Gold mine- this place is competing for one of the wonders of the world spots right now. Pretty sweet!
Food from this week!
Big tunnel the Iwasaki's took us through
More recent Christians who wanted to be buried in the same area
First Christian Graveyard
I was so excited to hear about our little town gaining another ward! Magrath 7th ward- it sounds great! What an amazing change. That is so exciting! I think there will be a lot of good changes that will happen with the ward split even though it may be difficult to say goodbye to some of our wonderful ward members. That is so fantastic!
I've had a week of adventures and I am so excited to tell you all about our miracles and learning experiences I've had. To start, I want to tell you all about a profound learning experience that I had. The branch president and His wife (Iwasaki shimai and Kyoudai) wanted to take us to see the Christian tomb located in Sado. Now, this probably doesn't sound like something everyone would want to go and see, but ever since I have come to Japan, I have heard about this special place and about the things that happened there. In Koiwa, (my first area) it was mentioned a few times in the seminary class that we attended. My Japanese wasn't at the point where I could understand everything, but what I did understand amazed me. The fact that I was able to go and be in the place where so many wonderful people had been, was an amazing experience for me. I have mentioned this memorial spot before in my letters and a little bit about the history of the spot, but I will give you a little bit of background to catch you all up. To be short, there was a time in the History of Japan that it was very dangerous for Christians to live here. If there was a Christian found, they were exiled to Sado and were executed if they would not deny their belief in Jesus Christ. At the memorial site, hidden in the mountains, a hundred or more people were executed because they would not deny Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. It is more of a gruesome story than that, but men, women, and children stood at this place and were each put on trial and then put to death. Iwasaki Kyoudai and Shimai read the different inscriptions at the site, and I learned something so profound as I stood listening. I felt like my heart as enveloped by a greater power, and I felt the Spirit so strong. I share this because it led me to ask myself what I would be willing to sacrifice for Christ's sake. As I listened, they told of how these people were given an image of Jesus Christ and forced to either tear or distort the image, or be put to death. I can't really explain the connection that I felt to the people who made this sacrifice, but it was such a tender moment for me to stop and think about my own relationship with Jesus Christ. I felt such a closeness with the people who were executed. I wondered how they must feel to know that there are 13 diligent members of the church on the island now,a couple hundred years later. It was just so amazing to me to think about all of these things. There is a line in one of my favorite hymns that came to mind as I sat pondering.
6. In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ’mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
7. Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
My heart also sang as I thought of the love that these people must have had for our Savior Jesus Christ. In John 15:13 it says:
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Christ laid down His life for us, and showed the ultimate love for us by doing so. It was the greatest sacrifice known to human mankind, and it was done out of ultimate and perfect love. These people died for Christ, along with the thousands of others who have died in the history of the world for the Gospels sake and for Christ's. There is so much to learn from these people. I am so grateful that I could go and see this memorial site. It was so special for me.
Dendou was really great this week too! Our investigators are progressing well and we have been able to see a lot of changes in them over the course of the last couple of days.
I think I have time to share one last experience.
Yesterday, we travelled to a place on the Island called Mano to visit a woman who had been dropped by the missionaries just a year previously. As sister Alder and I were going through our Area book, we felt very strongly that we should go and visit her, and so we did. We had never met her before, and had no idea what to expect, but we went and hoped for the best. When we arrived at her house, we greeted her and introduced ourselves. Immediately, she recognized us as missionaries and told us about how the missionaries used to always come over to her house and teach her and how much she loved learning from them. While she was speaking, I felt really strongly that the Lord had been working with her and began to be really excited, which is why what happened next really shocked me. She said, "it was great, but I have no interest." I was shocked, and felt like I was missing something... After talking to her God and prayer and how we can know and have a relationship with Heavenly Father, she began to listen more intensely. I asked her if she had ever felt God's love when she prayed? Although she had been taught by the sisters how to pray and knew how to do it perfectly, she said that she had never felt that love. I promised her that if she would let us teach her that her life would be able to change and that she could know for herself whether or not God exists. Tears began to form in her eyes, and she quickly turned away from us and exclaimed that she wasn't interested. I will felt like we should talk with her, and so I asked her if I could share an experience with her. She agreed and began to listen once more. I told her about the first time that I had really prayed to God, and how it wasn't until after that point that I knew that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me. I told her about how I felt something so strong in my heart, and that I couldn't explain the feeling, but that I knew it was God answering my prayer and saying that He loved me and cared about me. After sharing the experience, I invited her once more to begin learning with us again and to pray to know for herself if God was really there. She agreed and thanked us for coming over. It was really neat for me to see the Spirit work in her as time went on. Such a neat experience.
We had a fabulous halloween party and had lots of people come, which was awesome! We were able to find a few new investigators through the party as well, so that was a huge miracle! Yesterday in Church we prayed and had a special fast together to be able to see 4 baptisms before Christmas. It was a really powerful experience, and I'm excited to see what will happen in the next couple of months here on the Island.
That's all I have time for, but I just want to say thank you for all of the emails and prayers. I love you all so much. This church is true and God loves everyone. God hears and answers our prayers and is always waiting to help us. We just have to reach out and grab Him.