Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014 - Week 64

Mom and Dad,

It's crazy how quickly the time goes.  April is almost here and David Andrews is back from his mission?  Wow!  That's やばい!  Yabai is kind of slang-ish now that I think about it.  I should probably avoid using it.  Since I've had Ni-Hon Jin companions I've picked up more Kansai-ben (dialect) and slang than I probably should.  Hopefully being with a Gainjin (American) now will help me clean things up.  Dad, what kind of dialects did you run into on your mission?  Did you ever run into Kansai-ben while in Japan?  Or was it all Okinawa-ben?  I got to hear some Okinawa-ben from my last district leader.  All of the consonant and vowel sounds are the same as Japanese but the intonation is also much more varied than standard Japanese, so it sounds like a completely different language.  

The weather feels quite similar to the way it did when I got to Toyooka last fall.  The evenings getting close to unpleasantly cool, but still nice and the days climbing up to about 15-18 degrees and absolutely lovely.  It's been quite nice lately, but I expect it will work back into the rain every other day groove like when I first got here.

Elder Nelson is one solid man.  He's from Springville, Utah, so I've enjoyed some hometown talk and such.  He's an awesome missionary and just a super chill and fun guy - we get along great.  He's 18 years old and has been in Japan now for about 7 months (in his 6th transfer).  It's been absolutely great working with him these past few days, and I look forward to working with him for the rest of the transfer.  He's new to being a Zone Leader, but he's doing just fine and I expect that he'll continue to do great.  It's been nice to work with Elder Nelson for a change.  It's a lot easier for me to just relax and dendo (proselyte) with him.  Over the past few days we've found a lot more solid potential investigators than I have in a while.

They do in fact have Youth Conferences in Japan.  The youth from a pretty large area (probably all of the youth from the Kobe Mission area) get together somewhere and do stuff.  I don't know many details about what specifically they do.  Our investigator enjoyed it a lot though, and he seemed to learn plenty of really good things.  I think they have these big Youth Conferences yearly.

I love Toyooka, and I'm excited and happy to be here for another transfer.  Thank you for all of your love and support.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

PS.  I was going to send more pictures today but I forgot my camera.  Sorry, I'll try to not forget next week.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014 - Week 63

Mom and Dad,

It's transfer announcements again!  I'm sticking around in Toyooka still as a Zone Leader.  Hoshino Choro is going to be headed out to a new area Tsuyama and will be training a new missionary.  This will be my 5th transfer in Toyooka.  Up until now I've been in Toyooka for about 6 months - I got here last fall the weekend before General Conference.  I'm here for another month and a half which means I'm going to be here for spring General Conference.  Wow.  I'll have watched General Conference twice in this area.  My new companion will be Elder Nelson.  He'll be a new Zone Leader, so I'm going to be training him on how to be a Zone Leader and such.  It'll probably be nice to be able to learn how to speak English properly again, instead of the Japanglish Elder Hoshino and I speak.

It's really touching and encouraging to me to hear that I was able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in answering Elder Donaldson's prayers.  I strive to follow the Spirit in all I do, and then trust that even if I'm not able to say what needs to be said, that the listener will hear what needs to be heard.  I love Elder Donaldson - he's humble, hard-working, and really just wants to be a good missionary.  He's a joy to work with as a leader because he's intelligent and respectful.  As it is, he'll be transferring out of this zone this week and I'm rather sad that that's the case.  Fun to hear that you've had contact with his parents.  Tell them that Elder Donaldson is certainly the missionary that they think he is.  I expect that he'll go far as a tool in the Lord's hands.

This last Saturday I've realized that I've come to become a bit prideful over these last few weeks.  As I was studying about repentance in personal study in preparation for a lesson for an investigator, I came to the awful realization that I haven't been truly repenting lately.  It's not like I've been out-right rebellious or anything.  It's simply been that I haven't been beating down the natural man inside of myself.  I've unfortunately allowed the natural man in me to gain some ground.  I haven't been very cheery about my work, nor have I been very proactive about things.  I've been forgetting to think about the Savior's example in all that I do, and because of that I feel like I've really been doing a poor job as a missionary and a leader.  I feel like I haven't been able to feel the Spirit as strongly nor have I been receiving the strength and guidance I need to do this work.  I'll be honest in saying I feel like I've rather failed in a lot of things over the past 2 weeks and that because I haven't been actively applying the Gospel in my life, I have been a reason that the work of the Lord hasn't moved as quickly as it could in Toyooka.  I feel like there's a lot of progress that I've lost as a missionary.  It's frustrating, but I have faith in Jesus Christ, The Son of God that as I strive to follow His ways, He will help me become what He wants me to be.

Despite my personal drop, yesterday we had 2 baptisms in Toyooka!  The Sister Missionaries have been teaching the Branch President's aunt lately, and she was baptized.  Our investigator, Yamanishi Kyoudai also received baptism.  I performed the ordinance for Yamanishi Kyoudai.  I unfortunately forgot my camera today, because I was going to send pictures.  I'll send them next week.  And in the Zone one other area saw a baptism and a confirmation, and in another a sister who was baptized last week received confirmation.  It's a beautiful thing to see that God's children are making covenants and receiving saving ordinances.  It's a wonderful thing that the missionaries in this Zone are able to feel that joy as well.

I love being a missionary, and I really hope to do all I can to help Toyooka again this next transfer.  I really want to build up this little branch.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

P.S.  Anniversary omedetou!  I love you Mom and Dad!

We came back to the church.  Here's a picture from the baptism

The brother in in the white shirt and tie behind me is Yamanishi Kyoudai.  The adorable old woman behind Hoshino Choro is Satake Shimai, the Branch President's aunt.
From last week's trip to the sushi place.  There was some way good maguro (tuna) that day.
It's only 105 yen a plate and it never stops coming!

Elder Donaldson and Uehara came to Toyooka to conduct a baptismal interview for our investigator - Uehara Choro is our District Leader.  Ueahara Choro is Okinawajin, if I haven't already told you.

Always get some good pictures when I hand my camera over to the kids in the branch.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014 - Exchange with Elder Donaldson

(See Kyle's experience in the previous post when he went on exchanges for two days in the Maizuru area)


I saw you email on the missionary mom’s email this morning and realized your son went on exchanges with my son this past week.  He sent me some pictures of the two of them - I’m assuming it’s him because he said Hutchings Choro during exchanges.  Anyway, our son shared a personal spiritual experience he had this past week about something he’s been praying about and while he was with your son - he said that prayer was answered.  He felt that your son was truly inspired to share insight with him to answer his prayers.  I thought I’d share that little tid bit with you.   Also our son made it very clear that Hutchings Choro was from Spanish Fork.  He did that because I grew up in Payson and Spanish Fork was always our biggest rival in sports at the time.  I haven’t lived in Payson for 26 years but my parents still live there.  It’s kind of funny that he would point that out

Laurie Donaldson

Kyle & Elder Donaldson (from Mesa, AZ)

Monday, March 17, 2014 - Week 62

Mom and Dad,

It's been another good week.  The weather has been much much nicer lately.  The spring in Toyooka has been quite lovely so far.  Also, the Kaiten Sushi place next to the church opened back up.  It was being enlarged and remodeled over the past few months, but it's open again!  A member took us there for lunch the other day.  I love Sushi on a conveyor belt.  So much.  By the way, the protein you sent is delicious and just fine.

This last week our 15 year old investigator accepted the invitation to be baptized.  He's now a yakusokusha, he's a solid one, too.  He's really a splendid little fellow - way mature for his age.  The branch loves him, and he loves them.  There is a chance his mom might be opposed, but we still don't know for sure.  He's joining seminary and going to be attending youth conference in a week or two.

Our other yakusokusha is coming along pretty well.  He's scheduled to receive baptism this Sunday.  If we're able to meet with him 2 more times this week, we feel that he'll be prepared to make a promise with God.  I have faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God that he will make his date.  It's important to keep faith in Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is a foundation that never wavers.  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and full of grace, love and mercy.  There is no need to worry or fear as long as our faith and confidence is in Him.

Last Tuesday there was an All Japanese taikai (conference) in Kobe.  Because there are two Ni Hon Jin (Japanese) assistants, they had a training meeting with all of the Japanese Elders and Sisters in the mission.  Because my companion is Ni Hon Jin, I had a chance to go on an exchange with another Elder with a Ni Hon Jin companion over Tuesday and Wednesday.  I got to work in the Maizuru area for a day or two.  It was way fun.  The Elder I worked with is a younger missionary, so it was a good chance for me to get to do some training and to help him.  We talked a lot about charity, and the importance of turning our thoughts away from ourselves.  Especially when it comes to evaluating (lessons, contacts, etc.), we should consider how the person we were interacting with came unto Christ.  When we consider our improvement points, it should be done in the light of "What could I have done better to help THEM?" rather than "What could I have done not feel stupid speaking Japanese etc."  We discussed how it all roots back into how much Christ-like love we hold for those around us.  If we really do have that pure love for others, then our thoughts and actions will always turn outward rather than in.

This last week we had an excellent experience in our area.  We've been meeting with an investigator for the past few months.  He first met missionaries years ago, and due to health problems has been meeting with missionaries off and on.  He has some problems and anxieties regarding social interaction, so going to new places can be very difficult for him.  However, last Thursday, for the first time ever, he entered the church building.  We gave him a tour of our small building and then stopped and prayed before we entered the chapel.  It was an amazing experience to see him enter the chapel.  It was unmistakable that he had felt God's Spirit.  We sat down and talked with him about what he was feeling, and along with that had a talk about God and God's love.  He said he still felt tense and nervous about being in a new place, but that the moment he entered the chapel he felt a warmth and power inside of him.  He said he knew that the place he had entered is holy.  He is a man who carries a lot of baggage - he has gathered a lot of problems and burdens over his life.  But those problems are things he's carried with him for awhile and that he hasn't yet been able to give up.  However, because of the influence he felt at the church that day, he accepted the invitation to begin repenting and making efforts to let things go and allow himself to be happy.  It was a powerful experience for me, and has built my testimony of the truth of this church.  There is really nothing we could have done to make him feel what he needed to in order to overcome his personal barriers.  But, as we did all we could to not get in the way, the Spirit of the Lord - felt more strongly in the walls of God's church - was able to touch his heart.

I love being a missionary.  It's going way too fast!

Elder Kyle Hutchings

Yes, this is a stew-flavored ice-cream bar.  Yes, it had chunks of potato inside of it.  I love Japan.
Visited a part-member family this last week.  Only the mom is a member.  One of their sons is about 9, he's a pretty zany little guy.  He likes Ultraman a lot and has a lot of the Ultraman action-figures.  It was fun to play with him a bit.  He's going to come to the church and play and have a Gospel lesson sometime soon.

Always a pretty sunset outside of the church building.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014 - Week 61

Mom and Dad,

Not going to lie, I took a long time writing my e-mail to Kaicho (President) this week so I'm just going to copy and paste some of the things I wrote to him and send it to you.  I think most of it should make sense.

I sure hope the mini-cows are still around when I come back.  I'd love to see them!  And eat them!  Also congrats to Marisa on getting her permit!

Just a bit of explanation beforehand:

This week we planned and did a Zone Training meeting.  It went well and was really good.

Kato Choro (Elder) and Aono Choro are the Assistants.  They're both Ni Hon Jin (Japanese) and both about as tall as Mom.  It's funny, because most every other assistant has been a tall, well built gaijin (White).  Also it's funny because Kato Choro is 27 years old.  He's a way interesting fellow.  He was baptized about 2 years ago, I think.  Amazing to think that even though He was baptized just 2 years ago now he's a missionary serving as an Assistant to the President.

Kouta Kyoudai (Brother) is an amazing fellow.  His testimony is strong and he is always so cheery.  I'm pretty sure he has a nervous system disorder of some sort.  He's confined to a wheel-chair and his movements are very jerky.  His mental capabilities are impaired, but he is able to think and talk.  When he talks, because of the nervous system disorder, it comes out as a kind of a semi-intelligible Japanese/moan.  It's not always easy to understand even for a Ni Hon Jin, so talking with him is a lot of guessing, completing his sentences, and checking if you're understanding what he said.  I love the brother.  He served for a period of time as a missionary in the Japan Kobe Mission.

After the ZTM it was our privilege to have some time to kokan (exchange) with the Assistants.  Aono Choro spent just a little time talking with me.  I've always respected Aono Choro.  I think the first time I met him was on the day before the Aoyagi Taikai (Conference) last May.  My trainer and I went to Okayama the day before the taikai, and he was a Zone Leader there with Elder Price.  When I met him, I told him, "You are beautiful."  He replied, "You are beautiful too."  Thus began the beginnings of our beautiful relationship.  Anyway, during the kokan the other day he shared with me something profoundly important and valuable.  He shared with me what he has realized about how to see success.  His testimony at MLC was powerful when he asked, "Do you know how to see success?"  and it really set me to thinking again about what success is and what it means to see it.  Aono Choro explained to me that he sees there being three parts: 

1)  To Obedience add Faithfulness.  Obediently applying the tools and training we receive, and on top of that really doing so with an attitude of following the Spirit and trusting in His power. 
2)  Humility/Receiving Counsel.  Always being humble enough to receive whatever counsel the Lord may give you from whatever source.  Having the humility to recognize our mortality and that we need His guidance and power.
3)  Relying on the Lord.  Knowing what it means for you personally to rely on the Lord.  Understanding how you can personally work effectively with the Spirit, receive revelation, and how you personally go through the process of desire, think, believe, focus, rely.

In all of the paintings of Book of Mormon stories, the characters are all ridiculously beefy and muscley.  Aono Choro may not match Lehi's family in physical size and stature, but I think if Aono Choro's spirit and Nephi's arm-wrestled, Nephi's spirit would have a run for it's money.  Aono Choro is beautiful, and a spiritual beast.

Having a chance to talk with Kato Choro was wonderful as well.  We discussed how ZTM went and some ways it could be improved.  More than anything, he said, Elder Hoshino and I need to focus more on how we are doing as Zone Leaders in our day to day responsibilities.  Our follow-ups, our interaction with the missionaries in our Zone, etc.  As we discussed the state of Fukuchiyama Zone and the missionaries in it, we overall came to the conclusion that as a Zone the quality of our lesons probably isn't that good.  We're not powerful teachers.  I do get the feeling that's the reason that's a major factor in why finding has been slow around the Zone.  As Wong Choro has said, "The Lord needs powerful teachers, not powerful finders."  As Kato Choro asked me about everybody in the Zone, I came to realize that there's really nobody who has awful Japanese.  Everybody is doing reasonably well.  However, as Kato Choro and I were talking the thought came to me that perhaps our Japanese isn't from our hearts.   To what extent the missionaries in this zone are able to speak from their heart in Japanese.  How much of a lesson is really the words that the missionary wants to say and said from their heart?  If they're not speaking from their heart and bearing powerful testimony, then how can we make a spiritual oasis?  I get the feeling that improving lesson quality - especially the heart-feltness - is where I should focus with the zone.

As I was thinking about improving lessons this morning, going into language study I decided to read from romaji PMG chapter 10.  I feel incredibly blessed that my language study time is still revelatory time.  When I read aloud during study, that I'm not only able to work on my intonation and pronunciation, but I understand enough that the Spirit is able to whisper things to my heart.  At the beginning of chapter 10 is the scripture D&C 84:85.  When the phrase "take ye no thought before hand what ye should say" translates into Japanese the word "omoiwazurau" is used.  That word means to be anxious about, to worry over.  I then opened up the scriptures in D&C 84 and read from verse 81-85.  I remembered that as we follow His way we are Relying on Him.  It talks about the yuri - the lillies and not worrying about things.  Right here He says that He knows our needs, thus He knows our investigators needs.  We need to plan carefully, but we shouldn't worry and be anxious about things.  We need to trust him and rely on Him.  We need to following the attitudes He has instructed us to have - don't worry about things, relax and go slow, be of good cheer.  It was a reminder to me of when I was a very young missionary.  At that time I wasn't very loose and Japanese didn't come out very naturally.  As such when I would just relax and try to feel the difference it made was huge.  Things would come.  My testimony took more power, and I was able to speak from my heart.

We have an investigator who is the husband of a member.  He comes to church every week.  Even so, he has no intention of being baptized.  He 80 years old and a crusty old fellow who isn't one to speak his feelings.  Lately we've been wondering about how we can get into his heart, and Hoshino Choro had the idea to have a doseki (member) lesson with Kouta Kyoudai because this old man seems to have a soft spot in his heart for Kouta Kyoudai.  We weren't entirely sure though, how to arrange for such a lesson - Kouta Kyoudai is in a wheelchair, and our old man lives pretty far away.  Yesterday, though, the opportunity presented itself after church.  We had a really good "lesson."  It was half home-teaching, and half a lesson.  Kouta Kyoudai, one of the greatest kikan senkyoushi from the JKM, was insistent that we take some time with him to teach the Terada fufu - because as it turns out they are one of the families in his home teaching stewardship.  So, we sat down with them and Hoshino Choro translated from Kouta Kyoudai to our dear old man.  It was magnificent how much of a difference there was in the responses to questions given by the old man, when they were coming from Kouta Kyoudai.  He actually said a sentence or two rather than just "I don't know, I don't care."  While at the end of the day he didn't accept the invitation to be baptized, I think we've found the key to helping invite our old investigator unto Christ.
Hope most of that makes sense.  I had a great week, and I'm still happy and healthy.  Going to go look for suits again today.  If I do find something fitting, I won't pay more than ¥8000 for it.

Crazy to think we're getting a new Kaicho (President).  That means that Zinke Kaicho has almost been here 3 years.  That means it's almost been a year since my trainer returned.  That means that in 2-3 days I'll have hit my 1 year anniversary for existing in Japan.  Wow.

Elder Hutchings

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014 - Week 60

Mom and Dad,

This last Friday we went to Kobe and there was a taikai (conference) where Elder Whiting of the 1st quorum of the Seventy visited and taught us.  It was an excellent conference, and it was a wonderful opportunity to hear from a special witness of Jesus Christ and receive revelation.  At the beginning of the conference, as always, 4 companionships were assigned to recite the Missionary Purpose, The First Vision, the Mission Theme, and D&C 4.  We were assigned to do D&C 4 and I'm not going to lie, we rocked.  We were last, and while the last 3 companionships weren't bad, they weren't anything special.  For the past week we had been planning and practicing what we would do, and it cracked out like this.  We walked up to the pulpit and Elder Hoshino curled the microphone all the way down.  To start, rather than saying the first line of the scripture and then "San hai" like most companionships do, I led off in English by saying "Doctrine and Covenants section 4" took a breath and then we just jumped in.  Elder Hoshino led off the Japanese recitation in likewise fashion.  My voice isn't necessarily weak or high, but Elder Hoshino's voice is where it's at.  With his deep voice we filled the chapel and it made for quite a powerful funiki (atmosphere).  I was quite satisfied with our performance.  Also, Elder Whiting mentioned that hearing Elder Hoshino speak made him feel like he was watching a Samurai movie or something.  My companion's voice is the bomb.

After the taikai (conference) Elder Whiting interviewed 10 missionaries, and I got picked to be one of them.  We had a nice chat for about 7 minutes.  I just asked him about what his vision as a member of the 70 is, and what his duties entail.  After that we concluded with a prayer.  He lived in Hawaii for many years I found out.

Weather has been nice this past week.  I'm experiencing no health problems.  I did get sick for a few days a couple of weeks ago, but it passed and I'm fine now.  Really no worries about the asthma or allergies or anything at the moment.  Sleeping on futons has become something I quite love.  Not sure I'll know what to do with a bed when I come back to America.  I got the package by the way!  Thank you so much!  I'm so happy for to have stuff!  Also Hoshino Choro says thanks for goodies and for feeding his snack addiction.  He was way happy to get it. 

In terms of stuff and stuff, I am on the lookout for a suit.  It's not like I have a huge need for another one, but the knees on the pants of one of my suits are getting worn, and the color is starting to go weird because of it.  Dry cleaning doesn't seem to help it either.  There are a lot of suit stores in Japan as it were.  I'm trying to snag one on sale or on clearance, because you can get really good suits that were $300 from  ¥8000 even down to ¥1500 sometimes.  Even in the full-priced suits, though, it's a bit of a game finding a suit long enough for me.  The build on most of the suits in Japan fits me great, they're just not long enough most of the time.  So I'm on the hunt for a suit, but other than that I can't for see any other large expenses.  I take out a little here and there when reimbursements don't come in fast enough, but like always, I hope that's not the case for this next month.

I'll make sure to keep an eye out for the Debit Card.  My current card expires this month.

The branch is doing great.  The branch president's name is Tada Kaicho (president).  He's really quite an incredible man.  This branch needs priesthood holders so bad.  We were talking with one of the members the other day and he said he's really concerned about us transferring.  He said the members are so grateful for what we've done so far for home teaching and conducting and teaching in church meetings and that it's been so helpful.  That's something Zinke Kaicho actually talked a little bit about with me at the Whiting Choro taikai.  "What's going to happen when I move you out of Toyooka?  Have you found your replacement yet?"  We're trying so hard to bring in some less-actives and to find some strong good converts.

Elder Kyle Hutchings

PS.  Just offhand, but I've recently been directed to find out when the UVU semester starts next January in 2015.  As much as I hate to think about it, if you could look that up and let me know I would appreciate it.  Thanks!