Monday, September 30, 2013

Tokyo Japan Week 8

Hey everyone! This has been a pretty awesome week here in Oyama, and I'm way stoked to write about some of the stuff that happened. First off! Just wanna say thanks for all of your awesome emails, they all really do mean so much to me. :) You guys are getting so many blessings!! It really makes me so happy, and really thankful to Heavenly Father, I've been praying for you all individually and by name everyday.  Tyler! Congrats on your new job man!! So stoked for you! You were in my prayers everyday, so I'm super stoked things are working out for you.

On to the week! I should hopefully get my card by the end of the day, so I'll keep a look out, thanks so much for all you did to help me get the card! I know it was a major ordeal, so I just wanna say thanks! This week we weren't able to find any new people, but! We recently met that Brazilian family, and they want to get baptized!! We are going for the baptisimal commitment tomorrow night, and we're way excited. Which brings me to something I need from ya Tyler! So, this amazing family wants to be baptized, but they only speak Portuguese! So we've been trying to find a way to teach them way simply, but I could really use some good phrases. Could you maybe send me some phrases you used a lot on your mission, and then I can communicate with them a little better! Thanks so much man, I can't believe I'm teaching a family completely in Portuguese! I feel way lucky to have this experience though. It's super challenging at times, but the Spirit is really being the master teacher, and the Lord is blessing us so much. Suprisingly, right now most of our investigator pool is Brazilian! We always leave the apartment now with mutiple Books of Mormon in Japanese and in Portuguese. Who would have guessed that!! Haha, you just never know! I feel really thankful to be in Oyama at such an awesome time, and especially being able to teach so many great people.

We also had a super cool experience this week! So last Sunday we were handing out chidashis at the Eki, and we found a new investigator named Okenchu! Turns out he is from China, and he is really so prepared. We taught him at a little donut shop, and he asked us if he could come to church with us the followingSunday! So he came yesterday, and we had such a great time, and we were able to teach him after church as well. It was so cool to see his reactions as we taught him about the Restoration, and it made me so thankful for this time to be a missionary. At times, it really does feel like forever, but then I have days like today where I realize I have already finished 4 months! That's so crazy!! I remember yesterday being a little 12 year old and thinking a mission was so far away and so long, and here I am already almost a quarter done. CRAZY! But I'm really loving it, and I'm really so thankful to be here in Japan. It really is a historic time, especially for Asia. They are so prepared! We meet people all the time, and their lives have been leading them to that point in time to meet us. Especially the Awaihara (Brazilian) family we are going to commit! Apparently, the day we met them they had been in Japan about a day and a half. They had just arrived here! But the Lord blessed us in meeting them right when we did, and now their moving closer to baptism. Man, it really just blows your mind! Being a missionary really is the greatest thing ever, and I'm so thankful to be here at this time.

There's no sugar coating it! Missionary work is way hard! I probably got rejected more times this week then I have ever in my life, but the people you meet make it all worth it. We are going forth with the intention to save a few souls, and I feel so blessed to be here in Japan at such an awesome time. I love you all so much! There are many days where I miss home and miss the cooking and the blessing of having my family around... But! I wouldn't trade this time for anything. :) I go to bed every night tired and stoked, because I know I'm finally doing exactly what the Lord has wanted me to do since I was a little kid. It's funny how quickly time goes by! I feel like yesterday Dad and I were riding to little league baseball practice;) Haha, I'm so excited to see the blessings you guys are having, and please know you're always with me in everything I do. Mom...everyday I always push myself to be the best missionary I can be, cause I know you expect only the best! Crazy that time is going by so quickly, and I'm already at 4 months, but I'm stoked for the next 20!! By the way! Don't spoil Conference for me! Haha, I have to wait a whole extra week before I get to see it! I'm so stoked to see it though!

But anyways, I really love you guys so much, and I'm so stoked to talk to you in less than 3 months! haha. So excited to see how everybody is doing and stuff. Have an awesome week!! I love you all!

-Elder Justesen

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tokyo Japan Week 7

Konnichiwa everyone! It's been another really awesome week here in Oyama, and I'm really excited to tell you all about it. I had a really awesome birthday here in Japan! Can't believe I'm 19, but you know, what can you do! Haha, Elder Howard took me out for what is called Shabu Shabu! It's kind of hard to explain, so you'll have to look it up! Needless to say... It was amazing. So dang good! Basically the Rodizio's equivalent in Japan terms, haha. I'm so glad to hear you are all doing well. Tyler, you'll be pretty stoked to know, this week we found 3 new Brazilian investigators that are so excited to be taught by us, and I'm now learning REALLY basic Gospel Portuguese. They really are such a prepared people.

This past week we were able to see so many miracles, and in about 2 weeks I'll be heading back to Narita for hopefully... 3 baptisms I was able to set dates for and teach! I'm really so excited and so thankful Heavenly Father has blessed me with this success so early in my mission. His hand is really so evident in all that we do here as missionaries. I'm so stoked every day to put on my tag, and go work in His vineyard. As well this week we taught our new investigator family, the Bryce's! The Bryce family consists of Rob and Sachie, Rob who is from Canada and Sachie who is from Japan, and their 2 little girls. Can't lie, half Japanese kids are the cutest kids EVER. They were cracking me up so much, and when we were able to teach about eternal families, the Spirit was so strong there. I just had this picture in my head of this incredible little family going through the temple together, and that just made me so thankful to be a missionary. Missions are hard! But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this has been the greatest decision of my life. I feel as though I have changed so much for the better already, and I know my life will be shaped by this time for the rest of my life. I love the Japanese people! They really are so amazingly kind and generous, and the ward members here in Oyama are so excited about missionary work. Our 17 year old investigator named Shun has also told us he really wants to get baptized, rather surprisingly, so we are so excited to go forward here in Oyama. Elder Howard is an awesome guy, and such a great companion! He works so hard, and he's got that awesome vision of seeing success in Oyama. Oyama in the past hasn't seen too much success. Elder Howard and I were talking the other night, and apparently Oyama has been the place of Wampaku (disobedient) missionaries for a few transfers, but President Budge wants that changed immediately. As we've been working hard, apparently the numbers from before have doubled, and success is really happening here in Oyama. I feel so blessed to be sent here and help change this great area's past, and help make it once again a successful area!

Some cool stories! So... I want you all to know that I have changed so much for the better, but please know I still got my sense of humor. ;) Last night, I was stopped by a Police Officer, which happens a lot because we're foreigners, and he asked me what I was doing. I explained who I was, what I was doing very politely, and he asked to see my ministerial certificate. However, he couldn't believe it when he saw I was only 19! He was totally taken aback, and he instantly started joking with me, singing happy birthday, etc. So! Near the end, I just thought, "Go for it!" and I taught him a simple Gospel principle, invited him to chek out to see more, and gave him one of our chidashi's (fliers) and he really excitedly took it and said thanks! I even got a high five! Elder Howard ran up laughing, and said he's never seen a police officer listen to a missionary principle and take a chidashi before. I was a first! Haha, I was so stoked, and my mind went back to all the jokes we made about when I would be a missionary... Super funny. :) Another cool story! The other night we taught with Shun, and since he loves guitar he and I played together, and it really invited the Spirit. Afterwards Elder Howard and I had an idea to start doing a music corner apart of our Eikaiwa (English class) and so we asked President Budge... And he said yes! So, every so often, I will go total flower child and teach the Japanese people how to sing in English, with a guitar and such. I'm really stoked for that!

Missions are hard, but the Lord has truly been blessing me so much! I feel so lucky to be here in Oyama and have this opportunity to serve. Elder Howard only has a few months left until he goes home, so he talks about home quite a bit, and he always tells me how the time flies by. It's so true! I can't believe I'm already so close to 4 months, I feel like I left yesterday! The Lord has blessed me so much, and I'm so thankful to be a missionary, and every day I feel myself becoming more of who He wants me to be. I've really loved deeply studying the Book of Mormon and finding those questions of the soul. They really are there, and I've really enjoyed teaching the Book of Mormon to the Japanese people. It really is that physical evidence we can hold in our hands that this message is true. Ahh, I love the Book of Mormon, I have seen really so many great miracles from it.

Well, I best get going, but know I love you all so much, and I pray for you daily! Anyways! Back to the awesomeness that is missionary work! I love you all! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder ジャステセン

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tokyo Japan Week 6

Konnichiwa everyone! So... pretty crazy week! Allow me to explain. First off, I got transferred! About a week before transfers, a young mission who was in my branch at the MTC just couldn't handle the missionary life, and decided to go home. I got the call from President Budge and he asked me if I would transfer down to my near area of... Oyama!! My new companion is Elder Howard, who is from American Fork, Utah. The guy is amazing! He's had some really bad luck with companions recently, but he really has such incredible faith, and is ready to work. He's been out for about a year, so he's my follow up trainer I guess? Not too sure how to describe it, but yeah! Elder Howard is really so great, he's a really nice guy, and super hard working. I was pretty sad to leave Narita, especially saying goodbye to my investigators, but I'm really excited to be in Oyama. The literal translation means Little Mountain, and it's the countryside portion of the Tokyo mission! It's seriously incredible. It's so green, and so beautiful. I'll send some photos soon! But onto some cool experiences that happened this week.

So! The first one was on my last day in Narita. We had a lesson with our Baptisimal date investigator named Chika, and I was really excited to teach her. Her date is in about two weeks, so I should be able to go back for her baptism. But anyways! A little backround, so in my English Class that I teach, Chika comes every time, I always talk a little bit about myself at the start. Random stuff, etc. So this last class period I mentioned that one of my favorite cars is the GTR, and wouldn't you know, Chika got me a stack of GTR magazines for our last lesson! She was so sweet about it, and I'm stoked to check them out... in two years, haha. Such an awesome lesson though, I feel so lucky to have taught her. I'm so excited for her to be baptized soon! But anyways... So the next day, I got up super early, and hard to travel completely alone to Tokyo by train. I got lost a couple times, but Japanese people are all so kind, and helped me find my stop. Overall awesome!

But yeah! Now I am in Oyama, and the miracles are happening here as well! Yesterday after church, Elder Howard and I had a white day (meaning no lessons, meetings, etc.) so we went out and housed all day! It was pretty awesome. I love housing! Seriously. Even when we get a lot of, "Keko desu! Kokoro Sama desu." "A, Dame!! Dame da!" I still love it. Especially when you meet that one person that just makes it all worth it. Which for yesterday was Saito and Uhi! Saito was someone I ran up to and contacted in the middle of housing. We were knocking on doors, and I saw Saito just walking down the street with his headphones in. I used my Gai-Jin powers (meaning foreigner powers) and ran up and said, "Hello!" in English. He was excited, and we started getting to know each other in Japanese. He's a college student, and we started discussing God and some of life's big questions. With the Book of Mormon, I was able to answer one of his questions, and we set up a time to meet. However, we couldn't set a specific date, so he didn't count as a new investigator even though he was super interested to learn more. But! As a missionary, miracles happen everyday. As we were walking home a few hours later, we walked right into Saito on the bridge, were able to set up a specific date, and he become a new investigator! We're so stoked for him.

Uhi was another miracle too! As we were finishing up our housing, I spotted Uhi walking out of the college we were housing near by, and I just waved and said hello in English! But, Uhi runs up to me with a big smile on his face and asked if I was a foreign exchange student. I said I was actually a church missionary from California. He got really excited, and asked if we could meet with him on another day soon, and he said he would bring 3 or 4 of his friends to meet us too. Amazing!! Uhi is from Shaolin China, and we're so excited to see where things go with him.

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! There are many days when it's just really so hard, but these amazing miracles make it so worth it in the end. 900 doors slams can be made up with that 1 who lets you inside. I miss you all pretty badly because of my birthday coming up, but I know this is where the Lord wants me to be. I'm so thankful He called me here to Japan to teach this amazing people. They truly are so prepared, and so ready for this Gospel message. I'm so thankful to be here, and I'm so thankful for all of the kind words you all send to me daily. The work is hard, but your words and support help me so much. I love you guys! I can't believe we're gonna Skype in about 3 months! Hopefully by then my Japanese will pretty good? Haha, that's what I'm praying for every day. I know that this Gospel is so true, and that this really is a divine work that we are all apart of. By simple things, meaning 18-21 year old boys and girls, the Lord is bringing the Gospel forth. He is placing people in our path, and giving us these great experiences. I love you all so much, and I'm so excited to read your letters every week and hear of all of the great things you are doing. I love you all so much! I pray for you all by name every day. Have an amazing week! Next time we write, I'll be 19! Crazy. Haha, have a great week! Hurrah for Israel!

-Elder Justesen

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tokyo Japan Week 5

Konnichiwa everyone! First off, sorry I didn't write the other day! There is a really cool reason though... Today was temple day!! So yesterday we had to work a normal day so that we could go to the temple today! So we got back a couple hours ago... And oh my gosh. The Tokyo Temple is seriously amazing. I really wanted to snap some photos but we had to sprint to catch our train, so no photos... Gomen. :(  But, seriously the Tokyo Temple is so beautiful, and it was one of the greatest sessions I have ever been to. What made it really special was basically the entire mission was there, so I got to see all of my old MTC district. Alma 26 is basically what it was like, haha. I felt like Ammon, so stoked about missionary work I almost fell over. Sorry, just some missionary humor. ;) This week has been pretty awesome! Our investigators are progressing super well, and the Lord's blessed us with some more of His prepared children. Whit will like this! So we found this new guy named Tomoshige, and he's an artist! More like Caligraphy status, but he loves guitar and music. In my broken Japanese, he and I have had some really great discussions about music, and how incredibly it can touch the heart. He's really a great guy, and in our first lesson, he told us he completely believes Joseph Smith's first vision! We were so stoked, and we're excited to keep teaching him.

Alright, onto the good story of the week. Haha, so Sunday was a pretty normal day, and we had a lesson set up with Saratandra (Our Sri Lankan investigator) and we were doing some finding at the Eki (Train station.) And then! Wouldn't you know it, the clouds opened up, and I swear, I seemed like the ocean was being dropped from the sky! I've never seen rain like that before! We stayed inside the Eki and kept handing out our English class flyers, and then we remembered we still had our lesson... in Sanrizuka... Which is about a thirty minute bike ride. So! We had a decision. Go hardcore and go teach Saratandra, our wimp out and call and cancel. Heck no we are misisonaries, the rain gives us strength!! Haha, we biked all the way to Sanrizuka in the pouring rain, and it was one of the best things I've ever done. Seriously, it was so much fun, and I was smiling the entire time. By the time we got back to our apartment, my shoes were full of water, my entire body was soaked, and my smile was bigger then ever. I don't know why exactly, but I was just so stoked to give my all to go see the ONE investigator. Being a missionary is just awesome, and it was so much fun riding in that MASSIVE rain storm.
I've actually discovered I'm not too shabby at making Japanese food! I've made Yaki Soba a few times and everytime people say, "Umai! Oishii!!" Which means it's really good. Not to brag, just stating the facts and what not, haha.

This Gospel is so amazing! I just want you all to know how thankful I am to this great restoration and this opportunity to teach the great people of Japan. They have been prepared. The Lord has prepared their hearts, and I feel so lucky everyday to go out and look for them. As well, this week has been such a testimony to me that Heavenly Father never forgets His children. We recently started visiting with a less active named Marcello who is from Peru. He served a mission and everything, but has fallen away. I've had the great opportunity to teach him over the phone, and it's been such a wonderful experience. His faith is so strong, he's just gotten a little lost along the path. But, the Lord has not let him go. He never gives up on us, and I feel so blessed to be helping Marcello make his way back into the loving arms of the Savior.

Being a missionary is really just so great. I can't express that enough. It's really changed my heart, and made me a better person. Although I've only been a missionary for 3 months, I feel the changes happening everyday. I love this Gospel and this work, and I'm so thankful to be apart of it. It changes lives, and changes the lives of the generations that follow. I love you all so much!! Have an awesome week, I can't wait to hear from you soon... This time being a full fledged 19 year old. ;) Woo hoo!! Have a great week, love you all!
-Elder Justesen

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tokyo Japan Week 4

Konnichiwa everybody! (Saved and Drafted.) Haha, I have learned from my mistakes! 

This week has been pretty great actually! We just got back from our Zone P-Day which was seriously so much fun! We all met up as a Zone and did these weird "Skills" challenges, and it was seriously a blast. It's so fun and cool to see these awesome missionaries who work so hard during the week have all this fun. As a missionary, it's really so true that you work hard and play hard! I got some sweet videos, and as well we had this eating challenge that we had to do, so of course I volunteered. So! The game was that there be two missionaries inside a giant coat, and the missionary behind has to be the hands of the front missionary who will be eating the food. All with chopsticks too! So my companions as ZL's introduce the game, and then we start! Everyone's having fun, and then they announce the final round. This round is worth 30 extra points and the eater has to be blindfolded, so I knew something was up. But I got volunteered! Challenge accepted. So we start eating, and then I just hear everyone in the room start getting super loud and I smell... Fish. Lots of fish. So I'm thinking this is the end, but I couldn't let my team lose! So I ate it... And... It was another awesome Japanese delicacy! Pregnant fish!!! I ate it all! It wasn't too bad actually, and I was pretty stoked to add it to my weird foods list. Japan has so great food! Haha.

But yeah, this week has had some pretty funny moments actually! So right now we have this investigator named Saratandra, and he is really so awesome.He's a famous movie director from Sri Lanka, and he used to be Buddhist, but he loves the life of the Savior. So, he doesn't speak too much English or Japanese, so it's been REALLY hard teaching him, but he really enjoys us coming by, and we really love him. So the other week we talked to this family who said they spoke the Sri Lankan language, and the father said he'd come translate next lesson with us. So he comes with us and we're so excited, and... The man doesn't speak Sri Lankan at all! He's from Pakistan! I instantly get so stoked because of my Pakistan class, and we had a really great discussion with him! He's name is Javel and he's just awesome. I never thought that I would find myself serving in Tokyo Japan on a sunday night teaching a man from Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Tokyo really is such a melting pot of incredible people that Heavenly Father is preparing to receive the Gospel.

So another pretty funny moment this week was we met Fabio at the train station! No, not my idol Fabio with the luscious locks, but this really awesome guy from Sao Paulo! We started talking to him about the Gospel, and he just loved it. He's supposed to be coming to church this sunday, so we're praying for him! What was so funny though was we started talking about the gift of tongues, and I mentioned to Fabio that my brother lived in Londrina as a missionary like me, and he got so excited!! He said he saw missionaries all the time in Brazil, and he loved them. It was so cool to see missionaries are really so recognized and people can just feel so good around them. I feel really so blessed to be one of those missionaries, and I get so excited everyday when I get to put my tag on and go forward and serve the Lord.

Despite some of the funny stuff this week, it's been a really faith building week as well. Missionary work can be so tough at times! Haha, I'm sure Dad and Tyler remember all too well the long walks home in the sun, the rejection, and prepared people that just can't seem to keep their commitments. Those days are rough! But really, I feel so blessed to have these experiences. The Lord gives us trials so that we can put our trust in Him and rise above to heights we didn't know were ever possible. When we just let our will go and take those small steps forward, the Savior walks right beside us. The Savior never leaves us, and His hand of mercy is always extended to those that have lost there way for a small moment. The Lord gives up on no one. I feel so close to the Savior on those rough days, and I feel so lucky and blessed to be here in Tokyo Japan as a laborer in the Lord's vineyard. My companion Elder Hamada goes home after this coming transfer, and it's so cool to hear his stories and as well the incredible things he has witnessed. Missionary work is so amazing, and it changes, and smoothes down our rough edges until we become that person the Lord wants us to be.

I just want you all to know how much I love you so much, and how much the Lord loves families. The Japanese family culture is really a lot different from the United States culture, but when you enter this little Mormon Japanese homes you just feel the difference. This Gospel really does bring families together in so much happiness in unity. I'm so glad to know that our families can be together forever, and that we can always know where to feel that love and support that come from our families.I've only been serving as a missionary for about 3 months now, but I feel so much different from who I used to be. Through the love of the Savior and through this Gospel, I feel so much better about who I am and who I can become. I know that if I continue to trust in the Lord, He'll continue to guide me and lead me to wherever He wants me to go.

Which includes possibly training in a couple months! Yep! We heard through the grapevine the other day that the next group of missionaries coming in soon is going to be HUGE, and President Budge has asked so of us new missionaries to start preparing to be ready to train in about a month or so. Yikes!! Haha, but I know that whatever happens is what the Lord wants to happen, and that's good with me. Also! Some news about Austin! He and I have been writing back and forth each week, and... His papers are just about in!! He just has to do insurance and then he's all done he said! I'm so so stoked for him! Missions are hard, but they change you and make you so much stronger, and I know this is what's going to happen to Austin. It's just another testament about how the Lord never gives up on us. No matter the experiences we've had, no matter the guilt we may have... He is always there. The Savior always has His hand stretched out to us to return to the Lord's fold and feel of the love and peace that is there.

I love being a missionary!!! I miss you all like crazy on some days, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I know that once these two years are done, I'm going to be changed for the better. But for now, just gonna keep going forward with faith in this work! Japan is truly prepared, and we're seeing miracles everyday. I love you all so much! Thank you so much for all of your love and support and all you're kind words of encouragement. I can feel of you love everyday when I pray, and I'm so thankful to all of you. This gospel is true!!! Hurrah for Israel! Have an awesome week!

Elder Justesen