Following the Spirit


gates of prayer

What a change a week can bring. If last week was a drought, this week brought the rains. Teaching people is what a missionary loves to do, and fortunately Charlie did more of that this week than last (when he taught. . . no one). But sometimes you do the teaching, and sometimes the Spirit teaches you.

I was pretty excited–our next lesson was with our best two investigators, Yasushi and Yuu. We planned to teach a lesson all about Jesus Christ:  who He was, what He did, what He taught. The lesson went great. At the end, when we were talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ I said “Ja, baputesuma wa sugoku taisetsu de ari, uketai to omoimasu ka?” [“So, because baptism is super important, would you like to be baptized?”] Then Yuu said he wanted to be baptized, but was worried that we’d have to do it a lot of times for him because he had too many sins. Yasushi agreed. We laughed and then Brother Shogo, their member friend who comes to all the lessons, explained that you only have to be baptized once, and that part of enduring to the end was repenting all the time when you sin and taking the sacrament at church. Then they said “Ma, inchao?” [Osaka-ben for “eh, why not?”] It was SO awesome!

Then they taught Sawada san (a 75-year-old man), and Nagahara san, and made tacos with Yusuke and taught him, too, and a few more people. And then, on a day of splits (when missionaries trade companions for a day) where he was supposed to show another elder around his area, things got a little stressful.

It was getting a little late and the sun had already set. We had biked a good amount that day and were ready for sustenance. We hurried to a konbini* and scarfed down some melon pan* and some pear soda, and took off again to visit someone named Kotomi. According to the map, this person’s house was really far north, almost to the next area, Habikino. I had no idea where it was, and it was really far away. I started biking in the direction where I thought it was, with Grant Choro (the elder I went with that day) following behind. I was totally off. We checked the map on the phone. I had gone east, not west! Oops. We flipped around and continued on the right way. It was getting later and later. We got lost several more times, and our legs grew more and more tired by the minute. When we finally arrived at the house, it was 8:25, and we were about 10 kilometers from home.
*konbini–convenience store
*melon pan–melon pastry
We knocked and tried to ask around, but no one answered. Very bummed out, we set out for home around 8:35. But I got lost, and really embarrassed. I felt so bad that I dragged Grant Choro all the way out here and we didn’t find anyone, and now it looked like we were going to be late returning home, too. At one point, he could remember the way better than I could and he started to lead. How embarrassing–this is my area and I didn’t even know how to get around! I was tired, hungry, upset at myself, and now we had to fly home. In order to get home on time, we needed to ride like Lance Armstrong and hit every single green light. I had no idea how I was going to do this.
We biked as fast as we could for several kilometers. My legs were in pain. Then my bike chain slipped off the gears. I had to stop and replace it, while Grant Choro, who apparently didn’t notice, kept going forward. I got back on my old, rusty bike and pressed on, trying to catch up. At this point, my legs were dead. I couldn’t see my companion. I couldn’t even navigate my area, and I couldn’t even find an address on my own. At that moment, I realized that I could not physically do any part of God’s work on my own. And a huge hill loomed up ahead. I prayed. I said, “Heavenly Father, I can’t do this without you. I CAN’T. I am brought down in humility before you. Please give me strength to get home.” As I started up the hill, my legs started to move by themselves. I didn’t have the willpower to move any further on my own, but God helped me. He didn’t take the pain away. He didn’t magically teleport me home. But he gave me His strength, just enough to get me home. I learned what relying on the Lord means that day. We are not capable of doing a single aspect of missionary work without God’s help. Heavenly Father knew I wouldn’t find anyone way out in the boondocks by Habikino. But He wanted to teach me humility and faith–and I learned them!
Japanese water lanterns
I know that even if you can’t see the fruits of your labors now, relying on the spirit will never cause you to err. You might get lost along the way, but the spirit is never wrong! Always follow the spirit.

3 responses »

  1. Charlie, thank you for sharing your stories with us. They lift me up and give me strength. You are a remarkable young man.

  2. That was an AWESOME letter and lesson on following the Spirit. Wow…your son is growing Ellen. ☺ I’ll bet that is just the neatest feeling for you and Ben. ☺ Enjoy you Mother’s Day call or Skype with him! I’m surprising my Dad and nieces and nephews and great nephew who will all be home, minus our missionary Ryan. My bro and sis-in-law know I’m coming, but it’ll be a fun surprise to get the kids. ☺ Too bad my Mom isn’t there, but I know she will be in spirit and we’ll get to Skype with Ryan so we’ll be complete then.

    Thanks for sharing all Charlie Choro’s letters. I love your inputs too!
    Love you!

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