Written by Elder Taylor Hollister
I have been so blessed on my mission to be a part of an uncountable number of miracles. It is extremely hard to pick just one miracle that I want to write about, so I will write about two events in my mission that really shaped me to be the missionary I have become.
The first story starts on my first day in Japan. As I was flying on the plane from Tokyo to Nagoya at the last part of a long day of traveling, I had an experience that shaped my whole mission. I was super tired and I just wanted to sleep during the 45 minute plane ride from Tokyo to Nagoya, but for some reason I was restless and couldn’t hold still. I sat in an aisle seat across from a Japanese woman named Yukie. I got the strongest desire to speak to her, but I kept on ignoring it. I had just gotten out of the MTC and I couldn’t speak Japanese at all. I was so scared.
The feeling got stronger and stronger, and I started to read from my Japanese Book of Mormon to practice Japanese and calm down. As I read, I saw that the woman across from me was interested in a foreigner reading a Japanese book. She asked if I could understand and I tried to explain that I was just practicing. She seemed really interested so I eventually gave into the promptings and asked if I could move to her aisle to sit next to her.
We talked for a while in mixed Japanese and English. I pretty much said everything I knew how to say in Japanese and we read from the Book of Mormon together. After I had exhausted my Japanese vocabulary, I asked her if she wanted to learn more and to my great surprise she said, “Yes!” She said that she had been trying to find a Bible, but she couldn’t find one in any book store. I had a free Book of Mormon pass along card that I got at the MTC before I left, so I took that out and explained that she could call the number or go to the website and she could get a free Book of Mormon and Bible. She took the card and by that time we had landed.
We went our separate ways. After that I just thought that I had to do that to start my mission off right and it was a good experience, but nothing would come from it. I was assigned to serve in Shizuoka for my first transfer and about half way through the transfer I went to my first Stake Conference. Guess who I saw there? Yes, Yukie! She came and after the meeting she ran up to me and said, “That’s him! He is the one who gave me this card on the plane!” as she took out the pass along card.
Apparently she looked up the website and found a church in her city of Fukuroi, which just happened to be in the same zone as Shizuoka. She went to church by herself, started meeting with the missionaries in that city and had committed to be baptized. I was able to watch her be baptized and participate in her confirmation. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing people to receive His gospel. As missionaries, we must follow the spirit and open our mouths to find those people.
I would also like to write about my eternal friend Toru and his friend Nakamura. After the large earthquake in March 2011, Toru wanted desperately to do something for those people affected by the disaster. He thought that the only thing he could possibly do would be to pray for them, but he had never prayed and he didn’t know how to pray. Luckily he had a friend who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Toru asked his friend and his friend encouraged him to go to church in his city of Kasugai.
At that time, I had just transferred to Kasugai and I met him. We started teaching him and soon found out that he was one of God’s elect. On his third Sunday attending church, he was baptized.
We immediately did the Fulfillment and Follow-up activity with Toru. He gave us four names of people that he would like to share the gospel with: his parents, his older brother who was in the hospital, and a friend who he had no idea where he lived and hadn’t made contact with in years. We committed Toru to pray for these people so that he would know how to share the gospel with them.
|Elder Hollister, left, with Elders Kishi, Jessop, and Rust|
He had many problems, including a smoking addiction to overcome. We came up with a plan for him to quit where we, as missionaries, would give up our favorite food. We worked together and he quit smoking one cigarette every day until one week before his baptismal date. At that point, he quit smoking completely. We would call him every single night to follow up about how he was keeping to the plan and encourage him. He followed the plan and with the faith and prayers of many, Brother Nakamura was baptized by his long lost friend, Toru.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. This is God’s work and He is our commander. I am grateful that He has been able to use me as His tool.