Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sunny and 65☀️

Hello friends and family! So this week wasn't much different from the other previous ones. The weather is still fantastic by the way, it got a little chilly here the other day because it "dropped" down to the lower 60's but we survived. As much as I love winter and the snow, as a missionary I'm not to bummed to be missing out on the freezing cold weather.

This past week we were really busy but to be honest I am grateful for how busy we have been lately. The only downside to being so busy is that time goes by WAY to fast. I mean we are already halfway down with the first month of 2017 and I feel like I'm still waiting for Christmas to come! It is really interesting how time goes by a lot faster when you start to realize you don't have as much as you would like left. My companion Elder Lyutsov and I are learning a lot together and certainly learning a lot from each other. He brings a lot of new different ideas and experience to the table that I'm grateful I have the chance to learn from. A month ago I didn't even know where Bulgaria was on a map but after some time with him I feel like I know all about the people and the culture. He really is a great missionary and I can tell he will become even better as he continues to learn from others and improve as he is here in Japan. 

Our old investigator Yaka is doing really well! We are still meeting with him and he is on track for all the goals we have set for him so I'm excited to keep meeting with him and see his faith continue to build. We have another investigator too named Kinjo and we actually just set a baptismal date for him as well. His is not until February 4th but so far it is looking good! He has come to church twice already and has had most of the lessons. Yesterday at church as well Elder Yamashita came to visit (Member of the 70 who spoke in the most recent General Conference) and he actually had like a 5 minute 1 on 1 talk with our investigator and it was so cool! It was crazy to see how much an impact he had on him within such a short little visit. In sacrament meeting his talk was on how he was given the assignment to talk in General Conference and it was really funny. 

That's about it for me! We have been working a lot with the Japanese ward and visiting their last actives and recent converts so that has been really good. We went out to this chain of islands and visited a bunch of old members and it was pretty cool, we got some pretty pictures of the water and islands as we went to dinner out there so I'll send those out! I hope you all have a great week! Love you all! 


Elder Sherrill 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Yaka Hiroshi 屋嘉 広

What a week! Hello everybody! This email I would like to take the time to talk more about someone who in a very short time has really made a big impact on me. His name is Yaka Hiroshi. Yaka is 67 years old and has lived on Okinawa his whole life. He has 2 children and 6 grandchildren. He has many hobbies but his favorite thing to do is watch old western movies. He absolutely loves coke and potato chips and says no matter what diet he goes on, he won't be giving those up. About 35 years ago, Yaka met with two missionaries from the LDS church. He loved their message and accepted all the teachings. He read from the Book of Mormon and prayed. He was going to get baptized but because of his addiction to smoking, was unable to quit and therefore unable to get baptized. Discouraged and upset he fell out of contact with the missionaries and he thought that was the end of his journey to coming to the church.

A little under two months ago, two sister missionaries who clearly were guided by the spirit happened to knock on his door and run into him. As they talked and he explained his story and the sister missionaries discussed about the gospel he had a desire to meet again and re learn what had long since been forgotten. Except this time, he made it quickly known to the missionaries that he had quit smoking all by himself 2 years ago and that wouldn't be a problem this time. The sisters excited to teach him taught him a couple days later and brought him to church. I saw him at church but wasn't able to meet him. That next week the sister missionaries invited us to his next lesson so we could take over the teaching. Since he is a male, usually we will pass the investigator to the missionaries that are of the same sex. Within the first lesson we had with him I could tell he was different than most people I have taught on my mission. He seemed more prepared and really ready to receive the gospel. That first lesson we had with him we set a baptismal date with him and ever since then we have met with him twice, sometimes three times a week. He came to church that following week and then continued to come and not miss a Sunday for 7 consecutive weeks. 

Throughout his teaching I had the opportunity to see him progress and grow very quickly in the gospel. As we taught him these restored truths the lessons he had heard over 35 years ago started to come back to his memory. He quickly relearned the simple gospel truths and had that same desire to follow Jesus Christ and to be baptized. As we taught all the commandments he had no problems with any of them and was always willing to follow anything we asked him to. He would read and pray daily. Since he has no car, members had to give him a ride to church. In order to give a permanent solution to that problem he bought a very expensive electric bicycle just so he could come to church and various other church activities! Since it has been almost 50 years he has said since he has ridden a bicycle right now he is practicing until he can get good enough to make it to church on his own. Every time I saw him I asked how the practice was going and excitedly he would reply, "I'm getting better!" He had mentioned he fell a couple times but I never realized the depth of his injury from falling until one time, unplanned I visited his home to drop off some goodies for him. When he came to the door he had a huge bandage on his leg I had never seen before, he pulled it off and showed us it was a huge cut covering his whole shin from falling of the bike due to his practice. Later that night I called him to see how he was doing and guess what he said he did right after we left? He hopped on the bike and practiced again! I have never met a person so driven to follow the commandments of God and always do the right thing. His faith is tremendous.

Just two days ago I had the privilege to baptize Yaka. He was the first person I had ever baptized so needless to say I was pretty nervous but also very excited. As I stood in the water with him I couldn't help but feel the spirit so strongly. After he came up out of the water he had this big smile and I asked him how he felt. He said, "my heart feels clean". After he said that I couldn't help but smile and give him a big hug. His baptism went really well and then that next day when he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It all just went perfectly. 

I am so thankful to those missionaries that taught him over 35 years ago. His baptism is a standing witness that sometimes on a mission we don't always see the fruit of our labors. Because of those two missionaries that taught him, he was more prepared and able to accept this gospel at a later time in his life. Our service really does stretch farther than we realize sometimes. I'm so thankful I was able to work with Yaka and help him start on the path back to his Heavenly Father. This work is amazing and being a missionary is such a great experience. I love it! I hope you all have a great week! I have lots of pictures this week since I forgot to send some last week so I'll attach the baptism pictures to this email.


Elder Sherrill 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God"

Happy New Years to everyone that still reads these emails! It is 2017!!! I can't believe 2016 is over already! As I was looking back at this last year my mind kept thinking of this scripture and that's kind of what I would like to talk about today. The scripture is found in 2 Nephi 2:3. This is when Lehi is speaking to his son Jacob. The scriptures goes, "Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men."

The main part I want to focus on is the underlined part. I remember reading this a while ago and thinking, wow, all his days he will be serving God? That's a long time! Then I had a thought, as a missionary that's exactly what you do for these 2 years that you are out here.  You are spending your days in the service of God. In 2016 I had the privilege to be in Japan the whole entire year. To be able to devote all my time and energy into serving the Lord just as Jacob was going to do. I will be honest, it has been very difficult at times but it has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I've ever had. 

Since this time of the year with Christmas being so recently it seems that everyone has this extra spirit of giving and service. One thing I hope for is that we all don't lose it! It is so easy to kind of forget to be as generous or render as much service since it is not the Christmas season anymore. However, if we keep that spirit of serving others as this new year begins we will continue to be in the service of our God and we will be helping so many others along the way. And just like it says in the scriptures, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." So let's keep on serving others! The joy you feel helping others and being involved in service is unlike any other happiness you can feel. 

That being said, I'm so happy I get to spend the majority of this new year devoted to serving the wonderful people of Japan. I know that the service we are rendering here really is changing people's lives and not only helping those we try to serve, but helping us to become even more like our Father in Heaven. I love this work and I love all of you! See you next week!