Dear Friends and Family:
I wish I had time to just transcribe my journal from last week. That is how cool it was. I laughed; I cried; I spoke Portuguese! Unfortunately, I do not have that kind of time, so I will try to touch on the highlights
On Tuesday I did a Kokan (companion exchange) with Elder Wilcox – our District Leader – in Sennan. It was actually a lot of fun. We had two awesome lessons where the spirit was present. I will tell you about one of them because it was a funny story. We met with a Peruvian-Japanese family – a mother and her two young daughters. The daughters speak Spanish in the home but naturally they are fluent in Japanese. The mother knew some English and is fluent in Spanish, but is a little shakey on her Japanese. She wants her daughters to practice English with us, but their English is pretty shakey. I don:t know any Spanish at all and my Japanese is still a bit shakey. Elder Wilcox lived in Chile for three years when his Dad was a mission president, and so his Spanish and Japanese is pretty good, and he even remembers English! Basically, he was the only one there that spoke all three languages. When we spoke English, the girls didn:t understand any of it. When we spoke Japanese, the mother didn:t understand much of it. And when we spoke Spanish, I didn:t understand any of it. So we had to keep switching between the three. It was a regular language soup going on! Even with the tripple language barrier, we had a lot of fun! I:m in love with the family already. I wish they lived in my Area instead. They have two copies of the Book of Mormon now – one in Spanish and one in Japanese.
Training Plans are awesome. I love them so much that I:ve started making them myself, and I will likely use them in one form or another for the rest of my life. I can:t really think of a good definition for a training plan, so I:ll describe them. They have several or all of the following sections: 1) Doctrines and Principles – Quotations from Scriptures and other revelations relative to the subject(s) of the training plan. 2) Objectives – Which changes ior improvements n attitude, thinking, or behavior the training plan is intended to fascilitate. 3) Action Plan – Activities for daily application of the principles. 4) Measurements. 5) Self-evaluation. It:s a really good way to focus study and personal improvement – ESPECIALLY when given by way of inspiration and revelation from above!
It:s really cool that I:ve been called to such an obedient mission. I think if we were less obedient, we wouldn:t get cool training plans – or if we did, their purpose would be to correct behavior, rather than raise our vision. Because we have mostly [graduated]というか from obedience-school, the windows of heaven can be opened far wider, the blessings poured out far more abundantly, our confidence in The Lord relied on far more completely, and the upper-bounds of our personal growth and selfless servicecan be elevated far beyond that of a mission whose missionaries struggled with obedience. Don:t misunderstand; I don:t claim to be perfectly obedient all the time, but I am always trying, repenting, and improving.
We had Zone conference this Thursday, which is where we got that new training plan. After the meeting itself, I got to witness the baptism of an Iranian man who was living in Mikunigaoka, where we were having the conference. He is really cool! His conversion has been a long, hard-frought battle, for himself, for his friends, and for the missionaries. He had to be sure it was what his Heavenly Father wanted him to do. Now, baptized as a Christian, he can never return to his homeland, or he risks imprisonment or even execution. But after five years of praying and reading the scriptures, his Testimony in Jesus has become firm. He knows what he is to do. And he did it. President Zinke got involved personally in his conversion, and it was President Zinke who baptized him. How powerful it was!
Now I want one. Me want baptism NOW! </cookie monster impersonation>
Oh, and I saw Da Silva Choro at zone conference. That was great! I love seeing my Doki!
Sister Belnap is in Akashi, which is over by Kobe.
We have begun housing in whatwe call the Super Secret Housing District of a Thousand and One Mysteries. We name apartments so we can keep track of where we:ve already been. Right now we:re working on: The Pinky, The Bran (leftern and rightern hemispheres – seperate buildings), the Blue Eyes White Dragon, Salmon, and Prince. And those were just the ones we could see from standing on the far street corner of the SSHDoaTaOM. That place will keep us busy all next transfer!
A lightning storm interrupted us on the last floor of the Pinky. Some poor lady heard me YELP in the middle of a door approach because the lightning strike RIGHT NEXT TO US scared me so bad.
M-san is being baptized! She passed her baptismal interview yesterday, and the service is scheduled for this Sunday. What a miracle!
The rain storm I mentioned caused a problem. W-san was not able to make it to our appointment, and without a phone, we lost contact with him completely. We scowered Wakayama looking for him, but it wasn:t until we began following Spiritual promptings that we were able to find him. We found the place that he is living right now and we were able to meet with him. He is doing well! The city is working with him to find him a real place to live, and his temporal needs are going to be looked after. What a blessing! He has finished the Book of Mormon, and is now on round two. He is in Mosiah, and he understands basically everything he reads. That:s incredible! I don:t even understand everything in the Book of Mormon yet, and I:ve had it with me a lot longer than the two weeks he:s had his.
Transfer announcements came this morning. Elder Cluff and I are staying in Wakayama again (yay!) and we:re getting two new Japanese missionaries in our District – in Tanabe!!! (yay! No more two hour train rides! Except for T-san:s baptism).
A thought occured to me, amidst the challenges of this week. I wondered if God wasn:t deterring me from serving a mission. What if everything I had ever learned was wrong? What if inviting people to come unto Christ was not the Lord:s will? I wondered howthis could possibly be true. But then, a comforting thought entered my mind. If God didn:t want me to on a mission, all He would have had to do was remain silent. If He hadn:t spoken to me with power and with glory, I never would have gone. For reasons that seem petty and obscure to me now, I did not want to serve a mission. Petty though the reasons were, they were paralyzing. I am on a mission now only because I KNOW that this is where The Lord wants me to be.