Friday, November 29, 2013

Week 60 - Good Stuff

Dear Family and Friends, 

Well this week was really great! We got to go on two splits, one back in Obihiro, my first area, and then one in my area now. One day in two hours we handed out two Book of Mormon's on the street, and they both said they wanted to hear more! One of them, was a man named Seto san. In our mission we aren't allowed to street contact the opposite gender, but we pulled into the parking lot of one of our investigator's apartment buildings that we had decided to drop in on. I had thought about calling to make an appointment before hand, but for some reason I felt we should just go unexpected. Seto san was the manager of the building, and he just happened to be out front raking some leaves as we pulled in. We said a friendly konnichiwa, and he said hello back - in English! He started talking to us in some of the English that he had taught himself from TV shows, and we had a nice little chat, and ended up inviting him to come to our English class - he accepted, and said he would come the next week! We gave him a flyer, and then went to drop in on our investigator. She ended up being busy getting ready to go to the dentist, and so we went back outside and started to get ready to leave. Earlier that day we had decided to try a new kind of dendo - and try to find a community service center that we could go to one, to look for good service projects, and two, to find good people that were searching for service opportunities that we could talk to around there. Anyway, as we were at our bikes getting ready to go, we realized that we had no idea where to start - then suddenly I had the thought to just ask Seto san - he would probably know. We caught him as he was walking in, but before we could ask him he had thought of some more English to use, and we just started talking again. He asked us if we were Mormon. We said yes. He told us a little about his life - how he is studying to be a land lord, and he is a ski instructor on the side. He said that he had kids once, but that they had passed away. He said he read a lot of books, and listened to a lot of religions, but he was never able to find  an answer that satisfied his soul - why did his little children have to die? What happened to them? But he said, I guess it just comes down to that everyone has to die at one point - there is nothing you can do. He asked us what we thought about death. We pulled out a Book of Mormon, and read Moroni 8:19 with him. It reads, "Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy." He read that, and simply said, twice and in a loud voice, "Yes! Yes!". We exchanged contact information, and he said at the end, "I am very excited to learn about the Mormon church. I am looking forward to meeting again."
I'm grateful that we chose not to make an appointment with our investigator that day - because she would have said she was busy and we wouldn't have there. I'm grateful that she was busy. I'm grateful that he studied English which allowed us to spark up a conversation. I'm grateful that we chose to do a new kind of dendo that day that inspired us to talk to him once more - even though we never did end up getting to ask him about the community center. I know that God is watching over all of his children, and knows just where we need to be, and takes care of all the little details to make the perfect little moments for us to share the gospel. 

I am grateful to be a missionary. I am grateful that I don't ever have to stop being a missionary, because members are just as much missionaries as those of us wearing badges. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon. I know it's true. I'm grateful for God and for his all-seeing eye and his perfect love. I'm grateful for my family - you are, and always have been such a strength and anchor in my life. I have been so blessed in my life!

Thank you for your letters/voicemails, and all your love and support! I love you!!


Sister Budge

Week 59 - Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Dear Family, 

Well, it has started snowing up here in Sapporo! It's not sticking yet, but it is definitely snowing! We had a good week - we had a few exchanges with some sisters - dendoed in the hail, and witnessed a baptism in the ward, and at the end of the week I got to attend a practice for the Messiah Concert that we are doing at Christmas time. It was a busy week! 
We got a new Ward Mission Leader recently, Koyama Takuma Kyoudai - and he has so much dendo fire! We had our first Missionary Coordination Meeting this past week (I just had to ask the Elder next to me what you call that meeting in English - I have always just called it Dendo Chosei Shukai). and it was so energizing! I feel like working with the members will be a lot more smooth from here on out - he talked a lot about vision. Right now there is a problem in the church where the missionaries want to help the missionaries, and the members want to help the missionaries, but too often they perhaps use that as an excuse to not have their own vision and instead of helping each other move forward, we end up going in circles together. So we talked a lot about our vision as missionaries, and his vision as the ward mission leader, and how we could help each other move forward even more. We are trying to work towards the Christmas Goal - I am getting so excited for Christmas - there is just such a special spirit about Christmas - and after going to the practice for the Messiah, I have Christmas songs running through my head all the time now! Time goes by too fast.though. 

The Elders in our ward had an investigator get baptized this week - Iwasaki san - she was so sweet, she is in her 60s, and has such a pure simple sweet testimony. We were able to attend with Watanabe san and her 5 year old daughter, and it was a  really good experience! 

Thank you so much for your prayers - We are already starting to see the effects in both of the families! 

I love being a missionary. I know that there is no greater work - even when people turn us down, or tell us that we should probably quit that whole religion thing. I just wish they could Come and See, and know for themselves the deep and abiding peace and happiness - the goodness that is in this gospel!

You are all in my prayers! Please keep me in yours as well! :) 
Have a great week! I love you all!


Sister Budge

Week 58 - And This Transfer I Am....

Dear Family, 

Well this past week we had transfer calls, and this transfer after 5 transfers here in Odori, I am.... STILL IN ODORI!!! And I am still with Sister Furue, as STL - I am so happy! I don't know why I have been so blessed to be here for so long- this will be my eighth month here. I really feel like I still need to be here though - there are still people that I am supposed to meet - a work that I am supposed to do here - and I am so glad that I have been given more time to do it! 
Its been a great week though! Staying as an STL is a rare opportunity, in that in transfer week we usually don't do any exchanges so we had a whole week to work just in Odori! The highlight of the week was with the Watanabe family. We had a lesson where we taught the gospel of Christ, and we tried really hard to make it really fun for her 11 and 5 year old kids. We ended up using the whiteboard a lot and acting out every part of the faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end - it was really fun! Yoshiki kun, her 11 year old son was really great, he listened so intently, and asked so many great questions, he always thinks really thoroughly about everything. And he committed to being baptized the same day as his Mom!! December 22nd! 
We had Stake Conference this week, and Watanabe san came and brought her friend's daughter, that we have met a couple times just at some activities with her too! We had no idea she was going to bring her! So that was a nice surprise! Also, after the conference, The Kato family was so nice and came to say hello! I guess Brother and Sister Kato are here for the weekend, and made a special trip to come say hello! I am sending a picture :) 

I am running out of time, but I am so grateful for this opportunity to be on a mission, and to be here in Sapporo, with my companion right now, with the investigators we have now - I love the people here!!
I have learned that the funnest days are the days where you get to testify - just have no fear and choose to testify boldly to anyone that listens. There is no better way to feel joy!

I love you all so much! I testify this to people on the streets all the time, but no matter how far away we live, I always feel your love and your support, and your prayers! 


Sister Budge

Week 57 - Happy Halloween!

Dear Family, 

Happy Halloween! We had our Halloween party this past weekend, so I feel like Halloween is over already - the real Halloween is simply our transfer day, which is possibly the scariest Halloween I have had yet! I know I will love any new area I go to, but I love my area now - I don't want to leave! We'll see what happens! :)

This week we went on splits to Hakodate and to Obihiro - both of which take about three hours to get to in opposite directions - so it was a lot of travel this week! We were able to see a lot of miracles though, it was truly a blessing. On these splits I gained a new appreciation for Alma 37:37 "when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let they heart be full of thanks unto God". I had two experiences: The night before we were supposed to leave Hakodate on a train we got a call saying that due to a landslide in the rain no trains were going in or out of Hakodate. We scrambled and got a reservation for a bus instead, although it meant that we would have almost no time in Sapporo before we had to go on to Obihiro for the next splits. The next morning came, and we decided to go and at least check the trains, if nothing else to see if we could get our money back for our unusable tickets. But when we went to check - all the trains were running! All through the night, in the rain workers had gone to fix the tracks, and miraculously we were able to go as originally planned on the earliest train out of Hakodate, arrive earlier in Sapporo, and have a really wonderful lesson on the restoration with an investigator in that time that we had been given. We were so happy to be on that train! And I thought it was interesting as we rode, that had we not been told of the landslide the night before we would never have known that it was a miracle to be on that train, and I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. 
Story number 2, is when we were in Obihiro. I woke up in the middle of the night to a fairly long earthquake. As I looked around at the other 4 sisters in the apartment no one else had woken up, and all of them were just peacefully sleeping, as I sat there wide awake waiting for the earthquake to die down. It went on for a fairly good amount of time, but it did stop, and everything was totally fine. I said a prayer of gratitude, and then went back to sleep. The other sisters woke up just as always, never knowing that they had been protected through the night. 
I know that just as President Eyring said in his talk in conference that angels are sent to watch over us! I know that in countless ways the Lord watches over this children, he watches over me!, when we are sleeping, and even we are awake, but simply not aware. This week I was blessed to be made aware of some of the ways he is watching over me, but I know that there are so many more that I will never even know about - but either way I can rise in the morning with my heart full of thanks to God, for his love, his protection, and the gift of another great day! 

I wish I could write about every day in detail - all the people that I was able to meet again in Obihiro (I am sending one picture of me with Onodera Eiko shimai, a sister that got baptized when I was there last year), and everything else! I am also sending a picture of the Halloween Party - it is me and my companion, and Watanabe san and her two kids, Aika chan and Yoshiki kun :) Yes, I was a Japanese High School Girl ;)

I hope you all have the most wonderful weeks! May we all wake up every morning with a heart full of thanks! 
I love you all so much! 


Sister Budge

 (P.S. I am sorry that I have been so terrible at writing hand written letters! Please know that you are all in my heart always, and in my prayers! Love you!)

Week 56 - Hello!!

How are you? Thank you all for even more birthday notes and emails, and so many pictures this week! And Mom, Dad, and Danny thank you so much for the package! And Landon and Becky, Asher, Claire, and Reid - thank you for your package too!! The tights are super nice - and all of the treats are delicious! Especially the mangoes :) I felt so much love - and it was actually better that they came after my birthday - it just extended the fun!!

This week was a crazy busy week - We only ended up having about 5 hours of finding time in our area this week due to attending all the zone conferences and going on splits - but we were able to have some lessons which was a blessing. One in particular was very memorable. We met a lady named Chin san, from Taiwan on the street a couple weeks ago. She is a really nice lady in her mid 50s, here for only about a month studying Japanese. We met her and originally made the appointment to share a message, in Japanese so that she could study. But when we went she ended up speaking almost all English (which she is very fluent in) and asking a ton of really good questions. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and asked her to read it, she said she would read about 10 pages. That was about all we had time to talk about, and then we didn't see her until the next week. She read the first 10 chapters of the Book of Mormon, and had even more questions this time as we went through the Restoration pamphlet with her. The spirit was so strong in the lesson, especially when Furue shimai bore her testimony (in English!) about how she gained a testimony growing up in the church. We asked her how she was feeling listening to our message and she said she felt a really warm feeling - a feeling hard to describe, but a good feeling. We explained to her that that was the spirit telling her that what we were telling her is true. She felt it so strong! She then asked us how she could meet the missionaries in Taiwan, and gave us her contact information so that the missionaries could get a hold of her in Taiwan, and so she could go to church there! "Kin" san was really a "Kin-jin!!" It was a beautiful moment, and a beautiful lesson. 

I am looking forward to this upcoming week-  no meetings - just a lot of work! It is definitely getting a little bit colder now - pulling out my coats and gloves! 
I love what your mission is doing about the baptisms by Christmas - the missionary version of Elder Ballard's challenge to members to invite one friend by Christmas. If I can be a part of this, I would love it if when you could to please pray for the Watanabe Family in Moiwa, and the Nakandakari family in Atsubetsu. 

I'll just end with sending some pictures  - Me and Irina san, our Russian Investigator, and then me and Soderquist shimai in Muroran - we were actually in the same Japanese class at BYU before the mission. 

Well, winter is coming on, so everyone stay happy and healthy! 

I love you all!


Sister Budge

Week 55 - Hello!!

Well I am officially 21 years old! It honestly doesn't feel very different at all actually - I'm not sure what that means exactly, but it was sure fun! Thank you all so much for your love and birthday wishes!! On my birthday we ended up having a family home evening with Watanabe san, our investigator's family at a members house - it was super fun! And Watanabe san bought me cake and a beautiful scarf - it was a great birthday! 
Mom, thank you so much for the package! It arrived on Saturday - but we weren't home at the time so we asked them to come back tomorrow when we will be there - so I haven't opened it yet - but I am so excited! eternal birthdays are the funnest kind :)

Oh my goodness I loved General Conference this week. It was just what I needed to hear. I have been thinking a lot about how the gospel can bless families recently - there have been some hard things in the families of my investigators that have been kind of hard for me to digest recently. I wondered why when at least part of their family was trying so hard to live the gospel, why things had to be so hard. I think of my family, and I know without a doubt that the gospel has blessed us beyond measure, and will continue to be the single most important thing to the strength and happiness of our family, but seeing some of the hardships in their lives made me wonder if those same kind of blessings can really be theirs as well. I was thinking about that, listening to conference and I was so impressed by how often the speakers emphasized keeping the commandments. Simply being associated with the gospel does not necessarily bring blessings. It is when we have faith, and act on that faith - do our best to keep the commandments that the blessings come. God promises to strengthen families - as they work together to follow him. I loved President Eyring's talk, and what he said about marriage, "Marriage require the help of heaven, and it takes time" and that There is not a single person or family in the world that he does not desire to save, or that he has not devised a means by which to save them. I realized that although I cannot make them keep the commandments and thereby receive the multitude of blessings that come thereby, I can love them. Perhaps I too am here at this time to do just that - love them and help them feel that God loves them as well. I cannot control what happens in the lives of the investigators and friends, and family that I love, but I can decide to love. I can decide to live my life in the best way that I can, and qualify for all the blessings that I need to be able to be an angel of support for them. We all need angels. I am so grateful for the countless angels that I have in my life - both those that I can and can't see. I want each of you - my wonderful family, and special friends- to know that you are angels to me in the realest sense. Thank you so much for your faithfulness, for your love, for your examples, and for your lifting strength. 

I love the emphasis that was put on Loving God, and then loving your neighbor this conference. God asks us to love him first, because only through loving God and receiving the blessing that come from living the way he wants us to can be have the ability or strength to truly love ourselves, or those around us. 
If any one reading this feels like they are not loved, or that they cannot love - look up. Look to God. He loves you. He is waiting for you. He will never stop loving and waiting and hoping for you. Love him, and have the confidence that he loves you. There is no better beginning. 

I love this gospel! I love my Heavenly Father. I know that the gospel is a blessing to families, when they choose to live it, and that it can be a support to those who choose not to. I know the gospel has blessed me with my family, and blessed my family more than I can probably ever know. 
I love you all so much! 

Sister Budge