So it's springtime here in northern Japan which means Sakura season. "Sakura" is cherry blossom trees. Sakura is practically a worshipped tree here in Japan to the point where if you hurt one there's a penalty. The American equivalent of Sakura season is the equivalent of the Fourth of July in terms of excitement and the presidential election in terms of it being the main and immediate go-to for small talk conversation. In the Aomori zone is a place called hirosaki- one of the most famous Sakura cities in all of Japan with a famous park where tens of thousands visit during this week and a half period of Sakura blooming. As I write this I'm on an absolutely packed train to Hirosaki, having had special permission to leave our area boundaries, and we are going to see the Sakura at its peak as a district! Today is sunny, 16° C and beautiful. By next week, the Sakura flowers will be on their way out and green leaves come in so the timing for visiting Hirosaki is perfect.
I was in Akita last year during Sakura season, another pretty famous city for its Sakura- again, blessed to be where I am when I am.
Our two main and most promising investigators were able to meet this week and both were awesome meetings. However, bad news came about Fujita- he'll be moving at the end of next month down south north of Fukushima which is close to the radiation zone. I was so saddened to hear that and gave him a hard time. His response to me being sad- you can't talk! You're the one who leaves and moves around all the time with transfers! He had a good point but I'm still a little heartbroken as he'll be moving to an inaka area, a place where no one really lives and is far from where missionaries function. We will be meeting with him quite often during May and try to help and prepare him to receive baptism but it will need some extra help from heaven.
Sotoyama San is genki and very interested in our church's message and the difference between us and Jehovahs Witness. It's quite funny how often we run into people on the streets and they say they've already talked to people like us before, and we being surprised to hear that ask about what it was like, they always say they were two older women that gave them a bible- Jehovahs Witness missionaries. Pretty funny. Anyway, he's a good guy with lots of good questions and starting to progress well.
Had two splits this week! On Tuesday, with elder Sugimoto who is in my douki! Which means he was in the same group that came with us to Japan last year. It was both of our first times going on splits with someone in our douki and man was it a fun day. Met a member and sang her happy birthday, gave her chocolate and shared a spiritually uplifting message, fed a fish an old man caught to a crow, got ice cream with my favorite English student and her daughter and then had dinner with the funniest couple I've met here in Japan. And found a great PI. Fun day.
On Thursday, I got to return back to dendou in Misawa! I was with elder Hawker, a new missionary from Connecticut! He's a great man with a ton of hope and good attitude. We met with Kashiwazaki Shimai, a recent convert, Ebina Shimai was sick so we gave her a priesthood blessing. Then we found a new investigator who taught herself fluent English and is already Christian- two very rare things to randomly find on the street in a small town like Misawa. Then we had dinner with a member on base. Jumped on a trampoline for the first time in 9 months. we had Mexican food!!! such a wonderful tender mercy for my stomach. That was great. Then we had English class which was a blast! And ended the night by successfully visiting Nagano Kyoudai who is a member who's lost his way and we're trying to help him back to the light.
Doesn't sound like a whole lot in Misawa but it felt just like home and we saw a lot of small miracles.
Being companions with elder Okamoto has been such a great learning and humbling experience. But not because he's difficult! In any way! Rather, I'm learning so much every day because of his great and thorough work, his ability to teach and his patience, kindness and firm testimony. Working with him daily helps me keep in mind my weaknesses and improvement points. Something I enjoy. Always learning. And together, our experiences of seeing the great effects of the light of this gospel on others is also increasing!
I want to add one last thing and that's my testimony about the plan the Lord has prepared for us, His children, after our life here on earth. My little brother Jared was part of a role play at his high school meant to warn and prevent kids from drug and alcohol usage. The program is called "every 15 minutes" and my little brother was chosen to be one who suffered the consequences of those driving under the influence and was 'killed'. Although it was merely a role play, it acts as a good reminder to us all about the short and precious time we have here on earth, to use it wisely and be smart. However, accidents and unforetold events happen and lives are lost but our Father is loving and provided a plan for all families and friends to reunite again during the resurrection. And we can live forever if we live faithfully and partake of the covenants only able to be performed in temples.
Love y'all! Have a good one!