Well, first off, I'm staying in Niigata with Sister Wigginton. No huge surprise there. Sister Orton, one of my roomies, is transferring, and I'll miss her.
I know you're all dying to hear about Kim's baptism, and I wish I could tell you how wonderful it was, but unfortunately that will have to wait. The closer she got to Saturday the less sure she became, and after days of having our calls dodged and questions unanswered we went to go visit her on Friday. I finally just had to ask her, very directly, if she even wanted to be baptized, and she told us "not yet." She also didn't want to make a next appointment or come to church on that Sunday. Feeling defeated, we went back, wondering what to do and if it was worth it to continue to try to teach her.
I'm going to be honest, it was really hard. Easily the hardest week of my mission so far. I broke a 7-month no-crying streak (which really, is something to be grateful for - I had a pretty good run!) and finally began to understood a little how the Lord of the vineyard feels in Jacob chapter 5. I felt I'd done everything possible to help Kim. I'd fasted, prayed, asked others to pray, encouraged her, called so many times she probably thought I was a stalker, and even had another missionary put her name on the prayer list in the temple since I couldn't go myself. But it still wasn't enough. I know what it's like to watch someone you care about be lost no matter how hard you try to guide them, and weep, and wonder what more you could have done to save your vineyard.
Later that afternoon, we went to a member's house to meet her grand daughter and teach a practice lesson to them. It was very nice and fun until we noticed that she was having some trouble swallowing, and then she fell on the ground. It was a stroke. I will forever be grateful that just as she fell, and I rushed over to ask if I should call the ambulance (which I definitely don't know how to do) her husband came home. The Lord likes to give us challenges, but He also knows our limits. She's in the hospital now, recovering, and it all turned out okay, but it was scary.
I guess it's fitting that all these things happened on the day I turned 20 - the age of adulthood in Japan. My mission had been pretty fun and easy so far, and it was time for me to grow up a little.
And I think I have been able to progress, at least a little. When Kim first cancelled her baptism all I wanted to do was become so involved with helping other people that I could forget about her. I wanted to run away from my failure. In my efforts to protect my own emotions, though, I forgot about hers. While praying to know what to do, the one distinct feeling that came over me was "you're not done." I'm not giving up on Kim, because I know she's been prepared and she will get baptized someday. For now she's scared, but after she just makes a decision she can be free from all that worry and uncertainty. She will never have to wonder "what if..."
So, sorry, not the happiest letter this week. But I have a renewed determination to move forward and not let a transfer's worth of time and effort go to waste. I believe I was put here, in Niigata, at this time, for a reason.
A list of good, happy things that happened:
- Oseki Shimai made a birthday cake for each of the THREE missionaries who had birthdays here this week.
- We found the one Mexican restaurant in Japan and ate there on Saturday. After studying the menu for forever I decided to go with the classic bean and cheese burrito and I have no regrets.
- Getting to teach the plan of salvation to one of my favorite investigators, Moto. She doesn't have a super strong desire to change her life, but she's way funny and we always have really interesting discussions.
- Finally feeling like I understand the talks in church.
- Using Christmas money to buy myself ski gloves and insulated rain boots. Right in time for the snow that's starting to fall! We're at 1 or 2 inches now.
Thank you for all your letters, prayers, kindness, and other help. I love you and I hope that everyone is doing well!
|The "only" Mexican restaurant in Japan|
|Anna celebrates 20th birthday|