Hello, everybody! How are you all doing in your various locations? I am doing quite well here in Shimonoseki, Japan!
This week has been rather wonderful! Last Sunday a 60-year-old man named Tanaka came to Sacrament Meeting. Apparently he met the Elders Gass and Flippo in the street (although they didn’t remember meeting him); he said that at the time he was feeling lonely – he recently moved to Shimonoseki and does not yet have any friends – and then Elders Gass and Flippo talked to him and were very nice. Therefore, he decided to come to church and then accepted the invitation to meet with us. We had a lesson with him on Saturday, in which we taught the Restoration and baptism and invited him to be baptized on October 24th…and he said yes! At the end he gave a wonderful, heartfelt prayer. It was great!
This week there were seven non-members at church, which is a significant difference from the usual one or two. Three were current investigators, one was a member’s friend, one was a guy that met the missionaries sometime last year and apparently comes to church every once in a while, one was a college student that Elders Gass and Flippo met the other day, who also brought a friend along. The Lord is definitely doing His own work, and as long as we are faithful and obedient he will bless us and those we serve with great miracles!
It is quite interesting how the Lord does His work. This week we had exchanges on Friday, and Elder Flippo and I met a guy that said he had never talked to missionaries before, but would often see us on our bikes or walking along the street and think, 「頑張っているな」("working hard"). We talked with him a bit, invited him to be baptized and come to church (he said he might), and then left. A few hours later Elders Gass and Whisenant were streeting in a completely different part of the city and they met the same guy! Apparently they had essentially the same conversation with him, even inviting him to be baptized and come to church (with them he said yes to church; unfortunately he didn’t show up…but someday he will!). A couple months ago Elder Whisenant and I met and had a lesson with a college student named Shimizu, but he was going to be gone for summer vacation so we couldn’t really contact him again (and he also did not seem to have much interest in our message). Then the other week Elders Gass and Flippo housed into him again (apparently having returned from vacation), so after that we returned again to see whether he was interested in meeting again (he wasn’t, but we invited him to Eikaiwa and our upcoming Branch Barbecue Party, which he might come to). About a week later Elders Gass and Flippo met him again in the street. Then, again on exchanges the other day, Elder Flippo and I met him again in the street. He has had a lot of とつぜん contact with the missionaries lately. He may not yet be ready to receive the gospel, but I have no doubt that the Lord is preparing him – along with many others!
We are convinced that one of the members of our branch, Sister Koganemaru, is literally an angel – or at least is blessed with the gift of teleportation. She always shows up at random times and gives us food. To show our appreciation, Elder Whisenant and I visited her house the other night and gave her a large cream puff (which we bought from a bakery where an investigator works), which she graciously accepted…and then of course immediately handed us a bunch of bananas. I have discovered it is almost impossible for missionaries to express gratitude without receiving something in return! We discovered her teleportation ability the other day – again, on exchanges – when Elders Whisenant and Gass were locked out of the apartment during dinner. They did not have an apartment key with them, and because they did not show up for dinner I assumed that they would be having dinner somewhere else. But anyway…they were locked out, and decided to go to a nearby grocery store to get something to eat. When they were in the store they were looking at stuff, then turned around and who should be behind them but Sister Koganemaru! She promptly asked them what they wanted to buy (of course they resisted, but to no avail), and paid for them…plus buying a bunch more bananas. They asked her whether she was buying anything, and she said "no" and left. They soon followed her out the door, but by that time she had already magically vanished. Therefore she is quite certainly an angel.
I love this work! Even though it is oftentimes difficult and tiring, it is of eternal worth.
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful day, a superb week, and a fantastic year!