Monday, March 10, 2014


Last night, Elder Chiba and I were planning on riding our bikes to the church and leaving them there to walk around the nearby neighborhoods and knock on doors for a bit. As we were turning the corner from the church, the emergency sirens posted throughout the area suddenly went off. 

Our first thought was that a tsunami was headed our way, but then we turned to see that instead a house fire had erupted in the building next to us. We ran up to make sure no one was inside (so much smoke) but luckily the whole apartment was empty. So we just stood back with all the people who had come outside and watched for a few minutes as the firefighters showed up and did their fantastic work. Presently the owner of the apartment returned and we were able to talk to him and try to calm him down a little bit. We offered our help for anything he needed and gave him our names and number, and taught him briefly about God and Jesus Christ. I felt so bad for the guy...he just suddenly lost his home...

he got harrowed too
While on the subject of crazy experiences, I have also come to realize that getting a haircut in Japan is a harrowing experience. 

I am grateful that no one back home has the misfortune of having to behold me on account of the current condition of the top of my head.

This week was good. Once again, Elder Ch and I got to see a lot of great things. We have been working with a less-active Church member lately named Bro. Ao. He is a really special guy who has been having a lot of problems lately. He`s currently looking for a job and hasn`t been to church for a while. We`ve been visiting him regularly and decided to re-teach him all the missionary lessons to help rekindle the fire of faith in his heart. 

The Spirit seems to be working with him because this past Saturday he drove with us to Shizuoka (about an hour and a half away) to hear our mission president, Pres. Yamashita, speak to the various missionaries, members, and investigators in our zone. It was a great experience, and I think it lifted Bro. Ao`s spirits. 

Tokyo temple
"Holiness to the Lord"

Not only that, but when we invited him to church the next day, he actually showed up! Even passed the sacrament and everything! It was great to see him, and also great to see all the members welcoming him warmly back to church. Good stuff. We`re working to help him progress to going to the Tokyo temple soon (he hasn`t been to the temple in a LONG time).

We also had an impromptu visit with our friend M-san, who I mentioned before used to live in Boise (SO CRAZY) and speaks very good English. We were walking around his neighborhood, saw him outside his house, and went to greet him. He was happy to see us and offered to take us to come see his farm! We were stoked at the invite and went with him in his tiny Japanese truck. He is very passionate about natural agriculture (no chemicals) and showed us all the different stuff he was growing, and we helped him out with a few things. 

Then on the way back we started talking religion. From the start, he told us straight up that he wasn`t interested in the church, just learning English. And we were okay with that. But then he just started asking us questions, and he seemed very impressed with our beliefs. Before we knew it Elder Ch and I had taught him most of the first missionary lesson,

Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. 

The Spirit was strong, impossible for M-san not to feel it. After we related the story of Joseph Smith`s First Vision, the whole car was just silent. The air was electric. And M-san was touched. He wants to meet with us again when he has more time. It was a great experience. One of many such like experiences that I have had thus far here in Japan.

Another day Elder Ch and I were riding our bikes and came across this homeless guy with his belongings piled in and on top of his front basket on his bike. He was kinda older. Very friendly when we stopped to chat. He was riding his bike from Kyoto to someplace up by Sendai (a ridiculously far distance, especially for a bike, ESPECIALLY homeless and your bike is pretty much broken and all your belongings in a jumbled heap on a tiny basket). It was a humbling sight. Didn`t tell us why he was traveling that distance. 

We gave him all the food that we had with us (two oranges and some sushi) and shared a message with him about the Gospel. He was very interested, and said he has studied a lot about many different churches before. To be completely honest, he was kind of crazy. But I felt a sincere love for the guy and wanted him to be happy. He offered cigarettes (haha) and we just chatted with him for a bit. When it was apparent that there was nothing much more we could do for him, we left him a church pamphlet and our names and number and said goodbye.

Our investigator H-san came to church yesterday, and it was great to see him. Eye-opening experience, though. During priesthood meeting, we started having a discussion about faith. Many people were voicing their own opinions about various points of doctrine regarding faith, and even arguing somewhat with each other. 

Elder Ch and I sat there with H-san just praying that everyone would stop making such a confusing and difficult learning environment for our investigator, who still knows very little about the church and the Gospel. It was very frustrating, but at the same time I learned a lot about how the Lord really wants things to run in His church. 

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus teaches about avoiding contention. In that whole chapter, He also sets forth His doctrine, which is truly quite simple and not complex.

And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger,
 one with another.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:28-30)

Christ appears to the Nephites
The Gospel was not meant to be confusing or frustrating. The Gospel is most beautiful when presented in the light in which it was meant to be revealed...purely and simply. We do ourselves no favors when we get into crazy, deep doctrinal conversations full of personal opinions and viewpoints during regular church meetings.

And we especially do not do any favors for people who are new and still learning about the church when we bring out our own personal opinions regarding Gospel doctrine with them, either. Of course, we are all human and very imperfect. The Lord`s Gospel is perfect though.

I don`t say these things to publicly condemn or vilify anyone...but I now feel very strongly that Church meetings are meant for us to uplift and edify each other through the pure and simple teachings of Jesus Christ`s Gospel, and not to create a war of words and opinions.

Luckily, after church Elder Ch and I were able through the Spirit to help Hidaka understand things better (he was very confused) and it turned out well. He still wants to continue to learn. I admire his desire to follow Jesus Christ. He seems like a really pure, humble guy.

District in Fukuroi
May we share a message with you?
At zone conference this week, Elder Ch and I were randomly chosen to go up in front of our whole zone and do a practice missionary lesson in which we were teaching our mission president and his wife about the Restoration. Luckily it turned out very well, and I was comforted by President and Sister Yamashita`s kind praise of how the lesson went, while also learning some good ways to improve.

I`m stoked to hear that Matt Fales is home from his mission! All of you are in my prayers. I love you all so much!! Thank you for EVERYTHING!

Peace and love,

Elder Naylor 

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