We hardly taught any lessons this week, so we had a ton of time to go out finding! Which was exciting because I really love our finding time. There are so many parts of missionary work that I hadn't really anticipated taking up so much of our time...like lesson planning, the weekly planning session...and all of the other really vital parts of dendo (missionary work) that don't come to mind when we think "missionary work." But I LOVE days when we get to go out finding and just talk to as many people as we see...because that is when I feel so much like a missionary.
On Tuesday this week we had all day to go finding. We had been planning on going to a college in our area and an eki....but we received a message from our zone leaders instructing us to visit previous investigators. So we did. And none of them were home...or they had hantai parents, or some sort of other strange situation...anyway, we weren't actually able to meet any of them. We spent the entire day talking to people who not only were not interested, but REALLY didn't want to talk to us. I can't count the number of times that people would look at us like we were crazy when we introduced ourselves and then tell us: "Why are you in Japan? You should go somewhere else. Japan is a Buddhist country. Your work here is futile." (That is not an exact translation, but it was basically along those lines). So after knocking...and knocking...and knocking doors with this response....or talking to people on the streets with this response....I ping-ponged (a two way speaker/camera at doors) one door in a mansion...and the lady on the other side of the camera asked who I was and then came running to open the door. She was SOO excited to see a foreigner, and so surprised, that she could hardly wait to talk with us. She invited us in and we talked with her for a little while before her husband came home, and then she invited us to come back the next day. She lived about an hour bike ride away, and it was raining the next day...but it was one of the most enjoyable bike rides of my life. We had a lot of fun with it, and we were just really excited to have an appointment with someone who was sincerely interested in our message. When we talked with her about what we do and that we could answer the questions "where we come from, why we are here on earth, and what happens after we die?" She started to get a little bit emotional. She started pointing at pictures around her apartment and shared some of the deepest, hardest times of her life. She unfolded her life history to us and explained how in the past few years many of her friends and family members had died unexpectedly, and that she had never understood why we had to die. She shared that she had always felt that there was a God, because she had received help through hard times...but she didn't really know who God was. It was amazing. It is a blessing to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What a privilege to be invited into a strangers home and then be allowed to share with them a message that answers the questions they have pondered for their entire lives.
Yesterday we had a few of our investigators come to church! It was wonderful to sit with them through sacrament meeting...and my Japanese really is slowly improving because I understood much more of the sacrament talks than I ever have before. We had a girl come to church yesterday who is 16...and she stayed for about 5-6 hours (she showed up really early) and then stayed late to meet with members and eat some rice and curry. The ward embraced her completely and she absolutely loved it. She is so sweet and has thought deeply about who God is. She found the church on Google (she googled free English programs) and we invited her to church after Eikaiwa class on Wednesday.
The love that I feel for the people in this area is amazing. The members, our investigators -oh fun fact - so in Japanese "investigator" is "きよどしゃ" and the translation is "Truth Seeker." I absolutely love that. I really love these people...and my love for them continues to grow. I feel like I am learning how to love this work more too. Every time I leave my apartment I have a feeling of joy that I can trace back to some of the happiest moments of my life. It is a feeling that always reminds me of my favorite memories at BYU, or playing soccer or backpacking or moments in high school or with family...recognizing that feeling here makes me so happy.
I love it :)