Blog of Elder JT Lamoreaux

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in Japan!

Dear Everyone,

This was an eventful week. Let's start with what happened on Thursday, Thanksgiving.

We got a call from the other Elders in the district saying that they want to have a Thanksgiving dinner together as a district. So, in order to do that, we need to have it become a good Missionary opportunity, rather than just missionaries hanging out. So, we decided to invite a couple members/investigators so that we can teach them a lesson and serve them. But, because it was so late notice, my companion and I weren't too confident that we were gonna get a good turn out. At the start of the day, we tried calling a few people but they were all busy/they didn't answer. Things were looking bleak.. Then, we had a lesson with one of our investigators and a member, so after that lesson, we invited both of them to the event, and they said they would come! And after that, some people returned our calls and we called a few more investigators and eventually got 9 people to come eat Thanksgiving with us! I was surprised but grateful for the turnout. We had half of our teaching pool at this thing! It turned out to be a very good, almost unplanned activity. We taught them about the importance of being grateful and we went around the table saying things that we were thankful for. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We (by we, I mean Elder Racker. He's a chef) made some chicken and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy.(Just so you all know, you cannot buy these things in Japan and there are no ovens in Japan. This was all sent to us from America (besides the chicken.) the struggle in Japan tho) we even had Apple Pie! (Store bought and frozen, but it tasted so good!) The missionaries didn't eat anything though. There wasn't enough food for us to eat and we didn't have any time. So, it was an interesting Thanksgiving. The least food I've eaten ever on Thanksgiving day, but it was a nice change of things to see it on he giving end rather than the receiving end.
 
This is our Thanksgiving.  I'm not in the picture because I was helping cook the food.

We did get to eat Thankgiving leftovers though :)
There were also some disappointing parts of this week. We came into the week with three investigators who looked really good for baptism next month. We prepared well for their lessons, we prayed and found baptismal dates for all of them and we had a lot of faith that it could happen. The lessons seemed to go really well, but they one by one said no to baptism. It is hard to have gone from great potential to no progression. They all have different concerns and mindsets on the gospel and their faith isn't up to par yet. Two of them straight up said "haha, baptism? I don't want to do that." And the other one just isn't confident in himself. So, seeing that is pretty disheartening. Now we are basically starting from scratch with our investigator pool.

I've come to learn that in life you have ups and downs. But on a mission, you experience those ups and downs on a daily basis. One day could be amazing and the next could be hard. Imagine with me for a second. Think of a big rollercoaster. You are waiting in line for this crazy rollercoaster and you are experiencing a range of emotions; everything from excitement to terror. But, you've been waiting in this line for a long time and you are almost there so you have to get on no matter what. Now we are on that rollercoaster. We experience ups, downs, loops and everything. But, it is up to us how we look at each up and down that determines our enjoyment of the ride. I am kind of a wuss when it comes to rollercoasters and I remember when I was growing up that I would go on rollercoasters with my eyes closed, not enjoying the ride at all. These rides were horrible. But if I am on the rollercoaster and I am excited for the course, I end up having a great experience. This a lot like life. Ups and downs happen regardless because that's life. It is up to us whether or not we want to enjoy it or be scared of it. Therefore, these trials that we experienced this week were hard, but now it is up to us to move on and positively work hard. Move on from the hard times. Learn from them yes, but don't dwell and be sad about them. Look forward to the 'ups' in your life because they will always be there. As long as you are following the commandments and living the gospel faithfully, there will always be a blessing waiting for you. Trust in the Lord, for his promises will always be fulfilled.

That's a summary of the week, the last week of November. Wow time flies. I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving with your families and friends! Christmas time is here and the air just feels lighter and happier. Enjoy every minute of it! Love you all! Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部




From the baptism last week! This is most of the ward and 10
missionaries who came to the baptism. The one who got baptized is
holding flowers in the middle-ish. Awesome day!

Ramen selfie


I went on exchange with Elder Brailsford from Lone Peak High School to a place called Sekime.  This is such a beautiful area!  I realized that my area, Higashi Osaka, is the ghettos of Osaka.

My wonderful little district!  Top from left to right - Elder Wharton, Elder Brailsford, me, Sister Omisaki, Sister Rowe and Elder Racker.   Elder Racker made really good pineapple pancakes and we ate it before District meeting.  These missionaries are awesome

Kids in a park!  They thought Elder Wharton was a famous American...




This guy is leaving on his mission today!  We had a farewell party/Family Home Evening thing last night with the ward.  He will be an awesome missionary in Fukuoka.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I learned a new language!

Dear Everyone,

Another week down! It feels like the last Preparation Day was yesterday. The weeks just seem to be flying by. Time is weird.

Anyways, this week was pretty cool, with a couple awesome experiences.  Let's start with Tuesday. We get a call from a member who asked us to go to a friend's house to help her with a bike. This friend needed to send a bike to America, so she needed help to take it apart and put it in a box. So, we went. It was about a 45 minute bike ride, but we were able to find the house. We got there and this is when the fun begins.  Turns out this woman is deaf. She communicates by using Shuwa 手話 (手-hand, 話-speak) or Japanese Sign Language. How are we gonna communicate with her and how is she gonna talk to us? We walk in the house with the bike all ready for us. She also has her laptop open with Google Translate for us. Well, we start trying to take apart the bike how she wants it, and it's pretty silent. We were trying to ask her things like who she is, what hobbies she has, and other things like that, but it was just hard to communicate through Google Translate. Oh by the way, her parents were there as well, but they don't know sign language (don't ask me how they communicated her whole life). Well, let me tell you folks, the gift of tongues (in this case, is it the gift of hands??) is real! By the end of our time there, I was able to communicate and understand her fairly well using Japanese Sign Language! It was such a cool experience! Turns out that this lady is a member of the church who lives in California with her American Husband. The husband is a returned missionary from the Japan Okayama Mission in the 90's and they are still active now. She was staying in Japan with her parents for the last couple months. While here, she bought a bike and wanted to take it with her back to America. After we finished the bike, we were able to skype with her husband in California. That was a way cool experience. He gave us tips on how to have a successful mission and also how to have a gospel-centered family in the future. It was a great time, and now I know maybe 50ish words in Japanese Sign Language. So cool!

Another experience is a dinner appointment that we had last night at a member's house. They are a recent convert family with a little two month old baby. The wife is from the Philippines (Visayas) and her husband is Japanese. Wife is fluent in English and the husbands English is super good for a Japanese man. They have the cutest family and they were a perfect example of the kind of family that I want in my future. They love each other and their little baby so much and seeing that gave me a good idea of how I want my future family to be like. The husband just got baptized about 4 months ago. All around their house, they have pictures of a temple or Jesus with a little sticker that says "October 2016" - their goal for when they will get sealed in the Temple. Ahhh I couldn't get over how cute that was! We also taught them an AB lesson (After Baptism) about the Plan of Salvation. Their answers to our questions made us "awwww" each time (the sisters were there too.) it was so genuine, so pure. It was an awesome experience.

I realize that that paragraph was super gushy... The mission has made me soft dang it! Ahhh who cares, it was so sweet!

It was a pretty disappointing week for our investigators. We came in to this past week planning on inviting two of our investigators to baptism. We felt like they are ready and that they can be able to prepare for baptism next month. Well, it didn't end up happening this week. One of them, the bike guy, had a ton of concerns brought out to us during the lessons that we weren't able to bring it back to baptism and because of those concerns it caused us to wonder if he actually is ready to be baptized next month. The other investigator called us and cancelled the appointment we had with him and also called us on Sunday and said that he couldn't come to church. So, that kinda blew, but I still have hope for both of them and I still think they could make it next month. We'll see. We just have to accept God's will for them and pray that they can recognize answers to their prayers. Especially bike shop guy. He prays everyday, but he always says that God doesn't hear his prayers because the answers aren't coming in the way that he expects them to come. We tried resolving his concerns by using scriptures and videos that explain that sometimes answers come in ways that we don't expect it, often in small, almost unrecognizable ways. He seemed to understand and his faith seemed to build. Hopefully he can have a desire to follow Jesus Christ and to accept the Lord's timing.

In district meeting this week, I had my district read and discuss the talk "Come what May and Love it" by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in October 2008 general conference. I love that talk. It really is the key to finding happiness even when there are trials and even when we make mistakes. I invite you all to read or listen to that talk. (I recommend listening to it, it is also a really funny talk). Elder Wirthlin shares four key principles that allow us to love life. 1) Learn to Laugh. 2) Seek the Eternal. 3) The Principle of Compensation. And 4) Trust in the Father and the Son. I know that by following these principles, we can find more happiness and we can enjoy life. I especially like Learn to Laugh one. We make mistakes all the time. If we learn to laugh at them instead of regretting them, life is better. None of us are perfect. We make mistakes sometimes. Laugh, learn from them, and get closer to the Savior. Repent. Everything will work out. We can live life joyfully.

Well, I don't have much time left. The sisters in my area have a baptism in a few hours and we need to help set up for it. I will probably send some pictures from it before P-Day ends. I love you all, I miss you all, the church is so true and the gospel is joy. Keep smiling and give 'em heaven!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部



Some really good seafood ramen and gyoza!

This is at the house of a famous man in our ward.  His name is Nobuaki Irie (the one on the far left).  He is a member of the ward here and he is also a singer.  He has sung many, many songs that Janice Kapp Perry has written.  If you search his name, you will probably find some good stuff.  I will buy a signed CD from him some day.  He has served a mission, graduated from BYU, taught at the MTC and has been with a few of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Such a cool man.  The other guy is someone who is leaving for his mission next week.  He is going to the Japan Fukuoka Mission.  This was a "good-bye" dinner type thing.



Monday, November 16, 2015

Word of the week: 親知らずーWisdom Teeth

 
This is my companion Elder Wharton.  We realized that we didn't have a picture together yet, so we took one.
Dear Everyone

This was an eventful week! Let's start with explaining the title. The word of the week is Oyashirazu which means "Wisdom Teeth." Why is that the word of the week? Because for some reason, my companion who is from California, didn't get his wisdom teeth out before the mission because his dentist said it was okay. Well, flash forward to Monday. He says that his wisdom teeth are coming in and they are starting to hurt him! We then call Sister Welch who is in charge of helping missionaries with their health issues and what not. She says to go to the dentist and get it checked out. So, on Tuesday, we go to the dentist and they take an x-ray of his mouth. Apparently, they are coming in and causing problems. He has to get them taken out! We set up an appointment to take them out on Friday the 13th. (I just now realized that was Friday the 13th!! Woah!) He and I were both pretty worried because Wisdom Teeth surgery is horrible and we thought he would be out for at least a few days. But, Japan does it differently than America... First off, they only take wisdom teeth out one by one. Second, they don't put you to sleep. And Third, you can just go to a regular dentist and get it done. So, we went, not knowing the outcomes of this horrendous looking procedure.

Well, he was in and out in 15 minutes... They just numbed him, dug their tools in there, pulled the tooth out and that was it. No stitches, no gauze, no nothing. They gave him a couple pain pills and that was it. We were both stunned. It was also just 30 dollars. It made me wonder, "is Japan doing it wrong or is America just trying to get our money?" He only needs to get his top wisdom teeth out, so we will be back there later this week to take the second one out. There you are folks, the Japanese word of the week: 親知らず。

Anyways, that was one of our adventures this week. Other cool things that happened were as follows...

Eikaiwa was really fun! How it works in Higashi Osaka is that the Elders teach the "advanced class" and the sisters teach the "beginners class". The advanced class is basically a bunch of fluent (or almost fluent) old Japanese men. So, we just talk to them for an hour in English. Because it was my first time here, it was basically a get to know you kind of class. They would ask questions and I would answer. They asked me a lot of questions; it almost felt like an interrogation because they are insanely good at English. Let me just tell you a few funny things they said. 
First, I showed them a picture of my family and told them that my mom was older than my dad. One of them raised his hand and said "because your mom is older, does she wear the pants in the relationship?" I didn't answer because I was laughing too hard.
Next, I told them them that my dream was to be a sports announcer and one of them spake unto me, "you know, I can see you doing that because your voice is nice to listen to, calm, natural, easy to understand and rather sexy." Speechless on that one...
They also asked weird questions like "what type of girls do you like?" (Didn't answer that one.. #imamissionaryyo) "if you were in a very hard financial situation and you had to choose between a really beautiful girl who was poor and a homely girl who was filthy rich, which would you choose and why?" So, basically, my Eikaiwa class is a bunch of old perverted Japanese men who are very, very good at English.. Super fun!

We had 3 investigators come to church yesterday which was awesome!! One of them was the man who owns a bicycle shop who battled me in doing a Rubick's cube. (I think I spelled it right this time. [update on the match: I won this week so now we are tied]). He came and was sitting with a member. He was asking questions like "what do you have to do in order to be called to speak in front of everyone?" The member answered, "they are baptized, members of the church" and whatever else he said. Our investigator then said, "ah that's cool. You know, I'll probably do that baptism thing sometime." When the member told us that, we were like "やった〜!!"  (an expression of "heck yeah!") we had just talked about baptism the day before. That was pretty exciting to experience.

There are 3 investigators here that I really feel could get baptized soon. They have a lot of potential and if they had just a little bit more desire and willingness to act, they could get baptized this month. We are now trying to be more bold with them and courageously extend a baptismal invite. We'll see how that happens. Prayers would be appreciated.

We had the first District Meeting of the transfer this week! My district is awesome! They are all great missionaries who are excited about missionary work. We talked about trusting in the Lord and allowing him to mold us and to change our hearts. More about that in a little bit.. It went way well. After DM, we went to a really good crepe shop where I tried a "Pizza Crepe". Super good!! I miss pizza and will do anything for a nice slice of Papa-whatever pizza. And a burrito.... Dang the things Japan needs. Also I want an oven and a crockpot and a clothes dryer.... 
The crepe place after DM.  This is Elder Brailsford.  (Elder Bateman's son [Bateman trained him]).  Eating a Pizza crepe!
On Saturday, I get a call from the second councilor in the bishopric asking me to give a 7 minute talk the next day. So I just did a talk on the things that I talked about in District Meeting. It went pretty well. Japanese is getting there, slowly but surely.

I am ending this rather long email with a scripture; Helaman 3:35. "Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God." The part that I love is the last part. As we yield ourselves to God, we can be changed and we can be sanctified. To yield means to give up to, or to give in. As we put God's will in front of ours, we can be molded into the person God wants us to become. Please allow Him to do that in your life.

I hope you have a great week!! Things are going well here and everything is looking up. I love you all! Keep up the faith! Keep smiling and give 'em heaven!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部
This is one of our investigators who runs a Takoyaki stand.  So, so, so good!!  I love Takoyaki and this guy is super cool.  He and his store was actually on TV at one point.

We met this guy who apparently makes cars that appear in movies,
including the Batmobile. Yeah, he was cool.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of

Dear Everyone,

Okay, it's not like New York, but compared to what I am used to from my mission, it's pretty close. Man, life in Osaka is so much different than the places I have worked in. There are people EVERYWHERE. You hear cars and sirens all day, everyday. Buildings are huge! I ride my bike here and it feels like we are dodging and swerving just to get around people. It's pretty hectic and a big change, but I like it. We have lots of adventures. I'll describe in a little bit.


Higashi Osaka!  Sorry, don't have a lot of pictures here yet...
Being here is like Las Vegas compared to Maizuru. Maizuru, you would
be lucky to find a building higher than four floors. Here, you are
surrounded by buildings and everything!
Last week in Maizuru was pretty nice. I sent a package to my family, and finished packing and said goodbye to some members/investigators. The best parts of that week was the "farewell party" that the Nishi Maizuru Eikaiwa puts on for every missionary who transfers out of Maizuru (I'm so sorry Van Cleave 長老... Bad timing of your transfer...) and also visiting the recent convert family one last time. A very funny thing that happened there. They fed us dinner and I needed to refill my drink. I grabbed the big bottle of C.C. Lemon (a soda in Japan) and I was going to pour it into my drink, but someone started talking to me, so I was distracted. After a minute I instinctively started drinking OUT OF THE COMMUNITY C.C. LEMON BOTTLE! I didn't realize I was doing that until their 8 yr. old daughter looked at me with a shocked look on her face. I thought "why are you looking at me like that?" Then I realized that I contaminated their C.C. Lemon.... We were all on the floor laughing! (Well, we were already on the floor, but you understand.) long story short, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time and they gave me the C.C. Lemon as a bye-bye gift. I love that family so much and I am excited to one day see them again.



This was the last day at the Eikaiwa (English class) we teach in Nishi Maizuru.  They always throw a big "farewell party" when a missionary transfers out of Maizuru.  It's crazy!  They give presents and give a speech as well.  They are all so nice and they love the missionaries.



   

video
Tradition that they do. So fun

The last time with this amazing family.  Kinda sad, but memorable.  It was a great day.

So now I am in Osaka. My companion is Elder Wharton from California. We get along well. It will be a really fun time. The ward we are in (yes, Ward) is fairly big. There are about 70 people that come every week. I have a goal to know everyone's name in 3 weeks... It's gonna be harder than I thought, but I'll try my hardest. This church is huge! I have an actual church building again!! It is two floors; bottom floor has a lot of classrooms, baptismal font, bathrooms and even a library like in America. The second floor has the chapel and even a "cultural hall" type thing with a stage and everything. And the chapel has a pulpit, an actual sacrament table and benches like in America. Crazy stuff! Yesterday was the first Sunday and so I gave an introduction talk. Afterwards everyone said my Japanese was ペラペラ pera-pera (fluent). But, they say that to first transfer missionaries too, so it's nothing to brag about. Japanese is hard, but it's fun.

The Filipino people are following me I swear!! We have a couple Filipino investigators that haven't been progressing for a while, so we will work hard with them. Also there is a Filipina Recent Convert as well as a couple Filipino less active members/active members who we are going to try to get better relationships with. I am excited to do that. Pinoy Pride!

This place is different, but we have adventures all the time with these people. Osaka is crazy! We have a college in our area called Kinki University. We went there on Saturday and were able to stop and teach 6 people right off the street. It was actually really easy to talk to people because they are just right there! They come to you sometimes. Way different than needing to actually knock on a door to even see people. It's pretty fun. You never know what could happen in a day here in Osaka. For example, last night, we went to an investigator's tattoo parlor to follow up on his Book of Mormon reading. He lets us in the shop and we sit down with a guy in his underwear who is getting a tattoo on his inner thigh and we begin talking about the gospel and about English to both of them. We talked for a good hour or so and we were able to become good friends with these guys and teach them about the restoration and part of the plan of Salvation. They both want to continue to meet and also learn English from us. We taught them "the struggle is real." And that was super fun. You never know what can happen in Osaka.

Well, that's about it for this week I think. Be prepared for next time when I talk about more of the adventures that I am sure will come every day here in this crazy city. It is exciting! The work is hastening here and I am excited to see more miracles. I hope you all have an amazing week. The church is true, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and God loves each and every one of you!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部

video
    This is at our investigator's bike shop. He challenged me to a Rubix
cube competition. I should've won, but I got so unlucky at the last
part... P.S. Don't mind the Celine Dion in the background. He loves

America.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Going to Osaka!?!




Dear Everyone,

I don't have too much time today because of the transfer calls that we received today. It happened. I am transferring out of beloved Maizuru and I am going to a place completely different. I am going to the Higashi Osaka area! Woah! From one of the most Inaka(country) places to one of the most tokai(city). Osaka is a huge city and I am going to have to do things that are completely different than what I have done my whole mission, so we'll see how it goes. My new companion is Elder Wharton. He is 6th transfer. That's about all I know about him. I am going to be District Leader there, so I am excited for the new adventures that await me there.

Today is the start of my 10th transfer (out of 16 total). This means that I reached double digits and I can now be considered an "old missionary." I swear I just got here...

Well, I'll just share one cool experience from last week. On Saturday night, we went over to Sukiya, a famous restaurant in Japan, to eat our "fast Sunday eve" feast, but it was stuffed to the brim. We walked around the restaurant and there was nowhere to sit. So, we were just going to step outside and wait when an older couple saw us, scooted over and made room for us to sit with them. Woah what nice people! So we sat with them and talked for a while. They were so nice and fun to talk to. They kept asking us questions about why we were in Japan and asking about our family and stuff like that. It was way fun and we were able to eat together and talk together for about 45 minutes. Turns out they are SGI (a crazy religion prominent in Japan) so they had no interest in our message, but they were just a delight to talk to. After we finished eating, we got up to pay for our meal, but the couple insisted on paying for our meal! These wonderful people let us sit with them because there weren't any other seats, talked with us, and they paid for our meal! I was pretty baffled; that was the first time anything like that has happened to me. It was a sweet experience. Our meal was paid for by a couple strong SGI people. Haha!

This week, we went to Ibaraki for TTT (Trainer Trainee Training) and I was able to see some of my missionary friends! Somehow, I was able to navigate my way from one end of Japan to the other end without any difficulty. Ask me to do that a few months ago and I would have pinched myself to see if I was dreaming and passed out due to lack of oxygen. Somehow, I am now able to work through the crazy train schedules, station names and prices and all that jazz to make it on time to where we needed to go. Things you learn on a mission...

Our whole district taught 20+ lessons again! So proud of my district. They all work so hard and they are doing so well. It's kinda sad that I'm leaving, but everyone expected it. Now I have to pack and say goodbyes and all that again.. I hate goodbyes... I love this little branch so, so much! :(

Well, that's all I got for this week. Love you all! Thanks so much for all of the love and support! Next week, I will be in a whole new place. Osaka, here I come!

Love,
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部





Some pictures from our Eikaiwa (English class) Halloween party on Tuesday!  I didn't know what to wear, so I decided to just wear all my BYU things and call it good.  (I didn't realize I had so many!  I couldn't bring all the BYU things I had).  It was a lot of fun!  We started off teaching them some Halloween words, then we had games.  The last picture is of the Branch President as a ninja and his wife as Maleficent.  They are so cool.  Lots of fun.

video

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The Branch gave us Root Beer!  It's been so long!

TTT or Trainer Trainee Training.  All the trainers and trainees came together on Wednesday and received training from the Welchs and the AP"s.  Well, this is actually half of them.  More then 60% of the mission is now training/being trained.  Crazy stuff.  P.S. I have no idea what I am doing in the picture...

We found a Filipino store/restaurant and we were talking to the lady who works/lives there.  I saw Royal True Orange and said that i used to drink that all the time in the Philippines.  Then, she gave it to me for free!  It was way cool!

Baskin Robbings!

Fukuchiyama Zone after Zone Training Meeting.  Love these missionaries.  Sad to leave this zone...

These four missionaries next to me are in Nishiwaki (my first area) right now.  They wanted a Nishiwaki picture and so I joined them :).  Nishiwaki is a really interesting place because it is called "the Belly Button of Japan" and it means West Armpit.  Hence the weird pose.:)


I didn't know we had a missionary mall in Japan :)




Isn't that awesome!