Monday, December 30, 2013

よいお年を = Yoi o-toshi o = HAPPY NEW YEAR !

愛する家族友達 へ、Beloved family and friends,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a great New Year celebration. I know I have a lot to look forward to as I contemplate this next year, the entirety of which I will be happily and blessedly spending in this the Land of the Rising Sun. 

New Year`s is THE HOLIDAY in Japan. The big one. Everything is pretty much gonna shut down this next week as people prepare for shogatsu. Hard to dendo at this time of year since everyone is so busy, and the Church members here are well aware of that, so many of them have graciously invited us over to eat and spend time with them this week.We have 5 dinner appointments scheduled so far. Legit.

This past week was incredible. We saw and were a part of so much awesomeness.

Christmas Eve, we spent our evening with an awesome member taking gifts to this family that lives near her who don`t have much. We brought food and warm clothing and presents for the kids. They were so grateful, and I could feel the love of Christ in the eyes of the children. I was grateful and blessed to be a part of a small act of service that made Christmas special for this humble family.

Christmas Day honestly felt like a regular day. People don`t celebrate Christmas much in Japan....some families do a small gift exchange and maybe have a cake party, but nobody really gets work off, everybody is still out and about doing their regular business. 

Family Night with the O family
Such was the case for us missionaries as well! We spent the day visiting and bringing presents and seeing how people were doing. It was great. 

In the evening we held our regular English Eikaiwa class, at which we had overwhelming attendance! We normally don`t talk about religion there....our purpose is to teach English free of charge, while trying to find new people to teach the Gospel (if they are interested).

But since it was Christmas, we incorporated a spiritual message. We read the story of Christ`s birth from the Bible together (in English), and then talked about it, and then sang some Christmas hymns and songs and played games and ate a bunch of food. 

It was fantastic! Such a special evening, and I could tell that everyone felt the Spirit, especially as we talked about and testified of Jesus Christ. 

Also that evening we had a lesson with our investigator, N-san. It was a special lesson, indeed. After answering his questions from his scripture reading, we shared a short Christmas message with him...John 12:46...
"I am come a light into the world, 
that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."


We testified to N-san of the reality and power of the love that our Savior has for each of us, and he said he felt something. He couldn`t quite understand it, but as we finished up he suddenly started praying and asked Heavenly Father to help him understand the feeling that he felt. We know that it was the Spirit testifying to him that this message is true, and that Jesus Christ does truly love him. He`s really starting to receive answers to his prayers. Overall, Christmas was a wonderful day.

Mom, Dad, Eric, and Joe, it was such a great experience to Skype with all of you this week!! You all looked fantastic. I have such an awesome family. I could feel the love from across the ocean. Thanks for that special experience. I love you!

So a couple weeks ago, I had the thought to share these beautiful prayer rocks with the kanji for "prayer" written on them ( 祈り ) with the Y family (big thank you to Cathy Schiefelbein for making them for me before my mission!). 

Well, as we started our lesson with them last night, the husband pulled his prayer rock out of his pocket and straight up told us that he ALWAYS has it with him. As if that wasn`t awesome enough, he said that it has truly helped him remember to pray. He told us two experiences from the past week in which he was having a hard time with something, and then he put his hand in his pocket and felt the prayer rock, and then he would pray, and immediately a feeling a peace and contentment would enter his heart. I almost cried, I was so happy. I love that family so much.

Transfer calls came and went this past Saturday, and nothing changed, which means Elder Ahuna and I will be serving together here in Ichinomiya for at least another six weeks! Woooo! I love it here. The members and the people are fantastic. 

My district. I'm the tall one.
We finally got snow this week!! It didn`t stick, but Elder Ahuna and I spent a couple of days riding our bikes through flurries of snow and icy wind, super stoked. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic week. As we look forward to a new year, I have many resolutions in mind. The most important one though, which, simple as it yet may sound, is nevertheless the most significant and incomparable goal for which we all are come closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I can testify-- we find happiness by strengthening and forging a loving and close relationship with the Heavens. I pray that all of you may be able to do so as well.

Stay classy folks!

Peace and love,
Elder Matt Naylor


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas!


I can`t even explain how crazy/rough/awesome this past week has been!

First of all, my birthday was awesome. We spent the most part of the day trying to find more people to teach, unfortunately without success, but had good experiences nonetheless. We went out to eat Indo-curry for lunch and dendoed the owners, which was great. They`re already good acquaintances of ours, so we get along super well, so it was easy to start talking to them about church stuff. 

One of my favorite things out here on the mission so far is just making small and random relationships with people all over the place, and then seeing the same people over and over again out on the street, in restaurants, at train stations, etc. and just being able to talk to them and continue to build relationships. It`s seriously the coolest thing. There comes a point when you feel like you just know everyone, and you can go hardly anywhere without seeing a familiar face and having someone to talk to. It`s freaking awesome.
My first companion in Japan, Elder H, is now Brother H.
He came to visit before his 2-year commitment to the Korean Army
So Mom and Dad, the Christmas package you sent was great timing. It came on my birthday! As you know, I have like 0 patience, so my reasoning for opening all the Christmas stuff you sent me was that it was my birthday. Need I any more justification? No, I don`t. The food was delicious (keyword: was....meaning that it`s virtually all gone by now) and I am super grateful for the music and warm clothing and everything in between! Thank you so much!! And the calendar is awesome. It made me super 懐かしい (natsukashii) and made me miss home and the Coast Guard, but it makes me smile every time I look at it. Thank you!
Japan, thank you for the love. Origato gozaimasu!

I was really feeling the love this week. Sister S and her companion Sister A gave me more stuff for my birthday when I saw them again on Wednesday for zone conference, which was super nice considering they already gave me stuff at district training last week.The zone sang to all the missionaries who had recent birthdays, and I got some new socks from the mission (YESSSS). And the ward came through, gave us these huge boxes of awesomeness!

Zone Conference was great. We focused mostly on the Savior and how we can become better missionaries and keep our faith strong in Jesus Christ. I felt a great spirit there.

Disaster struck after zone conference, however. Basically all of the missionaries in the zone got sick. As a result, Elder Ahuna and I were holed up in the apartment for two whole days. We`re still trying to get the smell out of there, haha. I didn`t get too bad of a sickness, but Elder Ahuna was practically on his deathbed. 
with the wonderful I family
While he slept all day, I used the extra time to go nuts with scripture reading and to continue to map out the members and less actives in our area. It`s a daunting task....I`ve only gotten through 4 pages of the member list out of 26....but it will definitely be a huge benefit for the missionaries who serve here after we`re gone. It`s already helped us a lot when we try to visit people and find new people. It takes forever to map people because all the addresses and names are in kanji. It`s awesome though, it`s accelerating my learning of kanji big time. Sweetness.

We got two new investigators this week though, despite the sickness! Samurai and Furone, ages 9 and 11, both in the part-member O family (Seira`s siblings). We had an awesome evening with them, teaching the whole family (except the dad) about God and about the scriptures. The spirit was super strong, and the kids had a sincere desire to learn more. I freaking love kids.

Another miracle (completely out of nowhere), Y-san randomly showed up to church yesterday!!! Seriously SO happy to see him, and super surprised too! We had an awesome lesson with them later that evening, and they`re progressing! Reading and praying and everything! It`s so awesome to see them starting to apply the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. It was cool earlier this week, we decided to visit them randomly and unannounced, and it turned out his wife needed some help moving some heavy stuff around. She was really happy that we stopped by, and we were able to lend a hand. I love building relationships with people through service. She was super grateful. Awesome stuff.

Japan has caught me!
At church I had a chat with this guy in our ward, Brother S. He is a dear friend of mine here. As we were talking, he suddenly just straight up asked me if he could tell me about some of the problems he`s been having lately. It was a really tender moment as he poured out his heart to me as we sat there in the chapel. I felt a very sincere and real love for the guy, and I could feel Christ`s love for him as well. I was also touched that he actually trusted me enough to tell me about his problems....many people are generally pretty closed about their emotions and stuff like that. But it made me realize how grateful I am for the trust of the Church members here and the relationships I have made with them. I love it here in Ichinomiya. Plus it was also a big confidence builder for me that I was able to have a relatively deep and meaningful conversation with someone in Japanese. I guess I am actually learning the language, after all, haha. Thank goodness for the Gift of Tongues.

I`m looking forward to a Christmas Skype sesh this week! Just FYI....Elder Ahuna and I are trying to set up Skype on the computer this morning, and it`s not really working, but we will keep trying. If it doesn`t work, we can still talk on the phone. I`ll keep you posted, no worries.

sometimes I cook for myself
even Idaho spuds!

sometimes I don't!
Okonomiyaki. DELISH.
I love you all so much. This week, I really can`t explain how grateful I am. So many awesome things happened this week, despite some of the bad stuff, haha. I have felt the love of God and Jesus Christ so strongly. I cannot possibly deny the feelings that I have felt. This Gospel is true. God loves us. We are all brothers and sisters, children of the same divine being. What awesome knowledge!


Peace and love,

Elder Naylor

Sunday, December 8, 2013

They said Yamato, now they say Nihon

Hey hey hey!!

Fun fact/Japanese/History lesson for you: Japan was originally called Yamato 大和--"great peace," or the Land of Great Peace. Now it is known as Nihon 日本--"sun`s origin," or Land of the Rising Sun. I`ve been studying a lot of kanji lately, which really has helped broaden my understanding of the language. It pretty cool. Still have like a billion things to learn though!

But those words ring true....this is a land of great peace, and it is truly an awesome sight to wake up to that sunrise every morning.

Anyway, now the important stuff. Elder Ahuna and I found a new investigator this week! Actually it would be more accurate to say that HE found US. It was a classic example of the Spirit leading us. As we were returning back to our apartment,, we decided to stop in at the 100 yen store close by (the Daiso) to buy some treats for a lesson at the church. 

While we were inside looking around, a young man came up and started talking to us in English, asking if we were college students. We happily replied that we are actually missionaries, and we came to Japan to teach people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and help people find greater happiness and peace in their lives. 

He was truly interested in us, and super friendly. Asked us a lot of questions, and then, once again breaking the normal routine of typical missionary encounters, HE asked US if we could meet again sometime. It was all pretty much too good to be true, haha. We are meeting him at a family restaurant close by later tonight. His name is Kosu-ke, about 24 years old, and he`s a total bro. Can`t wait to see him again.
this isn't really Kosu-ke! the guard at Nagoya Castle
We were also happy to have Fu-san and Fi-san back in town this week! They have been away on business trip in Kobe, so we have been unable to meet with them since the end of October. We stopped by to welcome them back last night, and taught them again about prayer. Stoked.

No-san is doing great. We meet with him every week, and he is always reading and praying. We are encouraging and helping him to recognize answers to his prayers, which he is still struggling with. But it will come with time. 

We've found that most Japanese people really like to take their time and ease into things slowly.....they don`t tend toward quick or sudden changes. That`s why we see a lot of people who have been investigating the church for quite some time. But everyone is different, of course.

Elder A and I spent a lot of time knocking on doors this week, since we haven`t done much housing lately. Close to 200 houses/apartments this week....we found a huge apartment complex with like 12 enormous apartment buildings, ready for us to conquer, haha. We really want to find some more people to teach.

Nagoya Castle Door Approach:
Hello, Sensei? We couldn't help but admire your home.
We have a message to share with you . . . and then we'd like to schedule the LDS Area Christmas Party.
Right now I`m putting my map skills to good use. We have this giant map of our area in our apartment, and I`ve been working on it for past month and a half or so to locate all of the active church members, investigators, and less active church members in our area. The map is dominated by less active members, and it`s been really useful in our planning sessions to go out and find people and bring them back to church. 

The main success with less active members that we have seen has been with the O family, whose daughter S is one of our investigators. They all came to our English class (Eikaiwa) last week, and it was great to see them. Sister O is from Thailand, and doesn`t speak much Japanese (and no English), but she`s taught us some cool stuff in Thai. I`m learning random words from tons of different languages on my mission so far....Portugese, Thai, Tagolog, Vietnamese,`s legit.

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all the awesome mail I have been receiving lately. I`ve gotten some wonderful letters and packages from people, and I can't express how grateful I am for all of you. Thank you so much!! I am definitely feeling the love!!

I leave you with the words of Isaiah the prophet, which book I just finished this morning:

"For thus saith the high and lofty One 
that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; 

I dwell in the high and holy place, 
with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, 
to revive the spirit of the humble, 
and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

May we ever remember to humble ourselves and reach out to those whose spirits are in need of reviving, whether it be to comfort a struggling friend or show kindness to a complete stranger. 

If we all unite in purpose to lift up lost souls and shine our light into the cavities scattered across this broken world, imagine the change we could see. Imagine the glory of such a change. Imagine such peace. It all starts with the individual who lights up the darkness.

I love you all! Stay classy, folks!!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

ネイラー 長老
we found this great park in Ichinomiya

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Going to Nagoya Castle this week!

My fellow Americans,

Konnichiest of wa`s to all of you! It`s a BEAUTIFUL morning here in Japan land!! The sun is shining, the weather is crisp, the sky is blue, and I`m repping the pink tie that I bought at the 100 yen store a while back. Life is GOOD!

This week has been great. Last Monday Elder A and I went out to visit people and share some uplifting messages with them, help them out with whatever they need, etc. En route to a less-active member`s house, the heavens broke forth and poured out an epic deluge of rain and thunder that cascaded in flowing rivers down the streets of our fair city of Ichinomiya. 

Most of the people we visited were not at home, and we were pretty bummed out, thinking that our infinite trek through the downpour would all be in vain, having not yet talked to anybody, when we decided to visit one last person. It was a less-active family (the I-sans), and thankfully they were home! They were so kind, and absolutely shocked that we were out and about in the storm, but very grateful that we came to visit. They invited us in, but we just stayed and talked with them in the genkan (entryway) because we were soaked to the bone and didn`t want to turn their house into a swimming pool with our wet clothes. We talked for a while and then shared some scriptures from the Book of Mormon, inviting them to read the scriptures every day and to pray. They graciously accepted the invitation. We`re gonna probably visit them again this week.

Thanksgiving! we had it twice. WONDERFUL members fed us American turkey.
On Tuesday we decided to stop by the Y-san's apartment unannounced, and they were super happy to see us. We talked for a bit, asked them to read the book of Enos and try to pray every day (they`re struggling with that), and set another appointment up with them for this next week. They`re seriously the best people. We love them. 

We also stopped by to visit the K family, who are active members of the ward but sometimes struggle with various things. When we shared a scripture with the mother (also from the book of Enos), she was very grateful, and said that every time we visit and share a scripture or a message, it`s exactly what she needs to hear. That`s the power of the Holy Ghost right there. Awesome stuff.

On Wednesday we had a mogi lesson (mock lesson) with a member of the bishopric, Kad-san 兄第. Taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (lesson 3 from PMG). He gave us some good feedback on how to improve our teaching. Afterwards we went with him to help out a struggling member of our ward, Toda-san 兄第, with cleaning up his home. Service is seriously the greatest blessing. 

Later that afternoon we had a lesson with our investigator, K-san, and talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon. He`s doing pretty well....says he believes about "70%" of what we teach him. We`re working on that "30%". Hahaha. 

Then in the evening we had another lesson with N-san, who is continuing to do well, and another night of Eikaiwa (English class). I love being the teacher of the Eikaiwa class, and it`s SO FUN. I love it. Maybe I`ll come back to Japan to teach English someday. Legit.

Thursday we met with our friend Keita, who has sent in his mission papers and is awaiting his mission call. We are now teaching him out of Preach My Gospel every week to help him prepare to serve his own mission. He`s a great young man....super fun, and has great faith. Comes from a great family, the Hibino family. We often use him to help us teach lessons to investigators. It`s been our focus lately to bring members with us to investigator lessons, because they really bring the Spirit with their testimony, and they also speak Japanese better than us, haha. Later that evening we had a lesson with our investigator Seira, and brought our return-missionary friend Eiji along with us. Great lesson.

Friday was awesome. We had district training, so we took a train to Fukutoku and got together as a district to learn from each other. It was awesome. We had an appointment later that afternoon with someone who called us and said they wanted to investigate the church...the Kane-sans...and we were kinda on a tight schedule. The train back to Ichinomiya was running late, so we ended up arriving at the train station about 15 minutes after our appointment was scheduled, which was to be at the church, about a 10 minute walk from the station. Uh-oh. 

We booked it from the station....must`ve been a fun sight, seeing two white guys with backpacks running their fannies off through the neighborhood....but it was a good thing we ran. We arrived just as they were leaving, and they were super understanding about us being late, and we were able to have the lesson and pick up a new investigator, Kana-san. When we came running up and told why we were late, the mother (it was her son who became the new investigator) said that it must have been "fate" that we arrived just on time to catch them before leaving. Legit.

Last night we had our own epic Thanksgiving with some church members at a members` home, along with a bunch of less-active members and non-members. After eating a TON of classic American Thanksgiving food (never eaten turkey with chopsticks before) and playing a fun game, Elder A and I shared a message about being thankful (DocCov 78:19) and the Spirit was super strong. It was a great experience.

Today for p-day we`re heading to Nagoya to check out the famous Nagoya Castle. Expect pictures next week!

Thank you all for everything. I love you all so much. You`re all the best.

Peace and love,

Elder Naylor

Sunday, November 24, 2013

元気だよう (I am well and happy!)

What`s up!

Great, great week. I have so much to be thankful for. Life is great.

I am doing well and I am happy. Truer words were never spoken (or typed)!

K-san is doing just fine. He really has been sick, a pretty nasty sickness for like two and a half weeks. It was great to meet with him again this week after a month of not seeing him. We had a good lesson about the plan of salvation and the Savior`s Atonement, which was great because we tied it in with his recent trip to the Holy Land and were able to explain some of the amazing stuff he got to see in person (he showed us some sick pictures). He`s still struggling to accept some things....such as the fact that Jesus was and is a perfect being, without sin. After the lesson he took us out to eat, and just kept ordering more food for us even though we kept saying we were full, hahaha (this happens EVERY time we meet with him). Wonderful guy.

going up!
N-san is doing well. Came to church yesterday. Still respecting his wish to finish the Doctrine and Covenants before taking the plunge into baptism, but when we meet with him every week for lessons, we always focus on teachings from the Book of Mormon after answering any of his questions from DocCov. He`s struggling to receive answers to his prayers. There`s really not much we can do for him at this point apart from meeting with him regularly and continuing fellowship through the`s really all up to him from here on out. 

It`s hard for us sometimes, but we absolutely have to accept and respect his freedom to choose for himself. I feel extremely positive about it though, and I believe that he will in the near future finally decide to take a leap of faith. We love him and can`t wait to see that day.

the H family
The Ys have been keeping their scripture reading commitments, which has been great. We always have great discussions with them. Their biggest struggle is just putting forth the extra effort to actually come to church and pray every day to develop their faith. They really can`t progress in this process until they take these actions. They are truly the nicest people though, and they REALLY love missionaries, haha. They treat us so well. We really love them. It`s hard that they aren`t doing everything that we ask them to do, but again it`s so important for us to respect their agency and freedom to choose. I am still positive about them as well. We are praying to see a miracle with them.

Sei-san is great! She and her family are just the sweetest people! We had another nice lesson together with her mom this week. Talked more about God and families and introduced the Book of Mormon. We`re feeling very positive about her, and hope that the other children in the O family will also start hearing our lessons.

We were unable to meet with Shi-san this past week, and Fa and Fi are still in Kobe, but hopefully we will be able to meet with them again soon.

We got a random call from a former investigator yesterday, Kane-san, who straight up said that she wants us to come teach her and her son. Music to the ears of a missionary, haha. We`re super excited to be able to teach more people about this wonderful message that we have to share. I`ll let you know how it goes meeting with them this week.

Koko-chan. The cutest 2-year-old in Japan!
We had a great mission conference this past week on Thursday (all the missionaries in the mission were there), and it was wonderful to be reunited with some of my missionary buddies again. We were instructed and edified by Elder Evans, a General Authority, who had previously served as the mission president here in Nagoya some years ago. 

He gave us some great advice. One of the biggest principles I took away from his words was an experience he shared. When his son was a teenager, about 17 years old, he went through a rough patch with his parents, and they always fought and argued. The father constantly chastised his son, telling him all the things that he needed to fix in his life, basically just focusing on everything he was doing wrong and how he needed to change (hence the constant arguments). 

One day, the father (Elder Evans) was driving out for business trip and reflecting on the relationship with this rebellious son, when all of a sudden a voice came into his head: 

"If you want him to change." 

Long story short, he heeded this counsel, realized the areas in which he himself was struggling, and shortly thereafter was able to mend the broken relationship with his son. 

The story really hit me I guess....sometimes it`s easy to succumb to feelings of "self-righteousness" and get a "my way or the highway" type of attitude, but this obviously isn`t the Savior`s way of dealing with people. It prompted me to reflect on my own attitude with other people and strive to make a change for the better. Good stuff.

rice field sunset
I love you all so much. To all my Coast Guard and other friends (if any of you still read my emails, haha), I think about you every day and wonder how you all are doing. I`ve received some WONDERFUL letters and emails from many of you. Thank you so much! To my family, I love you all past death until forever. This Thanksgiving week, I can`t even comprehend all the blessings that I have been given. Thank you all for everything.

Peace and love,
Elder Matt Naylor


Sunday, November 17, 2013

ひさしぶり!(Long Time No See . . . )

What`s up,

I guess I can`t really see you guys right now, so that doesn`t make too much sense....but it will make sense in about a month from now!! That`s right Mom and Dad, warm up the Skype app because I will be able to Skype you guys around Christmas. Awesome. It`ll be nice to see your faces again.

But until then, Elder A and I have work to do. Transfer calls came and went last week, and we aren`t going anywhere, so we`ve got at least another six weeks to labor here in beautiful Ichinomiya land and continue to bring the souls of this city to a knowledge of their beloved Redeemer, Jesus Christ. What a fantastic calling this is.

Ichinomiya sunset
N-san is continuing to progress. We`re trying to help him understand how to recognize answers to prayers, and therefore be able to proceed forward with making a baptismal date with us. We`ve built such a strong friendship with him at this point, that meeting with him doesn`t even feel so much like a "lesson" per se, but more like a high-quality gospel discussion with a close friend. He`s a wonderful guy, and has such a strong desire to make good choices. He loves the church and the gospel. He just needs that slight extra push to take that leap of faith and cannonball into the waters of baptism (is that proper to say? haha).

We teach the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ
We`ve been struggling to make contact with K-san, who has been home from Israel for several weeks now. He got extremely sick when he came home, but he should be well by now. So after trying in vain to call him many times, later today we`re just gonna take that hour-long bike ride to his house over in the next city and see if we can`t just make face to face contact with the guy. I`ll let you know how that goes.

We had an excellent lesson with the Y family last night. At this point, they`ve really heard everything they need to hear about the gospel, and now it`s up to them to act. They`ve expressed many times how much they love missionaries and the church, but they are still somewhat apprehensive about actually joining with the church and taking that leap of faith. We love them so much and desire for them to partake of this boundless joy that the gospel brings, but it`s important for them to act as well. We are praying that they will have a desire to do so. We still meet with them every week. Wonderful family. So kind and fun to spend time with.

We were unable to meet with any of our other investigators this past week, but I`ll let you know next week how things go this week.

It was AWESOME to see Grandma and Grandpa! I was so surprised that I was even allowed to see them! I just assumed that I wouldn`t be able to, and I was fine with it, but what a pleasant surprise it was to actually get to see them in person. Fantastic experience. 

Elder and Sister Beus, aka GRANDPA AND GRANDMA
Nothing too crazy happened last week....pretty normal week I guess. I came freakishly close to getting hit by a car like three separate times last week, so I guess that was kinda freaky. I`m gonna be honest, drivers in Japan are nuts. I would never want to learn how to drive here, haha.

I am humbled by all the news I am hearing about the devastation from the typhoon in the Philippines. My heart goes out to all those affected by the destruction, including the missionaries. I`ve been hearing some miraculous stories already about how lives have been saved down there. So inspiring.

I love it here, and couldn`t be happier. Serving a mission is the best thing that has ever happened to me so far. I love all of you as well. Stand tall and proud with the knowledge that you are a child of an incomprehensibly loving and caring Eternal Father who reigns above the cosmos and watches over His children individually and tenderly. What an amazing blessing!

Peace and love,

Elder Naylor 

Children of God


Gutentag meine Kinder,

"Ist die Post offen, Otto?" 
"Nein, sie ist am Sonntag geschlossen."

Whoa, hold up a minute, wrong language. My companion and I watched a church film in German a couple days ago (just for kicks), so I temporarily forgot. I`m actually in Japan.

On a more serious note, I am extremely saddened by the news of the typhoon in the Philippines. I am focusing my prayers on the families who have lost loved ones. We have several Filipino families in our ward, and one of our potential investigators is also Filipino, and I will be checking up with them this week to see how their families are doing. I`m so glad to hear that Elder Bullock is safe.

This week in Japan was great. We now have two new investigators, Shi-san and Sei-chan. Shi-san is a friend of ours from Eikaiwa, the free English class that we teach every week. She is also a former investigator who is open to hearing the missionary lessons from us again. We pray that this time she may be able to be baptized (she didn`t get baptized before because her husband wouldn`t let her). She`s wonderful. Super fun, always happy. 

Here's Patrick, who attends our Eikaiwa
Sei-chan is the 14-year old daughter of a less-active family. Her parents have been baptized, but the father and mother both work so much that they can't make it to church. We visit the family every week though, and they`re wonderful. We picked up the daughter as an investigator after teaching about God to her and her mother and inviting her to learn more, an invitation that she accepted with a big smile. AWESOME.

N-san is doing well. We meet with him all the time, whether it`s teaching a lesson or going out to eat or playing ping pong. SPEAKING OF PING PONG......I`ve been getting pretty good, if I may say so myself. Like almost Forrest Gump status. Elder A and I play ping pong at the church every Saturday morning with investigators and members and whoever wants to come join us. Super fun. 

We were unable to get a hold of Fu-san and Fi-san for almost two weeks after calling and visiting multiple times. They called us back two days ago to say they are currently in Kobe and will be there until next month. Bummer that we have to temporarily drop them from our teaching pool, but at least it`s not because they don`t want to hear from us anymore. We`ll pick them back up again next month when they return home.

On Wednesday I got an interesting phone call. Elder A answered the phone in Japanese ("moshi moshi"), but immediately switched to English and handed the phone to me. "I dunno, some guy speaking English. Weird." 

When I answered the phone, I was greeted by the warmly familiar voice of Grandpa Beus. Turns out he and Grandma called President Yamashita, and got permission to come take Elder A and I out to dinner this coming week as they prepare to head home from their mission down in Fukuoka!! How legit is that!! They're taking a bullet train up to her from Fukuoka, and I get to see them on Thursday and Friday morning before they head back! SUPER excited. Totally took me by surprise. What a wonderful blessing.

Mom! I didn't buy it, but I took a picture for you
Mom, THANK YOU for the package with the CDs and hot chocolate and weird Mormon gum (where the heck did you find "Chews the Right"??). Made my week, and I`ve been listening to both those CDs every day. My favorite is "I Love the Lord" from the BYU Men`s Chorus, the lyrics of which are based on one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 4). 

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin.
Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul
Do not anger again because of mine enemies.
Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions
Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say:
O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea my soul will rejoice in thee, 
my God and the rock of my salvation

The Rock of Salvation
Speaking of scriptures, I`ve made it to 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament, making my way toward my goal to have the entire O.T. finished by the end of the year. When I finish, I will have finally worked my way entirely through all of the standard works plus Jesus the Christ since coming on my mission. I really love the scriptures, more than I have ever realized before.

I need to finish up this email, but I just want to let you all know how much I love you, both family and friends. You are all so wonderful.

Peace and love,

Elder Matt Naylor

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Radical Face!

Good morning America,

Japan says hello. It`s somewhat cloudy in the low 20s (we use Celsius here in the real world) and life is good. We had a great week.

I can`t believe it, but I`ve had the opportunity to rep the guitar up in front of big groups of people about 5 times now. Who would`ve thunk that it could relate to missionary work, but I`ve seen miracles from it several times already! Our ward mission leader, Bro. H, is the MAN (I borrowed his guitar....). Just two days ago, we got to participate in the ward talent show (I got to play two songs with Elder A backing me up on percussion and vocals, "Welcome Home" by Radical Face and the beautiful hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee," which we sang in Japanese), from which we now have a new potential investigator! 
Brother H, our ward mission leader. Repping the guitar!
His name is Ki-san, and we`re meeting with him again this Wednesday for lunch to talk more about music (and somehow weave the Gospel into the conversation). He doesn`t speak much English (hardly any), but he and I like a lot of the same music, and he also plays guitar, which is how he and I hit it off so well in the first place. We just started talking music. One of his top favorite groups is Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Legit.
we're singing in Japanese
Elder A is a Native American hoop dancer. SO COOL!

This past Thursday, Brother H, Elder A and I went to the middle of downtown Ichinomiya to hand out more invitations to that talent show. I played guitar while Brother H and Elder A handed out flyers. Ended up talking to this one guy for like 20 minutes as he tried to teach me some kanji, haha. He was kinda weird (just came up to me while I was playing guitar and started showing me some kanji) but I got his phone number and contact info, haha. Whoo!

N-san is doing well again. We had a bit of a rough patch a couple weeks ago, but it`s all good now. He still wants to continue with his goal to finish reading Doctrine and Covenants before deciding on a baptismal date, so we`re going to respect his decision. We saw him about 5 times this past week.

Tonight we`re driving down to the mission home with him for a special FHE presentation with President Yamashita and other missionaries and their investigators. It`s gonna be fun, methinks.

One of our other investigators, Ko-san, just got back from a trip to Israel a couple days ago. He went with another Church member who`s been fellowshipping him, and we`re excited to hear about how the trip was. We`re going to try and meet with him tomorrow. It`s perfect because we`re planning to teach him more about Jesus Christ and the Atonement, which will probably be really cool for him since he just got back from the Holy Land where he got to see a lot of that stuff in person. I sent you guys a picture of us eating sushi with him either last week or the week before. Super nice guy!

Elder A and I have started organizing ping-pong parties ever Saturday morning. We invite members and investigators and potential investigators, and sometimes get a really good turnout. It`s a great finding opportunity, plus a chance for me to get my Forrest Gump groove on. Asians are really good at ping-pong, haha. Every church in Japan has a ping-pong table. It`s kinda a thing here. I`m learning the Asian style of ping-pong, which involves holding the paddle`s hard, but pretty cool. I`m starting to improve, haha.

now that really IS a Radical Face!
I`m making a rough estimate, but think Elder A and I have ridden close to 100km on our bikes in the past week. Our investigators and members are spread out over 4 different cities within our proselyting area here, so sometimes it can take more than an hour to get to someone`s house. The scenery is beautiful though, so it`s usually a nice ride (unless we get caught in a typhoon or rainstorm, like we did last night, hahaha). Last night while we were riding through some pretty heavy rain, we all of a sudden heard these loud sirens all over the city, like disaster warnings. I briefly felt like I was back in World War II and the bombs were about to fall. I still don`t know why the sirens went off....everything seems fine this morning, haha. Maybe it was a drill or something.

officer, what do you know about the Mormon church?
Take care! I love you all!

Love always,

Elder Matt Naylor

Halloween Party! we went as missionaries

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A really quick update

This week was great. Had some great experiences with our investigators and with other church members. Met some more awesome people. Saw some amazing miracles. I wish I could explain it all but I`m on Heavenly Father`s time right now, haha.

sushi with Ko-san
Fun fact: Went to get a haircut today. Told him exactly what I wanted, in what I was pretty sure was correct Japanese. But now I look like I`m back in boot camp.....apparently I still can`t speak Japanese!

You can take the guy out of the Coast Guard . . .
but the barber always knows.
I love you all so much. Always praying for you. Take care!

Love always,

Elder Naylor

we love writing home

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What up?? it's still typhoon season!

Hey everyone,

I`ve had a lot of time for reflection these past few days.

Last Tuesday, we had a great lesson with a new investigator, Ko-san. It was an hour bike ride to his house in the pouring rain (typhoon season), but totally worth it. The lesson was definitely presided over by the Spirit. We taught him more about the Restoration and the Prophet Joseph Smith`s First Vision. Right now, K-san believes that our message and the Book of Mormon are true, but he has difficulty wrapping his head around Jesus Christ and the Atonement. We`ll be focusing on that with him. Great guy. Took us out to eat some Japanese-Italian food after the lesson (super delicious).

Ichinomiya salute
We visited Fu-san and Fi-san twice this week to help clean his house. It`s kinda a weird situation because they`re not married, but she`s moving in with him, and we`re basically helping him clean his house so she can move in.....but we couldn`t really say no when he asked us to help! We kinda can`t teach the Law of Chastity yet until we've taught about God and Jesus Christ first. We`ll get there. They`re wonderful!

We had a very spiritual lesson with the Y-sans last night. Elder A and I taught with real unity, and the words just kept coming. I felt for the first time like I could say anything I wanted in fluent Japanese. The gift of tongues is very real. We talked all about families, baptism, and faith. They`re starting to progress slowly. Truly wonderful and kind people.

We also had a lesson with N-san this week. I`m not sure what to think right now. The lesson was going great, and flowing very smoothly....but things kind of went downhill when we came back to talking about baptism. Clearly there`s something going on right now in his life that he is struggling with, but he won`t tell us. We`re not going to pressure him....we need to give him a little space for now. We`re always praying for him. We`ll see how things go with him this week.

We`ve had some really spiritual experiences!

First of all, this past Friday, we decided to focus on finding new people to teach. Turns out when you really knuckle down and focus on something, miracles really do occur. We found 6 new people!! Two very nice older ladies who live in the houses next to a less-active church member that we were visiting, a SUPER nice and friendly Vietnamese couple standing outside a convenience store, a man standing outside that same convenience store who actually talked to us first (turns out he was actually the owner of that particular store), and also a wonderful 19-year old dude that we started talking to outside the main Ichinomiya train station. This young man`s name is S-kun, and he was the most interested out of all these people we found. We ended up walking and talking with him for about 30 minutes, just building a friendship. Super awesome dude. He wants us to teach him English, and we got his contact info and are going to try to meet with him this week. AWESOME.

Second of all, just this morning we got the impression to visit a church member who we didn`t see at church yesterday, Brother T. So we decided to postpone our email time this morning and go visit him. Turns out this visit was a direct answer to his prayers. He was awfully sick and needed someone to talk to and help him out. He needs us to come by again this week and help him around the house. He was really struggling when we came to see him, and it was hard to see...but I was so grateful that our Heavenly Father trusted us enough to be the means by which this humble brother`s prayers could be answered. It was humbling. It is amazing how meticulously and carefully our Father in Heaven watches over His children.

Do you remember several weeks ago when I told about that young man--David--from Ecuador who I met at the mall after performing at a concert there? He was a member of the church and came running up to us to say hi. WELLLLL, just this morning we ran into him again, and this time with all his other Ecuadorian buddies!! I can`t explain how happy we were to see him!! The coolest part is that he doesn`t even live in Ichinomiya, he is only visiting here for the day...We stopped and chatted with him and his friends, and they all speak pretty good English. Elder A happened to have some church pamphlets in Spanish, which we got to give to David`s friends before saying goodbye. Who would`ve thought we`d be giving out Spanish church materials in Japan?? Legit.

David from Ecuador. The sequel.
Lots of other amazing happenings this week. The Ichinomiya Ward had an EPIC Halloween Party this past Saturday. We did a Halloween show for the last 45 minutes of the party, in which I got another opportunity to rock the guitar up on the stage in front of everybody as we taught simple American songs to the kids."Itsy-Bitsy Spider," "If You`re Happy and You Know It," "London Bridges," and "Ring Around the Rosie". We also read some children`s books to them, and played games. Super fun. Got lots of pictures. Best part of the party? 56 non-members came!!! Loads of people to talk to. It was awesome.

 I love Halloween
This past Saturday we also got to play ping-pong with another potential investigator, Ko-san. He will probably start investigating the church soon. We`ll see how this week goes. 

Lots of miracles here in Japan land. I miss you all, but I am truly happy here. I`m starting to get more confident with the language, and I can speak and understand much better than I ever would have thought before. Crazy. The Lord is blessing me immensely here.

I love this work, I love all of you, and I love Japan!! Stay classy, folks!!

Elder Matt Naylor


"Saraba tomo yo" ancient way of saying "Farewell," often used by the Samurai warriors.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A new companion

Crazy week! This past Tuesday was transfer day. I spent a day in Inuyama, a quiet city to the northeast of Ichinomiya. It`s beautiful....made up of gorgeous green hills and mountains that cascade down into a valley based by a wide river. Lots of trees and ancient, traditional Japanese temples and castles and stuff. Wicked. I hope I get to serve there sometime in the future.

From there, we made our way to the Nagoya train station where all the transferring missionaries in the mission converge to meet their new companions and head off to their new areas. I was reunited with many of my MTC buddies and also friends that I have since made here in Japan. I met my new companion, Elder A, who is transferring here from Mount Fuji .... furthest reach of the Japan Nagoya Mission, down in the southeast corner.

Elder A is a total bro. He`s a pretty small guy....roughly the same size as Elder H....but has a very big heart. He is a mix of native Hawaiian and Chinese (from his dad) and straight up American white (from his mom). Loves to party. Back in Hawaii he was a professional fire-dancer (a Hawaiian thing) and hoop dancer (a Native American thing), and since he`s Hawaiian of course he`s a pro at the ukulele, which he actually got permission to bring with him on his mission. We`ve already had a chance to jam out together with him on the uke and me on ye olde guitar! 

Train station with Elder A
We`ve had a blast this past week, and we`re definitely the best of friends. He`s been on his mission for a little over a year, so his Japanese is very good. We`ve had a fantastic time teaching and preaching together so far. It`s been crazy because even though he is my senior companion, I`m the one who knows the area and all the people here, so we`ve kinda been able to both help each other out a lot. It`s been great for me to be able to show him around and help him meet all of our people, and at the same time I`ve been able to learn a lot from him as well about how to teach and speak in Japanese and become a better missionary.

don't mess with our rice

Lots of miracles this week here in Ichinomiya land. We have a 6th investigator by the name of F(mi)-san. She is a referral from one of our other investigators, F-san. We`re pretty sure they`re a couple. We teach them both together, and it`s been great to watch them learn more. They`re super fun people and they love missionaries.

We also got to meet with our beloved N-san twice this week. Huge progress with him....his wife is okay with him being baptized. Also, he finished reading the entire Book of Mormon for the SECOND time this week!! We had a good talk with him about it. 

And this past weekend, we invited him to General Conference He was planning on staying for just one session...Saturday morning...but after watching it, especially the very inspired talk from President Uchtdorf about JOINING THE CHURCH, he decided to stay for the next session as well!!! 

I was so grateful to the Spirit and to the leadership of the Church for delivering the exact messages that N-san needed to hear. We feel that he is so close to the waters of baptism, and the blessings beyond that initial gateway to eternal life with our beloved Heavenly Father.

General Conference was inspiring. I was especially enlightened by Elder M. Russell Ballard`s counsel at the end of the second Saturday session, which I REALLY want to emphasize. To paraphrase:

"If every church member reaches out to just one friend 
and shares the Gospel with them between now and Christmas, 
imagine what a magnificent gift that would be to our Savior."

Can you just imagine how special that would be? Mom and Dad, friends and family, I would strongly encourage you to think about these inspired words from an Apostle of the Lord. Every inhabitant of this earth is a literal son or daughter of the all-powerful, omniscient, all-knowing, perfect and complete Supreme Creator of the universe and everything in it. And yet, He....this unfathomably powerful being....knows each human being on the earth personally by name. He loves each one individually and without bias. And He desires salvation for EVERY creature. Alma words it perfectly: 

"And behold, their souls are precious..." (Alma 31:35). 

I love the statement by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: 

"Of all the titles of admiration and respect that are given to Deity, 
He has asked us to address Him as `Father.`" 

How truly important it is for us to think about how He feels when one of His children who has accepted the Gospel chooses to share this glorious message with even just one friend or acquaintance. What a marvelous Christmas gift that would be to our Savior and our Father in Heaven as well. And I can also testify that as a missionary now, I get super excited when members introduce us to their friends. So I know that the missionaries serving their back home with freaking LOVE you if you help them find more people to teach, haha.

visiting with the N family
I am so grateful for the peace that this Gospel has brought to my life, and especially grateful to see it working in the lives of others here in the Land of the Rising Sun. Our Heavenly Father is gathering His people from all the corners of the Earth and preparing the world for a great and glorious manifestation. I testify that He is aware of each one of us and loves us with a love that is deeper than we can possibly comprehend.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Mom, those Swiss Rolls you sent to me have been almost completely devoured, and they are delicious. Thanks so much!!

My tastes span the globe. Have you had your chocolate today?
Love always,

Elder Naylor