The Light
Japan Kobe Mission: January 2001

"Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and light of the world" --D&C 11:28


Mission President's Message

Dear Missionaries,

We set out as a mission to give Christ to someone for Christmas and what a month! Nineteen wonderful people received baptism, nine on Christmas day alone. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for your efforts, your prayers, your careful work with your investigators and yoteishas, your love for them and your love for the Savior. Many of you made extra efforts to take the message to people through visiting their homes, preparing special lessons, caroling, participating in ward and branch activities, etc. I believe that this is a holiday season that will be remembered by many for a long time.

As we begin a new year, we reflect, briefly, on the past year and then turn our faces toward the new. I hope that we will take joy in the growth we have seen this past year, both personally, and in strengthening the Church in the Kansai area. As I have interviewed missionaries throughout the year, I have seen wonderful growth and progress. My mind quickly goes to the four elements of The Lord's Circle of Success. I've felt the strength of many, many testimonies increase in a truly inspiring manner as you have focused on your personal conversion and then worked to assist others through the steps of the conversion process. For many this has come as a result of taking better advantage of the morning schedule to become prepared with spiritual strength, as well as language and missionary skills. This has also made you better able to lift one another so that there may be "no poor among us" in our Zion Mission. I've seen many missionaries working hard to assure that the environment in their apartment and in their mind and heart allows them to "dwell in righteousness", inviting the Spirit to be with them. I sense the increased confidence that you are feeling as a result of the presence of the Spirit. We are a hard working, diligent mission. I believe you would have a very hard time finding anyone who isn't trying to serve "with all (his or her) heart, might, mind and strength." Focus on obtaining referrals through the four groups; investigators, new members, the less active and part members, is beginning to bear the fruit we knew it would as referrals becomes a larger and larger portion of our sources for investigators, yoteishas and converts.

I rejoice with you in the progress we have made as a mission. Now we ask ourselves, "How can I build on this growth in the coming year?" Progression toward exaltation is a continual process of growth and improvement. We should look forward to this and enjoy it, for with every step forward we leave behind old habits, old attitudes and old problems that just slow us down on the road to becoming more like our Father and His Beloved Son.

I would ask each of us to look at our own personal conversion and prayerfully search for areas where we might become "firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ ... ." (Helaman 3:35), with a greater susceptibility to the Spirit and a stronger commitment to serving as a missionary. I would ask that we look at our individual preparation, especially our commitment to continual improvement in language, missionary skills and gospel knowledge. 1 would ask that we look at our personal worthiness, our obedience to missionary principles and rules and our desire and readiness to call on the powers of heaven with full confidence that we will be supported by the Lord in our activities. Finally, I would ask that we search our souls concerning our willingness to serve with all our heart, might, mind and strength, and to balance all 15 finding methods while gaining skills in referral generation. Where improvement is needed in any of these areas I suggest that each of us set personal goals. I believe these goals should be few in number so as to motivate but not discourage and that they should stretch us but be attainable.

What a wonderful opportunity awaits us as we enter this, the 2000th year since our Savior's birth. I have a personal testimony of the truth of this work and of the power of God that is with us. May we strive to become better and better at giving the gift of Christ throughout this coming year, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

President Robertson


Message from Sister Robertson

Dear Wonderful Missionaries,

I hope you've enjoyed the Christmas and Oshogatsu season! Also hope you were able to implement many of the great ideas you generated at the December taikais. I know I enjoyed the "Kobe Carolers" and hearing of all those spiritual baptisms that occurred in December. Omedetoo!

I always hesitate when it comes to putting away decorations, gifts, Christmas music and the like. Something wants that feel, that tone, to linger a little longer. A friend shared something with me that I was fortunate enough to read during a contemplative (pondering) time. It helped me realize that there are many real gifts we can continue giving throughout the year. All of Christmas warmth need not be put away. I want to share this with you:

GIFTS YOU CAN GIVE YEAR ROUND

The Gift of Praise 
Appropriate mention, right in front of the other fellow, of 
superior qualities or a job or deeds well done

The Gift of Consideration
Putting yourself in the other's shoes and thus providing
your genuine understanding of his side of the case.

The Gift of Concession
Humbly saying at just the right point, "I am sorry,
you are right and I am wrong."

The Gift of Gratitude
Never forgetting to say "Thank You" and never failing to mean it.

The Gift of Attention
When the other fellow speaks, listen attentively. If his words
are directed to you personally, meet his eye squarely.

The Gift of Inspiration
Plant seeds of courage and action in the other person's heart.

The Gift of Personal Presence
In sickness, in trouble, or in great joy, there is nothing quite
equal to your personal expression of sympathy or
congratulations.

Resolve to give these gifts each day. You will be pleasantly
surprised at what you will receive in return.

Now a little about bunka and eikaiwa:

Not long after all the kadomatsu are gone, Seijin-no-hi will be here. This is a holiday to honor those turning 20 (and therefore becoming official adults) this year. (See the Japan Times article in this edition.) You won't want to be without a camera on January 8th. So many beautiful kimonos! And lots of genki gatherings providing good dendo opportunities. This all happens on the 8th so ask members and do some good planning to use this day to your best advantage.

Eikaiwa, like member referrals, continues to grow as a resource for finding. That must mean that you are preparing and teaching well! Mo ichido, omedetoo! There are several good programs being used throughout the mission, if you are still looking for one in your area, don't hesitate to ask around. You can always build a lesson plan around holidays and annual events. For example, Setsubun will occur on Feb. 3rd or 4th. This is one more occasion where we share common desires to bring in the spiritual and rid ourselves of evil influences. (See the other Japan Times article for details.) Also, notice the oni (devil) masks and beans that will be on sale right after Seijin-no hi.

Additionally, you can have an effective Eikaiwa curriculum by adopting a rotating schedule that covers basic conversation needs in various places like the bank, the airport, on the phone, in the market, etc. Simple songs are always a good idea--especially if you teach one that goes with your lesson. (The chorus of "Choose the Right", for example, might be a great song to teach after a lesson on Setsubun.) Well, we keep promising our core of translators (subarashi honyaku no hito) shorter articles to translate. So, I'll stop. But, with all your New Years' Resolutions, don't forget to:

  1. Keep drinking lots of water (kidney stones aren't fun... as a few of our Elders can tell you!)
  2. Use sheets on your futons--always. Traveling? Take 'em with you! (Many stores have fitted futon sheets on sale now for only 1000.)
  3. Stay warm. Coats, scarves, gloves and warm socks are now musts. Staying healthy does have a lot to do with not getting cold.
  4. Follow the honbu staff's great example by thoroughly cleaning your apartments, Makes for very happy companionships!
  5. Know that we love you, pray for you, and are very grateful to be serving our missions right alongside of you!

Love, Sister Robertson


President Gordon B. Hinckley

Have you ever contemplated the wonder of yourself, the eyes with which you see, the ears with which you hear, the voice with which you speak? No camera ever built can compare with the human eye. No method of communication ever devised can compare with the voice and the ear. No pump ever built will run as long or as efficiently as the human heart. What a remarkable creature each of us is! We can think by day and dream by night. We can speak and hear, smell and taste and feel. We can store what we experience and learn in a remarkable retrieval system unmatched by the most spectacular computer. We can learn and grow and progress and become better tomorrow than we are today.

Consider the human fingers. The most skillful attempt to reproduce a finger mechanically has brought only a crude approximation. The next time you use your fingers, look at them and sense their wonder. In a prestigious concert hall, I was seated in a location that allowed me to see the fingers of the performers in the orchestra. Every one--whether playing the strings, the percussion instruments, the brass, the woodwinds--used his or her fingers. One does not have to use one's fingers to sing or hum or whistle, but there would be little else of musical harmony without the deft action of trained fingers.

I believe the human body to be the creation of divinity. Our bodies were designed and created by the Almighty to be the tabernacles, the earthly receptacles, of our eternal spirits. We ought to be grateful for the growing accumulation of knowledge about taking care of the body.


Message for the Recorder

Have a Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

While we are on the topics of "New Years", what a great time to make a New Year's resolution to get your stats faxed in on time......... In other news, some questions have been raised regarding the procedures of Baptismal and Confirmation records. Here are some hints that will help you out: Always keep the records together, Don't leave the church after a confirmation, without the white copies of BOTH the confirmation record and the baptism record, fax them into the Honbu A.S.A.P. and then mail the records into the Honbu together.

Thanks for all the hard work! Keep it up! if you have any questions or need any help feel free to call. Dendo, Dendo, Dendo.

Pearson Choro


Why?

Why does the sun lighten our hair but darken our skin?

Why doesn't glue stick to thee inside of the bottle?

Why don't you ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?

Why is "abbreviated" such a long word?

Why is a boxing ring square? Why is it called lipstick if you can still move your lips?

Why is it considered necessary to nail down the lid of a coffin?

Why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"?

Why is it that rain drops but snow falls?

Why can fat people go skinny-dipping?

Why is it that to stop Windows 95, you have to click on "Start"?

Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Why is the third hand on the watch called a second hand?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why is the word "dictionary" in the dictionary?

Why isn't there a special name for the tops of your feet?

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

You know that little indestructible black box that is used on planes? Why can't they make the whole plane out of the same substance?


Assistants Corner

Dear Missionaries:

We just finished an amazing month, full of miracles and great Christmas memories. What a way to finish an awesome year! We were greatly blessed in 2000 with the opportunity to see so many of our brothers and sisters enter the waters of baptism. As we look now to the future, we need to remember that "of him unto whom much is given, much is required." This means that because the Lord blessed us so much in 2000, He expects that much more in 2001. (Note: that same scripture also states that "he who sins [by not reading the] Light shall receive the greater condemnation."--with a slight modification by Elder Grob.) There are people in our areas waiting to hear the Gospel, and the President has taught us where to find them. Our work in the 4 Groups will produce the results we're seeking in striving to bring souls unto Christ. This is a skill set that needs to be improved continually. Look to your DLs for assistance; they are there to help and support you.

We are representatives of Christ...all day, every day. Let's live that we may "speak with the tongue of angels." Thanks for being the kind of missionaries we love to serve. We love you!!

Elder Potter and Elder Grob


Financial Secretary's Section

In ancient Roman mythology they praised a god called Janus. He was the god of opening and closing doors and the beginnings of things. He had two heads with one face looking forward and the other looking back. The month of January was named for him for it represented the beginning of the new year and the closing of the previous one. We might take a page from Roman mythology in looking back at 2000 and assess what we have done during the year. How have I bettered myself? What have I done to better mankind? Answer those questions about yourself and then look forward as to the things that might have been. What can I do to be better? Especially during my mission for the Lord in this great country of Japan. How can I help the people here to better their lives? How might I be able to relate to them what is in my heart concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ and have them understand?

This is a time for inventory of my values, strengths and weaknesses and how I might resolve any shortcomings that I find I have.

What a glorious time to live. The beginning of a new millennium and the ability to approach it with the strength and power of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Elder Pyper


Push

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun-up to sun-down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing signs of discouragement, the Adversary decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it." Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough."

And that is what he planned to do, until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord", he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing"?

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back is sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock."

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him....By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves the mountains.

When everything seems to go wrong... Just P.U.S.H.!

When the job gets you down... just P.U.S.H.!

When people don't react the way you think they should....just P.U.S.H.!

When your money looks "gone" and the bills are due... just P.U.S.H.!

When people just don't understand you... just P.U.S.H.!

Pray Until Something Happens ...


Zone Taikais in January

Shogatsu Taikai, January 9, 2001, Everyone in Kobe


Mensetsus in January

01/06 10:00 AM Nishi K, Otsu at Fushimi
01/13 10:30 AM Kobe at Kobe
01/15 9:30 AM Kawanishi, Ibaraki, Hirakata at Toyonaka
01/17 9:00 AM Amagasaki at Kita Rokko
1:30 AM Himeji, Miki at Akashi
01/18 3:00 PM Asuka at Nara
6:30 PM Nara at Nara
01/19 9:00 AM Hirano, Taisho at Abeno
01/22 10:00 AM Nishiwaki at Sasayama
12:30 PM Toyooka, Maizuru at Fukuchiyama

Baptisms in December

12/03    Michi Miyazaki
12/03 Reiko Asano
12/10 Yukari Sakamoto
12/10 Tomoko Kitagawa
12/17 Kanako Tanaka
12/17 Takayuki Myoga
12/18 Kawamura
12/24 Masako Aoki
12/24 Ganaha Minoru
12/24 Rosanna Almeida
12/24 Nelson Almeida
12/24 Kasuga
12/24 Eriko Kasuga
12/24 Haruko Asano
12/24 Yoshimoto
12/24 Terumi Kakimoto
12/25 Yukari Morimoto
12/25 Fumiyo Kawai
12/28 Nishi

Birthdays in January

01/01Michael Blatchford
01/11Hiroshi Shimomura
01/18Brian May
01/20Gordon Garfield

New Missionaries

Deitrick, Sean Soren Knoxville, Tennessee
Nesbit, Jason Lisiate Palmyra, Virginia
Williams, Kipp Morgan      Brier, Washington
Kina, Hikaru Okinawa, Japan

Returning Missionaries

Hulley, Scott Heidelberg, Australia
Woolley, Aaron Wantirna, Vic., Australia
Anderson, Michael Orem, Utah
Bond, Jeffrey Pleasant Grove, Utah
Carmichael, Lara Jo      Glenhuon, Tasmania
Endo, Rieko Utsunomiya City, Japan
Watanabe, Mutsumi Fukuchima-ken, Japan

Voices from the Dust

One of the best blessings of Christmas and Oshogatsu time is to hear from dear old friends. We were very lucky this season to hear from many former missionaries. We'll try to name each of them, along with any messages they sent to the mission as a whole, in our February issue. In the meantime, suffice it to say that our RM's are doing well. There are spouses and even babies coming to those who've been home for a while. Many report that they are still very actively involved in dendo (some formally and some just as valiant, enthusiastic members).

Two common themes still prevail. One is that there is frequent, and occasionally intense, longing to return to the mission. A second is to make sure we remind current missionaries to not waste time. It goes very fast and wasted time brings regrets. So, there it is, in a nutshell,*  from many who have "gone on". We'll list 'em up next time. So, RM's that may be reading this from the Kobe Mission Website, feel free to send us your wisdom and we'll add it to the others. What better training for those of us still here than to get your wise perspective? We love you and we don't forget you! Your righteous legacy lives on in Kansai!

* (Translators, gomen nasal about the nutshell idiom!)


Yaki Soba

Things you will need:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
40 g thin sliced pork
1 cabbage leaf
40 g bean sprouts
1/2 small green pepper
1 package ready to use ramen or soba noodles
salt and pepper
yaki soba or okonomi-yake sauce

Cut pork into 1 1/2 inch strips. Cut cabbage leaf into thin strips. Cut green pepper into thin strips.

Heat oil in a frying pan. Fry the pork, cabbage, bean sprouts, green pepper until tender, about 5 minutes.

Remove vegetable and pork from pan. Add noodles and fry for about 3 minutes. Add more oil if needed.

Return the vegetables and pork to pan. Season with salt, pepper, yaki soba sauce. Fry 2 minutes more.

Serve on individual plate. Sprinkle on crushed nori seaweed, shaved fish flakes, sesame seeds, if desired.

Make your own sauce:

4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 table spoon shoyu sauce. Mix.


Seijin-no-hi (Coming-of-Age Day)

  1. Seijin-no-hi is a day set aside to honor young men and women who have reached the age of 20.
  2. Ceremonies are held across the nation on January 15th.
  3. This is a national holiday.
  4. Young people art regarded as "adults" after celebrating this day.
  5. They are then regarded as responsible members of society.
  6. The young people who have reached the age of 20 are invested with all the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote.
  7. Various events to honor the young people are also held at civic halls across the nation. 
  8. All those who turned 20 during the previous year are invited to the ceremonies.
  9. Lectures and other events are featured at such ceremonies.
  10. Parties are also held.
  11. Usually young men attend the ceremonies in suits and women are dressed in furisode or long-sleeved kimino.
  12. It is legal For people to smoke at the age of twenty
  13. This is a special day for young people; it marks their crossing the threshold of life.

Setsubun (Mame-maki, or bean-throwing)

  1. Setsubun falls on either the 3rd or 4th of February.
  2. According to the old lunar calendar of Japan, setsubun is the day which divides the two seasons: winter and spring.
  3. Roasted beans are scattered inside and outside the house and the words "Fortune in, devils out!" are shouted.
  4. Roasted beans have been used as a charm against demons since ancient times. 
  5. Not only do people scatter roasted beans, but they also place a broiled sardine's head and a small branch of holly on the front door. 
  6. The thorny leaves of the holly and the fishy smell of the broiled sardine are believed to drive away evil spirits.
  7. This is the day to exorcise evils, such as the demons of ill-health or disasters. 
  8. People eat as many beans as their age. 
  9. The purpose is to pray for good health and good fortune for the year.
  10. The bean-throwing ceremony is held on a grand scale at temples and Shinto shrines.

Dear Special Missionaries:

Of course this is the time of year when we can reflect on our past accomplishments and go forward into a new year with a new determination to do better than we have in the past.

Elder Pyper and I have been here in our Kobe Mission now for nine months. It's hard to believe that that much time has passed since we arrived last April 5th. As I reflect on those past nine months, I wonder just how much we have been able to accomplish? I think we have gained much more than we have been able to give. We have been in the association of some of the most wonderful and special Missionaries in the world. We have the honor and privilege to meet many wonderful and special people here in Japan. We have been able to participate in the wonderful and special Kansai Branch here in Kobe. We have been able to see this wonderful and special part of the world God had provided for us here on earth. What a wonderful and special time for us to be living in!

May our Heavenly Father continue to bless you wonderful and special missionaries and may He continue to bless us with your presence for another nine months.

Sincerely,

Sister Pyper


Happy New Year