One special thing about being in this zone is that one of the districts is the Kofu Area, which consists of Yamanashi Ken in its entirety, which is comparable to a state in the U.S. Geographically the area is massive and a two and a half hour train ride from my area. We will try to go there every week, which will take a long time and extra money, but all those hours on the train will give us an opportunity to teach a lot of lessons to people who aren't going anywhere--haha!
This week I decided to study how hearts are softened. I have come across quite a few hard hearts in Japan, and I want to see what is required to soften them. I haven't finished studying this yet, but I came across a few scriptures that stick out to me...
2 Nephi 2:16 -- Nephi is trying to understand and accept the words of his father as the word of God.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
I love that, despite being young and inexperienced, if you have a desire to know and to cry unto the Lord then you can receive. In this case his heart was softened so that he could believe his father's words. A couple verses later he's sad about his brothers' disobedience and prays for them, after which the Lord talks to him and promises him many things.
Another scripture that I liked was Alma 24:8. Here the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis is speaking.
8 And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites.
The Lamanites, a people who for hundreds of years had hated the Nephites and had tried to kill them and had, despite constant efforts from the Nephites, never had an interest in the things of God, finally received the gospel. It was because God granted a portion of his Spirit to soften their hearts.
I love these scriptures, and I love that Heavenly Father softens our hearts so that we can receive Him. I know that He is softening the hearts of some of these wonderful Japanese people that they may receive this perfect gospel. I pray that He may continue to do so and that He will soften my heart as well.