Monday, March 10, 2014

We Are Working On Building Up Our Faith Until It Is UNWAVERING.

It was another good week.  We had some good lessons, and we think we found a senmin! 

Monday:  Preparation day-ed, emailed, Letters, etc., and had a great FHE at the Amano`s house and ate chirashizushi.  We had our hearts broken though.  Amano Kyoudai was starting to dish out some swiss roll cake and some so-beautiful-it-could-break-your-heart ice cream, when we realized we had to make it home by 9 o- clock curfew.  Leaving was one of the hardest things I`ve ever had to do.  (Maybe not that hard, but it was pretty hard.)

Tuesday:  We had some mysteriously delightful weather to house in before H*********`s lesson.  We taught about prayer, and she finally felt the spirit and was able to recognize it!  Which was wonderful!  

Wednesday:  We had a lesson with this lady named T********** whom we met a couple weeks ago.  She had received a Book of Mormon some years ago (though hadn`t read from it recently), and didn`t like that people who work for churches get paid.  We were able to address that (and she seemed to be both relieved and impressed that our church leaders don`t earn money as well as that we used our own money to come on missions) and we were able to teach setting the table.  She had wondered about some of the questions of the soul that Preach My Gospel mentions, especially about where you go after you die, and where her parents were.  She has a really strong desire to feel God`s love, and is now a new investigator. In relationship to this, I also had some experiences with following the Spirit during lessons this week.  During the new T**********'s lesson, we talked a little bit about God`s love.  She said that she didn`t think she had felt God`s love before, but wondered when we had felt it. (What a golden question!)  I searched through a bunch of things in my mind that I could say and landed upon an experience I had had while riding to her house just a half an hour earlier, looking up at the beautiful snow coated mountains and finding myself in awe at the wonderful things our God had done, at what an artist He is, and how much He loves us to have created that for us.  I shared that with her, and it seemed to click for her.  She said, `Wow, I have felt God`s love before then!  I feel it all the time, like when I`m driving and -- I know it`s dangerous -- but when I look up and see the clouds` and the like.  And she said she would like to feel it more. And that`s where it starts.

Thursday: I had another such experience on Thursday during S******* Shimai`s lesson. She is very Buddhist and has stated such from the start. She says that she meets with us because she wants to know why we`re so happy, but is just too old to change.  And we taught prayer.  As expected, she did not want to pray.  She prays to `Hitokesama,` the Buddhist deity?  That is a mix of Buddha and ancestors who have joined into `oneness` after their death.  We tried for a while to teach her, and eventually I was able to say something (and it clearly couldn`t have been just me because I was clueless) that worked.  I said that she could explain all that to God. We can talk to Him about anything after all, and that she could just try it out.  I explained that prayer is one of the main reasons that we`re so happy, and that if she would just try it out, she would be able to feel that joy for herself.  She finally prayed for us, and agreed to pray before our next lesson. No remarkable outpouring of the spirit to her, but it was a miracle nonetheless. Belief will come slowly.  

Also on Thursday, we finally got to teach another investigator that I hadn`t met yet (N***** Shimai) because of a couple really busy weeks at work, but she is most CERTAINLY a senmin.  First of all, she bought us cake and gave us hot chocolate.  That`s a sure sign of a senmin.   But really though.  (She also bought us those beautiful peach blossom branches.) It was her first lesson since setting the table, so we just taught about God and invited her to try to feel and recognize God`s love this week, to which she replied that she would not only do that, she was going to try praying ever day.  SHE COMMITTED HERSELF.  TO PRAYING.  EVERY DAY.  So then we covered a little bit about that too.  It was so cool.  I love this lady!

Friday:  Zone Training Meeting. Good stuff.  Just about best of all, I was FINALLY reunited with my beautiful, TENNEY SHIMAI!  My MTC companion, whom I haven`t seen since coming to Japan. And all is well.  And because Hutchings Choro is a fabulous Zone Leader, he bought us Tim Tams, as I requested, so there was many and much rejoicing in the Maizuru Shimai apartment that night.  Also, I received my first referrals from the mission headquarters!  Two!  One didn`t pick up, and another was a sweet Filipina lady who said she might like to meet in a month or so when her family has returned to the Philippines.  

Saturday: Housing, and a lesson with K*** Shimai.  She is the sweetest, most wonderful thing.  She always makes us food when we go over (fruit and toast with the most delicious honey in probably the entire world), and reads the Book of Mormon and prays every night.  But she prays to Hitokesama in the morning.  We taught about the Book of Mormon, about all of the wonderful things that you can know from it,and the truths and hope that result from coming to know it`s true, but she won`t pray about it.  I was trying to follow the spirit and try to teach her to do that too, but I ended up offending her instead. (So obviously the whole following the spirit during lessons is a very slow work in progress.)  Luckily Derksen Shimai was able to patch things up. You know I love someone when I get mad at them for making choices that will hurt them.

Sunday:  Church, housing, and hearing a bit of stressful news about a church member. We have been struggling trying to help this member for a while and just didn`t know what to do to help her. We stressed out a lot.  BUT.  A miracle happened!  This morning, she called us, said that everything was okay, came and brought us food this morning, and is making stew to bring to church on Sunday.   Literally overnight, God just fixed it.  Because He knows and loves His sheep. We just need to keep up the faith that He can (and WILL) do that for our investigators too.

So, it was quite a good week.  We`re still hoping for a miracle!  The miracle of conversion.  I have yet to see such a miracle on my mission, but I`m counting on it!  Sister Derksen and I are working on building up our faith until it`s UNWAVERING.  We`re doing all we can.  We`re putting our hearts into it.  Now we just have to trust that the One who knows it all will step in in His timing and make a miracle happen.  We know who`s work this is.  

And that`s all that matters.

Also, I got a care package from my family yesterday!  It was a delightful surprise to open up to the package man at the door last night during study. There was everything the heart could desire: protein bars, mashed potatoes, pasta, twizzlers, craisins, Sees Candy suckers, and all manner of such wonders!  I believe my Mom is psychic. Only yesterday morning was I starting to worry that I was two little packets away from running out of hot cocoa and had eaten my last little packet of peanut butter.  And other such miracles.  Best of all, Mom sent me a little book filled with inspiring, beautiful quotes, and everyone in my family wrote me a letter!

And then I got humbled a lot.  Mom sent me a portion of my friend, Sister Cork`s, (Sister' Cork's Blog email from the Philippines, describing the humbling circumstances of poverty and simultaneous gratitude of the people surrounding her. I read a couple of articles from the Ensign mom sent from August 2013, and everything I opened up to continued to humble me even more deeply.  There was an article about a woman paying $10 to help the struggling man in front of her at the grocery store, and another about a man who was able to grow through his experience with cancer.  And each of these told me this: 

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep.`

I am such a wimp for ever having a hard time, for ever complaining about any so called `trial` I have ever had to deal with.  Because the Lord`s got it figured out.  It made me think of something Dad sent to me in his most recent letter.  `It`s really hard for me to not be able to be a bigger part of your life right now.`  It`s hard for me too. A lot of what I know about my Heavenly Father is based on what I know about my Mom and my Dad (who are the finest parents to ever live, if you ask me.).  And so I realized that if it`s as hard for my Dad to not be a bigger part of my life right now, then it`s probably even harder for my Heavenly Father not to be a bigger part.  I`m sure that much of Him wants nothing more than to come down here and guide me, to show me every step I should take, to hug and counsel me.  But the reason He doesn`t (which is the same reason Dad doesn`t hop on a plane to Japan right now) is out of love.  It`s out of that perfect knowledge that these challenges, that dealing with some of them by myself, and trying to figure out how to rely on Him while He`s so far away is going to be worth it.  It`s out of His perfect love for us, for me. And obviously, what goes for Heavenly Father goes for Jesus Christ.  And we can trust them.  I can trust them. Because Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.  Let`s read a few more of those verses.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

The Lord knows me, and whatever I need, He gives me.  I may not always be able to see the Shepherd, but I know He is there. He may let me trip over a little hole or fall into a little stream and rough myself up occasionally. But that`s because not only is He protecting me, He is making me like Him.
Well, I love you all.  

The Church is true.
The Book is Blue.


Sister Whitney

These are pictures of the cool sewer drain covers they have here.  They`re covered in TREES.

We had a lesson with N***** Shimai!  Not only did she give us cocoa and cake she bought, she also sent us home with big branches MOMO (peach, I think) blossoms!   We have another lesson with her this Tuesday.

Pictures I took from the train on the way to our district meeting.

Our zone picture after ZTM. 

Me and my beloved Tenney Shimai! Remember her and her MAGICAL PRAYERS?  No one else can pray for puppies and then have PUPPIES magically show up at the temple the next day.  I missed her. She`s in my ZONE now!  I was so excited when I heard!  And, funnily enough, her companion Payne Shimai was Walker Shimai`s first trainee!  I loved being able to see her, and I`m glad I get to see her EVERY MONTH now!  She`s just about the sweetest thing you`ll ever meet.

How to have a Tim Tam Slam.
Gather your materials.  (Hot chocolate--the more delicious the better--and Tim Tams)

Surgically make a route for the hot chocolate to saturate the Tim Tam (bit off the opposite corners)
Cause the hot chocolate to travel upwards through the pourous contents of the chocolate biscuit, causing liquification (insert one end of the Tim Tam into hot chocolate and suck as hard as you can on the other until you can`t anymore because the Tim Tam is a big delicious mushy mess of deliciousness).
Experience true happiness. (Eat)


Me being overwhelmed by the many great things contained within, like craisins.  
I LOVED the package!!!!

From the Amano Family Blog
Menu of the day
Yakisoba (Source & salt)
Raviolis a la vapeur
Message of the Day
Jesus Christ, is a hero for us.
(D & C 12: 9)

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