Kobe, Japan

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week 22 - The Big Picture

I have been called to serve in the Japan Kobe Spanish speaking mission...no, but really. My first lesson taught in Otsu was all in Spanish! My new companion is a 4th transfer, Sister Colter. She`s from Orem, went to MIT and she`s super smart. She speaks Spanish fluently and most of our investigators are Spanish speakers. She`s exactly what they need. I was so nervous to teach in Spanish but I did it. And I sounded weird. Though I have to say it was a lot easier teaching in Spanish than in Japanese! Our investigator is a really shy 17 year old from Peru. He and his family live across this huge lake called Biwa-ko. Lake Biwa is beautiful.
The Prince Hotel - I took this while riding my bike on the edge of the lake.
As we were riding our bikes across the bridge, I looked to my left and saw this small canal in which people were fishing. The sun was setting behind it. I remember thinking that it was so pretty right there in that golden canal. Then I looked to my right, and that`s where the REAL beauty was! This lake is massive! You know how much I love water. When I realized there was more blue on the ground than in the sky, I freaked! Hallelujah! There is a huge white boat called the Michigan just that floats around on the lake. There`s a shore line crawling with dozens of jobbers and families. Absolutely breathtaking. The pretty little canal made me ponder about how sometimes we`re so caught up with what we think is good, that we settle. When really, if we just step back and change our perspective a little bit, we find there`s waaaay more we are missing out on! `...time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers...` Jacob 7:26. What a blessing it is to know that we don`t have to feel like wanderers. We have the whole picture. We may merely need to make that effort to change, just a little bit, in order to be able to see the big picture.

Here in Otsu there are millions of tiny hills, so we have to basically have to bike up a mountain in order to get to the church. We study at the church every morning so I`ve decided not to worry about working out in the mornings anymore, haha. Otsu is a beautiful city hidden up in the mountains. It is so cold and so dry here! 

Even though it's been snowing, the flowers still bloom. If they can do it, I can, too!

Snow on palm trees?  What the weird?

Temple in Otsu, about a 45-minute bike ride for us!
My first couple days here were rough as I tried getting used to biking uphill every single time we left our apartment. This area is fairly new for sisters. My companion opened this area 2 transfers ago when she was a new transfer, which is great, because everything we have here is new! New apartment, new bikes, new dishes...it`s wonderful. When I arrived in Otsu we immediately began planning for our investigators. That`s when my comp broke the news that we will be teaching mostly in Spanish. I figured the Lord is probably trying to teach me something: He loves His Spanish-speaking children here in Japan just as much as He loves His Japanese-speaking children. Us English-speaking children? Maybe not so much…because He keeps torturing me by having me try to learn all these languages, haha. Amazing though…I thought about how I really wanted to be called to a Spanish speaking mission like Hema and Helam, and how they both guessed I would go Spanish speaking, remember? When I opened my call and saw that Harrison was the only one who guessed correctly, I wondered if the boys were bummed that I wasn`t going to speak Spanish. And look what happened! Regardless of the hills, mountains, language(s) or the freezing cold here in Otsu, I`m here to do exactly what I was called to do in Akashi: preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all those who will hear it.
We met 2 adorable ladies this morning. They are Jehovah`s Witnesses but they`ve really come to like us gaijin. I got the feeling they were probably trying to dendo us as much as we were trying to dendo them. But as I sat there and listened to their testimonies about why they believe what they believe, and how hard it is to talk to people about religion, I really started to count my blessings that we have the Holy Ghost to guide us and help us. These women told us about how difficult it was to share their message door to door and I told them I could totally relate! But it was sad for me to think that they are preaching something that will only last on this earth. `...spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness...a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.` Alma 40:12  The gospel of Jesus Christ makes it possible for our happiness to be perpetuated beyond the grave. THAT is the big picture.
Sometimes I meet missionaries who are miserable…they work themselves to craziness! I’m not sure why. Our gospel is one of hope. We share a happy message! With the gospel, we don`t have to wander. We don`t have to pass our days wondering if this is all there is. We can enjoy a full life because of the simple knowledge that comes from the gospel. Everything in this life that most people think brings them happiness has an expiration date. But not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the millions of hills I have to bike up every day, I really do love Otsu. I love that I can see the great big beautiful Lake Biwa from our balcony and I love that there are more of God`s children here who are ready to finally see the big picture.
It`s the beginning of a new year! 2014...woohoooooooo!!! No, we didn`t do anything on New Year`s, we just worked. As the year begins we always make resolutions that we usually quit working towards by the end of February. But let`s not forget the big picture this year. Always remember how special this gospel is and recognize the blessings we receive from merely knowing about it. I love that I can write 2014 now. This year`s ganna be AWESOME!
All the way from Japan,
The Chick with the Rice Cheeks,
Sistah Heimuli

PS. Here are a few pics from Christmas in Akashi. Will send you one of me & Sister Colter soon!

Ellefsen Shimai, Steers Choro, me & investigator

My adorable Akashi companion...miss her!

Ellefsen Shimai, investigator, Giles Choro (from Woods Cross) & Santa Shimai

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