This week was great! We had our first koukans (exchanges) of this transfer in Otaru and Eniwa - I got to work with two gaijin sisters on their second transfer - neither one had ever taken Japanese before their missions, but they are doing so well! I am so grateful that I had a background in the language before I came - I have so much respect for the missionaries that come without knowing anything at all. That is a big hurdle to overcome! But I have a testimony of the gift of tongues and that it is with every missionary. Before I used to think that the gift of tongues meant that one day you would just find yourself speaking Japanese fluently without a thought or care, and that you would understand everyword people said to you. There may be times when that happens, but I have found more that the gift of tongues has more to do with the spirit - that as you try your best to say something - especially to testify the spirit is there to testify of whatever you say and bring your words into the heart of the other person - and the other way around - to give you the gift of understanding - not necessarily their words, but their hearts. Some of the most powerful questions and testimonies I have heard on my mission have come from first and second transfer gaijin sisters in broken or simple Japanese, who simply know that the gospel is true, and how important this message is for the person to whom they are speaking.
I will end my letter today with a special experience that I had this week. This week we had plans to teach Lesson 3, the Gospel of Christ to Watanabe san, and had a chance to mogi the lesson with a member the day before we were planning on sharing it. The mogi went well and we got a good idea of how to work together to teach the lesson - but during the lsat part of the lesson I suddenly found myself not completely focused on what my companion was explaining so well about Baptism - I just all of the sudden was imagining in my head that Watanabe san and I were sitting in the Celestial Room of the temple together. I began to think of how incredibly happy and joyous that would be to sit in the temple with her. As I sat with this image in my mind for a minute or so, I realized that my joy in that moment would surely be entirely surpassed by the joy of her deceased husband who I felt so strongly in that moment would be there waiting for her. It came my turn to teach again and I returned to talking about the Gift of the Holy Ghost - but I coudln't stop thinking about the temple, and how incredible it would be, how badly I want to go with her! When I shared some of these feelings with Shibata shimai (the member, and actually Janna's old missionary companion) she suggested that it may not be a bad idea to even share a lesson about temples with Watanabe san the next day - something we usually wouldn't do until much later. We prayed about it as a companionship and decided that we would save lesson 3 for later, and teach her about temples and family history work the next day.
It was a beautiful lesson - the spirit was so strong, I was able to share with her my testimony of eternal families, and my desire for her family to be eternal as well - and the key significance of the temples in allowing us to do that. Watanabe san expressed her desire to go to the temple, and when we asked her how she felt about baptism, she said that when she first started meeting with us she didn't really know much about God, but now she feels like she really knows that he is there, that he is good, and she wants to be baptized! We let her choose her own date - which she did and even wrote it down in her planner. She chose December 22 - the first Sunday after the Moiwa church building is done with construction. We also have a goal of going to the Sapporo temple when that is complete! Oh my goodness I can't even explain how happy I was/am! She is so wonderful, and her kids are too, and I am so excited to help them on this new road they are starting in their lives!! I know this gospel is true and it blesses families. There is not a doubt in my mind. There is not a doubt in my heart. I will be with my family forever. I will see Uncle Jared, and Grandma Capener, and many others I have not even met yet.
I love you all so much! Thank you so much for all of your letters and support! I love hearing about all the wonderful things you are doing - Dan man - I can't believe you threw the touchdown pass! congrats! And it sounds like almost everyone is working with the missionaries wherever they are, New York, Philadelphia, Japan - I can't recommend anything more!
I love you all so much!! I hope you all have a great day, and a great week - Conference is coming up in America - I can't wait to hear it!