Welcome to Elder Joseph Gandy's Mission Blog. You will find Joseph's letters and other pertinent information about him and his work in the Japan Fukuoka Mission.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Here is another excerpt from Joseph's companion's mission blog that I thought you'd all enjoy reading. I really appreciate being able to hear about some of the things that Joseph either doesn't have time to write about or doesn't think about when he sends his e-mail. Thank you to Elder Everett and his mother for sharing the link. I'm so happy that Elder Everett will be Joseph's companion through another transfer.

Elder Gandy has a sweet quote that he has hanging on his wall. It goes something to the effect of "The closer a man comes to God, the greater effort the Adversary will exert to prevent him" (yeah, I kind of forgot how it went but that's kind of close to it.) But it's so true. Every time we go and try to do what's right there will always seem to be something to distract us, stop us, side track us, or makes us feel like we're not even worthy to take part of the gospel, and there is nothing that could be further from the truth. You are all a son or daughter of God, and He is waiting for you with open arms, for whenever you finally decide to come.

Oh, speaking of adventures (before I forget) … This past Saturday we went to visit an investigator who lives in Usuki city, about an hour or so away, and stayed and watched a samurai festival there. The city is the home of the Samurai Otomo Sorin, who was the only Christian Samurai. During the time of the unification of Japan, there was an extermination order for all Christians, and Otomo Sorin created the cities of Oita to be refugee cities for what they called kakure kirisutokyou or the Hidden Christians. They had a sweet festival with people dressed up as oni (demons) and the holy warriors that slay the beast! There was also akenka matsuri or a fighting festival where they had two groups of young men gather together to pull a wheeled shrine and race toward each other with the shrines making a crisscross across the city. The whole time they had people banging on the Taiko drums and making all the noise and racket they could. It was probably one of the most Japanese things I have seen on my mission, and all in the shadow of the remains of the castle from Otomo Sorin! Cool stuff with the summer festivals all over Japan!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Family,

So yes I forgot to tell you about the flooding. Most of the rain came at night actually. I didn't even know it was a big thing going on until we got a call from our zone leaders. Some places were pretty bad it sounded like but everything seemed fine except the river level was higher and brown because of mudslides. The funny thing is a few weeks back we went and bought me some good rain gear. After getting it I was super excited to use it because of all the rain. After buying it though everytime we went outside or I put it on the rain just stopped and the times I forgot it at the apartment it has rained. So I really haven't had a chance to use it yet.

Yeah it has been pretty cool meeting some return missionaries from Sapporo who know Daniel. Its been really fun.

So this last week we had transfer calls and the big news is that Elder Everett and I are staying in Oita again for another transfer. So this means that I'm most likely going be living in Oita for half a year. Its actually really exciting because I love this ward so much. There are so many great people. We also have some amazing investigators who seem to be getting pretty close to baptism. Things have been going really well.

This last week we got to do a couple of exchanges and I got to go to Beppu which used to be part of my area when I first got here. Now we're seeing if we can make a branch over there. So it has been exciting. Then yesterday at church a Nigerian guy and Chinese lady came. It was interesting hearing a little bit about their religious understanding from them. The work has been going super well. I'm grateful for all of your prayers. Everything has been going really well here. I love you all and am praying for all of you also.

Love Elder Gandy
ギャンディ 長老

P.S. Here are some pictures!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I really hope that Elder Everett and his family don't mind that I share some of the posts from his mission blog here. I just know that you will all enjoy this excerpt from Elder Everett's. As many of you know, we read in the news about all of the rain and flooding there and I was quite surprised that Joseph didn't even mention it. I guess he didn't have time but Elder Everett gives another little bit of insight into why he may not have written about the rain.

From Elder Everett (Joseph's Companion):

Ok, so what's been happening around Oita. Well, first off, we've been in the middle of the worst rainstorms that there has ever been in the history of Oita and Kumamoto! It's been raining for days on end now and it's been crazy to watch as the rivers rose to above tree level and just went everywhere! We took a ride with a member to go visit him in the middle of the biggest bit of the rain and he had the news on in his car so we got to see the floods around Oita and Kumamoto. It was absolutely crazy to see that much water everywhere. But in the midst of all this, I have to tell you all about Elder Gandy's magic raincoat.

Ok, so we knew that it was the rainy season in Japan and we didn't have raincoats that were any good for the rain in Japan so we went and bought Elder Gandy a new raincoat a couple of weeks back. So right after we bought the raincoat it started raining like crazy here. The thing is though, in the middle of the worst rain that Oita has had, ever, we have not been rained on a single time. This whole month we've experienced nothing more than a light sprinkle. So pretty much the pattern of every day has been: wake up and it's pouring, do the morning study, and then get ready to leave, put on the raincoat and by the time we get down stairs, it's all dried up. Then we'll ride to where we're going, see the rain pour down while we're in the church or talking to people, then as soon as we get up to go, the rain stops. Once we get home we think that maybe the rainy season isn't that bad and decide to look outside the apartment to see how it is, and it's raining cats and dogs again. I don't know what it is about that rain jacket, but, we're pretty convinced that it's got magical powers!

As far as the weather goes, though, right now it's hot, humid, and sunny! Which was perfect for yesterday because we had a ward BBQ! We traveled up to a beach 2 cities over and had a big ol' barbecue under some trees over there. It was a really fun event, and we had a great turn out. I think I counted a good 50 people there with several less active members and people visiting from all the way up in Yamaguchi (they heard that there was a BBQ down in Oita and decided to take a road trip that day and see how everybody was doing :D) In the original plan I was going to be in charge of a big group activity for all the primary children, but I lost out to the ocean, and all the kids just spent the day out in the surf. Things I learned from the BBQ: Japanese sand castles are based off of actual Japanese castles; People use hand fans to get a flame going, and blow torches to light the coals; Oceans are really nasty after a big storm, and the wood debris on the beach is all bamboo; Beach frisbee is way fun, even if you're playing with 3 year olds and 73 year olds. I think it was a good ward activity!

Earlier in the week, we were planning on having another BBQ on Saturday, but due to the rain, it ended up being canceled. The thing is though, we forgot to get in contact with the member that we had arranged to take us there and he showed up at our apartment while we were teaching Eikaiwa! The BBQ was supposed to be in place of Eikaiwa so we were going to do it there. As soon as the BBQ got canceled we sent an e-mail out to all the students, but we just forgot to make that one call..... oops! He was a really good sport about it, and even came to Eikaiwa with his food and we had a small party up at the church.

Working here in Oita has been awesome. It's weird thinking that it has already been 18 weeks since I first came here, because it seems like so much has happened here in that time. I've had my hardest time on the mission here, I've had the best time on the mission here, it's been a roller coaster for everybody in several different ways, and I love it. Here I've learned to really just love people for who they are, what good they do, and to try and view everybody as the child of God that they are. I've come to realize, in a very real sense, that the power of the atonement is more than just overcoming your own sins, but it is also strength in times of hardship, hope in times of need, a person to talk to when nobody else is around, and sometimes, the only place of solace you can find.

At this point I don't know if I'll stay of if I'll go, but I know, whether it's me or Elder Gandy who stays, that Oita will be in good hands and this will continue to be an awesome place for everybody who comes (Including the mission president who is coming on the 5th of August to see if we really can make a branch in the other city we work with). I wish you all good luck in all you do this week, and have a great day!

Love you all lots,
Elder Everett
Daniel found these two photos on Facebook. One of the missionaries from Daniel's mission ran into Joseph in Oita.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear Family,

It has been a really fun week. I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to e-mail yesterday. So that is why its late. We had this big ward BBQ at a beach. It was great spending time with the ward. Japanese BBQ's are very different. They throw a bunch of vegetables and rice balls on the grill along with all of the meat. It was pretty delicious. We have some of the best cooks in our ward over here. Oh and to answer your question about the thing I was eating with an egg on it. It was okonomiyaki wrapped around a pair of chopsticks. It was really good.

Earlier this week I went on exchanges with Elder Eckman who is just a hilarious person. It went pretty well. We taught a couple of lessons. An awesome experience we had though was on the way back to our apartment we said we are going to teach one more person and it will be up at this corner ahead and sure enough we did. It was amazing at how it just worked out. The next night I was with Elder Everett telling him about that experience because we were at the same corner. While telling him about it a man came up to the corner waiting for the light and me and Elder Everett just looked at each other and said lets do it. So we went and talked to him and he was really interested and wanted to talk to us. It was nice meeting him and talking to him also. We now call that spot miracle corner. It has been a great week full of miracles and other great things.

I don't have a whole lot of time today because I'm on another exchange with my District Leader, Elder Tipton. So I'm just going to hurry up and finish with what we talked about in our district meeting today. So we learned about Charity and how it never fails. It is so important to have charity because the greatest commandment given was to love your neighbor as yourself. As a missionary we are trying to seek after this gift. When we have a love for all of our Heavenly Father's children and we know the importance of the message we share we will be more able to serve them the best we can. That is my goal that I'm setting is to give myself to the service of the Lord through serving my fellow brothers and sisters. I hope that I may learn and develop this gift. One of the scriptures that helps motivate me to obtain charity is Moroni 7:47-48. Another thing I would encourage others to do is watch or read the talk given by Pres. Uchtdorf called The Merciful Obtain Mercy.

Well I hope everything goes well for you this week. I really have been enjoying your e-mails. It sounds like a lot is going on. I love you all and pray for the best.

Love Elder Gandy

P.S. Tomorrow is transfer calls so next week I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 8, 2012

Dear Family,

A lot has happened this week also. There is always so much going on it is hard to get everything in but I'll see what I can do. So this week to celebrate the 4th of July we went to Mcdonald's. It was good but probably the unhealthiest thing I ate this week. We also had an exchange a few days ago it was a lot fun. I met this recent convert who got baptized a month ago and he is just amazing. He has already been telling his friends at school about the church and how its helping him. I can already tell that he is going to be a great missionary. We taught him a lesson that night and it was great. You could feel the spirit testify of truth as we talked with him. That is what makes being a missionary so great - seeing people make a change in their life.

Another thing we got to do was go to a festival that was just down the street from our apartment. It was exciting with a lot of good food and a lot of people. We ran into some less actives while we were there also. That is something that has been happening a lot recently as we are riding to appointments. We keep seeing people we haven't been able to contact. We also went to this open house that a High School was having. We went to meet one of our investigators who goes there and builds robots. It was amazing all of the robots and other things they had there. We also had a birthday party for a less active member and Elder Everett's one year mark in Japan.

This week has just been packed with different things we did. But the biggest thing that happened was we got to meet our new mission president. Pres. Gustafson is great. I'm so excited to work with him for the rest of my mission. He really seems like quite a hard worker and has a lot of plans for the mission. I learned a lot from them in just the few hours we spent with them. They had some great insights that they wanted to share with us. Pres. Gustafson also wants to do exchanges with the missionaries. So hopefully I will have a chance to go and do some missionary work with him. His Japanese is really good and can communicate with the people very easily. There is so much to look forward to. What a great time it is to be serving in Japan it's such an amazing place to serve I love it here so much and the people are just absolutely amazing. I love you all and pray that you are having a great summer vacation.

Love, Elder Gandy
ギャンディ 長老

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dear Family,

I like in your e-mail about how you had to do a bunch of small projects around the house and how much it changed everything after you finished them. Recently I have been thinking about goals in that same sense. We really need to take small steps in order to achieve the great things. When we break it all down it makes it seem so much more possible to accomplish. One situation I relate it to is the hill I have to ride up to get to the church. I always use the light poles as goals. I keep telling myself ok just make it to the next pole. Alright I can keep going make it to the next one. There are also times when we will fall down or things slow down but if we keep going we will get to the top.

Everything has been going pretty well here in Oita. We keep doing our best to share the gospel and really just help people draw closer to Christ. Japanese is definitely coming a lot easier right now. It seemed like I had just been staying on the same level for a while but now I can say more. It is fun learning a new language. There are times when some people switch back and forth between english and japanese and my brain doesn't register that they have switched the language. So now I understand what people are saying most of the time when its simple japanese or it is gospel related.

Something cool that I got to do this week was my pantomime Mission to Mars. I remember before leaving on my mission you kept telling me to use my talents and to keep practicing that pantomime. I always thought "What? When on my mission would I ever do that." But sure enough I did. It was during our english class that I had that chance. We used it with our spiritual thought about how actions speak louder than words. They all really enjoyed it and want me to do it again. Like body language is a universal language, the spirit can also testify to everyone.

I learned a lot about relying on the spirit this week. Sometimes people will think the spirit will just tell them what to do right then and there but most of the time we have to act and then it will come and help. As a missionary we have to rely on the spirit to know where to go, what to do, what to say, and how we can help people. It is something we keep thinking about and praying for so we can best use our time and be led to the people who are being prepared to receive the gospel.

One miracle that happened this week was yesterday. We received a call from this lady asking us if the Mormons and Latter Day Saints were the same church. We told her yes and then she told us how she had been baptized 40 years earlier but couldn't find the church when she moved to Oita 20 years ago. She also said she saw our church building several times and wondered who went there. So now she will be coming to church next Sunday. Its a miracle that she got our number and contacted us. The message we shared with a lot with people this week was how important families are. Its so great. I love sharing that message. I'm so grateful for each of you back home and all that you have done for me. I love you all so much and keep you in my prayers.

Love, Elder Gandy