I feel like my love for the Japanese people has grown a lot this week. My companion and I were talking to a bunch of high schoolers yesterday when I glanced up and saw three people walking by. It was a quick look, but what I saw I can still vividly see. Two of the three were pretty messy, scary-looking people. A guy with piercings all over his face, a dark thrasher looking shirt with dark pants and dark hair. He was just a dark, scary looking guy that I would unconsciously avoid. He was probably mid to late 20s. The woman, whose hand he was holding, looked the same: kind of scary, piercings and tattoos, but I also noticed a glimmering ring on her left ring finger, the same hand that was clasping her husbands hand. Strapped to the husband's shoulders and hanging in front of his chest was one of those baby sacks, and in it was a ridiculously adorable Nihonjin baby girl, resting her head on her fathers chest, fast asleep. What a picture right? The beauty of that scene struck me. Here were these two, by typical standards, kind of unsavory people; people you wouldn't think would have their life together; people that would fit well into unsavory areas. Two people that are young, but two people that are in love, and together have a child. Wow! That is such a rare thing right? Families are scary, families are hard, families are on a downward slope. More and more people are opting out of having families. But here are these three, against great odds, ganbaru-ing it (ganbaru is a verb the means to go for it, to try your best, to hope. It sometimes takes on the connotation of a leap of faith or acting in hope). What an incredible thing! The gospel can take their uncertain lives and fill them with confidence and knowledge. The gospel can take their shaky, new, little family and turn it into a strong eternal one: a family with the potential to live together forever in pure and complete happiness. What a great thing!
We were teaching another man yesterday. He is 82 and his memory is a little shaky. He's been investigating for a long time now. Something that characterizes him is his love of photographs. He always says seeing is believing. So he puts a lot of significance in pictures and mementos and proof. It's funny because he has so much faith but he still likes that proof. So I decided to show him my family pictures (it's really easy to do because it is just on our iPads). I got to take him through 30 or so pictures from tons of different times in our lives. This was a perfect activity for him because he loves these pictures. At the end I have one of the last pictures that we have that has all five of us in it. We are standing I front of some sort of barn in the middle of Grapevine. When he saw this picture he commented on how happy we look and said that in all the pictures he saw, he noticed a genuine joy. At that moment I got to bear my testimony of temples and family and I got to tell him about eternal families. I told him that we are happy because we know that we can all be together again forever. I told him how not long after that picture was taken my brother left on his mission for two years, and then, before he got back, I left on my mission. I told him how we won't be able to all be together for about four years. That's a hard thing! I yearn to be with my family every single day. I love them so much. But it's also easy because I know that one day we will all be together again. Come what may, we will be together again, and someday we will never have to leave. We all felt the Spirit so strongly testifying of that truth. It was such an amazing feeling and I could tell that he was feeling it. Afterwards he asked me if I would print a copy of that family picture and give it to him so that he can add it to his collection. He's a good man! He posed for a picture, holding my iPad with that picture showing, that I'll send along with a couple others.
These two experiences have strengthened my testimony so much this week. I love the gospel and I love that we will be able to be together with our families forever. That is such a huge blessing. I love you all and hope you're doing well!