Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Been The Best Of Weeks, It Was The Worst Of Weeks. All That Charles Dickens Jazz.

It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks.  It was the coldest of weeks, it was the warmest of weeks.  All that Charles Dickens jazz.
But really though.  Emotions were up and down and everywhere.  We had the most success we`ve ever had in a week, but we also had the most heartbreaking, soul crushing occurrence as well too.  We broke our Omihachiman record for loads of key indicators: 9 lessons, 5 people at church, 7 progressing investigators, 3 new investigators, and 2 yakusokusha`s. Walker Shimai says this may be the best set of numbers she`s had her whole mission. We were really determined to hit standards of excellence this week. (3 yakusokushas, 6 progressing investigators, 3 people at sacrament meeting, 3 new investigators).  We had no doubt that we would!  We were praying and working, knew everything was coming along nicely and that everything that was happening was solely because of the Lord`s mercy. When one more of our investigators agreed to set a baptismal goal, we thought we were set: 3 yakusokusha.  But then, we taught Junketsu no Rippou, the Law of Chastity, to our favorite investigator, "Lily", our prime and most promising yakusokusha, an incredible woman from the Philippines whom we love more than anything who was going to be baptized on December 8th, and we lost her.  We lost "Lily".

That was really the most heartbreaking thing that`s just about ever happened to me.  We seriously love this woman so much.  Everything was going so well with her.  At the beginning of the week, we taught her the Word of Wisdom.  We knew this would be hard for her because of her love of coffee. She was absolutely shocked that she couldn`t drink coffee, said she couldn`t promise anything, but would try it out for the week. And she did it!  It was a miracle!  She broke and drank coffee the first day, but for the rest of the week went and bought hot chocolate and some other sort of drink and started to gain a testimony of the word of wisdom!  Apparently only a few weeks ago--about the exact time we started meeting with her--she got sick, and her doctor had told her to stop drinking coffee, so she had been slowly weaning off of it anyway.  It was such a miracle!
We knew that that was only the first step though.  We knew the Law of Chastity, because of her circumstances, and especially her job, was going to be hard for her.   We prayed so hard, we planned so hard, we mogied so hard.  We came up with every objection and every situation we could even think of and tried to reason through it.  In the end, we knew it was in the Lord`s hands.  But then, the lesson went even worse than we could have imagined: she believed it.  She just won`t live it.
She said she already knew that it was all true, that it all makes sense, but just refuses to believe that the Lord will even help her find a new job.  She won`t even start looking. We testified with all of our hearts, tried to listen to the Spirit and promised her that if she would just begin looking she would find a new job.  But she won`t.  She said, `I guess it`s just not the time for me to be a Mormon.`  And she broke her baptismal date. She almost stopped meeting with us, but after sharing how much we still loved her and wanted to meet with her, she said she didn`t want to stop meeting either. So she`s still an investigator, and she did come to church on Sunday and intends to come every Sunday.  It`s just heartbreaking to see her missing out on all of the blessings that come with baptism that she was just a couple of weeks away from having.  It`s hard to know that she does hate her job so much, that she knows it`s not what God wants her to be doing, and to know that if she would just put forth that little bit of effort that she would find a new job, even if she would have to make a few sacrifices.  It was a really devastating way to end the week.
So we didn`t quite make standards of excellence, which was heartbreaking enough by itself, but our favorite yakusokusha is no longer in line for all of the blessings that she was so close to obtaining.  That`s what really hurts.  I guess that`s just a part of what being a missionary is all about.  We hope that as she continues meeting with us and continues coming to church and praying and reading The Book of Mormon that maybe a miracle can happen. God can absolutely make miracles happen after all.  Let`s just hope that it is in His will to do so.
But like I said, we really did have an incredible week, and the Lord helped us so much!  It was another challenge of the week to be able to still be grateful for and recognize all of these blessings, but they were definitely here.

First of all, we found 3 new investigators this week, and are set up to get a couple more this week.  One of them was a referral from the investigator I just talked about above.  (Which is another reason this whole thing was so heartbreaking. She was turning out to be such an incredible missionary to. She referred her kids in the Philippines, and the missionaries just went to visit them on Saturday, which they`re all so excited about.  She`s also been talking to all of her friends at work, `trying to get them interested` in the Gospel. I just love her!)
The other two were the kids of a woman who was already an investigator.  This woman, "Celeste", also from the Philippines, became an investigator several weeks ago, but we hadn`t been able to meet with her since. She has a really busy work schedule, and the only days she can meet are Saturdays, but she usually doesn`t know if she has to work on Saturdays until Friday night.  And the last few weeks, she`s had work on Saturdays. We`ve been stopping by a couple of times each week, trying to show love like in the training plan, brought her pictures of her kids at the Halloween party, but we hadn`t been able to meet again.  But, the Lord can work miracles and change peoples` circumstances, right?  So this week we prayed so hard that she wouldn`t have work on Saturday, and so that her kids would be there and we could teach them as well! And guess what?  The Lord answered our prayer!  It was incredible!  "Celeste" was there, excited to see us, and we got to teach two of her kids too!  The other one had a friend over and was a little embarrassed, but we think we`ll be able to teach her next week too.  The message was received well, and we invited them to church!  "Celeste" couldn`t come, but the daughter said she wanted to come (the two girls have been coming to Eikaiwa every week and are good friends with one of the YW in our ward, who is a splendid member missionary who has already invited them to church).  And so not only did the two daughters come, but the friend who had been over on Saturday came too!  We`re hoping we might be able to begin teaching her and her family as well. It was also great because we had a shokujikai afterwards, and I think they had a great experience.  We also had our two regulars, the other Filipina woman mentioned first, and a woman who has been coming for a couple of months.
That woman, who has been coming for a couple of months, has been moving veeeery slowly. It seems like she hadn`t been making any progress at all and was getting harder to meet with.  So we started meeting with her and the church and playing ping pong with her, which she just loves!  She always has so much fun!  It`s definitely strengthened our relationship with her.  And she focuses better during the lessons afterwards.  This week, we finally made a breakthrough.  She said she believes God loves her.  WOW.  This doesn`t sound like much, but it`s really incredible! She`s been praying for months and getting nothing, but this...WOW. Another big miracle.  It made me so happy!  Also, she has been having a really hard time understanding the Book of Mormon, so we haven`t really been giving her any assignments to read in it, because when we have, she either hasn`t read, or hasn`t understood.  But we felt this week that it was really important to reemphasize how important The Book of Mormon is.  We tried to help her understand every way that The Book of Mormon was relevant to her, what things she could come to know from reading it, and started reading from the beginning of 1 Nephi with her, and tried to relate that all to her.  At the end, we invited her to read half a page every day, which she readily accepted! Holy cow, we never even dreamed it would go that well!  Even as I write this, I feel ungrateful for not recognizing the small little miracles the Lord is working in our investigators` hearts.
And there were a bunch of other miracles, not the least of which being that another woman became a yakusokusha with her date set for the middle of January. She even said that she had been thinking one her own that she might be baptized one day (though she had imagined the day for a couple of years in the future), but was willing to make the goal for January.
Every day in Omihachiman is a miracle, and I just love being here!  Whether it`s heartbreaking or awe-inspiring (and dendo has it`s fair share of both), this is where I`m supposed to be.  I`ve got a long way to go, but every day I`m on my way to being a true disciple!

Side note, but not really a side note.  More like a main note.
Members really are the best missionaries. One of our Young Women, who`s the friend of those two Filipina girls and has been bringing them to Eikaiwa every week, really was the key to getting them to church this week.  And all she did was invite them, just one step at a time, just being their friend and setting a good example for them.  Also, "Lily"  has been so excited sharing the blessings that she`s received from this Gospel that her friends have been noticing that she`s different, that`s she`s happier. How can she not share it?  Obviously, this is definitely easier said than done, sharing the gospel.  It doesn`t have to be a big thing, though.  I have a commitment for everyone!  Every day this week, will you all pray for a missionary opportunity sometime in the next week, and for the opportunity to recognize it!  I promise you that if you do, you will find it!

Anyways, I love you!
The church is true!
The Book is Blue!

Sister Whitney

I didn`t really take pictures this week, so I took these two right before we got here for email. They`re from the Aeon shopping mall where I buy my special erasable pens. And other things. ;) It`s right by the church, so we see this road a lot.

  There was an awesome rainbow!  This is the street "Helen"  lives on.

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