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! As the title indicates, we had a fantastic training from President Gustafson and his assistants (Elders Sasaki and Bloomfield – both of whom were my Zone Leaders during my first six months in Japan! They are both wonderful.) They taught about effectively planning, finding, and teaching with the Spirit, and I there is definitely much that I desire to apply so that I can become both a better missionary and also become better at recognizing and following Spiritual promptings. The primary focus was D&C 29:7 – that the Lord has commanded us to find His elect, and therefore we can expect the Lord to provide a way for us to accomplish that command. One of the particular points that they taught is that as we pray in unity and follow the Spirit, we can make "appointments" with the Lord by planning that at a certain time of the day we are going to be in a specific place looking for a specific type of person that is the Lord’s elect, who will hear His voice as we speak, and as we make that appointment with the Lord – as prompted by the Spirit – He will be bound by His promise to help us, and will do what He can (which is a lot more than we can do) to ensure that His prepared, elect child will be there to meet us for the appointment. I know that as we work with the Lord, we will see many great miracles and will be able to find, teach, and baptize His elect.
This week has been quite nice. On Sunday we had two investigators come to church, both of whom we first met within the past two weeks. The first was Inoue san, who I believe I have previously mentioned. We have been able to teach him three times since the day Elder Oshima and I met him while we were on splits (two weeks ago), and he has come to church on both Sundays since that day! He is very quiet, so it has been a bit difficult to see how well he is understanding what we teach, but we will definitely be applying what we learned in training yesterday to better understand his needs. The second investigator that came to church is Daichi san (actually, we call him Daichi #2 since we already have an investigator named Daichi). He is a college student that we met the other night, talked a bit, gave him a Book of Mormon, and invited him to church – to which invitation he replied that he wanted to come and see what it was like, as he thinks that studying religions is important and therefore he is interested in learning about our church.
This is a bit of a tangent, but…
It is interesting how many people – especially college students – I have met who have said the same thing as Daichi – that they think studying other religions is important. I wish I had thought that prior to my mission; while I have been here in Japan I definitely wish that I had studied about Buddhism, Shinto, Sokagakkai, etc. before I came. It is nice to have the very brief summaries that we have received from Honbu, but a deeper study and understanding of the religions of Japan would have been quite beneficial to my missionary service here. However, that said, I try not to dwell on what I should have done, but instead on what I can do now. Like Alma, "I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me." (Alma 29:3) The Lord has allotted me to be serving as a missionary in Japan at this moment, even with all of my imperfections; God has a purpose for my being here right now, and therefore he can utilize me for that purpose right now, no matter that I do not have a great understanding of the religions of Japan, nor that I cannot speak the native language perfectly, nor that I have many other imperfections that prevent me from being perfect. I was not called on a mission for being perfect. I was called because even though I am imperfect, I can be an instrument in God’s hands to help others come unto Him, and by so doing I can become more perfected along with those who I serve. God does not need perfect people in order to accomplish His perfect work. I think that is one of the greatest – and one of the most incomprehensible – parts of the Atonement, that through the Atonement we can overcome our imperfections to accomplish a work that would be impossible for an imperfect person to do (if that makes sense). The Atonement truly does enable us to accomplish that which cannot be done without it. The Atonement makes the impossible possible.
Well, that was an extremely long tangent. Now back to Daichi. He came to church on Sunday, and afterward (when we asked what he thought/felt), he said that he understood a little bit about the sacrament and various things the speakers said about Christ, but that he thinks that maybe if he reads the Book of Mormon he will be able to understand more. Yes! That is true! The Book of Mormon is wonderful! It As the Introduction says, "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world…"
Speaking of those who spoke in Sacrament meeting – our bishopric was reorganized on Sunday! The previous bishop – Bishop Kojima – is now the High Priests Group Leader in our ward. He was a wonderful bishop. I look forward to now working with Bishop Ishida, who is also a great man.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary in Japan at this moment! I would not give it up for anything else in the world. I love being a missionary! I love my family! I love the Lord!
I love you all! Have a wonderful day, a superb week, and a fantastic year!
p.s. Mom, it is just like you said: the weather in Kumamoto at the moment is probably pretty similar to Seattle. Not very hot, not very cold (although the increased humidity definitely makes Japan feel colder), and rains a every so often. It rained quite a bit yesterday. I like the rain – when I don’t have to spend half the day outside while it’s pouring. However, it’s still a lot of fun!
p.p.s. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I entered the MTC. How time flies!
p.p.p.s. I will definitely pray for Isaiah!