I am not sure how else to start this letter except to tell you that I have been 'megumarete' or incredibly blessed with the two most wonderful, amazing sisters! We picked up Sister Linquist from the Mission Home on Wednesday. Feels like I've been there quite a lot lately! I can hardly believe that the same building I came walking out of a year ago, wide-eyed and clueless and a little scared, was the same one I've walked out of twice now with new missionaries. Pretty sure though that these two beautiful sisters were sent here to help me on my path to discipleship- not the other way around.
Sister Lowry has just bloomed this transfer!! Oh I have been so impressed with her and how she has broken through so many walls this transfer. She is happy and full of light and is such a blessing to the people here. Her Japanese is incredible- people here can hardly believe how quickly she is learning. I was so proud of her yesterday as we were teaching an unplanned lesson to three Japanese university students at the church, and after I finished explaining about something, without prompt, she jumped right in with her thoughts and testimony. She is a fully contributing member of our companionship, and has helped me so much as I've become the leader of this area and the surrounding sisters.
Now about Sister Linquist! She is from Springville and is a few months older than me. Comes from a family of five, with two older brothers. Worked at Melville Stables when she was eleven and loves horses, even did some competition when she was younger. Majoring in Landscaping. Plays the cello. She is SO chill and easy going, and has slipped right into Kiryu and into our companionship. We just love her. We all seem to be the easy-going type and have managed to have very peaceful relationships. I just love these girls!! I come close to tears at night because of how blessed I feel to be companions with them. They are prepared and ready to serve. I don't have to 'train' them. I just have to 'be' a good example, and then make sure to stay out of their way as they shine.
There is one simple experience I had last week that I wanted to share. Every Tuesday morning all the leaders in the mission join in on a conference call with President Budge and talk about the previous week's baptisms, the upcoming week's baptisms, and about the overall status of the mission. It was my first time sitting in on the call without Sister Long in the same area, and as I listened to the miracles happening and thought about the responsibility I have for this area, I felt the weight of all I need to do and be here come down heavily on my shoulders. Honestly it was scary at first, leaving me a bit breathless, and then the doubts started to come in. Was I enough? How could I possibly lead this area, let alone all the sisters I have responsibility for? Who was I to ask heaven's hand? Who was I anyway? Amidst my weaknesses and flaws could I really pull enough together to guide this area and these people? I was walking down that little negative mental path in my head when suddenly I stopped. A voice inside me said, that those thoughts weren't mine, and they weren't His. And the simple words came to mind, "Choose to believe."
Although I could almost physically feel a force pulling me downward, trying to make me give in to the doubt, I took that step back upward, and with all the mental energy I could muster, I told God, "I choose to believe....I CHOOSE to BELIEVE." And you know what happened? The doubt lifted. The burden lightened. And I found that sweet place just beyond the shadow of doubt, where the Savior's light can touch us. All it took was my choosing to turn to him. Choosing to believe. I still didn't know if I could do it. And I knew that in reality, I wasn't, and am not, enough. But when I made that choice, I felt a huge difference. Because although I'm not enough, He is enough. It was amazing how differently I felt moving forward after that moment.
That seems to be the most prevalent message of my mission these past few months. It's been coming from many sources, and through many experiences. It's one of the great eternal truths I'm here to teach these people. Recently we've taken a new spin on how we introduce the Book of Mormon. Using the pictures in the front of the book, and also using a piece of paper that we fold into different shapes, we tell the story of Lehi's family that left Jerusalem. The paper becomes a compass, a boat, a house in the Americas, a divided house, a sword, and then finally it is torn in half as a nation is destroyed. But then we unfold the torn up pieces and the biggest is a cross. Because God sent Jesus Christ to the world to heal the world. Broken nations, broken families, broken hearts, broken people. He has power to make them whole. The rest of the shreds actually spell out the word 'love.' And we teach people about the love of Christ. It is really cool. Gives me chills every time we do it. It has made me see the Book of Mormon and the role Christ plays in our lives in a completely different way.
A few answers to your questions...yes they are showing the Work of Salvation broadcast to all the wards here. We are watching it little by little during companion study, in English. Sister Linquist was actually in the choir. :) She came into the mission knowing more than me what the church's vision is for missionary work. These truly are exciting times!
We had another meeting with the FMKiryu radio station, and are going on the air July 15th. I'll get you the link. ;)
Sister Long's new companion is the sweetest, most wonderful Japanese girl, from Nagoya. Oh we love her so much. And they are so happy together. Sister Kubota is her name. At the testimony meeting with the new missionaries and trainers she said she was going to speak in English because we were all working so hard to speak Japanese. She spent some time studying at BYU Hawaii and told us how well she understands the difficulty of being in a foreign country and trying to learn the language. How all you can do is smile, even if your heart is aching inside. Her testimony just made me want to cry and cry. I prayed so hard for Sister Long to get a companion like her!
We have some wonderful investigators right now. I don't think I know how to finish a mission. At least I can find so much peace in the fact that I'm leaving this area in the hands of Sister Linquist and Sister Lowry. Mom and Dad I love them so much!!! I have been so blessed!