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