Thursday, February 23, 2017

And Then Elder Holland Happened

Date: 2/20/2017
Place: Ise, Mie
Companion: Elder Brown

I can't remember a whole lot of what happened before the Elder Holland Conference but I'll see what I can report. 

On Monday we rode all over Ise with Bro. Higashimoto. We introduced Elder Brown to Village Vanguard and he got some lightsaber chopsticks. Legit. 

Dinner with Light sabers. 

On Tuesday we did service at a disabilities center and played games with the guys there and it was SO FUN! Then we had a lesson with the Nonaka family. They are a slightly older couple and are a lot of fun. Shimai likes to talk a lot so we had a good time with them. 

As always, Wednesday was NUTS. We got up, hopped on the train to Toba and the hotel shuttle came down and picked us up and took us up to the top of a mountain where we teach an english class in the nightclub which overlooks all of Toba, the bay and all of the islands. Dope. We made lots of friends there! There are a handful of really good potential investigators that we are really excited about.  We went straight home after that and changed into normal clothes and went out to play ping pong at a gym with a couple of our Eikaiwa guys (goeigo, the normal one), Blake and Takase san. They destroyed us a ping pong and we had a great time! Then we dropped some cookies off at Sis. Sugimoto's house and then went straight to teach Eikaiwa at church. It was way fun and we had two really full classes! There are a few really good PI's at normal eikaiwa as well. I'm so stoked for these guys! 

Our English class. 

On Thursday we actually had a really good planning session and got a lot done. Then we biked out to Sis. Hayashi's house and taught her a lesson. She's a really sweet grandma who got baptized last year. 

Then the real madness started on Friday. After changing plans about 6 times (we were going to go to the Elder Holland conference, then it got cancelled, then we were going to go to DTM and have an exchange, then suddenly the Elder Holland Conference got uncancelled and a lot of other stuff happened), we went to Tsu with the Salmon Missionary Couple and visited Bro. Yamazaki (our ward mission leader) in the hospital there. He's doing a lot better than he was before. He can walk, hold basic conversations and move about so he's doing a lot better. He will probably be coming home here in a couple weeks but he will likely never be the same after the stroke. Then we came back to Ise, packed a little bit and cleaned the office a little bit, then we went to Suzuka to stay the night there. 

Oh! Crazy miracle I forgot to write about. So on the way to Tsu we found this kid on the train. Then on the way to Suzuka (Like 8 hours later) we met him AGAIN on the train! He's way cool and loves us. I think we could make him an investigator. We are going out to eat Karaage with him tonight so keep him in your prayers! We stayed over with the Suzuka Elders, got up at 5am and went to Meito for the Elder Holland Conference.

It was the most incredible experience of my life. Elder Holland invited each of us up and shook each of our hands. The conference started with the hymn, Called to Serve, and I immediately lost it and cried like a child. It brought to my remembrance the faithful service of other elders before me and the fervor they sang that song with as they finished their missions.  Then they resurrected the Mormon Show for one more performance of Savior, Redeemer of my Soul. I felt the Spirit in a way that I have never felt before and felt a very real love from my Savior. Once again I completely lost it and had to be rescued by Elder Banks and a handkerchief that he lent me. 

We heard from President Ishii, Elder Yamashita, Sister Yamashita, President Whiting. And then Elder Holland stood. He expressed his love for us. He told us that a mission is our opportunity to be apostolic (lowercase a). We get to spend this slice of our lives being like Peter, Ammon, Alma, Amulek of old and spend every waking minute working for one goal: to save a soul. He told us how our missions should mean everything to us. He told us how, 50 years later, he still thinks of his mission every day and cannot speak of it without tears. He talked about how the mission is real life and when you go home you have to deal with other stuff, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. He shouted, pounded the pulpit and taught us from the scriptures. He answered our questions and gave us a very personal experience in the little Meito chapel. He helped me to realize just how much my mission means to me. This experience has changed my life. These last 19 months have changed me in a way that I don't even know how to express. Elder Holland's words and the Spirit that I felt that day lifted me and reminded me of a God who is very, very real and very, very aware of me. I felt the actual love of God in a way that I have never felt before. And I know that if God loves me so much, then he loves you at least as much. What a wonderful experience it was to be taught at the feet of an Apostle. 

I got to meet a lot of old companions and old friends at the conference, many of them probably for the last time. There were also a few fallen heroes that I wish I could have seen at that conference. 

All missionaries who has ever been to Matsumoto. 

I'm a grandfather! Elder Gubbay, my trainee, is now training again! My grandson is from Brazil, Elder Silva. He's way cool! Elder Gubbay is such an inspiration to me. He's doing such good work for Kariya. 

This Sunday was my first time conducting Sacrament Meeting. Haha I don't think I did a very good job. I gotta practice for next Sunday because we have some visitors from the Stake (Ray Shimai's coming from Inuyama!!!!). After church there was the usual scramble of me and the two councilors trying to convince the computer that a missionary can hold a calling in the branch presidency and that the councilors are the same as last time. Then we rushed off to Wagu with the Dejis. Deji grandma and grandpa became investigators!!! We taught them the Plan of Salvation and they were very very open to it and loved the idea that they could be with their son again. 

Ise branch chapel

Guys, Eternal Families are seriously the best and everyone should know that. The Deji family gets it! Also they took us to the beach and to this really cool shrine, clear out on southernmost peninsula of the Japan Nagoya Mission. It was a beautiful day, the Pacific is way blue and clean and the plum trees are starting to blossom. 

Life is good. Life is real good. 

Love you all! 

Elder Johnson 

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