This is the last week of my first transfer! Crazy, right? It doesn't seem like time is going by very fast until I think about how little time I have left in Japan compared to the rest of my life. It makes me want to work harder so I can say I served every day well. Still working on that, though.
A HUGE thanks to everyone who sent me such encouraging letters and emails this week! It really means a lot to hear from people who love and support me. I don't have time to thank you all individually, but you're the best!
I have a couple things to write about, but first: Long family: congratulations on your first baby chicken! So cute! I have a lot of fun memories raising baby chicks.
Second: when is Benjamin's baptism?? I'm bummed that I'll miss it, but be sure to send me photos and tell Benjamin I'm so proud! As a missionary, I can say with confidence that baptism is one of the first steps in a long life full of miracles. Good luck!
Speaking of family photos, I'd like to request more from you! I carry around my photo album to introduce myself to the Japanese (church members especially love looking at it) and this week I realized I don't have a photo of the family all together. Maybe the one of us in the backyard all wearing black? Or any other photos you'd like to send---typical Las Vegas activities, our pets, your hobbies, anything fun that I can talk about with the people here. If you sent them already printed by snail mail that would be SUPER convenient! Our P-day time is short as it is (especially today because we went to the Tokyo temple) so saving me a trip to print photos would be the best :)
Let's see...this week I introduced Ohsugi Shimai to zucchini! I couldn't believe she'd never tried it before, but now it's like her favourite thing ever. She said it looks like a cucumber but tastes like eggplant. She keeps asking me when we cook, "Do you think zucchini would taste good in this?" I'm glad I could add another vegetable to her repertoire, because she likes to eat the same exact things all the time. I'm cooking a lot more of food I like now---and taking more initiative on things in general, which makes me feel more comfortable here but I can tell Ohsugi Shimai doesn't realy like it. We're trying to find a good balance between me learning to be a good missionary and learning that I don't have to be a missionary exactly like her. I saw Wylie Shimai at the temple and it was SO FUN sharing stories about our tough experiences! I really miss having a companion that was my best friend. People keep telling me having a native companion is such a blessing but most of the time it feels more like a court sentence. I guess it's one of those blessings that becomes more obvious in retrospect.
Anyway, the spiritual message (reiteki na messeji) I have for you this week is about---what else?---the Book of Mormon! I've always really liked the Book of Mormon but recently I have fallen even more in love with it. The word of God truly does "heal the wounded soul" (Jacob 2:8). Not only do I find tremendous comfort and counsel in its pages, I find tidbits of wisdom that can help me and my investigators become more Christlike. The Book of Mormon is such a strong testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ---it's no wonder we missionaries carry it around and show it to everyone as our message to the world. Recently I've even enjoyed reading the infamous "Alma war chapters." Maybe it's because I have absolutely no other source of entertainment, but the war stories have become so interesting to me! I can vividly picture Lord of the Rings-esque battles going on and each of the powerful characters are so clearly defined (still an English major). The message of the Book of Mormon is a simple one, told over and over again: when you follow God you are blessed, and when you allow worldly things to become more important than God then bad things happen; but there is a way to fix that, and it's through faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you to everyone who's telling me about all the busy goings-on at home, but you haven't told me about anything that's REALLY important! How is your dendo (missionary work) going? Have you invited families to dinner with the missionaries/friends to church activities? Who? How'd it go? What are you learning in seminary? What was the best part of sacrament meeting this week? What cool insights did you find in your personal study this morning? Telling me about life back at home is fun, but sharing with me your spiritually uplifting experiences instead of just things that keep you busy will help me be a better missionary. Better missionaries focus on the work, they invite the Spirit every minute of the day, and they don't let discouragement keep them from having faith in Christ. Please help me be that better missionary by sending me emails that will uplift!
I love you all and hope you're doing your best!
Oh, PS---last week a student in my English class brought me a kimono to try on! It's a sporty kimono used for...judo I think? Some activity where they fight each other with huge sticks. The photo I have isn't great quality, but I hope you enjoy it!