It was a beautiful week in Niihama. On Monday it rained A LOT and Ichikawa Shimai and I both got really wet, but we also got to eat Okonomiyaki at a members house, so it made the wet worth it.
We had a lesson this week with one of the families that we are teaching. It was just the 14 year old daughter and the mom this week, but the mom asked us SO MANY QUESTIONS. It was probably one of the most fun lessons of my mission because we explained prayer and the importance of true conversation with our Heavenly Father. The mom had so much interest that she fired question after question at us about receiving answers, as well as wanting to hear all about our own experiences. I don't know if I have ever left a lesson with an investigator who was more excited to pray. We testified of the spirit's influence and there was a sweet spirit of truth in the room with the two of them. The daughter has been praying for maybe two weeks now (we taught the daughter prayer first) and she said a beautiful prayer to end the lesson. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about helping investigators to have their own experiences through prayer and how important it is to help people understand why the gospel has personal meaning to them. This can really only be accomplished by discovering the questions that they carry in their hearts and teaching them to find the answers to their questions by themselves, through the gospel. Finding answers themselves requires that they know how to pray and use the Scriptures. These seem like really simple things to missionaries, but I think that when investigators don't understand them, then that is where they fall.
After that lesson we had 30 minutes, so we decided to go house around their neighborhood because Ichikawa Shimai had felt prompted that we should. So we did. We knocked on three houses and taught another lesson to a 14 year old girl, who we are going back and meeting with again next week. Recently we have been finding so many people prepared for the gospel that my testimony of the Lord preparing people has just been skyrocketing.
On Friday to Saturday we went back to Tokushima for a companion exchange! It was wonderful. I can't write how amazing it was, but I was able to meet with a lot of my old investigators and I had some of the most powerful lessons of my mission with them I think. I was with a second transfer missionary, Sister Buckner, who is amazing and had one of the most amazing stories about how she ended up being able to come to serve her mission in Japan. We went finding together at a park in Tokushima and met a family who had a lot of interest in the gospel. She bore a rock solid testimony (I was really blown away by her Japanese even though she is only a second transfer) and the family was excited to meet again. One of the hardest things for new missionaries is learning how to talk to people - even when it is super awkward - like jumping off your bike to stop someone, or walking up to someone that looks busy in a park, but by the end of the exchange her confidence had grown a lot and she was feeling a lot less nervous about stopping people. It was neat to see that growth in only a few hours. We also talked a lot about the power of just saying hello and helping people to smile. Although helping people smile is a really small thing, it is one of my favorite parts of missionary work I think.
Friday night was game night and I loved seeing a lot of the members <3. On Saturday morning Nakamura Kyoudai wanted us to all go climb bizan together because he thought that it was necessary to return to the mountain where we had met during the summer. It was a really foggy day, so the sunrise was not really visible - but it was so wonderful to go back to that mountain because I never thought I would be at the top of it again! We didn't have hiking clothes though...so we drove to the top which was a little weak...but it was still really fun. We almost missed our bus, but through some brilliance of Nakamura Kyoudai and the members and two investigators we made it on time and returned our rental bikes. Small miracles.
Niihama continues to be amazing. This week Elder Nelson is coming to the mission and so Ichikawa Shimai and I are staying at the mission president's home in Kobe on Thursday night. We will also be receiving training for the iPads...which it looks like will be coming a week or so before I return to America hahaha. So....maybe I will have no iPad, but, it will still be really amazing to meet Elder Nelson.
I LOVE YOU