Do you remember The Crucible? The Furnace of Affliction? It flared up this week.
We were on our way to that awesome conference with Elder Aoyagi, whom I hope you all researched cause he's awesome. We were late. But we were late to our Plan B. We had to catch this bus to catch the last train that would get us to the conference on time. We were at a stoplight, when up ahead we saw our bus pull into its bus stop. We screamed and squirmed but we had to wait for the light to turn green. As soon as it did, my companion ahead of me pedaled as hard as she could, and then she stood up on her bike. Now, on any other bike this action would have been fine, beneficial even. But, The Crucible's chain decided to slip off its gear. My companion, with her weight balanced in the most awkward form of half sitting half standing, leaned too far one way and fell with the bike on top of one leg. Needless to say, we missed our bus. And we might have missed everything, but luckily, we got on the next bus and our train was late so we made it to the conference!
Now this conference was awesome. Yes, Elder Aoyagi spoke about proposing to his wife a week after he returned from his mission. But he left it at that! He told us he was being obedient to counsel he received from his mission president in his farewell interview. He took questions. He can speak English, but he spoke Japanese in the conference and our mission president translated for us. But his wife was my favorite. Way back when, I remember going to stake conference. To be honest, I probably wasn't adequately prepared for it, I wasn't spiritually in tuned. But this is what happened: The wife of the speaker made us all get up and sing this strange, boring, tuneless version of "This Little Gospel Light of Mine" and wiggle our fingers to it. It was so awkward it was funny. My brothers and I still laugh about it. They're probably laughing now, remembering it. BUT ANYWAYS. Sister Aoyagi told us a story about a road with a giant rock in the middle of it. The Lord commanded a man walking by to push the rock. The man pushed and shoved and gritted his teeth but he couldn't move it. "I'm sorry, Lord," he said. "I can't move the rock." But the Lord said back: "I didn't ask you to move it. That's my job. I only asked you to push it."
Missionary work in Japan can feel like pushing a rock. Sometimes it feels like nobody is at church. Sometimes no one new comes to English Class. Recently, we've had one investigator tell us they will never come to church. One of our recent converts (She was baptized in September) told us she wants to quit church. These rocks are HUGE. But it's not our job to move them. I'm not fluent in Japanese, and even if I was I can't talk someone into joining the church. The Spirit of God enters into their hearts and that's where conversion happens. The Lord moves the rock. When I knock on doors and testify of Christ even when they say that they don't need religion, when I tell our investigators and less active members about all the benefits of church, when I read a scripture agonizingly slow for somebody, I'm pushing the rock. I'm honored to push the rock here in Japan alongside some of the coolest missionaries ever.
So Sister Aoyagi tells us this story and talks about all the ways we can push the rock, and then she demands that we stand up. She told us we were all going to physically push the imaginary rock. We put our hands out, squatted a little, and got to work. On top of this we sang "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel." When we sang the chorus, we pounded the shoulder of our neighbor. And let me tell you, it was totally adorable, seeing this Japanese woman pound her little fist on the shoulder of our Mission President President Budge. My heart was full!
On the way back we stopped by the bathroom at the train station. We walked into the ladies' bathroom and found a man inside. When he saw us, he pretended to be blind and felt the walls on his way out. We held in the giggles of a lifetime.
So this part is a bit hard to explain. As missionaries, we're called to serve in a mission right. Then within that mission we have areas, then zones, then districts. While we stay in our mission for one and a half to two years, it's always possible that we could move areas. Do you remember what a transfer is? That's a six week period. So it's possible to move around every six weeks (not likely). So even though I'm here in Japan, I'll be moving to different areas and different apartments all along the way. That's why missionaries have companionS not just one companion. Everyone's moving around all the time! So, this week, I started my second transfer. Right? I've been here THAT LONG?? Doesn't feel like it huh?
Well anyways so Sister O. and I awaited the dreaded Transfer Call. Our mission president will go through and call all the companionships he can and tells them where they're transferring to. BUT, if you're not transferring, your own zone leaders will call you. Today, we got a call from our zone leader which means I'm staying in my same area! My companion, who is now on her last transfer, is staying with me! We were so happy.
But then Sister H. and Sister M. got a call. The Assistant to the President, another missionary, called them. This missionary, Elder S. is actually Japanese. This is the first time that two Japanese missionaries have been assistants in our mission. They're hilarious. This Elder talked to Sister M. "Well, sister, your next transfer is to an island...called Hawaii!" (This is where she lives.) "I want you to promise me that you'll find your new companion quick!" Imagine this all said with a smiling Japanese accented voice and you'll laugh as hard as we did.We knew that was going to happen because Sister M. is returning to America. So, we thought, Sister H. will just get a new companion. Nope. Turns out they're dissolving the second companionship in our area. We're the only companionship in our area now. All the people they were teaching, we have to teach now, on top of all the people we're already teaching. Sister O. and I just shook until we couldn't take the pressure and we fell to the ground and rolled around, groaning in despair. I am so stressed! Like I didn't have a pimple this morning and I have a pimple now.
But I'm so honored! This decision was made after loads of prayer and fasting. This change is from God. He obviously thinks I can do it, just like He thinks I can speak Japanese. This last transfer was great and this next transfer's gonna be great. Folks back home, I really want a Spanish Branch here in Koga. We can do it! We only need like eight people and we've got five already coming! They just hold their own Gospel Doctrines class. Please pray we can find more Spanish speakers! We've found four but whether or not they'll be baptized is not for sure. Pray it'll happen and I know it will.
I love you! See you soon!