August 26, 2013 week 31 The Number 31

Hello, hello, hello.

Its crazy how fast time flies by during the week. Sometimes I wish I could really slow it all down. This week was wonderful. Lots of adventures, and new friends, and moments that I know I will never forget.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Sister Carrasco and I went on exchanges with some of the other sister in our zone. Sister Carrasco stayed in Oizumi, and I went to Takasaki, to work with Sister Ivory. She’s a new missionary who has been in Japan for about 2 weeks now. I should have known that the exchange was going to be an amazing experience when it started with this little japanese girl coming up to us on the train platform, and asking us if we spoke english (in japanese). Her name was Miki-chan. We talked to her a little bit more, and then she ended up getting on the same train as us. In case you all were wondering, its incredibly rare for Japanese people to come up to gaijin (foreigners) and start talking to them. Usually we have to make the first contact. Thats why I was so surprised when she came up to us. But she said that she saw us, and just knew that she had to talk to us. I talked to Miki-chan on the train some more, and told her about how we were in Japan to preach the gospel, and that we were missionaries. We taught her about faith, and believing in things that we can’t always see, like God and Jesus Christ. She was only on the train with us for a while, but I gave her a little pamphlet on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Kumagaya Sisters contact information so that she could go to Eikaiwa. She was such a sweet little girl. I know that there was a reason why she talked to us, and hopefully the Kumagaya Sisters will take good care of her as well.
Sister Ivory and I spent the rest of the day in Takasaki talking to people on the street, and inviting them to Eikaiwa, or trying to teach them a little about the gospel. It was so much fun to work with a young missionary. They still don’t understand everything or anything that people say to them, but they have such amazing faith that they will talk to the people that need to hear from them. Takasaki has a beautiful church building too. With a chapel AND pews. amazing. The Oizumi church building right now is a rented out bottom floor of an apartment building. Its a little small, but the members never complain about it. They’re just happy to have a place to worship.

On Thursday I was back in Oizumi working with my companion once more. On that day we got to teach Celia, our only progressing investigator at the moment. But the lesson was amazing. We taught her about prayer, scripture study, and coming to church. She’s still having a hard time with the last one. Unfortunately. But at the end of the lesson, we asked her some of the baptismal questions, and she told us that she believes that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. And she believes that this church is true. Her only concern is working on Sunday, and her family. We just found out in this last lesson with her that her whole family is Catholic, and not very fond of the idea of her joining another church. At this point we are just doing everything we can to strengthen her faith and get her to take that next big step towards baptism.

On Friday, we got to visit Bruna again 🙂 Her leg is getting better every day, and she’s literally counting down the days until she can get out of the hospital. They took away her wheelchair though, and she can walk with crutches, so she’ll be home in no time. Hopefully once she’s home, we can try to teach Bruna and her family together. Bruna’s mom, Debora, was the first one to actually meet with the missionaries. She watched that LDS movie, “The Other Side of Heaven” and literally 2 days later the Elders came and knocked on her door. She hasnt been continuing the lessons, but Bruna decided that she wanted to listen, and took the lessons by herself. Its amazing what faith she has for a 14 year old girl. (Soon to be 15, her birthday is in 2 weeks!)

The rest of the week was spent the good old fashioned way, knocking on doors. Its hard work, but our investigator pool has been getting smaller and smaller lately, so we know that we need new investigators in the mix soon. We were supposed to have appointments with a few people this week as well, but unfortunately they fell through.

My favorite day of this week by far though, was Sunday 🙂 It was the best Sunday that we’ve had in Oizumi, and the reason behind the title of my email. On Sunday morning, Sister Carrasco and I got out early to go try and visit some recent converts and house a little bit before church. (Missionary work is 24/7 my friends, and we are encouraged especially to proselyte on Sundays, because that’s when families are home). Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet anyone before church, but before we started housing in one apartment building, I felt like we needed to send an email to Nadia Toyoshima. She and her family haven’t been to church since I have been in Oizumi. So, we did. Just said hi, and told her that we missed her, and were wondering if she could come to church today. About an hour before church, when we were getting on our bikes the phone went off. It was Nadia. She said thank you so much for emailing her, and that she knew that she needed to be at church. I really think her daughter Nicole helped. She went to efy (especially for youth) last week, and I think she has been trying to get her family back as well. When Sister Carrasco and I got the email we were literally jumping in the street, and hugging each other. Everytime before that we had invited her to come back, she said she couldn’t. It really was a miracle. But it didnt end there.
We came out of DCS on Sunday, and almost had a heat attack when we walked into the chapel. Usually Oizumi has about 12 people in sacrament meeting. Including 4 missionaries. On Sunday we had 31 people come to church.(the number 31 from my email!!) Thats more than I have ever seen in the Oizumi group. And they were all members, recent converts, and less actives that Sister Carrasco and I have been working with lately. Marisol and her son came, and the Toyoshima family as well 🙂 It was just such a great moment to know that we are helping Oizumi become stronger.
After church, we had dinner at a members house with a bunch of the other ward members. It was wonderful to be able to sit and talk to them, and get to know them better. There is definitely still a bit of a language barrier, but if I have learned anything as a missionary, its that words don’t matter, as long as you have the Spirit.

Mom sent me this scripture from a missionary farewell that I really liked, so I’m going to share it back to you guys 🙂

71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.

72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.

74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning.

I really love this parable. I feel like it applies to so many things happening in the missionary world today. Obviously the Lord is hastening his work, I’ve seen that just with the crazy influx in Sister missionaries, and all my amazing friends telling me about their decisions to go on a mission. But I think a big part of working in the Lord’s vineyard that people don’t always see as missionary work is working with those recent converts and less actives. Its part of taking care of the vineyard. You can’t just plant a tree, let it grow a little, and then leave it to be. We have to help our converts as well. They’re a big part of the vineyard. And I really saw that this week in Oizumi. Yeah, we’re having a hard time with getting our investigators at church, but this week there was literally almost 10 people that were converts or less actives that we decided to focus on, and we saw how much it helped. They all came to church, and they’re coming closer to Christ, and the vineyard in Oizumi is thriving.

Well, I love you all, and I love hearing from you every week, and I love being a missionary. Its really a gift and a present, something to cherish, to be a missionary. You get to be completely set apart from the world, and serve with everything you have. Its not always easy, but it is always always always worth it.

Amo muito voces 🙂

Sister Hunsaker

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mellissa hafer
    Aug 26, 2013 @ 23:40:12

    I think if we were to touch you right now we would get burned to the touch because you are one girl on fire!!!! Your letters are such a boost of enthusiasm for the gospel and renew my hope and remind me there is still so many great things happening in the world amidst the dreary and sad things! I hope you don’t mind because I will be sharing a portion of your letters with my seminary kids this year! I have all the seniors in the Jurupa stake that go to Norco, JFK, and Roosevelt. 20 kids. I’m hoping we can reach out to some of the less active also. We have room for them for sure! Keep it up girl! You are an inspiration. We pray for you daily and I also pray that every one of my kids and seminary students will know the joy of missionary service like you do. Xoxoxo sister H

    Reply

  2. jonisfrontporch
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 10:33:08

    Tonight I have been up all night with anxiety, My daughter Kendall Crane was set apart and heads to the MTC tomorrow. She will be serving in the Tokyo Mission but I am confused if there is a North or South. Her call just says Tokyo. I appreciate all the details you have given of your experience so far and it will help me not worry so much about her. She is an introvert and I never thought she would choose to go on a mission, but she is excited, committed and has a gift for languages. I hope she gets to meet you before you leave. Her email is kendall.crane@myldsmail.net. I will keep you in my prayers as I will here, thank you, and your parents for the sacrifice you are making to bring people eternal salvation! Joni Crane

    Reply

    • zanna
      Aug 28, 2013 @ 13:30:13

      Dear Joni,

      I understand your worries. My daughter has truly loved her mission in Japan. She is in the tokyo mission as well. The other mission is the tokyo south mission. So your daughter will most likely at some point meet her. I’m sending lots of prayers and love your way, I will forward your comment to my daughter. She writes her blog and sends it to me via email every week. I am so glad it helps you! That’s awesome, she stumbled across another blog before she left and that’s why we decided it would be a fun thing to do. Good luck to your daughter, it will be the best experience of her life! April hunsaker

      Reply

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