Dear Family & Friends,
We survived the chaos of another Transfer Week, and again it was bittersweet. As I mentioned last week, we sent home 14 missionaries. They included 3 sisters, 4 Brazilian elders, an awesome Australian, a former Assistant, a couple of elders that we had become friends with, and Jim’s & my Trainers: Elder Iida and Elder Lee. We enjoyed breakfasts with them on Tuesday and Wednesday, and had several good visits before they left. Elder Lee even promised to play the piano at our own homecoming, a promise I will hold him to. Also, Elder Iida, the one who trained Elder Hartzell, is getting married this coming Saturday—just 10 days after his release!! Of course, she has been waiting for him for the past 6 years: 4 years of university and 2 years of missionary work! We certainly wish him well!! And hope that all of them will have wonderful lives and much joy and happiness for all the service they have given.
We only have 5 new missionaries arrive—2 sisters, 1 elder from America, and 1 elder from Brazil and 1 from Japan—quite a mixture!! They all seem like hard workers and ready to do whatever is asked of them.
The weather has been cold, sometimes rainy, sometimes windy, so we haven’t felt like going on any dai-bokens (high adventures). However, we do have some planned for the future so we will have to see how things go.
Saturday night was a high point!! We had the baptism of a young man named Kato-san who had been taking the lessons for the past 5 months. He first learned about the church while on a train—he sat next to our Stake President who was reading the Priesthood/Relief Society manual about the Prophet Joseph Smith, so Kato-san asked about it. President Kusume taught him a little about the church and invited him over for dinner and a missionary lesson, and it became the first of many dinners and lessons. He felt the Spirit a number of times, but struggled with the changes he would have to make in his life. Finally, last Monday he went to the temple grounds (which are close to his work) and prayed. The temple is closed on Mondays so he had to pray on the public sidewalk out front which is fairly busy. He did this 4 different times during the day, becoming more and more humble each time. Finally he felt the most beautiful feeling wash over him and fill him up with such joy that he knew he was ready to be baptized and commit himself to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What joy we all felt at his baptism and what a beautiful testimony he bore!!
Sunday (yesterday) was also an incredible day. First, Kato-san was confirmed a member of the Church. Then our North Asia Area President, President Evans, came and spent the day in our Nakano Ward. He and his wife spoke in Sacrament Meeting, then he taught a Sunday School class to the young single adults, then spoke to the combined Priesthood/Relief Society, then had a one hour break to eat, then they both spoke at a Fireside for an hour along with our own President Hill. We were filled with the Spirit as servants of the Lord taught us to love and serve and be obedient to God. We are so grateful we can be on our mission and spend time with such great men and women!!
Our thought for the week is: “For whoso findeth me findeth life.” Proverbs 8:35. “Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others. By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.” Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley.
Our word for the week is: kinkan which is a kumquat! We have heard of them but never seen one before. They are little, the size of a ping pong ball, and look like oranges. One difference is that the skin is sweet and the inside is bitter. You pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy the mixture of tastes!
We love you all—
Jim & Pat