So many amazing things in my life as a missionary! We were surprised on Saturday morning to an earthquake alarm going off on our phone, and huge megaphones saying, "This is an earthquake." I shook my companions shoulder gently and said, "We need to get up Sister, thee is an earthquake." I think that missionary work has prepared me to handle more gracefully the panics that must come with motherhood. Last night, we were riding in the poring rain for 30 minutes, and I just laughed and laughed. It was so funny and so wet! We both forgot our rain coats. It was a pretty great sight. I actually felt like for the first time in over a year, I'd gone swimming!! So great, and really foreign ha ha. (The earthquake alarms were intense but we didn't really feel the earthquake here, it was in a part of the mission that used to be in my zone while in Akashi called Sumoto... we are all safe! Thank you for your concern.)
Conference was so wonderful, wasn't it? There are two things I am really touched with. One is the fact that we are here on earth to gain experience. We will have desperately hard times, happy times, lonely times--because that is what we are here to do, so we can "prize the good." But, we do not have to face them alone. Because Jesus Christ came to earth and experienced every joy, sadness, loneliness, we too can rejoice in experience, and really feel it, whatever feeling it is, and turn to Him. He is so amazing. I read this morning about the Savior being the only one, "from a mortal mother and immortal father... who could voluntarily lay down His life and take it up again." (Elder Nelson from this month's Liahona) Isn't that incredible? Our Savior was the only one born who didn't have to die, and yet did because it meant that we could then choose to live with God again, and our families. The second one is just about the eternal nature of families. I was so impressed at Conference at the joy that comes in family, the work it does take, and the incredible blessing my family is. I thought of you, sweet people, and the influence you have had in my life. I had a lot of individual thank you's, but this is for all of YOU. I love you so much!
Our beautiful investigators... Some of them are starting to weed out a little more, to the ones who are willing to act and meet with us, and the ones who had just been meeting with the sister missionaries before. We have been meeting Hino Shimai a lot, and had a wonderful lesson about the Spirit, one of the best we've had. She had said when we watched "Finding Faith in Christ" that she had a warm feeling inside. So for the lesson on the Spirit, we brought a big blanket, and almost put it on a few times, and then put it all around her to show what the companionship of the Holy Ghost is like and what it feels like. It was a fun lesson! She came to all of Conference, and Melody and Sayuri also came. This nice less-active walked into listen to conference and the members did not recognize him because he hasn't been to church for so long. We will make sure he comes back! I just wonder how many people there are like that in the world, who aren't thought about a lot and still want to come to Church, still love their Savior, but are staying away. If they were just invited, given callings, hugged and invited to the second row to listen, how "at home" they would feel and how they secretly, in their hearts, want to return. Isn't that exciting! It is like the most serious treasure hunt in the world - the treasure hunt for souls, and it is precious. They need us. I've realized what a completely different member of the Church I hope to be when I get home. Missions change your membership forever. Members are NEEDED so much and they feel a role that we can't as missionaries if we want our investigators to stay. Their ties must be strongest with the ward. They need members and the service you all have to offer. Spend your time working on their salvation, going and finding those sheep! We need every lost one. (is my plea!) And it is the sweetest work in the world - bring souls to Jesus Christ who loves them.
I love this work. I feel so inadequate, but I think in the right degree, it is a component of the work. I realized again this week at interviews and training that I do NOT have the power to change a heart by myself. It doesn't matter how amazing my teaching skills might be, or if I have six flip charts and eight videos - what matters is that we find out what they need from the Spirit and teach them, with the spirit IN us. That was something we discussed in training from Ether's example. "And he could not be restrained, for the Spirit of the Lord which was in Him." My prayers have changed this week. I want the Spirit IN me. I love the Spirit so much. I am grateful for this tool. We cannot, cannot, cannot strive to do this work alone - it will be empty. But by relying on the Lord, going slow enough to feel those promptings, with the faith of a mustard seed, as Elder Holland so beautifully taught this week, we can work miracles in bringing our brothers and sisters home. What a privilege! Every Sunday meeting is a family meeting, and who is missing there? Our less-active friends, families? Our neighbors who haven't heard? We should share the Gospel because we love it, like a life-vest in open sea, or a mask in a dangerous wind storm - it saves! We, of course, love and respect agency but do EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER with the Lord to help them. We have a lot of power if it is with Him. He is amazing! We have all of the tools we need to be successful missionaries, spouses, friends, visiting teachers, home teachers, members, and active participants in helping others on their walk to salvation. What is needed is not a perfect understanding of all things, or even a perfect US. We need to be perfectly reliant on HIM, and He has the "being perfect" part of the equation covered. What is asked for, and I know this through my mission here in Japan, is a heart of love for the people, and to work harder we've ever worked before. It is daily repentance, devotion, picking up and always keeping going. I think that is the definition of heart, might, mind and strength to me. It depends on where our hearts are in the right place then our feet will be moving in the right direction. We will be effective instruments in His hands, for it is His work. Amen!!!!
I love you all so much, and rejoice to be having this earthly experience with you. Whether you are in pouring rain or an earthquake on the other side of the world, or the only thing quaking is a little piece of your heart, like Elder Holland encouraged -trust Him. If our whole heart can muster just that flame, ignite that. Flame that in others. We have that power.
I love you, and delight to be your fellow servant! There is no place I would rather be in my journey through mortality than in the vineyard of my divine, resurrected Lord. I never want to leave that place. This commitment is longer than a few plane rides, or even exits and entrances to life. This is our destiny and privilege.
Love, your missionary in Japan,
Report from the mission president:
We were awakened by an earthquake this morning at about 5:30. Everyone is fine and there seems to be no damage of any significance. It was centered about 25 miles south of Kobe.
We have a couple of Japanese sister missionaries just a few miles from the epicenter serving in the Sumoto Branch. They called within a few minutes of the quake. They reported that they were fine and that some church members were with them already. They were nervously laughing with the members. A lot of things in their apartment had fallen off shelves but nothing was broken. The sisters were a little shaken and began running to the mountains in their PJs in case of a tsunami. After a bit of clean-up they dressed and went to assist some members at their homes.
Today and tomorrow the saints here gather to see General Conference broadcast at the stake centers, wards and branches.
A media report is attached below.
April 12, 2013 05:41 PM EST |
TOKYO — Japan's Meteorological Agency says a magnitude-6 quake has struck near the southwestern city of Kobe, but public broadcaster NHK reports there is no major damage and no tsunami alert has been issued.
The quake hit at 5:33 a.m. Saturday and was centered on Awaji Island, just south of Kobe, the agency and NHK said. It struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).
The quake was centered near the same area where a magnitude-7.2 quake killed more than 6,400 people in 1995.