Monday, July 15, 2013

Letter home July 14, 2013

Hey family!
Quick side note: Mum, are you getting my emails? They keep getting bounced back to me, and if that's the case you haven't been getting my comic pages either. Let me know if there are any missing and I'll send them.
Anyway, it sounds like you had another eventful week! The fire sounds crazy. It's always kind of terrifying watching nature at work. Every night this week we've had terrific lightning storms all over the city. Apparently Tochigi Prefecture is famous for them.
Weather has been explosive, but missionary work has been less eventful. We've just been doing a lot of steady work to slowly build up the area and our teaching pool. Our biggest focus right now is less actives. I was going to type out a bunch, but maybe I'll just revisit old times and copy-paste my president's letter:
Dear President,
We had a solid week here in Oyama! It's been really hot, but we're working hard and getting to know more people. Last week we had 4 total lessons, and this week we're up to 12! About half of our lessons are coming from less-actives that the ward has asked us to contact and follow. What's been working great for us is practicing five-minute mogis from the pamphlets with our LAs. They usually don't let us in the genkan 
(front doorway where you take off your shoes) anyway so we want to keep it short, plus it's easy for Kubota Shimai to ask them to let her practice. We've been able to talk to a lot of LAs about the Restoration and Plan of Salvation, inviting the Spirit and rekindling the desire to learn. Members have been helping introduce us to many of them, but what I've found strange is that opposite from my last area, LAs are more likely to be friendly with us if we go alone. But we're doing our best to invite everyone to church as well as activities and secure appointments to visit and teach again.
Sometimes streeting/housing around here is a little rough, but the Lord prepares lots of little miracles for us every day. This week I've re-learned the importance of noticing those little tender mercies and being thankful for them. Although we have big miracles as our goals, it's the little ones that will help us build faith to get there.
Kubota Shimai is still doing great! She is so proactive about getting to know members and scheduling specific appointments with everyone we talk to. I'm still trying to find the balance between setting a good example and letting her lead, but she does an awesome job at whatever she sets out to do. My goal this week is to help her have more fun dendoing when things get discouraging so that she can love this area and the people. I'm grateful to be working here and have many opportunities to serve!
I've been getting a LOT of emails asking what I'm doing when I go home. My plan is to either a) work a fun part-time job like a pet store or something while I prep my journal for publishing and apply to grad school or, if that doesn't work out, 2) find a full-time job that will steer me into my desired career in publishing. I did a lot of moping around the house before my mission, but when I get home I hope to get up on my feet as soon as possible, so if anyone has connections, you'd be helping me out!
I actually had a dream last week about coming home---that night there was a ward Halloween party, and Dad had just finished installing all these awesome salt-water aquariums outside the lobby of the church. Oh, and a doorbell. I said to him, "Hey, they do this in Japan!" (No they don't.) At the party, everyone that saw me was like, "Wait, didn't you just leave?" (Which they probably will anyway.)
Because of that, I did indulge a little bit in thinking about life at home. I've decided that one of my highest priorities will be helping the family pick out a new dog. (I think a dog would be a better fit than a puppy, and I'll tell you my reasons later.) Also, someone let it slip that Starlight Express is playing at Tuacan this summer. I can think of a returned missionary would would really like to go to that...
Anyway, my spiritual thought for this week comes from teaching the Restoration. The scripture that started it all came from the Bible, James 1:5-6. Joseph Smith read the promise in that scripture and took courage enough to ask God for himself what he should do with his life. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." I was never really sure about that word "upbraideth," English degree notwithstanding. The footnotes say "reproach or censure," and PMG says "find fault with or blame." But that still didn't really do it for me. Then, I was teaching Niwa-san, my beloved Chinese investigator last transfer, who read the scripture in Chinese and explained it back to me in Japanese. She said, "It means, God's not going to say, 'You're bad, that question is bad!'" The simple explanation helped me understand. When we have faith and ask like James directs, Heavenly Father isn't going to say, "How dare you ask a question like that!" or "You're not worthy to pray to me!" He is our loving Father, and any time we come to Him in prayer He rejoices because His children want His help. It makes me think of any time I ask Mum or Dad for advice and they're thrilled that I want their input. I feel like parents get to understand God more than anyone else. Anyway, James and other scripture-writers want us to have faith in God and to seek His will. The words they write help us have confidence that our simple prayers will be answered.
Thank you always for your prayers and love! Live the gospel, keep the commandments, and support your local missionaries. You're the best and I love you!
来週まで (until next week!)
Long Shimai

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