So first thing first–transfer announcement! Matsumoto Choro and I are staying together for my last transfer on the mission. I kind of wanted to train again since it would be my last chance, but I couldn’t ask for a better companion to spend my last six weeks on the mission with.
This morning we had a lot of fun. We woke up at 3:30 and studied, and then at 4:30 I ran with Matsumoto Choro to the church where we met up with the rest of the district and our ward mission leader and we ran up a mountain. Actually, I ran up the mountain and everyone else biked, because I am a beast. Actually, my bike is just broken right now so I had no choice but to run, but it was way fun. We went and saw the sunrise and it was beautiful! I have tons of great pictures from the top of Mount Godai, or Godaisan.
Life Lesson: Don’t let life’s little obstacles stop you from enjoying the sunrise! (Or: When your bike is broken, just run!)
I want to tell you about a man here in the Kochi branch who was just baptized a few months ago. His name is Mitsuei Mori and he is one of the most inspiring people I’ve met on my mission. His conversion story is so cool. Mori Kyoudai is 75 years old and has an apartment full of the craziest antique collection I have ever seen. Paintings, wood carvings, statues of all shapes, sizes, and forms, framed puzzles, mosaics, swords, rugs – you name it, he has it. Every time I go in his apartment I find something I have never seen before. He has been a Bible reader and a church goer from the time he was very young. The missionaries from about a year ago found him in a park, doing – guess what? Reading the Bible! They gave him a Book of Mormon and he immediately was hooked on the stories and the amazing doctrine written in it. He’s only been baptized for about 5 months, and even though he doesn’t have very good eyes anymore, he diligently reads the Book of Mormon every day. And it’s not just a page or two, a chapter, or a couple verses–he reads for 4 hours every day. He’s almost completed his fifth time through since being baptized. He’s a man who has experienced the power of the Book of Mormon and it has brought him closer to God. I’ll send some pictures of him at his baptism and him with his very first copy of the Bible, which he still has. It’s falling apart!
Life Lesson: The Book of Mormon changes people. It brings them closer to God. (And: If you ever wonder if you’re reading your scriptures enough, don’t compare yourself to Brother Mori!)
Matsumoto Choro is doing really well. I’ve got some pretty funny stories to tell about him this week. I showed him my fine-hair trimmer this week and immediately he was curious, so he asked if he could try it on me and clean around my eyebrows. So I let him give it a try. The whole time he was messing with it I was kind of feeling like he was cutting too much, but I just let him keep going until he stopped and said “かっこいい!” [“Handsome!”] I looked into the mirror, surprised to find half my eyebrows gone, and in place of them, little stubbles that were about as long as dad’s beard after not shaving for 2 days or so. I spent the next half an hour plucking the stubs with tweezers, cursing myself for letting a Nihonjin [native Japanese] use American toys. Good thing my eyebrows are pretty thick… Good ‘ole Matsumoto.[Yikes! We’re hoping they’ve grown back by the time he gets home…]
Life Lesson: Don’t let someone else do your personal grooming for you (especially your Japanese companion).
Another time this week we were walking on the street and found a deaf lady. I tried to communicate, but I don’t know sign language in English, let alone Japanese. When she was about to walk away, Matsumoto Choro all of a sudden busted out Japanese sign language like a beast, to which she replied, “OK!” and took the pamphlet I was trying to give her and then left. I turned to my companion and said “I didn’t know you knew sign language!” He replied, “I don’t. I only know that one sentence.” “What did you say?” “I said, ‘Will you be baptized?'” I laughed all the way back to our bikes. I’ve never known another Nihonjin quite like Matsumoto Choro.
Life Lesson: Don’t let your inadequacies keep you from sharing the gospel!
This week was pretty good. I wanted to get my last transfer started off right, so Matsumoto Choro and I had a detailed planning session on Tuesday and set some goals to help keep me focused and powering strong until the end. That’s one of the most fundamental principles for success in life. If you have no goals, you have no purpose. If you have a goal and you are working toward it, you are progressing. If not, life loses its meaning. That’s why the gospel is so fundamental in our lives. It gives us the goal to live with our Father in Heaven again. And God made it so easy for us that he already gave us the action plan we need to follow to achieve this goal. And he even gave us the Savior to help us when we make mistakes along the way. All we have to do is make the choice between right and wrong. So what’s it going to be?
Life Lesson: Set goals. Aim high. And remember you have a Savior to help pick you up when you fall.
This week we had to go up to Matsuyama for zone conference, and I had to give my final testimony because it would be my last zone conference. That was a scary feeling. I was more nervous for that than I was to give a talk a few weeks ago in Japanese in church. じゃ、これから生活を日本語でしよう！英語とか要らんわ。 “So from now on I’ll live life in Japanese! I don’t really need English.” [Hmm…actually Charlie, yes you do.]
It was a really emotional meeting for me. I almost start to cry every time I think about my mission ending. I feel like it’s too early for that! It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was new here, and I remember one of the elders who was getting ready to go home soon. I felt so sorry for him, that his mission was ending. I was so glad that wasn’t me. But in just a few weeks, that will be me. And that seems crazy!
Here’s my scripture for the week: “Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 36:24)