Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday May 27, 2013 - Week 20

Mom and Dad,
I know I say it every week, but it's great to hear that everything at home is well.  I'm glad to hear that Marisa made it to the end of the school year and has got a chance to work and chill.  Oh man, I'm missing the hay haul!  That bums me out a little, not going to lie.  I loved hauling hay...but, the field is white all ready to harvest and that's certainly apparent by the number of missionaries heading out to dendo!  It's so exciting to hear about everyone who's leaving for missions (even more exciting to hear about folks headed to the Kobe, Japan mission!).  Crazy that Aunty Laurie, Paul, and Spencer did all of the shopping in one day, but I'm glad to hear that all is well with them.
This past week was awesome!  Like I probably mentioned last week, there was a taikai in Okayama with Elder Aoyagi (2nd quorum of the Seventy I'm pretty sure) this last Wednesday.  Unexpectedly, I was called Monday night and informed that I was going to have an interview with him.  Besides all of the Zone Leaders, a few missionaries were chosen to have an interview with him.  I'm not sure if Zinke Kaicho chose them or what, but I was one of the lucky few!  Wednesday morning before the taikai started I was able to meet with him for a little bit.  I was the last scheduled to be interviewed, and since the interview before me went long I was only able to meet with him for about 2 minutes, but it was an awesome two minutes!  He welcomed me into the room, asked me where I was from, and then simply asked me if I had any questions for him.  I wasn't sure what to say, so I asked, "What do you think is the most important thing about being a missionary?"  It's interesting because he said many of the same things that he said throughout the day during the taikai, but the way he said them, and some of the extra things he included when he was talking to me, addressed some personal questions and things I have been thinking a lot about lately.  I felt the Spirit as he spoke, and I felt the love of my Heavenly Father as I felt that He was teaching me through one of His special servants.  Whether or not he realized it, in the space of 2 minutes Elder Aoyagi followed the Spirit and helped me feel God's love and receive personal revelation.  After that, he gave me a hug and then I went to the chapel with the other missionaries.  It was an amazing experience, and I'm so glad to have had that opportunity.
Just this last Saturday, Elder Day and I went on a run to Nankoku Shi.  Nankoku is an inaka (rural) place outside of Kochi Shi.  It is an absolutely beautiful place and was such a good day, but it was also quite a bike ride!  We went to visit one of our investigators, a few former investigators, and we totsuzened the Branch President.  We navigate via a map on our cell phone, and it tells us how far away our destination is straight as the crow flies from where we currently (sadly, it doesn't have turn by turn directions).  Getting from the shinai (main city center) in Kochi to the area our investigator lives was about 6km straight as the crow flies.  From there going between the former investigators' places was about anwhere from 4-6km or so each.  Then to the Branch President's place, then back to the shinai where our apartment is.  Considering that we weren't traveling straight as the crow flies, and that we got lost once or twice, we definitely got in some good exercise!  Dendo is the best!
Things are getting warmer and warmer here.  It's going to be getting into rainy season very soon from what I understand.  It makes me really appreciate all of the Scout camps and activities I went on - I know for sure that being wet, hot, tired and uncomfortable is survivable.  Thankfully, as a missionary I get to shower everyday, so no worries! 
Thank you for all of your love and support.
Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013 - Week 19

Mom and Dad,

Oh my goodness! Ally and Justin are speaking next Sunday!? Wow! When do they enter the MTC? It's so exciting to think that they are getting ready to head out in the service of the Lord. Dendo is the best and they'll be amazing missionaries! This last week during weekly planning session as Elder Day and I were setting this weeks goals I had some time to think about my progress so far. It's amazing to me to see the changes in myself and all the things the Lord has taught me. It's even more amazing to me to think of how much I've grown when I consider that I've been thinking about other people way more now than I ever have in my life.

It's been another good week! This last week seemed to go by especially quick. We've been keeping busy as always. I'm really excited for this week! We're going to Okayama for a taikai with Elder Aoyagi. I'm sure it will be an amazing chance to learn a lot!

Just yesterday one of our newer investigator's came to church. He's a humble and quiet old man in his 60's. He feels bad when we meet with him because he doesn't understand everything (and we've just been discussing Heavenly Father and prayer with him as simply as possible). He came to church and sacrament meeting was good for him. In Priesthood, however, the poor man was in for it. The brother in the branch who taught the lesson used to work in the temple and has an incredibly deep doctrinal understanding. He taught a super deep lesson on eternal marriages and ordinances and exaltation. I'm pretty sure even if I could have understood the Japanese, I wouldn't have been able to understand what he was saying. Not so great for our investigator. Afterward we were talking with our investigator and he said, "I'm not sure if I'll keep coming to church. I just don't get anything." Thankfully though, we were able to help him understand that learning these things takes time, prayer, and study. He's still willing to meet with us, and he'll probably come to church next week.

In terms of our newest yakusokusha, things have been going pretty well. She's still really determined to receive baptism. We were going to move her baptismal date to this Sunday, but she didn't come to church or meet with us yesterday - she totsuzen cancelled on both. Had she been able to meet with us yesterday, we felt she could have been prepared for baptism this Sunday. As much as we want her to enter into the gate of Baptism on the 26th, we know that she needs to be prepared before she makes a covenant with Heavenly Father. The most important thing is her conversion and salvation, not us seeing a baptism.

Mom and Dad, thank you so much for all you do for me. Thank you for telling me that you are proud of me. It really means so much to me - now more than ever - to have your approval, support, and encouragement. Thanks for sending a package too! I am very much looking forward to it!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

P.S. That spider was chilling out in the bike parking area of one our investigator's apartment building. I took a picture of it yesterday.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013 - Week 18

Mom and Dad,

Hey Mom, pretty sure I forgot to tell you Happy Mothers Day! on the phone. Sorry... It was absolutely wonderful getting to hear from all of you. It was so nice to hear from everybody and hear that everybody is doing so well. I'd be a liar to say I don't miss all of you and home. But if I don't allow myself to allow my thoughts to dwell on home or on anything else but this work for too long. Sure it may make me sad right now to not be with my parents and family, but how would I feel if in the end - in the Celestial Kingdom - I was with my family and my Heavenly parents and there were souls in lesser Kingdoms who weren't able to be with their families and Heavenly Parents? Souls I could have found and helped onto the path to Exaltation? Worse than how would I feel - how would God feel that some of His precious children weren't in His presence eternally? There's no time to be homesick - there are souls to save!

I am very happy and healthy! I honestly can't think of anything else besides toothpaste and razors that I would like to request for the package. Oh, actually, maybe a pack of toothbrushes too. If you could get a big pack at Sam's Club or somewhere that would be great.

Just to recap some of the things I shared over the phone - as a missionary you truly do experience some of the greatest joys as the message from the First Presidency says in Preach My Gospel. But, along with that, you experience some of the greatest disappointments and sorrows as well. This last week all was going well for our 17 year old investigator to be baptized on Mother's Day. He had so much faith and was accepting everything and reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Last Sunday we ate dinner with him at the Branch President's house and had a lesson. It was so great and the Branch President's family shared some really good personal experiences and testimony. Through the week we weren't able to contact him much, but we still had faith we could finish teaching what he needed to learn, he would accept it and be ready for an interview on Saturday. On Thursday he sent us an e-mail that changed all of that. He said that he thought that meeting with us would be a really good experience, everything was new to him, but that he's not the person we thought he was he's not able to change, and he's not able to receive baptism. He asked us to forgive him and forget about him. He deleted his e-mail account (we had our Zone Leader's try to e-mail him as well as a member) and he also blocked our phone number. That day, Elder Day and I got in the map book and looked up the area where he lived (we didn't have his exact address) and found every house with his same family name. We went and tried every one of those houses but unfortunately weren't able to find him or his family. But we're not giving up hope. We're still going to try and find or get in contact with him again. Even if we can't right now, we know whether it's now or in 20 years he'll find his way back. We don't know what might have caused it, but right now he's chosen to not accept the Gospel, as such he's chosen to go without the blessings and help and comfort that come through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But we know God has a plan for him and that someday he'll be able to enter the gate onto the path back to God.

It's been a really saddening and heartbreaking experience. But on the other hand there was a miracle this last week as well. One of our investigators who has been all over the place with her testimony and has gotten into anti-Mormon literature has committed to be baptized. She received the Conference Liahona and read it around the beginning of the month. Just this last week she was having a really busy and stressful week. She had the idea/feeling that she should read Boyd K. Packer's talk. When she did she felt the Spirit strongly and felt comfort and peace. Shortly after, I (unknowingly - undoubtedly orchestrated by divine power) called her to see if she could meet for a lesson. We met Saturday evening and after she explained her experience we asked her some questions to see where her testimony was. She believes that the people who gave conference talks are called of God, and since they are the leaders of this church, this church is true. The member there at the lesson asked her if she'd be willing to stop going to the Protestant church she goes to and she said she would. We set a goal for her to be baptized on June 9th, and she was a little mad because she wants to be baptized before the end of May - or as soon as possible. There was truly nothing we could have done to cause her to change like that. We have been blessed with this miracle, and now we're going to work very hard to make sure she doesn't fall back into her old wishy-washy ways.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. The Lord has been teaching me so much and I've learned so much in just the transfer and a half I've been here in the Japan Kobe Mission. There is so much more for me to learn! The more I learn the more I realize I don't know and that there is so much to learn. That may have been worded weird, but I think you get the point. Anyway, I'm so glad I'm a missionary and I just wanted to say thank you for all that you've done and are currently doing so that I can be here serving the Lord.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013 - Week 17

Mom and Dad,

So first things first, Mother's Day calls. You'll need to call our cell phone because our phones can't make international calls. No Skype unfortunately.
The number you'll need to call is: 011 81 80 2149 6499
That has the country codes and everything else taken care of. It would be best if you called at about 10:00am Monday the 13th our time. (I think that's about 7:00pm on Sunday evening for you). I've got 59 minutes tops - I hope to keep it around 30-40 minutes if that's all right.

Dad, I purchased an electronic dictionary as well as a few other things around that time - all of that seems to be in order. Thanks for letting me know. This month is going to be a bit weird financially because we're going to be traveling a lot. Right now I'm in Okayama for Zone Conferences (we had to come this morning in order to be on time for it tomorrow). Then, since Elder Day is District Leader, we're going to be traveling to do 2 baptismal interviews for Sunday. The areas are pretty spread out so we'll be spending plenty of time on a bus. Then, around the 22nd there's going to be a Seventy taikai in Okayama. On top of all of that the Church financial system is going to be down for 3 weeks in May for updates. So it's been crazy this last week figuring things all out in order to get in reimbursements before the update happens.
It's so wonderful to hear about everything going on at home! Great to hear that the Abney's received another mission call. It's so exciting to hear about all of the missionaries that our ward will be sending off. The world and all of God's children need the Gospel.

Glad to hear the weather has been improving for you. It's been warming up a lot here. It's been pretty stressful lately helping our 17 year old Yakusokusha prepare for baptism this Sunday. I'm pleased to say that he talked with his mom and she said he is free to do as he wishes. With that worry out of the way our only other obstacle is being able to meet with him. It's been difficult meeting with him because he's so busy with school and cram school and piano too. But he's such an amazing kid. He's got so much faith and has already read up to Alma 40-ish in the Book of Mormon. He committed to stop drinking coffee in order to live the Word of Wisdom, because he understands and believes that it is a necessary step to take in order to return to our Heavenly Father. He's really an amazing young man. Elder Day and I have been fasting and praying so that we'll be able to meet with him enough times to teach before Sunday and so that he'll be converted to Jesus Christ at the time he receives baptism. We have faith that so long as we do all we can, through the enabling power of the Atonement the rest will be made up.

This last week as I have been thinking I've come to realize just how blessed I am as a missionary with resources to help me do what The Lord wants. I remember studying in Preach My Gospel before my mission and while in the MTC and marking and noticing all of the promises that are made to missionaries who follow the inspired teachings about how The Lord wants His missionaries to work. I would read over something and think, "Wow, that's cool, I hope to try that." and then keep reading. It's completely different now that everyday I'm afforded the opportunity to live PMG. It's absolutely amazing to see the blessings and success that come when I put aside how I think the best way would be to do something (a streeting contact, teaching a lesson, etc.) and just follow what PMG says.
I'm still doing fine. It's definitely been trying my faith getting our Mother's Day Yakusokusha prepared. I still firmly believe that the mission goal was set on revelation - and that the Lord will provide a way for us to do the things which He has commanded. I am ever grateful for your support and your prayers!

Elder Kyle Hutchings