What a great week! Training is so fun. We are so obedient! Training is just having a normal companion and then you have the 12 weeks program and they watch and mimic everything you do! B-shimai is a great missionary. Her faith is strong. She's a hard worker. She doesn't complain when we're freezing and hungry and tired and are still dendoing contacting. And I love her! This week we biked through the snow 90 minutes to some members' houses in the snow; then we biked 90 minutes back in the freezing rain. And then we went to go visit Spencer kyodai to give him a paper I had written for him to help his prayers sound more like a Japanese person. Right before we knocked we got a call from our strong investigator, the one I had fasted and prayed to find. She said she cannot meet with us anymore and hung up on us. I felt so discouraged. But then we knocked on Spencer's door and he talked with us for a few minutes (even though it was freezing and snowing and he was barefoot) and he could tell that we were a little downhearted. He offered to say a prayer for us. He prayed fervently that Heavenly Father would soften someone's heart enough to let us in. We thanked him for the prayer and began housing. We were trying to sing a Christmas carol for people to invite the Spirit, and everyone up until then had just flatly refused. I just wanted someone to listen to us. I turned to B-shimai.
"I know you've only been here for 2 days, but is there any place or any direction you feel strongly that we should go? Right, left, north or south?" She thought for a moment.
"That light is on over there, let's try that apt." she replied.
So we rung the bell and we met a kind 19 year old girl who let us sing and had interest in Eikaiwa English class. We had a great conversation with her. I already considered that an answer to my prayer, but the Lord had more blessings in store. A few doors later a woman answered from inside. I explained that we're missionaries and that we're singing Christmas hymns. She immediately said, "Mormon?" To which we replied, "Yes!" She immediately opened the door and said, "It is SO COLD out here!! Come in!" and ushered us into her genkan entryway. She is a wonderful woman who met with the missionaries 10 years ago and has been to church twice. She loves Mormons, is VERY interested in Eikaiwa for all of her extended family, and wants to come to the Christmas party! She is a great woman and we have high hopes for her. I have never, EVER been let into a genkan while housing on my entire mission to date. I know that when we work together with the faithful members of the church, that we will see success. They are faithful and strong and amazing and together we can build Zion as the Lord would have it built.
SO you know what I realized? Tomorrow is my birthday. And this will be the FIRST TIME that I'll be celebrating my birthday in Japan since I was actually born here! Does it matter? Not at all; but I thought it was cool!
Igen no tamamono- The gift of tongues. It is real. Like way real. We were visiting with M-shimai and we had a great totsuzen lesson about the Spirit and what members can do to help less-active members. She's hard of hearing and has a bit of a speech impediment AND is an obaachan grandma, so I had little expectation of knowing what she was saying; but it made perfect sense. I was about at a solid 98% understanding rate; and I'm gonna be real- I am NOT THAT good at Japanese. The Spirit guided that discussion in a way I never could, and my goodness we were grateful. The members here have such strong Spirits; and we're so lucky to have them.
The time when I was like "yikes, I'm too hard on this bean!"- In the mornings after personal study time, we have companion study during which we share what we learned from our own scripture study. B-shimai (on her first real day with me) shared from D&C where the Lord talks about how he calls upon the weak and powerless and strengthens them and makes their arm his arm. She then goes silent. I look up and she is silently crying. Like, a lot. And I think "oh dear what have I done?! I've blown it already as a trainer!!" But I just stayed silent. And after about 3 minutes she wipes her face and says, "I know that's true". Man she has such a powerful Spirit!! I think the language has come as a bit of a shock to her (I don't talk to her much in English and her MTC senseis teachers only taught her district how to pray and testify in the 9 weeks they were there), but she is a strong one! I feel a healthy amount of pressure now that I'm in charge of absolutely everything, but I'm grateful for an obedient, hard-working trainee to make my sekinin training easier!
The thank you's!! Allison- THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE!! Is that your new address?? Is that the one I write letters to??
Larsens- THANK YOU for the card!! It was so kind of you to remember me:) Your family looks lovely as always!
SNOW!!!! Holy momma of drifting mountain bikes; THERE IS SNOW. I actually nearly died biffing it this morning heading over to the church to email all y'all! Oh, and SPEAKING OF BIKES. For some reason, the hombu mission secretary didn't feel it requisite to order my bean a bike and so they haven't sent her one. Fortunately (and unfortunately), T-shimai left her little monkey mountain bike that SHE used her whole mission, and her COUSIN used HIS whole mission before her! And it is junk!! It's stuck in first gear and every time you put any pressure on the pedals (standing up and riding, going up hills/mtns, etc.) it panics and tries to change gears, nearly causing my falling down hills and ultimate demise!! Am I being dramatic about the bike? Maybe slightly. But I despise it. And that seat wouldn't fit the booty of a 5 YEAR OLD. Why am I not riding my bike and my bean is riding T-shimai's bike? Because I am nice, that's why.
The epic F-shimai day. You should applaud me for biking that hill in the snow! So she's a great lady! She's 81. She lives in this giant house by herself, and when we visited she said "I’m so sorry you biked all the way here! I'm preparing for my son to get here right now, so I only have time for a prayer!" SO she lets us in, sits us down, talks our ear off for a half an hour (obaachan, remember) makes us drink hot rotten umeboshi plum vinegar (I gagged whilst attempting to down it) and then the most memorable part- we asked if we could sing a Christmas song for her (B- shimai has a rockin voice and we pull some sweet harmonies) and she said "Oh I love singing!!" I had forgotten about that. I made the mistake of choosing Angels We Have Heard on High. And boy does she love singing. Her "singing voice" sounds like a mix between a bellowing opera singer and someone being exorcised- I am so serious. And it was so. funny. As she went into the kitchen to prepare us the deadly umeboshi drink, she asked us to continue singing. And we just...couldn't. We were crying in silent laughter so after a while of silence, she decides to bust into her own solo of her favorite part: "GLOOOOoOOOooooooOOOooOOOooOOOOOOoooooOOoooOOoOoooriaaaaaaa" It took us a while to regain composure, but we managed before she came back into the room- the only evidence was our tear-streaked faces. And then we asked what we could do to help out to prep for her son to get there. She has one of those tiny vacuums that all the Nihonjins have and although it has wheels, she assigned B-shimai to vacuum and me to....hold the vacuum. The whole time. For all three floors of her house. And she supervised it. So all in all it was a 3-person vacuuming job. It was definitely one of my favorite member visits of all time.
SO Allison told me my letters weren't detailed enough; so here was my attempt at a beefier letter:) Have a great week, remember your dear friend turning twenty in Japan tomorrow, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I look forward to being able to Skype with you, and I'll bring the uke and show you I've learned more than just Japanese out here serving the Lord:)
Love you much!