こんにちわ！Hey, everybody! How is it going in your various locations? I am doing quite well here in Miyakonojo, Japan!
This week has been fantastic! In Zone Training Meeting we read a missionary’s letter that President Gustafson had shared with the zone leaders, which was very good. I have been thinking a bit about that letter and the resultant training on effective planning that we had in Zone Training Meeting, and Elder Jensen and I have been working harder making our planning more effective. Previously, our planning was not as effective as it should have been and we did not necessarily have a meaningful activity planned for every hour of the day. Sometimes we had multiple-hour blocks that were only listed as something like "finding in [this] area", which finding has been good, but there are more effective ways to plan than blocking out a chunk of the day for finding. As we have worked harder on having a meaningful activity for every hour we have started to see greater success and more miracles. I think that we had started straying away from focusing our planning on people instead of just things to do. I don’t mean that we haven’t been focused on people, because we definitely have, but we apparently could have been even more focused. It’s kind of interesting, because many missionaries for some reason come to detest numbers (because they really want to focus more on people than numbers), but I have found that as I have focused more on planning our daily activities to meet our weekly goals it has helped me focus much more on finding and teaching people than on just doing different activities. As we have focused on meeting our goals it has kind of forced us to plan different activities throughout the day.
In fact, yesterday we were able to find two new investigators and taught more than half of our contacts a totsu-zen (impromptu) lesson (usually it is about 25% or less of our contacts are totsu-zen lessons). We actually ended up spending more time in one area than originally planned, but that’s alright. We make a plan for each hour of the day, but can (and should) still be flexible in allowing our plans to change throughout the day if they need to. The important thing is to be doing what the Lord needs us to do, and just being good little boys and good little girls (as Elder Bednar says).
Unfortunately, we were unable to meet with Miki-chan yesterday since she and Daisuke-kun (her less-active member boyfriend) did not come to church, even though Daisuke-kun had said they were planning on it. We tried calling both of them to follow-up, but neither responded. They are often very difficult to contact on the phone, and oftentimes our contact with Miki-chan has been through Daisuke-kun. I definitely am thinking that will have to change, because it has not been a very reliable means of contact. Miki-chan is also so close to baptism, but she needs to continue coming to church! Hopefully we will be able to contact and meet with her/them this week. We are trying to get her to bear testimony to her parents, but we think that she may be afraid to do so because she does not feel that her testimony is strong enough. We want to meet with her to reassure her that although it may be simple, her testimony still has the power to touch her parents’ hearts because the Holy Ghost will testify that what she says is true. There is so much power in pure, simple, testimony! The words that I say in Japanese are very simple, but I always feel the Spirit testify whenever Elder Jensen and I teach. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who will testify through us despite our weaknesses! God is wonderful!
Another of our investigators, Maeda-san, also said that he was going to come to church but did not. It was raining a bit yesterday and I think that his only means of transportation is by bicycle, so it is understandable that he would not desire to ride in the rain. However, hopefully we will be able to have somebody pick him up next time.
We also tried to totsu-zen visit Kawauchi-san this week so that she would not feed us again (she feeds us a lot, and we were feeling bad about eating so much food from her!). However, as soon as we got there she said she was going to go get something for us. We said that we were alright, and she really didn’t need to. She said okay, and then left to get some food for us. 🙂 She is such a sweet, old, cat lady! I don’t think that I have mentioned yet that she has two cats. One is named Riri (Lily), the other is Charo (named after a dog on a popular TV show that teaches English). Anyway, we taught some of the Plan of Salvation with a focus on the Book of Mormon and prayer. It was very good. She was unable to come to church this week because her friend (who is also investigating) that usually brings her was unable to come. We will get them to church soon!
I have also been studying more in Preach My Gospel about helping people make and keep commitments, and have realized that I am doing fairly well at inviting and following-up, but while I have made some promises, they are often-times somewhat generic, such as "Kono imashime o mamoreba, Kamisama kara shukufuku o ukeru koto ga dekiru to yakusoku shimasu." ("If you keep this commandment, you can receive blessings from God.") Therefore, I have committed myself to be more specific in the blessings that can be received through keeping commitments, and identifying ways that I have been blessed by keeping the commandments. As I focus my studies more with these things in mind I am beginning to see more ways that I have been blessed by keeping the commandments – and, of course, many ways that I can improve.
In our new missionary orientation (when I first arrived in Japan) President Gustafson asked us (the new missionaries) to focus our first three months’ studies on the Book of Mormon, Preach My Gospel, and the White Handbook. I was somewhat saddened by this at the time since I was currently reading through the New Testament, had started reading Our Heritage, and was intending to begin studying Jesus the Christ, in addition to my Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel studies. However, even though I am still looking forward to studying those things (and other words of current prophets) again after this transfer, I have seen great blessings from obeying and focusing my studies on those three exclusively. I am gaining a much, much deeper appreciation and love for the Book of Mormon. I thought I loved reading it before, but now I truly love reading the Book of Mormon! There is so much to learn, and so little time to learn it!
I am grateful to be a missionary here in Miyakonojo. It has been a wonderful experience thus far; I have been able to learn so much, and look forward to learning much more! I love the Savior!
I love you all! Have a wonderful day, a superb week, and a fantastic year!!!