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,