I hope it`s been as wonderful a week in `Merica as it has been up here in this splendid area. We started here with nothing and no one, but in just two transfers, we`ve ended up with what Sister Walker says is her most promising group of investigators on her whole mission. I love being able to see these investigators progress down the road from the very beginning of their journey, and this means I`ll probably be able to see one or two of them finish this journey with baptism, and make the next step on the path of enduring to the end! I really am STOKED!
We had a lot of miracles again, this week. I know I probably sound redundant saying this over and over again, but our God really is a God of Miracles!
Lately, a few of our investigators who had been progressing have been kind of stale-mating, getting to the point where we weren`t really sure whether to even consider them progressing investigators or not. The Lord has answered our prayers, though. We`ve been trying to follow the `By Helping Them` training plan (Zinke Kaicho comes out with a training plan every few months, with specific objectives we`re supposed to work on. The current one is called `By Helping Them`, and is about showing more love to our investigators in the way we teach and interact with them), using the list (there`s a specific list we`re supposed to review for each investigator for each lesson, with things like `Bearing heartfelt, powerful testimony` and `Sharing personal experiences` and `Assist them in recognizing answers to their prayers`) for coming up with ways to help them, and but just haven`t been sure what to do differently with them. We got some suggestions from people, prayed hard, kept moving forward, and even though it didn`t seem like we really did anything different, we got some great help from the Lord!
"Uly" who is a little less than eager and has been kind of hard to meet with lately, came to play ping pong (so yes, Dad, people in Japan do play ping pong:) with us and watch The Testaments at the church. She hadn`t ever played before, but she had SO much fun! Not only does she want to do it again, she also was able to focus more during the short lesson after The Testaments and was able to compare herself to the people within it and kind of see the benefits of coming to know this message is true. She doesn`t automatically have a rock solid testimony or anything, yet, but she is definitely progressing again and likes us and knows we love her! She knows we care about more than just teaching her.
One investigator, "Katie", we got really frustrated with because she has cancelled on us three times. I was having a hard time not getting angry, but just tried to love her anyway and put myself in her shoes. She`s meeting with us again on Wednesday, so hopefully that works out!
We took another stalemating investigator, "Hannah", out to eat. At the time, it seemed like an awkward disaster, (we got the dates mixed up, she rushed home to come eat with us, payed for us, and had her baby crawling all over her the entire time) but she`s progressing again now too! We`ve casually invited her to church before, but never too firmly. She started out as a really hesitant investigator that we almost scared off with setting the table (remember that email?), so we`ve been reluctant to be too bold with her. On Saturday night, though, we decided to c-mail her and just straight up ask her to come to church (rather than just, `If you have time...` like we always do). It shocked both me and Walker Shimai out of our seats when she said yes! (We think she might have kind of been guilted into it by the complicated and awkward situation regarding the eating out event mentioned before, but hey, the Lord works in mysterious ways.) It definitely strengthened my testimony of being bold in commitments! We`re meeting with her in a couple of hours and are inviting her to be baptized. (Now that`s bold with her.) Wish us luck!
We also had FOUR people at church yesterday. Or rather, the Lord brought 4 people to church! Almost more people than we knew what to do with! (It really was kind of stressful, though, figuring out who they would sit with, taking care of them, but it was a REALLY awesome sort of stress.) It was another testament to me about how important coming to sacrament meeting is! Two of these people have been consistently coming for the last few weeks. One is the first yakusokusha I talked about. She must feel something here, because she keeps coming back. The second is this woman who the first time she came, said she felt immediately during the sacrament that what we said about God being our Heavenly Father was true. The third was our recent yakusokusha, "Lily" from the Philipines, who really doesn`t understand Japanese, and sat by me and another member trying to translate into English, which was inconsistent and a little haphazard. She stayed for Sunday school too, though, and said she really enjoyed it and wants to be able to stay all three meetings next time, which really was a miracle since the translation was so crummy! We had been worried, but no need. The Lord is by our side! Fourth, was the last investigator I just talked about. She had said that she could only come for half an hour. She brought her two little kids who were crazy and crawled all over her, but stayed the entire hour and seemed to really enjoy it (when she could listen). She even stayed a little while after to let her kids play with the toys in the primary room, and we think she`ll come back. What a miracle!
No new investigators this week, but maybe God was just busy helping us help the investigators we already have.
One thing that helped me in my attempt at charity and loving the investigators this week was something Walker Shimai told me she heard about another missionary who had been very successful: he tried to imagine each person he talked to dressed in white at their baptism. I tried to do this this week (Walker Shimai is so wise. I`m SO glad I get to stay with her for her last transfer!). I went through each of our investigators and tried to imagine how their lives would be different once they accepted this gospel. The one woman (Uly), she`ll come home, her house no longer smelling of smoke, and much cleaner. She has a job now and takes care of herself. She`s tired from the day, but she kneels down to pray, knowing that her loving Heavenly Father is listening, and that she`s going to be alright. There was a lot more, but this really did hit me hard. I think this is going to help so much. I also listened to a talk about the way God sees us not as who we are, but as who we can be through His help. All God ever has to work with is imperfect people, and as Elder Holland said, that must be very frustrating for Him. Through imagining other people in this way, I was better able to understand the way the Lord feels about me. I still have to work on charity and loving others, but this has really helped so much. Where I used to hate housing, I`m now kind of `hungry` doing it. I try to calculate the maximum amount of time we can go finding, pray earnestly that even though I`m nervous, the next person will answer the door, so I can share this message with them that will change their lives, that has changed my life. Because they`re my siblings. And I`m coming to love them. This really was a huge lesson for me this week, a lot more than I`m getting across, but it might even be a turning point for me.
There were so many more wonderful miracles this week, but alas, I`m about out of time.
I don`t remember if I`ve said this before, but I got a priesthood blessing just before I left the MTC that said `Remember that God loves ALL of His children.` I thought it was funny at the time, but I`m just beginning to realize just how true it is. And God loves us because He knows who we really. Who we can become. And we can become like HIM.
I really just love this gospel so much that I can hardly even stand it! I`m so grateful for the knowledge that our Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children, and that I have felt His love for me especially. He loves each and every one of us, individually, to an extent far greater than we can ever, ever imagine. I can`t wait until the day I see Him again, the blinders of this earth removed, look up into His face and can see that love, finally realizing just how much He loves me, how much He loves us all. (It`s a lot.)
And even though I don`t love you QUITE that much, I still love you all!
The church is true! The book is blue!
Love, Sister Whitney