes light up as he heard that God is His Heavenly Father.  After that, we taught him how to pray, and demonstrated to him how to pray.  He really clued in to the fact that you can use your own words, and that you're really just talking to God.

I could write more about that lesson and what went on, but I know you're busy and have a lot of letters to read.  I'll cut to the chase and write my take aways.  I feel like that  was one of the best lessons I feel that I've ever had the privilege of participating in.  The Spirit was so strong, and I feel like I learned so much about everything from that lesson.  As Hoshino Choro and I looked back at it, we realized that what made it so good was that we truly applied and followed the all of the training that we have been receiving from Zinke Kaicho.  We really followed what we've been learning - and what we receive from our Mission President is truly revelation and direction from God.  That's why that lesson went so well.  We really took time to listen and sympathize (something that M. Kaicho is incredible at, which is why I love him as a human being and as a doseki), and then read the air and allowed the Spirit to guide us as we asked him more questions and taught him Eternal truths.  We shared our feelings and experiences, and truly opened our hearts.  At the end of the lesson T. Kyodai said that what he felt and the help he received was 10 or 20 times that of what he was expecting from talking with church people.  He also said he never felt like he could talk so openly about his feelings.

As a side note with T. Kyodai, there is still no proof that he was baptized or confirmed a member of the church.  He remembered in detail where it happened and the names of the Elders back then, and we can't see any reason he would have to lie.  I asked the Recorder to do some digging, and we're awaiting any developments.  It's our thought, though, that if there is no record or proof that the ordinances were performed, that he be counted as an investigator.  We're waiting for the confirmation on that before we count him, but we're still going to meet with him and help him from here on out.

This last week we had a ZTM and it went quite well.  We went to MLC on Tuesday, and then had Zone Training Meeting on Friday.  It was a good chance to reinforce what was learned at Zone Conferences which we had recently and to do some good training on how we can all improve to move the Lord's work forward.  Something we really emphasized was True Discipleship.  Our mission has a theme of "True Disciples - One and All" and we are dedicated to becoming no less than followers of Jesus Christ in our heart of hearts.  At MLC we came to realize that True Discipleship hasn't been emphasized enough, so it was something we focused on in ZTM.  It was my responsibility to do the teaching on it, and I'll be honest, it was a bit of just me getting on a soap box and preaching, but I put my heart and kidneys into that "sermon".  I really focused on our intentions and if we're really serving because we love Him and I referenced Jeffery R. Holland's talk "The First and Great Commandment."  I shared my experiences and I feel like it was all impactful, but I guess the true measure of all of it will be to see how much it shows up in the results.  As a companionship, we intend to follow up heavily on what was discussed at ZTM and to really keep everyone focused on becoming True Disciples.

This last week came and went in a flash.  This is truly the Lord's work.  I'm grateful for all I am privileged to learn and do in His service.  All of the amazing people I meet, the True Disciples who help me and serve alongside me make impressions on me that will affect my life and others in ways that they don't know.  I am so tired.  But I am filled with a joy and a fire that swallows up any fatigue, hardship, or sorrow.

There's a lot more I wish I could tell you about this last week, but I fear that my time is running short for today.  I'll send some pictures if I can today or next week, and try and get in some of the other things I've learned.

Elder Hutchings

PS. Most of the story about T. Kyodai was copied from my letter to Zinke Kaicho - so if there's anything you don't understand or if I wrote something like "Kaicho, ..." then I'm sorry.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013 - Week 47

Mom and Dad,

It's December!  I don't understand what it means!  Time goes so fast!  

You know, as it were, if you hadn't said something about Thanksgiving in last week and this week's emails, I would have all but forgotten it exists.  We had nothing special for Thanksgiving, and I kind of forgot about it.  Anyway, we had a couple of snow flurries last week.  One hit when we were studying in the church.  It was rather cool because from the window we could see the snow start falling by the mountains afar off, and work it's way over the rice fields until it reached where we were.  Otherwise, it's definitely dropping in temperature, but it's not been too bad because most of the days have been sunny.  However, I did learn something this last week about the snow around here.  There's no powder.  It's very heavy and burdensome.  That's what one of our investigators and one of the members said, guess we'll see how it is when it starts falling more and sticking around.
This last Tuesday we had a Zone Conference at the Honbu (Mission home).  It was an excellent opportunity to hear from President Zinke and the Assistants.  It was also very fun to see and mingle with all of the people in the surrounding Zones as well.  Elder Hoshino and I were assigned to give one of the Ansho's for the beginning of the meeting.  We recited D&C section 4 in English and Japanese.  It went well and we didn't screw up.

This week I've been thinking a lot about receiving revelation and guidance.  Specifically, lately I've been thinking a lot about past experiences and fresh perspectives.  When I review past experiences and revelation when it comes to considering how to proceed, I've been found that taking time to think through what the Lord has already taught me yields solutions and opens doors for further light.  At the same time, sometimes taking a fresh look on things is one of the best ways for me to obtain guidance.  One of the best things I ever did in the MTC was purchase a small copy of the Book of Mormon.  It is without highlight, note, marking, or any such thing.  Because of that, when I search it's pages for guidance my mind isn't led to think one way and doesn't get distracted by past information.  I'm able to see things from a new perspective and my understanding is able to grow in a different direction than from where it's gone before.  The Spirit of the Lord communicates with and works with our minds and hearts in very fascinating ways.  I'm grateful that as a missionary I'm afforded such an opportunity to understand and learn more about how the Lord speaks to me.

To answer your questions about Hoshino Choro, he is from Japan from Iwate Ken.  Iwate Ken is in the Sendai mission I believe.  Elder Hoshino is the man!  We're getting along great and having tons of fun with dendo and being Zone Leaders.

I still haven't received anything package wise.  That might be because we've got MLC this Tuesday and I'll be going to the Honbu and they're just planning to give it to me when I go there, or it might be because it's just not here yet.  About the next package, if it's not too much to ask, I'd like to onegai (request) some Snickers for Elder Hoshino.  He seems to like them (gets one almost every time we go to a konbini (convenience store)).

Just a heads up, I'm probably going to be buying some more thermals, warmer socks, and a few odds and ends over the coming weeks.  I'll be using my personal funds for that, so I just wanted to let you know.

I love you.  I'm so grateful for all of you do and for all of your help and all you do to support me.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013 - Week 46

Mom and Dad,

This last week has actually not been quite so bad weather wise - hasn't rained much and it's mostly been sunny.  The days have been mild, but the evenings are still down right chilly.  I've realized this last week, though, just how much my attitude has changed about things.  I've come to quite enjoy and love the challenges that come from things like uncomfortable weather, etc.  The more I've come to feel in my heart and let the fact that this work is about helping those around me gain Eternal Bliss through Jesus Christ, I can't help but just smile at everything and see the opportunity and beauty in it all.

It was a bit crazy this last week with transfers and all.  Eikaiwa (English class) on Tuesday night was way fun.  One of the members brought treats and we had a mini-goodbye party with the Eikaiwa students for Kawabata Choro (Elder), Uenami Shimai (Sister), and Petit Shimai (Sister).  It was a lot of fun.  I'll send a picture if I can.

On Thursday we went down to Kobe and I hooked up with Hoshino Choro.  Hoshino Choro is only 6 weeks behind me in mission age, and one of the coolest people and incredible missionaries I've ever met.  First off, he's got this deliciously smooth and low voice.  He is an incredible teacher and is loaded with stories and examples, pictures and diagrams which he uses (I'm certainly going to morau (borrow) as many as I can).  Beyond that, he is wicked fun.  He went to BYU Hawaii for a semester before his mission (he's 22 right now) and so he's full of the Aloha spirit.  He also worked at the PCC.  He is going to be the investigators Zone Leader for this transfer and I'm going to be the Training/Missionaries Zone leader again.  

Something I've been learning from Elder Hoshino is to create success.  I feel like I was good at having an attitude of creating success rather than being a creature of circumstances before, but I've realized that just this past transfer I kind of got complacent and haven't been as proactive in finding ways to more effectively move forward God's work.  It's so important that we are always striving to improve and never settle for good enough, always search for a better way and to be as efficient as possible.

It's so crazy to think that Lily is 3!  It's also drawn my mind back a year ago.  If I remember correctly, it was just before we headed over to Craig and Whitney's for Lily's party when I got and opened my Mission Call.  Odoroku beki desho?

I wait in anxious anticipation for the package!  Tanoshimi ni shite imasu!!!  Thank you so much for always sending me stuff!  If I could make some onegais (request) for the next one:  toothpaste, razors, more of the CO Bigelow shaving cream, and protein powder.  Hoshino Choro was a rugby player before so he loves working out, and I've been working out harder since this last transfer and I've been making green smoothies lately, so I think some protein would probably be good to throw in.

I love you!  I'm having so much fun and I absolutely love what I'm doing!

-Elder Kyle Hutchings

PS.  Just thought you should know Mom, little sis, Whitney and Brittany, just about every female lately who has looked at my pictures and seen you always says, "Ah!  Kanojotachi wa bijin desu ne!"  Bijin means a beautiful woman, and the kanji is literally beautiful and person.  You're all beautiful!  Love you!
One of the members made us hats.  This is how we normally look in our house until the heater gets going.  Woot!

The Eikaiwa (English Class) goodbye party!

More fun from Eikaiwa (English Class)!

We ate dinner with some members at a less active/part member family's house.  Hoshino Choro is on the far left.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013 - Week 45

Mom and Dad,

Holy cow!  It's transfers week again!  I've been in Toyooka for 6 weeks, and now I'm in my 7th transfer.  After another transfer, I'll have hit my halfway mark.  It's so crazy to think of how quickly the time goes!

Elder Kawabata is going to be transferring to Shimogamo in Kyoto prefecture, and I'm going to be sticking in Toyooka and my new companion is named Hoshino Choro (Elder).  He's Ni Hon Jin (Japanese), I'm pretty sure, and I'm going to be training him on how to be a Zone Leader, should be fun!

It's been a chilly week.  Haven't gotten snow yet, but temperatures have been dipping down to about 40F lately in the mornings and evenings.  Had a couple of days with some really chilly.  With the humidity, even just 40 feels pretty nippy.  

It's been a really good week.  I've learned a lot about just how powerful sharing personal experiences this week.  I wish I had more time to explain, but the computer I'm using is really slow.  Essentially I've come to see how when we open up our hearts to others, they'll open up to us.

Smart Choro?  I want to say he's from New Mexico.  He's going to be a District Leader in place of my beloved Barney Choro.  Barney Choro lives in West Valley I think, and he's going to be returning.  He's been a District Leader in this Zone, and he was my Zone Leader when I was in my 2nd and 3rd transfers in Kochi.  I'm sad to see Barney Choro go, but he's returning in honor.

Sorry, this computer is slow and my companion has to pack.  I apologize for the really short email.  I'm happy, healthy, and I love what I'm doing!  I'm looking forward to the package!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013 - Week 44

Mom and Dad,

It's been another excellent week in the Lord's service.  I love the work and I feel so privileged every day to be called and set apart to preach the Gospel.  This week we've had quite a few days that were rather nice weather wise.  Mild and sunny in the day, but quite chill in the mornings and as soon as the sun starts going down.  Since Saturday we've been having some stormy weather come in, I'm not sure if there is any relationship with the storm in the Philippines, but it rained all day and was pretty windy yesterday and it's raining pretty good right now.  Speaking of the Philippines, we found a Philippine-jin investigator this last week.  She's really nice and speaks pretty decent Japanese.  She gave us both those little cans of coffee and we told her we don't drink coffee but she insisted we just take it and give it to our friends or something.  So right now we've both got a can of coffee on our desks at home.  We feel pretty wanapaku.  Haha!

Last Monday and Tuesday the Assistants came and did a kokan with us.  It was so much fun!  They came Monday night and stayed over, then Tuesday we split up to work.  Elder Kershisnik went with me and we went to the church and he gave me some training on being a Zone Leader.  Through his training and example, I feel like I learned so much about being a missionary and a leader.

Elder Kershisnik gave me a homework assignment this week about "Who called you here? and What are the implications of that?"  He assigned me some scriptures to study and pray about.  I've come to realize more powerfully that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ called me to this work.  I've also come to feel just how close my relationship with Deity should be.  I've realized that my working relationship with Jesus Christ needs to be closer.  Working with Jesus Christ shouldn't feel much different than working with my companion - because we are promised repeatedly in the scriptures that He will be with us.  Through realizing this about myself, I've come to realize how it relates to me as a missionary and a Zone Leader.  As a True Disciple Missionary I need to help the investigators here understand their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ didn't just save all of humanity, He saved and suffered for them personally.  Also, that as a True Disciple Leader, I need to help the missionaries under my stewardship understand and strengthen their relationship with their Redeemer and the great Commander in this war.

I'm so grateful for the examples that are all around me.  The examples of companions, church members, mission leaders etc.  The examples around me are a lot more real and relate-able to than trying to meet the lofty standard of "What would Jesus do?"  Sometimes that's a rather difficult question to answer straight off.  But when I first ask questions like "What would Day Choro do?" or "What would Kaicho do?" I'm better able to understand how I can become more like Jesus Christ.  I hope that makes sense.

I don't know if I already mentioned it, but we've got one investigator who is in his 90's and is a genki little guy.  He has fields and works and farms most of his days.  This last week we got to help him harvest edamame.  Basically just gathering up the plants then picking off the decent sized bean pods that haven't been eaten by bugs.  It was fun!  After we finished helping him we taught him a bit about the Plan of Salvation.  We have to basically shout at him because he can't hear well.

Oh, just something funny I think I forgot to mention last week.  During the Saturday evening district conference, Zinke Kaicho spoke and had all of the missionaries stand up and introduce themselves.  After the meeting was over, the District President came up to me and said: "Gee you haven't even been out a year yet and you're a Zone Leader, you must be pretty namaiki."  I understood him all except for namaiki.  My companion and one of his counselors that lives in Toyooka both laughed and agreed when he said it.  I was still in the dark, so I pulled out my dictionary and looked it up, and it was translated as meaning: "saucy".  The members around these parts are so much fun!
About the hat, a Nylon and Grey would be great.  A large would probably be best.  Please send that face mask too, I would appreciate that.  One other thing could you send me some more contact lenses?  I haven't really been wearing contacts until lately - but it's been better to go with contacts as things have been colder and wetter here and glasses fog up easy.  I've got enough to last me another month or two, but it would be good to have more on hand.

I love you, thank you so much for all of your support!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013 - Week 43

Mom and Dad,

This last week has been a lot of fun! It's been ridiculously humid in Toyooka lately! It makes it feel really cold in the evening and the morning, and it's pretty warm during the day. On the big bridge next to our house there's a sign that tells the temperature so people can use caution in case the temperature gets to freezing. The other day we had to go to the church in the morning. Everything was foggy and chill and the sign said 8C on our way out. When we were coming back to our home the skies were clear the sun was shining and the sign displayed 20C. We've still been having some rainy days lately, but from what the members say it should be turning to snow before too long.

I've been doing just fine with money. I've been doing a lot of traveling here and there for meetings, but it's just how the timing of everything worked out lately. This last month I got a little less money in my MSF account, and where I transferred this last month and had all of the meetings (and beyond just traveling to the meetings, there's buying lunch and what not too), and went on an exchange, my cash ran short quick. The way reimbursements work is that you fill out a paper form with a list of travel expenditures and mail it to the mission office. It's a bit of a pain for me and the mission office to go through a lot of those, so usually I wait until I have a more substantial reimbursement before I send the form. It usually takes about 4 days for it to get processed and the money to get into my account. I'm really doing all right on money. I get about $300 every month in my Mission Support Fund account. Between Elder Kawabata and I we're able to eat tons and have surplus on less than $50 of groceries in a week. I'm really doing fine, it was just a bit hectic this last month.

I'm all right with sweaters and scarves - I can just get those here.. However, if I could make an o-negai (request), it would be one of those...what are they called?...mad bomber hats? (I think that's what they're called, you know, with the fur, ear flaps and what not?). I haven't been able to find one here and I'd like one for the winter. Also, I had a Saucony runner's beanie at home that would probably be nice for wearing under my bike helmet when we're riding in the cold. If you can find that and send it that would be great, if not, don't worry about it.

Mission Leadership Council was very good. It was awesome being in a room with the leaders of the mission and with Zinke Kaicho and being able to spend time discussing how we can better help move the Lord's work forward. It was at the honbu (mission home), and we got to eat Costco pizza for lunch. Oishikatta desu! (delicious)

This last Saturday and Sunday there was a District Conference. It was awesome to hear from the District President and some of the other church leaders over the district. I found out that the Relief Society President here is the oldest woman serving as a Relief Society President in the world. She gave a talk and it was rather difficult to understand what she was saying, but there was a powerful spirit and sweetness in her words. Zinke Kaicho and Shimai came for the meetings on Saturday and Sunday, it was great to see them again and hear from them. During the Priesthood meeting on Saturday and the Sunday Morning meeting and the Dendo (mission) Fireside Sunday afternoon, I translated for the younger missionaries and a couple of foreigners living in some of the branches around here. Translating what people are saying from Japanese to English on the spot is so hard! But it was fun and I feel like it really pushed my language skills.

Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I'm so happy and I love this work!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

p.s. We made a pumpkin cake last Preparation Day in our rice cooker. Sometimes my companion is just as weird as I am (but usually he's the one throwing me the "What on earth are you doing?" look). It's great!

Elder Kawabata with our pumpkin cake

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013 - Week 42

Mom and Dad,

Goodness me! Marisa is 16! That's crazy! I'm glad to hear she had fun going on a date and going to Masquerade. I'm happy to hear all went well with Grandpa's surgery. I keep him and all of the family in my prayers.

It's been another excellent week. The weather is getting really chilly. Another typhoon came and passed and It's been cloudy just about every day and rained about half of the week. I've been rocking the sweaters and I found a sweater vest in the house, too. Probably next week I'm going to go buy a hat and a scarf. There's one of each in the house already, but they're old, nasty, and not oshare.

This last week we had interviews with Zinke Kaicho. It was great to have some time to talk with him about how things are going and how dendo is and all. Since I'm a Zone Leader we also discussed a bit about how the missionaries in the Zone are. I don't know if I explained before, but we separate the responsibilities for investigators and training/missionaries between the Zone Leaders. Elder Kawabata focuses on investigators and I focus on missionaries and training. Because of that when I talk with the Assistants and Kaicho we tend to focus on how we can help further the Lord's work by helping the missionaries in the Zone under my stewardship. I absolutely love being a Zone Leader. It's such a blessing for me to serve in this way, and it's been wonderful to feel the Lord's help and influence as I ponder, study the scriptures, and work with the District Leaders to help the missionaries in the Zone. I've been thinking a lot about Dieter F Uchtdorf's talk in conference a year or two ago about lifting where you stand. I've definitely found that is the easiest and best mindset to have as a missionary and as a servant in God's kingdom. It doesn't matter if I'm in a regular companionship in the trenches, or if I'm a District Leader or an Assistant - all that matters is that I have an eye single to His glory (not the merits and congratulations of others) and serve with all my might.

We've been working hard this last week and I feel the confidence and joy that come from serving the Lord. I've been keeping positive and I'm trying to show the Lord my faithfulness and trust that He will move His work forward through me. We haven't been having much success with finding lately, and I'm doing my best to not be discouraged. In Preach My Gospel chapter 1 it explains about being a successful missionary. It says essentially that it's okay to be sad when people don't accept your invitation to come closer to Christ, but to become discouraged is not okay. I feel that discouragement springs when we choose to lower our faith and confidence in the Lord when things don't go as we hope. With sadness, I seem to understand that it comes out of a love for the people we serve. The great missionaries of the scriptures were often grieved and saddened at the wickedness of the people. They were sad to see people sinful, because of their love for them and the desire for their happiness and salvation. I feel a bit sad, but it only serves to motivate me to try to bear more powerful testimony, and to do all I can to help the person behind the next door or "ping-pong" box I talk to.

It hasn't all been soldiering on knocking doors in the rain this past week though. There's a yakusokusha in Toyooka who is absolutely incredible who we've been able to meet with a few times this past week. He is just an awesome guy who honestly just wants to do what is right and have Eternal Life. Because he understands his relationship with God and has a good understanding of the big picture, accepting the commandments has been no problem for him. It's beautiful and inspiring to discuss God's commandments with him. He asks many good questions, and while he does have concerns about whether or not he'll be able to keep the commandments, he moves forward with faith and does his best. His date is for the 10th of November, and it definitely seems like he's going to make it.

Tomorrow I'm excited for the opportunity to attend Mission Leadership Council. The Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, Assistants, and Kaicho will all be there. I'm sure it will be an inspiring and motivating meeting where we can discuss how to best help the Lord move His work forward. But goodness, I've been doing a lot more traveling lately as a Zone Leader! I'm poor getting poor waiting for travel reimbursements!

I'm happy and healthy and I love what I'm doing! Thank you so much for your love and support!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013 - Week 41

Mom and Dad,

This last week was splendid!  I am absolutely in love with Toyooka.  It's such a beautiful area.  The weather here changes pretty quick, but it's been mostly ended up nice this last week.  One evening when we were by the Eki (train station) a sign said there was 91 percent humidity and it was 15C.  There were a couple of days with heavy rain, and a couple of days were pretty chilly, but other than that it's been really pleasant.  Since we're in and surrounded by mountains and the thick forest and vegetation it feels a lot like being in Jurassic Park sometimes.  There's so much humidity that there's fogginess and a lot of low clouds around the mountains.  It's really pretty, but yesterday we went to go visit a potential investigator who lives up a little canyon.  When I was riding my bike up the small road in the mountains with the light of the sun all but gone with the onset of night and the thick forest on both sides of me, the light on my bike muffled by the shrouds moisture in the air, I couldn't help but feel like I was going to get jumped by a pack of raptors or something.  It's fun!

Dendo (missionary work) in the inaka (country) definitely involves a lot more knocking on doors.  I was almost on the verge of thinking that it's different or more difficult this last week, but the Spirit helped direct my thoughts and I've come to see otherwise.  It doesn't matter at all where you are, the basic principles for missionary work are the same.  The necessity to rely on the Lord and follow the Spirit are constant.  God's promise and invitation to "Ask and ye shall receive" is unaffected by how many rice fields there are.  And regardless of your location the Gospel is still true and the magnificent power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ remains infinite, eternal, and necessary to carry out the work of Salvation.

This last Wednesday my companion Elder Kawabata had to go to the hospital.  He had to go last transfer to get a check up for some symptoms he was experiencing, and he was instructed to come back after some tests had been performed and things had been examined.  I won't go into detail, but he found out he has an illness that will stick with him for the rest of his life.  It's pretty rare and there's no known cure, and will require him to take medicine daily.  A bit taihen desu ne?  But he's a genki guy who's one to see the opportunity in things.  As we talked about it that night, he said, "God's given me a great tool that I can use to help other people.  I can better help those with physical illnesses and afflictions, because I've got one."  His attitude of "No obstacles, only opportunities" is inspiring to me.  We've still been getting along great, and working great together.

In the Zone I'm over there are 2 districts and 17 missionaries.  It's one of the smaller Zones (probably because it's inaka (country)).  It's funny because one of the District Leaders in the Zone was my Zone Leader for my 2nd and 3rd transfers.  We visit the districts probably at least once a transfer - to go to their district meetings.  But this transfer the way things have worked out we'll get to see the whole Zone probably 3 or 4 times.  There are going to be 2 Zone Training Meetings it seems, interviews with Kaicho (mission president) are this transfer, and there's also going to be a District Conference (this District in reference to the smaller version of a Stake) soon.

I was able to meet everyone in the Zone this last Friday because there was a Zone Training Meeting.  Once a month the Zone Leaders and the President have a meeting, and shortly there after the Zone Leaders communicate and have a meeting with their Zones about what the President feels the mission needs to focus on to help further the work of the Lord.  As I am a new Zone Leader I actually missed the last meeting with the President, but Elder Kawabata filled me in and we planned well and our ZTM was great.  That same day in the evening we had a meeting with the District President and because of that we headed back to our area pretty late.  The train we were on that night hit a deer.  Since when does that ever happen?  I guess only in the inaka (country).  Anyway, the train sat there in the middle of nowhere for about 20 minutes until things got cleaned up and checked out.  By the time we arrived at the eki (train station) in Toyooka, we jumped on our bikes and cooked it back to our home.  We got inside the door 2 minutes before curfew!  Woo!

On Saturday one of the investigators of the Sister missionaries in this area received baptism.  It was the first baptism I've been to as a missionary.  It was a beautiful experience.  The Branch here in Toyooka is very strong and they have a lot of dendo (missionary work) fire.  They are loving, incredibly helpful to us as missionaries, strong in the gospel, and way willing and ready to accept this new sister into their branch family.  Yesterday during Sacrament Meeting I got to stand in the circle as she was confirmed.  It was incredible to stand there  and listen as the Branch President confirmed this good sister a member of the Church, conferred the Gift of The Holy Ghost, and blessed her in Japanese.  It was a wonderful feeling to be a part of it in the first place, but it felt way cool that I was able to understand it all.  I felt such a sense of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for all of the help He's given me, and all of the progress I've made thus far.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

p.s. Oh, mom, to answer your question, there really aren't that many primary kids in Japan - at least in the areas I've been. The primary was maybe 8-10 in Takatsuki, in Kochi there was 1, and here I think there are like 3. But the few there are are way fun and sweet and they love the missionaries.

This river is pretty close to our house. We cross the bridge over it just about everyday. I took this picture today - the weather is beautiful.

Far over, the Misty Mountains cold...

Our house!

The view outside the church. It's pretty much surrounded by rice fields.

The Church building. And Elder Kawabata.

A picture from the Baptism on Saturday. The older lady in the middle with the flowers got baptized.

Most of the branch members came to the baptism. There are about 20-30 active members.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013 - Week 40

Mom and Dad,

I made it to my new area without any complications, and I absolutely love this place.  It's pretty inaka (rural) which makes working here different, but it's absolutely beautiful here.  It's nice to get away from the commotion of the city.  The weather here is a bit different than it was in my last area.  There's a lot more humidity here in Toyooka.  It's generally been really nice if not a bit too warm during the days and it gets pretty chilly at night because of the moisture.  It gets really cold here in the winters I'm told and there's plenty of snow as well.  In one of the cell phones (as Zone Leaders we each have a phone) there's a picture from last winter when one night it snowed about 1 meter.  Probably not anywhere near what Elder French will face during the winter way up north, but it's definitely on the more unpleasant side of things for this mission.

So something pretty cool about Toyooka is that we live in a house!  It feels outright weird living in an actual house.  It's got a second floor and everything.  It's a pretty average sized house by anyone's standards, but it feels huge after living in apartments for the past 6 or 7 months.  Also, it's just myself and my companion in the house, so there's absolutely no wont for space.  It's in pretty good condition all around.

My new companion is Elder Kawabata.  He's 20 right now and he'll be 21 in December.  He's Ni Hon Jin (Japanese)  from a place just on the border of the Nagoya and Kobe mission boundaries.  His home is an hour inside of the Nagoya mission boundaries.  He's been out in the field for 10 transfers now, or about a year and 3 months.  He is an excellent cook and he always graciously makes lunch.  He's really nice, chill, and likes to joke a lot.  Being with him has helped my Japanese a lot already, he's very willing to answer my many questions about things I hear and things he says.  I feel like I'm able to communicate pretty well and understand pretty well in Japanese now.  Where the last 2 transfers I was with a trainee and was doing most of the talking, listening, and communicating that really forced my language skills to grow.  Now I'm speaking, thinking, and hearing Japanese almost all the time so I feel like I'm still making good progress.  Kawabata Choro has decent English, but we almost always speak in Japanese.

So to answer your questions about the crash last week, my bike was not damaged at all.  It was absolutely fine.  Right now my leg is doing really well.  The swelling is pretty much gone and the bruising is starting to fade.  It's still sore, but only to the touch, walking and biking doesn't hurt at all.  Even that's getting less and less bad every day.  Before I left my area last week I gave the Motorcyclist the mission home's phone number and the phone number of one of the Toyooka cell phones.  I filled out a Bicycle Accident Report form and sent it to the Mission office last week, so they're informed about it all.  I still haven't heard anything from the Motorcyclist.  He said he would contact me or the Mission Office this week after he had his bike looked at by some one.  Really the worst I think could have happened to his bike would be a few scratches.  I don't think any of the body work was affected.

Exciting to hear that Grandpa bought a couple of mini Black Angus!  Crazy to hear that Michael Moos is here, I'll keep an eye out for him!

I'm happy, I feel great, and I love what I'm doing!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

I loved conference!  Also, I took pictures of things and I was going to send them today, but the computer I'm using doesn't have a card reader and I forgot my USB converter.  I'll send pictures next week!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013 - Week 39

Mom and Dad,

It's transfers week already! I'm starting my 6th transfer already! Crazy how the time flies! I got a call from Zinke Kaicho (President) this morning and he told me I'm going to becoming a Zone Leader. I'm going to be transferring to the Toyooka area. I'm way excited and a bit nervous about the new responsibilities and the changes. But, I feel like it's going to be a fun change which will provide many opportunities to help further the work of the Lord. My new companion's name is Elder Kawabata. Transfers day is this Thursday, it should be fun!

I'm definitely way excited about General Conference this weekend. It's always an amazing opportunity to get to hear from the President of the Church and the Apostles. It will be nice to have a little time to just soak in the Spirit.

This last week was excellent. The weather has still been awesome. I feel like the work has been going really well this last week. I think my mindset has been a lot better in a lot of ways, but predominately in having a humble enough attitude to slow down, take a step back, and really try to let the Spirit guide me in all that I do. I find that contacting goes better, lessons are more powerful, and that I feel a greater sense of joy in all that I do. This last week we were blessed again to find a new investigator. He's a younger fellow who we met on the street and he agreed to listen to our message right then and there. We went to a nearby park, sat down and taught him a lesson, and came to find he's a pretty deep thinking high school student who has a lot of interest in what we have to share. It was such a fun experience, and it built my faith more that there are people here who are prepared to receive the Gospel.

Yesterday was a bit of a harder day, though. All of the people who said they would come to church didn't, and all of the appointments we had set up for that day fell through. It was one of those days where it is apparent that the Lord is testing our faith and patience. It's easy to have high faith and carry on when things are going well, but the test comes when you're doing all you can and nothing is happening. We pushed on and continued to work hard and do what we should yesterday. It was good. Oh yeah, and we also had a bit of a tremor during sacrament meeting yesterday. As the Bishop was starting the meeting the whole building shuddered and the light fixtures on the ceiling started to sway. The Bishop stopped talking and said, "Let's wait just a moment," then he down for about a minute or two. After there were no further signs that the earth was going to disrupt the meeting, he got back up and it was business as usual.

Oh, I almost forgot, I got hit by a motorcycle on Saturday night. I'm absolutely fine other than a bit of swelling on my left leg. Also I feel pretty stupid about it. It was definitely my fault. We were in a hurry to an appointment and my mind was completely on that appointment so I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going. We pulled up to an intersection with all the lights red. I saw lights turn green and I went. Unfortunately the intersection is kind of diagonal so the crossing lights for the intersecting direction were tilted toward where we were at and so it was not our light. That's kind of a problem, eh? After I got out a bit Baldwin Choro hollered at me, I noticed that I was heading toward a red light, and since my head wasn't on straight in the first place I turned back in to where I came from. By that point the vehicles that were stopped had made it to where we were and I got smacked by a motorcycle. The guy who was riding the motorcycle called me today and said there was just a little damage to his bike, but he hasn't had anyone look at it to estimate the cost. In any event, would you mind transferring a couple hundred dollars from my savings into my checking account just in case? It would be much appreciated!

I love you and I'm so grateful for your support!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013 - Week 38

Mom and Dad,

I got the package, beef jerky and all, no problems. Thank you so much for all of the goodies! It's all delicious and I appreciate it all so much!

It's been an excellent week. The weather has been nice - not too hot during the day and the nights are nice and cool. We've been working hard and having tons of fun! I come home every night feeling exhausted and tired but so happy with what I'm doing. We've been focusing a lot on not over-thinking things and just working. I've been trying hard to simply rely on the Lord and just work. As it says in D&C 123:17 just cheerfully do all things which lie your power and see the salvation of God. Likewise in 2 Nephi 25:23, grace will make up for all that we can not do after we have done our best. That grace and salvation are undoubtedly referring to the matchless and infinite power of Christ's Atonement. As we have been focusing on just doing all we can with a smile, we've seen the Lord's hand, help, and guidance making up for everything we are unable to do.

We were blessed to have a new investigator this past week. He is about our age, and has a lot of questions about all of the things we have to offer. I feel very much that as we've begun to rely on the Lord more, He is beginning to trust us more with those He has prepared to hear His gospel.

It's going to be October tomorrow! How the time flies! I'm pretty excited for General Conference coming up. It'll be on the 12th and 13th for us here. I am looking forward to hearing the words of Monson Daikancho (President) and the Shitotachi (Apostles)

Thank you so much for all of your love, support, and prayers.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013 - Week 37

Mom and Dad,

Tyler Randolph's farewell?! Wow that's so exciting to hear that he'll be headed out! Glad to hear the weather has been good in Utah. It's been absolutely beautiful here this past week. Blue skies, the days are still a bit on the hot side, but the evenings feel fantastic. I'm also glad to hear that Grandma Ingrid is doing okay. I loved seeing pictures of the farm - I miss the farm so much! I've adjusted to and don't mind living and being in the city and all but I really miss the quiet and calm that you can get on the farm.

It's been an excellent week. Like I said, the weather has been absolutely splendid. The typhoon last week cleared things up and it made for some really pretty sunsets. We went to a park by a river on Tuesday evening to dendo (missionary work) and the park was pretty thrashed. The tennis court was a small pond, and the port-a-potties were all tipped on their sides or completely over. One of the people we talked to said the water got up to 3 meters, and it was apparent by the destruction.

We've been working so hard this last week, and the Lord has been blessing us. We were able to get one new investigator this last week, and we've found some solid potentials too. Dendo is so much fun and there are so many crazy and amazing things that happen every day. I feel like the language is coming more and more every day. I'm learning so much and I'm having so much fun!

Thanks for sending another package! I just got a package from Grandma Hutchings yesterday and am pleased to say that goodies are plentiful and I am well fed. I feel very blessed with good health and I haven't been having any health problems or anything - my joints all feel fine and my feet are giving me no issues.
I'm excited to go into another week in the Lord's service! I love you!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013 - Week 36

Mom and Dad,

Crazy to hear about how much rain you've been getting in Utah. Things have been mostly sunny this last week, but they haven't been as ridiculously hot as before. We had a typhoon move in yesterday so it rained all of yesterday and the wind was blowing way hard this morning. The clouds have broken up for today, but it's still windy. Fun to hear about the Homecoming game and the band and to see the pictures. Glad to hear everything went okay with Grandma Ingrid as well. I'm sorry to hear about Brother O'Brien. Nathan Anderson and Miranda Porter are engaged? What splendid news!

About the package, I'd love some Nutella. I am able to buy it occassionally, but only from the Honbu (mission home), which I normally don't go to the Honbu that often. Other than that, I'm not in any particular need or want of anything right now. Will Sister Hansen's dad be taking it with him then sending it in Japan? If that's the case, the Mission Office requests that it is sent through the Japan Postal Service. If it's sent through the Japan Postal Service they can forward it for free.

This last week has been excellent. As we have been striving to be completely obedient in all that we do to the instructions the Lord has revealed to us through our leaders we have been greatly blessed. We've been able to find many more potential investigators, and we have 4 appointments set up for this upcoming with with PIs. Beyond that, 2 other potentials said they will try to come to church this Sunday. We're excited to move into this week and keep working hard and doing all we can to follow the Lord's will. The mission goal that we have right now is to have 1 baptism in every zone every week. Everyone in the mission is working hard and putting forth greater faith and effort, and it's been amazing to see the results.

Things are going well between Elder Baldwin and I. We're working hard and loving it! My district is doing all right - we're all struggling a bit with finding new investigators. Elder Baldwin and I are working hard to receive blessings and help from the Lord so that we can see success. After that, I hope my district will try and follow the example that we set. I feel like that's a critical part of leadership in any organization - example. The only way that I can expect to uplift and help my district is if I am in good standings myself.

Another fun thing that I got to go to this last week was District Leader Council. It was fun to talk to all of the other District Leaders in the mission and receive some training from Zinke Kaicho and the Assistants.

I'm happy and healthy and I love being a missionary!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Me by the church
Some Engrish from a notebook I bought at the Dollar Store

grocery store right next to the apartment

This is what I see when I look out the front door.

River by the church grows when it's rainy!

I love my mission so much. Can't you tell?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013 - Week 35

Mom and Dad,

Isn't it crazy to think that on January 9th I entered the MTC? I just realized that when I looked at the date on the computer screen. It's crazy to think of how quickly time passes! It's so fun to hear about everything that's been going on. Park City sounds like it was a good time all around. Also good to hear that things are cooling for you, they've been cooling down here too. We've had a bit of a rainy week last week, and it's felt really nice.

That's awesome that you had a chance to see Sachi! I'm glad to hear she's doing well. Do you know where she's going to school in Japan? And do you happen to know where her mom and brother are living? I'm just curious because I kind of get where things are in Japan now. If you wouldn't mind asking Carla French for me, I would appreciate. Splendid to hear that Elder French is well! Way awesome that he's losing some weight too.

I'm sorry that I haven't been sending that many pictures. We're not supposed to take pictures while we're proselyting, so I kind of just forget a lot of the time to take pictures of the area and what not. I'll take some today and send them next week.

I do know Josh Harding! I heard from someone a little while ago that he got his call to Fukuoka. Josh Harding and I were friends in elementary school, and he was also in one of my classes when I was at UVU last year.

Work this last week has been a bit slow - in that not a lot of the people we've been talking to on the streets are making the transition into becoming investigators, and a lot of our current investigators are kind of doing so so. I'm not going to lie, I kind of felt like I was slipping into a grind, too. I feel like I started to just go through the motions of missionary life. But, this last Friday we had a really good Zone Training Meeting where a new mission goal was introduced, and Elder Baldwin and I are dedicated to working for it. Beyond just the goal, we were reminded about all of the steps that it takes and will take to fulfill any goal. If we don't hit the smaller objectives and get the foundational and basic tasks done and in order, the higher and greater things won't be accomplished. As a companionship we're going to work harder to really focus on making sure we're doing all we can to be 100% obedient to not just the mission rules, but to all of the training and instruction we've received. By doing so we know we will qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and only through the Holy Ghost can we know what the Lord wants us to do. That's really the only way to be an effective servant of the Lord. After you know what the Lord specifically desires you to do, then so long as you have faith that the Lord will help, then the Lord will grant you His help and power to fulfill what He has instructed.

I'm happy and healthy and super pumped for this next week. I'm finding great joy in the work I'm involved in, and I'm ever grateful to you for all of the support you give to me.


Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013 - Week 34

Hi Mom and Dad,
Things around here have been a bit cooler as of late.  We've been getting some rain the past few days and it's felt pretty nice.
This last week has been fun and a great one!  One of our Zone Leaders last transfer became one of the Assistants to the President this transfer, as such he had to go to the Honbu last Monday.  Because of that we worked with the other Zone Leader, Elder Kato, as a san-nin (3 some) this past week.  We ended up going to his area, Senri, and working there from Tuesday to Friday morning.  It was a lot of fun working with him, and it was an excellent experience getting to learn from him.
The sister who was going to be baptized this last Sunday didn't end up being able to make it through.  We weren't able to arrange for her to get a baptismal interview (with the Zone Leaders since I'm District Leader) and she still doesn't feel ready.  We're hopefully going to meet with her again this week and we plan to set a baptismal date with her that she is committed to.
Things are going well in this area otherwise.  We're focusing a lot on finding new investigators right now, because a lot of our other investigators are not really investigating.  The language is coming along bit by bit.  The sister's area in our district became a Yon-nin (4 some) and one of the new sisters to the area is Nihonjin, so hopefully having her around will help out with the language too.  I am enjoying the work I'm doing.  There are so many experiences I have - from crazy and drunk people on the street, to tender mercies of the Lord I see all around - so everyday is enjoyable and an incredible learning opportunity.  Elder Baldwin is doing incredible, and he is for sure on track to be training in the next transfer or two.
I'm in good health and I'm definitely having fun!  Thanks again for the package!  Cinnamon gum o taberu no wa hisashiburi desu! (long time since I've had cinnamon gum)
Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013 - Week 33

Dear Mom and Dad,

Crazy to think that it's been another transfer already! Amazing how quickly 6 weeks can go by. I am still District Leader in Takatsuki and I'm still training Elder Baldwin. Just so you know, I ran into Elder Lewis at the Honbu (mission home) when I picked up Elder Baldwin at the beginning of last transfer. They are the same doki (group)

Costco this last week was good. It's about 30 minutes away by train, and then a 15 minute walk from the train station from there. I bought bagels, a couple of big bags of Quaker granola, a block of cheddar cheese, and a large jar of peanut butter for the Sisters in the district. The prices were all right, obviously the things which were imported were a bit more expensive, but some of the bulk Japanese foods were well priced. It was just like a regular old Costco - except prices were in Yen and such. I was even able to get a big slice of greasy American style pepperoni pizza for lunch.

Thank you so much for the package! I appreciate all of the goodies - the protein, pistachios, crasins, Rice Crispies, the nature valley bars - thank you so much!

Things have been going all right this last week. The sister who has a baptismal date for this upcoming Sunday is still doing well. She doesn't personally feel like she's ready to be baptized. She has had no problems accepting the commandments, and she really desires to know what we teach is true. We feel very much that she truly is ready and able to be baptized, but we are going to help her this week to strengthen her faith to take that next step of receiving baptism.

We found a new investigator this last week. He's a bit of an older fellow and he's very hard to understand. His speaking isn't clear at all - he half mumbles everything. But, he has honest desires to learn more about spiritual things. We're just going to ganbaru to understand what he says, and do all we can to help him. It should be fun!

Had a bit of an interesting experience while housing the other day. We found a Japanese lady who was Christian, and she was the type who thought she's already been saved. She thought it was great that we were teaching people about Christianity, but after we shared a little about the message of the Restoration with her she wasn't all that interested. She was nice enough, but it was really strange contacting somebody Christian. I walked away feeling that that's what dendo in more Christian countries might be like.

I'm healthy and happy as of now, and I can't see any reason why that would change any time soon. Things are really going well. Thank you so much for your love and support.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013 - Week 32

Dear Mom and Dad,

It's been another good week. A bit of a slower week by way of finding and teaching, but good nonetheless. We have had quite a few of our investigators who have simply not been contacting us. We haven't been able to meet with them, so we've had more time for finding and other activities. It's still been very, very hot this last week. But, the evenings have started cooling down just a bit more, hopefully the days will start to follow.

Though this last week was a bit slower in general, we had a way good lesson with our Yakusokusha. It made the rest of the week's worth it to have that lesson go right. She's on track to be baptized soon, and it's really mostly a matter of helping her realize that she's ready and able to make that promise with God through baptism.

Just FYI, I got Marisa's letter last Saturday, tell her thanks and I'll try to write her back as soon as I can!

Mom, Elder Baldwin is from around Rexburg, Idaho, sorry for forgetting to answer your question.

Sorry this is a shorter e-mail, Elder Baldwin and I went to Costco with a member today and so we had to move e-mail to the afternoon and time is running short.

I love you and I am eagerly anticipating receiving the package!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013 - Week 31

Mom and Dad,

Wow, Grandmas' birthdays already! Happy birthday Grandma Ingrid and Grandma Hutchings! And Elder Landon Swenson returned?! Goodness how the time flies!

Things are still good here in Japan. It's still way hot though! This last week we had a good bummer of a day when two of the people who had committed to baptism with the previous missionaries both said that they don't have any desire to receive baptism. One of them we had only met for the first time that day, so it was a bit understandable how things could change over about a month since he last met with missionaries. But the other one we had met a few times before, and he straight up said he wanted to stop meeting with us. It was very saddening, but we haven't become discouraged or frustrated. We understand that as missionaries all we can do is prepare, teach, invite, help, and pray. People still have their ability to choose.

We had Zone Conferences this last week, and it was great! We received some good training from Zinke Kaicho (President) and from the Assistants to the President. It's crazy just how many new missionaries are coming into this mission! Right now we have about 100 missionaries who are 4th transfer (6 months in field) or below, and that number is going to keep growing. There's been a lot of emphasis on making sure that everyone is trained properly and ready to take on more responsibility with less in field experience.

Being a District Leader and a Trainer is still a bit hectic for me, but I've got a better hold of what my responsibilities are and how to fulfill them. This last week I was blessed with opportunities to fulfill my role as a Priesthood leader. A couple of the Sisters in my district asked for a priesthood blessing, and so it was my privilege and honor to be a part of ministering to them. Beyond that, I had the opportunity to provide a priesthood blessing to one of their investigators. He has been having some problems with overcoming temptation regarding the Word of Wisdom, as well as recognizing answers to prayers. Ministering priesthood blessings to others has been a great blessing to me, and has reminded me of the great responsibility I have to remain worthy.

Last preparation day we went into Osaka and rode this big ferris wheel on top of a shopping mall. I'll send some pictures of that as well as some pictures of the apartment.
I love you and I'm grateful for all of your support and prayers.

Elder Kyle Hutchings
Sister Gomez & Elder Hutchings.  Sister Gomez is from Hawaii and is good friends with Auntie Laurie

Ferris wheel at the shopping mall in Osaka
Elder Hutchings in the gondola of the Ferris wheel
Osaka (view from the Ferris wheel)
Kitchen in Elder Hutchings' apartment