Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week Four -- It was a good week!

It was a good week! It had some rough patches, but that's how  it usually is if you're doing it right, right?  Right.  That's what I'll tell myself.  Over all, though, it really was great.  I sound like a propaganda advertisement, but I really am living the dream here.  Sometimes I have a realization moment where I stop and have an internal freak out for a second.  It goes something like this:  "Holy cow.  I'm on a mission.  a MISSION.  With all of these people.  And in a month in a half, I'm gonna be in JAPAN!  ME!  ON THE MISSION I'VE DREAMED OF MY WHOLE LIFE!  AAAAH!"  For the most part it's pretty great.

This week, we said some pretty hilarious things in our lessons.  The main one of which was a response to investigator Kimura-san's question:  "What is happiness?"  (Also, what kind of question is that?  Is he a philosopher or something?  haha.)  Tenney shimai said "Kirei ni naru."  She was trying to say being clean, but the main definition of that word is "pretty."  So, being pretty is happiness.  No wonder she's so happy all the time!  Needless to say, Kimura-san was very confused, and we had to go a different route. :)

Suzuki-Kyoudai is my very favorite investigator (played by the fabulous Powell Sensei).  We heard that the other missionaries had been having a hard time getting him to pray, so we had an entire lesson sharing experiences about prayer and the importance of it.  We then asked him, "Do you have a desire to have a relationship with your Heavenly Father?  Do you desire to pray?"  (yes, I can say that in Japanese now...mostly).  His answer was a very sincere "Yes."  We taught him how, and he said a beautiful prayer about wanting to know the gospel is true.  (Spoiler alert: it IS true.)  We've hit a bit of a roadblock though. While teaching about eternal families, he brought up the a new fact that his father doesn't know he's meeting with the missionaries and might disown him if he finds out. How do you answer a question like that?  Wow.  After some discussion with senseis and a major bit of revelation, I decided to study Matthew 13:45-46.  The pearl of great price. This gospel is the pearl of great price.  It's worth it. This gospel, drawing closer to our Savior, is worth everything, everything we have, everything that we are, and everything we will be.  It's worth the sacrifice and more. In the end, it doesn't even end up being a sacrifice, because what we're given is so much more than we have ever given up.  We just need to share our testimonies of the wonderful blessings that the gospel brings and help him to gain a sure testimony for himself.

I was feeling a little inadequate about this and some other things, because I have had such an easy life.  I feel like I don't have any experiences to share!  I have always known the church was true. I have always had a family that was together and happy, and very few bad things have ever happened to me.  What I realized though is that Heavenly Father knows my life.  He knows what experiences I have, and there are people in Kobe who need to hear them from me.  (And they need to hear them in Japanese.)  With the Lord's help and His spirit prompting me, I am far from inadequate.  I am exactly what someone needs.  (And I'm sure, my time for trials will come.  I can't wait. haha.)

We also had a rough time at TRC (training resource center) this week.  I literally couldn't say ANYTHING, and anything I thought of sharing just didn't seem to apply at all.  I said a couple of sentences that didn't contribute and didn't even make sense. I walked out feeling beaten and bruised.  What I realized though, is that it stopped mattering right then.  One bad experience doesn't determine the rest of my mission. It doesn't even determine the rest of my day!  The rest of the day was pretty good after that.

I'm trying to stay positive.  I think that's something that college helped me a lot with.  They say, "Fake it 'till you make it," and that's kind of what it is.  I think it's just showing God that I trust Him enough to act happy.  I know that there are always things I should be happy about, and if I act like it, He'll show me a LOT of reasons.  For example, one Elder was having a particularly hard day and drew a face on the board saying, "I stink at Japanese."  When he left the room, I promptly erased it (even though I knew exactly how he felt) and replaced "stink" with "will ROCK" at Japanese!  He came back in, sighed with a smile and said, "That is such a Sister Harris fix."  I sure hope so.  I hope that I can have a positive attitude and be able to uplift others around me.  It's hard sometimes, but that's what we gotta do!

Also, there were some wonderful tender mercies of the Lord this week. First of all, I have never tasted better tater tots!  Not even kidding!  They had that perfect, elusive crunch that is nearly impossible to obtain!  I had to share mine with Donnelly Shimai or I would have inhaled 10 pounds worth on the spot.  haha.  Also, I shared this with the picture, but I held PUPPIES on Sunday, and they were so cute!  Their names were Dori and Jasmine (the black one), and we were all so happy we couldn't even contain ourselves. God loves us.  And may He forever bless the wonderful family sitting by the temple who was willing to share.

Do you want me to share how they choose who talks on Sunday?  It's pretty horrible really.  After the Sacrament, they call up two people from the branch (there are about 50-70ish of us) to give a 2-3 minute talk...in NIHONGO...about the week's topic.  So we have to prepare a talk every week.  Every week, I've been certain it was going to be me, but this week I was REALLY CERTAIN.  First of all, it was our first week as Senpai, the intermediate group.  (A big group of new Kohai came in, including Elder Simmons, Elder Wright's roommate from BYU. He's pretty awesome.  Tokyo was his dream mission and he got it!  He's right down the hall.  Also, there are two AUSTRALIAN sisters.  If they could just talk to be all day, that would be great, thanks.)  Second of all, President and Sister Mack, our Branch Presidents, came and sat by us at lunch. I was sure I was toast.  They asked about our lives and other *weird* things like that ;), and then asked how all of our talks were.  Because I'm a jerk, I said, "You  know, out of all of us, I'm sure Budge Choro's talk is by FAR the best!" and everyone quickly agreed with me.  We threw him under the BUS.  So, I was certain it was going to be me or Budge Choro.  I freaked out during the first 20 minutes of sacrament meeting, until they announced who would speak.  Hallelujah, it wasn't me after all.  Tender mercies once more.  It's me for sure next week, though. ;)

On a more serious note, I had a realization about just how wonderful this gospel is during a district meeting discussion.  We watched a Mormon Message about enduring to the end and the hardships that people endure.  There is so much hardship in the world. I've lived such an easy life, but most people, right now, are enduring something hard.  However, what this gospel can do for people is INCREDIBLE.  At some point, everyone goes through something--maybe many things--that seem unbearable, and heartbreaking.  But Christ has come to heal the broken-hearted.  It is his news that we bring, that there IS a Balm in Gilead, and we can be happy and whole forever.  And that's why I'm here.  I love the Savior.  I have seen what He can do for me, and I want to bring others unto Him.

Another thought about trials:  every trial that we have had to endure, the Savior Himself has had to suffer.  My God is all powerful.  My God is all loving.  My God is all knowing.  If He is all these things (and He is) and His son had to suffer for my trials, how can I question their worth?    Isn't that alone enough to realize that there is a reason behind every trial?  All things shall work together for our good. It was been PROMISED.

For our Sunday devotional, Rosemary Thacker, a BYU professor, talked to us about prioneers.  One story I didn't think much about until Sister Colter brought it up again.  It's about a little Swedish girl that was sent to Zion ahead of her family.  No one met her at the train station, and she was left alone, praying that God would send someone who would understand her.  What she knew already is that although the people around her couldn't understand her, her Father in Heaven always could.  Shortly after, a woman arrived, seraching for someone she recognized, until she found the little Swedish girl. She had been prompted to come to the station, and had found her Sunday School Student from a year before. The Lord not only sent someone who could understand the little Swedish girl, but someone that she knew.  In 5 1/2 weeks, I'm going to be that little Swedish girl (and I am part Swedish).  I'm going to be in a foreign country where people won't be able to understand me very well yet.  But God has sent the ultimate comfort, my Savior Jesus Christ.  He not only understands me, He knows me.  He knows my name, and whatever I need, He gives me.  Christ is my greatest friend, and I know that He cares for us each, one by one, more than anything, more than we could every imagine.  I pray I can bring as many people as possible to the knowledge of that.

The time to go has come once again.  Just remember,
The church is true.
The Book is blue.
Tell your friends.
Ga dai suku desu!
Love, Sister Whitney :)

It's Picture Time!

Blazer day!  
A nice picture of us in our blazers.  (A day without matching is a day wasted.)

I got pictures with people!
Tenney Shimai and I with Elder Kingston and his companion.  In the dark. You take what you can get.

Here we are with Elder Bunn and companion.  Yay awkward photos in grubby P-Day clothes!  (This pics was from this morning.  How fortuitous.)
Elder Dialogue and his companion with Sister Tenney and me (wearing the new outfit Nana Rose sent me. Thanks Nana Rose!)
Our hard core picnic party on P-Day attempting to spell Japan with our hands.  Didn't go too well.

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