Let`s just start off by saying that I didn`t think that I would be coming to Japan to learn Portuguese.
Brazil and Japan have an interesting connection that ties back to the aftermath of World War II and the automobile industry. As a result, there are lots of Brazilians here in central Japan, and for some reason most of them speak little to no Japanese. But they are the coolest people ever, and as they often come from a Christian background, tend to be very interested in our message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Within the past few weeks Elder Ch and I have found several Brazilians who want to meet with us. The most notable find is a small family consisting of Pedro and Gabriella and their small son, Miguel. We found them while knocking on doors last week and they were super, super happy to see us. They don`t speak Japanese OR English though, so we could only communicate by using a translator on their iPhone, haha.
It turns out that back in Brazil, they met with the missionaries many times and they love the Church. The wife even went toured the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple during an open house. They really wanted to meet with us more, but the language barrier is a problem. It`s also hard for them to come to church and not be able to understand anything without a Japanese-Portuguese translator.
When I called President Yamashita about it, he told me to go ahead and start learning Portuguese along with my Japanese.Luckily, in the city next to our area (Hamamatsu), there happens to be a Brazilian missionary. We are now conducting companion exchanges every week in which Elder Florentino comes here to work with me in Fukuroi and help me learn Portuguese and help teach. It`s working out well so far.
Apart from that, Elder Ch and I had an unusual amount of success this week--one of the hardest and yet most rewarding weeks on my mission so far. On Monday we found the Brazilian family, Pedro and Gabriella and Miguel.
Tuesday, Elder Ch and I spent most of the day weeding the garden of a member of the branch, and then while knocking on doors that evening we found a woman who was interested in all the different religions in the world and wanted to learn more.
Wednesday was the companion exchange with Elder Florentino, and he and I had a great time. We met with another Brazilian woman named Andreia who accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese and said she would like to hear more. We met with Pedro and Gabriella again that evening.
I am coming to LOVE the Brazilian people. Every one I've met loves to party.
Friday we spent most of the day in Shizuoka for a zone conference, about an hour away by train. After the conference we went out with some of our other missionary buddies to an all-you-can-eat restaurant downtown, and I got STUFFED. It was SO GOOD. I LOVE JAPANESE FOOD.
On Saturday Elder Ch and I met with several people, and were able to find two more investigators who wanted to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While knocking on doors that evening, at one point we came across an older woman who lives alone. She told us that her husband is very sick and in the hospital. Immediately we started testifying to her of a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers prayers, and we offered to pray for her husband right there on her doorstep.
She is Buddhist. We felt she was touched by the message concerning a Father in heaven.
She started to weep and said "Please pray for him."
As we prayed, I could feel the love that God had for this woman.
|peaceful shrine in the cherry trees|
And Sunday was great. As we were standing in the entrance of the church greeting people as they came in for Sacrament Meeting, and older man suddenly showed up outside. He was gazing up at the church building with a curious look. Elder Ch and I immediately went to greet him, and he said that as he was out walking that morning, he saw the church and was stopping to admire "the beautiful building." We talked for a minute or two, and then invited him to come in and join us for Sacrament Meeting.
His name is O. When he heard my name (pronounced "Neira" in Japanese), he said it sounded like a woman`s name, haha. During the meeting he would lean over to me or Elder Ch and ask all sorts of questions (Who is Jesus Christ? What does this bread and water mean? Who is Joseph Smith? etc...). It was also Fast Sunday, so he got to hear the powerful testimonies of many church members. He seemed very intrigued. He is mostly blind, and can`t really see very well, and he especially enjoyed the singing of the hymns.
After Sacrament Meeting, he came to join us for our Gospel Principles class, and Elder Ch and I taught about the Plan of Salvation. He was so interested and really liked the message. He then told us that he would like to hear everything that we have to teach, and that he would come back to church next Sunday. Music to our ears!! To be honest, this guy is a miracle investigator. I still can`t believe what transpired yesterday.
|another beautiful Japanese building|
In short, last week was a week of miracles. So many awesome things happened. I really love it out here in Japan-land. And I love all you guys.
This Gospel is so true. I know without a doubt that we do indeed have a loving Father in Heaven who is watching over us.
I leave you with the simple yet powerful words of Paul the Apostle: "Let brotherly love continue." (Hebrews 13:1). I echo his plea that we may all continue to show love for our fellow men and women on earth. We are all brothers and sisters under the same heaven and the same God. You are all my brothers and sisters, and I love you so much.
Peace and love,