We saw the Zinke`s not just once but TWICE this week, for interviews and for branch conference. It was a bit of a crazy week.
Nothing special. We emailed, did some grocery shopping, and I bought a new mission bag since my other one has just about been ripped to shreds over the past 6 transfers. Unfortunately, it wasn`t as good of a bag as it looked, since it started falling apart the very next day. (I`m a poor shopper.) We housed and had FHE at the A*****`s.
We had mensetsu`s, interviews with Zinke Kaicho (President Zinke). And that was all day. We got some training, had interviews, and sweet, wonderful Zinke Shimai brought apple slices and crunchy Skippy peanut butter for us all to feast on. I`ll write a little bit more about interviews later.
We got stood up a couple of times and then had a good lesson with T**** Shimai, who became a hesitant yakusokusha. (She accepted a baptismal date.) Which was phenomenal. The thing is, she somehow realizes how much being baptized entails. She said that if she gets baptized, she`s going to have to change her entire life. Which is true. She said she`s going to have to give up tea and coffee and alcohol, stop playing on her softball team so she can come to church every. Which is true. (I have no idea how she figured out that last one. We`ve hardly even addressed church with her yet.) She gets that it`s going to be hard, and that she can`t do it halfheartedly. But she`s willing to try. And the wonderful thing about her is that if she does get baptized, she really is going to give her heart to this, and she`s young enough that she is going to actually be a contributing, strong member for the rest of her life, just what this little branch needs.
We had a lesson with K***** Shimai and reviewed the little book about prayer we made her. For some reason, even though she`s Buddhist, she`s been praying like a Catholic for who knows how long, and we`re working on dealing with that now.
We got dropped by H******* san, the investigator we found last week or so. She came into her appointment, said she had 15 minutes, and after a quick message on God, told us that she looked up our homepage on mormon.org and didn`t have time to meet again. And that was really, really hard. But is hard something new? No. You keep on keeping on, and hope to find the sheep one day who will listen and who will make time for this, the most wonderful thing in the entire world.
We had a lesson with S******* Shimai. We taught the Sacrament lesson, and she`s starting to get interested. Her objection is no longer that that`s her limit or that she`s not interested, but that her husband is the head of the house, and he doesn`t go. We`ll have to work on that, but she`s moving forward! It`s slow but steady with her.
The Zinke`s came for branch conference. We were, admittedly, a little bit nervous, not knowing if any of our investigators would actually come to church. One investigator who found out about Kaicho coming directly told us that she would NOT come, even though she usually comes. However, the Lord blessed us with the tender mercy of three people coming to church. A***** miraculously came, and a less active and a members` mom came. For after the branch conference, the branch set up a beautiful meal of sandwiches on the tastiest bread, and B******** Shimai`s cupcakes were the hit of the part.
So it was an alright week, but interviews were the best part.
To be honest, I`ve been preparing for interviews ever since I found out we were going to have them. I knew I needed an answer from the Lord and that since I wasn`t getting it myself, I would need to get it from Kaicho. And I did. It`s no secret that I`ve been struggling for my entire mission. I came in thinking that I was going to change Japan and then hit the harsh reality that I couldn`t change or help anyone, that no matter how hard I studied or prayed or tried , I would fail to see any fruits from my efforts. And that`s for what, 8 months now? There are times when it seems like things are maybe starting to pick up, like maybe I really helped someone, but then in seconds it crashes back down around me and I`m left once again wondering what I`ve really done or if I`ve ever seen any success at all. For months I`ve been seeking the Lord`s approval about whether or not He`s pleased with me, whether He looks down and smiles or says, `You`ve really let me down, Sister Harris.` However, He`s been discouragingly silent on the issue, so I decided to ask Kaicho. I needed to know.
And I got the answer I needed. Kaicho said, `You`re doing okay,`and I finally felt the spirit tell me that he was right. I can`t tell you how much that meant to me. He told me, once again, that it`s a test that I`m going through, that the Lord is focusing on my growth for a little while. It`s just a little bit hard to believe that it`s all been a test for so long, when I wonder if I really have become any better throughout the process. So I thought about it, about whether I really have grown during this experience.
And I realized that I have. I`m still not even close to the person I want to be, but my motives have changed. Before I came on my mission, if you had asked my why I was going, I would have said it was because I love Jesus Christ. I wouldn`t have even had to think about it, because that was my real reason. I thought I had about as strong of a testimony of the Savior and the Atonement as anyone. And that testimony was real and it was true, but what I didn`t realize at that time that it was not quite enough. I had given a portion of my heart to the Savior, but I had not given it all. But through months and months of struggling to know my position before God, to know whether or not He was pleased with my service, I have come to realize that that is what I really, truly want. I`ve discovered that more than anything I want to be a true disciple. I want to please the Master I love.
It`s like you`ve told me a couple of times: the Lord`s sheep are going to be gathered. The Lord knows each of them, and in His perfect plan, they will each find the Gospel. Of course, I want to be as big of a part of this as possible, but regardless of whether I actually do help, they will all be gathered. The only undecided factor, then, is who I become and how well I accomplish the Lord`s will for me.
I want to let you know that more than anything in the entire world, I want to please Jesus Christ. I am here because I love Him, and I now know that I want to give everything that I am and ever will do to Him, because He did nothing less for me. And I`m not at the point right now where I can give everything or where I can be perfect. But I have reached the point where I`ve discovered that that IS what I want and am now heading in that direction.
I`m little and small right now, and I`ve made some mistakes where I`ve probably lost the approval and trust of the Lord. But so did Peter. But Peter came back. Even though He messed up, because He had that unquenchable love for the Lord and that desire to serve Him, he repented and returned to serve Jesus Christ. And Christ worked miracles through Him that altered the face of the world forever. That`s what I want to be, Kaicho. I want to be the disciple who, although she has messed up, can use that to become the strong tool in the hands of the Lord that He will one day use to perform miracles in His work. And if right now He`s just tempering my steel into something that`s actually worthwhile, then that`s okay. Because I`ll keep working, keep repenting, and keep doing my best, and I know that one day I will have a bigger part to play, and that I will hear the words I want to hear more than anything: `Well done, thou good and faithful servant.`
I know this doesn`t mean that it`s all going to be easy from now on, but it does give everything a little more perspective.
The area did a little bit more crashing this week, with a recently found investigator dropping, some lessons that didn`t go quite as well as they should, and literally every investigator telling us they couldn`t meet until after Golden week. And while it was hard, that`s okay. Because I know why I`m here and whose work this is.
I am here because I love Jesus Christ, and I want to serve him forever. I know with all of my heart that he is truly the Son of God. I know that He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, and that He has engraved each of us upon the palms of His hands, on the souls of His feet, and the marks of His sides. He gave us everything, I know that if we turn our lives over to Him, that if we truly give Him everything back, then He will make more of us and more of our lives than we ever could on our own. And it is worth it. In every way it is worth it. To learn this lesson alone, to truly Love the Lord, has been reason enough for me to come on a mission.
The Church is true.
The Book is blue!
Love, Sister Whitney