Sunday, February 23, 2014

It Was the Best of Weeks, It Was the Worst of Weeks. It Was the Sunniest of Weeks, It Was the Snowiest of Weeks.

It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks.  It was the sunniest of weeks, it was the snowiest of weeks.  It was the Omihachi--est of weeks, and it was the New-est of weeks.

I spent the first half of the week saying goodbye to everyone in Omihachiman that I`ve come to know and love in the last 6 months.  It was harder than I ever could have imagined. You never really know how much you love a place until you have to say goodbye.  A sad part of me deep down was feeling like I hadn`t really done anything in Omihachiman, like I had let the Lord down and not helped anybody.  I didn`t see any baptisms, you know, and our numbers were really low.  But telling my investigators, and even former investigators, that I was leaving, and seeing the sadness in their eyes, convinced me otherwise.  I am really going to miss these people.  We went by to drop off my information card at H*********`s house on Tuesday night.  She told Y*********** (who I had only met a few times that I was leaving), and they had to come back out of the house about 10 different times for her to wave goodbye to me until she started bawling, insisting that I couldn`t go.  H********* was sad I was leaving too, and insisted I take an adorable bear mug with me.  C********s family was sad I was leaving.  R********* immediately ran inside crying `WAIT, WAIT` to grab me some chocolates, and R***** insisted I take a few from his store as well.  They wanted to know when I would be back to Omihachiman.  M******* and H********** bought me a cute little pouch to keep stuff in and wrote me a beautiful letter.    K********* and U******* stayed talking at their doors for a little while longer than usual, making sure they had my contact information and insisting that I go `Genki de, Genki de`  Take care, take care. We met with O****** and her friend for dinner on Tuesday, and asked if we could share the message with them.  O****** was all up for it, even if her friend wasn't.  That`s okay.  O****** was sad I was leaving too, but I hooked her up with some contact information as well. We had a larger than usual turn out at Eikaiwa.  I had fun with those kids, but imagine my surprise when one of them came up to me to give me a hug and said, `I`m going to miss you!`  They care, they care!  I love my fluent little Brazillians.  And then they all gave me a hug.  A had a big awkward moment when D**** and L******* tried to hug me as well, but with a little Sister Whitney-like awkardness, I wormed my way out before breaking mission rules.  I said goodbye to many of my favorite families in the ward, got a big old hug from N********* Shimai and an English `I love you` that just about broke my heart.  Bishop called and said `Ai shite imasu, yo!` 

The moral of the story isn`t that these people love me, but that I love them.  I knew I loved them, but now I love them even more.  But the other moral of the story is that wherever you are, you`re making a difference.  The people around you notice you.  They see the light that you put out, even when you don`t.  You`re affecting their lives.  I sure hope I`ve made a little bit of a difference in Omihachiman.  There`s nothing that I desire more out of the last six months.  And I think I have.  I sure wasn`t a perfect missionary, but I think I became a better one.  I think I became a better human being for being there, and for what each and every one of these blessed people taught me.  None of the people I taught have been baptized yet, or are even necessarily that close.  None of the other people I talked to or met with seemed to have had any dramatic reaction.  But in general, dramatic reactions aren`t what life is about.  It`s a slow process, a change of degrees that slowly sets people on a different course.  These changes can generally only been recognized in the long run.  I`ve recognized them a lot in myself.

So, it was hard to say goodbye, but I look forward to new and equally wonderful experiences and relationships in my new area.

My new companion is Derksen Shimai.  She`s great.  She`s a really hard worker who really cares about the people in her area and tries to rely on the Lord.  You can also tell she`s a fun and real person, which I appreciate.  She has generously given me the chocolate Mochi (sticky pounded rice stuff that I just can`t get enough of) that the branch gave to her.  (However, that actually has me a little bit worried. Who doesn`t like mochi?  That can`t be a good sign.  Haha.) 

My new area is really, really pretty.  Apparently, it has one of the most beautiful areas in all of Japan.  It`s really far away, though, but we`re going to try to make our preparation schedules work to fit it in.  And even though everyone says it`s really cold, it`s not actually any colder here than in Omihachiman, which is good.  It just rains and snows a little more, which is unfortunate, but doable.

They`ve got a lot of good investigators here too!  I have yet to actually meet any of them, but I`m excited to.  A little bit nervous, though. The missionary before me, Hall Shimai, was here for 4 transfers, and an older missionary, so she had better Japanese and a long time here to build a really strong relationships with them.  I have some big shoes to fill!  They sound great though, and just hearing Derksen Shimai talk about them and the love she has for them makes me love them already as well.  I`m excited to take a crack at them with Derksen Shimai and the Lord on my side.

I really am excited to be in here!  It looks like things are really looking up! 

I love you all! 

The church is true!
The book is blue!

Sister Whitney

Us and a super cute foodstuffs we bought at a conbini (gas station like place)

Me and Heimuli Shimai from my district. We have the same boots!  But different colors.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Well, It`s Been A Real Slice, Omihachiman, But It`s Time For Me To Go.

I`m transferring.  And I`m really sad about it.  I`ve been in Omihachiman from the beginning, but I`m out.  I`ve made a lot of friends here, taught some great investigators, loved a lot of ward members.  And I`m going to miss them all.  :(
I`m transferring.  Yay!  Haha, it`ll be okay.  My new companion`s name is Derksen Shimai.  I`m excited to go to our new area and try to make a difference there!  The mission goal of every companionship seeing a baptism before 3/23 falls at the end of next transfer, so I`m excited for that too.
Nothing much to update on this week.  We taught H****** and are going to teach her again today.  We finished the Plan of Salvation with her and invited her to be baptized.  She has a really strong testimony of the Plan of Salvation and wants to be baptized.  She just has a few little concerns we have to resolve first.  First of all, she`s Buddhist, and kind of wants to still be Buddhist too.  And she wants to know more about exactly what being a Christian entails.  That`s what we`re going to address today!
Other than that, just the normal. Lots of finding time, Eikaiwa, etc.
However, we did have one really big miracle this week!  We woke up, planning on going finding on Saturday only to discover that it was snowing buckets.  Psh, who cares about snow, we went biking anyway!   We stopped at a little neighborhood that Watkins Shimai had been wanting to go to to go housing, parked our bikes in the snow, and started knocking.  The first couple houses, no one was home, but the third house this sweet grandma opened up and insisted we come inside to get warm!  She offered us coffee (`We can`t drink that`), Ocha--green tea (`Sorry, we can`t drink that either.`) and then this lemon tea stuff (`Uh....I think that`s okay....) <--it WAS okay. It was this yummy lemon herbal stuff.  She was so sweet!  We talked to her for a little while, and then taught setting the table.  It turns out that she used to be the Buddhist equivalent of a nun.  Considering that, she seems to be incredibly open!   And she wants to learn more.  When we were going through setting the table, talking about various things she could learn, she kept saying, `Oshiete kudasai!`  Teach me please! We`re meeting with her again on Wednesday.  Her name is N************, and she really is the sweetest lady.  She works with disabled people, already believes we`re all brothers and sisters, and is great.  Hopefully Watkins Shimai and her new companion, Ohata Shimai, can help her!
Well, it`s been a real slice, Omihachiman, but it`s time for me to go.
God be with you till we meet again.
The church is true.
The Book is blue.
--Sister Whitney

Sister Harris and Sister Crofts  (Friends from college and serving in the same mission)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

We Have A Good Week In Store For Us!

Hello, all!

It was another good week,  fairly slow but good.

We started experimenting with some streeting this week (a little difficult here in the inaka, especially when I`ve never done it before).  It was really hard and really scary at first (it`s still a little of both), but it`s gotten a lot better.  We haven`t exactly seen any success from it, but it`s probably a lot more effective than housing all day.  We invited almost everyone we met to come to church and tried hard to get people`s numbers, but  success with that might just come with time and practice as we actually get good at this. :)  Or, at least better.  I want to go to a city area one day where I HAVE to do lots of streeting and can learn to get better at it.  Maybe it will help me overcome my awkwardness.

We had a mission goal this week of having 400 investigators collectively at church, a big goal seeing as we haven`t passed 150 before.  In order to achieve this, we were all supposed to focus on inviting people to church this week.

Focusing on church, we did that in almost every streeting contact, a lot of housing contacts, and called a lot of PI`s, visited former investigators, and taught the sacrament lesson to an investigator again.  But it was just blow after blow.  A lot of `muri`s, and  LOT of SICK investigators, including two who wanted to come to church.  However, we did see a couple of miracles from the Lord!  We visited K********, whom we dropped a few weeks ago, on Friday to invite to her to church, and she actually came!  When we visited, she said that there was no way she could come.  She was too sick and didn`t have time.  But she came!  Hopefully we will be able to start teaching her again!  Also, we invited one of one of T******`s friends who came to Eikaiwa to church, and she came too!  I think she technically would have counted as a Member-brought friend, but we helped with that one!  It really was a miracle when it looked like we weren`t going to have anyone coming to church.  And as a mission, we almost did it!  396!  not quite there, but so close!  It was really a miracle.

We have a good week in store for us!  H********* is finally really, really progressing.  She started believing in God about a month ago, and it`s just been uphill from there!  She now believes in Jesus Christ.  We had taught the Sacrament meeting lesson before that time, and she still had no desire to come to church.  But we taught the Atonement to her this last week and connected it to the sacrament.  She wants the power of the Atonement in her life, and now actually wants to come to church!  (It`s not a burning desire or anything, but hey, it`s something!)  She was sick on Sunday, but hopefully she can start coming to church!  We intend on inviting her again to be a yakusokusha tomorrow!

And then there`s Y********** who just loooves prayer and wants to know about how she can be saved.  She was really sick last week, so we couldn`t meet with her, but if we can meet this week, we want to teach the chart and invite her to be baptized too.

And that`s about it.  But things are going well! 

The church is true! The book is blue!
Love, Sister Whitney

By the way, transfer calls are next Monday.  I have no idea what`s going to happen!

Philippians 4:13! 
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

 Us at the same shrine that I went to with Sister Walker long, long ago.

 Me and Sister Watkins

Oh yeah, plus that was me showing how deceptive the Christmas skirt was!  It`s huge on me! I must find a safety pin....