Well it is officially winter here in Obihiro! It has snowed a couple times in the last week - which is pretty unusual for Obihiro I guess - and there is a good two feet of snow on the ground. I don:t think it will be disappearing anytime soon either! We have officially quit riding our bikes and now rely on walking, buses, and occasionally member's give us rides in their cars which is great! I've actually come to enjoy housing in snow storms - everyone is super nice! They usually at least open their door and talk to us for a little bit whether they are interested or not, probably just to see who is crazy enough to be knocking on their door in that kind of weather - but thats okay! One lady that we talked to in a store even offered to drive us home! We had an appointment near by soon so we declined, but she was totally sincere. It really is true what they say about Hokkaido - the temperature is freezing, but the hearts of the people are warm!
A funny thing happened this week when we were housing with a member. We knocked on the door, and it opened, and the man inside heard who we were and where we came from and then without hearing anything else told us to wait a moment and closed the door. A few seconds later he comes out with a two foot by three foot painting and just hands it to us and says "Here, take this, it is for you! My business card and an explanation of the painting are in a folder on the back - Thank you! Bye!" Very surprised, and quite confused we fumbled to hand him at least a flyer before he shut the door again. Overcoming our shock a little bit and thinking about what to do with our newly accquired painting, we decided to go back and give him a present of The Book of Mormon in exchange for his generosity. We knocked again, he came out we gave him The Book of Mormon, and then he comes right back at us with another painting! Before we knew it we were left again outside his door with now two paintings and still no idea why on earth he decided to give them to us. But our apartment and the Elder's apartment now have original pieces of artwork to decorate! I'm still not sure what it all means, but one thing is for sure - you can never predict what happens when you dendo!
Okay, that was the funny thing this week... now for the exciting part :)
Onodera Eiko san got baptized!!!!!!! She had her interview on Thursday, the baptismal service was on Saturday, and in sacrament meeting yesterday she received the gift of the Holy Ghost. She is now officially the newest member of the church in the Obihiro ward. It was beautiful! She was so calm and peaceful before it all, and she just said that she knew that this was right. I won:t lie I was worried about it all week, thinking about anything that we might not have explained well enough, or things her family might say or do to stop her, or if she would relapse on smoking or something would happen to postpone her baptism. I told my companion about some of my worries and she kindly reminded me to think about when I was baptized. Did I understand everything perfectly when I was baptized at eight years old? Obviously not. I wasn:t baptized because I passed some test of my gospel knowledge. I was baptized because I believed in Jesus Christ and I wanted to follow him. Baptism is not how we show that we are perfect - it is how we allow God to make us perfect, and show him that we are willing to make changes in our lives to follow Him and let His gospel and His light change us. Eiko san truly is an example to me of what it means to become as a little child, submissive, meek, humble, and willing to learn, and willing to obey. At the beginning I made the mistake of thinking that I had to help bring her up to my level so to speak, help her come to my level of understanding before she could be baptized. Now I realize that I need to become more like her - its not about how much you know, its about the conviction of your heart. It was a beautiful weekend, and I feel so blessed to have been here to witness it!
I know that this gospel is true, and that it truly is the way to happiness and eternal life! I love you all a bunch! Merry December/ Christmas Season! What a wonderful time of year to let the light of Christ that comes so naturally at this time of year change us!