Saturday, June 24, 2017
Hello friends and family!
This last week was incredible. So much happened and I learned so much
that I feel like throwing it into a small email won't do it any
justice, but I'm going to try. This past week was probably the busiest
week I have had in the mission home since I've gotten here. We had 3
trainings in 4 days as well as companion exchanges, organizing all of
next weeks travel for zone conferences, and the list just goes on and
on. On Monday night after sitting down with Kaicho and having our
weekly report with him, we went through some of the things we needed
to prepare and our list seemed almost endless, and to make it even
more difficult, we needed to finish it all within the next two days!
On top of having a training to prepare and going on exchanges so I
wouldn't be with Elder Strickland (my companion) for most of the time.
Needless to say after the meeting we both looked at each other and
laughed because we knew we had our work cut out for us. But, just like
it has in the past and just like it always will, "it will all work
out". That is one of our mission president's favorite quotes that sits
in his office by the late President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley.
After the week began we started off with our MLC, which is probably
the training I get the most nervous for. But it ended up going really
well and all the needs the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders
brought to the meeting were all going to be answered by the training
Kaicho and us had prepared! During the meeting as more and more
missionaries talked about some of the struggles they had in their
individual zones Kaicho kept turning to us and smiling because he knew
that what we had prepared was going to address all their needs. Which
was just another testimony that Heavenly Father does lead and guide
this work. Elder Strickland and I were actually planning on training
something completely different but couldn't get confirmation on
teaching it so we went back and back and eventually ended up changing
our training. I'm thankful Heavenly Father helped us realize what was
best for His missionaries to hear at this time.
After the MLC we had companion exchanges and I got to go out and dendo
with Elder Jensen! He is a Zone Leader from Naha, Okinawa and one of
the most humble and faithful missionaries I've ever met! Before we
went out to proselyte we looked at each other and said, "we are going
to see miracles today, let's figure out where the Lord needs us to
be". And then boom just like that, after a spiritual planning session
we go out and the third person we contact is an 18 year old kid who
loves religion and has been studying it in school. We talk with him
for about 15 minutes on the street and then show him the "because of
Him" video. Afterwards, we felt impressed to invite him to tour our
church since we were probably only a minutes walk away. He accepted so
we gave him a tour of the church, showed him the baptismal font, and
had a little lesson with him on the spot and set up an appointment for
this Sunday! Way cool miracle.
As I kind of explained in last weeks email, this past week and the
upcoming week are having Zone conference as a mission. So this week we
got to stay here in Fukuoka for the first one which was comprised of
Fukuoka and the Nagasaki Zones. Then the next day we went up to
Hiroshima for the next Zone Conference which was comprised of the
Hiroshima and Yamaguchi Zones. It was so nice to be back in Hiroshima
again! I missed it so much and as soon as we stepped off the train I
was pumped to be back. The trainings went really well and all the
people that prepared did a wonderful job. One of my favorite things
was just the opportunity to meet with all the different missionaries
we have. We have so many with different backgrounds, family
situations, and are from different countries, but we are all united by
our desire to serve and help the amazing people in Japan. Hearing of
their comments and testimonies really strengthened my own testimony of
being a missionary and the difference we can make. President Egan
isn't wrong when he says we really are among the best missionaries in
the world. This next week we get to meet with the other half of the
mission as we go to Kagoshima and Okinawa for the remainder of the
trainings and as you can imagine I am pretty excited for it.
Being a missionary is a huge blessing and probably one I won't fully
appreciate until I'm not one anymore. However, I've still got time and
there is lots of work to be done! So, I'm excited to go out and see
the success Heavenly Father wants to bless us with. To end I'd like to
just share a quick quote I heard this week that really stuck with me
about being diligent. I don't know who said it, or who it was quoted
from but it was amazing. It was, "Pray as if everything depends on the
Lord, then work as if everything depends on you." Heavenly Father
wants to bless us but most of the time it is predicated upon our own
willingness to go out and put the effort and faith in. I love you all,
thanks for always reading these emails and supporting me!
This was quite the week! It was filled with lots to do but it went
really well. The beginning of the week we were just double checking
all the travel plans and ended up calling most of the mission to make
sure everyone had the correct plans for their travel. It's was kind of
hectic but being busy is always fun!
With transfers here we got to welcome in 3 brand new missionaries as
well as send 10 of our best elders back home. It is an awesome
opportunity to get to meet and be around so many other missionaries.
As a part of the process of missionaries returning home they go to the
temple one last time and we have the chance to participate and go with
them. Being able to go to the temple this last week was absolutely
amazing and something I'm really thankful for. As I was there I was
able to receive lots of peace and comfort, but most of all I was able
to feel of the love Heavenly Father has for me. Going to the temple is
such a blessing and I'm so thankful to be so close to one all the
Today in the early morning before we began emailing we met with
Kyousuke to teach him a lesson and it went really good. We are trying
to keep the focus as much as we can on the Book of Mormon and Joseph
Smith. Slowly but surely he is coming to believe more and more and we
think he will definitely get baptized it is just a matter of time. For
our p-day today we are planning on doing a little shopping and I think
I might get a new suit! I saw a pretty cheap one I liked last week but
I held off on getting it to see if I really wanted it, well, I still
want it so we are going today to get it! Haha, plus I kind sort of
justify it since my old blue suit is getting pretty worn out so I need
a new one for trainings, church, and so forth. I'll be sure to show
you all next week! It's pretty comfy too and feels almost like pajamas
when you are wearing it.
This next week we will have our Mission Leadership Conference up here
in Fukuoka as well as begin our zone conference training! We will get
to tour the mission and go to the various areas, meet with other
missionaries and have training together. I am super stoked for it but
also a little nervous as you could imagine haha. That's about it for
today though, I'll be sure to let you know how the first couple Zone
conferences and MLC go next week. Love you all, take care!
So far I have been here for over a transfer! It's crazy to think how much time has passed already. This past week has been extremely busy. We have been in the office most of the time making travel plans and figuring everything out for this upcoming transfer. I've learned more about Japanese travel than I ever thought I would haha. It has been pretty fun though, I'm enjoying all that I learn each day. Plus being around the wonderful office couple the Hazelbarth's and the other elders is always a good time. Being so busy is sometimes difficult but I am grateful because it helps me focus on working hard till the end and not thinking about other stuff that may be going on.
This next week is what I am really excited for though. With it being transfers we will get to call all the missionaries and let them know where they will be for the next transfer. That's always a cool experience. Then after that we will get to pick up all the new missionaries (there is only three coming in) which is a super small group but that's okay. Then we have 10 elders who will be returning home from their mission so that will be fun to talk and be with them. It's always crazy to see the stark difference in the new missionaries and those that are returning. You can just tell how much more mature spiritually they are. However, the new missionaries always come with lots of fire and determination to work hard so that is always helpful to see.
Other than that though, there wasn't much that happened this last week to be honest. Travel plans take up most of our time and you can only write so much about that haha. However, at the beginning of each transfer we have the chance to write a little news article that goes out to the mission with some other mission info we receive each transfer. As we were thinking of what to talk about we thought about Faith. Since my email is rather short, I will just attach the article we wrote below.
June FM Mini News: Assistant’s Article
"Throughout the scriptures, we read of prophets, apostles, and missionaries who have seemingly impossible challenges in their lives: David facing Goliath, Moses leading his people to the Red Sea, Nephi building a ship, Enoch preaching repentance to his people, Ammon and his brethren doing missionary work among a wild and ferocious people, Helaman and his 2,000 young men facing an innumerable number of men, Abinidai threatened with death by fire, 14 year-old Joseph Smith restoring the fullness of the gospel, and many more.
In the face of these seemingly insurmountable challenges in front of them, all of them approached them with full faith in the Lord. While most of them were able to conquer with the help of the Lord, Abinidai still suffered death by fire. Aaron and some who worked with him still suffered severe persecution and saw no success in their first couple areas. Joseph was still overcome with the power of the adversary in the beginning. And despite all this, they remained unwaverd in their faith because they knew in whom they had trusted.
When we face these kinds of challenges in our missions, do we meet them with fear of failure, or faith to succeed? Oftentimes, as many of us have experienced, we feel as though we had the faith to accomplish high goals that we set and are disappointed with not seeing the outcome we thought we should have. In these times, like those in the scriptures, we have a choice to become discouraged and believe that we are not good enough or that God simply isn’t answering our prayers and let our faith dwindle. Or, we can continue to put our faith in the Lord and do our best to improve because we know that God can only work miracles through our faith.
With that being said what does the Lord expect of us? To have faith in Him and His power to do miracles for us and our investigators. That is our part. We don’t get to choose the outcome of our work or the decisions our investigators make, but every single day, we can choose to have full faith in Him to work miracles for us.
The same God who helped David beat Goliath, parted the Red Sea for Moses, showed Nephi how to build a ship, gave Ammon strength to defend the king’s flocks and baptize thousands, strengthened 2,000 young men to beat an innumerable army, and appeared unto Joseph Smith in the Spring of 1820 is the same God who helps and guides us every day. He is the one who we pray to for strength and inspiration for our investigators countless times every day. We would like to invite you to deepen your faith in that same God to work miracles for you because after all, “is anything too hard for the Lord?”
So there's that! I'm sorry I don't have a whole lot to write from this week. We are about to head to a baptism the other Fukuoka elders have and both our investigators Kyousuke and Tashima are coming! It should be a pretty awesome experience and help prepare both of them for their upcoming baptism. Working here in Japan is such a huge blessing. There's nothing better than it! I hope you all have a great week and remember to trust in the living God who knows you each personally!
|Elder Norman and Elder Sherrill|
I'm always so surprised in the fact that so much can happen in a
single week but as soon as I sit to write down what happened, it all
goes out the window and I'm left thinking, "what happened this week
again?" This is probably what it will feel like when you get old haha.
But anyways, it was another great week! I haven't had a shortage of
those recently. There is always so much to do here and so many people
to teach and talk to that there really is never a dull moment in
Fukuoka. There are always new things coming up, trainings to prepare,
people to talk to, and before you know it we are preparing for
transfers again! I feel like I just arrived here a week ago and yet we
have already begun preparing for this next transfer. It's crazy how
fast time goes.
This past week we took a few days with President Egan in his office
and discussed, prayed, pondered, and prayed again about where the Lord
needs His missionaries for this next transfer. I'm not sure how much I
explained about it last time but seeing this process is one of the
most spiritual experiences I have been blessed to be apart of. Seeing
how close President Egan is to the spirit and how much I can tell that
it really isn't him making the decisions, but rather Heavenly Father
working through him is incredible to witness. I wish each missionary
could see and be apart of it just so they can understand that when
they are in a specific area with a specific companion it really is for
reason. Heavenly Father has prepared so many people in Japan and when
we are put in areas there are so many people I feel like only we have
been sent there to effect. Whether that be your companion, members,
investigators, or the people that live there. It really is such an
amazing experience I'm grateful I can be apart of. It deepens my
testimony knowing that God does indeed live and He does direct this
With the next transfer underway and the decisions made on who will be
going where, this is our time to get to work! For the next week or so
we will be making travel plans and preparing all kinds of documents
that will be needed for this upcoming transfer. It usually takes a
solid week of straight office work and especially with this transfer
we think it may take a little longer. However, I am excited to get to
work and now that I have somewhat more of an idea of what's going on I
feel a little more useful than I did last transfer haha. With all that
office work that is being done we will still have the opportunity to
teach lessons because obviously teaching lessons will take precedence
over the office work. Thankfully we were blessed to find many new
investigators these past few weeks at the beginning of the transfer
that we have a solid pool of investigators to teach as we go
throughout these next couple weeks.
Two of our strongest investigators are probably Kyousuke and Tashima.
I can't remember how much I have talked about them, but they both have
a baptismal date for this month on the 24th! Kyousuke was found just
last month on the 10th and Tashima was found on the 18th. They both
have made lots of progress and we think they will both definitely get
baptized. We may have to push Kyousuke's date back a couple weeks
since he can only meet once a week but tomorrow will be his 3rd time
at church so he is doing really well. We also have a lesson with him
tonight and he has been understanding the Book of Mormon a lot and
having some spiritual experiences so we aren't to worried about him.
Tashima on the other hand can meet all the time so we think he will
actually make his date on the 24th! The only reason we might have to
push it back a week though is just to make sure he is prepared and
fully understands it all. His desire to be baptized and learn is all
there though. He will be coming to church tomorrow for the first time
so we are really excited for him to get exposed to some member and
make some friends at church. In our last lesson this week he said he
tried to bring his girlfriend and her parents! He isn't even a member
yet and already trying to refer people for us to teach! He said his
girlfriend had interest though so we are planning on teaching her this
next week too.
Overall, my week was really good and I'm excited for the weeks to
continue because I know they will just keep getting better and better!
Being a missionary is unlike anything else, it is such a huge
privilege and a blessing to be here, I love it! Till next week! 👋