Dear Mom, Dad, Amanda, Blake, Bennett, and Aaron,
I've had a lot of reasons to smile recently, and a hope that things will get even better from here on out. Who says you have to wait until New Years to start on my goals!
The first of the two packages showed up, and already, your stocking is the envy of the whole apartment. You have officially made this the best Christmas present ever! The spiritual thoughts were exactly what are I needed especially the kind reminder for day 7 to always work together with your companion. I wish that it were easier to express my thanks and love in recognizable ways but the feelings are there! Elder B was especially touched that you had a tie for him and was overjoyed to get a Tommy Hilfiger tie! The second one hasn't come yet, but I'll make sure to let you know when it does.
I had many impressions and trainings this last week that were sufficient in humbling me as well as raising my vision even higher to what God has in store for the people of Japan. We were blessed to have both a zone conference and stake conference!
President Wada shared his own personal conversion story with the missionaries, a story which took place near Christmas over 40 years ago when he was still a young teenager full of doubts but who, with the help of bold and loving missionaries and members, grew in his faith of the Savior set a goal to follow His invitation to all to "repent and be baptized".
These are his own words.
December is one of my favorite times. Of course, the big reason is Christmas. On December 5, 1980, Elders Fred Allan and Elder Kurihara invited me to be baptized for the . Since I met Elder Allan on the street on November 20, I met the elders at least three times in between. I felt that they would invite me to join the Church sometime in the future, but when they extended the invitation, I did not feel I was ready to make such an important decision at that time. For one, I had not prayed to know if the Church was true. Furthermore, my parents thought I would be discontinuing their family tradition if I chose to become a Christian.
Even though I did not keep the commitment for , that set my expectation that God (I was not sure exists) desired I should follow the example of the Savior. Since then, I became acquainted with so many wonderful and honest Church members and missionaries in the area, I felt like becoming a part of the branch and was able to visualize receiving the same blessings by being baptized. I still remember I was being converted socially and emotionally through Christmas and New Year�fs events organized by the members.
Since that day I received my baptismal invitation, I received baptismal invitation at least 5 times before I was actually baptized on July 18, 1982. I am grateful for those missionaries and members who were patient, persistent, and persevering. Without their love and patience, I would not be here serving as your mission president.
My desire for you is very simple. Please be that missionary who is bold enough to extend an invitation to follow the example of the Savior by being baptized. Even if the one who receives the invitation is not ready, please work with the members to ensure the support system is in place, so that a person who meanders still may recognize that God will be there no matter what. Please be aware that you have the Spirit and all the necessary resources and training available to succeed in this great work of Salvation. Have faith that all of these things are given you because it is the Lord�fs work and He is allowing us to be a part of it.
There are many reasons why we all hesitate to invite those we know and love to come unto Christ, to follow his teachings and example, and partake in the joy of the restored gospel. Perhaps they aren't Christian, and you don't know how to invite them to follow someone they don't really know anything about. Perhaps they are already Christian! Why then is it so important that we do it? And how do we do it?
I would be lying if I said I knew how to do it perfectly, but if you pray to know how, with the "real intent" to follow through on the answer you receive, the Holy Ghost will guide you to know what to do.
I love you all,