July 29, 2013 week 27 -“Six months later”

hello everyone!

I came to the crazy realization today that yes, I have been on my mission officially for 6 months now. Where on earth all that time went I have no clue. This transfer is also drawing to an end, so we will have transfer calls next week. Chances (and I really hope) are that I’ll be staying in Oizumi with Sister Carrasco for a while. 🙂 I couldn’t be more happy.

This week was crazy and hectic in Oizumi, but we also had a ton of experiences that made me realize how much the Lord answers our prayers. We had 2 great lessons with Julio Toyoshima this week, and on Tuesday, we invited him to be baptized. He accepted, but he won’t set a date with us until he feels that he knows it is true. But, we also get to have family home evening with the Toyoshima family tonight, and they came to church yesterday, so things are looking up!

On Thursday we had a huge missionary conference in Urawa, and got to talk a little bit about the mission and had some trainings done by different leaders, sisters and elders. For those of you that don’t know, we now have Sister Training Leaders. They are basically like zone leaders but sisters. They go to all the meetings, and train missionaries at conferences and so on. Go sister power! After the conference we caught an incredibly long train back to Oizumi and made it just in time to teach Eikaiwa. Teaching Eikaiwa is honestly one of the most fun things you get to do as a missionary. Not that I’m saying I want to be a teacher at some point, but it’s fun to be able to talk to people in a laid back situation in a language I completely understand haha. Our students are all great, and some of them are also our beloved investigators. Today we had a new student named Tany come to class. She’s 16 and brazilian. Her dad was one of the elder’s investigators about 6 months ago, but then he disappeared when he said he was going back to Brazil for a vacation. Tany is adorable. She speaks super great English, and Portuguese and Japanese, so she told me not to worry, and that she’ll teach me everything I need to know 🙂 I talked to her a little bit after Eikaiwa and she asked me what I was doing in Japan. I got to talk to her a little bit about what missionaries do, and she told me that she had read part of the Book of Mormon that her dad had, and wanted to learn more. Wow. Awesome right?? She took off pretty soon after that, but maybe if we get to know her a little better we can teach her some more 🙂

On Friday we got to visit some of the ward members. The first one is Graciela. She is about 58 and from Peru. Her husband isn’t a member, and she lives super far from the church, but she still manages to come most Sundays. We went over and had lunch with her, and then shared a little bit of the plan of salvation. It was probably a good thing we did, because there was a lot of things that she didn’t quite understand. But, she is such a sweet woman, and I can tell its hard for her to be away from her home country in Japan. She wants to go back to Peru at some point, but at the same time she loves all the people that take such good care of her in Oizumi. She said her husband isn’t ready to listen to the missionaries quite yet, but she told us to keep coming over, so we hope that if we can strengthen her testimony she’ll be willing to introduce us to her husband.
The other family that we got to meet with on Friday is one of my favorite families in the ward, the Funaki family. The Mom and Dad are Isabel and Sidney, and their kids are David (boy) (17) and Dayene (girl)(14). They are a really great member family. The parents converted with their kids about 4 years ago. They have remained strong members since then, but they still haven’t made it to the temple as a family. So, we decided to teach them a little bit about the temple and we asked the family what their goal was as a family, and we challenged the parents to prepare to receive their endowment with David when he goes through the temple. David turns 18 next month, and he’s really excited to start his mission papers and get out there to share the gospel. Maybe him being a missionary will help his family realize why forever families are so important.

Saturday was the Japanese Summer festival known as O-Matsuri! We woke up to a lot of Japanese music and people playing drums in the street. It’s the most Japanese thing I have seen on my mission. For O-matsuri they close down all the main roads and have things like food, games and bands set up for everyone to see. Other events as well, but not things that we can see as missionaries. That morning, we got to meet with a family from Urawa that used to be Sister Silva’s investigators, The Jitsukawa family. The father and daughter are members, but the mother and son aren’t. They are a really sweet Japanese family. We met them at the church and decided to teach them the plan of salvation. I think it was one of the most spiritual lessons on my mission. It was one of the strongest times I’ve felt the spirit working with me and helping me to tell these people what they needed to hear in Japanese. At the end of the lesson the mother was crying, and the son offered to say the closing prayer. It really was amazing. They aren’t our investigators, but they agreed to start taking the lessons from the missionaries where they live. Hopefully they can continue to see miracles with them.
After the lesson, Brother Jitsukawa took us to lunch at this Brazilian restaurant in front of the church. It was a churrasco, which means it was basically all meat. They came to your table and cut it off with a huge knife right in front of you. I’ve never been to Tucano’s in Utah, but I think it would be something similar. You can now add chicken heart to the list of strange things eaten here. Oh, and we ate sting ray later that day. bones and all. Not my favorite, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve eaten here.
After the Jitsukawa family, we got to put on yukatas (like a summer kimono) and go to the festival with our one Japanese investigator, Erina. She is really sweet. Her baptism was scheduled for this Sunday, but unfortunately, she didn’t quite make it. She still has interest though, so we aren’t giving up on her yet! We taught her a little bit about eternal marriage while at the festival.
We also met up with our new friend Tany there! However, in the middle of the festival there was a huge thunderstorm, and we had to take refuge in a less active members store for almost an hour. It was the craziest rain storm I’ve ever seen. Nothing like California. Its incredibly hot and humid, but then this roaring lightning and rain come pouring down. Plus wind. Peoples stands for O-matsuri were blowing over and everything, and those who were walking around outside were in rivers almost a foot deep. It was crazy. But we got to know Tany a little better, so I count it as a blessing in disguise.

Sunday was also wonderful, as Sundays always are. After church, we had a fireside with our members about missionary work, and how easy it is to invite others. It could be something as simple as serving someone, and then inviting them to come to dinner, and invite the missionaries as well. Hopefully we can continue to keep the ward fired up about missionary work and increase our little group of 12 to something much better.

Oizumi is wonderful and amazing and so much better every week! The languages are coming, but I’ve been learning that when the words arent there, you just need to show love to those you teach. Well, I don’t have a ton of time this p-day because we are going to the Tokyo Temple as well, so I can’t email everyone I would like to, But i love you all!

te amo!

sister hunsaker

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July 22, 2013 week 26 “It’s always darkest before the dawn…”

Happy weekly post everyone!

First off, I guess I have a few shout outs for all my amazing friends and family out there. First is to my newest cousin little Kate 🙂 I’m sad I don’t get to meet her for a while, but she looks adorable from the pictures, and I know she’ll look so grown up when I do see her.
And to my lovely ginger friend who is starting the trek to missionary work. congratulations 🙂 I know it’s not as strongly emphasized for girls to go on missions, so those sisters who do serve really have such a strong devotion to the gospel. (personally I think all girls should go out and serve, but that’s just me being me, and seeing how much my mission experience is already changing me).
And to all my dear friends who write or email, thanks 🙂 I do enjoy being updated on your life because I honestly have no clue what is going on in the world outside of the Tokyo mission. It’s honestly kind of nice not to have a phone or facebook or something like that because I can focus so much more on the important things. All the kokoseis (high school kids) here are always glued to their cell phones, and I know I was exactly the same.

So my week…. I never quite know if I should email according to investigator, or day, or what not, so forgive me if my emails are incredibly scattered.

I guess I can start off with the clever title I posted to my email, “It’s always darkest before the dawn”. Just look past the fact that I’m quoting florence and the machine while on my mission. But that song popped into my head the other day, and it made me realize that’s kind of how Oizumi and my mission is going right now. I know we can do all things if we have faith, and trust in God, but it’s so hard to see the end results of that when you are in the moment. There have been multiple times since being in Oizumi, and pretty much weekly, where I want to scream and cry and shout because I don’t know what to do, and how to talk to these people and teach to their needs. It’s like being a brand new missionary all over again. I can understand what they’re saying to me, but I don’t quite have the vocabulary to answer their deep gospel questions, or I start answering them in Japanese, which is pointless because they don’t understand it. But anytime I have a day in Oizumi where I question why on earth I was sent here, and how I’m supposed to teach these people, and if it could get any harder, we see something amazing the next day with one of our investigators, with a recent convert, or within ourselves.

An example of that is finding Erika. She’s our newest investigator. She is 17 years old, and Brazilian, but has grown up in Japan, and is more comfortable speaking Japanese, so thats what we teach her in. The day we found her we rode our bikes for about an hour to go visit another investigator, who ended up canceling on us as soon as we got there. But, we felt like there was something we needed to do out there, and more importantly, someone to find. So, we began housing. Erika’s door was the very last door we knocked on that day. She opened the door, and we talked to her for a little bit about what we taught, and then she said, yes, that she wanted to study and she wanted to learn more. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and our phone number, and set up an appointment to go visit her a few days later.
This thursday we had our first lesson with Erika. She’s adorable. The second we got to her house she opened the door and had three little pairs of slippers lined up for us, and had her kitchen all set up for us to teach her in. She really is amazing. About a month ago, she decided that she needed to find out if God was really there, because she hadnt believed in him at all up until that point, but she felt like something was missing. So she started reading the Bible, and talking to her friends that have religion, and studying as much as she could. About a week before we met here, she learned a little bit about the Mormons in a class at school, and thought she might want to learn more about them. And then we found her that day. She told us that she didn’t have a ton of time to read at home, so she had been taking the Book of Mormon to school with her and reading little bits and pieces in between her classes. How amazing is that? The lesson with her went really well. She says she doesn’t know anything for sure yet, but she wants to believe so badly. I know if we continue working with her and teaching her, we could really see a miracle with her.

We had another great lesson this week with one of our investigators named Noriko. She is Peruvian, so we get to teach her in Spanish. It’s slightly easier than portuguese, but at this point I’m almost starting to slur them together when I speak, so its almost a new language called “portunol” I guess its better than nothing. But this week we taught Noriko about the plan of salvation. She had a lot of questions, but she also said at the end of the lesson that she felt something really good, and that we could come back again next week. Hopefully things can keep progressing with her.

I guess the sad news of the week is that once more we didn’t have any investigators at church, which seems to be the hardest thing to get people to do here. So Erina and Kai-san won’t be able to be baptized on the day that we had originally planned for them. But, as long as both of them keep trying with everything they have, I know they can be baptized soon. There is no doubt in my mind about that. They just need to get through the doors of the church first.

We got to work with some really great recent converts this week as well.
My personal favorite is Bruna Noguti. We got to go visit her twice this week, and talk a little bit about the atonement, and forgiveness. Bruna is probably the strongest convert that we have in Oizumi. She’s doing great with everything, and if things go as planned, we might be able to go with her to the temple soon to do baptisms for the dead. She just needs to be interviewed by the Kumagaya bishop first. But we all know she will pass with flying colors.
The other converts/investigator that we got to work with was the Toyoshima family. On Saturday, we went and visited Nicole (who is about 16) and taught her a little bit about the temple as well. She might be the strongest one in her family right now. She really wants to go to the temple as well. We told her that as long as she starts coming to church, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
This morning, we had a lesson with Julio Toyoshima, the dad, and only member of the Toyoshima family who isn’t baptized. We taught him about the restoration and the priesthood. Right before we taught him, he told us how he had been worrying for his family, and his wife, and how things had been really hard for them this week. We taught him about how he can have that special power to bless his family, and he seems incredibly touched by that. But, he is still having a hard time with prayer and reading the Book of Mormon, which is pretty much necessary for anyone to be converted. And, like most of the Brazilian people in Oizumi, his work schedule is incredibly crazy because he works in a factory. But, we have a lesson with him tomorrow morning bright and early, so please keep him in your prayers tonight, his family really needs a priesthood holder in their home.

Other than that, things are going good here in good old Brazil/Japan. Typhoon season is beginning so it’s incredibly warm and spontaneously rains, but its always an adventure going outside. Its hard to believe that we only really have 2 weeks left in this transfer. It’s not fair how fast time flies by sometimes. Something I want to end with is my testimony, and the things that I know have been strengthened so far on my mission.
First is of course, forever families. As missionaries, yes we want to get people baptized, but even more that that, we want them to be able to receive the gift of eternal life, with their FAMILIES. and thats one thing that most people have in common, a desire to protect and strengthen their family. Don’t get me wrong, I miss you all tons, but it always breaks my heart to see families like the Toyoshima family, who are struggling. I would stay in Japan and go through being a bean 100 times just to see them sealed together in the temple.
But something that I feel everyday, and sometimes, yeah, I have to remind myself of it, is that Heavenly Father loves each and everyone of his children. And we all know that, and can feel it. Its so easy to get overwhelmed as a missionary, and even just as a regular person. There are so many influences that can push against you, and make it seem like you dont know anything, but one thing that I know, and will always know, even when there seems like there is nothing else, is that Heavenly Father loves me. And he loves each of his children. And when it seems like he isn’t there walking beside us, it’s because he is carrying us through the hard times. Being a missionary is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but everyday I feel such incredible joy knowing that I am serving my Heavenly Father, and making him proud of me.
I know this church is the true church of Jesus Christ, and that it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we now have a latter day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and that he receives revelation that is specific to each of us, otherwise I wouldn’t be on a mission right now. I know the Book of Mormon is for us, and that if we read it with a sincere heart, we can always find something to help us that day. I know, now more than ever, the importance of prayer, and asking Heavenly Father to help you, and thanking him for everything that he has given us. There is nothing that could ever replace the power that prayer has. I know that families can be together forever. I miss you all like crazy right now, but a year and a half is nothing compared to the eternity that we can spend together.
I know that through the power of faith in Jesus Christ we can do all things. So for now, we can all keep our heads held high, and push through the trials and afflictions, because there are little miracles every day that we just need to look up and recognize. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I love you all, and I can’t wait to hear from you next week.

aishiteimasu,

sister hunsaker

July 14, 2013 Week 25 Japanese, Spanish or portugese, it’s a guessing game!

Bom dia!

hello everyone! Things are still going great over here in Oizumi. I feel like I’m quite possibly having the most unique mission experience out there. I’m serving in Japan, but everything about the area I’m serving in screams South America or Brazil. I’ll give an example, so that you understand more what Im saying. Housing (or tracting) is basically a guessing game. Sometimes people answer the door and look like a Japanese person, but grew up in Brazil, so they know zero Japanese. So you pretty much start with “nihongo shaberimasuka?” (japanese) “habla espanol” (spanish) or “fala portugues?” (portuguese). and from there you can try and tell them a little about the gospel. Its pretty funny to see how many different languages you can use in a day. Usually you get to use all three, but sometimes it just depends on who you meet or teach.

We got to meet with a lot of really cool people this week, and saw some miracles as well. And saw what Oizumi really needs help with, having strong converts.

On Wednesday we met with the Mercado family who are recent converts. They are Filipino, but the Mom pretty much only speaks English, and the daughter speaks English too, but understands Japanese better. They haven’t been to church for a while, but they were really excited to see us when we came and visited. We taught them about the plan of salvation, and how we can be forever families through it. The daughter, CK, is only 11, but she already has such an incredibly knowledge of the gospel. I don’t think I even knew as much as she does when I was her age. I think sometimes growing up in the gospel you dont take advantage of all the blessings you really have.
On wednesday we also met with Bruna Noguti. She’s a recent convert as well, but she’s been coming to church, and she’s one of my favorite people here. We teach her in Japanese as well, but she understands Portuguese and can speak a little bit, so she’s teaching me Portuguese and I’m teaching her English. All via Japanese. Its quite the adventure. We’ve also been trying to teach Bruna’s younger sister, Eduarda. I think I’ve mentioned them before and probably sent a picture. The one problem we have with teaching them is their Mom. She doesn’t let Eduarda (little girl) go to church because she thinks she is too young to just go to church with Bruna, but at the same time we cant get her to come to church either because she’s about 7 months pregnant (and unmarried) and is worried that she’ll be judged by the members if she came. At this point we’re just waiting for a miracle.

On thursday, we got to visit the Toyoshima family. Well, Nadia and we finally got to meet with her elusive husband, Julio. He’s another Yamazaki Kyoudai, just in Brazilian form. His problem is the word of wisdom, except for her struggles with coffee. He doesn’t think he has enough faith to give it up, and be a member with the rest of his family. I’m honestly incredibly worried that the Toyoshima family is going to go straight from recent converts to less actives. They haven’t been to church in almost 5 weeks now, and we can’t convince them to come every time they visit. We’re trying to teach Julio about the gospel and the commandments that we follow, but its hard to teach him something and ask him to obey it, when his family is all members and they aren’t setting the best example for him. We’re trying to give them a break for this week and then visit them again, but they really do need to get back to church. I know so many of their problems could be solved just by getting there and being fellowshipped by the little Oizumi group.
On thursday, we also got to meet with Erina and Kai san and teach them a little bit. Go figure in a place like Oizumi our two investigators with baptismal dates are both Japanese. Kai-san really wants to be baptized, but he has a part time job that doesn’t let him come to church on Sunday. But, he told us that he has been praying to be able to come to church and has been on the look out for another job. He probably won’t be able to be baptized on the 28th the way things are going for him right now with church attendance, but if his faith stays as strong as it is right now and keeps increasing, I know he can be baptized soon.
Erina is doing great as well, we taught her about the plan of salvation, and then about the atonement of Jesus Christ. She really wants to be baptized as well. She’s been reading the Book of Mormon, but she says she has a hard time understanding it, so we’re going to read together with her for one of our next lessons and hopefully that will help her. She didn’t make it to church this Sunday because she got called into work last second, but as long as she comes next week, she’ll have no problem being baptized on the 28th.

Saturday was amazing as well. We did some housing around Oizumi and found a lot of people who have met with the missionaries before. They always make references to the back packs and helmets. Definitely elders haha. We met one man who spoke Spanish and talked to him a lot about eternal life and living with God and Jesus Christ. My understanding of Spanish is a lot better than I thought it would be after taking a break for a while, but I still can’t speak as much as I would like. But, I know (and have learned) that when you can’t speak the language as well as you would like, you can still show the people you are teaching your love for the gospel, and love for them without using words. We even had someone tell me on Saturday, “Señorita Hunsaker, no hablar tanto como los demás, pero usted tiene un buen corazón. Lo puedo ver en tus ojos.” It made me smile to think that people can always tell what your true intent is. From your eyes, from your spirit and from your heart. Actions always speak louder than words
On saturday we also got to meet with one of our investigators named Celia. She’s brazilian as well. We’d been a little worried about her progress lately, but when we walked in to teach her, she was sitting at her desk, reading her livro de Mormon. We told her we wanted to talk about Adam and Eve, and she just about knocked our socks off by saying, Oh yeah! I just read about that. Adam had to fall so that all of us could be happy right? Plus 2 points for the sister missionaries. After that we had a really great lesson with her about the plan of salvation. She really has started to progress. Now we just have to get her to come to church. Thats been the single biggest thing that has held back our investigators from being baptized. Hopefully we can turn it around soon.
Our last lesson of the night was with a girl named Noriko. She’s from Peru. We taught her the restoration in Spanish. After the lesson was over, she told us that she really liked everything that we had to say, and that she wants to learn more. I cant quite tell you how happy we were all to hear that. We have another appointment with her for next sunday, and we’re hoping things will go well there, and we can invite her to be baptized.

Sundays in Oizumi are some of the most fun and interesting days out there. We have Japanese, Brazilian, and Latin American people in the ward, so the missionaries have to translate the meeting over headsets from portuguese to whatever language everyone needs. Fortunately, I’m not quite there yet. I could probably translate into some broken incredibly simplified English if I needed to, but we’ll see how that goes. Whenever we sing hymns its funny too because of all the different languages going on. This Sunday we unfortunately didnt have any investigators at church. Both from us and from the elders. It’s always a bummer when people tell you they’re coming to church, and you save a seat for them, but they never show. None of our recent converts (except dear sweet Bruna) or less actives came to church as well. So, not including the missionaries, we had a total of 12 members at church on Sunday. Relief society had 6 people in it. Which is including the 3 sister missionaries. It’s a little discouraging to see how small the ward is, but at the same time, it never ceases to amaze me at how strong the members that do come are. They are pretty much all converts, and they all have such strong testimonies of this gospel and of missionary work.
This Sunday I also got to give the closing prayer in portuguese! The language is definitely a lot better than when I first got here. The understanding is still a lot better than responding, but all the members gave me a hug or a high five after church and told me how well I was doing, and “você fala bom português!” I’m not quite there yet, but almost.

This past week I also realized that I already only have less than a year left on my mission. Where the heck does the time go??? Not quite fair in my opinion. If I had it my way, I’d stay out here for 2 years as well, but I already got to come a little earlier than normal, so I’ll just smile and be happy about it.

Being in Oizumi has really strengthened my personal testimony of prayer. Everyday when we go out I always pray to just be able to talk to these people. Its something that I keep in my mind and in my heart all the time. And everyday we meet someone, and I get to talk to them just a little bit about the gospel, and about how they can be with their families forever. Its amazing what the Lord can do for us when we put all our faith in him 🙂

I love you all! stay safe!

te amo,

sister hunsaker 🙂

July 8, 2013 week 24 oizumiiiiiiiiiiii!

Dearest loved ones!

Happy p day 🙂 today was definitely one of the most fun p days I’ve had so far on my mission, so we’ll start with that. Today we got to go to the zoo! and they actually had some pretty amazing animals this time. tigers, hippos, and lemurs that you could play with. The lemurs were probably my favorite. They were all super cheery little guys. I think I could probably compare them to kittens. When we tried to leave to go see the rest of the zoo, one was literally holding onto my leg trying to escape with us. They must love the company. And of course going with my dear companions made it that much better. So… updates on the rest of the week!

Oizumi is fantastic, and wonderful, and quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I’d be lying if I said that everything was just fine and dandy. That being said, I’ve been amazed with what the Lord has already blessed me with so far. He’s played a huge role in me being here and starting to learn everything. slowly but surely.

Monday: we got to go have dinner at the group leaders house! Oizumi is small enough that its not quite even a branch. We’re technically linked to a ward that is about an hour away called Kumagaya. So the bishop there is technically in charge of us. But because he’s so far away, we have Brother Maeno to take care of us. We had an awesome time there getting to know him and his wife with some of the other missionaries in our district. The most amazing part about Monday though, was getting an email from my beloved last companion, Sister Vail, who is still working in Utsunomiya. Do you remember Irene? She was probably my favorite investigator that we had there. Anyways, in the last lesson that they had with her, she accepted the invitation to be baptized! Her baptism date is for July 21st. I started crying as soon as I read the email. I’m sad that I won’t be there to be able to see her get baptized, but I am so glad that I got to go to Utsunomiya and get to teach her and help her prepare for that big step.

Wednesday was quite possibly one of the most depressing days i’ve ever had, but for reasons outside of my own life. There is a member named Ana Maria who lives in Maebashi that we had to go help. She lived in Bolivia before, but now she lives in Japan with her husband. Ana Maria is really sick, but she can only speak a little Japanese, and because of that, she needs a translator whenever she goes to the hospital. So, since Sister Silva is fluent in Portuguese and Japanese, she went to go do the translating from Japanese to Spanish and back, and I tagged along. The Spanish is still back there a little bit, so I got to talk to Ana a lot while we were sitting and waiting at the hospital. Maybe more listening and hand holding than talking, but I think that is what she really needed. All her kids still live in Bolivia, and she hasnt seen them in a really long time because she hasnt been well enough to go back and see them for a few years. Her youngest daughter is my age. But even though she has been through so much, she recognizes so strongly the role that God has played in her life, and she knows that he has answered every single one of her prayers. While we were in Maebashi that day, we got a phone call from President Budge. The Tokyo Mission officially split this week, and because of it, a zone from the Sendai Mission was actually added to us. One of the sisters serving there is a native Spanish speaker, and because of that, President Budge decided to transfer her halfway through the week to Oizumi. So I am in a sannin once more! My new companion is Sister Carrasco. Her parents are from Peru, but she was born and raised in America, so she is fluent in both. I can tell she is going to help a ton here. This is only her second transfer, so she still doesn’t understand a ton of Japanese, but we’re all teaching each other the wonderful languages of Oizumi, so I know she will pick it up in no time!
The last great part of Wednesday was getting an email from our zone leaders about Victor. and Manglio, the 2 guys that we found housing and passed off to the elders last week. They had an amazing spiritual lesson with them, and both Manglio and Victor accepted the invitation to be baptized. They have a baptismal date for July 28th. We are so happy for them!

Thursday was equally amazing. On thursday we went to pick up Sister Carrasco, and then rushed over to the church for eikaiwa. To be honest, I completely forgot it was 4th of July until one of the students asked me why it was important. Haha. Its amazing how time flies and you start to forget what day it even is.
After Eikaiwa, we had a lesson with two investigators, Erina. (I think I talked about her last time) and Kai-san (another one of our Eikaiwa students). We taught them the doctrine of Christ and they both understood it really well and felt the Spirit strongly. At the end of the lesson, I got to be the one that invited them to be baptized. When I opened my mouth and asked them to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized, I could feel the Spirit working through me. I honestly dont know if I’ve been able to testify that strongly in my life. It really showed me how much the Lord helps us when we just open our mouths. Both Erina and Kai. accepted the invitation to be baptized and we set a baptismal date with them for July 28th. If everything goes well, we could have 5 baptisms that day. 3 of the elders investigators, and 2 of ours. So keep them in your prayers please 🙂

Sunday was fantastic, and Erina came to church 🙂 along with a few of the Elders investigators. It was so great to see her there, and because it was fast and testimony meeting there were a lot of really amazing testimonies that were born, and the Spirit was incredibly strong, After church we talked to Erina a little bit and she said she loved it! She wants to come again next week, and she is going to try and meet with us twice this week. I really just want to make sure that any converts I have on my mission stay strong and have that solid testimony before they are baptized. That’s one of the problems that Oizumi is having. There are 2 families that were recently baptized into the ward, but neither of them have been to church for about 3 weeks now. Its frustrating to see, and its sad to see them start to drift away, but we’re doing the best we can to try and get them to church, and the members are helping out as well too. With all the faith that is here in Oizumi, I know we can make it happen.

This week during personal study, I was reading in Preach my Gospel about humility. There was this quote in there that I really loved. It says: Humility is gratitude for his blessings and the acknowledgement of your constant need for His divine help. You are confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if you rely on him”. I definitely know that I need HEavenly Father’s help with everything, but I also know that I’ve been struggling lately with thinking that I can accomplish everything I need to. Oizumi is a little overwhelming to say the least. But its so true that fear and faith cannot exist at the same time. They talked about it in district meetings alot when I was in Utsunomiya, but know I feel like it applies more than ever. You have to push all your fear aside, and have that complete faith in the Lord that you can do everything HE needs you to do, because it is HIS will. its hard, but I know Im supposed to be here for a reason. Everyday there is some small miracle that helps me realize that.

well, I love you all, and love hearing from you every week! until next p day!

love,

sister hunsaker

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July 1, 2013 week 23 bom dia! buenos dias!

bom dia! buenos dias! ohaiyou gozaimasu! and good morning 🙂

hopefully everyone is having as great of a week as I am. I absolutely love Oizumi. I’ve had so much fun here already. Granted I can’t understand everything that’s going on again, but I still love it.

We taught some really great people this week: a few of them are…

Eduarda. She’s 9, and her older sister is Bruna (14) who just got baptized last week. Their mom isn’t a member, so she isn’t super willing to let Eduarda be baptized until she feels like she understands everything. But she is a really cute little girl. I put a picture of the 3 sisters in here. The littlest one is named Camilla, and she is 5. Super cute. They all speak mostly Japanese, but the mom only speaks Portuguese, so they always talk to her in Japanese, and she answers in portuguese. It’s kind of a funny dynamic.

Sandra. She was actually baptized in Brazil about 30 years ago…. and hasn’t been to church still. The elders found her housing and passed her off to us. So on thursday we taught her the plan of salvation! my first lesson in portuguese! kind of crazy. I could only really do the pre-earth life and our life on earth, and bear an incredibly simple testimony, but thats almost more than I could do in Japanese when I first got here.She is a super nice woman, and she actually came to church with us this Sunday 🙂 The ward members are taking good care of her already.

Julio. His whole family (wife, son and 2 daughters) were baptized a few weeks ago, but he has a vice with coffee. Its been tough, but his wife Nadia says that he has been slowly cutting down on the coffee in the past few weeks, so once that one is out of the way, he will be able to be baptized too.

Erina. She is the only Japanese investigator we have, and she actually wasnt really an investigator when I first got here. I had heard about her, but didnt know who she was. We had eikaiwa on tuesday and I ended up talking to her for most of the night, and just getting to know her really well. She’s actually a really nice person. Probably in her early 20’s. We got home that night and Sister Silva told me that Erina was the girl I had been talking to. I have never been more glad in my entire life. Haha. But right before we went to bed that night, she emailed us and said that she had been thinking about church. Before she didn’t think she needed it to be a part of her life. But she said that now she wanted to learn more and that she knew it could help her. We were both in shock. Even better than that was the text we got last night where she asked us how much she needed to be taught before she could be baptized. We about had a heart attack. We are really really excited to start teaching her this week 🙂

We also saw some amazing miracles this week. Sister Silva and I went to go try and visit a potential English student on Friday, and we ended up knocking on the wrong door and finding this man named Manglio. We talked for a little bit, and then he said, “oh, son mormones!”. we were a little surprised. Turns out that when he was 13 and living in Bolivia, he had met with the missionaries and taken all the lessons. He was supposed to be baptized along with 5 other people, but when it came time for his turn, he ended up going home. His family wasnt incredibly supportive of him joining the church. And then we found him almost 40 years later. To make a long story short, he ended up coming to church on Sunday, and he brought his friend Victor (from Argentina) with him! They participated a ton in gospel principles, and the elders have an appointment to go teach the 2 of them later this week 🙂

Everyone in Oizumi is seriously so nice. Its almost mandatory to give someone a kiss on the cheek and hug them, even when you first meet them. And the ward was so welcoming to me 🙂 sacrament meeting and all the other meetings were in portuguese, but Im finding that the gospel terminology is actually a little easier for me to understand than everyday portuguese. And some people are easier to understand than others. I have a hard time with people from Rio. They have a lot of shh sounds, and it kind of makes the words slur together. But other than that, church was great! Oizumi is still a branch, because there is probably only 25 people there on a good day. The group leader is Brother Maeno, and he is one of the sweetest men I have ever met. He asked me to speak in sacrament meeting, so I somehow managed to give a small talk/testimony/introduce myself in Spanish. I still feel like I understand almost everything with that language, but I almost forgot how to speak it. Dont worry, its slowly coming back. I have to think a little bit, but its still there.

One great thing about Oizumi is that we arent the only missionaries here! We also have 2 elders serving here, who happen to be the zone leaders for the Kiryu zone. (Yeah, no pressure right?) But they are both awesome missionaries, and take really good care of us sisters. Their names are Elder Shibuta. and Elder Apolonio. They both live in different parts of Brazil. Probably some of the funniest elders I have ever met. Such jokesters, but at the same time some of the most spiritual people ever. I sent a picture of them too.

A fun thing from this week… I went to a fiesta! There was a big one in Oizumi that all the Brazilian people came to, and we also had another one in our ward. Seriously so much fun. I honestly feel like Im getting the most unique mission experience out there. Im serving in Japan, but learning Portuguese and focusing on Latin American people. Its amazing. Granted its really hard to learn how to do everything over again, but I know I am supposed to be in Oizumi for a reason, and that the Lord knows I can work here. Its going to be a little slow moving at first, but its amazing what Heavenly Father can do for us when we have faith.

A scripture I loved this week is in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

There is a time for everything, for every one of us. It might be a time to weep, or a time to mourn, but there will always be a time to laugh, a time to dance, and a time to heal. And everything that happens to us is for a reason, to strengthen our testimonies, and maybe even prepare us for something bigger that we cant see yet. If being a missionary has taught me anything, its that Heavenly Father breaks us down before he can build us up. And he knows us better than we know our selves. Before I step off my soap box, there is also a really neat Mormon Message that just got put out, I think the name of it is origin. Here’s the link (https://www.lds.org/youth/video/origin?cid=HPL2P06W01012&lang=eng).It really is worth watching. I think sometimes as a missionary I forget how many outside influences there are that work against people. The magazines, television, sometimes even friends and teachers. But we can always ask our Heavenly Father, and he can confirm to us what we might already know to be true, or help us to find that which is. I firmly belive that every member of this church can and should have a Joseph Smith experience. To ask God and really have a desire to know that this is his true gospel. The way, and the time wherein we receive an answer is different for all of us, but the answer is the same for all of us. This is Jesus Christ’s true church restored on the earth.

Eu sei que esta igreja é verdadeira. Sei que Jesus Cristo é o nosso Salvador e Redentor. Eu amo ser uma missionária. I know that this church is true, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. And I love being a missionary 🙂

Te amo,

Sister Hunsaker

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