Honestly, I have been about as in the dark as you can be about the earthquake news, and all the information I've heard has been second-hand. There really is a missionary bubble when it comes to world events, but one of the men we are teaching has a friend living in Kyushu, where the earthquake struck. That friend is currently living in their car since the roof to heir home caved in making it unsuitable for shelter. The missionaries in the Tokyo South Mission have been advised to double check their 72-hour kits and emergency water, but no other warnings have come so we're doing our best with the many blessings that we have been given.
It's finally down to the last six weeks of my time in Japan. And with the announcement of transfers this last Saturday, I've been asked to serve back in the Fujisawa Stake in an area I already hold dear to my heart although I've never served there personally. Fujisawa Area is home to the stake center and a culturally diverse population. My companion, Elder Johnson, is a second transfer missionary from North Ogden, Utah, and a lover of sports and of making the most of life. He, at the beginning of his 2 year mission, and me, nearing the end of mine, will be yoked together, so to speak, for the next 6 weeks. I pray that as we both serve every day with all our might, mind, and strength that our efforts will be guided by the Spirit so that we may touch, no, change the lives of many forever. We are all given only a short time on this earth, and it is completely up to us how we spend it. I am so grateful to Sister Whitesides and the love-filled, inspired life she lived. I remember everyshe would sit in the back right corner of the chapel waiting to welcome us with the sweetest smile you've ever as seen we walked in the doors. For a kid like me, I feel like I was loved and cared for by this loving, daughter of God, and when I passed the sacrament as a deacon and as a teacher, she was still there, quietly taking the bread and water. Her actions were small, but impactful. She has moved on to the next stage in this grand plan of happiness.
Sister Gay Whitesides and Nancy, thank you for always welcoming into your home when I came by as a twelve and thirteen year old boy and for always giving fast offerings when I came by. I did not understand the importance of fast offerings at the time, nor did I give much thought to what I was doing, but as a young man learning his priesthood responsibilities, it was truly a priceless lesson. My role really wasn't that big. I simply received the fast offering envelopes and walked to the houses I was assigned. Yours, Sister Erdman, Sister and Brother Jackson, and one other home that I can't remember, but they didn't speak to me much. Then, I turned that envelope in at church and went about my merry way. But, I can't help feel now that we were part of something bigger. That offering went to the Bishop who then used it to help others in need, perhaps in dire need. You were part of miracles, and you helped me be a part of it too.
When you look at life from an eternal perspective, meaning, looking at life believing that that there is a purpose for why we are here and meaning to every action we make, it's amazing how much more meaningful life becomes. There is a purpose to our life, and that is to "prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32). My membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has brought many, many blessings to my life and a joy, a happiness, that only get stronger as time passes and experienced gained. If you feel that your daily efforts just don't pay off as well as you hoped and that things just don't seem to turn out as well as you had hoped, I invite you to meet with the missionaries, they can help!
I love this gospel, I love Japan, and I love you!