Here is another excerpt from Joseph's companion's mission blog that I thought you'd all enjoy reading. I really appreciate being able to hear about some of the things that Joseph either doesn't have time to write about or doesn't think about when he sends his e-mail. Thank you to Elder Everett and his mother for sharing the link. I'm so happy that Elder Everett will be Joseph's companion through another transfer.
Elder Gandy has a sweet quote that he has hanging on his wall. It goes something to the effect of "The closer a man comes to God, the greater effort the Adversary will exert to prevent him" (yeah, I kind of forgot how it went but that's kind of close to it.) But it's so true. Every time we go and try to do what's right there will always seem to be something to distract us, stop us, side track us, or makes us feel like we're not even worthy to take part of the gospel, and there is nothing that could be further from the truth. You are all a son or daughter of God, and He is waiting for you with open arms, for whenever you finally decide to come.
Oh, speaking of adventures (before I forget) … This past Saturday we went to visit an investigator who lives in Usuki city, about an hour or so away, and stayed and watched a samurai festival there. The city is the home of the Samurai Otomo Sorin, who was the only Christian Samurai. During the time of the unification of Japan, there was an extermination order for all Christians, and Otomo Sorin created the cities of Oita to be refugee cities for what they called kakure kirisutokyou or the Hidden Christians. They had a sweet festival with people dressed up as oni (demons) and the holy warriors that slay the beast! There was also akenka matsuri or a fighting festival where they had two groups of young men gather together to pull a wheeled shrine and race toward each other with the shrines making a crisscross across the city. The whole time they had people banging on the Taiko drums and making all the noise and racket they could. It was probably one of the most Japanese things I have seen on my mission, and all in the shadow of the remains of the castle from Otomo Sorin! Cool stuff with the summer festivals all over Japan!