July 6, 2014 Week 76 “What Will Matter”

Hey everyone!

Well, this is it. My last p-day as a missionary. I don’t know if it has
quite sunk in yet. A.K.A. I haven’t started crying like a baby about
it yet. Today we had transfer calls, and found out who will be coming
to fill my place in Oizumi. It’s a Japanese sister that has been
studying Portuguese. After getting calls, I realized I need to repent.
I’m definitely harboring some negative feelings about another missionary
that will take my place here. And I know it’s because I’m jealous that
someone else will get to come here with these people, teach them, lead
them, and help them to find the light of Christ.

These next few days will be a lot of packing and getting things sorted
away for my return, so last week was my last chance to work hard here
in Oizumi. And….. I’m exhausted haha. I literally fell asleep on the
floor waiting for the district leader to call, and again when my
companion was praying before we went to bed. My “amen” was at least 2
minutes late. But we saw SO many miracles this week, it’s crazy in all
honesty.

One of them is Ana. She’s an investigator we found last transfer that
we have been teaching for a little while now. She’s a really sweet mom
with 2 of the most adorable children I have ever seen. The only
problem is, in order for her to be baptized, she needs to get married
to her husband. Who is still married to another woman. Who is living
in Japan under a false name. It’s all incredibly complicated, and has
made me incredibly grateful for eternal marriages in the temple, and
how much our church focuses on family haha. But, we were able to
really sit down and talk to her, and set a goal for her to be baptized
in September. She’s reading and praying everyday, and we know if she
has the desire, that Heavenly Father will prepare a way for her to be
baptized. We also took her daughter a birthday cake this week. She’s
seriously the cutest thing ever. She must have blown out the candles
at least 50 times. Ana told us that this was her first time ever
blowing out the candles. As cheesy as it sounds, I’m happy I could be
a part of that moment, no matter how insignificant blowing out candles
is.

The other cool miracle happened with an investigator we have named
Maria who is from Bolivia. She wants to be baptized as well! We were
able to set a date with her for a few weeks. She’s also reading and
praying every day, now she just needs to come to church (for some
reason the hardest part), and she’ll be golden.

Our wonderful families in Oizumi are doing great as well. The
Toyoshima family is as strong as ever, and they really are making the
effort to strengthen their testimonies. We had the opportunity to have
dinner at their home this week, and it made me love them that much
more. Julio, the dad, still isn’t a member, but he’s right there. If
he wasn’t always working, he would be a member. I know they have the
potential to be that forever family.

And of course the Mercado family. I love them so much. They will be
coming to church this week Mom and Dad, so you should be able to meet
them. CK and B-boy both are trying really hard to read and pray, and
share the gospel with their friends, and I think it has really been
helping their mom, Rhoda, as well.

I could go on and on and on about my investigators and members for
days. I’ve spent 7 transfers in Oizumi, which is an incredibly long
time for one area, but it really doesn’t seem like it has been that
long. Sometimes when I’m tired, it seems likes it been a while, and
even though it’s weird, I am starting to feel that it will be okay to
return home. I still don’t want to, and I know it’s going to feel like
a part of me is missing, but I have some comfort from the fact that I
know I served my hardest, and have had a mission more incredible and
unique than I ever could have imagined. It has changed me in every
aspect of my life, and given me a desire to be a better member, a
better friend, a better sister, someday a better mother. Mom was
comparing missionary work to motherhood in her email today, so maybe
me leaving this area is somewhat like letting your kids leave? Now
that I think about it, I think the way that I feel about leaving
Oizumi is probably the same exact way that you felt about letting me
leave to go on a mission, mom. I understand now. It’s terrifying. I
feel like at this point I’ve done my best, I’ve taught what I know,
and shared my testimony and helped the area grow, but it’s come to the
point where I have to trust in The Lord, take a few steps back, and
let it go on without me. I hate it. But, it’s true that we can’t be
there every step of the way. Now is my turn to watch, and pray and
hope that everything I’ve done will be enough to keep this area going.
I’m dying inside knowing my mission is coming to an end, and I know
that now I need to trust in The Lord more than ever.

There was this pretty cool message that they sent out to all the
returning missionaries that I want to include in this email. It’s a
little long, and some of it might not make any sense, but bear with
me.

For each of us, after 18 months or 2 years, ready or not, our
full-time mission will come to an end.  We will return home.
There will be no more full-time proselyting, no more finding and
teaching, and no more companionship Gospel and language study every
morning.
All the things you collected and used or treasured while in Japan–
including your helmet and bike–will pass to someone else.
Companionship issues, including grudges, resentments, frustrations and
personal idiosyncrasies will disappear.
So, too, will your full-time missionary hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists.
There will be no more appointments 2 or 3 hours away on a bicycle; no
more waiting on Sunday for investigators to come to Church.
There will be no more soba, katsudons, okonomiyaki, sushi, domburi,
onigiri, or kare raisu meals.
Feelings of loneliness, homesickness, and fear of traffic accidents on
bikes will be gone.
Where you came from, where you served and how long you were in each
area won’t matter anymore.
So what will matter?  How will the success of your missionary days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought or saw in Japan but what you
built; not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is how strong you left the areas where you served and
the memories they have of you.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is how hard you worked and every act of integrity,
obedience, or sacrifice.
What will matter is how you enriched, empowered and encouraged others
by your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your courage to do what
was right and to be exact in doing what you were supposed to do.
What will matter is not how many people you baptized, but how many
people will feel a lasting loss when you are gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in
those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
What will matter is how you feel about the quality of your offering to
the Savior and how you consecrated yourself while in Japan.  Those
feelings will live with you forever.
What will matter is who you are and what you have become because of
your glorious Japanese missionary experience.

I know that my mission will live with me forever (At this point, yes I
am crying while writing the email). It’s something that has become a
part of my soul. Something that no one can take from me, and something
that I will always treasure, and lean on in times on trial. I’m so
thankful for the experiences I have had here in Japan. It’s something
that is hard to explain, and almost impossible to understand unless
you served a mission. I love you all so much. I can’t begin to thank
you enough for the support you have given me.

I love you more than all the rice in Japan, and all the sand in
California. ❤️😊🍚🌴🏄
And hey, mom and dad, I’ll see you on Friday.

Love,

Sister Hunsaker

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June 30, 2014 Week 75 “Festa Junina”

Herro everyone!

Herro and not Hello because Japanese people have a really hard time
saying “l”. The sound doesn’t actually exist in Japanese.

Today was a great week in Oizumi. Busy, and unfortunately that makes
it fly by that much faster. Love you fam bam, but I’m really wishing
the time would slow down right about now.

On Tuesday, we had the chance to go on exchanges with the Sisters
serving in Kiryu again, but this time I went to Kiryu with one of the
sisters. It was way fun to go back to a Japanese area, and even though
we had to spend the whole day knocking on doors, we found 2 different FAMILIES that let us into their home, prayed with us and said we could come back. They were both Buddhist families. It was such a miracle to see them willing to pray and learn more. I’m hoping the sisters
serving their follow-up on it.

Kind of a sad moment of the week, we went to the home of a new
investigator we have been teaching for a while named Esutefany (she’s
12), and had a bit of a shock. We think her parents might not be our
biggest fans, because posted outside on the door was one of our flyers
that says “I’m a Mormon”, but the “I’m a” part was ripped off, and
there was a big black X through Mormon. We took the flyer down, put up a new one, and wrote them a note inviting them to church. It took just
about all the willpower I had not to knock on the door anyways. It’s
always a little sad when you lose investigators that way.

We’ve been seeing way cool miracles with our recent converts and less
actives lately. We had he chance to meet with CK and Nubia, and teach
and talk with both of them. We had a family home evening with the
Mercado kids, and it was way fun. If we could just get their mom to
participate now instead of running around the house, it would be
wonderful. Now we just need to get them to church. A lot of our
investigators have said they will come to church my last Sunday, which
is great and all, but I really wish they would come before that.

Sunday I spoke in church…. Again. And next week I’ll bear my testimony. So that will be three weeks in a row. The members are going to get tired of me haha. But Marisol, our less active, came to church again 🙂 she’s slowly making her way back. After church, we met with our friends Sandra and Jonas a couple that we have been teaching. We
asked them if they prayed about the message we shared with them, and
Sandra told us she didn’t really have a desire to change. She enjoys
being Catholic. It was kind of a bummer, but they are still such an
amazing family, I know that there is something in this gospel that
could change their mind.

And on Saturday, we had a Brazilian party! It’s called Festa Junina.
All the members, friends and investigators came to the church, and we danced, played games, and ate food. It was so much fun. This little
group we have here truly is a family. But at the same time, they are
so amazing at welcoming new people with open arms. I still can’t even
bring myself to think about leaving them.

Last little bit here. I’m still a missionary, so I can be as cheesy as
I want with this kind of stuff, but I really want to share a scripture
I read in the Book of Mormon with you. It’s something that I’ve read a
billion times, but this time when I read it, it took on a completely
different meaning.
Ether 6: 5-10

5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a
furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised
land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the
wind.

6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths
of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and
also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the
fierceness of the wind.

7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was
no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a
dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore
when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the
Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.

8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards
the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were
driven forth before the wind.

9 And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared
did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord
all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to
praise the Lord.

10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could
break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light
continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.

Basically it’s the story of Jared, his brother, and their families
traveling to the promised land. I thought it was interesting how this
huge storm came upon them, and they cried unto The Lord, but the storm
didn’t stop, he protected them. And because they had prepared
themselves by following the counsel of The Lord, the barges they made
weren’t able to be destroyed. I kept thinking about the storm. How The
Lord didn’t stop the storm. But why? Because the storm was what was
pushing them towards the promise land. They needed the storm, it’s
winds and fury in order to get to their final destination. I guess it
just reminded me that sometimes we need that trial or storm in order
to push us forward to become the people we need to be, and truly
become more Christlike. Just some thoughts for the week.

I miss you all tons! I really can’t wait to see you again, no matter
how much I say I don’t want to leave. It’s a very mixed emotion at
this point. But until next week, I love you more than all the rice in
Japan! ❤️😊🍚

Love,
Sister Hunsaker

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