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!

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

Week 49: July 10, 2017 - Crazy times in Oki

So we had a pretty busy week, and I'll see if I can even write any of
it legibly.

Our week started with Family Home Evening with the Japanese ward,
which is fun because we get to work and talk with some of the members
in a one on one setting instead of just after church. It's always a
fun activity, once a month, but this week was especially faith
building, because the message was about missionaries! Specifically,
one of the members shared about an experience where he and his
companion prayed at every street corner for guidance. And lo and
behold, they met one of Gods daughters who was waiting for them. It's
really cool to hear, and realize that I, and everyone else, work with
the same God, who cares about us all individually.

The next big thing was Thursday, when Sachiko and Takuya Maruyama
passed their baptismal interviews! I've been blessed to work with them
pretty much my entire time on Okinawa, and it's clear they are making
the right choice. But more than that, you can see the light of Christ
shining from them, as they have learned and applied more and more of
his teachings into their lives. I'm really excited for them, and their
upcoming baptism on the 29th.

And speaking of baptisms, the other elders had one on Saturday!
Brother Filberto Noriega was baptized, after moving to Okinawa in the
military and seeking out the missionaries a little over four weeks
ago. His life and actions so far are a testimony of his faith, and I'm
excited for him going forward. Of most importance, he also has been
able to receive the Holy Ghost, and have that personal guidance from
God, whenever he needs help. Listening and being a part of these
experiences once again reinforced our loving Heavenly Father, who
cares and looks out for each of His children.

As honorable mentions, the Japanese ward also had an Imohori, or
potato pull, Saturday morning, where all the kids and missionaries
were invited to come and help dig up one of the members potato fields.
Fun, and great work in the fields. Also, my bike decided to break
randomly on Friday, but it's in the shop now, and because of all our
service and other opportunities, it hasn't been a problem yet. Last,
but not least, I also need to thank Elder Ishizu, not for anything
specifically, but just for being an amazing companion. He goes
through a lot, but he's always smiling, joking, being random and
funny, and it's safe to say that between him and the busy days, I
haven't had a boring day this transfer.

For pictures, I found Elder Rowe on p-day, after living with him in
Yamaguchi for three months, and part of our district on the 4th.

Love you all,

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Week 48: July 3, 2107 - Zone Conference and Interviews

Welcome to summer!

So, my big realization for the week was the fact that even though
everyone around me is and old missionary, and going home sooner rather
than later, I'm not! I've got plenty of time left to help the people
of Japan, and I've been blessed to be able to use all of it! So with
that out of the way, the mission is back to a day to day party, the
chance to be able to focus on moving one foot at a time. It makes life
simpler, and makes everything much more fun!

But besides that realization, the past week doesn't have many amazing
pieces of news. We had the chance to gather with the Ginowan and Naha
Zones for interviews and zone conference, which is standard, but it
also meant that the two far reaching islands, Miyako and Ishigaki, had
the chance to come up to Okinawa. As it happens, Elder Erickson and
Elder Harris, from Omuta and Yamaguchi happened to be on Miyako, and
so I got to meet them. Missionary time is crazy, because it feels like
it's been forever, but neither of them have actually been gone that
long. Nonetheless, it was really fun to meet people I had lived with
before, and hear about their experiences on the Lords errand.

Our other miracle was fast and testimony meeting with the military
branch. We have had a couple of missionaries leaving recently, and
more on the way, so our first speaker was the father of one of the
soon to be departed elders, bearing his testimony for his son. But it
was amazing, because he gave a beautiful testimony of getting off of
the edge. He had lived basically a Dry-Mormon lifestyle, because his
wife was a member, without getting baptized until 5 years ago. But in
his word, he has been soaring through the air from the moment he
entered the font. There is no way to describe the benefits of living
the gospel with the accompaniment of the Holy Ghost without
experiencing it yourself. It's like describing salt without using the
word salt, or salty, or anything of the like. You just need to act.

Well, it's fun to be out, and I love all my time I've had here, both
past and future, of things left to come. Love you all,

Elder Mitchell Woodhouse

Week 47: June 26, 2017 - Another Week in the Books

Greetings from the warm, tropical island of Okinawa!

Today, I will be introducing you to one more week in the life of Elder
Woodhouse, and the amazing power of God which guides this amazing
work! So hold on and grab your fans, because things are heating up
down here!

This past week was actually a pretty normal week, with the exception
of having limited time to actually go out and work. The key reason for
that was our missionary planned, missionary presided, missionary run,
aptly named "Missionary Night" which we put on for the Okinawa ward.
The event happened Saturday night, and was way fun. We basically set
up a family home evening type event, and invited the ward to come as a
way to meet all of the missionaries, especially because we had three
new ones transfer in. After all, sometimes the white shirts and ties
scare people away, and we aren't scary at all! But by having people
come and talk to them, we have been able to meet and work with more of
the ward. And as one of the things I've learned on Okinawa, it's the
importance of working with the members. President Hinkley taught that
when missionaries work alone, knocking on doors all day, they will
have success. But, when they work with the members, the success will
multiply. In my mind, this is really because the gospel is for
everyone. We as missionaries don't bring a scary message. It's a
message of joy, of truth, of love. It's full of the goodness of God,
and I haven't meet a single person that doesn't want to learn of
goodness and knowledge. However, I've met lots of people scared of the
unknown, that are scared of change. They are scared of two random guys
on their doorstep, wondering what they want, why they are here. They
just don't understand, and because of that are scared of trying to,
because that risks failure. And those are all natural feelings! That
why the member support system of the church is so essential. That's
why we need to have personal testimonies of our relationships with our
brothers and sisters, next door and around the world. When you have
friends, when the members help introduce people to the gospel, it
takes away some of the fear, and allows more room for the Spirit of
God to work. Right now, all of the people we have the honor of working
with as missionaries have come from members. I love being able to
learn things like this, and especially have the opportunity to work on
Okinawa as I learn. I am so blessed to be able to be here, to teach
those who are ready to listen, and have ears to hear. To get to work
with Elder Ishizu, and truly feel as if we are representing our Savior
as we talk with people. Their isn't anything that can compare.

I guess that was a long ramble, but it is true. I love being here on
Okinawa, as a missionary for the Lord. I know He knows me, just as He
knows all of His children, and loves and guides them daily. He wants
to hear from us, and He does listen when we pray, when we study His
life and teachings through the Bible and Book of Mormon. There is
nothing I would rather be doing, no where I would rather be than where
I am right now.

Sorry not to have pictures this week, I'll send them next week for sure!

Elder Woodhouse