Monday, March 24, 2014

Greetings from the wonderful world of MEAT.

Explanation: This week, Elder Ch and I were treated to the most DELICIOUS and ENDLESS supply of all-you-can-eat food (which included a lot of meat), courtesy of an investigator and some church members. Needless to say, I am grateful that we ride our bikes everywhere as missionaries, or else I would probably have grown twice in size since coming to Japan. Awesome food!

This week was good, had some good experiences, felt the Spirit, received a fair amount of rejection (meaning almost everyone), helped some people out with various problems, and tried our best to keep big smiles on our faces every day. Basically a typical week for a missionary, haha.

will anyone want what I have to offer?

maybe everyone will!

On Tuesday, Elder Ch and I visited a less-active member who is sick and cooked dinner for her and her husband. At their house they have ten cats...yes, TEN CATS. Every single one of them are stray cats that they found on the street and took into their home (in Japan, there are stray cats EVERYWHERE.....if you ever see a cat, chances are it most likely does not have a home). All the cats are super sweet and friendly. Some have missing eyes or missing tails, but all of them are so fun and cheerful.

the gospel is for everycat
the prophet Enos
Anyway, at this family`s house, after dinner we talked with the wife for a while to help strengthen her faith and come back to church. It was a very good experience. As Elder Ch allowed me to take the lead, I truly felt the Spirit working through me and say the things that she needed to hear. It was a simple yet powerful testimony-builder for me that the Lord truly does make sure that His servants help people in the way that they need it the most.

I taught her about the story of Enos in the Book of Mormon and how powerful his prayer was as he spent all day and all night out in the forest calling upon His God to forgive him and to save his people from destruction.

I have always loved that story, and I was happy to help this wonderful lady come to have a love for this story as well, and also strive to strengthen the power of her own prayers. Then Elder Ch bore his powerful testimony. The Spirit was with us in that small Japanese kitchen full of cats.

While knocking on doors this week, we found a very nice man who appears to live alone in a small apartment fairly close to the church. He stood out to us at first mainly because he actually gave us time to share a brief message before cutting us off and shutting the door (which is usually what happens). He even accepted a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon. We got to talk to him for about five minutes, and as we bore our testimonies about the blessings and happiness we have received through the Gospel, I noticed a slight but visible change in his face as he listened to us. I think that the Spirit of God definitely touched his heart. It was a very simple but nevertheless tender experience for me.

In Japan, I must say that missionary work can be very hard at times (of course, it`s hard anywhere you go). Nobody here has a Christian background, and when they hear the word Kirisuto (Christ) they kinda tend to shrink behind an invisible barrier and not really give you a chance to say much else, having no interest.

But one thing I love about Japanese people is their unique concern about families, which seem to be more important to them than in some other cultures. I have noticed that we sometimes have more success with people when we talk about families. And indeed, families are so wonderful and important, and central to God`s plan for our eternal happiness.

One of the primary and fundamental teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that families are eternal, and that we have the opportunity and blessing of living together forever with our families, even after our time on earth has come to an end. This is one of my absolute favorite teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and one that gives me hope concerning what will happen to me and my family when we have all passed away.

On Thursday we spent the morning and afternoon fasting on behalf of one of our investigators who is struggling with various issues. We also spent the day biking over endless muddy hills in the pouring rain. I was happy though as I peered through the soaked air at the beautiful landscape here in Shizuoka-ken (ken is the equivalent of "prefecture".....kinda along the same lines of a "state" back in America), which is covered in rolling hills with endless rows of bamboo trees and pine trees against a backdrop of tall mountains looming in the distance.....yet mere hills under the distant shadow of Mount Fuji, which, though far away, is occasionally visible from a high point on a clear day. Japan is beautiful, man.

that's Mt. Fuji!!
On Saturday we went and volunteered at an old-folks home up in Mori-machi. It was a delightful experience. Just like old folks back in America, the elderly people at resting homes here in Japan are just as sweet and fun to spend time with. Of course I could hardly understand a word that any of them were saying, their smiles and joy to spend time with us spoke to me in the universal language of love that is understood by all nations, creeds, races, and cultures. It was a tender experience to contribute to helping them have a good day that day. I look forward to volunteering there again soon.

Church yesterday was great again (as always), but one simple part stood out to me. An older lady in the branch here who has had a lot of tragedies in her family in the past (husband had a stroke and can`t do much on his own, none of the children want anything to do with the Gospel, among other things) stood up to give the closing prayer after Sacrament Meeting. As she prayed, the Spirit suddenly grew within the room. She prayed simply but fervently and pleaded with Heavenly Father that we may all feel peace in our day-to-day life and overcome our various trials and troubles.

Her prayer was simple, but it was so heartfelt...a real prayer. I noticed her wiping tears from her eyes as she went to sit back down afterwards. It was a small but noticeable thing to me, seeing her example of how we ought to pray to our loving Father in Heaven. I believe he wants more than anything to hear us offer up the true feelings of our heart when we pray, rather than a routine recitation. I was grateful for that.

I testify that this Gospel is in fact the only sure way to have peace in this life in eternal joy in the life of eternal worlds to come. I know that we all have a universal Father in Heaven who wants each of His children to have eternal happiness. And I am so grateful for this knowledge.

And one last thing.....HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear brother Eric!!! I LOVE YOU BRO!!!!!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

a quick bite of Ramen for lunch . . .
and then, we got work to do

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