こんにちは！ How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in 清水、日本 (Shimizu, Japan)!
This week has been fantastic!
First of all, to preface the subject: this month in our mission we have a goal of setting two baptismal dates for in each missionary companionship, and for those dates to be sometime around Christmas (i.e. sometime between December 20 and 27).
So, the other week on Halloween we met a guy named Lute, talked with him a bit, and set up an appointment to return. He wasn’t able to make the appointment, but we returned again last Wednesday and were able to talk with him a bit. We asked how he was doing, and he responded that he wasn’t doing so great. He had to stay home from work (he works at a hospital) that day because it was the day that his astrological sign (cancer, I believe) had changed over to the next one (I don’t really know anything about astrology), so he felt it was bad luck and therefore had to stay home. He has some interesting ideas. Anyway, he was a bit depressed and had been smoking and drinking all day. As we were talking with him he suddenly told us that he doesn’t think that he could become Mormon because he smokes, drinks, and eats chocolate, and while he could give up the smoking and drinking he doesn’t feel that he could give up the chocolate. You may be as confused from reading that as we were when he said it. We responded that while it is true that we do not smoke or drink, but it is not true that we cannot eat chocolate, and assured him that he would not have to give up chocolate. He was quite surprised and comforted by that revelation. From there we asked whether he wants to give up alcohol and tobacco, to which he responded, "Yes, but it is impossible." We shared Alma 7:12-13 (one of many great scriptures on the Atonement), and testified that because the Atonement of Christ it is not impossible, that he could overcome anything. Lute expressed regret that he has so many sins, but we testified to him that through preparation he could receive baptism and have all of his past mistakes washed away, and asked whether that – baptism, through which he could become clean from sin – is something that he wants. He responded in English with a resounding, "Yes!" and we set a baptismal date for December 20th! We also talked a bit about prayer (which we had taught at our first meeting) and asked whether he had tried praying, but he again cited the change of the astrological sign, because of which God would no longer be able to hear his prayer. We assured him that because God is his loving Heavenly Father, He would always hear Lute’s prayers, no matter the date. He was again surprised, but visibly relieved to receive that knowledge. Then we asked whether we could pray with him, to which he responded that he didn’t have enough time to go pray, and we taught him that not only will God always hear our prayers, not matter the date or time, but He will hear our prayers whenever, wherever we pray, that we can pray right there in his front door and God will still hear. For the third time he was surprised but happy to hear that, and then we prayed.
This experience with Lute is a testimony to me that "…there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it". Lute has grown up learning many different incorrect ideas – concerning the nature of God; how, when, and where to pray; etc. – that have attempted to blind him, and he has been kept from the truth only because he did not know where to find it; in fact, he probably did not even know that he didn’t have the truth, but – like many people – naturally assumed that those things which he had been taught were true. However, as we taught him simple truths he seemed to light up, as it were, and the small tasted of truth that he received has ignited in him a flame of desire for more. Lute is the type of person of whom God spake when he said that the field is white, already to harvest, "…and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul."
Yesterday we also met with one of our Vietnamese investigators, An. I don’t have much more time, so to sum up: we also set a baptismal date with An! She is also going to be baptized on December 20th. We were definitely inspired to invite her to be baptized on that day (and President Gustafson was inspired to set this goal for the mission), because she will be baptized on the 20th, confirmed on the 21st, and then returns to Vietnam on the 22nd!
I know that this is the work of the Lord, and I love it so much!
I love all of you! Have a wonderful day, a supreme week, and a fantabulous year!
p.s. Mom: Elder Jensen and I were very happy to see each other again. As for my current companion, Elder Gonzalez, he is great! We get along very well, and I am glad to be working with him. We definitely do bike a lot here in Japan; yes, I bought myself a bike, which I hopefully will be able to sell at the end of my mission (which continues to approach too rapidly; where does the time go?)