Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weekly Faith Perfecting Experience

We had Stake Conference yesterday so all of Okinawa came here and I saw Tagawa Kaicho from my first area Ishigaki! He recognized me straight away and gave me a hug and said my Japanese was good, which he used to tell me all the time when I could never understand anything he said, as a bean-chan. I had the opportunity to translate the meeting for Sister Egan, the Mission President's wife, and I spent a solid amount of time thoroughly apologizing for how terrible it was. Translating from English to Japanese is no problem, I can understand English well enough that even if I can't translate word-for-word I can understand the meaning or the feeling and then use simple Japanese, but when I'm hearing complicated Japanese and then trying to figure out how to say that in normal English I end up missing the next few sentences, and on goes the downwards spiral to embarrassment and a humbling reminder that I need to improve my language skills. 

There was a couple from Naha (south city in Okinawa) who's daughter is serving in Brisbane. Their daughter met my girlfriend's grandmother - the couple called me a few days earlier asking if I'd be at conference and so when we met up we took a photo together. Interesting connection!

Mission President also paid us a visit during dinner yesterday and we're glad that we spent some time cleaning the morning before, but we cleaned the floor too nicely, and it's super slippery. Someone made the joke that when President came in it almost looked like we were going to be in need of a new President, but he managed to grab on to the chair before he slipped completely over.

This week was hard for a number of reasons, one was the lack of fruits from our efforts. What I mean by that is that we found so many people that would let us come back but when we followed up with them they were either not home or if it were over the phone they said they were busy, many didn't even pick up. For example we had 5 lessons scheduled one day and they all fell through. 

Through this I remembered something my last companion Elder Richards taught us just before he finished his mission - about faith promoting experiences and faith perfecting experiences. All those times we would walk away from a contact feeling the Spirit, feeling joy & excitement, with a return appointment, or just after we had given someone a Book of Mormon or invited them to be baptised, promoted our faith and reminded us of what can come from hard work. Then, this week, when it looked like nothing happened, when we, instead of teaching 5 lessons, knocked on doors all day, had a faith perfecting experience because though we didn't see the fruits of our work, we got out there, we worked hard, we looked for the Spirit in everything, and we continued doing the work of the Lord because we love Him and know this is right. And that is one of the greatest reasons why I'm out here, because I love the Lord (John 14:15, my favourite scripture from Seminary) and want to be here doing this work with Him.

Love this work and love all of you who read this :)

Elder Wheeler

Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekly Running Dendo Mail

Just a quick update today. This week we flew to Fukuoka for Mission Leader Council (MLC) with The President, APs, Sister Training Leaders and other Zone Leaders, got a lot out of it. Later in the week we had Zone Training Meeting and aside from that we've just been out finding - hard. 

My companion is killing me, well maybe killing isn't the right word, but he is certainly pushing me - we are running everywhere, walking has been limited to a p-day activity, we're on the move all the time and I've never been as tired during my mission as I was this week.

We have been trying what we call 'totsuzen other lessons' where we meet someone, ask to share a 5-10 minute message with them, pray to open & to close, and set a return appointment. They have been working really well and it's really interesting to see how much more people open up to us through these totsuzen other lessons in contrast to just talking to people and eventually leading into a Gospel discussion (both are great though!).

I had an experience where after running from house to house we got back on our bikes to the next area we planned on, and I felt so exhausted and kinda crabby, but I remembered what our Mission President said at MLC this week, "I loved just going out and dendo-ing for 10 hours a day, all day, every day, just get out there and work hard," so I kind of told myself to shut up and just work hard, and I remembered the words of the previous Mission President which he told us about 6-7 months ago (before they switched), "You really have no idea how much you are doing." I felt that even though I couldn't see that immediate success as soon as I got on my bike after running everywhere completely exhausted, that it was all worth something and that Heavenly Father was happy with what we were doing. And we didn't get any return appointments or have any particular special experiences that day but I came home feeling tired and fulfilled.

Photos: MTC companion Elder Inagaki & I at Mission Leader Council, group photo from Zone Training Meeting and another Typhoon photo (explanation can't do).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Weekly Urata Mail

I killed off Elder Richards and now my new companion Elder Urata and I have been enjoying the heat & miracles here in Okinawa.

Before Elder Richards (and Elder Malen who was in our apartment this past transfer too) left we had a surprise farewell party with a bunch of members, and another after Seminary - which we attend weekly. Had some fun at the beach and rode a Ferris wheel so there will be a lot of photos this week.

Elder Urata is a super hard worker, and I thought I was but this transfer is going to be way different to previous ones, I've already noticed some great changes in our contacting and lessons. He is pretty much fluent in English, so yesterday when we had Stake Conference for the military branches he didn't have much of a problem listening all in English.

On Thursday we were riding our bikes and as we finished talking to someone who almost accidentally missed the bus for taking a Book of Mormon (失礼します), an American came over to us telling us how surprised he was to see Missionaries in Okinawa! He told us he was a member but hadn't been to Church for a long time, but that he wanted us to meet his friend who was waiting in the car, so we met Yui, a Japanese girl, who wanted a Japanese Book of Mormon and had some questions about Church & our Eikaiwa class. We switched on and off with English & Japanese and swapped phone numbers with them. The first thing we did when they drove off was pray & thank Heavenly Father for that miracle.

Remember last week's Eikaiwa-flyer-miracle? We had another, as Elder Urata and I were at the Church doing weekly planning two older women came asking about our Eikaiwa class, but one asked us to take them on a Church tour and had a lot of questions about Church doctrine, the program, and so on. They said they'd like to come again. I feel like God is preparing so many people, and guiding them to things that will help them have a change of heart & come into Christ.

Loving my mission.

Photos: Elder Urata & I, last photo with Elder Richards & Malen before they left, beach photo (water is still my one weakness as you can see), and Elder Richards & I on the Ferris wheel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Weekly Dodgeball Mail

My companion Elder Richards is finishing up his mission this week so we've been getting taken out for dinner flat out, had two farewell parties, we taught a training for trainers down in Naha, and were able to go to Futenma in our zone to see the baptism of an investigator, Hiroumi, who Elder Richards found & taught four months ago when he was in that area before transferring here. He baptismal service reminded me so much of when Umeda was baptised in Nobeoka almost a year ago, the Spirit was so strong and the peaceful feelings my heart were filled with this past Saturday at Hiroumi's baptism, specifically after the ordinance when he shared his story & testimony & shared with us how the Gospel has changed his life so much in only a matter of months, were the same that I had at the time of Umeda's baptism. I have come to recognize and appreciate the Spirit so much during my mission, and it's taught me that this is something I never want to go without. The Spirit is so precious & it requires a lot, but it's always worth it.

Last P-Day we had a Zone P-Day, also with a few members, some of the youth in the Ward & my papa Brother Rogers (Stone Squad!). Four square, dodgeball, few other activities, good fun but hurt my poor, weak little body a little too much so I was sore for a few days after.
Seminary was fun as usual, and I'll be staying here next transfer with a Japanese companion Elder Urata (I'll be honest I've always wanted a Japanese companion!!) so we'll be having a lot more fun in the next 6 weeks I think.

On Friday we had a day full of finding, no appointments because originally we were told a typhoon would be coming so we kept it open expecting a day inside but the typhoon changed course. It was a super hard day, probably the hardest day this transfer. No one was home and the people that were home didn't talk to us. Then, on Sunday morning, an older couple, American man & a Japanese woman, walked in to Church for the first time saying that they've been in Okinawa for a year now attending a number of churches trying to "find the church for us" as they said. They knew where the Church building was because they found a flyer for our free English class in their post box. They came to the American Ward so I sat by them & translated into Japanese (because she can speak English but a Church meeting in any language can be difficult), and the wife said to me that she thinks God guided us to her area, because she was able to come and enjoy a Sacrament meeting in her native language with her husband, who could listen in his native language, because missionaries put a flyer in her post box.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Weekly Mismash Mail

Great week!
This morning we went to Seminary and had a party for a few peoples'
birthdays. Had dinner with the Oshiro family and then another with the Heugly couple. We talked about mission experiences and with my companion going home next week we've been talking a lot about preparing to finish and preparing to start "normal life" as some would call it. It's really made me think about how much I really want these principles & habits that I'm living every day to sink in and be absorbed, not so that I don't "fall away," but more so that this mission experience can be a like training ground of what I want next.
I still have quite a bit of time, but it's been good to have this realization so I can really sink myself into the person and disciple of Christ that I want to be from now on. It's still hard and I'm still imperfect of course, but the peace I feel from righteous living isn't anything I want to give up, and that's probably the greatest thing I've learnt on my mission, along with recognizing the Spirit & why people shouldn't live here. 'Cause it's crazy humid. But I love it!

Also I've been reading "Eternal Marriage Institute Manual," never too late to start preparing, right?