Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Power of Prayer

Sunset on trip to Fukuoka
Drawing little girl did of Elder Sherrill
 Hello Everyone! 

Another week on the tropical island of Okinawa! This last week was really good! I'll try and hit all the main highlights of the week. 

First off we started the week with interviews with our amazing Mission President. The more I meet with him, learn from him, and hear his counsel the more my respect deepens for him and for the service he is rendering. Sometimes when I think my mission is tough, I think of how it must be for President and Sister Egan and I stop complaining haha. They truly are the hardest workers in the mission and even when they are tired somehow manage to push through and make everyone feel individually important. My interview with him went really well, he helped answer some of my questions and gave me that extra push to continue to work hard.

Along with interviews, Elder Conder and I were able to give a training during interview time and we think that was good too. If you really want to know though you'd have to ask someone that received the training, but if you ask me I don't think it was half bad ;) We focused a lot on spiritual planning and why it is so necessary in finding those that are ready to receive the message of the gospel. Another topic we touched on was accountability to our leaders and more importantly the Lord. One commitment that was given to us and we extended to our missionaries as well was the concept of reporting to Heavenly Father every day in your prayer before you go to bed. And that is basically just telling Him how your day was, what you did, what you think you fell short on, and thinking of what you can do better the next day. As I have been doing that it has helped my prayers feel stronger and more meaningful. I heard something a while back from some teacher in Sunday school and I really liked it. They said, when you pray at night, do you prayers reach heaven or do they hit the ceiling and fall back down? That being interpreted to say how meaningful our prayers actually are. Sometimes we come home, we are exhausted and we just want to sleep or relax and that sometimes rolls over until we go to bed. However, as we kind of wake back up and make time to sincerely talk to Heavenly Father in prayer it helps us out more than we realize. Prayer really is such a blessing in our lives and helps us feel Gods love and guidance more abundantly. 

During the week we were able to meet with Yaka and Kinjo, both of our recent converts. They continue to impress me with how diligently they study and how much they are improving. Other than meeting with them we had an awesome miracle this week! Our good friend Brother Nishihara gave us a referral for his friend and we taught her the first lesson this week. We got to know her and focused the whole lesson on God and getting to know him through prayer. It was a great lesson and we shared one of my favorite Mormon messages (short little gospel clip). I'll add the link to the bottom of this email so you guys can give it a view if you'd like! 

All in all we had some great lessons this week and it honestly was a pretty good week. This next week should be even better because we have a mission conference coming up and a couple companion exchanges! There are always miracles on companion exchanges so I'm looking forward to that :). I love you guys! Have a great week! Also is anyone else as freaked out as me that it is pretty much March already?! 


Elder Sherrill 

Learning from the Scriptures

Girl Scout Cookies from a member
 Hello everyone! This past week has been good! Some days were better than others but since I don't have a ton of time I wanted to share a couple scriptures that have been on my mind lately. I have been really working on the Christ like attribute of charity and let me just say, it is really hard to obtain. But anyways, this is the scripture that I was referring to, it is found in Matthew 5, verses 43 to 48. It goes, 
"43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Japanese Comedy Skit: Rakugo
This example of love the Savior teaches us is one of my favorites in the scriptures. Loving people we like is easy, it's not a challenge. But the real test is loving those people that are hard to love, that we may not like so much. This is something I still struggle with a lot and have been trying to improve upon my whole mission. Luckily, I have been given opportunities to test my charity recently and even though it has been really difficulty I am thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow. I know the Lord loves us and he really wants to help us become perfect just as He says in the last verse. 

Since this is such a short email I will recap some of the events that happened this last week. 
  • We had a leadership conference up in Fukuoka so we flew up and attended that and was able to meet with other mission leaders and learn a lot from them and the Mission President.
  • We had Valentine's Day and got tons of chocolate from the members! 
  • My Zone Leader companion and I are planning for a training we have to give tomorrow, we are really excited for it! 
  • We watched a devotional from Elder Holland last night and it was everything I needed to hear and more. The main theme was relying on the Savior through hardships and always increasing our faith in him.

Even though the mission is difficult in so many different ways the things I am learning and the precious experiences I have been able to have all been worth it. This mission really is building such a sure foundation for the rest of my life and I'm so happy I decided to put Heavenly Father and His Gospel first and serve Him. There are so many blessings to be had as we forget about ourselves and serve others. I love you guys and I'm sorry this is so short! Maybe I'll get good at writing emails someday ;) but for now, see you all next week! 


Elder Sherrill 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another Trip to Fukuoka

Hello everyone! So this is the first week of the transfer and it flew
by really fast! With the start of the new transfer is also another
trip up to mainland Japan! At the beginning of each transfer we have a
Mission Leadership Council up in Fukuoka so we (the missionary leaders
in Okinawa) get to take a plane up tonight and we will be there for a
day and come back tomorrow night. I never would have imagined doing
this much traveling on my mission but it honestly is really fun! The
only thing is since it cost the church quite a bit of money to move us
around it always helps remind me to stay focused and realize that the
purpose of these trainings is to learn and help other missionaries and
our areas rather than just hang out with other missionaries. So with
that being said Elder Conder and I are pumped for this MLC so we can
learn from others and figure out what we can do to help our zone see
more success.

Our two recent converts are both doing really well. We are meeting
with them a couple times a week still and they have been continuing to
come to church and having good experiences so I am really thankful for
that. Sitting in church yesterday by Brother Yaka I was talking to him
and he just kept smiling as we were talking and it was just so
apparent that he has changed so much. It is such a blessing to be a
missionary and see the change people make in their lives.

So that's about all I have time for this week, sorry it is so short!
We have to catch a plane tonight so we have to leave to go to Naha. I
love you guys! I love being a missionary and all the great experiences
that come with it. I hope you all have a great week and enjoy
Valentine's Day!


Elder Sherrill

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Kinjo Reio

Kinjo and Elder Sherrill
 Another awesome week in Okinawa! I am loving it down here! My companion and I have been so blessed these past few weeks. Before I talk about our investigator that was baptized this past week, we got transfer calls! However, we are staying together and nothing is changing haha. That was what I was expecting though so that is good, I didn't want to leave anytime soon. So I'm really excited for this next transfer and the success I know we are going to see!

Zone Blitz
So on to Kinjo! He is so awesome! I don't have as much time as I had last time but I will try and give a quick summary of how we met him and his progression in the gospel. He was actually found last year by a set of Sister missionaries who he rejected in the summer time. Then some elders came by again and asked him some similar questions and he
decided to give it a try since they had come so soon after the Sister missionaries. They taught him periodically without much success. When I first got here he was a pretty "sketchy" investigator and my companion was pretty close to dropping him. He wouldn't really meet us and it took a couple weeks before I first ended up meeting him. When we met him we actually had a really good lesson and it seemed like his interest was very high, he seemed to just have been taught things to fast before getting a fundamentally belief in God. So my old companion and I focused our first couple lessons solely on God and Jesus Christ
and it helped him develop that belief so when we went to other gospel topics he could build upon the foundation he already had.

Homemade Sushi
Then after transfers came we set up a baptismal date with him and promised him if he started to come to church weekly and meet with us twice a week rather than once, he would receive an answer whether or not to be baptized. He boldly accepted and said he wanted to work really hard to make his date, and he did! As we went through and taught him commandments, he exercised great faith in following Heavenly Father and obeying some of the commandments he still fully didn't comprehend why we have them. One of them being keeping the sabbath day holy, including not shopping on Sunday. He expressed his concern that on Sunday is when they have the best deals for food. So we went through with him how the Lord blesses us as we keep the commandments and gives us ways to be happier than we would be if we wouldn't follow them. He again accepted and trusted in his Heavenly Father.

Traditional Transfer Morning Breakfast with Foist Couple
Shortly thereafter, we finished his lessons and he was baptized just this last week! Like I said in my previous email, the plan was for me to baptize him originally because that's what he requested. But then Nishihara suggested that I confirm him and Elder Lyutsov baptize him. However, when we presented that to Kinjo, he said he still wanted me to baptize him rather than Lyutsov so that's what we did! I actually had to baptize him 3 times because each time he kept lifting his legs up under water as I submerged his chest haha, It was quite the experience. I never would have guessed we would have seen so much success this transfer, but Heavenly Father truly does lead this work and is helping many people become prepared!

Kinjo after his Baptism
I love this work and I simply love being a missionary. It is so different than anything I could have imagined it being and is so
rewarding. I am looking forward to all the time I have left! I love you guys, until next week!



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Missionary Work is Changing!

Hey everyone! I've got lots of stuff to update you all on. Lots of changes in the way missionary work will be done and in our personal schedule. Last week there was a worldwide missionary broadcast lead by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the Apostles. He was very excited for our new schedule and lots of missionaries (myself included) are really excited for it too. There are quite a few changes but I'll just run you through some of the basics. First off, with our preparation day. As some of you know it begins at 10am and ends at 6pm every Monday. This is when you have some free time, are able to explore your mission area, and take care of stuff that will help prepare you for the coming week. So instead of starting at 10 amthey pushed it back to 8am! So we have two extra hours on pday! As you can imagine we are all pretty excited for that. 
Along with that they changed our morning schedule so instead of now leaving our apartment around noon we will leave every morning at 10am to start proselyting. Which will give us lots of more time to find new investigators and give us the opportunity to talk to a new group of people that most likely haven't contacted missionaries before. Then at night time we still come back at 9pm but instead of planning for the next day like we have usually done in the past we won't be planning until the next morning and get an extra 30 minutes of personal time to prepare for bed and make calls to confirm appointments. On top of all that, as missionaries we keep track of lots of "numbers" as far as contacting people, having lessons with them, how many Book of Mormons we give out, people invited to be baptized, etc. But moving forward we will only be reporting 5 indicators to our Mission and they will likewise do the same to the Missionary Department in Salt Lake. These key indicators have been stripped down to help us focus on the most important key factors in order to help others come unto Christ and be converted. 
The main theme of all these changes is for us as missionaries to be more responsible and to be "agents unto ourselves". With all these changes the Lord really is putting lots more trust into us and allowing us to choose for ourselves what is most effective for our individual area in helping us fulfill our missionary purpose (help others come unto Christ). This is going to be a really big change and lots will be different moving forward but I am super excited for it! It is so cool to see what the Lord does to move His work forward. He is in charge and He knows what is best to help His children receive this wonderful message of the restored Gospel. I'm so excited for the new success I know we will begin to see. I love being a missionary and all of the amazing blessings that it brings. Speaking of which, Kinjo, our investigator passed his baptismal interview so he is planned to get baptized this Saturday! He asked me if I could baptize him but a member suggested that my companion Lyutsov perform that ordinance and then I give him the gift of the Holy Ghost so I think that's what we will do so we can both participate in it :) I'm definitely pretty nervous because I've never done it in Japanese before but I know the Lord will help me. 

I love you all, have a great week! 

Elder Sherrill 

Life in おき

It was a pretty good week! This week for emails I'm going to try something different and just do a little overview of each day and see how that goes.

Monday- it was our pday! So we of course went out and had some fun. We went on the American base and went shopping for American groceries. Although I could care less about all the candy, ice cream, and snacks. All I wanted was some good milk that was bigger than a liter and wheat bread. So that's all I got haha. Afterwards, my companion and I went up to one of the military bases higher on the island to have FHE(Family Home Evening, its like a game night/Family fun night with food, games, and a spiritual message) with the Foust couple. It went pretty good and there was a non member that showed up! 
Tuesday- I went to go pick up my bike from the bike shop because a couple of my spokes were broken. Afterwards we taught Yaka's lesson and it went really well! We are re teaching him the lessons and his understanding of the gospel is really deepening. 

Wednesday- Another rainy day in Okinawa but that didn't stop us! We had a great lesson with our investigator Kinjo in which he agreed to live the word of wisdom! At the end of our lesson I asked if he had any questions about the lesson and he said, "no but I do have one question, do I need to bring my own white clothes to the baptism, or do you have some for me to use?" I kind of just laughed and told him not to worry about it because we have the clothes for him. He is getting excited for his baptism! 
Thursday- This day was crazy. To start it off we ran into this cool American who has lived in Okinawa since the 80's  who runs his own Karate Dojo. He is a 9th degree black belt (which is apparently the highest you can go according to him). He has all these karate classes he teaches and even does these cool Okinawan festivals each week with drums and karate that he invited us to, so we might go next week! After him the Assistants in our Mission came down a day early before our training and interviews with our Mission President to go on exchanges with me and my companion. I went with Elder Yamanashi who is seriously the nicest person I have ever met. He is an amazing missionary and is practically an angel. He served here as a Zone Leader a little while ago and baptized a couple people so we went and visited them together. 
Friday- Interviews with the President Egan! So this past week I have been given lots of counsel directly from President Egan and at first it was a little tough to hear because he is very open with his comments on how I should improve and help my Zone but it really has actually helped me out a lot to improve as a missionary, leader, and a person. My Zone Leader companion and I made some goals on what we can do to help improve our zone and we are way pumped for them! We have lots of fun activities planned as a Zone to help us find new investigators and increase our unity. 

Saturday- Exchanges with one of the District Leaders in the zone Elder Tschirki! He is such a stud! We had a way fun junkai and saw tons of miracles together. We actually did something as a Zone together called miracle day where everyone prays to see lots of miracles on a specific day, and then we all go out and work way hard to see them. Once they see a cool miracle, they record a voice message of the miracle, they send it to the zone leaders and we send it out to the whole zone! That way everyone in the zone is constantly getting to hear of success the zone is seeing and pumping them up to see success in their own areas. It was a huge success and everyone in the zone saw multiple miracles. We have another cool activity planned this week but we actually need to get permission from the Mission President before we do it. So I will let you know how that goes next week! 

Sunday- We finished the week of strong with Kinjo! He came to church and we taught him for the third time after church! He has agreed to live all the commandments and when I was asking about how his life has been recently he said it has been like a wave. I asked him what was happening when it was at the high points and at the low points. He said he feels good (high points of wave) when he is going to church, praying, and meeting with us! Then he said the low points are when he feels fear. We told him that fear wasn't from God but rather from Satan and to focus on the good feelings he receives. I asked about his baptism and how he feels now that we have been meeting with us regularly and coming to church weekly and he said it is completely different from when he wasn't meeting with us. He says he is looking forward to his baptism and is excited for it. So we are way pumped! 

That's about it for this week! It turned out kind of long and took a while haha so sorry about that. I love you guys and I'm grateful for all the love and support you show me, have a great week! 


Elder Sherrill