Monday, March 24, 2014

All Things Are Done In The Wisdom Of The Lord.

So Derksen Shimai is transferring to a mysterious place named O******.  Both of the Elders are transferring, and an American and a trainee or coming in. I ALONE REMAIN. And Broadhead Shimai was in my district in the MTC.  Hisashiburi desu ne! (Long time no see!)
I`m not going to lie, I`m really sad that Derksen Shimai is getting transferred.  But all things are done in the wisdom of the Lord, right?  Right.  So even though Derksen Shimai and I are both sad, it`s okay.   I`m really glad I got to have this transfer with Derksen Shimai.  I learned a lot from her, and am a far better missionary than I was 6 weeks ago.  She`s going to (as our Zone Leader Hutchings Choro would say) punch O******* in the face!  With Christlike love of course.  And she`ll be a fantastic senior companion.  She`s incredibly focused, hardworking, fun, and gives this work all she`s got.  Hopefully enough of that has rubbed off on me to be able to keep up the work here and help these people she`s leaving behind with me.  That`s a whole different stress right there. But yes, all things are done in the wisdom of the Lord.  And that phrase is another thing I learned from Derksen Shimai.  I intend to use it forever, probably.
We didn`t see a baptism to meet the mission goal this week, but the Lord revealed His hand here more strongly than I`ve seen up until now on my entire mission, so I can`t even think about being discouraged.
First of all, we finally got a yakusokusha on Tuesday.  It was the most beautiful thing ever.  This woman, N***** Shimai is totally golden.  She wants this so much.  We taught the chart, and before the commitment, we asked her what she`d been thinking about during the lesson.  She said, `Well, when I`m baptized, I`ll receive so many blessings, deshou?`  ... Why yes.  You would be right on that one. When we invited her after that, her affirmative reply had the feeling of, Well of course.  Why not, when the blessings are so awesome?  Now, this was not the finest lesson we`ve taught, and our Japanese was all over the place, but the Spirit was still so strong, and nothing was going to hold this woman back from enthusiastically agreeing to be baptized!  This was one of those lessons where I could just hear the Lord whispering (kindly) to me, `I don`t NEED you, Sister Harris.  But I`m really glad you`re here.` Me too.  N***** Shimai is SO ready and I`m excited to see her baptized this next transfer!
We also found two new investigators this week.  I hope Broadhead Shimai is good at understanding Grandmas, because we have a lot of them here, and we have a couple more who are likely to become investigators soon. Older people are very hard to understand, but they`re just the most adorable things ever.  They`re so cute it hurts sometimes!  I think the Lord is sending us to them just in time for them to accept the Gospel in this life.  One is named K*********. We found her on Wednesday.  She`s 80, and lives alone, and by some miracle we can understand her really well..  She`s Buddhist, but agreed to listen to us, `because we look like dolls and she just likes to look at us.` And she likes God.  And feeling Derksen Shimai`s hair.  She`s the most adorable thing, but continues to insist that she`s too old to understand or remember our message.  So...we made a picture book for her! (Pictures will be attached.) It took a LOT of work, but now that I know the drill, I think it will go more quickly in the future.  Plus, it was stinking cute.   Many much thanks to the Toyooka Shimai for the idea!  (And the woman that they used that with just got baptized this Sunday, so that`s a good omen.) 
We went to go visit her again on Saturday when we had an appointment with her, but came to find that she was sick and couldn`t meet.  I`m ashamed to say I got a little bit discouraged then and thought, `Well that figures,` starting off our backup housing plan with a bad and doubtful attitude. And then what happens but fifteen minutes later when we find another lady in K*****`s same area who just invites us in after two seconds. Her name is S*********, and she is ninety and is already a Christian.  Her son died two years ago, and her biggest desire is to see Him again.  I think we can help with that.  However, I can`t understand a word she`s saying.  She talks about the economy and says `ano ne` a lot, but that`s about all I`ve got.  And she doesn`t slow down! Usually when I take out my electronic dictionary and start looking up words, people remember that I`m a gaijin (foreigner) who doesn`t actually speak this language and then slow down and help me out, but not S*********!  That`s okay.  It`s going to be good.  The Lord will assist us!
We had another random miracle on Wednesday as well.  (And yes, I call this one a MIRACLE.)  We were visiting an investigator to try to set up an appointment and parked our bikes on the side of the street.  A sweet little obaachan walking along the way said, `Senkyoushi san desu ka? (Are you missionaries?) Watashi wa Iwasaki to iu oyasumi kaiin desu!` (I`m I*****i, an inactive member!)  She proceeded to talk to us about how her family was hantai and wished she could come back to church, and then said she could meet the next day.  When we got there, she just introduced herself, told us her entire history with the church, and then said she`d come to church the next Sunday.  We were afraid getting her to come to church would be hard since her children were hantai, but all we did was ask, and she said yes. You know the senmin/sheep number we have?  The number of people in the area who are ready to accept the message right now?  That includes less actives.  And I********** is very senmin-poi (poi means ish) if you ask me.
And those were just a few of the wonderful things to happen this week.
We had a lesson with S******* Shimai on Saturday about the Book of Mormon. U******* Shimai came a long and was a fantastic douseki (member who participates in a lesson).  The first half of the lesson went really well, and then the second half...well, let`s see I`m now trying to figure out how to help someone who has no desire whatsoever to know if something is true get that desire.  It`s a tricky one. HOWEVER.  She DOES desire eternal life, and that`s something we can work with!
On Tuesday, we had a Talent Show for Eikaiwa!  It was so much fun!
S***** Shimai and U***** Choro sang the fight song for the Hanshin Tigers, a favorite baseball team in Japan. The A****`s performed a lively dance to `Rolling Thunder.`  Donaldson Choro played a last minute piano arrangement. Y******** sang a couple of songs in English.  Y************ showed us how she paints and gave us each a picture that she painted, which was so cool!  N******* (a guy who came for the first friend with Y*****) played the guitar and sang, which was beautiful.  Y********* played the Harmonica with Y************ and then some solo`s on the Chinese Violin.
And then N************, this 80 year old lady, came to church!  We`re going to meet with her this week.  She`s a spunky little thing.  She punched me when I said she was cute.  Haha.
It was a great week, among the best I`ve had on my mission so far.  The Lord is revealing His hand here, and I`m excited to be a part of it for a little while longer.
Sorry this letter was a little all over the place.  But my final thought is one that Sister Weigl`s mom shared with me in a letter from Elder Anderson:

`As we act in faith, we often find that the blessings from the Lord are different than we expected but much better than we imagined. `
Remember that, as well as
The church is true.
The book is blue!
--Sister Whitney 

Picture from the zone last transfer.
Me getting a package from Nana Rose!
Me basking in the absolute wonderfulness of craisins that was in said package.
Me and Derksen Shimai today at Mr. Donuts, eating away our sadness at her getting transferred.  :`(
Little goodies M********* shimai gave us.
The fruit and yogurt I****** Shimai gave us at her house.
Our little book we made for K*********!  
The first page says, `Kamisama` - God.

More book!  So the pages from before said, God, then a little summary about God, a heartfelt about God, then `God created everything.  He created the mountains, the oceans, and the universe.`  `He also created our spirits.`  `God is our Father who lives in Heaven.`

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kobe Conference From The Mission Blog

The last week of February the Japan Kobe Mission had a  mission tour with Elder Scott D. Whiting of the Seventy and his wife.  Elder Whiting serves in the Asia North Area Presidency.  This is a picture of the Kobe Conference from the mission blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Am Smarter Than A Vacuum.

That may be kind of hard to believe sometimes, but I AM smarter than a vacuum.  It's not actually a good story.  I just figured out how to put the attachment back on after struggling with it for a little while.  But I conquered in the end, and I thought it was important for you to know that.  So there's that story. (I'm really good at this game.)
So, here's the week:
Nothing too terribly exciting.  We emailed, went to a special store and got crunchy peanut butter, and came back and wrote letters.  I'm not quite sure what else we did, but we seemed to have no time.  But that's just how preparation day always goes.  As usual, we had FHE at the A**** family's house and had some delicious yakisoba (noodles stir fried with vegetables and meat)!  A**** came and we partied it up.  
Tuesday was one of those days that just makes you glad you're a missionary.  First, we had a lesson with N***** Shimai.  She's the kinjin (golden person) who committed herself to pray last week.  She said that she felt the Spirit really strongly when she prayed (well, she said she felt happy and peaceful, and then said it was the Spirit after we talked to her about that).  And now, she completely believes in God.  That seems like a small thing, but it's beautiful music to my ears!  That can be a very, very hard thing for Japanese people to come to believe.  So, we actually taught her about prayer this week, and she LOVED it.  Her prayer at the end was beautiful, among the very best I've heard.  Not only did she understand all of the fundamental basics of it, she picked up things and words we used in our prayers, and prayed specifically about each of us, that my dad would do well in his work, and that everything would go well with Derksen Shimai's little sister getting married.  There was such an outpouring of the spirit!  It was beautiful!  You don't find investigators like this every dynasty.  We have another lesson with her TOMORROW, and we intend on teaching the chart (the simplified Doctrine of Christ lesson) and inviting her to be baptized!
We also had a lesson with M******* Shimai.  I love her. She wants this so much!  She wants eternal life, and she wants to know the truth, but she also wants her husband's support before she get:s baptized.  She came into the lesson telling us she wasn't going to be able to meet anymore because her mom is getting released from the hospital and she will have to spend all of her time taking care of her.  We taught her about baptism and the gift of the holy ghost, and it was a good lesson. You can tell how much she wants it by all of the questions that she asks, like : 'Do I still have the Holy Ghost, even though I haven't been baptized?'  She just really, really wants to know!  When she realized there was one step left (endure to the end), she made another appointment (for tomorrow) after all.  We're going to try to tie in commandments and help her get excited to learn about those too!
Tuesday was just cracking.  (As will be tomorrow.  I don't know what it is about Tuesdays here.  We just always seem to have half of our lessons for the week on Tuesday and run around like chickens with our heads cut off.  Pardon the overused metaphor.)  We then went to the other part of the city with A****. (N***** is the other half of the city.  The city  is cut into two big parts H*******-east, where we live-- and N*******--west, where there are more things to do.  N****** is about a 40 minute bike ride or a 6 minute train ride away).  We were feeling like our relationship with her was a little bit stressed lately, so we decided to just go have fun with her and maybe figure out a few things.  We went shopping at a place called "Honeys" and all bought the same skirt.  We're all going to wear the same skirt next Sunday and look like goons doing it. Then we got gelato, and it was DELicious. We took some fun pictures, laughed at how Derksen Shimai has to take about 15 different pictures before she's satisfied, and were able to strengthen our relationship with her a little bit.
We topped off the night with EIKAIWA, which was nothing out of the usual.
Wednesday was a little bit rough.  It was all set up to be a wonderful day with a few lessons, but then the phone started ringing.  And M******** Shimai, a sweet as sugar less active lady who got baptized last year cancelled her lesson.  And then H*****  Shimai called and said she had another appointment.  And T**********  called and said she had to work.  And then S******* Shimai called and said she couldn't meet Thursday because she had an appointment as well.  And there went the rest of our scheduled lessons for the entire week. 
I'm not going to lie, that was rough.  We were scared every time the phone rang, and it was hard not to wonder why.  Or what we were doing wrong to make this happen.  We decided that the Lord was testing us, saying, "I gave you Shimai a wonderful day yesterday.  Will you remember that and still be faithful if I try you a little bit today?"  We didn't pass that test perfectly, but were able to pull out and keep our chins up in the end.  It didn't hurt that the weather weather was miraculously sunny and warm, and it ended up being a pretty good day of housing.
It rained.  We went for a run in the morning before it started raining, and being the strange human that I am, I just had the strongest desire for the rest of the day to just ditch my dendo bag and go for a run in the rain!  You don't even know how badly I wanted to do that.  The only things that stopped me are that I was wearing a skirt and that there is dendo to be done!  Elect to be found!  So we continued on.  And we saw that it was good.
Then we had an actually lesson with A***** that night.  We talked about the Word of Wisdom, which she had found about in church a couple of weeks ago and had a few concerns about--coffee and tea. Mostly tea.  Because EVERYONE in Japan drinks tea.  We had a really good lesson, though.  Derksen Shimai shared some powerful experiences, and A**** said she wants to try and keep it.  But she still doesn't want to get baptized!  She agreed to pray about it though.
We had district meeting in the morning, I learned a new Japanese grammar principle that absolutely blew my mind and is opening up WORLDS to me (okay, maybe the difference wasn't that impressive, but 'wake dewa nai' is really wonderful).  We talked about going for broke, about really giving the Lord everything we have.  And Derksen Shimai and I made that our goal for this next week: to give the Lord everything this next week.  As a mission, we had a mission promise that every companionship would see a baptism by March 23rd.  That's this Sunday.  And it looks like it's impossible.  We've been trying everything we know how to do, praying and seeking for inspiration, and inviting everyone to be baptized.  But nothing.  So this week, we're going to make sure we give the Lord literally EVERYTHING, every thought, every breath, so that we can allow Him to work a miracle in here. Because we know that He can.  We have no doubt about that.  Now it's just working hard and believing that He will....
After district meeting, we biked to N**** to a Filipino restaurant that W**** S****** told us about.  He's a missionary who served here a couple years ago that mom found.  He sent me an awesome email with contact information from his old investigators and the area.  He said that at this restaurant, they found a lot of good Filipino PI's in the past, so we decided to try it out.  We found two!  M****** and C****** are both Filipinas who work there and remember the missionaries from the past.  After eating a pork and rice dish that would have been really quite good without all of the bone marrow in it, we talked to them a little bit about the word of wisdom (when they tried to bring us green tea to drink) and the Book of Mormon.  They thought the word of wisdom was outrageous, and started trying to battle against it.  'Did you know that green tea is healthy for you and there are studies that say it FIGHTS CANCER?'  "I just need my coffee in the morning.  If I don't have it, I just can't wake up and make it through the day.  But I'm not addicted." (That one cracks me up.)   But we ended up explaining that while we know that because God loves us, he wants us to be free from addictions, we don't know all of the reasons for the word of wisdom.  We just have to trust Him, and through living it, we have found out for ourselves that it really is revelation from God.  They were pretty impressed with that and had no more arguments.  We also talked to them about the Book of Mormon, and made plans to bring them their very own English and Tagalog copies next week!  It was  a good day.

Even though S******* Shimai cancelled her lesson on Thursday, we were able to set up another lesson with her for Saturday, and it was the best lesson we've had with her yet!  Probably one of the best lessons I've ever had.  So this lady is Buddhist.  Hard core Buddhist.  She says every time she's not interested in changing, and just wants to know the reasons why we're so happy.  She says that while she would love for this stuff could be true (and you can tell that she wants it to be true so badly) that Nihonjin just can't believe in these things.  We taught prayer last time, and she came back really hesitant about it, not sure if she wanted to keep praying.  She started talking again (like she always does) about how we're so happy, about how if eternal life were really the wonderful thing that we say it is that she could always be happy and death would never be scary.  And then she asked, "How did you come to believe that so strongly?"  I was wracking my brain for what to say when I thought, "PRAYER."  I've never had an experience with prayer and eternal life, so was a little bit hestitant to say that, but the thought came again. 'Say PRAYER."  And so I did.  And Derksen Shimai and I shared experiences we've had coming to know that things are true though prayer, about how I found comfort regarding where I would go on my mission through prayer, and S******** Shimai was silent for a moment.  "And that's because of prayer?"  she asked?  "Yeah, I said.  We found answers through prayers.  And God promises to answer everyone's prayers. He promises.  He'll answer your prayer too.  So will you pray this week to know if eternal life is really like we say it is?"  She enthusiastically answered yes.  I don't know that I have ever felt so strongly guided by the spirit in a lesson.  And that was definitely the spirit, because I had know idea what to say to this woman!  In fact, I started out the lesson thinking, "Oh my goodness, what can we do with this woman?  Is there any hope for her?"  Which was bad.  Bad Sister Harris.  But the Spirit knew better. And He said, Say Prayer.  When I got that little prompting, though, I still didn't know if I should.  I didn't know if it was a prompting. I just had to follow it and take a step into the dark, but once I did, the Lord made the lesson unfold like it was meant to.  It was super cool.  We then talked about Jesus Christ and what He means to her.  She agreed to pray about  Him too.
To top the day off, we had a wonderful night of housing!  We talked to one sweet lady, who although she didn't want to hear the message, said, "Chotto matte" (wait a second), and came back with two very large yellow melon sort of things to take with us!  People do that here.  They just give you food and things while you're housing.  I really like it. ;)  We found a couple of PI's as well.  One was this old little lady who had a hard time hearing us, but was probably the cutest thing in Japan.  She told us we looked like fashion models, and then unexpectedly reached out to touch Derksen Shimai's hair, absolutely astounded by the springy curliness thereof.  She did so a few times while we talked.  And she said that while she's Buddhist, she really likes God.  She kept giggling, was unbearably adorable, and we're going back to visit her again this week.  It was probably the most enjoyable evening I've had of housing yet.
Church!  Sadly enough, A**** couldn't come, so we didn't get to wear our matching skirts together.  (And Sister Derksen  and I just looked like THAT sister missionary companionship who matches at church.)  But Sister Derksen gave a talk on the Relief Society (many much thanks to Mom for sending us research about that), and there was a luncheon with the branch after church to celebrate the relief society founding.  There were delicious sandwiches and some stew, courtesy of S***** Shimai.  We did some housing, and that was our week!
To top this email off, I found a scripture today that I really like in Abraham 3.  So this is that crazy deep doctrine chapter where God is talking to Abraham about stuff like Kolob and the like.  It confuses me like crazy, but there were a couple of verses I really loved,
11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;

12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.

First of all, I love that God says, "My son, my son" and stretches out His hand.  I feel like this is so typical of the Lord, wanting to remind us of who we really are, and always stretching out a hand to help us.  And then, I like that before Abraham is able to see these incredible things--so much that can't even see the end of them--the Lord covers Abraham's eyes with His hand.  He made it so that Abraham could not see for a little while.  I feel like that's how it is with me.  I try so hard to follow the Lord, but I feel like I just can't see anything; what to do, how a goal is going to happen. But that's how it's supposed to be.  Only when we take that step in the dark, when we let the Lord cover our eyes but keep moving forward, can we eventually see all that He wants us to.

The church is true!  The book is blue!

Sister Whitney

This is the ice cream and crepe we bought while shopping with A*****.
Us and our ice cream.
Me and my big poster that I got from the youth in the ward.  And that's all the pictures for this week!

I loved Sheri Dew's new book.  I read it with Walker Shimai, who loves Sheri Dew almost as much as we do, so that was good.  We both felt the spirit really strongly, and loved especially the stories that she used.  There was one in particular about President Hinckley.  She interviewed him to do his biography, and she said there were two things in life he was afraid of: getting cancer and his wife dying before him.  And his wife died before him.  And then he got cancer.  And apparently, he could very easily just have said, `Well, this is my time, I suppose I`m supposed to go,` especially since he was in so much pain and so afraid of cancer, but he fought and got every medical treatment he could to extend his life for as long as possible, saying he owed the Lord to last for as long as he could.  That in particular hit us really hard about giving the Lord everything.
Today, we`re just going to get groceries and write letters at home.  There`s someone from the church office coming to install a CO detector, so we can`t go anywhere today.  After that, we`re going to be housing pretty late.  FHE at the A****`s is cancelled because their dog is sick.  Poor Choco-chan.

Monday, March 10, 2014

We Are Working On Building Up Our Faith Until It Is UNWAVERING.

It was another good week.  We had some good lessons, and we think we found a senmin! 

Monday:  Preparation day-ed, emailed, Letters, etc., and had a great FHE at the Amano`s house and ate chirashizushi.  We had our hearts broken though.  Amano Kyoudai was starting to dish out some swiss roll cake and some so-beautiful-it-could-break-your-heart ice cream, when we realized we had to make it home by 9 o- clock curfew.  Leaving was one of the hardest things I`ve ever had to do.  (Maybe not that hard, but it was pretty hard.)

Tuesday:  We had some mysteriously delightful weather to house in before H*********`s lesson.  We taught about prayer, and she finally felt the spirit and was able to recognize it!  Which was wonderful!  

Wednesday:  We had a lesson with this lady named T********** whom we met a couple weeks ago.  She had received a Book of Mormon some years ago (though hadn`t read from it recently), and didn`t like that people who work for churches get paid.  We were able to address that (and she seemed to be both relieved and impressed that our church leaders don`t earn money as well as that we used our own money to come on missions) and we were able to teach setting the table.  She had wondered about some of the questions of the soul that Preach My Gospel mentions, especially about where you go after you die, and where her parents were.  She has a really strong desire to feel God`s love, and is now a new investigator. In relationship to this, I also had some experiences with following the Spirit during lessons this week.  During the new T**********'s lesson, we talked a little bit about God`s love.  She said that she didn`t think she had felt God`s love before, but wondered when we had felt it. (What a golden question!)  I searched through a bunch of things in my mind that I could say and landed upon an experience I had had while riding to her house just a half an hour earlier, looking up at the beautiful snow coated mountains and finding myself in awe at the wonderful things our God had done, at what an artist He is, and how much He loves us to have created that for us.  I shared that with her, and it seemed to click for her.  She said, `Wow, I have felt God`s love before then!  I feel it all the time, like when I`m driving and -- I know it`s dangerous -- but when I look up and see the clouds` and the like.  And she said she would like to feel it more. And that`s where it starts.

Thursday: I had another such experience on Thursday during S******* Shimai`s lesson. She is very Buddhist and has stated such from the start. She says that she meets with us because she wants to know why we`re so happy, but is just too old to change.  And we taught prayer.  As expected, she did not want to pray.  She prays to `Hitokesama,` the Buddhist deity?  That is a mix of Buddha and ancestors who have joined into `oneness` after their death.  We tried for a while to teach her, and eventually I was able to say something (and it clearly couldn`t have been just me because I was clueless) that worked.  I said that she could explain all that to God. We can talk to Him about anything after all, and that she could just try it out.  I explained that prayer is one of the main reasons that we`re so happy, and that if she would just try it out, she would be able to feel that joy for herself.  She finally prayed for us, and agreed to pray before our next lesson. No remarkable outpouring of the spirit to her, but it was a miracle nonetheless. Belief will come slowly.  

Also on Thursday, we finally got to teach another investigator that I hadn`t met yet (N***** Shimai) because of a couple really busy weeks at work, but she is most CERTAINLY a senmin.  First of all, she bought us cake and gave us hot chocolate.  That`s a sure sign of a senmin.   But really though.  (She also bought us those beautiful peach blossom branches.) It was her first lesson since setting the table, so we just taught about God and invited her to try to feel and recognize God`s love this week, to which she replied that she would not only do that, she was going to try praying ever day.  SHE COMMITTED HERSELF.  TO PRAYING.  EVERY DAY.  So then we covered a little bit about that too.  It was so cool.  I love this lady!

Friday:  Zone Training Meeting. Good stuff.  Just about best of all, I was FINALLY reunited with my beautiful, TENNEY SHIMAI!  My MTC companion, whom I haven`t seen since coming to Japan. And all is well.  And because Hutchings Choro is a fabulous Zone Leader, he bought us Tim Tams, as I requested, so there was many and much rejoicing in the Maizuru Shimai apartment that night.  Also, I received my first referrals from the mission headquarters!  Two!  One didn`t pick up, and another was a sweet Filipina lady who said she might like to meet in a month or so when her family has returned to the Philippines.  

Saturday: Housing, and a lesson with K*** Shimai.  She is the sweetest, most wonderful thing.  She always makes us food when we go over (fruit and toast with the most delicious honey in probably the entire world), and reads the Book of Mormon and prays every night.  But she prays to Hitokesama in the morning.  We taught about the Book of Mormon, about all of the wonderful things that you can know from it,and the truths and hope that result from coming to know it`s true, but she won`t pray about it.  I was trying to follow the spirit and try to teach her to do that too, but I ended up offending her instead. (So obviously the whole following the spirit during lessons is a very slow work in progress.)  Luckily Derksen Shimai was able to patch things up. You know I love someone when I get mad at them for making choices that will hurt them.

Sunday:  Church, housing, and hearing a bit of stressful news about a church member. We have been struggling trying to help this member for a while and just didn`t know what to do to help her. We stressed out a lot.  BUT.  A miracle happened!  This morning, she called us, said that everything was okay, came and brought us food this morning, and is making stew to bring to church on Sunday.   Literally overnight, God just fixed it.  Because He knows and loves His sheep. We just need to keep up the faith that He can (and WILL) do that for our investigators too.

So, it was quite a good week.  We`re still hoping for a miracle!  The miracle of conversion.  I have yet to see such a miracle on my mission, but I`m counting on it!  Sister Derksen and I are working on building up our faith until it`s UNWAVERING.  We`re doing all we can.  We`re putting our hearts into it.  Now we just have to trust that the One who knows it all will step in in His timing and make a miracle happen.  We know who`s work this is.  

And that`s all that matters.

Also, I got a care package from my family yesterday!  It was a delightful surprise to open up to the package man at the door last night during study. There was everything the heart could desire: protein bars, mashed potatoes, pasta, twizzlers, craisins, Sees Candy suckers, and all manner of such wonders!  I believe my Mom is psychic. Only yesterday morning was I starting to worry that I was two little packets away from running out of hot cocoa and had eaten my last little packet of peanut butter.  And other such miracles.  Best of all, Mom sent me a little book filled with inspiring, beautiful quotes, and everyone in my family wrote me a letter!

And then I got humbled a lot.  Mom sent me a portion of my friend, Sister Cork`s, (Sister' Cork's Blog email from the Philippines, describing the humbling circumstances of poverty and simultaneous gratitude of the people surrounding her. I read a couple of articles from the Ensign mom sent from August 2013, and everything I opened up to continued to humble me even more deeply.  There was an article about a woman paying $10 to help the struggling man in front of her at the grocery store, and another about a man who was able to grow through his experience with cancer.  And each of these told me this: 

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep.`

I am such a wimp for ever having a hard time, for ever complaining about any so called `trial` I have ever had to deal with.  Because the Lord`s got it figured out.  It made me think of something Dad sent to me in his most recent letter.  `It`s really hard for me to not be able to be a bigger part of your life right now.`  It`s hard for me too. A lot of what I know about my Heavenly Father is based on what I know about my Mom and my Dad (who are the finest parents to ever live, if you ask me.).  And so I realized that if it`s as hard for my Dad to not be a bigger part of my life right now, then it`s probably even harder for my Heavenly Father not to be a bigger part.  I`m sure that much of Him wants nothing more than to come down here and guide me, to show me every step I should take, to hug and counsel me.  But the reason He doesn`t (which is the same reason Dad doesn`t hop on a plane to Japan right now) is out of love.  It`s out of that perfect knowledge that these challenges, that dealing with some of them by myself, and trying to figure out how to rely on Him while He`s so far away is going to be worth it.  It`s out of His perfect love for us, for me. And obviously, what goes for Heavenly Father goes for Jesus Christ.  And we can trust them.  I can trust them. Because Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.  Let`s read a few more of those verses.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

The Lord knows me, and whatever I need, He gives me.  I may not always be able to see the Shepherd, but I know He is there. He may let me trip over a little hole or fall into a little stream and rough myself up occasionally. But that`s because not only is He protecting me, He is making me like Him.
Well, I love you all.  

The Church is true.
The Book is Blue.


Sister Whitney

These are pictures of the cool sewer drain covers they have here.  They`re covered in TREES.

We had a lesson with N***** Shimai!  Not only did she give us cocoa and cake she bought, she also sent us home with big branches MOMO (peach, I think) blossoms!   We have another lesson with her this Tuesday.

Pictures I took from the train on the way to our district meeting.

Our zone picture after ZTM. 

Me and my beloved Tenney Shimai! Remember her and her MAGICAL PRAYERS?  No one else can pray for puppies and then have PUPPIES magically show up at the temple the next day.  I missed her. She`s in my ZONE now!  I was so excited when I heard!  And, funnily enough, her companion Payne Shimai was Walker Shimai`s first trainee!  I loved being able to see her, and I`m glad I get to see her EVERY MONTH now!  She`s just about the sweetest thing you`ll ever meet.

How to have a Tim Tam Slam.
Gather your materials.  (Hot chocolate--the more delicious the better--and Tim Tams)

Surgically make a route for the hot chocolate to saturate the Tim Tam (bit off the opposite corners)
Cause the hot chocolate to travel upwards through the pourous contents of the chocolate biscuit, causing liquification (insert one end of the Tim Tam into hot chocolate and suck as hard as you can on the other until you can`t anymore because the Tim Tam is a big delicious mushy mess of deliciousness).
Experience true happiness. (Eat)


Me being overwhelmed by the many great things contained within, like craisins.  
I LOVED the package!!!!

From the Amano Family Blog
Menu of the day
Yakisoba (Source & salt)
Raviolis a la vapeur
Message of the Day
Jesus Christ, is a hero for us.
(D & C 12: 9)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

We Know The Lord Can Do All Things!

Hey!  I`ve gotten a lot of sweet and wonderful letters lately that I haven`t pointed out! 

I got a lot of Valentines from my family, each in a different letter.  That was fun, and I loved them.  They had some cute little hearts with things they`d written on inside.  My favorite one was from Mason, which said `SHARE THE LORD.`  I`m working on it, Buddy! I also hung up one that Stephen said something about, `This card is my blessing.  It will give you eagle powers.`  I`m still waiting on those. :)  I also got some great Valentines from the Mooso`s and the Smiths with some beautiful family pictures and letters, and a valentine from the ward that Sister Jenkins sent with notes from a lot of wonderful people.  I got some WONDERFUL Valentines from the primary which I loved.  You all brightened up my day!  I love you and am so thankful!  

We had  big conference in Kobe this week and the sister in the office couple, saw me and said, `It`s Sister Harris, who gets all the mail!`  Thanks for making this recognition title possible!  Haha, you will never know how much letters mean to this missionary. 

This week was a busy one!  A confusing one. It seemed like it was going to be a great week, and while it wasn`t bad, it wasn`t what we hoped it would be.  In order to meet the mission goal of seeing a baptism by March 23rd and to show the Lord our faith, we decided we would invite EVERYONE we met with to be baptized. We prepared, we prayed, we tried to follow the Spirit, and tried to rely on the Lord. And it didn`t work out.  Lots of appointments fell though, we got laughed at, excused, `not yet`ed, and almost lost one of our best investigators.  And that`s okay.  Stuff like that happens on missions.  I`m used to stuff like that and I`m not bothered, but we`re just not sure what to do differently or how we can make this goal.  Despite our best efforts, we still don`t have a yakusokusha (person with a baptismal date).   

We`re praying.  We`re being obedient, reminding the Lord of our faithfulness and accounting for what we could do better.  We`re following the training plan and studying it every day.  We want more than anything to see these people be baptized so they can start on the path to eternal life!  And yet...  everything is the same.  Nothing is happening.  Our progressing investigators are very close to becoming not progressing, and our not progressing investigators are, well, still not progressing.  We know there`s something, and we know the Lord knows it...we just don`t know how to figure it out!  Now that we`ve passed the date for an investigator needing to come to church 3 times, we need a miracle.  It seems like all we can do is keep moving forward, and pray for the Lord to work a big change in one (or more) of these people`s hearts, like a dream of seeing a child again or a revelation while reading the Book of Mormon.

However, we`re far from hopeless.  We know the Lord can do all things.  We`re just trying to believe as hard as we can that He will!  And I believe that He will.

Monday - We went to a museum and went to the A**** family`s for Family Home Evening, like we do every Monday night.

Tuesday - Went to go teach K******* Shimai a lesson about the Atonement and invite her to be baptized.  She unfortunately, wasn`t there, kind of a let down, but I got to see the OCEAN, and it was just about the most beautiful thing EVER!  It was a truly stunning view.  And the houses around that area look kind of like in Venice, with little canals running between the rows of houses.

Wednesday - visited some PI`s, did some housing, and taught my first less active lesson to M******** Shimai and her son, T*******.

Thursday - taught S******* Shimai a lesson.  Didn`t go where we planned it to go, but it went really well!  She has a really strong desire for eternal life now.  Now it`s just getting her to realize that it is not too late to change!

Friday - conference, more on that later.

Saturday - taught K*** Shimai, which started out really well.

Sunday - church and visiting PI`s.

We had a taikai (a big conference) in Kobe like I mentioned earlier.  Elder Whiting from the 70 came to talk to us, and it was great!  Most of his training was about how to access the power of the Atonement.  My favorite bit, though, came from his wife and from Zinke Shimai, referencing one of Elder Holland`s Talks, `Missionary Work and the Atonement.`  In it, He paraphrases Christ speaking to Peter.  It`s when Christ asks Him three times, `Do you love me?` Each time Peter, more enthusiastically and a little bit more confusedly responding in the affirmative. Elder Holland said that what Christ was saying was:

`What I need, Peter, are disciples, and I need them forever.  I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs.  I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my saints.  And I need someone who loves me, who truly, truly loves me.`

Wow.  How powerful.  (That bit from the talk is now our wake up alarm.)  Please go watch this on or something. 

Click below to watch a video which includes President Holland's talk.

I want to be that disciple. I want to be that disciple who loves the Savior, who loves Him more than anything.  I want to love Him so much that I eat, breathe, and sleep His work, that I want nothing more than to serve Him.  Of course, I already do love the Savior, more than I can express, but it`s just not enough.  When you compare it to the amount that He loves me, it`s trifling.  So that`s one of my goals for this week, coming to love the Savior more.

Working on becoming a true disciple, hoping to help someone on the way to eternal life,
Love you all!

The church is true!
The book is blue!

Sister Whitney 

This is my bike, Bell Pepper!  I really do love her.  She has gears!  So she can go fast!  And going up big long hills is CAKE!  And she has two baskets!  So grocery shopping is easy!  And she`s green and white and perky and wonderful!  And usually, I just put my stuff in the back basket, so it balances the bike more, so I can ride my bike with no hands!  Forever!  But usually I don`t because I`m a safe missionary.  But yes.  Bell Pepper all the way. 

This is the church!  It`s above the Wis`dom Cafe.  There`s two rooms, the Sunday school room one I sent before, and then the sacrament room.

The sign outside the church. 
The sign above the WisDom one says `Matsu Jitsu Seito Iesu Kirisuto Kyoukai`.  That`s us!

Derksen Shimai and her bike

A lovely street.

More lovely streets  and a sweet tunnel!

This tunnel is just about the coolest thing ever.   I`m a fan.

More tunnel!

Last Monday we went to a Museum and looked at a Japanese doll exhibit.  Interesante.  Or should I say, omoshiroi.

More doll exhibit stuff!  The thing on the wall was really cool though.

A model of the Taj Mahal made out of bottles in front of the Museum -- I have no idea why it`s there.
Some anko (sweet been paste) filled treats that S******* san gave us last week.  They were actually super yummy.  (Walker Shimai would be disgusted with me for saying that.  She doesn't like anko.)

Pictures from our wonderful Family Home Evening at the home of an amazing couple in our branch.

The talk Sister Harris referred to:

Missionary Work and the Atonement

Jeffrey R. Holland
From a talk given at the Provo (Utah) Missionary Training Center on 20 June 2000.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the plan of salvation, which we are called to teach.
The Prophet Joseph Smith once declared that all things “which pertain to our religion are only appendages” to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 1 In like manner and for the same reasons, every truth that a missionary or member teaches is only an appendage to the central message of all time—that Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Holy Messiah, the Promised One, the Savior and Redeemer of the world; that He alone burst the bands of death and triumphed over the captivity of hell; that no one of us could ever have those same blessings without His intervention in our behalf; and that there never shall be any “other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, [except] in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” 2
Our basic message is that with a complete offering of His body, His blood, and the anguish of His spirit, Christ atoned for the initial transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and also for the personal sins of everyone else who would ever live in this world from Adam to the end of time.
Some of those blessings are unconditional, such as the gift of the Resurrection. Other of the blessings, at least the full realization of them, are very conditional, requiring the keeping of commandments, the performance of ordinances, and living the life of a disciple of Christ.
Either way, the essential message of the gospel, the starting point for all other truths, is this from the Master’s own lips: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 3 Thus the Atonement of Christ, which makes that return to the Father possible, is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the great and eternal plan of salvation—“our Heavenly Father’s plan,” which we are called to teach.
Little wonder, then, that the Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever known (or at least one of them), said: “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. … For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified. 4

The “Good News”

Inherent in all of this is a rather simple definition of the gospel, at least when considered in its essence. The word gospel as we use it in English comes down to us through early scriptural language which meant literally “good news” or sometimes “glad tidings.” The “good news” was that death and hell could be escaped, that mistakes and sins could be overcome, that there was hope, that there was help, that the insoluble was solved, that the enemy had been conquered. The good news was that everyone’s tomb could one day be empty, that everyone’s soul could again be pure, that every child of God could again return to the Father who gave them life.
This is the essence of the message delivered by every prophet who has ever lived and every Apostle ever called to the work. It is the message we are called to declare. It is the message of the angel who came to those unsuspecting Judean shepherds:
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy [or, in other words, I bring you the gospel personified], which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 5

Prerequisites for Baptism

Probably there are very few missionaries, if any, who do not know the centrality of this doctrine. But I have been surprised to regularly be with the missionaries and discover that this is not something that readily comes forward in a discussion of missionary work.
For example, in zone conferences, which are some of the greatest teaching moments we as General Authorities have with these young elders and sisters, I have asked missionaries what it is they want investigators to do as a result of their discussions with them.
“Be baptized!” is shouted forward in an absolute chorus.
“Yes,” I say, “we do want them to be baptized, but what has to precede that?”
Now they are a little leery. Aha, they think. This is a test. It is a test on the first discussion. “Read the Book of Mormon!” someone shouts. “Pray!” an elder roars from the back of the room. “Attend church!” one of the sisters on the front row declares. “Receive all of the discussions!” someone else offers.
“Well, you have pretty much covered the commitments in the first discussion,” I say, “but what else do you want your investigators to do?”
“Be baptized!” The chorus comes a second time.
“Elders,” I plead, “you have already told me about baptism, and I am still asking!”
Well, now they are stumped. It must be commitments from the other discussions, they think. “Live the Word of Wisdom!” someone says. “Pay tithing!” another shouts. And so it goes.
I don’t always run through this little exercise in a zone conference, but sometimes I do. And I have to say that almost never do the missionaries get around to identifying the two most fundamental things we want investigators to do prior to baptism: have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Yet “we believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; [then] third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” 6
A convert’s new life is to be built upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice—a conviction that He really is the Son of God, that He lives this very moment, that He really is the door of the sheepfold, that He alone holds the key to our salvation and exaltation. That belief is to be followed by true repentance, repentance which shows our desire to be clean and renewed and whole, repentance that allows us to lay claim to the full blessings of the Atonement.
Then comes baptism for the remission of sins. Yes, baptism is also for membership in the Church, but that isn’t what the Prophet Joseph Smith chose to stress in that article of faith. He stressed that it was baptism for the remission of sins—focusing you and me, the missionary and the investigator again on the Atonement, on salvation, on the gift Christ gives us. This points that new convert toward the blessings of the “good news.”

Making the Atonement Central to Missionary Work

In an effort to keep our work closely linked to the Savior’s ministry, let me suggest some things all of us might do to keep Christ and His Atonement in the forefront of members’ and investigators’ consciousness.
Encourage in every way possible more spiritual Church meetings, especially sacrament meetings. One of the great fears missionaries have at least in some locations is taking their investigators to church. And indeed the investigators deserve to feel essentially the same spirit in sacrament meeting that they feel when being taught by the missionaries.
It will also help orient investigators if missionaries will take some time to explain the ordinance of the sacrament that investigators will be witnessing, what it means for the renewing of baptismal covenants, that the emblems represent the Savior’s body and blood, and so forth. Missionaries could read to these investigators the sacramental prayers as found in the scriptures, they could share some of the words of favorite sacrament hymns, or they could do any number of other things that would help these new visitors and prospective members have a powerful learning experience when they visit a sacrament meeting.
In like manner, do all that you can to make your baptismal services a spiritual, Christ-centered experience. A new convert deserves to have this be a sacred, carefully planned, and spiritually uplifting moment. The prayers, the hymns, surely the talks that are given—all ought to be focused on the significance of this ordinance and the Atonement of Christ, which makes it efficacious.
Probably no other meeting we hold in the Church has the high referral and future baptismal harvest that a baptismal service does. Many of the investigators who attend a baptismal service (that is, the service of someone else being baptized) will go on to their own baptisms. That is more likely to occur if this service is a spiritual, strong teaching moment in which it is clear to participants and visitors alike that this is a sacred act of faith centered on the Lord Jesus Christ, that it is an act of repentance claiming the cleansing power of Christ, that through His majesty and Atonement it brings a remission of sins as well as, with confirmation, membership in His Church. Missionaries, don’t get so consumed with the desire to record a baptism that you yourselves forget what this baptism represents and what it must mean in the life of this new member.
Throughout the teaching experience, missionaries must bear testimony of the Savior and His gift of salvation to us. Obviously you should bear testimony regularly of all the principles you are teaching, but it is especially important that you bear testimony of this central doctrine in the plan of our Heavenly Father.
There are several reasons for bearing testimony. One is that when you declare the truth, it will bring an echo, a memory, even if it is an unconscious memory to the investigator, that they have heard this truth before—and of course they have. A missionary’s testimony invokes a great legacy of testimony dating back to the councils in heaven before this world was. There, in an earlier place, these same people heard this same plan outlined and heard there the role that Jesus Christ would play in their salvation.
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” 7
So the fact of the matter is investigators are not only hearing our testimony of Christ, but they are hearing echoes of other, earlier testimonies, including their own testimony of Him, for they were on the side of the faithful who kept their first estate and earned the privilege of a second estate. We must always remember that these investigators, every man, woman, and child, were among the valiant who once overcame Satan by the power of their testimony of Christ! So when they hear others bear that witness of Christ’s saving mission, it has a familiar feeling; it brings an echo of truth they themselves already know.
Furthermore, when you bear witness of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” 8 to use Paul’s phrase, you invoke the power of God the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Savior Himself taught about bearing witness before any other doctrine when He visited the Nephites:
“After this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one. …
“And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me. …
“… Whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him [the investigator] will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him [the investigator] with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him [the investigator] of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. …
“… This is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” 9
So why should we bear frequent and powerful testimony of Christ as Savior, as Redeemer, as Atoning Lamb of God? Because doing so invites and becomes part of the divine power of testimony borne by God the Father and by the Holy Ghost, a testimony borne on wings of fire to the very hearts of investigators. Such a divine testimony of Christ is the rock upon which every new convert must build. Only this testimony of the atoning Anointed, Victorious One will prevail against the gates of hell. So saith the Son of God Himself.
Study the scriptures conscientiously and become familiar with those passages that teach and testify of Christ’s redeeming mission. Nothing will so touch your heart and stir your soul like the truths of which I have been speaking.
I would particularly ask full-time and member missionaries to study from and teach the Atonement of Christ out of the Book of Mormon. I say that in a very biased way, because it was on my own mission that I came to love the Book of Mormon and the majesty of the Son of God which is revealed there. In its unparalleled focus on the messianic message of the Savior of the world, the Book of Mormon is literally a new testament or (to avoid confusion) “another testament” of Jesus Christ. As such the book centers upon that which scriptural testaments have always centered upon since the days of Adam and Eve: the declaration to all that through the Atonement of the Son of God, “as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.” 10

Testimonies of Book of Mormon Prophets

There is not enough space here to convey the wonder and breadth of these Book of Mormon sermons, but consider this from Nephi early in his ministry:
“And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.
“And the God of our fathers, … yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself … as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos. …
“And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers.” 11
Or this from Nephi at the end of his life:
“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; … this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” 12
Or this from Nephi’s remarkable brother Jacob, who gave a two-day sermon on the Fall and the Atonement!
“I know … that in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, … for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.
“For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
“Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement. …
“O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. …
“And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.
“And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men. …
“And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.” 13
Consider this from King Benjamin:
“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent … shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. …
“… And even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
“And he shall rise the third day from the dead. …
“… His blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.” 14
Or, as a last example, this from the great patriarch Lehi:
“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah. …
“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
“Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.” 15
Obviously, you recognize that these samples are testimonies from just the first pages of the Book of Mormon. Perhaps this is enough to give you a feel for the urgent, impressive theme that runs all through that sacred record. With its declared title-page purpose of testifying that Jesus is the Christ, little wonder that the Book of Mormon was the first—and is still the greatest—missionary tract of this dispensation. As Lehi says to me and to you, “How great the importance to make these things [of the Atonement] known unto the inhabitants of the earth.”
I testify to you that we will change lives, including our own, if we will teach the Atonement through the Book of Mormon as well as, of course, from all of the other scriptures.

The Atonement and the Missionary

Almost everything I have said here has been an aid directed toward the missionary process, ultimately toward the investigator. May I close with an extended testimony about how focusing on the Atonement helps full-time and member missionaries and mission leaders.
Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” 16 then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I testify that the living God is our Eternal Father and that Jesus Christ is His living and Only Begotten Son in the flesh. I testify that this Jesus, who was slain and hanged on a tree, 17 was the chief Apostle then and is the chief Apostle now, the Great High Priest, the chief cornerstone of His Church in this last and greatest of all dispensations. I testify that He lives, that the whole triumph of the gospel is that He lives, and because He does, so will we.
On that first Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene first thought she saw a gardener. Well, she did—the Gardener who cultivated Eden and who endured Gethsemane. The Gardener who gave us the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley, the cedars of Lebanon, the tree of life.
I declare Him to be the Savior of the world, the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls, the Bright and Morning Star. I know that our garments can be washed white only in the blood of that Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. I know that we are lifted up unto life because He was lifted up unto death, that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, and with His stripes we are healed. I bear witness that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief because upon Him were laid the transgressions of us all. 18
I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound. 19 I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world.