Well, this has been a great week! I feel like my companion and I worked our hardest and we are starting to see some results. I have also seen the hand of the Lord in a big way this week. Well, maybe a couple ways. Let me explain.
First off, I want to mention that the Gift of Tongues is real, but it is also very weird. So, as District Leader, we have this thing called "Follow-ups" where District Leaders call each member in their district and and Zone Leaders call each District Leader and we, well, follow up with them; See how they are doing, how the progress in their areas are coming and stuff like that. Zone Leaders and District Leaders discuss about problems regarding missionaries and investigators and ways we could help etc. My district is pretty small, but I still have one every night. So, one night I had a follow up with my Zone Leader who is Japanese. During that follow-up, I felt the Gift of Tongues working; I understood everything and I was able to discuss things without too much trouble. That felt great. Then, the next night, I had my first follow-up with one of my district. It was harder than I thought it would be. She is a Japanese sister and it was weird because I understood everything at times and other times, I got nothing. I think it is interesting that you recognize the Gift of Tongues working really well with you but then other times, not at all. Well, that follow up was hard because I felt like I could've done more, could've said more things to help her, but the words were just not coming. I also realized that because Japanese is not my native language, you cannot truly say what you want to say. You can't really express your true feelings because you are trying to climb over that language barrier. The next night, as we were visiting a member with our Branch President, I again felt like I didn't know Japanese. I could tell something serious was happening during the visit, but I couldn't understand the full thing. I though something bad was happening in the member's family or something. The whole time, I couldn't understand the situation. After the visit, I asked the Branch President what happened and he explained it to me and it was completely different than what I thought was happening. It was actually a really good thing that happened. Like life changing in a really good way. (They told us not to tell what it was). (This is leading to a great experience I swear). As we were riding our bikes back to the apartment that night, I was pondering about why it was like that. Like, I want to help these people so badly, but because of the language barrier, I can't truly express my feelings through words. However, as soon as I finished that thought I heard a voice come from behind me through the quiet of the night... "Mormons?"
I was shocked and tuned around right away. It was a couple of people hanging outside of a restaurant smoking. I approached them and they asked again, "Are you Mormons?" (English btw). They were Filipino guys. I proudly said "yes, yes we are! Have you met us before?" One of them said, "yeah! There are so many from where I am from! Actually, I play basketball with the missionaries every Tuesday and Thursday back in the Philippines." Woah! What a small world! So these guys (a group of about 7 of them eventually came out of the restaurant.) are temporarily in Japan for work and they are from Davao City. There was also a guy from Nigeria in the group who they work with. They were all speaking to us in English and we were explaining what we do, where we came from and what not. Then one of the Filipino guys says "you know, in the Philippines, I see you Mormons all the time, but I don't know anything about you all. So tell me, what do you Mormons believe? Are you Christian?" That was the first time I have been asked that on my mission. THE FIRST TIME EVER. (Keep in mind, I have been here for a year). We then started testifying that yes, we are Christian, we believe that God is our Father, Jesus Christ is our savior and Heavenly Father created a plan to return to him. Let me tell you, it felt SOOOOO GOOD to be able to testify about my beliefs in English to someone who was willing to listen and willing to learn about our beliefs. The whole time, those people were asking us things and we were having a great conversation. They soon had to go, but they left with a better understanding of the church and hopefully a good view of the Mormons. Now, we'll probably never see them again, but I believe a seed was planted. This small, simple experience felt so good. The timing of this miracle (yup, this is a miracle) was so perfect for me that I know it wasn't a coincidence. This experience felt like a warm hug from my Heavenly Father telling me, "hey, keep your head up. You are doing fine. Don't worry." I might sound like I am exaggerating, but it is true. He blessed me with an opportunity to truly express my feelings and beliefs in my native language. He allowed me to realize that there are people out there who care about what I am doing. All these days of being rejected, all these days of trying to talk to people but them not having any interest at all kind of diminished my confidence in that. But, I know that God is there and he truly is preparing people to hear the gospel, even here in middle-of-nowhere Japan. This will be one of the turning points of my mission.
Also, another amazing experience from this week led to our Filipina Investigator finally accepting a date for baptism! We had this whole lesson set up (refer to picture of chart thing)
where we had this chart thing with many items that she has already completed/has come to know for herself. I.e. Pray daily, come to church, believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, etc. we had a stamp and every time she said yes to the question, we would put a stamp which meant "completed!" We stamped all the way to baptism. Then we showed her all the blessings that come after one is baptized, I.e. Holy Ghost, Eternal Families, etc. The point of this lesson was to help her realize and feel that she is ready to be baptized, and it worked! She picked a date for October 4 and she will work towards that date! It was so exciting and the Spirit was there as she testified of the things which were on the chart. Her family is so happy about her decision and they are so excited to go to the temple next year to be sealed! I was a great experience and I am praying that I can still be in Maizuru for that wonderful day.
Well y'all, this church is true. God is there and he loves you, there is no doubt in my mind that this is true. I love you all! I am so happy to be serving in the best mission in the world, the Japan Kobe Mission. I feel so blessed. Have a great week!
Elder Lamoreaux ラムロー長老
Japan Kobe Mission 日本神戸伝道部