Archive for November, 2012
Dear Friends and Family:
Transfer calls came in. I am now in Ako, near Himeiji in Hyogo-ken. I was really sad to leave Wakayama, but I am looking forward to transferring the lessons I learned there into my new assignment. The work in Ako is very different than Wakayama. It:s a really sleepy little town in the mountains. It feels a lot like home, actually. I would definitely like to see the work pick up some steam before the end of this transfer.
My companion:s name is Wycoff-Choro. He:s on his 13th transfer now. He:s a very experienced missionary who knows the area very well. It:s always interesting finding common ground with new companions. You have to be pretty flexible with your personality and tastes and things. Changes are always a little uncomfortable but that:s what keeps things interesting 🙂
I would like to take a moment and salute a noble woman who has been a marvelous advocate for righteousness in word and deed. Sister Janet Rife tragically passed away recently. She has been a friend and a neighbor to my family and to me as long as I can remember. Through unspeakable suffering, she endured faithfully and continued to serve others until the very end. Now, in mercy, The Lord has taken her home to her well-earned rest. I express my love and concern to her family members, whose charge it is now to follow the example of that wonderful wife and mother, and endure the trials of this life in faithfulness. My prayers are with you, and so is The Lord. Turn unto him in this time of sorrow, I plead with you. He will make you strong and give unto you comfort. This promise I give from experience in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Dear Friends and Family:
Things are happening in Wakayama, and throughout the mission. Because revelation comes from the same source, I expect that all throughout Japan similar things are happening, and hopefully the trend continues in the direction it is right now. I wish I had time to go into detail about this, but for now suffice it to say that as we, the missionaries, are learning to rely more and more on The Lord to direct this work, he is prospering the effort to save souls in Japan. The fight against the adversary is a desperate one, and we desperately look forward to the troop surge we expect sometime in the coming months. The field is white so I hope they bring their sickles with them.
This week is transfer week. Normally by now I:d have my transfer announcements but President Zinke decided to give us our announcements a little bit later in the week to make sure we keep working. But I’ve been in Wakayama since my third day in the mission, so I:m almost certainly out of here. Next time you hear from me, I will probably be in my new area with a new companion, saving new investigators’ souls.
Accordingly, many of you who have sent letters and emails recently will have to wait a little longer to receive them. I apologize for this. Please be patient and I promise, I will respond as quickly as The Lord gives me time to do so.
Let me close with a few words of a little more import. It has come to my attention that more than one of you are struggling with unique challenges at this time. My heart goes out to you and you have my love and support. I am sorry that I cannot be there in person to lend you whatever meager comfort and assistance I might render. The Lord has called me to other paths, and I must walk them. But I know He will take care of you while I am away. You are in good hands. I pray for you all daily, often by name. I feel The Lord:s love for you and I promise that, as you seek Him, you will feel it too. While I perhaps cannot understand completely what you are going through, I would direct you to Him who can, and who can offer comfort and assistance beyond my abilities. I add my witnesses proudly to those who have testified before. He lives! He is the son of the Father of your spirits. That Father lives and loves you deeper than you can know. Below I have posted the links to two general conference talks which will serve as a good reminder in this time of trial and loneliness. They have provided me with comfort and with the Spirit of God in my moments of pain and loneliness and they will do the same for you. I urge you to review them as you seek The Lord.
I love you all and I love The Lord. I say again, He Lives. I know He Lives. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
With all the love in my heart,
Dear Friends and Family:
Sorry it:s been so long. I haven:t had a lot of chance to write recently. Even today I will have to be brief, which is frustrating because there is much to tell. Let me give you the blow-by-blow of my last week and you:ll see what I mean.
Last Sunday: As a mission, we did a mission-wide fast for all of the investigators in all the areas in the mission who are struggling with major obstacles in their conversion, mostly hantai families (families who are hostilely opposed to the Church). We received a list of all of these peoples names, about forty in total, along with their unique struggle. At 8am every elder and sister in the mission knelt in prayer and simultaneously dedicated our fast for the conversion of these individuals. President Zinke believes, as do I, that the faith, obedience and discipleship of the missionaries in this mission has qualified us for an enormous amount of divine power which can and should be harnessed on behalf of these souls. “God is a God of miracles,” President Zinke reminded us. “We need more miracles in this work.” As usual, President Zinke was absolutely correct. The fruit of this effort has only just begun, but the Lord:s hand in this work is evident.
Also, on Sunday we visited our Chinese friends and discovered a previously unknown fourth roommate who speaks fluent English and who also has interest in our Church and what we believe and practice. More about that later in the week.
Monday: Cardoso-Choro and I were brought by a friend of ours Arimoto-san to a huge mountain monastery called Koyasan. Koyasan is a Buddhist training ground deep in the mountains, built by a monk about 1200 years ago. It is the headquarters of the Shingon Buddhist sect, which boasts an impressive 10,000,000 followers. The grounds are beautiful and the history was quite interesting. This excursion took most of our day, which is why some of you did not receive emails or letters as quickly as you otherwise would have. I apologize for that. But if it:s any consolation, I took some pictures for you.
Tuesday: We did the impossible. We placed a Book of Mormon with a Jehovah:s Witness and set a return appointment. That appointment isn’t until next month, but he seemed sincere and even rather excited. He:s a way nice guy.
Wednesday: Now back to our English-speaking Chinese brother P. We have received ample training recently about how to “Set the table” for a new investigator, which essentially amounts to performing a first lesson that is so spiritually powerful and doctrinally appetizing that the investigator becomes hungry for the spiritual and doctrinal feast that is to come. Executing this training plan has been one of the more difficult things I:ve done on this mission, and we:re not perfect at it yet. But nevertheless, when we applied the inspired principles in our first meeting with Brother P, the effect was perfect. We gave him a short tour of the Church. Before we entered, we explained to him how sacred the space is that he was about to enter, and asked him to set aside his worldly cares and concerns and focus on the Spirit which he will feel inside. When we entered the chapel, the lights were on, the chairs were set up, it was warm, and there was a barely audible hint of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing in the background. We introduced him to the concept that God is his loving Heavenly Father and asked him what that meant to him. The concept was new but it clearly struck a chord with him, because it was information that his Spirit already knew. The effect was powerful. The principles of setting the table work because the Holy Ghost truly does manifest the truthfullness of the doctrine we teach.
Thursday: At Zone Conference in Abeno, we got a spiritual beat-down. We were essentially chewed out the same way, and for the same reason, Peter was chewed out on the shores of Gallillee after the ressurrection of The Lord. We were not adequately relying on The Lord to do this work. We were reminded that we have each recieved, by revelation, specific instructions regarding The Lord:s expectations regarding our performance in this work. We were reminded that it is only by revelation and relying on The Lord that we will be able to measure up to those expectations. It currently takes the average companionship in this mission a total of about 820 hours of prostelyting time for one baptism. “Do you think we should continue trying to do this work our way?” President Zinke asked us, piercingly. “At least Peter was a professional fisherman. We have been out all night fishing and have caught nothing. In order to pull in the draught The Lord expects of us, we need to obtain, from Him, when and where to cast down our nets.”
Friday: On a companion exchange in Sennan we tried to apply the training from Thursday. It is going to take some practice, clearly.
Saturday: We went to go visit P at his apartment but neither he nor the Japanese-speaking room-mate was home. But the other two were. They invited us in and we spent some time trying to communicate with them in simple Japanese and complicated Kanji. It was a challenge but it was actually rather fun. They asked us what the 末日 (Latter-day) meant in 末日聖徒イエスキリスト教会 (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and we got talking a little bit about Jesus Christ and the second coming. They were fascinated. We invited them to the baptismal service we would have the following day and they said they would come. It wasn:t until we got home that night that we realized that, since we had prayed with them, taught principles and doctrines, and gave them a commitment invitation, we had actually taught a lesson. And furthermore, they had accepted a return appointment. And that:s the story of how we accidentilly found two new investigators.
Sunday: The crowning event of this week was baptizing K-Kyodai. This was the first baptism I have ever performed. He did wonderfully. The doors of the Celestial Kingdom of God have been opened to another one of His children. Another link in the spiritual chains which bind this world has been shaken off. K-Kyodai has had a hard life, but he has begun a journey now that will bring him great happiness. What a miracle! It was a blessing to have the opportunity to participate in it!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, brothers and sisters. There is sweet, heeling power in the principles and ordinances that can be found in there fullness nowhere else on earth. It is our duty and our privilege to live them, to share them, and to see the fruits that grow therefrom. Remain true to the faith. It is a happy way to live.