Dear Family and Friends,
We are halfway through our time here at the MTC. The fact that we can carry on simple conversations in full Japanese boggles my mind, along with reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese too. The gift of tongues is so real.
This past Wednesday, my companion and I volunteered to be host missionaries for all the new incoming missionaries for the day. After you get the new missionary, you take them around and get them checked in and try to calm any nerves. It was great getting to know them and learn their names so I can keep tabs on them whenever I see them here in MTC-land.
So when I came out to get another car, as I was standing waiting by the curb, I happened to glance over at another car that was already being helped. There was a huge Latino family, and they were all excited and happy about their daughter who evidently was the missionary, giving hugs and taking pictures and stuff. As I looked at each member of the family, I came upon the dad, and instantly recognized the whole family. Remember Idanelish T. from Hidden Springs, back in 5th grade, who I went to the quincenara with? She was the missionary! I walked over and greeted them and we were all so happy to see each other after so many years! Idanelish's mom got my email and wants to stay in touch. Idanelish is going to a mission in California. You never know who you might run into here!
I've learned quite a bit about myself this week. This past Sunday, we re-evaluated some of the district goals we've been working on. Up until that point, we'd been focused on goals that would help us learn the language better and faster. I noticed that some people were struggling.
After gaining some new insight at the leadership meeting for zone leaders and district leaders on Sunday morning, I realized what was missing in our district. We'd been so focused on learning the language and learning how to teach that we had forgotten the primary purpose of the MTC, and that is to come closer to Christ. Above all else, that is the most important thing that we gain. The language really doesn't matter, nor do the teaching skills; those attributes will come quickly once we get to Japan and have experience teaching real people.
So as a district, we decided to focus on finding one or two Christlike attributes that we individually struggle with, with the goal to focus and think about developing and improving on that characteristic within ourselves for the entire week. I have truly seen a change in everyone this week. Everyone seems happier and more focused. We love each other more. We have grown closer together.
It has been a struggle for me to find the appropriate balance between stewardship and leadership. As district leader, I've realized that my job is primarily to take care of my district, rather than to be "the guy in charge." In the military, leaders are expected to tell people what to do and make sure the job gets done. It's different here. I've learned to take a step back and be less demanding and more understanding. While it is my job to guide the district, it is not my job to order people around. It is my job to be everyone's friend and take care of the individual needs of 13 wonderful people. I am learning and growing every day from this calling. I love each of these amazing missionaries.
After finishing the Book of Mormon last week, I started reading in Doctrine and Covenants. I am halfway through now. It's so cool to read about the struggles and experiences of the early Church and the counsel received directly from the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. What an extraordinary man.
Thank you for all of your support and love. Moroni 8:3 has been important to me this week:
I am mindful of you always in my prayers,
continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child,
Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end......
I'm always praying for you, both family and friends. I can sense your prayers on my behalf, and it is immensely comforting.I love you all so much.
Matt (Elder Naylor)