Written by Elder Erik Anderson
Here is one of my favorite stories.
Elder Orme was my trainer in my bean area, Takayama. As you know, Elder Orme is a very diligent and hard working missionary, and a friend. I remember sprinting just to keep up with him. After morning study, we went to the front door to pray. (We always did that before dendoing.) We particularly asked for guidance and to find a new investigator. We opened the door…HEAT WAVE!! It was only 10:00 in the morning! And it proved to be one of the hottest days of my entire mission. We biked in neighborhoods around the mountains for about two hours in the blaring, hot sun, looking intently and persistently for a new investigator. NO one would even come to the door. It was either too hot for them to even get up, or they weren’t home. You can imagine how tired (and discouraged) I was getting.
Elder Orme and I decided that since absolutely no one was coming to the door, we wouldn’t let it discourage us, and we weren’t about to quit. So we decided to do “Adventure dendo.” My favorite form of dendo! We found a good looking mountain and decided to “check it out.” We hiked up with our bikes (because the route was too steep for our mountain bikes.) While hiking, I thought about and saw an image of a house on a corner that I wanted to dendo on the way down. It just looked right. Then reaching the top, sweat everywhere, we found a small park and shrine at the top of the small mountain, overlooking all of Takayama. Maybe after about 10 minutes of taking pictures, marveling over Takayama, taking in the beauty and sharing how grateful we were for the area and for our missions, we decided to head back down the maintain a different route. Going down this very steep, narrow, and winding road, trying my best to keep up with Orme’s apparent racing, and trying not to kill myself, I saw a house on a corner that I had seen before. I whistled at Orme.
I did feel a little badly that I had stopped his spontaneous race and he had to hike back up to me for reasons unknown. When he got up, I pointed, saying, “I want to dendo this one.” He, of course, smiled and all he said was “Let’s go.” I’ll never forget the faith, love, and trust that he had in me. When we got there, a mother came to the door, and she was so surprised to see two sweaty gaijins all the way up a huge hill at her door. She had many questions, like “What are you doing here?” and “Why is your Japanese so good?” She was obviously talking to Orme…Ha Ha!
The whole time I just stood there with a massive grin on my face, kind of like a hunting dog that just sniffed out and pinned a pheasant. And I wasn’t catching any Japanese! Hida-Takayama ben? I did ask her though, in the best MTC language that I could piece together, if she had ever thought of the purpose of life. She responded, “Yes.” And “Actually, I tried praying to God a couple days ago because I don’t know what my purpose is. And I wanted to know where I go when I die. And I just don’t feel like the Buddist church is true. Nobody knows why we have all these traditions. And now, here are you guys!” (We found a kin-jin!) She intently listened to everything we had to say, despite how hot and muggy it was. She asked almost too many questions. So we set up a next appointment.
When we were leaving, we asked if we could say a prayer. Because she thought the entrance and shoe area was disrespectful, she asked if we wanted to come in to a different room. We declined. So she yelled, “Wait!” and ran to the other room to turn off the TV. Then she hurriedly came back to sit “seiza” on the ground for the prayer. During the prayer, I remember thinking that what I was feeling was true joy. When we were done we asked how she felt. She said, “Good, peace, happy,” and that she liked the feeling.
Oshita Shimai was baptized shortly after.
|Elder Orme (left), Sister Oshita, and Elder Anderson|
Sister Baird, it is stories like these that have taught me so many valuable principles that I will continue throughout my life. Principles like love. She was my first investigator and I’ve learned to cherish patience, persistence, endurance, faith, prayer, trust, and how to give my all. I love my mission! It has proven to be the best two years. Even more so, I love the people here and the opportunity I’ve had to be a servant of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and change their lives through this wonderful gospel and message. You and President Baird will forever be a part of me in this unforgettable experience.