こんにちは！ How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in 都城、日本 (Miyakonojo, Japan)!
This week has been quite wonderful! We met with Kuzuguchi san again; we had a great lesson at the church with a few members, and were able to finish everything we had left to teach in the lessons! Now all she has left to be baptized is her baptismal interview, and then she will be baptized this Saturday! It has been a lengthy – but wonderful – journey with her. She is definitely ready to be baptized, and I am so excited for her!
This week is going to be a bit 大変 (difficult – not really a perfect translation; in this context it is more like difficult and very busy) scheduling her baptismal interview around her and our schedules. She works a lot, and we have district meeting in Miyazaki on 水曜日 and Zone Training Meeting on 木曜日 (which is the day we had originally scheduled it for, until we learned about our 突然 [impromptu] Zone Training Meeting). The only days that are really available for us are 火曜日 (Tuesday) and 金曜日 (Friday) (and the evenings on those other days) but it seems that her work schedule only allows her to meet in the evening of 金曜日 – the day before her baptism! Oh, well. It is interesting to see how the Lord tries our patience. We often think about the increased difficulties (temptations, etc.) that Satan uses to try dissuading and that the Lord uses in testing an investigator’s commitment to receiving baptism, but I personally do not think I realized how difficult it can be for the missionaries prior to baptism as well. Of course, we worry about the investigator and how they might respond to the challenges they face, but we may not often realize that the Lord will allow us to go through increased trials prior to an investigator’s baptism in order to test our own commitment to helping them receive that ordinance and make that covenant. This is not only a trying week for the investigator – it is for the missionaries as well!
Of course, our schedule for this week became even busier today when we discovered that 都城 will have Sister missionaries next transfer! So, we will also have the privilege of taking a look at their potential apartment and helping get it all set up for them.
I definitely think that sister missionaries help the 伝道 flame to grow in 都城。The branch members have often mentioned how great it was when they had Sister missionaries here (of course they still love Elders, but I think many people would agree that Sisters are a lot better in many ways). I do believe that the 伝道 flame has been lit here, but it needs some help in order to grow. I think that the power that Sister missionaries can bring will help that happen, but I also know that simply adding another set of missionaries is not a magical solution "make this branch grow" or "make this branch perfect". It still takes a lot of work with the branch to help things happen. I think I mentioned before that the Open House they held really has seemed to ignite that flame; I hope the baptism this 土曜日 will fan it even more; and as I have mentioned, adding Sister missionaries will help as well. But, (and I believe I also mentioned this before), what this branch is really in need of is a good vision toward which they can work. A goal needs to be set before it can be realized, and in order to set that goal we need a vision of what is possible. I am hoping and praying that by next transfer we will have helped the branch determine what their vision is, so that they can begin working toward that unified goal. I am really excited about the work here in 都城 – which, of course, means I will probably end up transferring – but who knows (except for the Lord and 会長 [President])?
I know that this is the work of the Lord. I love it so much, and I love these people so much! I am grateful for the opportunity which I have had to serve here in 都城 for the past few months. It has been a wonderful experience. I hope to be able to stay here and help the branch flourish even more, but if I am called elsewhere I know that the things which I have learned here will help me to be the missionary that my next area needs and deserves. I am so grateful to be one of the Lord’s missionaries, and am thrilled when I see him working such a marvelous work through our efforts. It is such a wonderful experience to help one of God’s children progress to baptism – and toward Eternity!
We were also able to go the temple today (which is why I am writing this email much later than usual). It was a very wonderful experience. It was also very さしぶり (I am not sure that is the correct spelling, and I don’t have a perfect translation for it – it essentially refers to the feeling you have when you do something, see somebody, go somewhere, etc. that you have not done, seen, gone, etc. in a while; I am not sure what word you would use in English to refer to that), since the Fukuoka Temple is the same layout as the Spokane Temple where I received my endowment. The picture in the men’s changing room is even the same!
I love the temple!
I love you all, and hope you have a wonderful day, a fabulous week, and a stupendous year!
p.s. I forgot to bring my camera with me for email, so I will send some pictures next week. One or a few of them will be from a baptism! Yay!
p.p.s. I can hardly believe it’s been six months already! Where has the time gone? I am often reminded of Jacob’s words: "the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream." (Jacob 7:26)
p.p.p.s. Elder Kyle! Sorry, I don’t have much time to respond to your question (about learning the language) today, but our Assistants to the President gave us an example Language Study plan that I have been working on using (as best I can, as adapted to my personal needs and ability). I think that is one of the biggest things, is making sure you have a good written language study plan. One hour is not a lot of time to study – it goes by very fast. If you do not have a good, effective plan then you may lose that precious time. You are great! Thank you for being such a wonderful example! I love you!