Spring has arrived in Japan, and with spring comes the beautiful cherry blossoms (sakura). If you’re lucky enough to visit Japan in your lifetime, go during springtime. There are few things as magical as a cherry blossom-lined cobblestone street. Charlie was able to visit Kyoto at peak season and share some pictures with us, as well as his insights on Easter, the Atonement, and the many blessings of missionary work.
This was a week of a lot of personal growth and learning about myself and how I can become more humble, loving, and Christ-like. The investigators are coming, slowly. We’ve had quite a few drops lately and it’s been pretty sad, especially when you find people who you really want to help and who you think will progress and then they end up choosing not to. But all missionary work is one big great act of love and charity. It’s what Jesus did. His Atonement wasn’t a number–it was pure, infinite love for all of us. Our job here is to help other people feel the love God and Jesus Christ have for them. We’re working as hard as we can to build relationships with the ward members and help the other missionaries in the stake do that as well. I think the biggest thing that would help members do more missionary work in Japan is just getting to know the members’ friends. Think about it: if you were invited to a friend’s house and then missionaries showed up and started teaching you about a religion you’ve never heard of, wouldn’t that be pretty awkward? But if the missionaries focused more on showing Christ-like love to the new people they met, we would see a lot more success in helping people come unto Christ, because it becomes something they feel, not something we tell them.
Anyway we are working crazy hard, and the Lord is blessing us. One of the things I’ve learned about dendo [missionary work] is that if you are not always improving, you’re going backwards. The minute you lose focus, something or someone drops. Missionary work takes a lot of mental, physical, and spiritual exertion. And even then it’s not enough, and you always need God’s power to support you as well. I never dare stop, because if I do, I might be missing out on some blessings. Lately I have felt like I’ve been through the refiner’s fire. I’ve been tried, tested, worked, blessed, and worn out, and God has really helped me become a tool in his hands for many things. Every night when I pray I just feel so much gratitude for my Father’s blessings. He has blessed and helped me so much. Now, I think we’re ready to start seeing some miracles.
I have been humbled by how much the Lord is blessing us lately. On Tuesday I got a phone call from someone named Uemura san. I wasn’t able to answer the phone at the time because I was in a training meeting in Kobe, but when I listened to the message, I heard a female voice saying, “When is your church? I want to come to church. I have some questions I want to ask about your church, so please call me back.” I called back faster than you can say kinjin [golden]. We set up an appointment for the next day. We had a really spiritual lesson. Uemura san has had some rough stuff going on in her life, and she wanted to start coming back to church. She belonged to another Christian church when she was young, but she had quit going. She had driven past our church a lot and noticed it and felt like she wanted to come, but she was always too busy. But now things in her life have changed. She has more time and the desire to learn. God really does prepare people, and sometimes all we have to do is be ready to help.As far as other news, Kodama Choro and I found two teenagers on the street named Kan and Soda. No joke. They became investigators this week and every time we talk about them it becomes a joke. “Hey when’s our next appointment with Soda can?” “Why don’t we pop them a quick text…” “Those two have bubbly personalities.” Do you miss my puns? [Yes, we do!]
Well, this has been a rough transfer in a lot of different ways. For a long time I feel like I’ve been working, but pushing against a wall the whole time. There have been a lot of obstacles while I’ve been here in Senri. It’s often hard to see my personal growth while I’m going through the thick of challenges, but when you look back, the growth is always visible. I have no idea what lays ahead but I know that the Lord will always help. As it was Easter this past week, I have been thinking a lot about how we can all find hope through Jesus Christ, in and through His Atonement and resurrection. No matter what happens in this life, I know we can find solace in believing that Jesus Christ gave his life for us. He overcame the impossible–sin and death–for all of us. When I think about this, I realize just how small any trial I have actually is. There will always be adversity in life, and there will always be the power of the Atonement just waiting for us right there, ready to help us. The Savior is always right there. I know that my Redeemer lives.
Domo arigato, Charlie Choro, for sharing your testimony, your stories, and your wonderful pictures of the cherry blossoms! (And pictures of cute little Japanese children are always a bonus.) Happy springtime, everyone!