Monday, May 27, 2013

"Behold, thou art my people."

We did a phone lesson with Dai san last night. Dai san loves English and wants to be able to speak it so badly. Near the end of the call as we were saying goodbye, he said, in brilliant Japanglish, 'Good night. Please sleep slowly. Have a good tomorrow!' Hahaha. Ok so in Japanese people often say 'yukuri yasunde kudasai' which translates roughly to 'take it easy' or 'sleep well' but directly translates to 'please sleep slowly.' It's those moments that really remind me why I love being in Japan!

So this past week was kind of a flash back to when I was young and went to a park with my buddies to go sledding during the winter, bundled up and ready for an adventure, not sure quite what to expect. We would haul this big heavy old sled slowly up a hill, winding around trees and lumps in the snow, our eyes darting back and forth between the top of the hill and a sledge of snow that formed a perfect jump for our sled. We finally made it as high as we dared go, piled into the sled, and shoved off with shouts and pumping hearts. Gravity poured down on us much faster than we'd anticipated, and we flew toward that jump like a rock being hurled into a lake. I remember swinging my legs to the side of the sled, trying to slow us down or avoid the jump that maybe I wasn't quite ready for yet, but only managed to fling up more snow. Over the jump and into the air we flew! The burst of exhilaration lasted a few moments and then we slammed into the snow, cruising down the rest of the hill until we toppled into a heap at the bottom. I don't think I was able to sit down comfortably for about a week after that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, this week was quite an adventure! The beginning of the week was spent deeply in dendo and in pushing slowly up that hill of finding and knocking and planning, and then finished off with a big hurl of exchanges and trainings and days filled with lessons and training home-teachers to teach new converts and working with the converts and members, and trying to pull all the pieces together of being a sister training leader. A lot of trial and error, exposure of weaknesses, and a bit of cold snow in my face. And I'm a little sore. But! There were also some amazing miracles.
I brought Sister Vail to work in Kiryu with me while Sister Long went to Utsunomiya for the day with Sister Hansaker. Sister Lowry and Sister Tada were paired together and given a day of dendo as two young missionaries. I remember sitting around our little Japanese table with them that night, planners open, phones buzzing, and looking up to see 3 pairs of eyes watching me steadily as I pieced together our schedules. I don't think I was ready for it all. But God has been good to our little Kiryu. While I was riding back to the train station with Sister Vail at the end of our exchange, a 17-year-old girl came up and started talking to us. She said she had been to Florida before and was studying English. She also said she believes in God. We were able to get her number and a promise to come to church! Her name is Mako. So now we have Anna chan and Mako chan...they are so precious. I haven't really taught young people much on my mission, and it is such a great blessing! Anna was able to make it to the first Young Woman's class Kiryu has held in a long time. She loved it and promised to come every week. Mako also is planning to meet with us soon. :) Thank you for your prayers!

At the beginning of one particularly and potentially stressful day, I was sitting at my desk during personal study, unable to properly focus and going between staring blankly at the scriptures and flipping the pages to appear that I was reading. I closed my eyes for a few quiet moments. When I opened them they were immediately drawn to a scripture marked in 2 Nephi 8. I began reading at verse 12, and as I kept reading my heart filled with the message and my emotions surfaced. It was such a tender mercy from my Heavenly Father, and it touched me deeply enough that I want to share it here.

12. I am he; yea I am he that comforteth you. Behold, who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of man, who shall die, and of the son of man, who shall be made like unto grass?
13. And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?
14. The captive exile hasteneth, that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.
15. But I am the Lord thy God, whose waves roared; the Lord of Hosts is my name.
16. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion: Behold, thou art my people.
Even thinking about this now brings me chills. I'm so grateful for the tender mercy of an Almighty God...and that he would care enough for a young, tired, missionary, worried about the responsibilities of the day, to send her peace and love through the scriptures. I like to tell people that the Book of Mormon is a love letter from God, for his children who are temporarily away from home.

So...there is a lot going on over here! And I sure don't know what I'm doing most of the time. But I suppose if I already knew what I was doing, I wouldn't need the experience of doing it, right? I do know that God is with us. There are so many experiences in our lives and in the lives of those we love, in which the purpose is often hard to find. And though one life may differ from another, we are being guided. Our lives have been tailored to us and our needs. And we can and will triumph as we put our hearts in His hands. I hope and pray that through my mistakes and mishaps and sore spots, that I will never forget that!

On to another week!

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