Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28th, 2016: Easter?....Nah, It's Still All About Christmas!

Hahaha, my subject probably doesn't make any sense, but I'll explain
it later...

This week was way good! I have been having a really fun time lately
here in Ogaki! We are starting to see success coming from our
obedience and diligence! It is a way cool thing to see first hand.

We got to meet with our investigator family, the Ohashi's yesterday!
It was way cool! We taught about a lot of different things, and
eventually invited them to be baptized! Sadly, they didn't accept
because they don't feel prepared right now, but we are going to
continue working with them! They are an amazing family that consists
of the two parents and their way adorable one year old daughter! They
are amazing and want to do what's best for their family and their
daughter, and they absolutely love the idea of eternal families, so we
are trying to build off of that.

This week, I went on another cleaning spree of our apartment! It was
astonishing to see just how uncleanly missionaries can be! But, amidst
all the dust and garbage we found a miracle! While I was cleaning out
an old cabinet that hadn't been used in literally years (I later
confirmed that), I found another record book of past investigators!
I'm talking like hundreds of records at we didn't even know we had! I
felt like the people who found the records of the Jaredites! Hahaha
woah, I must be a missionary. 😂😂😂 But yeah, I started reading
through all of them as well as calling those that seemed like they
might still have interest! Already we have found one new investigator
and we have another potential that we are calling soon! It was way
cool! I'm grateful for a mother that taught me how to clean! Haha,
love you mom!

Ok, now to explain my subject. So in the down time at the end of the
day, I have been studying a lot of old ensign articles and talks and
one in particular has been on my mind lately. It is called May We So
Live by President Thomas S. Monson. Here is a part that I'd like to share and sorry that it is so long.

Doing Something Today

How fragile life, how certain death. We do not know when we will be
required to leave this mortal existence. And so I ask, “What are we
doing with today?” If we live only for tomorrow, we’ll eventually have
a lot of empty yesterdays. Have we been guilty of declaring, “I’ve
been thinking about making some course corrections in my life. I plan
to take the first step--tomorrow”? With such thinking, tomorrow is
forever. Such tomorrows rarely come unless we do something about them
today. As the familiar hymn teaches:

There are chances for work all around just now,

Opportunities right in our way.

Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”

But go and do something today.

Let us ask ourselves the questions: “Have I done any good in the world
today? Have I helped anyone in need?” What a formula for happiness!
What a prescription for contentment, for inner peace--to have inspired
gratitude in another human being.

Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they
are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words
to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There
are souls to be saved.

As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings
ye are only in the service of your God,” we will not find ourselves in
the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer
Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s immortal Christmas Carol. Marley spoke
sadly of opportunities lost. Said he: “Not to know that any Christian
spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will
find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not
to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s
opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

Marley added: “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my
eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led
the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its
light would have conducted me!”

Fortunately, as we know, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the
better. I love his line, “I am not the man I was.”

Why is Dickens’s Christmas Carol so popular? Why is it ever new? I
personally feel it is inspired of God. It brings out the best within
human nature. It gives hope. It motivates change. We can turn from the
paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow
a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our
courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly
the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping.
We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we
lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one
struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can--by showing the
way--become a guiding star for some lost mariner.

Fill Others’ Hearts

Because life is fragile and death inevitable, we must make the most of each day.

There are many ways in which we can misuse our opportunities. Some
time ago I read a tender story written by Louise Dickinson Rich which
vividly illustrates this truth. She wrote:

“My grandmother had an enemy named Mrs. Wilcox. Grandma and Mrs.
Wilcox moved, as brides, into next-door houses on the main street of
the tiny town in which they were to live out their lives. I don’t know
what started the war between them--and I don’t think that by the time
I came along, over thirty years later, they remembered themselves what
started it. This was no polite sparring match; this was total war. …

“Nothing in town escaped repercussion. The 300-year-old church, which
had lived through the Revolution, the Civil War, and the Spanish War,
almost went down when Grandma and Mrs. Wilcox fought the Battle of the
Ladies’ Aid. Grandma won that engagement, but it was a hollow victory.
Mrs. Wilcox, since she couldn’t be president, resigned [from the Aid]
in a huff. What’s the fun of running a thing if you can’t force your
enemy to eat crow? Mrs. Wilcox won the Battle of the Public Library,
getting her niece, Gertrude, appointed librarian instead of Aunt
Phyllis. The day Gertrude took over was the day Grandma stopped
reading library books. They became ‘filthy germy things’ overnight.
The Battle of the High School was a draw. The principal got a better
job and left before Mrs. Wilcox succeeded in having him ousted or
Grandma in having him given life tenure of office.

“When as children we visited my grandmother, part of the fun was
making faces at Mrs. Wilcox’s grandchildren. One banner day we put a
snake into the Wilcox rain barrel. My grandmother made token protests,
but we sensed tacit sympathy.

“Don’t think for a minute that this was a one-sided campaign. Mrs.
Wilcox had grandchildren, too. Grandma didn’t get off scot free. Never
a windy washday went by that the clothesline didn’t mysteriously
break, with the clothes falling in the dirt.

“I don’t know how Grandma could have borne her troubles so long if it
hadn’t been for the household page of her daily Boston newspaper. This
household page was a wonderful institution. Besides the usual cooking
hints and cleaning advice, it had a department composed of letters
from readers to each other. The idea was that if you had a problem--or
even only some steam to blow off--you wrote a letter to the paper,
signing some fancy name like Arbutus. That was Grandma’s pen name.
Then some of the other ladies who had the same problem wrote back and
told you what they had done about it, signing themselves One Who Knows
or Xanthippe or whatever. Very often, the problem disposed of, you
kept on for years writing to each other through the column of the
paper, telling each other about your children and your canning and
your new dining-room suite. That’s what happened to Grandma. She and a
woman called Sea Gull corresponded for a quarter of a century. Sea
Gull was Grandma’s true friend.

“When I was about sixteen, Mrs. Wilcox died. In a small town, no
matter how much you have hated your next-door neighbor, it is only
common decency to run over and see what practical service you can do
the bereaved. Grandma, neat in a percale apron to show that she meant
what she said about being put to work, crossed the lawn to the Wilcox
house, where the Wilcox daughters set her to cleaning the
already-immaculate front parlor for the funeral. And there on the
parlor table in the place of honor was a huge scrapbook; and in the
scrapbook, pasted neatly in parallel columns were Grandma’s letters to
Sea Gull over the years and Sea Gull’s letters to her. Though neither
woman had known it, Grandma’s worst enemy had been her best friend.
That was the only time I remember seeing my grandmother cry. I didn’t
know then exactly what she was crying about, but I do now. She was
crying for all the wasted years which could never be salvaged.”

May we resolve from this day forward to fill our hearts with love. May
we go the extra mile to include in our lives any who are lonely or
downhearted or who are suffering in any way. May we “[cheer] up the
sad and [make] someone feel glad.” May we live so that when that final
summons is heard, we may have no serious regrets, no unfinished
business, but will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the

I hope you can all live every moment to its fullest! I love this
gospel and all of you! Thanks so much!



March 21st, 2016: A Normal Week in Ogaki

I'll be honest outright and say that this week was a fairly uneventful
week. I don't have a whole lot to report on, seeing as the majority of
our time was spent trying to find more people to teach. Although not a
lot happened on the missionary side of things this week, something
even greater happened. This week, my testimony of this work was
strengthened. And that is what I would like to talk about this week.

Sometimes, being a missionary is hard. Especially a young missionary,
in a new area, with a companion that can be hard to relate with at
times, speaking an extremely difficult foreign language. This week was
no exception. In my mind so far, Ogaki has been a crucible for
personal growth. I have spent more hours on my knees in quiet
supplication here than I have in a long long time. You see, when
things get hard, there is ALWAYS someone willing to listen. Sometimes
we are stubborn. Sometimes we are prideful. Sometimes we think we can
do this thing called life on our own. I'll agree. You definitely can.
But oh is it hard. Believe me, I've been there. I've tried that way.
But I promise you right here and tight now, no matter where you are,
what situation you are in, what things you've done, or mistakes you've
made, GOD LISTENS. This week, I changed up my usual way of studying
and refocused on studying about Christ. Especially, these past couple
of days, I have been reading from Jesus The Christ by James E.
Talmage. I bear my testimony to all of you that Christ lives. That he
rose from the grave, and knows each of us personally. That he atoned
for all of our sins, and he knows EXACTLY how we feel. Even in the
darkest of places, he has gone below us in order to raise us up. I
would like to share a poem that was shared with me from a dear friend.


I had been in that hole for a very long time
In the dark and the damp, in the cold and the slime.
The shaft was above me; I could see it quite clear
But there's no way I ever could reach it from here.
Nor could I remember the world way up there
So I lost all my hope and gave in to despair.
I knew nothing but darkness, the floor, and the walls
Then off in the distance I heard someone call:
"Get up! Get ready! There's nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder."

This had never occurred to me-- had not crossed my mind.
But I started to stack all the stones I could find.
When I ran out of stones, then old sticks were my goal,
For one way or another I'd get out of that hole.
So I soon had a ladder that was sturdy and tall
And I thought, "I'll soon leave this place once and for all."
I climbed up my ladder. It was no easy chore,
For from lifting those boulders, my shoulders were sore.
I climbed on up the ladder, but soon had to stop
For my ladder stopped short-- some ten feet from the top.

I climbed back down my ladder and started to cry
I'd done all I could do. I gave my best try.
And in spite of my work, in this hole I must die.
And all I could do was to sit and think, "Why?"
Was my ladder too short? Or my hole much too deep
Then from way upon high came a voice, "Do not weep."
And then faith, hope, and love entered into my chest
As the voice said to me that I'd done my best.

He said, "You've worked very hard, and your labor's been rough,
But the ladder you've built is at last tall enough.
Do not despair. You have reason to hope.
Just climb up your ladder; I'll throw down my rope."
I climbed up the ladder, then climbed up the cord.
When I got to the top, there stood the Lord.
I couldn't be happier; my struggle was done.
I blinked in the brightness that came from the Son.

I fell to the ground, His feet did I kiss
I cried, "What can I do to repay thee for this?"
Then He looked all about Him. There were holes in the ground
They had people inside, and were seen all around
There were thousands of holes that were damp, dark, and deep
The the Lord turned to me and He said, "Feed my sheep."

Then He went on His way to help other lost souls,
And I got right to work, calling down to the holes:
"Get up! Get ready! There's nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder."

It now was my turn to spread the good word.
The most glorious message that man ever heard.
That there's one who is willing to save one and all
And we've got to be ready when He gives the call.
He'll pull us all out of the hole that we're in
And save all our souls from death and from sin.
So do not lose faith; there is reason to hope
Just build up your ladder; He'll throw down His rope.

I bear witness that Jesus of Nazareth was a perfect man who loved
those he taught perfectly. I bear witness that he suffered for us. I
bear witness that he was rejected by men, and was killed. I bear
witness that on the third day, he rose from the grave, and with every
fiber of my being testify that HE LIVES! I may not have been there,
but I know as if I were. He wants to help each and every one of us.
Let him in, and you can do anything. I testify of these things in His
holy name, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Passey/パシー長老