Konnichiwa! O genki desu ka? Watashi wa sugoi desu! I am doing wonderfully here in the Provo MTC.
The past week has been great. Yesterday we had a substitute sense in the evening, Sheehan kyodai (Brother Sheehan). Subarashi deshita. Sheehan kyodai helped us learn about applying everything we teach to Iesu Kirisuto no aganai (the atonement of Jesus Christ). One thing that he said that struck me is that if we as senkyoshi (missionaries) teach my kyudosha (investigator) the lessons in Preach My Gospel without centering those lessons on the atonement, then the kyudosha will swiftly become confused about what the gospel really is and how it can help them with their individual concerns. However, when we teach the gospel as it is meant to be taught – centered on Iesu Kirisuto no aganai – then the kyudosha will understand how it applies and everything will make sense. In other words, without the Atonement the commitments that we invite people to keep – such as keeping the word of wisdom or the law of chastity – will not make sense to them. However, when they understand what the Atonement can do for them and know how keeping commitments will help them apply the Atonement in their lives, the kyudosha will be able to develop a greater desire to keep their commitments so that they can apply the Atonement in their lives and find greater joy. We do not invite people to keep commitments just because doing so will allow them to be happier (which it will). We invite them to keep commitments because doing so will help them come unto Kirisuto, which will enable them to be happier and have great joy.
Sheehan kyodai is also going to Nihon (Japan) at the same time as us for a BYU exchange program (like Ryan is doing in Hong Kong). This is the first time he will be in Nihon without a doryo (companion), and he is a little nervous about being the only member (and the only person from Utah) attending the University there.
This past Sunday David T. Warner kyodai (Managing Directorof the Priesthood Department) and his wife spoke at the fireside. Subarashi deshita (it was wonderful)! Warner shimai (Sister Warner) taught that we can always be happy, no matter where you are. Wherever you serve the Lord will always love you and the people whom you are serving.
Warner kyodai taught about effectual doors (D&C 100:3; 112:19). He taught that the "effectual door" spoken of in these scriptures is the members with whom we serve, and that we as senkyoshi should pray now for the members with whom we will serve so that they can be that effectual door by being inspired to invite their friends to meet with the senkyoshi. Warner kyodai quoted from 1 Cornithians 16, and stated that like Paul, we as senkyoshi are "on a journey to do the Lord’s work and you (the members) will bring us along." He also taught the Lord is preparing the members to be an effectual door for us.
Warner kyodai also told a story about his stake, where he is the stake President. He was preparing to go to a meeting concerning missionary work in the stake with the stake Presidency one night, and was about to go out the back door when somebody knocked on the front door. His wife opened the door, and it was the missionaries in an unexpected visit! The missionaries told Warner kyodai that they had been eating lunch when the Spirit prompted them to go to his house and tell him, "We are here to help you set the members in your stake on fire regarding missionary work." Warner kyodai was initially quite surprised, but then asked if they had any plans for the next few hours. They did not (their previous plans having fallen through), so they spent the next two hours with the stake presidency discussing what they could do to set the members on fire. Those missionaries now teach an average of 50 lessons per week. That is possible in every mission if the kyokaiin (members) and senkyoshi work together.
I had an interesting experience today concerning Warner kyodai. Today my doryo and I (along with some other senkyoshi in our district) decided to do sealings at the temple (neither of us had done sealings before). Interestingly, the officiator’s name was Warner kyodai. We inquired whether he is related to anybody in Provo, and lo and behold! we heard his son speak in the fireside on Sunday (of which I have just been speaking).
In Tuesday’s devotional we heard from Don R. Clarke choro (of the Seventy) and his wife. Clarke shimai taught that we should not be afraid because this is the Lord’s work and He is actively leading it. This work will not fail.
Clarke choro taught about "stopping by" and "checking in," which are the two things that were essential in kyudosha joining and inactive members returning to the church. They decided to come or return because the missionaries "stopped by" or a member "checked in". One thing that he taught is regarding D&C 100:1-4, regarding blessings that come to families through missionary service. He cautioned us that we will only have the right to ask Kamisama (God) to help our kazoku (family) if we are faithfully and diligently trying to help His children. He also taught that we must seek to have Enos-like faith, and that to obtain such faith so we must must pray as Enos prayed; we must pour out our souls to Kamisama. Something else he taught is that we must decide now that we will change lives.
Here are some final points that Clarke choro made that stuck out to me:
Some people may have told you that your mission will be muzukashi (difficult) and you most likely will not have many baptisms. That is exactly what everybody told the sons of Mosiah (do you think they believed what they were told?).
As you help others change, they will in turn change you.
Diligence is worth much more than intelligence.
I don’t have much more time, but I want to write a bit about something we learned in a meeting about Nihon the other day. I don’t remember his name, but the meeting was led by a kyodai that has been involved in missionary work in Nihon for the past 17 years. He taught us that Nihon is the starting point for missionary work in Asia. In a meeting one of the prophets displayed a map of the world on which he had drawn arrows depicting how the gospel would spread throughout the world. There were arrows drawn from Nihon to various Asian countries, including China and North Korea. We may not know how the Lord will spread His fukuin (Gospel) throught the Earth, but we do know that He will.
We also learned a few things from the words of Heber J. Grant, who opened Nihon for missionary work in 1901. Here is a small excerpt from the dedicatory prayer that he offered:
"This (meaning Nihon) is to be one of the most successful missions ever established in the church…the harvest is going to astonish the world in years to come."
Later, after Heber J. Grant was called as President of the Church, he confided in his daughter that the dedicatory prayer was "the greatest prayer he ever offered in his entire life." This is from a prophet of God, who has prayed many times over very important subjects.
My testimony of my mission in Nihon grows every day. I know that Kamisama has called me to serve the Nihonjin (people of Japan). This is His work, and no matter how muzukashi or impossible things may appear, nothing is impossible with Kirisuto. Nihon is often considered one of the least-baptizing missions in the world, but I know that in the Lord’s work previous performance should not limit future expectations. The only limits on this work are those that we place on it through our own incorrect expectations. The Lord is not limiting His work. He is moving it forward, and we must pray to catch the vision that He has for the areas where we are called to serve. As both kyokaiin and senkyoshi come together and set each other on fire in this work, miracles will happen.
Iesu Kirisuto ga watashitachi no sukuinushi to aganainushi da to shitte imasu. Kamisama ga Ten no Otosama da to shitte imasu.
I know that this is the Lord’s work, and that as we rely on him we will see miracles.
I love you! Have a great day, a wonderful week, and a subarashi year!
Tyler Madsen choro