Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 6, 2018--First Week in Towada!!

My wonderful, beautiful, exquisite and fantabulous Mother,

Towada has been great! I love it here so much. Saying goodbye to everyone in Yamagata was hard though! 2 transfers felt too short.

I spent most of Wednesday riding buses up to Aomori ken, but I had a little bit of finding time with Elder Gagnon who was transferring up to Misawa. We had just a tiny bit of spare time before our bus left, but we decided to use every minute and went finding in Sendai. We got mostly just kekkoes but we were able to find one high school student who was interested in God, we got his LINE and have been chatting a bit. Hopefully we will be able to pass him to the Sendai Elders soon! After our DTM on Thursday, the Shurtleff Fuufu gave us a ride down to Towada! And it has just been straight miracles ever since.

Every day we have been able to find at least one new investigator. We have been trying really hard to seek revelation for where to go finding, and so far nearly every area we’ve gone to has had someone who agreed to let us come back. Every time we would knock doors for a while, and after getting rejected for a while, we would question if we were in the right spot. But we would decide to just try a little bit longer, then we would meet the person we were supposed to. Every time!

One night we had planned to visit a newish Investigator who is in college, and lives pretty far away. It was a crazy blizzard and it was almost time to head home, but we decided to sacrifice a bit of our dinner time and go visit them anyway. After walking through snow blowing horizontally for a solid half hour, we got to the apartment, knocked on her door, and she wasn’t home! But, I was sure we had been prompted to go visit her. And we were soaking wet and so cold! I concluded that the Lord was just testing us to see if we would follow the Spirit. But I was still ticked haha. Then, as we were walking away, we passed by a young lady looking at her car engine. We offered to help but she said her car was ok, she just had to check something really quick before she went inside. We started talking a little more and found out that she is a practicing Catholic, possibly the first one I’ve ever met in Japan! We asked if she had ever heard of Mormons, and she said she has heard the name but doesn’t know anything else. We explained what the Book of Mormon is and gave her a copy, which she gladly accepted! We have been chatting
over Facebook a little bit and she told us she doesn’t want to change from being Catholic to being Mormon, but is open to hear a little more about what we believe.

We met with an Obaachan Investigator who is super nice! She said that she was thinking about being baptized but that she doesn’t want to be tied to her parents and siblings in the afterlife (I think her familywas pretty abusvie or something...not totally sure) so she changed her mind. We were able to explain how she wont be forced to be with any family members that she doesn’t like, and that the sealing ordinance is not mandatory after baptism. Besides that, families will only be together forever if they honor the temple covenants anyway. It was so cool to see the spirit soften her heart as we focused on her concerns. We called President Sekiguchi to get special permission to teach her at her house (she lives alone so normally we would not be allowed to enter her house), he asked how old she is and when we said 82 he laughed out loud and told us it was fine.

Yesterday we experienced the power of prayer—multiple times we felt like we were trying our best, but people just weren’t answering the door or people weren’t friendly, and we weren’t sure where else to go. We decided to stop and say a prayer; right after, I felt like we needed to turn left at the next road. We turned and I was keeping my eye out for good-looking houses or apartments, but didn't really see anything. Then all of a sudden I realized there was a college-age girl walking right towards us! We stopped her and she said he had metmissionaries before around Christmastime, and that she and her friend wanted to try coming to church sometime to see what its like!!! We were able to give her the info for our church services and re-invite her to come.

Later we were at a dead end with our finding again, but we prayed and found a new investigator at the next apartment we went to! When things started to die down again, we prayed and felt prompted to visit a less active member who the Elders have tried many times to contact in the past, but have never been able to meet her. But she was home when we stopped by, and super friendly! Then during our last little bit of finding time, we were in the same type of spot and decided again to pray. We had a goal to find 2 investigators that day, and had found 1 so far, and we were about out of time to find the second one. But we prayed to be able to find this 2nd new investigator during our remaining time. I looked up when we finished praying and my eyes just went straight to this 2nd story door a block or so away. We made our way towards the house, but it was really hard to find the road that led to this house. We ended up knocking on all the doors around it, walking in a big circle back to the road where we started,
but then eventually found what we thought was a gravel driveway but was actually the road that led to the house we were looking for! We went there and there were 2 doors—we knocked on one, and got kekkoed right away. But we walked up the stairs to door #2—the one I had looked at right after our prayer. We rang the doorbell and waited—and waited—and waited—and there was no answer. We started to turn back, and made it down the stairs when we heard the door start to open! A nice-looking grandma opened the door, and we started talking to her from the bottom of the stairs. As soon as she realized we were Christians, she slammed the door on us. Haha. I just thought...”Heavenly Father...why do you do this to me...” Because we had tried so hard to follow the spirit! And we felt sure that this was where we needed to be. We started making our way back toward the road down the gravel driveway, and realized that there was one more house on the way back. We decided it couldn't hurt to knock on it, and an old man came to the door. He was very open to talk, and even told us that he had read the Bible before. He is Buddhist, but says learning about religions is very interesting. We explained what is different about our message from other Christian churches, and showed him the Book of Mormon. He flipped though it and then handed it back, but we told him it was a present and he was so happy! He agreed to let us come back again next week...and we met our goal to find 2 new investigators! :)

I know God answers our prayers! Even if at first we think it’s too late, even if we are ticked off at God for not answering our prayers—the answer will come! They will come in His time, but they will come. I think sometimes He makes us wait so He can teach us to be humble and patient. But everything He does, He does for our benefit. He really does love us! I know it and I am so glad to be able to share it :)

Love you so much Mamasama!!!!
Elder Paskett


Last few days in Yamagata

Watanabe and Paskett


The new district

Elder and Sis Shurtleff are military relations missionaries, so he gave us a "challenge coin!"

More from Yamadera (last p-day in Yamagata)

Monday, February 5, 2018

January 29, 2018--Yamadera pics and off to Towada

Short version: I am going to the barely opened area of Towada! So I am not a Zone Leader anymore, I just get to focus on teaching and baptizing, and build up the kingdom in Towada with no branch yet, no church or members or anything just me and my comp preaching God’s word! I am so excited :)

Video Journal to be inserted here:


Monday, January 29, 2018

January 22, 2018--Blizzards and Birthday Cakes


We haven't been able to contact O san at all, it's like he just dropped off the face of the earth! But we have been contacting K san through LINE. She had been too busy for us to come back yet, thenmy LINE died this week so we haven't been able to contact her for a little bit. But we are hoping to get her to the church this week and introduce her to the sisters so she can really start progressing. I think she will progress pretty quickly once we are able to get everything lined up. H san is doing well! He took us out to Tonkatsu for his last lesson with Watanabe Choro. He had been reading from the Book of Mormon but still stays it's just hard to understand so he gives up. We read 3 Nephi 11 together and talked about how to understand the voice of the Lord, we really need to open our ears and apply ourselves. And because God loves us, He is willing to repeating his messages to us when we need it.

This week went by so fast I don't even remember most of what else that happened. But here are a couple highlights that I do remember...

I had splits with Nathan Choro on Wednesday!! It was great to be with my very first comp once again. We spent a lot of the day knocking on doors, but it was a good time. Practicing finding my grit haha :)

While we were studying at the church, the phone rang--it was a lady who wanted to meet with missionaries as soon as possible! We told her we were at the church now, so she hopped on her moped and came straight to the church. She needed some help with her daughter who is in the hospital (who used to be an investigator like 20 years ago). We talked with her for a bit, and then luckily there were a few members in the church, too, so we were able to introduce her to them and get her the help she needed! We put her in contact with the members and the sister missionaries so hopefully this was the start of her investigating the church a little more!

The next day was Sekiguchi Shimai's birthday so we made her a cake! It was a work of art. We put whipped cream all around it and I had a little pink chocolate tube that I used to decorate the whipped cream. I tried to draw her name in chocolate but it wasn't exactly a fine-tip marker so the Kanji was pretty messy, I tried to correct it with a toothpick but the chocolate kept hardening too fast, so in the end it was legible but looked like it was drawn by a 5-year old. But when we delivered it in the morning and sang to her, she actually teared up! Success! :)

We had a lesson over LINE with T san, our investigator who is 20.He wants to be baptized but he doesn't think he can stop drinking! He tells us he doesn't even like saké, but that he can't refuse his friends and family when they offer him drinks and even pressure him to drink. Our lesson ended with him telling us that he wants to get baptized eventually, but that he wants to wait a couple years until he is done with college and his friends don't pressure him to drink anymore. We are trying to help him see that it won't get any easier to keep God's commandments just by spending a few years breaking them...we know it will only get harder, and Satan will take every inch of ground can get. So we're hoping to try and strengthen his testimony and resolve to follow God. He wants to keep meeting and taking lessons so I have confidence that he will let the spirit change his heart :) Teaching him especially has helped me realize how we learn as much and maybe more than those we teach, just like you were saying you have felt with relief society. Heavenly Father is teaching me so much by allowing me to have these opportunities to teach his other children! Now I have a better idea of what I will do if any of kids ever have problems with alcohol or bad friends haha.

We had FHE with two recent converts and the Yoshimura Family last night! They invited us over for some delicious curry and rice. We talked about the two RCs' experiences with how being a member of the church had blessed their lives, and it was really amazing to see how many blessings the 2 of them had seen and how much they loved and appreciated being a member of this church. It really is such a huge blessing that we sometimes take for granted, especially if we are born in the church. But as I told someone recently, every good thing in my life has come because I follow Jesus Christ and am a member of His church. Literally every good thing. My family relationships, friendships, school opportunities, even this opportunity to live in Japan right now wouldn't be mine if I was not part of this church. How grateful I am to have had the privilege of knowing this church and this gospel for so much of my life! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints truly is His church.

I love you so much Momma! Thank you for being you!
Elder Paskett

1-2 - splits w Bunderson Choro:
1: our new friend O and 2: Tonkatsu!
3-4 - Yamagata Zone Conference
4: costco pizza lunch (ft. the Zone Leaders and APs, 3 of whom are
going home next week)
5 - District p-day!

Ice Skating for District P-day!

More ice skating

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!