Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekly Gunjin Galore Mail

I'll make this short, this week we taught more lessons than I ever had in a week. Motoko and Kawahira came to church, and it feels good to have people to teach who are progressing again. Kawahira is excited to be baptised this Thursday, so stay tuned for that. Motoko is planning on being baptised on October 31.

We have been spending a bit of time with the Military members, hoping to build our relationships, breaking away from the "I don't know how to do missionary work with you because you're not Japanese" kind of deal that we all have when we transfer to Okinawa. Basketball, soccer (I'd say I'm improving but that's a lie - at least I know what "offside" means now though), a Baptism for a members child, and a BBQ party at the beach. It was the only day it's rained in a long time but we had good shelter, good food and good company so it was for sure worth it. I'm glad I'm not American otherwise all this food would make me trunky. I know my Mum isn't the only one hoping it'll fatten me up a little.

Speaking of being trunky, that couldn't be further from the truth. To put things into perspective I have two transfers left (3 months), we are teaching more than I ever have before, and I've never felt so involved and excited about the work. Don't get me wrong, I had strived to be focused and hard-working my whole mission, but now with the finish line visible, it's made me enjoy and appreciate this all so much more. I'm also glad I still have as much time as I do!

Photos: Some of us from the Okinawa zone before the transferring missionaries left, Elder Mismash and the Teruya's who came to say goodbye the night before, and our wet weather BBQ beach party before it started raining.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Weekly Run Oki Mail


If you had of asked me last week how the week before that was I might have said something like it was the hardest week of my mission to begin with. If you were to ask me today how this past week was I would say it was the best week of my mission. Get ready for a long e-mail!

Transfer calls are in, and Elder Urata and I are staying as Zone Leaders in Okinawa. This will be his last transfer and my second last. 

When I first came to Okinawa I honestly felt like my mission was "winding down" or "coming to an end" as I was of course working hard but also excited for the future because of what I was expecting. I've had a recent reality check and all of a sudden there is this urgency to make every day, every hour, every minute count because even though I still have 3 months left - it's not enough! I'm not going to say I'm not excited for the future, but I have no idea what to expect, so I'm constantly reminded of what I'm doing now and why I'm doing it, as opposed to day dreaming about later. I feel like a different person.

We finally have a solid teaching pool, and three of our investigators have Baptisimal dates for next month. Our transfer goals were to find two people who will be baptised next transfer, find an investigator who would be a prospective priesthood holder and serve a mission, and to start teaching a part-member family, and as this new transfer is about to start we have been able to see a lot of success and the fulfillment of these goals. Out of all the awesome things hat happened this week I just wanted to share these three things:

Yesterday we had a lesson win Motoko who has a Baptisimal date for October 31st. She has a sincere desire to learn, come to Church and be baptised because she enjoys feeling the peace prayer and the Book of Mormon bring. I love meeting with her! She's really kind and finding her was a real miracle. She is the one who we found at 9am when we went to an appointment of someone who wasn't there and decided to dendou* a nearby apartment.

*You'll have to roll with me on this one, saying "decided to proselyte a nearby apartment" just sound as good as using the Japanese word 

Kawahira is an older brother of a long-time member who called us saying he wants to be baptised. We met and found out that he has met missionaries a lot, been to church a lot, was really familiar with the doctrine, and that it's been a long time coming but he wants to be baptised next week on October 1st. Last night we had one of the most spiritual lessons I've been a part of my whole mission. While Kawahira was reading the promise of Moroni in the Book of Mormon, he choked up and started tearing up. We talked about the Spirit and asked him what he felt, and he was able to realize that that was a confirmation from God through the Spirit that what he was reading was a true principle. 

Kawahira's lesson was straight after Motoko's, and after Kawahira's we came to the Church to meet Ryuki, a 22 year old who we met a few hours earlier and scheduled an appointment with. He wants to learn English so we taught him English for half an hour, then taught about God, Christ and Baptism for half an hour after that, and set a Baptisimal date with him, saying that if he learnt more of this message, was able to prepare for and continued to feel good about it, that he would be baptised on October 31 too.

I'm always writing about miracles but just this week I've felt so fulfilled and we have been really blessed to see the accomplishment of our goals, and to be a part of these wonderful people's lives. 

Photos: Elder Urata & I with Seika and Uehara Shimai at Seika Shimai's mission farewell after Church (she is going to the Sapporo mission), Elder Urata & I with Kawahira and another photo from the farewell.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Weekly Hope & Charity Mail

What a week!

Started off the week with bad news from home, which I couldn't help but let it bring me down for a day or two, but I have a really supportive district and great friends back home who wrote to me and they helped a lot more than I think they realized.

I studied a lot about hope and charity - two things that I think I really needed this week. Reading my patriarchal blessing brought a lot of peace, along with some quotes from Preach My Gospel:
“Hope is trust in God’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future." "Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance." "When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement."

With lots of prayer and lots of hard work, I felt like the Lord lifted me up and I was able to refocus on the work!

This scripture really brought peace to my heart, too.
D&C 59:23
But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

Hope! There's that one checked off the list. Next it was Charity. From studying this topic I thought a lot about my application of it over my mission. Before my mission I wasn't very nice and if someone where offended by what I said or did it was always a problem with them. Since becoming  missionary it was never on my agenda to "become a nicer person" until I did, and realized how much happier it made me and others (missionaries, members, investigators, friends I'm e-mailing, etc). I want to love people for who they are and let that take precedence over hating them for what they've done. Perhaps before my mission I would have chosen to hate people who hurt me, justifying it. During my
prayers I felt that times like this are good opportunities to draw closer to God by becoming more Christlike, because it's going to take a lot, and already has, to be Christlike, but I feel like the past 21
months of my mission have prepared me a lot to do it. That, and I really know I can't do this alone nor without the Gospel. That's probably the biggest lesson I have learnt on my mission.

Through study, prayer, feeling the Spirit, working hard, the support of others I feel like I've been able to come to terms with and overcome my worries that I have had recently. To put it simply, I feel better than ever!

Now for some Dendo stories! Elder Urata and I went to an appointment early in the morning to a lady who wasn't home, so we talked to some people nearby, and one lady didn't have a lot of time but she said we could return the next day. We did and taught her about God, Christ & Baptism and she was so receptive to meeting regularly and coming to Church, exchanging phone numbers, telling us her days off and the lot. We were about to make a goal, a date, for when she can be baptized but she told us about a mental issue that she has, so we decided to hold back and instead continue teaching her to see down the road if her issue will be a problem. Mental issue or not, I felt like she was who the Lord wanted us to meet at that time, and she is so kind and lovely so I hope to be able to continue telling you all about her in future emails!

We also went on companion exchanges in Nago, it reminded me a lot of my mission before coming to Okinawa city - very rural with not a lot of people. It reminded me the most of Ishigaki, my first area. Elder Lentz and I worked super hard and saw so much success. The people in Japan are super prepared, we just need to qualify for and then follow the Spirit - which is what we did, which is why it was such an enjoyable experience. I love missionary work, I'll be honest :P

Photos: Before leaving Nago early in the morning we wanted to take a group photo. Most of us are still asleep. The other two photos are our Nago adventures.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Weekly Junkai Mail

Pretty busy this week! We had two companion exchanges, with two different districts. Lots of running, during one exchange we rode too far and ended up in my area and found 3 new investigators but we didn't realize it was my area until after, and during the other exchange we passed a house with two cars thinking, "perfect, a family, looks like the father is home too," so we knocked on its door and two of our favourite members opened up - a surprise for both of us!
We had a conference with Elder Choi of the Seventy, and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I went with the questions, "How can I be a more focused & consecrated missionary," "How can I be a harder worker?" and "How can I benefit more in my future from my mission?"
Pretty generic questions but they all have a deeper meaning to me, as in they related to specific things I needed help with, and they were all answered! As soon as we started I was filled with peace and my troubles were literally swept away. I have decided to make sure that I am a 100% obedient missionary, as opposed to a 99% obedient missionary and my companion and I have committed to sing to people during finding (I'm still tone deaf but we're getting good at A Child of God in both languages). Last night we were able to sing to an old couple who seemed to really enjoy it!
A new stake president and Ward mission leader have been called in the American stake/Ward that we attend so we are hoping and planning for our work with Americans to pick up this week and next - something that I've been repentant about lately because up until recently I haven't given as much effort & love to the American side as I have to the Japanese side here in Okinawa. To start things off we have our first American family meal appointment this week, who knew that as a missionary in Japan I'd be able to experience the American culture too! Maybe I'll even put on a few kilos. Eh, unlikely.
Here are some photos of Elder Ngatai and I, one of the missionaries I went on exchanges with, during our dinner break.

Love, Elder Wheeler