Thank you for the emails this week! Mum sent some especially sweet mushy emails about how awesome I'm doing at missionary work. That's probably not true but thanks all the same :D
You probably all heard the news by now, but yes, there will be 58 new missions in the world by July, and one of them is right here in Tokyo! Our mission president just announced it to us this week. Nobody really knows the details yet, but our mission is splitting into Japan Tokyo and Japan Tokyo South, with six stakes in each one. We're getting tons of new missionaries this summer, mostly sisters, so it's going to be a really exciting time for missionaries! I'm not sure which mission I'll end up in; the only thing I'm worried about is my best friends---the other sisters!---getting separated in the last few months of our missions. The new mission president is Japanese, and he's actually the bishop of our current president's ward! So Tokyo will be in good hands! I'll let you more as I know more.
This week Kichijoji saw tons of miracles AGAIN! Our investigators are doing really well. The biggest problem we're encountering is hard-hearted husbands and fathers who won't let their wives get baptized, but our biggest asset has been prayer. Prayer is so fundamental to feeling peace, earning blessings, and receiving answers from God, all of which strengthen faith in God and in the restored gospel. I love love love listening to our investigators pray during lessons and hear about their experiences praying on their own. It's the best!
One investigator we've been working with, Oikawa Shimai, is progressing well right now after a rough spell since Christmas. She's been really thinking about joining the church, so she asked us to teach her about baptism and the Holy Ghost again. She's struggling to understand why baptism is necessary---shouldn't faith and repentance be enough? Although we talked to her about why we need to be baptized, what we focused on was the BLESSINGS that come from baptism, the number one of which is the gift of the Holy Ghost. It took some explaining, but eventually she understood what the difference is between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Anyone can feel the Holy Ghost during special spiritual times---while they're praying, or sitting in church, or listening to uplifting music---but when we stop those activities our feelings return to normal. However, after baptism when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost via authorized Priesthood holders, we're entitled to feel that peace and spiritual nourishment at any time: doing the dishes, playing with children, sitting at work, etc. As long as we're living worthy, we can feel the Holy Ghost always.
Oikawa Shimai understood the concept, but she expressed doubt in this way: "This is a rude question, but if all the members of your church have the gift of the Holy Ghost, why don't theyact like it?" That was an embarassing question to have to answer. We told her again that it depends on how much effort we put into seeking the Holy Ghost---that is, living in harmony with God's will. I returned her question with another question: "Of the church members you know, who do you think feels the Holy Ghost the most?" She then described a newlywed who teaches the Gospel Principles class. Oikawa Shimai said this member teaches her class with sincerity and love, and that she was always trying to be a good person. I was grateful for the example of that good sister who was living the gospel to help prove our point.
The experience made me think about all of us. From the outside perspective of someone not in our church, do we look like we have something special they don't have? Do we act like we're trying to invite the Spirit into our lives daily? Or are we making choices that make us seem just like everyone else? People are watching us a lot more than we think. So family: be good examples! Not only for the sakes of those nonmembers watching, but for yourselves. The more you seek the Holy Ghost's companionship---which has been promised to you, by the way, by the Creator of the universe---the more you will feel it in your lives and the more you'll be blessed. There's nothing sweeter.
I'm about out of time, but I hope you enjoy the comics for this week! I haven't taken any photos in forever, sorry :/ but I guess I just tell stories in a different way. Maybe next week?
Thank you so much for your support, love, emails, letters, and especially prayers! Please send your faith up to heaven for these special people in Japan! I'm praying for all of you too.
Love you lots!