Monday, April 21, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
On Monday, April 21, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:
I LOVE SISTER ALCAZAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really really REALLY do. This week has been FANTASTIC! We have had a lot of firsts happen to us this week! First of all, we went to visit one of my favorite less-active members, Kimura Shimai. She is a riot. I love her so much; she is so genki (which I finally figured out a good English translation for: chipper!) and loves to talk. While we were there, she told us a funny story that after the tsunami, some random person gave her three big bags all full of bras! So she ran upstairs and grabbed one of the bags and gave them to us! So now, we have a giant bag full of bras (there's about 50 of them, I think) and nothing to do with them. They are all TINY. Well, they're probably normal-sized, but you know me. Haha. So we are going to try and find a women's shelter to donate them to. It was hilarious.
Then, we were biking alongside the Kitakami river that runs through town, and there was a BEAUTIFUL Sakura tree that was in full bloom, so we stopped to take a picture, and we started talking to these little old ladies that were standing by us. We told them that Alcazar Shimai just got here, and one of them asked if we had been to Hiyoriyama yet, which is a big sakura park in Ishinomaki. Alcazar Shimai said no, and the little old lady said "Let's go!" So we were super excited and asked her when would be good, and she said "Let's go right now!" So, that is just what we did! We got to learn all about this little old lady. Her name is Goto Chieko San, she is 83 years old, and she had a super hard time in the earthquake and tsunami. As she drove us to Hiyoriyama, she was telling us all about her life, her children and her grandchildren, and about how they all live far away and that she misses them. She seemed very lonely. But when we got to Hiyoriyama, it was about 6:00 in the evening, and so the sun was just getting ready to set. That day, the paper factory in Ishinomaki had made the town super smoky because it wasn't very windy, and as a result, the sun turned blood red and was a HUGE and PERFECT sphere in the sky. Everything was glowing red, and the light reflected off the sakura blossoms. It was absolutely incredible. I have some pictures, but there is no way to capture the beauty of that in a picture. I have never seen something so beautiful in my life. I was overwhelmed with the love of Heavenly Father, with His love for Japan, and with His love for Goto San. It was a wonderfully beautiful experience. After that, Goto San took us out to soba because I had mentioned that I like soba, and it was so fun. That night, we exchanged contact information, and we are going to visit her again soon!!! She was really appreciative of the fact that we are Christian volunteers, and so we want to go back and share the Gospel with her. There is no way that us biking down the side of that river was an accident. I had just simply thought that I would take Alcazar Shimai the scenic route to where we had planned on going, and we were able to meet one of Heavenly Father's beloved daughters. It was definitely divine guidance, and I am thankful for the experience.
Then, later on in the week, we were going with a member and a friend to a park outside of Ishinomaki that is famous for sakura. Before we stopped there, Usui Shimai wanted to stop at a flower shop to buy some flowers for a less-active member for her birthday. So, she took us to this giant greenhouse, and when we got inside, it was a gerbera daisy farm! There were MILLIONS of daisies, rows upon rows, of all different colors! It was so beautiful! Then, the woman that owned the greenhouse had about three huge buckets full of daisies that she had cut because they "were not perfect daisies" and she told us that she wanted to give us ALL OF THEM! It was about 300 flowers, I'm guessing. At this point, we had been talking a lot, and she could probably see the look of pure bliss that was on my face, so she told me that I could go out into the flowers and pick two that I wanted to take home with me, as a present! She had already given us all of these flowers, but she was so nice, and so I went and picked a bright sunshine yellow one that was PERFECTLY round and absolutely gorgeous, and all a hot pink one that was the same. She then cut them for me, and added two more perfect ones. There are no words to describe the feeling I had that day. It is amazing the joy that comes from gerbera daisies. I am pretty convinced that Heavenly Father created them JUST for ME! So now Alcazar Shimai and I have a big arrangement of daisies on our table, and we were able to give a bunch away to investigators and members for Easter presents yesterday! It was wonderful.
Then, this last Saturday, all of the new missionaries in Ishinomaki, the assistants, President and Sister Rasmussen and their family that was visiting from Arizona, and Elder Palmer and his Mom, and us had a really unique service opportunity! We went to a port right next to the ocean, and harvested seaweed that they turn into wakame for miso soup! It was smelly, dirty, and absolutely FANTASTIC work! It was so much fun! We spent all day cutting seaweed. By the end of the day, my rubber apron was covered with slimy baby shrimps, and it was super gross! But also really cool. After that experience, I think that aliens actually come out of the ocean, and not from outerspace.
Now for this week's miracle! We have one investigator named Sugiyama San! We have been meeting with him since last December and this time, we went with Elder Whittle and Elder Aono to teach him, and to pass him to the Elders. We have been inviting Sugiyama San to pray for about four months now, and he never has. But! Yesterday in the lesson, Sugiyama San made such a natural connection with Elder Aono, who is a brand-new green-bean missionary! The Spirit was so strong as we talked about how the Plan of Salvation helps us to understand our purpose in life, and that Sugiyama San can experience all of those blessings for himself through prayer! And so when we invited him to pray, he did! And it was perfect! It was full of thanks for his blessings, for his life, and for his family. He was also thankful for us coming to help him be closer to God. He laughed a little bit in the middle and was super embarrassed when he finished, but it was so sincere and so wonderful. The Spirit was very strong, and Sugiyama San definitely felt something different. I have been waiting for the right person to pass Sugiyama San to, and I am so happy that Aono Choro is finally here! It was a joy-filled lesson, and I am so grateful.
What a week! I love Ishinomaki! I love my companion! I love Japan! And, I love my Savior! He lived, died, and lives again just for me! There is pure light, pure joy, and pure hope in His atonement. I know that though Him, we can discover what it means to be truly happy. I am so grateful!
Well Momma, I love you! So much! I hope that you have a good week and a very happy birthday! Oh, and yes, we can Skype for Mother's Day! It will all be the same as last time! The time might be different though. I'll work it out with the Elders and let you know! I LOVE YOU!