#56

10:14 PM

Dear everybody,


Life is so good it's insane. Last week we had a really successful week starting out with our last P-Day.

So on P-Day we had a girls day with us three sisters, a 19-year-old member named Momoko who is about to head out on a mission to Australia, and two nonmember friends - one of whom is kind of an investigator. We got lunch together and just hung out. The kind of investigator - her name is Marina-chan - has been struggling. She's been investigating for over a year, but she doesn't want to get baptized. She loves the missionaries, though. We haven't known how to help her because lessons are not effective. However, as we just chilled as friends, we were able to get into a really good gospel discussion. I feel like as we casually talked about the church, she was able to feel the spirit and her heart was touched. It was a miracle that we were looking for. She ended up coming to church this week and fasting with us (she's trying to decide where to go to college). Anyway, it was a great miracle.
That night, we had the greatest experience ever. So Johnson Shimai and Maynes Shimai found a new investigator while I was gone the week before. We set up a meeting with her for Monday night. When she invited us over, she had dinner all ready for us. She was so excited to talk to us and become our friend. Not only that, but her HUSBAND joined us for dinner. He is the nicest, most OPEN Japanese man I have ever met in my life. Seriously, he was so willing to talk to us and be friendly. This might partly be do to the fact that he was a little drunk so he was super happy. But I think he's just friendly anyway. Doesn't matter. Anyway, so we all just became great friends. Then Mihoko-san (the woman we had met originally), started asking us questions that basically every missionary wants to hear. ''In what way should I be spending my life to prepare for death? Do you have any advice for me?'' Why, yes. We do have some advice. Let's talk about that thing.

Anyway, it was a great meeting with her that actually sounds kind of lame on paper. We ended up staying at their house until, like 9:45and getting home way past curfew because the spirit was just so strong and we have SUCH high hopes for them. Sorry, this is actually one of those lame missionary stories where I'm all IT WAS SO COOL but you guys actually have no idea why it was cool because you just kind of had to be there. But I'm too lazy to erase it.

So, yes. I do travel by myself. It's SUPER weird. I've been by myself more this transfer than at any other point in my whole mission. I guess it's just good prep for the transition back home, haha. However, when we travel we don't have phones. So a few days ago when I got back from a companion exchange, there was a big miscommunication and so I ended up having to walk home.. by myself, because I had no way to call my companions. It was pretty funny.

Also, I have been tempted WAY too much this week to break the rules. Don't worry, I'm a good missionary, but if anyone knows me, they'll know how much I love movies. Well, on the bus ride back from Taniyama, there was New Year's Eve playing on the bus. In the restaurant on P-Day, there was 50 First Dates. And in ANOTHER restaurant, there was BACK TO THE FUTURE - only one of my favorite movies. We had to switch seats with the girls we were with so that our backs were to the screen. Haha. But really, life is tough. 
Sister Kobayashi and I

Also, the splits that I went on this week were tough. Both companionships were REALLY struggling. One might actually go home. There were just a ton of issues that we had to help resolve. I was really tired by the end.

However, the work in Shimizu is great! 

So, we got to do the Catch the Wave Fireside in our ward again. Basically, Sister Maynes and I were talking about this, and we both had this idea that our 18 months as missionaries was SO SHORT and then bam, it was over. What we have realized, though, is that these 18 months are nothing but preparation for being better missionaries for the rest of our lives. Member missionary work is where this is happening. The members do the work, the missionaries are in the background helping and teaching. Really, the members do the finding. I'm reading this book right now, ''The Power of Everyday Missionaries'' by Clayton Christensen and it's super good. Mom, you should totally go buy it and read it. Like, right now.

Things throughout the world are CHANGING right now. Sister Maynes told us this story of a ward in Georgia. They got a new Bishop and he released the Relief Society Presidency, the Primary Presidency, the Elders Quorum Presidency, the Young Men/Young Women Presidency and some high priests and called them ALL as ward missionaries. He released his first counselor and called him as the ward mission leader. Basically, he chose the strongest members of the church to get on the front lines of missionary work. This kind of change is happening throughout the world. It's certainly happening in Japan (though maybe a little slower than others). My District Leader's from Brazil and it's happening there (though, let's be real, Brazil didn't need to improve all that much). A member here just went to Finland and it's happening there. What are you guys seeing at home? Are there changes? Oh man, missionary work is just really exciting.

Also, I think fall is FINALLY coming. The nights are a little cooler now and I can straighten my hair again. I'm starting to look like a normal human being instead of a missionary sweat monster yayyyyyy.

We get to watch General Conference the week after. I don't think we'll get to see the Relief Society broadcast, though. I'm pretty pumped for Conference, though. Next time we should go to Salt Lake! 

Also, Yamamoto Shimai, our recent convert, is just so pumped to be a member. She's really awesome.
Yamamoto's baptism

Well, sorry for that overload of information that, well, isn't really that interesting. Just know that I couldn't be happier out here in this place!  Love to you all very much!

Love,
Lauren
Also, there's us with Misato-chan.

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