I have survived five entire days with a Japanese companion. I hope to have many more days with Sister G. and maybe even many more transfers.
Yay I did it! I haven't cried (yet), Sister G. hasn't rolled her eyes (yet), and God is blessing us every day!
So now a little about Sister G. She's from Okinawa! She's been a foreign exchange student in Utah. She has two older brothers and two older sisters and they all speak English. Her parents were both missionaries in Japan so they speak a little bit of English too. You know, you hear all these facts and you must think: This sister's practically American! She must speak English! You and I were wrong.
Hear me out! She speaks a little English! She knows enough random vocabulary to make me giggle, but when it comes down to conversation the best she can do is give me an adorable stare. But conversation isn't impossible in Japanese! I'm getting great use out of my dictionary! You know, my overall feeling about my Japanese is this thought: I did not speak Japanese as much as I should and could have when I had American companions. But I am grateful for every day I did speak Japanese because it got me this far. I'm way happy. Just today, Sister G. said I'm fluent. And I told her "Not at all! Quite the opposite!" But it still made me feel good inside because I'm a selfish human.
Alrighty let me tell you about the city of Chiba! It's a city! No fields in sight! The streets are CROWDED. There's white people everywhere. Sidenote: every white man grows a beard here in Japan. ANYWAYS Everyone speaks English. The Relief Society here in the Chiba Ward is bigger than my home ward, I swear! I'm planning to spend a lot of time here and enjoy every second here in Chiba.
So, hilarious spiritual story of the week. My first real day here, we get a call from a friend who's record we didn't even have. She had never met Sister missionaries, she had just met the elders once. She calls us up my first day and says: Let's go out to eat.
We packed an English Book of Mormon. That day, as part of Sister G's training, we studied a lot about the Book of Mormon. We laughed about how easy giving this Book of Mormon to this Christian woman would be.
Wrong again, Sister Goldsberry.
I'm going to be rude. I'm going to tell you folks that this woman is from Kenya. Typically I don't like to include that sort of information but for this story, I think it's needed so you can get a good picture in your mind of what happened next.
The conversation started beautifully and we felt the spirit. As soon as our friend D. saw our Book of Mormon she snatched her Bible from her bag and hugged it to her chest. Up till now, I'd been translating our whole conversation into Japanese for Sister G. But at this point D. started talking loud and fast. She slammed her Bible on the table, swung it over her head, pointed to it and pushed our Book of Mormon around the table with it. I could hear people around us translating our conversation into Japanese. D. went on saying things about Joseph Smith that I didn't translate for Sister G. I started to get angry. I panicked. I thought, the best possible option that could happen from here on out is if someone around us would take pity on us, pay for our meal, and we would slink onto the floor and crawl on our bellies back to our apartment. We tried to tell her the story of the Restoration but she cut us off. "I know Joe Smith's story. I've heard it before. I've got a Book of Mormon in my house. A friend gave it to me seven years ago." This woman was prepared. And the thing is, she moved from South Africa (where she received the Book of Mormon from a white woman) to Japan. She had taken the time and the space to pack it along with her. I knew that meant something. But because I was letting myself get angry when I shouldn't have, I knew I was in no position to receive the Spirit. I smiled at Sister G. She was still embarrassed to speak English, so she testified to D. in Japanese, while making full eye contact with her, and I would translate. We did this for about ten minutes maybe. By that last translation, D. was teary eyed and I could feel the Spirit of God in that noisy restaurant. Now that she was calm, we were able to explain to her that the Book of Mormon is a true story written first by a family, then by other prophets in America. We told her that the reason the Book of Mormon is alike to the Bible is because those people, that family were carrying around Bibles too. Of course we believe in the Bible! Of course nothing can replace the Bible! D. said she thought that Joe Smith had written the book. Turns out she didn't know Joseph Smith's story after all so we were able to tell it right. In the end, she bought us dinner because she was so impressed. She told us: I love talking about God because it breathes life into me.
That's what it comes down to folks. People don't join this church because Joseph Smith was a really great guy. They don't join because they think the Book of Mormon is a better read than the Bible. People walk into the waters of baptism because they've felt the Spirit of God, and they want to continue to feel it for the rest of their lives. The Holy Ghost converts people, missionaries just set up the environment to feel the Holy Ghost.
I love missionary work! I love Sister G! I love the Japanese language!
See you soon,