Monday, September 9, 2013

Want it. Focus. Speak it. Feel good. Do good.

First of all, I LOVE the idea of everyone sending me letters here!  I haven`t gotten a letter yet, so I`m excited.  Plus, if they write me a letter, I`ll be able to write a better one back.

I wrote Dad a letter for his birthday last P-Day, so if it doesn`t get there in time, know I tried my best and keep looking for it!

I`m glad to hear that Nana Rose is doing well--really!  I got her email, and I`m going to write her a snail mail letter back.

As is turns out, I`m not really in Kyoto.  That`s just my zone.  I`m in the city Omihachiman, and the area is HUGE.  We do go to Kyoto for zone conferences, though, and we have the biggest zone in the mission.  Speaking of Zone Conferences, I got to see Sister Scheffler, which was the BEST!
 Mount Hachiman, Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan.
The city was founded on March 31, 1954. In the quinquennial census of 2010, it had a population of 81,730 (2005: 80,610).[1] With a total area of 76.97 km2 (30 sq mi), the population density is 1,062 persons per km².

Japan in general, though, is CRAZY. I expected it to be different, but it really is like a different planet.   And you can`t read because everything is written in these characters the native inhabitants call KANJI.  (I have really harsh feelings toward Kanji.  Not being able to read is very much NOT OKAY with me.)   When the people speak, it`s hard to tell if they`re making words or just sounds.  As Elder Calhoun says in The Best Two Years, `This is NOT the language they taught me in the MTC.`  Okay, for the most part it is.  I just can`t understand it.  But I really can`t understand what people say in English either, so why am I surprised? :)   Plus, I swear that Japan is secretly underwater.   It doesn`t matter if it`s raining or not (and it often is).  No matter what, you`re always wet. The second I stepped off the plane,  I realized I was going to have to learn how to swim better and how to breathe again.  Haha.  But really.  I don`t notice it during the day so much anymore, but it makes running really hard.  Plus, I`ve discovered that my hair is a different creature that I don`t know what to do with in Japan.  It`s kind of curly, and looks like I tried to curl it in the morning and is just in limp dead curls at the end of the day phase all the time. I`ve tried straightening it, but by the time I`m done straightening, what I started with is gross again.  This humidity is really too much.  I`ve just accepted I`m going to look like a mess for the next 16 months and I have to hope that people will still talk to me anyway. I probably should have learned to do something to my hair besides just straighten it. Haha.

Everywhere you look though, the most gorgeous green mountains tower up into the sky.  They`re breathtaking, and you can see them everywhere.  It`s wonderful!

Anyways.  I didn`t really buy a bike.  As it turns out, the shipping companies will no longer let the mission ship bikes, so when you buy a bike, it stays in the next area for the next missionary to use.  Besides which, the sisters have to ride these cute little whimpy bikes called Mamachatis which are kind of useless.  The Elders get MOUNTAIN bikes!  Where`s the justice in that?  Our bikes don`t even have gears in this area.  But that`s okay.  So, everyone pays for one bike during the mission, they just don`t get to keep it.  But that`s not the problem.  Whoever thought that Sisters could ride a bike in a skirt should be punished.  (Imagine a Lilo and Stitch sort of scene here.)  I have to bike with one hand holding my skirt down at all times (not flashing the world is almost impossible) and my purple skirt is all ripped up from getting caught in the gears.  But I`m learning.  Slowly but surely.  And being careful, I promise.  I always look both ways for cars and probably let too many go without letting me cross the road.  Poor Sister Walker.  I always get caught on the other side of the street as her. :)

It`s so hard to be healthy here!  Again with the not being able to read anything.  You can clearly see where it says kcal, but figuring out the serving size is a work in progress.  And fruit is too expensive to buy anyways.  But really.  Every time I walk into a grocery store, I want to cry. This week, I`ve mostly been eating salad, chicken, salmon, and eggs.  And that very well might be it for the rest of my mission.  Haha.  I`m actually hoping my next companion is a Nihonjin who is also a health nut who can teach me all the secrets. ;)

I`m learning a lot of Japanese!  (Big surprise, ne?)  People keep telling my I`m `jouzu` (skilled), but they told us in the MTC that means you`re really bad, haha.  Apparently you know you`ve made it when they stop telling you that.  THEN you can speak Japanese.  haha.  I`ve got so much to learn, but it`s such a beautiful language!  Besides the fact that it`s SO indirect, which drives me nuts.  It has a beautiful rhythm to it though. :)

I`m not going to lie, this week was a little bit rough.

Sister Walker is great!  She`s on her 9th transfer, and I`m her 10th companion.  (And her 5th trainee.  The last 2 transfers, she trained 2 at a time.  We go running together on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (which is no easy task with this humidity).   She`s a great companion, and I`m lucky to have her.

Finding is hard here. There aren`t really places busy enough to make streeting effective, and we only
just received the area book at the end of last week, so we`ve been housing all week, which isn`t terribly effective.  The Japanese door-bells (called sounds like ping pong) are my worst enemy.  They`re boxes out in front of their gates that you press.  There`re like intercoms with cameras.  We introduce ourselves, try to share something, but it`s so easy for them to just say from the safety of their little box `Kekko desu` or `Ii desu` is `Isogashii.`  (No thanks, we`re good, and busy.)  Come out and face me like a man!  Haha.  Even when they do come out though, the people aren`t very receptive.   Every day we set a goal to find at least one new investigator. We tried our hardest, made plans and prayed and tried to receive revelation about where to go, but it really didn`t work. The only new investigator we found was because of a PI the elders in our area gave us out of the area book they had.

And she`s hard.  Her name is "Joanie".  We`ve taught her a couple of lessons, and she says she`s interested and wants to strengthen her family,
but she refuses to let us in the door. We`ve invited her to meet with us at the church, but she says she is too busy for that. The same goes with coming to church.  We`ve taught her about how God is our Heavenly Father who loves us, and that through Christ`s teachings, and praying and coming to church, her family can be strengthened. We talked about how effort is necessary, to which she agreed, but it doesn`t seem like it. She really is worried about her family and wants to strengthen their relationship.  She says she`s currently searching for something, and we just need to show her that THIS is it!  To quote Malaska Chourou from the MTC, `We straight up have all the answers!` Our plan for her this next week is to teach her to pray, so she can feel that doing these things really will help her family. Sakamoto Chourou, our district leader, also suggested we sing before her lesson, so we`re going to try that. We`re going to try to bring a doseki, and maybe take her out to lunch with us and see if that helps.

Our other investigator,
"Tracy"  is golden.  She already believes in God and Jesus Christ and wants  more than anything to return to their presence.   Apparently, she`s been going to another Christian church once a month and has read the Bible.  But she also has a Buddhist shrine she worships at in her home?  So she`s a Christian Bhuddist?  Haha.  We were going to invite her to be baptized on Saturday, but she was sick and went to the hospital. Hopefully she feels better soon, and I`m sure our next lesson she will become a yakusokusha!  We taught her how to pray last time.  We asked her if she would do so with us, to which she enthusiastically agreed, then closed her eyes and bowed her head...and was silent.  Walker Shimai and I looked at each other really confused for the next couple of minutes until "Tracy" announced she was finished.  We had a really hard time not laughing because we were so confused.  Next time we`ll have to ask her to say it `Koe o dashite`, outloud (literally, take out your voice).  Haha.

The best thing I learned in personal study this week was from the 3rd and 4th chapters of 1 Nephi. Before he could accomplish what the Lord wanted him to do, Nephi failed. Big time. First, he consulted with his brethren, they cast lots and Laman went to ask for the plates. Rejected. Then, Nephi thought it out. He came up with a plan, probably prayed about it, gathered all their riches and tried to barter for the plates. This time, not only were they rejected, they were chased by guards who wanted to kill them, and then Nephi was beaten by his brothers. This seems incredibly discouraging. It would be hard not to think, Maybe this isn`t what God wants me to do. Maybe I`m not righteous enough. But Nephi went back again, with perfect faith, and found that God had prepared a perfect opportunity for him. He could then accomplish, through miracles and this opportunity, what the Lord had planned.

Nephi didn`t fail because he was doing something wrong. He`s famous for his unshakeable faith, and he clearly sought the Lord`s guidance and prepared as much as he could have. It just wasn`t time yet. The Lord was preparing an opportunity better than Nephi could have done himself, and because Nephi kept trying and doing what he was supposed to be doing, he was ready when the opportunity came. He was able to succeed.

This made me feel better about this week. I`m really trying my hardest. I WANT to find the senmin and to be a good missionary, and I`m working and seeking the Lord`s guidance. He`s just preparing the perfect opportunities.   The Lord has nine people here prepared for us.  I think "Tracy"  is definitely one of them.

Granted, this doesn`t
mean that I can`t do better. I set some specific goals to improve this week, so I can make sure that I am worthy to receive revelation, to go through the red door so I can access the blue one. I want to be ready when the opportunity arrives.  These are the goals.

Want it.  Focus.  Speak it.  Feel good. Do good.

Want it.  I have to want this (finding the elect, being a better missionary, receiving specific revelation) more than anything.  If I do, the Lord has promised He will grant according to my desires.  (Alma 29:4)

Focus.  I need to focus more during study time (plan it out better, not get side tracked) and even during finding. At the very least, if I feel the need to tell a funny story, I`m going to do it in Japanese!

Speak it. to learn this language, I have to speak it.  We`ve made a goal to SYL until dinner.

Feel good.  I have to eat healthier.  I`m portion sizing everything I get right away and making other specific goals.

Do good. Results.  I want to find these people.  I want to help them change their lives.  I want them to know the Savior.  And that`s the dream right there.  Wish me luck!

Plus, we got the area book, and we`re excited to go through that. And the ward
members are searching through their brains to find people for us to teach. I LOVE them and am doing my best to have a good relationship with them. We anticipate a couple of referrals this week.

I`m so glad to be here, and we are DEFINITELY going to find some of the elect this week!
I love you all so much!  I`m where I`m supposed to be, and I love Omihachiman and this work! 
Here`s a quick invitation:  Share your testimony with a nonmember you know this week.  They need this message.  When we don`t share the gospel with people we know, it`s like we`re taking away their agency, taking away their choice to accept this message and change their lives.  You don`t have to invite them to be baptized or even to come to church, but just share something small.  They need to hear it. :)  If you pray for an opportunity, I promise the Lord will help you find and recognize the perfect one.

The Church is true! The Book is blue!

--Sister Whitney

This what I`m eating here. ...Just kidding.
A beautiful view.

Look how reasonably priced this cantalope and 3 apples are!  Only 3000 yen!  ($30!)
  (This is what I wish I were eating.)

And I really didn`t take many pictures this week.  However!  I promise to do better this week!  Today we`re going to see some shrines and go up a mountain, and I promise I`ll take pictures of the apartment and the church and stuff.  Bad Whitney, bad....

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