Life as a Missionary in AKITA JAPAN!
Biking, sweating, biking, sweating, talking to as many people as I can, biking, lessons, and oh more sweating!
I am absolutely loving my mission in this lively city of Akita. Every day I`ll be biking with my trainer sister Stevenson riding infront of me, and start looking all around me and think, “Wow, I`m a missionary…in JAPAN!“. I get so excited and have this urge to just talk to every Japanese person I see! The mission is so fun, but it`s not easy. This past week definitely had it`s ups and downs.
Every Monday is our Preparation Day or, P-day, and we have time to go shopping and do mailing. Last p-day sister Stevenson and I had spent some time talking to people and trying to see if anyone would be interested in our message. We always go by the train station and mall area. It`s the biggest shopping mall I`ve ever been to. So many stores in many buildings that are 6 or 7 stories high, and also 3 stories under ground. The escalator ride to get to a store at the top is like 6 escalator rides up! Right outside along the pathway is this beautiful huge lilly pond with the biggest lilly pads I`ve ever seen! Sometimes I see people in a little raft paddling around. We had been talking with people for about an hour on the side walks, but no one seemed interested. We started to walk back when I saw a young girl across the road and thought I should say hi, but in English. I yelled, “Hi!“ and she smiled and said “Hi!“ and then I asked “Can you speak English?“. She looked confused and ran across the road to see what this silly American is saying. I then asked her again and she started giggling and covering her mouth and saying, “a little“. We talked for a little bit and then asked if she has interest in learning English. She said yes and we invited her to Eikawa, English class, every Wednesday at 7pm at our Church and told her it`s free. She said she wanted to come and then we started talking to her about how we`re missionaries and asked if she believed in God. She was so sweet and only said one word answers and said, “yes“. Sister Stevenson and I both looked at each other smiling and then asker her “Can we share a message with you about God some other time?“. She then said, “yes“ smiling. Again, sister Stevenson and I looked at each other in awe and asked if we could get her phone number with another one word reply, “yes“. Her name is Natsuko chyan and she is 15. After we parted our ways I instantly thought, “what if I had not followed that prompting to just randomnly yell “hi“ across the road, we would have never talked with her and who know`s, Natsuko chyan could have been just waiting. I learned from that experience that I should always open my mouth. I also learned the Lord will let you work for a while and then place someone along the path with faith and action.
Wedensday Natsuko did come to Eikawa! All of us 8 missionaries had planned for Eikwawa this week and wanted to make it super fun. We spent a few hours on Tuesday evening handing out flyers and Elder Bailey and elder Fitz even played their guitars and ukelele to try and get people to come. So many people said they would come, but Wednesday night ended up only being about 6 students. We still had a great time and I got to teach the beginning English class. I am so impressed with the dedication of the members of the Akita Branch. It`s so small, but these faithful families serve so much having many different callings in the ward. The Branch President, President Sato comes to Eikawa every week, and comes to all our meetings. Natsuko chyan liked Eikawa and we invited her to Saturday`s FHE game night. She said yes!
Saturday us missionaries had put together a “Minute to Win it“ Game night for all the members, Eikawa students, and LA`s and investigators. Once again, the members that came are so dedicated to helping us missionaries. The Sasaki family, Shindo family, President Sato and a few others who are the only members in their families came and got involved with our fun little games we had put together. Natsuko chyan came! Our other investigators were all busy. Only two other potential investigators came. It was a small turn out with 20 or so but it was so fun! I laughed so hard watching President Sato, brother Sasaki, Yokoyama, and recently baptized Takaku play this one game all together. They had this box attached to their lower back with ping pong balls inside and had to shake out as many as they could in a minute. Watching Japanese men try to shake their hips is probably the funniest thing I`ve ever seen! I love these members! sister Stevenson and I try to ride our bikes to the houses we can to go visit them as often as we can. They really do need unity and love. The members are so kind and will always be willing to do a joint lesson with an investigator anytime we ask. Japanese people are just so respectful and kind. I have learned they do show affection differently though haha. I tell sister Stevenson I love her all the time and she just laughs and says “okay“. Last night during our companionship inventory…AKA talk about your companionship strengths and challenges…I told her at the end “I love you“. She started to uncomfortably laugh and attempted to try to tell me in english that she`s not used to hearing I love you. I told her I was going to keep telling her anyways. I already realize she`s opening up. I`ll put my arm around her for a picture and tell her it`s okay to put her arm around me too. She`s so cute! This past week though we did have our challenges. I like to ride my bike faster…she likes to ride hers slow. When we`re streeting, I like to walk quicker to talk to people….she likes to walk very slow. I like to ask questions when I don`t understand something….she likes to not answer so many questions haha. We are different, and there were many times this past week I felt frustrated or impatient but I do love sister Stevenson and am so grateful to have her as my trainer. This past week we wanted to visit 6 less actives in 2 hours, but sister stevenson didn`t really look at the map and so we spent about an hour and a half just trying to find the houses. There are times like that when I feel like we waste so much time. Sometimes we`ll be at the Church with the other missionaries and hang around and I want to go out and talk with people and not waste time just casually talking with our missionary friends. Sister Stevenson doesn`t like to feel in a rush and so I`ll just wait. I let her know that I feel we waste a lot of time. We only went out two times this past week to go streeting. I want to be an effective, hard working missionary, and it`s been hard feeling like sometimes I`m not the best missionary I can be. This week Sister Stevenson and I made the goal to be on time and work hard. She did tell me though that I should worry so much about our goals. Every day we make goals of how many lessons, potential investigators, referrals and we try to reach our goals. There were many 0`s this past week. She said, “as long as you`re having fun the goals don`t matter.“ I told her I don`t feel the same way because the goals will help us work hard. She still doesn`t feel the same way I do but I realize I can only try my best and love and serve her.
We had our first lesson with our new investigator Natsuko chyan on Saturday after FHE! She said she would read the scriptures we gave her from the Book of Mormon and pray. As I study the Book of Mormon each day I realize that every single day we all need to read from the Book of Mormon. It is our spiritual nourishment, and if we do not drink from it`s pages we will die, spiritually. The Book of Mormon truly is God`s word. I have read every single page and know that the Book of Mormon is true. I am filled when I read it each day and I understand my purpose on this earth. I understand more fully God`s mercy and Eternal love. I feel the Lord`s love and recognize His hand in each day. Today we met with another new investigator, Fujisawa! It was our first lesson with the other elders too and the Spirit was there. I love the Book of Mormon and invite all to sincerely read it. We met a back packer from Spain today and I felt prompted to follow him to talk to him across the road. Once we found out he was from Spain I felt like I needed to give him a BOM but I didn`t have one in Spanish! We ended up taking him to the Church to meet the elders and as I looked in the Church my prayer was answered. There was ONE Spanish BOM, what are the odds! My prayer was answered. His name was Lorenzo and he said “I`m grateful for you, Thanks be to God“.
This is the Lord`s work. Every nation will here His word and know one day every person will confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I know this to be true.
Another fun week ahead! Thank you for your prayers and love.