There comes a time in every missionary’s life when he or she becomes so immersed in the work that it is all they think about, day and night. They eat, drink, and sleep missionary life (except when taking silly pictures). They’re no longer concerned with what is going on back at home or what they are missing out on because it doesn’t really matter anymore. They have bigger concerns. They even dream missionary work. And this phenomenon has happened to Charlie.
It’s been a stressful week, I’m not going to lie. I’ve had a lot of stuff to do this past week. All kinds of things flying around in my head all the time. When I wake up in the morning my first thoughts are never “time for push-ups” or “get in the shower” or “eat”, but “We have a lesson on Tuesday with Fukumitsu san–we need to teach about the sacrament” or “I have to train Wilkin Choro on this” or “We need to study to know what to teach Nishio”. It’s always about dendo*. I even dream dendo. My life has just become one continuous stream of dendo whether I’m asleep or I’m not. Last night I dreamed we were teaching a lesson. I wake up just thinking about lessons. And usually the Japanese and the English just go all together now. I don’t even realize when I’m speaking one or the other. It’s just talking. What is this?? Wellll…..needless to say, this week has been craaazy! My mind has to keep track of a million different things now, all of a sudden. But it’s good for me. I like having responsibilities like this because I feel like I’m actually helping people, not just some other missionary who can’t speak Japanese.
Charlie has a new companion now, and he introduced us to him in his last letter. Meet Elder Wilkin:
Well, anyway my new companion is awesome. His name is Elder Wilkin, and he’s from Australia, Gold Coast area. He’s a little blonde kid, 18*, with an accent. He’s got a lot of faith, fire, and energy (now that he’s over jet lag–he passed out snoring at about 9:30 Friday night.) I like him a lot. I’m excited to work with him. His Japanese is pretty good too, for a bean straight out of the MTC. I laughed a lot with him on Friday though, while we were taking the train back to Kawachinagano I told him about Osaka-ben* and he seemed pretty scared. When we went housing he said stuff to people at the door in Japanese, but then they would respond and he would just turn and look at me as if someone had just told him his dog had died. It was funny to watch, and reminded me of the first night I was here in Kawachinagano with Marquez Choro. I had no idea what was going on, where I was, or what language the people were speaking here. But you know, we don’t recognize how much growth we’ve had until we look back or see someone else in the same position as us just a few months ago. Now that I’m not the new kid, I’ve realized just how much my Japanese has improved because I’m not comparing it to older missionaries who are inevitably better than me. And I’ve realized how much I’ve learned about teaching effectively because I now have to teach it to my new companion. It’s so much more satisfying to help him improve rather than just working on my own goals all the time. The same thing with being a new district leader. I get to help other people with their goals and their investigators now. These past few days have been the busiest of my mission so far, but definitely the best, and the most rewarding. The more opportunities I have to sacrifice myself for the sake of helping others, the more I become a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
*‘a little blonde kid, 18…’–last time we checked, Charlie was also 18. Who’s he calling ‘kid’?!
*Osaka-ben–the distinctive dialect of the Osaka region, which differs from traditional Japanese in its idioms and grammar.
And now for some happy news:
Fukumitsu-san is getting baptized on July 27th. He came to church with his wife yesterday. It was awesome. He loved it. Let’s now just hope and pray that he is able to come for the next few weeks before his baptism! He works on Sundays usually, so it’s going to be tough to make it to sacrament meeting. But I have no doubt that he will be baptized on his date if we rely on the Lord. He’s way solid. Wilkin Choro got to extend his first baptismal commitment on Tuesday in the lesson. He was really excited. It was also Fukumitsu Shimai’s* birthday that day, so we made her a cake out of pancake mix and put it in the rice cooker. We made chocolate whipped cream frosting out of some half and half and some hot cocoa mix. Everyone said it was delicious. If only they knew… Fukumitsu -san really likes rock music, and during his prayer after the lesson he said “Watashitachi wa ‘Stairway to Heaven’* ni hairemasu youni onegaishimasu.” [Please help us to enter in through the ‘Stairway to Heaven’.] I had to hold in my laugh. Wilkin Choro couldn’t and I heard him cough back his chuckle. Fukumitsu-san is one funny dude!*shimai–sister*Stairway to Heaven is a classic rock song by the band Led Zeppelin. (My brother Mike would be most amused.)
And a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure: