Sorry it's been awhile! Today I am writing from wonderful Uwajima! We had transfers last week and I was surprised to learn that both my companion, Johnson 長老, and I would be leaving Wakayama. I was so sad, especially after starting to see some of the results of our work and really having everything start to pick up.
I made it to Uwajima on Thursday in the afternoon, and met my new companion, Elder Anderson. He is super awesome, he has been in Japan for about 7 months now and is good at everything. He sings, plays guitar, ran track and played basketball in high school, and is a genius. He is going to Utah State when he gets home, too, so I will probably see him there! We spent the first few days going around to meet some friends to whom we are introducing the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ. First I met Jouko san, a really nice older man that has had a lot of difficult experiences in his life. He says that he wants to feel the peace that we have promised will come through the love Christ has for him.
Next I met Taniwaki san, a really fun guy that just seems to love everyone and everything around him. He came to our English class, and we all had a fun time learning together. We still haven't gotten an opportunity to talk about the church with him since I have been here, but we are meeting with him this Wednesday to continue teaching him.
Finally, I got to meet all of the awesome members here in Uwajima on Sunday! There were about 40 people at church, and they are all incredibly friendly and welcoming. I also came at a great time, because this is the first week after moving from the old church to a new building! Everyone was so happy to be in the new building, it was so much fun to see everyone's smiles throughout church that day.
Before church we had a lesson with a recent convert, Brother Ishida, and the discussion that we had reminded me of something taught in the last General Conference. Brother Ishida brought up the fact that it is difficult for him to remember to pray every day. He can remember to pray before going to bed, but any other time he says that his mind is far from thoughts of God or prayer.
As he shared his difficulties with us, I remembered times where I had felt the same, that it was just too hard in my busy life to make time for prayer or scripture study, or time to spend with family members and friends. It is in those thoughts, however, that I am able to recognize where my priorities lie. If my goals in life are really to have a stronger relationship with God and with my own parents, brothers, and sisters, why do my actions not always reflect that? It is so easy to become caught up in all the little things that need to be done, but I am slowly learning what I should have known all along, that all things are not of equal importance. I know that over anything else, I desire to become more like my Savior Jesus Christ in loving and serving selflessly, and to help my family in any way possible.
As I thought about the sometimes difficult to overcome gap between what we want to do and what actually happens, I remembered the words of Elder Gary B. Sabin, saying the following, "If we are not able to be “all in” the way we are presently walking, then maybe we need to run; maybe we need to recalculate our route. We might even need to make a U-turn. We might need to study more intently, pray more earnestly, or just let some things go so we can hang on to those things that really matter. We may need to let go of the world so we can hang on to eternity."
I know that through all of these things that I am learning, I want to do exactly what was said by Elder Sabin. Even if it may require giving up things that I want, or even giving up being in situations and circumstances that I am comfortable in, I know that God has a plan for each one of us that goes far beyond what we are currently involved in, and what we are currently capable of or comfortable with. I invite you all to think about the same thing this week, if your actions are in line with your end goals, whatever they may be. And if you find out that you have strayed from your desired course, then change! I can promise that even simple acts can lead to great results!
Love from Japan,