I used to think that every week in missionary work had it's own theme. Now that I've been writing in my journal more lately, I realize there are like eight themes in a week. It's hard to decide which one to write about. I've set a timer, and if, as I free write this email, by twenty minutes I don't have a solid theme I'm calling it a day an just writing down a bunch of funny stories. Right now, the second option is appealing to me.
Sister M. celebrated a year of missionary work this week! I hid stickers of cats I bought last P-day in all of her books to celebrate. Yeah that celebration lasted a solid thirty eight seconds. BUT listen: This is how strong her good looking bubble is. It ain't even a bubble it's a force field. A random boy she met at the cafeteria in the temple the day she received her endowment threw a celebration twice as good as mine on the other side of the world. He baked a cake, printed out a Japanese flag, bought a number one candle, combined it all and posed some epic pictures. They've never even been on a single date, they've only met that one time and he baked a cake. He never fails to write her every week. I could not believe it. I still can't.
This month a recent convert in Koga also celebrated a year of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! If you're not a member, you don't know the meaning of this and that's okay because I'll teach you. Once adults have been baptized for a year, they can enter those intriguing temples I'm sure you've seen and make even more covenants with God. We call this "receiving our endowments." I mentioned it earlier in this email but didn't explain it and I'm sorry. It's exactly that! A gift endowed by God! Along with this gift, married people can have their marriages sealed for eternity in these temples. For this member, Sister Nakajima, she was also able to be sealed to her deceased husband. The best part? I got to be there. It was gorgeous. I knew for sure there wasn't anything better she could be doing at 11:00 on a Friday.
We made a Chinese friend last week! We met just last week and she's already prayed in front of us and come to church. She has an extra place in my heart. She's not just an investigator to me, she's a lifelong friend. I LOVE HER SO MUCH. I'll include a picture.
Alright I think I know where I want to go with this email now but I will quickly include some hilarious things:
~Sister M. the other day, in trying to be dramatic, said: "If my dad ever knew about [this boy she met in the temple] he'd get his sewing machine out!"
I said back: "Oh. Does your dad like to sew?"
She got a weird look on her face and said: "No! SEWING MACHINE. The one that goes CHRRRRRRRRRNGGGGGGG." I spent the good part of two minutes laughing before I corrected her. "You mean CHAINSAW."
~Sister M. and I were at the gym when the elders came to the same gym. My first instinct? Run and hide in the lockers when they called my name. My second instinct? Stamp my foot and whine: But we were here FIRST.
~Having the daughter of an English Class student become so close to me that she calls me "Mama." No this does not affect my desire to have children at all, if anything it repels me from it.
~A Muslim man tried to preach to me. That's what I get for going into a McDonald's and trying to eat a meal in peace, right?
So with that last one I'll stop. This muslim man got me thinking. Probably strengthened my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ even more.
In Islam they believe in making this big trek that their prophet Muhammad took. In another life I knew the name of this trek. All I know is that it's far, you walk east, and you have to walk around this tall black object a certain number of times just like Muhammad did. This Muslim man, because he believed in this ritual, suggested that I go where my prophet, Jesus Christ, walked. He encouraged me to visit Jerusalem and see the sights the Messiah saw.
Earlier this week, I received an awesome email. This last week, my dad gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting. It was a gorgeous talk. The topic was improving our faith. He shared his own life experiences that improved his faith. It was an out of body experience to read them via email. I wasn't around for all of the events he mentioned, but I was very aware of their occurrence. I had never once questioned my father's faith. If I knew anything, I knew that the man's faith was unshakable.
As I read about these experiences he had-losing his father when he was young, striving to remain faithful during his service in the Air Force, doing his best to help raise his nephew-especially now as a missionary, I recognized the gravity of all these unfortunate events. Either one of these could have turned someone away. Just reading about them shook my confidence.
But if you saw my dad you wouldn't believe it. His testimony is fire.
I have a decent analogy that is also a true story.
My dad dropped my kid brothers and me off at a neighbor's house to babysit. Something like an hour later, I got a phone call.
"Hey honey! I'm so sorry to call you and worry you, but mom won't answer her phone. I was just in a car crash. I'm okay. If mom calls you tell her. Bye."
He sounded totally fine so I thought nothing of it. I saw him later and he looked great too. When we saw the car, we were shaken.
My dad had been T-boned by a distracted driver. The other car hit right where my dad was sitting. Our car had wrapped around the other car. To this day, you can still see the skid marks in the road where it happened. That car is long gone, totaled since the day the crash happened. In most cases, the victims of T-bone accidents don't survive. My dad, didn't even enter a hospital. He was SORE, but he didn't even have any broken bones. Later, friends would joke: "Your dad's a hero! How'd he walk away? He must've been holding the car frame in place!"
My dad is a superhero. His past is a totaled car. I don't know how he walked away without a scratch but he did. My dad isn't amazing because he survived a serious car crash, he isn't amazing because he managed without his father, he's amazing despite those things. He's amazing because of who he is, not what his life experiences are.
You could walk the trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake a thousand times and still be a horrible, terrible person. I could accomplish every single event my dad did and still not be as awesome as he is. In his own words:
"There are a lot of proactive things that we can do to improve our faith. There are also reactive things that we can do when life throws something at us for which we are not prepared. Both are equally important, we have complete control over the proactive things that we can do. What we do on our own prepares us for the things in this life that we can’t control and helps with our ability react positively to seemingly negative experiences.
These events that we can’t control are the true reason that we are here on this earth. Our faith must be tested as part of our loving Heavenly Father’s plan. We all have our own unique journey that we must take while traveling through this life. We’ve all arrived here today from very different and distinctive pathways. Each of us will continue on our own individual expedition through life after we leave here today. The hope is, that we can continue to make choices that will help to expand our own faith and to also help those around us to do the same."
I am so lucky to have marvelous parents. I am so lucky to live in a generation where I can carry the patriarchal blessings of my deceased ancestors on my iPad. I love my family, I love their faith. I have my own path to beat. I have my own kind of great to become. I know that anyone in the world can follow Christ without ever once visiting Jerusalem. I know that if people would just remember their parents and all they've been through, they would never fall away. If you have no faith, lean on the faith of your fathers.
"Faith of our fathers living still
In spite of dungeons, fire, and sword.
Oh how our hearts beat high with joy
whenever we hear that glorious word:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith
We will be true to thee till death!
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee
And through the truth that comes from God,
Mankind shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith
We will be true to thee till death!"
Love you and I'll see you soon.