Hello, everybody! How are you doing in your various locations? I am doing very well here in Shimonoseki, Japan!
This has been a very nice week. Last Saturday Tanaka had his baptismal interview, and he passed! Woo-hoo! His baptism is this coming Saturday. He is doing very well; a little nervous, especially about giving his testimony after his baptism, but we are helping him figure out what he wants to say.
Fukatani also continues to do very well since her baptism a few weeks ago. We finished reviewing the Plan of Salvation this week. She has come to love studying the Book of Mormon, and always notes down the scriptures we share in lessons and those shared in church so she can study them again. Her husband (who was baptized a little over a year ago) is very excited for them to be sealed in the temple in about a year. They both usually come to our English class, and he always makes things interesting!
Lately we have been working hard to find new investigators, and this week we were finally able to set up some appointments. Right now we have a mission goal for each companionship to set baptismal dates with two investigators by Thanksgiving (today) and for one investigator to be baptized by Christmas. We had two baptismal dates – one with Tanaka and another with Uehara (our super awesome, fluent-in-English college student), but when we met with him yesterday we found out that he will be moving to Tokyo for training in a couple short weeks, so he won’t even be here on the day we had set for his baptism! Oh, no! However, he has a great desire to learn and find out whether what we are teaching is true, so we will continue working hard to help him have his own personal spiritual experiences and hopefully want to continue meeting with the missionaries (and perhaps be baptized!) while he’s in Tokyo. In the meantime, though, we are down one baptismal date with half a day left to achieve this inspired goal, but we are fortunate that the Lord has blessed us with two appointments today, during which we are planning on inviting – and hope to set a date – for each of them to be baptized. We are particularly excited about our second appointment, which is with a 40-something-year-old mother of at least two kids. I had actually met her with Elder Whisenant (my previous companion) a couple months ago, and on his first day here Elder Colton and I followed up with her and found that she was fairly interested, but didn’t set up an appointment at that time. We recently have been going through our list of potential investigators again and trying to contact each of them, so we went to visit her the other night, talked with her a bit, found that she is actually quite interested, and set up an appointment for this evening. We will definitely be praying hard for both of our appointments to go well today.
I have learned a lot about prayer since we set this recent baptismal goal as a mission. Lately President Egan has been teaching us a lot about faith and prayer in achieving goals and performing miracles. It is extremely important that we plead and wrestle with the Lord in mighty prayer if we truly desire to achieve our goals. I have also been contemplating a bit about recognizing the Spirit, particularly for helping others feel and recognize the Holy Ghost. This morning as I read in Preach My Gospel I came across a quote by President Howard W. Hunter: "If prayer is only a spasmodic cry at the time of crisis, then it is utterly selfish, and we come to think of God as a repairman or a service agency to help us only in our emergencies. We should remember the Most High day and night–always–not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help." (PMG 95) Oftentimes when we talk to people about God and prayer they respond that they usually pray whenever they are going through hard times, but don’t really feel the need to pray when things are going well. I am sure that God is glad and willing to provide when we need an umbrella, but I am also sure he is a bit saddened when we choose not to talk to Him while the sun is shining. He really is our Heavenly Father. He loves us! And just like an earthly father should (and thank you Dad that you do!), Heavenly Father wants to hear from us during both good and bad times! He wants to hear about our joy as well as our pain. Especially during this Thanksgiving and continuing into the Christmas season (and beyond!), I invite each of you to ponder about what you want to say to your Father in Heaven, especially for what you are grateful for, and then say it! I know that Heavenly Father loves each of His children. He loves you, and He will bless you as you pour out your heart in prayer to Him.
I love being the Lord’s servant! I am grateful for His blessings and miracles! Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly do live, and they love us!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, a superb week, and a happy year!