Hello my beloved family!
|Riding a Japanese-sized bike|
This week has been great! We have been all over the place! On Wednesday I went and got my tooth fixed in Tokyo and afterwards we had to go to an area called Kofu (which is on the opposite end of our mission) on splits! Kofu is by far the biggest area in our mission. It is made up of the entirety of Yamanashi-ken, which is the Japanese equivalent of a state. It actually makes up close to 50 percent of the geographical area of our mission, but only has a small percentage of the mission's total population. It takes a two hour train ride to get to the church from Hachioji and we will be going up there once a week for district meetings. While I was there on splits with the district leader, we taught two lessons he and his companion had set up for us. One was a with a recent convert and the other was a man that has not yet been baptized. He is a refugee from Iran. If he were to receive baptism and then return to Iran he would very likely be tortured and killed. Because of that he will not be baptized until he knows for sure that he won't have to go back.
While we were with him I was trying to get to know him and figure out what kind of scripture I should share. He started talking about the challenges he faces here in Japan. He spoke about racial prejudice, difficulty with the language, his divorce, the government, and a lot of other things that are making his life difficult. I had been planning to read a chapter with him from Mosiah that is about the trials that Alma and his people faced and how they overcame them through patience and trust in the Lord. It really is a truly inspiring account, but I felt that I should share something else instead. I remembered some scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants that had comforted me through hard times before. They tell of a time when Joseph Smith was stuck in Liberty Jail while his family and members of the church are being persecuted, some even murdered, and driven away. He feels hopeless, as if the Lord has abandoned him and his people. Here is what the Lord says to him:
D&C 121:7-8 -- My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
I asked him to read it and watched as the Spirit carried these precious scriptures to his heart. There are a lot of people in this world that aren't very comfortable. There are a lot of people that are worried, scared, sick, hopeless, and discouraged. It can be due to the actions of others, our actions, weakness, nature, really anything. But no matter what the situation is, no matter how low we are, how dirty we feel, how hopeless we are, we are the children of God. Not a cold God or an uncaring God, not a cruel God or an absent God, but a God that loves, a God that lifts, a God that blesses, and a God that strengthens. I have seen him reach out to many; I know He is always reaching out. We are His children after all. The man we were teaching was visibly moved. He thanked us, and then got on his knees and thanked God. It was a beautiful experience.
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!