Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow. Monday night after preparation day, we had a lesson with our investigator who has been investigating for 15 years. I don't remember if I have said this before, but he has made the decision to be baptized already. But, he wants to get baptized in good ole Orem, Utah by one of the returned missionaries that has taught him. However, he doesn't know yet when he is going to permanently move to Utah or if he even can do that. So we are continually working with him, trying to help him understand what exactly Baptism is and also the importance of coming to church. (He doesn't like some of the members and doesn't think he can connect with any of them. They aren't "up to my level".) But, we are helping him and I have seen some progress since my stay here. On Tuesday, we had a couple appointments fall through and then we did some Area Book work. We are going through our Area Book and organizing it in preparation for the iPads that will be coming before the end of this transfer (Some time in the next 3 weeks!) I am so stoked for that. It is going to be a big change and a very exciting one. I will give more details when I know more, but as for now, that is all I know about it. We also taught 英会話 (English Class). That is always fun because the people who come to it are actually pretty good, so we teach them weird American sayings like "I can see it in your eyes" or "to drop a hint" or "buff". Weird things like that. It is pretty fun.
Wednesday was a pretty frustrating day at first. We had an investigator call us the night before and set up an appointment with him at a place called ステラールパーク (Stellar Park) which is about a 45 minute bike ride. So we decided to just spend the whole day there, visit some Potential Investigators and then teach that lesson. The lesson was at 4:00, so we had all these Potential investigators/Investigators that we planned to visit before it. So we went after lunch at 12:00 up to 社 (Yashiro) to visit all these people. Well, no one answered the door and it was 2:00. Then we get a call from the investigator and he said that something came up and he couldn't meet with us. It was very frustrating. We go up there for that investigator, planned the whole day up there and then had it all cancelled. So we were housing for the rest of the afternoon. Then at about 6:00, we decided to visit a few more of our Potential Investigators who Elder Harris and I found months ago. One of them was a Filipina lady. She was still interested in talking about God and said that she wants to go to church, but has a 5 month old baby and no drivers license so she can't go. Her Husband is SGI (a stirct branch of Buddhism) and doesn't believe in God, but they both respect each other's beliefs. She says that if she passes her drivers test in the summer, she will come to church. She then wants us to visit some of her Filipino friends that live close by. So, we are getting the Filipino community in Nishiwaki together! We have 3 Filipino investigators right now, and about 3 more potential investigators. They all speak pretty good English too (Thank you for the Philippines. I can still survive speaking English to Filipinos.) I have another story about Filipinos that I will get to in a little bit. We also visited another P.I. who seems like she can go really far and be a strong member and maybe a missionary if she comes into the church. It's a little difficult because she is about 16 years old and so we can only teach her with a member, or in a public place, and right now, she is only a P.I. so we are still working with that. I can really see her going far. Hopefully it all works out. So that day ended being alright.
Thursday, we met with a couple members and had food and shared a message. I will try to send a picture of it soon. It was really fun and the members here in 西脇 (Nishiwaki) are like family to me.
So Friday was an incredible day. Like I said in the title "Refreshing Week" this day is the reason for that. So I went on another kokan (Companion exchange) in 福知山(Fukuchiyama) with Monson 長老. He planned on visiting a Potential Investigator that day. It was a pretty cold day. I was in my overcoat with gloves, a hat, and a scarf. Monson 長老 and his companion found her when they were housing. They felt prompted to go to an apartment building that they had already done pretty recently, which was odd. They then found a person who was interested and they said that they would come back the next week. So, we went that day. It was probably one of the most spiritual moments of my life. She is, you guessed it, from the Philippines, close to Manila (I don't remember where. She says that she knows Binangonan though.). So since she is a younger female (probably early 20's) we couldn't go inside her house, so we had it with us standing outside with the door open. I said that it was cold before. The wind was blowing and yet, the whole time she stood out there. She was wearing short shorts and was barefoot, and she looked really cold, but she didn't complain at all. We taught her the whole Restoration (English by the way). All throughout the lesson she was smiling. We taught her the Joseph Smith experience and after explaining the First Vision and testifying about it, she said, "I feel it. I feel it." When she said that, I could feel it too. There was a powerful spirit there, probably the most I have felt in a lesson. We gave her the Book of Mormon in Tagalog and we even invited her to be baptized. At first, she was hesitant saying "I don't know". Then we shared Mosiah 18:8-11 which talks about baptism. Then we asked her again and she said "Yes" confidently and with a smile. She also said things like "Ever since I was born, I have been alone." and "My mom also lives in Japan, but we are not close." At the end of the lesson, I asked "How do you feel?" She answered, "Happy. Like I want to cry." and then this next thing she said broke my heart, "This is the first time I felt like someone cared." Wow. The spirit we felt was so thick at that point. We just stood in silence for a little bit and then we ended with a prayer. She was so prepared to hear the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that I was able to meet her and to teach her and to feel what I felt during that lesson. I really wish she was in my area, but either way, I am so happy to have been a part of it. It was nothing that either me or Elder Monson did. It was all Heavenly Father working through us, caring for His child. I really hope that she continues to progress and can one day feel the happiness and cleansing power of baptism. I hope I can see it too.
Yeah, that day was the gallon of water at the end of Football practice. The jump in the pool after a hot day. It was refreshing. It is experiences like that that make you forget all the hours of constant "kekko desu"'s and no's. That is what missionary work is; being a part of and seeing the hand of God work in your life and the lives of those you teach. I want things like that to happen with my investigators here in 西脇 Nishiwaki. The joy in that person's eyes, which has seen emptiness, sadness and loneliness, was miraculous. I am so humbled by God and his majesty and grace. He truly loves each and every one of us and knows exactly what is happening in each of our lives. He knows us better than any of us can comprehend. So much so that he pours out blessings upon us; so much so that our "cup runneth over." (Psalms 23). It is truly incredible to be a part of this work. Many days are long, and it seems like you aren't doing anything, but then experiences like that make all those no's, all those doors, all those people who don't want to listen worth it. God is so merciful. He has a hand in every aspect of our lives. I testify with all my heart that that is true.
I wrote a lot this week. I hope that this isn't too much for you to read, but I feel that I needed to share these experiences with you. I know without a doubt that this church is true. That Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that spring morning in 1830. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and was written for us in this day. Jesus Christ is the way to true happiness in this life, and everlasting happiness in the next. God's plan is perfect.
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
P.S. This week, the whole mission is going to Kobe to see Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak to our mission. I am super excited to be able to hear an apostle of the Lord speak to us. It is going to be a great opportunity. I will report on that next week. Have an amazing week!