Monday, March 24, 2014

E-mail 3/24/2014

Hello my dear wonderful family!

Miracle of the week: Johnson shimai [Sister Johnson] and I got to go to Oikawa shimai's baptism--it was wonderful! 

Tuesday as we started Companion Study at the church we heard the voices of the APs [assistants to the mission president] in the hall and then Rasmussen Kaicho [President Rasmussen] popped into our room and said "Ohaio gozaimasu [Good morning]! How are things?" Shook our hands and popped back out. Apparently he had a meeting with the APs, ZLs [zone leaders], and STLs [sister training leaders?] in Izumi that morning which got over just in time for the ZLs to sit in on our District Meeting. I did the English training. The ZLs did stress management training. It reminded me a lot of the Asics advertising campaign slogan "Sound Mind. Sound Body. Running cleanses the mind and the body" and spiritual self-reliance--where we personally, by ourselves, can rely on the Lord. After DM [district meeting] we had a mogi [roleplay] with Yanase shimai (around 60 with blue hair--she's so cute and way good at English!) and then visited the Akatsuka family and shared a message about prayer and Akatsuka shimai told us all about Japanese Sign Language--which was super fun!

Wednesday, Tsuba-san (PI [potential investigator]) and Ami-chan (LA [less active]) weren't home but Aoyagi-san (PI--49 years old) was. It was an awesome experience! We'd been about to drop him because we'd visited his apartment a ton and no one was ever there, but we decided to visit one last time to see if we could at least meet him (he was a PI from previous missionaries) and we knocked on his door and he opened it and we said "Hi, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Do you know our church?" and he said "Yes." Apparently he's an investigator from 10 years ago and LOVES the church and the missionaries, recognizes the feeling of the Holy Ghost, still remembers how to pray, and has been to both church and Eikaiwa [English class] a ton. But, the missionaries who taught him both transferred and he never heard from the church again, so of course he didn't keep coming. But he was so knowledgeable about the church and open to hearing the message again and has super hilarious English. So we had a great lesson conversation with him and he said he didn't know when he could meet again, but he would text us when he knew. It was amazing! After that, since somehow I'd gotten a flat tire, we walked to chirashi kubari [flyer distribution] and then Eikaiwa and taught the kid's class.

Thursday, we were supposed to have Ladies' Eikaiwa in the morning, but since only Yamaguchi shimai showed up and her English is really good, Anderson choro [Elder Anderson] asked her to tell us (8 missionaries) her conversion story in English. It i[s] incredible. She was living in Spain and didn't have any friends when one day two of her roommates said they were going to a party and so she said "Can I come?" They said, "Well, it's going to be kind of religious." She said, "I don't care. I just want friends. Can I come?" They said, "Is it okay if the missionaries are there?" so she went and heard about Eikaiwa and all the other church activities and all of a sudden she was going to EVERYTHING, including a Spanish Ward and an English Ward (thereby going to 6 hours of church on Sundays). But when the missionaries asked her if she would get baptized she said "Impossible!" (When she was a kid her parents where [were] protestant and so she made a decision to be neutral on religion.) When someone told her "I thought you were already a member!" She said "Never!" But one day as she was sitting in church she realized that going to 6 hours of church a week isn't neutral. So she said a prayer and said "God, today I am going to stop going to church because I want to be neutral and I don't believe in you. But if you are real, please, let me know." And she said "I felt a warm feeling like He was real and that He heard all my prayers and all of a sudden I was crying." So she called the missionaries and said "I am getting baptized." They said: "What? Why??" They were shocked. They thought she would never get baptized. She told them she was but, "I will never dendo [proselyte] with you!" A week after her baptism the missionaries called her and said "We're going streeting [contacting people on the street]. Will you come?" And she said yes.
And then she said to us, the 8 missionaries listening to her incredible conversion, "So people can change."

It was so powerful. It gave me so much hope for all of our investigators--and for me too. That too can change.

Then we had DM and then went on splits with the STLs--I was with Hamano shimai. And we housed and did visits and then visited the Omori family with the other shimai [sisters] and shared a message about dendo joys to strengthen their faith to dendo. They were so kind! It was really snowy so they took our coats and bags and hung them in front of their heater and gave us dry socks. It was so kind! On our way back, Hamano shimai asked me "What are your healing songs?" I thought that was such an interesting question!

Friday, we finished our split and then got everything ready for the missionary-run ward FHE [family home evening] which was super fun! We had about 40 people there and had a paper airplane contest and played minute to win it games and then shared a message about appreciating the small moment as blessings from Heavenly Father and invited people to share the Mormon Message "Small Moments" with their friends. It made me think of small spiritual moments I've had on my mission: Hearing Oikawa shimai pray, singing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" in a member's geinkan and seeing her eyes fill with tears, biking on the backroads by fields of rice in the rain and singing "Make me more worthy of thy grace", singing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" as we were biking home the day after we recorded it and my voice catching on "and my poor name he named". Gifts. God gives us such wonderful gifts. He loves us.

But Friday night we still didn't have anyone to take to Oikawa shimai's baptism. So as far as we knew that meant we wouldn't be able to go. So Saturday we were at the church cleaning up with the District when it occurred to me that Orgill shimai would probably need a heads up that she would be doing a solo for the musical number, so Paxton choro gave us permission to call the Zone Leaders. They picked up and we explained the situation and they said "Well, actually, since you're singing, you can come." !!! But the baptism started in 60 minutes and we had no bikes and needed to change into Sunday Best for the baptism. So we literally ran to the train station, ran to the apartment, changed, ran to the train station, and ran from the Kamisugi station to the Kamisugi church and arrived at 10:00 a.m. on the dot, in time to take a red-faced pre-baptism picture with Oikawa shimai and then it down in the chapel to sing "Joy to the World" as the opening hymn. It was a day of joy! Oikawa shimai was sitting on the stand in her white dress and she looked angelic. I couldn't stop smiling. Orgill shimai bore her testimony and Date shimai gave a talk and then Orgill shimai and I sang Come Unto Jesus in English and Japanese.

Come unto Jesus, ye heavy laden,

Careworn and fainting, by sin oppressed.
He'll safely guide you unto that haven
Where all who trust him may rest.

And then we all went into the primary room to watch. McClellen choro got in the water first and then Orgill shimai called out to him (for Oikawa shimai's benefit) "Is it warm?" "Yes, it's warm," he promised. And then she was baptized! And after she dried off she bore her testimony and it filled me with joy. :)

After the service we took another picture and Oikawa shimai asked me "Where are you living now? Where are you living now?" Apparently she asks the same thing whenever Orgill shimai and Smith shimai and Hiyashi shimai come over and I'm not there. I was so happy for her--I could feel of God's love for her and the wonderful joy of the Holy Ghost. And afterward Ishizaki kyodai [Brother Ishizaki] asked me "It's wonderful, isn't it?" Yes it is! Pure joy!

And if it so be that ye should labor all your days and bring save one soul unto me how great will be your joy with her in the Kingdom of my Father.

Then we came back to Izumi and had dinner with the Konno family and shared a message about preparing for General Conference--who's excited??

Yesterday we had church and in Relief Society we talked about Agency and the Atonement and using those to become better. I really liked the quote Taketomi shimai shared; "You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others." Through Agency and the Atonement we can gain more gifts.

Then after church we visited the Chapman family for dinner and shared a message about meaningful prayer. They are wonderful! You can tell they love the gospel and missionary work and are teaching their children wonderfully. They are incredible! They have such faith! They really believe God had a purpose for them in Japan and that part of that purpose is missionary work. They were so kind.

Today, we had District Meeting and Smith shimai shared a spiritual thought and said "Look for those who are searching for the road that will take them from where they are now to the happier, better person they want to be. That road is through Jesus Christ. Through it, they can become the people they don't know they have the potential to be."  And then Paxton choro gave wonderful training about meaningful study. And then we went and had a birthday party with the residents at the retirement home where we volunteer each week and sang Happy Birthday about 10 times. :)

Congrats to Jordan, Mary Kathryn, Shelby and Andrew! That's so awesome!! Zach--Prom looks like it was super fun!!

I'm so sorry we don't have more time to email because our volunteer service went long, but I will print your emails and read them when we get back to the apartment. I love you! Thank you for all your prayers and love! I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!

Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

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