Kobe, Japan

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 37 - Happy Birthday Baby

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABYYYYYY!!!! It`s April 21st here in Japan. I know it`s not your bday yet in Utah but hey, I`m already celebrating it for you! I sent you a few birthday presents, I was hoping they would come by now but maybe you`ll get them later this week. 
As soon as Harrison read his sister's letter -- LATE Sunday night -- he ran to check the mail...yesss
I love you baby boy, and I can`t believe you`re 9 already!!!! I still remember the day you were born and holding you in my jacket because you were so little. Now you`re bigger than me! What a great time to have a birthday, after the celebration of Christ`s resurrection, Easter Sunday. It`s really sad, here in Japan they don`t celebrate Easter. But yesterday there was a baptism of a little boy in our ward so there`s nothing better than seeing a baptism on Easter!

Well this week was crazy busy! We had interviews, and went on exchanges (my first one ever!) and we`ve been working with our investigator who should be getting baptized soon so it seems like there`s just never any time! Thursday to Friday night I went on my first exchange. The Sister Training Leaders slept over our apartment and I was companions with Uryu Shimai who is from Tokyo. It was so nice to be with a Nihonjin and just speak and hear japanese for a whole 24 hours.

Uryu Shimai
Even though I struggle to say simple things, I really do love this language! We taught a lot of lessons but I learned 2 really important things from that exchange: 1. Love everyone no matter what setting they`re in, and 2. The key to a powerfully spiritual lesson.

1. As we were walking the streets we had 20 minutes to find while we were on our way to an appointment. We passed a little convenience store and this younger man was just standing outside smoking a cigarette, kind of lost in thought. As we passed, Uryu shimai said really loudly, `Hello! We are missionaries and we talk to people about things we do at church. Have you ever wondered what church is like?` He said, shocked, `Yeah, I guess.` She said, `Great! We missionaries are at the church everyday, so come next week. Bring friends that like to learn English and we`ll introduce you to our 2 friends (the elders).` He agreed and took our little flyer with information about the church on it. I was shocked because my trainers always told me not to approach people who were smoking because there`s `no way the spirit can testify if you are in that enviornment` but those couple minutes of talking to that man played over and over again in my head. I came to realize that it doesn`t matter what setting they`re in -- we are missionaries, we are members of God`s true church, we always have the spirit with us. They are children of God, and He loves them whether or not they`re smoking a cigarette, or sitting in the chapel. He loves us all equally and nothing can change that. As she contacted people, something just lit up in their eyes when she talked to them because she really made them feel her love, and God`s love, even right there in the middle of the street. It was really humbling to know that there`s so much I can improve on even though I am already half way into my mission.

2. We taught a lot of lessons within those 24 hours which is good! In 2 of those lessons we invited 2 investigators to baptism and they accepted. But the hours leading up to those lessons were full of me calling everyone in our phone and our address book, trying to find members to sit in on the lesson. Those stressful calls paid off because their testimonies really invited the spirit and helped our investigators realize that this isn`t just an American thing...the gospel is for all of God`s children. Sometimes investigators say, `Well, if I was American, I would believe in God.` or `If I was American, I would be happy.` It was a blessing to have our members there who are japanese and could sincerely testify to them that the gospel can help anyone and everyone.

At the end of exchanges the sister training leaders did a final overview with us -- things we liked, things we didn`t like, how we could improve. Uryu shimai pointed out to me that the members are the key to creating a spiritual experience for investigators. I love our investigators so much, I would do anything to help them receive the gospel. And I`ve finally learned the key! It`s all in the members!

The exchange was a huge eye opener for me. I learned a million other things but those 2 things stuck out to me the most. It`s amazing how we can really get a lot out of General Conference, church meetings and, as missionaries, exchanges -- if we humble ourselves and look at the big picture. This work isn`t about me and what I came to the mission being able to do. It`s about the Lord, and learning the things the Lord needs me to learn in order to bless people`s lives. I know we watched conference about 2 weeks ago but some of us are probably already falling out of our good habits we were so determined to pursue after hearing the words of the prophets. I can promise you that the tiniest bit of effort goes a long way! Keep striving for worthy goals and keep doing what`s right even though it seems like it isn`t helping you. I promise you, it is!

Thank you for all the prayers and all the time and money spent in my behalf. I love you all and hope you had a truly inspiring and uplifting Easter weekend! The Lord Jesus Christ lives.  He loves each and everyone of us. I feel that love everyday, I can`t deny He lives. Happy Easter everyone!


Sister Heimuli

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