Guess who gets to stay in Nishiwaki for another month and a half? Guess who gets to keep her amazing companion while she's here? Allen Shimai does! #blessed #blessedagain #blessedround3!!
Bean Shimai and I are together, making Nishiwaki her longest area, and both of our longest companions! God has some awesome things in store for the belly button of Japan, and I'm really thankful to be here for it.
Warning: Today's email will probably be all over the place.
Let's go with funny experiences first:
- last week it snowed for the first time of the year here! Much like Arizona drivers losing all ability to drive in the rain (I'm one of them too, it's okay) these Nishiwaki drivers just freaked out over the centimeters of snow. Anyways, Bean Shimai and I hopped on our bikes even though it was icy and decided to go ahead with plans for the day. While biking on this super narrow highway my bike slipped and slid, I stood back up, biked for another few feet, slipped again, and then my bike was done with the abuse and refused to go anywhere else. We pulled over to the side of the to fix my bike, and about 30 seconds later a van came sliding around the corner, took a wide turn, and crashed into a house about 5 meters away from us. Everyone was okay, but if we were still biking we totally would've gotten hit. Thank you
Kamisama! Everyone was okay, but it's like no one knew what to do in the situation.. No one called the cops, the family who got in a wreck called whole other people kind of just stood around watching. This narrow road was starting to get congested really fast, and no one was doing anything, so... bean Shimai and I became traffic conductors. We stood and directed traffic for like 30 minutes until someone showed up. Hahaha I'm sure everyone got a kick out of these two gaijin standing in the middle of the road and telling them when to stop and go, but dang I felt really powerful for those 30 minutes! Haha!
-we had a TON of sisters sleep over at our tiny apartment before our mission tour, and that involved a marshmallow roasting party, and a big pile of pillows and futons as the aftermath... Pics and videos to follow
// I'll title this section "young love" lol//
- we had elder Choi come visit our mission, and it was the biggest pump-up ever. He gave a talk a few years ago in general conference called "I love loud boys" (check it out) and he elaborated a bit more on that story. He told us how he and his wife felt like they would have 12 boys when they first got married, but they were only able to
have three. Later he was a bishop of a ward with lots of rowdy teenage boys (9 to be exact, but at that time only two were members) he was worried about the bad influence they were having on the ward. As he was praying about what to do, the the thought came to him "you wanted 12 kids, didn't you? Here they are!" and they treated them as such. They invited those rough boys into their home every weekend, loved them, supported them, listened to them, and taught them the gospel.
Eventually, all were baptized, all went on missions, all married in the temple, all have families and are actively serving in the church. Those rough boys, with patience and love, became powerful people! Theyfound their place.
I loved that story because that's one thing I'm learning so much from this ward in Nishiwaki- when you love young people and teach them how to live the gospel, you save hundreds and thousands. The effect of one young person who lives the gospel HUGE, and they're worth every effort from their leaders to be loved and taught. I'm thankful for my leaders and family members who helped me stay where I needed to be. I know that this gospel helps young people more than anything else in the whole world.
I'll end with a story about one of the coolest kids I've met on my mission so far. He's a member here, 15 years old. When I first came to Nishiwaki, it was a good three weeks before I saw him without a face mask on (face masks are really big in Japan, they wear them for fashion just as much as for health reasons). He was really quiet,
We've been doing lots of activities with the 4 young men in this branch lately (there's not any young women in this ward). Family home evenings, fundraiser activities, etc. Their young men's leader has also been working with them a lot to do service activities. I don't know if it has anything to do with the activities, but over the past three months, this kid has completely changed. He cut his super long hair short. He stopped wearing a face mask. He talks a lot more, he's more confident in himself. A few weeks ago, he walked to the Branch president's house on the way home from school (probably a 45 minute walk out of the way) to share this scripture that had touched him:
Joshua 1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
He shared how despite being surrounded by family and friends, he still felt alone- but when he read this scripture, he knew and felt for himself that God wouldn't leave him alone. And he wanted to share it! He later shared with the missionaries how he wants to help the ward, and wants to help bring back other less active members.
Guys, this 15 year old boy and his testimony are changing this branch! And the gospel is changing him. It has been really cool to see, and because of seeing I can promise a few things to any young person:
1. You are never alone!
2. You are important, loved, and you have a purpose. You can make a difference. You can change people's lives.
3. God needs you to be on his side, and when you're on his side you'll find self confidence, peace, and direction. You'll be happy with the way you are, inside and out.
Friends and fam (especially the younger ones who are stuck on this email list)- lets be like the cool kid in Nishiwaki! let's just live the gospel, read our scriptures every day and go to church with a smile and most importantly, Talk to our Heavenly Father every. Single. Day. He's counting on us, just waiting to bless us. I PROMISE!
Random and scattered,
But God is my Heavenly Father, I'm his child and so are you! Therefore, life is good. :)