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.