Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Easter From Japan! March 29, 2016

Happy Temple Tuesday!
Yesterday, Elder M and I, the sisters from M and their investigator, and our investigator and his teenage son were riding the train on our way to a Family Home Evening in K with the W's, and in my heart, I was praying for an opportunity to help these dear friends feel the Spirit and have a defining moment in the process of their conversion. Seated in the same train car as us was a middle-aged women, seemingly distressed and incredible irate and someone or something. She kept dialing her phone, yelling into it for a few seconds, going silent and then hanging up and doing it again. She was yelling about murder and betrayal and all sorts of disastrous things and causing quite a stir. The people around her were trying their best to ignore the "annoyance", but after turning their backs, many people were quietly smiling to themselves, amused at this woman who clearly didn't understand how ridiculous she sounded screaming at no one. 
How can I describe the emotions that I had? I was, at the time, talking to our investigators son about basketball, but it was practically impossible to have a normal conversation with a woman constantly yelling in the background. The son commented apologetically that sometimes there are "those kind of people" in Japan as well, and I didn't know how to respond. I knew absolutely nothing about this woman or what she was going through, her background, personality, nothing, but I couldn't bring myself to condemn this woman whom I knew nothing about. I don't want to do that kind of thing. I, in an attempt to sound like a missionary, told him that we needed to treat her like a daughter of God even if she was acting strangely. Even as I spoke the words, I realized how hollow and empty the words sounded as I too was standing motionless, frozen by the awkwardness of the situation. How would I respond if that was my real sister? Would I tell her to be quiet because she was bothering other people? Would I simply ignore her or pretend that I wasn't related to her? If I say something and she really is mentally unstable, I could just make things worse or embarrass myself? 

As I stood thinking about what to do, I felt that in this situation the only thing that I could do was to become an outlet. Sometimes, people just need someone to talk with them, and in a place like Tokyo, I felt very strongly that that was what this woman needed. Without waiting, I walked over sat down next to her and asked, "Are you doing ok? It sounds like something terrible just happened. I'm a Christian missionary  and I've been dealing with some pretty tough things myself recently, so if you need to get anything off your chest, I am willing to listen." 
She suddenly got very quiet, and the outbursts stopped. She didn't say anything for a few moments, but then then said quietly, "could you hear it?" She then went quiet again next stop where we both got off, and she went off her separate way. 

She may very well have been mentally handicapped, but I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for briefly allowing me to see one of His children as He sees them. I am not a perfect example, and I would never claim to be. There was only ever one perfect person to live on this earth, but I learned in that moment a powerful lesson about seeing others through Heaven's Eyes (For those of you who know the movie Prince of Egypt that is a reference).

I think that we can all apply the words of the prophet Mormon a little more in our lives.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Moroni 7:48

I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon and all of the things written within it are true, and I am glad to be a witness of these truths in these latter days.

I love you all!
Elder Christensen

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