Week two with Sister Staples

 Dear family,
I know Heavenly Father is quick to turn us around.  This week was really great but I was feeling a little sad just two days ago because one of our progressing investigators Mika, who was doing great at one time but has become busy, said that right now shes not ready for baptism, and shes moving into the city in Kanagawa so she has her mind made up that now is not her time. I really had high hopes for her. No matter how long you have been on the mission you still feel such deep sadness when the people you come to love turn away from their Savior and walk another way. I was thinking today how this mission is a mini life. How the highs and lows come almost daily. I have just learned that if ever you find yourself at a low point, Heavenly Father has hid a miracle right around the corner to bring you right back up.

On Wednesday after district meeting Sister Staples and I were getting our bikes and we saw three high school students, one was really smiley and we gave them English flyers, but the one really smiley girl, Marjorie said she actually really wanted to come. She did come on Wednesday night and then afterwards was asking about when we had church.  She came to church yesterday and since shes 16, we went together to the Young Women's class. She made friends very quickly with all the Youth and wasn't shy at all. Inroducing herself to everyone.  Reminded me of Mia. 
After church we had our first lesson and we taught her about the Book of Mormon. While we were talking to her about the Book of Mormon she looked at it and said, "Oh I have one of those, I received it in June, just a few months ago from a blond girl". I pulled out my camera and showed her a picture of my old companion, Sister Hunsaker, and she said, "yes that's her!" She told us that she felt comfortable coming to our church because this was the second time she has run into us missionaries in the past two months and she said both times it was so easy to talk to us. The ward was so warm and welcoming and we had a young women, Yuzuka Nara, the Bishop's 18 year old daughter join us for her lesson. When we told her Joseph Smith's first vision she was on the edge of her seat, and said, "and what happened next?!" She is so excited to learn. Her mother is Filipino and was raised Catholic and her Dad is Japanese. We read a little with her in 3 Nephi 11, and told her how Christ knows her individually and wants to have a personal relationship with her. We also read together how Jesus Christ taught everyone when he visit the America's how we should be baptized. We invited her to be baptized and without any hesitation she said, "yes!" After that a wonderful family the Fukuda's invited us and Marjorie over for dinner and I was able to talk to Marjorie's mom on the phone and tell her what a great daughter she has. We are planning her baptism for October 27th, and I really want her mom to be able to be there as well. We have a lot of support from the Ward Members and especially Young Women and their leaders. We are meeting Marjorie again on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday and we heard her telling the ward members today "see you next week!" She just feels like a little sister to me and I want to do everything I can to help her come to know the Savior.

We also were so surprised this week when we were calling our friend Noriko to find she is doing great.  She is the woman we met just about a month ago on the street, who came to church and loved it and wants to be baptized as soon as possible. She has been in Hokkaido for the past week so we haven't been able to meet with her in person. I was calling her to see how her Book of Mormon reading is going and she is on page 106! I was so surprised and happy. She said she never tires of it, and every time she shuts it she says a prayer. She said, "zen zen akinai de". The greatest part was to hear her say that she feels like something inside of her is changing. She said that she doesn't feel bad for people anymore because they are physically sick, she feels bad for the condition of their heart, and sees how they are suffering spiritually. She has been taking care of her father in Hokkaido right now so she has been seeing a lot of people in the hospital who are sick. She is really looking forward to her Baptism at the end of October as well.

We also visited our friend Fang this week. She has hard a hard life and been in jail and has a hard time trusting anyone. We are just trying to help her believe that there is a God. She told us "lately my days are dark, but I feel love when I look at your big smile." We asked her if she believes in God and she said that she thinks that God left us here for her, that she thinks he is giving her a chance. She finally said, "I think that nothing will change unless I change" so we committed her to come to church on Sunday and I know she was feeling the spirit and she said yes she will be there. We also were able to talk to her husband a little and he has been reading the Book of Mormon as well. Its people like Fang who really need this message of hope.

We dendoed on Friday in Koga and the Koga Sisters are amazing!  Its way out in the Country.  I visited a lady named Sato-san with Sister Linquist. She has cancer and wouldn't stop talking about how she won't be here in 2020 to see the Olympics, That's why she started coming to church because she is scared. I felt so sad for her. She had a lot of angry feelings, towards people who had offended her at church, and just about being sick. We told her that Christ is perfect but the people in his church are still not perfect. She seemed to start to understand. She had shaven hair since she had chemo and wore a little knit cap that made her even cuter.  We just tried really hard to show this lady love. Before we left we sang to her a child's prayer and tears just poured down her cheeks and she said how grateful she was that we came that day. It is amazing to see how the power of Christ's love transforms even the most downtrodden heart. I know the spirit is real and is our guide when we live worthy of his direction.

Sister Staples is adjusting little by little. She can be hard on herself when she doesn't know exactly what is happening in the lesson, and feeling like everyone treats her like a kid because she doesn't know what is going on. But she is doing great and working really hard. I told her how it can be frustrating when you can't get your feelings out in a lesson, but that the simple Japanese that she knows is still enough to bare a strong testimony. I'm really grateful I am with her until the end of my mission because I love her drive to be obedient and is so motivated to serve these wonderful people. When we see success I love how happy she feels. I feel the greatest success when I see her do something, like talk to someone on the train by herself or pull a Chirashi out of her bag to hand to someone. She is a wonderful missionary and her ideas she has for the lessons are so fresh and inspired.  
My new companion is hilarious. She said "I tend to get nervous when there is more then five people in the room". A less active invited us to do volleyball game this week, little did we know it was a volleyball/jump roping contest.  The prizes were great --- saran wrap, dish soap and toilet paper, so practical! Now I know how I plan on getting in shape. 
We were able to teach our friend Inamura-san this week, we are always trying to help people get in touch with their feelings. Like a counselor I guess.  He's super intelligent and thinks with his mind so much and asks deep questions. We asked him "well how do you feel when you read the Book of Mormon and when we have lessons?" He said "I always feel peaceful around you people".  He has been asking really great questions --- ones I've never thought about like, "why in the Book of Mormon if the Nephites were the righteous ones, why did the Lamanites outlive them?" I told him it seems that way, that wicked prevailed, but because of the Book of Mormon, righteousness really is what prevailed, since now because of the Book of Mormon we have a world-wide church.  It appears that these people were defeated, since they were all killed, even Moroni in the end, but that ultimately through our righteous choices, Heavenly Father's side always wins in the end. I guess that's how I feel too sometimes.  We invite everyday and sometimes people reject us, but in the end we win, because we have the peace that the Savior brings. I'm grateful to be here on my mission.  When I was in Koga the stake high councilman Brother Halverson shared with me in the Book of Mormon,3 Nephi 11, that the people didn't hear the voice of the Savior until the 3rd time because they weren't desiring to know.  I know that if we desire to see the Savior, and let him work in our lives then he will.  The rest of the Savior is better than anything in this world.  I know nothing is impossible with him.
lots and lots of love
Sister Vail

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