Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 15, 2018--A quick story

This week I just want to share a quick story of the man O and Elder Bunderson from Sakata were on splits, walking home from Zone Taikai. We were talking to everyone we passed on the way home, and it was pretty much just all kekkoes. But we didn't give up and kept opening our mouths, then one man was really friendly to us, and told us he knows Mormon. We got to know him a bit and found out that he knew members in Tokyo and actually met missionaries in Yamagata before! He has never been to church but said he wanted to go and see how it is. We got his contact info and went together on Sunday! On Sunday morning the bus he was planning on taking didn't come, so we had to call some members and ask for a pinch hitter favor but the Suzuki Fufu were willing and happy to pick him up and drive him to church! Member help is soooo great :) So he seems very prepared and we are glad we opened our mouths! Most of the time, it's just that simple. The Lord is preparing people and will guide us to them if we let Him. 

We had a "blitz" where 14 missionaries gathered in the newly opened Sakata area and all dendoed for a couple hours! We saw so many miracles, I think it really helped to boost the new area.

I don't have any more time becuase today was District p day, we went ice skating and it was way fun! I'm not as bad as I remember haha, it was a really good time.

Love you! Happy late birthday! Keep your eyes on the mailbox the next couple days :)


Elder Paskett

Friday, January 12, 2018

January 9, 2018--Hello, hello, hello!

Hello hello hello!

This week was MLC, it was so good! We watched a Ted Talk about grit. A bunch of psychologists did a study where they looked at students, athletes, employees, and various other people who were working or competing for something, and tried to find factors to predict who would succeed and who would give up. They found that the only common factor to success was grit--just simply sticking with it no matter how hard it gets. I think it's pretty easy to see the parallels to the gospel, and to missionaries. A professor at BYU once told me that "brick walls are placed between us and our goals to weed out the ones who don't really want it." How bad do we want to serve the Lord? At what height are we no longer willing to climb? There is no wall too high to keep me from serving the Lord with my heart, might, mind and strength!

I don't know if I told you about the K Kazoku yet, a single mother and her 6 year old son M kun. We housed into them a couple weeks ago and she was so open and friendly! We invited them to the Christmas party and it seemed like they would come, but they didn't. But, we decided to visit them again this week, and it was wonderful! Just one of those moments where we really felt like the Lord's hands extending out to His children. We asked if we could share a message with her and her son from the genkan, and we had originally planned to show the video "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father" and teach the first principle from PMG and introduce the Book of Mormon. After we showed the video, I felt like we should ask what she thinks about God and her experience with prayer. She shared with us how her parents both passed away unexpectedly while she was in high school. She went to a Christian high school so she was learning at that time about the bible and prayer. She told us how she has prayed many times to her parents, trying to build a connection there, but it was clear that there is still something lacking. We dropped whatever else we had planned and we were able to teach her about the Plan of Salvation and eternal families--we asked what she thought about being able to meet her same parents again, and still as their daughter, eternally. She just said "会いたい--たしかに会いたい!"

 We offered to teach her everything she needs to know to make that wonderful goal a reality. At first she just said "wait--there are things I have to do for this to happen?" We said of course--that's why God has a church! To allow us to learn what we have to do and become to receive all the wonderful blessings that He is anxious to give us. I am so thankful for this church and all the amazing blessings I have already received from it! M kun (her young son) ended off our lesson with an adorable prayer--"Please bless that I will make lots of friends at kindergarten. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." K san agreed to read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet to get a better understanding of what an eternal family actually means. We are so excited to see them continue to progress!

We had a lesson with an eternal investigator, H san. Earlier that day I read a manual about parent/child relationships for some reason, and it talked about how parents can more effectively correct children by asking them how they feel and then letting the spirit guide the child into realizing that their behavior is bad. It was kinda random and I was worried I wasted half of my personal study but then I totally used what I learned during the lesson! H san was saying that he can't be baptized because he likes smoking too much. We asked him how his experience was at church, he said he really liked the violin musical number, so we asked about his feelings during that. Then we asked how he feels when he smokes. And he said, "you know I actually don't even like smoking. I don't feel good when I smoke. It's just been a  habit for so long it's so hard to break. But I would like to stop if I can." Amazing right? We invited him to make a plan to stop smoking, and he said he is not quite ready to commit to stop yet. He needs to really think it over and get himself committed, then he'll stop. So in the next couple weeks I think either he will decide to be all in and start finally really progressing, or we'll have to drop him. Please pray for H san! :)

To celebrate New Years, we had Mochitsuki party! I got to pound some rice with a hammer and then eat it topped with all kinds of delicacies.

We have really been focusing lately on how we can rely more on the Lord rather than our own talents and abilities--that has been a recurring theme in MLC and my interview with Kaicho, that I need to be humble enough to rely on the Lord so the spirit can use my talents, rather than trying to rely on my talents and do everything myself. Last night we were really trying to focus on that and we were able to find 2 new investigators who agreed to have us come visit their home again! It was really a testimony to me that it doesn't matter how good we are at the language or at working with people, if we don't rely on the Lord. But, when we rely on Him, He takes our talents and abilities and works wonders with them.

I love you so much!!! Happy birthday this week :)

Elder Paskett

Lunch at the Karube's

Ramen w Ryuma Kyodai

The District

The District ft. Yamaguchi kazoku

The District ft. The Commander in Chief

R chan taking a selfie of us

Party van after MLC

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January 2, 2018--Happy New Year!


We had a good Christmas and New Year's, spent it the best way possible--dendo! I just want to share one quick story-- We were knocking doors and really trying to follow the spirit to know where to go. We ended up at the house of a middle-aged lady who came to the door with her young teenage son. We simply explained who we are and asked if we could share a short message with her from her genkan. She accepted and we decided to start with God and prayer--she had never prayed before in her life, but said that if she did pray, she would probably ask for "world peace--if it was possible." We were able to testify to her that the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly brings peace to individuals, families, and is the only thing with the potential to bring peace to the entire world. It almost sounds too good to be true--but it is true! She didn't seem very genuinely interested at the beginning, but as we focused on her and really tried to apply the Gospel to her individually, the spirit touched her heart--and she agreed to let us come back and share more of this fantastic message.

I know that Jesus Christ truly is the prince of peace, and that someday He will bring peace to the world. He has already brought peace to my life and I am inexpressibly grateful for that!

I love you Mamasama!
Happy New Year!
Elder Paskett

3 - splits w Elder Johnson, lesson w 2 RCs and 2 Investigators
4,5 - pics courtesy of Sekiguchi Shimai

splits w Elder Johnson, lesson w 2 RCs and 2 Investigators 
pics courtesy of Sekiguchi Shimai 

Bowling with the bros

Modern-day miracles

What happens when you shake the dust off your feet

Staying the night with the Beavor family in Misawa

Mission-wide Christmas conference!

December 26, 2017--Christmas FaceTime!

December 19, 2017--T minus one week!

Another solid week! I think the highlight was last night, we were knocking doors in the rain (the snow stopped, it's been raining the past few days) and it was just door after door of nothing. We were rarely able to converse for more than a few seconds before the door was shut on us. We had come to kind of a far away place so we were starting to question why we came to this area, when a young mom answered the last door of the apartment building we were at. She was open and friendly, and seemed sincerely interested in why we were out knocking on doors in the rain. As we were talking, her 6-year old son came to the door to see what was going on, and he was so adorable! While my companion and the mom were talking, I started making funny faces at him and trying to make him laugh. At first he wasn't too impressed, but I tried harder and harder and eventually got a few giggles out of him, then a full-blown, full-body fit of laughter. I was thinking the best way to get in with the Mom would be to get in with her son, and it totally worked! Once her son liked us her mom liked us even more. We found out that she went to a Christian school when she was younger, so she has a good impression of Christianity, but doesn't remember too much about what she learned. We gave her a Christmas Bible (just the Book of Luke with a #LightTheWorld cover) and invited her to our Christmas party on Saturday and Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. Her and her son didn't have any plans for Christmas yet, so she said she would love to come! And welcomed us back to her house anytime. The Lord really does prepare people! The more miracles I see, the more I realize how little I'm actually doing in the Lord's work. We just need to be in the right place at the right time. He is pulling all of the weight here, I'm just glad to be allowed to participate!

We celebrated with a CostCo pizza and muffins and a cheesecake (we had a lesson with a recent convert who told us that he was going to CostCo right after the lesson, and invited us along! We told him we couldn't go since it wasn't p-day, so he did us a solid and delivered various goods to our apartment without charging any extra delivery fees. What a guy). I love these members! And I forgot what real pizza tastes like. Oh man it was so good.

We were able to visit a less active family because one member family (the Takahashis) offered to drive us anywhere we wanted to go and do some caroling dendo with us for a little bit! We decided to go to the Satou Kazoku. Sister Satou Frederika is actually from Europe, and her husband is Japanese. They have 3 kids and one, a 14 year old, was baptized just last year. We hadn't been able to meet him yet (because their house is about an hour train ride away and we can't use bikes in the rain/snow). So the Takahashis' offer was the perfect opportunity! We went and they gladly invited us in, we sang some Christmas songs and shared the #LightTheWorld video with them.

If anyone reading this has not yet seen the LightTheWorld video on, please look it up right now! I am so grateful to be a missionary around Christmas time--it makes it so easy to stay focused on the real means of Christmas--our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives, and is the light and life of the world. He is the light of my life and I am honored to be able to share that light with the people here in Yamagata!

Love you more than you can imagine!
Elder Paskett

December 12, 2017--Hello!!

Hello hello!

Glad to hear the sub for Santa lives on! Sounds like it's getting way big too :)

We got to stay a night in Misawa last week, on the American base! The wonderful Beavor family let us stay in their house and they fed us an amazing breakfast! It was so weird to be in a house with a bed and carpet and central heating! And a yard. Walking on base was like being in America, it was some serious culture shock.

The Christmas Conference was good! President Sekiguchi announced everyone's transfer calls right there, Watanabe Choro and I will be staying together for another transfer in Yamagata! It will be his last transfer before he heads back to Tokyo, so we're trying to work extra hard and see lots of miracles right up to the end!

We had splits with the APs this week and we were able to meet with K san again (the leopard print glasses guy). He had just finished meeting with someone from a different church and he said that he was just mentally exhausted because the guy was so stubborn and narrow-minded, and wouldn't listen to his point of view. He said he was tired now and just wanted to relax and talk for a bit.

So with that at the beginning, we were really trying to keep the mood friendly and light while still teaching the truths of the gospel. It went really well though! We talked to him as a friend and the conversation naturally led into the gospel, and we were able to teach him without making him feel like we were dumping information onto him. I really felt the spirit testify to him through us, specifically when we were talking about the resurrection--he had some concerns/doubts about whether Jesus was actually resurrected or just came back as a spirit, but we were able to share a simple scripture from Luke 24 where the resurrected Jesus eats food in front of his disciples to show that he has a body. We read it with him, and I bore a simple testimony of why I believe in Christ and the resurrection. It wasn't a "this is true, and it's true whether you believe it or not," it wasmore like "this is what I believe, and why I believe it." The spirit was there, and I could tell he felt it. The spirit really does open people's minds if they open their hearts to receive it!

We were finally able to meet with an investigator T san, a 20 year old college student who was found in September. He hadn't been able to meet recently, so Watanabe Choro and I had both never met him before and we had no idea what to expect. We just texted him and he seemed open to meeting with us, so we figured that was a good start! He came to the church Sunday evening and we had a great lesson! He remembers really well everything he had been taught before, and he wants to be baptized! He just has 2 concerns, and he explained them to us very clearly. (I wish investigators always made it this easy for us haha). The first was that he thought that he wouldn't be allowed to go to Buddhist temples on New Years' and stuff, but that was just a misunderstanding so we resolved that right away. The second was with drinking sake--he told us he doesn't even like alcohol but he feels like he has to drink it when all his friends are drinking. So he really wants to be baptized, but doesn't want his friends to think differently of him. It's a really good concern to have though because it means that he is really intending on keeping
the commandments if he gets baptized!  We thought that he probably just needs more friends who are a good
influence on him...we kept the lesson really short, then the YSA in the ward just happened to be having a little Nabe party at the church! It was perfect timing. We went in and introduced him to the 4 college students in the ward, and ate some soup together. That was a huge boost to our morale to be able to meet with and teach someone with such great potential! T is such an awesome guy.

We went to the Fukushima Ward on Sunday, there are no young missionaries there because of the nuclear power plant that was broken in the tsunami in 2011 and leaked radiation everywhere. They send missionaries there just for church on Sunday to support the ward. But, Sekiguchi Kaicho finally got permission to put a missionary couple
there, so Elder and Sister Tsuda are living there now! They are such a genki Ward it was so fun to be there! They had me bare my testimony in sacrament meeting, and Elder Tsuda told the bishopric member that I sang really well at the mission Christmas Conference and that I should sing in sacrament meeting. I thought it was a joke but then the bishopric member actually had me sing! Haha I sang A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, I think it went well, a lot of
people told me they really felt the spirit :)

Anyway that's about it for this week, we are working hard and loving the snow! It actually melted over the weekend so we were on bikes yesterday out in the sun! But today is a blizzard again. We love it though!

Love you so much Mama!!!

Elder Paskett

Just one today, this was the bus up to Mission Christmas Conference!

Friday, December 8, 2017

December 4, 2017--It's been a good week!

It's been a good week!

We were actually out of our area from Tuesday until Saturday afternoon, then there was a baptismal service Saturday night! It feels like we never have time to work in our own area haha. Today we are headed up to Aomori Ken for a Christmas Conference! and we'll be back Friday morning.

I had splits with Elder Fujiki on Wednesday, we had a good time! We met a super solid high school student on the street--I called out to him in English while he was riding his bike, he responded and then actually stopped and turned around to talk with us. We got to know him and found out that he is working really hard to try and get into a way high-up-there university. I told him about my first year of college and how much the Book of Mormon helped me--we offered him a free copy and promised him that if he read when he studied, he would be able to focus more and study more effectively. He gladly took it! I'm so grateful for blessings like the Book of Mormon!

On Thursday was MLC, and for the first time President Sekiguchi had all of us discuss what would be good for a new "standard of excellence," rather than just deciding himself. That was pretty interesting, it really made me think harder about what our mission needs and how we can use "the standard" to help direct our efforts to better fulfill our purpose.

Yesterday I had splits with our DL, we picked up trash at park and had a lesson with a golden investigator Y san. It was his first lesson, we taught him the Restoration. He was smiling the entire time, and was so engaged and answered our questions just so perfectly. He looked me right in the eye as we shared the first vision, and gladly accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon to find out for himself if these things are true. We asked if we could meet again, and he said "yeah of course! This was fun." It was basically the "ideal" preach my gospel lesson, we were able to teach everything win order and it was all just so simple! Why can't missionary work always be that easy haha :) He had been going to a different Christian church for a while, but recently moved and was too far away from the church so he stopped going. Then, with uncanny timing, he met the missionaries and we were able to share the restoration of the fullness of Christ's gospel!Heavenly Father really is working hard preparing people to receive this message

I got to work with Elder Holdaway again this week! He left me in Kitakami in August, and now he is the district leader of Sakata in Yamagata zone so we got to be companions again for a day :) We worked hard and talked to lots of people in the snow, but weren't really having any success. We came back to the apartment at the end of the day for dinner, it felt like we had worked hard, but hadn't really seen any miracles. We were coming into the apartment around 8:20, and the other Elders were starting to cook dinner. I remembered the countless nights in Kitakami where we decided to push dinner back just 10 minutes, then another 10, and another, and then ended eating at like 9:30. I just kept thinking, "we can't end his split on such a boring, non-miraculous note..." I looked him in the eye, and I think he was thinking it too. I said, "you know, we have 40 more minutes until 9:00..." and gave him a double eyebrow raise. We both thought, "it's a Friday. It's douryou koukan day. This might be our last chance to work as companions. Gotta do it one more time." Who needs dinner anyway? Without another word we put our wet shoes back on and ran out into the snow to find a miracle! 

We ran from door to door, from kekko to kekko through the slushy snow, and watched the clock tick past 8:30, then 8:45, and 8:50, and we knew we'd have to start heading home real soon. Then at 8:55, we knocked on one last door--a surprised young mom said "come inside! It's so cold out there!" We quickly followed her instructions and started to talk with her in the genkan. She thought it was great that we were volunteer missionaries out sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ--a very nice contrast to most of the day haha. She asked us questions, and--what seems to be a common trait among people who will receive the gospel--she seemed to recognize that we were not just representatives of a church, but two individuals with lives and families. We were able to quickly build a relationship with her and her two young sons. One of them showed us all of his character erasers haha it was so cute. She told us that she actually went to go to a Christian school when she was younger, and read the bible and all that good stuff. We introduced the Book of Mormon to her and she scanned the pages with wonder. She began to hand it back, and we told it was hers. She lit up and said she really wanted to try reading it! We exchanged contact info and and she wants to come to church when she can! Her son has basketball games on Sundays so it's kind of hard right now, but once things clear up I think she will definitely come :) We left the house and forgot about how cold our soaking wet feet were as we dashed home and into the apartment right at 9:30. I have never had as delicious a dinner as that cold stew at 9:30 was!

It's been an awesome week! I realized all of my stories are from splits haha me and Watanabe Choro have had like no time together this last week, he is awesome though :) The Yamagata sisters' investigator got baptized on Saturday so that was great! She is actually the mom of a different Recent Convert.

I love being a missionary!
Love you so much! Thanks for all you do :)
Elder Paskett

1 - Tsuruoka chorotachi!
2 - Fujiki Choro
3 - the Adachi family! (Mom didn't want to be in the pic)
4 - Me and Elder Holdaway back together again!
5 - PI we met on splits
6 - second meeting with "leopard-print glasses" man