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Dear Friends and Family,
Hello world. Miss me? I’m still breathing, believe it or not.
Way back in my fourth transfer (about last October), my companion Cardoso-choro told me that when you hit your tenth transfer, you just get tired. The tole of day-after-day giving all your heart, might, mind, and strength to the Lord and His work begins to wear on you in all four areas (emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically). Although no one day of Dendo may be as physically exhausting as running a marathon, you typically don:t run a marathon every day for two years without taking any breaks. Even if you did, although you would certainly be mentally-focused on the race, and while your heart would certainly be in it, it would not demand every ounce of focus or emotional stamina you could wring out of the brittle human frame.
Dendo, on the other hand, often does. Dendo demands everything you have. You can get by pacing yourself or giving minimum effort, but you can:t do that and be a true disciple. You can’t do that and gather the elect. No, a true disciple must give more if he expects the power of Almighty God to match his own input. He must put it all on the altar of sacrifice every day. A true disciple’s goal at the end of the day is to hit that futon face-first and die. If he wakes up the next morning, then he held something back that day. And that’s not good enough. A true disciple knows that he only has two years to serve the Lord, and the rest of his life to think about it. There is no more important work than the work of salvation.
What Cardoso-Choro understood was that, once you have done “all that you can do,” then the grace of the Savior Jesus Christ carries you whatever distance remains between you and what the Lord expects. In fact, that grace is available before, during, and after you have exhausted your own efforts. That grace is an enabling power that makes possible what never could have been possible by human faculties. It makes weak things become strong (Ether 12:27). It was this power that gave Samson his strength. It was this power that enabled Nephi to break his bands in the wilderness. It was this power that allowed Ammon to astonish the Lamanites and convert thousands. These are things that mortal men cannot do.
Likewise, even though a mortal cannot continue to sacrifice 200% every day, a true disciple with access to the grace of Jesus, can do just that. If he is cleansed through the atoning blood of the lamb of God and sanctified by that power, then he can confidently pursue the will of the Lord without fear of being insufficient.
Therefore, I don’t hold back. I can’t. There’s too little time for that. I know that every day, the enabling power of His amazing grace will carry me as far as I need to go. It does not take the tired out of the missionary. It just enables him to do the work anyway. And so, as a tenth transfer missionary, I am tired. Every day I am tired. I am very, very tired. I am wearing myself out in the service of my God. I invite you all to do the same. It is a happy way to live.
Dear Friends and Family:
A lot of miracles are happening in the Japan Kobe Mission, and I never have enough time to tell you about everything that’s going on. So I’ll just relate to you some fun and memorable experiences from yesterday.
For starters, we began teaching the husband of the family we baptized a few weeks ago and he:s looking solid (\). Over the last several days, we’ve seen the light of Christ heal the broken mind of one of our investigators who has been suffering with one mental illness or another for as long as he can remember. We have plans to teach and baptize the husband of a part-member family. The work in this area is as good as it has ever been, and it:s only getting better as the Lord continues to shower blessings on us from heaven. That’s not to say that there are no trials or difficulties or frustrations or wet pillows. True Disciples shed blood, sweat, and tears every day. Nevertheless, The Lord is hastening His work and fulfilling prophecies in this land. I would that you would all look to The Lord and seek for a similar outpouring of strength and power as you dedicate yourself to Him.
So this is a fun story from yesterday. We had to go over to our Dendo Shunin (ward mission leader)’s house yesterday afternoon to pick up some documents we left in his car the previous week. There we found a pair of eight-year-old girls playing in the parking lot. I gave them both Eikaiwa Chirashis (English Class Flyers) and asked them to show them to their mothers. They said that they would and scampered away excitedly. We planed on doing some housing in that area before coming home to break our fast. As we were getting started, the same two little girls came back and began following us from door to door listening to people reject us and how we dealt with the rejection. At first it was mere curiosity at the weird gaijin in their neighborhood. But as they learned a bit more about the message we were sharing and saw how important it was to us for others to hear it – namely when we did not simply give up on people who were rude or disinterested – their curiosity turned to intrigue. Soon they were racing ahead of us to ring the doorbell for us. They would then run and hide and listen to the contact. Soon they stopped hiding. We told them to go home but they refused. They wanted to dendo with us. For those of you who are interested, proselyting with adorable eight-year-old softens hearts very quickly.
We went around one block and the girls found a potential investigator for us. My chirashi’s were running low, so they started telling us where to go. They referred every friend they had in their neighborhood It was incredible! We would go to a house and the girls would introduce us to their friend and their friend:s mother and invite them to listen to what we had to say. When we reached our last chirashi, they ran us down the road and across the street to one last friend. There we met the father – a very kind young family man who likes American cars. We invited him to listen to a message about Eternal Families and he was into it! We set a return appointment.
Their friend came with us and we left, high-fiving one-another that we finally found someone to teach. We gave the girls each a copy of the Book of Mormon to show to their families. They were way excited to get them! We felt bad that we didn’t have one for their little friend, but we promised him one when we came to visit his dad next week. We got a picture with the three of them – the girls showing off their new copies of the Book of Mormon.
This was a fun and unexpected miracle! Now I understand what the Savior meant when he taught that we ought to become as little children. They saw the image of the Jesus in our countenances. They didn’t understand it but they saw it and knew that the light they saw was the love of God. Without the distractions and heart-hardening hardships that come with growing older, these little angels recognized a good work when they saw one, and even we could not dissuade them from participating in it with all their heart, might, mind and strength. Ought we not to be like them?
God the Father lives. Jesus is the Christ. This his The Lord’s work in the latter days. Know that the redeeming and enabling powers of the Atonement are available to all who will humble themselves and come and partake. I invite all to do so, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
True to the Faith,
This is a big truck pulling a little truck. Welcome to Japan.
Winter sunset in Japan
Elder Wycoff (my companion) sleeping on the train
Freakin Japanese politicians. Repent!
Nana Shimai was baptized on Saturday. Yay!
This Japanese sign says something along the lines of “Repent of your attitude towards God.”
Dear Friends and Family:
Merry Christmas from Ako!
There:s some cool stuff going on but I don:t really have a lot of time to tell you all about it, so here:s some pictures 🙂
And always remember the reason of the season, which is not merely eggnog and ham (amazing as those things may be) but The Lord Christ, Jesus.
Peace on earth and goodwill towards all men, now as it was on that midnight so long ago.