Monday, April 18, 2016

Last Blog is Earth Shaking

This week was full of miracles. Unbelievable miracles. Again I can't remember the first half of the week because the second half was not only more eventful but also unbelievable. 
This will be my last email in Japan as a missionary and it is unbelievable to me how fast time has gone by. I am so grateful I had time to serve as a full time missionary and wish I had more time, but I will take the memories and the things I learned with me and hopefully use them as the Lord planned. The time I have spent with the Japanese people has only strengthened my own testimony and I know God watches over His sheep. That Jesus Christ lives and succors His people. The church has been restored through Joseph Smith. And that these are the latter days filled with angels who guide and protect.
I am sure a lot of you have heard about the Earthquake and are wondering about my experience. Here it goes.
I am not sure how much was said on the news nor how much you watched the news. I haven't seen any footage or anything but the earthquake itself was centered at Aso, a mountain in the Kumamoto zone area. The Kumamoto zone has two districts with four areas covering the main Kumamoto area. Nagamine, Kumamoto, Tsuboi, and Shimizu. I was serving in Shimizu.
When the first earthquake hit it was about 9:30 at night and we were in the middle of daily planning. When the apartment started to shake. At first I thought it was a car or a train because it started off small. Then I realized that we were on the 8th floor and it was an earthquake stood up and slid open our office door and saw that things were falling off shelves and things and realized it was a fairly large earthquake and quickly ducked underneath the dining table. It ended fairly quickly and then I heard Sato-Shimai say we have got to get out of here because after shocks will be coming. So we went downstairs and saw people on the street. Then it seemed like everyone was going back to their houses so we went back and packed a bag and went to the church because our apartment was a mess. Some members stayed at the church with us, but most of the members live too far and some went to closer schools or parks. All through the night we were waken up by earthquakes on and off through the night. The first earthquake was a 6.4.
The next day we called bishop and asked if the baptisms for Kiyomi-Shimai was still a go. He said that if she was okay with it then we would still hold it. So we tried to call her and at first no answer. Her baptism was supposed to be held at 1:30 with a pancake part, but because the gas was shut off we had to cancel it. But we were finally able to get a hold of her. And she asked what was happening today, we said if she was okay we would still like to have it. So we went to work, filled up the font. The water was green and yellow and we were able to fill it up before the water was shut off. Then she came and even during the service and talks there were aftershocks going on, the elders stayed down with the water to make sure it wouldn't drain with the shocks. And she was baptized, it was quick, sweet, but oh such a miracle and the best. For the rest of the day we cleaned our apartment a little and went and visited some less actives to see if they were all right. Another miracle is that we were able to meet a less active who wouldn't come to the door for 2 months opened it up to us and invited us in. We made sure she was okay and chatted for a while. God really opens doors, sometimes through stronger ways than I would've ever hoped. Some members came down to the church because they live in the more mountain areas and heard it would rain so came down because of mud slide dangers. So we went back to the apartment got ready for bed. The water was turned back on so some of the other sisters took a shower. I said a prayer of thanks and then a prayer of pleading that we would be safe tonight. We saw so many miracles!!!!
I remember waking up and just feeling everything shaking and it was pitch black. I crawled over to under my desk telling my companion to do the same. We were waiting for the opportunity for when the earthquake would stop and we could grab our bags that we packed the night before. We put on our shoes grabbed our bags and the water and mad dashed it down the stairs. The whole city was blacked out. The church being right across the street from our apartment we walked over. You could hear the constant shaking of the buildings and streetlights around us. We shined the flashlight down the small road which was pitch black not sure if we should go to the church or a nearby park. Two of the Shimai went in while my companion Masters Shimai and I held the bags. They came out saying that the members were there and everyone was okay. So we followed them into the church. I don't think I have prayed harder in my entire life. We knelt down in prayer all the missionaries and the members and prayed for the safety of us in the building and others in Kumamoto. We made a list of the members and investigators calling and texting making sure everyone was okay. Finally the morning came. We were rarely allowed outside because of the next 12 hours there was a possibility of another large earthquake hitting the area again. But man, have I never been happier to see the sunlight in my entire life. Literally it changed everything. I think that the gospel is a lot like that as well. Whether you know the gospel or you don't how the light of Christ makes such a difference. Especially in times of trial and tribulation. And how we take that light for granted in the peaceful and happy times. That we forget how depend we are on our Lord and Savior, whom without life would have no meaning. For the rest of the day we started gathering all the food and water we could to the church. Then we received a call from President that Elder Stevenson from the quorum of the 12 apostles saying that he wanted all the sisters in the area to evacuate immediately. So we went back to our apartment and packed. Then a member gave us a ride to the stake center. It took the mission home 5 hours to get here (it is normally a 2 hour car ride) and when they arrived we unloaded all the food and water they had for the members and the elders hopped in the car and took us to Fukuoka. We were constantly stuck in traffic as we watched millions of fire trucks drive towards the city. When we finally arrived in honbu we ate some soup it was about 3 in the morning and we all passed out. The next day we took showers, went to church, and moved to our temporary area Nakagawa in the Fukuoka zone. And our investigator was confirmed at church in Kumamoto!!!!!
It has just been a week full of miracles. I can't even believe it. This church is so true. God loves everyone His children and watches over them. Sometimes he calls us to repentance, both those that live there and the missionaries that serve there. Although I don't understand completely why I had to experience this. I am oh so grateful for the experience. I feel like a lot of things have changed and God wanted me to keep growing even until the very end. I love my family, my friends, and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Who through all of it never left mine or anyone else's side. I hope to not return to the person I was and I hope my testimony is as strong as the buildings in Japan, their foundation is definitely firm. I am grateful for missions.
Sister Johnson 

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