This week in Higashi Osaka was AMAZING!
But then again there is not a single week in Higashi Osaka that is not amazing. One thing that I have learned this transfer is how much I just really love MISSIONARY WORK! Even when we are having very little success. That is not to say that we should ever become complacent when things are hard or not going well...we should always be pressing forward in faith, but sometimes the Lord loves us enough that He wants to try our faith...and so we should do all things with a cheerful countenance! Cain Shimai and I decided that there was going to be a miracle in Higashi Osaka this week (that really is not on our side of the power chart...but we decided that we could just feel one right around the corner). And so on Monday night we went out and Dendo-ed with ALL of our strength and might and vigor and vim and it was an incredibly successful night. We went to Kinki University, a daigaku in our area, and it almost felt like no one could say no to us. We met tons of people and set up a good amount of appointments for the rest of the week! ...... And every single one of those appointments fell through/ we got spoked. Spoked = Sister missionaries waiting at the church and calling their potential investigator who somehow dropped off the face of the planet! I don't know how they do it...but so many people that I meet here manage to just disappear off of the face of the earth quicker than I knew was possible!
On Tuesday we met more people who had interest in learning about the Church, one of them who lived in America and worked at Disney World and she is the cutest girl ever! And, she lives RIGHT BEHIND THE CHURCH! I don't know what the chances of that are (we didn't meet her anywhere near the church), but we were really excited. We also taught a totsuzen lesson in the middle of the moat in our area...and at the end of it the girl did not have a phone, or a home phone, or an email address...so that was unfortunate. We do, however, know where she lives. On Tuesday morning while I was running around the park, I had a hilarious moment with two older men who were drinking beer at 6:30 in the morning. Each time I ran around the park they would yell some weird stuff at me in English, and I would say good morning and keep running. Finally, I stopped and put a look of confusion on my face and told them I didn't understand what they were yelling at me. (Which was true...their English was very strange, perhaps it was impacted by the beer). They then assumed that I didn't speak English. So they started yelling at me in Italian! And I told them I was not Italian. They started throwing out countries that I might have come from, and finally, I just told them that I spoke German. They jumped to the conclusion all by themselves that I come from Germany, and then I spoke a little German for them just to add to the fun. And then I told them that I am a missionary and shared a quick message with them. Which, I really don't think that they understood much of...and not only because of my thick American accent.
Wednesday we had interviews and our mission president is the most inspired man ever. We received so much needed counsel. In the training at the beginning of the meeting he talked a little bit about the way we contact. "We need to say something from the start that will allow others to feel the spirit from the moment you start talking to them. We need to say something that can penetrate them...
"Beck Choro, how do you start your contacts?"
"...I'm from Amerika!"
"Do you think that they can't tell that by looking at you? Does that allow them to feel the spirit?"
It was hilarious, and I am totally guilty, because that is how I generally start my contacts....and I have now tried to shift my contacting methods so that I begin with a less obvious statement. (Although, some Japanese people apparently think that I look Italian or something...but maybe that is only 60 plus year old men who are drinking beer at six in the morning).
My interview with Zinke Kaicho (My Mission President) was so amazing! I received so much counsel for my area and help for Japanese. While it is true that a mission is not about the language, the language is a very necessary tool. Confidence in the missionary skill set often comes from our command of the language. I was talking to Zinke Kaicho about this and he said something very interesting: "So many times missionaries get excited about the new things they learn - but does it really matter if you have a break through on the atonement and you can't explain it in Japanese?" This is a spot on analysis of the situation. Gospel fluency really means learning how to express myself in Japanese in a way that I can fulfill my purpose. And it means constant improvement. There comes a point in Japanese where it is easy enough to "get by" and teach all the lessons well enough in Japanese, to the point that they are understood. I do not feel satisfied with that. As we gain a greater understanding of the language, we gain a deeper access to the hearts of the people. This is truth.
Thursday we had a lesson with one of the investigators that I have taught since I arrived in Japan. It was...both a wonderful lesson and a disaster lesson. She had really been struggling with...well, everything...and through a LONG conversation and follow-up, we discovered that she had a very strange image of God. She was under the impression that sometimes when she prays, God also would like some advice from her. She also feels that He is more like her loving Heavenly Grandfather than loving Heavenly Father...it was an interesting conversation.
Saturday we met a lady on the street who took us to McDonalds and talked about religion with us for a while! She seemed decently interested in us and hearing about what we teach, but is really firmly Buddhist and she seemed worried that she was going to mislead us into thinking that she wanted to convert. The pineapple smoothies that she bought us were delicious though. (She wanted to take us to McDonalds, because she thought it would remind us of home...so that was funny). We also met a lady from Peru who has lived in Japan since she was two years old and recently got married. Her husband is Japanese and they are the CUTEST COUPLE EVER! They have been looking for a church. She grew up Catholic, and so church was really different for her on Sunday, but she still wants to meet with us again and ask us a lot of questions. They recently moved to Higashi Osaka.
I LOVE THE HIGASHI OSAKA WARD. I don't really know at what point exactly I started loving these people so much. But they are all some of the most amazing people on the entire planet. Yesterday after church there was a ward meeting and I was asked to speak on member missionary work, so I spoke a bit about how the ward could help by coming to Eikaiwa, bearing testimony etc, and really helping with our less active efforts. I closed by bearing testimony of this work and that because God loves ALL of His Children, He wants ALL of them back...not just a few...but all of us. The whole human family. After speaking I was sitting next to one of the sisters in the ward, and she just put her arm around me and said something super loving and sweet that I don't remember and it was the sweetest moment. We had a shokujikai after church and the ward fed us lots of delicious food, and at some point when I was talking to some of the members I had a flashback to my first terrifying Sunday in Higashi Osaka six months ago. I don't know at what point I started loving these people so much...or at what point I started understanding (most) of what they say. But I just love them so much! They are so hardworking and kind and supportive and caring. One lady in particular that terrified me when I first came to Japan is this elderly lady in our ward. And she likes to wear a ton of black. And her Japanese is super confusing. Yesterday I was asking her how her personal dendo (teaching) is doing (she likes to go streeting or housing by herself and also she talks to everyone on the trains about the church. She is the craziest, coolest lady ever) and she told me all about her mission...back when there were only two missions in Japan. As we left church yesterday, I saw her go outside and start inviting everyone that was out on the street to come in. It was the best thing ever. While I was studying Preach My Gospel this week, I read a quote that went something like this: "Our desire and commitment to share the gospel is a mark of our personal conversion." This lady has a deep, true conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She knows how lucky she is. She knows that this message is TRUE! That it is the most important thing on the entire planet!! And I just love it so much :)
Have a great week!