There is a ton to write this week.
So yes, Nakatani 姉妹 was baptized this Saturday and confirmed yesterday. That's an experience you simply can't describe. Teaching all of the lessons to someone and seeing them get baptized. Seeing them go from start to finish is so beautiful. She had absolutely miraculous faith. She didn't have trouble believing one thing we taught, nor did she have trouble commiting to keep any of the commandments. To be honest, yeah, that's incredibly unusual. The only explanation is that she was prepared by the Lord. We had nothing to do with it. It's amazing how things like this come together. Two missionaries in Australia baptized Eriko while I was in the MTC which planted the seeds for us to teach her mother. It all comes together so beautifully. She will make such a great member. She had such humility and gratitude for everything we did. She bowed more than I've ever seen anyone bow and used the most polite Japanese I've heard besides people working in retail. We also have the perfect handoff set up. Yoshino 姉妹 who just got back from the Salt Lake City South mission, speaking spanish, will teach her the AB lessons. She's been an awesome help. It's really perfect timing. Just seeing her run up to Eriko and Nakatani 姉妹 after the baptism and give them both big hugs just felt so right. I'm not worried at all.
So yeah, Kyoto was AWESOME. I would guess that over 100 missionaries passed through Kiyomizudera between 11:00 and 5:00 last Monday. It was crazy. The sakura (blossoms) were unbelievably gorgeous.
"Kiyomizu" means "pure water." Here it is.
Yes mom, I saw Bunderson 長老. He said "so apparently our mom's are hanging out and doing fundraisers and stuff." I got to talk to Sister Holker and Sister Myagmarjav from my MTC 同期 for a little bit. They were on their way out when we went in.
I got to walk through the temple with Sister Ilch. She's doing awesome. She's in Sekime. The area that has Umeda (biggest station in Osaka) in it, probably the most 都会 (big city) area in the mission. It's been a little rough in that she spent her first two transfers in Kurayoshi where the church is a shed and there's hardly anything. She's as happy as always though.
I also got to talk to Elder Bowman for a bit who was on his way in when we were on our way out. He said that O-san moved to Kyoto for school but on his last Sunday in Kobe, he brought his friend, also named O. The O I taught is really tall and apparently this new O is really short so they call them big O and little O. Anyway, little O was baptized this Sunday! That was another really amazing thing to hear. All of that worrying I did trying to soften O-san's heart paid off. I met him for a reason, just couldn't see it then.
On Tuesday I saw one of the most sickening things I've ever seen. A woman carrying a toddler (maybe a year or so old, could hardly waddle) walked past us in a hurry. The child was screaming and crying and the woman was obviously frustrated. She got about 60 feet in front of us and SET THE CHILD IN THE STREET and walked off!! Another lady on a bike immediately stopped and tried help. The mother then turned around, grabbed the child like he was a grocery sack and stormed off towards an apartment complex. Luckily the lady on the bike called the police. I don't know why I'm sharing this...I just have it written in my journal and remembered it. I felt so helpless. There really was nothing we could do. I wanted to rip the child from her hands and run. I feel sick thinking about what could've happened and what that child could possibly be going through right now. You see lots of crazy things when you walk around all day.
We randomly visited one of hundreds and hundreds of less-active members on the map this week. When she opened the door, she said she had been praying for someone from the church to come and visit her. That was an AMAZING feeling. That was probably the most I've ever felt like a missionary. We left and she had completely changed. She asked us to pray that she could find a new job so that she can attend church. It was crazy.
On that same day, we randomly met a less-active on the street. He has a very mild speech impediment but stopped coming to church 8 years ago because of some bad experiences he had. He was baptized the year I was born. That was heart-breaking. His faith and testimony were so strong, but unfortunately a couple bad experiences keep him from church. We couldn't change his mind, unfortunately. So sad. There are countless members like that in Japan.
So Randy, yeah I get to see a lot of cool things. Yeah, I am in an awesome place. Yes, I get to eat good food and yes I'm really blessed. BUT, it ain't all sunshine and roses. It is certainly worth it, but don't fantasize. If you want to put it into perspective, the next time you're in a crowded place outside of Utah, try to stop every single person you see and start talking to them about the church. Then think about trying to do it in Japan...in Japanese. That's what I do for 8 hours a day.
It's funny, about an hour ago when Matsukura 長老 was emailling, a man walked into the church because he was interested. That NEVER happens. All it takes is faith...
I had no idea that Tokyo Disneyland was still closed until now. It's funny, Matsukura 長老 and I talk about it all the time and have already made plans to go together after we get home. I hope everything will be ok. Are all of the rides ok? Silly question but....I honestly am a little interested...ok, a lot.
I hope all is well at home. I'm sending a letter to the ward today. I figure I should since they've sent met two now.
That's me next to a real crane. The A Thousand Cranes cast will probably recognize the pose.
A park right by our apartment. The sakura are all gone now, but wow they were gorgeous.
One more picture of the park near our apartment. It typically looks pretty dull and gray but for two weeks, it was the Celestial Kingdom.
This is the politician that rode past me on his bike.
I guess that's all for today. Talk to you next week.