|At the Red Arches in Fushimi, Kyoto|
I have been trying to decide how to word this email all morning because there is this strange combination of excitement and nervousness that is flooding all around my stomach and so I am not really sure how to deal with that quite yet. But, in case you didn't read the title of this email SURPRISE I AM TRANSFERRING. Which is super sad because I LOVE THESE PEOPLE IN IBARAKI! And also because I DON'T LIKE PACKING. But, thus is the life of a missionary.
So, I am transferring BACK TO SHIKOKU!! Woohoo!!! I love that wonderful little island. Turned out, all those tears I cried leaving it...were not completely necessary. I am transferring to the area of Niihama, where I will be Ichikawa Shimai's companion. I will also be serving as a Sister Training Leader, which is exciting and also makes me super nervous, because I don't really have any idea what to expect when it comes to being a Sister Training Leader - but I am sure that it will be fun, and, even though I am gypsing Ibaraki I know that the Lord wants me back on Shikoku and that He has work for me to do there!
I was really surprised to transfer...because I definitely expected to be in Ibaraki until the end of my mission. AND It is really sad to leave Mills Shimai (this whole one transfer companion thing I am not a very big fan of).
Ibaraki and Takatsuki were super wonderful, and I have grown to love the people a whole lot more here in just six weeks than I thought was possible. There are lots of good things that are going to happen here in the future I think, and there have been a lot of seeds planted this transfer. It has been neat to be here for just....a snapshot...I guess of time and learn to love the people, and then also see the work progress just a bit further. I felt like because I was here for such a short time I was really able to feel how large the Lord's plan for every area, and every single person is, and how we all play just a tiny little piece in the Lord's master plan. I am excited to see how both Ibaraki and Takatsuki will grow from here on out. I wish I could be here to see it, but, I have made some friendships here that I hope last on into the eternities.
One cool miracle from this week! Mills Shimai and I had decided that we would start calling all of the members in both Ibaraki and Takatsuki on their birthdays! So, we had been meaning to do this for about two weeks or so...but because missionaries are busy, and we were slow in starting...we didn't actually start until this week. On Monday after getting home from Kyoto and doing some dendou, we came home and then called all of the birthdays that had passed in January. The last man we called - whose birthday was actually on Monday - answered the phone and was SO SURPRISED that we had called! He has been less active for about 8 years and told us that he hasn't received any contact at all from the church in 5-7 years. He wanted to know who told us to call, and finally believed us that no one had told us to call. I ended up having an amazing hour long phone call with him, where I was able to teach him a lot about the Atonement and Forgiveness and how he could find comfort through Jesus Christ, no matter how lost he felt that he was. He told me that he was really lost at the moment and doubted God's existence, or that God cared about him at all...and then we called. Also, no one had told him happy birthday because he is lonely and lives by himself...and so he didn't think that anyone knew about it. And so, thus is life as a missionary.
I love this work. I can't believe I am heading into my 11th transfer....and these transfers sort of just keep whipping by faster and faster and faster and I don't know why that happens....but, I do know that it is only as a missionary that I get to try and share this wonderful happy message with as many people as I come into contact with everyday...and it is wonderful.
ALSO! This week Mills Shimai and I got to participate in Mochitsukikai!! Which is where you pound rice with a large hammer to make mochi and it was so fun and we made the most delicious mochi, and I got to eat it warm and it was wonderful.
Have a great week! LOVE YOU ALL!
p.s. I apologize to anyone who has written me letters and that I have been terrible at responding. I fully intended to write everyone back today, but now I am transferring...and so I have to pack.....but I promise I still love you all.