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.

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