I would first like to say congratulations to Jack on being baptized this week! I realized yesterday while we were studying that my little brother is now officially a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! I`m so happy for him. The pictures look awesome and he looks so happy! I`m sad that I wasn`t able to be there but I think I have a decent excuse. Sorry Jack Jack! I love you buddy!
Well, the time has officially come. Starting this Thursday I will be training a new missionary! I`m so excited! I truly have been given so much in my mission so far. With two Japanese companions and a half Japanese companion that was really good at Japanese, I consider myself very blessed. My language ability is far from perfect and no where near fluency but I can get myself around. The real struggle this week will be trying to navigate the trains from the mission home in Kobe, back to our place in Sakai. It should be a wild ride! Two other Elders from my district in the MTC are also training this transfer so it should be really fun! I can`t say enough how lucky I feel. The Lords hand has been so present in my mission and I feel it has changed me so much. I don`t even remember what life was like before my mission. What? You mean I wasn`t actually born here in the Kobe Mission?? It`s been a great seven months.
This week was a little tough. It pains me to say that we got a little bit stuck just going through the motions. The Spirit just hasn`t been present no matter how hard I`ve tried to invite it in. That`s going to be a major focus this week. No matter what we do this week, we absolutely NEED the spirit or this work just doesn`t go well. I studied a lot out of chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel this morning in personal study. How glad I am that they gave us an entire chapter on how to recognize and follow the spirit. I`d be lost without PMG. (I don`t know how you did it, Dad).
A family from the Ward took all four of us missionaries out to eat on Saturday night and we had a great time! The family is absolutely incredible. Hands down, the strongest converts I have ever met in my life. Brother and Sister M. Sister M was baptized when she was 19 after meeting with the sister missionaries for an extremely short two weeks. She had an incredibly difficult life growing up. She shared with us how her mother and step-mom would beat her and her Dad would make her work in his bar at night. She was contemplating suicide when the Sister missionaries found her and shared with her the Gospel. She was baptized and served a mission to Nagoya when she was 25. Brother M is an absolutely incredible story. He was a really really bad guy. When he was young he got into drugs and alcohol pretty bad. He was telling us how he got in really deep with the Japanese mafia as a drug dealer and almost killed himself on other illegal drugs. He said that he always loved Jesus Christ, even before he ever found the church. When he met the missionaries he believed everything they said was true. When they asked him to give up doing drugs he refused. The next day the cops showed up at his house and arrested him for possession and took him jail. In jail he said all the other guys would look at bad magazines and he would sit off to the side and read the Book of Mormon and Jesus the Christ. He was in jail for three months and after he got out, he was baptized. After his baptism he went less active and went back to drugs and alcohol for about ten years. When he met his wife she set him straight. She wouldn`t marry him unless he came back to church, quit all the illegal things he was doing, and would prepare to go to the temple. He agreed and they`ve been married for about ten years now and have a beautiful little daughter! They`re both Ward Missionaries and have so much fire for missionary work it`s awesome! I absolutely LOVE the M family!
Hearing conversion stories like that just fueled me even more. I want to find some people like that! The world needs more Brother and Sister M`s that`s for sure. I know I can find them. I just have to follow the spirit in order to do so.
I love you guys and I never get tired of saying how grateful I am for all of your examples and support. I feel so loved and blessed by all of you and I`m so grateful to be a missionary right now! There`s no way I`m stopping anytime soon. I just got started ;) I love you guys!!!!
Elder Jeffrey Maxwell Giles