Miyamatsuri! Im staying in Utsunomiuya!

Dear family,
 I just received my last transfer call of my mission this morning and..........I'm staying in Utsunomiya! I was a little nervous,  but I know Heavenly Father is watching over this work and puts us where he needs us to be.  I have loved serving here and I'm so excited to have another chance to work here.  Utsunomiya has such a special spirit about it, its very homey and the members are just a family.  Ive been here for six months now and have made life long friends. That means my whole mission I will have only transferred twice, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It has been the best.  I want to work my very hardest this transfer.  President Budge sent us this letter a few months ago and urged us to "sprint to the finish line".  I keep thinking about that and how I can make the most of every minute. I want to be a minute by minute missionary and have no regrets.

 Its funny you think that as you get older on your mission you would start to think you would have ironed out all your kinks, but I am finding the opposite to be true, I keep finding more things that I want to improve on, but I always try to keep in mind that the mission is the foundation for the rest of your life. I don't have to stop building and serving and growing just because I transfer somewhere else, we can and should always Bloom where were planted.
We had our last district meeting this week.  Two of our District members are going home Sister Long and Elder Kim. Both great missionaries with alot of cool strengths. Our District leader, Elder Howard, is the one who calls every night to see how the day went and also checks in to make sure we are safe and everything.  Elder Howard said at the beginning of the transfer when he first got called as District Leader, he looked at our district (made up of him his companion and only sister companionships) and he thought "great Ive been called to teach Relief Society".  He is really great though and I love when he says things like "you sisters Rock!"  Its true though, the Sisters are taking over the mission.  Its wonderful to watch all these young missionaries come out, they truly are amazing and exactly what Heavenly Father needs.
This week we taught our wonderful new investigator named Daiki. He is the one that is about 33 but looks like a surfer in his 20ies.  Everyone in Japan looks at least 10 years younger then they actually are.  Sister Tan is still learning that so she is always thinking these 40 year old women are in high school.  I'm sure its very flattering for them. 
Anyway Daiki asks alot of great questions and we have loved starting to teach him.  He is trying to become a wine maker and is studying in various places to learn about grapes and the wine industry.  He temporarily moved to Nagano (in Nagoya mission) and will return in September. So for now we have to teach him over skype. 
We taught him the doctrine of Christ this week and focused on repentance. He found it amazing that God could forget his past sins and that he could have a new chance at life. When we asked him to clarify for us what we had taught, we asked, "so what do you understand about baptism?", he said, it is important so that "I can be new Daiki, clean Daiki". Teaching him is like teaching a little child in that we teach simply and he reacts with such excitement with each new piece of truth we tell him about.
I know this gospel can make him happy because it already has. We taught him how to repent and right away he begun applying it to his relationships at work. He has started reading the Book of Mormon by himself and he said that ever since we taught him how to pray he has been "carrying God". I can tell his prayers are becoming more sincere. Before I think he wasn't quite sure that he was talking to his Heavenly Father and would always laugh in his prayers because it was so new to him I think he was kind of embarrassed. But now he seems to be thinking about what to pray for and taking it more seriously. I really think that he will progress quickly because he has such a sincere desire to learn, the only problem is that he is living so far away right now for work that our lessons will have to be on skype until September.

We had another lesson with Akutusu Shimai, Fukuda Shimai's friend this week. It went really well, She brought all her children and they all watched a movie with Fukuda Shimai's children in the other room while we taught her in a separate room. We started teaching her the commandments and she asked particularly about keeping the Sabbath day holy which was exactly what we wanted to focus on. She asked us if her husband would be in trouble because he works everyday even Sundays and didn't spend alot of time with their kids. We told her that because he doesn't know this commandment that Heavenly Father probably wouldn't judge him the same as someone who knows all the commandments, and she seemed relieved. She agreed with the things we taught about Sunday. Infact she thinks keeping the Sabbath Day holy would be a great thing for her family, especially for her husband, so they can be closer as a family. She has said in our past lessons she would be baptized right away if she was single, but because shes married she wants her husband's approval as well. We are so excited about tonight because Fukuda Shimai arranged for us all to have a family home evening at her home with Akutsu Shimai's family there as well. We are going to teach about prayer and just try to show the Akutsu Shimai's husband that the church is not something scary but something that can strengthen his family.

This week was Miyamatsuri, its like a big  summer star festival, and everyone in our whole town gets together and they close the streets and everyone is out and about. Our day our friend and recent convert Kentaroh invited us to go and his mom put ukattas (a summer kimono) on us and we walked down. Kentaroh's mom is a kimono teacher and very good at it.  Japanese people are very particular about these types of things.  There are a lot of rules in Japanese culture, especially kimono wearing.  If you wear the right flap over the left it means you're dead, so you have to be very careful.  Anyway we walked around the summer Matsuri with our friend Shizuka and Kentaroh.  We wore these wooden sandals that I'm positve are not for wide American feet like mine, but it was so fun.  Kentaroh has been a member for a few months now so it was nice for his mom to come to the church to meet some of the members.  They were all very impressed with her kimono skills.  She is very sweet.  I love Japanese people and how they want to share everything with you.

 I love Sister Tan, she loves noodles.  There were so many interesting things to see.  She wanted to eat out of this all you can eat bamboo noodle shop.  The noodles come floating down the river that's inside of this bamboo thing and you have to catch them and eat them before they float down the stream.  I think we broke the rules because Sister Tan kept trying to share with me.  
Anyway I am happy to be here and really really excited to have another transfer.  I want it to be my best transfer yet.
I love all of you and pray for you everyday. 
Sister Vail

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