Monday, April 15, 2013

April 14, 2013

Hi family!
Thank you for the emails! I just got to watch conference this weekend and it was awesome hearing about the hastening of missionary work. You know what more missionaries means? Ordinary members have to work harder to find friends for the missionaries to teach! We have several great members here in Kiryu ward who are always inviting their friends to church and inviting them to meet with the missionaries. Almost every baptism in Kiryu in the last several years has been from member referrals. It's such a blessing to have an investigator's experience at church based on the friendship of a permanent member instead of on a missionary who might leave in a few weeks. Then missionaries get to spend more time doing our job as full-time teachers and less time hunting for the needle in a haystack so to speak.
Did I already write to you about the paradigm shift in Tokyo mission? Our mission president is talking to all the leadership in the stakes here about how the way we think about missionary work is changing with the hastening of the work. My favourite ones go like this:
Old way of thinking: Success in missionary work = baptism.
New way of thinking: Success in missionary work = inviting!
Old way: Member missionary work is hard, but it's a commandment.
New way: It's easy and natural to share what we love with people we love.
Old way: I'm too busy to share the gospel, but God will forgive me.
New way: God blesses busy people with more opportunities to share the gospel.
Old way: I don't have enough knowledge or skill to share the gospel.
New way: The Lord uses the weak and simple to do His work.
Old way: I can only invite my friends.
New way: We can invite anyone to hear the gospel.
Old way: Talking about church at work is bad.
New way: We can talk about church anywhere.
Old way: Using "Mormon vocabulary" in everday conversation (Young Women's, Priesthood meeting, Stake Center, etc) makes people uncomfortable so I shouldn't use it.
New way: Using Mormon vocabulary opens opportunities to share our beliefs.
Old way: I have the gospel so I need to help those who are less fortunate.
New way: We can mutually help each other to grow and strengthen our relationships.
Our mission president is spreading these statements around Tokyo to help build memers' confidence that they not only should do missionary work---they can! The prophets and apostles who spoke at General Conference made it very clear that we have a responsibility and privilege to assist in the gathering of Israel. Heavenly Father needs our help to bring His children home. I feel so blessed to be right in the thick of that work. Kiryu is few in number and filled with all sorts of crazy characters, but they each have testimonies and God loves them so much. I can feel how much He wants His Nihonjin children back every time I look at them.
Wylie Shimai and I have met some interesting challenges the past week, but we've seen so many miracles too. Our biggest one is that our new investigator Ogiwara-san has set a baptismal date for May! We met him our first Friday in Kiryu because a member called to set up a lesson. We weren't sure what to expect, but we soon found out he'd been going to different protestant churches on and off for 30 years but none quite matched what he felt in his heart about God and Jesus Christ. We taught him several lessons and he watched all of Sunday General Conference yesterday. He said everything he heard agreed with what he felt, and he learned some new things as well (like the priesthood) that just felt right. We talked after the session about the doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end), explained the blessings of baptism, and I was really nervous so my Japanese came out all wrong but he agreed to work toward being baptized! After working in Kichijoji for six months and not teaching anyone who could commit, I feel so blessed to be in this area at the right time to teach this sweet man. The gospel of Jesus Christ can help anyone with whatever they face. Our Saviour's atoning grace enables us to overcome anything, and I am so grateful for that.
I hope you follow the counsel from General Conference to unplug from technology, strengthen family relationships, seek more of God's light in your life, and be exactly obedient to earn blessings Heavenly Father is aching to give you. I'll do my best too on the other side of the world.
I love you lots!
Long Shimai
P.S. You asked a question about kanji, but I didn't understand the question...There's no way to logically construct kanji the way you can do spelling in English; each kanji's way of writing and several ways of reading just has to be memorized. Sound like a pain? It is. C:

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