Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Birthday in Japan!! - Letter to Family - 6 October, 2014

Hey!! :) This week has been amazing!! Thank you so so so much for the package, and for everything that you sent. Including the love that you sent. ;) haha I have a TON to write, so I may  just send a long email to everyone, instead of one to mom and dad. Is that okay? :)
Okay, first of all, I am just following up (that is what good missionaries do, right? ;) haha) about music. Is there any way you can scan the Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, and the other songs I said? I really would love them. If not, then that is totally fine. I am just wondering. :) Second, I have a specific request for Dad and Sam. I may have volunteered you without asking. :) What I mean is that one of our investigators, Norton san, loves languages. He has read books in Japanese, English, German, Portuguese, French, and Latin. Needless to say, he was very interested when I said that my dad spoke German and my brother-in-law spoke Portuguese. I told him that if he wanted to practice, I would forward emails to you, and that you could respond in your language. Is that okay? It shouldn't be anything super time consuming, he just wants the practice the language a little. I will forward the emails when he sends them to me. Thanks so much in advance if you can! If not, just let me know.
Second, my birthday was so great! The Nelson couple actually gave me some chopsticks, and invited us over to dinner last Wednesday for an early birthday party. :) haha Brother Nelson is really good at ping pong, so we had a blast just playing a ton of that too. (I feel like my ping pong skill has increased so much in Japan! Partly because I'm just in Japan . . . ;) haha but we also play it for game night with our investigators on the weekend) They are so nice. We had a really good lesson with them at that dinner appointment. We went in wanting to teach the Restoration, so we first asked what they knew about it (they have been seeing missionaries for a few years, and Brother Nelson LOVES the Book of Mormon) and he told us the story pretty well. He kept mentioning faith specifically though, so Elder Squire asked what faith was to him. We then talked for a bit about faith, and hope, and that led us into the Atonement somehow. We found out that he doesn't have a testimony of the Atonement. He doesn't see how Christ could perform the Atonement. It was a huge breakthrough for us. Of course he isn't progressing, if he doesn't have a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. We gave him a talk by Brad Wilcox called "His Grace is Sufficient" and it beautifully explains grace and the Atonement. The thing is, we had decided to give it to him that morning, and we honestly can not remember why we thought that was a good idea. We were teaching the Restoration . . .grace does not come up in the Restoration lesson, really. But the Spirit prompted us to do what was needed for our investigator, and so we were able to give him that talk. He said he wants to read it so so much, and then we can all talk in simple Japanese and find the truth. Which brings me to my next point; the language.
The language is so hard. I'll be honest, that I often have to remind myself that I don't need to be perfect now. Where I feel I am is: I can say basically anything that I want about the gospel, I can understand a bit about what others say of the gospel, and my conversational Japanese is pretty negligible, although I can follow some conversations if I can hear enough familiar words. That probably is a bit harsh of an explanation (you know how I can be kind of critical of myself), but that is about where I feel I am. And then I remember that I am just transfer one. And I breathe again. :) I know that I don't need to be perfect now. I know that I will be able to speak Japanese fluently. I have a promise, and I am going to hold the Lord to that promise by working and being worthy of His Spirit. So the language is hard, but it is coming. :)
Let's see . . .I extended my first baptismal commitment this week! :D I asked Morgan Kyodai to be baptized, but he still doesn't feel a sense of urgency. He says that when he retires he will get baptized. He knows that the gospel is true, but he doesn't feel the need to act on it now. Which I think comes from the fact that his actual knowledge of the gospel is limited, even though he has been an investigator for about 20 years. We found out that he doesn't know a ton (except he knows a lot about the plan of salvation) about all of our doctrine, so we are just going to start at base one and teach him from there. His wife is a strong member, and super nice. She actually gave me some socks for my birthday! haha the people here are so nice. :)
Hmmm, let's talk about today. Today was way fun. We went to a Cup of Noodle museum. Yes, you read that right. It is an entire museum devoted to the man that created the first instant ramen, and eventually the cup of noodles. And you get to make your own specialized cup of ramen! :) I will send pictures later. :) Also, guess where we went?? To a pokemon store . . .yes, a pokemon store. I am pretty sure that my life has come full circle. It was so nostalgic, and such a blast to be there. I thought the nostalgia was over, but then we went to a store across the building, and guess what I found. Frog and Toad. Yes, the frog and toad books from the library that we read all the time when we were little. It was so crazy to see them in Japan!! I freaked out, and almost bought them! haha I may go back and buy them later. ;)
About Christmas. I really honestly do not know what to tell you to get me. I absolutely loved what you sent in my birthday package!! Just little stuff like that. :) Probably not sheet music though. I don't have time to learn knew songs, but old ones that I have might be good. Let's see . . .you know, I may have to think about that one. Remind me about it again next week, okay? :) I needed to ask a couple questions about money though. I really want to get people stuff for Christmas (I don't think that I really have money to get everyone birthday stuff and send it, but I definitely want to get everyone stuff during Christmas time), but I don't know how much to spend on people because it is pretty expensive here. Were you thinking just about 10-20 dollars per person? (Remember, I tried to save money, but ultimately it is your money). I just want a price range so I can start looking. I also don't know how much to spend on myself here. There is a lot of cool stuff, but I have pretty much refrained from getting stuff (except those cheap books, they were at a recycle/thrift store) for myself. I want some stuff for memories, but I don't want to just blow your money.
Thank you so much for not spoiling conference! I am so looking forward to hearing from all of the prophets and apostles. They really are called by God, and their words really strengthen me. I read their talks a lot, and they have such good insights. I can't wait to see what they have said recently. Also, good job Audge!! I am sure that this past week (and maybe even now, I don't know) have been crazy, but I know that you did a fantastic job, and that no one could have done it better. I will pray for you Ammon, and I really hope that you are getting better. It is going to be okay, and I know that you will be stronger after you are done healing. Don't worry. There is a reason that this happened, so try to find out why the Lord allowed this to happen. He doesn't allow trials to happen unneccesarily. You are a powerful teacher, and I know that you will continue to be even better through the Lord.
Lastly, there is this things on called the My Family booklet. I was wondering if you could log on as me and start filling it out (I am so so sorry that I have asked you to do so much. This is something President Wada asked us to ask you). I need to fill it out online, so that I can have the stories to write in a book I have here, so that I can share it with other people.
Okay, now lastly. ;) haha We had zone conference last week and it was absolutely amazing!! President and Sister Wada came, along with the Assistants to the President, and they taught us a bunch of different stuff. The Spirit was so strong, and I absolutely loved it. They are called of God, and they have led us, and will continue to lead us, so so well. Including through the Typhoon these past couple days. ;) If you have been watching about weather here, you know it rained a lot. It was a typhoon! haha It was so great. It started raining sometime Saturday night and stopped this morning at about 11. :) There is NO rain like that in Utah!! (Japanese must be getting to me. I almost typed that sentence as "There is NO rain that like in Utah!" haha by the way, Japanese is completely backwards from English. For example, if I wanted to say: "I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet because I have prayed about it" I would say "I, prayed because, Joseph Smith prophet is, know." fun random tangent for the day! haha) Anyway, this has been a super long email. There is so much more that I could tell you, but there really just isn't time to put it all into an email. I had real sushi this week! It was fantastic. The salmon was my favorite. :) The tempura shrimp was super good too. I didn't like the squid or octopus too much, but it wasn't bad ;) haha
I love you all so so so so so so much!! I miss you, but I am so glad that I am out here serving. :) It is perfect. The people of Japan are so incredible, and I love when I get to talk about the gospel with them. It isn't easy, and often people don't have an interest. You just want to give them the gospel, because you know it is true and it will help them! But they still have agency. :) Even though when people don't have interest it is sad, you keep working with them. Don't give up when things get hard. The Lord gives us trials because they make us so strong. Don't let the people that you love go without the gospel. Share it with them slowly. Share it with them a bit at a time. Share it through your example. The Lord knows what will help them, and often most importantly when they need it. Trust His timing even if it is slower than you would like. I love you so much. <3
Love, Elder Livingston

Note: Some names have been changed for privacy.

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