"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." -Alma 26:12

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5/23/2016 Elder Gary E. Stevenson!

Minnasan konnichiwa!

This past week feels like it has been spent in areas all over the mission, with two short days in our area, companion exchanges in Izumo, zone conference, and the amazing opportunity to hear from an apostle, Elder Gary E. Stevenson. I hope I never forget the sacred spirit we felt as an Apostle spoke to us. I know that he and the other Apostles, along with the prophet, are called by God to lead this church. They receive revelation to help us in our daily lives, and they know how to assist us in our trials and struggles as well. I don't have much time to write today, so I won't specifically share much about what I learned, but one thing that stood out to me was that, in preparation for this meeting, I wrote down 3 questions that I was looking for answers to in my own life. Elder Stevenson talked only for a short time as he was on a tight schedule, but as he continued his talk, I received specific answers to each of those questions. I know that when we prepare ourselves to receive those answers we are seeking, God will always provide them for us.
That was absolutely the highlight of this week, but there were plenty of other cool things I was able to be a part of and experience. On Thursday we received training from our mission President, Welch kaicho, and he basically led an entire 3 hour discussion based on 3 chapters of the Book of Mormon. He definitely knows his stuff, and I feel the Spirit testify of his words powerfully when he speaks as well. Finally, we were able to go to Izumo, my last area, and go on companion exchanges. I was with Madruga choro again! We were able to visit one of the members that has basically become the missionaries' best friends, because she speaks English and just loves to brighten our days with her simple acts of kindness. It was just like old times, and lifted my spirits to see some of the people that I have come to grow and love.
Sorry that I really don't have much time this week, but I love
you all, and I hope that you have an awesome week!


Mami Shimai, the member we visited last week.

5/16/2016 Working hard!

Minnasan konnichiwa,

Wow, this week absolutely flew by, I feel like I hardly remember anything! My companion and I have been working really hard to find new investigators, so we have spent a lot of time finding and housing. We were able to meet a few people that invited us to come back again, so we will hopefully have more people to teach very soon. One person we talked to on the street, Alam, actually ended up coming to church after we met with him the first time. He moved from Bangladesh to come study in Japan, and so he is eager for any opportunity to talk to some English speakers and make some more friends here. He had a good opportunity to do that this Sunday, because all the members decided to work together and prepare a lunch for everyone after church. It was so much fun just to spend more time with the members all together, and to get to know them a little better.

That same day, we went with the Bishop to deliver the Sacrament to members that couldn't make it to church. We then went to his house and had dinner made by his wife. There was so much food; curry, pizza, salad, sausages, and various vegetables, and all were delicious. It was nice for them to invite us over to their home and allow us to be a part of their family for the night. Sorry, but I'm going to keep it short today. This past week seems to have disappeared, and the coming week will probably be even faster. We have zone conference on Thursday, after which we will head to Izumo (my past area!) for missionary exchanges with the zone leaders (my last companion!). Then we will go to Kobe to hear from Elder Gary E. Stevenson, one of the leaders of the church. We will finally be able to go back to our area after that, but it is going to be a really fun, spiritual few days. I am so excited, and can't wait to learn lots!


5/8/2016 Mother's Day

Minnasan konnichiwa!

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all mothers everywhere! Aren't mothers just the best? I just got done talking to my family over skype, and it was so good to see everyone. It was even better to have
special guest appearances of my cousin Brennan and Aunt Michelle! Thank you so much, it was so great to see you two! 40 minutes was definitely way too short, but I guess it just makes me look forward to Christmas that much more.

I think I'm going to keep it short today, but I want to share some of the awesome things that went on here last week. I got to go on a couple missionary exchanges, which was way awesome. First was with Elder Olsen, one of the people that came to Japan at the same time as me. He is super awesome, and a great example to me. In between contacts and lessons, he shared tons of insights and experiences he has been having on his mission, and it really opened my eyes to the type of missionary I want to become. We didn't end up teaching a ton of lessons, but we met some awesome people. We saw one boy outside a phone store waving a sign to attract business, and he looked so happy that we decided we had to talk to him. We didn't mean for it to turn into a lesson necessarily, but he told us all about how he believes in God and wants to make it to heaven. We told him we had a book that could help him do that, and we were able to see the excitement on his face as we pulled out the Book of Mormon. Soon after that, though, another worker came over to see what we wanted, and we had to leave quickly. Elder Olsen left the Book of Mormon in a place where the boy could pick it up later, and we headed off. When we came back, the book and the boy were gone. We really hope the boy can get in contact with us again, and that he will read the Book of Mormon. The next exchange was with Elder Nohagi, a Japanese missionary that lived in Utah for about a year as part of a study abroad program. Needless to say, his English was totally fluent. We also had some way awesome experiences together, and he taught me a lot about how to work more effectively, and really just having your thoughts and desires focused on Christ.
Finally, we were able to go to a Zone Training Meeting. I got to see my last companion give his first zone training, and he was awesome! Way to go Elder Madruga! We had great discussions about inviting people to be baptized, how we can be more effective teachers, and how to extend better commitments. We are trying to use all the things we learned, and it is really changing the way I am trying to approach people.
Those were the highlights of this week, hope everyone is doing well, and hanging in there! I love all of you so much, and especially you, mom! Thank you for always being there to support me, and thank you for teaching me through your example to love God, and to follow Him in all things. You are the best!
Okayama Zone- we do missionary work, too.

After Zone Training Meeting- we made sure to eat healthy!

Exchanges with Olsen choro, found this awesome guy!

    One more picture: Proud Mama on Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Become as a child

Minnasan konnichiwa,

This week has absolutely flown by, especially because we are working extra hard. At the beginning of last week we learned that Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles would be coming to visit us on the 22nd of May! Along with this information we received a challenge- that every companionship in the mission would see a baptism before he comes to speak to us. Honestly, my first thought when I looked at the calendar was that we only have three weeks to find someone to be baptized, and we didn't have anyone that we were currently teaching that was very close to receiving baptism. But I am constantly being reminded that this is not the work of man, but the work of God. As we gave all of our time, talents, and abilities to the Lord in trying to find people to teach, we have seen so many miracles, big and small, throughout this week.
I don't think I can even begin to share all the miracles we have seen this week, so I'll just share one experience we had while teaching a less-active member. We didn't have an appointment with the less active, but we knew where he lived, so we decided to see if we could catch him at home. At exactly the same moment we arrived on his street, he pulled up in his truck, just returning from work. We asked him if we could share a quick message with him, and he said that was ok with him. Elder Tanaka decided to show him the Easter video, because he hadn't seen it yet. When he started the video, though, a young girl playing on the street ran up to us, trying to figure out what we were looking at. She unknowingly joined in on our lesson, and watched the video with us. The video was in English with Japanese subtitles, and she was still too young to know how to read, but as the video played, her face broke into a huge smile. She was definitely feeling the Spirit, and I was reminded of the counsel given to us in Mosiah 3:19 to "Become as a child, humble, meek, submissive, patient, and full of love". As the video ended, the first thing this little girl does is to try and give a hug to each one of us, complete and total strangers. When her sister came looking for her, she introduced us as her "very important friends" and as we left, she pleaded with us "don't forget me!" This experience really reminded me of the purity and innocence of a little child, and that when we can humble ourselves to that point, we will be able to feel of our Heavenly Father's love for us. I know that He will never forget us, that He has our best interests at heart. When we choose to trust and follow His guidance, we can begin to become the type of person that He desires for each and every one of us to become. I know these things to be true, and I say them in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, amen.


Our important friend, Itoha