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

Monday, January 19, 2015

A baptism in our ward: welcome T-san!

Hey everyone,

It's been a busy week here in Japan land. We got a whole herd of new missionaries while simultaneously having to say goodbye to a few. I was sad to say goodbye to one of my beloved former companions, Elder Ch, who had a hard mission but finished all the way up to the end and got to have some special experiences. I will miss him a lot.

The best news of the week was the baptism of T-san!

The zone leaders taught T-san, and a great member of the ward, H-san, baptized him. I got to work with T-san a few times. Wonderful man, wonderful new member.

I just want to share how much I love being a missionary. Don't get the wrong message when I say I don't want to come home, because I still really do miss all of you so very much, but I just have never been happier than I am here teaching people about Jesus Christ. And I know that the people accepting our message have never been happier, either. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift to the world.

But I also do love and miss my family and friends so much. You are all so special to me and your love and support have been such a great help. Japan is such a wonderful place. I have fallen in love with the culture, the language, and especially the people.

I failed the driving test again for my Japanese drivers' license (they are so strict), but third time's a charm. I will get it next time. I take the test again on February 5th.

I hope you all have had a fantastic week. Japan says hello. It is cold here, haha. Hope you are all staying warm as well.

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hope the building doesn't blow up!

Hey friends and familial units!!

Sorry it's a short one this week, we are in the middle of transfers and it is kinda busy. But I wanted to let you know that we have a new Assistant here in the office, my new companion Elder E! He is one of my great friends, we were in the same MTC district and came to Japan together. He is from St. George, Utah. Great guy, loves to crack jokes and his Japanese is WAY good, much better than me, haha. I am looking forward to a fun couple months with him.

Elder E is behind me, wearing the red sweater
Our next big step for this transfer is to prepare for Elder M. Russell Ballard to come visit the mission next month, along with several other General Authorities (Elder Rasband, Bishop Stevenson, Elder Aoyagi, and of course President Yamashita).

That's a lot of authority to fit under one roof, hopefully the building doesn't blow up, haha.

Dad, I love your idea of studying the Book of Mormon again. I have come to love and cherish that book so much, and I like your method of reading it. I am currently re-reading the Old Testament again in the same way, trying to find the things that apply to me currently and contribute to strengthening my testimony. I have found so much already. I am right now in the middle of the book of Exodus. I am also re-reading the New Testament again as invited by President Yamashita to prepare for Elder Ballard's visit. So much good stuff to read and so little time. I love the scriptures.

I am sad to hear about Dale Reed passing away. I remember him very well, he was a wonderful home teacher. I will really miss him. Sister Reed will be in my prayers.

I love you so much and thank you for your constant support. Hope you are having a wonderful week. Still no word about the Coast Guard yet, hopefully soon.

Love always,
Elder Naylor

ping pong is huge in Japan!

Monday, January 5, 2015

If I can learn to channel my eyes . . .

Hey what's up!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

So I mentioned this last year, but New Years' in Japan is like Christmas in America (a really big deal), and Christmas in Japan is like St. Patrick's Day in America.....people know about it, but don't really do much to celebrate it. In Japan during New Years', everything shuts down for about a week or so and people just party with their families. I'm sure it's way fun for them, but it also means they all stay in their homes together and don't go outside, so the streets are empty. And unless the church members really love you and make appointments with you during the week of New Years', not much gets done in missionary work.

Luckily for us, the members seem to love us, and judging by the size my stomach has grown to from the festivities and ensuing culinary accessories, I would say it has been a week well-spent. Plus we've been able to still meet with our investigators and even have good experiences talking to the few people on the street, so we've been able to get work done.

with Elder T from Hawaii and our wonderful investigator Y

Every time we get time to go out and work, I get so happy. I love talking to people and telling them about their Heavenly Father and about their Savior. It just never gets old!

I hope everyone has had the chance to make some resolutions for the new year. I have made several myself, but the most important commitment I have made has actually been on my mind for quite some time. I have mentioned it before, but lately I have been pondering a lot about how to completely let go of my ego and focus on the glory of God. I know that there is no need for the eyes of the world to be on me and any achievements that I think I have attained....but if I can learn to channel my eyes towards my Lord and my God, and that through me others can see which way I face and therefore bring themselves to face the same way.....towards God....then all will be edified and the world will be filled with light. I have been coming to learn about the absence of power when I rely solely on myself versus the complete presence of all things good when I let go of my pride and rely solely on my Heavenly Father. That is where I have found I am the most happy. I want to work on putting the glory of God first in everything I do in my life, and not focus attention on myself and on worldly ambitions. That kind of happiness only lasts for moments, while this happiness emanating from the glory of God is endless and eternal. 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, 
and His righteousness; 
and all these things shall be added unto you . . . 
~Matthew 6:33

Those words echo a promise that rings true across all ages of time for the disciples of Jesus Christ. I want to fulfill this promise as fully as possible as I can in my own life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters, both during these last months as a full-time missionary and during the rest of my life as a full-time disciple. God always keeps His promises.

God is our Eternal Father, and everything He does is for our happiness. I know that this is true. I can't imagine it any other way. What a beautiful gift to the world this gospel is! I hope we can all receive it, cherish it, and rejoice in it. How blessed we really are.

I love you all!

Peace and love,
Elder Naylor

Nagoya Sunrise. New Day, New Year!