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

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