Monday, November 6, 2017

When the tag comes off....

Today I started Transfer 17, of 16.
     But that’s because the secret is that missions never end! I may be only a few days away from getting released and no longer being a full-time missionary, but I can still serve full-time. When you leave the mission you leave the field, but you take the mission back with you. Because you yourself have changed your world around you seems to have changed. I probably won’t be running around in a white shirt and tie on a bike but I will still have opportunities to stand for what I believe and talk about my religion in a respectful and non threatening/pushy way. It will be a lot more relaxed, which I’m very thankful for. Fast-paced religion is so tiringπŸ˜‚

     This was my last week, this was my time to go way hard! But in actuality I hardly left the apartment all week. Elder Otani got sick at the beginning of the week on like Monday or Tuesday and the doctor made him sleep until Wednesday. Luckily we had Splits and I got to leave the apartment while another Elder took care of Elder Otani. On my day out of the house we went and visited Takashi, ate at the Chinese restaurant again (without hurting ourselves), and taught the English class. Tomorrow will be my last time doing that class. It will also be my last time visiting Mizuno Shimai at the top of her crazy steep mountain.
     Then as soon as Elder Otani got better.................I got a fever πŸ€’
So for the remainder of the week I was the one the doctor forced to sleep. It’s so boring sleeping all day until it’s time to sleep. You run out of things to dream about if you’re not creative like me. And then you just wake up. I wish I could’ve been doing something else but I think I really needed a few days to just crash and not do anything. I slept for like 3 days only getting up to eat or go to the bathroom with no problem. I did not realized just how beat I am. But hey, at least I know I gave it my all. I’m glad I got to come out and serve the Lord for a good 2 years. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t always sunny, it was cold more often than not, but it was all worth it.
     In my last testimony for the members yesterday I talked about how when we sacrifice for God it’s not even really that hard of a sacrifice. We KNOW we’re going to get blessings for it. In most people’s minds I think they imagine giving up something and getting something of approximately equal value from God. Maybe it’s like a 10 or 20% increase. I don’t know how everyone thinks 🀷🏻‍♂️. But in reality the Lord said that whatever we give up for His sake shall be rewarded unto us 100fold! That can hardly be called a sacrifice, that’s a scam! “I’ll give you $1 and then you give me $100.” Yeah. And yet, sometimes it’s really hard to give him the dollar. Because we can’t see that He’s got a Franklin behind His back. I know when we have faith and we’re able to trust the Lord that good things will come. He’s never like that one kid in 4th grade that just can’t seem to remember borrowing five bucks from you. He keeps perfect track of us and he’s always got enough to pay you back, with interest.
     I know God loves each and every one of us. I know He cares about us and takes care of us. I know He’s in the big and little things of our lives. He’s in the good, bad, and in between times if we let Him. He is our best friend and my biggest support. He is my friend and I love Him. I’m so grateful that because of my service as a missionary I feel I can say that. Because of my service here I feel that I really do have a personal connection with my Heavenly Father, and that it’s a good one. I invite everyone to reach out to Him and make or strengthen your own relationship. You won’t regret it. 

Elder Rogers

Monday, October 30, 2017

Still not trunky

Hello everybody!
This is not quite my last email. It's my second to last. But I'm still not trunky. Funny enough I did pack my suitcase today. But I've still got the missionary mindset! I'm all in for the last week! It's funny to think how I thought that 2 years was going to be like this eternity and it would never end.....and now it's about to. I'll talk about that later.

     For this week it was still raining a lot, which has become my least favorite thing ever. We couldn't find anyone outside and people didn't want to come to the door so we figured they must all be inside playing on their phones. So we looked through our records and started calling all the people that used to have Baptismal dates or were really good investigators. Most of them were still really cool! They remembered missionaries and were happy to talk again. Almost all said they'd love to meet again sometime and if we can get a specific date on that we'll really have something going! One lady we called came to our Halloween party and brought cupcakes!
     Even though it was raining we decided we'd better go visit our friend Lee at his work, Bamboo Grill. So we went just as his shift started and there were no customers. It turns out that even though he starts work at 6 most people don't come until 9 or 10. So he just sits there bored. He was way happy to see us and naturally he fed us for free again. I wonder if I'll ever have to pay there? I asked the price and was happy it's always free. We were able to answer some of his questions about Resurrection vs Reincarnation and Degrees of Glory vs just Heaven or Hell. He said he'd love to meet again and keep learning!
     One annoying thing that turned into a miracle happened on the day we had scheduled to do District Meeting with the Zone Leaders. I went to get on the train and this lady who was probably a new worker at the train station runs down the stairs and stops me from getting in the train. She said You're not allowed on this train! When I asked her why she told me I had to break down my bike smaller so it could fit in a suitcase. That's not a thing by the way. Japan makes bags specifically for putting bikes that don't fit into suitcases in. Anyway, I told her I had done this at least once a week for about a year in Kisarazu and never had a problem. Plus, the bag I had was made in Japan for that purpose. She still wouldn't let me on the train and so I decided I'd just run around once we got to the meeting because we had to go. I asked if I could leave my bike and board the train without it and she made me take it out of the station to a parking spot. So of course we missed the train and I had to put my bike outside. We come back and the next train gets us there late for the starting time of the meeting. So I call the Elders and ask them how we should work it out and they tell me there's an extra bike at their apartment but I'll have to run over to get it. It's a 10 minute run if you go pretty fast in church shoes. So I made the next train and ran to get the bike. We made it to the meeting an hour late. And I was in charge. Whoops! We subsequently ended late, but only a little bit. Then we went out to eat at a place of my recommendation together. While there this lady sat down at the counter next to me and another Elder I was eating with. As we walked out of the shop she followed us all and said, Are you Mormon? In the end she became a new investigator and decided to come to church! If I hadn't missed the train and been so late we would've never crossed paths with her! There really are no coincidences.
     Then to finish off the week we had our Halloween party. Takashi and Elder Otani worked way hard to make a riddle, puzzle, Book of Mormon story game and it turned out way awesome! There was food, costumes, a hard mystery game, it was sweet! I made pumpkin pie with the can of pumpkin my mom sent me last year and my own recipe I made up and it was not disgusting! It was actually surprisingly good. I'm sorry, I don't have any of my own pictures. I only have pictures I got from other people.
     And today we went with Brother Sugimoto to collect spring water for his family. Then he took us for a drive to a famous waterfall that looks like a heart when the light comes in from the right angle. After that he drove us down to see the ocean in Kamogawa, they'll do the surfing Olympics near there. The we went around to Tateyama to get Sushi. And finally he drove us back home and we saw Mt. Fuji. Then I was full and tired and fell asleep in the car. It was way nice and I was so happy he did that for us.

 I love the people. I love the place. I love the weather today (unless it's raining right now and I don't know it). I love that my friends are here and that they're so nice to me and fun to be around. I love that I still get to be a missionary and serve the Lord full time for the little time I have left. I'm so grateful for the 2 years I've been blessed with and even though I complain about it being cold and wet a lot I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm glad I decided to come, and I'm even more glad I decided to stay. I try hard not to cry when the young missionary in my District makes jokes about me ending because you really do get attached to the lifestyle of a missionary. You don't want to stop helping people. But the truth is it has to end sometime. The good news is that you never have to really stop helping people because anyone can make a good difference in the world. You don't have to be rich, famous, or wear a white shirt and tie. Just bringing a little sunshine wherever you go is enough to brighten someone's day.

Elder Rogers

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rain rain go away

     So it’s been raining for like 2 weeks straight with only one day of sun. That’s absolutely devastating as a missionary for several reasons. For one, you almost HAVE to go outside your apartment unless there’s a natural calamity of the 2nd coming. If it’s just freezing cold rain that’s 100% sure to make you sick, nope that’s not an excuse, you still have to go out. And even though we have to go out, no one else has those kind of rules so there is NO ONE outside no matter how hard you look. You just go freeze and get wet. So you figure everyone must be inside and it would be a good idea to knock doors. Well, Japanese people are probably clinically certifiably allergic to rain. They will not touch it or go near it. They’ll cancel everything for a few drops. So when you knock on their door they’ll just ignore it. So yeah, we had some rainy days. I personally don’t mind rain at all, but there could be absolutely nothing worse for missionary work.
     Today it’s a typhoon day and it blew in last night making it quite impossible to sleep. But today’s Pday and we’re locked in the apartment so I think I’ll get a nap. Or I’ll deep clean.
     Alright I’ll rewind to the beginning of this week. On Tuesday we went to Tateyama to see Takashi and teach some English. We walked into the mall where we usually eat lunch with Takashi but he wasn’t in our usual spot. I could see the whole food court and knew he wasn’t in there, but I felt like I needed to walk towards the back of the food court. I thought “that’s a waste of time, you’re just trying to avoid work” but my legs moved me over there anyway. It turns out that it wasn’t so much about me looking for something as being looked at by someone. I heard a lady say in perfect English, “Elder!” What? I didn’t know anyone besides Takashi that could speak English here. So I look to see who the miracle lady is and the next thing she says is, “where’s the church around here?” Words every missionary loves to hear. She introduced herself as Sister Shimaura from Thailand and she had just moved here from near one of my previous areas with her Japanese husband. 2 new Branch members! And one of them already has the priesthood! The Branch had been praying for that actually because (this is a secret) our Branch President is moving out and so is one of our old guys.....and Takashi is moving in with me so....they’re low on priesthood holders. How low? Like final round limbo low. There’s the 1st councilor, his 13 year old son, and one more old guy in his 60s? That’s pretty few. If one family got sick the Branch disappears for a week! So they said, “missionaries, you’ve got to find us some priesthood holders.” So when we fatefully ran into Sister Shimaura it was the answer to a prayer!
     We also had Splits with the ZLs which was a huge miracle day. Miracle number 1 being that it didn’t rain (every day before and after it’s rained). The first guy we stopped to talk to spoke Japanese a little funny. When we asked him where he was from he said China. I thought that was an awesome chance to practice Chinese so I tried it and it worked! Score for gift of tongues when you just really need it! Then we found 2 college kids who became new investigators and want to come to church. Then we found another college kid who took a Book of Mormon and became a new investigator. So many miracles! (That’s not all, there were a lot more but if I tell you everything now you won’t have anything to talk to me about in 2 weeks).
     I had a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday and I didn’t know how many other speakers there were. So I decided I’d better prepare a lot of material in case I got nervous and talked fast or if I needed to fill a lot of time. I was the second speaker and I thought I was also the last but then the Patriarch came and they asked him to talk to at the end. So I thought I’d just get done and whatever time was left for him he could cover. So I intended to leave him a big chunk of time but instead I started talking and then realized it had been awhile since I looked at the clock, I looked and there were only 5 minutes left of sacrament meeting! So I paraphrased and skipped what was left (which was a remaining 1/3 of my talk) and let him speak. Turns out he wasn’t the only speaker waiting! Sister Sensui stood up, said she had no time so she’d give it to the Patriarch, and sat back down. Whoops 😬. Never thought I’d be that guy. After church we got rice balls from Sister Higashi which were really good. I ate one and then she gave me another one. Then I realized Wenting hadn’t eaten anything so I started to give it to her. But Sister Higashi’s daughter, Ibuki-chan, decided to spit up on it (it was wrapped up in plastic so it didn’t get ruined). We cleaned up Ibuki-chan and Sister Higashi and the rice ball and then without thinking I gave it to Wenting anyway. The rice ball was still fine but it was probably weird knowing Ibuki-Chan just threw up on the wrapper. Wenting ate it though, lol. The Sophie came for her Japanese Lesson even though it was typhooning way hard. At the same time Takashi came down from his Patriarchal Blessing and so we talked a little about that. My first question was, “did you cry?” No. So my next question was naturally, “how many kids are you gonna have?” To which he replied at least one. Takashi wants like 10 kids by the way.

It was a good week. It rained on us a lot and I froze my butt off because my bike seat loves to fill with water and make me have a wet butt all day, but(if I were talking this would be punny) it was still a good week because we had a lot of fun. We even got to celebrate Jonivar’s 27th birthday with him at King BBQ! That’s an all you can eat meat etc. place and he loves to eat! We went way hard and hurt ourselves a little bit in the best way. Personally I never ever ever want to make myself hurt from a meal ever again after my mission but during my mission my body is not mine and it gets abused to make others happy. Whatever. It’s been a good experience so far.

Elder Rogers

Monday, October 16, 2017

Week 4 of 6 of Transfer 16 of 16

This week was good.
Highlight Reel One day:

We went and got Chinese buffet with Takashi and he treated us so hard. He bought so much that we almost threw up and had to recover afterwards. Then we went to Tateyama English Class and Elder Otani taught the adult class (Wenting had the day off and came!) and I taught the little kids. I don't know what they did in the adult class but it must not have been as fun as the kid class because they only laughed a couple of times and over in the kids side we played games, sang songs, and laughed at our! Fun times.

Another day: We went housing all day for Splits in Chosei and since it's super country we found free fruit trees and stuff and brought home a fruit feast with variety! Yummy! We also got ahold of Liu and she's read all of the missionaries' pamphlets...twice! She apologized for not finishing the Book of Mormon yet, lol.

One more day: we had church and afterwards our New Zealander friend Sophie came for a Japanese Lesson. We were teaching her and then she just randomly asked how the church was organized. She usually has random questions but that one I was super prepared for. We ended up basically teaching her all about the Restoration and Joseph Smith and President Monson. It was cool. Then Jojo fed us. Pictures below.

Most days (including today): it rained and was cold.

Elder Rogers

Monday, October 9, 2017

Short and sweet

Not really much happened this week.
I’ll just write a little about one event I guess since it’s like the only thing I remember.

We went to Tateyama with Takashi and invited him with us to a Mizuno Shimai’s house, the old lady who lives at the top of the mountain I crashed down.
We had lunch with her and shared a message. Then we started coming back home. I told everyone not to go too fast and crash down the mountain because that’s bad. I told everyone about 15 times. Takashi flew past me at like 40 somethin’ kms an hour and I told him, “slow down!”
Apparently the wind was in his ears and he couldn’t hear me.
When I got to the bottom of the mountain I saw him laying on the side of the road.
I thought, there’s no way he really crashed. I told him not to.
But the skid marks and the scrape on the guardrail proved that he had in fact crashed. We checked his damage out and it was actually fairly minimal, just one long scratch.
He survived better than me and he’s completely fine now.

That’s about all the stuff I can remember from this week.
Sorry 😐 my memory is bad plus this week really was just super boring.
I’ll try to be interesting meet week.
Until then, please still love me.
(Don’t unsubscribe, lol)
Elder Rogers

I got hungry for pizza one day.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The miracle of sacrifice

Well I feel like I just wrote to you all yesterday and that I've already told you all of this but maybe that's just me. Things have been speeding up recently. This is already week 2 of the Transfer.
      As far as events for the week go, not much happened. We didn't really go anywhere. We just stayed right here in Kisarazu. We did have a Family Home Evening with some of the Branch members and it was way fun. We picked the song and prepared the lesson and chose the activity but we had Umetsu Shimai run the show and bring the snacks. We talked about how are bodies are gifts from God and we need to take the best care of them possible, then we gave them donuts. Lol, missionaries.
     Now I'll talk about the miracle of sacrifice everyone wants to hear about. Last week Saturday we went with Takashi and Wenting to the temple in Tokyo for baptisms for the dead. It was such a great experience right before the temple closed and Takashi really liked his first time. After we got done with baptisms we went out for a day in Tokyo. I wanted everyone to have fun so I had planned on treating them to a good lunch and stuff. Well because Wenting is Chinese and she can't go onto American soil unless she asks 30 days in advance we had to change plans and I felt bad. So I took them to a different restaurant that I knew was really good and I'm friends with the owner. We went and got some really good Turkish food and then I rushed to pay for everyone. I got the missionary discount but it was still expensive to pay for everyone. I still wanted to make it up to everyone so I bought them some ice cream too. I didn't tell them how low I was on cash, I just wanted them to have a good time. So I went back to the American hotel and bought them some American snacks from inside. Then I was really low on cash. They tried to pay me back but I told them it was my treat and I'd get blessings for it so not to worry. However I knew I would probably go without some food on a couple of meals that week because of it. But hey, they're my best friends and how often do you get to go to Tokyo and show them a good time? The answer is once in 2 years as a missionary. So I figured it was worth fasting a little, fasting is good for you anyway, right? Now my mom is worrying that I'm an idiot but it really wasn't that bad. I would've been able to survive until the end of the month when I got my allowance.
      Anyway, I was fully expecting the blessings received to come in the form of them being happy for that day. I was right and wrong. They were very happy that day and we all had a great time. BUT, what I didn't know was that God would take care of all my needs because He takes care of His missionaries. I did not go hungry this week. In fact I was fed so much I started to worry about my health a little bit.
      First we were invited over for lunch with our friends the Padpads before our Japanese Lesson. They gave us all you can eat Filipino food. Then that same day we were invited to a wedding reception at Bamboo Grill. We got there and Jun, the owner, had set out a spot for us at the bar with a ton of food. He told us to eat as much as we wanted and then the groom had us eat some more after that. While there we talked to the chef, a nice young and handsome Filipino guy named Lee, and became friends. He actually had interest in missionaries and opened up to us enough that we found out he's looking for purpose in his life. He became a new investigator. When Jun saw that we were serious and actually worked even at a party he came over and gave us another referral on the spot! The next day I still had no money and couldn't buy groceries but Jonivar invited us over for lunch. We made a feast together and it was so good! He stuffed us until we couldn't move and then we just sat there and taught him and AB Lesson while we recovered. After that Lee invited us back over to Bamboo Grill and while we talked he made us some Chinese and Filipino food. I didn't have the money to pay but before I could even say that a lady sitting in the restaurant said, I"ll pay for those missionaries! Let them eat as much as they want! What!? That never happens! We got free food again! The Sugimotos invited us over for dinner. We had Family Home Evening and the Tandas brought actual food without being asked. They just said, we thought someone might need this. Missionaries, do you have food? How did everyone know!? On top of that this Sunday our fruit basket was overflowing so members had to stuff the fridge full of stuff for us as well. Miracle after miracle after miracle! How!? I'll tell you. God rewards us a hundredfold for every good thing we do. I bought a couple people lunch ONE time, I was fed for a week. Why did that happen? Because God really loves all of us. He knows our circumstances and our needs and He is so eager to help us. He can set anything up He wants to and He set me up to be in the right place at the right time with the right people so that I could get my food for the day....for a week.
      God really does care about even the little things and the little people. He knows and loves each and every one of us. I know that's true. I know He lives and that He has given me this opportunity to go on a mission so I could get closer to Him. I'm so thankful for running out of money and food so that I could see once again how much my Heavenly Father loves me.

Elder Rogers

Monday, September 25, 2017

Transfer 16/16

The time has come. I am now the oldest missionary in the Mission. Except for the ones who either fast-tracked or extend but I won't count them.
      So if the new transfer started that means Transfer Calls were this morning. They called us early and said that Elder Otani and I will be staying together and I will die here in Kisarazu! Yay! It's a dream come true! Did I doubt it? No. My faith was sure, never wavering. I was not driven like a wave driven with the wind and tossed. Ok, that's enough of whatever that was. So main point is I get to finish my mission here in Kisarazu and probably baptize Liu and my new Filipino family called the Padpads. That's pretty cool.
     This week was just a great week in general due in at least part to good cooking. On Monday we went to have Family Home Evening in Kamogawa with the Chinese YSAs and had some authentic Chinese food which is way better than the stuff we get at restaurants I can tell you that. We had a way fun day together although Tai was unable to come due to a biohazard incident at the hospital with a misplaced syringe. That was an interesting call.
"Hey Elder Rogers."
"Hey Tai, what's up?"
"Sorry, I can't come to FHE tonight."
"Why what happened?"
"I'm in quarantine right now because I was cleaning up used syringes and....yeah."
*Chinese friend steals phone and starts going off at 200mph in Chinese*
Elder Rogers, "I'll let you handle that one."
      Well, Tai was fine but someone else may have gotten infected so she had to sit around in the hospital instead of coming to FHE. Bummer. The rest of us had fun. We were having so much fun we lost track of time and thought we might miss our train. Takashi didn't bring his bike so I gave him mine and sprinted for the station. That station is FAR from their apartment! I ran just barely under a sprint for like a mile and a half! It sucked but we made the train with time to spare. We were originally all walking to the train together but after checking my watch I decided it was time to book it and said we'd meet them there if the train hadn't left and then took off. I made it there first followed by Elder Otani and Takashi on bike and was soon followed by Wenting who also decided to run. Liu and Kin made it just before our train left so we were able to say good bye and shake sweaty hands.
      I taught a lot of little and not so little kids English all week long and though it's tiring I think it's really fun and am definitely considering being an English teacher instead or in addition to a PE teacher. I think I just like teaching. Kids, investigators, English, gospel, whatever. So yeah, being a teacher is my dream. I got to teach a Filipino family Japanese he other day and in return they fed me authentic Filipino food! So yummy! I don't think I like any particular food, just about anything will work for me. And to think I used to be so picky. If my mom could see me now!
     Liu is getting ready to be baptized soon. Not much to say other than she's awesome and I'll do my best to send a picture with her in front of the font next month.
     Saturday we took Takashi and Wenting to the temple for Takashi's first time doing baptisms for the dead before it closes on the 30th. I went first and then got to watch Takashi. I changed fast enough that I got to see Wenting and Kaira get baptized too. It was Kaira's first time too since she just turned 12. After we got done with the temple we tried to get food at the American New Sanno Hotel but they told Wenting she couldn't come in because she was Chinese and needed to do a 30 day procedure. She said we should go back again and say she was Japanese later but it wouldn't work. As we were walking away from the gate she said in English loud enough that the gate guard could probably hear, "I hate you." It was pretty hilarious because whenever she speaks English she has a strong Chinese accent that just makes it funny for no reason. Also she's too nice to actually hate the guy. I apologized for my country and ran in with Elder Otani who is Japanese and bought everyone Snickers and Beef Jerky. Then we were all good. We pretty much just wandered around Tokyo looking at cool stuff and having fun. We were all dressed up nice and we looked pretty international: American, Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese so we got a lot of second looks. It was just a great day with my best friends.           Sunday morning I got to Skype in to another baptism! Kuriyama from Mito got baptized on Sunday morning! She had to be baptized 3 times but they say 3rd time's the charm, right? The Elder who baptized her is Elder Hales who I was his first Zone Leader and he actually is joining my District this Transfer! He'll be here on Thursday so it'll be cool to see him.

Things are going great and I almost couldn't be happier. It's just such a blessing to be here I can't put words to it. I wish I was a writer so I could make an attempt but I'll just say: gooooood!

Love, Elder Rogers

(Please ignore that we all look fat in the picture with Tokyo Tower in the back. None of us are fat)