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 been nice. As the title suggests, this past Wednesday marked my 1-year-anniversary in Japan. I can hardly believe that one year has passed by since I arrived here! The 桜 (cherry blossoms) have bloomed again, and they are beautiful! Whenever I get a chance I will be sure to email some more pictures.
On Tuesday we had a very good lesson with Satoru, during which we discussed some of the questions he had about things he had read in the Book of Mormon. He hasn’t read very far into the Book of Mormon yet, but he is understanding what he reads really well. When we asked if there was anything that stuck out to him, he gave a little exposition on Laman and Lemuel’s attitude vs. Nephi’s attitude, and how he wants to be like Nephi! We also asked him what he has learned as he has prayed over the past few weeks, and he responded that when he first started praying he focused mostly on asking for things that he wanted/needed, but lately he has realized the importance of gratitude in prayer. He also has been keeping every commitment we ask him to keep; so far it has been mainly reading assignments, as we have not yet been able to move much farther in the lessons (we have been focused on helping him find answers to his questions through prayer and scripture study). We are planning on meeting with him today and completing Lesson 1 by watching The Restoration with him, through which we hope to help him focus on and recognize the Spirit more.
On Friday we had 巡回 (splits? exchanges? something like that). Elder Yanagida went with Elder Stump in Tsuboi while I returned to Shimizu with Elder Stanger. It was a great じゅんかい。 I learned a lot, and we saw some great miracles. One in particular that Elders Yanagida and Stump saw was before they visited one of our investigators, Uchida, who had been struggling quite a bit with Word of Wisdom issues lately (he appears to be doing a lot better now – he returned to church the past two Sundays – so hopefully we can resume teaching him this week). Anyway, as Elders Yanagida and Stump were about to pray outside of Uchida’s apartment they noticed a man that seemed to be analyzing them quite intensely. They started a conversation with the man – whose name is Matsumi – and eventually when they offered him a Book of Mormon he told them that he already had received one (who knows when) and had been reading through it. They invited him to church and he said that he would come. On Saturday Matsumi called us twice – once to confirm the time and location for church, and then again to inform us that he had stopped by the church (just to make sure he would know how to get there) and would definitely come on Sunday. And he did! It was wonderful, and he seemed to like it, although he was a bit tired at the end.
On 巡回 Elder Stanger and I visited with Yukimatsu, a Chinese investigator that I had been teaching with both Elders Gonzalez and Stump when I was in Shimizu area. Yukimatsu is not doing very well. He has been very depressed since he had a hard breakup with his girlfriend, and has been smoking and drinking. However, we had a really good conversation with him (along with Brother Shu, who is just a wonderful as always! – even more so, which I didn’t realize was possible! He’s so great!). Yukimatsu wants to get out of his depression, but doesn’t really know what to do, so we helped him determine to make a plan and set goals to overcome his current trial. At the end I shared with him the church’s Easter video. It was actually the first – and so far, the only – time I had seen it. We watched it in Chinese, and even though I couldn’t read the words, I still felt the spirit very powerfully. It is great! By all means, watch it!
We saw a great miracle on Sunday when we had three investigators come to church! At church, after Uchida discovered that Matsumi lives in the same apartment, he sat with him throughout all of church! I think they will become great friends. The third investigator, Okuzawa, was somebody that we had not expected to come to church at all – in fact, we have been considering dropping her because she did not seem very interested in meeting with us. We’re still unsure what exactly her interest level is, but she had decided to come to church all on her own; we hadn’t even been able to contact her to invite her. She just decided to come!
I am grateful that the Lord is doing His work, and I am grateful for the miracles that he allows me to witness. I often feel that the Lord has shown me miracles that I do not feel I deserve. No matter what mistakes I make – and I make a lot – the Lord still blesses me so much! It is incredible how much the Lord loves and wants to bless His children.
I know that the Savior lives. I am so grateful for His Atonement. I need it every day; there is no way that I could be a missionary without the Atonement.
I am so grateful for Elder Yanagida’s patience with me. He is a wonderful missionary, and I am learning so much from him. Sometimes we may not understand each other as well as we desire – much of that is probably my fault; even in English I have not been very open to sharing my thoughts and feelings with other people; but I suppose that can changed (and probably should) – but I know that as we work our hardest to work well together, the Lord will continue to bless us. I have seen so many miracles this transfer; they may have come through many difficult circumstances, but I am grateful for these trials because I know that they will make a me a better missionary and a better person.
I love you all, and hope that you have a superb day, a wonderful week, and a happy year!
p.s. Mom, I received my Easter card today. Thank you! I suppose I will wait until Easter to open it.
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