"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, October 11, 2016

10/10/2016 Transfer to Otsu, Japan

Minnasan Konnichiwa!
First of all, I have to apologize for not mailing last week. I promise this time I actually did write an email (I don't make that promise for past missed weeks), but internet was really bad where we were at the end of Preparation Day, and the mail wasn't able to send. By the time we hit another wifi spot it was too late, so I will just put that email in first this week!

This week is transfer week again, can't believe they keep coming so fast! My companion and I still don't know if we are going anywhere, but we likely won't get a call until later tomorrow. We did find out that our District Leader, Elder Nohagi, is going to be a zone leader in Shimogamo. I'm so sad that he is leaving us, but I know he is going to be an awesome zone leader.

I know everyone is finishing up listening to General Conference in America right now, but we won't end up watching it until this coming weekend, because of time difference and translation to Japanese. Luckily, we will be in a separate room watching in English, but we will still wait until then. In the meantime, we have focused almost all of our teaching on preparing our investigators and other members for General Conference. We especially focused on the role of prophets, and why we need them on the Earth today. I know that having a modern day prophet helps us and gives us necessary guidance to overcome the particular challenges that face us in our day. I am way excited to learn and study the counsel that our prophets and leaders have for us.

I am also seeing the power and effect this modern day revelation can have on the lives of those we teach. We are always seeking to help our investigators to create the best environment to feel the Spirit and receive confirmation directly from God about the truthfulness of our message, which usually involves invitations to church, to read scriptures, and to pray. Lately we have been hitting roadblocks in those areas, and our investigators just haven't been able to do those necessary things to receive their own answers. But with the invitation to hear the words of living prophets of God came an outpouring of heavenly blessings. Almost all of those investigators are looking like they will be able to come, and they are particularly interested in the opportunity to receive guidance for what they should do to improve the quality of their lives. I know that this change of their heart comes through the Holy Ghost, and I can feel the same Spirit testifying of the truthfulness of our words that there is a prophet on the Earth today, that he directly receives revelation from and communicates with God. If we follow their words, we will not be led astray. I love you all, and I invite you all to take some time to study this amazing counsel that we have available to us, and to apply it to your own personal situations in order to get closer to your Heavenly Father!

Ok, now that you all know that transfers came last week, here's what happened! (This is also going to show you how much of a sense of humor God has, as I'm pretty sure I said about three things in the above email that are about to be made false).
First off, I transferred! I got a call late Tuesday night from my new zone leader Elder Sedrick, telling me that I will be transferring to Otsu! It is an area on the other side of the mission, in Kyoto. First time I've ever been on that side of the mission, it's too big and scary for me! I am so excited to be here in Otsu though, especially since it is the first area of my trainer, Elder Madruga. Maybe now he will email me back! (Just kidding, I know he is busy trying to get married in Brazil).

I was so sad to have Elder Nohagi leave us, but now he is my new zone leader here in Kyoto zone! Also, we took Fujii shimai along with us, taking the three of us from the past district to Kyoto zone.
My new companion is Elder Kawajo, from Okinawa. He is full Japanese, if you count people from Okinawa as Japanese I guess. He also loves basketball, so I think we will get along well together. But that did change what I said last week about watching general conference in English. I watched about half in English on my iPad and the other half in Japanese. I will definitely be studying that half again, still not good enough to understand a conference talk in Japanese. Maybe someday.

I haven't had a whole lot of time to work in our area so far, because we went on missionary exchanges the day after I got into Otsu. I went with Elder Sedrick, one of our zone leaders, and I learned so much from him. It was just a day full of continuous revelation and opportunities to learn and grow. I can't even imagine what being his companion would be like, my brain almost exploded after just one day. Definitely one of the most humble, spiritual missionaries I've met so far.

Probably one of the biggest things I felt while we worked together was the importance of prayer. While I sometimes become casual in praying, I saw how much spiritual power comes when we choose to engage in sincere prayer, communicating with our Heavenly Father and committing to act on the things He reveals to us. General Conference was also full of talks and revelation about prayer, and I would like to share a small part of the talk given by Elder Juan A. Uceda. He said, "[God] hears our prayers and is sensitive to our needs... He is not one to say, 'No, I will not listen to you now because you only come to me when you are in trouble.' Only men do that. He is not one to say, 'Oh, you cannot imagine how busy I am now.' Only men say that." I know that same thing to be true. Even though I have failed many times to pray sincerely to Heavenly Father, or even to pray at all at times, He always hears my prayers. As I have made a greater effort to pray this week, I have felt a strength that was not my own coming into my life. My fears were lessened, my burdens lightened. I am still far from perfect, but I know that God loves me, and I know He loves all of His children equally. That same strength is available to all, and is given to us the moment we take hold of the outstretched hand of our Father in Heaven, and of His Son, Jesus Christ. They desire to hear from each one of you, I can promise that.

In the words of Elder Holland, “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made … , or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

I would like to testify of the same truth. I know that "His arm is lengthened out all the day long" (2 Nephi 28:32), and that He will help us the moment we cry out for relief from our trials, our hardships and pains. If you have put off this help for any reason, don't do so any longer! Turn to your Father in Heaven, and see the eternal joy that will flow into your lives as you connect with the heavens above through sincere prayer. I love you all so much, and I hope you can feel the joy of this sacred truth in your lives!

P.S- congratulations to my cousin Brennan! Can't believe you are married! (Or getting married soon, sorry I'm not sure how time works anymore.) Can't wait to meet your husband!

I love this guy!  Elder Matsumoto
Last district Pday in Kurashiki

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