Ups and Downs

こんにちは! How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in 日本 (Japan)!

This week has had its ups and downs, but so does every week. In other words…this week has been fantastic!

This is the "down" part of the week. If you wish to skip the "down" part, see below for the "up" part:

One part of the week that was not so fantastic are that since Elder Yanagida was sick we were in the apartment for many hours, and were unable to meet very many people throughout the week. Being stuck in the apartment is not very much fun, but that’s okay. Perhaps sometimes God wants to remind us how much better it is to be outside!

Another somewhat sub-fantastic event of the week is that one of our investigators, Mitsuta san, who has a bit of a mental disability, was told by his doctor that he shouldn’t go to church because it will be too stressful for him. However, the doctor told him it is fine for him to continue meeting with us, so that’s good. One of the other elders’ investigators, Inoue san (who also has a bit of a mental disability, and who I had been teaching with Elder Stump when I was in that area) had his doctor tell him that he shouldn’t be meeting with young foreigners, which is rather unfortunate. It can be rather difficult working with and trying to teach people who have mental handicaps. I have a little bit more of an understanding of what Mom’s job as a para-educator is like. For us as missionaries – most of whom have no significant experience with such things – it can be quite difficult to know how best to help those who have incredible difficult learning and remembering the things that we teach. Sometimes it is hard to measure the progress of these people because we often do not know whether they are keeping commitments – such as prayer, reading the Book of Mormon, and even meeting with us – because they want to, or just because they will agree to do anything that we ask them to. Lately Elder Yanagida has been thinking about the reason that God allows people to have mental disabilities that oftentimes restrict their agency – which, of course, most (if not all) of the time it is so that we can learn to become more Christlike as we associate with and help them. I have heard it said – and this is an opinion voiced by others (not yet doctrinally-proven, as far as I know) – that those who are so severely disabled as to render their agency in this life obsolete were some of those who exercised their agency so perfectly in the premortal life that they are not required to undergo this mortal test like we are. They already passed the test, but were elected – perhaps even chose – to come to this Earth and provide us with opportunities to develop greater Christlike love and become more like Christ as we help them through mortality.

Anyway, that was a bit of a sidetrack from what I was intending to write. Oh, well. As I was originally intending to say, for myself as a missionary, as I have taught some of these people I have sometimes wondered whether I should continue teaching them or not; whether they have the agency to act for themselves according to the message which we are teaching; whether they even really understand the message. One question I have struggled with is: how do we know whether a mentally-handicapped person possesses the agency to choose for themselves whether or not to make and keep covenants with the Lord, such as baptism? Dad mentioned in a recent letter that many people think that the girl they bring to church each week does not possess the mental capability of choosing baptism for herself. What can we do to determine whether they do or not? Recently my mission president has been focusing on finding and teaching the elect of God, and that in order to do so we must follow President Uchtdorf’s counsel in choosing what is best over that which is good/better. Sometimes we may be doing a good thing by meeting with these people – it is oftentimes the highlight of their day – but is it the best use of our time as the Lord’s servants? Our purpose is to cry repentance. Do we need to cry repentance to those who have no need to repent? Of course, the answer to that question is no. However, that returns to the original question: how can we determine whether they have the need/capacity to repent? I suppose the short answer to this very long (sorry)…essay?…is that God knows His children. He knows their needs, and as we do our best and seek His guidance, He will help us know what we should do.

This is the "up" part of the week:

Now, for what made this week so fantastic! Yesterday Elder Nelson spoke in a devotional that was broadcast from Tokyo to stake centers throughout Japan. We had invited one of our investigators, Satoru san, to attend with us. He did not know whether he would be able to make it, but about two hours before the devotional was to start he sent us a message that he would be able to go, so we were able to go to the devotional with him, and he said that he learned a lot from it! Last night we mentioned that we would like to meet with him again today sometime, and said that we would contact him today to see when he could meet. However, this morning he contacted us, thanking us again for inviting him to the devotional, and asking what time we would like to meet! He is so great! We will be meeting with him again tonight at 7:30.

Speaking of Elder Nelson, he is actually doing a special training for our mission this coming Saturday, for which all the missionaries (except those in Okinawa, who will be receiving it by satellite broadcast) will be going to the Fukuoka church on Saturday. I will probably have many things to write about next Monday! Stay tuned… 🙂

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary in Japan at this time. I know that this is the Lord’s work, and that as we place our trust in Him He will guide us where we need to be and help us say what we need to say. He is all-knowing, and will help us make the difficult decisions that we would not be able to properly make based on our own mortal knowledge. God loves us. Christ loves us. I know that He lives. No matter what happens each day, as we rely on Christ every day can be fantastic!

I love you all, and hope that you have a fantastic day, a great week, and a wonderful year!

Love,

マドセン 長老
Elder Madsen

p.s. Mom, I received the envelope (last week, if I remember correctly). The information will be very useful in telling people about my family history so that they can be excited about theirs! Thank you so much! I love you!

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