Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Week 56: August 28, 2017 - Actually doing things for my birthday!

Thanks to everyone, once again for the birthday wishes! It's great to
realize that I'm actually older, even if it doesn't feel like it at
all!

But, in case anyone was left fearing, I did manage to eat cake for my
birthday. Every Monday night we run a family home evening activity at
the church as missionaries, and sometimes we will make food. For some
reason, I had a cake mix that somebody had sent me before, so we made
American cake, tried making more from scratch, played games, and
shared a spiritual message, as any good family home evening does, with
varying kids that we were able to invite. The odd thing was that none
of the parents ended up staying with their kids, rather, dropped them
off and came back, but the kids still get to learn from the
missionaries.

Elder Jo and I also had the chance to meet the Matsuyama family again,
after running into them last week. It was a crazy first contact,
because we knocked on her door, and it was as if we were best friends.
But neither Elder Jo not I had ever met the lady before. Long story
short, she knew the missionaries about a year ago, before her son was
born, but then got busy with family, and lost track of them. So it was
our pleasure to continue that relationship, and she was more than
happy to listen. And, way excited to read the Book of Mormon, and come
to church, almost before we could even ask. It amazing how God will
use us as his tools, to help His children, sometimes without us even
knowing. For me, it was just an experience of one of the times I've
seen myself as part of His plan in an immediate area.

Lastly, we got to meet and eat dinner with one of our Eikawa students
last week. It always amazes me at the kindness and memory of these
people, as she told us stories about old missionaries, while making
enough food for 10+ people. Another blessing of the Lord that we felt.

That's all for this week, but I'm very grateful for all that everyone
has done, said, and sent me. I love you all!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse






Sunday, August 20, 2017

Week 55: August 21, 2017 - One Year in the Service of the Lord

Hey everybody!

Thank you all so much for all the letters and mail you sent my way for
my birthday. It's a crazy reminder to me that I actually have a
birthday, and that I've been a missionary for a little over a year
now. My last birthday was in the MTC, and it fair to say that I've
learned a lot since then. As the primary song says, "One year older,
and wiser too!", and being on a mission has definitely helped with
both parts of that. I've had the chance to see many miracles and the
Lords hand among His children in Japan, and I'm extremely grateful for
the chance I've had to be here.

With that noted, the past week has been another opportunity to work on
the beautiful island of Amami! Sadly, we haven't been able to teach as
much as we have wanted to, but there is still satisfaction in talking
to everyone. And, the best feeling is when you know that you were able
to brighten someone's day. It's not always the miraculous instantly
baptized person that you find, but it's the small things, the grandmas
living alone, the kids having a bad day, that we get to just light up.
I know that this is a gospel of light, and in all ways, shapes, and
forms to be able to share that every day is amazing.

We also had interviews with President Egan, and that is always a great
experience. One of the focuses we have had as a mission, and one of
the things he reemphasized was the need for love. As we find ourselves
filled with love for the Savior, we will learn of him, preach of him,
and live like him in ways we didn't even imagine possible. I know that
the days I remember why I am here, that I love the Savior, I love his
joy, I am able to forget about me, forget about everything but the
people I get to help. It's amazing.

Lastly, we also found a snake! Without pausing to learn what type of
snake it was, we quickly left, but that's our last bit of news for
today!

Love you all!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse


Week 54: August 14, 2017 - The tropical life!

Hey everyone!

Its a blast down on the island of Amami, quite literally! Due to the
previous typhoon, the big summer festival all around town was pushed
back to this week, which included boat races, food, and fireworks!
Sadly, we weren't able to join and watch a lot of it, because we were
in the wrong place at the wrong time, but all four of the missionaries
were able to gather with one of the less active members, and watch the
end of the fireworks. It's odd, because I didn't watch any for the 4th
of July, and now I get some on a tiny island in the middle of the
pacific. It just goes to show how different cultures have different
celebrations, and I'm just blessed to be in the middle of it.

Besides explosions, Elder Jo and I also witnessed the hand of the Lord
guiding His children over the past few days. We have had a large focus
on bringing people to church as a mission, as a way to help the feel
firsthand the spirit and love of God. However, we haven't had any
people to bring to church, until Saturday, when we met Sakai walking
on the street, maybe 5-600 meters from the building. As we talk to
him, we end up walking back to the chapel, and teaching him more about
who God is, and how he communicates with us. Being slightly
interested, Sakai listens, and says he will come back the next day for
church. However, when 10:00 rolled around, he wasn't here yet. So we
went inside, and church started. But who comes halfway through but
Sakai, ready to learn and with a desire to be there. It's crazy how
fast we went from having nothing to be helping one of Gods children,
one of our beloved brethren. As He says in 2 Nephi, "I am able to do
mine own work", and the missionaries role is just to be the tools, the
hands he needs.

The branch here is about 10-15 people per week, counting the
four missionaries. Three of the missionaries in the apartment (me,
Elder Yanada, and Elder Jo) all came to Japan together, leaving Elder
Johnson the oddball out, but he's from Maryland, so I have an east
coast friend.

As for food, I tried to take pictures of what I was eating, but I
forgot a lot, so I only have three. But on Naze, we do individual
meals every meal, every day, so I'm getting a lot of practice on
making whatever I want.

I love being able to serve out here everyday, for two years of my
life. The longer I've been out the more I've seen how much I've grown,
and how much good the Lord has been able to do through me. And, to top
that off, I'm living on a tropical island, feasting on dragonfruit and
passion fruits! Thank you for all of your support and emails, I love
you all!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse






Week 53: August 7, 2017 - Typhoons!

Well, I think everyone already knows the big news from this week,
which was a typhoon!

I guess one of the blessings of being a missionary is not being able
to watch the weather. Because no matter what it's like, we always have
the inherent hope that it will get better, that it will clean up so we
can be happy and dry as we do Gods work. Which explains why Friday, we
were outside knocking doors as the rain started to fall. And fall. And
fall. It actually rained quite a bit. So, knowing vaguely that there
was a typhoon coming in, we took the opportunity to walk back, staying
safe and only a little wet. And then spent the next day on lock down,
keeping everyone safe as the amazing powers of nature whipped through
Amami all day Saturday. Thankfully, it gave us a chance to call
various people, who were also all doing well, and we were still able
to work.

The most blessed thing might have been the fact that the storm ended
Saturday, so we were able to have church on Sunday. It by far wasn't
the largest sacrament meeting I've been a part of, but to be able to
gather, and see the faith of the saints who could come, was really
amazing. It reemphasized to me how important the sacrament is, and how
important the Savior is to us. And as part of that, how much we
believe in an active religion, an active lifestyle. If we want the
blessings promised from heaven, for example, if I want to be a
successful missionary, if I want to help people find joy, I better be
working, meeting and talking to them. If we want the eternal happiness
that Christ has promised, we need to do all we can, every week, every
day, to be His representative. That's what all the people who trudged
through the aftermath of our typhoon showed me, and it was amazing.

Well, I'm safe, and all is well on Amami! Thank you for all your
emails and prayers!

Love,

Elder Woodhouse


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Week 52: July 31, 2017 - On an Island, again!

So, after 15 hours of travel, I've arrived! There is now one more
happy, smiling missionary on Amami!

I guess my week technically started before transferring, but it was
hectic saying goodbye to people, and getting Elder Barker ready to go
home. It was a pleasure working with him, and I'm glad we had the
chance to work and learn. The peace in all of the hectic things was
dinner Wednesday with the Nishihara couple, who have helped us so much
with Sachiko and Takuya. It was great to get to talk to them one last
time, and thank them for all of their kindness, assistance, and
strength in the Lords work.

And then I left for Amami, spending most the day alone on a boat,
which was kinda weird. It was a great chance to get caught up on
studies and my journal, but besides that, and lots of pretty views,
not much crazy stuff happened. But, after the ride, I got to Amami,
and got to meet Elder Jo again!

From that point, everything has been hectic once more. We are busy,
happy missionaries, trying our hardest to find the people the Lord has
prepared. Right now, the branch is a little small, but all the members
are strong in faith, and ready to work with and help the missionaries.
We even spent a lot of Saturday visiting less-active members with
Iwamoto Kyodai and Nagatomo Kaicho, who was just visiting for the
weekend, but it is clear to me that the members care about everyone
else. It's a sign of Gods love, because as our Father, he cares about
each and every one of us individually. He sends us love and peace as
we need, and I can feel His love for all of the people on this island
of 44,000, and the chance to serve all of them is amazing.

And that doesn't even count the miracle of Sachiko and Takuya's
baptism on Saturday. Obviously, being a 12 hour boat ride away made it
so I couldn't make it the service, but I heard it was amazing and
filled with the Spirit as they bore their testimony. I'm so glad I had
the chance to work, teach, and help the understand the importance of
the gospel, and the role their Savior has in their lives.

I'm excited to see what other miracles and experiences the Lord has in
store for this island. It's amazing to be here, and I love every
chance I have to be a missionary and His representative. Love everyone
back at home!

Love,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse











Week 51: July 24, 2017 - I'm Off!

Hello to everyone!

As you may realize, by the delayed email, it's that time of the
transfer again! Today was the day of transfer calls, and after just
over four months, I'm leaving! Kinda a surprise, because Elder Ishizu
and I were right in the swing of things, and have Sachiko and Takuya's
baptism coming up on Saturday, but if it's the will of the Lord for me
to leave, that's what I'll do. However, I'm not going to leave the
island life behind for that long, because starting Thursday night I
will be on the island of Amami Oshima, after a day long boat ride from
Okinawa. So I've been out a little under a year, and I'll have
transferred on a bus, a plane, and now a boat! I guess it's fair to
say that Elder Woodhouse is sharing the gospel everywhere! As for my
companion, I'll be returning to the MTC era, and working with Elder Jo
for the next six weeks. Fair to say I'm excited, very sad to leave
Okinawa, but excited.

Besides the crazy news about transferring, we also have the great news
about Sachiko and Takuya. Last week, Elder Ishizu and I had the chance
to go meet with them at their house, and have a family home evening
with their family, which includes both of them, and Takuya's younger
brother and sister. It was great, because they already feel like
members. Walking into their house, I felt completely at home, I could
feel the love they all had for each other, and for our Savior. It felt
good. That's why we teach the gospel, to help families that didn't
have those feelings develop them, and to help those that were already
their, like the Maruyama's, make those relationships eternal.

One of our mother investigators, Yudai Miyagi, also had great news
last week, as he passed one of his big English tests. I'd go into more
detail about why it's important, but I don't really understand either,
so suffice it to say it's great for him. As we all helped him study
for it beforehand, he also came to us on various occasions and we
prayed together for his success. I know and he knows that God heard
and answered every one of those prayers. As He helped Yudai with what
was important to him, He has helped me with numerous personal things,
big and small in my life, and He will help every single one of us, if
only we have the faith to ask.

That about covers the big news from last week. I'm sad to leave it
behind. Okinawa has had amazing members and faith filled missionaries.
I've been blessed to see the hand of God guiding this His work here.
It is His work, and He is personally involved. Our Father in Heaven
loves each and every one of His children so much, and the only thing
we have to do is turn ourselves into His instruments. It's tough, but
I promise it's the most rewarding thing we can do.

Love you all,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse







Week 50: July 17, 2017 - Time Flies, At Least I think it does...

Hey everyone!

The best thing about Okinawa right now is probably the fact that we
are too busy to enjoy the heat!

But being serious, sometimes I feel like I need to slow down more, and
embrace the fact I'm living on a tropical island. It's crazy! I'm
thousands of miles from home, spending all my time with a Japanese
Elder, speaking a language I have no right to be speaking after less
than a year. If this isn't the blessing of the Lord, I don't really
know what is.

Delving into the meat, this past week wasn't actually that eventful.
Elder Ishizu and I spent a lot of our time focusing and thinking about
some of the less active and recently baptized members in the area.
Which translates to biking around to lots of them to talk, and help
them continue growing and embracing their faith. One of the most
disheartening things I've seen has been people who know Christ, who
have felt his love, and then forget it. They chose to stop reading the
scriptures, to stop praying, and to stop working. I don't think I've
met anyone who said living the gospel was easy, or that going on a
mission was easy, or that changing your life was easy. But I have met
countless numbers of people who have said that it was all worth it.
The amazing part of Gods plan is that no matter how much effort we put
in, we are always in debt to Him, because He rewards us for every drop
of effort we exert. I feel better when I work, even a little, because
it's what He asked me to do. It applies to missionaries, to those who
have lost the hand of fellowship, to those who are still active. Our
role is to work, not necessarily because our work will amount to
things we see, but simply because without us, the world loses one more
opportunity for good, for love, for life. I just keep remembering the
importance of attitude, and how important it is to choose.

I'm also learning how hard it is to be on top of your game, day in and
day out, 24/7. As mentioned, I love Elder Ishizu to death, just as I
do Elder Barker and Elder Dibble. But it's busy, and people are
stressed and stretched thin at times. Again, as mentioned above, when
we choose to focus on Christ, everything works in the end. The trick
is just remembering to make the choice.

I love being here, and am truly blessed to be with such amazing people
(and lizards!). Love you all, and thank you for your emails!

Elder Woodhouse