Wednesday, April 27, 2016

桜こそ花澄だよ! (April 25, 2016)

Note: The subject of the e-mail is kind of a triple pun. The words say, basically, "it's cherry blossoms that are the clear flowers!" The character for "flower" is the generic word for any kind of flower, but in poetry or literary settings, usually refers more specifically to cherry blossoms. The character for "clear" is used in the sense of "clear" or "pure," is in clear water, or clean air, or bright, shiny eyes, or a pure, beautiful voice. The word is pronounced "kasumi," which as a word is usually written 霞, and means "mist" (kind of the opposite of "clear," actually), and is a word in the first verse of the traditional song "Sakura, Sakura" (where "sakura" = 桜 = "cherry blossoms.") The third part of the pun comes in because 花澄 is Lisa's middle name. Nice, ね?

A few weeks ago, after a meeting, our zone leader (a goofy, lanky, silly Austrailian of a missionary) shared with us an insight. He said, the best thing you can do as a leader is to see miracles on splits. That way, the missionaries see miracles, and they think that's completley normal, and it builds their faith. With that bit of advice floating around in my brain, as I prepared for my split with Sister Q, I prayed fervently that we would see miracles together. I had faith that we could see miracles together, but was still surprised by the miracle that unfolded practically as soon as we set foot in Akita.

There was an obviously foreign man parking his bicycle in the same parking place as we were, and Sister Q asked where he was from. Ends up he was a Middle Eastern man, and Sister Q happens to be half Middle Eastern and is the only missionary in our entire mission with ties to the Middle East, not to mention the fact that her name is basically John Smith for that part of the world. We were all surprised, but the man then proceeded to invite himself to church, even though he's not Christian, and then he went into his apartment and the two of us were left in awe. Half an hour later, we were in the middle of study when Sister Q suddenly looks at me and says, we have an Arabian Book of Mormon.

Me: What?

Her: Yeah!

Me: No way! NO ONE has an Arabian Book of Mormon, are you serious???

So yes. Literally minutes within our setting foot in Akita, we ran into an Arabian man in what is perhaps the only companionship with a Middle Eastern missionary and we happen to have an Arabian Book of Mormon, and who else in Japan has a random Arabian Book of Mormon in their apartment??? That's a miracle if I ever heard of one. All I can say is I know the Lord loves us very, very much to bless us with such an astounding miracle, and the thing is, as a missionary, it doesn't even feel all that strange, because we are witnessing miracles every day. Isn't that incredible? I think it is. :)

Also, the cherry blossoms finaloy bloomed! Yaaaay Morioka! Check it:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Picture's worth a Thousand Words, Hey? (April 18, 2016)

... Sorry, picture day!

1) They told us that in Morioka, sometimes it snows in April.
We laughed.
It snowed in April.
We were not amused.

2) Same week, the plum trees are blooming, (sakura are taking their sweet time 'cause it's so darn cold half the time,) and a potential investigator's member daughter and Hawaiian husband bring us an American breeze.

Bonus photos:

I made Satomi S birthday pancakes and pizza last week

Morioka zone conference

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Faith is Knowing the Sun Will Rise (April 11, 2016)

Today, I just wanted to share some thoughts I had about faith and miracles. It's mostly unedited straight from my letter to my mission president, but it's what I learned this week, so there you go:) We had a discussion in a meeting we talked about faith being both the conviction that some planned event, like a new day's dawn or next summer, will actually occur, as well as the kind of faith that causes things unexpected--like miracles--to happen, and the following are some thoughts I had after that discussion.

I always thought I wanted to be in a front-row seat to watch the miracles unfold, but I realized after the meeting last week that it's not about being in the front-row seat, but it is being the one who is doing the unfolding, the magician who unfurls the flag in fullness. The Lord has prepared His people, and I want to be the one with the faith and worthiness to reach out my hand and let the miracles waiting to happen pour forth upon this land.

Although I have seen many miracles by the tender mercy of my Father in Heaven, I know that there is much more potential here than I've seen thus far. There was an internal struggle I've faced on occasion, wondering where I was still falling short, wondering where the difference was between my efforts and the efforts of those who were seeing tangible success. Although I tried not to compare myself with them, I scoured my soul, racked my brain, searching for what I lacked, what else I needed to give up, what else I needed to change that was keeping me from being the fully functional instrument in the Lord's work I longed to be. There were times that creeping darkness would steal into my mind, maybe it's just because of me, maybe this area is not flourishing because it's me. Maybe someone else's faith would see great success here. I extinguished the thought as quickly as it lit because I realize that that's exactly the kind of thinking that burns our faith to the ground, but one thing I begin to realize is that the Lord knows our capacities, and it's not about what we can or cannot do, but what He will or will not do. And what He will not do it place me in an area at a time when someone else is needed.

I want to tap into His strength more than ever before, to be the one who not only sees miracles, but works them. The one who not only sees success, but causes success. Like most things, that's easier said than done, but every aching joint and every sleepy, exhausted moment, every time I feel four fingers short of collapse is worth the peace that comes from doing what the Lord would have us do. I'm still not very good at distinguishing the Spirit, but I want to be the one the Lord can trust to move when He needs someone to move. I want to truly do my very best each and every moment at a level I have never before achieved. Indeed, at a level I was never before capable of, because I recognize I've come a very, very long way from where I was when I walked into the MTC, scared and excited and determined to give my life away.

Being a missionary is a privilege, and I intend to make the best of every moment.

Picture: Yeah, Morioka's gorgeous, what up!

Bonus video: