Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

I had one of the most amazing experiences of my mission this week...definitely one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, for that matter. I'll write about it first.

Typically, Thursdays are the day for weekly planning. We sit in the apartment for up to three hours and it's no fun, to be honest. This Thursday, we had no appointments until the evening, just planned on sitting in the apartment and planning for the week. At about 10, right before we finished language study, I got a call from Suezawa 兄弟 (Elder Low's parent's best friend when they lived in the branch 23 years ago. He was in the Stake Presidency at the time.) I still hadn't met him yet. He said that he had been told that he needed to help the Marugame missionaries this morning. I was thinking "who?" He said he was on his way and to meet him at the church in about 15 minutes. I was kind of weirded out, he sounded pretty serious.

We went to the church and he was waiting for us. We parked our bikes and as I was locking mine up and getting my bag out of the back, I could see him walking across that huge parking lot we have with a humongous grin on his face. He finally ran up to me. I put my hand out to shake his hand and he put both his arms around me, hugged me, and started crying. That was a really cool moment. He apologized for hugging me for so long, but I didn't mind. He said I look just like the both of my parents.

We went inside the church and I showed him some pictures and he was, of course, really happy to see them all. He then explained that when he had prayed this morning, he felt like he needed to come and help us. He asked who do we need to go see?  We got in the car and took off. He had his scriptures open on the dashboard of his truck. He said he has been trying to meet with T Kyoudai for years. He said that he KNEW we were going to finally see him today. This man is one of the most spiritual people I've ever met. I think he should be a mission president. Anyway, we got to the T's place and they weren't home. He said we are definitely supposed to meet them today so we went somewhere else with the resolve to come back later.

We went to visit the O couple who are in their 80's and less-active. He was the branch president about 30 years ago.  Anyway, they were very kind. Suezawa Kyodai, quite abruptly, started talking about the Book of Mormon as we met with them. He explained that a new translation came out in 2009 and that they should read it. The one they carried still had a picture of Moroni on the cover. The wife was very much against it, but for one reason or another, he said he wanted to read it. She tried to talk him out of it, but he took it. She then tried to pay for it and was really upset when she found out we weren't allowed to accept money. We got in the car and Suezawa Kyodai said 御霊はすごいですね (The Holy Ghost is amazing) and then basically gave a play-to-play recap of what had just happened. I'm telling you, he should be a mission president.

We then returned to the T's. Their car was now in the drive-way so we knew they were home. So we visited them too. After that visit, we got in the car and left. It really was a miracle. No one in the church has seen him in years and had Suezawa Kyoudai not been there, I don't think he would have visited us.

He took us out to eat. The two of us went to the bathroom and he was yet again crying when we came back. He then took us to the old Sakaide church. The logo was still written on it. It was eerie being in the staircase. We couldn't go inside. That floor of the building has been gutted and I think will soon be used by another company.

Building where Chris and Saori went to church back in 1988-1989. The Sakaide Branch.

A Coffe Shop/Bar was on the first floor. Note logos for both the bar and the church on the same signpost.

Stairs leading to the second floor where the branch met, through that door.

"Does any of this look familiar?" Yes, very familiar.

He took us to Lamu, right next to the old church because three members work there: Tsutsui Shimai, Maruyama Shimai, and Idebuchi Kyoudai (remember him? I haven't met him yet). Only Tsutsui Shimai was there, so he bought us a loaf of bread so we could say hello to her.

He also wanted to visit Sister Cook. He hadn't seen her in a couple years and really loves her. She'd been having a bad day so he was able to give her a blessing and she was really thankful.
Here's a pretty view of Sanuki Fuji near Sister Cook's house. We visit her once a week.

We said goodbye and I hugged him again. I feel like in those 7 hours we spent together he became family to me. (Editor's note: That because he is family to us.) He gave me all kinds of advice and more than anything, just made me happy to be a missionary and to be a alive. Perhaps the greatest miracle of the day was what he did for me. Perhaps I needed to be strengthened more than anyone else we met that day and that's why he came. Either way, it was an incredible day and worked out perfectly. I'm sure I'll have more chances to meet with him again before I leave. He sends his love and says he really wants to see you again.

As for the rest of the week:

Brother I. took us out to eat yet again on Monday night. We went to a brand new Kurazushi (Sushi restaurant with conveyor belts). It's a popular chain I've been to many times, but this one is new and they had a new system. The kaiten zushi plates are protected by a plastic incubator type device that releases when you touch the plate. They let us test it when we walked in and bowed after we tried it. It's moments like that that make me want to stay in Japan forever.

I got a call on Wednesday night during family home evening (only Tanaka Kyoudai was in attendance) from Takashima Kyoudai who I wrote earlier is in the branch presidency and Terajima Kyoudai (who lives in Machida where Elder Low's grandparents live) was his mission president. He asked for all of the details about the car acccident. Terajima Kyoudai called right afterwards and was very kind. I told him I'm fine and not to worry one bit.

Our district is new now. We now have two zone leaders in our zone and one is also the youngest missionary in the zone. It's an odd feeling. I'm really getting old. Myagmarjav Shimai stuck around, Holker Shimai went to Kobe. This is their last transfer. The sister missionaries from my MTC district go home in March.

We taught Y san yet again. We taught her the golden Lehi's dream vision, the goal being to ask where she thinks she is and what she needs to do in order to get to the iron rod. She said she's drowning in the river. Still need to figure out what to do with her.

There was a shokujikai (pot luck) after church for Michael yesterday. It was a blast. The food here in Shikoku in the church is top notch. I talked to Maruyama Shimai for a while and she has a REALLY good memory. She remembers Grandma teaching them how to make picture frames and says she still uses hers. She said that Wendy also sent Christmas ornaments she made at a young women's activity to the Sakaide branch, and the Sakaide branch used those ornaments every year on their Christmas tree until the branch closed five years ago.

Yes, 20 lessons is a standard for the mission. But remember, one taught principle and a commitment can be counted as a "lesson" so it's not as huge as it sounds.

 It's also Valentines time again (I can't believe I'm to the point where I can say "again" now) so I'm getting chocolate from everyone. I felt bad opening and throwing away this box, it was so emaculate.


 I took this picture yesterday when we went to go visit a member out in Zentsuji. I thought it was really pretty and "Japan".  Note the Buddhist pilgrim.

I guess that's all. Have a good week!

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