Week 50 - September 17, 2012
Thanks for sending Kauluwehi's address, mom! And thanks for sending a link to that talk, I'll read it soon.
Last week I forgot to mention that our outreach activity (which we have every Friday evening) was on Samoan Fire Knife Dance. So I made a bunch of the practice ones and taught a few easy things. Everyone seemed to have a good time trying. There was a lot more people than usual, and the missionaries (eight total in attendance) were able to talk to and build good relationships with a lot of them. A few people took the knives home to practice on their own.
Anyway, this week has been another good week. There are times when I feel like I'm getting too used to some things here as a missionary and when I email you I forget to mention them or explain more. Things like training other missionaries and teaching Sunday School lessons sometimes falls right into the normal, whereas before my mission they would have jumped out.
This past Thursday we had a mini zone conference here in Urawa. So our zone (18 missionaries total) all gathered for a few hours, received training, and had interviews with President. President Budge trained on faith and miracles, the assistants on unification, the zone leaders on confidence, myself on faith, the other district leader in our zone, Elder Zamarippa, on hope, and the sister missionaries here in Urawa on eternal life. While we were all training or being trained we had our interviews with President.
I'll list a few things from my training on faith. I'll just put some things we talked about, but not make it into a talk form like you'd hear in sacrament meeting; just some references, etc.:
I was asked to use Ether 12:9 with my training, so we read that first.
You guys have a Preach My Gospel, right? If not, you can find an online copy of it on lds.org. PMG pg. 116, first paragraph on 'Faith in Jesus Christ.'
Christ showed during his ministry that complete confidence can be put in him and God.
Matt. 8:2-3 cleansed leper
Matt. 8:5-7 heals centurion servant
Matt. 8:14-15 heals Peter's mother-in-law
Matt. 8:16 cast out evil spirits, healed many
Matt. 8:24-26 calmed the tempest
Matt. 14 fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish
Matt. 15 fed 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish
"Two men can do anything, as long as one of them is God."
Talked about -- How do we increase our faith so that we can have God with us?
-- All answers were of course, basically: Live the Gospel.
One man that had profound faith - Joseph Smith!
Quote by John Henry Evans:
"Here is a man who was born in the stark hills of Vermont; Who was reared in the backwoods of New York; Who never looked inside a college or high school; Who lived in six states, not one of which would own him during his lifetime; Who spent months in the vile prisons of the period; Who, even when he had his freedom, was hounded like a fugitive; Who was once covered with a coat of tar and feathers, and left for dead; Who, with his following, was driven by irate neighbors from New York to Ohio, from Ohio to Missouri, and from Missouri to Illinois; And who, at the unripe age of thirty-eight, was shot to death by a mob with painted faces."
The Prophet Joseph Smith suffered so many indignities throughout his lifetime. He was falsely arrested 42 times, but was always cleared by the law of the land. He spent almost six months in Liberty Jail with terrible conditions and food not fit for humans. Yet, as Joseph rode from Nauvoo to Carthage, he met Stephen Markham, and was asked, "Joseph, where are you going?" His answer, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and all men."
-- Could we say that? Could we say that? That is what I call amazingly strong faith.
Two more things we can do to further increase our faith:
1. See the Miracle
Poem written by Helen Keller entitled, "Don't Miss the Miracle," in an essay she wrote called, "If I had Three Days to See."
"I, who cannot see, find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf, I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough shaggy bark of a pine... I feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower and discover its remarkable convolutions; And something of the miracle of nature is revealed to me. Occasionally, if I am very fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song... At times my heart cries out with longing to see these things. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. Yet, those who have eyes apparently see little.The panorama of color and action which fills the world is taken for granted... It is... a great pity that, in the world of light, the gift of sight, is used only as a mere convenience rather than as a means of adding fullness to life."
Talked about -- What is seeing? What is a simple definition of seeing?
-- Answer: Perceiving with the eyes. However, in English, we also use it another way. Sometimes we say things like, "Oh, I see." or, "Don't you see that this is better?", right? In that sense we're using 'seeing' as 'understanding' or 'recognizing.'
So, number 1 - We must see the miracle. We must recognize the miracle.
2. Remember the Miracle
A few paragraphs from a talk given by President Henry B. Eyring in the 2007 October General Conference entitled, 'O Remember, Remember.' The talk in which he spoke of writing each day, about the day, for his children to have later in their lives.
"I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened."
Later in the talk, "My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies."
-- Going back to Matthew 8:24-26, the disciples were scared of the storm and were scolded because of their lack of faith. Could they not remember all the great miracles they had witnessed that very day?
But, we must ask ourselves: Do we do this? Do I do this? Do I see God's kindness in my life, do I see miracles, and then lack faith, or not remember them? As a missionary, do you get a great call from an investigator, or find someone very interested in the gospel, then lack faith in something soon after? I know that you can see a baptism on Sunday - see a Child of God come unto Christ - and the very next day be out on the streets, getting rejected left and right, and maybe have a thought pass through your mind similar to, "Nobody here is prepared." But you just saw a Child of God come unto Christ yesterday! Or you just got a great call from an investigator! etc!
Faith is a principle of action.
1. See the miracles
2. Remember the Miracle
--The zone leaders are called of God. They receive revelation from God for us. And they have given us the miracle sheet to fill out as we go on through this transfer.
Each missionary in the zone committed to take time at the end of each day to think about God's hand in their lives that day, and to write down the miracles in the miracles sheet we're supposed to be filling out as the transfer goes on. It's important that we all do that every night.
I hope that made at least some sense to you in that format! There was some other things thrown in here and there during the actual training, but minus some discussion, that was pretty much what I shared.
After that mini zone conference on Thursday, I had a great companionship exchange with Elder Nitta from Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the zone leaders. He's half Japanese, but had never been to Japan nor learned Japanese. We had so much fun; It was just 24 hours of smiling and laughing. We were able to talk with each other a lot, work hard, and see miracles. We decided to try a new method of finding, by standing in front of the church and calling out to everyone for a church tour. After a while, we had called out to everyone, talked to a few people, but not had anyone enter the church for a tour, so we went in to turn the lights off and lock the building up. Just as we walked out and around the corner, there was a young boy walking past the side of church, so we called out to him. We ended up giving him a church tour and teaching him the gospel of Christ. The guidance of the spirit was felt strongly by both Elder Nitta and I, and this boy, 12 years old (priesthood age,) said that he wants to be baptized. As he was walking away, we watched as he flipped open the copy of The Book of Mormon we had given him and start reading. It's very true that there are young men, even just 12 years old, that are searching. It was a great experience, and I hope that he is able to continue and more fully understand the Gospel and Atonement of Christ.
Yesterday after church, Elder Kim and I taught two investigators, Nagata san and Hayata san. They are both eikaiwa students, but both of them came to church today. It was Hayata san's first time to church, and Nagata san's second. We taught about baptism, and they committed to pray on their own. I have a lot of faith and hope for them, and will work hard to continue to teach and help them.
Today we had zone p-day! The zone all gathered at our church and we played basketball, had a big water balloon fight (we spent the morning filling up almost 1,000 balloons,) and had hamburgers. There were a few nonmembers that we and other missionaries had brought, and it was a lot of fun. I didn't take any pictures, but others did and I'll be getting some from them. So hopefully I'll have some pictures of it to send next week.
All in all, we are doing well here. I love my mission. I love working. I love Jesus Christ. And I love his Gospel.
Thank you so much for your love and support! Keep up the great work back home, and have a great week!
I love you!!!
The mission quilt Sister Budge made. She had all the missionaries sign it at a Mini Zone Conference.
Okonomiyake (cabbage pancakes) that my companion Elder Kim made. Oishikatta!!