There weren’t a whole lot of things that went on really this week. However, they are things I will always remember as a part of my mission.
Tuesday was a pretty decent day. There is a family in the ward who is trying to redo their yard. Like a COMPLETE makeover. Therefore they called us Elders up and asked if we could help. Well...sadly, if really I could help. My companion can do things, but only so much before he can't do anything. Poor guy did the best he could in helping with the work but had to sit out most of it and do the small things.
I on the other hand had a wonderful opportunity to get a full body workout from around 11 o'clock that morning to 5:30 that night. We figured since we haven't been able to do much, my companion would try and feel better at their house so I could give them a hand. I had the opportunity of doing MANY different things during that service project, which consisted of digging and shoveling dirt across the yard, breaking ground and rocks with pick axes, and lifting and moving boulders, and huge bags of gravel and such. You already know I got freakin jacked during it all. My man Brother H brought his truck with a crane mounted on it so that we could move the big boulders to the places that we wanted them. At one point during the process, one of the boulders fell off the crane and in the middle of the yard. Brother H was FREAKING out hard core, not knowing what he was going to do to move it because once it's off the crane, it's off and is really hard to reconnect it apparently. I stood watching him and another guy try and pick it up, or roll it, but for some reason they couldn't do it. I decided to have mercy on the man and save him from his worries. I asked him, "Hey! Where do you want this rock?" (with the biggest smile on my face). He looked at me puzzled, and says,"well...I WAS trying to put it there but..." Before he could finish I cut him off by squatting down and lifting this massive rock myself and moving it to the place they wanted it.
Never, ever, EVER have I seen such priceless faces in my LIFE! I couldn't help but see everyone in attendance with dropped jaws. It was as if all them had just witnessed the First Vision for themselves hahaha. I was surprised I still had that kind of strength in me considering I haven't had a real work out in months. I guess all those days and weeks of never skipping leg day really payed off.
Lesson learned here is: DONT SKIP LEG DAY
Wednesday was a pretty rough day...considering we got a call from the mission president notifying my companion that he will be returning home this Friday due to his illness. Wow... All I can say is that it hurts a lot. To see him leave, Elder Grossen is a true disciple of Jesus Christ. His heart and his actions are pure and set him apart from the average missionary. He out of ANYONE in the mission I know does NOT deserve this. One thing I love about my companion, is how willing and accepting he is of the Lords will at this time. I'll be honest if it were me, I'd be upset, kicking and screaming doing all I can to stay. But my companion? ..Whole different story. When we received the call, all I heard was,"yes. Mhm”. Okay I understand,“Will do president." Tears were shed of course, but his humbleness, and willingness to be obedient is what makes him special. He does what's right, not just because he has to, but because he wants to. He emulates the Savior not only in WHAT he does, but WHY he does it. THAT has been one of the biggest blessings to see him as an example. Elder Grossen, when you read this my brother, know I love you! I want you to look out for and continue to find opportunities to serve those you will soon meet again, and those for the first time. There's a reason why the Lord is allowing this to happen. Find it! Love you buddy.
Thursday made up for Wednesday a little bit. We had the opportunity to go with one of our investigators, "Mr. Salt River" to the 桃山 (Momoyama) Castle. Mr. Salt River is one of my favorite people. He's super duper cool and loves us missionaries. He has a date to baptized on the 3rd of May. We went to the castle so that we could just be more of a friend to him. …and because Japanese castles are frickin sick. It was a good time walking around, seeing ancient things of Japan, looking at beautiful cherry blossom trees, or in Japanese called, さくら🌸 (Sakura). My man Brother S came with us as well. He and my companion talked for a while, regarding our phone call that we received the previous day. During that time, it left me to talk with Salt River. He and I sat down on a bench and talked for about an hour. It was probably the longest, most head-hurting, most fun, spiritual conversation I've had in a long time. It gave me the opportunity to bear testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel, about why I'm here in Japan, and even to teach him a little bit more of the gospel. I solo taught Salt River a one hour lesson on the bench. I say head-hurting, because I really had to work hard at my Japanese. I'm not the BEST, but I'm getting there I feel like. I know that from what I was able to teach him, it created an increase desire for him to follow Jesus Christ. It went really ,really well. My companion surprisingly was able to endure all the walking from it.
Which brings us to Sunday! Easter! Sunday was a special day for me. All week, I have been feeling so very overwhelmed, humbled, and my heart has been very soft. My mission president last Wednesday not only talked to my companion, but I had the opportunity to talk to him over the phone as well. We talked about my companion, and some upcoming things that he wants me to prepare for. I could nothing but feel inadequate at first. I went into the bathroom and splashed some cold water in my face after that call, and just looked at myself for a little bit in the mirror. It was as if I saw every weakness within me. It humbled me. It made me want to be better.
I had been longing all week to just feel His love through partaking of the sacrament, starting over the week on a new note and being a great missionary. I prayed hard that morning to be able to have a good day at church and to feel my burdens lightened. Heavenly Father blessed me well. It was a new family's first day in the ward, and they had a baby boy of about 1 year, and he was all over the place. I had the opportunity to play with this boy, make him happy, let him play with my name tag, my watch, my ring, really anything he could get his hands on of mine haha. If any of you know me, I have a big heart for little children ☺️ I was able to feel an overwhelming amount of love from this little boy in showing so much interest in me. Not only that, but also from the thanks from his mother who was struggling to keep him quiet during sacrament. I've never had a young baby boy leave me in such tears as this one did. Tears of joy, of happiness, and of peace. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures.
"Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."
God was clearly mindful of my needs during this time. Through this little boy, he was able to help me feel love, and happiness. It's what picked me up again. Not only was he mindful of me, but he was mindful of this little boy's mother. She was struggling a little bit to take care of this boy and keep him reverent for sacrament meeting. He used me to help this women out in helping her be at comfort, be happy that her baby boy is happy and being quiet with the things he was playing with, and it probably gave her a chance to actually listen to sacrament for once in a while. It was a simple, everyday thing that occurs all the time in this world, but it made the BIGGEST difference for me, and for this mother.
Because of this experience I had at church, I just had an increased amount of love for those around me, and a stronger desire to do something good that day. Whether that was for my companion, or whatever. My companion has been beginning to pack recently for his departure. This right here is a perfect example of why my companion is so awesome. As he was packing, he felt a prompting. He pulled out one of his suits and said,"I'm gonna give this suit to our friend "Mr. Wisteria Meadow"
(I'm using the direct translations of these Japanese names, that's why I have Salt River, and now Wisteria Meadow)
Wisteria Meadow is the man we met earlier in my time here in Fushimi. The man I gave my church clothes, the man we payed to go to the hospital to see his mother. We got the suit and walked over to his apartment just around the corner. I loved this man so much already, but from this time we visited him, I've never had so much compassion for him. He came outside, and basically stumbled around like a drunk man. My first thought was that he actually was drunk, but I was shortly proven otherwise. As I have explained earlier, this man's mother is very very sick in the hospital, and is literally on the edge. The hospital bill for his mom is VERY expensive, but it's to keep her alive. Wisteria Meadow is putting every he owns to his moms life. He has nearly nothing. Not even food really. He eats one day, and fasts for two so that he can span his food out until next pay day. It explains his stumbling and weariness. He walks 2 hours one way to get to the hospital everyday to visit his mom. He is the most humble, pure hearted man I've ever met. And the bravest too. He believes he was told by the spirit to keep his mom alive, which is why he is going through all this. I've never seen such a smile of pure happiness before. I'm sure he hasn't owned a suit for the longest time in his life, and to see him so thankful to get it made him the happiest man in the world. My companion and I looked at each other, and said,"wait here!"
We ran back to our apartment and grabbed all the food we could find and threw it in a box for him and brought it over. To see the look on his face again was just the first face times ten. I truly believe that God prompted my companion to give him that suit for a reason. Had we not brought it over, and followed the prompting, we may would have never known of what he was going through. He may have never gotten any food.
This here is another testament to God's love for us, and of this scripture. He uses his faithful servants and loved ones to bless others. He truly is mindful of everyone and their needs, their worries, and hardships. I'm just so humbled and blessed to be used as one of His instruments in doing His work.
Our Father in Heaven works in many mysterious ways in order to bring about His special purposes. I testify and know that this scripture is true. I see and experience this almost everyday here in the mission. I know, with ALL my heart that God loves each and every single one of us. No matter who you are, whom you were, whether you are white, black, orange, purple, or green, he loves you. "for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45).
Take a moment, and think of a time or an experience where you have felt the greatest amount of love in any way. Take that experience, and multiply it by infinity. THAT, my dear brothers and sisters, is how much God loves you, me, and all of us.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, that we may be able to have eternal life and live again with Him.
Jesus Christ came to this earth, and lived an absolutely perfect, sinless life. He walked the earth, wrought miracles among men, taught with love, and had compassion for all people. He loved them even as the Father did. He came here for a reason. And that was to fulfill the will of the Father.
Because of his love for his Father, and every one of us, he performed the greatest single act that changed humanity for all of time and eternity. He suffered the absolute most exquisite pain possible in the Garden of Gethsemane, bleeding from every pore in his body, taking upon Himself every pain, sin, and sorrow, because He loves us. He suffered through and took the hatred, the mocking, the spitting, because He loves us. He payed the price, and was whipped, nailed, and hung on the cross and was crucified, because He loves us.
Though He died upon the cross, and was layed to rest in his tomb, He rose again on the third day, and lives. I KNOW that with all solidity of heart. Thousands of years ago from just yesterday, was the day our Lord and Savior rose again.
He lives. And because He lives, and because of what He did for us, we all have the chance to repent of our sins, and start over again. We have the chance to be forgiven, and we have the ability to receive eternal life. Through the power of his atoning sacrifice, we can receive the power and ability to overcome trial, and temptation, and any hardship. Those truly mounted upon Christ and his rock of salvation cannot be immobilized. Not any amount of trial, hardship, sin, absolutely nothing can. Not even DEATH. He descended below ALL things. He literally has experienced every single pain, sorrow, sin, and feeling that you, and I, and EVERYONE have, am, and are yet to experience in your life here on this earth. Because he rose again, we too will rise again and be resurrected.
I KNOW that.
This last week was hard in some ways for me like I said. I was able to feel and see my personal weaknesses, and feel meek, and humbled. But because of what Jesus Christ did, we all, including myself, can become better saints, and followers of Jesus Christ, no matter what faith we may believe in. Which brings me to one of my favorite scriptures found in the Book of Mormon:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
This scripture has never hit so home for me as it did this last week. It was purely manifest to me in my own life. As we learn to humble ourselves, and come unto Christ and partake of his atoning sacrifice, we can change, and become better, become that much stronger and that much of a better person. His sacrifice has the ability to change even the weakest and most broken things of this world like myself, into strong faithful saints and followers of Him. I firmly and solemnly testify as one of HIS representatives that this is true. I'm thankful for the wonderful Easter Sunday the Lord blessed me with this year and for the opportunity I had on this day to remember my Savior and what He did for us.
I pray that each of you will remember always to partake of His love and atoning sacrifice. None of us are perfect, especially me, but that's why He did it. He knows we aren't, so He gave us a way to try and become perfect, to try and become like Him.
As you carry on about your lives through this week, I would invite you to think about the words that you all had the opportunity to hear this last weekend during General Conference. If you didn't get the chance, I invite you to find them online and read them! Whether you are a member of this church or not, I know that something you read, or watch will be something you need to hear.
I love Japan. I love what I do. I love my Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for what He did for me.
It's definitely a great day to be a missionary in the Japan Kobe Mission☺️
We just received transfer announcements and it looks like I'll be staying in Fushimi once more. ✌️
I love you everybody. Have a great week this week and until next time,
The food we gave our friend