Friday, November 17, 2017

Week 67: November 13, 2017 - Winter?

So Elder Zeller and I have been having many discussions on when
winter, and by extension, Christmas, starts. Out on Amami the weathers
bright and warm, so weather can't help us. We don't have thanksgiving
(though pday will be on thanksgiving, next Thursday, instead of
Monday), so that can't end fall. But, they do play Christmas music in
Japan. When we went shopping today, blasting through all the isles was
classic 'Sleigh ride', 'Rudolph', and 'Santa Claus is coming to town'.
So, I think I've caved, before the turkey was even carved, but it's
crazy to be out in winter again!

In addition to finding Christmas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,
we also were able to work through our English class to find more
people interested in their divine potential! Before English this week
we met with Chika, an older gentleman that's been around missionaries
forever. But, somehow, he has never been in the right situation to
listen to the message before. As we talked, he brought forth all types
of questions, central among them the possibility of him meeting his
parents again. I was so glad that we could answer in the affirmative,
that yes, through the grace and mercy of God we all can meet our
parents, our friends, and all others who have passed on, as we choose
to follow Him in this life. It's an amazing promise, but it lit up his
face so much, and was a pleasure to share.

It's experiences like that and Nishihara, another person that we have
started to work with, that make the dark parts, the hard parts, the
slow parts, all disappear. To be able to sit across the table from
someone who can't logically believe God exists, and to have the
knowledge that He does is something that's priceless. Logic alone can
neither prove nor disprove the existence of a divine being. There are
to many variables. But we all have the power to feel that in our
hearts, to have that testimony develop through the small things, such
as simply asking Him. He will answer.

I've been lifted by angels and all of your prayers, and I love all of
you! You help me remember that as we turn to God, all our problems,
even related to bikes, disappear!

Elder Woodhouse

Week 66: November 6, 2017 - November?

It's crazy to think of how fast time goes by. I got to Amami in
August, now it's November, and somehow the weather hasn't really
changed. It's odd to be somewhere without the crisp change into fall,
but it does make it easy to get around. No digging through snow, no
putting on layers and layers of clothes, just a quick hop onto a bike
and we are off. One of the simple blessings of missionary life.

Some of the other blessings are going about and talking to all of the
amazing people on this island. It's odd, because there have been so
many missionaries on this island, talking to everyone, yet God uses
different circumstances to prepare all of His children. One of the
things that I noticed this week was how unique everyone we talked to
was. One lady just opened right up to us, and told us how her and her
daughter had been squabbling, but she felt good as she met us. Another
man invited us in randomly, because he had never met missionaries, but
wanted to know how to believe in God. And still another lady spent ten
minutes explaining Japanese to the two random white kids from America
sharing a message of hope about God. All different, all special, and
everyone prepared just for me and Elder Zeller to talk to them. God
know his children individually, and He knows the traits of us as his
servants. If we try, and ask, I learned this week that He will put
those we can help in our paths. Be it a big or small thing, we always
have the power as individuals ourselves to brighten others lives.

I honestly don't have much else than to say it was a good week. We
were able to work with the guiding angels of God, and I feel happy.
There isn't anything better than being able to wake up with a smile on
your face, because you know that today is going to be a good day.

Love all of you!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Week 65: October 30, 2017 - Halloween comes early in Japan

Well, due to the timing of everything, and more storms, events being
canceled and the such, it's great to be able to email everyone again!

Sorry to be earlier than expected, but we received surprise notice
last week after emailing that after prayer and discussion, not only
would we not be going to Fukuoka for the conference, but about half
the mission would be staying in their respective areas. It's already
turned out to be a divine decision, because we didn't even have a boat
to leave on last night! In the aftermath of yet another typhoon, the
waves are still choppy to this hour.

But, even though we've been sandwiched between typhoons, the middle of
the week was clear and dry, and that means English class! Specifically
this week, it meant Halloween! Crazy that this is my second time being
in the field for a holiday, but this time was just as fun, if not
better. We over doubled our standard attendance for English, and got
to work with a lot of the members and families on the island to make a
crazy party. Among those in attendance were Chan, Son, and Dwin, (as
close as I can spell it) our Vietnamese friends, who we met last week,
and who loved talking with all the members and students. Because of
that friendship, we also got to meet them and teach them more about
the gospel on Sunday, which was a miracle because the missionaries
didn't even invite them! God has children prepared wherever we are, if
we are searching.

Our other miracle was Shoko, who we were able to meet after she came
to church last week. Out of her own desire, and of course help through
the Holy Ghost, she has already read most of 1st Nephi. As we met her,
we were able to talk more about the application part of reading,
something that I've realized is essential to our growth. Only by
pondering the words of Christ, and then feasting upon them, and action
to internalize, to make them ours, do we find the full benefit and
spiritual nutrition that they can bring up to us.

I love being out here, and I'm praying for all of you back home. Love you all!

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Week 64: October 23, 2017 - Typhoons, again!

Hey everyone!

It's a great time to be down on the island of Amami! We were scheduled
to have another typhoon come through, and hit us over Sunday. Knowing
this, we started to worry about what effect it would have on our day,
on church, and, especially after we had Kumamoto promise he would come
to church, but only if it was sunny. So in the middle of all this, we
prayed for the weather to lighten up, and while it was windy, there
was scarcely a cloud in the sky all day, and we were able to continue
with the Lords work, and see even more miracles.

Even with the weather going crazy, with sun, rain, and winds, Elder
Zeller and I have been able to meet a lot of the amazing people on the
island. One example of this was over the weekend, where we were
walking down the road, and someone calls out to us. As we turn around,
there were two girls, speaking to us in English. From that, I learned
that there is an international school on Amami, for learning Japanese!
Our two friends were both from Vietnam, and will be here for a year,
but to run into them is just one of the random miracles of the Lord.

Our other big miracle is the growth of Shoko, one of our investigators
that we have had trouble getting in contact with recently. This past
week, even in the winds and stormy weather, she was able to come to
church. And not even that, but she has been reading from the Book of
Mormon from the time we gave it to her! It reminds me of the power of
the Book of Mormon, and the fact that you can grow and learn by
reading and pondering it. The truths within help us to cleanse and
prepare ourselves, putting on Gods armor to guide and protect us.

Lastly, next week we will be going up to Fukuoka for a Mission
Conference, so we won't be emailing next week on Monday, but I should
be able to keep everyone updated next Wednesday. I love you all, and
pray for your health and safety.

Love you all,

Elder Woodhouse

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Week 63: October 16, 2017 - Beaches and Transfers!

Hey everybody,

Sorry for the late email this week, but today was transfer
announcements, which for all intents and purposes means that I have
finished one more transfer as a missionary! It's crazy, because I feel
like it's only every other week that we get calls, and Elder Zeller
basically just barely got here. But, thankfully, I get to spend
another transfer with him, as no one will be leaving the island. So
one more transfer of watching the hand of the Lord with Elder Johnson,
Elder Zeller, and Elder Ehlert!

It's crazy, because we are definitely in the stages of being  blessed.
The quickest example is from only last night, when our plans fell to
pieces, and Elder Zeller and I were left with time, and out of things
to do. So, we prayed, took off on the streets, and less than 5 minutes
later, ran into Sakae, one of the investigators me and Elder Jo has
found, on a back road we never take. It took an amazing miracle to
find him, as he came to church, and then another one to run into him
again. Sadly, we don't have any contact information for him, so I have
no news on when we will be able to meet him again, but I know that we
were guided last night. As Elder Rasband stated in his conference
address, coincidence isn't a word in the vocabulary of God.

That's almost been the theme of the last six weeks. I've found as we
try to do the right thing, something good happens. Our life gets
better. And not only ours, but also that of those we have been blessed
to work with. Another example from last week is working with a lady
named Horita. The first time we meet her, she invited us in for a full
meeting and lesson, and every time we meet her her faith grows even
more. When we taught on Wednesday, she told us that she feels better
when we come. She can't explain why, and to be honest, I don't think
anyone can. Explaining the power of the Spirit, which testifies of
truth and brings light unto everyone's soul, and why and how it works,
is really difficult. But I do know that her feelings come as a result
of hearing truth, of knowing that she is a beloved daughter of God,
and He knows her.

As a side note, being transfer p-day, we also went to the beach!
Attached, at long last, are some pictures!

Love you all,
Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Week 62: October 9, 2017 - General Conference!

Even though it's a week late, I love General Conference!

That was by far the highlight of the past week, and the outpouring of
faith and the spirit that it brought upon us. I embrace every chance
we have to hear from the leaders of the church, called of God and
holding his authority, and the chance to apply their advice in our
lives. Something that I felt was especially accented was the
importance of following the council of our living prophet, Thomas S.
Monson, and READ THE BOOK OF MORMON. It is the standard of our faith,
and a key component in keeping ourselves moving on the path of light.

As an example of the importance of that faith, Elder Zeller and I had
only had an alright week up until Conference. Obviously we were trying
to find all of Gods children, but for whatever reason we weren't
finding the people we expected to. However, after Conference, and
feasting upon the living words of Christ, we were bolstered. There are
angels, walking not just with the missionaries, but with every single
person trying to walk the path of righteousness, to do the right
thing. Walking with them, we were guided to various people prepared to
hear His words, including an international building. I never knew that
other foreigners even lived on this island! We are not even on
mainland Japan, but I was blessed to be able to speak in Japanese with
a person from Vietnam and Nepal, among other countries, and share the
gospel. It's amazing to think of how many coincidences happened to
lead us there, but of course, as we learned in Conference, there
aren't really coincidence when God is involved.

Not much else to report, but as always it is amazing to serve God in
the reaches of the world. I love you all!

Elder Woodhouse

Friday, October 6, 2017

Week 61: October 2, 2017- It's beginning to feel a lot like fall!

How's everyone doing?

It's great to get to email again, and hear about all of your lives. I
hope that all of you continue to have success and good fortune, and
enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying the tropical island of Amami. It
amazes me every day how much of a difference taking a step back can
have. On Wednesday, Elder Zeller and I packed a lunch to save some
time, and we walked a minute from where we were to eat on the beach.
Things like that, just stopping to smell the roses, to enjoy the land
that God has created for us, are amazing opportunities.

That about sums up how the past week has been, with small things like
that to give us the energy to keep moving on. We had yakiniku with
some of the members on Tuesday, where I introduced Elder Zeller to the
internal organs of something. It's a problem when you can't read quite
everything, but we are pretty sure our trip involved heart and stomach
of either a pig or a cow, among the normal slices of meat. But the
entire trip was another chance to get to meet and work with the
members, and strengthen both our faith, and theirs.

Another interesting thing was one of my Eikawa students, who is
leaving to Australia next month. It was her last Eikawa, but no one
told us, so we didn't even get to have a party. I guess it's a simple
reminder that things we expect, don't always happen, and you need to
expect the unexpected.

God guides us, sometimes in large ways, but most of the time in the
small, simple things, things we rush by, we push aside to coincidence,
or simply forget about. I can promise that He is in all of them, and
loves each of us dearly.

Love you all,
Elder Woodhouse