Monday, March 23, 2015

JT - Disciples in the Digital Age, along with other cool experiences

 Dear Everyone,

Wow, what a week. I have a couple awesome experiences I would like to share, with some HUGE changes coming in the near future.

I got artsy again. Isn't this cool? Spring is in the air here in Japan.
So first, on Thursday, we were going to visit our 73 year old investigator who never leaves his apartment building because he says it is too cold. He does all his shopping over the phone and all he does is sit and watch TV, order groceries and read the newspaper. So, we usually visit him pretty often because he is always home and willing to talk with us. So, that day, we were walking up the stairs to the third floor, when we passed the mailboxes. Usually his mail box has his name plate on it with a combo lock to lock it, but they both weren't there. We saw that and was confused. Then we got to his door and usually in Japan, they have their name on a nameplate above or next to their door, but our investigator's name was gone! We rang the doorbell and no one answered. We tried opening the door (because that's okay in Japan) but it was locked. His door is never locked. He had all of a sudden moved out of his apartment! He had told us before that the city was going to move him to a different, nearby apartment complex with an elevator some time, but he didn't tell us when. So we freaked out because our investigator (who is really close to being baptized if he can just come to church) disappeared. So, we spent the next few days trying to look for him at the 3 only apartments which I knew had elevators. Our odds were very few, but we had to find him. My companion and I would make jokes like "We did so well with him, he was probably translated already!" We also came up with a hashtag: #search4_____ (I can't put his name down). So, let the housing of apartments begin! We housed 2 apartments with elevators completely with no success; nobody would even let us talk, which was really weird. Usually we can at least ask if we could say a message, but there, we could barely introduce ourselves. Until, we reached the bottom floor of one apartment. We were able to teach a short lesson about the nature of God and about families and we were led to a pretty decent Potential Investigator. We will visit her again sometime this week. She was the only person we were able to talk to that whole time. We still didn't find our investigator though. But, after finishing those apartments, we both felt like we should go back to the apartment where our investigator lived. So we went back there and his name and combo lock was back on the mailbox and we got to the door and his name was back on the name plate! My companion and I were so confused. We rang the doorbell, but nobody answered. However, we tried the door, and it opened and it still looked like he was living there. (It was late, so he was probably sleeping. He's an old man.) So, we were confused to say the least. However, I know we were led to that potential investigator we found, because the only reason we would be searching those apartment buildings is if something crazy like that happened. I don't know what happened with our investigator, but it seems like he is still where he always was, and we found a potential investigator who we wouldn't have found otherwise. The Lord works in mysterious, and sometimes confusing ways.

On Sunday after sacrament meeting, we were teaching our English speaking investigator. He is such an amazing person, searching everywhere he can for the truth. He doesn't like to decide on anything until he sees just about every person's point of view, which is a really good trait that most people don't have. That desire to learn more has led him to believe many different Christian beliefs; some of which are correct, some of which are far from the truth. Most of the time though, he is so close, but yet so very far. During this particular lesson, we felt that his desire to know the truth is a lot like Joseph Smith's experience, so I wanted to read straight from Joseph Smith history. I read the first 20 verses of Joseph Smith History. When I was reading it, I could feel the spirit confirming the truth of it unto me. As I got to "I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun," my eyes filled with tears. That doesn't happen to me very often. I don't know if me reading that had any impact on our investigator or anyone else, but I know it helped me. I know that everything Joseph Smith said and did is true, it actually happened. I know that Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and that we are guided by a prophet of God on the earth today and his name is Thomas S. Monson. I know that Jesus Christ established his church again on the earth through Joseph Smith and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that church. This is the kingdom of God on earth. Reading Joseph Smith History confirmed that for me, better than it was before.

So, now for the bread and butter of the week; The mission-wide conference in Kobe. The whole mission (200+ missionaries) came to Kobe to hear Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak to us. The topic was "Disciples in the Digital Age" and we all knew what that means. The missionaries in Japan are going to be using iPads in our missionary work! In order to introduce that, Elder Nelson came as well as the Area President, President Ringwood. What an amazing experience. All the missionaries were able to shake Elder Nelson's hand; the first time for me to shake hands with an Apostle of the Lord. He said there are many reasons that the brethren are choosing now to allow missionaries to use iPads. Obviously the iPads will be a great tool for teaching and using Facebook and Skype can connect the missionaries to the whole world, but he said the main reason for the missionaries to use them is to help themissionaries learn how to use technology the way the Lord intended it to be used. He said that almost every missionary, before they left the mission, had a lot of bad habits, including being on social media too much and pornography. So, in order to put an end to that and in order to build a "Strain of Sin-Resistant Saints", the church is giving missionaries iPads to strengthen the future of the church. The church is giving us training so that missionaries can develop "safeguards" which are like internet filters that can allow us to be masters of the iPads; not being servants to them. They also emphasized the fact that this is for "all the remainder of your days". Also that by following these principles of righteous technology use that the church is teaching missionaries, they can overcome the bad habits they had in the past.

I learned so much during this conference. I learned how much of a blessing it is to be on a mission. I also kind of feel cheated. I thought that me going on a mission meant that I would stop my life for two years serving the people and giving back to the Lord for all that he has blessed me with, but even with that, he gives me so much more blessings! I can never give back to the Lord all that he has done for me, because no matter what we do, we are still indebted to him. He has so much grace and mercy that he freely gives to us, we cannot even begin to comprehend. This opportunity to use iPads on my mission is not just a blessing so that we can better teach our investigators. It is a way for me to learn good technology habits that will prevent me from falling into Satan's grasp and it will allow me to use the internet safely and the way the Lord wants it to be used. I can then help my children and my family be able to use technology righteously. This is the way I can overcome the things of the past. I was hooked on technology; always on facebook and instagram and doing who knows what. I wasted a lot of time on my phone. So, by applying these principles, I can overcome those and can really live up to my potential. If anyone is debating whether or not to go on a mission, I invite you to go. Give those two years (or 18 months) to the Lord, and he will bless you more than you can imagine. With this conference, my eyes were opened just a little to the future blessing that can happen in my life if I am obedient and do my best on this mission. I know it is the same for every missionary as well. I have learned so much and I still have a long way to go on my mission. I feel so blessed and I feel that the words from this conference and the chance to use iPads are going to help me for the rest of my life. It was an answer for me.

Dang I wrote a lot. I really hope you don't get annoyed by my many words. Hopefully you can make it to the bottom of my emails without sleeping.. Anyway, this was my week. We should be getting the iPads on Thursday, so things will be a little different, but it will be for the best! Exciting times are here, hold on to your seats.

Elder Lamoreaux
日本神戸伝道部 西脇市

Eating with some members! Such a fun time with great food!

The mission life; riding bikes everywhere

Beauty Saron. (Japanese people can't pronounce L)
 I thought I matured during my mission... 

The view of our city 西脇 Nishiwaki. Otherwise known as the west armpit (西- nishi, west. 脇- waki, armpit.) and famous for being 日本のへそ (Belly Button of Japan) (へそ- Belly Button). I love it here

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