To my wonderful, fantabulous, breathtaking, exquisitely beauteous mother,
This last week, we got a few heart-breaking messages from F san--after repeated unsuccessful contact attempts and dropping cookies off at his house for his birthday, he sent us a text saying that his birthday is not important at all because his life isn't important and he doesn't have any desire to live anyway, and asking us to leave him alone. We still haven't been able to talk to him face-to-face at all, we are hoping and praying that this is just a temporary set-back. Please pray for him!
On a brighter note, we had a very spiritual lesson on Friday with K san--I was on exchanges with Elder Otani, a new missionary in our zone who has been in the field for about 3 weeks. We were teaching about faith and obedience, and how faith can bring God's miracles. We shared some of the story of Ammon, and K san asked if miracles like that still happened today. We told him yes, definitely, and he asked us if we knew of any examples. Otani Choro started sharing a story that he heard from the Mission President of a missionary who got hit by a car, cracked the windshield with his head, flew over his companion's head, and landed on the ground--then got up with no injuries at all. K san asked if that was a real story, I told him that I knew that it was true, because I was there. And it hurt, a lot. I showed him some pictures, both he and Elder Otani were so surprised haha :)
I shared a scripture from Matthew 9:19-20 with the missionaries in our zone at Zone Conference--"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." I know that when we are on the Lord's errand, the Lord never leaves us alone. He truly qualifies those whom he calls. As we strive to do always those things that please Him, He will be always at our side.
I know God that lives and loves us! And I love you, too :) XOXOXOxoxoxooxXoxXOXOXOXOXOXOOXxoxoxoxox パスケット長老 Elder Paskett
1 - service at O's hatake 2 - our buddy N 3 - Michinoku village 4 - new homies
We have seen the miracles of God's technology this week--LINE is amazing! And Facebook. We haven't actually been able to use Facebook for much dendo yet, but LINE has been soooo helpful. Most high schoolers will take a Book of Mormon, but it's really hard to get phone numbers from them. But getting LINE is so easy! So now we can follow up on the Book of Mormons we pass out so much easier, and transition that into inviting them to meet with us and learn more.
I wish I had more good news about F, but for now his baptism has been postponed per his request. He told us that he doesn't want to risk dirtying the name of God and the church if he becomes a member and keeps making mistakes--he knows all the members are good people and feels like he is not yet good enough to be baptized and join the church. I told him that for the very reason he wants to respect God's name and doesn't think he is good enough, he is ready for baptism. He won't be baptized this week, but we will continue to work with him and I'm sure it won't be long!
I'm so grateful that God takes us as we are! Baptism is not the end, but the beginning of our progression, and we're trying to help F see that. If we waited until we are perfect to be baptized, there would be only one person baptized ever. I'm so grateful that God takes us how we are and helps us to become even more. I know that every part of this gospel is given to us from a loving Heavenly Father, for our benefit. Especially during this general conference, (we watched it this weekend. I got to watch in Japanese while reading along in English in case there were things I didn't understand. iPads are a blessing!) I really felt like God was speaking to me and showing me so many things I work on. But at the same time, I was filled with so much peace and love and hope. Hope that even though I have a lot to work on, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
I know this church is true and I'm so thankful to have God's living prophets on the earth. I'm even more thankful that we can an eternal family thanks to Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel!
I love you so much Momma!!!
It's been a great week! Always new adventure here in Kitakami. One thing President Sekiguchi I has been focusing on recently is the number of people we contact each week, he's having us set goals and report that as key indicator. It's really simple, but has actually been really helpful--it's made it so that we really analyze our different activities and think about how we can be in the right places at the right times to be able to come into contact with the most people. We have been trying to be pretty creative with different ways to be able to talk with more and more people.
We ran into a high schooler on the street this week who already received a Book of Mormon from missionaries a while ago. We were waiting on opposite sides of the street at an intersection, then when the light turned green I wasn't sure if we wanted to awkwardly stop him in the middle of the road while we crossed or if we would just keep going and save ourselves the awkwardness. Instead, we just decided to wait on our side and awkwardly watch him while he crossed the road and came to us. It was pretty obvious we were waiting just for him to come to us so we could talk, so I was worried he might be uncomfortable, but when we started talking to him the conversation just flowed so naturally. And I am so glad we made the effort to talk to him! He already had a Book of Mormon, he read a little bit but had gotten busy and stopped thinking about it. Until he ran into us! He is way interested in God and the purpose of life, we had an appointment to meet with him this week! The blessings of opening your mouth are real!
On Sunday, we did splits with Branch members for I think the first time in my entire mission. There were 3 non members at church who all agreed to do a lesson right after church, so I taught 2 of them with a member Masaki while Elder Shumway taught the other one with Motodate Kyoudai! We are so blessed to have so many opportunities to teach and such great support from the branch!
During the lesson I was in, we taught about tithing. As I taught, it really hit me how big of a blessing tithing is. It really just hit me how cool it is that we have churches with chairs, tables, hymnbooks, and pianos, freely used by everyone, even in small cities like Kitakami. We have temples all across the world, free copies of the Book of Mormon, all of these wonderful blessings that are made possible through tithing. I know it is a system inspired by the Lord, and it just makes so much sense to me. I am honored to be able to pay tithing to the Lord and I hope I was able to convey that during the lesson.
The branch president asked us to go home teaching with him this week, which was way good! I'm glad he feels like he can trust us. He spends almost every single day looking up and trying to contact different less active members, it is so awesome. I wish every member across the world had the dendo fire he has :)
Things are great here and we're off to a good start this transfer!
Love you so much! パスケット長老 Elder Paskett To answer your questions... About the food, we get rice from the branch so we always have rice. But I just get bored of eating the same things over and over again so that's where the crazy weird experiments come from haha. And I don't have enough room in the budget to do any expensive experiments haha.
About finding people to teach... The Sendai mission has classically been the lowest baptizing mission in Japan, and even the world. It was rock bottom when I got here my first transfer. Besides Ryoma Kyoudai in Aomori, I basically went those first 4 transfers without finding any investigators who progressed to baptism. Generally 1 new investigator was a lofty weekly goal haha. But since then, things have been changing so much. Part of it is that the missionaries are getting better and developing more skills, and I think we are ready as a mission for the Lord to prepare people now. Sekiguchi Kaicho has been a huge part of it as well. He has so much faith and is determined to guide us to have success. And he is wayyy smart. Not necessarily book smart like President Smith, but street smart and so smart with people. Basically the biggest obstacle is just a lack of faith. Partly missionaries who are discouraged and let their faith weaken, but on a bigger part is members or entire branches who don't really believe people will be baptized in their area. Luckily the Kitakami branch is one of the more solid ones :) But yeah people here are ready. Young people have that hope for a better life than their parents have. Japan's society is changing. And Jesus is coming! These really are the last days :)
Glad you get to be involved with the temple! So cool. Love you! 1, 2 - Last GoEigo with Elder Pratt and Sister Mitsuyama 3 - Katei no yube! Ft. the Elders, Fujita, the Sasakis, M, C, and the Sisters 4 - DTM w/ the new district 5 - Our new homie M