Dear family and friends,
I don`t have time for an email really today but I just wanted to share some really short experiences I had this week.
On Monday Sister Hattori and I didn`t have any appointments so I asked her, `where you do you want to go?` She pointed to this big apartment complex a few streets away and as we headed over I decided to take a little dirt road for some adventure. It ended up being a dead end amongst these super grungy, beaten down shacks. We both immediately stopped and pointed to this one shack, saying, `There is someone waiting in there!` We parked our bikes and were both surprised that we were about to knock on this door because there were empty beer and whiskey bottles just strewn all around the place, and when we went to knock on the door it was covered in this giant ripped piece of foam or something, haha. But we pressed on and this completely normal looking man,wearing a nice suit opened the door. He had been sitting at a desk in his kitchen studying some kind of book and when we started talking a little he said that he wasn`t surprised at all that we were there. We didn`t talk to him for long because it was freezing outside and he ordered us to go home, but yesterday he showed up to church in a suit and tie, and stayed for our Sunday School lesson! Through the combined inspiration of Sister Hattori and I we were able to find him!
We were able to attend the temple in Fukuoka this past Tuesday with our Branch, which was very uplifting and refreshing. It was my second time doing a session all in Japanese, which is always fun. I`m starting to understand more and really love feeling like I`m always studying the language, even when attending the temple!
Hattori Shimai stopped us to talk to this old lady gardening the other day. At first she said she had absolutely no interest in hearing what we had to say, but we kept talking to her about gardening, her family, etc and then it came out that her husband had recently passed away. We both naturally starting testifying about the Plan of Salvation and told her that without a doubt she would see her husband again, and tears started to stream down her face. She was even surprised that she was crying, and invited us to visit her any time. I`m so glad her heart was softened, and that we were able to follow the spirit to say what she needed to hear. Hopefully we`ll have another chance to teach her.
One last story: Yesterday we had a couple of hours to kill so we housed a big danchi(apt complex). At the second to last door this super haggard-looking woman in her 50s, with all sorts of bandages on her hands, hair all matted, etc. answered and for about 15 minutes we said nothing as she told us how horrible her life has been, how sick she is that she couldn`t even attend her best friend`s (who commited suiside) funeral recently, and that she KNOWS that there is no God because if there was she wouldn`t have had such a horrible life. She said, `If God existed wouldn`t he save all of the suffering people?` All we got out were a few sentences of something about how through her trials she can come closer to God and become a kinder person, and then her son came out from a back door, told us to go home and shut the door. By that time I was just about to bawl my eyes out, so dissatisfied with what I had told her. I wish I had testified quickly about how Heavenly Father HAS saved us by sending his son Jesus Christ. I wish I had testified of the atonement and how she can be healed. We wrote on a pamphlet and inserted it into her mail slot so hopefully she`ll read that. Since that time Sister Hattori and I both cannot stop thinking about that poor woman. I feel that as a missionary we`re hear sent by the Lord to help people like that, to tell them of the atonement and promise them that they can be happy and healed. But what happens to those who, even when given the chance, don`t listen? The door gets shut, and the suffering continues. I know that Heavenly Father is helping her in other ways, maybe through her Son or others. I just learned from that experience that I always need to be ready to testify of Christ, to not hesitate or wait, because that could make all the difference for that person.
My time is up but I hope something from one of these stories uplifted you in some way. I have felt the Savor`s love so strongly this week and know that I will continue to feel it as I testify of Him. Someone told me recently in an email that this was the time on their mission that they thrived the most. They felt no fear, and it was the most productive and satisfying time of their mission. I am definitly feeling that at this time and everyday am just overwhelmed with gratitude for this chance I have to live and serve among the people of Japan.
I love you all!
Love, Tingey Shimai