Friday, December 20, 2013

Power from the Scriptures

Last week we had a Zone Training Meeting. It was fantastic. During part of the meeting we discussed ways to aid one of our investigators that has asked us to help her stop smoking.  She is from the Philippines and it is difficult to teach her because we can only speak to her in a mix of simple Japanese and English...because she is much better at Tagalog. She’s been very interested in coming to church and learning the gospel but it’s been really hard for her to understand everything (because of the language barrier). 
Thanks to Dean Shimai's family for
 great Decorations!

The Sisters met her a week or so before I came into the area. Sister Dean and her companion saw her on the side of the road and felt like they should turn around and talk to her.  As they began teaching her they slowly helped her to smoke a little bit less (she had been smoking at least one cigarette an hour) and when I met her in November she was smoking one cigarette every three hours.  During the Zone meeting we discussed ways that we could help her stop smoking and ways that we could help her learn the gospel given the language barriers. There had been a lot of helpful suggestions - packs of gum with scriptures on them (that she could chew when she felt like smoking) or a notebook to help her remember what was taught...etc. but I definitely was feeling discouraged, and wasn’t sure how effective these things would be for her.

Despite the difficulties she faced, she has been able to overcome these challenges.  She really faced a huge challenge to stop smoking in a short time after years of this addiction.  I don’t believe she could have stopped on her own and there was nothing that I could have done to help her stop by my own power.  But someone else could. Christ died for her. Christ died for me! Christ died for YOU. There are so many things in this life that we cannot overcome by ourselves. Addictions, sicknesses, heartbreak, . . and any other sort of trial that life throws at us. But over 2000 years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ atoned for each and every single person on this earth.

The truth is that a day does not go by out here where everything goes the way we planned. There is not a day that I don't get some weird look because I am a little girl riding a bike in a skirt talking about Jesus Christ in a country where that is often a strange concept.  Every day someone turns down this message that could change their life. Every day I wake up at 6:30 feeling completely exhausted, and realize that I still have 16 more hours before I can go back to sleep on my futon. Every day I ride by signs that I can't read, or have people speak to me and I have absolutely no idea what they are saying.

But all of that and more is worth it! Everything is worth it when I see people like this wonderful Filipino woman whose life is forever changed. She went from a lady who rarely smiled, and had no one that cared about her - who smoked a pack of cigarettes on her futon every single day, and suffered for decisions that she had made early in her a woman who smiles regularly, who laughs at my silly dance down the hall in the church, who sings Christmas carols and wears pink sweat suits. 

Her transformation is only possible through the power of God. Maybe that is hard to believe unless you see what I had the privilege to see - to watch.  But I believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Not only have I seen this power work in my own life, but now I have watched it work for someone else. 

This week we made a jar for this woman. We filled it with pieces of chocolate wrapped with a Book of Mormon scripture, and labeled it "Get ADDICTED to the Book of Mormon!" She thought that it was so funny. One of the happiest moments of my entire life was when we got a phone call from her the next evening right as we were going to bed. She said: "I’m eating chocolate! And reading the Mormon Book!" On Friday she had her baptismal interview and she is so excited to be baptized on the 21st of December. 
I also ate more curry this week than I think I have ever eaten in my life. For Dean Shimai's Birthday we went to this delicious curry place called Bindu - and then a lady in our ward invited us to go to Bindu again, and we had more curry from CoCo's curry after District Meeting on Friday...we are not planning on eating curry for a while (even though it is SO delicious) because we got a little sick of it. I had no idea that the Japanese people love curry so much. And I also didn't realize how delicious it is...especially in the cold weather. 
At Bindu 

It is Christmas time! It doesn't feel a ton like Christmas because Christmas is not a very big deal in Japan. But Dean Shimai's parents sent her some Christmas decorations, so our apartment is much more Christmas-y now and it is wonderful! I have been asked to speak in Church on Sunday for our Christmas program. I started writing my talk this morning...and started translating it during language study. These are the moments when I realize how very limited my Japanese is. But, the language will come. As I was reminded this week - "doubt your doubts before you doubt your fears." The enabling power of Jesus Christ's atonement has absolutely no boundaries - from overcoming addiction to helping me learn Japanese. 

I saw this guy pulling this cart as we were biking an hour to one of our investigators houses, so I jumped off my bike...and yanked my helmet off and got a picture with him. I have never felt more like a part of Kung Fu Panda in my life

Note from Ariana's Mom:  Ariana has asked that friends and family send hand written letters through the postal mail.  She would really love it!  She checks email only once a week, and would really enjoy mail in her postal mailbox during the week.  Send to this address: (Same as address on "Write me" Tab)

Ariana Grundvig
Japan Kobe Mission
4-6-28 Shinohara Honmachi
Nadu-Ku, Kobe-Shi, Hyogo-Ken
657-0067 Japan

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