I have never prayed so hard or so often in my life. I have never worked so hard either. Or given so much of myself before. Last week we weren't sure whether or not H and M could be baptized this week (on). (December 23) we had a Christmas Taikai (conference) in Okayama. We got to spend time with Welch Kaichou and Welch Shimai. There was also a talent show, and we got to watch the end of the year slideshow. It was a lot of fun, and we were able to stop worrying about all of the really hard things, at least for a little while. As Welch Kaichou was talking to us about Christ, and about the true meaning of Christmas, my heart just felt so heavy. I knew that everything he was saying was true, but all of the frustrations that I had pushed aside for a couple of hours came rushing back. All I could think, is "how are we going to do this? How is He going to help us do this? I know that H and M are ready, but there are still so many obstacles in the way." As I sat there, I tried my best to not think to much about it. To just allow the spirit to touch my heart, and to remember the birth of my Savior.
After the Taikai was over, and once most everyone had left, we decided that we needed to talk to Welch Kaichou. That maybe he would know what we should do. As we talked to him, I felt peace in my heart. He reminded us that sometimes miracles break rules. When Moses parted the Red Sea, the rules of man were broken. When Jesus walked on water, and healed the sick, and fed 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, the rules of men were broken. Sometimes for miracles to happen, the things that we put restrictions on and set rules for don't always apply. So, although in almost all cases it is much better for our investigators to be coming to church everyfor at least three weeks, that does not always apply to miracles. With that new found reassurance, we headed home with a resolve to do everything in our power to help them to be ready to be baptized on the 30th.
On the train home we got to talk with this little family, and share with them about the birth of our Savior. And then we headed to H and M's house as soon as we got back. We went over, ready to teach them, and then we were thrown for another loop. M was feeling really sick, so we weren't able to teach them, but we followed up with them about our last lesson, and prayed with them. We also gave M her own Book of Mormon (since we only had one with us when we taught them a few days before). When we got home, neither Howden Shimai or I knew what to do, so we did what we always do when we are lost, or confused, or in need of some guidance and direction. We prayed, and although we still didn't know how, we knew that it would all work out, and that they are still ready.
The next day, as we were praying before we headed out the door, we got a text from H, but because it was in Kanji, we couldn't read it all. So, we hoped and prayed that she wasn't telling us not to come. We met up with the Elders, and then asked a Nihonjin (Japanese person) to read it for us. As they did, it was exactly what we thought. H wasn't going to be home because S (her grandson was sick - last week he was in the hospital with RSV). We felt like maybe we should just go and check to see if at least M was home, since she was the one who needed the blessing. But, she wasn't there either. So, we sent the elders on their way, and sat there outside H and M's house. I was filled with so much stress and frustration and disappointment that once again they weren't there, and another obstacle was being thrown in their way to keep them from being baptized (this has been something we have struggled with ever since we started teaching them. At first they were just busy, and then people would get sick, and just thing after thing, and trial after trial). As we sat there and prayed and cried and tried so hard to know what we needed to do, M pulled up. As we talked to her, she looked terrible. She was so sick, and we felt so bad. We asked her if the Elders could come over and give her a blessing, and she said although she wanted one, now was really not a good time. That she had a fever, and felt awful, and just wanted to sleep. So we told her that we were praying for her, and that we loved her.
That night, H texted us saying that she had taken M to the hospital, and asked if we could pray for her. I have never seen someone so tried and tested before. The more and more they learn, and the closer and closer they get to being baptized, Satan just throws more and more obstacles in the way. We know that God must have some really big plans for H and M, because of just how hard Satan is trying to stop them. From the little that we have seen, we know that a lot of people will join the church because of H and M. They will have such a powerful influence on so many people.
I have never prayed so much in my life, and there have been so many times that I just wanted to give up. Why is the 30th so important? Why do they need to be baptized now? But every time I think that I am reminded that everything will be okay. We just need to do everything that we can, and hope and pray, and have faith that Heavenly Father can make up the rest. So, although we are still in the middle of this trial, we know that it always gets hard right before the miracle. The witness comes only after the trial of our faith, and we know that no matter what happens, it will be according to Heavenly Father's plan. And despite how hard this week has been, I know that I have also grown so much.
I love you all so much, and I hope that you have a Happy New Year.
Love and Prayers,
Our futons, and Christmas ornaments :)