Monday, August 28, 2017

Easy as Apple Pie

So last week I already wrote about but I want to talk about one thing that happened after I wrote that email.
      I got to meet up with Jonivar on my Pday the night before my 20th birthday. He's one of my recent converts and he's amazing! He's so full of love and light and such a kind person. Anyway, we wanted to spend some time with him especially since he was about to go on a work trip and it was almost my birthday. So we decided we'd go to the Outlet Mall and grab some grub together. We were walking around and he kept trying to buy me some clothes or anything for my birthday and I kept saying I'd let him get me something at the next store. Well we stalled him out and he didn't buy anything and we were hungry so we decided to just get dinner at a burger joint called Kua Aina (sooooo good!). He tried to pay but we stepped in and paid for ourselves. Yes! While we were waiting for our food Jojo gets up and leaves. We can't follow him because someone has to wait for the food and we have to stay together. So we ask the waiter if he knows where Jojo went and he points out toward a cake store. So we figure he's probably going to buy me a cake for my birthday and we feel bad because a little cake in Japan costs like $40! Well, he didn't buy me a cake. He's gone for a little while and our food comes and we just sit there waiting for Jojo wondering where he went and how much money he was spending. It was a lot. He came back with this little box and a really nice watch for me! He bought me a watch! Like, the nice kind! The ones that are super shiny and not plastic cheaply stuff! I don't know how much it cost but I was soooo grateful that he would do something like that for me. He's so nice and his heart is so big. He's definitely one of my all time best friends. I also got letters or emails from church members in Kisarazu, previous areas, and lots of family and friends back home. It was just so good and I felt so loved that I actually cried. Like, in the middle of a Seven Eleven parking in the middle of the day. I don't think I've ever been so happy that I've cried before but I did it this year. My companion Elder Smith was a little concerned because when he asked me what was up I just couldn't form the words to respond. So we just sat there while everybody walked past us and I cried in a parking lot. Eventually I pulled myself together and assured him that I was not sad, but actually really happy. That helped him feel better and we were able to go out and work for the day. On my actual birthday we visited Mizuno Shimai, the older sister who lives at the top of a mountain. We rode up there and she fed us and then we shared a message. She's like my Japanese grandma and she's super nice. Then Elder Smith bought me a Black Thunder McFlurry from McDonald's to top it off. We wanted to stop by Takashi's work and say hi to him but he was too far away. However, he booked it to the train station just in time to hop on our train, give me a birthday hug, and jump back off. It was so nice. I have the best friends!
     Some more good news, we've been helping Wenting (Yi Shimai) with her after baptism lessons and we taught her about Patriarchal Blessings. She said she wanted one ASAP and things worked out so perfectly that she was able to get an interview on Sunday and she will be getting her blessing this upcoming Sunday! So excited for her! She also passed the N1 Japanese exam which is the hardest Japanese test ever. So now she can become a nurse! She's unfortunately been unable to pass the test for the past few tries but we fasted and prayed together and this time she passed!
      Takashi also got sustained as an Elder and he received the Melchizedek Priesthood this past Sunday at Stake Conference! He's such a stud. We're helping him prep for the temple so he can go next month for his first time doing baptisms for the dead. He's also taken a couple of days off work here and there so we can hang out with him on Pdays or go proselyte together.
     Then on Sunday we had a huge miracle! Wenting came into church a little bit late and sat by me, which she never does, so something was up. Then she says, "Liu is here!" I don't know if anybody remembers or if I even said it before but Liu is one of Wenting's friends that I was almost able to teach last time I was here about 9 months ago. She had said she wanted to take lessons but was too busy with work at the time so I was unable to teach her. Well, she was at church! When I heard that I was like WHAT?! Where? So Wenting took me to the back so me and Elder Smith could sit next to her. We started explaining a little bit and then decided to just teach her in a separate room because that's what she came there for anyway. So we go into a different room and ask how she got to church and heard this cool story. She woke up and just decided she wanted to go to the mall in Kisarazu. That mall is like almost a 2 hour bus ride away. Anyway, she gets up and starts headed toward the bus stop and Wenting sees her. So Wenting asks where she's going and then invites Liu to come with her to church instead. So Liu says yes and comes to church! And now after a really long time we were able to start teaching her! And she is awesome! First we explained church and then we started teaching about the Restoration. Wenting was missionary-ing it up in Chinese to explain the things she wanted to know more about and it was really cool. She understood everything and really loved church. She wanted to learn more and wanted some scriptures. I remembered that I had bought a triple combination for Tai who unfortunately didn't accept it last time I was here. I had re found it just the other day and knew where it was in the apartment so we ran home, ran back to the church, and gave Liu that triple combination. She wanted it so bad and was jumping and clapping saying, "teach me! Teach me please!" She asked if she could be a member and we were actually the ones to say, "slow down just a second! We have to teach the lessons first!" She was happy with that and said she'd love to learn and then she thinks she'll join! Then I decided we needed to celebrate and so I checked the fridge and there was still the frozen apple pie me and Elder Wilcox bought last time I was here! Wenting had some doubts about it but it's frozen so it was still ok and we all ate the delicious pie together. It was just a huge miracle and blessing from God.
     This week was really just a big series of reminders that God is there and that He really really loves Elder Rogers for some reason. I'm a pretty average missionary so I don't know why but I guess I'm about to die soon so He's letting me die happy!

 Elder Rogers

Monday, August 21, 2017

Best Birthday Present EVER!

I got called back to the promised land of Kisarazu to finish out my days as a missionary!
I'm so excited! I'm not eloquent enough to put words to my feelings but I don think there really are words for this anyway.

     So first thing that happened was I got on a train to my old stomping (or is it romping?) grounds in Kisarazu and when I got one was waiting for me. So I waited for a little bit, thinking maybe eh we're just late, but they never came. So I built my bike and rode out to the church.....and no one was there. So I pedaled on over to the apartment....and no one was home. So then I went back to the station and bought a crepe.......and the crepe guy didn't remember me! I thought we were tight man! Just kidding, but anyway I went to a payphone to try to call somebody but no one picked up. I decided it was time to start looking for someone I knew so I went over to Sensui Shimai's house and she let me right in and gave me melon pan and milk and talked to me while I waited for someone to come looking for me. I called my companion again and he sent the rescue squad, Takashi and Jonivar. We hugged and then hung out at the church while I waited for my companion to come be united with me. He had waited at the halfway point for me and I had gone the whole hundred! Whoops! But then we went and got dinner together and it was so awesome! I really missed these guys.
     The next day we were able to bike out rough the mountains to an old investigator of mine, Mikami the rice farmer! He's doing so well! He's taken almost all of the lessons and come to church twice! If he starts coming consistently he can be baptized really soon! I saw 2 different people I knew just biking down the street and they both said hi to me. One of them drove past and pulled us over to talk. We had to send a Elder Atkinson's bags to Tokyo but didn't have slips for he moving company, but luckily the moving truck just happened to come to our neighborhood and we flagged he guy down and he took his bags right then! Miracle! We also got to go over to the Sugimotos' house for dinner and the Kisarazu Bad-daddy was just as cool as ever.
     Sunday may have been the best day I've had since I left here. It started off kind of weird with me having to go pick up a lady I had never met at the train station with one of the members because my companion was giving a talk. I saw Wenting in the station on her way to church and said a 2 second hi as I went up and she went down. She looked kind of confused so I just kind of laughed and went on to pick up the mystery investigator. Well we picked her up and took her to church and then had a lesson during second hour. She's Taiwanese so I snagged Wenting out of Gospel Principles and took Takashi with me too because I like him and Umetsu Shimai knew I would need all the help I could get so she came too. I ended up having zero prep time but no one else wanted to take charge so I just opened up the manual and started teaching a super awkward lesson because I knew nothing about his new woman. She waits until the very end to say, "I thought we were going to study English." WHAT! What did you let me go on so long?! That was painful because it's not a normal missionary lesson I teach! What didn't you say something?! I held my tongue but felt like the biggest idiot ever. She went home and I apologized for my ignorance to everyone and they all forgave me. Whew. Then we taught Wenting an AB (after baptism) lesson about baptism and she's still super cool. She literally shines with the spirit, not exaggerating. There is actual light that comes from her! During the lesson though I asked her a question and she zoned out and so I asked what was up and she just pointed at Takashi's shoes. They were the most tattered, destroyed shoes anyone has ever seen! The tops were turned into Holy slippers and they were barely hanging onto he soles by a few threads. Mid-lesson we all just lose it and can't stop the laughing. Once we manage to bring it back I just realized how good my life is here. When I was a kid I loved the Disney movie Hercules. In that movie Hercules feels pretty left out and weird no matter where he goes or what he does. He sings a song that I have identified pretty strongly with for a long time. He says, "I have often dreamed of a far off place where a great, warm welcome will be waiting for me. Where the crowds will cheer when they see my face, and a voice keeps saying this is where I'm meant to be. I will find my way, I can go the distance. I'll be there someday, if I can be strong. I know every mile will be worth my while. I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong."
      That's how I've felt for most of my life, but here is home. These people are good and I belong with them. I'm so happy to have met them and to be blessed to be around them again. They are like an extension of my family. I can't wait to introduce them to my family too! Anyways, I love it here and I love these people with all my heart. We called Arnold, a recent convert, and taught him an AB lesson and he's amazing. We were able to visit Jonivar too and have dinner at his apartment and teach him an AB lesson. The amazing thing was that they are all different people of Chinese or Filipino backgrounds but their experience with the gospel was the same. They all felt the spirit the same way, they all get answers to their prayers, hey all are supported by God, everything was the same! And we didn't practice answers with them beforehand or anything! That's because it's TRUE! All of it! The gospel is true and it is amazing what it can do for us.
     I know I'm meant to be here. I'm so happy I get another 2.5 months here and I'm already scared at how fast that's going to go by. I don't ever want to leave, I want to staaaaaaay. But I need to do my best now and obey what the Lord tells me. Who knows, maybe I'll get extended or something. I don't know, anything could happen. All I know is that this gospel is true and it has brought me the greatest happiness that I never knew I could feel. It has increased my capacity to reach out and love people more than I ever thought I could love. I just can't get enough of this gospel because it just keeps on giving!

Elder Rogers

Monday, August 14, 2017

One foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel

So I'm Transfer 15 out of 16 now.
I'm also on my last area.
     We had Transfer Calls this morning and we were actually like the first call of the day. The Assistants sent out the email that they would start calling everyone and then we got a call right after that. Forgetting the suspense, Elder Christensen is staying and I am transferring............ back to Kisarazu! It's a dream come true to die there!
     We basically spent all of our time finding and we found a new investigator! Finally! He's a college kid who's interested in eternal families. We also found out that there's a really good place to find young people out in the rice fields as far as we can go while staying in our area. Who knew?
     We had an Obon party, which is like Japanese Day of the Dead, and ended up answering our English students questions about the church and teaching a lot. There weren't a lot of big events but it was a good week.

Elder Rogers

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bad boys😎

Next, on COPS
*intro theme music*
   Bad boys bad boys
   Whatcha gonna do?
   Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
   Bad boys bad boys
   Whatcha gonna do?
   Whatcha gonna do when you've got curfew?

     You might've guessed but I had a run-in with the cops. But I'll talk about that later. First off we had Zone P-day on Monday. I probably wrote about it but just a recap because if I forgot it someone else might have. We went with all the Elders in the Zone and played Jackpot with a football and frisbee. It was way fun. I wore my Dragonball Z shirt but managed to suppress the urge to go Super Saiyan. It was way fun to spend a few hours with friends.
      The rest of the week was scheduled to be festivals every day, but instead it decided to rain all week. And Japanese people are allergic to rain. Not only we're all the festivals cancelled, no one was on the street and they wouldn't even come to the door. The Sisters saw a lady on the street and tried to talk to her while it was sprinkling a little bit. She had an umbrella and everything but she said, "I can't talk! It's RAINING!" Water was falling from the sky! I don't get why us Americans don't freak out enough about that, lol. But anyway, that meant that we got soaked a few times and spent a lot of time looking at empty roads. We tried to go to a few colleges but they kicked us out within seconds of entering the front gate.
      We did have some really good things come out of this week too. We visited Wakutsu-san who has met with missionaries for like 15 years but never got baptized. He didn't even know he was a child of God! The missionaries never actually taught him the lessons! They just stopped by and said hi and read scriptures to him or something! So we taught him a lesson and it turns out he wants to be baptized! We set a date for November 5th, which is actually my very last transfer call. The one where they tell me I'm going home and my next companion is Sister Rogers and then laugh like they're hilarious. Anyway, since it rained all week I read the reports of everyone in our Areabook since the beginning of time and made sure to call lots of them. One less active family we were unable to contact but we kept thinking about them for the week. Then one day when we went to visit a member family, the Nemotos (they're my favorite), they asked us to go visit the same family! So we took off and visited the family and they want to come back to church! When we told the Nemotos they were so happy and made us a feast! They even gave us corn from Hokkaido which had to be flown in. It was the best corn ever! We got invited over to a lot more members' houses for meals than at the beginning of the transfer which must mean we either look too skinny or they just like us now. I liked looking skinny but I also really like the food. Decisions decisions.
      And lastly, we were coming home one night when we noticed 2 cops waiting for us on the side of the road that leads to our apartment. They pulled us over and asked if we were Christian volunteers. They also asked for our Green cards. So.....discrimination but ok, the whole country's like that so I can't complain. They start writing us a ticket for our eyes and noses being too big or something while someone in front of and behind us is breaking the law for bicycles but they get off free. However, I remained pleasant in this situation because I get blessings every time I get picked on for being a missionary. I've got curfew so I've got to end this quick. I started talking to the guy and explaining what we do and start proselyting him while he writes me this ticket. He starts laughing and pretty soon we're buds. He gives me the ticket, tells me I can throw it away and there's no record, and let's us off with a warning. Yeah. I think I'll hold on to the ticket though just because it's a cool reminder of a funny story.
      I know as we're kind to those around us even if we don't feel like they deserve it or aren't worthy of our love that it can change hearts. As we love those who are hard to love our capacity to love increases. Jesus said that we should love our enemies. For if we love only those who love us, how much better than sinners are we? But if we can love everyone regardless of how they treat us, then we are really like Jesus indeed. Be like your Father in Heaven. Don't let the actions of hose around you decide how you are going to react. We can always choose to break the chain of negativity and be positive. One kind act can lead to another and everyone's happy. So choose ye this day to be happy, no matter the circumstance. We have the power to do that so use it.

Elder Rogers