Another week has gone by in Matsudo...sometimes I feel like I'm starting to learn my way around the city, and other times I'm completely lost and wonder if I'll ever figure out Japan. House addresses are nigh impossible here! Houses aren't numbered in sequential order but in the order they were built, and in most places it's the blocks that have names instead of the streets. Some American missionaries have assured me that I'll get used to it one day, but who knows. At least our companionship cell phones have GPS!
Nothing exciting happened this week so I'll share an experience from last week: one recent convert we work with, Kiko-chan, is 18 and a college student. We see her often because we're teaching her mother and because she comes to all the church activities, including English class. She was baptized a few weeks before I came to Matsudo, but missionaries still teach recent converts the lesson again so I've gotten to know her well. She has such a thirst for the gospel and she has such a sweet testimony of the Saviour. It's a privilege to see her grow and learn more. Anyway, last Saturday she went with some other church members to the Tokyo temple to do baptisms for the dead. She came home late and had a ton of homework to do, so she slept in Sunday morning and missed church. On Monday morning, P-day, she called us and asked us if we could go over to the church and open it for her; she felt really bad about missing sacrament meeting the day before and just wanted to "see the church."
I really didn't want to go. This was my P-day, my personal time, and she could see the church from the outside, couldn't she? My companion insisted, though, so we walked over and let Kiko-chan inside the church. We had a short lesson about doing temple work for the dead and talked about the importance of what she did in the temple and how she felt there. Kiko said she was nervous but the temple was so pretty and she can't wait to go back. After, we talked about her Book of Mormon study. It's difficult to read (all the Nihonjin say that), but she likes it. We showed her some of the highlighting and marking techniques we use to help us learn and she really enjoyed that. She even wanted an English copy of the Book of Mormon to help her study (her college major is English).
At this point, I was ready to call it good and move on with the day. P-days always go by so quickly because we have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in; I wanted to hurry up and do the grocery shopping. Kiko-chan, however, wanted to know if she could sit in the chapel for a bit and pray. I played hymns on the beautiful grand piano in the chapel and another hour went by. It wasn't long before I felt ashamed at feeling rushed to move on with my life and fulfill my own needs. Kiko-chan is a busy college student; she could have been studying or shopping or out with friends, but instead she sought the missionaries and special time to commune with God. At 18 years old, Kiko-chan is such an example to me of righteous living! She's only been a member a few short months, but her desire to follow the Saviour is completely changing her life. She's brought two friends to church with her already, and because of her example her mother will be baptized the first week of next month. She told everyone at English class that she can't wait to be a missionary herself, and she is a friend to everyone in the ward. Even though I didn't help Kiko get baptized, I feel such a warm fondness for her because she was one of my first friends in Matsudo.
Kiko-chan is what we missionaries call a "kinjin," or a golden convert. She is an example of how the Japanese can accept the gospel of Christ and let it change them from the inside out. Kiko wasn't a bad kid by any means before her baptism, but through her conversion she is gaining so much purpose and hope in her life. What a blessing it is for her to start off her life as a young adult following the Saviour and keeping His commandments!
Even though missionary life is rough and ever day I wish I had a different companion, when I think about Kiko-chan I have hope for the work I can do here. If I can buck up and focus on the people's needs instead of my own, I can help others love the Saviour just as much as Kiko and I do.
I'm glad to hear about the fun activities everyone is doing at home, and I love hearing about your experiences with doing what's right and keeping an eternal perspective! I'm working hard for all of you!