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

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I am "kansha" . . .

Japanese word for the week: kansha. "Thankful."

We are seeing amazing things in Ichinomiya, but right now I'm in Inuyama--"Dog Mountain"--staying overnight while I wait to travel to the mission office in Meito tomorrow.

I have made it through my first transfer (six weeks) here, and it has been amazing. SO many unforgettable experiences, so many miracles. I've seen many people's lives change as they learn about and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faith of these amazing people in a country that has yet to fully embrace Christianity is inspiring and humbling.

Unfortunately I had to say goodbye to Elder H this morning as he heads back home, having served a faithful mission these past two years. I miss him so much as my companion. I'll definitely be keeping in touch with him.

goodbye to my first district in Nagoya
My new companion is Elder A from Hawaii!! I will meet him tomorrow in person. I talked to him on the phone though, and it sounds like we're going to get along great. I'm looking forward to our companionship.

Last week N-san asked his wife for permission to join the church, and she was okay with it. His faith is growing each day. We had an excellent lesson with our new investigator, F-san, who has also brought his friend F-san2 (girlfriend maybe) to our past two lessons. This past week Elder H had me take the lead and teach her about the Book of Mormon and give her a copy. She lives in Okazaki, which is not in our zone (the other side of Nagoya), but we will probably continue to teach her along with F-san. Very exciting. She's super nice and lots of fun.

This week we found a new investigator....K-san. He lives an hour away by bike. Found him in the Area Book....hasn't heard from missionaries for about three years. The first time we visited his house he was extremely friendly and actually took us out to eat. We've taught him some English and also more about the gospel. Very wonderful guy, and he seems interested. He has a very good friend who is church member, but lives in Gifu (area right next to Ichinomiya). 

One of our investigators, Y-san, came to church yesterday!! Totally surprised us....we had no idea he would actually happy and grateful I was to see him. It was Fast Sunday yesterday, and among the things I was fasting for was that he would come to church. We truly can receive answers to our prayers. After church we had a wonderful lesson with both of the Ys, and their faith is really starting to grow. 

So Elder Hand I were basically inducted into the Relief Society last week. On Wednesday we spent the afternoon with some Relief Society sisters teaching us how to sew and use sewing machines and stuff. I finished making my apron that I started in the MTC, and it is now a world-famous work of art. Don't worry, I'll send a picture, but you've probably already seen it on billboards by now, it's so awesome.

move over Betty Crocker, I'm rocking this apron
Still many struggling people here. I love when we get to do service, helping people who can't help themselves. We get several opportunities every week, whether it's church members or investigators or just random people on the street. Their is nothing more exquisite than the expression of true brotherly love and kindness from one person to another. I wish I was better at it...I still have such a long way to go. Many Japanese people have mastered it.

Japan is awesome. The food is delicious. The monkeys are cool. But the crowning jewel of these isles is the wonderful people. Even more wonderful with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Eikaiwa--English class--with N-san
You are always in my prayers. Thank you for your support and prayers and mail.

I love you all!!

Love always,

Elder Naylor