Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#68 "So This Is Love"

So I gotta little story for you!

Well as you know, my knee popped on the 26th of January. I went about my week as usual, just wearing the brace and icing when I had time. On that Friday, the 30th, I got home at night and my knee was swollen to a level I had never seen before. I talked to the Mission Doctor (Doctor Hansen, who is actually currently attending my home ward in Tokyo) and he asked that I take 12 Ibuprofen a day (and slowly ween myself off the medication), elevate my leg, alternate between ice and heat, and do my best not to move around very much. At that point, I would wake up and my knee would be sore, I would try to sit down as much as I could and follow Doctor's orders, but at the end of the day it was always swollen and painful. I wasn't so worried, though; it wasn't really getting better, but at the same time, it wasn't getting worse, so I just assumed it would take some time. (The Doctor also confirmed that this is going to take me a week or so until I could re-start my muscle strengthening exercises again).

All was going well, until we went to visit a Less-Active last week's Thursday. He is an old grandpa, who is rather pushy. He's blind, a massage therapist, a nice guy...but he gets what he wants (that typical Japanese grandpa pride). That morning, I was feeling really nauseous, so I asked my companion to call him and tell him that I was too sick to go to his house. He replied that if I canceled now, it would be rude, and that I had better come. So I sucked it up, and we biked out (about a 20-30 min bike ride). We got to his house and he and his wife talked on and on about their life and they got to know Sister Takahashi, so that was good. I was NOT feeling very well, but I ate the snacks they brought out for us and was trying to keep them down. When we had been there for about an hour and a half, I was ready to call it quits, but he asked us if we would stay and eat lunch with him. My companion very politely responded for me and told him that I didn't like Japanese food (little white lie). He said, "Okay, we'll make spaghetti!", to which I finally spoke up and told him that I can't eat, because I feel sick. He then asked why, and I explained that when my body is in a lot of pain, I feel nausea. He asked where the pain was coming from and I told him my knee. He came over to me and began to touch my brace. Long story short, he and his wife made me take off the brace and my tights as he poked around finding the places that caused me pain and then having his wife put a sticker with a magnet on that point. I spent the next 15 or so minutes in a lot of pain, as he felt around my knee until I would lurch with pain (my knee has not stopped hurting since). I didn't say anything, but I was sweating like it was summer with how much pain I was in. I didn't want to say stop, because I thought he knew what he was doing, so I just held my tongue. When they finished, and I was putting on the brace again, that's when I knew something was wrong - the brace was a lot more difficult to fit around my leg.

We said good-bye, and as we walked out of the house, my leg just felt numb. We hopped on our bikes and biked around the corner, and I told Sister Takahashi that we needed to stop, because I was in so much pain that I couldn't ride or walk. I (rather embarrassingly) started to cry, and we sat down so I could call the Elders and ask for help. We ended up leaving the bikes at a nearby convenience store, and hopping on a nearby bus that took us to the main train station. The Elders met us there with a wheelchair we borrowed from the church, and I have been in that ever since.

I called Doctor Hansen, and he said that the less-active man most-likely irritated the bruised patella and other parts of my knee, so I'm back to square one, if not further behind. On doctor's orders, I am not to leave my apartment, and if then only for a little while. I may use the wheelchair to go to church and appointments I may have there, but other than that, I'll be flat on my back, resting, elevating, icing and heating, and back to taking 12 Ibuprofen a day.

Well that was my funny story! But it brings me to my Disney reference for this week and the last, "So This is Love". It's a song that Cinderella sings when she meets the prince at the ball, but oddly enough, it's one that I didn't come to know until about a couple months before my mission (I had always fast forwarded the boring mushy gushy parts). The part that really hit me this week, was that for Cinderella, to see such kindness and love was almost a surprise to her. "Ah, so this is what love is? this is what everyone is talking about? Well this is divine!!" - maybe not quite to that exact wording, but that's the wording that came to my mind this week.

I've spent a lot of time out on the streets, trying to talk to people, but sometimes people can be cold! Sometimes they won't give us the time of day. Usually, they stop to look at us, then our badges and then without another word, they walk on. It's cold, but as a missionary you kind of get used to it. It was this week, when I lost the ability to walk, that I was hit with the surprise of God's love. Most of us look to see God's love in miracles, and big signs, but this week I saw God's love in the members of Yokkaichi ward, as they offered to help me. They've been so kind to me, driving me to hospitals, helping me get in and out of buildings, even making food for me when they heard that I wasn't really eating anything. They've been so kind and loving, and I just know that they were sent my way by my loving Heavenly Father.

So this is God's love? Well, this is divine!

Monday, February 2, 2015

#67 "I Know You"

I guess I am about due for a blog post, but not much is actually new. 

We were able to meet with a couple of investigators, and that went well. 

Roshio is a new person we've met. She is from Peru, but married a Japanese man and moved here. She speaks fluent Japanese and Spanish, so she actually works as an interpreter. She used to come to Eikaiwa a long time ago, but recently found time to come and that's how we met. She wants to study English more and more, but is so busy. We were able to offer her another English program we have, where we teach English for thirty minutes and then we teach the gospel for thirty minutes. She loved the idea, so we set up a lesson. She told us as we set the appointment that she couldn't take our religious discussions very seriously - she had previously brought up the subject of religion with her husband and found out that he was totally against her joining any church. She said that she would still come to help interpret our meeting for our Spanish-speaking members (she has a heart of gold!). So she came to church two weeks ago, and we were able to meet with her this past week at her home, where we taught her some English basics, and also about the Restoration. We offered to give her a Book of Mormon and she was so grateful! She really is the sweetest lady, and just needs a couple more friends here in Japan. She was telling us that she doesn't have many here in Japan, so we told her to come to our church and our parties anytime! I hope she does, she's so great. 

We also had a great lesson with Miyu chan! We met with her and taught her the Restoration. We told her that, like Joseph Smith, it's important for us to learn for ourselves what is truth. We asked her to pray about Joseph Smith's experience, and then we gave her a Book of Mormon to take home. She's kind of a tricky investigator - we're doing the thirty-minutes-English-thirty-minutes-gospel program with her, and as naturally happens with the program, some people are only interested in the English. Well, we thought it was at least an opportunity for us to tell her some of the truths we know and to let her feel the warmth that the Spirit brings. We invited her to church, but she sounded really busy...

We were very lucky this week to have interviews with President Yamashita. I know he is so busy, but when he can make time for the individual missionary, it always helps. He is such an amazing man. I was so so lucky to be able to talk to him. I walked into the room for my interview, and he asked me how I was, and I almost cried. I honestly felt so relieved! I love talking to President Yamashita; I always feel like I can say exactly what I'm thinking about; what my worries and concerns are. I had a wonderful interview, and was able to receive some personal training for me to learn how I can clear some of my current hurdles. 

And as per request from Momma, my week's high and low;

My low is that I had an old friend come back to visit... I thought I was free and clear of knee problems for the rest of my life, now that I had done so much physical therapy and had been doing the exercises they taught me on a daily basis. Well last week Monday, I ended up popping my left knee (usually it's my right, but I guess now I know they both aren't so friendly). I've been so blessed my whole mission to have only had one other pop in the MTC, until this one and I was like, "I know you, I walked on you once upon a [nightmare]". I've been in a brace all week, and on Friday I saw a whole new definition to the words "swollen knee". I got a blessing from the Elders, and called the mission doctor, but other than that, I've been laying in my futon, with my leg elevated, icing and heating, and taking 12 ibuprofen (as perscribed) every day. Not so fun... But I think it's better now! The swelling has gone down a little, and while it's still shaky and a little painful, I just tape it up, brace it up, and I can go! I just gotta watch out not to bike or walk too much. Ouch!

My high is that Miyu chan came to church!! I was so shocked when one of the members pulled me out of my meeting to say that someone was here for me. I walked into the chapel, and she was sitting right there!! She came to church! And she had prayed! And she had a good experience! And she had felt that the Book of Mormon teaches truth! And she liked church! And we taught the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement and the Sacrament, and she prayed again! I was just bouncing off the walls, I was so happy. 

And yeah, I think that was my week!

Monday, January 19, 2015

#66 "Dreams Do Come True In Yokkaichi City"

Sister Takahashi (left) and Sister Johnson (right) in Yokkaichi (Jan. 2015)
Well this week was another busy one!

Monday was filled with meeting a couple of people who wanted to say good-bye to Sister Kittaka, and I joined them as we packed her all up, and headed to transfers the next morning.

Tuesday was just strange, it's always strange when you receive a new companion, it always takes a while to get used to their style of work, their style of living, and for me this transfer it's now an adjustment to always be speaking Japanese. Hahaha hopefully my Japanese improves... Anyways, Sister Takahashi is from Hokkaido, Japan. She's 25 (all of my companions have been older than me!) and she was working right up until she left on her mission. She's currently on her transfer 8 (I'm on 11, if you were curious) so she's been a missionary for a while now, which makes mission life absolute bliss (it's nice to not be training for a while). From what I've seen this week, she's a fantastic missionary!

Wednesday we did our weekly planning session, and I introduced her to all the people I knew, which wasn't a lot. I've only spent 6 weeks here in Yokkaichi, and those were with another person who had also only spent 6 weeks trying to take all this information in! It's a LOT to take in for those short 6 weeks!! But I warned Sister Takahashi that I don't know anything and that we have no one to teach here anymore, so it's going to feel a lot like we are "white washing" (when you come brand new to an area with your companion, starting from scratch. I've heard it's really really hard). But so far, we're just fun!

Thursday we did our PMG study with Yuki, who's filling out her mission papers right now. It's so exciting to watch people prepare for missionaries! Especially from this side of the work. This week we talked about the Spirit and how it really is the key to missionary work, without it, not much gets done. I've realized that the Spirit works with me a lot more than I thought he was, all I had to do was listen. After that lesson, we headed about an hour out to visit a recent convert, Nishino. She's a really cool grandmother! But for reals, this grandma has the coolest style - she bought us awesome socks for Christmas. Also her hair is fun-dip-bright-deep blue-green. She is SO COOL. But we heard about her family life, and this woman is so strong. She's been through some very hard trials in her life. I didn't really know what to say, mainly because I wasn't understanding the big hospital terms, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that people just want to be heard; that's why we have two ears and only one mouth. So I listened to her, and hopefully, she knows that's just me loving her.

Friday was a leadership meeting that happens at the beginning of every transfer, and pretty much takes the WHOLE day. I was soooo tired, but that doesn't make sense, because I did nothing but sit, and listen, and teach, and listen some more! Oh well, it was spiritually uplifting.

Saturday was just the DAY OF MIRACLES! That was it's name, the DAY OF MIRACLES! so that's how I refer to Saturday, as the DAY OF MIRACLES! Seriously, dreams do come true in Yokkaichi city. So what made this DAY OF MIRACLES a DAY OF MIRACLES? I'll tell you. WELL, that morning we visited two less-actives, who both told us they were too busy to chat, but that they would like us to come back another day, so we rescheduled a specific date and time to come back (woot!). THEN, we received a message from an investigator that we hadn't heard from in a long time (woot!). THEN, we met with another investigator for the first time and talked about who God is and how to pray, and then we asked her to pray every day to feel God's love and she said she would (woot!). THEN, we went and talked to a lot of people at the train station, but one girl said she actually is interested in our message and is willing to meet with us, so we set up an appointment to meet her at the church next Saturday (woot!). Then we made it home, only to receive a phone call from an investigator who had just been messing with our hearts, telling us he has no interest, and then calling us and telling us that he misses us - we love him, but he's hot and then he's cold, he's yes then he's no, he's in and he's out, he's up and he's down, and you get the picture - BUT he called us and asked us to meet him at the church in thirty minutes to chat. At the church, he told us he apologized for having not come to anything lately, but he said he would be coming to our English class that week and then he gave us yakiniku (delicious meat.) as an apology (woot!). THEN we had some time to clean out our records in our apartment (woot!). Overall, just really and truly a DAY OF MIRACLES.

(And Sunday was just exhausting, I ended up getting a migraine and having to lay down for a good chunk of the day... But)

I had a really great week! I hope you did too!!