I hope everyone is doing well and is enjoying the OLYMPICS! USAUSAUSA! Japan really doesn`t get that into it from what I`ve seen and I`m kind of sad! I hope everyone`s having a good week and I`m actually surprised to say that Osaka was more like Utah this past week! We actually got an inch or two of snow and I guess it only snows once every five or so years here!
This week was REALLY slow as far as numbers go. We couldn`t find anyone to save our lives so this week we`re planning on changing it up a lot! We`re really trying to show our faithfulness so we can see a baptism by March 23! I think tonight we will pray as a companionship for a revelation on when exactly we will see our baptism and work from there. Right now we have an investigator with a baptismal date but recently we haven`t really been able to meet with him so we`re not sure how solid he is for baptism!
This week I got to go on exchanges with my District Leader and his companion. I went down to Sennan on Wednesday with Elder J and we had a really good time! It was really different being with an American companion. We planned a lesson for one of their investigators that is really committed to baptism but has a problem with giving up his old religion for this one. We were unsure of how exactly we could tell him in a gentle and unforced way that he had to give up his old religion in order to be baptized. We planned on teaching him about the Ten Commandments and really focusing on the first commandment, No other Gods before me, and letting him kind of sort out the details for himself. The planning went pretty well and we had a solid lesson plan set up so we went out to find. We went to this apartment complex to do some housing and no one was really responding very well so we decided to go pray for some guidance. After praying I felt really strongly that we should go to this other building and just work our way down. On the fourth floor of the building a man answered the door and at first, seemed pretty uninterested. He told us he was Buddhist and wasn`t interested in Christianity. We finally just told him a little bit about our English Programs and he opened up a ton! He let us into his house and we talked for over an hour about English and about what we were doing. He has really been wanting to learn English because he has a daughter that lives in California and a Granddaughter that only speaks English so he really wants to be able to talk to her. We were really excited about his good desire and he now wants to do our Free Family English Program where we teach a half hour of English and a half hour of the Gospel. He was totally willing to listen to our message as long as he got some English experience with it! I`m curious to see what the Lord has in store for this man. He works in mysterious ways thats for sure.
My exchange with my District Leader, Elder H, was awesome. He barely speaks a lick of English but he`s absolutely hilarious! He really helped me to open up and just talk with people out on the streets. We had a pretty good day but we were still really struggling to find people. It got really late and it was just about time to head home so we walked to our bikes to leave. When we got to our bikes I got this impression to wait for just a minute. I stood there in the dumping snow wondering why on Earth I was still outside just desperately trying to get people to stop. One guy walked by and I said hello but he didn`t seem to notice and kept walking. I kept looking at the guy and about fifteen feet later he stopped dead and turned around. He came back over to me and asked, `Can you speak English?` I said yes. We talked for a little bit and he said he`d love to come to our English class and meet with us next week so I`m excited to see how that turns out!
This week I`ve been thinking a lot about how I can change to become the missionary that God wants and expects of me. I`m trying to fill my potential but it can be really hard sometimes. I`ve been reading a lot of 2nd Nephi and Mosiah this past week and I came across a beloved set of scriptures that I read a while back with my trainer. 2nd Nephi 4 talks about when Lehi finally passes away. Before he goes down to the grave he blesses his posterity telling them that their seed would be preserved. He passes away and a few days later, Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael come after Nephi again. I can`t image how Nephi must have felt. He just became a prophet, his Dad just passed away, and his brothers still attack him. He was having a rough time. I imagine he was close to giving up when he starts to pray to Heavenly Father. I think it starts in verse twenty five or so. He asks why he is subject to sin and pretty much why things are the way they are. He finally asks God, `Wilt thou redeem my soul?` He repents of his way and then asks God to remove his stumbling blocks and make his was straight before him. I think it`s verse 30 or so when he says something like, `I won`t trust in the arm of the flesh` meaning that he`s no longer relying on himself. He finally understands that the only way to do this work is through trust in the Lord. I`m trying to do the same thing right now. The only way this work gets done is by trusting in Jesus Christ. That`s all it takes!
I`ve really been thinking recently about why missionaries get so stressed out sometimes. I mean, it`s not like we have a promise from the creator of all that we WILL succeed or anything like that. President Zinke was talking sort of along the same lines at interviews a few weeks ago. He asked us if there was ever a time in the Saviors Earthly ministry when he was running around wondering where someone was that needed a miracle or if we thought that Elder Richard G. Scott ever ran through the halls of the church office building wondering who has proofread his talk for General Conference. It really is funny to wonder why we stress sometimes. When we trust God. We need not worry of anything else.
I love you all and I hope you have a great week. Wish me luck! I love you guys!
Elder Jeffrey M. Giles