愛する家族友達 へ、Beloved family and friends,
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a great New Year celebration. I know I have a lot to look forward to as I contemplate this next year, the entirety of which I will be happily and blessedly spending in this the Land of the Rising Sun.
New Year`s is THE HOLIDAY in Japan. The big one. Everything is pretty much gonna shut down this next week as people prepare for shogatsu. Hard to dendo at this time of year since everyone is so busy, and the Church members here are well aware of that, so many of them have graciously invited us over to eat and spend time with them this week.We have 5 dinner appointments scheduled so far. Legit.
This past week was incredible. We saw and were a part of so much awesomeness.
Christmas Eve, we spent our evening with an awesome member taking gifts to this family that lives near her who don`t have much. We brought food and warm clothing and presents for the kids. They were so grateful, and I could feel the love of Christ in the eyes of the children. I was grateful and blessed to be a part of a small act of service that made Christmas special for this humble family.
Christmas Day honestly felt like a regular day. People don`t celebrate Christmas much in Japan....some families do a small gift exchange and maybe have a cake party, but nobody really gets work off, everybody is still out and about doing their regular business.
|Family Night with the O family|
Such was the case for us missionaries as well! We spent the day visiting and bringing presents and seeing how people were doing. It was great.
In the evening we held our regular English Eikaiwa class, at which we had overwhelming attendance! We normally don`t talk about religion there....our purpose is to teach English free of charge, while trying to find new people to teach the Gospel (if they are interested).
But since it was Christmas, we incorporated a spiritual message. We read the story of Christ`s birth from the Bible together (in English), and then talked about it, and then sang some Christmas hymns and songs and played games and ate a bunch of food.
It was fantastic! Such a special evening, and I could tell that everyone felt the Spirit, especially as we talked about and testified of Jesus Christ.
Also that evening we had a lesson with our investigator, N-san. It was a special lesson, indeed. After answering his questions from his scripture reading, we shared a short Christmas message with him...John 12:46...
"I am come a light into the world,
that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
We testified to N-san of the reality and power of the love that our Savior has for each of us, and he said he felt something. He couldn`t quite understand it, but as we finished up he suddenly started praying and asked Heavenly Father to help him understand the feeling that he felt. We know that it was the Spirit testifying to him that this message is true, and that Jesus Christ does truly love him. He`s really starting to receive answers to his prayers. Overall, Christmas was a wonderful day.
Mom, Dad, Eric, and Joe, it was such a great experience to Skype with all of you this week!! You all looked fantastic. I have such an awesome family. I could feel the love from across the ocean. Thanks for that special experience. I love you!
So a couple weeks ago, I had the thought to share these beautiful prayer rocks with the kanji for "prayer" written on them ( 祈り ) with the Y family (big thank you to Cathy Schiefelbein for making them for me before my mission!).
Well, as we started our lesson with them last night, the husband pulled his prayer rock out of his pocket and straight up told us that he ALWAYS has it with him. As if that wasn`t awesome enough, he said that it has truly helped him remember to pray. He told us two experiences from the past week in which he was having a hard time with something, and then he put his hand in his pocket and felt the prayer rock, and then he would pray, and immediately a feeling a peace and contentment would enter his heart. I almost cried, I was so happy. I love that family so much.
Transfer calls came and went this past Saturday, and nothing changed, which means Elder Ahuna and I will be serving together here in Ichinomiya for at least another six weeks! Woooo! I love it here. The members and the people are fantastic.
|My district. I'm the tall one.|
We finally got snow this week!! It didn`t stick, but Elder Ahuna and I spent a couple of days riding our bikes through flurries of snow and icy wind, super stoked.
I hope everyone has a fantastic week. As we look forward to a new year, I have many resolutions in mind. The most important one though, which, simple as it yet may sound, is nevertheless the most significant and incomparable goal for which we all are striving....to come closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I can testify-- we find happiness by strengthening and forging a loving and close relationship with the Heavens. I pray that all of you may be able to do so as well.
Stay classy folks!
Peace and love,
Elder Matt Naylor