The First Sunrise of the Year

With the Okayama Missionaries as we celebrate New Year together in Japanese style

Walking in the empty streets of Okayama City with closed stores and everyone in their houses all waiting for the new year is exciting and at the same time frustrating for missionaries doing street contacting. Despite the ineffectiveness, we still went outside to find people interested to learn the gospel. The next morning we celebrated New Year in Japanese style! Together with our friends, we went to the mountains and watched the sunrise wearing our Kimonos! A lot of Japanese teenagers were also there but we’re the only one wearing their traditional clothing. People were also complimenting us for wearing Kimono in cold weather. After viewing the first sunrise of the year in the mountains, we 伝導 (proselyte) with our Kimonos and nametags. We also went to temples, shrines, and also to their new year festival. I had my first 甘酒 (amazake) which is a traditional Japanese sweet drink made out of fermented rice.

The following days, stores are still close and we had 交換 (exchanges) with an Elder from Okayama! We talked to a lot of people and got a lot of contacts! We also had Family Home Evening with the Filipino families in our ward and had games, lessons, and scriptural thought.

Moving forward to yesterday! It’s the first testimony Sunday of the year and since 2020 marks the bicentennial anniversary when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in New York, I’ve decided to bear my testimony. Right after the conductor finished his testimony, I stood up without hesitation and went straight to the pulpit. With my limited Japanese, I testified about the significance of the First Vision and told them the things that we now have because of First Vision. I began my testimony by greeting them Happy New Year but instead of saying “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu“, I said “Akeome omedetou gozaimasu” which is the informal way of saying Happy New Year, as a result, everybody in the congregation laughed. I immediately recognized my mistake and apologized. After our church service, we went to the train station and did sign 伝導 (proselyte). With just 3 hours of doing it, we gave 6 Book of Mormon and found 5 new people interested in meeting us again to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ.