Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 17: Full of gratitude for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary.

What an amazing week it has been. Heavenly Father has definitely been blessing us. He is in the work here in Tsuyama, and I am so grateful to be able to see and feel all of the changes that are happening here. This week I have had so many experiences that helped me to know that Heavenly Father is proud of me, and that I am doing the right things. It really is amazing. I love being a missionary. I love feeling like my will is alligned with His. There have been so many moments where I have been frustrated that I can't do everything that I want, especially when we can't ride our bikes as often as I want, or when we have to go in for the day sooner than I want. Or when a lot of our investigators tell us that they are really busy right now, and to call them in October. But then I remember that this is not my work. This is the Lord's work, and I am simply an instrument in his hands. When I get frustrated that I can't do everything right now, I remember that I still have my whole mission ahead of me, and right now I need to help serve those around me, and be full of charity and compassion. I really love serving with McLaughlin Shimai, even when her knees hurt, and we have to take it easy. I am grateful for the patience that I have been able to work on developing. I am grateful that I am able to help serve her. The Lord has really blessed us since her knees started to really hurt. We have been able to help strengthen the branch members. We have been able to focus more on the quality of our lessons rather than on the quantity. Sometimes Heavenly Father takes away one thing so that he can give us something else. Something much better than we could ever imagine. I am grateful for His love and guidance. I know that there is no way I could do any of this without Him.

Tsuyama is so beautiful. This is a river that we bike next to every day.

This past week, we were told by the Young Womens president of a way that we could help one of the youth in our branch. S (one of the triplets - one of the ones we studied PMG with last week) had her undo taikai (kind of like field day), and her family wasn't going to be able to make it. We thought about it, and felt like it was something that we should go to. We knew that two of the youth would be there, as well as two of our potential investigators. After asking Akagi Choro, the district leader, if it would be okay to go, we went and were able to help support them. We knew that it would mean a lot to S for us to be there, for someone to show that they cared and that she was important. We weren't able to stay the whole time, because we had an appointment, but we stayed for what we could, and then stoped by when it ended to say hi. I have never seen someone more grateful and appreciative that I did at the moment. Her smile was filled with so much love and joy, and I was so grateful that we were able to make a difference in her life. We were so happy to see her at church yesterday! She doesn't always come, and when she does she always looks like it was a fight to get her there. This time though, she looked happy and looked like she wanted to be there. It was so amazing to see how just showing her charity over these last couple of weeks has really made a difference.
 Undo taikai (it might just be undo kai... I don't actually remember)
 S is the one that is almost horizontal.

 One of the games/events at the undo taikai where they throw these tennis balls into the basket.

The branch has also changed. As I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, I was thinking about all the things that have changed since I first got here 9 weeks ago. I remember when I first got here, everyone was just so overwhelmed, and they just looked so tired. Slowly, over the last coulple of weeks more and more people have started smiling. They have started teaching more by the spirit. They have been more willing to serve. They have more of a desire to share the gospel. It is amazing, and I can't help but feel so much gratitude to Heavenly Father for helping us to make a difference in their lives. The members were all so happy yesterday, and they all taught by the spirit, something that doesn't always happen. It is amazing to see! Last night as I was praying and then as I was going to bed, I was filled with so much gratitude for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary, to serve a mission and change the lives of those I meet and teach.

Sunrise on the way to the Mission Conference in Okayama.

We had another really amazing thing happen this week. While were were on the way home from the Mission Conferenceon Tuesday (Elder Ringwood came for a mission conference), we were coming home much later than normal. Usually we would be teaching Eikaiwa at the time that we got back to Tsuyama. While on the way home from the train station, we came to a stoplight. There was a young man at the stoplight and we said hi, like we always do. This time though, something was different. He took out his headphones, and started talking to us. He asked what we had done that day, and McLaughlin Shimai was able to tell them about the conference and about why we were here in Japan. At one point, he asked us if people ever reject us. We told him of course, but the message that we share means so much to us that we keep sharing it anyway. After teaching him a little bit about how the gospel can help him, we asked if he wanted to learn more. He told us yes, and he said that he even wanted to come to church on Sunday. That night though, he told us that he couldn't go because his parents said that they were Budhist. He said that he still wanted to learn more though and meet with us. We were able to meet with him after church yesterday. We brought one of the young women with us, one that really wants to serve a mission. As we were teaching him, he willingly accepted everything. He has so much faith, and wants to know how he can become a better person and how he can know that he is doing what is right. He is filled with so much of the light of Christ. We taught him about Heavenly Father, and about Prayer. When he prayed, he said that he was grateful for the opportunity that he had to learn about Heavenly Father. He has such a strong desire to learn the truth. It is amazing to see in such a young man, he is only 16. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father helped our paths to cross.

Beautiful Island Sunset

Things are changing here in Tsuyama. It's an amazing thing to be a part of. The time keeps flying! I can't believe that I have already been here for 9 weeks! And that I have been on my mission for 4 months. At this rate my mission is going to be over before I know it! I am trying my best to hold on to every moment, and not let it pass me by. I have never been happier in my life. Being a missionary and helping to change people's lives is the best thing. I am so grateful. It is amazing how many things we have to be grateful to, if we just take the time to look and to really have an attitude of gratitude. When I think about all the things that there are to be grateful, it helps to outweigh the things that are hard and cause frustration. So this week, remember to always seek for an attitude of gratitude. Not only will you find a lot of things to be grateful for, you will also feel happier and more positive. I know that this church is true. I have never been happier in my life than I am when I am doing my best to follow Jesus Christ, and become more like Him. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission, and for all of your love and your support.

I love you all, and pray for you every day. You are truly amazing.

Robertson Shimai 

 Kappa - weird little turtle demon scary things (but sometimes they are cute)?

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