Sunday, May 31, 2015

Then way of the Master Week 38

Long time no see!

It's good to be a missionary in Japan everyone. I'm thankful that I am here, and not in Mexico, or Holland, Russia, or wherever. The Lord has called and suffered me to be HERE, and I'm so happy He has chosen me to be. A good friend shared this scripture with me before they returned home, and I love the meaning it has for me now: 

"And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever." (Mosiah 18:30)

Just as she did, I love replacing the word Mormon with Japan. It gives me that deeper sense of love and appreciation for where I am in the world right now, and how happy I am and grateful for "them who came to the knowledge of their Redeemer" here. It's tough here. It's tough being a missionary in general. But I never would have been able to learn the things I know now, nor have met the people and made the friendships I now hold and cherish, if I weren't here on a mission, nor even in Japan. It's an undeserved blessing to have this opportunity. 

This week was rough to say the least. But a valuable lesson was learned and reintegrated into my heart. It's something I felt I need to share with you all, on what the Lord has taught me. Or... Better yet, retaught to me. 

Here in Shingu, like I have shared previously, is a very rural, and isolated place. People are more so found in their homes here, or at or around them, farming, cleaning or doing various types of everyday tasks we all have in life. In Kyoto, that is the opposite. Everyone is out of the house at business, work, taking on the demands of the world and of city life. Being there for 4 1/2 months was a splendid time, stopping and talking to people on the streets, sitting and talking to old people at parks (I learned a lot from those people, especially Japanese!) and so on. I made some good memories there that I'll never forget with Elder Grossen. I haven't really knocked on the door of a house since the time I ever really even stepped off the plane here. Not since my first area back in Hashimoto. I've done a few homes in Kyoto, but no one was ever home. It's been a bit difficult getting back into the housing methods of finding after leaving such a concrete jungle as Kyoto. It's actually been very difficult, and that is for one simple reason:

I have completely forgot what it feels like to get a door slammed in the face.

Every day this week without fail, there has been a door slammed...or rather, SLID, (welcome to Japan) by an unhappy, busy, or just a simply not interested person, right in my face. I won't forget the one I received last Tuesday, when I knocked on the door of a beautiful big home, that was clearly cherished and well taken care of by this person. I knocked on the door, and waited. That's when a very sweet looking old lady came to the door, smiled big, and politely asked how she could help us. I replied," We are church volunteers for The Church of Jesus Christ of...." SLAM. As soon as she heard "Jesus Christ" the door was already on its way to being locked to any couple of young guys in white shirts and a black name tag. The least I can say about it, and really about every other door that was shut on us, is that it is a feeling that no one should feel. A feeling of utmost sadness and questioning. "What did I say?". "Did I offend them?". "Am I THAT bad looking?". 

Following that experience with this small, but very bold woman, I shook it off, put a smile back on my face and started down the road again. That's when the next door came flying shut, and the next, and the one after that, and after that, and so on. In fact, there was one day where EVERY door was shut on us! I soon found myself after every door, little by little, getting upset, and getting more angry. Every door approach affected the next. As I look back, my smile was not really present during the latter end of each day, or just the week in general. I was not happy. Not one bit. I felt bitterness grow, pride increase, discouragement build up, and the anger flow. I disliked every person that I contacted. I found myself pondering about the problems they have with their lives, wondering why in the world they didn't want to talk, or more so the need to SLAM the door. I began to lose a little desire to go out and work here and there, due to the fact that I would most likely encounter the same song on replay, another door or two to the face.  I took my feelings and turned to the Lord and asked for help. "Why are people stubborn, why are they this, and that, and..." just complaining to the Lord about "their" problems.

That's when I turned to my favorite scripture, in which I can count on to always try and make me feel better. It is found in the 1st epistle of John, chapter 4 , verse 18 of the New Testament. I in general just read the verse only. But I decided to read the verse, and then just continue reading the few remaining verses of the chapter. After reading verses 21 and 22. I felt nothing but emptiness about the things I had done. I had judged, hated upon, in some cases may have been a little rude, and short tempered with the people I had contacted, blaming them, and disliking them for the right to agency in which we all have, to choose whether to listen or to not listen. I had linked them to the idea of being "bad" people, and to bad lifestyles, etc. to justify my feelings. To make them "valid". Following this, I reinvested in a good, long prayer and talked with God about it, and asked for forgiveness.

Forgiveness. The Lord taught me in such a way, about forgiveness. Throughout my life, I have been taught well to forgive others by my dear parents, and by just loving people freely, and doing things the Lords way. I always strive to do so in all I did. But it seems I hadn't quite finished reading all the pages of the book. I have been able to, in depth, feel and know what it means to forgive on a much larger scale it feels like. I sat there pondering about it all. "Did I really do that?", "I really thought that?". I had finally broke free from the devious trap of pride and judgement of others, and found the ability to forgive others for what at the time seemed as a large ordeal to me, but was just them simply exercising their own agency, and closing the door on me. 

Now this isn't the greatest example I've experienced or seen, but the principles are learned. No matter how big, how small, how unfair, how anything is, forgiveness is number one. It is so important. It dawned greatly on me, and the feeling I received was powerful beyond measure. I am not perfect. Not in anything I do. I'm probably the farthest from it when it comes to perfection... We all make mistakes. We all have our problems. We all have our issues. Those who say they don't are liars. It is just pure fact as human beings. But that is why we have a Savior. One who sacrificed for all those mistakes. We are all on the same boat here, because we all mess up. The church, is a place where IMPERFECT people gather every week, to become better people through the saving ordinances of the sacrament, to seek that forgiveness from the Lord, and our Savior. When someone wrongs you, forgive and forget. In my case, when a door is slammed, smile and keep on trekkin'! 
"Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin." (Doctrine and Covenants 64:9)
Holding such feelings grudgingly, seeking for revenge, and anger, or merely adding to the problem through bickering, back biting, and rudeness, does nothing but bring greater sorrow, it breaks the heart, and drives away the spirit. It merely adds to the conflict you encountered in the first place, and sends it to greater heights of contention. It allows the window to be opened to the Adversary to come in and take control of you. As I worked and worked this week, and held on to those thoughts and feelings, I had no effect in fulfilling my purpose as a missionary. I felt incomplete without that member of the God head with me. Doing so brought greater feelings of contention, and more unsuccessfulness at every door. It wasn't until I learned to just forgive, so to speak, the person for shutting the door, whether they shut it rudely or nicely, and to forget that ever happened. To say, "okay! Thank you so much for taking the time to listen for these few seconds, I hope you have a great day!" To show kindness to them, even when it may seem like they do not deserve it, after being so rude to me. We all know the rule. The rule is: "treat others the way you want to be treated", not "treat others the way you are treated".

Having that change of heart wasn't easy for me. I'm not saying at all forgiving is an easy thing. It's pretty difficult. It never was meant to be easy. Just like this life we live. Sometimes, after effort in forgiving, the person still isn't changing or even willing to. That's okay. The Lord will see your faith, your efforts, and will bless you.
"But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;" (3 Nephi 12:44
"… When they have repented and come on their knees to ask forgiveness, most of us can forgive, but the Lord has required that we shall forgive even if they do not repent nor ask forgiveness of us ..." - Spencer W. Kimball. As we sincerely do so, I promise, they will come around.

I can't tell you how hard it was to keep that smile sometimes... How hard it is to really just let some things go, not just in this case, but in all cases that I have experienced throughout my life of friends wronging me, stealing, etc. It's extremely hard, but through the help of the Savior, we can be filled with his love, and have that inner peace we all so desire that can come through forgiveness. He is the "Light and Life of the world", our Master, our Exemplar. Following His example will lead us to eternal life just as the Lord promises us. In fact, forgiveness is a requirement for one to attain the grand blessing! The Savior in His life, was smitten upon, beaten, whipped, spat upon, ridiculed, and nailed to the cross, and slain, without one bit of anger or condemnation toward the men who committed such acts. Not even once. The Saviors dying words on the cross to the Father: "forgive them, for they know not what they do". 

Forgive and forget. It is the Lords way. He forgives us of our sins and our mistakes, and "remembers them no more". He loves us no matter what and bids us to follow him and his ways. Sometimes, the problem may not even be others. If we pause and look around for a moment, we may even identify that spirit of darkness and contention within ourselves, as I did within myself. 
"And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."
"And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:21-22)
As a reminder from President Uchtdorf, may we all ask ourselves that question! "Lord, is it I?"
If it is so, we should fix it and make restitution, but importantly, forgive ourselves of the wronging. We should heed to the Saviors instruction to the women taken in adultery: "Go and sin no more".

 That's something I feel like I have struggled with in my life sometimes, is when messing up, not forgiving myself of the wrongings I've done. Holding onto the past, in terms of your mistakes, eats you alive. The guilt, the shame, the sorrow, is not worth any of it. The Savior has forgiven you when you repent, he remembers them no more, as should we. Through trusting in the Lord, accepting his forgiveness, and through his help, and the help of others very dear to me, I've been able to forgive myself for things in the past, and have been able to soar deep into the eternal realms of His pure love. There is no greater feeling than being forgiving. There is a same feeling found in forgiving others. 
"Be the better man". In a sense it is pure doctrine. We always hear it. But do we actually do it? Are we TRULY being the better man? Or are we going through the motions of forgiveness, leaving half the heart out? Still thinking about, and feeling harshness? That is my challenge to you all! Not just this week, but always. That we may follow the example of Jesus Christ, and have the ability to love the way He did, to walk in His ways, and to forgive one another. The person whom has wronged you is not perfect, neither are you. Always remember that. 

I am so grateful to have learned this even more. The importance of it is so great. From it, I know that I need to be even more forgiving to those around me, and to friends, and to family for anything and everything, but also to ask for that forgiveness from them. I have truly experienced the blessings of forgiveness throughout my life, and especially this last week through this simple yet powerful experience I've had here. Going into that next house with a new frame of mind made all the difference. There was love abounding within, and joy in what I do, and really in who I am and have become. The blessings are worth the price and difficulty of overcoming challenges, and forgiving others. Because I have experienced them, I seal it all with my testimony in the name of the One who was slain for us all. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he loves us all. I know that through his merits and mercy, we can obtain blessings and happiness too deep, and too pure to ever comprehend, when we choose to forgive others, and forgive ourselves. I am so grateful for Him and His atonement, that all of us, even the most broken and imperfect beings like myself, can be forgiven, and can become better. His atonement is infinite due to our infinite amount of mistakes. It is infinite because His love for us, is infinite. As members of this church, we have chosen to take His name upon us, and to follow the Lord and his teachings. Let us all strive to also be infinite in our own love for others, and for the Savior, but also infinite in forgiving others. It is the Lords way. 

I know I'm going to have a good week this week. I love you all very much and am thankful for the emails sent to me! If I don't respond to you, I apologize. I do read them! It's very hard to get everyone, every time, but know that I think about you guys and hope you are all doing well. I usually do get all you guys. Because you're all important to me. Thank you so much for your kindness, support, and love! Now quit showing so much of it to me, and start showing it to the one whom I know you all may have thought about while reading this! The one whom you need to befriend once more. Whether that be your friend, family member, your children or your parents, dog, goldfish, whomever. We all have one person. Forgive, and forget. Don't let the evil and dark feelings transform you into what the Evil One wants you to be. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Love,

Elder Preciado





Cabbage pancake. The most delicious thing I've eaten it's called okonomiyaki.



Monday, May 25, 2015

Shingu- New Area Week 37

Boy has this week felt like FOREVER. Hello everyone. 

Before I get into anything, I gotta say that my companion is pretty freaking cool! Nitta 長老 comes from Kumamoto, Japan, which is over in the Fukuoka Mission area. He loves to eat anything and everything, but especially likes sushi and yakiniku. His favorite color is White, because it's the color of his all-time favorite drink, Calpis. His favorite thing to do in the entire world is sleep! All I have to say is, I love my companion he is a good guy! It's cool because his birthday is this transfer on the 3rd of June. Be sure to wish him a happy birthday! 

So, I FINALLY arrived here in my new area in Shingu. And HOLY COW. This place is like in the middle of absolute nowhere. But that's what makes this an adventure and if you know me, I LOVE adventures. Shingu is a VERY small coastal town, located at the very bottom right corner, of the Japan Kobe Mission. This place is beautiful! It was a long, long day traveling here. I woke up at about 5 AM last Thursday morning, and sadly left Kyoto. When I originally arrived in Kyoto, I had weird feelings about that area. I didn't want to be there at all at first, but I quickly grew to love it dearly. Now it is but a memory of my mission... After leaving at 5 AM, I arrived in my new area at about 9:30 PM that night. Shingu is literally out there. In fact, it is the most rural part of this mission. Only 3 trains a day come here. It's THAT inaka (rural). It takes about 5 and a half hours and 100 bucks (both ways) to get to Zone Meetings and conferences. I love it. The most famous thing about Shingu, is the Dolphins! You can see them, eat them, and wear them etc. I haven't yet eaten some, but when I do, I will let you know how that goes haha. I've only been here about two days and it's been a blast. Especially with Nitta 長老

The church is small here. It's a branch of a total of 7 members. My companion is the Branch President here, and I'm one of his counselors. We both direct, manage, and oversee the branch and help build up the Lord's kingdom in this part of His vineyard. All I can say is, I've never been so grateful for the church, after coming here. 

Ever.

First off, I've been told by the spirit of the Lord, that THIS, is where I am supposed to be. Last Wednesday, the day before transfers, I was thinking a lot about the new area and what it would be like. I was very nervous to say the least and asked myself, "is that really where I'm going?" And "what was president thinking when he decided I was going THERE?" I prayed fervently, and told Heavenly Father that I was going to open up my scriptures at random, and whatever I read was what he wanted to tell me, or wanted me to learn. That's when I ended my prayer, and grabbed my book and popped it open. I landed on 3rd Nephi chapter 16. I began reading...and soon felt the tears stroll down my face. 

I have added a few things in parentheses to help you understand what I was thinking and learned:

1 And verily, verily, I say unto you (Elder Preciado) that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem (Kyoto), neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.

2 For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my (your) voice; neither have I (you) at any time manifested myself (yourself) unto them.

3 But I (you) have received a commandment of the Father that I (you) shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my (your) voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself (yourself) unto them.

I felt so much power in those words. This is where I am to be, and I am ready to find his lost sheep here in Shingu. I'm so happy to be here. Going off that, God lives, he knows us and our needs, and His word, the Book of Mormon is absolutely true. I know it is. God himself told me, and I'm willing to go to the grave for it. 

As I showed up to church this week, I found myself filled with humility and full of awe and wonder at the sight I was looking at. I sat up front looking amongst the few, but faithful members of Shingu, and was humbled to the dust of the earth. 

I am so grateful for the church. 

Growing up, my family and I have always seemed to be a part of big wards, and had lots of friends in each of those. Those were a blessing to have. Every week we went to church together, partook of the sacrament and went to Sunday school and so on. As I look back, and as I see the example of these members, I regret the way I viewed church when I was younger. I went to church, because my parents said it was good. I went because if I didn't, my momma would grab me by the ear and pull me out the door. When I was young, I viewed the sacred ordinance of the sacrament as free bread and not enough water. (It's okay to make fun of me) My parents taught me well, but it was through my agency that I guess I chose not to take it so seriously. I never did anything wrong, I just never fully grasped the importance of this true, and everlasting gospel, and the importance of going to church. 

I can say for sure, that my perspective has shifted even MORE, and am more in debt to the Lord for all he has done for me, and provided us all with. The sacrament is NOT just free bread, and not enough water... It is a symbol what Jesus Christ did for YOU, for ME, for every single person who has, is, and ever will walk this earth. He died for us, so that we can be forgiven of our countless mistakes, and be able to return to the presence of the one and only Master. And He has given us a way, through the sacrament, to be able to continually be forgiven, to start fresh, and to become clean. 

I LOVE the people here already SO much. I'm in debt to them, for their fearless example of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Eternal Father. These people come every week so that they can grow, and can learn, and can spiritually uplift themselves. They don't have much here, but they know that they have a place to go every Sunday, and that they have someone in whom they can trust. Being here in this small branch is amazing to me, and makes me very grateful for all I had growing up, and especially now. It's sad to say that growing up I truly took for granted all that has been given to me in terms of this gospel. Many undeserved blessings have been bestowed upon me. My scriptures gathered dust rather than thoroughly feasted upon and studied. As I have truly come to understand this gospel, through my faith and prayers to Heavenly Father, going to church, studying his word, I've had the opportunity to find true happiness. I'm in awe at what this gospel has to offer us each and every day. 

1.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
2.
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
3.
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

One of my favorite hymns! I love this gospel and what it has done for me. I know that our father in heaven lives. I know he loves us. I am so thankful and am never afraid to be called one of his disciples. I know that his word is true, the Book of Mormon, and am so thankful for the happiness I have found by abiding by its precepts. I invite all to find the beauty and love for this gospel just as I have, in their own special way.

Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me



Hugs and love to you all!

Elder Preciado


 Yes he is tall! Half Korean :)


In the video...He says long, because the pants I gave him are way too long on him,
but he still loves em.

He says wow, because when I told him I was 19 he said "What!!
Wooowwwww!" And then we say kyoudai at the end. Kyoudai means brother
in Japanese. Ex. Preciado kyoudai = Brother Preciado. We started
calling him Wysteria Kyoudai and he fell in love and just felt that it
was soooo cool.

So all three jokes are put into one. Long, wow, kyoudai haha I will REALLY miss him!!

video

Monday, May 18, 2015

Michael is Back and he is transferring! Week 36

Hey Friends & Family!

I'm not surprised one bit on Sam’s call to Japan! For some reason, I knew inside my heart that this is where he needed to be, I just knew he was coming here. I had a dream that he came to the Kobe mission, and I got to train him. I woke up and felt promptly in my heart that he would be coming to Japan. And look at that! He's just next door to me :) I can pop a letter in the mail and it will get there in a bout a day or so. I really believe this will strengthen our relationship even more! Can’t wait!! Congrats Cuz!

For me Andie’s birthday was yesterday, and I can say that I felt her presence all day. I felt this warm sweet presence within myself and it seemed that all my worries were taken away of my people here, and really just anything! I love being a missionary.

Yes you heard it folks, Michael has resurrected, and he is back, "This is NOT it", there is more. We had a very fun ward talent show this last Saturday! It was so fun to see everyone's talents and share what they got. I myself got to participate in one of the performances. Brother S LOVES Michael Jackson, and I got to participate in his performance! SO FUN! Considering I love Michael and his music, and have always listened to it growing up. I got to let out a side I never knew I had.



So, sadly, that talent show was the last event I have in this area... IM TRANSFERRING to a place in the middle of nowhere called Shingu. I'll have the opportunity to share this experience with a Japanese Missionary named Elder Nitta, my first Japanese companion. I'm so, so sad that I'm leaving this wonderful ward here in Fushimi. I believe I have met my mission mother here, Sister Diamond Well. She's the best! I still need to visit my mission Father, Brother River of Light in Hashimoto. Maybe one day! I'm also sad to be leaving Brother S... He's literally a brother... But I'm happy with his life and his desire to serve a mission for the lord in the near future. 

I have not too much else to report on. I'll paste a part of my letter to the mission president on one thing I learned this week:

"Well this week was a good week I'd say. In other aspects it was slow. Lately we have been struggling to find some new investigators. Which I guess.. Is a good thing? At least right now because it gives us a better chance to focus on our progressing investigators with baptismal dates. But then again, it's hurts to get turned down. As I have really grown to love the people here, I find myself in truly thinking about them and their welfare and salvation. It hurts to walk up to a man, introduce the restored gospel, and then have them say,"Keko desu". It's as if I hear the cries from everyone's heart pleading for happiness...it's just a matter of following that cry and finding the needy. We are working to find them President. 

Other than that, we had the opportunity to meet with our highest potential for baptism, Ootsuki 兄弟 this week! We gave him the rundown and set up a plan on how we are going to reach his special day. Scheduled lessons, and set forth the doctrine on what we are going to teach him. He said," I'm still not sure, but if I find it's true, then I will." I have full faith in the Lord that he will prepare this man’s heart. I've also learned how important creating a plan is. Really, for anything. I was checking out 3rd Nephi and came across this section in chapter 4 verse 23-29.

23 And it came to pass that Zemnarihah did give command unto his people that they should withdraw themselves from the siege, and march into the furthermost parts of the land northward.

24 And now, Gidgiddoni being aware of their design, and knowing of their weakness because of the want of food, and the great slaughter which had been made among them, therefore he did send out his armies in the night-time, and did cut off the way of their retreat, and did place his armies in the way of their retreat.

25 And this did they do in the night-time, and got on their march beyond the robbers, so that on the morrow, when the robbers began their march, they were met by the armies of the Nephites both in their front and in their rear.

26 And the robbers who were on the south were also cut off in their places of retreat. And all these things were done by command of Gidgiddoni.

27 And there were many thousands who did yield themselves up prisoners unto the Nephites, and the remainder of them were slain.

28 And their leader, Zemnarihah, was taken and hanged upon a tree, yea, even upon the top thereof until he was dead. And when they had hanged him until he was dead they did fell the tree to the earth, and did cry with a loud voice, saying:

29 May the Lord preserve his people in righteousness and in holiness of heart, that they may cause to be felled to the earth all who shall seek to slay them because of power and secret combinations, even as this man hath been felled to the earth.

Gidgiddoni is a good man! He was aware of their design, he knew the problem, he knew the person, etc. he set up his plan, and went for it. The important thing was that he followed through with it! He didn't stop midway, or half effort. He knew it, he trusted it, and he did it. He was able to meet the robbers and was PREPARED and ready for them. He had all power over it, he knew what was going on, and he was simply ready for it all. This is where I love this quote, “stick to your task until it sticks to you, beginners are many but finishers are few" - President Monson. He even was successful at killing the problem at the root of it. He took out Zemnariah! I especially love verse 29. 

"May the Lord preserve his people in righteousness, and in holiness of heart..."

As we really set forth a plan, whether that be with our investigators in helping them be prepared for any temptation, problem, or just getting them ready for baptism, whether it be a personal problem that we are trying to overcome, or really anything, we can see the lords hand in our lives in helping us get there so long as we trust in him, and are accountable to him. I've experienced this first hand President! And seeing the same kind of thing in the Book of Mormon really just strengthens my testimony, and love for the book in general. I love learning new things like this."

That's all for this week folks! I'll send some videos too of the performance we were in! 

I love you guys a lot. Thanks for the love and prayers I feel from all of you. You're all the best!


Love,
Elder Preciado
I am on the right side lol 

video



                          Yes, big mistake, cut my own hair :D

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mothers Day to all you wonderful MOM's! Week 35

Family and friends, 

First off, Happy Mothers Day to all those mom's out there! Including my aunts and grandma's that 
take such great care of me! Love you all!

It was another week in the Japan Kobe Mission. Nothing super duper
awesome or crazy happened this week, to be honest. I had the
opportunity to visit a temple here in Kyoto! Called Kinkakujin. Made
of gold! Well...kind of. It's covered in gold foil stuff. But it's
real gold for stuff. Pretty cool though.

It's been a little bit slow here in terms of the work, but life's good
as a missionary.
My knee hurts a lot lately. The same problem I had, and from football.
Trekking a long and just trusting in God that this is what he wants me
to experience. I'll be fine.

I got to Skype my fam yesterday which was really cool! Everyone is
looking good. Especially my little sister! She's grown up to be a
pretty girl! Love you Addison.

I have not much else to report on. I'm just so thankful for the little
things that we all take for granted in this gospel. I love it so much,
and what it's done for me.

I love all of you, I'm sorry this is short, but I gotta go!


Love, Jake

Ps. I have some pictures for you all!
My companion and I bought flowers to give to all the moms for Mothers day in the ward. They loved it!
Happy Mother's Day Mom! I love you very much and don't forget that or worry about me. I am in the Lord's hands.


 My Momma sent me flour Tortillas, and I made my first Quesa Dias in Japan! Oh how I MISS THIS!S
Brother Ralph Smith came from my home ward to deliver a package from my parents!

Wait, what is that beaming of light coming to me?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Holyyyy Coww! Week 34

皆さん,こんにちは.

How's everyone doing? I'm doing jussst fine over here in Kyoto, Japan. This week was a pretty...different week I have to say. 

Recently have been really focusing on our investigators whom agreed to receive baptism within the coming months. All I have to say is I'm really excited for what's in store for this ward here in Fushimi, and the blessings in store for these children of our Father in Heaven. We have been trying to focus on meeting them this past week and have plans to get them ready for their special day. We have been seeing Wysteria Meadow this past week more than anyone else, and my love and compassion for him grows each and every day. His desire to follow the Lord, and to do what's right, is remarkable and touches my heart. He's been telling me how much he LOVES the Book of Mormon, and how he has already read over half of it. He prays everyday on behalf of his sweet mother, and the things he worries about. He's doing just fine and is progressing toward his big day on the 28th of June. I love this man. Thank you all again for your support with him and prayers, I know he feels them.

We visited our friends the "Diamond Well"s this last Tuesday and helped them out with there yard that they have been working on. It's beginning to look really nice in my opinion. My buddy Big Hope was there too so I was very thrilled with the opportunity to hang out with him, and become better friends with him. Great service opportunity, and a workout opportunity ha.

Last Friday, once again, I had the opportunity to go on a companionship exchange with my good friend, Elder Hall. It's ALWAYS a good time with him. I must say, out of every missionary I have ever worked with here on my mission, working with Elder Hall is one of the funnest, easiest, most uplifting experiences. The spirit between us is strong, and it seems that when we are together, we REALLY know how to get stuff done. And when we give what we got, stuff happens whether that be a big thing, small, or in between. Both of our desires to just let the Holy Spirit guide, and to let the Lord work his plan, allows us to see the miracles, and be effective advocates of the truth in all we do, on HIS behalf, and for HIS work. I've never worked better with another Elder before. (well besides Grossen, too) And I must say how grateful I am for him and his example to me. When we were companions in the MTC, we honestly were not the best of friends, nor really, as a companionship either. Most of that was easily due to some of my personal issues, my pride, and so forth. Through the atonement of our Savior, I've had the opportunity to change into the missionary I am now. And I'm sure Elder Hall has had the opportunity as well. Needless to say, through it all, we are best of friends and both are so happy to be missionaries in this day and age. Love you man, your the best. 

This past week, I have been feeling my body beginning to shape back up and feel good again little by little. Haha it is still the struggle sometimes, but it's been good. Feeling this way, I guess has been a blessing. It has really taught me to just be diligent, no matter what you feel like. I guess it has helped me learn what's more important these days and has helped motivate me to get those things done. I'm still being smart and am taking care of myself, no worries there ha. I just have a desires to be like Christ! And handle and do things the way He would do. Really, really happy though that the soreness is gone.

Throughout my mission, I've really tried to become more like and emulate the example of Him. I have done many different things and have done all I can to really stretch myself and to grow in each of the Christ-like attributes. And for me, there seems to be this pattern for achieving them... It appears that the Lord likes to put me through maybe, if not the hardest, possible way to really learn, and to grow into being like his Son. 

When I first came to Kyoto, I was up and running ready to get straight to work in a new area, with a fresh new transfer ahead of me. That's when I lasted about a week with good health, and as you all know I became gravely ill. Through one specific experience I had at the beginning of the illness, (which involved lots of pains and throwing up, almost passing out, and just crazy things that happen to sick people), I was able to learn and feel in complete depth, and in all aspects, the eternal Love of our Father in Heaven. From this profound experience, I was able to learn what it feels like, how to always be filled with it, and how to really share it with those around me. He has taught me how to be charitable through putting me through one of the worst sicknesses I've experienced in pretty much my life. I don't think I've ever been that sick before.

As I went through through this trial with my beloved companion,(another one of my all-time favorites!) Elder Grossen, I miraculously gained the ability to become better. I was blessed to be full recovered. All my symptoms, sicknesses, everything. Gone. But, my companion had not done so. He sadly continued on with this sickness, and sadly STILL is as I speak... The process lasted about 3 months. And boy did I learn another great attribute. Patience. Being in the apartment every day, just being left to wonder if one of my best friends would ever get well again, along with the urge to just do what I'm called to do. Least to say, it was a very difficult two transfers. Not only this, but back during my second transfer in the mission, when I had that knee problem. Every day was a struggle to simply get up and use the bathroom, to walk down the street, to just stand. It required a lot of patience in letting my body heal, in letting it strengthen again so that I could be up and about, but also effective as I did so.

Can you see the pattern? 

As I talked about last week, I have been striving to grow in humility, and the ability to be humble and willing to submit to all things necessary unto the the Master, our Lord and Savior. And it was going very well I'd say. I felt and found myself little by little every day, thinking more and more about the Savior, and just having a stronger desire to do what HE would want me to do. I have been praying humbly yet fervently to really be able to help myself really grow in this Christ-like attribute. It wasn't that I had asked for anything specific to happen, or something to occur, but just had the desire to really grow and become a better missionary, and a representative of Jesus Christ. 

He answered me alright. And, in my eyes, He did in the WORST possible way I would have NEVER even thought ONCE about...

Upon my return from the companionship exchange with Elder Hall, my companion and I headed to the apartment due to the fact that I had not yet eaten lunch. I came in ready to eat. I had begun defrosting some chicken, cutting, and preparing it to cook. Amongst the midst of this, I thought, “Hey, some music would be AWESOME right now." I walked over to where the DVD player was, and noticed that it was not plugged in yet. As I looked at the outlet, I saw our 3+ outlet head plug inside of it, but noticed that part of it looked a little funny. The plastic shell looked lopsided to me. I thought, “that doesn't look right at all." So I planned to fix it and reached down to take a look at it. When I grabbed it, the plastic shell popped off and broke and I found myself accidentally grabbing the exposed insides of the outlet head. That's when I felt the surge of electricity shoot into my hand and through every part of my body from head to toe. I did all I could to let go, but the electricity was causing every muscle within my body to flex and merely just grip it that much harder. After roughly about 5 seconds of holding on to it, I was able to break free from it. Everything hurt, A LOT, yet I could not necessarily feel anything. ESPECIALLY my hand. That's when the outlet exploded and sparks flew everywhere around me. I stood there, with my heart racing, overloaded with adrenaline, feeling like I was on cloud 9 trying to really comprehend everything that just happened. "Did...did that just...happen?" and "Did I just...get electrocuted?" I indeed was electrocuted. That's when I called the mission presidents wife and told her everything that had just happened. She immediately sent a note to the Asia North Area missionary doctor (pretty much my best friend after already talking to him for about three months with Elder Grossen ha) telling him what was up. He soon gave me a call and we talked about what had happened. During this time I'm in the upmost amount of shock, practically in tears just trying to force my body to calm down. We talked for a good bit, and I will never ever forget what Doc said to me over the phone.

"Elder, it's one of those things that just happened. There's nothing we can do to fix anything, it just happened. But.........I am really....really happy that you are okay. The voltage level in Japan is generally MUCH much lower than most places in the world. Had this even happened anywhere else, you would be seriously hurt, if not dead right now."

As we finished the phone call, and made sure everything was alright. I found myself in tears, full of an unmeasurable amount of gratitude, and thanks. I immediately went to my bed and began praying from the bottom of my heart, filled with the upmost amount of humility possible, thanking Heavenly Father, that I am on a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints here in the Japan Kobe Mission. I have never, in my entire life, been so grateful to be one of HIS anointed, doing this work. For me it's not really the event that struck me, because I am standing, moving, breathing, and faithfully living. I guess it's the nature of the event. The "what-if" aspect of it all. The fact that it did happen, I could care less to be honest, but the fact that it did, and here in Japan, and not anywhere else, is what I am so very grateful for. 

With this all being said, I have never ever been so filled with humility as I am now. Even for the simple things, and the things we take for granted. I've always been grateful for the things, and for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. But it now especially really hits home to me to see them all before my eyes. The fact that we all have this beautiful world that we live in, and the things created in thereof, is something I've never been so grateful for. I've never been able to look at a simple tree, and say,"I am so happy that this tree exists, and that it provides things necessary to help sustain life here on earth." I especially have never been so grateful to be in the presence of a body. To think about the things we can do, the fact that we can see, and simply just breathe and do what we want according to our will.

I've never been so thankful for really anything before. Following this weird event, I find myself really offering everything I have in every prayer to the man above. Giving him my best of the best in terms of my praise and thanks unto him.

Mosiah 2:20-21 of the Book of Mormon

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another--

21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another--I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

From this experience, I can say I have been brought down to the lowest I believe I can possibly go. I feel I have truly learned what humility really is. Through this all, I'm not mad, or sad at anything about what has happened. But, I'm simply just filled with love, and am grateful for what I have, and have been given, and now am ready to follow and do whatever the Master needs me to do, considering he has all power. If we aren't following Him, if we are not doing what's right, He has the power to anything according to His will, and can do whatever he wants with us. If he really, really wanted to, he could send down lightning and zap you to shreds. (Hahahahaha.....hahaha....ha...haaaaaaaaaaaa, see what I did there?) 

I know and testify that there is a God, and that he loves me, you, and everyone, with all his heart. More than we can ALL imagine. With all the love that he possesses for each and every one of us, he has a plan, and a way of doing things for all of us. I know that (TRUST ME).
The way something may happen to you, or the way you are able to learn something is most likely completely different from those around you. God knows best. He knows, and will do what he sees best for you, and will execute that plan in his way, and in his timing. Why? Because he loves you more than your possibility to ever love anything. The best, and most important thing to do is just to trust, and follow, whatever it is that happens whether it be good, bad, or ugly. As we do so, we all have the ability, through His grace and mercy, to become HIS unprofitable servants. As of right now, I really have no intentions to NOT listen to Him. I, and we, are absolutely NOTHING compared to Him and His glory. When we just humble ourselves, and realize this, and follow Him, we can expect to see countless blessings bestowed upon us.

As a representative of Him, I testify of that whole heartily. 

At this time, know that I am 100% OKAY. My right hand has just about gained complete feeling back. It has basically been feeling asleep/numb, it tingles and hurts every now and then, but meh, it's not bad. Could have been worse. That's the best way to describe it. I have been already beginning to work again. Along with that, know that I love being a missionary, ESPECIALLY here in the Japan Kobe Mission. With all that I have learned thus far, and with all the humility within, I have never had more of a desire in my entire life, to follow Jesus Christ, and Walk With Him.

Moses 6:34 of the Pearl of Great Price

34 Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.




I love you ALL!

Elder Preciado

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