Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014 Great things are worth struggling for!

So that was a little thing called nagashisomen, which is a fun little activity that sometimes goes on in Japan! One family that we live close to, the A. family sponsored the event for some school kids and friends, and they invited us to go! You fill up a bowl with sauce and vegetables, and when the noodles slide down, you scoop them up, dip them in sauce, and eat!
P-days have been pretty quiet so far with shopping and a few other things because travel is expensive, and there aren't a ton of cultural things to do other than visit shrines. We are going to go see some castle ruins today, and we're really trying to make the most of our time now that we've gotten into a good groove together. I haven't played the piano much yet, but I've been given several songs to practice and sing, and I've been told that a solo in sacrament meeting might be in the near future so that will be a fun surprise!!
I definitely miss those pears and the other amazing fruit we canned! Fruit is really expensive in Japan so we don't usually get to eat very much unless it's at a member's house. After transfers, we've decided to make some budgeting and diet changes and see if we can make the most out of what we have. I definitely took all of the groceries that we had for granted even at BYU, but thank you for being so healthy and buying delicious food!
Have fun at the wedding and tell everyone hi for me! I remember when Jin got married, and it's great that her younger sister has found that blessing as well! 
It sounds like the all of yours are doing well!
Aaron, you're tearing it up on the field and still falling sleep during movies, which is good! :) Those ward activities were some of the highlights of church, and I definitely miss them now! What have you been talking about in Teacher's quorum lately? The young men here have started on For the Strength of Youth and have been trying to organize temple trips to do baptisms. I can't stress how important Young Men's is for creating good habits and teaching things about the gospel that will help you every single day on your mission and for the rest of your life so listen well!
Bennett, getting ready for another Homecoming! Good luck with that and go have a great time! I'm technically not even allowed to start conversations with girls, let alone take them on dates, so you'll have to have fun for the both of us. I got to bless the sacrament in church on Sunday, and it brought back all of the great memories of being a Priest! Some of the young even bumped the trays on the stand like they did before! What sorts of things are the Priests involved with recently? I know that your strong testimony can be a source of strength to those around you, especially the younger priesthood holders who still have more to learn. Learn all that you can from lessons and try to have the Spirit with you at all times through daily scripture study and prayer.

My week consisted of a lot of re-evaluations, and new goals to further my progress as a missionary and begin to fulfill President Wada's goals for the mission. Each companionship has been encouraged to have "meaningful" conversations with at least 70 people each week, but the mission totals have dropped to about 70% of that goal. Our district came down hard and said that we can't expect to see success or achieve our goals if we can't even accomplish the small ones, which stung because we hadn't been meeting our goals either. I had been letting my fear of Japanese and not understanding anything stop me from even trying to act on counsel from our leaders, and it was a pretty embarrassing realization. During the first hour of church, I felt overwhelmed with discouragement because although I desired more than anything to make a difference, I couldn't even understand what the children were saying let alone the teachers. I felt lost and out of place and felt like there was no way to share the desire of my heart. I was feeling depressed and hopeless, but then I remembered my goal to help the youth become stalwart priesthood holders that God needed them to be. To press forward in faith like like the sons of Helaman without fear and full of hope. I realized that this work, this gospel, and this message is worth more than my own pride. If I can't even speak, then I'll let my love and my desire show through my actions. If I have nothing else to give, I'll give my heart, my very soul, to God in order to help these people. Then, during the next block and during sacrament meeting, I saw something truly amazing happen. I didn't understand any more of the Japanese, but as I listened to the lessons and earnestly engaged in the meetings, I felt the Spirit more strongly than I have ever felt in my life. One of the speakers was a sister missionary from California who had just finished her mission and was visiting in Hachioji for the last time, and as she spoke, though simply, she spoke with with the tongue of angels. She bore simple testimony of her deep and abiding love for the members and that she would never forget the people of Japan, and as I imagined what it would feel like to return home, having served with all of my heart, I was overcome with a feeling of love and gratitude because I remembered that each of the members and everyone else is a dear and beloved child of God, and they deserve all that I have to offer and more. I hope I can make all of you proud while I'm here, and say at the end of my mission, that I did was I was sent to do.

I love all of you and pray that you will always know how proud I am to call you my family and friends. Let's go and change the world

Elder Christensen

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