Sunday, January 26, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014 - Week 55

Mom and Dad,

Sometimes I think like I'm losing my mind when I feel like a week passes in
only 3 seconds.  That being said, I just don't even know what to think when
I feel like 2 weeks are gone in 3 seconds.

This last Friday Elder Hoshino and I had a chance to kokan with one of the
District Leaders in the Zone.  I had the chance to sit down with him during
the exchange and give him some training about the role of a District Leader
and talk with him about some of the questions he had and some of the ways
we as Zone Leaders feel he can improve.  We discussed a lot about vision,
goal setting and making plans.  It was all in Japanese too, since this
District Leader is Ni Hon jin (Japanese).  I've been doing a lot of things lately that
I never would have expected to do.  Before I came on my mission in the
first place I never thought I would find myself in the leadership of the
mission.  As such it never did or would have occurred to me that there
might be the chance that I would have to train another mission leader on
his responsibilities and about vision for him personally and for those in
his stewardship - on top of that all in Japanese.  Anyway, I've been
re-reflecting on vision and goals lately.  It was a good reminder and
revamp for me on the vision and goals I made for myself at the beginning of
this month.  We also finally received the January Ensign in English this
last week, and so I read President Uchtdorf's message and I really enjoy
his hard drive example.  I took a really good think over the importance of
having all of our goals aligned.  Really judging and making sure that our
daily goals are supporting weekly goals, weekly to monthly, monthly to
yearly, yearly to our huge life goals, and that the huge life goals we have
are in line with God's work and glory.

We had Mission President interviews this last week.  It was great get a
chance to spend some time with everyone in the zone and have fun and talk
about dendo.  In my interview with Zinke Kaicho (President) we talked about the Lord's
economics.  The Lord's deal is an all or nothing sort of gig.  He already
has all and has given His everything
for this work.  As such, it is natural and fair that He expects all things
from us.  In particular Kaicho and I talked about the difference between
our best and all we can do.  Our best is something that *we* always set the
standard for.  When we give our best we are giving as much as we think we
can, but the Lord knows things about us that we don't and He knows truly
how much we can give.  Thus there's a necessity to always be proactive in
our efforts, but to simultaneously always be seeking the Lord's
expectations and directions.  We talked about a lot more than that, but
that was the part that left the biggest impression on me.  As a side note,
Zinke Kaicho is the man.  The end.

We had a mini kokan with the Assistants the night of interviews.  They
aren't going to be able to kokan with us properly this transfer so they
came over and just stayed the night with us and we discussed the
application of the training we received during interviews and what things I
should focus on as the Missionary/Tranining Zone Leader from here on out.
 Again, another conversation I never would have expected.  The Assistant
over Missionaries/Training this time around is Ni Hon jin, Aono Choro.  I
pretty much only thought I'd have to worry about learning Japanese to make
friends and teach people and stuff. I was severely mistaken.  But luckily I
get by with the Japanese I've been blessed to learn so far.  Kokans with
the Assistants are always fun, though.  Elder Carver (the other Assistant)
brought one of those belts you strap around your abs that like shock you
and make you flex.  I wore it and it feels really strange.  Not bad, or
painful, just weird, but it definitely makes tensing up your core more
comfortable than the electric pulse it sends through you.  Carver Choro
also forgot to take it with him when he left, so Hoshino Choro and I have
been having fun with it this last week.

I am super excited for this next Sunday.  Nakatsuka Kaicho is going to be
visiting our branch.  His son was my companion in the first few weeks of my
mission when there was a san-nin in Kouchi.  Also, he visited Kouchi Shibu
while I was still there.  He's going to speak in our Fast and Testimony
meeting and then since Hoshino Choro and I are in the Branch Leadership
we'll be going with him to another branch building for another meeting with
other Branch Leaders in the District.  Should be way cool, and way

I'm healthy and happy and surviving the cold!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014 - Week 54

Mom and Dad,

Yesterday Hoshino Choro and I had a bit of a unique opportunity.  Because I'm in the Branch Presidency and he's Elder's quorum president, we went to the District Correlation Meeting in Fukuchiyama.  It was way cool to be there.  It was so enlightening and interesting to experience and be involved in the thoughts and planning that goes on at a District Level.  It was awesome to be able to hear about all of the different Branches' dendo plans and themes.  I always enjoy a chance to interact with the District President - he is an incredible Priesthood Leader and he teaches simply and uses examples effectively.  Hoshino Choro and I were given a bit of time to report about and discuss the progressing investigators and yakusokusha (committed for baptism) in the Zone.  We were also given some time to talk about the 400 non-members to church goal.  For that we basically just taught a lesson that we normally teach to investigators to help them understand the importance of coming to church.  In short, we simply draw the connection of coming to church, taking the sacrament, accessing Christ's Atonement, and obtaining a happiness which leads to everlasting happiness.  We did it in the context of "Did you realize just how amazing it is to invite your friend to church?  That by inviting them to church you're inviting them to take the first steps to accessing Christ's Atonement, and thus to obtain true happiness?"  I feel like it went well.

I feel so blessed to be in the position I am as a Missionary, Zone Leader and Branch Presidency Member.  With the latter two I have a chance to plan, organize, administer, and minister by the Spirit.  And with the former, I have a chance to be out in the fight.  It's incredibly fun, and I'm reminded of the phrase, "Duty is joy."  As I fulfill my duties I feel the greatest joy.  I also feel many of the Lord's promised blessings of Spiritual and Physical support and strength as I give all I can for this the greatest work.

Yesterday was a great day for more than just the incredible experience we had at District Correlation meeting.  In Toyooka there is an investigator named E. Kyoudai (Brother).  He was a yakusokusha (committed for baptism), but due to his job he became legitimately incredibly busy and we haven't been able to meet with him at all last transfer.  We were able to contact him a few times, but after a while even the contact ceased.  He stopped picking up his phone and wouldn't reply to e-mails.  We tried visiting him any number of times, but he was never home.  Last week we had the thought, "Have we been doing ALL we can do to get in touch with and help him?"  We realized we hadn't.  We still hadn't tried visiting him in the morning.  Last Sunday morning (the 12th) we got up early and visited his home before DCS.  He wasn't home, but for the first time we were able to talk to his mom and found out that he's normally home on Sunday morning.  So, we decided to go again yesterday.  We got up a bit earlier this time, it normally takes about 20 minutes to get to his place by bike anyway, but yesterday there was more snow on the roads than last week as well as more ice.  We visited him and he was home!  We had a good chat about how he's been lately, how his job has been and how things will be from here on out, we talked about what times during the day would be best for him to make contact, then I hugged him and we left.  He had to work yesterday and has had to work every Sunday for the past couple of months.  But Sunday will be a yasumi for him and it should stay that way from here on out, so he's going to come to church.  Beyond feeling an incredible amount of relief that E. Kyoudai honestly has been busy and that the biggest problem isn't necessarily that his desire has dropped or that he just wanted to stop the whole church thing, I suppose what I've come to feel and learn from all of this is that I can't be afraid to try something else, something new.  Just show faith, act, and then let the Lord take care of everything I can't.

I don't feel like I'm the same person I was a year ago.  A month ago.  Even since just last week.  In the New Testament it says if you lose yourself for Him, you'll find yourself.  Matthew 10:39 I believe.  I feel so strongly that is happening to me.  It comes out a lot when I share my experiences and bear my testimony.  As I have worked to throw away my extra stuff, and keep giving more to Him, in a rather un-explainable sort of way I've come to understand how I feel and what is actually in my heart.  As I write out my experiences and the feelings I have for Gospel Principles I've come to see what's in my heart, what I actually believe and why I believe it, and I've really rather come to grips with myself - something I don't feel like I've ever been able to do before.

If I could make any requests for the next package it would be big candy bars like the big Cookies and Cream and the Symphony bar you sent with the last one.  I ended up taking those to Eikaiwa (English class) and sharing them with all of the students.  They thought it was pretty cool that we have such gigantic candy bars in America.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

PS.  Thanks so much for the pictures!  And Happy Birthday Dad!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014 - Week 53

Mom and Dad,

I entered the MTC a year ago from last Thursday.  Weird.

Dad thank you so much for refreshing me on that training.  As I've been doing a lot of thinking about long-term goals, I've come to remember the importance of shorter-term, and even daily goals.  I've been trying to work out a good system for setting daily goals, and the revelation comes.  I remember you told me about the 3 positives and 1 area of improvement thing I believe it was the day I entered the MTC.  I remember writing it on a green note card and then finding that in my backpack and applying it.  It was effective, and I am excited to try it again.

Along with goal setting I've been turned again lately to showing faith.  God works miracles according to our faith.  As such, if we're not showing faith daily then the power needed to move the great work will likely not be afforded to us.  Furthermore, our personal growth weakens, and we become a dull and difficult to use tool for the Lord.  Setting goals shows your faith because you're aiming to move just a little beyond what you know you can accomplish.  It's a small step into the dark, and working to accomplish that goal opens the way for the Lord to pour out His blessings and power.

This last Friday we had a New Years Taikai (conference) in Kobe.  For an hour or two before the Taikai everyone played dodge-ball in the cultural hall of the Kobe church.  It was way fun, but I came to find out just how many muscles I haven't been using.  My arms were sore from throwing, and all of the side to side movement and jumping did a number on some of the muscles around my legs.  The Taikai was amazing.  President Zinke's vision is incredible and inspiring, and we talked a lot about what as a mission we'll be focusing on for the next while.

The weather has been lovely.  Snowy, melting, more snow, freezing cold sleet, and it's snowing as a type.  I'm still on the hunt for boots.  I really want to find something decently oshare (stylish), but haven't found anything in my size yet.  I ended up buying a new dendo bag this last week.  The strap on my other bag was close to giving up.  We went to a fishing shop looking for some water proof gloves, and I ended up giving in and buying one of the bags they had.  It's bigger than my last bag, completely waterproof and very rugged.  Made by Shimano.  It seems like it can handle with ease the rigors of being a dendo bag.

Mom, the thing I was thinking I would have you send were my Saucony Hattori running shoes.  The really thin, minimalist running shoes.  I'd like to have those around for when things start warming back up in the coming months.  

Tell Vardee and Jerry hello for me.  Tell Sister Sosa hello too.  It makes me happy to think that the wonderful people I knew haven't forgotten about me.  

I'm so happy and so glad to be a missionary.


Elder Kyle Hutchings

The next few are some pictures I took yesterday.  We walked to the church pretty early because we had to leave our bikes there the night before.  We needed our bikes to go visit an investigator to see if they could come to church.  It was -2C, but absolutely beautiful.  I'm wearing a trench coat that I found in the apartment because I also left my other coat and gear at the church.
To explain why all of our stuff was at the church, on Saturday evening we went over to an investigator's house for dinner.  But, they were kind enough to pick us up at the church, so before they came and got us we had just left all of our stuff at the church with the plan being that we'd be brought back to the church and then bike back home.  But, as it were, dinner and our discussion ran a little long, and this investigator knows about our rules as missionaries, so he just drove us to our home Saturday night.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014 - Week 52

Mom and Dad,

As this new year has come and I'm drawing near my half-way point I've been doing a lot of looking back.  Looking back and evaluating is an important thing to do.  But there are also great dangers in looking back.  Looking back at this last transfer and this last year - in my life in general - as a Missionary and a leader and a human being there are a lot of things I wish I would have done differently.  A lot of things I wish I would have done better.  I know hindsight is always 20-20, but despite realizing that from my mistakes and failures there is something to learn, in my life I feel I've never been much good at forgiving myself and I'm rather good at flogging myself over even the smallest of things.  I will say with honesty that I kind of sunk into that this last week.

But there's no time or reason to feel sorry for yourself in the Lord's service.  I've realized many things and changed in many ways in this great work.  As a missionary something I've been learning how to do much more effectively is rather than just letting all of those shoulda-coulda-wouldas turn to darkness and destructive regret, is learning from them and identifying ways to avoid past mistakes and improving.  I've learned how to make honest apologies to others who I feel I've let down or failed, and how to go about asking for and receiving feedback on how to improve.  It's much more helpful and it brings about a lot more growth and progress for everything when I don't let a mistake turn into a reason to throw a brick at my head.  Just learning how to repent and applying my energies for good is something I've realized the Lord has really helped me change in myself as a missionary.

I appreciate what you sent me about President Uchtdorf's message in the next Ensign.  We'll probably get the new Liahona soon and I'm excited for it.  I've been reviewing his talk "You can do it now!" from last conference lately as I've been considering my vision for myself and for my mission this year and from here on out.  I've definitely been feeling the need to remember the importance of now as I've been setting goals.

Just another little thought that I had and something I've noticed in connection to what I shared last week about belief.  As my actual stance on what I believe has congealed in my heart, it's so much easier to share with other people. It invites the Spirit so much more to declare honestly what you believe, have felt, and experienced than when you put on the facade that you believe or know something more strongly than you actually do. It's so much easier to just open your heart and say what's inside of you - because no matter how hard anyone tries they can't argue with or take away what YOU have felt and experienced.

This last week for new years we've been treated a bit more than usual.  The Branch President had us over for dinner.  They fed us sushi, and it was so good!  Also, the other day a member came by and brought us sashimi, also incredibly delicious.  Just last night we went over to the "Active Non-members" house and had the most delicious karage I have ever eaten.  Karage is like Japanese fried chicken, and it's so scrumptious!

Weather was unusually warm (but still not warm at all) this last week.  All of the snow we got basically disappeared, and it was just super cold rain for most of the days.  But it's snowing again today.  Yoshi.

Elder Kyle Hutchings