Friday, December 13, 2013

So, This Letter May Seem Kind of Discouraging at First, But It Has a Happy Ending, I Promise. :)

So, this letter may seem kind of discouraging at first, but it has a happy ending, I promise.

The week started out really hard again (let`s face it, it`s still hard), but luckily I have Walker Shimai to help me through it and help me change my attitude! She`s a wise old goose. I don`t know what I`m going to do without her come New Year. (They should probably just not let her go home.  Sounds like a plan.)

We kind of tanked a little bit here.  While we didn`t have any more investigators drop us (thank goodness), we had PI`s that didn`t show up to lessons, investigators who weren`t home at their lesson times, no new investigators, no one came to church, progressing investigators have stopped progressing when we are doing all we can think of and trying to seek revelation for how to help them, etc. We taught only 2 lessons this week, as opposed to the 9 we taught only 2 weeks ago.

I got really down in the dumps. We were doing so well for an entire transfer. It looked like the Lord was working miracles in Omihachiman. But then it all tanked.  It was hard to look back through my journal and see `Oh, what a miracle!` written so many times only to have to say to every one, `Nope, that didn`t work out.  They didn`t show.  She dropped us.` and the like. I was starting to wonder if I was going to see success on my mission at all, and suddenly a year and a half seemed like a very long time.  It was rough.  

I`ve been trying to look for specific ways I need to improve, trying to seek confirmation and peace from the Lord through prayer, been pleading on my knees and searching the scriptures every day, but nothing seemed to be working. I even got a priesthood blessing from the elders and didn`t find what I was looking for.

The thing that really made the difference was something Walker Shimai said.  She reminded me that the reason I`m here is because I love the Savior.  And how much do I love Him?  Do I love Him enough to go housing for hours on end in the cold without finding anyone?  How about waking up early to study a language I don`t feel I`m getting any better at?  And the real kicker, do I love Him enough to be here for another year even if I don`t see any success? Yes. I do.  And more.  Granted, I hope I DO want to see success. I came here because I love the Savior, but I also want more than anything to lead others to Him, to be able to help them and introduce the wonderful blessings of the Gospel and of the Atonement into their lives. But part of it is pride.  Part of it is ME wanting to change their lives and say I did something  I have the faith to have success, but do I have the faith NOT to?  That`s what I`m working on. I hate the fact that apparently I learn the most from utter failure, but I guess that`s the way it is, and the Lord is going to do with me what He sees fit.

Now don`t get me wrong, I believe that I can have success and I sure hope that I will.  I know the Lord can do anything, but He will do it in His timing.

Walker Shimai also pointed out to me that a part of my priesthood blessing said that God will give me answers when they are necessary.  So I`ve been seeking specific revelation and have been really frustrated that I haven`t been able to find any specifics that I think the Lord needs me to do better. (For example, I WANT to rely on the Lord, but what does that even mean?  HOW do I do that?)   She says maybe there ISN`T anything specific right now. Maybe now He`s just testing my faithfulness, and I just need to do my best to genki it up and continue to be obedient.  That helped a lot too.  Hopefully I can get to the point where I can here His voice better and He will trust me more.  Clearly, it`s not today, and it`s too bad I`m holding Walker Shimai back, but I`m going to keep working my hardest to get to that point.

I also remembered a blessing  that I got right before I left the MTC, with one of the most incredible promises I`ve ever gotten in my life:  You will become who you want to be on your mission.  That`s the greatest promise I can even think of.  But something like that won`t come easy.  It`s like President Monson quoted,
`Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.`
Hard things happen to all of us, but Christ promised that in Him we can be perfected. Sometimes (most times) hardship is the only way for Him to keep that promise.  When we go through hard things, there`s no staying the same.  We either come out better or worse. It`s up to us which side we choose.  Hopefully, as I do the work and am bettered myself, I`ll be able to help some of God`s children along the way.

This really has helped me a lot.  I`ve felt a lot better, a lot happier, and I know that that has been because of the Lord`s help.  I really am happy again, and I know that I`m supposed to be here, and I`m doing the Lord`s work! There`s no where else I`d rather be and no one else I`d rather serve. So, here`s to a better week in Omihachiman!

The church is true!  The book is blue!  I love you all!
--Sister Whitney
Saw this interesting pikachu sign today when we finished housing.  It says `あぶない、よ!` Abunai, yo! Which means, `It`s dangerous!`

                Walker Shimai and I at a pretty little tennis garden.

This week, H*****san took us to a samurai gate from about 1900, and then to  the base of a castle in Hikone!  It was pretty fun, and way cool.

                    Inside the gate and the view outside

There were some artifacts from the samurai gate inside, including this sweet dragon that two or three people would get inside of and dance.  Yep.  Just like Mulan.


At the base of the castle, `Hikonyan` was scheduled to appear. This really short person in this cat costume came out and just walked back and forth and posed while people took pictures.  There was a huge crowd, and only about 2 kids in sight.  Apparently this went on for well over a half an our.  Hikone is the city we were in, and a lot of cities in Japan have their own `character` they`ve made up that kind of represents them. Hikonyan is one of the most famous.  Also, this wonderful, strange human being was walking around with this CAT on their shoulder dressed up as a samurai like Hikonyan.  That was the most wonderful part, if you ask me.  Rock on, overenthusiastic cat lover, rock on. :)

A GORGEOUS Japanese sunset and me with some of the presents from the package Nana Rose sent me.  (I only opened a couple.  The rest are under the tree.) I have an angel grandmother. :)


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