Friday, May 25, 2018

Elder Renlund Conference: Week 79 in Japan

Last Monday I kind of had a head cold going on but then by nighttime came around it got pretty heavy. Woke up Tuesday morning and was absolutely slammed with a fever. The steaks over, I got sick for the first time out in the field. Tuesday was spent inside and video calling into district meetings. But then we were back on the streets on Wednesday; I'm still recovering a bit, but no worries!

Also some other sad news, our main man Kouta teaches at a tutoring school and got slammed hard this week. Luckily he's still hanging with YSA's and we're meeting this week. He's still solid but in not being able to meet this week, he also missed out on the open conference they had with Elder Renlund of the 12 apostles.

Mission Conference with Elder Renlund.

As far as other cool things we had happening this week, Elder Renlund came to our mission and we got to have a conference with him as a mission. It was absolutely amazing. He talked a lot about not only going to work, but in keeping a positive attitude as we do so. He told us he was guilty of it too, but sometimes we go to work because we made a commitment, but we're not always keeping a positive attitude while we do it. In that, we've been talking a lot lately as a mission about choosing joy. Choosing to be happy despite circumstance, or disappointments. This week wasn't absolutely spectacular. Some things happened that I wish wouldn't have happened. But I choose how I react to it. We have the amazing gift of Agency. One thing that we can choose with that agency is to be happy. Some days are harder than others, but that's all right, prayer helps too. I'm so stoked to be here!
...And the members made us cake! 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy Mother's Day; The Mom's Point of View

I took opportunity to video the tail end of our chat with Elder Cuff. I asked him to share something in Japanese for his nieces and nephews.

Then I asked Asuka for a translation! 😊
"Hello everyone! I am currently serving in Japan as a missionary.  It’s been a great opportunity to serve as a missionary. If you ever get a chance to come to Japan, please do.

We can love and serve people like Christ does and it’s a wonderful thing.  My life has been changed because of this. The way I think and pretty much everything  I do is focused on Christ now and I find more happiness in my life. And that’s wonderful. I love you all. Let’s do this!"

Happy Mother's Day: Week 78 in Japan

This week was a pretty good time, lots of just plain missionary work. We got a decent amount of rain this week, but it's helped me get more comfortable with wet socks. 

As far as people goes, Kouta is an absolute rock. He got his work schedule switched around to come to church and was able to come this week and the weeks to come. We were a bit worried because he sometimes doesn't respond to us as fast as before during the week, but it turns out the reason he hasn't been replying is fast is because he's been hanging out with all of the YSA. Elder Renlund of the 12 Apostles is coming for a devotional and the YSA are already taking him and want us to join for dinner before we all go as a group. Saturday's gonna be sweet. 

We got a lot of good finding done this this week so we should start working with some real cool guys soon. 

I video called my parents today so sorry for the short email this week. They're the best! I know mothers are a blessing and Mothers Day is one of those days that just makes sense to celebrate. Have a great a week everyone!

Elder Cuff
Sorry this is the only picture this week...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Mom's Always Right: Week 77 in Japan

So in regards to last week, we had a great time. One of our investigators picked us up and drove us out to Costco. After taking us to our apartment to drop everything off he brought us back to his place where we had a great lunch and listened to MoTab. Right after that he took us over to the church where we met with an Eikaiwa student who drove us in his Cadillac to his home where he played violin and guitar for us. We talked to him about helping his family connect better and then took us back to the church just in time for us to shoot off a quick email before continuing the work. On the ride back he was wondering about the meaning behind Hotel California by The Eagles. I called up my good friend Elder Wayas who actually explained this to me a few months ago. He reminded me and we had an awesome chance to relate it to The Gospel which made perfect sense to our student. The Lord works in funny ways sometimes.

We had MLC this week and I ate a bunch of Costco muffins. Big win for the A team. Also got to translate. MLC involves a lot more discussion compared to Zone Conferences so it was a bit harder than usual but hopefully things were understandable.

I got pooped on by a crow. They have big poops. Luckily on the way back to change my clothes it helped some people laugh and we were able to share The Gospel a bit so it all worked out for a positive purpose.

This might be a silly thing, and my mother is going to love that I finally caught onto this despite her telling me all the time, but I've found how nice it is to live in a really clean and organized apartment. I felt like I've kept pretty good care of the apartments I've lived in so far, but Elder Salamanopoulos helped push me to the next level. We spent the mass majority of today just deep cleaning, decluttering, reorganizing, and overall tossing out tons of junk. And the apartment looks, feels, and smells great. I had a really cool moment though. My lovely companion hopped in the shower and I took a moment to set up the speaker and turn on some soft music, opened up the windows, and sat down on the couch. It just suddenly hit me out of nowhere but I just really felt at home. I felt so comfortable and great. I think The Spirit is felt in a lot of different ways but right now I'm straight up testifying of not only spiritual, but temporal cleanliness. We have so many awesome gifts and blessings in this life so we should take care it. I love the little things in life, and I'm glad I've really grown to enjoy them. There's a lot of ways to learn and grown and I think The Lord has given me the best means possible for whatever situation I'm in.

Elder Cuff

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wild week. No time. Love you all: Week 76 in Japan

I have an amazing story of one of the most legendary P-days but I am running on fumes as far as time goes. I will say that it involves a baby blue 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, a professional violinist, Hotel California by The Eagles and The Gospel, Alec, a hot pot, and lots of food. I'll attach pictures. Explanation will be next week. Stay tuned.

Also sorry I forgot to add the last part of last weeks email and kind've left a cliffhanger for transfer calls. I am still in Kamiooka with my new companion Elder Salamanopoulos. Say it five times fast. There are only 2 missionaries in this mission from Las Vegas. Now we're a companionship. He dresses better than anyone I've ever met in Vegas and sings like an angel. We've been non stop the past few days and haven't really had time for meals and studies, but he has been an absolute trooper despite getting tossed in the deep end. Sadly he hasn't gotten much of a P-day to rest in either. My bad dude.

Kouta is doing absolutely awesome. He is going to pray about and decide on a baptismal date soon. Pray for him. He's awesome.

I taught in Spanish! The other elder who transferred into the apartment is Elder Israde. He's from Grand Rapids but grew up in a Spanish branch and spoke Spanish at home so he's been great to practice with. Because of his Spanish skills him and his companion Elder Giles have a new investigator, a belly full of fajitas, and pinstripe Mexican blazers. I got to meet this man on the way to a meal appointment and I got to teach with Elder Israde! Spanish is hard. But God and the gift of tongues is real.

This week I've started to discover the beauty of simplicity, and not stressing the things that aren't in your control. I've found there's a lot of things I can't exactly take over, yet I've been stressing about them. So I had yet another cool chance to take a step back, get on my knees, and rely on someone greater than me. Although there's many people in that category I'm specifically talking about my Heavenly Father. The power of prayer has absolutely rocked my world. It's real and it has changed me. There's a cool quote I read that said, "You will only create a smudge out of you, God will create a masterpiece." It's such a beautiful concept to me. Rely on God. Let him shape you. I love him, and He loves me. It's been an awesome week.

Elder Cuff

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Now, is that right? Week 75 in Japan

And there goes another beautiful week!

Top of a danchi off the coast.

I'll be honest, this was a pretty routine week. Lots of laughs, good food, miracles, and learning experiences all around. Today is transfer calls, I'll be staying in Kamiooka with...

This week I had a chance to go on splits with my good friend Elder Nagaoka. We start walking side by side with a guy and strike up a conversation, after some small talk he suddenly starts speaking fluent English with a very gruff western accent. Turns out he did international trade and spent most of his career abroad. Also speaks Spanish and Korean on top of that. Awesome guy who showed us his house and we're gonna start meeting. But that day I definitely didn't expect an elderly Japanese man to look at me dead in the eyes and say, "Now is that right?" With a voice like Clint Eastwood. 

We had dinner with the Owada family and it was by far the most fun meal appointment I've ever gone too. They're a very genki family and it was just a lot of good conversation. The father of the family is a convert who has an amazing conversion story when he was in college. He originally didn't want to learn, but for some reason that he didn't understand then, he kept reading The Book of Mormon. He just continued to read, pray, and ask questions. It grew and grew and now he's one of the many rocks of the Kamiooka Ward who's raised an amazing, happy family. It was a testimony to me of the fruits of The Gospel. 

There's a very common view, I've found in talking to people, that religion in general is something limiting. I've met a decent amount of people who think it's unnecessary. But in my experience I've found the exact opposite to be true. It makes life better. It boosts everything. I like to think of it like Mario Kart. You're on the road just cruising along, then next thing you know, boom. Mushroom. You're gone. Fight like a lion, onward to victory. I know The Book of Mormon changes and guides lives. I've seen it! I know that there is always more to life, even if we try to convince ourselves otherwise. I've come to know, for myself, that there is a Christ who loves me, and it's a beautiful thing. Love you all!

Elder Cuff

We went to Sakuragicha last P-Day! 

I had anin-dofu ice cream. It was amazing!

We were taking a picture in front of the hanging geese, then this guy walked up and asked if we wanted to take pictures with his pug. It was a confusing situation, but come on, how could we say no?

China Town entrance gate.

Video call lesson with Kouta!!

Some cool guys who knew Elder Smith from when he was in Zama!