Tuesday, September 23, 2014

E-mail, 9/21/2014

My dear wonderful family,

Happy birthday Lauren!!!!!! It sounds like you had an awesome birthday! I'm so glad you got to go to the temple!! Yay! The flowers look super pretty and I'm sure it was even prettier inside. :) I'm so happy for you! 

How was the primary program? A glow in the dark party--cool! 

Well, I love you and you are beautiful and amazing. :) I'm so glad you decided to be my little sister! You're my most favorite little sister! I'm glad you are my best friend. :) I love you!!

This week was fun! We went up to Morioka for splits on Tuesday (about a 2 hour bus ride), had a Labor Day Party at Eikaiwa [English class] on Wednesday, a lesson with Sister Sato, District Meeting, musical number rehersal, and Chirashi kubari [flyer distribution] on Thursday, decorated for Halloween at an elementary school with a ward member, a lesson with Sister Obuchi, and a mogi [roleplay] lesson with Elder Oba on Friday, a taco party and chirashi kubari on Saturday, and Sister Obuchi came to church yesterday. To summarize, it's been an awesome week!!

As I'm sure that previous paragraph was confusing, let me explain. ;)

Tuesday went to Morioka for splits. That means we took a 30 minute train ride down to Kamisugi, went to a big bus stop there and rode a big bus for 2 hours to get to Morioka. When we got there there was a festival going on. Cool! This giant float going down the street and singing and drums. Very cool. Took another bus up to the Morioka sisters' apartment and met up with the STLs [sister training leaders]. I GOT TO SEE MY SISTER TSUCHIDA!!! I love her!! :D I split with Sister Hamano and we biked over to the church and had 2 lessons with members (1 of whom I taught on my LAST split to Morioka--pretty cool!) and then went to a park and talked to people and invited them to Eikaiwa/asked them about God, etc. Sister Hamano finishes her mission in 2 weeks so it was really cool to get to ask her about everything she's learned. We were actually roommates when I first came to Japan (in Kamisugi) and then again when I went to Izumi, so we know each other really well. It was awesome to get to work with her and I really felt like we had the Spirit and were inspired. So cool. It was really inspiring to see what an amazing missionary Sister Hamano has become. I'm impressed with how genki [vigorous, energetic] she is. Even though she finishes her mission in 2 weeks and is super tired she still dendos [does missionary work]. I asked her why she is doing so well and she said "Well on your mission, your heart goes UPPP!! but your body goes dooooown." She is so happy. She is nervous to finish her mission but also looking forward to it. I think that's pretty amazing. It was so cool to get to learn from her on her last transfer. 

Wednesday we studied and had lunch in Morioka with the sisters and then traveled back to Nagamachi. We got back around 5:30-ish and ate dinner and then went over to the church for Eikaiwa and afterward had a Labor Day Party, complete with ping pong, treats, and massage. :)

Thursday we taught Sister Sato Nobuko the first half of lesson 1 (she wants to hear all the lessons again because she doesn't remember all the doctrine). She really felt the spirit and just seemed so genki afterward. Amazing. Then we had District Training Meeting which were we all talked about what we learned from Elder Whiting and had a testimony meeting. Really good. Then we had chirashi kubari and practiced our district musical number for Zone Conference--we're singing "I Know that My Redeemer Lives."

Friday we did volunteer with Sister Okumura at her daughter's elementary school; putting up Halloween Decorations with two of her (non-member) friends. Fun! Ate a little lunch together, got to talk to them about prayer. Very neat. Came back and went to Sister Obuchi's and had a good lesson on the Sabbath Day. One of the reasons she is less active is because she has a special needs son who struggles to sit through sacrament meeting, and right now she and her husband feel like they can't attend church with him. But they really really want to come to church and they love the gospel and feel so bad that they don't come to church. So when we planned this lesson we were a little worried about Sister Obuchi feeling hurt. But the Spirit was in the lesson and we focused on how the Lord just asks us to do the best we can and there are many people who can help us too. I think it was okay. Then we went to the church and did a mogi lesson (outside) with Elder Oba. He's the Asia Area NOrth Public Affairs person. Was very good. 

Saturday we had a taco rice and octopus pancake ball (tacoyaki) party at the church. All the missionaries came and the Elders' investigator came and 2 members came with their non-member friends. I was talking to Sister Imano's friend Moria-san and asked her what her hobbies are and she said sewing and I said I want to learn how to make purse tissue cases (everyone has them in Japan) can you teach me? But then it was time for the Spiritual message and we couldn't set up an appointment. Then at Chirashi kubari I met an older gentleman named Tani-san. I gave him an Eikaiwa flyer and he said (in Japanese) "Oh, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." I said "Yes, how did you know?" He said, "Can I talk to you for a little bit?" I said "Of course." Turns out he knows where the church is, knows the Joseph Smith story, has read some of the Book of Mormon, has read the Bible, and doesn't believe any of it. But he was super excited to talk about everything he's studied and asked me why I like my church and why I chose to be a Mormon. I said because there's a prophet today with priesthood authority and we believe everyone can receive revelation and have a relationship with God. He said "But don't other Christian churches believe that?" I said, Nope, just us. So we had a good conversation and I invited him to come to church and he said he has our number (not sure how, maybe an old investigator?). It doesn't sound like he's interested but he was very excited to talk about religion--Nishikawa shimai [Sister Nishikawa] said "I bet that made his day! (since most people in Japan don't really talk about religion) he probably can't talk to his friends about religion and has no one to talk to about it, so getting to talk to you he finally got a chance to say everything he's been thinking about." I thought that was a good perspective, since I did a lot of listening and didn't have a chance to say more than a couple of sentences, haha. :) But it was very interesting.

Sunday, Sister Obuchi came to church with her husband and son!!! Ureshii [happy]!!!! So happy! This is the first time I've ever met her son and the first time they have all come to church together for a long time! (Since before I came to Nagamachi.) As they were sitting across from us (there wasn't room for us to sit together) trying to keep Sota-kun happy I prayed for angels to help them so they'd be able to listen and feel the Spirit and be able to come again and this idea popped into my head from Alma 13 that I read in personal study that morning for Zone Conference prep; that missionaries/people on Earth are sometimes angels too. So I thought, who can I find to be angels for them? Who can I find that will be the angels that will help them so they can attend church together? Still thinking. Not sure yet. Trying to receive more revelation on that. Still thinking. Then we went to the Youth Sunday School Class and Ieno shimai [Sister Ieno] showed with awesome Bible video about Daniel and I asked her about it afterward and she lent the DVD to us. She said it was an awesome teaching and learning tool for her on her mission. She watched the DVD in Japanese during personal study and then in English during gengo [language study]. Wow. Feeling more trust from the members. Before Relief Society I was talking to Imano shimai [Sister Imano] about Moria-san (from the Taco party) and she asked if I made an appointment with her and I said no, but I'd love to, do you have her phone number? Imano shimai said, yes but actually she's an old investigator so you probably have her number too. Do you have her record? So after church I went home and looked through our area book and found Moria-san's record and it's amazing!. The missionaries found Moria-san housing and when they taught her they invited Imano shimai to joint lessons with them. When we asked Imano shimai about it she said that that's how she and Moria-san became friends (they didn't know each other before). And they've stayed dear friends ever since and when the other missionaries invited Imano shimai to invite a friend to the taco party she chose Moria-san! So cool! After I found her record, I called her and left a message and then later she called us back and we set up an appointment for Tuesday for her to teach me how to make tissue cases! After we talked to her we called and asked Imano shimai if she thought it was okay if at that appointment we invite Moria-san to do a mogi with us and she said she thought that was a great idea. So exciting! Miracles.

So, this week turned out different than the plan I had in mind, but how it went is so much better than my plan was! God's ways are higher than mine and better than mine so I'm so grateful he guided and directed us with what we should do so we were able to see so many miracles. I just feel amazed at his mercy and willingness to work through us imperfect people and how much he will help us as we try our best and constantly strive to improve. As we've been focusing more on member dendo I've noticed that as we do what members ask us to do immediately and report back to them as soon as possible and follow up frequently, I have felt more trust from them and we've been able to see some amazing miracles from that. I'm so grateful the members are willing to work with us and that our trust has grown to the point to where they're able to refer their friends to us! I noticed as Brother and Sister Obuchi came to church this week how many members went up to them and talked to them and really made them feel welcome. I feel like the Lord can trust the Nagamachi ward and that any investigator we bring will feel welcomed. There are many more great miracles to come! 

I don't know how my less actives in Kamisugi are doing but I hear that Oikawa shimai [Sister Oikawa] is doing well. 

I have all the lesson plans memorized but I want to be better at them, especially at sharing good scriptures and finding better/more simple ones.

I met a guy who's read the scriptures but doesn't believe them--why? That was really surprising to me. How could he NOT feel the power of those words?

A weekend in washington--fun! Zach and applications and risk--risky! I love the couple missionaries--can't wait for you guys to be one too! Temple rededications! Glad you got to translate for the MTC Tyler! When will the Sapporo temple be dedicated? Sounds like Lauren had a great birthday! 

Well, my dear family, I hope you feel the love of God as you hear his representatives speak about him today. I know Heavenly Father lives and loves us. I know because of that love He sent his Son Jesus Christ who gave everything and suffered everything so that we could have the opportunity to return to live with God if we but repent and strive to follow Him. His example is perfect. If we follow Him and strive to become like him we will not only find happiness and eternal life after we die, but we will find it now, today, tomorrow, and forever and will want to share that with everyone we met. I pray daily that I will become a better representative of Him and be able to share the gospel more with every day and I pray you will be able to too. I love you so much!!!!!!

Love love love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. I measured and our futons are actually only 3 inches off the ground. Sorry for the previous inaccuracy. :D 

P.P.S. Thank you so much for the recipes Mom!!

P.P.P.S. The Obuchi family came because the missionary who taught Obuchi shimai [Sister Obuchi] was in town and came to church. How cool is that!

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