Just a little more time!

Dear family,

     My life is so unexpected. I went to this leadership council
training and it was really inspiring. They taught us how to use the
Book of Mormon in all situations, and how to be a better minister to
the younger missionaries especially. I have been feeling lately like
everyone is planning this big party and I'm the only one not invited,
like there are so many wonderful things coming up that I wouldn't be
here for, so many new missionaries coming and so many of my friends
coming closer to their Savior, and I want to be able to teach them
more. I was sitting at the table during our lunch break at the
leadership council I was eating but not really tasting because I was
sitting next to Sister Julander my good friend who sat next me on the
airplane to Japan, and she kept asking me what it was like to be on my
last transfer. I told her I didn't really know because it doesn't feel
real that my mission is ending. I told her that the work is the same,
but you just cherish every day more.  I still have all these things I
want to do much better at, and help the new missionaries, and my
friends in my area.  Suddenly she was crying and before I could think
too much about it, I asked one of the assistants, Elder Hogue sitting
across from me if there was any way I could stay a little longer on my
mission. He told me I had to go home, get married, and come back to
work as the office couple. But I told him really is there any way? He
said, if your leaving in 2 weeks, probably not but you can always ask
President Budge. So I did, and next thing I know President Budge was
on the phone with someone in Salt Lake and he said that missionaries
get sick all the time and don't make their scheduled flights and they
would love to keep me. It all happened so fast, but when he told me I
could really stay until November 1st I felt like I won the Lottery. I
know it is a little sad because I thought I was going to see you all
so soon, and but I know this is the right thing. Today I went to the
temple and I just think this mission is such a precious gift. I know I
can be a better sister, daughter, future wife and mother because of
the things I have learned here.  Heavenly Father has given me strength
everyday of my mission.  I came in the first place because it seems
like its the least I can do for Heavenly Father. So now that I know
how to be an effective missionary, or at least feel like I know what
not to do, I want to just give everything to return to him.

       This week I was reading in the scriptures and I had just
extended and then started thinking, "I hope my body can muster the
energy. My spirit feels strong but my body feels so tired." Then I
found this wonderful scripture, in D&C 124:18, it talks about Heavenly
Father reaching down and bearing us up on eagles wings as we preach
the gospel. What a beautiful promise.  I knew it was such a tender
mercy for me to see that Heavenly Father is so aware of me and even
aware of the things I am a little bit worried about.  It gave me peace
to know that Heavenly Father will help me be strong until the very end
of my mission.

      This last week was very special.  We said goodbye to our friend
Daiki, we have been teaching him for about 3 months now, and he really
wants to be baptized, but he also wants to continue his life as a
winemaker.  He left for Germany this week to study more about wine
making, so we were able to have one last lesson with him. We have
suggested many times that he can make grape juice still since he
insists he must taste all the wine, so he cant become a church member
just yet. It is so obvious to me now that everyone just wants
everything, the easiest way or to pay the smallest price to get the
greatest rewards, but it just doesn't work like that.  He wants to
continue his wine making and tasting, and then when he retires, then
get baptized.  He asked if that was possible, we told him anything is
possible, but he would miss out on all the blessings that come from
living the gospel now if he did it that way.  He reminds me of a 12
year old sometimes, very pure in his desire and his testimony.  It was
great to be able to bear our testimonies one last time to him and tell
him how much we knew this was better than wine making. It is really
hard for him, because having his own vineyard and winery has been his
dream for years, now we are asking him to give it up and follow his
new dream, to live with his Heavenly Father and his family forever. We
read together in 3 Nephi 11, when Christ visits the people in the Book
of Mormon. As I was teaching I realized I was teaching the exact same
thing that Jesus Christ was teaching.  Christ comes down from Heaven
and invites his friends one by one to feel his hands and feet, and
then the second thing he does is invite them to be baptized.  For some
reason it clicked in my brain that I really am doing the exact same
thing that Christ did when he was here.  Helping people know him, and
then inviting them to follow him.  It was so special for me.

     The weather here has been very strange this week.  One day we
went to visit a girl Mika in the hospital, the weather was so weird it
was raining and then seconds later so hot and sunny, so pulled over to
get all our rain gear on, only to take it off again once it was all
on. I was really hot so I took off my jacket and just had the rain
pants on which makes my stomach look huge because I have to wad up my
skirt and wear it with my rain pants, Sister tan was wearing these
rain pants we found in our apartment that look like trash bags. We were
so clueless, we had no idea we were biking through an area where there
was a tornado!  We were just having a great time biking and laughing
at how silly we must look.  Sister Tan had such a funny comment, I
could hardly pedal I was laughing so hard.  She said, "I wonder what
people must think of us--me this miniature person with these huge
billowy pants, and you look like you have a turban on your stomach.
We were lucky we didn't run into any problems when we arrived at
Eikaiwa later that night all the students were concerned about the
tornado that was in Kanamua right where we were, that apparently had
taken off roofs and ripped up play grounds.  Heavenly Father has
really protected me on my mission!

     My friend Mika, who I met on the train for just a few seconds
before she ran out the door, we invited her to be baptized on Sunday.
We set a baptismal goal together for October 13th. She has a lot of
fears about the future especially her parents being unaccepting, but
she said she just feels so good at church and when we study together
that she wants to be baptized.  I told her that I extended my mission
so that I could teach her, so that I could be with my family and her
family in the celestial kingdom. I felt the spirit very powerfully in
that moment and I knew that I had made the right decision to stay. I
really was looking forward to seeing all of you in a few days, but I
am asking myself to do the same thing I ask my investigators to do ---
to give up something they want now, for something better in the future.

     This temple day was really special too, my really good friend
from my first area, Youchan came to see me.  She thought it was my
last day so she pulled her daughter out of school and we went out ot
lunch together in Shibuya.  She was so impressed that my Japanese had
gotten so much better.  I don't know how much better it actually is, but
it made me feel good to see someone who has known me from the very
start of my mission.  We had sushi where everything was a dollar, and
the sushi zooms to you on a little conveyor  belt.  She said it's very
popular with foreigners.  She was so sweet and as a goodbye gift gave
me these eggs with the yolks taken out that she had handpainted to
look like Hina dolls.  She told me Hina dolls are supposed to ward off
all the bad things that could hurt girls, so they are a kind of a
protection/good luck thing for me.  I love them so much!  Ayana had
become so tall too.  Youchan is always trying to help Ayana with her
Japanese so she would say things like, "repeat after me..." and then
teach her an English word she had just learned from us.  She always
tells me she's my Nihon Okasan or mother in Japan.

    This week we taught a lesson to Miwako, she is 77 years old, and
we taught her about the Plan of Salvation.  She grew up in war-times in
Japan, so her childhood memories are in bomb shelters,and growing up
with little to eat.  She said it is hard to believe in God because she
has had to rely on herself for all these years, even though her whole
family is members, its hard for her to rely on anyone but herself.  I
know that it was Heavenly Father who protected and preserved her all
these years, but she just sees it as her luck. She did pray for the
first time with us so that was really special. Meeting with her, this
war survivor, made me think that we can choose to see everything as
coincidence, or a miracle.  I want to see everything and every second
as a miracle.  I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge now, or the man from "It's a
Wonderful Life".  He had to know what it was like to die, to really
live.  He was given a second chance, now I feel like since I thought I
was almost gone, I have a second chance to do more, do things even
better then before.  I feel sad to keep all of you waiting.  It's your
love and support that has kept me here, but I know I can be an even
better daughter, and sister by fulfilling my calling here.
I love you each and pray for you daily!

Lots of love,

Sister Vail

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