This past week`s high light was going to Zone Conference! I loved Zone conference! I felt the Spirit stronger than I ever have in many ways. We watched Joseph Smith Prophet of Restoration and it was so spiritual. It`s exactly what I needed. From watching that movie to getting your wonderful Christmas letter as well as Coomer`s and Butler 2`s the water works were pouring! I must have been holding in my tears for the past 6 months because I cried more than I have in a long time haha! Then the last thing was a testimony meeting and it was so special! Listening to every missionaries testimony was so powerful. It was the most powerful testimony I`d ever heard. I was grateful to be able to bear my testimony too.
So I have a miracle this past week! Sister Iwahashi and I were riding our bikes to go give a bag of apples and oranges to one of the members brother Saito who is a convert. His house was about a 30 minute bike ride, but we got lost and couldn`t find his house. After searching for a while I decided we might as well try and talk to people to ask for directions as well as share the Gospel. We met a few people. They were all so friendly but no one seemed interested in our message. The Japanese make it very clear when their not interested in something. They just bow and wave their hand. We followed the directions we were given to try and find brother Saito`s house, and on the way saw a women throwing a ball while her little black dog would run to fetch the ball. Riding our bikes in her direction I looked to sister Iwahashi and said, `Let`s talk to her`. We slowed down and started to talk to her. She actually began to have a conversation with us and I got off my bike to pet her dog. We talked with her for 30 minutes and it was so powerful testifying to her that God lives. She looked into my eyes and said in Japanese, “God really lives?“. I smiled and said “Yes God really lives, and He knows you and loves you“. I felt the Spirit testify that truth to me as the words came from my mouth. I could feel that she felt something too and we gave her a Book of Mormon. She has bad eyes she said but read a little with us. She said that she is alone and only has her dog. She`s about 50 years old and her family is away from her. She said her friend had died just the day before. As soon as she said that I knew that we had gotten lost for a reason so that we could find her. She needed the comfort we could give her, telling her that she is never alone. We asked if we could meet again and she said she`d be in the same spot throwing the ball to her dog at the same time on Saturday. So we promised we`d come back. Saturday we had gone out to lunch with Ishida and Hikari and all the missionaries and were running a bit late. We rode our bikes so fast to meet Iwasaki san, who`d we promised we`d meet her again. We got there, but she was no where to be found. I wondered if she had come earlier but we had just missed her. We are praying that we can find her tomorrow, because we will go back tomorrow to try and see if she`s there. I know she needs our message at this time.
Well I`m halfway done training my little sweet companion, sister Iwahashi. I am starting to already get sad just the thought of us parting ways. I love her so much and she teaches me so much every day. We took some Christmas pictures today with our santa hats to send for my mission Christmas card that I want to give to family and Friends from Japan! Mom and dad I`ll need your help with that
We are all getting ready for our Christmas party in the Branch! We practice our Christmas singing every Sunday before and after Church. It will be the 21st and now our goal is 70 people!!! I know through our faith we can do it!! Well it`s tranfers tomorrow and sister Nakaima who has been with me from the beginning of my mission in Japan is headed up North to Aomori and our District Leader elder Fitz is leaving to be Zone Leader in Morioka. We will get two new missionaries and a new District Leader. I was so excited when Ben (Tori’s cousin) said he`s Zone Leader in Ukraine, that`s a huge responsiblity and I`m so happy for him. Sister Iwahashi and I are trying our best to work with the youth and reactivate them. We are trying to be more creative with playing basketball and doing art projects or making cookies to involve them and help them feel loved. Many of these youth say that hate Church and don`t have any friends in this small branch. Recently though two boys who`s 18 and 20 have started coming to back to Church after sister Iwahashi and I started meeting with them. We are also trying to work with a family who`s less active and do a new program called “Free Family English Program“. Many people are interested in learning English and it`s fun teaching English, not only every Wendesday at Eikaiwa.
I am loving this Christmas season and am striving every day to find people to tell about Jesus Christ and the meaning of Christmas. Thank you for all your prayers and love. I am prayig for all of my family and friends all around the world. I am loving Japan and am so grateful to be a missionary in the Sendai mission.
Sister Tori Butler
I didn`t get to write you last week because my sweet little companion sister Iwahashi was sick! There`s so much to say!
We had our Thanksgiving party last Saturday and had a goal of 60 people to come! Branch President Sato and brother Checketts the ward mission leader, both seemed like the number would be impossible. I prayed every day we could accomplish our goal and I myself was unsure we`d have that many people. But when we pray in faith the Lord answers! We had 61 people come, not including us 8 missionaries! More than half of that 61 were non-members! Little miracles happened before the party, like the day before at the basketball gym sister Iwahashi and I met 6 hip hop dancer girls and invited them to the party to preform. They came and preformed! Many members brought non-member friends. Ishida (who got baptized a month ago) brought his friend Hikari and he became our new investigator this week! He`s not our investigator anymore because we passed him to the elders to teach him, but many good things resulted from this party. It was so fun and all us missionaries did a Hawaiin hulah dance with sister Lita who`s from Tonga from the ward and like the 9th missionary. We had cut out a bunch of turkey hands for everyone that came to write 5 things they were grateful for. It was heart warming seeing every one come together and stand up to share what they were grateful for. One girl that came, Ayaka, said she felt a warm feeling in her heart listening to everyone share what they were grateful for. We will have a lesson with her this week and she wants to learn about the Gospel!
We went to Ishida`s house last Sunday and met his mom and had sushi! It was sister Iwahashi, elder Fitz, elder Hamblin, and I. As soon as we walked in Ishida`s room he had little pillows set up around his table with sushi all prepared for us. I walked in the room to hear the Mormon Tabernacle choir playing! Then I looked up on his wall to see the picture of sister Stevenson, elder Fitz and I with Ishida on his Baptismal day hanging in a frame. I was so happy I almost started crying! This 18 year old kid is so pure and is truly changing to becoming more like Christ. He`s such a strong example to me! We ate and laughed and talked. He showed us all a picture that he`d received from the mission home for his Baptism. It was a picutre of Christ knocking on the door with no handle. That was no coincidence! Just a few weeks before I had showed Ishida that picture and told him how much I loved it and explained the meaning. Just yesterday at Church he showed me a picture that he had bought a frame for that picture and hung it in his room. Yesterday he blessed the Sacrament for the first time! The day before we had a first lesson with Ishida`s friend Hikari. I asked Ishida if he`d ever felt God`s love during the lesson. He nervously said “not yet“. Yesterday after Sacrament meeting I went up to Ishida to tell him how happy I was for him to bless the Sacrament and be a worthy Priesthood holder. I started to get teary eyed. He then told me that right before Sacrament meeting started he was nervous and said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father praying to know if he was even worthy to bless the Sacrament. He said at that moment he felt an overwhelming feeling of God`s love. He said “I felt God`s love for the first time“. As he shared that with me I began to get even more teary and it was a special experience.
I also hadn`t written in my journal for a long time because of late planning, late dinners, area booking, or just cleaning up room and getting ready for the next day. I wrote in my journal last night for the first time in a long time last night and that`s when I recognized all these miracles. I have such a testimony of journal keeping and the power that comes from writing down our blessings so we can later look back to reflect on them.
Sister Iwahashi was sick Monday through Wednesday, and it was amazing how many members came to bring food and took her to the doctor. These members are full of service and the light of Christ! We had a great thanksgiving in a 3 hour away city Morioka. We went there for Zone Training. Sister Iwahashi and I ate dinner at an Indian place. Indo curry is popular in Japan! We will be heading back soon for Zone Conference!
I am loving Japan and am so grateful to be a missionary! I love you all!
Sister Tori Butler