It's been another great week. We still aren't able to get out and do as much as I would like,(with McLaughlin Shimai's knees we have had to take it a little bit easy, but we are still working hard) but I feel like we are following the spirit, and trying to align what we do with Heavenly Father's will, and plan for Tsuyama. This week we had a lot of experiences with the members. For the last couple of weeks we have been feeling like we really needed to do something for a couple of the members in our branch. For whatever reason things just weren't working, and we weren't able to do anything with them. This past week though, we were finally able to visit with four different members.
One of the members we felt prompted to visit was I Shimai. We were able to make plans, and another member even offered to drive us, because she lives on the far end of our area. On our way H Shimai asked why we wanted to visit her. She thought maybe it was because of her non member husband. When we told her that we just wanted to visit her because we felt like we needed to, she seemed so surprised. I just kept thinking, because she is a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. Why not visit her? Once we got there, she was so excited to meet with us. As we were visiting, she told us that no one had ever visited her before. We were so happy that we could help be instruments in Heavenly Father's hands in helping her to feel loved and important. She has been a member since she was in her twenties, and she is now in her seventies. We also learned that she is married, and that her husband isn't a member. He also has a bad view of the church because people would always schedule an appointment to visit them, but they never came. She drives about an hour to church all by herself every . And in the Winter she can't come because her Husband is afraid of her driving in the snow. She is such a strong member, and since she was baptized, she has been active. She is amazing. I love her, and through spending time with her, I was able to feel so much charity for her. She was so grateful and happy for the time that we took out of our day to go and visit her. When we saw her at church yesterday, she looked even happier. I love seeing smiles on the members faces.
McLaughlin Shimai making some of the cheesecake
The youth here are so wonderful, and we know that as they can be a great strength to the Tsuyama branch. M, M, and S are 17, and they are all thinking about serving missions. We felt like maybe they would enjoy studying a little bit from Preach My Gospel with us, and getting the chance to ask us some questions about missionary work, and being a missionary. We only expected M to come, but S came as well. As we were talking and studying with them, we asked if they had any questions for us. S asked some really great questions, like how do you find people to teach? How do you talk to them? How do you talk to your friends about the gospel? And then M asked how she could start preparing now to serve a mission. They are such wonderful girls, and I know that they are going to help so many people. They have such a desire to serve, and to help those around them, they just need a lot of love and direction. We were so grateful to be able to help them at least a little.
S, Miku Shimai (McLaughlin Shimai), M, and Roboto Shimai (me)
(I, MOM, think that this is M and S, two of the triplets, and that apparently they call McLaughlin Shimai, Miku Shimai - I am guessing McLaughlin is sort of a mouthful in Japanese) :)
I love working with the members. Sometimes, I think we forget just how much they need to be loved and uplifted as well. Since being in Tsuyama, I have had so many opportunities to strengthen and uplift the members. Even if it was just with a smile and a simple heartfelt testimony. We have already seen this branch grow so much, and the members are starting to smile more and more. It really helped me to feel like we are making a difference here.
I am so grateful to be in Tsuyama. I have learned so much, and I grown more than I could ever imagine (and I know there is still so much more growing to do). Japanese is still hard, in fact it's really hard sometimes. Yesterday the zone leaders called for follow-up, and I knew the they were going to want to talk to me in Japanese. As I was on the phone with Mizuguchi Choro, I barely understood what he was saying, and I couldn't even turn to my companion to ask for help. I had to have him repeat everything he said so many times. When he asked how inviting people to church was going, I tried to explain that we always invite, but no one ever comes. He told me that we needed to talk to and invite everyone. Then I asked how you could get them to actually come, and he said that we needed to talk to and invite anyone. It was so frustrating because my Japanese is not that great, and his English isn't that great. We were just both saying the same thing over and over again. Right as we were hanging up he said, I am trying to learn English. Please learn Japanese. (He said that part all in broken English). I knew he was just trying to say let's learn together, but I was already so frustrated that I as soon as I said bye, they tears started falling. Japanese is still really hard, and really frustrating, but when I don't think about it, and I just think about all the people here, and how much Heavenly Father loves them, it makes it easier. And sometimes I just let myself get frustrated for a couple a minutes, and then I pull myself back together and get back to work. There are people here for me to help, and focusing on myself isn't going to help anyone.
If I have learned anything, it is that when you focus on yourself, that is when things get really hard. That is when you start to feel the most inadequate. But, when you turn out, and focus on serving those around you, that is when things get easier. That is when I love being a missionary the most, when I start to look at people the way that Heavenly Father sees them. So when things get really hard, turn out. Take a couple minutes to be frustrated, and then get out and serve others. Think about their worth, and how Heavenly Father sees them. I promise that it will help make things more manageable. It may not fix it, but it will help your attitude and the way you look at the situation change. As someone really wise once told me, you chose to be happy. So chose to be happy. Chose to turn out and not let yourself get in the way.
I love you all so much, and I pray for you everyday. Look up, and smile, because you are a son/daughter of God. And he loves you more than you can know.