Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Week 28

 The girls we met on the street and gave book of Mormons too. They are referrals for the Niigata Sisters! On my left is sister Yonaha and sister Barbosa- we dendoed together while waiting for our new companions to arrive.

Birthday miracle lady- funny story, I didn't realize I had a picture of her until I was going through my pictures. I caught her in one while I was taking pictures on the boat. Pretty neat miracle. :) 
So, another funny story- before my companion came over and started talking with us, (birthday miracle) she took a panorama of us- how she saw us, haha. So funny! Sister Hubbard in action. 

 The Ferry we take to get to the mainland

 Sister Parker made these for me for breakfast! She's so sweet. :)

This is in Niigata- one of the big soccer stadiums- sorry you can't see it very well. 

Dearest Family, 

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes! I had a wonderful week, and the 15th was especially wonderful. :) thank you for the Facebook posts and for all of the notes, and letters. I love you all so much. I'm kind of sad that I only get to have one birthday on my mission because the 15th was so full of miracles! 
Okay, so I will tell you a little bit about my new companion! Her name is sister Alder. She is from Utah, but has lived in a million different places, including Guam! (So cool right?!) she is probably one of the sweetest people I have ever met and is really easy going. She is an amazing missionary and she has a lot of faith. We've already seen so many miracles together. I'm cutting her hair tonight! Haha! I'm going to get really good at cutting hair I think, haha. 
Oh, and to answer a question about my last companion- sister Horito was in Sado for 3 transfers which is pretty futsu (usual) for sister Missionaries. 

I think I had one of the best birthday's ever! Let me tell you all about it. So, as I mentioned before, the 15th was my first full day together with sister Alder and we had a zone meeting in the morning. After the meeting we had to get on the boat to travel back to Sado. We saw the most amazing miracle on the boat! It was sister Alder's first time on the boat and so we both went up to the top platform to watch the launch off together. While being on the platform, I noticed a lady standing a few meters away from us who was looking at the scenery. She was probably in her late 40's. I felt a strong impression that we needed to talk with her, and so I began talking with her. Our conversation was pretty casual at first, but she eventually asked why we were going to Sado. We told her that we lived there, and then surprised, she said, "ええ! ビックリした! -Saying she was surprised..(most people are as we are pretty much the only gaijin (foreigners) in Sado) She asked us what we were doing in Sado and we were able to share our testimonies and reasons for coming to Japan. This discussion led to her asking about what we teach people everyday. As we explained, she responded with a question. She asked, "when you first begin teaching people, how do you do it?"(Japanese) She seemed to be a little bit surprised to hear that some Japanese people believed in God and Jesus Christ. When I heard her ask the question, I searched her eyes to see if she was sincere. I really wasn't sure what to say to her in Japanese, but as I looked, I felt a warm peace come over me. I smiled and told her that we always begin by teaching people how to pray. I explained that by learning how to pray, people can know for themselves whether or not God exists and who He is. I told her that I had always been taught about God from my parents, but that it wasn't until I prayed that I knew He loved and cared about me. As I shared about the first time I sincerely prayed to God, I notice her eyes fixed on mine. I promised her that God was aware of her and that she could know for herself of His love and existence. Her eyes glanced to the side of the boat. She looked back at me, tears in her eyes, and nodded her head silently saying yes. I will never forget her smiling face as she said slowly, "ありがとう" .." Arigatou"... "Thank you," first in Japanese twice and then once in English. We were able to teach this woman about the Book of Mormon and offered her one. She gratefully excepted it and promised that she would read it and pray about it. She tried to pay us in gratitude, but we told her we couldn't accept money.( It is a big part of the culture in Japan to give gifts to each other, especially when one has done a huge favor for someone else.) Realizing that she couldn't pay us, she came back about a half hour later with a big bag full of goodies for us. She thanked us once again and we parted. My heart just collapsed for this woman. I love her so much and I hope I can meet her again someday. She lived in Niigata and said that she felt uncomfortable about meeting with the sisters in Niigata, but asked us if she could have our number and promised to study and go to church. This was such an amazing miracle! This was everything that I wanted for my birthday. God really does answer our prayers and listen to the desires of our hearts. He knows everything and it amazes me everyday to see how His hand is in our lives and in the lives of others.

So, do you all remember my investigator in Koiwa named Kouno San? She was baptized yesterday In the Koiwa Ward! I was able to talk to her on the phone and she sounded so happy. Her whole conversion process was such a miracle from the beginning and I can't tell you all how much it means to me to see her take this next step in her life. She is so wonderful. :) God really led her to us and I wish I could retell everything that had led up until this point, but I don't think I have time for that. Such an amazing miracle though! :) 

Well, back home it sounds like there have been a lot of new changes happening in our family. I guess we will all see what's in store in the next chapter of life. It will probably begin soon. :) I would have loved to be there for your testimonies mom and dad. I can picture it in my mind pretty well though. Your testimonies are both so radiant. I still remember times in my life very vividly of you two bearing your testimonies. What a beautiful experience. It sounds like the new bishopric will be wonderful. Also, I hope you all have fun on your trip! You're all going on an airplane! Wow! I bet the little boys are so excited. I love hearing about their new little kitten ;) it also sounds like Jameson and Jarom are kicking butt at soccer! Way to be! You two are your sister's little brothers for sure. ;) haha. I'm so proud of them! 

To answer another question, there aren't too many traditional local foods here. This time of the year, there are lots of persimmons which are so delicious! They are pretty famous in Niigata. The rice here also is very well known. There's lots of fish- they dry them on racks all over the island and so most of the time this place smells like fish. だからThere is way good sushi here! One of my new favorite foods is raw fish! Who would've thought? I certainly didn't... It's way good though. :) 美味しいです! 
This week in dendou, sister Alder and I found 2 new solid investigators in Sado, so that was a huge miracle! We received a referral from one of sister Alder's past areas and we went and visited the woman the other day. I think we will be able to teach her soon which is really exciting! We are going to try and invite one of our investigators to be baptized this next week! Her name is Ediku Chan (I think I mentioned her last week maybe? Week before?) We are really excited about her. She is so sensitive to the Spirit and we think that she is so prepared. 
This next week we have exchanges with sister Yonaha and Sister Lacey from Sanjo. They are our sister Training leaders. I will be with sister Lacey and I am way excited because she was in my MTC district and we came to Japan together. I think we will see a lot of miracles! So excited! 
Also, president Nagano and shimai are coming to Sado this next weekend to interview us and visit our branch. I'm way excited for them to be here too!

Okay, I think I have time to share one last cool experience. So, in Niigata, after sister Horito got on her bus, sister Yonaha and I went to the train station to pick up sister Barbosa. The three of us dendoed together the rest of that day and we saw so many miracles together! We met about 6 girls who were walking on the street and had a really good conversation with them. We were able to give them all Book of Mormon's and direct them to the Niigata shimaitachi (sisters). They were so excited to receive book of Mormons and we read a few verses with them right on the street. I shared Mosiah 4:9 with them: 

9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

After sharing the scripture, the mood in around us changed and we told them that they could all know and feel God's love through reading the Book of Mormon and meeting with the Sister missionaries. We were a little bit surprised when they said that they wanted to know more about the Book of Mormon and said they would be willing to meet with the Niigata sisters. So amazing! The Lord is really pouring His Spirit out on Japan and there are so many prepared people. This week, I've met so many people who have wondered about the reality of God or a supreme creator. As we have shared our simple testimonies with them, they've been able to feel God's love through us. It's an amazing feeling to be able to have the Lord work through me as a missionary. Being a missionary is the most amazing thing I've ever done. I wish I could tell you about everything that happens in the week. God's hand is in our lives. I don't always understand how things happen all the time, or how things are able to work out the way they are, but with the peaceful feeling in my heart, I'm left thinking that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and knows us. I testify of the love God has for us. It is there. It has the power to change human nature and is the most powerful force in the world. I'm so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for His love and grace. I'm just so happy. :) 
Thanks again for all the wonderful birthday wishes! 
Love always, 

Sister Hubbard xoxo

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 27

Dear Family, 

Well, it's been a week full of amazing miracles! I'm not sure where to start with everything. God is really blessing our little Sado island. Sister Horito and I have probably biked close to 70km this past week, and as a result were able to see a lot of the pretty nature here. I feel like I am serving in one of the most beautiful places in the world! The nature here is so breathtaking. There is something so special about serving in a nature filled place. There is definitely a different Spirit to be felt as I love biking on the coast and through all of the beautiful nature. The rice fields are almost all harvested now, and this past week we were able to help someone with their harvesting! It was a really neat experience, and even though the people we served weren't interested in learning about the gospel, we felt really good about helping them. The people here harvest the rice, both by hand and by machine. It's really neat to see people in their rice hats going to work in the rice fields. So neat! I don't know how I'm ever going to leave this place, haha. It's beginning to get a little bit chilly here, but the sun is still shining bright and so Sister Hubbard is a happy camper. :)

Anyway, this past week we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders- Sister Yonaha and Sister Howe. I had the opportunity to dendou with Sister Yonaha who is nihongin and doesn't know English. It was so neat for me to be able to be with a Japanese companion all day, speaking Japanese! So fun! We saw so many miracles together! A few days before the exchange, sister Horito and I found a young woman named Ediku Ito San who seemed to have quite a bit of interest in our message. She is a really cute 22yr old college student who lives in Sado by herself. Anyway, sister Yonaha and I felt like we should go and visit her while we were on exchanges. Sister Horito and I were able to give her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet the past time we had met with her, and so our plan was to follow up with that a little bit and see if she had read it. We found out that she had only read a little bit of it, but that she wanted to read the rest of it but had been busy with school lately. Sister Yonaha and I began to simply explain the plan of Salvation to her- how we lived with Heavenly Father before this life, and how we will return to live with him after this life. While we were talking, I felt impressed to share about the car accident that happened in Magrath just after my 16th birthday and about how four of my friends were killed in the accident. The spirit was really strong. What I didn't know then was that her mother had passed away close to a year previously. She had tears in her eyes as we taught her, and I couldn't help but think of how wonderful it must have been for her to hear that she would be able to see her mother again someday. It was such a wonderful experience. I think she really connected with Yonaha Shimai. Everything really does happen for a reason and God's timing is always perfect. I learned so much from Yonaha shimai on exchanges, and I'm so grateful that we were able to share this special experience with her. I'm exciting to continue to teach Ito San as she has all of a sudden become so special to me. There is something special that happens when we are able to learn in the Spirit of the Lord together. It was such a neat experience. As we both walked away from the house, we shared with each other how we both felt that she was so prepared and how we felt we were speaking God's words at her genkan. So amazing! 
We are watching conference this week and I am so excited! Thanks for helping be excited about it and for sharing your favorite talks and insights. I always learn so much from you all. :) 
So, to let you know what happened with the Philippine lady we met last week! Her name is Lovelia (isn't that pretty?) and we were able to see her yesterday! It wasn't quite what we were expecting as she told us that she had left the Christian church and stopped believing in God. We were pretty shocked to hear that as she asked us to come over on the phone last week. We were truly led to her by and through the Spirit and so we are not going to give up on her though! 
We marked a bunch of scriptures that testify powerfully about God and left her another note with a Tagalog Book of Mormon. She's special and she needs the gospel in her life! ... She just doesn't know it yet, haha. She really is a sweet mother though and we were able to meet her neighbors who are also Philippingin which was really neat. I guess we will see what happens with her as time goes on. God works in mysterious ways. 
President and Sister Nagano are coming to visit Sado from the 23-25 and so we are really excited for that! I think they will have some really specific instruction for us and the Sado branch  when they speak to us. I'm excited to hear from the both and to be interviewed by them. Something I really admire about both of them is how strongly United they are. They do everything together and they know all of the missionaries so so well. I feel very close with both of them and so I'm so excited to have them come to the island. :) 
I can't help but think that there is something wonderful about to happen here in Sado. I feel it so strongly and it gives me so much motivation to work hard everyday. We just have to trust in God's timing and follow the Spirit. I know that as we do our best to do the things that we have been asked to do that we are given extra power and strength to do them. Then, with the Lord's help, we are able to do things and work miracles by His Spirit. In doctrine covenants 138:17 it says: 
17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

Sometimes in our lives, we reach a point where we feel like the road we were walking on has disappeared, or that we have lost our way somehow. These times are always difficult, but I've heard before that sometimes we have to struggle in the dark for a little while before we become humble enough to recognize the light for what it truly is, and forever will be. I love this scripture because it directs us to simply do everything we can, and then "stand still and see the salvation of God." God promises to make up the difference when we try our best to do His will. God can multiply our efforts by hundreds and thousands. He really doesn't need missionaries to further His work, but He allows us to serve Him because we have desires to and it is such a blessing to be able to feel His love through this work. This Gospel is true. It is the Lord's restored church and it is back on the earth with its fullness and power. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and he did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is true, and was translated by the gift and power of God. We can feel God's love through reading that sacred book and receive direction by living by its principles. Just like in other dispensations of time, we have have a living prophet who leads and guides us today in the church. Jesus Christ is the Savior and redeemer of the world. He has redeemed us from Sin and made it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father. We, by ourselves, could never return to God's presence because we are imperfect and always make mistakes. The fact the He, Jesus Christ, would suffer and die for me, an imperfect person, is beyond all of my understanding.. But because he did, I know I am greatly loved and that I can truly return to my Heavenly Father. I can't express my gratitude enough for my Savior Jesus Christ. 
Love always, 

Sister Hubbard 

 Sister Horito at the end of a path we took on the island
 A sweet girl in their branch...half philippingin

 Some curry Sister Hubbard ate last week
 Sister Hubbard and Sister Horito "heart attacked their branch president and his wife :)

 Sado pictures

In Sado, the beaches are so pretty