こんにちは！ How is everybody doing in their various locations? I am doing quite well here in 日本 (Japan)!
Happy Birthday, Adelaide! I can’t believe you’re already three!
We received transfer calls today, and I am remaining in Tsuboi with Elder Yanagida. Here we go for another six weeks (it’s amazing how quickly they fly by)!
This week has been superb! We had a lesson with Satoru on Sunday, Monday, and have another today. We weren’t able to meet with him for most of last week because he got sick; however, it was a great experience for him! He had been sick for a couple days, and even though he was taking medicine he wasn’t getting any better. So he decided to pray, and the following morning he was better! On Sunday when we met with him we talked a bit about baptism – which he had said in a previous lesson that he could not be baptized because he couldn’t come to church on Sundays (because of work) and because he was unsure what his family’s reaction might be. We testified to Satoru that setting a baptismal date is a way to show our faith to God, and that if he decided to set a date then God would be able to help him achieve that goal. We didn’t set a date on Sunday, but asked him to pray about a specific date. Yesterday when we met and followed-up, he said that he had prayed and felt like May 10th would be a good date. He then prayed again to confirm that prompting (we had not even previously asked him to do so; he chose to all by himself!), and he said that he felt like the Lord was telling him, "You need to be baptized on May 10th." So, we confirmed with Satoru that he would like to be baptized on May 10th, to which he responded, ”おねがいします。” ("Yes, please.") He is so amazing! Of course, there are still obstacles that he will need to overcome – the most looming of which is coming to church on Sunday – but I am certain that with some effort and the Lord’s help he will be able to do it.
We also met with a recent new investigator, Matsumi, who has come to church both Sundays since we met him (and is planning on attending all the sessions of General Conference this weekend). He is an interesting guy. At first when I met him I thought that he might be yet another mentally-handicapped investigator, but as we have continued meeting with him I think he is just an interesting guy. He usually likes to talk (he is 65 and lives alone), but is not very talkative during church. He seems to be receiving all that we teach quite well. Sometimes it is a bit difficult – especially with older people – to tell whether they are 金人 (gold person) or whether they have a mental handicap. Well, I suppose time will tell. He is a very nice guy and seems to enjoy meeting with us; I hope that he continues to progress.
We also met with another new investigator, Yoshinaga, who is also a very interesting, very nice lady – who is also among the older generation. It’s interesting that as we have been trying to focus on young people we end up meeting the older ones. In fact, we chose to house her apartment because it was near one of the colleges and looked to be mostly occupied by college students; so of course the first person to answer their door was Yoshinaga, a 60~year-old grandma; she even mentioned that her neighbor is a Chinese college student. Oh, well. I am reminded of one of the stories in The Power of Everyday Missionaries, when a Spanish branch prayed for a strong priesthood holder to come to their branch, and the next Sunday in walked a recently-baptized kid who had such a bad speech impediment that he could only talk with very young children. However, he eventually decided to serve a mission, and upon returning gave such a powerful talk that nobody wanted to leave after the meeting ended; and then one by one eight prospective elders stood and promised that because of his example they would also serve missions. It is interesting who the Lord works through. We never know who may be the person we need, even if we are working and praying to find young people and somehow only meet the 50+ generations. Maybe they can be the key to reaching the young people that the church in Japan needs. The Lord is doing His work. Certainly we need to do our part, but after all our effort – as long as we are doing what we should – He knows who we need to help, and why they need our help right now.
Anyway, that was a bit of an aside. When she was in kindergarten she attended a Catholic school, and even though her father did not approve she decided to be baptized into the Catholic church because she liked Christmas. When we met with her this week she mentioned to us that she does not usually open the door to strangers – she usually keeps the chain latched and talks through the little opening – but she opened to us when she saw that we were ministers. She also told us that she always looks people in the eye when talking with them because the eyes are the window to the soul.
This past Sunday we had a special Easter-themed sacrament meeting (even though it as testimony meeting), as requested by our mission president. During the meeting we four missionaries bore our testimonies – Sister Chun shared the reason that we celebrate Easter, Elder Yanagida followed with a brief summary of Christ’s final week in Jerusalem (culminating in the Resurrection), I shared a brief testimony of the Atonement and Resurrection, and Sister Pinzon (who is finishing her mission this week – she is being replaced by a brand new missionary, which means that we will have three "beans" in our district!) also shared her wonderful testimony. Then one of the members of our ward shared his testimony of Christ, after which a visiting member of the stake presidency also shared a very powerful testimony of the Savior. Right after sacrament meeting we all watched the recent Easter video! Afterward the members commented on how wonderful it was, and many of them said that they want to do a "themed" sacrament meeting like this every month!
I am grateful to be one of the Lord’s servants in Japan. I know that this is His work. I love it! I am excited for the opportunity to watch General Conference again this coming weekend (a week behind the other side of the world, but that’s alright. It is still just as wonderful)!
I hope that you all have a wonderful day, a superb week, and a fantastic year!
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