Hey Mom and Dad,
It snowed about 15 inches or so over the course of Saturday and Sunday. It makes getting around by bike wicked fun and a bit of a pain. But it warmed up yesterday afternoon and it's sunny today, so at least the roads have enough clear space that we can ride in relative safety. If I can, I'm going to try and find a pair of boots or something that I can wear. I've stolen a pair of overshoes and a pair of bigger rain boots from the house here, but those look rather strange to wear if I'm not wearing my rain gear, and they also have the draw back of not keeping my feet very warm. I was thinking if I could find some decent looking and decent priced boots that would keep things warm and dry it would be nice. If I do find something, I'll purchase it with my debit card, just heads up. If I don't find anything, then no worries.
I feel like I'm losing my mind. Time is going so fast. Another transfer has passed and in just a week it will mark one year from when I entered the MTC. Elder Hoshino and I are both staying in Toyooka, as it were. There are a few changes in the Zone with folks transferring out and in.
Yesterday I conducted Sacrament Meeting in Japanese. It was definitely an interesting and fun experience. I'm sure I'll be doing it quite often from here on out. So that will be fun and it's definitely something I'm hoping to improve on. The conductor of the meeting has quite an influence on creating a spiritual atmosphere in the meeting. The tone of voice, level of formality (especially in the Japanese language), speed you talk, and the way you conduct yourself factors fairly heavily into whether an environment where answers to prayers and guidance from on high can be felt through the Holy Ghost is created. Other than conducting sacrament meeting, another responsibility I have is to help with Dendo in the branch. We don't have a Dendo Shunin (Mission Leader), and the Branch President is rather busy, so I play a supporting role there.
I wish to express my thanks for the Christmas cards from the family and neighbors. I've gotten one from Alan and Brenda, Larry and Hattie, Craig and Whitney, the Teasdales, among others. It makes me happy to see the pictures of everyone and getting the chance to see how everyone is growing.
I enjoyed the call. It was nice to talk for a bit to everyone and hear how you're all doing. I'm sure grateful that nobody has spontaneously combusted or anything like that. It's nice to not have to worry much about home and family and be able to just dendo (do missionary work). I've been meaning to send out some letters lately, by the way, and I hope to do so soon.
For whatever reason, as I'm drawing near the half-way point in my mission, I've been thinking a lot about belief. In the Japanese language especially, there's a real difference between how they interpret "I know..." and "I believe...". It's fascinating to me, but it's led me to realize a few things. Life is good. We have no reason to despair. Either there's a God in heaven or there's not. As I've chosen to test if there is a God and to follow what God has said, I have come to firmly believe that God exists. He's always kept His promises, and even when it seems like there's no reason to trust Him, just following His way has never brought me regrets. I've never seen Him, or heard His voice so I probably can't say that I know for sure He's there, but because of what I HAVE experienced, felt, and seen, I have no grounds to deny that He is not and I choose to believe that He is. I don't know or understand everything, but I don't care to. I know enough. I believe He is there, I believe and trust in what He has said, and I'm not afraid to change what I am in order to fulfill what He wants. I do believe He knows better than me about everything, so why on earth would I question His ways, character, and current or past works? I believe that as a man I can't comprehend all that God has done or will do. But I also firmly believe and have faith that trusting Him will only lead to good for me, for now and forever. Sometimes believing has been really hard for me, even as a missionary. But I've gotten comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling of taking the step into the dark, letting go of what my physical senses and brain tell me makes sense, and trusting in His ways. I do believe His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. What I believe to be God's way has only brought me joy and joy to those around me, so I aim to keep on going in His way.
Elder Kyle Hutchings