こんにちは！ How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in 都城、日本 (Miyakonojo, Japan)!
This week has been wonderful! Kuzuguchi san was baptized on Saturday and confirmed in church on Sunday. It has been wonderful to be involved in her conversion, and I hope to continue to be involved in strengthening her. She is wonderful. After church on Sunday the branch was setting up for a District Relief Society event that is happening later this week, and the Relief Society was preparing something for that event. Kuzuguchi shimai just jumped right in and started helping out; she is already one of the strongest members in our branch! She had definitely been well-prepared by the Lord to receive the gospel. By the time I arrived in Miyakonojo she was certainly ready for baptism – and probably could have been baptized long before now. She had been invited by many different missionaries. However, Kuzuguchi shimai confided to Elder Jensen and me that we did it right – that when we invited her to be baptized she actually felt something.
Like Ammon in the Book of Mormon I may appear to be boasting, but also like Ammon I am not boasting of my own abilities. I definitely know that I am very imperfect in many ways, and have much to learn. However, I know that through the power of the Holy Ghost, which bore witness to her heart as we taught and testified, Elder Jensen and I have been able to help one of God’s children come to the waters of baptism. I quite vividly remember the lesson in which we extended the baptismal invitation. It was a long lesson, and we had to work hard and diligently. However, I know that the Spirit was present as we continued to listen to her concerns and then testified of the truth. I felt it quite powerfully, and I remember making a promise to Kuzuguchi shimai that if she would commit to be baptized on a specific day then God would help her achieve that goal, and would provide a way. At that time I think it appeared impossible to her, especially since her work schedule is so busy that she had not been able to attend church for months. However, over the weeks that have followed since then, as she has exercised her faith and diligently worked for baptism, the Lord has provided the way. It was a miracle that she was able to get work off on both Saturday and Sunday this week. I am so grateful to the Lord for fulfilling that promise to Kuzuguchi shimai in providing the way for her to be baptized.
Some of our district sang at the baptism. From left to right, back to front: Sister Herrmann and Sister Bush; Sister Kuzuguchi; Elder Jensen and myself; Elder Thurman; Elder Pessoa and Elder Cascardi (they are Brazilian; they were sad that Brazil lost, but are happy that Germany beat Argentina).
Today we will receive our transfer calls. I can hardly believe it has already been another six weeks! This marks about 4 1/2 months in Japan! How time flies.
Last week was a bit busy with the temple trip, district meeting, zone training meeting, and looking at apartments for the new shimai that will be coming to Miyakonojo. All our different activities did not leave much time to go out and dendo! (However, I know that we are blessed for sacrificing our time). Yesterday we visited Maeda san, another of our investigators who also currently has a baptismal date. He has been very off-and-on, and the past few times we have visited him we were considering dropping him depending on how the lesson went – and then after the lesson both Elder Jensen and I would feel that Maeda san is very much in need of the gospel right now, but he does not yet realize it. Yesterday’s lesson again reaffirmed that feeling. The reason that we have been considering dropping Maeda san is because he has not been keeping his commitments. However, in our weekly planning last week as we discussed his situation, we decided to scale back the commitments that we are inviting him to keep and start again with very easy, very kantan (simple) commitments. Previously we had been focusing on inviting him to church. Of course we would still like him to do that, but yesterday we decided to simply ask him to read a very short and simple chapter in the Book of Mormon – Moroni 6 – which teaches about baptism and church attendance. Prior to asking him to make that commitment we read again Moroni 10:3-5 and discussed it with him. During the lesson I was very impressed with Elder Jensen’s boldness; previously – especially with Maeda san – I think we have not been quite bold enough. However, yesterday we asked Maeda san if he had read the Book of Mormon since the missionaries gave it to him (in February or March), and he had read a little but not for some time. So, Elder Jensen just asked him very straightforward, "When do you think you will be able to read?" I think Maeda san was a little taken aback by the directness of the question, and responded that he would be able to that day. So, we asked him to start by reading that short chapter in Moroni, and said that when we returned again we would like to discuss it with him. I thought that it was a very good lesson, and I definitely want to continue to be so bold. Sometimes I think that as missionaries we may focus only on being bold in declaring, but forget that we must also be bold in inviting. In fact, boldness in inviting is probably even more important. That is something that I am going to work on.
I love this work! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to dedicate all of my time to the Lord. I know that this is His work, and I know that this is His church – the only church that has rightful claim to the authority of God. I know I possess that power and authority as embodied in the Priesthood with which I have been conferred, and that as a representative of Christ I can apply that Priesthood power in miraculous ways to the salvation of God’s children. This is the Lord’s work, and He is leading it.
愛していますよ！ (I love you!)
p.s. For those who are wondering: no, we do not yet have I-Pad minis in our mission (although there are rumors going around that we may receive them this fall, but who knows?). The Tokyo South Mission has them, though (they are the first). We will see…
A very sunny day: