Monday, March 23, 2015

One Does Not Simply Rice-Cook Cookies

So, there's this setting on our rice cooker that we thought said
"cookies", and we wanted cookies, so our fearless district leader
mixed up cookie dough and put it in, and then he was like, "Oh, that
says 'cake', not 'cookie'."  And then he pushed start.  We didn't
exactly get cookies out of it, but it was really good.  :3

Mission Reset

We had our combined mission conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson
last Wednesday.  It was for the next phase in testing technology for
missionaries.  Elder Evans (the member of the Seventy who's in charge
of the missionary department) was with him.  He said that when they
were coming up with the title for the conference, they figures they
couldn't just call it "Mobile Device Training" because Elder Nelson
wouldn't like that.  So they came up with the title "Missionary Work
in the Digital Age" and took that to Elder Nelson, and he in effect
said, "If that's what you're doing, I'm not going."  They ended up
settling on the title "Disciples of the Lord in the Digital Age".  The
reason for that is, it's not just about doing missionary work more
effectively; they want to help us develop good technology habits now
so that we'll have them for the rest of our lives.  That was more of
the focus of the conference.

As far as the test goes, the Tokyo Mission and the Tokyo South Mission
were given test iPads last year, and then a few months later we
started using Facebook.  Now they're rolling iPads out to the rest of
Japan, and they're doing a "reset" on the Tokyo missions and giving us
the same training that they're giving to the rest of the missions.
Half the mission (including me) traded in the test iPads (white 16GB
iPad Mini) for new ones (black 32GB iPad Mini 2), and the other half
is trading theirs in at another event this week.  The training is
going to be in three phases: teaching & learning, planning &
record-keeping, and social media.  To start with, the other missions
are just getting the apps that help with study and teaching (they're
still using paper planners).  We still have the Area Book Planner app
(because otherwise we'd lose the records and reporting mechanisms
we've been relying on for the past year), but they disabled Facebook
for now.  We heard we'll probably get it back around May, but that's
not for certain yet.  The Quorum of the Twelve is overseeing the
training schedule.

Also, apparently the Church decided that only missionaries in Canada
and the United States will be paying for their iPads, and they have
the option of taking the iPads home with them.  Other missionaries get
to use them for free and they don't get to take them home.

Aside from that, we got some new apps in the past few weeks.  They
made Quizlet (a flash cards app) available to us the other week, so we
can use that in studying Japanese.  It's actually really nice.  The
Church is also developing a pamphlets app.  It has interactive
pamphlets for all the missionary lessons.  :D  It's up on the App
Store already (under the title "LDS Pamphlets").  I don't know if it's
up on Google Play or not.  They've only got them in English currently,
but they're working on Japanese.

On a lighter note, I found this funny sentence in my dictionary:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Old Friends

Last week, in an area on the other end of the mission, an investigator
that Elder Strain (my companion) once taught asked for Elder Strain to
perform her baptism.  So yesterday, we went to the other end of the
mission!  Fortunately our mission is geographically very small.  It
took about two hours by train.  It was a very joyful baptismal
service, and while we were there we talked to one of her friends and
helped her understand what was going on.  Her friend is really
interested.  It was a great experience overall  ^__^

This week, we have a conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson about
digital missionary work on Wednesday, and then we all get new iPads on
Friday.  (We're handing in the "test" iPads and getting the "official"
ones, which are a later model.)

Here are some pictures of my area~ It goes all the way out past Landmark Tower, which is about a 45-60 minute walk from the apartment.

There's a lot of history in our area.  We came across this memorial one day as we were exploring.

Also, you know how some people, when giving a presentation, toss candy to people who answer their questions?  Our mental health advisor gave us onions instead.  o.0

"Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."  

--2 Chronicles 15:7

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Deviating from the Order of the Universe

Sorry for not writing in so long!

I threw all my long-sleeved white shirts into the wash this morning, and then they weren't done when it was time to go out, and we're not allowed to just wear short sleeves in public during the winter season (it's a rule of Japanese business attire or something), so today I'm wearing a suit jacket over top of a short-sleeved shirt.  It feels weird.  Hence, the title of this post--it describes my feelings today.  I don't plan on doing this again.  o.0

This past transfer has been rather slow.  Because of that, I've had more time to reflect on the past and future.  I learned a lot, seeing patterns I hadn't seen before.  It's one thing to know God loves you, and another thing to feel that love, and yet another to grasp the deep and apparently subtle implications of that love as it connects with God's wisdom and foresight.  I feel like it was really good for me, but towards the end of this six-week period I've been feeling like it's time for a change.

Yesterday was transfer-announcements day, but it was also the day Elder M. Russel Ballard decided to have a combined mission conference with the Tokyo and Tokyo South missions, so transfer calls became transfer emails this week.  And we got the emails after the conference.

Elder Ballard was traveling with his wife and with President Rasband of the Seventy and Bishop Stevenson (the Presiding Bishop) and their wives.  They all got to speak to us.  It felt so good to hear Elder Ballard's voice at the beginning of the conference as he greeted us and announced who was going to speak in which order.  

In the second half, when Elder Ballard gave his talk, he spoke about teaching people who don't have a Christian background.  He said, "You have to be the best teachers we've ever produced." He said that part of the reason for that was because the world today is full of clutter (mobile devices, the Internet, so much information everywhere)--it's hard to get people to settle down for a minute.  Another thing is, we have to make sure they understand clearly who God is before we can really move on to any of the other doctrines we teach, or it won't quite make sense to them.

The awesome thing, I thought, was that if we link what Elder Ballard said to 1 Nephi 3:7, we effectively have an apostolic promise that we can be the best teachers the Church has ever produced!  But that, along with what Elder Ballard's companions said, made me realize that I really need to get on the ball, because I'm not getting nearly enough teaching practice right now.

Elder Ballard read Acts 3:1-11 to us, particularly drawing our attention to the phrase "fastening his eyes upon him" in verse 4.  He used that as a theme for the rest of his talk.  He told us we had to be able to teach any doctrine, at any time, in any circumstances, by the power of the Spirit, and he talked about "fastening our eyes" on individuals--making sure they understand what we've taught; making sure their needs are met.

Before he left, he shook hands with all the missionaries.  ^__^  Then he directed the mission presidents to spend a bit of time with us, so President Wada and President Budge switched off sharing their thoughts and impressions.  Then we went home and got our transfer emails!

I'm transferring to Yamate (山手), in Yokohama City.  That's the area where the first LDS missionaries to Japan, including Alma O. Taylor and Elder Heber J. Grant, landed.  It's where Elder Grant gave the dedicatory prayer for Japan.  My new companion (who I'll be meeting on Thursday) will be Elder Strain.

I'm looking forward to it.  ^_____^

"Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."  
--2 Chronicles 15:7