We have been having a good time so far here.  One of our investigators with a baptismal date has a huge problem with smoking and didn’t believe that he could stop.  He has been smoking for 23 years and smoked about 40 cigarettes a day.  He said he could do everything else, but he couldn’t stop smoking.  He didn’t believe in himself at all.  Yesterday, we had a talk with him, our bishop, and a member in the ward who used to smoke.  The member’s name is Brother Ishihara, and he is awesome. Right now, he is 70 years old and was converted ten years ago.  He loves his baptism.  He says that everything good in his life has come from that choice to be baptized.  He loves his baptism so much that he has decided that he wants to do 50,000 baptisms for the dead by the time he is 74.  So that 50,000 people who are in the spirit world right now can experience the joy that he has felt.  Anyways, he talked to our investigator and told him his conversion story.  He smoked and drank for 36 years and stopped because that’s what God asked.  He told our investigator that today is the day he stops smoking.  He just flat out said it.  Then the Bishop, brother Ishihara, Elder Rindi, and I gave him a blessing to help him.  After that he said that he was done smoking.  So far he hasn’t smoked at all.  I know it’s only been 24 hours, but for him that is really good, I think.

The laws in China are changing.  When I was in the MTC, a general authority came and spoke to all the Chinese-speaking missionaries. Apparently, China is open in an indirect way, I think.  I only heard rumors from people, so I don’t know how much is true.  But Chinese citizens can now leave China in order to hear about the Church.  Before, I don’t think they could do that.  I think if anybody talked about religion outside of their house then they could be killed. Also I think each family could only have one set of scriptures in their house.  But now I think they can have one copy of each thing (scriptures, PMG, etc.) and if they hear about the church in China, they can leave and go to Taiwan or Hong Kong and learn about the Church and bring things back to their home.  I know there are missionaries in China who are trained to wait at the temple and when people come looking for the church, they can teach all the lessons for baptism in one sitting. So I think a lot of missionaries are getting called to Chinese-speaking missions and depending on the need and where the most Chinese people who are interested in the gospel come, the missionaries may be reassigned.  I knew a guy in the MTC who was going to Tonga on his mission, but because he was already fluent in Mandarin Chinese, he got switched after that announcement.  So China isn’t quite open yet, but it is a big step towards that.

Look at that announcement combined with the age change; a lot of big steps are being made in missionary work.  The work is moving forward.

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<<about the pictures he sent>> One is a picture of mold. There are clearly at least two colors of mold: a green and a brilliant pink along with the white fuzz that is characteristic of mold.  That is what happens when you cook pasta and forget about it.

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The next picture is my leg.  And that is what happens when your companion is an angry farmer person who gets upset about stupid things like the breakfasts in the MTC.

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The next picture is a picture of “nato,” a fermented soy bean that smells like death, looks like snot, and tastes . . . Asian.  Japanese like it.

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This next picture is a picture of the rat traps we got.  They are sticky, and I’m pretty sure they don’t actually catch rats.  Also, there is a picture of old ladies who stand outside our house on the street and say good morning to all the people who pass by . . . it was nice at first, but now I want to throw our mold at them.

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