December 1, 2013

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

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