The end is nigh. The end of Charlie’s mission, that is, not the end of the world. (Then again… maybe that’s coming, too.) But he still has a few stories to tell and experiences to share, including an interesting baptism, a blessing in the park, and taking a 170-kilometer bike ride across the island, which gives new meaning to the expression “endure to the end…”
This week as we were on the way back from an investigator’s house we found Brother Mori, the recent convert, in a park sitting down by himself. He has been feeling way sick lately with all kinds of random things. But he wasn’t able to come to church last week because it is too far for him from his house. We talked to him in the park and as he explained his situation, we offered to give him a priesthood blessing and he accepted. We sat him down on a park bench, and Matsumoto Choro gave him a beautiful blessing in Japanese. After the blessing he bounced up immediately with 100 times the energy he had before and said “Genki ni narimashita!” [I’ve become well!] He came to church this week happy as ever. The power of the priesthood is amazing!
It looks as though Charlie’s eyebrows have recovered from Matsumoto Choro’s grooming experiment. So sorry if you had hopes of catching a glimpse of that awkwardness. (Although it looks as though someone else has been borrowing his fine-hair trimmer–and it’s not Brother Mori!)
This week the sisters also had a baptism. I was given the honor of performing the ordinance. Kitazoe San is 85-years-old and is the sweetest old lady ever. She has a hard time walking, though, let alone getting up steps. And in Kochi, there is no font–just a rubber gray inflatable that comes up to about waist high.
We could not figure out how to get her in the water. All the members tried all kinds of crazy ideas with chairs and tables to help her be able to get up over the edge of the pool. We started the meeting a half hour late, still with no idea how we were going to help this woman get in the water. She even suggested we just do it in a river nearby. That might have been the best option. But with faith, another priesthood holder and I gave her a blessing next to the font so that she could have enough strength to get up and over the edge of the pool. Then, with the help of members and the other elders, we helped her up the step ladder, had her sit on a podium, then hoisted her over down another step ladder into the pool and she was in the water in about two minutes or less. It was a miracle! I know the Lord blesses those who use the priesthood worthily, and will give anyone the strength they need to get into the waters of baptism to make covenants with him. Kitazoe San said that her legs truly felt lighter as she pushed with all her might to get herself into that font. Her faith helped her be baptized, both spiritually and physically!
In last week’s letter, Charlie told us he woke up at 4:00 a.m. on their preparation day because the elders were planning on biking that day from Kochi to Muroto, a famous look-out point on the island of Shikoku. Apparently only the most stalwart of Kochi missionaries will make this 170-km (105-mile) trek before they leave. Well, that was all that needed to be said for Charlie to rise to the challenge:
The bike ride was awesome. And it was about a total of 170 kilometers round trip, which is… imagine a trip from Tucson to Phoenix. It was a long one! But the next day, I wasn’t even one bit sore. Which sounds crazy, but I’ve been biking for probably 20 kilometers a day on average for two years, so I’m used to the feel of a bike and my muscles don’t get sore from that kind of exercise anymore. But the next day I was absolutely dead tired. Not sore, but there was just no energy in my body! But I will send lots of pictures and videos. The trip was beautiful. We have now become legends. We saw tons of cool stuff along the way. We learned a lot about the gospel, too–mainly about enduring to the end, patience, and the power of prayer. It was a great day.
Enduring to the end, patience, and the power of prayer: tools that can come in handy in many situations in life, but particularly on a 105-mile bike ride in the rain! (However, they did become legends, so of course it was totally worth it.) Here are a few photos from the ride:
But anyway, Matsumoto Choro and I are working ridiculously hard and pulled off 25 lessons this last week. We’ve got a lot of potential with some people that we’ve found in our teaching pool, some people that can definitely be baptized within the next couple of transfers. We have been working really hard to see a baptism from our investigators, and it doesn’t look like anyone will pull through this transfer, but as long as Matsumoto Choro stays here in Kochi for the next little while I’m sure that he’ll be able to maintain what we’ve done here. We’ve been doing a lot of housing lately – that seems to be the key here in Kochi. We find people to teach literally every time we go knocking on doors. A lot of people have a negative attitude about tracting, but here’s what I’ve found: if the people are prepared, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, because they will hear the message. They will. Whether it’s on the street, at a door, at English class, with a member friend–the way they are contacted doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re following the Spirit, no matter what type of proselyting you are doing, it will be effective. Matsumoto Choro and I have been praying about areas to house and buildings to knock doors on, and we have been finding two to three new investigators a week basically all from that. You just have to pray and do what the Lord wants you to do!