So this week was kind of funny but awesome.
We have been trying to look for young people to teach so we have been thinking about young people-where are they? So we biked over to a nearby college, Utsunomiya Daigako to try to make some new friends. We started chatting with two girls Cece from Estonia and Hannah from the Czech Republic and they were very nice and seemed really interested in us too. They were just on their way to grab a chocolate brownie, apparently not sold in other stores so we asked if could come along. We all rode bikes a few minutes away and had a nice chat along the way. I really thought these were our new best friends. We asked if we could share a message with them and they said yes! We were so excited, Cece happily pointed out to us when we arrived at the little market all sorts of things, international. She showed us the chocolate cake, and so we felt obligated to buy it. I think me and Sister Hunsaker were thinking we were going to a small cafe where we could just get a small brownie and chat away, but this was an entire 12 piece cake. But me and Sister Hunsaker felt bad that this girl was so excited about the cake, so maybe we should buy it. It was about 12 dollars, a little more than a brownie but we thought maybe this is a small price to pay for our new friends. Anyway, then we come out of the little store after paying and the girls suddenly say, actually we have to go now, we are late for an appointment, and people from our country by the way, we don't really do church it's not our thing. I felt kind of sad but then I remembered that no effort is ever wasted. So then it was just me, Sister Hunsaker and the chocolate cake. After that we still had a whole day of Dendo ahead of us so we carried the chocolate cake around and used it as an example. One girl asked us "why did you come to Japan on a mission?" We were able to hold the cake up and tell her we feel so much joy in having the gospel we want to share it, like the chocolate cake ...-by the way would you like a piece? We told her that if we had this cake all to ourselves, it wouldn't be very fun, it's much better to share. We were able to give away a Book of Mormon to this girl, Satoko and share our testimonies with her so that was special.
Another funny thing that happened is when I was teaching English class this week, the topic was clothes, and the vocabulary word was 'pockets'. I asked my class, "what do people usually carry in their pockets?" People pulled out normal things, change, keys, I look at Hayakawa-san and he pulls out numchucks. And he was swinging them around like he knew how to use them. I asked why in the world he had such a thing in his pocket. He said he was bit in the backside by a German Sheperd in Shibuya so ever since he is prepared. ha ha. Me and SisterHunsaker had a good laugh about it. His new baptismal date is for June 9th. We hope he can make it. He is working really hard on his Book of Mormon reading and praying everyday. At church we felt so proud of him when he came to church in his white shirt and tie. He has a sad story. He was married for 30 years and his wife and 3 daughters left him and he told us this week that none of his family talks to him anymore, so he loves coming to church and feeling like he is part of a family here. He has come such a long way and when he prays, even though it is so simple like a child there is no dought it is done with real intent. This week the Bishop and his wife and a member from Oyama came (who was also divorced and recently remarried) sat in on Hayakawa-san's lesson and they all said what a pure heart Hayakawa has. He really wants to turn a new page in his life. He is really looking forward to his baptism and he even said in Gospel Doctrine class that "our goal is to get to the celestial kingdom and it's like climbing a mountain. We have to prepare for many things, weather, what we will eat, what we will wear, we have to practice climbing smaller mountains, but when we get to the top, we cannot remember all the difficult things because the view is so beautiful". We were so proud of him and the progress he has made since we started teaching him. It has been really incredible to see.
Another miracle that happened this week, is this man we met while passing out Eikaiwa flyers, he has been coming to our English class faithfully. Every week I invite him to church and every week he says no that he can't because he goes out drinking every Saturday night so Sunday mornings don't work. This Wednesday he was at English class early and we were chatting and he said "I don't want to live like this anymore. I want to stop drinking but I don't know how". I told Luxman that if you start coming to church, and we can start teaching you, you will be able to stop." He said yes! So he had his first lesson on Saturday, and during it he said that if he can stop he wants to be baptized.
This week I went on exchanges to Kiryu. It is really green there and lots of hills, it is beautiful. I was companions with Sister Wylie, we were in the MTC together too. The first lesson we taught together, we come to the house and these two men, both new converts, have these two giant guns pointed right at us from the doorway. It gave me a fright at first, but then Sister Wylie said it's okay that they are just beebee guns and these two men are the most kind gentle people. Hayatsu-san is very nice and even insisted I take a look through to see the target. He is a really interesting guy. He had pictures of himself doing stunts on his motorcycle and his job is taking pictures of deceased people. His wife is not a member but she was kind enough after a little convincing to let us teach her with them so we could have a woman there with us. Later we visited the Sekiguchis. They are less actives for 10 years. The Shimai was just diagnosed with cancer in her throat and looked very worried. I told her that my Grandma had cancer three times and lived to be almost 100 and that it would be okay because God has a plan for her life. I was really impressed to share with her a scripture in Moroni . This section talks about how Christ ascended into Heaven, but "have miracles ceased? I say unto you nay!" I told her that just because we can't see Christ, it doesn't mean he can't work miracles in her life. They both seemed very touched by this. They had old Mormon Kays so I gave them my Book of Mormon and the Shimai said she had been thinking lately she wanted to reread the whole Book of Mormon over again. After we left Wylie Shimai said that was the first time they have been receptive to reading scritpures together. It was such a wonderful feeling to be able to be there with them. Recently I really feel so strongly God's love for his children, I feel like I can see them how God sees them and how much God loves every single one of his children and knows their situations perfectly. Every soul is precious and worth saving.
I have been thinking a lot about making everyday count. Every day I just want to make people happy. This week we met a lady named Yamazaki-san, she lives in our apartment complex and we met her in the elevator, she invited us over and taught us origami and we shared a message about how Heavenly Father is our creator and he knows all the answers to all things. I couldn't help but notice her radio was on the whole time we were there until we asked if we could turn it off to pray. She said she is lonely so she just likes the noise. She said she belives in God but is hesitant to join a church so she wants to learn just at her house for now. Nonetheless, she said she knew God lives because he allowed us to be guided to each other. I could see her as we left just have a new light about her.
I really feel like everyone is hurting in someway, most people are just lonely and they are trying to fill a hole with things that don't last, like Luxman fills his Saturdays with drinks, or howYamazaki fills her empty house with the radio. I truly know that the only way we can have true joy is through living the gospel. I want to work hard every single day to help people feel happy and close to their Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father's work is done in small steps, but like Hayakawa-san said in church, when you get to the top of the mountain, you can't even remember why it was so hard because the end result is so beautiful. Being close to Heavenly Father is worth everything. If we stay close to him, we will always be happy.
Lots of love,