Monday, October 7, 2013

This Doesn`t Just Go For Missionaries. This Goes For Every One Of Us. Christ Will Make Us More Than We Are.

It was a pretty darn good week to wrap up the last full week of the transfer.

Tuesday was a great day to start it off.  Remember "Nate" that we taught with the Elders`s last Sunday?  We went to go volunteer at the Day Service (kind of like an old-folks home) that he runs.  We got there early, so we stopped and went housing.  We found a nice old guy who was willing to talk with us and set up another appointment with the elders (it didn`t work out, but that`s okay), and we found a NEW INVESTIGATOR! Her name is "Mildred" and she`s 70.  (Old people here LOVE to tell you how old they are.)  She probably really shouldn`t count as an investigator.  Most people in Japan say they`re Bhuddist, but she really is. She prays every day and tells us all the time that she`s Bhuddist, but is willing to let us come back and talk to her. When you`re in Japan, beggars can`t be choosers, so you teach anyone who will listen.  And so many people who are members now say that they weren`t interested at all when they started listening to the message.  But when you listen long enough, the Spirit is going to get to you.  Hopefully that happens with her as well.  

The day service was so awesome.  I was really nervous about this whole visiting old people thing.  I`m bad enough at it when I speak the same language.  It was so fun, though!  We mostly just talked to the helpers there, who were loads of fun and repeated everything we said simply to the old people.  And they had so many questions about missionary work.  We even got to share a few things about God with them and pray together, which they thought was so cool!  We`re going back tomorrow, and we hope that some of the helpers will be investigators.

Wednesday was a little bit rougher.  We had a full day planned, going to Hikone to visit S.Shimai`s friend "Yvette", and visiting "Marianne", and "Frank"!   But "Frank" wasn`t home, "Yvette" had to work, and "Marianne" got sick and is now in Tokyo with her Sister.  So we did a lot of housing, and went to teach Eikaiwa (English class).  Walker Shimai and I teach the advanced class, which is mostly Brazillians who are almost fluent in English (who also don`t speak Japaense?).  The "Shumways" also came with a gaijin who was a missionary here 13 years ago!  He took a picture of me and Walker Shimai and said he would send it to you. Also, no one can figure out what ethnicity I am, even Japanese people.  S.K. asked me if I have Asian ancestors!  haha.  That`s two Japanese people who have thought I was one of them.  It`s always kind of exciting to me.  There has to be some sort of hidden ethnicity in me that I don`t know about.

On Thursday, Walker Shimai`s bike tire blew, and we went to eat at an Indian food restaurant.  I discovered that Indian food, especially NAN bread, is AMAZING.  The bike tire was a problem, because we planned on biking an hour and a half each way to visit "Katie" in Hikone after a prompting Walker Shimai received that morning. We took the bike to get fixed, tried to see if we could use one of the fold up bikes, but it just couldn`t happen.  We really tried everything we could to follow the prompting, but in the end, there was just no way. We`re not sure why.  We think that sometimes the Lord gives us promptings just to see if we follow them.  Quite possibly visiting "Katie" out of the blue wouldn`t have done anything to day, and the Lord was just testing us.  I think he was pleased with how hard we tried, though.  I felt good when we knelt down to pray about it. I know that when we do try to follow His promptings, He will reward us with more.

Our mission theme is True Disciples - One and All.  I`ve been trying to work on becoming a true disciple in focusing on my focus and attitude.  And I don`t have a bad attitude.  I`m generally really positive.  But I really, really HATE housing, and that`s about all that we can do in Omihachiman because it`s a relatively inaka (country) area. There`s not enough people about to go streeting. Sometimes I like to trail behind Walker Shimai and let her do as many of the doors as I can get away with, and hope that people don`t answer when I`m doing a door contact.  I realized this week though that that is NOT the way to be.  We don`t go housing to be obedient, we go housing to find the senmin!  And if I`m out there housing (which will probably never become my favorite dendo activity, haha), then I had better HOPE they DO answer the door!  If they don`t answer the door, we can`t talk to them, and there`s no way they`re going to hear the gospel!  I came here because I want people to know Jesus Christ, and I can`t tell anyone about that if I don`t talk to them.  So I`ve been doing every other house now, and it`s definitely improved my attitude about housing.   I still have a long way to go, but I`m working on becoming a true disciple! 

Saturday, though, was the crowning Jewel of the week.  We went to go visit "Uly" who came to church last week and taught setting the table. She is SO GOLDEN.  She is SO prepared. She has had such a rough life.  She lives alone because her parents are dead, and her sister is in the hospital.  She told us that she feels so alone, and has been desperately searching for the truth.  Is God really there?  Does he know and love her?  We testified that God IS there, that He is our loving Heavenly Father who knows and loves us individually, and is aware of our struggles.   She is so ready for this, and it will really help her life! On Wednesday, we`re going to invite her to be baptized!

She came to church again on Sunday (and stayed awake most of the time ;) but had to leave after Sacrament.  After church, the guy we called who said might come this week showed up with his friend and her daughter.  We taught Setting the Table and then a little English lesson.  The friend and daughter won`t come again, but he`s really excited to learn English, and will listen to the message to.  Hopefully, as he hears about the Restored Gospel, the Spirit will touch him, his interest will be strengthened, and he will receive and recognize the blessings that come from it.

And that`s the week!

One of my favorite things from personal study was from Matthew 14, with the Savior feeding the 5,000. There are so many comparisons with this, with Christ helping so many by making so much out of so little. Like, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. Like, if men come unto me, I will show them their weakness...and then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I am a small and simple thing.
I am a weak thing.  A faithless thing.  A powerless thing.
And yet, Christ has a multitude to feed, countless hungry souls waiting to feast upon the bread of life.  I am not enough, and yet Christ has chosen me to be a means of deliver.  He will make more more than I am.

Like the bread, I have been blessed.  I have been set apart as a missionary, given special power and authority, promises that I know shall be fulfilled.  Now, also like the bread, I must allow Christ to break me. After all, He `blessed and brake`.  There will be rough times when I am bruised and battered, stretched to and maybe past my limit.   A little broken.  But that`s what I need.  A broken heart and a contrite spirit. These are the building blocks that Christ uses to make something greater than ourselves.

If I am playing my part in feeding the multitude, I will give all that I have.  But after Christ fed the 5,000, 12 baskets remained, far more than He started with.  Though I shall give everything, only if I do give everything to the Master, what I gain will be so much more than I put in.  When all is said and done, there will be more of me, a better me, that I can then begin to distribute once more.  I will share the gospel and help those around me for the rest of my life. I will be a weak thing made strong.

And this doesn`t just go for missionaries.  This goes for every one of us.  Christ will make us more than we are.

I love you all!
the church is true! 
The book is blue!

Sister Whitney,
Kobe Japan 

Here are Whitney's responses to questions we had asked her in emails:

How many people are in the ward/branch there?  

There's supposed to be about a BILLION people in the ward, but there are so many inactives. There's probably 40 or 50 who come every week.

How's it going with being healthy in eating and exercising?

I really am working hard.  I wake up at 5:30 every morning to get an extra half hour of language study in before we work out at 6 (which is also a half hour earlier than the normal schedule because we want a good workout every day.  We alternate between pushups and indoor workouts and going running every other day. We think our run is about 4 miles, 3 times a week).  I want a Nihonjin companion next.  If I am hearing Japanese all the time, hopefully I`ll get better at understanding.

We haven`t been so great with food this week.  It`s hard because fruits and vegetables are so expensive. (An apple is at it`s cheapest right now for a little over a dollar an apple.) I do buy apples.  I usually get about five a week.  I just wish there was a little variety.  I usually make myself a sandwich with cabbage, romaine, spinach and carrots once a day.  Again, just the variety. :-)  I`ll do better this next week, though, and we really do work out hard every day.(I`m up to over 50 consecutive diamond pushups right now!)  I hope I can keep up the schedule when I get transferred.  I always get reaaaaaally tired right after lunchtime and at night.  I'm hoping one day to get used to it. 

How's the language coming?
I'm apparently really, really good at speaking for a first transfer missionary.  I feel a little bad and vain, but one of the AP's came to one of our district meetings and was assigned to me and Sister Walker as an investigator for us to do a role play.  He was like, "Have you taken Japanese before?" and couldn't believe I was only a first transfer.  Then the next week at the mission wide trainee meeting he brought up how well I spoke during his talk.  I still have a really hard time understanding though, but I can speak fairly well.  I love the ward and our investigators.  

Pictures from This Week:

The inside of the train we took to Jouyou for district meeting and Elder Klein, a 2nd transfer missionary in my district.
Da Silva Choro and Furukawa Choro who are in our district with us (Da Silva Choro is Brazilian, but is fluent in Portuguese, English, and now Japanese; they`re both oooold missionaries, like 11th or 12th transfer) and Yamamoto Choro, who`s American and 4th transfer but speaks like a Nihonjin.

                                   Sister Walker and me!  on the train or something?
Our district!  the only people I didn`t name already are Sakamoto Choro (the district leader) and his companion ... Onizuka Choro (He`s the one making the funny face.) He was baptized 2 years ago and is now (obviously) on a mission!

                                   Walker Shimai and I again, about 20 minutes ago!
                                     The sacrament meeting room in the church.

                 The view from outside (the chapel and the rest of the rooms are separated).

The Young Women room and fifty points to anyone who can tell me why the room is decorated so adorably. (Sister Harris's Mom got it right when she said it was decorated in the Young Women colors.  Whitney's response:  Bada bing, bada boom! I think it's really cute!)   There's only 2 Young Women and one is Brazilian. The Young Men meet in there for Sunday School, too.

                                                The Relief Society Room.

I`M STAYING IN OMIHACHIMAN WITH SISTER WALKER!  AND, she`s not getting a new bean to throw us off either, haha. AND BOTH OF THE ELDERS ARE STAYING TOO!
And Scheffler Shimai is staying in my zone, and Sister Colter is coming into my district! And that`s all, folks!

--Sister Whitney

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