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 🙂

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