Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 33 - Dendo!! :D

Dear Family -

Things are really warming up here in Sapporo now - we even went out to go grocery shopping without our jackets today! I am loving the spring weather.

The most exciting thing this week is that I was finally able to meet Becky's cousin's family - the Katos! They are an amazing family!! I was able to meet the Mom and two daughters on Tuesday and then the whole family again on Sunday afternoon - they are such a cute family!!! Kotaro kun and Yume chan and Megumi chan are all super nice to each other and just adorable. And Yozo and Ryoko are such nice parents too - I really felt at home at their house - even though it was the first time I had ever met them they really felt like family! Which I guess they are if you really think about it :) That threw some of the members at church for a loop when they asked what we were doing after church and I said i was going to go visit my 100% Japanese relatives that lived down the street :) If all goes well with work, they are going to come to a big Family Home Evening at the ward on Saturday - and the host family is actually Kotaro's kumon (juku - after school school?) teacher! So they already have a good connection with the ward which is great! I am excited to see them again.

Well, being a missionary is a pretty crazy experience. I swear I have never had so many emotional roller coasters in my life! haha - but what is life without a few amusement parks every once in a while? I love being a missionary, I really do. I don't know if there is anything else in the world that will bring such great joy as sharing the gospel - but I also don't think there is anything that will point our your weaknesses quite as clearly. Just when I think I am starting to get it down - I fail completely and feel like I have to start all over again. For example, just a couple of hours ago actually we had an appointment at the park with a lady we met last week and gave a Book of Mormon to - we were at the park at the appointed time, but it is a HUGE park and we realized we were at the wrong end of it. We texted our appointment and asked her for the address, and told her we were on our way - that we were super close - but she texted us back and said that fate was just not meant to be that day - that time and trust were very important to her and that we would just have to see if fate allowed us to meet again - because today was just not going to work. We continued, running now, to where she said she was - but when we got there,15 minutes late now - she was already gone. My companion and I found the nearest bench and sat down and texted her an apology and cried, and repented and talked things out for a long time. I have always known that one of my biggest weaknesses is dependability. I try so hard to be as dependable and trustworthy as I can - but I am not perfect and there are times when I fall short. But this time it was not just my reputation at stake - but the church's and more importantly Christ's. As a missionary I am a representative of Christ, and I had let him down. It has been a while since I have felt so disappointed in myself. My companion was very loving and we worked things out together - she shared a scripture with me that we all know very well - Mosiah 18:8-9. It goes "As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light, yea and are willing to mourn with those that mourn, yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at ALL TIMES, and in all things, and in all places..." I learned the importance of standing as a witness of God at all times today. I also learned about repentance. We truly felt regret, and sorrowed for what we had done. We did our best to make amends with our appointment. We mourned with and comforted each other, and then promised to never let the same kind of thing happen again. We prayed and talked about all of this with God. He listened, and he gave us both peace. I don't know how things will work out for her from here on out - but I know that somewhere along the line things will work out. We learned. We will grow. "These things gave us experience and shall be for our good".

I am so grateful for this missionary experience. I am so grateful for this chance that I have been given to realize my weaknesses and improve. I know I can never be perfect - that is not part of the plan for anyone - but I know that through his grace and his help I can be better than I am now - and that is so exciting! I will do my best. I know that God lives and hears and answers prayers. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that God has given us the scriptures to guide, comfort and bless us. I know that this gospel is true - and I am so grateful for it!!

Sorry I am out of time - until next week!

I love you all so much!

- Sister Budge

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week 32 - I Love Conference!

Dear Family,

Well the weather is warming up every day here, and we even started riding our bikes this week which I am super excited about!! It feels so much better to be out in the sun with the wind on your face then down in the subway train. It is also so much faster to get places now! We got to the Honbu in 10 minutes instead of the usual 30 to do email - I am looking forward to spring!!

I hope you all had the chance to watch conference - it was amazing!! Some of my favorite talks in a nutshell were
Quentin L. Cook - Christ does not promise universal peace - he promises personal peace if we choose to accept it, and it is only through individuals at peace with themselves that anyone can hope for universal peace (it reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures, Ether 12:4 - "Whosoever shall believe in God, shall with a surety hope for a better world") Sometimes we get people who reject us on the street on the claim that religion causes war - if they only knew the peace it could bring to them.
Craig A. Cardon - Christ wants so badly to forgive us, and help us to improve. He allows for improvement over time - he doesn't demand immediate perfection. How grateful I am for that!
Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Darkness exists - but so does light! No matter what dark circumstances we may find ourselves in - nothing can take away the light within yourself. That light, that comes from the light of Christ can shine and overcome any darkness in the world.
Rosemary M. Wixom - Talking and writing to children - they are so influenced by the examples around them, and we have so much to learn from them if we take the time to listen. As a missionary I have seen just as many if not more honest faithful examples and disciples of Christ in children as in adults. I love kids so much!

There are so many more that I really loved and that I felt were really speaking to me, but these were some of the highlights :)

I know that this gospel is true! I know that God loves each and everyone of his children, and that he knows each one of them perfectly. Because of that he knows exactly who we need around us to help us become who we need to become, and he knows who needs our help to grow as well. If we trust in the Lord I know that he will guide us and teach us not only what we need to learn from those around us, but also how we need to help.

Jeremy and Lizzi, I loved reading your letter and seeing those pictures! That is so neat that 27 people all got baptized on the same day, and that you got to baptize one of the kids you are working with! I wish I could have heard Lizzi's talk on the Holy Ghost - I bet it was wonderful! By the way, Jeremy you have grown quite the impressive beard!
Danny, I am glad that everything worked out with your cut/bite/thing! You had me worried for a few minutes there with that email! That is so neat that you were able to watch conference with some of your friends too! Did you have a favorite talk??

I hope everyone is doing wonderfully! I love you all with all my heart! I am so grateful for the knowledge that we will be an eternal family. I am so grateful to be a missionary here in Hokkaido and feel my family growing larger with every person I meet!


Sister Budge

Monday, April 8, 2013

Week 31 - Transferred to ODORI!!!!


Yes, I transferred this week from Atsubetsu to Odori!! Odori is a unique area in that we can go anywhere we want as long as it is within the Sapporo city limits. It is a HUGE area, and I am so excited to work here! It is a four person apartment - each companionship has a focus ward, but we can all go anywhere. Interestingly, my trainer Sister Kise is one of the sisters in the other companionship so we are back in the same apartment! She has Sister Peterson, a Canadian sister as her companion, and my new companion is Sister Tokeshi from Okinawa. She is a really hard worker and has such a powerful testimony - I am so excited to work with her!!

This week has been super busy with transfers and exchanges and everything, but we are slowly getting settled in a little bit. On Saturday we were able to do some Dendo around the Toyohira church (where I will be focusing, and where the Ward Mission Leader is actually a return missionary from Tokyo - Brother Matsuhashi - he said he served in Shibuya when Dad was a bishop there - small world! ) We did a new type of dendo - we started by visiting a lessacitve member, and then after we talked with her for a while we left to go house around her area. Before we left we asked her to pray for us to be able to meet people that would talk to us. In the next hour or so we found 5 people that we were able to either make an appointment with, give a Book of Mormon to, or people that said they would be willing to meet with us again sometime. At the end we went back to the members house and reported to her our work in the last hour and thank her for her prayer. It was so neat! It really strengthened my testimony of the power of the members, and I think it really helped her feel excited about missionary work too - one of the people we found actually turned out to be someone she knows! It was the first time either one of us had dendoed that way, but we want to do that a lot more!

I'm sorry this email is so short this week - from now on I will be emailing at the honbu which means that there are a billion people around waiting to email after me, so the emails might be a little shorter than usual from here on out - I will do my best to write good emails still!

I love you all so much, and I love this gospel!! There really is no happier work in the world!!


Sister Budge

Week 30 - Miyu chan Got Baptized and Confirmed!!

Dear Family,

How are you? Mom and Dad and Danny, are you enjoying the cherry blossoms in Tokyo still? What a perfect Easter background :) Its a little embarrasing actually, but I had absolutely no idea that it was Easter yesterday until one of the speakers in sacrament meeting mentioned it at the beginning of her talk. It was probably the most un-Eastery Easter I've ever had (that one speaker's comments were the extent of Easter related events), but in retrospect it was the best possible Easter weekend I could ever want! On Saturday we had the privelege of seeing Miyu Nakandakari get baptized, and on Sunday we got to see her receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! I can't think of anything that is more related to and celebratory of the Savior's atonement than a child covenanting with Heavenly Father to always remember Christ and do her best to follow him and accept his infinite atonement in her life. Easter specifically celebrates the Savior's resurrection - and baptism is a symbol of that resurrection. Because Jesus died and was suffered for our sins, we are able to live again, and be cleansed from our sins - to be born again. Miyu chan was able to be born again spriritually by being submerged in water (representing the grave) and coming up again completely clean and ready for a fresh start. It was beautiful! And although I was totally unaware that it was Easter this week, I have gained a deeper appreciation for Easter and for the Savior this year than any year before!
Saturday and Sunday were definitely the highlights of this week - and we spent the whole week preparing for and leading up to that event. I will share just one experience that we had on Thursday. We were scheduled to go in the afternoon for a lesson - but they called an hour before and cancelled because they had to go to their grandparents house for some reason. As I was setting up for Eikaiwa that night though, Nanjo shimai called to follow up with the family. Miyu's Dad still had some issues with Miyu getting baptized - he still doesn't feel like she is old enough or ready to make a commitment like baptism, and apparently that day Miyu ddin't do her chores as well as he expected her to, and now he was saying that he was not going to come to the baptismal service - he believes in her right to make her own decisions and therefore would not stop her, but he wouldn't support her until after about the first year when he begins to see a real change in Miyu. We have a really good relationship with their family, and as Sister Nanjo was talking to him on the phone he was in no way rude or disrespectful - he repeatedly told us that he has nothing against the church or anything - but that he was decided and he was not going to come to the baptismal service. He ended up sticking to his word and not attending the service which was such a dissappointment - we wanted him to see the baptismal service so badly. Not for us, not even for Miyu, but for him as a Father we wanted him to see this important moment in his daughters life so much. While Nanjo shimai was talking on the phone I knelt and prayed that she would know what to say, and that everything would work out. We love their family so much, and it was breaking our hearts that there was this contention happening, and that he wouldn;'t be there to support her. We began to wonder if this was really the right time for Miyu to be baptized or not. When the call ended we were already five minutes late for a lesson we had scheduled just before eikaiwa - she was waiting and chatting with the Elders in the next room - but we were both on the verge of tears and decided that even though we were late we needed to pray. Nanjo shimai said the prayer. It was simple and not very long, but it was one of the most heartfelt prayers I think we have offered together as a companionship. In her prayer she prayed, as we have been praying for a long time, that some day the Nakandakari family would be able to go to the temple and be sealed for time and all eternity. When she said that I felt the spirit so strongly, and I knew that one day - whether in this life or the next - they would be sealed. A warm feeling swept over my entire body from head to toe, and I knew that someday they would be sealed and I could imagine in that moment the joy that they would feel, and that I would feel on that day. When the prayer ended, before I said anything about what I had felt, Nanjo shimai said she had felt the same impression - they would be sealed, and we should not postpone the baptism. I will never forget that prayer.

I know that this gospel is true. I know that Christ lives - that he suffered for our sins and died on the cross and rose again the thrid day. He did it for us. He did it for Miyu chan. He did it for Miyu's Dad. He did it for me. I am so grateful for that knowledge, and for the opportunity I have to share this message of hope, joy, and truth with everyone that will listen her in Hokkaido.

I love you all so much! I hope you all have/had a wonderful Easter weekend, and enjoy watching conference this weekend too! (or the weekend after that as the case may be for some... :) )

This week is transfers again - this is probably the most unpredictable transfer I have had yet, so I'm a little nervous. Of course I will be excited to go whereever I am called, but I love Atsubetsu so much! I don't want to leave.

Until next week!

Sister Budge