Monday, February 23, 2015

Tokyo Japan Week 79

Elder's night!

So cool to have an Apostle of the Lord Visit! Hello Amazing Family! It's been another really amazing week here in Urayasu, and especially yesterday was so awesome! Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Donald Rasband, and Bishop Stevenson visited our mission, and we had an amazing two mission conference! What was really such a cool miracle though was I ran into my MTC companion Elder Scott, and we got to sit by each other through the whole conference! It was just a way cool testimony builder to see that even though there were 400+ missionaries at this conference, I got to sit next to my really great friend Elder Scott. But the conference was so inspiring, and really left me with a strong determination to keep working hard with all effort, and seek to follow what the Lord wants me to be serving here as a missionary in the Tokyo Mission! I love serving here with all my heart, and I'm so excited to keep going forward with faith!

Sunset view from our apartment

Also to first answer Mom's question, I received my AWESOME Valentine's Day package! Thanks so much for the great package, it really meant so much to me, and I'm really thankful to the delicious candy! As well Whit the picture you wrote was SO cool! Thanks so much for that, I pinned it up over my desk, and it helps me get super stoked to work during the day. Also, I think you might write better kanji than me! Haha, well done. ;) As well it sounds like the whole family is doing so great, and that really makes me feel so happy, and so thankful that Heavenly Father is really blessing us all so much. During the conference today Elder Rasband discussed the power of obedience in this great gospel, and it really made me think back on my mission and how much obedience has brought so many incredible blessings and miracles. It's so cool to see that as we live the gospel joyful, and strive to do all we can to be obedient to the will of the Lord, it's so cool to see how He really does bless us and strengthen us. It's definitely been something I've felt as serving as a missionary, and it's something I want to keep going throughout my life. I love serving as a missionary so much. :)

The Tokyo Zoo!

This week was pretty awesome though! Elder Templin is such a great companion, and he has a lot of desire to keep learning and work hard each day. There still are some of those missionary skills that he's working on developing, but I feel so thankful to have this chance to help one on one. As well he's continually teaching me so much about humility and the power of really putting our fears aside and striving to do what the Lord wants us to do. He's a really awesome companion, and I feel so thankful to be working with him. Right now the Mikami kids are progressing little by little, and we're striving to work really hard with working to help the parents see the great influence that church is having on their children's lives. As well our new friend Watanabe is really excited to work towards his goal of receiving baptism on April 4th! We had a great lesson with him and the Bishop this past week, and it's looking really great going forward! Brother Erick and Sister Suita's brother Sho who we are working with as well are looking great! Really awesome things happening here in Urayasu. Just want to say thank you guys so much for all of your prayers and kindness, and the drive you share with me to keep working faithfully and with full effort. Those prayers are truly bringing so many amazing blessings and miracles, and I'm so thankful to you all! I have such an awesome family!

Well anyways the gospel is true, and the work is going forward! I'm so excited to keep going forward with faith and continually strive to be the missionary and servant that the Lord needs me to be in the Tokyo Japan mission. I'm so thankful for the chance the Lord gave to me to come here and serve the people here in Japan. I love them so much with all of my heart, and I'm so thankful for the love and kindness that they have shown to me. Urayasu is such an awesome ward, and I'm so excited to keep going forward with faith. I love serving with all of my heart, and I'm so excited to keep going forward with faith! Again thank you guys so much for all of the love and kindness you always share with me, and the incredible examples you continually share with me. Especially Tyler! Thanks so much for the amazing example you have shown to me, and being such an awesome priesthood holder example for me. Love you dude! Your email was really kind this week, and I really appreciated it. You're an awesome brother to me! Thank you guys so much for everything, have an amazing week! The book is blue, the gospel is true, and God loves you! Have an awesome week!

Elder Justesen

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tokyo Japan Week 78

Hello Amazing Family! Wow, February is awesome!

Hey everyone! It's been another seriously awesome week here in Urayasu, and it's been so cool to read your emails and catch up on the amazing things happening.

First off... Just gotta say CONGRATULATIONS TYLER!! I'm so stoked for you! After your email you sent last week, I was getting excited for this Monday to see what was going to happen, and I just gotta say, you are awesome! I'm super happy for you, and moreover I'm so so thankful for the kindness you are sharing with me by waiting until I return from my mission! That really means so much to me, and I'm so thankful that I'll get to join you guys in the temple. :) Such an awesome thing, and I'm so excited for it! Haha, just gotta make sure to keep focused, but I'm really super pumped for that great day. Thanks so much for all you do man, and just being an awesome example of the priesthood holder I hope to be like one day. So many times in my mission I try to imagine what you must have done, and I strive really to be a missionary like you. I know that you really blessed and changed so many lives in Brazil, and I hope to be like you! Thanks man, much love.

But this week was pretty awesome! Our great 17 year old Tsukushi is looking super great! He has a way big desire to be baptized, but his parents are pretty against him receiving it until he is 20, so he has a date set for two years from now, but he's really loving the church so much. He basically is a member already, and he's already starting to join in on our lessons with our other investigators, and today he invited one of our investigators to church! He's a really awesome example to me, and I'm super thankful to be his buddy. We're praying really hard that we will be able to see a huge miracle with his parents giving him that permission, and he just recently passed his college entrance exam, so their hearts may be getting ready to let him live a life more fully in the Gospel! He's such an awesome kid, and we've become really close over the past couple of months. As well the Mikami kids are doing pretty great, they love Elder Templin! Elder Templin is actually a pretty amazing Japanese anime artist, and the little kids instantly asked him to draw a bunch of things for them, and he did! Elder Templin is such a great example of love and humility, and it was so cool to see the kids light up around him. We're still just working so hard to find a way to help the parents grant that permission to the children. Yuriya, the oldest girl at age 9 is the closest, and she has such strong desire to be baptized. Heavenly Father is definitely helping me understand the principle of patience, and I'm really striving to see if there's anything we can do to help these amazing kids. Excited to keep working hard with faith! As well this week Heavenly Father blessed us with so many miracles with less active members here in the Urayasu ward.

First is a way cool story! So when I was serving in Urawa there was a seriously awesome sister named Sister Suita! She was such an awesome example of charity in our district, and when I transferred to Urayasu she let me know that her brother actually lived in our ward, but had been less active for quite a few years. He's about Tyler's age, and just seemed like such a cool guy! All last transfer we worked so hard to contact him, but always no luck... But then Elder Templin with his miracle faith came! We went by to just see if he was home, and we rang, and no answer. I felt pretty bummed, so I decided to knock one more time and yell, "Konnichiwa!" All of a sudden the door busts open and he came out! We had a really awesome talk about his sister and his whole family, and just how much the gospel has blessed his family. He still had such a strong testimony, just coming on Sunday was hard because of work. After talking about the gospel more, he said, "you know, I've been really thinking lately how much I want to come back to church. I'm thankful you guys came by today." So we're going back on Friday to read the Book of Mormon together, and at the end he prayed! He hadn't prayed in a way long time he said, and it was just such a cool miracle. That night I mailed Sister Suita, and she said she's been praying since she was in middle school that he'd have a chance to come back to church, and she was so excited to hear that he's gonna meet with us. So cool!

Then just last night we had an amazing miracle with Brother Erick! Erick has been a less active member for many years, and is from the Philippines. His best friends Rico and Leni actually referred him, and we meet with him about every Sunday. Last night we had an amazing testimony meeting, and Leni and Rico just bore such powerful testimonies about the gospel, and as we testified of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, Erick started to cry. He really felt the spirit so strongly, and he committed to pray personally to Heavenly Father to know if Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. It just made me feel so thankful to be serving as a missionary here in Tokyo Japan, and to see so many amazing things. I love this gospel so much, and I'm so thankful for the next 4 months! I'm really so excited to keep working, keep testifying, and keep striving to be more of the person the Lord needs me to be. I know this gospel is true, and truly is a gospel that teaches us that we can truly change, and become more the sons and daughters that the lord desires us to be. Although we all may make mistakes, and even at times wander from the path, we can always return, and always receive another chance. I'm thankful for the Book of Mormon which has taught me this truth through the stories like Enos, Alma the younger, the sons of Mosiah, and many others. The gospel is so awesome. I'm so thankful for this chance to be serving, and way excited for the times ahead! Thank you you guys so much for everything you constantly do for me, and always the abundance of love I feel every week I read through your emails. Thanks so much, have an amazing week! CONGRATULATIONS TYLER!!

Elder Justesen

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tokyo Japan Week 77

Elder Higashi and me with Tsukushi

Hello Amazing Family!

Wow, it's been such a cool, pretty fast week! It was pretty sad saying goodbye to Elder Higashi just after one transfer, but I know he's going to go see so much success in his new area. He's such a great missionary, and I'm so thankful to have had the chance to work with him for those short 6 weeks. He really taught me so much! But Urayasu is looking so awesome, and I'm so excited to be working with Elder Templin! He's a really awesome companion, and Heavenly Father has already blessed us so much with so many awesome miracles. This week we had the chance to meet with so many cool people, and the ward member work is looking super great!

My awesome new companion!

It sounds like everyone is doing so great, and that really makes me so happy! I pray for you guys by name everyday, and I'm so thankful for all of the amazing miracles Heavenly Father is sending to our family. I'm so excited to keep working hard and with faith each day, and really give this work my whole effort so we can continue to see so many cool blessings. :) Again just want to say thank you guys so much for all of the continual outpouring of love and kindness you all share with me. I love you guys so much! I'm loving being a missionary with all of my heart, and I'm so excited for the awesome reunion in June. :) This week I found out that Annie Warr and my roommate Jordan returned from their missions! It completely blew my mind, but left me with such a strong desire to keep working with my whole focus and effort everyday. I love being a missionary so much!

Our new investigator Kenta!

So there's two really amazing miracles I wanted to share this week, and the first one is about my awesome best friend Brother Shohei Yoshida! So he came down this past week to Tokyo for a Michael buble concert (haha) and he decided to come visit me in Urayasu! We had a really awesome lunch and just caught up about Oyama, and just how awesome it is that we've become friends here in Japan! He explained that when he was living in Oyama he was having a pretty hard time, but he's so thankful to Elder Howard and I, and he said he'll never forget those good times. Shohei really has become my true brother, and I'm so so so thankful to have met him here in Tokyo Japan. He's changed my life so much, and I'm so thankful to call him my friend. It turns out he's going to be going to his missionary's wedding in Utah in May, and we're gonna hang out together in June! He's staying there for a couple months, and he's already making some plans for what we're gonna do with Elder Howard, haha. It really reminded me that this time serving as a missionary is not forever unfortunately, but the memories, and more importantly the friends we make will last forever. I'm forever thankful that the lord called me to this portion of the world, and I'm so thankful for this chance to continue striving to help His children. Dang, it's going to be SO HARD saying goodbye to Shohei though when he goes back to Japan in June! But I'm just thankful to have that dude as an eternal friend. :)

Sushi with Tsukushi!

The second amazing miracle was with the Mikami kids! This past Saturday during our exercise class with Brother Illy√§, Yuriya and Kasumi randomly showed up to the church. It turns out that their mom and dad were fighting pretty bad, and they just wanted to come to the church to feel happy. I felt so thankful to share a message about prayer with Elder Templin and Brother Illy√§, and then pick them up some little candy and treats. They came to church on Sunday, and little Kasumi sat by me and just held my finger during the meeting. She's only about 4 years old, and I just felt so thankful to be a representative of Christ's and Heavenly Father's love while serving as a missionary. I love those little kids so much, and although them receiving baptism might be pretty hard right now, I know that Heavenly Father will provide a way if it is His will. But for now, I'm just way thankful to be able to share that love that Heavenly Father has for them, and I'm so thankful for these little kids. :)

With Shohei

Elder Higashi and I are sad to be separated

But anyways it's been a really awesome week! Heavenly Father is good, and truly loves us all so much. Although my time serving as a missionary is winding down, I'm so excited to give my full effort this final 4 months, and then return with honor and continually strive to be the son and priesthood holder the Lord wants me to be. I love serving as a missionary with all of my heart, and I'm so excited to keep going forward with faith! Thank you guys so much for all of the love and kindness, I hope you all have an amazing week! The gospel is true, the book is blue, and God loves you!!

Elder Justesen

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tokyo Japan Week 76

Happy February!

Hello amazing family! I hope you guys are all doing so awesome, it was such a great week here in Urayasu! Today we received our transfer calls, and it turns out Elder Higashi is heading out and I'm staying here in Urayasu! My new companion is actually an Elder who was in my zone back in Urawa, his name is Elder Templin! His family lives in Texas at the moment, but he's actually from Okinawa, and half Japanese! Which makes him my fifth Japanese companion! Haha, hopefully my Japanese is getting a little better by now. ;) But he's such a great missionary, and I'm so thankful for the chance to work with him!

We received the call today from President Budge, and I was really thankful for the kind words he shared with me on the phone. Apparently Elder Templin has been struggling for the past little while overcoming some shyness, that has really affected his work. Apparently he and his last companion had a lot of arguments due to this, and President Budge is really focusing on making sure he feels love and that joy of the work. He told me that as they were praying where to send him, "We thought we should send him to a solid missionary, who is always happy, smiling constantly, and really enjoying the work. Someone we knew he'd love serving with. We thought of you!" I was really so blown away by that, and really so thankful for the kindness of President Budge. He's been such an amazing mission president, and one I feel so thankful to be serving with. Recently they just announced the new Tokyo Mission President, but unfortunately I'll never meet him! My group will be President and Sister Budge's last, and I'm so thankful to have such amazing mission presidents. It seems so insane that I've come down to the last 3 transfers of my mission, but I'm so excited to work hard, and keep giving this work my whole heart and focus! I love being a missionary so much!

As well this week we had the amazing Elder Aoyagi conference, and the interview went so great! Elder Aoyagi was so kind, and we had a really great talk together all in Japanese! We discussed charity, what it really means, and how we can more fully gain it in our lives. We talked about how we can look at others as our brothers and sisters, withhold any form of judgement, and simply love them as the Lord does. As well Elder Aoyagi was so kind and said he could feel that I was a missionary with lots of love for others, and he could feel it as we talked. He as well said I must have really amazing parents, which I told him I do! Haha, I also told him my family is the coolest family out there. :) It overall was such a great experience! From there the conference was just a huge blast, and so many great memories were made. As well I talked with my old companion who was serving as Assistant (except today he got transferred!) Elder Sakamoto, and I just felt thankful for the companions that Heavenly Father really blessed me with serving as a missionary. They've all truly impacted and blessed my life so much, and I'm so thankful for the amazing eternal friends, and examples they have become to me. I love the companions I've been blessed to serve with!

I just want to wish Dad another way way way happy birthday! I'm so sorry I wasn't there again, but I promise I'll be there, or we'll Skype for the next one! I hope you had such an awesome day, and know I was thinking lots about you! You're the most awesome dad ever, and I just want to say thank you so much for the father and priesthood holder example you have been for me. :) I hope you enjoyed the birthday videos! You're the greatest Pops, love you!

Well it sounds like everyone is doing so great! I miss you all so much, but I'm so thankful to know that pretty soon we'll have such an amazing reunion as a family, and I'm so thankful for the chance Heavenly Father has given me to serve as a missionary, and strive to become a better son and brother. I'm so thankful for the changes He has brought into my life, and I'm so excited to keep going forward and strive to become more of the missionary and son that the Lord wants me to be.

I hope you guys all have an amazing week, I'm praying for you by name every day! Thank you again so so much for all of the kindness and love you constantly share with me, and the incredible examples you set. I can without a doubt say I have the most awesome family ever, and I'm so thankful to serve as a missionary and help others see and feel how they can have a family relationship that is the same. I'm so thankful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the purpose and joy it brings to my life! Thank you guys so much for everything, have an amazing week! The gospel is true, the book is blue, and God loves you!!

Elder Justesen