Happy Birthday!

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 wonderful!

Happy Birthday to me! Yay! I am now 24 years old. Yay…hmm. Well, time goes by. This will be my last birthday in the mission field. That’s interesting. Speaking of time going by, Elder Oshima (our district leader) finishes his mission this month. He is going a bit crazy. 🙂 Every day at some time during the day there is an explanation something to the effect of, "Ahhh! Only one month/three sacrament meetings/etc. left! Noooooo!" He seems quite distraught at the the thought. Oh, well. Death comes to all (except John and the three Nephites, I suppose; and Moses, Elijah, the city of Enoch, and some others). Death comes to most of us, and as a missionary "death" is certain to come, whether we like it or not. A mission definitely has great similarity to life; it may be termed a "mini life", as it were. It is kind of interesting, when you think about it that way, because some people may wonder that missionaries "give away" one-and-a-half to two years of our lives – time which could be spent studying, working, etc. – and certainly we do give it away to the Lord, but in return He gives us this "mini life", from which our "other" life will greatly benefit. I imagine that the experience a missionary has when they return home is somewhat akin to our experience when we return to our Heavenly Home. Just as our mortal lives will have been enriched by our two years of missionary service – as long as we endured to the end – so will our Eternal Lives have been enriched by our mortal experience – as long as we endured to the end.

Anyway, yesterday we were able to teach one of our relatively new investigators, Inoue san. He is about 65 or 70 years old, and as we have been teaching him over the past couple weeks we were a bit concerned about whether he was understanding what we were teaching since he is very quiet and did not seem to be extremely responsive when we asked questions. We were wondering if he might not be a bit せいしんびょう – which he might be a little bit (or just old(er)), but probably not nearly as せいしんびょう as we feared, which is good. Yesterday he was much more responsive than in previous lessons, and seemed a lot happier. He also came to all three hours of church (the past two weeks he left after sacrament meeting), and seemed to enjoy it very much. We also have been able to have a joint lesson with him and one of our members, Brother Furuta (who is amazing!). I definitely have a testimony of the power of member-present-lessons, especially for those of us who really can’t speak the language very well. Having a member there to provide an additional testimony – a non-がいじん testimony, coming from somebody they can really connect with and relate to – is extremely valuable. If it were possible I would love to have a member at every lesson! They are so helpful! Inoue san has definitely progressed a lot more than he would have if we had not been including Brother Furuta in teaching him. Yesterday we watched the First Vision video with Inoue san, and Brother Furuta bore a powerful testimony of how the Restoration has influenced his life. He is so great!

Last Saturday we also had a "Jeopardy"-style quiz activity with a few investigators and Eikaiwa students, to which Daichi san (one of our other investigators) also came, and we all had a lot of fun together! We played a game, had some snacks, and then afterward many of us bought some food from the store and ate dinner together, during which Elder Stump shared a cool ととえばなし and message about the Atonement. It was a relaxed, unassuming atmosphere in which we were able to have fun with our investigators and Eikaiwa students, and also still be able to share a nice message. I definitely want to do such activities more often. There was no great expense or extreme preparation required, but it was still a lot of fun!

Thank you everybody for the birthday wishes! I probably won’t be doing much of anything different for my birthday – missionary work! English Class (during which they will most likely sing "Happy Birthday")! Also, thank you for the card, Mom. I received it today (but have not yet opened it. I will wait until Wednesday).

I am also thankful for all of the different experiences I get to read about from family and friends each week. I may not have time to respond to everybody, but I love reading about what is going on in all of your lives! I also looooooooooove seeing pictures (and being reminded that everybody is getting older)! Thank you so much!

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. It is hard work, but it’s also fun work!

Have a great day, a superb week, and a wonderful year!

Love,

マドセン 長老
Elder Madsen

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