Monday, July 8, 2013

Letter July 8, 2013

Hi family!
Sounds like Vegas is nice and HOT right now! With rainy season ebbing its way into full summer, Tokyo is sticky and miserable and everyone keeps telling us it will just get hotter. Silver lining: Japanese people LOVE talking about the weather, so it's really easy to start conversations with anyone and everyone.
But besides that, we had a pretty good week in Oyama! At first we struggled a bit because the members are so glad to have sister missionaries back that they just want to take us out to play and drive around the countryside for hours visiting less-actives who aren't home, BUT things are calmed down now and we have a good list of names to contact and invite to take the lessons. A surprising amount of former investigators here are from Peru. (You may note, Mum, with satisfaction that for the first time in my life I regret not taking Spanish.) We met a woman this week who told us she didn't want to come to church because "I was baptized as a Catholic, and then as a Protestant, but I will not get baptized a third time because that's just not good. That's not what Jesus would do, because He got baptized only one time." We tried to talk a little about Priesthood authority, but then she went off about how the priest who baptized her stole a bunch of money from their church and our time was up. Adventures on door steps! I'm trying to make missionary work fun for my new companion, Kubota Shimai, and she seems to appreciate all the bad jokes I make and silly things I do to keep us from getting down when we don't have as much success knocking on doors (well, ringing doorbells).
My favourite part of the work continues to be making friends through Eikaiwa (English class)! Everyone keeps telling me I should come back to Japan and teach English, which sounds really tempting because I absolutely love Japan. Humidity aside, it's gorgeous and full of surprises and the people are wonderful. If only I could read Japanese.
Last thing I want to talk about is our ward family home evening yesterday. A member did the lesson/activity like this: we got split into three groups and each group became a "family" with parents and siblings and even a grandpa in one group. Then the member asked us some questions about church activity and we were given set responses. For example, "How often do you pray?" Group 1 answered, "We don't know how to pray." Group 2: "We know we should pray, but we're too busy." Group 3 said, "We pray as a family every single day." And on like that about church attendance, scripture study, temple attendance, family history, etc. One group had no idea about the gospel, another was a family who didn't make it very important in their lives, and the third group was an example family who was well on their way to the celestial kingdom, so they got the opportunity to share the gospel with the other two families.
The member who taught the lesson brought up the point that this is happening every day all around us. There are plenty of people who, when they die, will get to the spirit world and not be allowed into paradise because they fail to meet some specification. At that time, they might think, "Wait, didn't I have a neighbour who went to church every week? He probably learned all about how to get into heaven, but he never said anything to me about it." How sad will it be if anyone we know says that about us!
The paradigm shift in Tokyo is this: success in missionary work isn't seeing baptisms; success is inviting. When we do our part to open our mouths and share truth with love, the Lord blesses us in our efforts. I am always thrilled to hear about your mission experiences at home! I'm proud of all the opportunities you're taking to help those around you know the Lord and prepare their families for the celestial kingdom.
I always love and appreciate you! Have a great week!
Long Shimai

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