Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The End of One Life and the Beginning of the Rest of it

It's me. I'm in control of my blog again. In some ways it feels like I've been given back one of my appendages, in another it feels like I've been given a snotty step-child to take care of for the second time.

Much thanks to my dad for taking care of it and updating it so dilligently every week. It'll be a nice history for me, if anything. Just for everyone's information, he did lots and lots of work editing and making it world-wide-web worthy. I was still relatively snooty and sarcastic as a missionary, it just all got cut in order to maintain a sparkly perfect image. Thanks dad.

Browsing through it now, it looks like he also added little reader-friendly translations here and there as well. 大変.

I'm not sure as to whether I want to start writing Japanese posts, translate some posts, or start a new Japanese blog altogether. I know I need to write in that language if I'm going to remember it. I guess I'll just re-learn how to use this thing first. Still working on a title, design, etc.


I figured I'd give a quick recap of what happened my last week in the mission: Monday-Friday.

We had matching MTC shirts. I got really physical with everyone for my last two weeks. I had this inner-resistance to saying goodbye to the mission. Some sort of weird instict that said if I held on to everyone physically I wouldn't have to let go. This guy probably got the most of that べたべた stuff. He's a trooper.

On Tuesday we went to pick up the new missionaries at Kansai Airport. Really strange experience knowing that I would be back there on Friday on my way home. Saying よろしくお願いします (really nice Japanese greeting that pretty much means 'we just met, let's be friends from now on) was in a way, heart-breaking.
It's built on a man-made island and the drive back was perfect.

The drive from Kansai Airport to the 本部 includes a view of Universal Studios.

Missionary bios in the Kobe ward.

I had the opportunity to meet a guy that I found and taught in Kobe right at the beginning of my mission. He was baptized shortly after I left. He's had to work on Sundays but is trying to figure something out.
 By Monday morning my replacement in the office was here. I showed him the ropes, translated for the new missionary training, and then pretty much floated around and said goodbyes, which I hate doing.

I'm so glad that I ぎりぎり got to have Elder Shinohara as my last companion. He taught me more than I could ever write...and all of it by example. Love his guts. We stayed up later than we should have talking for my last couple days.
I gave 篠原長老 that tie and he wanted to take a picture in this spot where trainers and trainees take their first pictures together. I didn't train him, but he always called me "office papa." Goll, I miss him.

Elder Lee told me every day that week that it was my "last Sunday," "last Monday," "last Tuesday," etc. In the end, he really didn't want to have to say goodbye. He's so great.
 Thursday morning came. My MTC buddies Elder Shumway and Elder Ewer showed up at the mission home. Sister Uyema also went home with us. She extended a transfer. She's awesome. The four of us went out to eat, had lots of time to just talk about our missions. Seeing the growth in each of them was remarkable. Nearly tangible. All three of them were evolved, new beings in Christ.

What was really remarkable was seeing them continue to fulfill their missionary purpose all the way home. They gave bold, very encouraging words to a missionary who was struggling with various issues who happened to be there at the same time.

That afternoon we had our final interviews, dinner, and a testimony meeting at the mission president's home. It was, well, magical really. I can't believe how warm it felt. I'm so glad that my going home group was as small as it was. We just laughed and enjoyed each other's company not worrying about time at all. It felt like family. It was a feeling I hadn't felt in a long time. That warmth. It was just so warm.

Hearing the other missionaries' testimonies, I realized that each of us had sacrificed this time to give other families that warmth; and now it was time to return to our own. The testimony meeting was sacred. I'll never forget it.

The next morning we had breakfast, laughed, enjoyed each other's company some more and that was that.
The four of us (Sister Uyema-Honolulu,Hawaii; Elder Shumway-Eagle, Idaho; Elder Ewer-Gilbert, Arizona) about to board a ferry across Kobe harbor to Kansai Airport.  The three of us elders have lost so much weight since the MTC; nearly unrecognizable.

It was a dirty window. You should be able to see President and Sister Zinke waving goodbye to us. That moment was just...awesome. I felt like I was in a movie. They were amazing to us.

And, we landed in the states and got ourselves something to drink. That's a medium on the left, small on the right. That small is bigger than a large in Japan. None of us were able to finish...we just threw them away half-full.
The one thing from those last coupe days that is burned into my memory forever: as we knelt and prayed to close the testimony meeting, President Zinke said "help these missionaries to know that Sister Zinke and I will love them forever."

Gosh. I get choked up just thinking about it. Isn't that what it's about? We teach a gospel that is about love. Christ did it all for us because he loves us. When people learn of Christ, they get to experience a love that is unconditional. A love that never ends. I just pray that I too can love everyone "forever." Not just until I forget them, until they move away, when there's an ocean between us, or until they stop calling me, but forever.

I have so many more feelings inside of me, but they're going to go in my journal so that they don't turn into something  I regret.

I landed in the U.S. friday night, was released Saturday morning and have just been at home alone trying to figure my life out. Not making too much progress but I guess that's to be expected.

It's still weird not being a missionary.

I'll probably write some snooty post about the culture shock of returning to the states soon.

I loved my mission. If you haven't served one, you should try it. お勧めです。

To my investigators, members that supported me, missionary leaders that supported me, my two fearless mission presidents and their wives, my super-human companions and all others that I was blessed to 知り合う on my mission:



  1. Your blog made me cry. Thank you for sharing the love you had for your mission. Very touching! I hope one day to serve a mission.