zondag 26 april 2015

Oumihachiman Exchange & Tiny Bikes

Hello there, all of you!

This week has been ridiculously eventful!!

First, we had companion exchanges with the Oumihachiman elders. Because they have a lot of Brazilian investigators (almost all of their investigators are Brazilian), they arranged a lot of appointments for the exchange so that I could actually talk to these people and teach them. So, we are off to the first appointment... and it falls through. And so does the next one. And the next. Until all appointments fell through. Well, uh... that was awkward. But I'm really happy I got the opportunity to work with the other missionaries. It's always a good idea to get a different perspective on missionary work! (Plus, we got to ride these super tiny, amazing folding bikes! NO ONE WOULD PASS UP ON SUCH AN OPPORTUNITY!!)

The rest of that week consisted of high-speed, racing against the clock teaching record updating (or rather, moving them onto our iPads for that new app I was talking about). We also had a few appointments (made previously), but we had to keep meeting up with people to a minimum to crunch in some more record updating. We had a deadline to move the entire records (from when they first met the missionaries till today) of the people we're meeting with currently to the app before yesterday. All I want to say is that some of our investigators have been around for a pretty loooooooooong time. Yep. But I'm really looking forward to working with the app! It's got some really nifty features and makes keeping track of everything SO much easier!

This week has been real, it has been fun... and it has been real fun! Thank you so much for reading, everybody! I hope you have a marvelous week with marvelous weather like today over here in Ootsu! Ah... spring is here!

Includes but is not limited to lots of love,
~聖徒長老, Elder Santos

Filled to the brim!

Hello, everboody!

This week has been filled to the brim with going around talking to everyone on the streets, knocking on doors and scavenging through old records and notes about former investigators for gold. We found a former investigator who has potential to progress, but he's not doing so well right now. I hope that he accepts this wonderful message; it will help him overcome his problems for sure! 

We had an amazing district meeting -- probably my favorite so far. The district leader basically took some time to talk about our investigators (our district consist of 6 missionaries) and kind of brainstorm on ideas to help them in any way. We got a lot of neat ideas that we want to try out with our investigators, like singing hymns to start every lesson and including the ward more in kind of following up with the investigators (as fellow shipping; seeing how they're doing, if they need help). I'm also going to teach our ward Spanish, to show our Spanish speaking members and investigators how much we love and support them. It's going to be fun!

We also had the district leader over in our apartment during an exchange and he really helped me out when I needed it. Thank you so much for putting him as our District Leader, president! He's really helping me to overcome my weaknesses and to become a stronger missionary.

Not much else to update you on, I believe. Thank you so much for your time, dear readers! Have a marvelous week!

A whole lot of love,
~聖徒長老, Elder Santos

maandag 13 april 2015

One more Round

Hello, 愛する皆さん!

I would like to use an example to describe my past week.

You see, every week is like a round in a boxing match. Once the bell sounds and the round starts, you're off to fight with every inch of strength your body possesses. After a certain amount of time, however, your body just can't keep up with the heavy exchange of punches and you need to take a break and catch your breath. Fortunately, after a few minutes of persevering in the ring, the bell sounds and you go to the corner of the ring, get a break, drink some water and receive some pep and advice from your coach to get your courage up.

For me, the past week was like a round in the ring. As I was exchanging punches with my everyday responsibilities and duties as any other missionary, a new transfer began, my trustworthy companion left and a fresh companion came in. From that point on I felt like my enemy was starting to overpower me -- I couldn't keep up with his punches and I was getting exhausted really quickly. I was left responsible for an area I have only been in for one transfer, not even knowing how to get from A to B, not even knowing where all of our investigators live properly. My stress piled up rapidly and just as I was about to say amen to my conscience and kiss the boxing-ring mat, the glorious chime of a bell filled the air and I was allowed to back off and slump into the corner of the ring for some needed rest. It was the General Conference. I had prayerfully prepared for the anticipated day, arming myself with specific question I had been seeking answers for. Just like in a boxing match, the break is short, but oh so sweet. To me, it felt like my coach knew exactly what I needed to hear; it felt like every talk in the Conference was directed to me and my concerns and questions. The words of the prophets gave me new-found hope and courage and reinvigorated me for the next round. I also got a few hints on how to take on my enemy; new insight and ideas to help my investigators come closer to Christ. 

I don't know why I had never appreciated these wonderful opportunities to receive counsel from living prophets, seers and revelators before. I'm truly grateful for our loving Heavenly Father, who calls worthy men to be His messengers and lead and guide His children. I'm also really grateful for the Holy Scriptures which contain the true word of God shared by prophets of old, still very applicable to this day and age, guiding us and comforting us through trials and hardships in our daily life. I really love the Book of Mormon and I really know it is the word of God.

I'm looking forward to applying everything I learned to my area and my investigators. I just want to bring them happiness and to experience the joy I've felt from this Gospel. I'm still learning and growing and I don't know everything. I still have questions and even doubts. But I know that this is true. I am glad that I decided to serve the Lord.

Aside from the General Conference, it's been really rainy in Ootsu lately, I have ruined my shoes and I have been working like a madman. Elder Kiki, my new companion, is a really cool guy from Washington and sings with the voice of angels. Pictures next week :P

Thank you so much for reading my super dramatic story, my friends. I hope you've all had an amazing week!! I will see you all next Monday, if ninjas don't kill me by then. Buh-bye!!

I really love all of you,
~聖徒長老, Elder Santos

donderdag 9 april 2015

Sakura Trees in Blossom

Hello there, beautiful everypeoples!

This week has been awesome! We have once again not seen much visible success last week. HOWEVER. This week has been very successful for me personally. I feel like this final week last transfer has prepared me for what will come next.

Last week I had a koukan with the big friendly Okinawan (from a few posts ago)! He taught me to be attentive and focus when we're out working -- even on our bikes. Because he would suddenly stop to talk with every living thing that crossed our path, I had to make sure I didn't ram into my companion. Hehehe. Not only that, but I learned that when we're talking with people, I should put more effort into trying to find out what they're talking about. I should ask more questions and try to find the meaning of what they're saying, instead of zoning out when hard Japanese is used and letting my Okinawan companion do the rest. Lesson learned, gotcha.

We also had a really good District Meeting. Effective use of the iPad and useful hints and tricks were covered, as we also learned about maintaining companionship unity by always being supporting to eachother. It reminded me of the week before, when we got our iPads and I didn't really know what to do. My previous concern was addressed and a happy Santos chourou left the meeting room.

This week I've felt the power of a testimony of Jesus Christ. We visited a Brazilian recent convert who hadn't come to church and hadn't been doing so well. He's currently having a really had time with a couple of different things (including moving out of his old apartment). He was really frustrated because everyone seemed to be against him. He has been threatened to lose everything he has in different ways and occasions. People have treated him unjustly. It made him mad. Why was it that even though he worked so hard, with good intentions, that he would be brought down, be made a fool of and be threatened by these evil people? While he was talking about all his trials and hardships, I couldn't help but think about Jesus Christ. Jesus came to the earth to teach us the path to eternal life and exhaltation. He wanted us to be saved. But even though He did what was right, evil people made fun of Him, spat on Him and in the end crucified Him. Despite all of this unrighteousness, Christ loved them. He loved the people who scorned Him and rejected Him. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34); He even pleaded to our Heavenly Father to forgive those who killed Him. He died for all of us and has felt all of our pain and hardships. We must be patient and strive to have that "pure love of
Christ" (Moroni 7:47) and learn to "love our enemies" (Matthew 5:44). When these things came up in my mind, I felt like I should tell it to our recent convert. At first, I was hesitant, thinking he would get mad if I would add salt to the wound. But as soon as I opened my mouth, my entire body was filled with this amazing feeling; I felt like I could break down walls with my voice (I can't explain it in any other way). I really felt the Spirit guiding my words. And in the end, I think it made impact on him. He remembered the promise he made to our Heavenly Father to follow the Savior until the end and follow His example. He agreed on everything. Life is hard. But through endurance in faith (faith in Christ), we will be freed from our burdens and be
blessed eternally. In the end it was a good discussion and we had some delicious Brazilian food at the end!

Oh yeah: the transfer announcement came in once again... I'm staying here in Ootsu. But my awesome Brazilian companion, Madruga chourou and the big friendly Okinawan are leaving! NOOOO!! I will be the senior companion of a young missionary, Kiki chourou! Let's find out who he is... next Monday. I'm looking forward to this transfer. I'm still worried about many things, but I know I will make it. Because I know that He's there to help me.

Thank you so much for reading this, my friends. I hope you all have an awesome week too!

I love Brazilian food,
~聖徒長老, Elder Santos

(P.S.: The sakura trees blossomed last week! Look at my underwhelming picture!)
(P.P.S.: Don't worry, my name-tag is clipped to my bag, on the ground)

iPad - A blessing or a curse?

Hey! Hello!! How are you??

This week has been... weird...? A lot has happened and at the same time nothing has.

We have been trying to meet up with our investigators a lot and had a fully planned jam-packed week. We were ready to go at it, when suddenly more than half of what we planned for fell through (for instance: we had nothing but finding on Sunday, because of canceled appointments). Appointments would be cancelled just as we were about to leave the apartment! From now on, I should probably work better on "Plan B", as we mostly rely on the activities we plan directly. So yeah. That happened.

We did, however, get iPads!! It was like a surprise to me: could it finally be it? The digital tool foretold in many prophecies and legends... would it see the light of day? We went to the Shimogamo meetinghouse for a "special meeting", where our mission president was awaiting our arrival. It basically took a "Douzo" and there it was, on my desk the next morning. I actually didn't know how to approach that thing. I was kind of like a caveman seeing fire for the first time. I marveled at it and wondered "What do I do with this??"

So it did take some time to get used to it. In the end, it has become an excellent tool for personal scripture study and language study (though a little bit distracting sometimes). I have yet to find out how to teach using the iPad, though. I'm taking time during study to create a solid teaching plan with this new tool. I just can't wait until we can use our daily planner and area book on it too. I'm sure that once I figure out how to properly use it, it will become a powerful asset for reaching out to both members and non-members and for quick and efficient teaching. Work in progress, heheh.

This week, I want to focus on becoming stronger. The iPads are like a two-edged sword: it will make the righteous stronger and enhance their ability to invite others to come unto Christ, while it will make the unrighteous stumble and fall into the snares of the devil. Very dramatic, no? I feel, however, that this is just what it's going to be like. I felt a little distracted here and there with the iPad last week. Its handy gadgets and fancy doodads distracted me from what I'm supposed to be doing here. I came across a very good article in the Liahona (or the Ensign) on changing our weaknesses into strengths through the enabling power of Jesus Christ's Atonement. I love how it emphasizes on the fact that weakness is not sin and that those weaknesses can be turned into strengths, through faith, humility, diligence and patience. That article really inspired me and gave me a lot of ideas on how I can become more disciplined and confident in using the iPad without being distracted by its fancy gadgets.

Give it a read! It's good!

You know what makes me really happy, though? You. Thank you for taking your precious time to read all of this. You are awesome!! I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with wonderful...ness.
A missionary in Japan loves you,
~聖徒長老, Elder Santos