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!