Family and friends,
I am probably the happiest I have ever been in the longest time right now as I write this. I am so happy right now. Let me tell you why.
Elder A and I found two more people to teach this past week. I don`t know how many I`ve told you before, but right now we`re teaching 16 people! It`s cool for me to take a step back and see the progress of this area since I arrived five months ago, when we started out teaching just three people.
The best things is seeing these people`s lives change as they learn about Jesus Christ and as we try to show our love to them through service and friendship. The two new investigators` names are K (18 years old, half Peruvian, looks like an American white teenager but speaks fluent Japanese and hardly a word of English or Spanish, haha) and Ti Y (a mid-life woman who was super happy and friendly when we visited, and agreed to meet with us and talk more about the Gospel). Awesome stuff.
Yesterday Elder A and I had some free time in the evening so we went down to the train station downtown to talk to people and find someone new to teach. We kinda split up (while still staying in sight of each other) and started striking up conversations with people.
I was really touched when I started talking to this guy named F from the Philippines. He seemed surprised when I talked to him, but once the ice was broken it was like I was talking to a close friend. I surprised myself with how well my Japanese seemed to be coming out (I also used a couple of lines of Tagalog on him that I picked up from other Filipinos here, which he couldn't believe, haha) and quickly realized that my Japanese was flowing smoothly primarily because I had taken a leap of faith by getting up the courage to talk to a complete stranger, and God was blessing me for my initial action by supplying me with the necessary skills to continue forward.
Another thing that stuck out to me was how much of a difference it made for me to think of this guy as literally my brother, and talk to him with the mindset that I was trying to make a new friend rather than shove the Gospel down his throat. Even though he was not interested in the Gospel, I was still blessed and edified by the experience of talking lovingly and openly with another of God`s many precious and valued children, and I made a new friend in the process.
|Japanese garden, prepping for spring growth!|
In light of this experience, I want to share with you something that I learned at a Leadership Training Elder A and I were invited to a couple days ago at the mission headquarters. We were trained by President Yamashita and his assistants and also by one of the managers from the MTC, Brother Heaton. Two subjects of the training impressed me.
First off, we talked about seeing things from our own perspective vs. seeing things from God`s perspective, a.k.a. a "worm`s eye view" vs. a "bird`s eye view." When we strive to help someone out (in our case as missionaries, when we strive to share the Gospel with someone), and that person rejects us or is not interested, we may feel discouraged and disheartened. But God is pleased. He is pleased with our efforts in trying to help one of His children. And what`s more, though we may not be able to see very far down the road of eternity, He can. And our simple act of love has planted a seed for someone else to nourish within that person to whom we have shown our love.
Another thing that impressed me at this training was something that Bro. Heaton said: "Heavenly Father is not stressed out if we miss it...He is thrilled that you`re trying." This had a big impact on me with regard to both my struggles with missionary work and my journey through the paths of life. These lessons I learned were in my head as I talked with F at the train station.
A lot of other stuff happened this week that I wish I could share, but I`m running out of time! Suffice it to say that our Heavenly Father is a God of miracles, and miracles happen every day, whether we can recognize them or not. I also finished reading Talmadge`s Jesus the Christ for the second time this past week, and now I`m embarking on the New Testament again, alongside the Book of Mormon. I love the scriptures.
I would also like to give a shout out to my boy Luis Carrillo, who has been called to the Panama City, Panama Mission. When I got the news, I literally jumped out of my seat, I was so happy. Congrats, man. You have been in my prayers every day, and will continue to be, especially as you embark to serve the Lord. I`m so proud of you.
|Panama City LDS temple|
I love all of you SO much. I know with every ounce of my soul that this Gospel is true, and that our Father in Heaven loves us so tenderly and compassionately. This knowledge I cannot deny, nor can I hold back from sharing it with others....hence my desire to serve a mission.
And what a marvelous mission it is proving to be. The Lord is hastening His work in the Land of the Rising Sun and throughout the world to prepare us for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and we are here to share this message with the world. May all who hear this message feel of its truth and power, and the eternal happiness associated with it. This is not a message of fire and damnation....this is a message of peace and hope. An eternal and lasting peace and hope. The greatest gift the world has ever seen.
Peace and love,