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