One member went to Hokkaido to buy a bunch of fish for a special dinner for me...yikes. I'm a good missionary, though; to make up for not speaking their language, I eat whatever they put in front of me. Last Monday night we had a seafood extravaganza: crab, sashimi (raw salmon), raw shrimp, raw squid (only thing I didn't try), raw sea urchin guts, and abalone (a kind of shellfish that was weirdly crunchy). There wasn't anything I liked (except rice of course), just varying degrees of tolerable-ness. Sase Shimai also made a pork dish for me in case I didn't like the seafood, but I ended up liking it even less! After being vegetarian for so long, I've really just lost the taste for eating animal flesh. It's yucky and if given the choice (i.e. buffet-style meal or something) I avoid it and people usually don't notice. People here don't serve many vegetables besides salad, so it's an adjustment, but after the MTC food I can handle anything!
The other tidbit I have for everyone is ways you can all be mini-missionaries! Here in Tokyo we're emphasizing getting members involved in our efforts because they are so much more successful that way. Street contacting and tracting results in a baptism less than one in 1,000 times, but member friends get baptized 1 in 8. That's awesome! Here are some small ways you can make a difference:
1. Read your Book of Mormon in public. If people ask about it, introduce the church to them.
2. Always have an extra Book of Mormon in your car, your locker, workplace, etc. so you never miss a sharing opportunity.
3. Invite friends, teachers, or co-workers to FHE. Make FHE fun and meaningful so people will want to start FHE with their own families.
4. Invite friends to participate in ward service activities.
5. Invite your friends to search LDS websites.
6. Invite friends to take a tour of the church or family history library. See if they are interested and explain geneology.
7. Attend sports activities of friends and neighbours' families. Let them know you care about them and look for opportunities to share the gospel.
8. Donate copies of the Book of Mormon to the local library.
9. Proactively think of ways you as a family can share the gospel. Use time during FHE to plan the week's missionary activities.
10. Don't be embarrassed to be a member of the Church! Always let others know who you are.
11. Set a personal or family goal of how many individuals you will introduce to the church this year or how many less active families you will visit this month. Pray to Heavenly Father for help to recognize those in need. You may want to dedicate a Fast Sunday to family missionary activites.
That's the list we pass around to members here in Japan, and it can be just as effective in America! The US is buzzing right now with hype about Mormonism; use this chance to tell people you know what we believe and how it can help them. A great FHE activity is practicing explaining the Book of Mormon to others. Using the pictures at the front, briefly tell its history and how it helps bring people closer to Christ and true happiness. The Book of Mormon is one of my favourite things to teach about in Japanese. I'd love for you to be more involved with it at home!
I know what you're thinking (yes, you): how am I supposed to fit visiting less actives or going to other people's activities when I don't have time for my own? Here's the secret: when you are engaged in the Lord's work, He gives that time right back to you. The same principle applies all over our lives: for example, if you sacrifice time in the morning for seminary, you do better on tests that day, or if you stay up an extra half hour to read scriptures and pray you sleep better, or if you spend two years of your life as a missionary the next sixty will be that much more blessed. President Eyring said "You cannot give a crust to the Lord without Him giving you a loaf in return." When we sacrifice our own time on behalf of others---especially for something so important as sharing the gospel---we see our own time and talents magnified. Don't believe me? Try it out. Put it into action for a while and observe the results. The Lord keeps His promises.
Well, I hope you have a happy week, family! I'm grateful for Jesus Christ and His Atonement in my life, and I'm that much more grateful I get to help others here realize how important it is. I love you and pray for you every night to make good choices and prioritize the important things in life. You can do it!
Ai shite imasu,
Long Shimai C: