Friends and family,
I never thought I would have such an experience in this country, in this city, while on my mission on Monday evening. We visited a man with potential interest in the gospel who my companion and another elder found on splits the other week. The man came out with 2 books in hand and we walked to a nearby park to chat. The man's name is Brian, he is originally from Texas, he's like half African American with a Jewish background- kind of like Drake. But I believe he's a tad bit more intelligent than Drake. After an hour or so of thorough discussion on the Restoration, I had discovered the man I was talking to was a genius just packed full of information and facts. The two books he was holding happened to be in complete Hebrew, he is fluent in Hebrew and Greek, very very familiar with bible history and pretty much anything having to do with Hebrew-ism. The catch is he believes in Christianity! Not Judaism. Very interesting conversation where often times I had no idea what he was talking about and just had to refer and focus on the basics and on "feeling the word" not just trying to comprehend it in your brain. We're trying again to contact him tonight. But yes, very interesting, incredibly rare to find an American, in a somewhat smaller city of Japan, who knows the Bible inside and out and can speak fluent Hebrew and translate it word for word into English. It was also way way weird having such a thorough gospel lesson in English!
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we were in a 3 man companionship as we waited for a new elder to come to replace Elder Didericksen. It was a way different feel being with 2 other Japanese and no other Americans! Haven't had that feel yet in my mission. More submerged than usual in the culture and language. The new district leader is a young American who wants to do his best! He's a great example.
Fujita San is back and in full action. He quit his job and is still planning on heading out back down south of Sendai at the end of the month but literally has nothing to do til then so we can meet with him all we want. I'm not sure we can get him to the point where he'll be baptized and converted to the gospel by the end of the month but I can't say enough about how much I love this guy. So genuine, down to earth, kind and selfless, way humble and just a lot of fun and good feel to be around. He's not a story of success so to say but he is an example to me in his character and how he sees life.
He committed to come to church this past week so we did all we could to prepare. We called the members and asked them to pray for him and Sotoyama San, our other investigator with the deep logical questions, so that they can have an opportunity to feel the Spirit. Then we figured out who will be friends with them at church and help explain things so it's not just the missionaries with the relationship. And on Sunday, yesterday, we fasted and prayed for these guys to have an experience.
Our lessons in Sunday school and the third hour were pretty tough subjects as far as investigators go- repentance and the law of tithing. Long story short, I learned that through participating in class and offering opinion and perspective, my investigator's heart was opened ever so slightly so to feel the warm confirmation of truth through the Holy Ghost. We talked about what he thought and felt after class and he said everything he heard yesterday at church just felt like it was truth. Like it was right and in place. Pretty incredible. Goes to show that those who are humble and meek are much more able to recognize truth than those who are more concerned about what others think and see things from a worldly perspective!
Things here in Aomori just continue to get better and better. Elder Okamoto and I were talking the other day about how, in a non-prideful way, we're rising to another level, higher than the mission is at right now. A level deeper than finding new investigators and seeing baptisms, but a level that focuses on relationships and conversion. In building a home, the most important and time consuming part is the foundation, the base. If you don't spend very much time securing and building the foundation and it's strength, anything you try to add onto it, like your home, is prone to disaster!! Just like with the church. If the existing members, the foundation, isn't strong and don't have testimonies of their own, even if we do get baptisms and converts to the church, the foundation won't be able to support what is added on to it (retention). These are all prone to collapse in the winds, tornadoes and earthquakes of adversity if the foundation isn't where it needs to be! So, we are not only going to work on seeing baptisms and making that a focus, but also we're focusing on these members and their conviction to raise their kids in the gospel and believe and follow Christ. Whoa, intense.
Hey, remember I love y'all and pray for your well-being. Go Dubs, Go.