And it is HOT! I think I mention that every week because it is unbearably muggy and hot here. Apparently it's going to keep getting worse all month and finally cool down in late September. Yikes! People keep asking if I'm used to the heat because I grew up in Las Vegas, but it was different; we actually have to be OUTSIDE all day instead of inside with AC watching TV or going swimming. Count your blessings, family! Well, preaching the gospel is a blessing too but it would be nice to do so without being drenched with sweat.
I have some funny photos for you this week---Mano Shimai and I took "purikura," a kind of photo booth that's super popular with young girls in Japan because it lets you draw cutesy things all over. Mostly Mano Shimai just picked the ones with funny English. Also we found a sign that said "Club Jesus" and couldn't pass up the photo op. Does my raincoat look great or what.
Anyway, I have a question for the family this week: I've been talking with various people about using our talents to make our missionary work special. Since I don't have talents that would actually benefit me in proselyting---being good with people, being great at Japanese, or being really enthusiastic---I've been trying to think about what kind of missionary work I could do with the talents that I DO have, like drawing. I make thank-you cards for ward members, and I've drawn my own Plan of Salvation chart, but as for actually using drawing during proselyting I'm coming up blank. Any ideas?
Next, here's a spiritual thought from the scriptures: Alma 19:23. For some background, this is Ammon, the famous missionary to the Lamanites. His dad was really worried about him going because the Lamanites were wicked and murderers, but Ammon knew how important the work was. He was right, of course; he went to preach to them and found thousands of converts. Not everyone listened, however. There was one guy who tried to kill Ammon while he was sleeping, but the Lord protected Ammon and the guy fell dead right on the spot! The Book of Mormon says, "Now we see that Ammon could not be slain, for the Lord had said unto Mosiah his father: I will spare him, and it shall be unto him according to thy faith---therefore Mosiah trusted him unto the Lord." The message I want you all to take from this is that the Lord hears your prayers on behalf of missionaries! Ammon's father had such strong faith that it even protected his son from being killed! That's pretty powerful. Completely trust that the Lord will hear your prayers to protect and help the missionaries. It will help me (us) a lot!
The miracle in Matsudo this week was Ambiru Akiko. Kiko-chan, the recent convert I've written about before, brought her life-long best friend to church and introduced her to the missionaries to receive a lesson. Not only did Ambiru-san want to come to another lesson the next day, she agreed to be baptized and started praying on her own right away! She sees her best friend's happiness and great example in the gospel, and because of that her heart was open to hearing the missionary lessons. What I want you all to learn from this is the importance of introducing friends to the missionaries. Member missionary work is SO important! We want members to be good examples to their friends and invite them to activities, but the most effective way to share the gospel with your friends is to be direct. "I really value your friendship and I want to share with you about what I believe because it makes me happy and I think it would bless your life too. Would you come over to my house for maybe an hour and listen to some representatives from my church?" Don't be worried about being rejected, because good friends will be honored that you want to share something so precious with them. Think of all the blessings you have from following Jesus Christ and think about how badly your friends need those blessings! Love is the true motivating factor behind missionary work, folks.
I'm so sorry to hear about Joy, bless her heart. She's been a great dog and member of the family. I'm glad in God's plan of happiness all dogs go to heaven! Keep me updated and I'll pray for her and all of you. Thank you for your encouraging emails and your support at home. I love you!