Friday, July 26, 2013


Hey family and friends,

"Senpai" is the term used to describe missionaries who've been here between 3 and 6 weeks. We just got a new group of baby "kohai" who we have charge over to make sure they don't get too overwhelmed. It's nice to see some new faces around here. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to some wonderful missionaries who departed to Japan this past Monday. They will be missed dearly.

Last Sunday, the branch presidency came and pulled me out of class to talk to me. I got really wide-eyed and thought I was in trouble or something (my mind immediately flashed to the night last week when my fellow elders and me had a race in the residence hall after sitting against the wall for thirty minutes squeezing all the blood and circulation out of our legs). I have been called as the new District Leader. Needless to say, I was very surprised.

So now I'm charged with the stewardship and care of everyone in my district. It's been great getting to know everyone on a personal level and be there for them when needed. I feel an increase of the Spirit and a greater capacity to love others. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of learning more from my peers and being able to serve them to the best of my ability.

Elder B might be running long on language 
and short on sleep.

I finished reading the Book of Mormon this week (in English). My testimony has grown a hundredfold as I read over the past few weeks. This was the first time I really read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover in a more intimate way, just diving right in and soaking it up like a sponge. I visualized each story happening in my head and I felt the Spirit manifest the truth to me. I'm grateful for the blessing of this book.

The language is coming along. I have now memorized the Missionary Purpose and Joseph Smith's First Vision in Nihongo (Japanese).

 Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision in Nihongo. Score!
The Lord has really blessed us with the gift of tongues.

This week, we taught more lessons in Nihongo and got some new "investigators." One of our teachers, Nitta sensei, is a total bro. He's 21 and just fresh off his mission to Tokyo. We've all connected really well with him, and he does a fantastic job of teaching us while still helping us enjoy ourselves.

I'm really enjoying it here. No complaints so far, except I'm really missing my guitar right now. I am working on trying to audition to play a special musical number in one of the meetings or devotionals, but there are no guitars around, and Church people don't really like guitars I guess. I certainly feel the Spirit when I play hymns on that beautiful instrument though, and I'd love to be able to share that with people. I do love hearing other people's talents when they play instruments for us.

My doryo and me.  The Church changed missionary dress codes last week, 
so we can wear vests and sweaters without suitcoats if desired. I dig the vest, so I wear it.

Thanks for the love and support. I couldn't be any happier, and though I miss you all very much, I know that there is nothing better that I could be doing right now. It is an honor to serve.

Ai shitte imasu!

Mata ne,
Elder Naylor

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Dendo" -- the best thing I could be doing right now

Beloved friends and family: below is Matt's report of his continuing adventures in the MTC.

He's catching heat and light! Thank you for your faith and prayers on his behalf.

I have the best district ever.

Last Saturday, my fellow chorotachi and I spent at least an hour taking light saber pictures of ourselves, which we learned how to do using scripture editing required.

On Sunday, my companion and I gave a lesson on repentance during district meeting. We wanted to make sure everyone was involved, so we had them look up a bunch of scriptures and we all discussed everything together as a group. I also used that Japanese story that Elder Ang told us at dinner back home, and everyone really enjoyed it, though I probably didn't nearly do it justice compared to his awesome storytelling skills. Overall, Sunday was just a really good day.

Tuesday night was devotional night, and we heard from an Emeritus Quorum of the Seventy member. He had a wicked Southern accent, from Louisiana. He gave a very interesting and motivating talk on prayer and personal revelation--something I really needed to hear. He mentioned how personal prayer is, and how the two-way communication with God works. If Heavenly Father chooses to answer 'yes' in answer to your prayer, then it is for your benefit. If He answers 'no,' then it is to prevent you from error. And if He witholds an answer, it is part of His infinite wisdom in an effort to help strengthen your faith. Cool.

My companion and I taught three more lessons this week, all in Japanese, for new "investigators" Higaki-san and Imai-san. We can all read and write in Hiragana, the most common of the three alphabets used in Japan. I'm working on Katakana too, which represents words foreign to the Japanese language, such as "Jesus Christ" (I-e-su Ki-ri-su-to) and "Mormon" (Mo-ru-mo-n).

I've started reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese now, which is just nuts. No joke, takes me 30 minutes to get through 2 or 3 verses. It's really cool reading it side by side with my English Book of Mormon and figuring out the wording in Japanese. The language is really big on context and implication. Words such as "I" and "you" and others are often left out of a sentence because meaning is implied. Also, some words sound similar or even identical, but have completely different meanings. It all depends on the context. I guess we have that in English too, but I'm so used to it that I never notice it.

I have also been making solid progress in the English Book of Mormon for my own reading. I made it to Helaman yesterday. I cannot express how much I love this book. I have never so strongly had the desire to just sit down and pick it up and read as much as I can in one sitting. I am taking in all the stories and messages, and I honestly feel like this new appreciation has awakened a part of my soul that previously had lain dormant. I feel a greater desire to love others, a greater desire to serve, and a greater desire to do something better with my life. I can't fully explain it, but it is a very real and very overpowering feeling.

My favorite person in the book so far is Captain Moroni. His constant faith and devotion to serving his country and preserving liberty is such a strong example to me. I would encourage you to start reading it again, with vigor. It simply does not work to just read a chapter or two a day. It has to be a constant and devoted exploration. I can promise that the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth and beauty of the book as you read.

I love what you shared with me in Doctrine and Covenants 50. I'm going to probably start reading that next after I finish the Book of Mormon. Then I will begin a study of the Bible. Good stuff.

We have a huge batch of missionaries leaving for Japan on Monday. They helped us get on our feet when we first walked through these doors almost three weeks ago with wide eyes and nervous hearts, and now they are heading to the field to begin a new legacy of love and service. I feel that time is going to come up fast for us, and we ourselves will be in the Land of the Rising Sun before we know it. I can't wait! The language scares the crap out of me, but I just can't wait to get out and serve.

I love it here. The MTC is hallowed ground. The Lord's presence is constantly here, enabling us to learn and grow. I feel a distinct difference here. The mission (dendo) is the best thing I could possibly be doing right now. It's an honor to serve.

Ai shite imasu! (I love you!)

Mata ne,
Elder Naylor

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ohayou gozaimasu

Good morning friends and family,

Below is Matt's account of his first week in the MTC. He's taking to heart his brother Eric's mission advice:  If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right.

 "hadouken" -- a Japanese cultural art!

Enjoy! and thank you for your faith and love :)


Last Saturday was our first trip to the Provo Temple. It was a great experience going through together. Couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day, but it wouldn't have hurt to turn the heat down a bit. Hot weather + suitcoats = very wet armpits.

chorotachi [group of elders] at the Provo Temple

Last Sunday was probably my first real day of discouragement. Elder Brown and I were still recovering from our second lesson with Kojima-san, which didn't go too well. Our Japanese was (and is still) pretty rough, and we just didn't feel like we got our message through at all. We tried to teach about prayer and the importance of being able to communicate with our Father in Heaven. He was still uncomfortable about praying in front of us, so we asked him to go home and pray about our message and then we left. We felt pretty bad afterwards, especially after hearing about how well everybody else's lessons went.

We were aware at this point that Kojima-san was not an actual investigator, but we still treat each lesson exactly as if he is, and the whole thing feels very real. I found myself sitting in church not really being very focused. I was starting to realize just how difficult the language was, and a whole bunch of other negative thoughts crept into my head when I should have been focused on the Savior. Instead, I was wrapped up in myself, feeling like I didn't know anything and feeling unworthy to be here. Basically the worst and most selfish things I could think of.

Luckily for me, the speaker that night, Robert Swenson, was inspired to say exactly what I (and probably many other missionaries) needed to hear. He gave a motivating talk about missionary work and how it's spreading so fast and how we are endowed with power as God's servants. We watched a talk by Elder Bednar entitled "The Character of Christ." It made me realize how selfish I was in feeling sorry for myself, whereas a person with the "character of Christ" would turn OUTWARD rather than INWARD during times of trial or adversity. I realized that I should be focused more and building up those around me rather than turning to my own feelings and just sulking on the inside.

We had three more lessons with Kojima-san this week. Our third, fourth, and fifth lessons were fantastic. In the third lesson, we taught about the Atonement. He gave the opening prayer and we started to talk to him about Christ. Though he was a little confused at first, we had him read DC 45:3-5 in the Japanese and he just sat there and pondered for almost a whole minute after reading it aloud. Then we discussed how Christ loves each one of us individually and knows us personally, and his face just lit up. He was so surprised and happy at that kind of news. The Spirit manifested itself strongly in that moment, and right then I truly realized what missionary work is all about. In our fourth lesson the next day, we committed him to baptism. What a cool feeling to see his face when he started to understand what we were teaching.

This week went by quickly. We're really picking up the language, but still have MILES to go. It's really a very simple language though. I'm just having a hard time remembering words. I can read and write hiragana now, but I haven't started learning katakana yet, and I'm not even gonna touch kanji until I have to. Though it was daunting at first when I first started learning to read Japanese characters, I've now realized just how simple it is. I really like it.

My district is growing incredibly close, like a family. On Tuesday night, all of the elders in my district (8 of us) gathered in my room to give a blessing to our district leader, who was getting sick. After the blessing, we stood around in a circle and talked for a little while, and eventually the evening turned into a full-fledged testimony meeting for more than an hour. We poured our hearts out to each other about how much we love missionary work, how much we love each other, and how much we love the Lord. Needless to say there were some wet eyes in the room, including my own. More than anything else, I am learning how to love others here. I walk around the campus and I just feel love. Everyone treats each other with respect and dignity. It's an amazing atmosphere.

I hope all is well up there in Idaho-land and elsewhere. I am happy and blessed to be here. Stay classy folks.

Mata ne,
Elder Naylor

P.S. I have seen several friends here. I see my friend Kyle Ward, I also ran into Tyler Day yesterday, who reported in just this past Wednesday. It was so great to see him again. We haven't seen each other for two and a half years since he moved. WHAT a great guy.