Hello! I am Elder Tanner Livingston. I am a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Japan, Tokyo South area. I love the gospel, and hope that I can share it with each of you through my letters!
How are you doing? I hope things are going well with the business!! :) I heard that you are working super super hard! :) I would love to hear all about it soon. :)
So, I don't have a whole ton of time left, but I wanted to send a quick update on what is going on in Japan!! It was an absolutely incredible week, and so insanely busy. I got to teach 15 legitimate lessons this last week!! :D I think that Elder Driscoll and I have been doing super super good. We are working with a lot of really good people right now.
Oscar has his baptismal date for this weekend but it is looking like he is not going to make it. I will be honest, I've gotten a bit discouraged today. It is really frustrating. He will be able to do it as he comes closer to Christ, though. This is all just a step in the journey that he is making in life. He will know what to do, and with the Lord's help and timing everything will work out.
Yutaro is the coolest ever. He is 24 years old and loves the gospel. He has had a testimony that it is true for probably over a year, but because of work and his girlfriend being opposed to the church he hasn't made the decision to be baptized either. President Wada loves him and we have been working with him a lot. He is such a powerful man. He has all sorts of connections. For example, we had a lesson with him and president realized that Yutaro needed a new job so that he could come to church on Sunday, so he called his friend who is the owner of a translating company. Then he called the president of Franklin Covey Japan (another friend. I've actually been to his house). Then he called the lady that is in charge of the human resources in Japan for Google. She had worked under him when he was the operations manager for Universal Studios Japan. haha basically he has all sorts of extremely powerful connections. But, soon Yutaro should be able to get a new job and meet us more, as well as go to work on Sunday!! Which is super good. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be working with him.
That is just a super quick update, but I wanted to let you know a couple of the things that are going on right now! I have never been able to teach this many people. I feel like my Japanese is slowly improving, even if it takes time. I love learning it, and it is so worth the struggle. I am grateful for all of the trials of my life. The trees don't grow strong without wind.
Remember to always turn to the Lord when things get hard. When anything gets hard. Don't worry. Everything will work out for your good. i love you so so so much, Dad!! You are such an amazing example of faith and patience to me. Thank you so so so much!! :) <3 <3
Love, Elder Livingston
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.
So, you are having a missionary work week, huh? That is so so awesome!! :) <3 What all are you doing for it? :) I am so glad that you are doing this!!
Dear Youth of the Pacific Drive 2nd Ward,
The very first thing that I want you to know is that you have the best leaders in the whole entire world. No, that is not because my mom is the young woman's president....okay maybe that is part of it. ;) But Bishop Miller and Brother Herzog are absolutely incredible as well. I want you to know that they are called of God. The callings in the church are incredible important, and it is actually about callings that I want to talk about.
"We believe that a man must be called of God," and that because they are called of God, they are qualified to complete the work that they are called to. You are indeed a called generation. While you may not realize it in full right now you will someday. You are called to be the greatest generation that this world has ever known. And that very much includes missionary work. There are so many of God's children that have absolutely no idea about the plan of salvation. And we have the duty and privilege to teach them.
Missionary work on the surface is intimidating and kind of hard haha :) You basically just go and talk to people. That takes courage. You have to have the strength to be rejected. But the joy that comes from it is incomparable. Put you whole heart into missionary work, and you will get more than you could imagine. Put the Lord to the test. I have seen powerful missionaries teach time and time again. Do you really think that without the Lord's help 18 year olds could teach 80 year olds how to live life? No. There is absolutely no way. That doesn't even make sense. But through your personal worthiness and effort, you will be given strength to confound the wisdom of the world. Don't forget that. You have to study hard.
If I could suggest some ways to prepare for your mission, I would love to do that using a small analogy to the fight we are waging with satan.
1. Learn to love and study the scriptures now. If you go into battle without your sword, you are going to die. But the word of God is "sharper than a two-edged sword." (D&C 6:2) It will be your biggest strength in convincing others of the truth.
2. Learn how to pray. Really pray. If you don't consult with the general beforehand, you will die in the battle ahead. However, learning to speak with our Lord as a friend is the most powerful tool for direction in this life. Pray more frequently than you think you need to, and really talk to him "as a man speaketh to his friend." (Exodus 33:11)
3. Learn to love church. Learn to receive revelation there. Learn to keep the Sabbath day holy by doing only things that show the Lord that you love him. You wouldn't fight all day every day in a war. You have to have a day of rest in order to be prepared for the fights that are coming. Remember, the Lord loves you. He made all things for your good. And remember, the Sabbath is a delight (Reference Elder Nelson's talk from the most recent conference).
Those three things will do more for you in your life than just about anything else. Follow everything that the Lord asks you to do exactly. I love you and I am so grateful for your examples. Please send me emails of how the missionary week goes!
Be bold. Be brave. Remember you are a child of God. I know this church is true, and I bear my special witness as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Love, Elder Livingston
Hopefully that is what you wanted!! I love you so much, Mom!! In quick response to your questions, the ramen here is WAY WAY better tasting!!! There is absolutely no comparison. But, it is definitely a lot more unhealthy. haha :) It is pretty intense how they make it and what all goes into it. It is so good though. :) The food here is just about all better than anything I have eaten in America that wasn't homemade. And some of it ranks up there with a good Livingston Salad! ;D haha I love you so much, Mom. You are the bomb. You really are. :) Also, someday you and Sister Wada need to be best friends. You should add her on Facebook. :) haha I'll say more about me and my week in my email to dad!! :) I love you!!
Elder's Log, Stardate 220.127.116.11.1.1.....I don't really know stardates. haha It would be awesome if I did, but I don't! haha Do you know what stardate it really is?
Anyway, I would love to talk about the busiest day in the world. It was super good. :) Last Tuesday was super super busy, and I almost died. But it was so fun. We had to wake up a little early in order to get ready and head out on time, so we woke up at 5:30 ish and started getting ready to go to a place called Tokorozawa. We got there and had a meeting from 9 to 5:50. It was zone conference! I loved it so much, and I learned a ton. It was definitely a time for revelation. I loved it. Then we had to rush back as fast as we could after that to get some food on the way to planning for our next meeting with the stake presidency. We had to eat while planning with the other zone leaders and sister training leaders in our stake, and then we went and had the meeting from 8 to 9. It was a really good meeting, actually, and President Wada brought up some really good ideas to improve our missionary work in the stake. It was super good, and super busy.
I have come to love being busy. I am not sure that I loved it that much growing up and in high school, but it is definitely one of the most satisfying things in the world. I hope that you work hard and that you continue to pray and follow the Lord's counsel regarding this business. I know that you are going to succeed. Follow the pattern that I described in Ether. Hey, you and Ammon should kneel together in prayer before you work. I challenge you to do it and just see how your work changes. I believe that it will make a big difference. Remember, kneeling and praying out loud brings a lot of power. I love you and I hope that you continue to study the scriptures and pray everyday. :) I love you so much. I am sorry that this is so short this week, but I have to head out soon. I love you!!
How are you doing today? I hope that things are going well and that you are feeling better. How are things going around the home? I can tell that things are pretty crazy with all of the changes with the downstairs room. It looks way good by the way! I am so proud of Dad and Ammon for all of the amazing changes that they have made for the house recently. (I guess the full downstairs was a long time ago, huh? I can't believe that! It feels like just a couple months ago). How have the health things been going? Obviously Quinci has been a little bit sick, but I know that the Lord will provide a way for her to do what she needs to do. Just remembers, it is not what we want that matters, but what the Lord wants. :)
So, guess what? We had four new investigators this week! The first one that I want to talk about is Nathan. He is the bomb. He is a 17 year old boy. And he is RIPPED. I can not believe it. I thought that he was in his twenties the first time, but he is only 17. And he loves America. hahaha He is wanting to meet us a lot, but I think that right now his interest is more in English and America than in the gospel. But, that is only for now! What I think is super super cool is that people come to understand that whatever their dreams may be, the Lord will be able to help them through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord provides all things.
I want to share a little bit of our lesson with Alan, our fashion designer, that Elder Murakami (one of the assistants) and I had last week. If you could open up to Ether 1:34-the end that would be great. Read those for me. There was a couple of things that we emphasized.
1. Jared asks his brother to pray for specific things. This is one of the most important things to do in our lives. We have to pray for very very specific things. If we pray generally, we most often get general answers. But, if we pray specifically, then we get specific answers. That is the first principle that we taught him and that I want you to remember. Please remember that.
2. The brother of Jared has to pray multiple times, for multiple things. This is another important thing. We have to pray all of the time. We have to keep praying, even if we already received a certain answer. We have to pray at all times and in all things, and in all places.
3. The Lord will give us specific things to do. If you look at the Lord's answer after he prays to go to the promised land, then you will see that he gives them some specific things to prepare. The blessings that they are promised are only promised if they do the preparations that the Lord needs.
4. Lastly, the Lord has a much bigger plan than we do. If you look at the last verse of the chapter, then you notice the Lord does not just want to take them to the promised land. He has so much more ready for them. The Lord has so much more ready for us in our lives than just the blessings that we ask for.
Do not worry if the things that are hard in life don't seem to have a quick, easy, answer right away. The Lord has so much more in store for us than we will know. Please look forward to that blessing. I love you so much and I pray for you!!! <3 Keep working hard mom! You are the best! :) :)
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.
Those business cards look great! :D You are just he coolest president of a company ever. Keep up the good work, and make sure to include the Lord in all of your decisions for your company. He knows how to run things a lot better than we do. Haha I have definitely been learning that recently. I love the work here so much!
In answer to a couple of Mom's questions, I haven't yet bought shoes, since the ones I have still work, they are just getting closer and closer to their final days. I thought it was super bad a little while ago, but they have held up surprisingly well! :) so that is good. The workouts that dad sent will be helping more in the coming weeks. I hadn't used them due to the timing problem, but this past week just decided that I needed better workouts, especially after seeing Ammon's progress with his. :) haha thanks for sending them, dad. They really are helping. I had a good Total Synergistics workout this morning, even if I didn't do everything perfectly. I am looking forward to see how it goes in the coming weeks. Elder Driscoll and I made a goal to wake up an hour early every day and work out, and then we will have an extra hour to get ready, so that has also helped. :) but, that has really been the biggest help for our studies, which often die due the fact that we have to go to all sorts of district meetings and things like that. It is super fun though. :) thanks for praying for Oscar too! I know that he will be able to help his family,
My wrist is doing better! It was better after a week. :) and it is starting to cool down a little bit. It is still hot though. We had a day with 100% humidity the other day! :D haha it was SO hot. But the worst was when it was around 111 degrees or so, and still 60% humidity. Um.....let's see.....that's about all of your questions, right?
Well, this week I learned a lot about the small things. I know that goals are important. But in order to reach those goals, we have to take small steps. I have been struggling to know how to break the plateau that I felt my Japanese has taken recently. However, I got to go and teach a lesson with Elder Mukai, this awesome teacher and Japanese elder. He talked a lot about how to learn English because it was a half English half gospel lesson. I learned a ton about how to improve my Japanese. So, I will be learning about 150 new things each week, which should (if I keep steady) improve my vocabulary by at least 4300 words and 2000 or so characters by the end of my mission (which would make it so I could read almost anything!). That is one way interesting thing. I can't read most of the things I see in stores and on the streets. Because there are thousands of characters. But, it's a work in progress. :) haha But the little things, like trying to be consistently good, and consistent with goals, is so important, and I hope you remember that. When you build this business that is a big goal, but don't get lost in how big it is. Just take it one bite at a time, one step at a time, one goal at a time. :) I know you are going to do fantastic. Good luck with everything! I will be praying for you! :) <3
I love you so much, dad! I am not sure how much time I have left, so I better wrap up so I can finish emailing everyone else as well. I love you so much, and I look up to you infinitely! Keep working hard! I love you! <3
Love Elder Livingston
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.
How is it over there in good ole AF?? I am super excited to hear about how things are going, particularly because you have all sorts of exciting time to build up the new business! I am super excited! Keep me posted, okay?
How is your health holding up? How about your spiritual health? How is your scripture study? What kinds of things do you do for study? Do you enjoy your study? I have learned a lot about studying with real intent this past week, and just real intent in general. I hope you have real intent when you study! :)
So, I guess you are all wondering about Oscar, right? Well, he did not get baptized yesterday, but will be getting baptized the 12/13 of September. We had a super good lesson with President Wada that helped him to see what he needed to do to help his wife! It was so good. President Wada is such an incredible teacher. I think what he does best is that he just teaches from the scriptures and is perfectly bold and loving at the same time. He tells people exactly what they need to do to follow the Savior, even if it isn't the easiest. This lesson he really just listened to Oscar’s problems, and then counseled with him on how to overcome the problem, using scriptures like 1 Nephi 5 (we actually shared this one with him earlier) and applied it to his life right now, and how he has a vision of the future, but his wife hasn't seen it yet so he seems kind of crazy. It was super good for him to hear from president Wada. He also shared Alma 20 (I think it is 20....) when King Lamoni's father is opposed to Lamoni. He related that to the situation as well, and it helped Oscar to understand his need to introduce the missionaries (like Ammon) to his wife. We are super excited to meet her. We are pretty sure that she is going to come to a family home evening activity that the Wada's have at their house once a month. She is going to have a great time and be able to feel the Spirit, so we are super excited for that. So, that is the update on him! He has some goals made, and really feels like he can see the light at the end of the tunnel! So that is good. :)
Other good things that happened is week......we had zone meeting! That was really fun. Nothing super crazy, so I won't spend too much time on that. But that evening was incredible! There is a missionary by the name of Elder Hansen who is now home, but the day before he left he did a special concert in Kichijoji with a bunch of different songs and hymns. It was incredible. He is a really good singer (high tenor), and absolutely amazing at piano and guitar (and other instruments too, I think....I just haven't seen that haha :) ). It was absolutely stunning. I loved hearing his arrangements of songs that really brought the spirit. We had one boy, whose name is Markus, come with us. He is a recent convert’s little brother. He is super nice, and loves to do stuff with us, but doesn't have a ton of interest in the gospel for now. But, we did get him a nice copy of the Book of Mormon that he thought was really cool, so we are excited to see how his interest grows in the next months and years of his life. I know that he is going to be a strong member someday.
I think one thing I have learned in the past week or two, that is definitely an eternal principle, is the wonderful joy that comes from trials. That might seem paradoxical to someone who has never experienced it, or can only see the darkness inside the tunnel, not the light at the end, but it is so true. I love it. We have never been so busy or stressed as a companionship than right now, but I also don't know that I have ever had this much fun with a companion. We get along so well, and we just work hard through the things that come towards us. It is the best. :) I just read your email, so it looks like you know what I mean that trials produce a lot of good as well! I love how you talked about God being the creator, so we can trust Him with our individual lives. That is so so true. I love that about God. He is always there for us, and will always direct our path for good! I know you are on, so if you have any questions specifically you want answered in my email to Dad, just shoot those to me and I will answer them then! I love you so so much, and I thank you for your prayers! :) :) I love you, Mom! <3
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.
I am so excited for you and your new job opportunity. I am so surprised that happened, especially with you making the new break room, but I guess that it makes sense since they wouldn't give you promotions for any of your people. I will be praying for you and your company to start succeeding. I know that the Lord will support you.
I think one of the most important reasons that people are sent out on missions is to build a habit of scripture study and prayer. I can honestly say I have never loved the scriptures as much as I do right now. I hope that you cherish the time that you spend with the scriptures every single day of your life! I want to tell you a bit about my dream.
I have learned about marking scriptures on my mission, and how important it is to do that. It helps me to get so much more out of them, and turns it from a book to a treasure chest of knowledge that I just have to unlock with the key of the spirit. Everyone can do it, especially if they have the gift of the Holy Ghost. Have you been turning the lock (remember, it will resist a little. You can’t just expect it to slip into place) to open that treasure chest recently? I have loved marking up my mission scriptures. But, I have a dream. When I finish the standard works and come home, I am going to buy a new set, a cheap one. And I will start again. I want to read the standard works all once a year, and the Book of Mormon at least once, if not twice a year. And then I am just going to store them in a box, with a whole bunch of different questions and topics and marking systems, and on Sunday I will select a set through prayer and take them to use during Sunday. :) and then when I am rich someday, I want a normal sized house, but a big library. And one section will be completely devoted to scriptures. And my kids will just be able to go and read from the different markings that we have made in our scriptures, and be able to add their own scriptures. I love the scriptures. I am so grateful for them.
Along with that, we need to have good prayers. Do you pray with full intent? Do you commune with your Father in heaven? One thing I loved that someone said last Sunday about prayer was that it was communication with God. Communication can not be one way. The definition of communication requires for it to be two way. I love that. God wants to answer us and help us. I hope that you pray with your whole entire heart, and that you listen during your prayer, not just after. It is so important to listen to His counsel as we talk with Him. We will miss some things that He desperately wants to tell us and bless us with if we just through our blessings shopping list.
I hope that you are studying the scriptures personally and as a family. I also hope that you do this in your best time, not the scraps of time you scrape after work, school, house stuff, etc. Put Him first and all other things will drop out of your life or fall into place.
That is the real purpose of a mission. To give people the opportunity give up their will to the Lord. That is such a sacred experience in am learning more and more how to do it here in Japan, but I know that as I continue to grow, I will give my will more to Him. When we can do that perfectly, then we will be endowed with power from on high. We will be given direction from on high. We will become, as Christ was, one with the Father. The Holy Ghost will be able to perfectly talk to us.
I love you so much, Dad. You are the best example! I love you so much! Have a great week and push forward with faith! Put the Lord first. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto you.
So, I forgot my keyboard, so this is going to be a little bit shorter, probably. I'll do as much as possible, though! :D
So, for some quick highlights (I'm not sure how long I'll have this week, so if I only get one out to you and dad, I'm sorry!) we: -Got a new missionary in our apartment -Had successful transfers -Went to a Buddhist teaching center and had our testimonies strengthened -Had Oscar’s baptismal interview -Etc. etc.
First, we have Elder Pratt in our apartment! He is this super good guy from Seattle. We love having him, and it is super cool to see the fire that he has. He is super cool :) I know that every single missionary can have that fire. Every single MEMBER can have that fire. That is the song of redeeming love that it talks about in Alma. I want to have that more and more in my life. That is the best thing, feeling the desire to serve. Which I definitely have. I have never had as good of a time, and done as much, and had so many stressful events (mainly Oscar) in my life! But, more on that later. :)
We had successfully transfers! Nobody in our zone got lost, and everyone was able to get to their areas quickly. Transfers can always be a little bit worrisome, as people can just get lost on the trains if they aren't careful. :) but, it all went well!
So, there is this man in our area book by the name of Trevor. He called us to set up an appointment. However, he has a history of taking people to Buddhist temple like places and just trying to proselyte to them. However, we decided to give him the benefit of he doubt just once to see if he actually had interest now, and go talk under a super strict 30 min. schedule (They would usually try to trap the missionaries for about three hours). But we went to meet him, and he told us he wanted his friend to hear too. We automatically knew that he was going to take us there, but we would just have to bear our testimonies. He had said he had read part of the Book of Mormon and had some questions, so we wanted to answer those. We got there and met his friend (obviously the one who wanted to teach us, not actually Trevor). He seemed like a nice guy. We asked if we could pray first, and they said that they couldn't participate so we just had a good prayer. :) haha they then said they didn't actually have questions from the Book of Mormon (lie number one) and then proceeded to ask us how we believed in God if we couldn't see Him. We did our best to bear testimony and teach truth, but they did not want to listen. No matter what we said, they just rejected it. It was sad. But we were able to be so bold. On the way back to the station with just Trevor, I was more bold than ever in my life. I just plainly asked him if he had wanted to make us doubt, and that I felt like he had attacked us. He started backtracking as fast as possible trying to save his skin, but didn't have an answer. And then I asked him what Elder Driscoll and I have decided is the only question you have to ask a religious person to see if you want to learn a little more. It is, "In your religion, can I live forever with my family after I die?" If the answer is no, then I have absolutely no interest. We asked him, and he said no, but we could be reincarnated into another good family. We basically just said that we loved our families now, and had absolutely no interest in learning about a religion that took us away from them. He didn't have an answer for that one. We testified in our church he could do that, and then we were on our way. It was really a sad experience, because they just did not want to listen, and if their hearts had been opened, they could've learned so much. :)
Oscar. Well, his wife does not want him to be baptized. So, we are doing everything that we can to help him talk to her and get her permission. Please continue to pray for him. His date is still set for this weekend, and we are just praying for a miracle. We need all of the prayers that we can get! He already passed his baptismal interview, so it is just a matter of time before he gets to make that sacred covenant with God. :)
Well, that is this week in a wrap! :) haha it was a super good week. I have honestly never had this much fun on my mission before. I think it is because of how well Elder Driscoll and I get along, as well as how hard we work. Also, having a lot of super crazy busy stuff can be fun too. I love it. :)
I love you so much, mom! I will send some of the things I learned in study and such in another email to dad. :) I may start doing that. A weekly report in one, and a report on my studies in another. Also, I am doing fantastic. I love life. :) haha I love you so so so much, mom! Thanks for your example of faith during this new opportunity that dad has! Am so grateful for that. :) I love you!! :) <3
Love, Elder Livingston
P.S. I am excited to see you too ;D
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.
How are you doing? Any news recently on your job and things like that? Thanks for always showing me how to work hard, and for being an example of a good leader. I actually wanted to talk today about a couple of the traits that good leaders have that I have learned a lot about recently. The first one is patience.
Yesterday at church we had a meeting with the bishop, the ward mission leader, and some other members that were helping to coordinate an activity that is coming up. The discussion started off great, and we were trying to decide best how to run a booth focused on family history that the missionaries will be running at this next ward activity. Slowly the one committee member started to get a little agitated. Finally he just kind of blew up and told the bishop that they had already decided in the committee meeting how it was going to work, and now he was just switching it, so all of the hard work of the members in the committee was wasted, and then stormed out of the room. It was kind of an intense moment (I felt way bad for him, since it was basically just a room full of the missionaries). Instantly the bishop got up and left the meeting to make amends. I learned a lot in that moment. The first one was the patience of our bishop. I see this same patience in you, but it was cool to see it first hand here. He listened intently to the ward member and his concerns, and then when he left, he patiently got up and went to help him. He left us, the ninety and nine per say, and went after the one that needed his help. I really loved that.
The second thing that I really learned about leadership this week was the need to show love constantly, and then correct through that same love.
We had MLC this last week, and it was super good! Elder Driscoll and I actually got to do a training, which was super fun. I loved it. But, that is a little beside the point that I want to make. One of the things that happens in MLC is that President Wada shares with us the rules that he feels are being broken in the mission, and then charges us to go and help missionaries recommit to follow those rules. This last time he was very adamant. He corrected very sharply, and to the point. But it was all through love. I honestly just felt super warm and good the whole time, even though he was telling us all sorts of things that we need to do better. It wasn't anything that we in the room personally needed (although there were probably some in there that needed it too), but for the other people, and I just felt good. It is incredible to me that when people correct the way that the Spirit would want them to, then people feel motivated to listen and to follow, because the motive for correction is not pride or irritation, but love and the Spirit. I know that this is the way that you led, and I am so grateful for your example. Thank you, Dad.
MLC is always such a good experience. Whenever I go into meetings like that with questions, they get answered. I know that it is the same way with all of our church meetings. If we take questions to the Lord, and do all that we can to find the answers in the meetings that He provides for us to feel the Spirit, then we will find them. I think that is one incredible thing. I hope that you are continually taking the questions that you have to church and to your other meetings every single week. You will find more answers that way, even if you don't know exactly where to look for them. Just do all that you can to be obedient and follow the promptings that you receive.
I love you so much, Dad!! I hope that you know that. You are my everything, and I am so grateful for all that you have done for me. Keep taking care of the family! I know that you are going to see your personal questions answered as you search for those answers. I love you!!
Thank you so much for your email and your advice. It meant a lot to me, and really helped me out. I hope that you know how much I love you. <3 :) Thanks, mom!!
By the way, I am doing fantastic!! :D I am loving life out here. It is amazing that it truly is in the midst of trials, in the hardest times, that we grow the most. I have learned so much from this recent trial, and I am doing so much better. :) I have learned how to trust the Lord. Which is what I want to talk about a little bit. But first, just an update on a couple of investigators.
Oscar san is one of the investigators that we are working with right now!! :) He is super cool. He started taking lessons about 3-4 years ago, I want to say, but has been so busy that he has never really committed and started working at it. Just a few weeks ago, he showed up and said that he wanted to prepare to be baptized!! :D So, we are currently working really closely with him to help him progress to baptism. He has a baptismal date scheduled right now for the twenty third of August, so please keep him in your prayers! He is super busy, and needs to be able to meet and come to church, so please pray that he will continue to have time. He is such a great man, and we are excited to see him take this step in following Christ.
Another investigator that we are working a lot with is Roger. He is doing great. He is struggling to commit all the way to following Christ, as his work and life is very busy. It is interesting just how much satan stops us from doing by just putting little busy road blocks in the way. He doesn't need to convince us to do super bad things, because he will just stop us from doing really good things. Please don't ever have too busy of a schedule to follow what Christ needs you to do for the day. Anyway, that was a little tangent. He has a nephew right now who is sick, and could use your prayers. Please pray that he will get feeling better. This would really strengthen Roger’s faith in prayer, and help him to continue to progress.
But, now to the trusting in Christ part. Last night we had a special testimony meeting for the missionaries that are going home in our stake to bear their testimonies to everyone. This was at 6:00 last night. It is usually something that we do in zone conference, but we have about 30 people going home this next transfer, so it was too many to do in a normal zone conference. But, at the end, President Wada talked about serving Christ. He told a story about Neal A. Maxwell. When Neal A. Maxwell was younger, he served in the army during WWII. He was actually in the battle of Okinawa (the southernmost islands of Japan). Right before the battle the next day, he was extremely fearful and nervous. He was still young, and he did not want to die. He said the most sincere prayer that he has ever said. In the prayer he really just said, "If thou wilt help me to live through this battle, then I will serve thee forever." President Wada then proceeded to talk about that moment, and how each and every single one of us needs to have that moment. He talked about one of his counselors (who had borne his testimony earlier. I wrote about that one in my journal and will share it when I get home), and how his was on his mission. After he talked about that just a little bit, I thought about if I have had that kind of a moment in my life, where I told the Lord that I would serve him forever, and I really meant it. Since then I have really been thinking about that, and I am not sure that I have had a defining moment quite like that in my life. Obviously I have decided to serve the Lord for these two years, but have I really given everything to him for the rest of my life? That is a hard thing to commit, and something that takes real commitment. I want that. I feel like the past couple of weeks have been preparing me for that. If I can give truly, from my heart, give everything to him, then life will work out so much better. I know that to be true. But, you aren't going to give everything that you are or can be to someone that you don't trust, so the Lord has been doing all that he can to build up my trust in Him. Which means that I needed a trial. A big one. Which is exactly what the past little while has been. I am so happy/proud/thrilled to say that it has been doing that!! My trust in the Lord has grown so so much. I love Him and the work that He is doing through each an every one of you at home, especially you, Mom. He is doing so many miracles through your example and your influence. You don't know just how much you help people. You have helped me infinitely more than I could express. I love you so so so much, Mom. :) You're the best. I hope that things are going well at home!!
Speaking of which, how are you doing? Is everyone okay at home? Are you all doing alright health wise? Are you having fun, and smiling every day? Are you studying the scriptures personally and with your family? Are you praying by yourself and with the family, every day? I hope that you are. :)
Take care of everyone!!! :) Also, just so you know, Elder Driscoll and I are staying together for another transfer! :D It is going to be super fun. I love Kichijoji, and I love working with all of the amazing members here. :) Help the missionaries in our home ward as much as you can!! Love ya!!
Love, Elder Livingston
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.
How are you doing? How are things back at home? It sounds like they are starting to pick up with the beginning of school coming. I really can not believe that it is August!! And since it is August.....
Wow, I really can not believe that it is your birthday tomorrow. That came so fast. Man, you are going to be the best 29 year old this world has starting tomorrow! ;D haha I love you, Mom. You really are one of my best best friends, and I love you to infinity and beyond! :)
I want to share something really cool with you this week. I can't remember if I told you or not, I think that I did, but I made a goal to finish the entire standard works by the end of my mission. I know that it is definitely not going to be easy, but I feel like it is something that I need to do. I can honestly say that I have never gained a personal testimony of the Bible before this. I have noticed quite a few things that have astonished me as I have read through just the first hundred or so pages of the Bible. I would like to share a few of these with you today:
1) The Bible speaks so plainly about the nature of God that it is baffling that other Christian churches do not believe in Him the way that we do. I was incredibly impressed by the first few chapters in Genesis, where it reveals some of the fundamentals of God, such as the fact that we are the same image as he is!! It declares that! I wish that everybody would just remember that.
2) God loves His children SO SO much, and He ALWAYS provides a way for them. He always keeps His promises. Just like Nephi talks about at the very beginning of the Book of Mormon, the very beginning of the Bible talks about how the children of Israel have to rely on the Lord in order to be delivered from their trials. What I really like, too, is that the Lord promised them before they were in bondage! that he would deliver them from the hands of the Egyptians. He knew that things were going to turn south for them, and He promised them beforehand that he would make sure there was a way for them to come out of it.
3) I am really like Moses. :) haha No, I can not split the seas (well, unless the Lord needed me too). But, as you all know, I have always dealt with worry, particularly recently. So did Moses. When the Lord called him, he complains that he has a speech impediment. The Lord tells him it is okay, and that He will provide for him to speak well (not talking about providing a mouthpiece at this time). And then Moses brings it up, AGAIN, saying that he was inadequate. Moses was worrying!! Haha :) That made me feel good. Even Moses worried. But, something even better came out of realizing that Moses worried.
4) I came to a knowledge that the Bible does answer the questions that we have, when we search for the Lord's words to us in the pages contained therein. I was looking to see what could connect to my life, and at the time that I happened to be worrying, the Lord showed me His servant Moses, the one who eternally holds the keys to the gathering of Israel. The Lord speaks through the Bible. It is His word. I know that for a fact. I can't say that I had a super strong testimony of that until this past week. I would always say that I knew they were true, just because I knew that the church was true and that the Book of Mormon was true. But this past week was the first time that I really had a witness for myself that the Bible was true. It felt so good. If you or anyone in our family has not found that witness than I hope that you will do everything that you can to find that answer.
Anyway, I love the scriptures. So so much. How has your scripture reading been going, Mom? I hope that it has been going well, and that you have felt the Spirit directing and guiding you in the things that you are reading and learning. I hope that you are taking notes and that you are treasuring the things that you find in your heart all day long, not just in that moment. That which is treasured in our heart for more than a moment will sink into the depths of our memory and be drawable in a time of need. Remember, pondering is an essential step to the personal revelation that will change our lives and become a defining moment.
I hope that your health is holding up! It was so great to see the pictures of Beau and to know that he is doing okay. I hope that you also continue to improve and see the miracles in your life. I know that the Lord is performing them. Watch for them, and you will be astonished, and realize that they are just as magnificent as the plagues that hit Egypt. Oh, crazy fun fact that I just remembered that I don't know if I have told you or not. You know the red gates that you see at Japanese shrines (you have probably seen pictures of them.) Google them if you don't. But, the cool part is, whether Japanese people know it or not, those are a similitude of the doors that were painted with the blood of a lamb at passover. Incredible, huh?? :) The gospel was here in Japan years and years ago, and we are bringing it back again!! :)
I love you so much! I am going to try and send you a physical letter soon, so expect one within a month or so. (I am not exactly sure which P-day I will have the most time on, so it might take a week or two). I love you, Mom!!!
Thanks for the advice on the work-outs! I will do that...soon. :) haha I mentioned my wrist in my email to mom. I'll explain a little more here. If I put my hand on the floor, I can not bring my arm up to a ninety degree angle. For now I won't be doing any P90X3, because I can't even do a single pushup. I didn't notice it until last night, so I must have tweaked it in some way, but I do not know how. I didn't do anything strange or weird recently, so I don't know why it is hurting. Hopefully it will get better soon. It has not really limited me yet, so we will just hope it gets better soon. :)
One of the other highlights of this past week was definitely interviews with President Wada! He is the best! This time President and Sister Wada actually came over to our apartments to check the cleanliness and to do interviews. They have been working so hard every day in order to do it for the whole mission. It was great to have them there though. They really are incredible, and just like my parents in Japan. I love them so much. I want to share one experience, and then the advice that President Wada gave me.
This past week we were going and knocking on some doors and we found this one lady who really made an impression on me. We started talking to her and she immediately turned us down, and then told us that God does not exist, and that it is illogical to believe in Him. She told us that it would be best to quit our religion, and just move on. We did absolutely everything that we could to testify and to bring the spirit to the conversation, but nothing would help. She was unmoving. It was a little hard, and when we left, it weighed on my mind the rest of the day. If you read the account of Alma talking to Korihor in Alma chapter 30, it says that when Korihor again denies the existence of Christ, Alma says that his heart is grieved because of the hardness of the heart of Korihor. That is what I felt. My heart was grieved, and I had no idea what to do.
I brought up this experience with President Wada and he had some good advice. He told me that we can only invite. One of the things that he loves to say, and he uses a lot, is information before inspiration. As missionaries, we can only provide the information. We can bring the Spirit, but they have to allow the inspiration to come into their lives. As missionaries we succeed when we inform, and we invite. He honestly just told me to let it go, and know that we did what we could.
That was really good for me. As a missionary, bishop, leader, teacher, anything, we cannot expect ourselves to do everything and to be perfect. You know me. That can be hard for me to do. I am generally a perfectionist, and it is hard to let things go, no matter how logical/illogical it is to let it go/not let it go. It was really hard for me to grasp the concept that I really COULD not do anything more for that lady, because she just wasn't willing to open her heart up to it.
I hope that things are continuing to go well with your work and with your teaching in the church. Thank you for the email about Jared! Please let him know that I love him, and that I am praying for him. He is a trooper. I hope that everything is going well in the ward. What can I do to help you/the family, dad? I really want to help everyone, so if there is anything, just let me know. I love you and your example so much, and I am grateful for all that you do for me. I love you!!
Love, Elder Livingston
P.S. Thank you for forwarding Braidon's email! He is such a good man, and is going to be the best missionary. Thanks! Tell Mitchell congrats for me!! :D
So, no, we did not play football this week, contrary to what you might have thought when you looked at the title of this email. This has been a super good week, though, and I will explain what the blitz is in the following paragraph.
So, a zone blitz is actually what we had. It is when all of the members of the zone get together, and then we had a training, and then we went on splits with about three different people over a period of 3 hours or so. We received the training from Elder Jesperson, who is awesome, and his companion Elder Murata, who is one of the coolest Japanese missionaries! They did awesome instructing us how to boldly invite others to come unto Christ by taking lessons or by coming to church. It was great, and then I got to go on various splits! The first one was with an Elder named Elder Fenton! He was actually in my MTC district, but then had to go and get surgery, so he is a transfer lower than me in the mission field. He is a great elder, and has such a powerful testimony. I love him so much, and it was so fun to be able to work with him. After him I got to go with Elder Konno. Elder Konno loves disney probably as much as we do. :) Needless to say, we did not have to be quiet for any part of that split! Haha we talked to a lot of people, and we also got to talk about Disney a lot, so that was fun. He said that he doesn't know how I am like Hiro (the boy in Big Hero Six, which actually has a different name in Japan! Lots of disney titles are different here), but I am excited to see that movie, because Jenna said that it is basically like me put into a character! haha We will just have to see. :) Lastly I went with Elder Murakami. He is fluent in English, and such a nice, good elder. He is so fun to work with, and we had a lot of success talking to people. I loved working and learning from all of them.
One thing that I have definitely learned on a mission and that was accented by the splits that we had this past Tuesday (in the blitz) is that everybody has something that someone else needs to hear. The gospel is not a solitary thing. It is expounded and understood only when it is shared with lots of people. President Monson has said something to the effect of that which we selfishly keep, we lose. That which we willingly share, we gain. Or something like that. It is that way with all of the principles of the gospel. Charity cannot survive if it is not manifest in outward expressions to those around us. Faith can not be grown if it is not tested and used to lift ourselves and those around us up. Hope can not survive in a solitary room, but rather in the company of others, well lit with the Light of Christ. We have to share the gospel. If we selfishly keep what we have been so graciously blessed with, we will lose the things that are most precious. But, if we spread that which has been given to us, we will find hidden treasures of knowledge. That is why missions are important.
And not just for the missionaries sharing it. :)
You gave me to the Lord for two years. You ultimately have gained and will continue to gain so many more blessings because of the things that you have allowed me to do for Him. You have given of yourself in times of sickness and trial, and the Lord has multiplied the blessings upon your head an hundred fold. You may not see them. But the things which are not seen are often the most powerful. You have a testimony. You have a family. You have love in your heart. You have hope. You are truly blessed. :) Don't ever forget that, Mom. I am so blessed to have you, and I want to thank you for all that you have done for me. :)
Let's see, another thing that we did is that today we had zone p-day!! :D It was super fun. I will send a couple of pictures later. We had a hamburger cooking contest between the three districts in our zone, and then we played sports in the cultural hall. It was so great. and now I am emailing! I truly have been so blessed in my zone. As a zone leader I haven't really had to deal with that many problems in the zone. It has been really good. I have loved it so much. I really don't want to transfer. Next Saturday is transfer emails, and I have a feeling in my gut that I might transfer. I am not excited. But who knows, maybe I will get one more with Elder Driscoll! it is crazy to think of how fast time is flying. It is going way too fast. I am excited to see you again too. :) Oh! And you may even get to meet the Wada's! I will probably be going home on the same plane as them, so probably a couple weeks earlier than planned, and you may be able to meet them!! :D I really hope that you can. :) Anyway, I want you to know that I love you, Mom!! You are the most incredible mom ever! Keep working out hard, and keep pushing yourself! I know that things are going to improve. Oh, and just a heads up, my wrist has been hurting a little if I bend it too far up or down (it is weird, and hurts a ton if I push just a little too far). Is there anything that I can do to help that that you know of? Let me know. I love you!!
How are you doing? How is your programming/managing coming right now? Have you had any direction as to where you need to go with your job in the next little while? If you hadn't, don't worry. Treasure up in your minds the words of the prophets concerning taking care of your family and a job, as well as the words of the scriptures about enduring to the end, and I promise you that you will find an answer to your questions before too long. :) I love ya!
So, I think that I will start this week with my split with Elder Jesperson. Elder Jesperson is so cool. I will send a picture of us on splits in just a minute. He is from California, near San Diego I believe. He is a really good missionary, and he is actually the group that came into the mission field just after me, so I knew him in the MTC. I told myself in the MTC that I really really wanted to become his companion in the field, and I did for at least a day! haha it was great. But, referring to the title of this email, we stayed up super late. After the lights are out, and missionaries are in bed, there is pillow talk. :) haha Sometimes you stay up a little late talking, but it is definitely not against the rules. And it really really helps missionaries to build relationships with each other, so that is really important. I love doing it, but not all the time, or else I would be utterly exhausted. :0 haha But, that night with Elder Jesperson we stayed up really late, and just talked about his life, and the things that he loved. It was super good to get to know him, and I feel like we are a lot closer. I honestly have learned on my mission just how important it is to not talk, and just LISTEN to people. I don't think that I was the best at that before my mission, because I definitely like to talk. It has helped a lot to have Japanese humble me. haha But, I have been told more than once on my mission that I know how to listen, and that really really struck me, because I had never thought that I would have that talent before my mission. The Lord definitely strengthens us where we are weak, especially as missionaries. I love Him so much, and I am grateful for his blessings.
We had another super funny story the other day, when we were just walking down the street talking to everyone. There was a kid coming on his bike, and Elder Driscoll and I told each other that we were going to get him to stop (something which is really not that hard to do haha). So, we spaced ourselves out, and then just said hello to him really loudly in English. He slammed on his brakes as hard as he could, and I wish that I could adequately describe just how horrible the sound of his brakes was. It was a screech that only a demon from the depths of the pit of despair could rend from its horrible lips. hahaha :) (that was probably the most descriptive English that I have used in over a year.....I need help.) haha It was great. We had a short conversation with him, but as soon as he actually realized that he stopped for us, and that we were missionaries, he was very keen on leaving the conversation.
We also got to start reading the Book of Mormon with Ryosuke! He is the bomb. I love him so much. We started just with chapter one of first Nephi, and it was super super good. We read through the entire chapter, and explained it a little, and then he just dove into chapter two. We ended up reading all the way through when Nephi killed Laban, which is actually something that people have a really hard time with here in Japan. He was the same way as most people and really did not like the fact that Nephi killed Laban. Elder Driscoll explained that there are two ways to understand it, logically or spiritually. We explained it as well as we could logically, and then just told him that we couldn't explain it perfectly. He would have to pray about it. He is going to do that, and we are excited to hear about the answer that he received, because we felt confident and promised him that the Lord would answer his prayer that night, something that we don't promise often.
All in all it was a super good week. :) I love the Lord, I love this work, and I love my family. You are definitely the best family on the earth right now. :) I hope that things are going well with church as well! Keep me posted, okay? Is there anything that I can do to help you? Oh, I had one thing I wanted you to send me. Could you watch the P90X3 videos and just send a time breakdown of when the moves switch? I have all of the moves, but I have no idea how long to take because most of them do not have times with them. If you could do that, even just in an email, that would be perfect. Thank you so much, Dad! I love you!!!
How are you doing? I am sad to hear that Quinci is not doing that well. :P Make sure that she knows that I love her, okay? I love you all so so so much, and I wish that you would just get better already! :) haha And I am glad that this summer has been good, even if it has been a little bit rough as far as health goes. The summer for me has been going crazy fast. I can not believe every single week that goes by. Crazy huh? It seems just like yesterday that we were sitting in Simply Thai and eating together. However, let's dive into this past week....
Zone Meeting!!! :D We got to have zone meeting this past week, and it was super good. As zone leaders, we are completely in charge of coming up with, coordinating, and holding zone meeting (this is different from zone conference). So this past week we had zone meeting. it was so so good. I loved it. We were able to receive trainings from our Tech Staff here, the sister training leaders in our zone, and Elder Driscoll and I each gave a training as well. Fun story about that. The inspiration for my training actually did not come until Monday morning (zone meeting was Tuesday in the afternoon). I was not planning on giving a training, and then on this huge conference call that all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders in the mission get on in Monday morning, the Spirit prompted me to give a specific training on raising our vision and trying to align it with President Wada's vision for us. And then going even past there. The core of this training actually comes from Mary Poppins the musical when she says, "When you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars . . .but if you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in." (leave it up to me to include disney in a training that I give as a missionary, right? ;D haha)
But, it went super well. i felt the Spirit confirm to me that what I trained on was indeed what the Lord had needed me to talk about, and I actually received a response to my letter to President Wada this past week (after zone meeting) asking me to do what I had already done in my training. It felt very nice to know that the Spirit was with me and communicating to me the same things that my mission president was intent on getting out to the missionaries. Needless to say, that was a good day.
The next day was super good too! We actually went to the doctor for Elder Driscoll, because he has an ingrown toenail. That is no fun. But, on the way I met this super cool guy named David. And guess what?? He is a professional soccer player here in Japan!!! :D :D How cool is that? He said that he played for Yokohama FC but, we haven't actually been able to find him on the roster, because I don't know his last name. But, I have his number, and he said that he wants to learn more about English as well as the gospel, and go play futsal with us some time! ;D haha I think it is super cool that I found him particularly when I became companions with Elder Driscoll, since Elder Driscoll is super super good at soccer too. The Lord definitely helps us to find those that will be able to connect with us in one way or another.
This week I also got to go on splits with an elder in our zone named Elder Jesperson. But, I will talk about that more in my email to dad. I don't want to talk about all of the fun things here in one email! ;D haha It was a really good split though.
Overall this past week has been super good. I love being here on a mission. I also miss you all like crazy. I love you so so so much, and I hope that the Lord will continue to watch over you. You are the best family that anyone could ever have. And I think that you need to take a picture and/or a video of you when you workout with Jenna! ;D haha I still haven't seen actual proof that you have been with her, besides the one picture with her and Emmett. ;D haha Or, this Wednesday at the party would work too.
I love you, Mom. You are the best. I hope that you have a good week, mom. Keep getting better, okay? How is your exercise going? Make sure that Ben and Lindsey know that I love them, and I am praying that everything will go well with their new child! I can not wait to meet the new people that have entered our family when I get home. :) I love you so much, mom!!!
Love, Elder Livingston
Note: Some names may have been changed for privacy.