Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013 - Week 16

Mom and Dad,

Good to hear you made it back from Hawaii safe and sound. This last week it's been really nice weather wise, but it's been getting warmer and I can definitely feel the humidity. It's been great on my skin, nose, and eyes, but it definitely can become a bother when we're out dendo-ing. It's only getting warmer from here on out too - joy! In Kochi there are some places we go housing like you described, Dad. I'm not sure if there's anything that they're called or referred too, though. But, there are also some more rural/inaka areas too that we've gone housing in.

About the letter I sent you, it was a picture drawn by one of the Eikaiwa students. She's an older lady who's really energetic and speaks a lot and loudly. She's really nice though, and she drew a picture of Elder Day and I and had everyone at class that day write a note about us to send to our parents. I thought it was pretty funny, but sweet.

It's been a good week. We've been blessed to find quite a few Potential Investigators. We also visited a former investigator who wants to keep meeting with us, and we called another former investigator who was too busy to meet before but has a yasumi on Sundays now and would like to meet.

It's been a bit concerning with our 17 year old yakusokusha. We went out to eat with him this last Friday night just to talk about his concerns and to talk to him about receiving answers to prayers. He still hasn't asked his parents for permission to be baptized. He's kind of scared of them - he says they have a bad image about religion. That, and he and his parents don't have much of a close relationship - not a bad relationship, but not good either. He also says he hasn't felt that he's received a confirmation of the truth of The Book of Mormon. But he is so solid and has so much faith. He really believes it's true and Joseph Smith was a prophet. We pray hard for him and have faith that he'll be able to receive an answer.

The other concern we have with him is being able to meet with him and teach him all of the lessons - and more importantly make sure he is converted to Jesus Christ before he is baptized. We were supposed to meet with him yesterday and Saturday - but he caught a cold and wasn't able to meet or come to church. Since he's busy with school most other days, we had planned out when we would teach him things so that he would be ready for baptism on Mother's Day. Even though these problems have arisen, we are really trying to have faith. When President Zinke announced the Mother's Day goal, it was clear it was a goal that he had received revelation about - that every area in the mission could have a baptism on Mother's Day. We trust that revelation and trust that the Lord will provide a way for it to be fulfilled. We are going to do all we can and then trust and have faith that the Lord will provide for the rest.

Lately I've been studying the power of the Atonement. I started rereading the Book of Mormon looking for and marking specific references to the Cleansing power which opens the door to The Spirit and revelation, and the Enabling power which allows a mortal man to accomplish and fulfill revelations and things beyond his own power. It's interesting to see the pattern in just the first 7 chapters of Nephi. Lehi receives a revelation, Nephi and His brothers go and do all they can working with faith, and the Lord makes up the rest. The revelation is fulfilled. It's truly how a missionary should work, I feel. Doing all we can to be obedient, clean and worthy - allowing the Spirit to be within you to guide every thought, word, and action. Receiving revelation for setting goals and finding and teaching. Acting on that revelation with a belief that we'll be able to accomplish it, and trusting that the Lord will make up what we can't do. Then, seeing the miracles that take place as the Lord gathers His sheep. It's an amazing privelege to be able to help in this work, and I hope to be able to have the faith to work miracles according to the Lord's will.

I'm happy and healthy. Sleeping well, and we've definitely got plenty to eat. Life is good, dendo is great!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013 - Week 15

Mom and Dad,

Do you realize that you both e-mailed me pretty much the same thing?  We're in Hawaii going to awesome places, eating tons of delicious food and visiting with family and friends.  Part of me was jealous when I read it, then I remembered I'm in Japan and I felt better again.  Haha!  I'm really glad to hear that travels have been safe so far and you're having a good time.  Seems like the weather in Utah is still a bit less than Springtime-ish.  Hope it warms up soon.  The weather here has been pretty good lately.  We got the okay to go without suit jackets, but we're still wearing them some days because it's been pretty cool lately.

It's transfers week, but I'm staying in Kochi with Elder Day.  It's his last transfer, and my second.  During weekly planning last week we discussed a lot about what we want to accomplish this next transfer.  We really want to work hard.  He wants me to learn and be ready for anything.  Our mission is going to be experiencing plenty of growth over the next few months.  It's possible I could train by my third of fourth transfer, or be with another third or fourth transfer missionary.  It's so exciting to consider how much the Lord is hastening His work - especially in this part of the vineyard!  In any event, there's still so much I need to learn!  I'm sure I'll always feel that way as a missionary (as is the case with anything in life) but right now especially where I'm still just starting out, I feel as though there's so much I need to get down.

Things have gone well this week.  We found a new investigator housing this past week, and met with him for the first time last night.  When we met him we were doing sing-song housing.  We'd sing a hymn for whoever we talked to before we asked if they wanted to meet again - we felt it would be a great way to invite the Spirit.  He was probably the 3rd of 4th house we knocked on that night.  He's 37 and he and his siblings live together with their parents.  When we first housed into him it was really funny.  He opened the door and jumped a bit in surprise to see two foreigners in suits standing on his front porch.  After a bit of an awkward pause I said "O genki desu ka?" and he just laughed.  Then after we were talking for a bit, I was getting tripped up in what I was saying and just said "We want to sing you a song!" without explaining why.  He laughed at that too, said something to someone in the other room and they laughed too.  In retrospect, if 2 gaijin showed up to my house for no apparent reason, asked me how I was doing then said they wanted to sing me a song, I'd probably just laugh too.  Anyway, Elder Day jumped in and explained a little more about who we are and what we are doing, and the guy was really cool about it.  We sang "Nearer My God To Thee" in English and he thought it was great.  We talked with him about eternal families and things, and he agreed to meet us again.  At first, it just seemed like a funny housing contact to me, but looking back I realize the Spirit helped to orchestrate and guide that contact.  My awkward and Ganbaro (just doing my best) Japanese helped to warm up the situation and open him up to what we had to share and want to meet with us again.

Like I said earlier, we met with him just last night.  In this mission there was a training plan set into place to help potential investigators turn into investigators.  Essentially, in the first appointment you have with a potential investigator you do all you can to help them feel God's love.  You introduce some basic and magnificient restored truths like God is Our Loving Heavenly Father, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, the 3 big questions of where did we come from, why are we here, and where do we go after we die and ask them questions to help open their mind to the influence of the Spirit. It's so amazing how it feels when you start talking with somebody about the fact that God is their loving Heavenly Father.  That you can talk Him.  That through Jesus Christ, you can be with your family forever in happiness.  When we talked with this man, it was absolutely incredible to see the expressions on his face and the pondering in his eyes as he began to feel the influence of the Spirit as he considered Eternal Truths that have probably never crossed his mind.  It was really a wonderful experience that reminds me of the basic and fundamental truths that completely change the way I view everything - I'm a son of God and all of these people around me are my brothers and sisters.

It's crazy to think it's already been a transfer!  It's been great so far, and I have so much to learn!  I hope to never be content with how much I've learned and always strive to improve.  Ganbaro!

I hope you continue to enjoy Hawaii and continue to be safe!

I love you,
Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013 - Week 14

Mom and Dad,

Definitely felt that earthquake!  It was about 5:30 Saturday Morning and our cell phone started buzzing.  It was an earthquake warning - and we got it just as things started shaking.  I woke up, and it almost felt like someone was shoving me side to side - it was weird.  Mostly, I was just kind of annoyed and went back to sleep.  In hindsight, I probably should have been more concerned or thought to do something more than just roll over in my futon.  Haha!  Later that morning we got an e-mail saying we needed to check our church building for damage.  We left during study time on a Special Ops Dendo Mission.  I'm happy to report that the church building was just fine.

We watched General Conference in the Sunday School room.  I don't know if I mentioned before, but our church building used to be a kon bini (convenience store).  It's pretty small, but it's a nice building.  They had all of the sessions on DVD at the church, and the DVD's had about 6-7 languages, including English.  Elder Day and I just sat together in the room watching General Conference - the members were in the chapel.  We watched Priesthood session first, then Morning, then Afternoon (we were switching DVDs back and forth with the members).  It was a really great conference!  It's kind of cool listening to the General Authorities talk about missionaries and missionary work.  It's interesting when they talk about currently serving full-time missionaries, because I'm one of them.  I think so much differently about their admonitions to members to always share the Gospel wherever you may be.  This church and The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is the means for our fellow children of our Heavenly Father - our literal Spirit brothers and sisters - to attain eternal life and happiness.  How could we not want to share that?

It was really exciting hearing all of the emphasis on young Aaronic Priesthood holders during Priesthood session.  Elder Callister's talk was awesome!  It's so vital that all of the youth are as prepared and strong as they can be for when they grow to missionary age.  It's so exciting to see the work of saving souls grow and grow!

Sunday was really good too.  2 of our investigators (and 2 other non-members) were able to come and watch Conference.  One of them - I mentioned in a previous e-mail - is from Congo and though his mother tongue is French, watched it in English with Elder Day and I.  He really perked up during Sunday Morning (I think) when President Uchtdorf talked about visiting Africa.  After the session, our investigator said it really is an impoverished place - but that many people there are happy because they are Christian.  As he talked about it, he remembered a friend of his living in Tokyo who works with her husband at the Congo Embassy.  He hadn't been in contact with her for a while, but he remembered she's LDS.  He called her right then and had a good conversation in French, then handed the phone to Elder Day and they talked (she knows English too).  She told our investigator to go to church and take his family.  It was awesome!  He said he really respects her and her family - she's a wonderful mother and everybody loves their family.  He said they work for Congo's government, but they don't really get paid anything (not sure why) but they're the happiest people and they're always helping and serving others.  It was really good that that came up - because he's been thinking a lot about whether or not he wants to be baptized because he was baptized Catholic as a child.  He said that our Church is true and that the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles were true.  But, he's still not sure about baptism.  It's a little heartbreaking because we really want he and his family to receive the blessings of The Restored Gospel, but we're really hopeful that he'll accept baptism by proper authority soon.

As for our investigator with the JW friend - we're not sure what's been going on.  She got out of the hospital last Monday, and we had an appointment set up with her at her apartment for last Friday.  We went and our doseki came, but she wasn't there.  We checked back at the hospital again just in case, but she wasn't there.  We went back to visit her again last night, and this time when we got to her door there was light on in the peep hole and the electric meter was turning.  We knocked and rang the doorbell and waited for a good 3 minutes.  Then the peep hole light started got dark and light again like someone had looked through it - we said hi but nobody opened the door.  It looked as though somebody looked through the peephole a few more times while we were standing there, then they must have left the door because the light was constant again.  We slipped a note into the mail box on the door and walked away.  We haven't drawn any conclusions yet, but we aren't up to discount the possibility that she doesn't want to meet with us again.  We hope her JW friend hasn't done something to change her mind.  She's a sweet older woman and we really want her to receive the Gospel.

Our 17 year old Yakusokusha is doing really well!  We taught him all of Lesson 1 on Saturday and he really seems to believe it and wants to develop a relationship with God.  We asked him if his parents know he's been coming to church and meeting with us and he said they still don't.  We really need him to though, because he'll need their permission to be baptized.  He said his parents kind of have a weird image of religion in general, so we're hoping they don't have a bad reaction when he talks to them about meeting us and coming to church.  He's so solid and I'm really excited that he's on his way to be baptized on Mother's Day - but we're still working hard to have more Yakusokushas for our goal, because there's always a possibility his parents will go hantai (opposite/opposing).

This last Tuesday we had interviews with Zinke Kaicho.  It was amazing getting to talk to Kaicho one-on-on.  Dad, you asked me how I'm progressing and that's what I talked about with Kaicho.  These last few weeks I've been trying really hard to understand how I receive revelation.  I haven't felt lately that I've been receiving or recognizing revelation and it's been a little frustrating for me.  The night before interviews I had a realization - one of the reasons I haven't been receiving as much revelation is because I'm not willing to act on it.  I realized that I need to humble myself more and have real-intent before The Lord will trust me with more specific direction about how to do His work and the power to carry out His direction.  During the training meeting before interviews, Kaicho taught on that precise thing.  He talked again about Ether 12.  All we need to do to gain the Lord's help is humble ourselves and have faith.  It's really just that simple.  After the meeting when I talked to Kaicho I told him about the previous night's realization.  He helped me realize that that realization was revelation - it certainly didn't come from Satan, and I couldn't have figured that out on my own.  He joked that I'm like an AA member who's realized and come to admit the problem - but was thrilled that I've come to the realization of what's holding me back so early in my mission.  He said coming to the realization and coming to admit it has gotten me about 75% there - now I need to execute.  Just be humble and willing to accept whatever The Lord directs me to do, work my hardest to do it, and have faith that He will make up for what I can't do.  Kaicho said it's a mindset shift - and it's one I've been trying hard to make.  To just give it all - whole heart, might, mind, and strength - to The Lord.  I'm certain it's not going to be easy and will take time - but I trust that as I step into the dark the Lord will illuminate my path.

I'm happy, I'm healthy, and I'm a missionary.  Life is awesome!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013 - Earthquake in Kobe

Email from the mission home

We were awakened by an earthquake this morning at about 5:30.  Everyone is fine and there seems to be no damage of any significance.  It was centered about 25 miles south of Kobe.

We have a couple of Japanese sister missionaries just a few miles from the epicenter serving in the Sumoto Branch.  They called within a few minutes of the quake.  They reported that they were fine and that some church members were with them already.  They were nervously laughing with the members.  A lot of things in their apartment had fallen off shelves but nothing was broken. The sisters were a little shaken and began running to the mountains in their PJs in case of a tsunami. After a bit of clean-up they dressed and went to assist some members at their homes



Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013 - Week 13

Mom and Dad,

I am so excited to tell you that just yesterday the 17 year old young man we met just a week ago from last Saturday accepted an invitation to be baptized! We set a baptismal date for Mother's day! I'm so excited that he's made the decision to begin down the Gospel path back to our Heavenly Father. He came to church with us yesterday and he said he enjoyed it. It was fast and testimony meeting, and he felt something special during the testimonies of the members. We actually don't have General Conference until this next Saturday and Sunday - we watch the sessions on DVD at the Church.

We had another investigator this last week accept the invitation to be baptized. However, he's leaving for a few months because his job is doing some sort of a transfer thing (I think he works in construction) and so we weren't able to set a date. But I have a really good feeling about him. We are going to refer him to the missionaries in the area he's going to be at (he said he'll still meet with them). Another one of our investigators knows that she needs to be baptized, but she's not sure about setting a date with us. She's got a Jehovah's Witness friend she's been meeting for a year or so, and she says she's split between being baptized with them or us. But, she's got a lot of doubts about the Jehovah's Witness teachings and we feel confident and are praying that after meeting with us another couple of times she'll feel the Spirit whisper to her heart what's true. I really wish I could tell you the names of my investigators, but we're not supposed to. Since these e-mails get forwarded everywhere and to everybody, we're instructed to respect the privacy of our investigators and not include their names.

I have felt so blessed these last few weeks. God has allowed my companion and I to see successes. I remember in the MTC a speaker talked about 2 types of success as a missionary. The first is based on your commitment to be obedient and work your hardest. The second is more about whether or not your investigators progress, getting new investigators, baptisms, etc. The first you can control. But the second is dependent on the agency of others - and while your actions may influence it, ultimately success in the second sense is a gift. Only God can soften hearts and bring about changes that effect the eternal salvation of a soul - and I feel grateful that I've been blessed to see such success occur.

It's so wonderful to hear about General Conference and I'm so tanoshimi! (excited/anticipating) I love hearing about everyone being together at home for conference. It's definitely makes me miss home a bit, but I'm super excited to be able to experience General Conference in Japan! I'm not sure if they'll have it in English for Elder Day and I. If it's in Ni Hon Go then I will ganbarou! (do my best)

Philip is a father already?! Whoa...I sort of forgot that Kari was pregnant. Gomenne. (sorry) But I didn't think it would be so soon. Haha! Super taihen (worrisome) to hear about Uncle Troy. I hope everything goes well for him, and I will not forget him in my prayers. Please tell him I love him and wish I could be home to raid his pantry. Michael Moos is coming to Kobe?! That's saikou! (the best) If I remember correctly, he was in my music theory class. He's awesome!

Mom, to answer your question, we e-mail from a gaijin (foreigner) lounge/center/place. It's kind of like a library...I'm not really sure what to call it. But, we can use computers with internet access for free.

Dad, to answer your question, we were...whitewashed? (I think that's what it's called - don't really know or care). Elder Day was new to the area as well. It wasn't too bad though since we had Nakatsuka Choro for a few weeks. He had been here the whole time his visa had been delayed - so he helped us get around and meet the investigators and things.

I love you so much and always love to hear about things at home. Thank you for all of your encouragement, support, and words of wisdom.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013 - Week 12

Mom and Dad,

I forgot to bring my camera this week to the e-mail place, sorry. I keep saying it, and maybe next week I'll actually do it, but I'll send some pictures soon.

Another great week! My Japanese is improving sukoshi zutsu (little by little), but definitely improving. Something that I've done better at this last week is slowing down and taking it easy when talking to people. Also, just having confidence in what I'm going to say makes a huge difference. As it goes for just about anything, if you're confident, you come across as being more competent than you actually may be. Understanding what others say is still challenging, but there's not much in my power I can do to help that. I pray often for the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues, because as is taught in PMG, seeking the gifts of the Spirit will help you learn the language more quickly than anything else. The Spirit is so key in all aspects of this work.

Yesterday we had Shibu Taikai (Branch conference) and President and Sister Zinke came to the branch. Almost everyone in that is in the ward came - it was kind of crazy. Normally there are like 14 people at church, and this week there were like 30. But it was really good! It was great to see the Zinke's and hear their talks in Seisankai (sacrament meeting). They gave amazing talks centered on Christ's resurrection and Easter. There was also a Shokujikai (food "meeting") after church was over. It was a potluck, and there was plenty of really good food.

We also had a great experience with a getting a new investigator yesterday. We were streeting on Doyoubi (Saturday) and I talked to a younger looking guy. We talked for a bit and he agreed to meet with us on Nichiyoubi (Sunday). He was going to come around 2:00 pm but by 2:30 he still hadn't showed up. We called him, and it turned out that he had just gotten lost finding the church. After walking a few blocks from the church, we found him and all went back to the church together. There were still plenty of people at the church because of the Shokujikai, so we grabbed 2 young men - 1 with his mission call to Sendai - to come doseki (member lesson) with us. We talked to the guy (he's 17 and in high school) about what he believes and what we believe, and talked a lot about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. He seemed genuinely interested, and when we brought up baptism, he said he thinks that it's something he wants to do. Beyond that, his Sundays are free! (a bit of a rarity in Japan. Most folks either work Sundays) He's the first investigator I've been able to be apart of finding and beginning to teach. It's really exciting for me, and I really hope he accepts the Gospel and starts on the path back to Heavenly Father.

Our other investigators are doing well as well. A lot of them are very close to becoming Yakusokusha (investigator with a baptismal commitment). My companion and I have faith that by the end of this week we'll have more than one Yakusokusha with a Mother's Day (maybe earlier) baptismal date. It's been interesting, though, just how many Christian or Christian influenced people have been in this area. One of our investigators was meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses for a year (she doesn't think their teachings make any sense though) and 2 of our investigators are Protestant. We ran into a guy the other day streeting who said that Jesus is inside of everybody and he's been saved. My companion even said that this has been a really "Christian" area.

One kind of funny experience I'd like to share. We were housing and we came across a really funny guy. He was in his 40's I think. He thought it was cool that we were from America. He likes how in America we have big cars and he thinks we have funny movies. He was really surprised (not impressed necessarily, he thought it was unusual) to find out that we didn't drink or smoke. He spoke a little English, but mostly all he said was "Beer and nachos" "Motasaiku" (motorcycle) and "Icy Hot". As we were starting to wrap up the contact we gave him a chirasshi (flyer) about church. Inside is a picture of Jesus, and the first thing he said was "Obi wan kenobi!" I thought it was pretty funny.

Dad, my bike is in really good shape. The Elder that had it before was nicknamed the "Maid" of the mission. He was a really clean person and always cleaned the apartments really well. He also kept his bike really clean and good.

So exciting to hear about everything going on, good to hear everyone is well.

Thanks for all of your love and support,
Elder Kyle Hutchings