Monday, September 17, 2012

September in Matsudo

Hi family,
The house looks great! You guys sure work hard. I hope somebody cleans that fishtank before Christmas!
The two photos I'm sending are from learning how to make MELON PAN! It's a sweet bread that you can only find in Japan and all the Americans love it, so a ward member who runs a bakery taught us how to make it. We went with an investigator and it was way fun. Another highlight this week was getting an investigator and a less active to church! We work really hard throughout the week, but if we have someone sitting next to us in Sacrament meeting all the work seems worth it. Both of them really enjoyed it and will be coming back! Woohoo! Do you ever get bored in Sacrament meeting? Try imagining what the meeting is like for a Japanese person coming for the first time. I get to do that all the time as a missionary and it helps me feel the Spirit more when I think of all the significant things we do that a newcomer would ask questions about.
My spiritual thought for the week is one I had because of studying KANJI. I've written about this in my journal already, but kanji is way cool! (But tough.) One kanji I've been thinking about recently is 証. It's usually pronounced "akashi" or "shou" and it means "witness." This kanji is used when writing the word for a witness at a trial, but it's also the same kanji for "testimony." The most common place you can find it is on the Book of Mormon where it says "Another testament of Jesus Christ." イエスキリストについても一つの証。 We don't use the word "testament" all that much in everyday speech, but if you replace it with witness, it would say on the front of the Book of Mormon "Another witness of Jesus Christ." That is our message to the world. The Book of Mormon is all about Jesus Christ, His life, His teachings, and His gospel. When we read the Book of Mormon we can learn more about Jesus Christ and what He expects of us. Most importantly, the Book of Mormon in addition to the BIble supports our belief that Jesus Christ is Heavenly Father's Beloved Son, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. Through studying the Book of Mormon we draw closer to the Savior, increase our belief in His power, and deepen our understanding of the role He plays in our lives. The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of the reality of Christ's divinity and what that means for each of us. Here in Japan, where so few people are Christian, we promise people that reading the Book of Mormon will strengthen their knowledge and testimony of Christ. We rely on the Book of Mormon as our special tool for bringing others unto the restored gospel. It's a miracle that we have such an amazing book! I hope you all read from it every day, because you don't know how lucky you are to have your own copies in a language you can read. I talk about the Book of Mormon all the time but that's because I LOVE IT! I love getting people here to accept their own copy (and it's TOUGH, believe me) because I love the feeling of handing over something precious and hoping they will cherish it as much as I do.
I also have a funny bit of Japanese culture to share with you. The Japanese are all about honorific language, you know that, and one way they do that is by adding suffixes to people's names. "-san" is the most common, translating to Mr. or Ms. Another one is "-sama" which is a step-up in honor. We say "Kamisama" for God, "Iesusama" for Jesus, or "Ousama" for king. This week I learned that another quite common one in Japan is "Gagasama." As in Lady Gaga. Everybody reveres Gagasama here! Although I wonder how much different that actually is than from America.
Okay, family, keep working hard and doing your best with all the crazy stuff out in the world. You can do it! I love you!
Long Shimai 

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