Monday, June 29, 2015
Well, it's official. I am a trainer. Whoohoo! My cute little trainee is Hermana Ávalos, from Tepic, Nayarit (on the west coast of Mexico). She is so great. She is so willing and so ready to contact the whole world and really help change Actopan for the better. We have the same vision and I love it.
I don't have tooooooo much time right now, we got to the internet a little later than usual. But I'll try to give you the low-down of what's most important.
1. We're teaching Judith, who is AWESOME. The bad part is that for the 2nd week in a row, she didn't come to church. But we're going to have a Family Home Evening in half an hour with members that live close by her house and it's gonna be great. :)
2. We found a new investigator last night, Griselda, who is a rock-star. I am not going to lie, I thought the lesson was going to go a lot differently because the first time we met she made sure she knew she was Catholic and not going to change. She is street contact from Hna. Bustos and I and we had worked out a few appointments but they ended up falling through. Bu,t last night we taught her for the first time. She had read the Restoration pamphlet and understood just about everything. She said the opening prayer and asked that God would open her mind and heart to our message (who even does that?!?!). And sooooooo, she ended up accepting a baptismal date! YES! I felt so strongly during the baptismal invitation that she is going to be baptized! It's going to happen!!!
3. After a long day, where ALL of our appointments fell through, we decided to go to the last option of the night, Bishop and his family. We did an activity where we shared a short message and did an activity. For 10 minutes, we asked them to make a list of all of the people that they know. Everyone! After, we asked Bishop to say a prayer. We all kneeled down and he prayed for the Holy Ghost to direct them to know who of all these people is prepared to receive the Gospel. Then, we took fuve more minutes so they could put a star next to all the people that they thought might be ready. This week, we are going to go back to place specific goals and dates to help them invite their friends to receive us, go to church, or participate in an FHE. It went well, but I couldn't help but to feel a but lousy for the day that we had. Yesterday in church, Bishop spoke and he told us how he and his family had been praying for a way to improve in their missionary efforts. He said they felt like they had been sinning, as they weren't doing all that they knew they should. He said that when we arrived, it was an answer to their prayers. Now they know who is ready and what it is that they should do to help in this work.
Oh, family. I am happy! I am happy to be in Actopan, happy to be training, and happy to be a missionary! I love this gospel and am so grateful for the opportunity to testify of the Savior every day. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no reason to be unhappy! As soon as we remember the glorious Atonement, we can forget what upsets us and be immediately grateful.
New missionaries with their trainers
It was another great week in Takasaki. My companions and I are great! They're so cool. We get along great and we're working super hard. This week we talked to anyone and everyone and it was so much fun. We've been thinking of new ways of finding people. and they're pretty great. In Japan, just going up to someone and talking to them usually isn't too successful. You have to make them like you and feel like your friend, so we usually either do something nice for them, give them candy, or usually just try to make them laugh. My Japanese is getting way better already. It's been a blessing to have Elder Ito as a companion because it forces me to speak it and he corrects me when I mess up.
So, President Budge leaves on Wednesday.. Bummer! He's so great. We had the last zone conference with him last week and it was awesome. I'm gonna miss him. Our new mission president is President Nagano. He's Japanese but has been living in America for many years. I'm pretty excited to meet him!
I finally had my first dinner at a member's house! Most of it was pretty good. I had pickled bamboo with fish jello... I can't say I'm a fan. There's a member here who bakes us dozens of cookies every week and they're so good. He tells us they're American recipes and he baked us 90 cookies last week just for the three of us... That's not gonna be too good for my diet.
Our investigator Ishida is doing really well and preparing for baptism. I'm super excited for him. His niece Michiko, though, is not doing so hot. In Japan they have a ceremony called Sado and I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know they have to drink tea. She just can't imagine the thought of not being able to drink her tea because it's such a huge part of Japanese culture. But we're just having faith and teaching her and praying for her!
I love you guys and I love the gospel! I hope you're doing great. I'm doing awesome and loving being here in Japan.
Jake needed some things sent from home after he got there. This is what the package looked like when it got to him. He was cracking up and said he loved all the stamps I put on it, but I didn't do it, the lady at the post office did. :)
Monday, June 22, 2015
News, news, I have news! Tomorrow we have transfers... Hermana Bustos is getting transferred. New companion tomorrow! Should be interesting.
Boy, oh boy... this week has been very good. I am so glad to have been able to finish my companionship with Hermana Bustos with a bang. We found 14 new investigators and taught 41 lessons, two goals that we have not been able to accomplish in this whole cycle together. This week, we contacted (minimum) 10 people every day (a standard of the mission), found at least one new investigator every day, invited to baptism in every first lesson, tried with all our might to only be in lessons for 45 minutes and meals for one hour, worked with the members... we gave 'er all we had! I am grateful to been able to finish up the cycle with this week. All in all, I am very thankful for the opportunity to be with Hermana Bustos. I have learned A LOT. These six weeks have been a refining process for me, and for that I am grateful.
This week, we were able to find a new investigator named Judith, who is AWESOME. The only not-so-awesome part is that she didn't come to church on Sunday. That's kinda sad, but the good news is that there's always next Sunday! One day, Hna. Bustos and I were walking down the street and there was a guy and his wife fixing a bike outside of their house. Initially, we walked past them. But afterwards, my comp. and I looked at each other and decided to turn around and present ourselves. They told us that they were Judith and Jaime, and that we would return another day. So, we did! We taught Judith about families and the nature of God, and it turned out to be a very spiritual experience. She accepted a baptismal date and committed to read the Restoration pamphlet. When we returned three days later, she had read the pamphlet and we taught the Restoration. When we returned to give her a Book of Mormon a few days later, she basically bore her testimony of the book after reading a few parts of the introduction. "I have a lot of faith in this book. I am so ready to learn more. This is already changing my life. I know that the truth is right here," she said, tapping the cover. WOW! I am so pumped for her!
Have you seen this video? Wow, so amazing. I watched it for the first time this week and cried. It reminds me so much of my life! Of my dad! Of the sweet countryside where I grew up! Oh how grateful I am for the men in my life: Dad, Grandpa Snyder and Grandpa Phil - all men who have taught me how to WORK! The hardest-working men I have met. And each one so big, strong, and tough, are all men who have also taught me that being sensitive to things of the Spirit, crying, and bearing a sincere and humble testimony are not signs of weakness but of spiritual strength. I love you!!!
I am so grateful for everything. For my family, for my friends, for the mission, for the Gospel, for my life, for the Savior. I love the motto of the mission: "Obedience is the price, faith is the power, love is the motive, the Spirit is the key, and Christ is the reason."
Our sweet little inactive Ester, 68 years old and still kickin' it!
She went to church yesterday!
Just a few sheep to brighten your day :)
We love being missionaries!!
Hello family! It's been an awesome first week back in the mission field. President Budge gave me my assignment and told me I was going to Takasaki...which I knew nothing about. Then he told me my follow up trainer was going to be Elder Richards, who I was really good friendswith in the MTC! Whohoo, he's awesome! He is also training Elder Ito, who is awesome. Elder Ito is from Japan and speaks little English but he is so funny and a great missionary. It's a great companionship and we're working really hard to find new people to teach. I'm so excited for the rest of this transfer. I really think we can have great success together.
Right now we are teaching two really solid investigators. Their names are Ishida and his niece Michiko. They are 79 and 60 years old and live together. we teach them every day so I already know them pretty well. they used to fight a lot, but the Gospel is really changing them. it's so awesome to see! Ishida has a baptism date for next month and should definitely get there. Pray for them!
It's so humid in Japan. I sweat like all day every day... Maybe that's a good thing if I want to lose weight here, haha. The culture is so different, too. It takes some getting used to. My Japanese isn't too bad. I actually think I can understand more in lessons that what I did the last time I was here, which isn't a ton but I can usually get the gist of what's being said. I don't say much but I'll always share some thoughts and my testimony. I'm learning a lot quickly with Elder Ito, too. Having a Japanese companion forces me to use much more Japanese and he likes to fix me when I make a mistake, haha.
This week I've really come to appreciate the power of prayer. There have already been times when I was in need of comfort and I knew Heavenly Father was right there to help me. Ii had one particular experience where I just needed a pick me up. I got down on my knees and said a prayer and when I got up I felt great and ready to get to work. I know the Spirit guides us when we're worthy of his companionship.
I love being a missionary! I love the gospel and how it transforms lives. I know this is where the Lord wants me to be. Wherever you are at right now, just strive to be better. We always have room for improvement. the Lord will bless you for your efforts. I love you all!
Love, Elder Snyderスナイダ長老
Real katsudon, just as delish as I remember!
We found a legit burger place. It was amazing!
Monday, June 15, 2015
How is my beloved family? I'm thinking pretty great because YOU HAVE TWO MISSIONARIES IN THE FIELD ONCE MORE!!! Wow, I can't tell you how happy I am. I am so full of joy! Elder Snyder is going to get those baptisms going like crazy in Japan. He's going to be so great. New and improved. Wow!
On Saturday we baptized Francisco! Whoooooooooo! It was a beautiful baptism. We arrived and Hna. Maricela and her husband were there cleaning the church. They are spectacular. They are ex-Jehovah's Witnesses but now they're just about the best Mormons you have ever seen! Hna. Maricela (mamá Mari) goes with us every week to appointments and is willing to help us with anything, anytime. It is so amazing to have a member like her. And when we got to the church, we went to the kitchen and discovered that she had cooked a meal for after the baptism. A MEAL for everyone! Seriously, she makes me realize that we shouldn't have to be asked to do beautiful things for people... we should just do it! Needless to say, the baptism was beautiful! Hna. Bustos and I sang and some people cried and Francisco gave a sweet little testimony and it was just so great. I am so happy to be a missionary. Even though it is dang hard sometimes, when I see the light of the Gospel in the eyes of Francisco or any of these other sweet people, it's worth it times 500.
Last night something awesome happened! We had a Ward Family Home Evening and so we decided to go knock doors and invite people 15 minutes beforehand (which works out great for us because out of the 3 companionships in the ward, the chapel is in our area:). I went with a family of new converts and we went a-knocking. The hermana had the idea to go invite an old lady that they always say "hi" to in the street but don't really know, so we went to find her house. She wasn't home, but beside her house there were two little girls riding their bikes and their dad there watching them. We decided to invite them, so they called down mom for the final decision (mom always has the final say:) and she said yes! But they didn't want to go with us to the church in the moment, so they said they would see us there. As a missionary, I immediately took that as a not-so-good sign, but we decided to have hope and headed back to the church. While Hna. Bustos and I were teaching the message, they came! It was so beautiful! We taught of the importance of the family and watched the video "The Things that Matter Most." They participated and we played games and it was great! A new family!
I was able to give a talk yesterday in church and I was grateful for that opportunity. This might be an interesting thing to say, but right now, I am working on getting the ward to love us. Haha. This case study that I am going to attach really has made a mark on me. I am testing out some of the ideas and let me just say that I think it works pretty dang well. Right now, we have like 6 prospects for baptism that are all references or have connections in the church. GIVE THE MISSIONARIES REFERENCES!!!
Basically family, I just want to tell you how much I love you. You are my favorite people ever. This is going to sound dumb, but I don't remember which day is Father's Day in the US, so I want to tell you Dad how much you mean to me! I love you with all of my heart! You have always been an example to me of good, hard work, integrity, knowledge, patience, friendliness, and love. You are half of the reason I am who I am (Mom is the other half:) and for that I am so grateful. How I got so blessed to have you as a dad I don't know. But in allllll of the countries I have visited and alllllll of the great priesthood men that I have met, you are the best. I love you so much!!!
Have the best week ever, my beloved family! I love yinz!
Our little setup with Hermana Maricela
This is a great day because Elder Snyder is on his way back to Japan! It happened so quickly, but he was definitely ready to go. Jake had spent the last seven months living with his Grandpa and Grandma Taylor in Montana. He first got a job at Safeway, but then his bishop offered him a job on their ranch. He switched jobs and ended up loving it. He had a great experience and worked hard to earn all the money he needed for the rest of his mission. We are so grateful to everyone who supported and helped him during his stay in Montana! Jake came home on June 3rd and we found out on June 12th that he was cleared to go back to Tokyo. So, he was set apart as a missionary on June 14th, and he flew out today, June 15th! We certainly didn't get to have him home for very long, but it all worked out just perfectly and he was so ready, confident and prepared. He's so excited to share the Gospel with the people of Japan once more. He's a happy boy and we're happy for him!
Monday, June 8, 2015
Oh. My. Goodness...cuteness overload!
How goes it?! I hope all is well in PA and it sounds like it is, so that's good.
I literally have no idea what to write this week! I will just tell you that it's been a week of ups and downs. Things are getting better with my companion and so that's good! She is sooooooo very different from me and so we are still getting to know each other.
Actopan is awesome. The ward is so organized and everyone works hard in the callings. And we have people that go with us to appointments just about every day! We recieved 20 references this week from an activity that the Bishop did in Sunday School where everyone wrote down a few names of non-members that they know and members that they hadn't seen in church for a while. So we are looking forward to contacting them! You all should do the same, too!
What to write...
We are finding a lot of success looking for less-actives on our member directory. We found a part-member family this week that is very promising. The wife (Miriam) is a member of 4 years but hasn't come to church in just about 4 years, haha. She is married to a non-member (Giovani), actually he's atheist, and they have 3 little kids. We are teaching Giovani and he is a little closed off to religion but he listens and I think we're gonna crack him!
Also, Francisco's baptism is on Saturday! I am so excited! He has come such a long way in such a short amount of time. We fasted together on Sunday and he gave a FAST OFFERING. Ahhhhh I love that guy! He really has experienced the light of the gospel illuminate his life. I am so happy for him. We are figuring out how he is going to do the baptism with his leg... :) Pictures to come!
Other than that, I am good! The work is a little slow right now, I can't lie. It's a little hard with some different things going on but I am ready to work this week. More than anything, family, this week I would like to tell you how I am learning about the spiritual gift of charity. It's so easy to love someone who respects you and loves you back. But the true test is if we can love those that don't like us so much. We must follow the example of the Savior and "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you." It's a gift that we must study out, pray for with all of the energy of our souls (as Moroni counsels), and act in a way that shows to heaven that we really desire this divine gift (Elder Bednar, Character of Christ). I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for granting me a portion of this spiritual gift. Remember that without charity, we are nothing!
I love you all so much! Have the best week ever! :)
Hermana B's first PB&J. Yummy!
Monday, June 1, 2015
These weeks are flying by! I can't believe I've already been with Hermana Bustos for 3 weeks. Sometimes the days seem so long but the mission is going so fast. I already have been out for 7.5 months... weird!
Boy oh boy, what has happened this week?! I have a few stories!
A few days ago, we went exploring in a part of Actopan 2 that neither of us know. We knocked a few doors and found a young kid, who said we could return the next day because his mom would be there. So the next day, we went back and met the mom, Leticia. She let us in and we started talking about her family. I wrote down all of their names and asked if there was anyone else who she'd like to pray for and she told me yes, her mother-in-law, who she said was in bad condition and they didn't know if she would last much longer. So we got down on our knees and offered the blessing. In the prayer, when it came time to pray for her mother-in-law, I did not pray for her health as you might have expected... or as I might have expected! I did not feel that I should pray for her to get better. Rather, I prayed for her to have peace and know that her family loves her and she has left a grand impact on all of her posterity. So that was that. We taught a little lesson and talked about baptism and Leticia said that yes, she would be baptized if she came to know these things are true. But we finished up and my companion said the closing prayer. As she said "amen" Leticia's cell phone rang. She answered and as she was talking, her face changed. When she hung up she said, "Um, my mother-in-law just died." ............................... I am pretty sure I looked like a fool with my mouth hanging wide open! She said, "I think it was your prayer. We know that she is in a better place and not suffering anymore." It was a miracle! As the Bible Dictionary says: "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that we must ask for in order to obtain." Sometimes that blessing is disguised as death (but let's just remember that death is just the separation of body and spirit for a little while!). Wow, I am so grateful for the power of prayer and the power of being a missionary. Heavenly Father is so aware of us! Let us never forget that He hears and answers every prayer!
Also, I think we need to baptize this family. :)
Other experience. We were walking around on Sunday looking for less-actives (which is harder than you would think when you don't have a GPS or a map with street names and you don't really know anything about the area). We decided to look for a sister named Esther. Long story short, we found her! She's a 68-year-old lady with short white hair and blue eyes. And she's crazy! And wonderful! She's so great! Here's one of my favorite quotes from the lesson: "They boys used to look at me from behind but now I look at them from behind!" Hahahahaha such a crack-up! The best part is, after about 50 years of inactivity, she committed to come to church on Sunday!
On Saturday, we had a conference with Elder Arnold of the Seventy, his wife, and President and Sister Egbert. It was SO GREAT. I left wanting to baptize, reactivate, and serve all of Actopan. Quickly, here are some of the things I learned:
- Use the scriptures and the words of the prophets; they explain way better than I can!
- Teach the doctrine, the why
- Take responsiblity for my area. No more waiting around for the situation to change. Change the situation!
- Be a defender of the truth!
- Work with the members (GIVE THE MISSIONARIES REFERRALS EVERY TIME THEY ASK!)
And with that, I'm signing off. This work is hard! But it's worth it! I know that there are people prepared to receive the gospel here in Actopan. I'm not responsible for my companion or her thoughts and actions, but I am responsible before God for ME. And I am going to work my tail off here and now!