Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014 - Week 59

Mom and Dad, 

As a mission, for the next two weeks from last Friday, we are focusing on Jesus Christ.   As all mission focuses have been, it has been a catalyst for repentance for me - but perhaps this one does so for a more significant topic and in a more personal way than have any others.  Yesterday, I had the thought to bring the document Kaicho made for us to base our study off of with me to Sacrament Meeting and to take a look at it during the administration of the Sacrament.  I took a look over it and as I pondered Christ's role as my Savior and what I think of him and how I had done the last week, especially since Friday, in being His disciple, a stream of questions began to float across my mind.  Since Friday my focus has been more on Christ than it has been before.  I thought, "Why has it taken this mission focus to get me to focus this much on Jesus Christ?  Shouldn't I have already made/be making efforts to always remember and be like Him?  What does that indicate about my true understanding and belief in Him until this point?   Who do I really believe He is?  Have I really truly been trusting Him and His promises?"  Partaking the sacrament yesterday was very meaningful for me, and an a great spiritual experience.

There has certainly been a difference in me, in my dendo as my focus has been on Jesus Christ.  I'm more cheerful, I feel greater trust in the Spirit, I feel greater faith and confidence that everything will be all right.  It's built my faith that His ways are truly higher than ours.  When I just trust Him and do what He says, everything else is all right.  When my thoughts stay on Him, then impressions and revelations, and feeling increased love for investigators and dendo comes much more naturally.

Wicked sweet to hear about the mission calls!  Tell everybody congratulations for me!  The weather today is beautiful here.  Not a cloud in the sky, and while temperatures are still chilly, the sunshine feels warm.  It's mind blowing to think that we're entering March this Saturday.  If I remember right, around March 12 was the day that I arrived in Japan last year.  I've almost been in Japan for 1 year now.  Whoa.

Still haven't received the package.  Got a note in the post hole saying that the post office has got it and that they will deliver it, but I still haven't gotten it!  I'm going to see what I can do about it today.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

PS.  Thanks so much for the pictures.  It's crazy how much Miriam is growing, eh?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014 - Week 58

Mom and Dad,

Sounds like you had a crazy day on Valentines Day, Mom.  おつかれさまです!(poor, tired soul)  STYX & Foreigner concert?!  I love you Mom and Dad, but I'm glaring at you right now. うらやましいぜー!(jealous)

I'm so psyched to hear that Nicole and Nathan got their mission calls!  That's so sweet!

This last Saturday, the wind was strong in Toyooka.  It was really, really wicked strong.  As we were biking back home from doing some dendo at a place about 20 minutes away from our house, it was all biking into the wind.  It was hard.  We pushed through it and made it home, but it took us about 35 minutes to do what normally would take 18 or so.  As I was biking and pushing, and trying to not fall over, I felt that I was physically experiencing something that I have been spiritually lately as well.  A bit of a trial.

With how smoothly things were going with our yakusokusha, I'm not entirely surprised by what we've been met with this last week.  Faith is tested, and Satan likes to interfere.  H. kyoudai, our current yakusokusha, has some concerns about changing his religion.  It's a religion he's in only because his dad was - and it's not even like their family has been in it for centuries or anything.  When H. Kyoudai was in the 3rd grade his dad joined this religion.  H. Kyoudai doesn't understand, practice, or believe one bit in this religion, but being the very pure and innocent person he is, has some anxieties about stopping that religion and entering a Christian church.  I never thought that I would ever come to think that being too pure and innocent could be a bad thing, but it has proved to be.  We definitely have plans for how we'll show our faith and strengthen his faith and how we're going to help him, but it just goes to show how the closer you get to doing something important for someone's salvation, the more Satan works so that God's children won't make it home.

It was an all right week.  I can't say that I felt it was great, but it wasn't horrible.  We're still trying so hard to have faith in all we do and give all things.  But even so, the numbers haven't changed much.  Sunday morning we left DCS early to go pick up an investigator to come to church by bike.  When we got to his apartment he said he was feeling unwell and couldn't come.  We've had investigators not show up to appointments more than once this last week.  It's been trying when despite all we're doing nothing happens.  But as we've faithfully pressed on the Lord's tender mercies are manifest.

The tender mercy of an investigator who the night before on the phone said he wasn't going to come to church who came to sacrament meeting anyway.  Our other investigator and a less-active member who said they would come to church, but didn't come during sacrament meeting, who both came during 3rd hour.  Finding 3 solid PIs when we went out housing.  All of them are male and under 25 years old and they don't work on Sundays.  It's true for all of Japan, but especially the need for Priesthood holders in Toyooka has been on my mind a lot lately, so finding those kinds of potential investigators really comes as a tender mercy in my eyes.  Even though things haven't all gone according to plan this last week, it's all been laced with the Lord's tender mercies.  I'm so grateful for it.

I turned 20 years old yesterday.  That's weird.  Hoshino Choro pointed out to me on Saturday night, "This is your last night to be a teenager.  FOREVER."  I'm glad our investigator came to church on my birthday.  Still haven't gotten the package but it should come any day now.  I got a note from the post office saying it would be coming

Grandpa sent me an e-mail to wish me happy birthday, and as I replied to his e-mail, the Spirit brought to my realization some wonderful things.  I love how the Spirit whacks your heart with awesome things when you least expect it.  I realized just how grateful I am for all of the incredible opportunities he provided me with and that his love and example have had a much deeper impression on me than I previously thought.  I've realized that through his example and love, it's been easy for me to feel the love that our Father in Heaven and Savior has for me.

The same goes for you too, Mom and Dad.  I've learned so much from both of you, and I see now that through your examples and love it's been much easier for me to walk the right path and desire to grow closer to God.

I love dendo.  I love my life.  I'm so grateful that the Lord has given me the opportunity to live and to share His gospel.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014 - Week 57

Mom and Dad,

It is indeed transfers week again.  But, I'm quite pleased to report that Elder Hoshino and I will both be staying.  There will be plenty of changes in the Zone, and I believe it will all be for the better.  It is sad to see some of the missionaries who I've gotten to work with as a Zone Leader go, but I'm also glad for the opportunity to work with some new people and make new friends.

This last week we went to Kobe to Mission Leadership Council.  My companion from the MTC, Elder Hapi, became a Zone Leader this last transfer so it was way fun to be able to talk with and see him again.  It was an awesome conference, and it was way good to hear from Zinke Kaicho (President Zinke) and the Assistants.

Because there was an MLC, we planned and conducted a Zone Training Meeting this last Friday.  I think it went quite well, and the Spirit was strong in the meeting.  We decided to hold the meeting in a different area than we normally do this time around.  As such getting there and returning turned into a bit of an adventure.  Missing trains, taking the wrong bus, etc.  We got there and got back home all safe and sound, but it was definitely a bit mad getting through it all.

It decided to become winter again in Toyooka.  When we left Monday evening to stay over in another Area for MLC, Toyooka was about 9C and there was basically no snow.  But when we got back into Toyooka Tuesday evening, there was about 15 inches of snow, it was 0C and 89% humidity.  I figured the mid-winter spring break wouldn't last, but it was nice.

Things are looking really good from here on out in Toyooka dendo-wise (Missionary work).  We've got a yakusokusha (investigator committed for baptism) who is progressing smoothly towards his date, his wife became an investigator this last week and she will probably be able to get baptized on the same day he is.  We haven't yet invited her to baptism, but probably will this week.  2 other investigators who we've found over the past couple of weeks are looking good to become yakusokusha this next week as well.  Beyond that, there's a Sister in the branch who recently has become more active who has a non-member son she wants us to meet.  There are also a few other potential investigators who look good to become investigators this next week.  We've been focusing a lot on raising our vision in Toyooka, and for our Zone.  Dendo in Japan is not simple as is, and dendo in the inaka (rural country) of Japan isn't something that one can label easy, but with the Lord's help, nothing is too hard.

Elder Hoshino is my bro.  I hate picking favorites, but of all my companions so far I feel like he's been the best for me.  We really gel together.  We're both completely honest with each other about how we can improve, and we both have so much fun.  Something we definitely do better than any of my other companionships, I think, are companionship inventories.  In PMG chapter 8 there's a sub-heading under The Weekly Planning Session category about Companionship inventory.  Anyway, we've been able to do those really well, I feel, and we're both progressing and helping each other because of it.

I'm way looking forward to the package, and thank you for the birthday wishes and all.  I'm going to naku naru (becoming no more) from being a teenager.  Weird.  I hope our investigators come to church on my birthday.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Ps.  Mom, I believe the mother of the missionary you run into at the Post Office is named Parry.  There's an Elder Parry in my zone right now.  I love him to death.  And he knows every time I'm going to get a package.  It freaked me out until he told me that his mom works at the SF post office.

February Mission Leadership Council

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014 - Week 56

Mom and Dad,

My sentiments match yours.  Great scott!  What happened to January?

Sorry Papa, my apologies.  It's actually koukan, but when I write romaji by hand rather than doing an ou for the long o sound I just write an o with a line over top.  So I didn't notice that it might not make sense.  Koukan is just the word for exchange, and it's used for douryou koukan meaning companion exchange.  It was just a companion exchange.

Sono toori! (That's exactly)  It's the same Elder Nakatsuka in the Area Seventy who will becoming Sapporo's new mission president and who is my former companion's father.  As it turns out when he was on his mission he was companions with the father of Sister Daniels - one of the current sister missionaries in Toyooka.  Part of the reason he said he chose to come visit Toyooka was to see us.  We had a bit of a modified fast and testimony meeting to accommodate for him to have time to speak.  It was way amazing to hear him talk.  I'll be honest, the way he talks makes me think he's like a Ni Hon Jin (Japanese) from Chicago or something.  The way he speaks isn't weird at all, but it's just a bit unique, I like it.  Anyway yesterday was a bit of a long day, though.  We had 3 hours in church, then right after there was a 2 hour car ride to another area for a District Leadership training that Nakatsuka Choro (Elder) did.  We went because of our callings in the Branch, it was way awesome and we learned so much.  That meeting was about 2.5 hours, and then right after it was another 2 hour car ride back home.  Needless to say, my butt is a little sore, and listening to church speakers speaking in Ni Hon Go for that long kind of wears on the mind.  Through the meetings I'm juggling looking up words in my dictionary, making sense of what's being said, and taking notes of the thoughts that float through my mind and the impressions I have.  Church speakers use big words and cool examples and stuff, it's definitely good brain aerobics, but my head was about shot by the end of yesterday.

The weather here has actually been ridiculously warm this past week.  It's been sunny for most of the days, and temperatures have climbed up to 10C.  It feels like spring, and the smell in the air is getting spring-ish too.  It feels and smells a lot like when I first got to Japan - it's kind of weird to be honest.  I'm pretty convinced all of this good weather in the winter months is some kind of omen for some sort of weather cruelty to come, but for now I have nothing to complain about.

This last week has been excellent in terms of the work.  Lessons have picked up, we've found a new investigator, and are looking good for 2 more this next week.  We've really honestly just made a little crank in the mindset we take and the level of faith we choose to have.  It goes back again to what I said last week about the difference between our best and all things we can do.  We've been really focusing on just cheerfully doing all we can and seeking the Lord's way in all things.  It's proved for fun work, and results.

I'm having so much fun and love being a missionary so much.  About the package - the insoles I have are still fine, no problems at all.  If I could make any o-negai it would be more protein again.  I probably already o-negai-ed that, and stuff, but I really love the stuff.  It seems like I go through about a bag in a month, and it's so good on granola and corn flakes with milk in the morning after a good workout.  Otherwise there's really nothing else in particular that I can think of I want or am in need of.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Toyooka missionaries with Nakatsuka Choro and his wife.