I can`t believe I`m almost to my 6 month mark. Wow, time absolutely flies out here. I know that my mission will only start to go by faster and faster as time goes on and I get more and more used to this life and this incredibly difficult language.
I don`t really know what happened this week but I feel as if my language ability has exploded. I can now understand almost everything people say, it changes from person to person, but for the most part, I`m finally getting it. I`ve noticed as well that as my understanding starts to increase more I`m able to notice how to use words that I`ve been hearing but haven`t known how to use them. Its crazy! I still have a long way to go. This week, however, was the first time I`ve been able to teach part of the doctrines of the lesson without having things written out. Its been incredible to see the growth and the progress I`ve made from August 7, 2013 to now. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to learn this language. I don`t know how yet, but I know the Lord has more uses for my Japanese than just my mission.
This week was the first time on my mission that my companion and I have hit ALL of our weekly goals. It`s been incredible the success we`ve been able to see. We taught a man this week about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We found this guy two weeks ago outside of a convienee eating a bag of cookies. He`s deaf in his right ear and we`re pretty sure he has a social dissorder but he agreed to give us his number and then came to church last week! We met with him again on Saturday and he was able to open up a little bit more too us about his life. This man works in a factory where the conditions are very poor. I almost cry every time I see this man`s hands. They`re almost rubbed raw from all the abuse they take. He`s really quiet but he told us how he likes games and spending most of his free time in the arcade. We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it was the first time I took the lead in a lesson. I really had to simplify words like `Atonement` and `sin` but with the help of my native companion, he got the idea. We explained the importance of Baptism and how by receiving Baptism we can be free of our sins and able to return to the presence of God. After we taught we talked more about Baptism and asked him if he would like to be baptized. In our preparation before the lesson, when we were praying about his Baptism date, we both felt strongly that he could be baptized pretty soon because of his pure heart. When we asked him to be baptized I felt one of the strongest feelings of love and peace that I`ve ever felt in my life and I swear the veil was lifted from my eyes because I saw how much Heavenly Father loves this man. It was so beautiful. He will be baptized on March 16, 2014.
We taught another one of our investigators later that day. This investigator has been meeting with the missionaries for about four years now and because of severe depression, hasn`t really progressed and hasn`t committed to be baptized. His depression is so bad that his hands shake uncontrollably and he can`t make a lot of our lessons because he has to stay home. It`s absolutely heartwrenching what this man has to go through. We started the lesson just by talking. We talked a little bit about his family and I told him about my family too. I showed him my family picture and he couldn`t believe how much Dad and I looked alike. We talked for about an hour and a half about his interests and hobbies and just about everything else there is to talk about. When we started the lesson we taught him about prayer. The lesson was going really well but he still had a lot of doubts about our church and about God. We got to the point in the lesson where we demostrate how to pray and then asked him to pray. My companion and I both offered simple prayers and asked him how he felt. He said he felt good but it wasn`t really anything special. We asked him to pray and gave him a little card with the steps of prayer on it. I`ve never heard a more personal prayer. He even started to tear up and cry during it. I couldn`t help but think that this was probably the first time this man has talked to Heavenly Father since coming to this world thirty six years ago. The feeling was amazing. The love of God is so powerful. We`re taking this really slow with him so he won`t be getting baptized anytime soon but I know he has now felt the love of Heavenly Father.
This week has been awesome. I`m learning so much on how to rely on the Lord and really applying what I learn in personal study into the rest of my day. My growth has been amazing to see and I really feel like I`m getting closer to the missionary Heavenly Father wants me to be. This week has been really funny too! We`ve asked everyone on the street that we contact where they think I`m from and almost everyone says Italy, France, or England. Its hilarious! I even had a guy tell me he thought I was from Canada. Canada? Are you serious?? It was awesome! The people here are awesome. I love Osaka. The people are a lot more friendly than they were in Akashi. I`m loving it!
I hope you all have a great week. I love you all!
Some additional pics from Ninja City promised last week.