Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy New Year, NOBODY'S HOME!

Greetings all my lovely peeps,

HAPPY 2014!!!! I hope New Year`s was a blast for all of you!!

To put in bluntly in the words of Sister Brady (one of the lovely sister missionaries in our district), *sarcastic voice* "Yay, Happy New Year, NOBODY`S HOME."

To explain, New Year`s is probably the busiest time of year in Japan land. As a result, during virtually the entire week, NOBODY IS HOME. Everyone returns to their homelands/hometowns for the holidays, and in addition, everyone is very busy with family stuff and therefore often unable to meet with the missionaries.

But it wasn`t too much of a problem! We were blessed with a plethora of generous dinner appointments from members of the ward, who knew of our plight in trying to fill our week with productive activities. They graciously invited us to partake of some DELICIOUS Japanese New Years` food. 

Among the special foods eaten around New Years` is mochi, which is little more than pounded, cooked rice. And by pounded, I mean POUNDED. It has no resemblance of rice whatsoever apart from the white coloring. But it is delicious! It takes on a sticky/chewy taste, and is often served in a bowl with anko, a type of sweet bean that is a common dessert food here. Super delicious.

We took advantage of the New Years` season to share messages with the members about making goals to share the gospel and grow closer to God this year. We`ve been able to further build relationships with the truly wonderful and delightful members of the Ichinomiya Ward. I`ve also been assigned to give my second talk in this ward next Sunday, in which I will be speaking on making goals for the new year as well as goals for eternity. I`m super stoked.

Elder A and I were still able to meet with several investigators. We made contact again with Fu-san and Fi-san, who have lately been too busy to meet with us, having cancelled many of our set appointments. We were only able to talk with them for a short time, and we focused our messages on prayer. It was nice to meet with them. We love them dearly.

We also made another impromptu visit to the Y-sans, and talked about setting goals for the new year....specifically to make an effort to read the scriptures and pray daily, and to come to church often. We can tell that they love when we visit, and we in turn love visiting them.
Sister Y is expecting a baby this very month!
No-san took us out to eat at an all-you-can-eat (tabehodai) pasta and pizza restaurant last Monday. It was DELICIOUS. Our ward mission leader, Brother Hibiki, is taking us out to another tabehodai place again this week. As I explained during our Skype sesh a couple weeks ago, my assumptions that I would get super skinny here in Japan have been dashed to pieces. Thank goodness for the exercise time we get in the mornings, haha. I`ve been using it to full advantage. Elder A and I bought some exercise equipment last week.

so many amazing meals
I cannot fully explain how much I love it here. As I am slowly but steadily gaining more confidence in the language, I am learning to love it even more in all of its splendor. I especially love the translations from English to Japanese in the scriptures. The nuances of Japanese have taken a special and tender hold on my heart. The language of the scriptures is beautiful in its structure and choice of wording. I especially love the words of Jesus, the Master Teacher.

I have begun my third reading of the Book of Mormon since coming on my mission, and I have begun my second journey through James E. Talmage`s Jesus the Christ. I`ve also ordered the Japanese version of that book: キりスト・イエス, which I look forward to reading as well. My studies have been rich with increased understanding of the Savior since coming on my mission.

SO worth reading!
This mission is hands down the best choice that I have ever made. To all my friends who still by some miracle actually still read my emails and blog (hahaha), thank you. I love you all so much. To my Coast Guard friends especially, with whom I have forged a deep bond of friendship, I think about all of you daily. You are in my prayers. I have come to tears on more than one occasion as I think about my friendship and kinship with all of you. You are family to me. Stay true and stay bold in your standards and values that you are striving to defend through your faithful service.

I leave you with the words of Paul the Apostle:

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: 
now I know in part; but then shall I know 
even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

I testify that each of us is known. Each of is is known personally and tenderly by the transcendent God who created the earth and the cosmos, and He created you. He knows you. He loves you. You are His precious child. Though we are living in a fallen world, where we "see through a glass, darkly," unable to fully comprehend our purpose and divine nature as sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we will indeed one day come to know our purpose for existence, and feel the love of our Heavenly Parents.

Stay classy, folks!

Peace and love,
Elder Matt Naylor


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