This week we had 総大会、
or general conference – a worldwide broadcast from the President and First Presidency and leaders of the church. It’s amazing how different my perceptions of the talks are and what I gain from them, completely dependent on my attitude. But I absolutely loved it. Of course, it had all been translated into Japanese, so I mostly just listened and followed along in English with the written versions of the messages, which were released a few days ago.
There were several questions they invited us to ask ourselves, some that I think are applicable to and can benefit anyone at all:
“What areas of my life do I want to strengthen so that I can strengthen others? Where do I want to be a year from now? two years from now? What choices do I need to make to get there?”
“If I make this choice, what is the worst thing that could happen?” Your [good] choices will keep you from getting off course.
“Am I truly happy?” “Does my life have meaning?”
“What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?”
“What do I need to change?” “How can I improve?” “What weakness needs strengthening?”
“It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.” And yet, “You are doing better than you think you are.”
Living in Japan, trying to figure out how to speak in a different language every day and teach people in that language, how to stick to a strict schedule, live in an apartment and spend every day with a person who may be incredibly different from you, and trying to improve every day just to be able to meet all these challenges can be difficult. But I think it’s so useful to pause every once in a while and ask yourself these questions as a check point, just to make sure you’re progressing in the direction you want to.
Other thoughts I’ve had lately: I love my family. I’m so grateful for them and feel so terrible about how little time I’ve devoted to them over the years. I definitely want to improve that when I go home to visit from now on.
And onward ~
This week in the Salinas Valley of Japan:
Today I’m going to Kamakura to visit the Big Bhudda and other historical monuments with a family we’re teaching. You’ll remember the cutest baby to ever exist graces the presence of this family.
There’s a ramen shop we pass every day that is probably the worst smelling single location I have ever passed, besides your obvious sewers and trash and manure piles. And yet it’s crowded every day – I’m totally baffled. Probably only because you can buy a huge bowl of ramen for the equivalent of $1.00, but you have to wonder what they put in that stuff.
Earlier this week, a Brazilian family we’re teaching surprised us at Sports Night with homemade Brazilian food the young girls had made by themselves for the first time. It was the cutest thing ever, and they were so excited. They counted to three and then said in perfect synchronization (in Japanese), “here is the food we made for you, please eat and enjoy!”
We found this park near our apartment and for the past few weeks have been going there every morning at 6:30 to work out. Eyring 姉妹 has been teaching me how to be better at shooting hoops while we play basketball, but she crushes me easily whenever we actually play. The court is always filled with us and several Japanese teenage guys who are probably wondering who on earth we are every time they see us.
It’s pretty funny how different our lifestyles and tastes are. When we go to the grocery store my basket is full of kimchi, konnyaku, fish, and vegetables…. And hers has gyouza, bread, rice crackers, and candy. Well, to each their own.
She also wears Christmas and other holiday socks at random occasions, and is constantly quoting movies she’s never actually seen, and many she has. And her favorite animals are sheep. Definitely never a boring day with her. I always have to be careful not to drink water around her because inevitably she’ll say something funny and I’ll start laughing and choke on my water.