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 quite superb. We met with Inoue san three times. He is progressing so well! We taught the Word of Wisdom on Saturday, and it was a great experience. We were a bit worried about what his reaction might be, since we knew that he drinks coffee and smokes; however, as we and our member joint (Brother Furuta, who is so great!) taught and testified, we were able to help him understand the importance of keeping the Word of Wisdom and the great blessings that he will receive from doing so. After the lesson we asked if we could get rid of his coffee together, so he gave all his cans of coffee to Brother Furuta to dispose of! He is doing well on not drinking coffee, but is still having issues with smoking, which is not unexpected. We visited him last night to give him a cake and follow-up again on the Word of Wisdom, and learned when his strongest temptation to smoke comes – just before bed – so we will call him every evening to see how he’s doing and try to provide support to help him resist that temptation. We are planning on calling him tonight and sharing a scripture about the Atonement (Alma 7:11-14), which will hopefully provide a bit of boost to help him tonight. And, of course, we pray for him and try to do all we can to help him all the time.
I know that the Atonement provides the way for people to change and improve. I have already seen a great improvement in Inoue san’s life, and I have personally experienced the Atonement as it has changed and improved my life. The Atonement is powerful. The Atonement is real. The Atonement is infinite and eternal – there is nothing that it cannot heal.
We also met with Yukmatsu san twice this week. The first time – on Wednesday just before 英会話 (English Conversation Class) – we were able to set a new baptismal date with him (March 28)! Yay!!! On Sunday we met with him (with Brother 周 [pronounced "Shu" in Japanese; I don't remember how to pronounce his name in Chinese], our Taiwanese member – he is great!) again and taught about faith. We used the whiteboard to draw out the analogy of Alma 32. During my morning prayer the other day I had the thought pop into my head to do that analogy and use a potted plant, but I didn’t have time to buy all the necessary items (pot, seed, soil) so we used the whiteboard instead. It was still a very good lesson, even without the physical object. Previously he had questioned the importance of asking God for an answer since he already believed that what we were teaching is true, and his opinion was that belief is good enough. Through the analogy we were able to help him understand that while belief is great, just believing that a seed is good will not make that seed grow and produce fruit. We need to provide it with the necessary nutrients – good soil, water, sunlight – in order for it to sprout and flourish. Believing that the gospel of Christ is true is good – but it can be even better. If we are willing to plant that seed in our hearts and continue to nourish it, then we will eventually be able to truly know that it is good and ultimately obtain Eternal Life.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to help God’s children come nearer to Him through the teachings and example of His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that Christ is our Savior, and I know that His Atonement is real. I have experienced and felt it for myself. I have planted the seed and found that it is good.
Well, all good things must come to an end…but then more good things can begin! I don’t know yet where I will be transferring to, but I do know I am transferring (and will find out where sometime today). On Saturday night Elder Stump received a call informing him that he would be training a new missionary, and would need to go to a training meeting in Fukuoka on Monday (yesterday). We didn’t know yet whether he would be staying or going to a different area to train, but the probability (based on how long I have been here) was that he would stay and I would depart, which probability was confirmed at the training meeting when they told everybody where they would be going. Two of the sisters in our area – Sisters Malone and Magalogo – are also going to be training. Sister Magalogo is staying here in Shimizu, while Sister Malone will be opening a new area (still in the same zone, though!) where there have only been Elders before. And our beloved District Leader, Elder Oshima, is going the way of all the earth; his two years are coming to an end. So, everybody in the district will be getting a new companion! I am a bit sad to be leaving Shimizu and all of the great friends that I have here – especially Yukimatsu and Inoue san – but know that wherever I go is where the Lord needs me to be, and I look forward to helping God’s children there.
I love all of you, and hope that you have a great day, a wonderful week, and a spectacular year!
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