This week was so good here in Japan! The only sad thing is that I haven't been able to watch conference yet! But I get to next week so it is okay. This week on Thursday we had Zone Training Meeting up in Kagoshima, so I got to go up there and be around a whole bunch of missionaries and that was really awesome! I love being around other missionaries. They are so much fun and I get to hear all of their experiences and it's a blast. Although I don't get to see anyone from my doki and that makes me a little sad, but hopefully in the next couple transfers I will! We apparently have a very 'young' zone. A lot of the missionaries that are in our zone have only been out like 7 transfers ( a little less than a year) so that's pretty cool... I guess. I don't really know haha. And then on Friday we wanted to go visit one of our members who lives super far away and go dendo in her area and so we left around 2 to get to her area and got lost.. of course haha. We ended up biking about 25 miles that day just trying to get there and find our way back. (and there are a lot of hills in Miyakonojo haha) But it was so much fun! It was raining all week, and as we had planned to do this last week we were pretty nervous about riding our bikes in the rain all day, but Thursday came and it was the most perfect weather ever. It didn't rain once the whole day! I was definitely grateful for that! I really love biking here. There are so many rice fields that we pass by and it is so peaceful. When we got lost, we somehow ended up in between two rice fields where some people were working, and they saw us and just stared at us. Haha I wish I could have known what they were thinking.
I am going to send another e-mail from my ipad really quick because the spiritual stuff is all on there :) and all the cool pictures haha.
Okay, so something I really like to do as I read the Book of Mormon is read the institute manual along with it to see insights from apostles and our leaders on those specific chapters. I was reading in Alma 26 and after I read this in the institute manual. Sorry it's kind of long but I love it!
Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy shared how his reading Alma 26 as a young missionary impacted his testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon:
“I was reading again the twenty-sixth chapter of Alma and the story of Ammon’s mission. I read out loud, as I sometimes do, trying to put myself in the position of the characters in the book, imagining that I was saying or hearing the words, that I was there. Once more I went over the report, and, with a clarity which cannot be described and which would be difficult to comprehend by one who has not experienced it, the Spirit spoke to my soul, saying, Did you notice? Everything that happened to Ammon happened to you?
“It was a totally unexpected sentiment. It was startling in its scope; it was a thought that had never occurred to me before. I quickly reread the story. Yes, there were times when my heart had been depressed and I had thought about going home. I too had gone to a foreign land to teach the gospel to the Lamanites. I had gone forth among them, had suffered hardships, had slept on the floor, endured the cold, gone without eating. I too had traveled from house to house, knocking on doors for months at a time without being invited in, relying on the mercies of God.
“There had been other times when we had entered houses and talked to people. We had taught them on their streets and on their hills. We had even preached in other churches. I remembered the time I had been spit upon. I remembered the time when I, as a young district leader assigned by the mission president to open up a new town, had entered, with three other elders, the main square of a city that had never had missionaries before. We went into the park, sang a hymn, and a crowd gathered.
“Then the lot fell on me, as district leader, to preach. I stood upon a stone bench and spoke to the people. I told the story of the restoration of the gospel, of the boy Joseph going in to the grove and the appearance of the Father and the Son to him. I remembered well a group of teenage boys, in the evening shadows, throwing rocks at us. I remembered the concern about being hit or injured by those who did not want to hear the message.
“I remembered spending time in jail while my legal right to be a missionary in a certain country was decided by the police authorities. I didn’t spend enough time in prison to compare myself to Ammon, but I still remember the feeling I had when the door was closed and I was far away from home, alone, with only the mercies of the Lord to rely on for deliverance. I remembered enduring these things with the hope that ‘we might be the means of saving some soul’ (Alma 26:30).
“And then on that day as I read, the Spirit testified to me again, and the words remain with me even today: No one but a missionary could have written this story. Joseph Smith could never have known what it was like to be a missionary to the Lamanites, for no one he knew had ever done such a thing before” (“Ammon: Reflections on Faith and Testimony,” in Heroes from the Book of Mormon , 124–25).
As a missionary (so far haha) I haven't had people throw things at me or spit on me, and we are pretty well taken care of here. But there is a difference. As most of you who have been on missions know, when someone refuses to listen and stay in their misery it's heartbreaking. It's depressing, and it hurts. We talked to a lady who after we told her we taught about God and Jesus Christ told us that God doesn't love her. That if God loved her then her son wouldn't have died, that she wouldn't be alone, that she wouldn't have gone through the trials she had been through. We tried to tell her that He really does love her but she wouldn't listen, she told us to leave and not come back. It's something I've never experienced before. And the fact that we weren't able to help her because she wouldn't let us was even harder.
I am so grateful that I know the God loves us, even those who may doubt it. Just because someone doesn't believe in something doesn't make it not true for them. And I know even though that lady didn't believe that God loves her, He does. Truth will always be truth, and the only way we can know for sure what is truth is to ask God for ourselves. I'm grateful to grow so much and learn so much while I'm here! Thanks for all of your support!
Here are some pictures of a sunset we saw the other night!