Happy Birthday, Dad!!!! :) :)
How was your birthday? It sounds like it was pretty crazy! I wish that I could have been there for it. Know that I am thinking of you and praying for you, and I will send you a handwritten letter very soon. Sorry I haven't been very good at that, we do not have a ton of time to write handwritten letters. If you want me to send some, let me know, okay?
Also, guess what happened on your birthday? I hit my 6 month mark....wow. I can not believe that it has really been six months since I left. The time has flown. Where does it go? Honestly, that six month mark has done weird stuff to my dreams haha. :) I keep having this dream where I am done with my mission and I think to myself that I didn't write every day in my journal (like every day since the day I had the dream was missing) so it feels weird. We decided this morning after it happened again that it might be a sign that I need to write better in my journal, so I will definitely be doing that! haha :)
So guess what I got to do this last weekend? I got to go to a mochitsuki!! It is the party/thing where you pound rice into this rice cake kind of a thing called mochi. It tastes so so good. It is super hard work. They have this special kind of rice, I believe that it is called mochigome, and it is really sticky. You pour it into this giant granite bowl (it is super super heavy, I could barely lift it for a second . . .and you know how ripped I am ;D haha) and then you take these hammers made of wood and you start massaging it down into the bowl, and just sort of pushing it together. It starts to turn into this single ball of stuff, (all the time you have someone adding water as needed, and putting the ends of the hammers in water to keep them able to come off of the super sticky mochi) and the transformation is way crazy. And then you get to hit it! haha It is a blast. I will send some pictures. You just pound the rice ball and it continues to get gooier and stick together better, and when it is all smooth and together with no individual rice pieces sticking out, you are done! And then you go and put various toppings on it, such as sesame seed stuff. It is super good. And so filling! One of the best parts of the entire party is that it is a really good and relaxed way for people who are not members to get acquainted with the ward members. We got to take Steven, one of our Eikaiwa students who we are hoping to introduce the gospel to soon. We are trying to build a really good relationship with him so that we can ask him naturally and he will be interested.
Also, today we got to relax a bit, and I got to play a ton of piano, actually! We just went to the church, and pulled out the ping pong table (every church here has one) and started playing ping pong and piano! haha It was so so nice to sight read again, and Elder Tolen actually brought a couple books of Jon Schmidt stuff and other Hymns, so it was really nice. I love the piano. I have been so surprised at how much I have been able to use it here on my mission. I always knew as a kid that I would use it, but I figured that it would be once a week in sacrament meeting. How wrong I was! haha I definitely am going to have all of my children learn at least some piano. If they want to branch off and play other instruments that is okay. :)
Thank you for what you said about listening to and following the Spirit. It really is so important. I think that a lot of times we don't have to expressly here his voice, though. We just need to follow what we feel, whether we are sure it is the Spirit or not. We may not recognize the Spirit as readily in the moment as we will when we can look back and see how inspired the events that transpired were. I have seen that before. Don't be afraid to just do things that you feel are correct, even if you don't have a huge confirmation from the Spirit. I know that this gospel is true. Don't forget that. Don't forget how important it is to read from the Book of Mormon. It really is the keystone of our religion, and any concerns that people may have with the church go back to that book. It is true. I have read the entire book, and I know that it is true. I have prayed about it. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that he saw our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, in a grove in the Spring of 1820. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet on the Earth today. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that through His Atonement we can overcome all things, and someday live with our families eternally. I love you, dad. I miss you so much, and I hope that you are healthy and happy. :) I love you!! <3
Love, Elder Livingston