Tuesday, February 4, 2014
February 3, 2014
On February 3, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:
Happy Day of light and hope! Happy day of sun! Happy day of love and light, of peace and brighter times to come!
So, I think you'll be happy to hear that I have started to write haikus in Japanese! I asked my Japanese friend (and eikaiwa student) how to do it, and after he taught me, I decided to write one everyday for the rest of my mission! So far, I have seven! I wrote one about Groundhog Day! Well, I guess it's woodchuck day, because groundhog doesn't translate in Nihongo, but that's okay. I'm excited to show them to you when I get home.
This week was a good week! Luk Shimai and I have decided that we are going to spend a lot of our time working with less-active members in the branch, and so that is what we spent this last week doing! We have been able to build some really great relationships this week, and we hope that over the course of the next few weeks, we will be able to invite some of these members to come to Sacrament meeting!
There is one member in particular that we have really been working with; his name is Ganbe Kyodai (Brother Ganbe). He is about 45 and hasn't been coming to church for a while now. He is single and very self-conscious of his image (he has a tupee... it's awesome). When we first got to Ishinomaki, we would get a text message every morning from him that had the day's weather and a scripture for the day. After about two or three weeks of this, and not meeting him or talking to him, we decided to call him and set an appointment to do a role-play lesson with him! He happily agreed, and we had a fun lesson. After that lesson, he has come to EVERY single church activity! He wasn't coming at all before! Since then, we have had several lessons with him, we play ping-pong with him every Friday, and this week, he will be joining us for Institute with the branch! He is even working with the Elders and their investigators as a joint!
Yesterday was the true miracle; when Luk Shimai and I arrived for Sacrament meeting, there was Ganbe Kyodai, dressed in his finest suit, sitting on the back row! We hadn't even invited him to come to church yet, because we didn't think he would say yes, but there he was, by his own accord, in sacrament meeting! It was truly a miracle, and I am so grateful to see Ganbe Kyodai feeling the light and love of the Savior.
That was just one of the miracles we were able to see this week among the less-active members of the Ishinomaki branch. The Lord is blessing us and them to be able to build really strong relationships of trust. I am so thankful, and I am looking forward to what the future has in store for these members.
Our other miracle this week also happened yesterday! Yuki San came to church, and it was fast and testimony meeting. Last Fast Sunday in January, we taught her about fasting. Then, she told us that she didn't think she would be able to fast because she takes medication in the morning that requires her to eat, so it might be difficult. Yesterday, after sacrament meeting, she told us that she is fasting today! And she told us that she was confused about what an akashi is (testimony), so the sister sitting next to her explained what it was: a simple pure statement of belief, something that you know to be true through the power of the Holy Ghost. Yuki San told us after Sacrament that her goal from now on is to get one of those akashis so that she can get up next fast Sunday and bear her testimony! How awesome is that?! She is so ready to be baptized. We just have a few more things to work on with her, and we are hoping to be able to set a baptismal date with her in our lesson tomorrow! Yay!
We had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to attend a concert with a sister in our branch and our less-active friend. We were told that the concert was a handbell ensemble, and I was looking very much forward to it! When we got there, I was reading the program (yes, in Japanese), and the first half of the concert wasn't a handbell ensemble, but was a man named John Lucas and his Ishinomaki Gospel Choir! As John Lucas walked on stage, I was overwhelmed with the Spirit. John Lucas is a man in his 30's from Jamaica. He has lived in Japan for the last 13 years as a charity worker, and when the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011, he was also a victim. He has spend his time working tirelessly to help and serve the people of Japan, and one of the ways he does that is through music. He started to sing Amazing Grace, and my heart was filled with peace. Then, he transitioned into This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let it Shine!! and the tears wouldn't stop rolling down my face. Then, he sang John Lennon's Imagine, and I could quite literally feel the presence of my Savior and His, and all the others, standing beside me. After that, he was joined by his gospel choir, which was made up of about 30 Japanese Christians, and they started to sing (in English) Gotta Keep Busy Workin' for My Jesus. It was fantastic!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Hallelujah praise of the Gospel! I SO wish that Mormons were more into that! I haven't felt the Spirit that strongly since I was at the jinja in January! Oh, how my soul needed that concert. Music is the medium through which I feel the Spirit the most. Sound. It was glorious, and my soul was so lifted. The handbell part of the concert was really cool too, but the best part for me was the Gospel part. What a great way to spend a Sunday. I so needed it, and I will have to figure out a way to adequately express my gratitude to Usui Shimai for taking us.
So, since yesterday, I've had Emile XY's Soul Shine Bright stuck in my head!
Gotta let my soul shine bright, and brighten up my life!
Gotta let my soul shine bright, make everything alright!
We must follow him, follow him, follow him!
Oh now, follow him, follow him, follow him!
We must follow him, follow him, follow him!
This little soul of mine! I:m gonna let it shine, SHINE SHINE!
This little soul of mine! I:m gonna let it shine!
So good. That is my song.
That's about it for this week. It's been a good week. I am grateful for the Spirit of the Lord, and for music. I am grateful that I have to opportunity to share my testimony through music. I am grateful for the talents that the Lord has blessed me with, and the opportunity I have to use those gifts as a missionary in Japan.
I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of all humankind. I know that through His love, His light, and His grace, we can dwell in peace, and that, to quote John Lennon, "The world can be as one. Imagine."
Of this I testify as a personal representative of Him, in His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.
Love, Shak Shimai