Companion: Elder Nakatsuka
Probably my last assignment... not sure
Well. There's been an unexpected turn of events.
Elder Nakatsuka and I had just gotten off of an exchange with the Fukuroi Elders and met the guys from the mission home at the church. We talked a bit about transfers and, of course, they didn't tell us where I was going. I've been in Shizuoka for six months and Elder Taylor has been here for four so both of us were expecting to get transferred and Elder Nakatsuka would train a new Zone Leader. As for myself I was expecting to probably get released from being a Zone Leader maybe go train somewhere. It was good to see Elder Wilson and Elder Holman. They're such good guys and both really good missionaries. And as always, being with President and Sister Ishii was the best. They truly are amazing people. We have such a great mission president!
Elder Nakatsuka and I went on exchange with Fuji the next day and Elder John came to Shizuoka with me. We had a lot of fun and got work done. We woke up on Saturday morning and got our transfer calls together. After hearing what the APs had been discussing, I was expecting an interesting change in the mission and a lot of interesting transfer assignments but I was not at all prepared for what came!
Elder Nakatsuka and I will both be transferring and Elder Taylor will stay and take my place as Zone Leader! Elder Ence will come in and be his Zone Leader companion. Elder Holman will be coming in to be with Elder Hovorka. Elder Nakatsuka will be assigned to the Ueda branch (he's going back to Nagano!) and he will be with our beloved Shizuoka Raptor, ELDER HANDLEY! He will be serving as Nagano district leader and laying waste to the forces of Satan up there.
I have been released from mission leadership and will serve in the Ise branch as branch president, likely for the rest of my mission. My companion and trainee will be Elder Brown, who has been in the mission for 6 weeks (we call them half baked beans). When we got the transfer mail I was absolutely shocked! I still have no idea what's going on. Ise 2 will be closing so it will just be me and Elder Brown. As far as Shizuoka goes, a lot of big things happened. Every companionship has changed! In the mission there are six new Zone leaders and 12 new district leaders! They have changed the system so that we have younger Zone leaders and some young district leaders. Then they try to have all of the old experienced guys train and be District Leaders because they have the biggest effect on the mission.
On Saturday, Bishop Shibahara took us to the gym in Kusanagi and we had a good lift (Bishop is HUGE). We would bench something that made us sweat and then he would get under it and toss it around in one hand! We got a lot of attention from people. lol
It was way funny! I love bishop so much.
On Sunday we had a Fast and Testimony meeting full of tears and goodbyes. I've never connected to a ward like this before. In a weird way we are all super close. After six months it's like we have become family. I'll miss these guys a lot. The congregation has grown just a little since my first talk in sacrament meeting in Shizuoka, which is all I could want. The sisters taught Sis. Kato and she got baptized. Bro. Kita announced that he was ready to be an active member again and came back to church. Hara san was sitting in the congregation. It was little a dream. I feel like my whole experience in Shizuoka has been preparing me for my next assignment. I've learned a lot about leadership and love and patience. I've been privileged to work with and be guided by some of the best leaders. The leaders of Shizuoka Ward and Stake are "mighty men of God" and they are inspired to know His will. But I know from my Shizuoka experience that God will magnify those that He calls.
I thought I knew what to do when I came to Shizuoka but through my experience here I have learned what it means to be a missionary. I'm sad that it took me this long but I now know what it actually means to be a missionary.
It's not about just being obedient. It's not about just working hard. Hard work, in and of itself, is not enough. It's about who you are. There is a difference in working hard and being a hard worker. There is a difference in doing missionary stuff and being a missionary. There is a difference between being a member and being a disciple. The difference is our will. It's not about doing the will of God, it's about doing the will of God and LIKING IT. It's about wanting to serve God more than wanting to do anything else. That means wanting to go out and OYM in the rain if that's what God wants. That means wanting to quit your job in order to come to church if that's what God wants. I would hope not to come home and find out that I had given two years but hadn't given my heart.
I believe in a God of miracles. I believe in a God of mercy. I believe that God "will provide a way that we may accomplish the thing which he hath commanded."
So even though I'm nervous, I'm not afraid. I don't know what the future holds and I have no idea what Branch Presidents are supposed to do. In no way do I think of my assignment as branch president as an accomplishment. It's not something I earned. By the sounds of this branch, leading sacrament meeting will be like leading a medium sized District Training Meeting every Sunday.
I know that as to my strength I am weak and can do nothing of myself but with God we can do all things. God will not let me down.
So in all humility I can look forward to the future with great hope and say
Bring it on.