I'm off to serve an LDS mission in Kobe, Japan from June 2015 to December 2016. My mom will be keeping this blog updated with my latest letters, photos, adventures, etc.! Also I would LOVE to hear from everyone - katya.wagstaff@myldsmail.net

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Monday April 25 Music, Snake, Rain and THIS CHURCH IS TRUE

This week was interesting...held an investigator's snake, climbed a fence with our bikes, picked weeds and ate them, and it rained AND good spiritual things happened too! 

Monday night we did some birthday visits for members, never actually saw the birthday people, just their family members!

Tuesday was the weed eating...that's the truth, it was a Relief Society activity! We drove out a bit, then walked in to this valley area, then apparently it's a real Japanese thing to go out and pick the edible weeds- we were in groups with the guide being someone who knew what they were doing- I think Grandma and Grandpa would love Kawachinagano Ward because there are lots of people who know a lot about plants/flowers. Fun, interesting experience!

Then we had a weekly LA lesson with Yoshikawa Shimai as our doseki (member who joint teaches) and she was perfect because we talked about tithing and she has a really strong testimony of tithing, great experiences to share that brought the Spirit more than we probably could've. Nighttime was Eikaiwa and I taught kids- they are exhausting! You can't talk for long, they'll get bored so we do lots of games. This week we practiced calling and talking to each other on the phone in English.

Wednesday was Visiting Teaching day...seriously someone must have told the sisters to have us go visiting teaching with them because we got requests from 3 different people in a day! First was our regularly scheduled with Shino Shimai (RS Pres)...lots of LAs and no one was home/would meet, but we still took our regular selfie and I got to hold the stick -hey turns out it's harder than I thought.

After, we were translators for 2 Japanese sisters visiting a Phillipina, so she read in Tagalog but spoke in English and we translated back and forth- lots of talking, but a really good lesson because these were really strong sisters that are firm in their faith. 

Ended the night with Game Night, goodbye for Lins Choro who's done and going back to Brazil! He was our district leader this last transfer and a really good missionary. 

(The one in the middle is our Dendo Shunin- Ward Mission Leader; other guy is one of the chorotachi's investigators) 

Thursday was transfer day, but just a normal day for us. Lots of rain! So we got lost and the roads in this neighborhood kept getting smaller (roads are just small here anyways) and then there was a fence and we couldn't get out and we really didn't want to backtrack forever and waste time, so we climbed over and hauled our bikes over and it all worked out. Thought about cutting this part out, but...it happened, we died laughing that night because we couldn't believe we actually did that and also that we were able to carry out bikes over. Sorry, back to better things!

Visited one of our dendo FIRE members- she's great, so bold about sharing the gospel with her friends. Also did some finding around a member's house- they told us missionaries have found around the area for a long time with no luck, but we found a family with some interest in the Plan of Salvation! Told them about it and they were surprised but really happy- I think you could practically see their faith increase a little. 

Friday, met with a member in the morning and created a prayer list together- at first it was just less active's (which are wonderful as well!) but our purpose was getting referrals/helping them share the gospel and see baptisms together, so Steere Shimai was inspired and asked for anybody else...then she remembered one friend! We're going to try and visit her friend together next week. Later that day we had an interesting appointment with a PI- appointment was just with teenage daughter for 30/30 because she had English interest but we ended up meeting the whole family plus their pets which are not limited to a dog, a few ferrets, gekko and snake. Held them all, didn't worry. Also the gospel is for everyone- this family didn't look like maybe the "type" I'd expect, but who knows? They seemed to really have interest and want to read the Restoration pamphlet we gave. Also towards the end of the night, we started counting up lessons and realized we had hit 11 that day, pretty good! We were heading back to the apartment and my prayer and desire was for just one more, just one more person to find. My thought was the crepe shop by our apartment- God works in different ways, working through my LOVE of crepes works for me! It was just about to close but we got in and were able to order and then talk with the owner a bit- talked to her a bit before. It wasn't a lesson, she's not an investigator left, but we learned more about her story and the gospel would fit into her life so perfectly, she needs it!

Saturday after study started with a lesson with the former investigator we met last week. We tried to bring a member with us, but called ahead and she didn't want a member there and asked  if we could just teach English, not a church message...well that doesn't work, but she a little reluctantly agreed to a church message. So we were a little worried going into this one, but really wanted to listen to her and follow the Spirit. Turned out to be a lesson that is all I could hope for as a missionary. People's hearts change and I got to see God's hand guiding her life. She talked, we listened, then testified and were able to share a bit from the BOM. She read, we talked a bit and then she told us that this scripture really touched her heart. She used to go to a Protestant church, but things happened and she cut herself off completely from that church and from God, but she thinks she wants to come back to God. I'm so blessed to be a missionary and see these moments, be a small part of them.

 We shared 2 Ne 26:24-28
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden. 
God loves us all, invites us to please come to Him. 

Later in the day went to a member's and as we were coming up, their next door neighbor drove in. Said hi to us in English, so we talked to him a little and found out he lived in California for a little bit years ago, plus had been to/knew Salt Lake City! The Kosugi's (members) came out as we were talking to their neighbor, told us they'd lived next door probably 20 years and didn't know he had good English! Proceeded to talk about prayer and sharing the gospel and the Spirit was strong, we were all inspired and their eyes were opened to their neighbors who they hadn't really considered before as far as really pursuing to share the gospel. Is God hastening His work? YES. 
Last thing on Saturday was going to this community choir thing someone told us about- said anybody could come, there were lots of people and it was German sacred music- sounded like a good new finding activity. Haha! Turned out to be the most awkward experience- the staff was really flustered, the whole thing was a bit awake are, music was beautiful but not good finding, but hey, we tried something new! 

Sunday- women's choir sang "I Know My Redeemer Lives"- beautiful, so true. Then after church we had another lesson with new Fillipina investigator about the Plan of Salvation, she has LOTS of questions. It's really different to teach someone with a Christian background , honestly it was pretty hard, but really grateful getting to teach like that- someone who really can and will progress! 

So this turned out really long- it was a long, interesting week! One other thing I wanted to bring up really fast- Osumi San (Phillipina investigator) asked if we would convert to another religion if we loved someone who was in another church. No, I couldn't do it. I can love just about everyone, God does love everyone, but this church, the restored perfect gospel of Jesus Christ means everything to me. As Steere Shimai said in our lesson, we know the blessings that have come and will come and absolutely can't give it up. 

Love you all!
Wagstaff 姉妹

Did some streeting by a train station the other day (I think Friday, day with lots of lessons) and this hasn't happened for a while, but I think it was at least 3 different people that asked if they could take pictures with us...white people are a little rare, lots of teenagers think we're cool (but then too shy/embarrassed to talk)

Also for P-Day today we had to take my bike to a shop because yesterday the tire had a bump in it- miracle was that it never popped, but took it to the shop and found out they couldn't fix it- the bump was big and had gotten uneven wear, so I had to get a new tire...looked like about 5000 Yen (guess a little less than 50 dollars). Ouch- though when they rang up, it was a little less- closer to 35- hey that works. There are some pretty bad roads/sidewalks in Osaka (a bit infamous- little Japan info. Kyoto is the tourist city so apparently it's beautiful and perfectly clean, still haven't been there; Osaka is more for real people who live there. I'm in Osaka suburbs...the suburbs are huge- 3 stakes worth)

Elder Stevenson of the 12 is coming to Kobe on May 22nd, and there's usually homework/a challenge attached to these visits. This one was BIG- The bar has been set at everyone baptizing weekly and the mission is overall improving a bit, now our mission is baptizing weekly, but we want more so the commitment is to really dedicate ourselves, starting today and commit to each see 1 baptism before May 22nd. 

Wow! I saw the extent of my faith this week, and it needs to stretch further. One family was smoking when we visited, another investigator I think was drinking a little, and another's house smelled like they were trying to cover up smoke. I had a hard time believing that they would change now- I guess I believed overall that yes of course people change because I've heard stories, I know it can happen. I also believe that everyone CAN change, but maybe a lot of them take a long time- but can the people right in front of me change now? That was hard. That's where I realized I wasn't so sure/ a little skeptical. 

That's where I'm working, it's hard, but that's where I believe our companionships are inspired because Steere Shimai has a lot of faith and hope in the converting power, sees beyond current circumstances. 

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