Sunday, November 30, 2014

Making the transfer calls . . . busy office work, but we still managed some time for finding and teaching

Hey everyone! Fun day today; it is transfer weekend and today was my first time at the helm actually making the transfer phone calls. It was way fun to talk to everybody and hear their reactions over the phone. Most of our missionaries are happy missionaries, but a couple not so happy campers as well....haha. It has been such a rewarding experience though, working with President Yamashita as we planned together for where to send our missionaries and how to help the ones who are struggling. President Yamashita handles each situation with so much love and care. I am inspired by his example.

Despite the busy work in the office this week, Elder Sugimoto and I still managed to find some time to leave the office and go out and do some finding and teaching. We were blessed with great success and found a lot of new investigators and had some very powerful lessons. I have loved working with Elder Sugimoto and seeing so many miracles, no matter how small or large they may be. We have several people who are so close to baptism and are developing real, concrete faith in Jesus Christ. I love teaching people about this amazing message.

Fun fact: The subject of this video (John) is a member of the ward I am currently serving in. Way cool guy, way cool family. He is Canadian and his wife is Japanese.

we have a great group in the mission office . . . only one's a real muffin-head
We actually had an earthquake this past week, which apparently we were supposed to have felt, but I felt.......nothing. However I received a few calls from missionaries who were closer to the epicenter letting us know what happened, that they felt everything shaking for about 15-20 seconds. No one was hurt and there was no damage though, and honestly I`m a little jealous that I missed out on the action! 

Not a whole lot more time this morning but I just want to let you all know how much I love and miss you! Thank you so much for all you do! Mom my package has been located, it has been sitting in the Okazaki apartment for several weeks (the Elders there forgot to tell me, hahaha....). Also Dad I received my driving record in the mail last week, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I passed the written test earlier this week and I have the practical driving test next week, which if I pass will finally bring me to the end of this bureaucratic battle and allow me to receive my Japanese driver`s license. Apparently the driving test is super strict, but I think it will be okay.

Love you all so much! Life is great here and I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Monday, November 24, 2014

A distinct feeling inside

Dearest Family and Friends,

What a fun week! We spent pretty much the entire week traveling all over the mission doing exchanges with the zone leaders. Loved seeing some new areas while also having the chance to return to some old familiar areas as well. This week was just full of miracles big and small.

Rather than relay the experiences of the week though, I would like to mention something that has been on my mind a lot recently. There was a talk given recently at this past General Conference entitled "Which Way Do You Face?" that really had a big effect on me. It has mainly made me think about how well I should be putting God first in my life, and especially how well I should be representing the Savior as a missionary.

Through my pondering I have learned more fully how absolutely un-important the things of this world are compared with the things of God. There is a quote by a United States president that I really like that has stuck in my head the past few years: "What matters is not wealth or status or fame; what matters is how well we have loved." I believe this with all of my heart. The things of the world are of material value and therefore, in the eternal perspective, worthless. Wealth will die with the individual, status will die with time, and fame will disintegrate in a world of constantly changing values. But God is unchanging and eternal. When we put God first in our life, we are choosing to be truly happy.

in the mission home
It is not easy, though, at least in the beginning. But I can testify from my heart and my experience that the closer you bring yourself to Heavenly Father, the happier and more fulfilling your life is.

My weaknesses and shortcomings have been very stressful for me to try and overcome, but I feel so strongly and surely that God can help us accomplish anything. When we are weak, He makes us strong. I have experienced this enabling power over and over again. If you want to know what this feels like for me, it is hard to describe and yet so recognizable. When I pray and ask forgiveness or help, I can feel whisperings within my soul that strengthen and encourage me. I don`t think I have ever heard a physical voice from heaven, but I have experienced many times a distinct feeling inside. This is the way God usually speaks to us. Our spirits lodged within our bodies feel and communicate in a different way than regular human senses, and therefore the Spirit speaks to us in ways that may be difficult to understand but are nevertheless very real and very powerful. 
I can never deny the truth of the things that I now know and hold so dear. I love the plans that my Father has in store for me, though I know not what specifically they may be. And I especially love telling people who don't yet know God about the plans that He has in store for them, and watch as they feel the change in their lives. It is a privilege and a blessing to be a witness and participant of this great Work!

I pray that we may never forget which way we face, that we may always strive to face God and put Him first in our lives. As we do so, others will come to know Him through our example. This is not mere religion or mere Christianity; these beliefs have been incorporated into my life and I believe that I am shaping the course of my eternal potential. I can`t imagine a life without these eternal truths. I am so grateful that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that we now know of a surety how to find our way back Home. These are the truths that I hold dear.

I love every one of you so much!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

PS I LOVE this video! and I thought I would share it with you all!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dendo fire!

After the sudden transfer, everything was kind of a blur. But I am slowly adjusting to the new missionary lifestyle. We are rarely in our own area for more than a few days at a time, because we travel all over the mission given training to missionaries or doing companion exchanges. It is a way cool experience getting to know all of the other missionaries one on one and seeing all of their wonderful examples. I have especially enjoyed working with President Yamashita. He is one of the most Christlike people I have ever met, and the love and care that he takes for each of his missionaries is so impressive. I have already learned so much over this past week here in the office.

This week we had some cool experiences. We went up to Kanazawa, one of the northern reaches of the mission, to do an exchange with the zone leaders there. We spent all day out in the rain trying to find new investigators, and we were blessed with much success. The people up there were so kind and seemed more interested than usual in what we had to say. It was a surreal experience standing in the pouring rain preaching to a young man who was interested enough in the message that we had that he stayed to listen, despite how cold and wet it was. I was impressed by his sincere desire to learn.

And this morning we went to a soccer activity with some church members and were surprised to see that one of them brought his friend, and then we all four went together to show his friend the church building and ended up teaching him all about the Book of Mormon and what we believe. He was very intrigued and agreed to come meet us at the church again tomorrow. I was so impressed with how quickly and readily the church member wanted to share the Gospel with his friend. I love seeing that "dendo fire" in people`s eyes (dendo  = missionary work).

My new companion, Elder S, is awesome. I have known him since the beginning of my mission, and we have always been great friends. He is the senior assistant right now and has been helping me out a lot with learning my new responsibilities. I am so grateful for his patience and friendship, especially because I mess up so much and am way too inadequate for this responsibility, haha. But he has been great. He is Japanese but is very fluent in English, so we talk in Japanese maybe only about half the time. He wants to continue learning, so he will often talk to me in English. I love teaching together with him.....

our district in northern Nagoya--with my new companion. Elder S is wearing a gray suit

Last night we had an amazing lesson with a new investigator, Y. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and emphasized why we need a Savior. I was so impressed with Elder S`s teaching skills, and I felt like we taught together in good unity. I am really enjoying working with him.

I don`t have too much more time, but I just want to let you all know how much I love you. Thank you for always being there and supporting me in my weaknesses. The Lord is helping me as I work to turn those weaknesses into strengths, and for that I am forever grateful.

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Monday, November 10, 2014

A new assignment

Hey parental units [and family and friends],

I got a rather unexpected phone call this past week from President Yamashita asking me to come be his new assistant. He called me late Thursday night and said that I had to report in to the mission office the very next morning, haha. I was at the time on a companion exchange in Toyota, about an hour away from Okazaki by train, and from there proceeded to hurry back to Okazaki, pack all my luggage, and be ready to go early the next morning, hahaha. Completely unexpected!

we were moving fast on an Okazaki train
I am now on my third Japanese companion! Elder S, from Sapporo (think far northern Japan, and lots of snow). I have known him since my first transfer and he is wonderful. We talk in both English and Japanese (he is fluent in English, very impressive). It`s going to be great here. It looks like my fate is sealed for the rest of my mission, and I will probably be here until my last transfer. I am now in the Meito Ward, here in the northern part of the city of Nagoya. Super nice place.

I am going to miss Okazaki. I served there for five and a half months and I grew to love the people and the place. It was so fun serving with three very different and unique companions in that area, all of whom became close friends. We saw so many miracles and I grew so much personally and spiritually (and perhaps physically as well.....the food was delicious).

Thank you so much for always being there. I love you so much! You and the family are in my prayers every single night! I`ll let you know more about what life is like here after I`ve had a week to adjust to the new responsibilities, haha. It looks like next week we will be traveling all over the mission doing companion exchanges and giving training. Hope I don`t get carsick.....

Peace and love,

Elder Naylor

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

God is a master craftsman

Dearest family and friends,

Life is full of ups and downs, as I`m sure all of us have heard many times before. I have had much time to ponder on my mission, both over my scriptures and over my pillow, about many things. One thing I have come to understand very clearly is that we learn the best when we are at the worst. God, the Master Craftsman, has crafted a plan that throws us into a whirlwind of a world that chucks every ugly, cheap, vulgar, and diabolical scheme of lies and sin directly in our path. But in the midst of this heap of trials, God can craft a masterpiece. I cannot count the number of times I have been on my knees asking for help to overcome the worst of the world, both for myself and those whom I have been involved in teaching. And I know that with the plan that we have, everything is stacked in our favor to succeed and eventually overcome the world.

How many billions of precious souls have gone down to the grave without the light of the gospel in their lives? I honestly cannot imagine my life without this gift. I count myself wholly unworthy to be born with such a treasure, but I know that all I can do is be grateful and then share it with all the world. It is the coolest thing ever to see the change occur in the lives of others as they came to learn about their Father in heaven. As we ride our bikes or walk down the street and stop everyone we meet, almost everyone says the same thing: "I`ve never thought about God before." "I have no idea what the purpose of life is." "I don`t really think about what will happen later on." "I don`t know what makes me happy."

I testify that the gospel has what every single one of these people need. There are millions of unhappy people in the world who just need SOMETHING to live for other than themselves or some perishable worldly fancy. I feel so strongly about this, especially now on a mission as I can witness for myself the change occur in the lives of these wonderful people who choose to take a leap of faith into the unknown. I can really feel the love that God has for each one of these people, whether they rudely yell at us on the street or ask us when they can come visit the church. It is there for them to feast upon, for anyone who wants it. All we have to do is reach out and give it a taste.

I am in kinda a reflective mood today, as you can tell, haha. It has been a good week. My companion, Elder Y, is the humblest and most loving person ever. We gave a zone training last week up in front of all the missionaries, and he did such a wonderful job overcoming his fear of speaking in front of people and helped all of us learn some profound lessons about how to become better missionaries. I am grateful to have him here by my side as we strive to teach and baptize as well as build up the wonderful missionaries in our zone. 

Life is so simple as a missionary; all we do all day is preach and teach about Jesus Christ and invite others to learn more. Every day is the same, and yet it is constantly changing; it never gets old. And when done correctly, the whole program forces you to forget about yourself and live for others. Life is just so much simpler when you live it that way.

Unfortunately there are just way too many good experiences to share. Let me just say that I cannot and will not ever be able to deny the existence of a Father in Heaven who is ALWAYS by our side. He has been there for me in my darkest moments. He will be there for you. I love Him, and I love all of you. Thanks for always being there, as well.

Peace and love!
Elder Naylor