Zanna and a former roommate and fellow missionary

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April 29, 2013 week 13 kyudo usha kiseki- there are miracles everywhere

hello everyone!

This week has been crazy. Ups, and downs, sideways and backwards, you name it.

So, as far as dendo goes, we usually teach a lesson or two a day with one of our investigators. Most of the time they are in Japanese, wth a few exceptions to international people who can usually speak pretty good english. We do go streeting/housing a lot, which isn’t incredibly successful, but you always meet interesting people that way. This week we went to a house where the woman, Sayaka, rescues homeless cats and dogs. She has 13 cats and 6 dogs living in her home. When they were talking to us and we were eating lunch, the cats would just be walking across the table. I thought we were in a zoo. I had to pick a few cat hairs out of my tea before drinking it. yum. We also do this thing called kubari-kai, where we pass out flyers for our english class that we teach. Lots of fun. And people usually like talking to americans, or want to know why this little blonde girl is standing on a corner speaking Japanese. This week was one of my first times being on my own doing that, and I’ll admit that I was scared out of my mind. But, I got to talk to some people on my own, in Japanese. I couldn’t quite understand everything, but I could respond, so that’s definitely a start πŸ™‚ We teach english class once a week on Wednesday night from 7 to 8:30. Its a great way to meet investigators, and all our students are so sweet.

Our ward is the best. They had a surprise party for me on my birthday. All such sweet people πŸ™‚ It was actually Kentaroh, our newest convert, that put it all together. (I think he actually sent me a friend request on Facebook mom, if you’re managing that at all.) and they showered me with cute little Japanese presents. gotta love them. And I got your package mom! Thanks a ton. I’m sending some stuff your way for mothers day tomorrow. Hopefully you get it soon πŸ™‚

Investigator wise, things have really just taken off. We had 3 progressing investigators at church with us on Sunday, and everyone in the ward has been telling us what a good job we have been doing lately. We actually got 2 referrals from members this past week. One of them is a family πŸ™‚ It just goes to show how much more the members trust the missionaries when we work hard and give it everything we’ve got.
Two of our investigators have a baptismal date! Liu-chan and Cho-san, our friends from China. They both have such amazing faith, and we love teaching them. They are scheduled to be baptized on May 19th. Hopefully we can make it there with them πŸ™‚
One of our new investigators is Hayakawa-san. He’s this adorable 60 year old man that wandered into the church building last sunday. He’s been to church twice now, and he’s been coming to our eikaiwa class. We just taught him the restoration and asked him to pray about being baptized and this church. He accepted, and he said that when he knows its true, he’ll be baptized. We have another lesson with him tomorrow. Hopefully things go smoothly!
One last investigator to brag about is Richard. We met him on Wednesday, and then he came to church on Wednesday and we taught him the restoration. At the end of us bearing our testimonies and teaching him he said that he felt so happy that he wanted to cry. We can already see his desire to learn and to want to know if its true. This week he is also praying about this church. He told us that when he gets an answer he wants to be baptized πŸ™‚ we have another appointment with him on Wednesday. Meeting Richard has really shown me how the Lord prepares people to hear your message, and humbles them in ways that make them ready to let the Lord into their life.
Its actually kind of funny that right now most of our investigators are men. But, since there arent any elders in utsunomiya, we get to teach them. Its a little taihen because we have to have a woman joint for all of our lessons, but member lessons are really the greatest way to teach people.

One of my favorite things that I have seen here in Japan is prayer. It’s a little hard to explain with words, but a lot of people in Japan have never prayed to God. Some of them pray to ancestors, others to various wind or element gods, or some have never prayed at all. The feeling that comes into the room when an investigator prays for the first time is something beyond description. You can tell how glad Heavenly Father is that one of his children that he hasnt heard from since they left his presence is finally reaching out to him, and asking for his help, or praying to know if he is there. It’s truly a blessing.

well, this p day has been incredibly crazy, so i dont have too much time, but i promise to send pictures next time! Love you all πŸ™‚ stay healthy, stay happy, and keep writing!

Love,
Sister Hunsaker

P.S. Minor food insert. I have found a Japanese food I detest. Its called anko. Its like this sweet paste made from mashed up little brown beans. Usually served cold. It can be on top of mochi, or inside bread. that type of thing. I think its the texture/taste that i just cant do. its gross. That being said, I’ve probably been fed it 2-3 times since I’ve been here. Naturally. BUT! There is also this awesome food called okonomiyaki that I LOVE. its like a vegetable pancake. eggs, flour, cabbage, carrots, sometimes seafood is in there too. its super yummy.

P.P.S. Whenever I show people my picture book, they think Mom is my sister. You should see their faces. Quite in shock. They all say wakai!!!! and then tell us how beautiful our family is. Thats one funny thing about Japanese people. They are incredibly open with their feelings. They’ll tell you on the street that your pretty or ask you where you’re from. Probably because we’re out in the inaka. I’m sure its different in Tokyo.

April 22, 2013 week 12-Faith in every Footstep

γ„γ€γ‚‚θ¨ΌγŒγ‚γ‚ŠγΎγ™ (according to google translate means “there is always evidence” I’m guessing in missionary speak that’s means there is evidence of miracles if you have faith.

konnichiwa mina san!

My first transfer is halfway done! How does that even happen? No clue. But its been great so far πŸ™‚
This week has been a little crazy. We had a lot of people cancel appointments on us, or hang up the phone on us when we called them, but we also had some incredible miracles. This week we got 6 new investigators. And 4 of them came to church. They literally fell out of the sky.

One of them we met at Eikaiwa. His name is Toyota-san. He walked up to us after class and said he was interested in the church and wanted to know more. BAM. Just like that. I think me and my companions almost died of shock. Usually whenever people seen the “Iesu Kirisuto” on our name tags they shake their heads, wave their hands, or run away. (Literally, run away. That happened to us this week as well). We taught him a little bit after Eikaiwa and than after church again on Sunday. He has a lot of questions, but he really wants to find the truth.

Another cool story for the week… we met with one of our investigators the other day that had a baptisimal date but didn’t quite make it to the date. Her name is Liu. She has a really strong testimony of the gospel and of the church, but she is incredibly busy with her school work and job. This week we met her at McDonald’s with her friend Cho. (Both of them are from China, but they speak petapeta Japanese) We went over the gospel of Christ with them, and Cho was really touched by the message. He wants to know more about God and how he looks out for us. At the end of the lesson we asked both of them if they would pray about our message, and if they received an answer that it was true, would they be baptized? Liu said yes again, but Cho answered before her and said, “Of course I’ll be baptized.”. Well. Alrighty then. We have an appointment with them on Wednesday to set a baptisimal date with them and teach more.

The only problem we’ve been seeing here is that our investigators sometimes have a hard time coming to church. Which they have to do twice before they can ba baptized. The people that go inactive the fastest are those that didnt exactly come to church that often.

The area I live in is amazing. We live in Utsunomiya city, but if you travel outside of it for like 5minutes you can be in the rice fields. Its gorgeous. We went up to Nikko the other day to have dinner with some of the members and then teach a lesson to the Nakayasu family. We talked to them about the importance of the priesthood and the temple, so that they can be sealed together as a forever family. I took my little picture book and showed them a picture of me and dad when I got baptized, and I told Brother Nakayasu how special it was for me to be baptized by my father. We asked Kevin what he thought, and he said that he wanted his dad to do it. The part that touched me most was when their other child, a little girl named Reika, spoke up. She basically said that she wishes she could turn back time so that her dad could have baptized her too. (Brother Nakayasu was still pretty inactive at that point in her life). I think that really hit home with him. To see his children so strong in the gospel. I showed them the picture of me and mom and dad outside the Newport Temple and they said that they still want to go to the temple as a family. Brother Nakayasu promised Reika during our lesson that he would take her to the temple to do baptisms for the dead so that she could have that experience with him. There was a little bit of a tear in his eye when he said it.

Our ward is seriously amazing. The members take such good care of the missionaries, and they are always willing to sit in on a lesson, or offer help when we need it. Some of them have given me birthday presents and cards already. That’s one thing thats cool about Japan. They have this thing called a “fruit basket” that sits in the church for missionaries, and the members can put stuff in it. We usually get a lot of pasta and stuff to make food, or cute little notes and stuff. It’s nice to know how much the members here care for us. I think being a missionary has really made me realize how important families are. It’s amazing to see this members of the church in Japan. Elder Nelson just came here for a conference and told everyone that when the Japanese people are active members, they are the strongest members of the church that we have across the world. The ward members stay literally from 9am to 6 pm at the church every Sunday. After church is over the YSAs eat lunch together, and so do the other families. And then they all study the scriptures together or plan for other things. It’s amazing to see how much they rely on the church. Its heartbreaking to see some of the less active families we have, but we take every opportunity we have to teach them, and to make their family a forever family, and one that wil pioneer the church in their lives.

I think my favorite parts of conference were Elder Uchtdorf’s talk about finding light in the darkness, and Elder Holland’s talk about having faith, and holding to your beliefs. I was reading my journal from the first few weeks at the MTC and I kind of laughed about how spunky I was, even when I couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying to me. It’s gotten better, but if serving in Japan has taught me anything, it’s to always hold on to the faith that you already have. So many people question us and our testimonies about this gospel, and if we dont stay strong and study everyday, I could see how easy it would be to let that doubt creep into your mind. But that being said, I love being a missionary. Yes, I can’t perfectly communicate with the stranger on the train next to me, and sure I’m exhausted everyday when we pull off our bikes in the pouring rain, but this life was never meant to be easy. And serving a mission is no exception. Elder Holland said, “If it wasn’t easy for Christ, why should it be easy for us? The road to salvation goes through Gethsemane.”

I love you all so much! You’re in my prayers every night. Even when they’re in Japanese πŸ™‚ Keep the faith, and keep writing. I love getting emails/letters

ζ„›γ—γ¦γ„γΎγ™γ‚ˆοΌ

Hunsaker 姉妹
P.S. to answer dad’s question, if you’re sick in Japan, you wear a mask out of courtesy. But we were just goofing off. Most of our lessons are in Japanese, and every other day with my companions we have a “Japanese day” so we can speak the language more with each other
P.P.S. The pictures are from a shrine that’s about 5 minutes from my house by bike. It’s beautiful. All the statues reminded me of Mulan.(even though im pretty sure thats china…)

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Knocking on doors

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Sister Hunsaker with President and Sister Budge

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With our investigator

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April 15, 2013 week 11-the Asian side of the pond

hey everyone!

Hope everything is going swell for you! Its already going by waaaayyyy too fast. Anyways, some fun tidbits from this week:

I get reminded daily/weekly that Japan is in the ring of fire. You think I would have gotten used to earthquakes growing up in California. But not really. They still scare the heck out of me. And we had 2 on sunday. One during conference, and then one that night. They’re pretty short, not more than a few seconds, but they’re really sudden. The sisters were saying you can feel them all the time in Tokyo. awesome. Sometimes they’re really small. We had two today during a lesson that you could barely feel. I guess you just get used to them.

Japan has no central heating system! Which means that sometimes its warmer outside than inside! splendid. Every room has its own heater, the Japanese people are really concerned with saving as much energy as possible. So if you have to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, you run. Thats also why the toilet seats are heated. Because the bathrooms get so cold.

I’m amazed at how many international people are here. I’ve talked to 3 different people in Spanish already. That and portuguese are the most common languages in my area after Japanese. who would have thunk it. There’s actually an area in the mission called Oizumi that’s portuguese speaking. President Budge told me not to lose my Spanish because there is a good chance I’ll spend some of my mission there learning portuguese as well. Maybe I’ll come home trilingual!

I got to play this game called Indiaka the other day with a bunch of older Japanese ladies. Its like a cross between volleyball and badminton. Really fun. google it if you get the chance to.

I got to use my rain gear! When it comes down here, it comes down. Like you would be soaked if you weren’t wearing your gear. Its pretty fun actually.

I got a bicycle (so yes, everything is going well with the bank account dad). And we use it every. single. day. Some places in Utsunomiya there are a lot of buildings and people that you have to wind in and out of, but when you get to the suburbs there are a lot of rice fields and bumpy roads. and hills. never ending hills. but riding a bike in a skirt is a skill i have now acquired. The trick is to tie up your skirt with a pony tail or something before you get on. Other wise it flies back in the wind and gets caught in your brake. Which makes a bike stop really suddenly and leads to a black stain, torn dress, and rather embarrassing situation. Let’s just say I learned that one the hard way.

Utsunomiya doesnt have a lot of white people… mostly asian. not at all like Tokyo. I had this two year old boy stare at me for a good five minutes the other day. He probably thought I was an alien of some sort. His parents finally laughed and told me that he had never seen a blonde person before. Hopefully I left a good impression.

I got to go housing for the first time! (tracting i guess). We met a few really amazing people that we got to teach the lessons to. And I think the door got slammed in our faces more times then I could count. They see the Iesu Kirisuto on your name tag and make a run for it as quick as they can. Or they say they’re buddhist, shinto, SGI, or some other random religion. But as many times as we get doors slammed in our face, its always worth it when there is that one person that listens πŸ™‚
(a lot of houses just have intercoms, so sometimes you just get a “dare desu ka” or “nan desu ka” (who are you/ what?) and then 23 seconds to spit out something before the click off)

and now for the weekly/investigator rundown…. (some of them, as time permits)

We have a new investigator named Hiroyoshi. He is married to Yana, A woman who was baptized in Russia before she came to Japan. She’s less active, but when we went to visit her husband the other day and teach him english, he accepted the invitation to take the lessons. πŸ™‚ we’re all pretty excited to start teaching him.

We had to drop an investigator this week 😦 definitely not fun. I think I might have mentioned her in my last email. Her name is Mabico. She’s from Africa, but is studying as a student right now at Utsunomiya University. She was a referral from someone in Sapporo I think. We had already prayed going into the lesson to know what we should do with her, and it was still hard, but right now isn’t her time. We can’t get her to read the copy of the Book of Mormon we gave her, or keep any of her commitments that we extend at the end of the lesson.Anyways, She is really in tune with God, and the Bible… but that’s about it. We’ve tried teaching her a few times, but it inevitably turns into her trying to tell us everything that we’re saying contradicts the Bible and what Jesus Christ taught. Our last time with her we taught the restoration and watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration video with her. At the end she said she didnt believe it, quoted us some more scriptures, and gave us a typed up report basically on why Mormonism wasnt possible or right in anyway. I finally looked at her and told her that there wasnt anything she could say, or scripture that she could quote that would make me refute what I knew to be true. That everything we have taught her I know with all my soul is true. And that the key to her finding it out for herself was the book in her hand that she wouldnt even try to read. A little bold, yes, but the Spirit when i testified made me realize it was everything we needed to say.

We’re working with a less active man named Brother Nakayasu. His wife is a member, and went through the temple on her own, and he was baptized last year. Their youngest son Kevin is 7, and will be baptized before the end of the year. We’re working with him so that he can get the priesthood and baptize his son. His kids ask their mom all the time when they can finally go to the temple, and we can tell that its hurting her to see them want to go to be sealed as a forever family, but her husband hasn’t put forth all his effort yet. But he came to the general conference session on priesthood, and he says the temple is a goal, so we’re hoping to see them go through soon πŸ™‚

Lastly, Kentaroh was baptized! He was so nervous the day of his baptism. He really has been such an amazing investigator, and an example to me of what faith is. He’s so humble. He told us a few days ago that the reason why he started taking the lessons was because he was diagnosed with some incurable disease in his digestive tract that could become cancerous. We aren’t sure what exactly it is, but he just had another doctor check up, so we’ll find out soon hopefully. He told us that when he got the news he really started to wonder what his purpose in life was, and what he needed to be doing. That was when he met the sister missionaries. God really does prepare people to hear the gospel. And Kentaroh is going to be an amazing member. The ward already loves him so much. He could barely hold all the presents they brought him after his baptism. Seeing him in his white jumpsuit waiting to go in the water made me remember why I’ma missionary. No matter how many people slam their door in my face, tell me what I believe isn’t true, and try to question every ounce of my testimony, its all worth it. The language, the people, everything. A mission wasn’t made to be easy. I think I probably realized that the first week in the MTC. But teaching those that don’t have the gospel, and guiding those who have gone astray has given me more happiness than I could imagine. More than enough to press through the storms up ahead.

I love you all. Thank you for your example to me. Being a missionary is everything I had hoped it would be and so much more.

Love,
Sister Hunsaker

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