In addition to being able to talk to my mission president face to face about the troubles I was having, I also enjoyed the privileges of working in the same zone as the mission home by having a temple recommend interview this past Friday when we were in Nagoya proper for
a Zone Training Meeting. It's been two years since I went to the house of the Lord and was endowed from on high. And it's been more than a year and a half since I last had the pleasure of going there. I've heard that the temple is the Lords university, and I think I'm a lot more ready to learn than I was last time that I visited.
We had the opportunity to go help a recent convert who was baptized just before I arrived in Nakatsugawa. In the past few years, he has lived alone and his house has turned into a real disaster. So we went up with the Branch President and his wife and helped clean. There was
a lot to throw away. Bags and bags of garbage. But I made an interesting find. I found a slide rule. That's what they used before they invented pocket calculators. I don't really know how it works, I can only multiply and divide numbers on it, but I thought it was worth saving because I heard they were hard to find now, so I got permission to take it home.
Finding food has proved to be quite the challenge since my companion has a gluten intolerance and thus has to be extremely careful about what he eats. So mealtime is a bit difficult since it takes time to make food that he can eat. But at least one effect that it is having it to increase my patience. It has also made me glad that I know how to read Japanese at least decently, since we have to check all the food he buys to make sure it won't kill him.
I've heard training a new missionary was similar to parenting. Trainers are even called "dads" sometimes, and now having finally become one, I can see what they must have meant. It's really interesting to have to take care of someone in an environment where they can't take care themselves. There's a totally new language, new customs, new culture, new life, higher standards. And trying to help someone get used to all of it as well as balancing all the work that needs to be done as missionaries is monumental. But I've seen the Lord blessing me in small and simple ways as I do my best to keep the commandments.
Missionary work is still hard. I'm not sure exactly the reason that it's still so difficult for me to talk to strangers. But the Lord must not think any less of me still, because he still blesses me. I've been trying for a long time to start doing this as well as other missionaries do, but I still struggle just to even talk to one or two people every day. It's easy to pass people by when there are so few on the street. And the mission is still focusing on talking to as many people as you can every day, so there's a lot of pressure, but I'm trying to move forward, and not to get discouraged.
I've served with a lot of missionaries, but even before I transfer places, I guess I have a reputation for being nice. I hear that from a lot of places. Before my mission, I never really thought of myself as someone nice. I was always the "smart" guy. The one who knew lots of stuff. But I've just tried to be nice and friendly to people. I wouldn't ever consider myself a great missionary. I can't do all the things that I feel like a missionary should be able to do. But I can say the I'm a better person than I was before I left on my mission. I think I can say that I've done my best within the various situations that have confronted me. So, maybe I'm not such a bad missionary like I once thought.
I'm doing good. I don't want to go home early, but I am glad that the end is in sight.