Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Final Week in the Land of the Rising Sun

Dearest family,

I am looking forward to seeing and speaking with you in about a week. Until then, this week will be the best week of my mission. We have filled our planners with appointments with investigators and we are going to work our hardest that we possibly can. I don't want it to end but I recognize that there is a time and a season for all things. I love the work and the people here in Japan so, so much.

The main thing I would like to do next week before I head back to the CG is just spend time with family. I hope that's okay. I know it will be a pretty hectic few days, haha.

Thank you so so much for your love and support while I have served here. This has been a monumental almost-2 years, a life-changing and soul-shaping experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It has been nothing but sweet memories. I'm looking forward to another week of such memories.

I love you and I love my Savior. He is truly at the helm as we sail the stormy tempest, and we have nothing to fear. Of this I testify boldly, having gained a personal witness and conviction of the reality of the Savior.

With apologies to my past companion Elder Charlton (who probably won't see this anyway), I leave you with these final words, which don't take effect for another week or so yet: mission accomplished.

Love always,
Elder Naylor

The tables have turned

Hey family,

I love you all so much and it feels crazy that I will be seeing you in about two weeks. But for now I am feeling more motivated than ever to just preach and teach and turn Fukuroi upside down, haha.

saying goodbye in Meito
It has been so great to come back and visit with the people here in this area whom I love so much. I am sad that there has been some recent disobedience in this area that has caused some problems with trust and effectiveness but those problems are going away and the work is going great. We have seen a lot of miracles this past week. I have two new companions, Elder C and Elder J. Elder C is from Brazil and I have known him since he first came to the mission last summer, we are great friends. Elder J is a new missionary that I remember picking up at the airport earlier this winter, I am very impressed with him and we are all getting along great and working hard.

I really love the work here so much. I don't want it to end. I hope all is well back home, you are always in my prayers. I love you!

Love always,
Elder Naylor

a recent convert here in Fukuroi has a Japan Coast Guard hat, I love it!

Elder S and I, reunited in the Fukuroi apt this week . . . I trained him here almost a year ago, and now he is my zone leader in Shizuoka! The tables have turned, ha!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Holy Week

Dearest family units,

It's been a great week, and we are preparing for Easter. Happy Easter to everyone! Things are going well here. The new AP Elder S is transitioning smoothly and he is wonderful. I am grateful to have him taking my place, and I know that the missionaries are in good hands.

This past week has been kinda crazy because President Yamashita is away from the mission for 10 days (he has been asked to attend General Conference and get his new assignment from the Brethren), so we have basically been in charge for the past week. It has been nerve-wracking not having the President here, but so far things have been going relatively smoothly.

I am really excited to head back to Fukuroi next week, on Tuesday! I am looking forward to just working as hard as I possibly can, focusing on nothing but straight-up missionary work and building up the area.

It has also been really a weird feeling coming down towards the end of everything, and I confess I have caught myself crying on more than one occasion this past week. I love it here so much.

I hope all is well for all of you. Thank you so much for all of the emails and letters and love. It means so much. I hope you have a wonderful Easter. Here's a message I know you will appreciate. I love my Savior!

Then said Jesus unto them, Be Not Afraid . . . Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28)

I have been in contact with Mrs. Rose from the CG and she said to go ahead and wait to call her until I get home. With regards to the flight plans, I would love to be able to attend church back in Boise on Sunday if that's a possibility before flying back east, but I understand if that wouldn't work out. If that wouldn't work out, then maybe a Saturday flight would be best so I could attend church back east on Sunday. Please let me know whatever works best. Thank you so much.

I love you!!!!

Love always,
Elder Matt

Picture: Today was the last day playing soccer with the bros, so we took a picture! I will miss them!!

soccer with Elder Levitate

Monday, March 30, 2015

Miki's Baptism!

Hey family,

Alright first of all we had a crazy busy day today so I only have a couple minutes to email. Here are the major deets from this past week.

The baptism of Miki was wonderful, definitely one of the biggest highlights of my mission. Tons of crying and lots of happiness.

days like this are the best days

On the same day of the baptism Elder E and I had a crazy experience taking care of a struggling Elder who was trying to run away from the mission. We talked to him for a long time and hopefully it helped. He is doing a lot better now. We love him so much.

I have been blessed with the chance to work as a regular missionary for my last three weeks in Japan!!!!!! This next week will be my last here in the mission office as we train the new assistant, Elder Strauss, who is an amazing Elder whom I look up to a lot. This will be a great week.

You're probably wondering where I will be serving for my last three weeks.......I'M GOING BACK TO FUKUROI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The latest news is that the area is really struggling and they need an extra push in the right direction. I'm not sure if I am exactly the best person to help with that but since I know the area and the members I may be able to help out a little. I am so excited.

I love you all and miss you very much. But I just love it here.

Hopefully I will have more time next week to tell you more. I love you!
Love always,
Elder Naylor

Today we went to the park with our new investigator Ali, He looks exactly like Tom Cruise, right? ha! and the new elder there is Elder S, the new assistant I'm helping to train this last week . . . before I get to be an AWESOMELY regular proselying missionary again

PS Oh yeah, I'm going back to the Coast Guard on May 4. Cool. Grateful. Legit.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Okazaki for the day

Dear family,

I am writing this email from Okazaki, my beloved old area!! I have been given the wonderful blessing of returning here for the day to participate in and perform the baptism of my past investigator, Sister Fujiwara Miki, at her request. She is a wonderful miracle story.  Her faith is rock solid, and I am really looking forward to the baptism later today. I will send pictures and details next week!!

I am a little anxious about the results from the Coast Guard, whether or not I will be able to return....if they say no, I would like to stay in Japan until June. But of course I am hoping and planning on them saying yes, haha. Please let me know as soon as you can if you hear anything. I haven't heard anything yet. But here's a shout out to my friends who got their first assignments at Billet Night, Congratulations!!!

I am so grateful for you and I love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers. ERIC HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN A COUPLE DAYS!!!

Love always,
Elder Matt

with the Ayuzawa family

Monday, March 16, 2015

Miki's baptism

Hey family,

I love you all and I am grateful for you. I am really shocked and very sad to hear the news about the cadets killed in the car crash.....I knew Soso Makaridze pretty well and he was such a wonderful guy. We all loved him and he was really kind to everyone. I am praying for all of my friends there. I really miss them so much.

I still have not heard back from the Coast Guard about my readmission, but as you know my release date has been changed. I'm really glad that I get to stay here as long as I can. If possible I would like to spend my last four weeks not as an AP, but maybe go work as hard as I can in some other area without having to worry about office work or other stuff pertaining to the mission as a whole. I wish I had taken more advantage of that time earlier on during my mission. But it has been a huge blessing serving here in the office with Elder S, Elder E, and President Yamashita. I have learned so much from them! It is a blessing to serve here.

President Yamashita has given me permission to go and baptize one of my former investigators in Okazaki, Miki, who requested that I return to baptize her. I am so excited for her and really happy to see that she is ready to make her commitment to the Lord. I will let you know more about how that goes next week. I am so excited! She would definitely make it into my top favorite and most prepared investigators that I have taught during my mission.
Here's a news story about President Ballard's recent visit here. It was awesome!

I want to thank you again for your constant love and support. It's weird to me that things are starting to wind down towards the end but I am really doing all I can to not let that dwell in my mind. I am kinda feeling that sense of urgency that comes into the minds of missionaries who are close to going home, and I just want to do everything that I can up until the end. I am excited for another few weeks of miracles.

I love you and love hearing from you!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Favorite Thing!!

Hello family people,

I just want to tell you how much I love you. Thank you for always being there.

Japan is genki and I am still as happy as ever here. I miss you but I love this land. We have been seeing some great miracles lately and the mission as a whole is progressing. We have been going around to various zone conferences these past weeks meeting with all the wonderful missionaries and pumping each other up about how awesome the Gospel is. We are finding people to teach and people are getting baptized.
out driving yesterday and saw the zone leaders talking to someone on the street--THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING!!

I don't have too much to say this week other than how grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It will never get old to me, telling all of you how much it has blessed my life. To be more specific, I just never have to be alone. He is always there. He is always waiting for me with open arms, even when I mess up, which is far too often.

I hope we may all never let go of this priceless gift. We are too blessed to let it slip away.

Thank you for being my family. I look forward to seeing you again after a little bit, but for now I am so happy here. I am also looking forward to spending eternity with you. I have the greatest family. You are all my favorite people.

Love you so much.

Love always,
Elder Naylor

 ran into Brother M during a crazy bad rainstorm, we were feeling a little goofy . . .
P.S. Joe what the heck about the mountain lion? I want details!
P.P.S. Eric how is your new job?
P.P.P.S. Dad, can you tell me more about this Engineers Without Borders thing? I am really interested.
P.P.P.P.S. Mom, I have lost count of the amount of times that Japanese people have mistaken you to be my girlfriend in pictures of you and me together, hahaha. I think it's hilarious.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Elder Ballard! At our door!

Hey everyone,

Well we just had transfer calls again this morning. This was now my third time making these calls, and President Yamashita has asked Elder Emery and I to continue to serve here with him in the office for this next transfer. I feel like I have been here for a while. It has its ups and downs, but I really do enjoy serving here and learning from President Yamashita's example. He has taught me so much about patience and love and faith.
with President Yamashita

We had a wonderful visit from Elder M. Russel Ballard and other General Authorities yesterday, and they are here through the weekend. Elder Ballard is a kind and spiritual man, and really funny and friendly in person. I like him and his wife a lot. He gave us some wonderful counsel. One thing that stood out the most: "When you are feeling discouraged for any reason, wake up in the early hours of the morning and go to Gethsemane." He encouraged us to trust in God more fully and to be more humble. I am so grateful for the visit from him.

Elder Ballard! At our door!

Last night at a member devotional with Elder Ballard and the other guests, I had a tender experience while singing the congregational hymn. As we all stood to sing "Lord, I Would Follow Thee," I was immediately touched by these hundreds of wonderful Japanese saints singing about loving our fellow men. I was moved to tears and realized how much I really, really love these people. They mean so much to me. Every good experience that I have had in Japan just flashed before my eyes and I felt a small taste, a gift, of a tiny fraction of the love that God has for all of His children. I cannot adequately express my love for these people here in Japan. This is a corner of the Lord's vineyard that seems to me to be reserved for a choice group of some of His kindest, humblest, and most loving children. I know you can find people of that caliber anywhere, but I feel that Japan is especially blessed.

I really love it here and I want you all to know how much you mean to me as well. My life is just ridiculously full of blessings and my cup is overflowing. Thank you for everything!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Genki wo dashinasai

Hey peeps,

I haven't sent out any big mass emails lately, so I just wanted to let you know that things are going great here in Japan-land and I am enjoying it here very much.

This past week we were mostly traveling and did not spend much time in our own area, instead going to the two farthest zones in the mission (Kanazawa and Shizuoka) to do some companion exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Had some good experiences with them and some surreal experiences, from talking to people on the street in the middle of a freezing thunderstorm up north in Kanazawa to stopping people on a bridge backed by a picturesque and clearer-than-life backdrop of Mount Fuji. The land is beautiful and so are the hearts of the people. While riding the subways of Nagoya in the midst of our travels, I accidentally left one of my bags full of important stuff on one of the trains. Nagoya is a big city with a large, complex subway system, and it is easy to lose stuff. But I have come to learn that Japan is seriously the best place in the world to lose something, and those wonderful train crew bent over backwards to find my bag for me and were successful within minutes of me talking to them. From that small experience my love for the Japanese people grew even deeper. These people really know how to serve others.

We set a baptismal date of March 1st for our young investigator, Y! He is doing well and progressing slowly but steadily. We are calling and texting him every day to help him. I am grateful for his friendship and the good experiences we have had teaching him. It's hard for me to believe that I have been in this area working in the mission office for more than three months already. I imagine I may soon be called to go out and be a regular proselyting missionary again.

Mom, you were asking about some of the differences in the Japanese language and how it has benefited my personal study. One of my favorite examples of a Japanese scripture that I love, Doc&Cov 68:6: 

Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, 
for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; 
and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, 
that I am the Son of the living God, 
that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.

In Japanese, that first line "be of good cheer" is translated as 元気を出しなさい (genki wo dashinasai). The word genki means encouragement, health, happiness, cheer, and basically all meanings similar to that; it's kind of an all-encompassing word. The wo is a connecting particle between the noun genki and the verb dashinasai, which is a command form of the verb dasu, which means to take out, pull out, bring out, hold up, etc. Because the Lord is there, and he is with us. And his message is the best message in the world!

I love this wording in Japanese because it implies that we already have genki within us, and whenever we are sad or discouraged all we have to do is find it and pull it out and show it to the world. It's just like the Light of Christ, which resides within all of us....nobody is lacking, but many of us need to search within ourselves and dasu that Light and that genki. I love it.

I really love my Savior and I love doing this work for him. Japan is just such a wonderful place and the Gospel is blooming beautifully here. I couldn't imagine doing anything else right now.

I hope all of you are staying genki and warm! Happy Valentine's Day!!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The whole city has a kind of steam-punk feel

Hello family and friends,

Elder E and I found a wonderful new investigator this week. First of all, we don't always get a lot of time to proselyte in our own area because of office work and traveling to other areas in the mission, but we always try to squeeze in a little time each day and earlier this week we were blessed to find a wonderful man on the street named F-san. He was kind of drunk when we met him, but very friendly and asked us a lot of questions. We gave him a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation and our contact info, and he gave us his number. We set a time to meet the next day, then set it up to have the Bishop come join our lesson.

That lesson was very powerful, and we learned a lot about F-san, especially that he has a serious drinking problem but he really wants to stop, because it has caused a lot of problems in his life including a divorce and separation from his family. He has really pure desires about learning about our message though, and we are excited to teach him. We are planning on setting a date for baptism with him tonight.

Also today about an hour ago President Yamashita came to teach a lesson with us to our investigator Y-san. We are hoping to hold a baptismal service for him next month, but he says that he is still unsure about it. We are still working on it. We are always happy to meet with him though, and he is a great guy.

This week we had a companion exchange in Yokkaichi, a somewhat large city jut southwest of Nagoya, known for being one of the biggest oil refineries in Japan. The view from the Zone Leaders' apartment there looks out over this majestic view of the harbor covered with dozens of towering smokestacks and elevated train lines, giving the whole city a kind of "steam-punk" feel, haha. Big center of industry in this part of Japan. We had a wonderful time with the missionaries there, and got to attend the Yokkaichi Zone interviews the next day and help do some training for the missionaries. One of my favorite things about serving here in the mission office is these opportunities to travel to different places in the mission and meet with individual missionaries. They're all such wonderful examples.

Yokkaichi. Mie Prefecture's industrial center.

Also Elder E and I are trying to eat more healthy so we have been cooking a lot of our own food. Look at my ingredients! I'm getting more and more Japanese each day! 

I still haven't heard back from the Coast Guard yet, I hope soon though. I miss all of you so much but I really do love it here. Japan is just such a wonderful place. I hope you all get the opportunity to come here sometime.

Thank you so much for all you do!

 Peace and love,

Elder Naylor ネイラー長老

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dearest All,

Just to clarify, Tanaka-san wasn't really "my" baptism, I just had the privilege of teaching him a few times on companion exchanges with the zone leaders. But we still get to bro out with him at church all the time and he is just always so genki and he loves being a new member. I really like him a lot. He has a great story, too.

That's way exciting about meeting the President! I honestly think he is a very inspiring and powerful speaker, and I love his speeches, especially the ones about just life and liberty in general (rather than politics). I think he has a good outlook on life and actually one of my favorite quotes is by him, given shortly following the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and subsequent recovery: "What matters is not wealth or status or fame; what matters is how well we have loved." That quote has stuck with me all of these years.

I say again that I love it here. Let me tell you about my highlight from this week. In one part of the city of Nagoya the missionaries go to this service project every week to participate in passing out food and clothing to the homeless. I had the most humbling opportunity to participate in this activity this past week on a companion exchange in the area. I used to do activities like this back before my mission, but this one especially touched me for some reason. It was another freezing winter night and the activity was taking place under this giant expressway overpass in the middle of the city. There were plenty of people to pass out food and clothing so my companion and I just walked down the line and talked to each person, asking them about their lives and their families and what makes them happy. Almost all of them had these beautiful smiles and were just so grateful for simple kindness. They would keep thanking us over and over even though we were doing nothing other than just talk to them. Many of them lived right there under the overpass and we could see their blankets and bikes with baskets filled with all of their belongings. Despite their troubles, whether it was their own fault or not, they were almost all unusually cheerful and happy. 

Their general attitude taught me that happiness can always be found, even in the worst of times. It was a sweet experience and reminded me that the love of God penetrates all echelons of life, from the pauper to the prince. I hope they felt a taste of the love of God through our interactions with them. It was a tender mercy to me to be able to have this experience.

I hope all is well at home. I pray for you always. Love you all so much.

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor