Kobe, Japan

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 23 - Things We Can't Do

Okay, let`s be clear...my Spanish is just as bad as my Japanese. So at this point I am not speaking English, Spanish, or Japanese very well at all. I`m just a mess! 
A contrast in study areas. Notice Sister Colter’s clock, book, pencils and tissue box neatly arranged while my lotions, creams, pics and puffs are strewn under my ninja turtle feet-like socks (a gift from the bishop).
Anime is huge here -- even the “Beware of Cat, Rhinoceros, Chicken & Alligator” signs are in anime! That’s not really what the sign says, I just thought it was cute.
Really though, it`s fun teaching the gospel in other languages because no matter what the language, the gospel is the same. The spirit is felt whether you string a broken sentence of Spanish, or a broken sentence of Japanese, together. I have always known how important the Holy Ghost is, but being a missionary I really have come to know that He`s the only way we can accomplish what we`re sent here to do. He takes our broken words and pieces them back together for those who are listening, then carries the message to their hearts, which is something we missionaries can`t do.

This past week I thought a lot about things we can do and things we can`t do. Missionaries can`t make the gospel click in someone`s mind. We can teach what needs to be taught, but we can`t make anyone accept the gospel. We can work hard everyday and use every resource available to find those who are searching for truth, but we cannot make them give us their numbers or compel them to let us visit on another day that`s more convenient. For example, every Saturday when we proselyte, we invite everyone we come in contact with, to come to church the next day, whether they are interested or not. We can`t force those strangers on the street to show up at sacrament meeting. It comes down to how someone chooses to exercise their free agency. I do know that with the help of the Holy Ghost every single person can feel the happiness that comes from us and our broken Japanese, then I can pray and work hard, and hope their choices will lead them to desire what makes us happy: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Last week I told you about finding at Biwa-ko (or Lake Biwa in English, or El Lago Biwa in Spanish. lol). While there, we were saying hi to people and doing what we do best, which is pet everyone`s dog, tell them their kids and their dogs are cute, and hopefully spark a conversation. I know it`s hard to believe, but sometimes people just plain ignore us. And that is not easy to do! We`re the tallest people on the street and we`re gaijin so we stick out like crazy.
Sister Colter & Sister Heimuli
But when people see our name tags and that it says Christ`s name on it, sometimes I see them purposely crossing the street just to avoid us. Last week this guy was riding his bike towards us, saw our tags, literally jumped off his bike, and tried to quickly turn it around to start biking back the way he had just come! It was funny. He was old so it took him a lot longer to get back on his bike…we decided to just stand there awkwardly, then we bowed, smiled and said hello – of course he just ignored us. Then we stood there some more, just looking at him while he tried to get back onto his bike.
Afterwards, we started walking towards the mall to find more people to ignore us, jk, to find more people to talk to. When we rounded a corner, this really nice guy who had been checking out the lake, turned around and started speaking a little bit of english to us. We were shocked! Not so much that he spoke English, but more because he was speaking to us! We started talking to him and he began telling us that he has a friend who lives in Utah and she`s a Mormon. We asked him if he`d like to learn more and he said yes! He gave us his meshi, which is huge because people here don`t like you to know their name, let alone their number, email address, and home address. He`s probably in his 50`s and he`s a really cool guy. We laughed, joked around, talked about his beliefs and invited him to church the next day. He accepted and we parted ways. So like I said before, we can`t make people come to church…but the next day at exactly 10 o`clock he walked in! After Sacrament meeting, we set up another appointment to meet with him later that week. We did meet with him again and he wanted to learn more. We invited him to church again, and he came yesterday! We taught him about God and gave a simple explanation of how important the Sacrament is and why we partake of it. I am so thankful that when we teach him his heart is so open. He`s definitely one of those people whom God has prepared, `...mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts...` D&C 29:7. He is now our new investigator, one of two from last week. He actually just sent us a message this morning while we were shopping that said he`s learned so much from us already, and that even though we`re young he believes the older generations have a lot to learn from the younger ones.

I know that people like him are the reason why I am here, why I wake up before the sun comes up just to study, and why I struggle and experience a little bit of humiliation due to my lack of language ability. Thanks to the Holy Ghost, he was prepared, we were led to him at Biwako, and he`s getting a little taste of the happiness that comes from this gospel. I know that when we missionaries work together with the Holy Ghost, when we`ve figured out our roles, we are able to find the Lord`s elect and bring them home `...to that God that gave them life.` Alma 40:11.
The Holy Ghost has been a huge blessing to me in my short 2 weeks of being here in Otsu. I am so grateful for His guidance. I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who loves me enough to send the Holy Ghost to help me. I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who loves my investigator enough to give him this opportunity to experience the joy we find in this gospel. Our work is far from done, however, I know the Lord will continue to bless us through our diligence as He prepares the hearts of those He wants us to find.

I love this gospel! Like I said before, it doesn`t matter what language you speak – with the gospel, it`s all the same. Our Heavenly Father promises us the same blessings in English as he does in Japanese and in Spanish. And as you endure through this life, He promises that one day you will `...sit down in the kingdom of your father; yea, and your joy shall be full...` Keep choosing the right. Keep doing the things that will help you keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost…and this promise will be your reward. There`s nothing I want more than for my brothers and sisters here to enjoy these same blessings, too. I`m excited to see how this next week unfolds and to meet those whom the Lord has prepared for us this coming week!
Love always,
Sister Heimuli

(Below) New Year's Eve pics of Matsumoto shimai (one of my favorite ladies!) patiently helping me don a kimono.

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