Monday, March 17, 2014

I Am Smarter Than A Vacuum.

That may be kind of hard to believe sometimes, but I AM smarter than a vacuum.  It's not actually a good story.  I just figured out how to put the attachment back on after struggling with it for a little while.  But I conquered in the end, and I thought it was important for you to know that.  So there's that story. (I'm really good at this game.)
So, here's the week:
Nothing too terribly exciting.  We emailed, went to a special store and got crunchy peanut butter, and came back and wrote letters.  I'm not quite sure what else we did, but we seemed to have no time.  But that's just how preparation day always goes.  As usual, we had FHE at the A**** family's house and had some delicious yakisoba (noodles stir fried with vegetables and meat)!  A**** came and we partied it up.  
Tuesday was one of those days that just makes you glad you're a missionary.  First, we had a lesson with N***** Shimai.  She's the kinjin (golden person) who committed herself to pray last week.  She said that she felt the Spirit really strongly when she prayed (well, she said she felt happy and peaceful, and then said it was the Spirit after we talked to her about that).  And now, she completely believes in God.  That seems like a small thing, but it's beautiful music to my ears!  That can be a very, very hard thing for Japanese people to come to believe.  So, we actually taught her about prayer this week, and she LOVED it.  Her prayer at the end was beautiful, among the very best I've heard.  Not only did she understand all of the fundamental basics of it, she picked up things and words we used in our prayers, and prayed specifically about each of us, that my dad would do well in his work, and that everything would go well with Derksen Shimai's little sister getting married.  There was such an outpouring of the spirit!  It was beautiful!  You don't find investigators like this every dynasty.  We have another lesson with her TOMORROW, and we intend on teaching the chart (the simplified Doctrine of Christ lesson) and inviting her to be baptized!
We also had a lesson with M******* Shimai.  I love her. She wants this so much!  She wants eternal life, and she wants to know the truth, but she also wants her husband's support before she get:s baptized.  She came into the lesson telling us she wasn't going to be able to meet anymore because her mom is getting released from the hospital and she will have to spend all of her time taking care of her.  We taught her about baptism and the gift of the holy ghost, and it was a good lesson. You can tell how much she wants it by all of the questions that she asks, like : 'Do I still have the Holy Ghost, even though I haven't been baptized?'  She just really, really wants to know!  When she realized there was one step left (endure to the end), she made another appointment (for tomorrow) after all.  We're going to try to tie in commandments and help her get excited to learn about those too!
Tuesday was just cracking.  (As will be tomorrow.  I don't know what it is about Tuesdays here.  We just always seem to have half of our lessons for the week on Tuesday and run around like chickens with our heads cut off.  Pardon the overused metaphor.)  We then went to the other part of the city with A****. (N***** is the other half of the city.  The city  is cut into two big parts H*******-east, where we live-- and N*******--west, where there are more things to do.  N****** is about a 40 minute bike ride or a 6 minute train ride away).  We were feeling like our relationship with her was a little bit stressed lately, so we decided to just go have fun with her and maybe figure out a few things.  We went shopping at a place called "Honeys" and all bought the same skirt.  We're all going to wear the same skirt next Sunday and look like goons doing it. Then we got gelato, and it was DELicious. We took some fun pictures, laughed at how Derksen Shimai has to take about 15 different pictures before she's satisfied, and were able to strengthen our relationship with her a little bit.
We topped off the night with EIKAIWA, which was nothing out of the usual.
Wednesday was a little bit rough.  It was all set up to be a wonderful day with a few lessons, but then the phone started ringing.  And M******** Shimai, a sweet as sugar less active lady who got baptized last year cancelled her lesson.  And then H*****  Shimai called and said she had another appointment.  And T**********  called and said she had to work.  And then S******* Shimai called and said she couldn't meet Thursday because she had an appointment as well.  And there went the rest of our scheduled lessons for the entire week. 
I'm not going to lie, that was rough.  We were scared every time the phone rang, and it was hard not to wonder why.  Or what we were doing wrong to make this happen.  We decided that the Lord was testing us, saying, "I gave you Shimai a wonderful day yesterday.  Will you remember that and still be faithful if I try you a little bit today?"  We didn't pass that test perfectly, but were able to pull out and keep our chins up in the end.  It didn't hurt that the weather weather was miraculously sunny and warm, and it ended up being a pretty good day of housing.
It rained.  We went for a run in the morning before it started raining, and being the strange human that I am, I just had the strongest desire for the rest of the day to just ditch my dendo bag and go for a run in the rain!  You don't even know how badly I wanted to do that.  The only things that stopped me are that I was wearing a skirt and that there is dendo to be done!  Elect to be found!  So we continued on.  And we saw that it was good.
Then we had an actually lesson with A***** that night.  We talked about the Word of Wisdom, which she had found about in church a couple of weeks ago and had a few concerns about--coffee and tea. Mostly tea.  Because EVERYONE in Japan drinks tea.  We had a really good lesson, though.  Derksen Shimai shared some powerful experiences, and A**** said she wants to try and keep it.  But she still doesn't want to get baptized!  She agreed to pray about it though.
We had district meeting in the morning, I learned a new Japanese grammar principle that absolutely blew my mind and is opening up WORLDS to me (okay, maybe the difference wasn't that impressive, but 'wake dewa nai' is really wonderful).  We talked about going for broke, about really giving the Lord everything we have.  And Derksen Shimai and I made that our goal for this next week: to give the Lord everything this next week.  As a mission, we had a mission promise that every companionship would see a baptism by March 23rd.  That's this Sunday.  And it looks like it's impossible.  We've been trying everything we know how to do, praying and seeking for inspiration, and inviting everyone to be baptized.  But nothing.  So this week, we're going to make sure we give the Lord literally EVERYTHING, every thought, every breath, so that we can allow Him to work a miracle in here. Because we know that He can.  We have no doubt about that.  Now it's just working hard and believing that He will....
After district meeting, we biked to N**** to a Filipino restaurant that W**** S****** told us about.  He's a missionary who served here a couple years ago that mom found.  He sent me an awesome email with contact information from his old investigators and the area.  He said that at this restaurant, they found a lot of good Filipino PI's in the past, so we decided to try it out.  We found two!  M****** and C****** are both Filipinas who work there and remember the missionaries from the past.  After eating a pork and rice dish that would have been really quite good without all of the bone marrow in it, we talked to them a little bit about the word of wisdom (when they tried to bring us green tea to drink) and the Book of Mormon.  They thought the word of wisdom was outrageous, and started trying to battle against it.  'Did you know that green tea is healthy for you and there are studies that say it FIGHTS CANCER?'  "I just need my coffee in the morning.  If I don't have it, I just can't wake up and make it through the day.  But I'm not addicted." (That one cracks me up.)   But we ended up explaining that while we know that because God loves us, he wants us to be free from addictions, we don't know all of the reasons for the word of wisdom.  We just have to trust Him, and through living it, we have found out for ourselves that it really is revelation from God.  They were pretty impressed with that and had no more arguments.  We also talked to them about the Book of Mormon, and made plans to bring them their very own English and Tagalog copies next week!  It was  a good day.

Even though S******* Shimai cancelled her lesson on Thursday, we were able to set up another lesson with her for Saturday, and it was the best lesson we've had with her yet!  Probably one of the best lessons I've ever had.  So this lady is Buddhist.  Hard core Buddhist.  She says every time she's not interested in changing, and just wants to know the reasons why we're so happy.  She says that while she would love for this stuff could be true (and you can tell that she wants it to be true so badly) that Nihonjin just can't believe in these things.  We taught prayer last time, and she came back really hesitant about it, not sure if she wanted to keep praying.  She started talking again (like she always does) about how we're so happy, about how if eternal life were really the wonderful thing that we say it is that she could always be happy and death would never be scary.  And then she asked, "How did you come to believe that so strongly?"  I was wracking my brain for what to say when I thought, "PRAYER."  I've never had an experience with prayer and eternal life, so was a little bit hestitant to say that, but the thought came again. 'Say PRAYER."  And so I did.  And Derksen Shimai and I shared experiences we've had coming to know that things are true though prayer, about how I found comfort regarding where I would go on my mission through prayer, and S******** Shimai was silent for a moment.  "And that's because of prayer?"  she asked?  "Yeah, I said.  We found answers through prayers.  And God promises to answer everyone's prayers. He promises.  He'll answer your prayer too.  So will you pray this week to know if eternal life is really like we say it is?"  She enthusiastically answered yes.  I don't know that I have ever felt so strongly guided by the spirit in a lesson.  And that was definitely the spirit, because I had know idea what to say to this woman!  In fact, I started out the lesson thinking, "Oh my goodness, what can we do with this woman?  Is there any hope for her?"  Which was bad.  Bad Sister Harris.  But the Spirit knew better. And He said, Say Prayer.  When I got that little prompting, though, I still didn't know if I should.  I didn't know if it was a prompting. I just had to follow it and take a step into the dark, but once I did, the Lord made the lesson unfold like it was meant to.  It was super cool.  We then talked about Jesus Christ and what He means to her.  She agreed to pray about  Him too.
To top the day off, we had a wonderful night of housing!  We talked to one sweet lady, who although she didn't want to hear the message, said, "Chotto matte" (wait a second), and came back with two very large yellow melon sort of things to take with us!  People do that here.  They just give you food and things while you're housing.  I really like it. ;)  We found a couple of PI's as well.  One was this old little lady who had a hard time hearing us, but was probably the cutest thing in Japan.  She told us we looked like fashion models, and then unexpectedly reached out to touch Derksen Shimai's hair, absolutely astounded by the springy curliness thereof.  She did so a few times while we talked.  And she said that while she's Buddhist, she really likes God.  She kept giggling, was unbearably adorable, and we're going back to visit her again this week.  It was probably the most enjoyable evening I've had of housing yet.
Church!  Sadly enough, A**** couldn't come, so we didn't get to wear our matching skirts together.  (And Sister Derksen  and I just looked like THAT sister missionary companionship who matches at church.)  But Sister Derksen gave a talk on the Relief Society (many much thanks to Mom for sending us research about that), and there was a luncheon with the branch after church to celebrate the relief society founding.  There were delicious sandwiches and some stew, courtesy of S***** Shimai.  We did some housing, and that was our week!
To top this email off, I found a scripture today that I really like in Abraham 3.  So this is that crazy deep doctrine chapter where God is talking to Abraham about stuff like Kolob and the like.  It confuses me like crazy, but there were a couple of verses I really loved,
11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;

12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.

First of all, I love that God says, "My son, my son" and stretches out His hand.  I feel like this is so typical of the Lord, wanting to remind us of who we really are, and always stretching out a hand to help us.  And then, I like that before Abraham is able to see these incredible things--so much that can't even see the end of them--the Lord covers Abraham's eyes with His hand.  He made it so that Abraham could not see for a little while.  I feel like that's how it is with me.  I try so hard to follow the Lord, but I feel like I just can't see anything; what to do, how a goal is going to happen. But that's how it's supposed to be.  Only when we take that step in the dark, when we let the Lord cover our eyes but keep moving forward, can we eventually see all that He wants us to.

The church is true!  The book is blue!

Sister Whitney

This is the ice cream and crepe we bought while shopping with A*****.
Us and our ice cream.
Me and my big poster that I got from the youth in the ward.  And that's all the pictures for this week!

I loved Sheri Dew's new book.  I read it with Walker Shimai, who loves Sheri Dew almost as much as we do, so that was good.  We both felt the spirit really strongly, and loved especially the stories that she used.  There was one in particular about President Hinckley.  She interviewed him to do his biography, and she said there were two things in life he was afraid of: getting cancer and his wife dying before him.  And his wife died before him.  And then he got cancer.  And apparently, he could very easily just have said, `Well, this is my time, I suppose I`m supposed to go,` especially since he was in so much pain and so afraid of cancer, but he fought and got every medical treatment he could to extend his life for as long as possible, saying he owed the Lord to last for as long as he could.  That in particular hit us really hard about giving the Lord everything.
Today, we`re just going to get groceries and write letters at home.  There`s someone from the church office coming to install a CO detector, so we can`t go anywhere today.  After that, we`re going to be housing pretty late.  FHE at the A****`s is cancelled because their dog is sick.  Poor Choco-chan.

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