Monday, November 28, 2016

Why it's called The Best 2 Years

Hey everybody. This week is a particularly special week but I'll save he best for last. First off, I have a pointy nose. I've been told over and over and over again that it's my best feature. I now look at it in the mirror all the time and since I'm surrounded by Japanese, Chinese, or Filipinos who all have cute little button noses, I feel like I have a giant nose now. Never felt that way before but with all the talk that goes on about people coveting my nose it just feels too big for my face now. Anyway, thought you might find it interesting that my nose of all noses is the most desired for miles and miles in any direction. This week we had Splits with the Chosei Elders. They came up and we had a great time. Elder Hiatt and I rode our bikes out an hour into the middle of nowhere to teach one of our investigators who is preparing for baptism. His name is Mikami and he's a rice farmer. Now you probably have this image in your mind of a scrawny, hunched over man wearing the pointy hat. No. He's stereotypically short, but he's got giant solid muscles. He may be 60something years old, but he could still beat me up and kick me out of his house if he wanted to. Luckily he likes whenever I come visit him. He invited us in and in our previous lessons with him we had kind of just taught him any principle that seemed to apply to the moment. But this time we decided we were going to teach a full lesson from start to finish with no breaks or side tracks. So we sat down and taught him the Restoration in full. All important details added, invitation to church, teaching how to pray, everything. Of course we didn't just shove it all down his throat, we had a discussion and he asked really good questions. We were able to help him understand why we're asking him to do certain things like read and pray and so he was able to fully accept our invitations. He's getting baptized on Christmas and if I'm still around I'll get to do it. I love getting to bust out the font. Which brings me to another funny thing. Our Branch is small so we don't have a real building. That means no font. However, we do have a big box. And in that box goes a kiddie pool. And in that kiddie pool goes the new convert. I dare say that that kiddie pool has helped more people receive salvation than any other kiddie pool. Anyway, we built the font on Saturday and it was the most fun I've ever had blowing up a kiddie pool. They have a foot pump instead of an electric pump so you kind of have to jump up and down (with excitement) over and over again for like 10minutes. It was way fun. Finally, Sunday morning came. And it was raining! I had prayed for this for weeks. I was so happy. Since that probably sounds weird to you let me explain. Jonivar is a painter. He paints giant electric towers outside. If it rains he has the day off. So God rained down the blessings and Jonivar came to church! Yi also came to church but more what made it cooler is she brought a friend! Her friend's name is Tai and she had never been to church before and was pretty confused. I'm the Gospel Principles teacher so if an investigator shows up I get to have a lesson during church in front of all the members. Well Tai came so that's what happened. Now usually Elder Wilcox and I teach together, but he has trouble with the Gospel Principles lessons because they're hard so I just have a whiteboard companion once a week. That and I can call on any random member as a temporary companion at a any time. It's awesome. Anyway, the Branch did really well at helping me teach her. They kind of threw a lot at her all at once but it was good because she looked at me completely and totally lost. Thus giving me the opportunity to say, "I know it's a lot fast, but we can teach you any day of the week with your friend Yi. Would you be interested in that?" Well she doesn't want to be confused forever so of course she agreed to learn more. She participated in church and really enjoyed it despite being a little lost. After church got done she came over and asked, "Would it be ok if I came again?" "YES! I mean, yes you are free to come anytime." After church was the baptismal service. We all got in our white clothes and sang together and Yi kept telling me, "I don't know why, but I'm nervous." And I said, "You think you're nervous? I freaking out over here. But I'm excited and it's a good nervous." I got to baptize my best friend, Wenting Yi, and it was honestly the most fulfilling moment of my life. Right afterwards I was able to see Elder Wilcox baptize another amazing friend, Jonivar Layang. Everyone was so happy and Yi's friend, Tai, was crying though she didn't know why. After we changed and dried off we got to hear Yi and Jonivar's testimonies. It was such a blessing to see how pure they both are as they stood there testifying of their beliefs. Jonivar tried hard not to cry, and while he may have done it I sure struggled. It was just such a special experience that I don't know how to describe. The feeling just filled me up and I had complete and full joy. This is why I came here. To find my friends who have been waiting to hear how much God loves them and wants them back. To teach them how to do it. And then to walk with them on that path. I'm SO thankful to be here at this time. A lot of people kept saying, "Congratulations congratulations" but none of it was me. It was all them. I'm just so blessed to have been around to see it. I know this church is true. I know this is God's work for the salvation of His children. I know that I'm exactly where I need to be right now and I'm unspeakably grateful to be here. I love you all. I love this church. And I typed all this from the pulpit over here in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Emotional Roller Coaster (the worst/best day)

Hey everybody, This week was pretty normal until yesterday. We had Temple P-Day on Tuesday and it was great. We had a District Meeting and it was all me this week. I didn't assign anyone trainings until last minute so I decided I'd just do all of it. It actually was pretty nice. Everyone learned a lot as we had a nice discussion and it was fun. Next week the Zone Leaders will be coming so that'll be extra fun. I'm friends with the English teacher for an International Private School so I called her and asked if she had anything we could help her with and she was like, "Yeah. We have an English debate coming up soon and if you could come listen and judge, maybe give some improvement points, that'd be great." So I thought, "Oh, that's easy. Anyone can do that." So we went and I was wrong. Horribly wrong. I was expecting some Middle/High School Japanese kids who couldn't get Ls and Rs straight to mumble through some debates. Not at all. They compete on the National level and are all fluent. In fact, they started and went back and forth so fast I couldn't keep up with the notes I was supposed to be taking. I was like "Woah! You guys can talk circles around me in my own language!" Then they laughed and continued being smarter than me. For some reason we were invited to come "help" again next week. It was fun but I don't think we were really that much help. I'm grateful for the opportunity to go back though. On Saturday we had a concert that all of the missionaries were required to go to because we were invited to sing a song with the guy. I was not very smart and procrastinated memorizing the song until the morning of. Luckily I actually was able to memorize it because I was front and close to the center (I'm short). It was fun. I do not have pictures or a video. Sorry. You just had to be there I guess. Now for the emotional roller coaster. I have an investigator. Her name is Yi. Yi is the BEST investigator. She took all of the lessons in 3 days. She is a third of the way done with the Book of Mormon. She comes to church every week. She has been the #1 investigator in the Zone for over a month. She came to church yesterday morning and wanted to talk to me about her baptism. Perfect! "Wait right here, I forgot something. I'll be right back." So I go get said forgotten item for her. It was her birthday and I just so happened to have found a Triple Combination in Chinese. So I bought it and wrapped it up and forgot it in my apartment. So I went home, got it, and came back. I gave it to her and she was very grateful. "Now, what is it about you're baptism?" "I can't get baptized next week. And I have to stop coming to church." Sacrament starts. "Let's talk after church." I got sit down and FLIP OUT for the next 3 hours. What happened!?! Did I do something!? Satan!! I sit there and think about what happened and what I can do to help her for 3 hours and then finally church gets over. I go over and ask her if we can talk for a sec. "I understand you have some questions or concerns about getting baptized?" She has this big Japanese test coming up in 2 weeks and really needs to pass it or she can't become a nurse. She's failed it a couple of times before so she's really worried and wanted to focus on studying. She also was stressed out and said that if she got baptized now she wouldn't be able to appreciate it as much because she was stressed. But she was also worried what people would think if she changed her baptismal date and wasn't sure what to do. She could get baptized as planned and receive the Holy Ghost to help her with her stress, or she could wait until after her test so she could really appreciate the day. I was ok with either way as long as she got baptized sometime and felt comfortable with it. She was so confused as to what was the right thing for her to do and there was so much going on that we decided there was really only one way to know: pray about it. So we found a quiet room and knelt down together. She said the most heartfelt prayer I've never understood. It was all in Chinese and she said a lot. She was really looking for that answer and I was hoping she would be able to find it, whatever it was. If she had to postpone the chances were that I would be gone and not get to baptize her. Heartbreaking as it was I knew it wasn't about me, it was about what was best for her. So I kept my mouth shut and just accepted whatever would happen. She took a long pause after she finished. Probably 2-3 minutes but it felt like five-ever. Then she looked up at me and said the most beautiful words ever. "God really loves me. And you all really love me. And I need to be baptized next week!" Higashi Shimai gave her a hug and here were tears and I gave her a firm handshake and then a first bump for good luck. Higashi Shimai brought out a secret birthday/baptism cake and it was the best cake ever. The Zone Leaders walked in and took Yi staging into her baptismal interview, which she passed easily. In fact she made Elder Hirao cry with her testimony and story. Jonivar also passed his interview and the Branch just freaked out. Jonivar has been an investigator for who knows how long and usually those people never get baptized. But not him! He's getting baptized next week! And since there's 2 of them and 2 missionaries, Elder Wilcox will get his first baptism! I'm so excited!!! It was a rough start to the day, but a great finish! Elder Rogers, the happiest and most blessed missionary ever!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Some heart stopping news

愛する皆様こんにちは!今週私は日本語で書きます。(笑) ずっと前に「日本語を勉強した方がいい」と言いました。だから今理解できなければ、あなたのせいですよ。 JK Hey everybody! I'll just get right into it. This week we had a presidential election. It was just about the only thing I heard about from my English students. They were all like, "Do you know who won? Who do you support?" yada yada yada. I did NOT know who the president was but I was soon informed by 6 different people that Donald Trump is he new President. Ask me how I feel about that and I can't tell you. Not just because I'm not allowed to, I haven't watched tv in a year and know absolutely nothing about the debates etc. Moving on. We were sitting in the mall one day when this Japanese guy walks over to us and says, "Hey, are you the Mormons?" In perfect English. Woah! When I see a Japanese person in Japan I automatically think they're Japanese. I mean it's pretty safe to assume. But this guy was actually an American. We went from really excited that an American recognized us as missionaries, to really confused very fast. This man spent a lot of time on YouTube watching conspiracy theories. And boy did he have a lot to say. He went from Isis to the Ark of the Covenant and all over the place. It was way weird. He had a little bit of interest in Joseph Smith so Elder Wilcox almost gave him out number but I gave him a hard NO! and that man got no contact information. I later explained that no matter how interested a crazy person is, they are still a crazy person. And we don't talk to crazy people. So now he knows and won't try it again. We had 2 new students come to our English class in Tateyama that same night. It was a mom and her almost 3 year old son. He was so cute. I would talk to him and he would always respond, "yeah." I thought that was great. He brought a big thing of chocolates for everyone to share. Hmmmmm. "Are those chocolates good?" "Yeah." "Did you bring those to share?" "Yeah." "Can I have one?" "Yeah." "Can I have all of them?" "Yeah." "Thank you!" -"No!" (His mom) I was so close to getting a ton of chocolate. The mom had actually read e whole Bible and was looking for a church to come to. Ours is a little far so she doesn't know if she can make it but she wants to come if she can. "Your mom likes the Bible, right?" "Yeah." "Do you think she'd like this book?" [holds up Book of Mormon] "Yeah." "Will you give it to her for me?" "Yeah." I'm telling you, this kid is the key. Lol. We hadn't seen the Nakazatos in a while so we decided to go pay them a surprise visit. Miyuki came out (the mom) and when she saw me she was like, "I'll go get Moe." Because we pretty much just go there for her most of the time. Moe's the boss when it comes to deciding when we'll do stuff together with their family. Anyway, Moe was doing nice and looked great, ......and had some weird bandage wrapped around her fingers? She passed out on her way to school again and fell and broke her fingers. It was a compound fracture. Yikes. For those of you who don't know, a compound fracture is the kind where your bones come OUT. Yeah. It was bad. She seemed ok about it though and actually tried to give me a fist bump with said hand but I refrained. She spends all of her time not in school at the hospital or sleeping. They run tests on her head all day every day. I told her one day she just needs to escape the hospital and we can pick her up and take her to the church instead. She quite liked the idea and I'm a little worried that even though I told her it was just a joke she might be seriously considering it. She is a high school Freshman and at that age no one wants to be stuck in a hospital. We'll see if we can bust her out sometime. We had splits with the Zone Leaders this week and it was pretty fun. I went with Elder Law and we walked around in the rain for many many miles. We don't know how many miles but we traveled across the land searching far and wide. Elder Law did jiu jitsu or something for 3 years and I my dad's a Marine so the elders wanted to see us wrestle. Unfortunately, Dad's bootcamp wasn't genetically passed on to me. I rolled him up in a ball and pinned him in 3 seconds but we were going for tap out. I am ashamed to say that I was put into an inescapable position and tapped out. My little brothers would be ashamed. BUT, he said that was the hardest match so far so I'm not a total chump. I'll take him on again next splits. I invited one of our English students to come to church and on Sunday she came! It was way cool. She came by herself this week but next week she will try to bring her kids and husband too. Yi also came to church this week and everybody has started calling her Sister Yi. They say it in Japanese but that's what it means. She's getting interviewed for baptism on Sunday and the next week I'm going to baptize her! I'm so excited!!! I'm so thankful that I could be here at this time in Kisarazu where so many miracles are happening. I know this is exactly where I need to be. Funny story about that: I was doing some Missionary paperwork before bed one night, minding my own business, when I get a call from the Zone Leaders. They only call me if it's an emergency or really important. So I answer it, "Hello, how can I help you tonight?" "Hey Elder Rogers. Sorry, but you're getting emergency transferred to Tech Staff in Tokyo." "....................." "Elder Rogers?" "No I'm not!" [the laughter of an entire apartment full of heartless missionaries who took one prank too far] "Come on Elder Law, you can't do that to me!" I panicked so hard. My voice was calm but there was a storm inside. He broke my heart in 3 seconds and then laughed it off like it was nothing. I frankly forgave them but it freaked me out. I'm looking forward to NOT transferring and spending a good long time in Kisarazu where I can see a ton of cool miracles! Elder Rogers

Monday, November 7, 2016

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

So a few months ago we set goals as a mission for how many baptisms we each wanted to see by the end of the year per area. Then we work our butts off to hit that goal. This week put me really close to hitting that goal and passing it. This week was an pretty off week because we weren't in our own area for over half of it. On Wednesday we went down to Chosei for District Meeting. I was notified afterwards that that District Meeting was unnecessary but it was still awesome. I set the vision for the District and told the missionaries what we were going to focus on to see baptisms. It turned out to be exactly what we talked about in Zone Conference and Zone Meeting so I guess I wasn't wrong. Anyway, we're planning on seeing a lot of baptisms by the end of the year down here. This area hasn't seen a baptism in years, and all but one of them have disappeared off the face of the earth. But not this time! We have 3 investigators with baptismal dates by the end of this year! We actually set our third last night. SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO ELDER PURBA Hey, you remember Mikami? The buff rice farmer that lives out in the tambos. We visited him last night and asked if he had read the Book of Mormon we gave him. He had but didn't understand anything because he was reading in the guide at the back. We read the intro and talked about how to know if it's true by reading and praying about it. Then we showed him Nephi, who makes much more sense than a dictionary/guide. We asked him if he would be baptized if he knew it was true and he said, "ii yo." Which basically means no problem, I'll do it. We set a baptismal date with him for December 25th, Christmas! My personal favorite investigator of all time, Yi, came to church for the first time yesterday. It exceeded her expectations and the Branch just adored her. She even fasted because it was fast and testimony meeting. She was too nervous to bear her testimony this time but said she wants to next time. She's not even a member yet! She's getting baptized on November 27th right after church. Jonivar is working for that same day. Anyway, some smaller miracles. On the way to Zone Conference we noticed a Nepalese woman who seemed very lost. We went over to help her and it was her first day in Japan. Knowing the feeling, I volunteered to help her find her way to work. We were heading to the same place so we just went together and talked on the way. Her grandpa, dad, and brother were all Christian missionaries! She traded phone numbers with us so we could call her again. During Zone Conference we did a role play of introducing the Book of Mormon and inviting someone to read it. After Zone Conference we took a wrong train that took us out to the middle of nowhere and got us stranded for an hour. There just so happened to be one other man stranded with us so we started talking to him. Elder Wilcox explained the Book of Mormon and read some with him. Then he gave it to the man and invited him to read it. The man willingly accepted it and it was awesome. He lives in Tokyo so we'll probably never see him again but it felt good to help him. Because we had taken the wrong train we were going home later than planned. That turned out to be part of God's plan because we ran into the Nepalese lady again! And this time she had a friend with her. What are the chances of running into the same person twice on a train in Japan!? I'll tell you. Zero. Unless God sets it up. So of course we talked to her and her friend and we hope to be able to teach them more in the future. In Zone Meeting we talked about getting high school kids to come to our English classes. This has been a stress point for me for the past 5 months because it's nigh impossible here. I won't tell you all the details of why because it just stresses me out but I'll just leave it at "I have less than a 1% chance of ever succeeding." Well I was blessed to beat the odds! 2 high school girls came and had a really good time. They're going to go to Okinawa next week so they won't be able to come then, but they may be able to meet my Momma. That's almost better. No, that's definitely better. As kids start seeing these girls at our class I hope to see more come. If we just had a ton of students that would be great. There's a lot of amazing miracles going on here right now so I can't even write a hundredth part. But what I've written sufficeth me, and I make an end. Love you! Elder Rogers PS - Thank you all so so so so so much for sending me your love and support! I actually almost cried but I'm not a Sister missionary so I didn't. I didn't know there were so many of you who cared. I won't let you down!