This week has been wonderful. I feel like I grow so much with every passing week. I can't believe that I have been in Japan for a whole transfer. Time has truly flown! It's been hard, but it has also been so worth it. This past week, so many things happened. I was able to go on a kokan with one of the sister training leaders. I went to Okayama for a couple of days (Wednesday night - morning) and Komai Shimai (the other sister training leader) went to Tsuyama. I was able to learn so much, both about myself and about missionary work. After I got home though, I realized just how grateful I was for my companion, and for Tsuyama. We also had Zone Training meeting in Okayama morning. Welch Kaicho and Welch Shimai (Mission President and his wife) came. It was so nice having them there, and helped bring a special spirit into our meeting. 1. My first kokan. :)
After both my kokan, and Zone Training Meeting, I have really been working on becoming both the missionary that I would like to be, and the person I want to be by the time I go home. I have a whole mission in front of me, and time is already going so fast, that I don't want to waste a minute. I have also been focusing on goals that will help me to achieve my vision. One of those goals is truly trusting in God. Today as I was studying in Preach My Gospel, I came across the section about Hope (6 Christlike Attributes). "Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you." Before, I had never really connected hope and trust like that. I have been struggling with my confidence recently, especially when it comes to Japanese. There was one day where I felt like a whole transfer had gone by and I had nothing to show for it. I felt like my Japanese was the exact same as when I first got to Japan. After reflecting back on the last 6 weeks though, I know that I have improved. My Japanese is a lot better than what it was when I first got here. I can even talk to some people with out really thinking about it. When I pray, I can say more of what I want to say, and I don't struggle finding the right words. So, even though I may not be where I want to be, I know I have improved, and Heavenly Father has really been helping me. Something that Akagi Choro (my district leader) mentioned yesterday during follow up, was making sure that my expectations for myself don't exceed God's expectations for me. That is something that I definitely need to work on. Especially not being so hard on myself. In Alma 58:10-12, the first part of verse 12 says, "And we did take courage with our small force which we have received." I have been working on being grateful for the "small force" that I have received. I know so much more Japanese than I did when I first entered the MTC. I can actually talk with people, sure I struggle, but that is part of life. And I know that through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I can truly become the person that I want to be, and more importantly, that Heavenly Father knows I can become. I just need to be patient with myself, and rely on Him.
Work in Tsuyama is starting to pick up. We have been trying really hard to find while we are on our way to less active's houses. We still have plenty of room for improvement, but I can already see the effect it has had. Our branch members have also been much more supportive, and have gone to more of our less active appointments. It is amazing how much of a difference having a member there can make. We taught a lesson to one of the less actives that the sisters have been working with for about three months. Before, not a whole lot of progress was made. We felt like we needed to help remind him why he first was interested in meeting with the missionaries (before he was baptized). The thing that really drew him to the church, was Eternal Families. He wanted to be with his family forever. After he was baptized, life got difficult, and he slowly stopped coming to church. He forgot why he ever went. We decided to focus on an article in the April Liahona called "The Gate and The Path" which has a map of the ordinances we need to receive, and the things we need to do in order to receive Eternal Life, and be with our Families forever. As we began teaching, H Kyoudai, our doseki (member), was able to talk with him and help him remember and desire to receive Eternal Life and be with his family forever. The spirit was so strong as H Kyoudai testified, and helped S Kyoudai to understand what we were teaching him. He was also able to help clearly explain how we could help him. We were so grateful to have had H Kyoudai there. S Kyoudai was able to understand why we are here, and how we can help him. He was able to remember that desire, and even had the desire to do something about it. Members are so powerful, and I hope that after my mission, I will remember that, and do my best to continue being a member missionary. Sometimes, members are able to do so much more than we can ever do as missionaries.
This week, as you find things that you are struggling with, or feel like you aren't good enough at something, think about what you can do. What you are good at. I promise that as you do, you will feel so much peace and love. We really can do so much more than we give ourselves credit for sometimes. You are amazing sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. You have so much potential. Don't let the hard days, or weeks, or sometimes even months get you down. Remember who you are and what you can do, and then get back up. "The only failure is not trying." So, "never give up, never surrender." You are doing a lot better than you think. And you are worth more than you will ever know.
I love you all so very much, and I hope you have a wonderful week!
2. Sometimes we see weird things. Like a squash growing from a tree.
The squash was actually growing from a vine that had climbed up the tree, but I was a little bit confused when we first passed. I even made McLaughlin turn around and come back so she could see it.
The Inaka is so beautiful. I Love Tsuyama.3-4.