Mom and Dad,
It's been another good week. The weather has been much much nicer lately. The spring in Toyooka has been quite lovely so far. Also, the Kaiten Sushi place next to the church opened back up. It was being enlarged and remodeled over the past few months, but it's open again! A member took us there for lunch the other day. I love Sushi on a conveyor belt. So much. By the way, the protein you sent is delicious and just fine.
This last week our 15 year old investigator accepted the invitation to be baptized. He's now a yakusokusha, he's a solid one, too. He's really a splendid little fellow - way mature for his age. The branch loves him, and he loves them. There is a chance his mom might be opposed, but we still don't know for sure. He's joining seminary and going to be attending youth conference in a week or two.
Our other yakusokusha is coming along pretty well. He's scheduled to receive baptism this Sunday. If we're able to meet with him 2 more times this week, we feel that he'll be prepared to make a promise with God. I have faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God that he will make his date. It's important to keep faith in Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is a foundation that never wavers. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and full of grace, love and mercy. There is no need to worry or fear as long as our faith and confidence is in Him.
Last Tuesday there was an All Japanese taikai (conference) in Kobe. Because there are two Ni Hon Jin (Japanese) assistants, they had a training meeting with all of the Japanese Elders and Sisters in the mission. Because my companion is Ni Hon Jin, I had a chance to go on an exchange with another Elder with a Ni Hon Jin companion over Tuesday and Wednesday. I got to work in the Maizuru area for a day or two. It was way fun. The Elder I worked with is a younger missionary, so it was a good chance for me to get to do some training and to help him. We talked a lot about charity, and the importance of turning our thoughts away from ourselves. Especially when it comes to evaluating (lessons, contacts, etc.), we should consider how the person we were interacting with came unto Christ. When we consider our improvement points, it should be done in the light of "What could I have done better to help THEM?" rather than "What could I have done better...to not feel stupid speaking Japanese etc." We discussed how it all roots back into how much Christ-like love we hold for those around us. If we really do have that pure love for others, then our thoughts and actions will always turn outward rather than in.
This last week we had an excellent experience in our area. We've been meeting with an investigator for the past few months. He first met missionaries years ago, and due to health problems has been meeting with missionaries off and on. He has some problems and anxieties regarding social interaction, so going to new places can be very difficult for him. However, last Thursday, for the first time ever, he entered the church building. We gave him a tour of our small building and then stopped and prayed before we entered the chapel. It was an amazing experience to see him enter the chapel. It was unmistakable that he had felt God's Spirit. We sat down and talked with him about what he was feeling, and along with that had a talk about God and God's love. He said he still felt tense and nervous about being in a new place, but that the moment he entered the chapel he felt a warmth and power inside of him. He said he knew that the place he had entered is holy. He is a man who carries a lot of baggage - he has gathered a lot of problems and burdens over his life. But those problems are things he's carried with him for awhile and that he hasn't yet been able to give up. However, because of the influence he felt at the church that day, he accepted the invitation to begin repenting and making efforts to let things go and allow himself to be happy. It was a powerful experience for me, and has built my testimony of the truth of this church. There is really nothing we could have done to make him feel what he needed to in order to overcome his personal barriers. But, as we did all we could to not get in the way, the Spirit of the Lord - felt more strongly in the walls of God's church - was able to touch his heart.
I love being a missionary. It's going way too fast!
Elder Kyle Hutchings
Yes, this is a stew-flavored ice-cream bar. Yes, it had chunks of potato inside of it. I love Japan.
Always a pretty sunset outside of the church building.