November 6, 2017


Osaka, Sekime Ward



Week12: You think you have it all figured out, and then you take a door frame to the face.

So, this week I was starting to feel very comfortable in Japan. We're beginning to find more effective places to go tracting in our area; we have a special family history focused sacrament meeting planned for this Sunday; we have already committed five people to come to it; and I've begun to figure out how to navigate the Japanese train system! I'm feeling practically 日本人, but then my apartment decided to send me a stark reminder that I am not in fact a Japanese man when I slammed my forehead on a doorway (for the 73 time) so hard that it knocked me off my feet! Guess it just shows me that I still have a lot to learn about life in Japan.

Aside from the occasional painful encounter with an aggressively low door frame or even ceiling, life in Japan is really good. Both the language and the people are fantastic! This week we did 交換 (exchanges) with two Elders in our district and the Zone Leaders, on Thursday and Friday respectively. During these exchanges, I discovered an interesting thing about the way Japanese people reject you. Most of the time people just say "けっこう" which is essentially "I'm fine" or "no thank you" and leave it at that, but sometimes when people are trying to be especially polite, they'll follow up their rejection with words of encouragement. For example, Jensen 長老, one of the Osaka Zone Leaders, and I were doing でんどう near a train station (駅) in the Yamatokoriama area when we saw a man standing By himself under a tree. I eagerly began walking towards him, but before I could even finish my "元気ですか" (how are you) he crossed his arms in front of him in the shape of a big X and said "元気けどう、宗教に興味がない" which, being translated, means "I'm good, but I have no interest in religion!". Then, we asked him if he knew anyone who was interested in religion and he answered, "まったく知らないけど頑張って" (absolutely not, but keep up the hard work!). "頑張って" is a hard word to translate, but it used in the same context as good luck, try your best, or keep up the hard work. So, after rejecting us quickly and definitively, this man saw fit to wish us the best of luck in all our endeavors. I asked Jensen 長老 about this, and he said that his favorite is when people end with "ご苦労さま" which kind of means "thank you for everything you've done" or "I appreciate all of your hard work". I love that people do this. I just wish they were saying "Thank you for your hard work! Please come over, so that we can feed you and listen attentively to your message" instead of "I appreciate your efforts... at a distance. Please go away and never talk to me again.".

Let me tell you a little bit about one of the most interesting people in the Sekime area. We call him FGz, and he is such a funny guy. Sadly, he's not an investigator, but he loves the missionaries and comes to eikaiwa every week, so there's still hope. He is an average sized Japanese man that is always wearing a good-looking black leather-ish jacket and vest and only ever speaks to us in English. He tells us all the time that he doesn't speak any Japanese even though it is clearly his native tounge. His English is rather good, but for some reason he always speaks in a thick (fake) Scottish accent. He comes early to eikaiwa every week and brings us fantastic food. Despite the fact that missionaries have been interacting with him for a very long time, no one really knows any personal information about him. What he does for work, how old he is, where he lives, and where he's from are all a mystery. Hopefully, I'll be able to unravel a little bit of this mystery over the course of my stay here in the Sekime area. Anyway, one of the other great things about FGz is that he loves to send the missionaries an email on the weekends, and these emails are hilarious! He always ends the emails the same way: "God bless. All the best.Ttyl, in a bit! With best regards, FGz". I'm probably going to adopt that as my email tag as well. He's such an interesting fellow!

I'd like to end with a couple notes about patience. In PMG it says "Patience is the capacity to endure, delay trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully." I've learned very quickly on my mission that patience is a very necessary attribute when you're serving the Lord. The Lord's timeframe is much larger in scope than we, his servants, can imagine, so we need to have patience in order to continue to serve faithfully and diligently. However, patience is a very important trait in our every day life as well.

President Monson once said, "Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required".

I know that when we strive to have patience we will find a greater capacity to endure our trials, and we will even be able to find joy in our hardest moments. I know that if we find ourselves short of patience we can turn to God and ask for it. It says in Proverbs 46: 1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." We can always find the help, support, and strength that we need when we turn to Him.
I love you all.

God bless. All the best.
Ttyl, in a bit!
With best regards
ベイレス長老 (Bayless-choro)


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