maandag 27 oktober 2014

New companion, 1st Baptism & Halloween


This week has been hectically awesome.

First there was transfer day. The day had finally come for me to say goodbye to my trainer Carlile長老, who has taught me a lot these past two transfers. It had been a blast. After that, Yamaguchi長老 came in. He is an amazing missionary. I'm really glad I got the chance to have a 日本人 companion. All of that Japanese is making my brain work in Japanese more and more. Which is weird. But really cool!

Then there was this amazing ward activity: we had a Halloween Party. Preparing for the party took a lot of time and was also a little tough, but it was a heck of a lot of fun! We even got our investigators to come and it seemed they were having a good time! I love Halloween.

Also: one of our しがんしゃs was baptized yesterday (Sunday). I got to perform the baptism itself and thus I was a tiny bit nervous beforehand. By a tiny bit nervous I, of course, mean LOADS OF NERVOUS...ness. But it went really well and I'm excited to announce that the Kurashiki ward now has one more member. He's Chinese, by the way, and he's an amazing person: very kind and patient. How wonderful!

Another thing that made me stress out a lot this week was the fact that I have now become the "area senpai".Because my trainer and another missionary, Koyama長老, have transferred to different areas, I have "the most experience and knowledge about this area", so I have to take the lead in introducing Kurashiki to my new companion. Truth is, I don't really know a lot about this area or the people who live in it, heheh. It was tough. But we'll get there. Just a rough start.

Speaking of which, this is our 四人 in Kurashiki right now:
Beck長老 (Big American)
Yamaguchi長老 <> (Japanese master-chef)
Hansen長老 <> (He likes cats -- also, he's from my MTC district. REUNION!)
Yours truly (Mister Sandy Toes)

This week has consisted mostly of me curled up in the corner of my room, sucking my thumb and rocking back and forth anxiously. Quite stressful. But in the end, this week... 't was a good one!

Thank you so much for reading this, whoever you are. You are beautiful. I'm serious.

'Till we meet again.


Which way do you face?

Hello, ladies and gents.

This week has been really exhausting. You know how many people find out more and learn about the existence of God on their mission, right? I'm also learning a lot about Satan. This week I have felt Satan making me struggle more than ever before.

Like God, Satan is real. And Satan also has a purpose: to make us miserable, like he is. He is constantly trying to find ways to eliminate us, the missionaries, and to keep us from bringing ourselves and others unto Christ. His primary weapon? Our weaknesses. He uses those weaknesses and tries to paralyze us with lies and unwholesome whispering. He discourages, brings down, and makes us forget the miracles and tender mercies we've witnessed from God.

I know that God exists. I have known that for a pretty long while. I know He is our Father in Heaven and that he watches over each and every one of us. This is the very foundation of faith and hope. But what if you forget? What if you forget that He has always been merciful to you? What if you forget that He knows you -- better than you know yourself? What if you forget? Satan wants you to forget. And when you DO forget, he wins. When you DO give in to his lies, he wins.

This week Satan had convinced me that I am a weakling. He told me many times, over and over again, how it's impossible for a weakling like me to be a missionary. And you know what? I gave in to those lies. And it weakened me even more. I was having a hard time keeping a smile on my face, knowing that "I'm a miserable failure of a missionary". But then I remembered. "Which way do you face?" A phrase that stuck with me after the General Conference (see last week's post). Are we supposed to listen to Satan? Or are we supposed to listen to God? At the end of the week, I finally ignored Satan's whispers and finally tuned in to God. As I focused on everything He has given me and what joy I've felt by relying on our Lord, I was lifted up, strengthened and fortified.

God brings joy and rest. Satan brings sorrow and unrest. Which one do you chose?

Thanks for reading my rant. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I hope you've had a wonderful week.
Please take care,

maandag 20 oktober 2014


Do you like rollercoasters?
If you do, I have both good and bad news for you.

THE GOOD NEWS: this week has kinda been like an amusement park with
different, crazy rides every day.

THE BAD NEWS: this isn't an actual amusement park. I'm so sorry.

Here are some of the rides I went in this week:

It was just a regular day, until the skies grew dark and the moon was
visible. At first, it seemed like there was just a huge cloud covering
part of the moon. But the dark spot on the moon became bigger and
bigger! The first lunar eclipse I had ever seen! Not only was it a
beautiful sight to behold; many people were out on the streets, just
gazing at the moon. Apparently, when a lunar eclipse occurs, people
become philosophical and ponder deeply about life. It's at that time
that finding becomes really effective. We have answers to the
questions of these people, and we're here to share them! We've found
some interested people, whom we will meet up with soon.

(I tried to take a picture of the moon in Bikanchiku, but ended up
making a picture of the beautiful environment there)

"Reverse finding" is rare. We were trying to find some potential
investigators on our bikes in Tamashima, when suddenly we get a call
from this old man who wants to meet
up with us... IMMEDIATELY. That isn't unsettling at all! So we did!
Turns out this げんき ol' man was eager to know more about our free
english conversation class. He invited us into
this nice little bar he owns and talked to us a bit to find out who we
are and what we do. He
offered us a free meal in return for free english! Would you say no to
that? I didn't! We got a return appointment for the coming week. Yosh!

So on Saturday we had this big meeting at 12:00. Since we would be
taught a lot of stuff during that meeting, we decided to skip our
study-hours in the morning and just go straight to FINDING. And it was
GOOD. There actually were people roaming the streets for once, all
going to school and work. We stopped a lot of people and talked to
everyone we could. We found so many people who want to hear more about
Jesus Christ! It was insane! We decided we should do "morning でんどう"
more often.

These were some crazy rides indeed, but I think my favorite ride was
The meeting I talked about in "THE MORNING STAR" was the General
Conference, where everyone in the world gathers in their meetinghouses
and watches a broadcast of our president of the church -- our prophet
Thomas S. Monson -- and other apostles and general authorities
speaking to us. These only happen twice a year. We watched all of the
sessions (both Saturday and Sunday). The talks and speeches really
lifted me up, addressed my fears and struggles and gave me a better
vision as a missionary. I feel all charged up and ready to go!!

(We also went to Papa Pedro's Pizza Parlor on preparation day to make
and eat some delicious home-made pizza. I would say that no sandals
were harmed in the making of the pizza, but I'd be a big stinkin' liar
if I did; we hid one of our companion's sandals in the microwave-oven
the day before. You can figure out the rest.)

It's been a very eventful week, and I'm glad I get to experience
weird, crazy new things every day; things that are funny, things that
are less funny and things that fortify me and make me stronger
everytime. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to serve here in
the wacky lands of Japan.

Thank you so much for reading this!! I hope to see you all again next week!

Have a great one!


maandag 6 oktober 2014

Rainstorm & "Walk with Me"

Hello, my beloved brethren and sisters!! Art thou げんき??

It came to pass that I, elder Santos, have witnessed the passing of a
wondrous week, which doth fill mine soul with exceeding よろこび.


So yeah! It's been a good week, if you can't tell. Let's dip our toes
into the pool that is the pool of this week's happenings, SHALL WE?!

FIRST OFF! It was a beautiful Thursday. It was the day we were going
to visit one of our investigators with a baptismal date. She's been
wanting to be baptized for a loooong while, but she's always had
personal struggles and problems which made it so that she couldn't be
baptized. One of them is a so-called "はんたい husband": her husband is
completely opposed to her being baptized. We spoke to her about the
matter and decided to give her time to find out what the next step
should be. That Thursday we went to see how she's doing and to find
out what she wanted to do next. She told us that she wants to wait.
She doesn't want to step on her husband's toes. The baptismal date has
been erased and she's now in a state of baptismal limbo. Or something
like that.

So we decided to return to our apartment and call it a day, WHEN SUDDENLY--

"A wild RAINSTORM appeared!"

It was POURING. It was a 45 minute ride to our apartment. I was so
wet; the seas should've been ashamed of themselves. But hey! At least
my tire didn't pop! Hahahaha!

My tire popped.

Luckily, there was a bike shop just a few streets away. Still pouring.
We got some nice face-towels (Japan only) and got to chat a little bit
with one of the workers there. A patched tire and lighter wallet
later, the friendly man who fixed the tire offered us free カッパ. Or
rather, plastic bags with holes in them (made by yours truly). Made a
picture, had a laugh, got back home. What a day!

SECONDLY! We had another one of those lovely Zone Training Meetings. A
new mission theme has been revealed:

"True disciples -- one and all"  ===>  "Walk with Me"

I think the new one is better. The first one seems a bit focused on
the missionaries themselves and what they have to become, whereas the
second one focuses more on Jesus Christ and what we do as
missionaries. Our goal is to help others come unto Christ. As we
follow His example, we teach those around us how to do walk with Him.
I like it!

The meeting itself had a huge emphasis on Christ and His Atonement as
well. I personally think it was one of the best Zone Training Meetings
I've had so far. The zoneleaders talked about the importance of
strengthening the members in our church and taught us about being
loving and bold when extending commitments to those you find and
teach. I have personally learned a lot and my testimony if Jesus
Christ was strengthened and fortified.

At the end we also took a picture with our zone!

A lot has happened this week. A lot of progress has been made once
again, both personally and our きゅうどうしゃ made progress too! It's always
beautiful to see people so prepared to follow Christ and willing to
follow Him. It truly brings tears to my eyes. It's been a very
successful week!

I hope you've all had a wonderful week as well and I'll be seeing all
of you next week!
Well... actually I won't... 'cause... you know... I'm in Japan 'n' stuff...


zondag 5 oktober 2014

A mission is good for everybody...

ヘロ! ハウ アー ユ?

This week has been spiritually exhausting!!

I think it's safe to say that this week's highlight was the visit of President Ringwood, one of the General Authorities of our church, who has been touring a bit in Japan before he came and gathered with us in 岡山. That 大会 really reminded me of the good old not-so-distant MTC days in which we had Tuesdaynight Devotionals. Remember those? Ahh. なつかしい! It was a really good conference. Many notes have been taken and many things have been learned! One of the things that really stuck with me is when he said:

"A mission is good for everybody... but not everybody is good for the mission."

Oof! I beat myself up over that one! This is a reminder that we have to give it our all, or else we're just being a waste of space. Can the mission do this without you?

We had two こうかん this week. First I went to 福山 and served there with Weir長老. It was good: we found some people who had interest and taught a few lessons. Weir長老 really helped me during the こうかん. He taught me well during companionship study. He seemed to be a bit down though, but I later found out I "caught him at his worst". He is a hardworking missionary. It's no wonder he's been seeing so much success lately. (We also saw the Fukuyama Castle! Just look at it! And then at me! Back at the castle! I'M SO TINY!)

In the second こうかん Sproat長老 and I served here in 倉敷. I had to be in leader's position this time, as I supposedly know more about the area than he does. It was a tough こうかん. It went okay, though. Didn't find anyone, but Sproat長老 seemed glad he got to work so hard that day (we'd been biking all over the place). I guess it was kind of satisfying just face-planting on my futon that night. Slept like a baby.

Ran out of time. I have to go now. I hope you've all had a good week and I'll see you next time!