It's been a while. Let's get started with a few happenings over the last little bit:
- We had zone conference this past week. It was a truly wonderful experience. We had the opportunity to receive trainings from the incomparable president Smoot. He's the greatest. He focused a lot on the importance of emphasizing the Message of the Restoration in all that we do. I was really impressed by how special ourmmessage really is. From Joseph Smith's experience in the sacred grove we can know that God lives and answers prayers. We can know that God speaks to his children today in exactly the same way that he spoke to his children throughout biblical history. We can also know that Jesus Christ's true church has been restored on the earth today. I know that God the Father and Jesus Christ truly appeared to Joseph Smith. I also know that anyone who wants to know the truth can receive an answer from God through the Holy Ghost. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share this wonderful message with with people of Japan.
- at the end of zone conference we took a nice picture with the whole Kyoto zone. Elder Hoopes and I were taking the pictures, so we weren't in it. We decided to Photoshop ourselves into the picture, so that everyone was in it. It turned out really well I think.
-this week was Golden Week. It's essentially back-to-back holidays over the span of about 10 days. Essentially everyone in Japan gets these days off work, so everyone and their dog goes on vacation during this time, including everyone that we've been teaching and meeting with. So, we didn't teach a ton of lessons this week, but it was still a very interesting week as you will soon find out.
-on Tuesday I got a toothache. It was pretty bad, so I talked with my companion who interned at a dental clinic before his, mission, and he diagnosed it as a tooth infection. He recommended I go to a dentist to get it treated. I had heard stories of Japanese dental care from previous missionaries and was relatively hesitant to go. However, as the days progressed so did the pain in my tooth. By Saturday the pain was intense enough to overcome my aversion to Japanese dentistry. So, we began searching for a clinic to go to, but, due to the holiday, 99% of clinics were closed. We eventually found one clinic a ways away from our apartment and set out to get my tooth infection treated.
We arrived at the dentist's office and were both appalled at the sanitation standards in the office. I walked back into the dental chair and looked at the tools in the tray, all of which looked like there was a high chance that they had been used on a previous patient. I began to wonder if I had made the correct decision. We talked the dentist out of ripping my ceramic false tooth out right then and there and settled on simply draining the pus out of my gums to relieve the pain. We asked for a bit of anesthesia, so he graciously administered a drop of anesthesia and began cutting before it had any time to kick in. I felt the possibly used scalpel plunge into the flesh of my mouth until it hit bone and then slice across in what became one of the most painful experiences of my entire life. I left the dental office with an open wound in my mouth that was still bleeding and 3 days worth of antibiotics. In the words of my beloved companion Elder Hoopes, "You just experienced Cambodian dental care at its finest"
- Last week we had a man call the church right before sacrament meeting on Sunday asking if he could come and participate in church. He wasn't able to make it to Sacrament meeting but he showed up right at the beginning of the second hour of church. We were really excited. We gave him a tour of the church, taught him the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon, and then helped him participate in the last bit of Elders Quorum. We thought that he was someone with a lot of interest in the church and really prepared to receive the gospel. Then, a few days later we got a message from a member informing us that we were now YouTube stars. Turns out, the man came to church with a hidden camera in the button of his suit coat and filmed everything. He uploaded it to YouTube with the title "infiltration of secret mormon society" (roughly translated) in big red letters and a nice shadowy outline of me standing in an empty hallway. So that was interesting.
- On Sunday Elder Hoopes and I where standing outside the church asking people if they had ever been inside a church building before. We talked with a father and son who apparently have a relative that is a member of the church. We talked about the Book of Mormon and invited them to ask us any question and we would answer it with the Book of Mormon. The father asked us about the theory of Evolution, and we answered with Ether 3:15 "ye are created after mine own image. Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image". We told him that man was created from the beginning after the image of God. And then we talked about the way that we are able to discover truth. It was a great contact, and we were able to get his contact information to meet with him again.
I know that the Book of Mormon is true! It's so exciting to be able to share this wonderful book with those around me. It can truly answer every question we have, and we can receive confirmation of its truthfulness through the simple experiment of reading, apply its teachings, and asking God. It's so simple.