Hey, Mom!!! :) <3
I hope that you are doing okay. I was happy to get all of your emails today and to hear that you are recovering. I know that it can be super hard and painful for you, but know that this is also so so good. The best things in life are often extemely painful, I feel like. Like leaving everyone to come serve a mission. It was definitely painful, and I miss you all so so much, but the joy that I am experiencing now, as well as the joy that I will feel when I can return home with honor far outway the pain. Don't worry about me. I am super safe, and only slightly lost some of the time. ;D haha The language is coming along well, and I can understand quite a bit, but I still have so so far to go! Thankfully with Elder Suzuki (the new Elder in the apartment) I will be able to listen more for how to speak Japanese, not just the words that Japanese people use. I miss you too, but I hope that this letter brings me a little bit closer to you!!
To explain the title, I need to turn to a miracle from this last week, and share an incredible testimony strengthening experience for me. It was last Saturday, we had just finished District Meeting (which, by the way, I love district meetings. I am sitll trying to get over feeling just a little awkward that I am District Leader. haha :) I love it, but sometimes I feel way too inadequate and unexperienced to be district leader.) and we were walking towards the eki (train station) to go and do some streeting and housing in an area that we felt imipressed to go to. On the way we passed this park and saw a bunch of young boys playing soccer, and I really wanted to play. Elder Tolen wanted to play too, but he told me that I ultimately had to decide because I was senior companion. Which is true. :P haha so we prayed about it, and we didn't feel like we should strongly do one activity or the other (soccer or streeting) so I decided to play soccer, and hang out with these boys. We found out later they are all about 12-13, as a frame of reference. We went over and asked if they could play, and the conversation that ensued was hilarious. They didn't know what to do with us, and I don't think they actually grasped that we understood Japanese so they looked at each other like, "Oh no. What do we do with the foreigners? Do we tell them to leave?" They decided that we could stay outside of the activity they were doing and play pass with the one odd man out. haha So, we did that for a while. All the while I was super curious as to whether or not we were wasting our time, or actually supposed to be there. After a bit, they had a break, and didn't really talk to us, and then they said, "Let's play a real game now." And we got to play soccer. Thank heavens. :) haha I actually got to play with them, and when we played they saw we were real people, and really friendly. They got way into it, and warmed up to us pretty quickly after we started playing. Soon they were tired, and took a break, and they started to ask us questions like why we were in Japan, and what food we liked, etc. We actually got to invite four of them to church! Sadly, they had a soccer game the next day. After that we went and played a version of kick the can (which can be difficult when you have to stay within sight and sound of a companion haha) and had a way good time. We said goodbye and gave them our number, and asked if they would call us to play soccer again sometime. And I didn't think about it a whole lot more after that. And then that night when Elder Tolen and I knelt down to pray in order to start our daily planning session, I heard the Spirit talk to me and tell me that playing soccer was exactly what we had needed to do that day. The Spirit filled my heart, and I knew that even if the reasons weren't clear to me right then, we needed to go and play soccer with those boys. When I was thinking about it later I thought of the scripture where Christ tells His disciples to suffer the little children to come to Him. I know that those boys will grow up with an image of the missionaries playing soccer with them. They will love that memory, and maybe someday when a missionary knocks on their door they will open it up.
Mom, you are an incredible woman. Your strength amazes me. I talk about you quite a bit to people here, and tell them how amazing you are, and how you always kept going even when you were sick. It really impressed me growing up, especially the more I came to realize just how poorly you felt. You are superwoman. That is the truth. I know that the Lord gives you these trials because He knows that you could handle them. You will. You are. It is amazing to see your strength and grace at times like these (with your surgery and everything). The Lord is really helping you to become exactly what He needs you to be. I feel much like President Eyring when he talked about his mother, saying that if a woman like his mom needed trials like she had to become more perfect, he had a lot still in store for him! haha I definitely hope that I can grow up and be like you someday. You are absolutely incredible, and your light shines. I love you so so much. :) Reach out to the neighbors in our area and help them know that you love them. When they do, they will be more open to the gospel. The Lord doesn't just call 18 year old boys and 19 year old girls on missions. He calls moms and dads. Look for the areas that He has called you in. Particularly with your calling of being a mother you have a sacred responsibility, and I have seen you magnify that calling in a way that no other woman has. I love you, so so so much, mom. <3 :) Know that I am thinking about you and praying for you!!
Love, Elder Livingston
P.S. Here is a Japanese Joke. :) haha Okay, so this man walks to a movie theater, and is so excited to see the new Hobbit!! However, when he arrives, no shows are playing that evening. What does he say? :)
Shoganai!!! hahaha get it? :) <3