Alex Fuller's Mission to Japan

Alex at MTC From June 2006 to June 2008, Alex is serving
a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints in the Japan Tokyo
South and Japan Nagoya Missions.
(click pic to enlarge)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year Japanese Style!

Happy 2007!!! They know how to celbrate new years here in Japan, that`s for sure.

So to the Japanese, Shogatsu, or New Years Day to them is what Christmas, Easter, and every other holiday are to the rest of the world. It is the one time a year when they get religious, which means going to a buddist/shinto temple, clapping your hands, bowing, and praying to grandma or grandpa. Yeah, it`s a little interesting, but if you are looking for a low-commitment religion, I`d have to recommend Shinto. 5 minutes a year and you don`t have to worry about anything.

Not wanting to lose out on any of the fun, our district went to a very nice, large shrine/temple on New Years Eve. It was an elaborate and beautiful place with lots, and lots, and LOTS of alcohol everywhere. That is just for fun I think. One thing that was partivulary interesting was that all throughout the city, above everyone`s doorway is a red and white folded piece of paper that they put up for this holiday. Some very religious people kiss it when they walk by it. It is increadibly Jewish in it`s appearance, which just brings forth more questions. Nevertheless, it was a fun night and I was able to get some nice pictures of the beautiful shrine.

One New Year`s eve I went to bed at my usual 10:30pm and didn`t even see midnight passby. However, I was woken up at 6am by very loud sirens that sounded like air raid or tornadoe sirens. They went off every half hour all day, and I`m still not sure why. There lots of weird things that happen that one tends to stop asking explanations for.

Because this is such a big holiday, everything is closed. It is a very big family time where no one wants to be distrubed at all. If we were to go out trying to contact people we would be yelled at more than ever before, so we had to do some creative missionary work. We decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. Lots of them. Around 130 of them. It took a good 5 hours, but they taste so delicious. Good ole fashion american cookies. But there`s more to this project. Our plan is to package them up, and then tie a scripture on them, Moroni 7:45 from the Book of Mormon, and then give them to the members. The plan is to give every member 2 packages, one to enjoy and one to give to a friend. There`s nothing easier than giving away delicious chocolate chip cookies, and perhaps the scripture will encourage a gospel discussion to follow. If nothing else, it shares some good food that will hopefully bring some smiles.

This project that we came up with has actually taught me a great deal. I love chocolate chip cookies, and I also love to share them with those close to me as well. I love them, so naturally I am sure those around me love them as well and I am eager to share them. If perhaps, the cookies are refused by those I offer them to - perhaps they don`t like chocolate, are not hungry, are on a diet, or just brushed their teeth - I should not be offended or discouraged by their not accepting them. It doesn`t make the cookies any less delicious, I know they are. I can always eat another to remind me how good they are. I will simply offer them to someone else who can take the ful enjoyment of them.

How similar is the gospel and our sharing it with those we love around us. The gospel, or rather the love of God, is most desirable above all things, and the most joyous to the soul. It is the best cookie that one`s spirit could ever eat, and thus I should be even more eager to share it than delisious chocolate chip cookies. With our presents we are giving out, the true question is which is of most worth, the cookies, or the word of God attached by yarn. I have learned a lot about myself in examining how I act towards each.

Lately we have been visiting lots of people that got baptized in 1980 and 1981 and then never was heard of by the church again. It`s so interesting to see people who entered this church at the age of 18 or 20 and now are 45, living at the same address, and not too much to say for the last 25 years. Spiritual growth and progresion, or the lack thereof, can not be replaced by any other experience in life. Of the scores of people we visit, no one has ever shown a small desire to return, but it is still good to always let them know there are hands waiting to embrace them if they choose to return.

It is good to know for me as well that there will always be the hands of my friends and family, wherever in the world they may be, this life or the next, waiting to embrace me. Thank you all for the love and kindess you show towards me. In any other work I would have been discouraged a long time ago, but this is the Lord`s work, and the only limiting factor to miracles is faith. I feel the Spirit many times each day and know that the Lord is walking with us. May we all walk forward with more faith and trust in Him this wonderful year is my prayer. Happy 2007!!


Elder Alexander Todd Fuller
Japan Tokyo South Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


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