Hi my loving mother!!
So, I distinctly remember telling you over and over again, that you had to stop being sick. That was not permission to go and require surgery. ;) I love you so much, make sure that you are taking care of yourself, and that you are getting all of the R and R that you need. (I always feel so cool when I remember English phrases like that. ;) haha)
AHHHH!!! Seeing you this past week was so so so amazing! I love you so much! I have definitely missed your smiling face. :) <3 It was so good to see the whole family there, and that you all exist. Weird how that works, huh? You keep existing, even though it feels like I'm on a separate planet! haha I loved seeing you. Also, the magazine is absolutely incredible!! Holy cow. Everyone in my apartment was in awe. :) It is so cool! I am so so glad that you included Jenna in there too. ;) It especially made me smile when you said "Here are pictures of the whole clan!" or something like that and she was in the one with all of the sisters. :) that definitely made me smile. :) Did you send her one? I think that she would really like it! Oh yeah, what did you end up sending her? :) Also, I just realized, I do not know how much time that I will have to write this week, because I have a ton of people to write to! (It is Bonnie and Ben's birthday today, and Holly's tomorrow, so I need to write them today!) I will write as much as I can though. :)
Hmm....this last week...Well, first of all, Christmas here is so so different! Most people just eat Christmas cake on Christmas day, and that is about it. Kind of sad! And they have absolutely no concept of what Christmas caroling is! We tried to do it a couple of times, and people just ask, "What is that? You want to sing? Why?" It is super hilarious! We had a super incredible miracle, though!! Ahh, I loved it so so so much!! So, we were caroling on Christmas day as a district, and Sister Ashby decided that she wanted to knock on a super festive house's door. We did, and a lady came out. She told us to wait a minute, and then came back out with a coat and her son! We went to start singing and she asked us to wait for her mother. So we did. A few moments later, her mother came out, and again we started to get ready to sing. They then asked, "Actually, can we go and get our friends too?" And started running around the neighborhood knocking on a bunch of doors! It was an incredible Christmas miracle! All in all, 8 people plus the little boy came out to here us sing. It was so great, and the Spirit was there. It is moments like that which are so vital for people in Japan. They see us caroling, and they see us as real people who are kind and want to help. It melts the barrier between us and them, and allows us to return and share a message more easily.
There are miracles like that every single day here in Japan! For example, I went on splits with Elder Merrill again down in Kamakura and we met a man who lived there, but who was from my area! We only got to be on splits for a few hours, but the Lord placed a man who had connections to both of us in that few hour block. We saw some more incredible things, everywhere from a man who was Marxist and born in a communist home, to an old Japanese man who told us that he thought Buddhism was starting to die down, and that with the younger generation, Japan would become more and more Christian (This is unheard of. The old people in Japan are the ones that are super set in buddhism and shintoism). Splits really are a time to learn from new people, and see so many miracles. Also, fun note, I get to do a training with Elder Merrill this week at Zone Meeting! :D haha It is so crazy to see how much the Lord has blessed me to be able to try and push myself to learn how to be a leader, and how to step it up to the level of the older missionaries. In fact, a missionary named Elder Nebeker once told me to never think of myself as a young missionary. (I believe I was transfer one at the time). He said that there are only missionaries. If you think of yourself as a young or old missionary you will change your standard in some way, and that is not good. :) I loved that.
Mom, you are a missionary. You may not have a call right now to be a full-time missionary, but you are a missionary. Don't forget to serve others around you, even when the times are hard. Look for simple things. A smile really can make all of the difference in someone's life. Don't forget how much I love you, and even how much I miss you. :) <3 <3
I love you, mom!!
Love, Elder Livingston