Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tameshi: trial, test, challenge

my new best friend Yuji, age 11
The word for this week is tameshi. "Trial, test, challenge."

We met with several people this week who are having some really hard trials in their lives right now. It has been hard to see these things. But each of these people have sincere and pure hearts. They are so positive and humble.

One of our church member friends, T kyodai, has been struggling quite a bit with some sort of illness. He`s lost almost half his body weight. We went to his house this week to help him, and then we felt prompted to share a message about trusting the Lord through trials and trusting that He will not forsake us....2 Nephi 4:34-35. 

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.
I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he
that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.
Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. 
Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss;
therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee: yea, I will cry unto thee, my God,
the rock of my righteousness.
Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee,
my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

I think it was something he really needed to hear. We`re helping him out again this week, and always praying for him.

We also met with another church member, S kyodai. He is the ultimate example of humble, dignified service and meekness. He is always at the church cleaning up or doing something to help out behind the scenes, even though he lives almost an hour away by bike and doesn`t have a car. He lives with his mother, who doesn`t go to church. My heart has been touched by his example. He is having a hard time at work right now....bad relationship with his boss....and we feel impressed to visit him often and try to provide any comfort we can, and also to start teaching his mother about the Gospel.

There are many other stories of trials that I could share, but these two brothers stand out to me the most. I can`t express the love that I have for them.

Elder H and I have been getting along really well. I`ve been learning a lot from him about the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) nuances of Asian culture, and the sometimes drastic differences from American culture. I`ve learned a lot from both him and the Japanese people. One thing that has impressed and touched me is the way that Asian culture is focused so strongly on the feelings of others. Whenever you visit people here, they are most immediately preoccupied with making you feel at home and comfortable. They are so polite and constantly endeavoring to keep your feelings in mind. Even slight rudeness is very offensive at times. Japanese people are constantly focused on others` needs. It really shows especially in the church members here...they are always serving each other. It is truly a wonderful example of Christlike love. These things are starting to grow on me. 

view out the apartment window in Ichinomyia
Before coming here, I thought a bit too highly of myself.... I thought I did a pretty good job of caring for others and helping people feel good. But now I don`t think I ever even came close. Elder H has really taught me a lot about how to truly focus on the needs of others and abandon your own selfish wishes and desires. I hope by the end of my time here to have even a fraction of the Christlike love that Elder H and these wonderful people have,

All of our investigators are doing very well as of now. N-san is still chugging through the Book of Mormon, and his faith is really growing. We had a wonderful lesson with the Y family last night. I had my first opportunity to recite Joseph Smith`s First Vision in Japanese, as I was prompted by the Spirit....never before had the words felt so smooth. The Spirit truly guided the lesson as we discussed Joseph Smith, which led to a deep discussion about the Book of Mormon, which led back to the very heart of our wonderful message: Faith in Jesus Christ. We had our first gospel lesson with our newest investigator, F-san, a couple days ago. His girlfriend joined the lesson too, and really seemed interested. She doesn`t live in our area, but she agreed to meet with us again the next time we teach F later this week. We had a powerful discussion about the nature of God and the power of prayer.

All in all, this has been a very inspiring and humbling week. 

I love Japan!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I love all of you too!!!!!!!

Elder Naylor

I freaking love the people here . . .

Hey hey hey!!

Miracles are happening here in Japan. The people are wonderful. The food is delicious. Life is good.

On Tuesday, Elder Heo and I went to help a friend with his driveway and garden. It had become overgrown and cluttered, but an hour and a half, a couple gallons of sweat, and 200 mosquito bites later, we finished the job, and his house looks fantastic. This friend, F-san, is one heck of an awesome guy. He told us he wants to hear the gospel again, and hopefully this time we can help him to the waters of baptism and beyond.

It`s important to note that our role as missionaries is not just to get people baptized....our purpose is to "invite others to come unto Christ." This involves much more than just baptism, and it takes effort from both missionaries AND members. It is such a rewarding work.

On Wednesday, we had Zone Conference in Gokiso with Elder Aoyagi of the Quorum of the Seventy. Such a wonderful, extremely humble and deeply spiritual man. Most of the whole conference was in Japanese. We combined with the Nagano Zone. So fun! I got to see a lot of old friends from the MTC and make more new friends here in the mission.

Friday we did another companion exchange, so our beloved District Leader, Elder D, came from Gifu to stay with me for a whole day here in Ichinomiya. We had an awesome time. Elder D is 15 months out, so his Japanese is pretty good, but he let me take the lead on everything. At first I was nervous to have to be in charge.....until now I`ve been content to let my companion Elder H lead ....but it actually turned out really well. I took the lead on all of our lessons for the day, and even figured out how to use the GPS on our phone to find a member`s house (the phone is all in kanji, so I can`t read any of it, haha). Elder D and I bonded really well. Awesome guy.

Sunday (yesterday) was an amazing day. I gave a talk in first talk in Japanese, about "True Conversion." I was slightly nervous, but not too bad. Japanese people are so nice .... I need all the confidence I can get right now, so I appreciate their kindness. After church, we had a lesson with the Y family. We talked all about Jesus Christ and his specific mission here on earth. They seem to really want to believe, but their faith is still struggling. We`re trying our best to help them. They are such wonderful people. That night, after our lesson, we had an epic BBQ with the Tachi family in the church parking lot. The parents are both really young....both return missionaries...with two beautiful young children. The BBQ was delicious and so fun. I freaking love the people here.

So our ward mission leader, Brother Hibiki, is a total bro. He works with us all the time, and this time he had a rather unique idea. He was helping out with setting up with a concert at the local mall, and after he heard that I play guitar and watched me play his guitar, he asked us to perform in the concert! He thought it would be a really cool way to attract a lot of attention to missionaries and help us talk to a lot of people. We just got back a few minutes ago, and talked to TONS of people. I was so grateful for the opportunity to play guitar again, especially here in Japan!! Such a cool experience. A bunch of members from our ward here came to watch us perform as well. 

While we were walking around talking to people, we heard somebody yelling after us, "Hey Elders!" We turned around to see this Latino guy coming towards us speaking in English! He was so happy to see missionaries. His name is David. It turns out he is a church member from Ecuador! Return missionary and everything! Only spoke English and Japanese, haha. We had a wonderful conversation with him. It`s SO COOL to run into random church members in different places throughout the world.

I hope everyone is doing great!! I am praying for you all. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf. God is truly our Father in Heaven. 

As Joseph Smith once said: 

. . . the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family 
with a fatherly care and paternal regard

So true. He does indeed love each one of us personally as his unique and individual children. I am grateful for this knowledge, and honored to have the chance to share it with the people of Japan.

I love you all!!!

Love always,

Elder Naylor

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Hbello evberyone...

Pblease fborgive mby pboor hbandwrbiting....I`m strbuggling to bbreathe undber all thbis wbater. Thbere`s a tbyphoon pbassing thbrough tboday!!

Actually the rain`s not that bad. We went out running in it for our exercise this morning, and it was a blast. Super wet though!!

Japan is doing great. This week has been awesome. On Tuesday, we met with one of our potential investigators, F-san, and spent about 3 hours with him. He`s awesome. He investigated the church about 3 years ago, and he accepted everything except tithing. Since he couldn`t get over that hurdle, he was dropped, and hasn`t heard from the missionaries since. Elder Heo and I decided to contact him again last week though, and he was so happy to see us. He LOVES missionaries. This past Tuesday, he RENTED A CAR so he could take us to lunch and then go see the Ichinomiya Tower. WHAT A BRO!!! Seriously, awesome guy. We had so much fun with him. The BBQ he took us to was cool....they bring you raw meat and then you cook your own food right there on a skillet at your table. Delicious. 

The Tower was awesome. We could see four cities from all directions....Gifu, Inuyama (which literally means "Dog Mountain"), Nagoya, and Ichinomiya. We didn`t talk any gospel with him except to find out what he`s learned from other missionaries (basically everything), but we`re meeting with him again tomorrow to have an actual lesson. Legit.

Ichinomiya Tower
N-san is still doing great. We got to have dinner with him at a member`s house on Thursday (the Kotare family). Elder H boldly assigned me to direct the lesson....crazy, right? I`m just a humble bean-chan (Japanese equivalent of "greenie," or brand new missionary). My Japanese is awful compared to my companion`s (compared to anyone, actually). But it went well. The Spirit really does help a lot. We shared 2 Nephi 31:12-13 and talked about baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Awesome stuff. I love Nonogaki so much. He`s such a funny guy. And I think I told you he also speaks fluent English, which is a big plus for me, haha.

He that is baptized in  my name, to him will the Father 
give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, 
and do the things which ye have seen me do.
2 Nephi 31:12

We always have miracles, but this week was really cool. On Friday, Elder H and I went down to the main Ichinomiya train station to talk to people....there`s a mall there, and it`s right in downtown, so there are always a lot of people. 

We had no luck until AFTER we finished and were on our way back home (funny how that`s always how it happens). Elder H suddenly stopped his bike to talk to these two young teenage boys who were sitting on the sidewalk smoking. I never would`ve thought to stop and talk to them....but my awesome companion was in tune with the Spirit and he did as he was directed. 

We had a nice conversation with them and talked about church, and found out they were both 15 years old. Takeru and Sora were their names. I think they thought we were really weird...couple of guys in white shirts and ties, on bikes, wearing big bulky helmets (NOBODY wears helmets in Japan), one small Korean dude and another fat white guy talking about Jesus, who they`ve never even heard of before. 

BUT we invited them to come follow us and see the church building, which was really close by, and they said yes!! We showed them the chapel and talked to them more about God and what we do at church every week. Then we asked if we could meet again, and they said sure. It was awesome. Two new investigators in just a few minutes. Of course, it was all Elder H and the Spirit.... it was exciting.

I have so much more to talk about but I`m running out of time. I`ll end with something cool. I learned what the "Coast Guard" is called here in Japan: KAIJO HOANKAN. It literally means "Person who Guards on the Sea." Pretty cool. The Coast Guard is a big deal here....they have this really popular TV series about it called "Sea Monkeys".

Japanese food is delicious. The people here are fantastic....I cannot describe the kindness and love that Japanese people have. The church members here LOVE missionaries. They bring us food every week at church. Our cupboards are overflowing!!

This church is so true. This work is eternally relevant and immensely important....the most important working on earth. Bringing souls to Christ and providing a way for them to live together forever. Helamam 3:27-30.....the gate of heaven is open to ALL people. I am so grateful for this work.

I love you all!! Stay happy and stay classy!!

Love always,

Elder Naylor

I walk the streets of Japan til I get lost, cause it doesn't remind me of anything . . .

Hey peeps!!!

So my advice is this: Don`t live in Japan if you`re claustrophobic. I barely fit through doorways and sidewalk gateways and stuff. I`ve hit several poles on my was graceful though. And I just don`t fit in the cars here.

But I absolutely love everything, regardless. My companion Elder H is awesome. We`ve seen some miracles!

Last week, we got an epic typhoon. It rained for hours, and the streets were flooded about a foot and a half deep outside our apartment. We were out biking in the rain to visit a family and we got absolutely drenched, like we had been swimming for hours. When we visited the family though, they were really grateful that we visited. They had a bunch of questions for us. It was kinda an impromptu visit....they hadn`t been expecting us...but it was so worth it. We were able to answer all their questions and invite them to church.

That night, we had another lesson with N-san. I seriously love the guy so much. We`ve decided that we need to get more bold with him....he`s expressed a desire to be baptized, but isn`t sure about setting a specific date. We`re hoping to commit him to be baptized on October 5th. I think if we actually set a specific date, we`ll make more progress with him. He is always reading the Book of Mormon and praying though. Our lessons with him are always full with the Spirit.

I love riding my bike through long stretches of rice fields! They`re everywhere, and they`re gorgeous. When the wind blows across them it looks like a long green ocean shimmering in the afternoon breeze. We went to visit a member, Sister N, who lives across one of these long stretches of rice fields. When we got to her house, we met her returning home from shopping. We shared a short scripture message on her doorstep about how God loves us...1 Nephi 11:17. Then I shared my testimony in simple Japanese. This was the first time since coming to Japan that I have felt the Spirit so incredibly strong as I testified. I could not hold back my tears, and neither could Sister N. It was a very strong spiritual moment.

On Friday we had Zone Training in Fukutoku. On the train we met a cool guy named Y-san. He helped us get where we were going. He was super nice, and we shared some pamphlets with him and got his phone number. We`re scheduling an appointment with him this week.

Zone Training was awesome. I learned a lot about how to be a better missionary. I also ran into three of my buddies from the MTC who were in my district...Elder F, Elder E, and Elder C. I really missed them. After ZTM, I went on companion exchange with Elder B. I went to stay with him in Gifu. Gifu is really cool, and really big! This is Elder B`s third transfer, so he is also relatively new. On the train to Gifu, we saw a man standing alone. The Spirit gently nudged me to go and talk to him. I was nervous because now I didn`t have Elder H (who is very fluent in Japanese) to back me up. But I approached him with confidence, and the Spirit took it from there. We had a wonderful conversation for about 25 minutes. 

His name was F-san, 22 years old, Buddhist, has no idea what the purpose of life is. We talked about his hobbies and interests and then talked about the church, families, and Jesus Christ. He was genuinely curious. It was awesome, and truly a miracle. He lives in Gifu, so if he shows anymore interest, they`ll take care of him. It was my first time carrying a full conversation with someone in Japanese though, so it was a major step for me. Elder B was awesome too. I`m still not understanding much of the language as of yet.

I have so much more to tell you from this week, but I`m running out of time! Suffice it to say that I`ve seen many miracles already, and also had many discouragements. But I have taken a pledge to stay happy and smile at everyone, every day. Elder H is really good at that. I`m learning a lot from him.

I miss you all, and I think of you each day and each night as I pray. I pray for all of you, friends and family. The Lord is unfolding the Gospel in miraculous ways here in the Land of the Rising Sun. The church members are the strongest I`ve ever seen. We could learn a lot from them, and their zeal for missionary work and their love for Christ. My companion, Elder H, told me a little about Korea. He said that a General Authority came to speak to them once not too long ago, and told the Korean church members to prepare well, because their children and grandchildren will serve missions in North Korea. That is a truly powerful statement. The Lord is hastening His work on the earth, for sure.

Stay classy and stay true to what you believe. The Lord is on your side, always.

Love always,
Elder Naylor

P.S. The ward mission leader asked me to play guitar in a talent show next month!! Woo!!

Monday, September 2, 2013


Can I just start by saying that Japan is AWESOME. When our plane touched down in Nagoya and we stepped off, my first impression was that it was HOT and HUMID. But my second impression was that it was full of the kindest and most polite people I have ever met. Even the security people were nice!

President and Sister Yamashita are spiritual giants. They are SO wonderful. As soon as I met them I could immediately feel how much they love us.

President Kazuhito and  Sister Tazuko Yamashita--Japan Nagoya LDS Mission
My new companion is Elder Heo, from South Korea. He and I clicked immediately. When we walked in to meet our new trainers, he and I looked at each other and smiled and I immediately knew he was the guy. He`s such a bro. He didn`t speak any English before his mission, but he`s learned since coming here and can speak really well. I`ve been teaching him some stuff. He`s gonna know all the best English sayings when he gets home, haha. He has just one transfer left on his mission, so I only get him for six weeks...bummer! We have been working so hard together. His Japanese is flawless, and thankfully he can translate for me when I don`t understand stuff.

Elder Naylor and Elder Heo in Ichinomiya

We are serving in the Ichinomiya Ward, just west of Nagoya City. It`s a very urban area....lots of subways and trains and cars and people. There are rice fields everywhere though, even in the city. And everything is super compact and squished together. I can barely fit through some places, and I`ve already banged my head on doorways and my knees on tables....I think I`m too big for this country! It`s so beautiful here though.

We`re serving with two wonderful sisters here, Sister M (who is brand new from the MTC with me) and Sister S. They live in the apartment right above us, and we do stuff with them every day, whether it`s planning or eating or teaching. We`re really enjoying working with them. Sister S knows the area really well, so she`s been teaching us everything.

The very first day we arrived here, Sister M and I taught Eikaiwa (English Class). We teach it in the church building (right across the street from our apartment), and it is SO fun! I swear, Japanese people are the coolest people on earth. They are so funny and eager to learn, and so loving.

So Elder Heo and I are spending time getting to know members of the ward and visit people who are interested in learning more. We are SO BUSY! But it`s awesome! One of our guys, N-san, is amazing. He is in his 40s, is partially crippled (but still walks himself everywhere, because he`s a boss), and loves the church. He comes to church every week, and also comes to Eikaiwa. We had a spiritual lesson with him on Saturday night....I started crying out of nowhere as I shared an experience with him, and Elder Heo shared another of his own experiences with him, and we talked for so long, all about faith. N-san took a lot of time to think about it. He`s thinking really hard about being baptized, and we`re gonna talk about setting a baptismal date with him at our next lesson.

Another family we`ve been teaching is the Y--. They`re a husband and wife who have been investigating the church for a while. We had a wonderful lesson with them and the sisters last night, and talked a lot about faith and the Holy Ghost.

I need to talk about the church members here in Japan. I just met them all yesterday at church. The ward here (and from what I hear, most of the wards in all of Japan) is SUPER focused on missionary work....I swear, about 80% of Sacrament Meeting, people were talking about how important it is for EVERYONE to be involved in missionary work. We could take a few lessons back home from their examples here. It is SO important for members to be actively involved with the missionaries in the ward. We rely on them heavily.

Testimony meeting yesterday was awesome. Everyone`s testimonies were so sincere and spiritual....remember how Sister Michiko Siron`s testimonies are back home in Boise? It`s like that here, except in Japanese. Elder Heo, Sister M, and I all went up to bear our testimonies yesterday. The whole ward was so nice and polite, and they politely laughed at all of my dumb jokes.

Baskin Robbins. 31 flavors, 31+ countries.

Elder Heo and I have been visiting a lot of less-active members. On Saturday, we went to visit another less-active member, and afterwards swept through an entire apartment building knocking on doors. We met four new people, one of whom gave us his number, and we`re gonna meet with him again later this week. New contact, woo!!

I want to tell you so much more, but my time is short. Suffice it to say that the church is SO true, especially in Japan. The work is growing fast here, and the church members are strong. I love it here. I love this work. Missionary work is absolutely the greatest thing on earth. We help people by doing service, and we also help them come closer to Christ. Could there be anything greater?

I love you! Stay safe and wonderful!

Mata ne,
Elder Naylor