Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas!

This week was way awesome. I even have more than one picture this week. (Whether the quality is good or not I don't know but...the experience was great!) Our friends, the Sugimotos (the one family able to feed us because they live close), took us out to the mall in the middle of the Tokyo Bay on Monday night. It was really cool, he night lights were awesome to look at. Unfortunately my camera wouldn't really pick it up. It was cool. If you come with me on my Mission Tour I'll take you there sometime. You just have to be there. We had interviews with the Naganos and it was really good. Sister Nagano spoke peace to my soul as she handed me one of her famous cookies to top it off. President Nagano also helped me and gave me direction for my area. He didn't give many hints about transfers although he usually tells me upfront what he wants to do. He asked me how long I'd been in Kisarazu. "4 Transfers. This is my fifth totaling up to 7.5 months". Then he said, "Wow! That's a really long time!" Most missionaries stay in an area for about 3 months total. I've got no chance. I knew this day would come, but I still don't like it. I do feel like I did what I was sent here to do though. Of course there's much more for me to do, but I don't know if I'll pass the torch along or if President Nagano will just leave me here for half of my mission. Lol. I think he's still confused himself. We had a Christmas Party/ Birthday party on the 23rd. It was Elder Wilcox's birthday and apparently he forgot because when I started singing to him in companion study and throwing Reese's at him he looked really confused. Hahaha. The party was great. There were tons of kids running around and for some reason one girl decided to follow me around all night and hug my leg and then the others decided to do the same. After playing with kids for awhile I wanted a snack so one little girl went to the snack table and got one for me. I ate it gratefully so she got me another. And another. And another. Every 5 seconds for an hour. There was no stopping her, she was too cute and surprisingly forceful for a 3 year old Japanese girl. After the party we went to visit Jonivar because he called us on over. We went into his room and all the lights were off and a birthday cake was sitting on his table. The candles were lit and everything. "He could either be somewhere else in this house, or he's hiding in this room." I jokingly checked the closet and he jumped out and gave me a gorilla hug. It scared the crap out of Elder Wilcox and he jumped about 3 feet in the air. Jonivar planned a surprise party for Elder Wilcox and it was awesome. Yesterday at church I gave my second talk in a row (our Branch is small). It went well, no one booed me out or rebelled so I'd say it was a success. Our one youth told me my Japanese has gotten a lot better. So I'm either good or I was terrible. I guess it depends who you ask. After church we had a surprise Branch Christmas party that was way fun. We got to hang out with e members and just have a great time with them on Christmas. Higashi Kaicho interviewed Yi and Jonivar for going to the temple and they both passed so we get to take them sometime! After he party died down and most people went home I got to call my family. That was way awesome. They got to meet my best friends, Yi, Jonivar, and the Higashis, so I was really happy. I realized today that I only have one more call home left. After that I'll BE home. Wow. Missions go by really fast. Before I know it I'll be off my mission, in college, and have triplets named after the apostles! JK. I've still got plenty of time right here. I'm looking forward to my time continuing here and whatever my next step is. (Eventually I will be kicked out of Kisarazu) Until then, Ganbarimashou! The English for that is tricky. It's like "I'll do my best/give it my best shot/work hard/be lucky". Yeah. That. Whichever one works. Love you all! Elder Rogers

Monday, December 19, 2016

I get to be Santa!

So I don't remember what I told you all last time so I'll just start from last Monday. Elder Wilcox and I went down to Kamogawa for a Chinese party with Yi, Tai, and their friends. Yi and Tai cooked a ton of Chinese food for us and it was soooo good. There wasn't a man in emir apartment when we showed up so we went on a little walk while we waited. While we were walking around the neighborhood we noticed a cool spiral staircase on the side of a neighboring apartment building. Kamogawa has a pretty beautiful view of mountains and the ocean, which I really like, so we went up the stairs to take a look. Once we got there we noticed that the stairs had a little slide attached to it in case of an emergency like a fire....or missionaries that can't go to amusement parks and will take the next best thing. So we rode the slide down and this one old lady inside just gave us this look as we went by. Probably wishing she was doing it herself. We had temple P-day on Tuesday and it was good. I don't know what else to say about it other than it was a spiritual boost. We had District Meeting in Chosei and basically I just opened up a discussion and told the other missionaries the story of my (mission) life. I talked about all the hard times and the unpleasant feelings etc. etc. and then how I personally overcame it and was grateful for my experiences. When I get home maybe we can do the same thing. Apparently they really liked it and took it to heart because every day since then hey went out and found a new investigator! They're so awesome! We had our apartment checked by some senior missionaries this week and usually it's an unpleasant experience for missionaries. But not this time! Our apartment is spotless and they had no improvement points. Ok, they had one. I got into the food storage and ate some of it because I ran out of money and was pretty much fasting for a few days at the end of the month so they laughingly told me to save that for emergencies. But other than that we were good. My mom sent me like 3 months worth of spaghetti and pancake mix so I won't ever go hungry again. Thanks Mom! We went finding around our neighborhood and just started knocking on apartment doors nearby. One lady didn't have interest, but she gave us a giant apple! Later on an old man gave us a big bag of oranges from the tree in his backyard. We usually don't get food when finding, but God was looking out for me and provided something yummy. Cooler than food was we knocked on this one lady's door and she came out to talk to us. Her name is Miki, they're the Miki family, and she used to go to a Christian church and read the Bible. She was actually looking for a church to take her kids to and we were like, "Have we got the church for you!" She should come after the holidays because she's visiting family. We teach little kids English once a week and since my family sent me a Christmas package with candy in it I thought, why not share it? So I handed out some candy to the kids if they got an answer right and apparently they don't have minty stuff in Japan. This one 3 year old girl had never tasted mint before and lost it crying like I had poisoned her. I felt so bad but at the same time completely lost it laughing. Bad teacher. Our Branch does caroling once a year down in front of the train station. Luckily I got to be here for that because it was kind of fun. We went right after church so there weren't really very many people but a few people stopped to listen. Right as we were starting this group of girls from Shorin High School (a school I've volunteered at a few times) walked by and recognized me. They stopped to listen for a few songs and even clapped for us. This old white guy stopped and listened and he clapped too. There were only like 10 people that listened but it was really fun. Oh yeah! We busted out the Santa suit for this year's Christmas party and since it fits me just right, I get to be Santa this year! I get to bring unspeakable joy to the children of the world this year! They can't sit on my lap and if they asked me for a present I might not understand what they want, but I can say "Ho Ho Ho" and hand out candy. Easy stuff. I'm really excited for this Christmas season. I've been asked to give a talk on Christmas about what my family does on Christmas. We open presents and then play with those presents. Luckily I have a week to think about it. My challenge to you all this year is to remember the true meaning of Christmas and try to spend this Christmas not wrapped up in the commercialism, but really focusing on what matters most. Since next time will be too late... MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Elder (Santa) Rogers

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I don't speak Chinese

Hey folks, I'll keep it pretty short this week. We rode our bikes waaaaaaay out into the rice fields to go see Mikami for a lesson. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and what he has to do to get to heaven. The we showed him a video about baptism and he thought it was cool. He believes everything we've told him so far is true. We invited him to start praying every day and he said he would the next day. "I'll pray tomorrow" is Satan's favorite phrase because it really means, "I won't pray." As missionaries we know this fact well so we tried to find out why he didn't want to pray. He didn't know how and felt nervous doing it in front of us because he thought he would be bad at it. I explained it like 9 different times to him how to do it, why we do it, that it's ok to just say what you're feeling, etc. and he just wouldn't pray. I was ready to call it a day and try again later but Elder Wilcox decided to give it a try. He explained it one time and invited him to pray and then he did. I tried like 9 times! It just went to show me that I need to be humble because sometimes I'm just not going to be the one that can do it. Sometimes the person has to hear it from someone else. I'm glad Elder Wilcox didn't give up and taught me a good lesson. We started teaching Yi's roommate Tai more this week and she surprised everyone. She may not have a Christian background (no one does here) but she believes everything we tell her and has a strong desire to follow God. After a lesson with her, Yi taught her how to pray. After that Tai prayed and it was amazing! I actually thought they had been practicing together! It was her first time praying and she went for a few minutes and it was so sincere. After she got done we we all just looked at each other like, "What just happened?!" Yi got the gift of the Holy Ghost this past Sunday and said she felt like she got a spiritual boost. Now she's got a ton of spirit power. She was super spunky and just way happy that now she can go to the temple soon. I'm pretty excited myself. We asked her out of curiosity what her favorite thing to do was and she said, "read the Boom of Mormon." And we were like, "no really. Not just church stuff, like anything." And she was just like, "yeah! Read the Book of Mormon!" She's such a cool example. Yesterday we went down to Kamogawa to visit our Chinese friends for a Chinese party. It was at Yi and Tai's apartment with their friends Liu and Okada. Sister Higashi also came and brought a cake. Yi and Tai worked way hard and made us a ton of food. It was sooooo good too! I definitely ate too much but Yi just kept giving me more and saying "Eat it!" I mean, how could I say no? Their friends were really nice too. We got along really well and of course taught them about what missionaries do including baptism. They really liked us and want us to come again soon. I don't think that's a bad idea either. And today was temple P-Day. We went to the temple in Tokyo. It was much needed. I did the whole session in Japanese for the first time. What surprised me was that it wasn't actually too hard. If I do it a few more times it may actually be easier than English. Elder Rogers

Monday, December 5, 2016

我很开心❗️

For those of you who can read Chinese, you may know what happened with Transfer Calls this morning. For those of you who don't, you just have to wait a minute I guess. All I can really say about this week is that, for some reason, God really really loves me and likes giving me blessings. I know God loves me because He keeps making good things happen for me. Now do I deserve it? Probably not, but He does it anyway and it makes me want to serve Him that much more. For example, this week one of our investigators named Mikami told me that he wants to keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. He also wants to come to church and get baptized. That's what I'm talking about. We also went on Splits with the other Elders in Chosei and normally the District Leader does it in his own area, but I wanted to see their area for myself so we did it there. Elder Kashiwa and I were able to find a new investigator! We taught him the First lesson, gave him a Book of Mormon, and invited him to come to English class. He was excited about everything and agreed to it all. He's a Senior in High School by the way and his name is Suzuki. That was another little miracle. Now for a big miracle. Yi got baptized last week. She brought a friend to her baptism too. Her friend's name is Tai and she felt good (the Spirit) during church and the baptism. She decided she wanted to start learning for herself and be baptized too! We ended up teaching her 3 lessons already and she's way excited to be baptized. Her friend Yi is just such a strong example for her and always there to support her. We set a goal for all of us to go to the temple together next year. (That was while we were still assuming we'd still be here) Not that important of an event but a fun one all the same; we had 8 new students at our Kid's English Class! Usually there are between 3 and 5 students but for no apparent reason, this week 13 people showed up! It was the perfect day for it too because we had planned a treasure hunt for the day's activity. We hid candy all over the church and the kids had a great time. We even put some in our hand made font just so the kids would be used to it for when it was their turn. Lol. The kids were more than happy to jump right in and their moms helped them do it. Speaking of English students, we went down to Tateyama to help Takashi write some essays so he could get into BYU and while we were there we saw one of our students! She was holding a cake and after saying hi to us looked at the cake....and then at us......and said, "Do you like cake?" "HECK YEAH! I mean, yes ma'am, if you're offering." She gave us the cake. It was such a delicious cake too. God just kept giving me presents this week to make me happy. Maybe to prepare me for a hard time ahead? We did have Transfer Calls coming up so I was worried he might be doing it to soften the blow when I got transferred. I mean, I've been here 6 months already. That's a quarter of my mission. I was more than a little worried about what today's Transfer Call would bring. Apparently I wasn't the only one either. Yesterday on Fast Sunday I found out that a lot of the members were praying and fasting that I would stay in Kisarazu. That floored me. I had no idea. Members kept walking up and saying, "I'm praying for you! Please don't go yet." My Branch President told me to debate it with President Nagano and rebel. I was moved. I didn't know anyone felt that way. When I left my other areas no one cared or even noticed. But here, it was different. It was easy to honk about leaving my other areas because no one was opposed to me leaving. But after hearing how everyone felt it pulled some heart strings and made the idea a hard one to accept. I did NOT want to get transferred this time. To top it off were the Recent Converts, Jonivar and Yi. When I told Jonivar I might be leaving it was heartrending. That last hug was hard to let go. Even harder was when I told Yi. She's a girl so she cried. That was a hard night. I knew what I wanted, but I also knew that since God had blessed me so much I had to submit my will to what He wanted. So I got down on my knees and just pleaded with Him to give me peace with whatever happened. He gave me the peace I was looking for. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew that I would be able to handle it, whatever happened. Now here's where I get to say that God loves me more than I could have ever anticipated. He let me stay. All of those blessings weren't just to soften the blow, they were truly just because He felt like blessing me. I can't understand what I did to earn such treatment but I am overjoyed to be the recipient of it. I know all I can do now is my very best to repay Him, if only in small part. I know God loves me. I may not be able to express it well with my writing but what I can say is this: He cares about us and wants to bless us. He's that dad that likes to give you stuff just because you're His kid. He's the dad who loves you even when you make mistakes. He's the dad who knows exactly how to cheer you up and make you happy. He's the dad that I get to tell people that they have. Because of Him we can overcome our imperfections. Because of His love we have a Savior who makes it possible for us to return to Him as an everlasting family. I'm so thankful to be a part of God's family and I'm thankful that I can spend my days as a missionary, helping others join in. I'm so thankful for my mission and I wouldn't give it up for the world. I'm also so thankful that of all the places in the world He could've sent me, God sent me to Kisarazu. I'm looking forward to continuing serving here and seeing more miracles. 頑張りましょう! Elder Rogers