Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just as Much as Every Miracle Needs an Endling, It Needs a Begining First.


We went for a run at the beach!  Well, it was a run that mostly turned into us taking a lot of pictures. We also had some fun down by the water, trying to be close to it, but be simultaneously be obedient and stay away.  We decided at some point, that it was okay to touch the water with our hands, but if it touched our feet...then that was totally disobedient.  We realized about half way through jumping back and some alarmingly close calls that we don`t think there actually is a rule in the mission about it...and the white handbook just says not to go swimming...and letting the water touch your feet is by no means going swimming.  ...  But, we continued the delightful dance against the tide anyway. You can never be TOO obedient, right?  And I remember Dad telling me that that was the rule on his he just walked on his hands through the waves.  That`s a dangerous game, Dad. :)  For a couple of minutes, we tried to actually run...but it was too sandy, and we almost twisted our ankles trying to get through that stuff.  But, what do you do?

And then we had FHE at O Shimai`s.  ALSO, on Monday I bought a large bag of Daifuku MOCHI, and have been largely enjoying my life ever since!


It was a pretty cool day.  We fasted for H Shimai, who we had a lesson with that night, to be able to understand her needs better and how we can help her prepare for baptism.  

Before her, though, we had a lesson with Y Shimai, our sweet little Obaachan, about prayer. We got there, though, and instead of answering the door and ushering us on in as normal, she answered with the door closed, `Nan deshoo ka?`  What is it?  What do you want?  Perplexed, we answered, `Shimai senkyoushi desu!`  It`s the sister missionaries!  After a moment`s hesitation, she answered the door, and had the biggest look of shock and confusion and joy on her face!   We came to visit on Sunday, but she hadn`t been feeling well and was sleeping, so we just talked to her husband for a little bit.  Then we told him we were going home (to our apartment).  Apparently, however, he took that to mean that we were going to America, and told Y Shimai such!  She kept saying how happy she was that we were still here, and how sure she had been that we weren`t leaving until December, and she was sad that she would never get to see us again.  But all`s well that ends well!  We had a good lesson too.  We were able to introduce her a little bit to Jesus Christ, and she seems to be getting the difference about how Buddhism and Christianity or different, and she said she wants to believe in Jesus Christ. We also were trying to get her to pray out loud, but she said she was embarrassed because she didn`t know what to pray for.  We offered to do something that we do a lot to help make it easier for investigators to pray--one of us says the prayer as a demonstration, and then the investigator prays.  She agreed to do that, so I began like I usually do, `Ten no Otoosama,` (Heavenly Father)...but this time, I heard an old sweet little voice repeat after me, `Ten no Otoosama.`  I was confused, so I just kept going, `Thank you for the beautiful weather today.`  And then just, `Thank you.`  We finally realized that Y Shimai was copying me, just like a little kid when the parent tells them what to say!  When I figured that out, I slowed down, and it ended up being a really tender moment.  

When we were biking to H Shimai`s lesson, we had a cool experience.  We were just riding along the side of the road, when a guy riding his bike starts calling out to us from the other side of the street, just the friendly words gaijin exchange with each other like, `Where are you from?  Why are you in Japan?` sort of deal.  But we were yelling across the street, and couldn`t really hear, so he ended up just crossing the road and we got to talk to him for a little while.  We talked about church and about general conference and about how there`s a prophet on the earth today!  He expressed interest in coming to conference and church as well, which was way cool!  Plus, his name is I, and he`s Nigerian.  However, he did make a lot of uncomfortable comments and questions about whether we could get married, if we had boyfriends, and how he would now be our new boyfriend.  Probably he`s going to be passed to the elders.  Most definitely.  But still cool.

H Shimai`s lesson was not exactly the miracle, deal-breaker we intended it to be.  She didn`t have as much time as usual that night, and we ended up doing a lot of follow up (to find out she really hasn`t been reading or praying lately, which is a little bit discouraging), and didn`t end up getting to share the message we had planned.

We had a lot of plans and a lot of lessons for the day, and to be honest, most of them fell through.  But I`ve just been trying to learn that I don`t get to pick my miracles, and that God knows how to do his own work!  While we didn`t get to teach some of the people we wanted to, we did set up a couple of appointments, and found Ike.  And while we didn`t find the missing piece for H Shimai, we were able to find some things that she`s missing from her foundation now that we can work on, and will help to make her next lesson better.  I know that the Lord leaves no prayer unanswered, and sometimes we just have to work, trust, and say, `Lord, I believe.`


We had a lesson with the W`s and Y Shimai at the church about repentance, which was really good!  And the W`s are the coolest thing ever.  And then, a new guy came to Eikaiwa.  Howard Shimai, like the champ she is, went and talked to him for about a half an hour afterwards, first just starting with normal conversation which eventually worked its way into some deep, DEEP doctrine. First thing, I`m just trying to involve everyone in ping pong, and next thing I hear, `Well, what does a puppy become when it grows up?` out of nowhere.  Do you know that example, about how like a puppy (which is the offspring of a dog) grows into a dog, we (as offspring of God) will become gods?  I heard that, knew what she was going for, and wondered what the heck was going on, and how my companion is such a champ!  However, the comparison never actually got made, as apparently ping pong just seemed too fun to resist, and he left the conversation, but we switched him numbers, and he says he wants to meet with us!


We had a lesson with the M couple, and did some heartfelt testifying and experience sharing.  It was one of those lessons where you KNOW you have been guided by the Spirit, so even when at the end, they say they`re going to have to think about whether or not they want to meet again, you know you have done all you can.  Also, M Shimai gave us some yummy mysterious blocks of ANKO, bean paste!  My favorite!  (But seriously though.  I really like Anko.  It`s best in mochi, but apparently it`s not bad plain, either.)

We were a little bit late for our appointment with O Shimai and the W`s, so we were speeding by on the road, when we stopped at a light with a WHITE guy on a bike!  He`s from California (and here with his wife!  So no worries about awkward boyfriend comments or anything), and had a good friend who went on a mission a while back.  We talked to him for about 5 or 6 rounds of lights, before we all realized we were late to wherever we had to be, but we switched him numbers, and he`s a cool cat!  Another little tender mercy from God!

And O Shimai`s lesson went really well. It was about the Holy Ghost.  She was really sincere, shared some good experiences with us, and her desire to feel it and be worthy for it was strengthened.  

Then we went to go visit a really far away less active, who has virtually no interest, with N Shimai.  I`ve visited her before, but she seemed particularly genki this time!  Still not interest, but it was good to see her almost happy!

Finally, we got home a little bit late, visited a previous investigator (well, she became a previous investigator, because apparently she STILL has no time to meet.  Come on.  Nobody`s too busy for the gospel!)  But. We would have, at that point, been perfectly justified in going home to eat dinner. But we decided against it and instead made our way to the eki (train station) to chirashi kubari (hand out Eikaiwa fliers).  And there was nobody there.  Like, one person every couple minutes or so.  But we stayed, and handed them out to those couple of people.  When all of a sudden, who should cross our path but yet another WHITE GUY!  He`s an eccentric film making fellow named K from Hawaii who`s been in Japan for a while and is visiting all of the Buddhist temples on Shikoku.  He was super interested in our Eikaiwa Chirashi, asking us what we do, and concluding, `So what you do teach these people free English, and then you transform their spirituality?`  ...I guess you could call it something like that?  Haha. We told him about general conference, and he said he was desperate for anything from the States and would love to come watch it with us!  He even said, `Maybe you can enlighten me.`  Haha.  You have no idea, K!  But, he`s a cool.  Also, a really close talker.  Sort of concerning, but another miracle from God!  It was just one of those moments where we were showing God that we wanted to serve Him more than anything else, and He put a little miracle in our path. 


Zone Training Meeting!  Which was delightful.  We got a new mission scripture and theme for the Welch Kaicho Regime.  Instead of `True Disciples--One and All,` the theme is now `Walk with Me` and the scripture is Moses 6:34

`Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.` 

And for all of you who watched General Conference, you know how inspired this theme is!  He presented this at the Mission Leadership Council BEFORE General Conference, and I swear half of the talks referenced it, and there was even one directly about it!  I`m excited to do some more studying about the path the Savior walked--where He walked, why, with whom, and how.  I want to be a true disciple on that road right next to Him!  I know He can take my path and make more out of it than I can.

Afterwards, we went out to Kurazushi, a sushi restaurant, with the W`s. And it was the first time I`ve actually really enjoyed a sushi restaurant!  I can`t eat all sushi, though, just the really tame stuff, like the salmon with avocado, and the tempura shrimp, which isn`t technically shrimp anyway, that one.  But it was DELICIOUS.  I unfortunately, however, forgot my camera there. 

Afterwards, we had short little lesson with Y Shimai.  She said she was tired and didn`t feel good (poor thing had a rough day for an 81 year old), but after we talked to her for a little while and testified about God`s love, she said she felt genki and we had fixed her right up!


GENERAL CONFERENCE = MISSIONARY CHRISTMAS. TIMES A THOUSAND.  But really though.  The Saturday sessions were probably the best Conference sessions of my entire life.  Talk after talk was like, `BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!` Each boom meaning, of course, spiritual revelation/wonderfulness.  In particular, I loved Elder Jorg Klebingat`s talk, his practical advice, and his wonderful promise,  `No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.`  Which is probably one of the coolest promises I can think of.  This is something that I`ve been thinking about my entire mission, and it felt like every second of it was personal revelation just to me.  And every other missionary ever, I think.  Every missionary I talk to says this was their favorite talk!  And I know that this is true!  I`ve felt that this transfer, and I know that we can know where we stand before God.  It`s still a work in process for me, but it`s a process worth more than almost anything I can think of.  Also, Elder Christofferson`s talk?  `We do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience.`  So powerful!  I know that no matter where we are, God wants to help us, not only after, but before and during, all we can do.  Basically...conference is my favorite.  I got a lot of direction I needed.


General conference!  Again!  No one ended up coming, but that`s alright. Something Howard Shimai and I talked about a lot this week are `unfinished miracles`--something that seems like a miracle, but then ends up being nothing.  Like the investigator we dropped this week--she was the one I decided to stop by her house and ring the doorbell and she became a new investigator. But she only met twice, and it doesn`t seem likely that she`ll meet again.  If we`re going to be honest here, I feel like my mission has been mostly made up of unfinished miracles.  People I`ve found with lots of interest, who get busy or who`s families are against the church.  People who say they will come to church, and never do.  Numbers you get that never get answered again.  The like.  But that`s the point of the word,`unfinished.`  My timing and my understanding is limited.  Just because the miracle or the story doesn`t `finish` when I say it should, doesn`t mean that it won`t finish.  It doesn`t mean that it still wasn`t a miracle in the sight of the Lord.  Because I believe it still was.  Just as much as every miracle needs an ending, it needs a beginning first.  And if I`m here just to start a bunch of miracles, then that`s my part.  And it`s not the end.  Because I have not only `unfinished miracles,` but an `unfinished mission` as well.  This refers not so much to the transfer I still have left, but the lifetime I still have ahead of me.  I`ve come to realize during the last year or so that my mission is meant to be my ENTIRE life long, and that I must give everything.  The Lord needs willing hands to help His children, to go His way and walk with Him, and that is what my mission has been training me to do, what all of our lives up until this point have been leading us to right up to now.  The story is unfinished.  There are more miracles that must be begun, continued, and completed.  Let`s all be a part of it.  Because `The Living Lord directs his living church.`  I know that this is that church.  I add my small, insignificant witness of the Savior to the many witnesses that have been given of Him this weekend and throughout history.  Jesus Christ, the Savior, is the Son of God, and He lives.  He lived for us, He died for us, and He lives for us once again.  He is actively involved in each of our lives, knows us perfectly, and wants each one of us to walk with Him.

The church is true!
The book is blue!

I love you all, and I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

Sister Whitney 

About the beach...we went and took lots of pictures but...after Zone Training Meeting, we went out to sushi with the W`s...and I left my camera in the restaurant...but it`s okay because the Zone Leaders are going to get it for me today and bring it to me at District Meeting on Friday.  ...  But it does mean no pictures for today. I will try to steal some from Sister Howard.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Meet The Mormons in Theaters October 10, 2014 -- Go See This Movie!

Watch the Official Trailer for this movie below:

David Archuleta's single, "Glorious" from "Meet The Mormons":

Click Here To Download The Single For Free

All of the net proceeds from this film will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are You Hungry? (Are You Hungry?) Yes I Am! (Yes I Am!)

I wish I had a really clever intro to start into this, but I don`t.
And also, Yes.  I am hungry.  (Mostly always, but that`s another story.)


We went to a giant slide!  It`s supposed to be a bobsled track slide thingamabob, but when we got was closed.  But next to it, there was another giant slide...thing. I wish I knew how to explain it.  I would have sent pictures, buy my memory card got corrupted, so that`s a no go.  Too bad, because I had some sneaky videos of Howard Shimai singing about seeing a baptism at the email place and also a little bit of Cher.  I`ll have to figure out how to recover those one day, because those were golden.


Tuesday was crazy!  A crazy miracle!
First, we went all the way out to Omishima Island to teach K Shimai.  She also made us lunch!  Japanese spaghetti (which is not like normal spaghetti...I don`t know how it`s different, but it`s just not the same...but it`s still pretty good).It turns out that K Shimai has a really deep interest in the purpose of life, to the point where she`s been studying a book called, 何野ために生きるか? Nan no tame ni ikiru ka?  Basically, why are you here?  Why are you living?  We read Alma 34:32 with her, (`For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.`) and she said, `That`s it!  That`s exactly it!`  It was pretty cool.  We`re excited to give her even more to answer this question of the soul.

After that, we got home (not until almost 5--that island is pretty far away!) and went to go teach our little Obaachan (grandma, older lady) investigator Y Shimai.  She`s an interesting sort.  Whenever we say something, like, `God is your Father; He loves you!` she agrees straight up.  `Yeah, you bet He is!` `And He created your spirit and your body!`  `Yeah, He did.  How cool.  Our bodies are mysterious, aren`t they?` `Yeah, they are, Y  Shimai.  So He created our spirits, and our ANCESTORS` spirits!  He`s the Father of our ancestors too!`  `Yes, He is!`  But then sometime later she tells us about how she prays to her husband`s grandfather three times a day.  Clearly there`s some connection missing here. :) But we love her. And we taught her how to pray (to God, and in the name of Jesus Christ), and she was excited about it!  We asked her if she would practice by saying a prayer with us, and she got right on it!  Unfortunately, we forgot to say, `Out loud.'  7 minutes of never ending silence later, punctuated by awkward swallows and Howard Shimai and I looking at each other and mouthing things like, `Is...she praying?  What should we do?` But it ended eventually, and she seemed pretty happy about it.  We have another appointment with her tomorrow, so we`ll be sure to remember to say, `Out loud` this time. :)

We were planning on having dinner after her lesson, but only had just enough time to get to the church before H Shimai`s lesson.  Luckily, God inspired K Shimai to give us the leftover spaghetti, so we were able to scarf down a few bites of that at least.  But it was such a good lesson!  We taught about repentance and the power of the Savior to make us clean again.  We testified about not only the truth of repentance, but the joy of it, and the joy we can find through the Savior.  And at the end, H Shimai said, `I want to try repenting!` We`re grateful for the Spirit that was with us all day.  And we love H Shimai!


Wednesday was also pretty crazy.  First of all, we went to go visit  Y Shimai, a kind of spontaneous decision, and share a scripture with her.  It wasn`t anything terribly special, but at the end, she told us, `I really wanted to meet with you today.  I was in the middle of picking up my phone to call you, but decided it was too all of a sudden--that you would be too busy and wouldn`t be able to meet, so I put down my phone.  But you came anyway!`  It was such a miracle that shows me (and even better, showed Y Shimai) how truly aware of us and our needs the Lord is.

After that, we visited a great PI named I san.  She`s a lonely little lady who is very prepared to hear this message.  We just taught a simple first lesson about God and His love, which she accepted very readily, and you can tell she really wants to feel God`s love in her life.  We`re excited to be able to bring it to her.

We had some finding and the like, and Eikaiwa.  A lot of new people and a lot of middle schoolers have been coming lately.  Some life in this little dead Eikaiwa class at last!  And Kodomo no Eikaiwa (children`s Eikaiwa) earlier in the day. There`s a song they sing every time that drives me and Howard Shimai nuts.  It goes, `Are you hungry? (Are you hungry?)  Yes I am!  (Yes I am!)  And repeats, and eventually starts listing some foods.  And by the time Kodomo no Eikaiwa rolls around...we`re always we don`t exactly need reminding.  Haha.


We taught O Shimai with the W's.  The lesson went a little bit off track, but ended up with the beginning of a great relationship between O Shimai and W Shimai.  And ever since the lesson, W Shimai hasn`t stopped talking about her.  We love the W's and all they do!


Friday was a lot of service!  First, we spend a lot of time helping active O Shimai sweeping her abandoned towel factory, and then we biked over to less active O Shimai`s store to pull her weeds, something we`d offered to do before, but she would never let us do.  But this time, since we were already in jeans from doing service before, we showed up and said, `We`re ready.  You can`t turn us down.  Just tell us which weeds you want us to pull!`  I think it showed her how much we really care about her.  We also did a lot of contacting on the way to places.  Howard Shimai is really good at talking to middle schoolers as they ride their bikes together. :)  We hope some of them come to Eikaiwa!


All day in Matsuyama!  We had interviews in the morning, and then were there until the General Women`s Broadcast (which was phenomenal!) and then until District Conference that night (which I actually understood a decent amount of, considering it was in Japanese).  And interviews with Kaicho were great.  Every time I talk to the man, I respect him more and more!  He was talking to me about my mission and how time is winding down, and said that the Lord accepts my mission and all I have done, and to not spend another second worrying about it.  Now that`s easier said than done, but I`m working on it, and it was good to hear. It brought peace to my heart and also made me more determined to give every last ounce of heart and soul I have these last two months to the Lord!  One thing Howard Shimai and I have made a goal for this week is to wake up every morning, do a double high five and say, `Yes!  This day is for Jesus!`  It`s been helping motivate us to get up early and to keep the attitude of giving the Lord our all with us throughout the day. (D&C 4:2)


Another day in Matsuyama!  For the rest of district conference, which was also great!  After the conference, we had a shokujikai (every one ate together), and the branch brought some yummy food, including delicious cinnamon rolls made by Sister S!  When S Kyodai was dishing out the food at first though, Howard Shimai paused, got a mischievous childlike grin on her face and sang out, `Are you hungry?`  And he just stared.  And everyone else stared.  She tried again. `S Kyodai...ARE YOU HUNGRY?`  And he said, `Just eat...Now is not the time for singing...  But...yes I am.`  BAHAHA.  And if you knew S Kyodai, this would be even funnier. 

After that, there was a Baptism for the Niihama Elders, which was so cool.  It was a 19 year old guy, and when he got up to bear his testimony, all he could talk about were how much he loved his missionaries, and how he wants to be just like them when he leaves for his own mission next year.  Wow!  And we didn`t end up getting back until late.

All in all, it was a pretty great week!

The church is true!  
The book is blue!

Sister Whitney

I didn`t get to watch any of conference yet, except for the General Women`s Broadcast, which I really really loved.  I identified a lot with Sister Marriot`s (I think? The one with the wonderful Southern accent) talk, and President Uchtdorf`s talk was indescribably incredible.  I want to watch the rest of conference SOOO MUCH!


These pictures were taken by Sister Crofts. Sister Harris and Sister Crofts met at  BYU and both were called to the Japan Kobe Mission.

Sister Howard, Sister Harris, and Sister Crofts