Saturday, February 8, 2014

Making friends for 18 months

Our mission is focusing on relying on the Lord...and over and over...and over and over...and over...again for the past few weeks, I have seen how the Lord will provide in His own way as He sees is expedient. We had interviews with Zinke Kaicho (Mission President) this week (mine lasted about three minutes. I never know what to say during interviews because I am such a terribly awkward person...basically it was like Kaicho: "How are you doing?" Me: "Good...I love Japan. I love the work...." Kaicho: "Good! Any problems?" Me: "Nope..." Kaicho: "How are things at home?" Me: " brother broke his leg." Kaicho: "What has been the hardest adjustment?" Me: "Uh.....people rejecting the greatest message on the entire planet...slash not running to my little hearts content..." And that was basically how it went. But, at interviews Kaicho gave us an amazing training about what is in our power, and what is in the Lord's power. The things that fall within our power, as missionaries, are our faithfulness, our diligence and effort in learning the language, at teaching, etc, and our obedience. The things that fall within the Lord's power are who listens to us, whether or not the Spirit is present (because we can't force the Spirit into any lesson), whether or not a miracle occurs...etc. And ALL the time as missionaries we try and force things that are in the Lord's power into our power. We forget that everyone has agency. And when our investigators use their agency to drop much as we would love to take it away from them...we learn from the scriptures that when people suggest plans in which Heavenly Father's Children lose their agency, things just don't turn out so great for them...
Street Contacting and making new friends
During the training, Kaicho asked us if we are putting our faith in the OUTCOME or in CHRIST. And a lot of time we get these things confused. If we get discouraged when we aren't having "success" well...obviously the success is not expedient for that area of the mission (if we are doing all things in our power), but, if we get discouraged than we are putting our faith in the outcomes, instead of in Christ. This applies so well to everything in life. When bad things happen, do we get discouraged? If so, then where are we putting our faith? In Christ, or in the outcomes? 

This week Dean Shimai and I worked SO HARD! We went and visited about seven different people all over Higashi Osaka on Saturday- and invited ALL of them to church. None of those people came. And a lot of them weren't even home. We talked to TONS of people on the street. And invited ALL of them to church. None of them came either. We called pages and pages and pages of people from the Area Book....and none of them came. We had two of our investigators come. And the Elders had two investigators come. But we had 13 people at church. Thirteen. How? We relied on the Lord. We did all that we could, and through the members...and a miracle...people just showed up at church. Our mission had a goal of 400 people at church this Sunday. We had 396. That is a miracle. That is hastening the work. That doesn't happen in Japan. Unless we work with the Lord, and with the members. I found a really penetrating quote when I was reading the Liahona earlier this week. "The world is in need of our help. Are we doing all that we should? Do we remember the words of President John Taylor: 'If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those that you might have saved had you done your duty.'" How powerful and terrifying is that? This week, in our little ward in Higashi Osaka we saw the kind of miracles that can happen when the members and the missionaries work together. The work can't move forward - nor can it really be hastened - unless members and missionaries work together. The hastening of the work is not solely because there are more missionaries in the world than there have ever been, it is because more people are prepared to hear this message of truth! It is because the members and the missionaries are learning how to work together and really gather Israel. 
A shrine we saw on our morning run
The other day I was thinking about my calling, and I had a little bit of an obvious realization that I have devoted a year and a half to making friends with people - while speaking Japanese. Granted, it is a little more than friendship because I am inviting the people that I become friends with to Jesus Christ...but it really boils down to making friends. Basically, this is the most legit thing ever... to become friends with Japanese people...and then ask them to change their lives forever! How sweet is this work? 

I love this work! I met a lot of really fantastic people this week...on the street, from knocking on their doors...from stopping and talking to people playing basketball in the park...from talking to people on the trains. One of my most memorable moments from this week started at a crosswalk. I turned to the Lady next to me and said "こんぼんわ!!" And started a conversation. We walked and talked for a while, and she spoke a little English (which is always nice) and when we parted ways, she asked to meet with us again - because she was Christian too (a rare occurrence in Japan) and because she wants to take us to some real Japanese food (we told her we were planning on eating Peanut Butter and Jelly for dinner). She was the cutest lady ever and we are going to dinner with her later this week! 

A fun trip to Yao Mall 
Make this next week a great week! And to quote an email I got from Matthew Frederickson - "Don't give up five minutes before the miracle." You never know what the Lord has in store for you. What is that next 5% going to take?

Grundvig Shimai

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