Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mountains to Climb

Vipeak on his big day.  So happy for him

Hello🇺🇸, Konnichiwa🇯🇵, Talofa🇼🇸, and susulai 🇰🇭(Cambodian
language) family and friends!

  It has literally been a week of miracles here in Nara. And I've
never been so physically, spiritually and emotionally drained in my
life. I've had some of the most spiritual experiences of my mission
this past week so I'm excited to share the miracles, and what I have
learned today.
  On Thursday we were meeting with a member at the church, and having
dinner when we got a text message from Vipeak with some concerns about
receiving baptism. He told us he "I cannot get baptized this Sunday
morning because my family (In Cambodia) don't want me to" This came as
a major surprise to us, so the next day, we cancelled some appointments
and decided we were going to ride our bikes up to his apartment and
skype in our member from Cambodia who translates for us. He lives
about 1 hour and 30 minutes, up a mountain by bike. This whole past
week I have been waiting for my bike to come from my last area, so I
have been using a members old bike that only has one gear. (Picture
attached below) But nonetheless, we started our journey on on of the
hardest bike rides that I have ever done, up the mountain.
  While riding up the mountain and not even being able to peddle
anymore because it was so steep, I was amazed at Vipeak and how he has
been doing this ride every week to come to church and sometimes, more
than one time a week so that he can meet with us. My heart was full of
gratitude and amazement for his act of faith in coming to church and
doing what the Lord has asked of him.
  When we got to his apartment, we sat down in his room and Skyped in
Vhuty shimai, the member that lives in Cambodia who has done all the
translating for us. We had a really spiritual time with Vipeak, and
everyone was able to testify strongly. Vhuty shimai even brought a
friend to her house so that she could help Vipeak as well. We learned
during the lesson a little bit more about the concerns that his family
has. One of them was that they were worried about the commandments and
didn't think that Vipeak could keep all of them and they were worried
that if Vipeak didn't keep the commandments that God would punish him
or wouldn't bless him. So we resolved some of those concerns by
explaining that God doesn't expect us to be perfect, he just expects
us to try our very best. At the end of the lesson, Vipeak said he
would pray about it and he would let us know his decision the next
day. (Boy, talk about not being able to sleep that night haha)
  The next day, we received a text message from Vipeak saying that he
prayed and that he wanted to get baptized, even through the concerns
of his family. He knew that getting baptized would bring the most
blessings to his family. So, Ladies and Gentleman, on Sunday morning
Vipeak was baptized, and in sacrament meeting was confirmed a member of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When he bore his
testimony, he was literally glowing. I was amazed because he bore his
testimony in Khmer (the Cambodian language), but the spirit did the
testifying. I was able to hear his testimony because Vhuty shimai was
skyping in and she translated it to me. But when the bishop stood up
after Vipeak, without knowing anything that Vipeak said, the bishop
talked exactly about what Vipeak talked about in his testimony. That
taught me that language really has no barrier. The spirit is true, and
it testifies unto our hearts.
  I'm grateful for Vipeak and all that he has taught me the last
couple weeks. I am excited to see what he can become from here,
because he is already an amazing person. I'm so blessed to be able to
learn from such a humble man, and to be able to work everyday, to help
other people and learn from each of them. I know that all the children
of the earth, no matter where they come from, are Gods children. We
are all family, and we all have the same goal in this life. I know
that the spirit is real, and that it will testify to us. I know that
prayer will answer the questions we have. God hears our prayers and
will always answer them. He will not leave us on our own. I know that
baptism is the gateway to returning to our Heavenly Father. I am so
grateful and humbled to be apart of such a great work on this earth. I
have so much respect for each missionary out here, giving it their
all, working until they can't stand anymore, to show Gods children the
way back to him. Satan worked hard on Vipeak this week, but Vipeak was
stronger, and I'm so proud of him for that. Vipeak is a pioneer for
his family and friends.

  I'm grateful for all of you and all your love and support. Have a
safe week and have a great Pioneer Day!

Much love from Nara, Japan

Ebanzu Choro

Oh ya, we bought a couch.

Dinner with Nagura Kyodai

My (not so) trusty steed on the bike ride up
the mountain to visit Vipeak on Friday.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Nara Part 1- Vui Choro.....Again?

Talofa lava Everyone!

  Well yet again another travel announcement has passed. I got transferred and am now in a wonderful place of culture, deer and foreigners called Nara. If you remember Nara from my email 6 weeks ago, it is where my last companion, Vui Choro transferred after leaving me in Matsue. Well, my friends, Vui Choro and I thought that 6 weeks apart was too much, so I followed him down to Nara and we are companions again. We must have some unfinished business to take care of. We've been told that it won't be for long, so we are going to make the best of it and work super hard this transfer. 

  It was really hard leaving Matsue, a place I grew to love so much through 3 transfers there. Saying goodbye to the members, and investigators was sad, but I know I'll be back to see them again. As well as leaving Smith Choro who I learned so much from this last transfer. He always finds the good in everything and was a great example to me. I am so grateful for the 6 weeks I had to work with him. Too bad he is a lakers fan... At least we know that we can always repent and change!

  Let me tell ya about Nara a little bit! It is on the complete other side of the mission! Needless to say, it was a long trip to get here. Nara was the first capital of Japan, wayyyy back. It has lots of tourist and cool buildings... and deer! So that's always a good time. It's a lot more "city" than my last area, but you can also get out to the country which is nice. The Nara Ward is about 65 active members, and I swear everyone speaks English. The first 5 people I met from the Ward were absolutely fluent in English, and then on Sunday there were many more. It should be a great opportunity to have them teach me some Japanese! 

  As far as investigators go, we are going to be finding a lot this transfer, because last transfer they had 2 baptisms so now we need to find new investigators! That's not a bad problem to have! We have a very strong investigator named Vipeak. (Pronounced Vih-Peer) He is Cambodian! He speaks no English, and very very little Japanese. So the way we communicate with him is through google translate! When we teach lessons, we skype in a sister named sister Vhuty who is in Cambodia right now and she translates the lessons for us. She got baptized a couple months ago in the area above us, and introduced the missionaries to Vipeak. Yesterday Vipeak passed his baptismal interview and is planning on getting baptized next Sunday at 9 am. So we are very excited for him and his willingness to change and follow Jesus Christ. Please keep him in your prayers this week please! 

     Well it's been a roller coaster of emotions this week. But I'm excited to embark on this new adventure here in Nara. I'm grateful for everything the Matsue members and investigators did for me. I learned so much from them and they have changed me. I love them all so much and was so lucky to be able to learn from them for 3 transfers. 

     Lastly, I just want to share a quick quote that was shared a couple weeks ago at district meeting that I have been thinking about. It is: "Two men look out from prison bars; one saw the mud, the other saw the stars" Just something to think about for the week! Love you all! Thanks for everything! Have a safe week!

Much love from the deer in Nara Japan!
Ebanzu Choro

Saying goodbye to Yuto-Kun and Yumi-chan in Matsue! They will get baptized in December!! 

Ishihara kyodai from Matsue made this paper crane thing for me. Japanese people are so kind!

Bye bye Bishop Yoshida family! And smith Choro! 

Dinner last night

This is how we do s'mores in Japan

Vipeak! And our skype lesson with Vuthy Shimai 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Start of 7th Transfer

           Some friends from Tottori

 The final week of my 6th transfer has come to an end and it was a
HOT one! 🔥 The humidity is something that I have never had in my
life, and this week was the first taste of Japanese humidity for me.
It felt like walking through an oven.

    This week was good, though it had its up and downs! One of the
good points of the week was finally meeting with Brother Ishihara
again after not being able to talk to him for a month or two. He has
some concerns about the priesthood and feels like he received the
priesthood too fast after he was baptized. He received baptism
September of 2015. We are working to help him understand that who the
Lord calls, he qualifies. Sadly, Ishihara kyodai doesn't want to meet
with any members yet, so the pressure has been on us missionaries to
help Ishihara kyodai since we are the only ones he will talk to. It's
made it a bit stressful on me, but I am grateful we have built a
relationship with him and that he will still talk to us.

    One of the funny experiences I had this week taught me and a
little kid a good lesson. While walking past the Eki (the train platform),
 we noticed one of our investigators was inside, so I decided I needed to talk to them
so I started to run to the door to get inside. At the same time, a 3
or 4 year old boy was opening the door to go outside by himself. Right
then he looked up to see a 6'2, white, read headed foreigner running
straight at him. I'm sure that was a scary sight for him so the kid
freaked out, screaming, running, and crying for his mom. I felt really
bad, but I learned a lesson that I need to be a little more careful
when out in public. And he learned a lesson to stay with his mom. I'm
sure I gave that poor kid nightmares for weeks. Heavenly Father sure
has a sense of humor sending a big red head to Japan!

    Last night was a fun one because while we were finding, we talked
to people from Japan, China, America (New York), and the Philippines!
It was so fun to meet people from all around the world and talk to
them about the great message we have. It really made me realize how we
are all Gods children! No matter our home, culture, language, or
backgrounds... We are all Gods children and he loves us all the same!
What a blessing it is to know my Heavenly Father, and to be able to
share that knowledge with all of Gods children. I am so lucky!

    Anyways, lastly I just want to share a quick quote that I heard
this week because quotes are my favorite. It says: "There is no one
you wouldn't love if you knew their story." Don't be so quick to
judge, because you never know what someone has been through, and what
kind of difference you can make for them by trying to understand.

Thank you all for all you do! Sorry this weeks email is a little all
over the place! Have a good week!

Evans Choro

  Okayama Zone - training meeting

Basketball - last p-day with Sou Kyodai

Beautiful sunset in Yonago while on the
bus coming home from Okayama

How lucky I am to serve in such a beautiful place!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Ball is Life!

The best $20 you could ever spend in Japan
(No wonder he has gained so much weight since he's been there.)

 Here in Matsue, Smith Choro and I are known as the "Basketball
Missionaries". Why? Because since birth, Ball has been life to both of
us. We were talking to a member family a couple weeks ago at dinner
and I asked them what we can do as the Matsue missionaries to better
strengthen this Ward, and better find investigators! The mom looked at
me and said "well have you tried doing basketball missionary work?"
Well, we hadn't, but since then whenever we do missionary work,
basketball always seems to come up in the conversation, so we have
been able to find new people through... BASKETBALL! Matsue has a
professional basketball team, and really nice court, so there are lots
of basketball players here! One night, my companion contacted a
younger guy on the street, and the guy was wearing a really cool
basketball shirt, so we compared basketball to the gospel and had a
great little talk with him. Right after we walked away from talking to
him, a 18 year old boy walked past us so I said "hello" and he said
what he could in English. I asked him if he liked English and he said
he really liked it. I asked him why and he said "Because I like the
NBA!" It's funny how God puts people in our path that we can connect
to easily. And it's really fun to connect basketball to the gospel!

    One night while we were out finding and talking to people, I had a
feeling to try to call brother ishihara, who was supposed to receive
the priesthood 5 or 6 weeks ago, but then stopped coming to the
church, answer phone calls, or talking to any of the members. We were
super worried about him because his family doesn't like the church
very much. So my companion (who was the one that baptized brother
Ishihara) and I have been praying for him everyday. We had called
brother ishihara time and time again before, but while we were out I
felt like I should try again, so I did.... And he answered the
phone!!! He has some worries and concerns but I was able to set up and
appointment with him for tomorrow, so we are so excited to meet with
him again, and the Ward was astonished that brother ishihara answered
our phone call. We know that it was because of the spirit, and how
much Smith Choro and I have been working to gain the spirit lately.

    Another highlight of the week was 2 nights ago when we got woken
up at 4am to what we thought was the world ending. It sounded like the
hospital across the street was crumbling to the ground!! But, it was
just the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life. Nothing major.
My companion and I had a great time with that. Even though it took
away from our precious sleeping time. The rain in Japan is absolutely
crazy. Doing missionary work in the rain, is even crazier but it's
giving us some good memories

Oh yeah, it's the 4th of July for us in Japan. So happy 4th of July!
You should hear Madruga Choro's (who is from Brazil) image of the 4th
of July. It's about the funniest thing I've ever heard in my life.
Guns, fireworks, Pies, and Bald Eagles flying everywhere. Sounds like
a great time to me!

Happy 4th! Have a great week!

Ebanzu Choro

A majestic picture of the Elders from last weeks parable.

American (ish) tacos at a members house. Go America!