Last week we went to arashiama koen with the Zone Leaders on P-day and had a great time. I got a lot of pretty good pictures with Jensen 長老.
So, we went to arashiama koen, which for those of you not living in Japan, is a park in Kyoto. The fun thing about this park is that there are wild monkeys that you can pay to feed if you go to a certain area of the park. Sadly, being poverty-stricken missionaries, we did not pay to feed the monkeys. There were signs all over the park in Japanese that said to be aware that you might encounter wild monkeys whilst strolling through the park. Sadly, we didn't have any encounters in the tall grass with monkeys. While we were enjoying ourselves in the park, whenever we would see a sign about the monkeys I'd ask (in my thickest American accent) "sarus wa doko desu ka?" (where are the monkeys), and then I'd make monkey sounds to try and call them to us. It was very exciting!
This week has been pretty good as well. Starting on December 1 all of the missionaries in the Kobe Mission have been counting meaningful interactions and reporting them. Deschamps 長老and I have been trying our best to find a new place in our area where we can increase our daily interactions, and it had been a bit of a struggle. We eventually decided to plan a day to just walk around until we discovered a new finding area. After hours upon hours of walking around Osaka, we finally found it! In between kyobashi and umeda there are just wonderful areas to go streeting, and we also found a set of 20 plus 14 story apartment buildings that are not lock outs. I was super excited about finding these apartments, because most of the nice apartment buildings here in Osaka are all lockouts, meaning that we cannot go inside. The buildings that aren't lockouts are usually filled with 80 year olds who's go-to rejection line is, "I'm too old for that". YOU'RE NEVER TO OLD FOR JESUS! is what I want to say, but my Nihongo is not quite good enough for that. Anyway, it was pretty amazing to be able to find this new area.
The next day we had a koukan in our area, so Deschamps 長老 and I decided to divide and conquer. He went streeting with Weiland 長老 in one part of the area, and I went housing with Konishi 長老 on the other side of our newly discovered promised land. I set a goal to have 35 interactions by the end of that day, and Konishi 長老 and I ended the day with 80. Out of the 80 overall interactions, we had 10 meaningful interactions (this means that we stated our purpose in Japan as missionaries, taught a doctrine, and successfully committed them to do something). We even taught a 15 min Restoration lesson on someone's doorstep and handed out a Book of Mormon. Prayers are answered people!
Final thought: I've been thinking a lot about my purpose as a missionary and how to become a more effective servant of the Lord. One of the things that has been most difficult on the mission so far is setting reasonable goals for improvement. As missionaries, it seems like the outcome of our effort is completely out of our control. We try to share the gospel with people, but it's completely up to them whether or not they accept it, listen to us, or even acknowledge we exist. So I've had to really evaluate what goals I can make that actually measures things within my own control.
And then I read the scripture D&C 6: 29-31
"29 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if they reject my words, and this part of my gospel and ministry, blessed are ye, for they can do no more unto you than unto me.
30 And even if they do unto you even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory.
31 But if they reject not my words, which shall be established by the testimony which shall be given, blessed are they, and then shall ye have joy in the fruit of your labors."
This really helped me understand how to be a more effective missionary. I have the opportunity to be an instrument that will bless the lives of the people that listen to the message of the gospel. However, a lot of people aren't going to listen. That doesn't mean that I'm not doing what the Lord wants me to do. If I feel that way, it just means that my focus isn't where the Lord wants it to be. You can never fail when you have the Lord on your side. Just make sure that your standard for success lines up with His.