Wednesday, March 11, 2015

E-mail, 3/9/2015

My dear wonderful family,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!! I know you don’t want to celebrate but we like celebrating your birthday because we like you so you’re just going to have to be celebrated anyway. :D I love you so much! I’m glad you got my birthday card. You are a wonderful man and dad and I’m so happy you’re my dad. Many happy returns! I love you!!!!! Happy birthday!!!!!

This week was not too cold but way busy with lots of traveling and we saw lots of miracles and received lots of revelation!

Tuesday we went to Sendai for MLC [mission leadership council]. I talked to a really interesting gentleman on the bus. I asked him ‘What’s most important to you, your family?’ He said, ‘Not really, money is most important.’ Wasn’t really sure what to talk about with him after that…. At MLC each companionship talked about a challenge in their Zone and we discussed ways to overcome them. So helpful! I really liked it! That was the first time we’d had that discussion. Then Brother Nasekawa from Nagamachi Ward introduced the “Lesson Moniter [Monitor?] Program” a member missionary tool for members to naturally invite their friends to hear the gospel without pressuring them or sacrificing their friendship. It’s like a free lesson tester—we’ll teach the friend the member referred with the member for 3 twenty-five minute lessons and give them a survey at the end where they can decided if they want to keep taking the lessons and become a real investigator or if they’re fine with ending the trial. A really cool idea! The members in Sendai Stake are starting to do it so they’re introducing the concept to all the missionaries so if a member asks us to do it we can help them. The drive to do it is coming from the Stake Leadership and Ward Leaderships so it’s pretty cool. They’re not starting it up here in Aomori yet but they want to at some point. They’re starting it in Sendai first for trial runs. It will be interesting to see how it goes! I learned lots from MLC.

Wednesday we continued MLC. The theme was Revelation. I learned so much! I felt like knowledge was just pouring into the room and into my soul. It was such a powerful testimony to me of the power of the Spirit and of how important it is that we seek it and receive it.
l  President Smith: We need revelation to resolve questions we can’t answer on our own. Build on the foundation of Revelation and Christ and you are safe, saved.
l  Sister Smith: Faith leads to strong character which can be used in times of trial and temptation. We become who we want to be by consistently doing what the person we want to be does every day. What have you done to build your firm foundation? The building blocks are in place. What are you going to do about it? The mansions prepared for us are build on a firm foundation of faith. We won’t be happy taking that path by ourselves—take others with you. The Lord has given you everything you need to be successful.
l  You need to ask God if you’re a successful missionary. That knowledge can only come through revelation. Work on your relationship with Jesus Christ. Learn to be happy no matter what.
l  Revelation is communication from God. He gives us just enough for us to know what to do, but generally not more than that.
l  We receive revelation for ourselves and for our stewardships and our leaders can receive revelation for us too. We can receive the revelation that their words are from God (ex; I will go and do the things the Lord commanded through my leaders).
l  Revelation is received in small ways, through strong feelings, in our hearts and minds, and answers that are different than we expected.
l  Our prayers become more like the Saviors as we become more meek and pray to know His will. It increases our desire to change ourselves, unifies us with God, helps us come to know Him and come closer to Him.
l  We need to search the scriptures for answers, not—I’ve read the scriptures so many times, I’ll just review my knowledge. Read to learn what you haven’t learned/become yet.
l  Coals together keep burning, take one away and it dies. We need to go to church. We need to be with the Saints.
l  How do I tell if it’s me or God? First; ask—why do I want to do it? If it’s a good desire, do it now. A lot of “thoughts” are inspiration. Learn.
l  When the crisis comes the time for preparation is over so always be ready by being worthy. Worthiness allows us to receive revelation which allows us to have God’s power and to do miracles.
l  Testimony is a witness. Conversion is a process of bringing thought, mind, and action into line with God’s will to become a Saint. It leads to desire to share the gospel.
l  Our goal is to get to the point when God’s thoughts/desires are the same as ours. When we get to that point, then the Lord can perfectly trust us. We can get to that point through prayer, the scriptures, and church. Continuing revelation.
After MLC finished we came back to Hachinohe and started working on Zone Training Meeting preparations.

Thursday we had a lesson with Ishita-san about prayer and the Holy Ghost. She understood really well and she read 3 chapters of the Book of Mormon on her own! We asked her to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. The rest of the day we did Zone Training Meeting prep. We had 2 trainings, 1 was 15 minutes (about being lifted up by Christ and those around us, using the book “Adjusting to Missionary Life”), the other was 30 minutes. We felt really inspired about the things we needed to share in our training for Adjusting to Missionary Life and really felt strongly that it was something this Zone needed and preparing that training went really, really well, so I really feel like God wanted us to do that training. The revelation we received for that was like the sun rising on a clear day with no clouds. Gradual, but super clear. The other training (about revelation) we knew we wanted to talk about how by receiving revelation we can go through the process of changing from a natural man to becoming a Saint and be truly converted. And we knew we wanted to focus on the importance of prayer, Book of Mormon, and the Sacrament, but we weren’t sure what order we needed to teach the principles in. It felt like a day that was so foggy you couldn’t see in any direction, and weren’t sure where to go. So we prayed and after that there was a light leading us through the fog, giving us just enough light to step in the right direction and we suddenly knew what order we needed to teach everything in and what we needed to say and it all came together. It was so cool to know we were receiving revelation to teach about revelation! Principles in action! It really was a miracle and we were truly blessed by God.

Friday we got up at 4:30, left at 5:45, train at 6:11, got to Aomori at 8, prepped, and then had Zone Training Meeting! Our AML training went exactly as we felt inspired to plan it and there was a really sweet spirit there. The Zone Leaders gave a really inspired training on the Spirit of Revelation. Then we gave our second training which we called “Conversion—The Process of Becoming a Saint by Receiving and Following Divine Revelation”. I was so shocked by what happened; the things we taught were things I had never thought of before. We used analogies I had never heard before. I learned from things that I said that I didn’t think of until the moment I was speaking them. We were moved upon by the Spirit to speak and I felt this connection with Heaven. And even though we were doing things we hadn’t planned, my companion and I were 100 percent on the same page. My heart was so touched. I was so surprised. It was really the Spirit teaching, not us. I have felt this way before, but I felt it in a new and powerful way. I am so grateful we had this training about revelation! It has really changed my perspective. It has made me hungry to strengthen my connection with Heaven because there is nothing more important than that.

We had a district leader meeting after ZTM [zone training meeting] and got good feedback from the leaders. Then we got on the train back for Hachinohe. Since most of our time was gone from the day our plan was to do personal study on the train and I was sitting down and getting ready to do that when I felt this little nudge, a tiny thought; you should talk to the girl sitting next to you. I thought; but I need to study and I’m tired. Again; you should talk to her. Well, we’d been studying revelation for the past 3 weeks and just has 3 days of very clear instructions that many thoughts are actually inspiration so I decided to follow President Smith’s advice to “If it’s a good thing, do it now” and started talking to her. Turns out she’s a college student on spring break on her way to Hachinohe for the night because she’s been visiting all of Japan’s 47 perfections [prefectures?] for the past 5 years—and she’s going to visit the last one tomorrow! Her major has to do with family science/history and she has researched her family history all the way back to the Endo period (WAAAAY far) and her name is Chie (wisdom). We talked all the way back to Hachinohe and I invited her to come to the FHE [family home evening] activity at the church that night. She said “I’d love to! I don’t have any plans tonight. What time?” So she met us at the church at 7pm for FHE and she loved it! She looked up Eikaiwa [English class] by herself on her phone and found the address of a church near her home (near Tokyo) and she said she wants to go! She said; I’m so glad you talked to me on the train! And we exchanged contact information—and I got an email from her today!! Miracle! My heart was so touched and grateful that I talked to her. Just amazed. Holy cow. Wow, wow, wow. So grateful.

At the end of the day we weren’t able to do personal study, so during our preparation for bed I chose to read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes instead of the other things I usually do. I’m so glad I did. My heart was so touched. It was all about the relationship between conversion and revelation. I cried. Mosiah 3:19 “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” So touched. So perfect. We have the Holy Ghost to help us become converted. Mosiah 3:20 “And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” I want this!! I’m on a mission for this!! Mosiah 4:2-3 “And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men. And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.” There is a relationship between conversion and the Holy Ghost! Mosiah 5:2 “And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” The Holy Ghost leads us to conversion. So thankful.

Saturday we had a lesson with Sugiura shimai [Sister Sugiura] (RC [recent convert]) about tithing. Her income is only a pension but she still pays tithing because she wants to. Amazing. Then we had cake with Shion shimai [Sister Shion] (RC) for her birthday. Then we had kids Eikaiwa. A new family came—a mom, dad, and 3 kids all came and learned together. So cool! Way good people. I explained Free Family English Program and they took a pamphlet.

Sunday Sae-chan and Shion-shimai both came to church! Yoshi-kun’s baptism (Elder’s investigator) was after church. Yoshi is 16 and from the Philippines (half Japanese, half Philippines) so his native language is Tagalog but he learned some English in the Philippines so he took the lessons in English from an Elder from America and an Elder from Tahiti (native language of French) and his aunt (a member, she is Japanese) would come to lessons with them so during the lessons they would be reading the scriptures in 4 different languages. Wow! Since Yoshi doesn’t speak Japanese quite yet I was blessed to be able to translate the baptismal service for him (all the talks, etc.). That was the first time I’ve ever translated for the person being baptized. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that opportunity again. But it was so amazing to be translating the words the speakers were saying to him to him and see his joy at the things they were saying about him and the blessings they were promising him. He really understands the gospel. He bore his testimony in Japanese and it was so amazing. I just think it is so amazing that he came all the way to Japan to hear the lessons in English from an American and a Tahitian. So amazing. God really wanted him to learn the gospel. What a wonderful miracle. Touched my heart.

Way to go Zach on scoring a tri!
Hyrum Jackson is also playing Lysander!
That's awesome that the missionaries will usher for Lamb of God!
Candice started cello lessons!
Mom your emails are so spiritual--so amazing
How did Zach end up in a ditch?
Glad Kelsea is doing good.
If Sister Burton has any questions about Sendai I'd be happy to answer them if she wants to email me!
Spring is coming?
Way to go on inviting! We succeed when we invite regardless of the outcome!
I’m glad you aren’t bored of my emails yet!

Dad, you asked about emergency preparedness in our mission. All the missionaries have a big heavy-duty backpack in their apartment with enough food and water for 3 days and a first aid kit, flashlight, and some other basic emergency supplies. We have a practice evacuation drill for earthquakes or natural disasters once a month where all the missionaries go to their area’s evacuation center (usually a school) and do a practice call to an emergency number which can record messages and save them and other people can call in and listen to your message to know you are safe. In case of a tsunami we are instructed to run to the altitudes, not the evacuation centers (since not all the centers are on high ground). In a real emergency where cell phones are useable, all the district leaders check their district member’s safety and report to the Zone leaders who report to the assistants who report to the President. If cell phones aren’t useable we call the emergency number. President and Sister Smith watch the news to be aware of situations that may be dangerous and we get called if we need to evacuate. Just some of the emergency preparedness here.

Lately I’ve been trying to read 7 pages in the Book of Mormon every day and I am currently reading in Mosiah and just finished reading Abinadah's [Abinadi’s] last testimony today. I was so touched by how true and valiant and faithful he was in his testimony—even unto death he would not deny the Christ and that his words were true. Such courage. Such integrity. He was always faithful. An amazing example. I know that as we strive to strengthen our testimonies by following the promptings of the Holy Spirit to change ourselves to become better, we too can have the strength of character needed to withstand all storms of life and do so smiling, with faith in Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation, our Lord and loving Redeemer. If we do this and hold out faithful to the end, we will rejoice to meet him at the judgment bar where we—at last!—will see Him again. It’s such an exciting thought; to see Him again. I’m excited for that.

I love you all so much! Have a great week!

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS ZACH ON BYU!!!! Excited to be there with you!

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