November 27, 2013 Week 44 Better Late Than Never

boa noite!
So… I know this letter is a little late in coming, but p-day was incredibly crazy for us with visiting people, so we didn’t have time to send out an email to our families until now. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. But we had an awesome week last week, and this week was amazing as well so far ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’ll try to just catch you up on what you missed.

So… last p-day we had a lesson with darling little Duda. Things have been going good with her, and she is super on track for baptism. Her interview should be sometime next week, so keep her in your prayers. I know she can do it. After visiting Duda, we headed to try and visit Marisol. And she was definitely home. But… wouldn’t have anything to do with us. Her little son Ramshan came to the door and was talking to us through the mail slot. He basically told us his mom was home, but that she didn’t want him to talk to us. So, we wrote him a little message on a card telling him to read his scriptures and keep praying and stuck it through the mail thing. A few minutes later he came back and passed us two little buttons through the slot, and a little note that said, “Gracias” on it. It just about broke my heart. I dont know what happened with Marisol to make her turn so violently from the church, but its sad to think that her son, who was also baptized a member, is being denied the blessings of the gospel. But we won’t give up. We’ll find out how to help them yet.

Tuesday… we basically traveled the whole mission! Actually in all technicality we went outside of our mission boundaries to the Tokyo South Mission. There was a 2 mission conference in Kichijoji, and we had a General Authority, Elder Evans, come and talk to us. It was an amazing conference. He talked a lot about the age change for missionaries, and what it meant for the future of the church. Our mission is incredibly young in age, and in transfers. In fact, about 65% of the missionaries here have been in Japan for about 6 months or less. Its definitely a little weird. I’m one of the oldest sisters here in the mission. Thats a scary thought. We got to see a lot of old friends though, and I actually ran into a member from Utsunomiya while I was there too! He had gotten his mission call to Tokyo South while I was serving there, and he recognized me and came up to say hi. It was way fun to be able to talk to him and you know.. actually understand what he was saying haha. Probably my favorite part of the conference though was when Elder Evans talked about something he had learned from President Eyring about Jacob 5. I’m sure all of you know and love, or despise that chapter in the Book of Mormon. Its the one about the parable of the olive tree. Anyways, he told us what President Eyring had told him in a meeting with the other General Authorities.
First off, lets be honest. No one understands Jacob 5. And those that say they do are either seminary or institute teachers. There are a million ways it could be looked at.
So, we know that the vineyard is the world, and this people, and the work being done there is an attempt to bring people to the light and knowledge to the gospel. But, Elder Evans asked us to pay specific attention to what the servants asked of the Lord of the vineyard. He compared the servants to the prophets in the latter days. There are several times in the parable where the Lord of the vineyard says that the time has come, and things are over, but multiple times, the servants ask for more time, to spare it a little longer. Until the last servant. He doesn’t ask the Lord of the vineyard for more time, he asks instead for more servants. Elder Evans told us that he felt very strongly that the missionary age change was made because the prophet asked the Lord for more servants. To help move the work forward. How amazing is it to see scripture being fulfilled. Ah. I get shivers just thinking about it.
After the Elder Evans Conference, all of the missionaries in my mission moved back to Nakano, where the mission home is. There we had a (little early) Christmas Conference. We got to talk about how things are going in the mission and the miracles that we have been seeing, and what we can do to be better missionaries. It was a great meeting as well, and we finally got home to our area at about 10 o clock. And we had to leave at about 3 am that morning. So we were incredibly tired. But it was way worth it.

On Wednesday we had the chance to visit with the Noguti kids once more. We talked with Bruna about the “Footprints” poem. Its pretty well known. I used to have it on my study wall in Japanese, but I felt like she needed it more than me. Afterwards we talked to Duda a little more about baptism and things that we need to do to get her prepared. She’s really excited to be baptized. Its just so funny teaching little kids because you never know how the lesson could go. Sometimes they sit there the whole time in awe, and other times they seem to have the attention span of a squirrel. But, all in all, that day was good. I just have to get more creative with keeping them focused haha.

Friday we went to visit the Mercado family and had a lesson with CK and her brother Rhyle (But he goes by B-boy). We decided to talk to them about missionary work. Something that CK is already awesome at because she brings friends to almost every activity we have. But they both had a ton of fun learning and talking about it. We made little missionary tags out of construction paper and gave them to them to remember that they can be missionaries too ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday was way busy and really fun. We started out the day by going to visit Nubia in the plaza. She was a little busy, but as always way happy to see us. We talked for a little while and shared a message with her. I just wish she would come to church. AH! But we’re trying. All we can do is invite and pray and have faith. After visiting Nubia we went out to try and visit some potential investigators and had the chance to sit down with Doris. Im pretty sure I mentioned her in the last letter. She’s a sweet woman as well. We talked and shared scriptures with her, and tried to get a feel for her beliefs and how we can try to start teaching her the lessons again. She’s okay with us sharing scriptures with the Book of Mormon now, so we’ve just got to get her reading it once more ๐Ÿ™‚
After visiting Doris we rode our bikes to the church where we had a group activity! It was supposed to be a Talent Show. I say “supposed to” because none of our members came. Something came up with all of them, or they were down with a pretty nasty flu bug. (Which passed on to the sister missionaries of course) And none of the investigators that we invited came either. So… it was all of us missionaries, and CK. Because she did part of the Talent Show with Sister Carrasco and I. Have you ever played that game where you clap your hands and tap a cup, and then pass it? I know we used to play it all the time at big family parties or up at college. Its just some complicated sequence of clapping and tapping that kind of makes a rhythm. Anyways, we did that and sang a song while we passed cups, and it acted as music. It was really fun, and I’m glad CK came and had a good time. The Oizumi Group used to have way fun activities all the time, so we’ve got to get that started up again somehow.

Sunday was incredible as well. But! My favorite part for the day was during sacrament meeting. Guess who gave a talk in church today? Rhoda! CK’s mom. It was amazing. She gave the members a brief background about herself and told them she was way nervous to speak. She’s been a member for about 25 years. She grew up in the church, but she was also inactive for about 16 years. Basically until her children were baptized here in Oizumi. And she told everyone that in all the time that she has been a church member, she always listened to those speaking, but that today was her first time giving a talk herself. I feel SO priviledged to have been there with her. It was an incredible talk based on the Conference talk by President Uchtdorf called, “You Can Do It Now”. She told us she wants to be a better mom, a better example, and a better member and she knows that through the help of Heavenly Father, she can do it NOW.

And this brings us to Monday, our incredibly busy P-day. So, at around 11am after studying and cleaning and so on, we hopped on a train to Isesaki which is like 2 hours away to have lunch with a member. From there it was a 30 minute bus ride and a 10 minute walk. But it was really great to be with the members. Monday we visited the Lagunes family. The husband, Fernando is from Mexico, and his wife, Megumi, is Japanese. And they have the most adorable little baby named Feru-Sho, who is spoiled rotten by all the members in Oizumi because he’s the only baby :). We got to talk to and really get to know them, and of course left them with a spiritual thought, which I’ll talk about more at the end of my email. As we were heading home from Isesaki, we got a phone call from Vanilda, one of the less actives in the area, and she told us that she wanted to take us and the Elders out to dinner. We got back to Oizumi around 8:00 and headed over to meet with her. Vanilda was there with her 2 sons and the restaurant owner, who are all Brazilian. We had a really good time, and Vanilda told Sister Carrasco and I that whenever we go to Brazil, the door to her home is open for us to come stay. (So don’t worry Mom and Dad, I’ll be safe when I go ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). By the time we finished eating and finally got back to our house it was almost 10:00, so we planned for the next day and tried to get some sleep.

So, the part of the thought I shared with the Lagunes family was centered around happiness and love in missionary work. Something I feel very strongly about. Want to know something crazy? I opened my mission call a year ago this month. It doesn’t seem possible to have been a missionary for that long. I told the Lagunes family about the experience I had with getting my call, and talked about some of the things that it says in your call letter. The last few paragraphs say something like this…

As you devote your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs, the Lord will bless you with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ…The Lord will reward you for the goodness of your life. Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among his children.

What amazing promises those are. And I have seen so many of them come true on my mission. Your testimony grows so strong, and you can literally feel happiness that I never even imagined possible as you put yourself aside and learn to love and serve God’s children. This letter is something that is sent to missionaries when they are called to serve the gospel, but, these blessings are available to everyone who wants to help in preaching the gospel. Which is the responsibility of all the members of the church. Think about the blessings and happiness that you have yet experienced. And that happiness is almost nothing compared to the happiness of that one person who will come back to the knowledge of their Heavenly Father, and their beloved brother, Jesus Christ.

I love you all, sorry this letter was a little late and a little long, but there is nothing better in the world than being a missionary. This church is true, and now is my chance to share that with everyone that I care about. Those I know, and those I’m going to meet someday ๐Ÿ™‚ Until next week!

I love you more than all the rice in Japan!

Sister Hunsaker

P.S. Tomorrow will actually be exactly a year from the time I opened my call. AHHHHHHHHH. weirdness.

P.P.S. One of these pictures is of our ghost town of a train station. We’re the last stop, and the train only comes like every hour or hour and a half. We’ve gotten very good at being on time ๐Ÿ™‚

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