Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"It's Raining Investigators!"

The holidays are nighhhh!!!!

Last Thursday we got to watch Savior of the World, which is a musical production that happens every Christmas season. They wanted all the Temple Square missionaries to see it so that we could direct our
guests to go and learn more about the Savior. 
Then on Saturday Rachel came and delivered me cupcakes for my birthday. 
On Sunday I got to announce in Japanese after Music and the Spoken Word (テンプルスクエアへようこそ!)
and my lovely companion and district leader threw me a surprise birthday party. I had cake and ice cream and pie for dinner. 
On Monday we talked to all the families who were in town for thanksgiving. We talked to one boy and asked him what he's most grateful for, and he said "Doritos" and rubbed his belly. Also I was on exchanges with the Mandarin coordinator and we met a famous Chinese actor (if we said who it was his bodyguards would get us)! On Tuesday we had a meeting with all the Japanese speaking sisters and I ate some ようかん.

We have been so blessed this week. Last week was the worst week of my mission; no one wanted to refer despite the amazing tours we took and deep conversations we had. Every phone call we took was a man angry that the missionaries had come to his house, and every chat we took was with someone who wanted to teach us about how satanic our beliefs are. But it has been so so good this week! Sister Burgoyne and
I felt defeated and decided to stop worrying so much about reaching our goals, but really making an effort to make everyone's experience at Temple Square a positive one, no matter what they thought about
Mormons. Once we really started focusing on the people, Heavenly Father really started blessing us in unexpected ways; those that we had given up on because they hadn't gotten back to us in a month suddenly started e-mailing back and picking up the phone. A call that I accidentally picked up while we were in the call center turned into a new investigator because a young man in Florida just really wants to know what he can do to have God more in his life. We talked to him again today and he said he wants to get baptized. We've gotten 4 new investigators in 3 days, after a week of not finding any at all!
Heavenly Father is so strange in he ways he blesses us. I'm not complaining.

We have a goal as a mission to get 100 more baptisms by the end of this year as our Christmas present to Christ. Every time someone had a baptism, the office sends out a text that says "so-and-so from some-country got baptized! #ourgift" it's funny because there really is no reason for us to be using hashtags (are hashtags even a thing anymore?) BUT IT REALLY HAS CHANGED THE ATTITUDE OF THE ENTIRE MISSION. We're all working hard to reach our gift-goal and every single companionship has seen miracles galore. We're all more united and a little more giddy about Christmas coming along.

Picture #1: Announcing for the first time! I was really nervous and tripped over all my words. 
No Japanese tours came.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Each week I send an e-mail, I believe I keep talking about how dead the square has been. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I kicked off my time at Temple Square with the worst human tsunami known to man (General Conference), but it doesn't make it any less true each time I say it. It has been the deadest of dead this week. One morning, Sister Burgoyne and I were covering a desk assignment in the North Visitor's Center, and we probably saw 5 people the entire hour, three of them being janitors.
But that's okay, because it means that we got to do transfers really smoothly. So many people ask, so I'll just tell you all: at Temple Square, when you do transfers, you really do just move down the hall of your apartment building. Sometimes you don't even move at all. Sister Burgoyne and I switched zones, but didn't have to pack a single bag. We are now in the East 2 Zone, which means we have an assignment of being in the Beehive House this transfer!

The Beehive House was the home of Brigham Young and his family and the beginnings of Church administration. We have three hour shifts in the house, every other day, and we get to show guests around the house and teach both history and gospel to guests who are willing to listen (and obligated to, since they're stuck in teeny hallways with missionaries). While there aren't tours, we stay in the back room and study the site guide which is 2000 pages long. A sister told me once, "once I was finished with reading the site guide, I was done with the transfer serving in the house." Hopefully It won't take me that long to get through it. Some interesting things that I learned about Brigham Young and the church while reading the site guide:
1. He was not only Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was also first governor of Utah and also Superintendent of Indian Affairs. My favourite quote by him as Superintendent: "Their sense of matters and things differs so much from ours that we often find it difficult to bear with their indignities and ignorance... What to us is a deep insult and outrage, to them is a small matter, while a thing of minor importance to us becomes to them a thing of great moment. Why should men have a disposition to kill a destitute, naked, Indian, who may steal a shirt or a horse and thinks it no harm, when they never think of meting out a like retribution to a white man who steals, although he has been taught better?" Doing pretty good for a white man in the 1850's.
2. The state of Utah was originally commissioned to be called the State of Deseret. Deseret, or beehives, were a symbol that the Young family really treasured. Beehives represent perfect unity and cooperation, and that was what the early Mormon pioneers really emphasized. However, the name "Deseret" eventually wasn't approved and was instead named "Utah" After the Ute tribe that was there before them. The University of Utah for many years, was called the University of Deseret.
3. Brigham Young was raised Methodist, but was spiritually unsatisfied. "What have you learned from Lorenzo Dow (Methodist preacher)? Nothing, nothing but morals." He received a copy of the Book of Mormon and read it many times over the course of two years, but it was not until a "pure and simple testimony of common men, "whose testimony was like fire in my bones." He recalled that, regarding the "brethren who came to preach the gospel to me," he could easily outtalk them." But "if all the talents, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been combined in one individual, and that one person had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by his learning and worldly wisdom, it would have been to me like the smoke which arises, only to vanish." However, it was only after he "saw a man without eloquence, of talents for public speaking, who could only just say, 'I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true'" that Brigham Young determined to be baptized.
I wish I could just send the site guide to you all. There are so many misunderstandings about Brigham Young that I personally had that I have been elucidated by having the information presented in context. Although there are so many subjects in the Mormon-verse that I never really had a chance to come at peace with before the mission, I am so glad that I put them aside and was able to focus on what really matters, which is Christ and the Atonement. I know with my whole heart that because of that, God has been treating me with these interesting facts and tidbits that put my mind at ease. If any of you back home are struggling with religion, prophets, church culture, or anythingatall, please please remember to refocus. All of these are distractions from what really matters, which is God, Jesus Christ, and your relationship and understanding of Them. Once that it fixed, I promise IpromiseIpromise, everything will not only fall into place, you also won't ever have to take on the burden of figuring out everything on your own.
Another thing that happened this week: I taught a real investigator lesson! Although we get to teach our investigators over the phone, occasionally we get to teach Salt Lake residents in person along with their local missionaries. Two Elders, a member, and their Japanese foreign exchange student came in last night and requested a Japanese sister to help teach. Usually the Elders call Temple Square beforehand to let us know what's going on and what the plan is, but this time they showed up and I was the only Japanese missionary around. It really does feel good getting to teach in person. 

And now, a substantial amount of pictures since I never take any:

1. Christmas season has begun at the Beehive:

2. Sister Burgoyne and I take our first selfie together because we realized it was e-mail time today: 

3. Second selfie, on the way to Braza's Grill earlier today. Everybody in the Utah area should go there immediately. They beat that other Brazilian grill that everyone goes to in Provo that I currently do not remember the name of. ("Leaving all personal matters behind" to the max)

4. I don't know if minions are still a thing in the real world. Nonetheless, will somebody please forward send this picture to a Brenna Monson?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spooky Square

On Halloween night, Temple Square closes early because otherwise we get spooky hooligans coming in and doing not-so-kind things late in the night. I thought it was pretty silly and didn't think anything serious could happen. But around 4:45pm, as the square was clearing out, I could kind of feel it... The crazies who didn't know that the square closed early made it in and I could feel a different spirit on the square. It's so strange, because I never really noticed the special-ness and holiness of the Temple grounds until then.

At 5 pm, the gates closed and the sisters got fed lasagna and we took the underground tunnels to the temple. Life is good. 

We're getting a lot of investigators recently who ask about women's issues in the church. We get people from all over asking, "so what does a woman do in this church" with a raised brow, and others asking about Heavenly Mother. For a while I wondered if it was something I was doing wrong in the way I presented myself that was attracting all these people. Women+church is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, but everything I've learned over the years that has given me peace in my heart is information that is irrelevant to my work as a missionary. It was quite frustrating. Sister Burgoyne said to me one day, "maybe these people are coming to you because you're the one who actually cares about this issue." I don't think I successfully addressed the concerns of all these people, but I do think that I handled it the best I could. There have been so many times in my life where I could have been having a spiritual conversations instead of intellectual ones. Intellectual conversations are important, but how many of them actually get anywhere? I've been arrogant (yay because repentance is real) to think that the knowledge that I have is enough to resolve any questions or heal broken hearts. We can pull out any distorted fact from history and dissect (misogynistic?) diction from scripture and compare numbers of "liberated women" (or whatever), but it is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that we can move on. We don't have to fix the world and its problems to feel at peace again. All we need to understand is that Christ understands: "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief".
I will admit, I have been tempted many times to be swept up in fiery arguments about scriptural interpretation and church doctrine. I am still working hard to make sure that every conversation I have is uplifting and loving. I hope that we can all receive those that have had their hearts broken by the church with love, and remember that they are only angry because something they hold dear to their hearts has been wronged by silly humans, not God. Not Christ. And let's not be those silly humans that alienate people from the blessings of the restored Church of Jesus Christ! We really can all do a little better. 

And speaking of being offended: we just had an emergency mission meeting regarding the new announcement the church made about blessing children of same-sex couples. Please, dear family and friends, remember, be calm. We don't hate gay people or children.
And now, some silly pictures after this heavy e-mail!