March 3, 2014
It has been a really hard week for me and Sister Aso! Lots of tough lessons, tough rejections, long bike rides, hours spent talking to people/knocking houses, the death of Sister Ogata... All around, just hard. But I am sooooo lucky to have Sister Aso. I love her sooooo much. We were able to just have fun, try to laugh it off and keep trying.. We are honestly completely exhausted, but we did our best this week! Even though there were lots of disappointing moments, we weren`t disappointed in ourselves because we did the best that we could, and that is ultimately all that God asks of us. We went to go visit the Ogata family Tuesday and the daughter answered the door. She looked so upset and there were police in her home. She said that now wasn`t a good time and so we left. We were so scared and didn`t know what to do. So we called the Relief Society President but didn`t hear anything all day. The next morning, we found out that Ogata Shimai had passed away Tuesday morning. I was soooo upset because I loved that woman so much. We have been visiting her almost every week since October. We would go clean her home, endure the cockroaches, share a message and leave. We put wallpaper up in her home, we spent hours and hours trying to make her home more beautiful so they could feel the Spirit there. Every time I went there, I felt the love of God. I felt how special she was and I also just felt an infinite amount of love in return from her. We tried to help her to understand that alcohol and tobacco were not good for us. We tried to help her understand the gospel. We did everything we could for her and I think that is why we loved her so much. Thursday we had the opportunity to go to her funeral with the Relief Society President, Miyuki Shimai, and the Bishop and his wife. It was a Buddhist ceremony because all of her relatives are Buddhist. There was incense burning, little shrine things that are pretty standard I guess. So we got there pretty early and I just felt so much peace. She was so sick before she died that I knew that she had returned to our Heavenly Father, and was happy. :) I was sooo grateful for the Plan of Salvation in that moment. Then a Buddhist monk came in and began chanting and then the dreaded "GONG" that made me nearly fall off of my seat every time he hit it because it scared me so bad. I was the only non-Japanese person there, and I 110% had no idea what was going on. So then every person began going up one by one, bowing to the Ogata family and then they went to this little table in front of her dead body where they did something with incense that I was not able to see. So I turned to Miyuki Shimai and asked her- wait, is that something WE are going to be doing??!? She said yes, of course. I maybe... started to freak out a little bit. I was watching every single person like a hawk, just trying to figure out what they did at that little table. So I went up and bowed as respectfully as I knew how to the family, knowing that everybody was watching my every move and saw my little name tag that said "Jesus Christ" on it. I turned around to the table and there where these two random bowls... I moved the contents of one bowl to the next and hoped that it was the right thing to do. That ritual is so sacred to them and I literally had no idea what was going on. I went and sat down and noticed that the Bishop was kind of laughing at me. Hahaha whatever. They put food, clothes and important things to Ogata Shimai in the casket. I saw someone put in a case of cigarettes and just thought "dangit," but I couldn`t help but laugh because it was sooo true. The service ended and I was grateful to have my first Buddhist funeral service over with. It was really hard that Ogata Shimai died, and I wished that there was more that I could do for her, but we did everything we could for her and I just feel happy that she is in a better place. This last week all the ward has done is talked about how much we did to help her, but I feel like I was more blessed than she was.
Another wonderful highlight is we found a 91 year old woman to teach yesterday. SHE IS SO CUTE!!!! Hahaha
We are crazy busy and tired. However, we are happy, we are learning so much we love these people and are trying and that is all we can do!
SPRING IS COMING!!! Sakura sakura sakura
|FIRSt SIGN OF SAKURAS!!|