Lemonade stand

Dear family,

This week was hilarious and miraculous.

Sister Tan and I have been getting very hot and so has everyone out on the street, so  to cool everyone down we decided to have a free lemonade stand and attract people who were thirsty for the truth and a little drink.  It brought me back to my days of bake sales. It was really fun to try something new. I painted a sign and we made some lemonade (which no one drinks here) in the morning and we went out to our church parking lot by the main road to set up.  We discovered we had alot of items to transport, so we were looking in the church closet for how to transport our table and chairs, lemonade, and sign.  We were pleased to find a wheelchair which could allow us to load  it up and then one of us could sit in it conveniently and we would only have to bring one chair.  During the lemonade stand when things were slow Tan Shimaiwould sit in it, and we thought maybe people would at least feel bad for us and stop to take a drink.  It was actually quite successful.  When we would see someone walking or biking past, I would quickly fill up a cup of lemonade, and as they passed put it in their hand, and as they were drinking we would talk to them about the gospel and share scriptures with them from the Book of Mormon.  I think it was surprising/relaxing for most people.  When we set up one of our first customers Taro-san, a Jehovah's witness, came up to us with his English student, a young 10 year old boy.  Taro-san had a really positive energy about him and we exchanged ideas and phone numbers and set up an appointment to meet later in the week.  We also were able to give a copy of the Book of Mormon away to a young college girl too and pass out some English Flyers.  The lemonade stand was short lived but a success, so I think we will try it again sometime next week. 
  We had a zone meeting a few citys over in Oyama this week.  The Sisters are taking over the mission so our district leader, Elder Howard and his companion are way out numbered, the other 15 missionaries are sisters.  He is always saying how he is the Relief Society President, and it really does feel like Relief Society.  Someone is always cold and when they ask for suggestions we are always suggesting talking about feelings. We are all focusing on using the Book of Mormon in every contact which I love.  Afterward we went out to lunch and were very American pushing all the tables and chairs together.  
The greatest thing happened this week.  On the train ride home from Oyama I noticed a girl wearing a sun hat with flowers on it sitting one seat over from me. She looked so interesting I wanted to talk to her but there was a man in between us reading a Book and she was kind of dozing off. So I decided to moved next to Sister Tan sitting across from me and I started talking to someone else. Just as I switched spots the girl with the flowery sunhat got up and started getting off the train. I felt a pang of sadness because I never had a chance to talk to her. Without even thinking I felt my body jump up and before she could get out the door of the train, I quickly told her my name, put an English class flyer in her hand and said "Please call us". I wanted to tell her so much more or get her number, or even her name but I only had a few seconds, it was all I could do. I didn't know why but I really felt like I had to talk to her.
The next day, Wednesday night after English class we had three missed calls, I found out they were all from this same girl with the flower hat that I talked to for three seconds.  She introduced her self as Mika and told me she was so happy when I talked to her because she saw me on the train she had a feeling she wanted to talk to me and kept wondering to herself who I was. She said she thought I was a model or a flight attendant, but she didn't know why I would be all the way out here when there was no airport, but she was so happy when I stood up and talked to her.
My whole mission it is so rare that we tell someone to "please call us" and they actually do. We talked to Mika all week and invited her to church on Sunday and she came and had a great time. Lately I have been praying to be able to find all the people Heavenly Father wants me to find, and today sitting next to her I felt such a strong feeling of love for her.  I really feel like Mika is one of those special people Heavenly Father wanted me to meet. After church she got to know the members and we had lunch together. The members just loved her so much and she loved them. We asked one of the Sisters, Sister Hasegawa to join in her lesson, but so many people lovedMika, that five members all sat in on her lesson. It was wonderful because they were able to share their testimonies and how the gospel has blessed their lives.

Mika was so open and told us that she loves going to church, and that her parents really want to meet us too, because they are so happy that we make her so happy. She told us that her mom took her to the Catholic church a few times, and recently she has been sick so she sometimes goes to pray at the Catholic church and just goes there sometimes to think and to admire the stained glass. She told us during her lesson that three years ago something went wrong in her brain and she could no longer move her arms or speak, and she couldn't even breath on her own. She said at this time she thought she was going to die, but then she had this experience where she really felt God's spirit and she knows he saved her.  She has gradually recovered from her sickness, but ever since this time she knows God is real, and she feels he has given her a second chance at life. She said she can't just live life being satisfied with "Oh fewf, great I'm alive", she has to change and become better to her family and friends because she has this second chance. We told her the Joseph Smith story and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and told her that this is how Heavenly Father answers our prayers. She was really grateful to get a copy of the Book of Mormon and is so excited to read. She loved going to church and she said that what she likes about our church is that everyone takes the time to teach her and explain things to her. I was so grateful for the wonderful church members for welcoming her and helping her understand.  We are going to see her tomorrow and then again on Wednesday for English class. It makes me almost sick to think that if I didn't act on this prompting and take two seconds to get up and talk to her, that this amazing, prepared girl could have slipped off the train. Hasegawa Shimai said after Mika's lesson that she has been waiting for us to find her for a long time, I think so too. Being with the wonderful members in the lesson today, I felt assured that I can still be a missionary even when my time in Japan comes to an end, I promised myself I will always be inviting all my friends to church and to meet the missionaries. I never want to be the same after my mission.

Another wonderful miracle that we saw this week is our friend Fang who we met in the lightning storm last week, we met her husband this week. They took us out to lunch and we were able to teach them about the Plan of Salvation. Fang told us about her father passing away and we were able to reassure her of life after death. Her husband has read the entire Bible, and Koran and so we challenged him to read the Book of Mormon. They were both very grateful to have met us and she said in her lesson she said she is starting to believe that we were supposed to meet for a reason.

Our Jehovah's witness friend Taro's appointment, turned out he was trying to persuade us to believe in his church, and he didn't take the Book of Mormon we tried to give him, but we were able to tell him more about what we believe and he was impressed with our unshakable faith.
We also after a long day went housing nearby our house and we met this veryinteresting man.  He was wearing a Hawaiian print shirt, very colorful, and he had the most interesting haircut.  Shaved on the sides and a longish pony tail in the center (kind of like a samurai).  We were knocking on doors with no one answering so it was so nice when he opened his door.  His name is Yamaoka and he is a publisher with a cat named ChaCha.  He seems like such an artist, and he loves reading and he wanted to know immediately who translate the Book of Mormon into Japanese.  We bore our testimonies to him about the Book of Mormon and promised that he could know of its truths through praying and reading.  I know he was an answer to our prayers as well.  I feel so many times just when I think I cant go another step, or whenI'm so tired that's when we see such miracles like this. 

One last wonderful miracle is that, yesterday our friend Inamura-san came to church.  He is this tall, lanky man who we see at the park every morning walking his dogs with his wife.  He is part of a Beatles imitation band and seems like he belongs in the Northwest because he's always wearing cargo pants and outdoor sandals.  His dogs are very friendly and we always invite him to come to English class and church.  We were surprised to see him randomly show up yesterday at church also wearing an Aloha print shirt.  He sat with Sister Tan and afterward I asked him how he liked church, he said, "I had such a warm feeling in my chest the whole time, and it just felt so quiet and peaceful inside".  I asked him if we could teach him how he could have that feeling all the time, and he said that would be very nice.  I just love my ward and the powerful testimonies of the youth that we heard from yesterday. They just returned from an EFY type camp and they all have such strong testimonies. A lot of times even the Bishopric members are doing the "hour long prayer" but during yesterday's sacrament everyone was looking lively and our friends really enjoyed all of the talks.I'm so grateful for the youth.  Mika really loved the scripture, Matt 5:16 How weshouldn't hide our light but we should hold it up to all our friends.  Its so wonderful when you meet these special people, you feel like you have loved them for a very long time.

I have found that missionary work is so easy if we just open our mouths, the Lord does consecrate our time and efforts to leading us to who he needs us to talk to, if we will just be willing to follow him. I am loving everyday here in Utsunomiya and am really looking forward to teaching Mika, I know she is special. Being in this area for more than six months now it has been amazing to see the progression of my friends here.Hayakawa-sanwas passing the sacrament this week and Irene and Jonathan looked so happy after she received the Holy Ghost yesterday.   I was just picturing them in just one year being married in the temple. I know that the highest happiness comes when we don't think about ourselves, but rather think 'what can I do to make a difference for someone else now and for their future?"

So grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. Despite the challenges and tiredness that sometimes comes with it, it is the most fun and rewarding experience I've ever had.
Lots of love

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