These past couple days have been a great mix of emotions as I prepare to say goodbye to Ichinomiya, which has been my home in Japan for almost six months now. Dang, man. I guess I thought I`d stay here my whole mission. NOT true, haha.
My new area is a place way out in the boonies called Fukuroi. It is in Shizuoka-ken, which is a region on the very southeastern tip of the mission. Mount Fuji is out here, though not in my area. I`m told I will still be too far to be able to see it.
Fukuroi is apparently a huge area that involves several hours of hard biking to get from one end to the other, which is good because I could use the exercise, haha. It is mostly country and very little city, in contrast to Ichinomiya, which is on the outskirts of Nagoya and therefore very urban.
I keep hearing that it`s beautiful there. We also have some coast on the southern border of the area, so I`m stoked I get to see some ocean. The church in the new area will be small....a branch of 20-30 people, and most of them are elderly folks. Japanese older people are super funny and wonderful, so that`ll be nice.
My new companion is Japanese!! Apparently he speaks very little English. His name is Elder Chiba. Never met him, so I`ll tell you more about him next week after I`ve gotten to know the guy. I`m pretty stoked to have a Japanese companion, it`ll definitely accelerate my language to be forced to speak Japanese even in the apartment. I`m glad that I am able to easily have basic conversations in Japanese by now so that we can (hopefully) understand each other.
Saying goodbye to my beloved friends here in Ichinomiya has been hard. I`ve come to love the ward and people here so much. When the bishopric announced in Sacrament Meeting that I was getting transferred there was this big ripple across the congregation of people gasping, hahaha. Then they invited me to come up and bear my testimony, and it was hard not to cry. I have felt so much love from this ward since coming here. I will never forget these people.
Tonight we`re gonna ride out to Inazawa to say goodbye to the O family, whose three kids Elder A and I have been teaching for several months. It`ll be nice to see them again one last time. I know they will get baptized too.
|The wonderful O family. I'll miss teaching them!|
N-san is doing GREAT. We took him to another Family Home Evening at the mission home last Monday with President Yamashita, and it was a fantastic experience. I got to see many of my other missionary buddies and meet their investigators. I also got to see my old MTC companion, Elder B, and it was so good to talk with the bro again. I miss that guy.
After the FHE President Yamashita came up to me and we had a long and really good conversation. He asked me more about N-san and then said that he wanted to come and join our lesson with him later that week. That lesson proved to be an awesome success. On Wednesday night, Pres. Yamashita drove out from Meito to meet us at the church in Ichinomiya, and he basically taught the whole lesson. Actually Elder A and I barely said anything. And it was PERFECT.
He talked about prayer and helping N-san learn to really pray and feel the influence of God. Heck man, even Elder A and I learned a ton from that lesson that we want to apply in our own lives. It was powerful. President Yamashita also shared his conversion story, which is very powerful.
The biggest thing I took away from his conversion story is this though: at the time he was investigating the church, he was not that "golden investigator" that missionaries like to talk about. He often canceled appointments and didn`t always keep commitments. The missionaries may have been tempted to drop him at times.
But can you imagine what would`ve happened if they had dropped him? He probably would not many years later become a powerful member of the Quorum of the Seventy and also my own beloved mission president, here blessing the lives of missionaries, members, and investigators in the Japan Nagoya Mission. (side note: how many missionaries can say that they have had a current member of the Seventy sit in on one of their investigator lessons? hahaha.....wow I guess I got pretty lucky then). Oh and the whole lesson was in Japanese. President Yamashita`s Japanese is very good. (He is Japanese....go figure)
Met with the Y family last night. They knew that someone was probably going to transfer this week, so when we told them that we have some news for them (that I was going to leave), Sister Y said, "I don`t want to hear the news!" It wrenched my heart to realize in that moment how truly close I have become with this family. They are WONDERFUL. They are so kind to us, and lately we have seen a lot of progress with them....they have been praying every day and reading the Book of Mormon. They carry those prayer rocks that I gave them everywhere they go. They gave us some sweet gifts at Christmas and again yesterday because one of us was going to leave. They keep saying they want to come visit Idaho! I love them so much. And I know that they will receive baptism someday. I hope to see them again.
|However, I REALLY like chocolate.|
Saying goodbye to N-san was kinda hard too, but he always goes to different wards throughout the mission to see his old missionary friends, and he said he will definitely come visit me later on during my mission.
We also got to meet with some member families to say goodbye on Saturday and Sunday. Had some good food and played games. Took lots of pictures.
To sum up my feelings right now, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel that I have been immensely blessed here in Ichinomiya, and I know that there are countless other blessings to await the future months of my mission. I try not to think about the fact that my mission is already almost 1/3 over. But I still have a long way ahead, and I`m honestly really looking forward to it.
I love missionary work!!!!!
Peace and love,