October 30, 2017


Osaka, Sekime Ward



Week 11: I scream, you scream, we all scream for garbage trucks


Japan is a wonderful place. The people are kind, the food is great, and everything plays music here. Literally everything.

My companion complained one day, because the rice cooker in our apartment doesn't play music when the rice is finished (apparently most of the rice cookers do it). I offered to sing a song every time we made rice, but he said it wasn't the same. Also, for an entire week I kept hearing this music playing through-out the streets. I seriously thought that it was an ice cream truck. I came to find out that the music was coming from garbage trucks. Japanese garbage trucks play American ice cream truck music while operating. Every time I hear them now, I can't help but think of large groups of American children running outside with excitement, anticipation, and joy in their hearts for the creamy, sweet treat only to be disappointed and disheartened when they receive a steaming pile of garbage instead.

Garbage trucks are great though, because they perform an extremely necessary service. As silly as it seems, this experience has taught me that happiness is about expectations. If you rush out to a garbage truck expecting ice cream, you're going to be severely disappointed (as I was). However, if you rush out to the garbage truck with the desire for them to take the trash that has been slowly accumulating over the week/weeks, then you will have your burdens lifted.

I have a couple of funny stories for you this week. On Tuesday I did street contacting for the first time. I very quickly found out that approaching most nihonjin with, "Hey, I'm a missionary, and I teach about Christ," is a very easy way to get people to run away from you. Legitimately sprint away from you. So, I had to come up with a slightly less direct approach.

Anyway, my first street contact went just fine. I introduced myself to a man and talked to him a little about our message. He quickly told me that he wasn't interested in religion and walked away. The second street contact was where it got more interesting. Deschamps 長老 and I were walking down the street when we come to an intersection with a single man waiting for the signal to walk across. This man was doing nothing except waiting for the signal. He wasn't on his phone, wasn't reading a book, nor was he talking to anyone. He was simply just standing there. I walked up to him and tried the direct approach, but before I could even finish saying the name Jesus Christ he exlaimes "とてもいそがしい, I am very busy", and promptly begins to cross the street directly into the still very busy main street. He quickly realizes his mistake but was barely able to get back on the sidewalk safely. I said, " You almost died before we could tell you about the afterlife." He said, "Sorry, I am still very busy." We then stood there and waited for the signal to change. It was wonderful!

Second funny story happened when I taught my first Eikaiwa on Wednesday. It went well. I got hit on by a 26 year old Vietnamese woman looking for a husband. That didn't go quite as well as Eikaiwa.

I feel like I might have burried the punchline on that one. Let me try again!
On Wednesday I taught my first Eikaiwa class. For those of you who don't know Japanese, it is our English conversation class that we teach once a week here in Japan. My companion and I teach two different classes simultaniously. He taught the higher level English class, and I taught the lower. Anyway, about 15 minutes before the class started, this girl named Jennifer (I forgot her real name) walks in. She's coming to my class, so I decided to try to get to know her a little bit. Deshchamps 長老 is probably 15 feet away, but he's setting up for his class and not really paying attention. Jennifer and I talk for a few minutes, and then I ended the conversation to go finish setting up for class. Now it's a couple minutes before class, and a few more students are in the room. I'm writing my introduction up on the white board when I hear Jennifer say (heavily paraphrased):

Her: "Bayless 長老 are you free on Saturday?"
Me: "umm, what?"
Her: "Do you have plans on Saturday?"
Me: "Ummm, I don't really know. Why?"
Her: "I go to a Japanese class on Saturdays, and thought that you'd be interested in coming with me."
Me: "I just got to Japan and don't really know my own schedule yet. Let me ask my companion. Hey, Deschamps長老, are we free on Saturday?"
Dechamps 長老: "Possibly, what for?"
Me: "Jennifer wants us to go to a Japanese class with her."
Dechamps 長老: "Yeah, we probably have time for that."

(The author feels it necessary to note that this entire conversation was held in fluent English. Jennifer's English is too good for her to be in my lower level class.)

Dechamps 長老 did not really give me the help that I expected, and I began to question the nature of the interaction I had with Jennifer. Fast forward to after Eikawa finished, and Dechamps 長老 and I were talking:

Me: "I must have really misread that situation, because I kind of thought that Jennifer was trying to hit on me."
Him: "Oh, she definately was. She was talking to my other companion last week and told him that she was currently looking for a husband."
Me: "What? Then why'd you tell her that we were free this Saturday?"
Him: "Free Japanese class. I'm not going to pass that up."

So, my companion, as any good trainer would do, successfully leveraged my boyish good looks to to get us free Japanese classes. So that was great!

I'd like to end by sharing part of a talk given by President Boyd K. Packer in 1995 called "The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness". In the beginning of the talk, President Packer reads from the journal of John Breen, one of the survivors of the Donner Party, as he relates the story of their final journey to safety.

“'It was long after dark when we got to Johnson’s Ranch, so the first time I saw it was early in the morning. The weather was fine, the ground was covered with green grass, the birds were singing from the tops of the trees, and the journey was over. I could scarcely believe that I was alive.

The scene that I saw that morning seems to be photographed on my mind. Most of the incidents are gone from memory, but I can always see the camp near Johnson’s Ranch.'
At first I was very puzzled by his statement that 'most of the incidents are gone from memory.' How could long months of incredible suffering and sorrow ever be gone from his mind? How could that brutal dark winter be replaced with one brilliant morning?

On further reflection I decided it was not puzzling at all. I have seen something similar happen to people I have known. I have seen some who have spent a long winter of guilt and spiritual starvation emerge into the morning of forgiveness....When the prophet Alma was young, he spent such a time 'racked,' as he said, 'with eternal torment, [his] soul … harrowed up to the greatest degree.'

He even thought, 'Oh, … that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body.'
But his mind caught hold of a thought. When he nurtured the thought and acted upon it, the morning of forgiveness came, and he said:

'I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.'

'And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!'

That great morning of forgiveness may not come at once. Do not give up if at first you fail. Often the most difficult part of repentance is to forgive yourself. Discouragement is part of that test. Do not give up. That brilliant morning will come.... weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

I love this gospel. I know that Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. I know that he succeeded in his mission by accomplishing the Atonement, and through His divine power we can all receive the joy of forgiveness. That is why I'm out here right now, because I know these things are true. I promise that you cannot fall so far that the light of Christ cannot reach you. You only need to let Him lift you up.

I love you all. Talk to you next week.

Bayless 長老


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