Companion: Elder Buchanan
Hey all! Sorry I've been lost to the world for a bit! P Days are seriously the worst.
So here's a quick life update: transfer calls came last week or two weeks ago (can't remember) and I will be staying here in Ise with Elder Buchanan. Sometime during the transfer I will be released as Branch President because we are getting a Senior Missionary Couple at the end of the month and he will take over Branch President duties. I GET TO BE A NORMAL MISSIONARY AGAIN!
So we had trainer's review two weeks ago. It was great to see all of the old guys (Elder Taylor is the new AP - the third in a row from Shizuoka!). I'm not surprised at all. What a great guy :). Then President and Sister Ishii came all the way down to Wagu and visited the Dejis. They prepared a feast from the sea (the best sea food I've ever had) and we had a great lesson about prayer. The Ishii's worked their magic and the Spirit was so strong!
We have started trying to teach this kid we found at the Oyaji Band. He's cool and open to listening to what we say. He's 20 and is really cool. We went out to eat with him twice. We talked about God and the Book of Mormon. He accepted a Book of Mormon so we'll see how things work out. He's part of some kind of ancestral worship group so he's not a real investigator yet. But we'll get him :).
The crew meets the Dejis
We went over to the Yamazakis and hung out with Enoc for a bit. He's 16 and is the only youth in the branch. We played ukulele for a while and then talked about anime for a bit. Then we cut down all the weeds in the Yamazaki's back yard.
Then we had an exchange with Elder Meyers and Kojima. Elder Meyers helped me with some branch president stuff and suddenly everything clicked. I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me before but church leadership is exactly the same as missionary leadership. Branch president is the same as district leader. Zone leader is the same as stake president. APs are general authorities and auxiliaries. I came into Ise with a Zone Leader mentality, thinking that I had to build something, build a direction and training based on the Area Plan. Nothing was quite clicking in my head and I was having a hard time laying down a solid direction for the branch. Nothing was working or progressing and for two transfers I felt kinda lost. Finally I realized that as a branch president I don't need a Zone leader mentality but a district leader's. I'm not supposed to build anything new, I'm just supposed to personalize the stake goals for Ise. So on Sunday we had two Presidency meetings and made plans for the branch to accomplish all of the stake goals. It feels really good and everything feels right. As a branch we are planning family history workshops and a temple trip in August! We are also trying to get everyone to read the Power of Everyday Missionaries this month. We have also had a ton of interviews this week. I love interviews. It's really fun to get to know the members and help them on a one on one level. I finally feel like I know how to be a branch president.
On Monday we went to the national candy festival with Bro. Ota! It was pretty cool! The next day we visited Sis. Nakamura. She's cool.
Then we went back to the church and we called almost every less active in the church records. We called over a hundred people and most of them kekkoed us and said they didn't want to have any contact with the church because they had reverted to the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct. It's sad to see so many people who no longer want to be with us. We have about 150 members living within Ise boundaries but only about 15 or so are active. But the good news though is that we were able to get appointments with about 5 people. Most of them live pretty far out past the edges of civilization so this will be a fun week. We have one lined up for each day of the week and it's going to be a full day trip to see each one. I'm way stoked! We are so blessed.
We got to spend a little time with Tetsuya. He's a lot more mobile than I thought. He can actually leave the house and go around town so we went to Geku with him.
On Friday we had the stake 大運動会 (Sports Day) at Yokkaichi dome. The church rented out Yokkaichi dome! It was massive and hundreds of members came from all over the mission. I got to see a lot of old friends from Inuyama and Nonami, which was so fun! It was great seeing everyone. Some of these friends I haven't seen since the beginning of my mission and I was way happy when they still remembered me! It was such a fun time. We were able to convince two of our members to come from Ise and we had a great time with them.
On Saturday the new Rogue AP's, Elder Porter and Elder Bradshaw came down for a visit. We went out on splits and Elder Porter stayed at the church with me and I interviewed Bro. Tou and the Yamazaki family. Elder Bradshaw and Buchanan got to go do some finding which sounded way fun. We had a good night catching up and talking about old times in Suwa and Kariya. Then on Sunday they gave the branch a training fireside, which was awesome! The branch loved it! Then we got on a train to Kashikojima and took the little boat out to the Wagu peninsula, where the Deji's welcomed us with a seafood feast. We taught them how to pray again (they like praying but they're old so it's hard for them to grasp the whole concept of prayer) and then taught them the importance of coming to church, reading the Book of Mormon and praying. They love listening to the Gospel and feeding us tons of fish. It's a great situation :).
Anyway it's been a good start to the transfer. I'm hoping once I'm released that we will be able to do some more finding. Before I get released I hope to do what I can to lift the members and help them find the joy of living the Gospel and dendo. Life is hard out here but it's so so rewarding. I love Ise! I love helping these people. I love being a missionary.
Have a fantastic week