So it turns out I started my mission in one of the best areas of Tokyo right now, as far as member growth. Counting Iida Shimai and Sachiko Shimai there have been over 6 or 7 baptisms in Koiwa ward this year! So many miracles.
During my mission I've been thinking a lot about happiness and optimism, and their opposites. I've been asking God to teach me how to be an optimist. He's been giving me a lot of rather unexpected experiences! I've learned that truly, at the root of happiness, is light. And the root of light is Christ. Ultimately the nearer we draw to him, the more light we will have, and the more happiness we will be capable of finding. BUT...and there is a big but...happiness comes from within ourselves. Although many things can bring us happiness, ultimately we have the choice of whether or not to let it shine through our windows. Many times we put down the drapes. And sometimes we forget the windows are even there. And sometimes we don't know how to open the drapes. But the Savior is always there, as a lighthouse, showing us the way, bidding us to come to him if we will but raise our eyes to see.
Anyway before I go off anymore...on Thursday we were riding our bikes back from Kakio where some of our investigators live. It's about a 40 minute bike ride. The way back is almost a constant slant upwards...haha typical of this area. It takes a bit of 'ganbaru' to get back to our cozy little apartment. We were coming towards one of the more steep eternal hills, when an impression came to my mind to say a specific prayer. I take no credit for this because I know it was God teaching me something. As we started up this hill, in my heart I started to pray, "Thank you God for giving me this hill, that I may learn to be strong. That I may learn that I can do hard things. Thank you for the strength in my body you've given me so I can make it up this hill. Thank you for this chance to be strengthened by a challenge." And that was it. I thought about the impression a lot that night, and I'm so grateful God gave me that moment to learn something vital about how we see and react to the hills in our lives. The hill didn't seem so long that night.
This week we had 3-zone mission conference. Takei Shimai gave her departing testimony. She is so beautiful. We've been putting it in her mind to go to the English Language Learning Center at BYU, so hopefully you will get to meet her in the future. :) She has been such a miracle for me. And I've been her longest companion! I'm sad she is going home but excited to see where she goes in life. Her sister lives in Machida, and her family comes through here when they go to the temple each month...so I'll get to see her every once in a while. Hopefully she will come be the member for our lessons! Haha. At conferences I always love to hear from the other missionaries. Something that stood out to me this time was that the testimonies I listen to most and that touch my heart are not that of the strongest or most beautiful, but of those who admit to their weakness, and glory in the reality of a Savior. I hang on their every word.
Thank you for letting me know a bit about Sato Satori Shimai! I miss her and hope she is doing well! I cannot imagine going to college in a foreign country. It seriously blows my mind. So I respect her so much and pray for her happiness and peace while she takes on this challenge. I have so much faith in her though. She is one of those people who's eyes beam with light.
Amazing the flood of applications that are pouring into Salt Lake! Anna Shimai in our ward is 21 and just turned in her papers...only to find out she may have to wait up to 9 months to get her call! Crazy. Is anyone in the ward wanting to leave sooner now?
Mom you said you were surprised about Halloween in Japan. They actually don't really have it here...unless you are in a place like Tokyo that has a lot of international influence. Or if you're a member of the church. Haha. :) A lot of American Mormon traditions carry over to the church here. Takei Shimai knew about Halloween and had parties at her church growing up in Nagano, but Eguchi Choro (my zone leader) from Fukuoka had never even heard of Halloween until he became a missionary.
Being a missionary is fun!! Sometimes I forget to breathe and soak in what an incredible experience it is to be a missionary in Tokyo. Recently I walked through the biggest, most complicated intersection in the world! And tonight we got 'shulanpo' at a little shop near the eki. It is actually a famous Chinese food. Machida is known for this little tiny shop that makes amazing shulanpo. Seriously this shop is the size of our kitchen in Pleasant Grove...not even joking...and there are almost always 6 people or more bustling away to serve all the people that come through! Insane. Japanese people sure don't waste any space.
And being a missionary is something so unique and special and set apart from everything else in the world. I'm convinced there is just nothing else like it.
Sisters and sushi!