It’s pretty amazing how a black nametag gives you license and opportunity to love people you would never meet or know otherwise.
The past few days we’ve spent several hours at the hospital, singing for our friend, holding her hand, giving her water, and just telling her it will be ok as she cried out in pain. She has throat cancer, and probably only a few days left. She has no family and I love her so much. The Relief Society recorded themselves singing “I am a child of God – Kami no ko desu” and we showed it to her when we visited. As she heard the simple words of the children’s song, tears streamed down her face and she squeezed my hand and said she loved me, “aishite iru yo.” I couldn’t help but cry too. But life goes on.
Our young friend got permission from her mother to join the church and she couldn’t be more excited. She watched the “Testaments” at a friend’s house the other day, and while everyone else was distracted, her eyes were glued to the screen, enraptured. It was fairly impressive. It’s been amazing to see how she’s matured and grown as she learns more and more, and her relationship with her mother is slowly progressing, as well.
We’re teaching three others in their 20’s right now as well, and all of them are amazing. One studied the same thing as I did in college, one is a high school gym teacher, and one works at a Japanese sweet shop and always brings us daifuku. They are all learning so quickly and learning how to answer their own questions, which is even better.
This week we were asked to be tour guides for some Americans at a shrine sale but because it rained, no one showed up. Let me be clear, this would not have happened if it had been Japanese people. But we ended up walking around with our friend who had come to help tour guide and found a great burglar prevention system from the Edo jidai:
We had someone commit to a baptismal day and then a few days later, when we showed up at her house, she had left the Book of Mormon outside with a note that said she couldn’t study anymore and “goodbye forever.” Basically, “It’s not you, it’s me.” So that was a bit of a blow, especially considering we had also been planning together how to help her quit smoking (she had been at 20 a day).
We had lots of lessons in sign language, Spanish, English and Japanese this week—never know what language we’ll be using any given day.
One woman, the deaf one, had a very sad story. She grew up in a mountain village and one day suddenly lost her eyesight. It returned just as suddenly after a few months and it was then that she saw a Caucasian person, who wandered into their village, for the first time in her life. As World War II progressed, she started losing her hearing and would go stay at a hospital every month in a bigger city far away to get treatment from doctors. One day the hospital was bombed, and with it all the doctors, and everything plunged into confusion and poverty so she never got her hearing back.
One of her sons has died, another is in a mental institution, and she’s losing her sight once again. Yet after all that she is able to stay positive. And if she can do it, I have no excuse not to either.
Later in the week, we had a volleyball activity and a gaggle (?) of middle school volley ball players we met on the street, and invited, showed up as well, so that was fun. One person in his 20’s kept asking when I was planning on getting married so I’ll be avoiding him for the next good while.
In other news, I finally found a forest and I couldn’t be happier!