Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 7, 2018--Golden Golden week!!

It has been a golden Golden Week!! (golden week is a big holiday/vacation week, with 4 national holidays--people do lots of traveling, etc.)

We had a solid lesson with S san—at first when we went over he was having a hard time focusing and the conversation kept going into random topics, so I said a quick prayer in my mind, asking God to give my something I could use to bring it back to the gospel. He started talking a little bit about math, and I said, “I have an interesting math problem for you...can I draw it out for you?” (We always meet in his garage, and the floor works as a chalkboard, so he always has chalk). I drew out a graph with our life on the x axis, and a scale from 0 to perfection on the y axis. I borrowed an idea from Brad Wilcox and asked him how close to perfect he thought we had to be to be able to be saved by Christ’s grace. Does it reach halfway down? A quarter? He put his guess at around 25% of the way down from perfection, then we explained to him that Christ’s Atonement covers the whole
thing—100%. Even a perfectly evil, terrible person, has had all of his sins paid for by Jesus Christ. We taught him the doctrine of Jesus Christ and how we can choose to follow Christ to obtain this forgiveness of sins—that we can’t save ourselves through good works, but we can use our agency to exercise faith and choose to follow Christ—and thus have access to Christ’s saving power.

He stayed engaged, and asked questions about life after death and heaven, and to answer his questions we drew parts of the plan of salvation in chalk. He kept asking so many good questions, by the end I had drawn the entire plan on his basement floor. He understood it well, but he said that the Celestial Kingdom just seems too good for someone like him—that he has done too many bad things, and that those are his burden to carry. Even if Christ has the power to forgive his sins, he said he would feel better just keeping his sins and going to a lower kingdom. That was pretty crushing for me, haha, but we made some huge progress, and he agreed to read 2 Nephi 2 and ponder about what he thinks God would want him to do. I think he’ll come through :)


Our mission president initiated the “BLT” (bring lots of tomodachi) Challenge—our goal is to do simple activities with friends, and ask them to bring friends, then make friends with our friends’ friends and do more activities where our friends’ friends bring their friends. Hence the lots of tomodachi. The winner is the companionship who gets the deepest “generation” of friends—we are having trouble getting past the 3rd generation but it has been a lot of fun.

One cool miracle from this activity has been with M san—she is an English class student and we invited her and her family to make tacos for family home evening with us! We had a fun time there, then the next night she came to English class and brought us a DVD of the movie “Heaven is for Real.” She wanted us to borrow it and watch it so we had to tell her that missionaries can’t watch movies, but we asked why she watched the movie and what she liked about it. She surprised us by sharing a ton of stuff about her life growing up and family problems, and talked about she loved the family in the movie and how they were so united and loving. The next day (Wednesday) we were out knocking doors in the rain, and while we were talking to a lady at her front door, when suddenly I felt a little hand spank me right on the rear end. Weirdly enough, it didn't really faze me, but I turned around to see M san’s 5 year old son Y! M san and her daughter also came up to us, apparently they were driving home and saw us so they decided to come say hi! We had a nice conversation and she asked a little bit about Christianity and what we believe. 

The next day (Thursday) we were on our way to the bus stop to go to Hachinohe for DTM and she was selling Tempura for a fundraiser and she wanted to give us some! She sent us a LINE and we met up and got some delicious tempura and an umbrella too because I didn't have one (it got stolen a little bit ago when we were inside a store...)! The bus we were planning on taking wasn't running that day so she offered to drive us all the way to Hachinohe! We were able to just take a different bus and then a train instead (we wouldn’t have been able to go with just her anyway), but she was so nice to offer. The next day (Friday) she wanted to take us to an Aviation Museum in Misawa! We went there for a BLT activity and gave her a tour of the Misawa church as well.

The next day (Saturdat) we were out finding and she had let us know earlier that she was with her kids playing at this community center. We ended up biking right by it so we decided to stop by and say hi, and as we were talking she unexpectedly started crying and shared with us some struggles and worries she has been having recently. She recovered quickly because she didn't want her kids to see her crying, but we invited her to church the next day and she gladly accepted! At church (at a member’s house) it was just 5 people including us and her, but it was a nice, spiritual meeting—it was a first Sunday, so it was fast & testimony meeting, and I was conducting so I got to bear my testimony first. Just a few minutes into mine, M san just started crying, and the tears kept flowing though the rest of mine and Mateaki Choro’s testimonies. After the meeting we talked for a while, and she cried again! I have seen more tears this week than I have probably my whole mission up until now haha. That night we watched the Restoration video together and taught her about Joseph Smith!

And that brings us to today, haha. This morning we pulled weeds at the member whose house we use for church, and M san wanted to come help so we pulled weeds with the 4 of us and had a good time. Basically we have met every single day this last week, for various random reasons and coincidences, and she likes coming to church and is starting to take lessons! Pray that M san will continue to let the Gospel into her life :)

Anyway those are the highlights!! It’s great to be a missionary! Please pray for us, and for M san and her family!

Love you!!

--
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett


Photos:

1-2--King-size gyuudon at Sukiya (my comp only puked once)
3-5 Aviation museum in Misawa, ft. Y-kun and R-chan








April 30, 2018--Sakura!

My most beloved and revered Mother who is forever mine,

Another fantastic week!! And it has been WARM! So warm. Even hot the last few days. Winter ended and spring started, then spring ended and summer started, all this week. I broke out the short sleeve shirts and my watch tan line is coming back out after months of hiding.

The Sakura bloomed, and people are outside enjoying the good weather, the city feels so much more alive now. We have been able to step outside the box of knocking on doors all day, we went street contacting and volunteering, and even when we tract the people are in better moods.

We have had a couple lessons with S san, honestly it’s been a little rough. He gets very distracted every time we ask him a question, and it’s hard to bring it back on topic. He keeps saying that since he has never believed in any religions before, it will take a very long time for him to understand what we teach. We are trying to help him see that it’s ok if it takes a long time, we can teach little by little—but if he doesn’t let us teach at all, even baby steps are impossible. He is great though, a really smart guy! We tried to start into the restoration lesson, we asked him what he thinks of when he hears the word “God,” and he got very distracted talking about all sorts of things. But one thing he talked about was how it’s impossible to know what religious leaders like Jesus actually taught, because he taught his followers who taught others who taught others, and he said it’s like a long game of telephone and lots of information will be lost. We were like, you are describing apostasy. And that’s exactly what happened after Christ and the Apostles died! We taught about the Great Apostasy and he was like , yeah! That’s what I was talking about! And proceeded to teach us, again, about what apostasy is and why religions have different ideas even if they have the same origin. We just kept following his train of though and explained how God provided a solution for apostasy—modern revelation and the Book of Mormon. He called a living prophet who has direct communication with God, and brought forth the Book of Mormon to clarify and support what the Bible truly teaches. We explained to him that that is how we know that what we teach is exactly what Christ taught, and that this is His same church. He understood it all really well, but he keeps telling himself that it will take a long time for him to understand because he has never believed in religions before. We will keep working with him though.

S san tracked his smoking! Except he didn't read the Book of Mormon at all. And he said tracking how much he smokes makes him think about tobacco more and then he wants to smoke, so he told us he would stop tracking how much he smokes. But he agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon and track which days he reads! He kept saying that he needs to smoke because it allows him to de-stress and focus. I shared with him how the Book of Mormon always helped me to de-stress and focus in high school and college. I read to him from Alma 7 about how Christ felt all of our sicknesses and pains—I testified to him that I now Christ understands all of his stresses and pains, even his desire to smoke, and that through the Book of Mormon he will be able to feel that! He said, “NOW I want to read that book...yeah, I’ll read. What page was that part you read?”

I felt impressed yesterday to go finding by the college—which was kind of a silly idea since all of the students are back home for golden week. But we went anyway, we knocked on a good number of doors and a grand total of 4 people answered. But, 2 of those 4 became investigators! One was a guy from Okinawa who has some Mormon friends, but he said he has never really heard about what they actually believe. We gave him a pamphlet and exchanged phone numbers, and he wants to stay in touch after he gets back from Okinawa!

Probably the best part of the week was last night, we did a family home evening activity with M san and her family! She is an Eikaiwa student with 2 super cute kids, R and Y. We explained to her about family home evening, and invited her to do it with us this week! We made some delicious tacos with her family and one of her friends, who also brought her daughter. It was such a fun time! We played some games and shared a message about the Good Samaritan. We asked the kids if they would commit to be kind and show love to others, even those they don't know, and 5-year old Yshouted out, “YES!!!” We are still trying to figure out the best way to invite them to do Gospel lessons with us, but for now they are comfortable with missionaries and the church and they understand some basic good things that the church teaches, so we are making progress.

Love you so much Mommy!!! Please pray for us and our investigators :)
XOXoxoOXOXXOOXOXxooxOXOXOXOxoXOX

--
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett

Photos:


Photos 1-5: Sakura!





6--Hirosaki Castle

7-8--More Sakura


9--I tried making some katsudon curry

10--Katei no yuube with an Eikaiwa student and her family




April 24, 2018--Another week!

Towada is great! I will stay here my last transfer, again with Elder Mateaki!! We are looking forward to another awesome transfer.

We had some short exchanges with the APs, and I learned a lot! I realized that I have become a little bit mechanic when I talk to people at their door, but I want to really talk with them and see them as a unique individual, a child of God.

We taught S san another lesson, and we gave him a calendar to track his smoking and Book of Mormon reading!! Before we showed it to him, we told him we brought a present, but the present comes with a challenge, and he could only have the present if he accepted the challenge. He accepted both, so now he is keeping track of how many cigarettes he smokes each day and which days he reads the Book of Mormon. He said he usually smokes about 15 a day, but if he is really disciplined he can keep it down to just 1 each day. Doctrinal comprehension has been a little difficult since he has no background in Christianity at all, but we made some major breakthroughs and he is starting to understand a lot more! It is so cool to see when what we teach starts to really click in his head.

Sakuras are blooming! So there are tons of people walking the streets to see the flowers. We decided to volunteer and passed out pamphlets about Towada to all the tourists. We met a group of college students who came to volunteer as well and that was way fun! 

Yesterday we felt prompted to stop by an apartment in an area I had never been to before, but almost no one was home. One door we knocked on looked like someone was inside, but after waiting a couple minutes, no one answered. We finished that floor, then started walking away from the building, when, to our surprise, he opened the door and came out! He called out to us from the 2nd floor. We responded and explained who we were, honestly expecting to just get kekkoed. But he invited us to come in! We climbed back up the stairs and went inside his apartment, which we found out was also the office for his international engineering business. He loves English and foreigners, so we got to be good friends really quick. After receiving a tour of his office, being shown his various plants, USA golf clubs, books, and receiving jars of black garlic as gifts, we were able to sit down with him and explain the Book of Mormon to him. At first he hesitated to accept a copy, saying it looked expensive and was too nice of a gift for him. But we insisted that it was our pleasure, and he took it and committed to try reading it!
He told us to come back anytime, and even offered to drive us anywhere we wanted to go if we ever wanted to see places around Japan. Haha not quite sure what to do with this kind of hospitality!

But yeah things are going well, it’s still cold but we are working hard and loving it. Don’t have too much time because we went to Hirosaki to see the Sakura today! I’ll send some pictures.

Love you!!


Sakura, volunteering, and Easter party; also Elder Warnock's final DTM:








April 17, 2018--Another crazy fast week

Yeah we are plugging along!! Another crazy fast week in the great Towada.

It all goes by so fast I don’t remember a lot of what happened this week, I write in my journal and then it’s just gone. But here are a few highlights...

We knocked on the door of an older lady with a wayward son, and we testified of how this Gospel has blessed our families. She accepted a Book of Mormon and we invited her to read about a man named Alma who also had a wayward son, but prayed to God and had his prayers answered!

President Sekiguchi came to our district meeting and it was his birthday last week, so me and Kaku Choro (on splits) made a small cake the night before and gave it to him! But the frosting got smashed on the way there (we had written out お誕生日おめでとう)so it was pretty illegible, haha he asked “is this Chinese or something?” Still tasted good though.

We knocked on the door of a younger lady, also with a wayward son! He is 20, and I guess has a lot of different issues and doesn’t really talk or interact with others. He lives with his mom, so we asked if we could meet him sometime since we are around the same age! She told us not yet. But, we testified again of how the gospel truly does bless families, and she agreed to hear us out! She asked us to come by again, but to not come by when there is motorcycle outside the house because that means her son is home, and he hates having guests. Sounds like a family that needs the gospel though :)

We stopped by a former potential investigator that missionaries met late last year who talked to us for a while in his garage! He is the coolest Ojiisan. He does all kind of metal work and wired and programmed a machine (by himself) to cut metal into specific shapes and patterns. We talked and through the conversation we learned a lot about him. He doesn’t have any strong religious beliefs, but he thinks that God probably exists. We also learned that he smokes but wants to quit, but he just doesn’t have the willpower. I shared Ether 12:27 with him and told him that though God, he can have the strength. We talked a little more about how the Book of Mormon can help him to
receive help and blessings from God. He was pricked in his heart and accepted a copy! He said, “I think I’ll read all of it. Then I might get converted! Hah!” Well, that’s the plan, actually. :)

We had a follow up lesson with K san, but he decided that since he isn’t Christian he better not meet with us. He wanted to keep the Book of Mormon though, so we encouraged him to read it on his own and contact us when he wants to meet in the future!

We have been teaching an investigator named S san, and she has a lot of very strong beliefs about Christ and the Bible that she has been taught at her church, so I have had the opportunity to study the Bible so much harder than I ever have before. Most investigators have never actually seen a Bible and know little to nothing about Christianity, so usually we just stick with the Book of Mormon. This has been a new experience for me. We taught the Plan of Salvation and we were able to use the scriptures to clear up a lot of misconceptions! Her and her friend that came to the lesson believe that the Fall wasn’t supposed to happen, and neither was the crucifixion. (They believe that Adam was plan A and Jesus was plan B, but they both messed up so Plan C was a Korean guy who became the Messiah sometime in the early 1900s.) But we were able to explain using 2 Nephi 2 and Genesis that the Fall was a necessary step in God’s plan for us to become like Him, and that Jesus willingly dying for us, so we could overcome the effects of the Fall, was the plan from the beginning. As we explained that God has a full range of emotions and experiences, S san was like “yeah! We believe that too! We believe God has a personality, and has sadness, and joy, and sorrow and peace.” So we followed that to explain that if our goal is to become like God, we also need to experience sadness and suffering, so we are able to understand joy for what it truly is. And without the Fall, there would no opposition, and we wouldn’t be able to become like God. S san said, “wow, that actually makes a lot of sense...” and agreed to read some sections from the Book of Mormon that we gave her! Her friend still seemed unimpressed, but maybe she just needs some more time.

I have been trying to really stretch my ability to receive personal revelation and minister to individuals. Just like the Prophets and apostles have counseled us, we need to minister like Christ did—one by one. We are all God’s  children. Especially as missionaries, it is such a blessing when we understand the true significance of that statement, and when we can see others through the eyes of their Heavenly Father. I never want to lose that perspective!

Love you so much Mama!!!
永遠に愛してます!!!
--
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett

English class, and hiking with O san



Friday, April 13, 2018

April 9, 2018--Post-Easter Snow

My marvelous Mommy,

Glad you are feeling better and still managing to stay on top of everything! 
Yes we watched general conference this weekend! We watched the Saturday sessions in Misawa at church, then the Sunday ones just in our apartment in Towada. What an amazing conference! All the changes are truly inspired. I love how the focus is on people—we use the phrase “teach people, not lessons” all the time as missionaries, and it seems like everything is heading more and more in that direction, to minister to and love individuals instead of just checking boxes and to-do lists.

Glad Grayson is becoming a skillful MC! Haha what a stud. And that’s fun you got to be in Provo...is Maddy going to join the Ballroom Dance team? Hope she gets into Heritage! If the waiting list doesn’t work out then she can come study at my apartment anytime, haha. 

This week has been good here, we had some surprise snow!! First it was rain, then hail, the turned into snow. I couldn’t believe it was April, we were out in our scarves and coats and hats, haha. But I think that was the last snowstorm...probably. We had a lot of new English class students this week! One friend of one of our investigators came and brought her kids. Our next door neighbor also said she had a friend who wanted to learn more English and asked for a flier to give to her! One lady came with her family as well, she said we met a few months ago and we offered to help her snow shovel her driveway. She was almost done so she declined the help, but we gave her an Eikaiwa flier before we left. She said we were super nice and talked to her 4-year old daughter, and so she remembered us and our English class the whole time, and decided to come now that’s it’s warmer. So that’s been cool! I honestly don’t remember meeting her the first time, but I guess it goes to show that even little things like offering to help snow shovel can make a difference, even if they don’t accept the help.

We have had to drop a lot of investigators this last week, for various reasons. One older lady said she didn’t want us to keep coming over because she was worried what her neighbors would think of her meeting with Christians, a few decided they were too busy to do lessons, and a good number were just not interested but it took a couple visits to be able to talk openly enough to find that out. So it’s been sad, but it’s helped us lift our sights to seek out the ones who are ready now, and we’ve found a lot of new investigators!

Yesterday we met a super solid high school student who plays tennis, we passed by him on the street right after our last visit with a Q who dropped us. It might have been justifiable to feel sad or cynical or lazy since we had just had our last contact with this investigator, but we brushed it off and kept opening our mouths—and I’m so glad we did! He was so friendly and responsive. We exchanged LINE and he said he’d be down to learn more about getting guidance from God. He just started his senior year of high school so he is starting to really think about his future and stuff, and he’s still young enough that he’s chill with talking about religion!

We also met a new college student who just moved here from Yokohama and doesn’t really know any people in Towada yet, but now she has 2 gaijin friends! And we met a guy who just graduated from college and moved here from Hirosaki. He just started working and doesn’t really know much of Towada yet, so we got to be good friends right away. We taught him about God and prayer and the Book of Mormon, and he seems so open to everything! We set up another appointment for this week, please pray that it will go well :) His name is K.

God is putting a lot of good people in our path! As the new school year is starting there are lots of new college students moving in, and people moving in who just graduated, etc. so even though Towada is super small we have a lot of areas with fresh new people now! And we have been meeting a lot of people who are experiencing changes in their life, being in a new area and environment, etc. so a lot of people are in the perfect stage of life to find the gospel!

One cool thing I felt this week was how important the fullness of the gospel really is. We had the opportunity to go to the church service of one of our investigators, discuss beliefs with a Buddhist monk, and do a lesson with some very strong believers in a religion that is kind of Buddhist, but kind of not. Anyway, I learned that all the religions that I have come in contact with have so many good things—Go really does work through all religions to help His children. Any light or truth, regardless of which “sect” is teaching it, comes from God—even if it’s a sect that doesn’t believe in God. But God doesn’t get frustrated that they don’t believe in Him and withhold the light, He just lovingly gives as much as we can handle, drawing us to seek more.

And then, in general conference, I realized how amazing the fullness of the gospel really is—despite all the wonderful things I saw and heard in these other religions, none of them pierced me to the core like general  conference did. It was truly God speaking to me specifically, through His ordained servants. I got answers to all kinds of questions; every single question I wrote down and brought into conference, questions I had written down a long time ago and forgotten about until I learned the answer, even answers to questions I didn’t know I had! Such a powerful, powerful conference. Truly a revelatory session, in every sense of the word. 

No matter how many good teachings or practices a religion has, it won’t have the same power without personal revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost. (“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”). The fullness of God’s gospel is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—I felt that so strongly during conference.  Just like President Nelson said, we will not be able to spiritually survive the coming years without personal revelation and the Holy Ghost. This means receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, or for those of us who have already received it, to learn how to really use it. “The arrival of a typhoon is no time to dust off the gift of the Holy Ghost and figure out how to use it.” Now is the time to prepare and learn to be spiritually self-reliant! I know the Lord speaks to me through the Spirit, and I want to be better at listening to it. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost, and for this experience to be a missionary to really learn how to receive revelation.
The church is true!

Thanks for being such a fantastic Mother :)
愛してますよ!
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett

1-6 - Zone Taikai (back in my hometown of Aomori)
7 - my no-recipe double chocolate cookies (some turned out better than
others...)








Monday, April 9, 2018

April 2, 2018--Happy Easter!

Hello hello and happy easter to my beautiful mother who is forever mine,

This week has been solid! We have been really trying to seek revelation on where to go whenever we go finding, and we have met some really good people. Almost every day it has been the last few doors we knock on that we meet new investigators! And we have been going to some places on the outskirts of town too where it just seems untouched by missionaries from any church.

We met one high school boy who had interest in God and took a Book of Mormon, one older lady whose husband passed away recently and had interest in life after death, a lady who used to be married to an American and said we were right around the age of her half-Amerikajin son who just moved out to go to college so now she is just living alone and needs friends, and a farmer who listens to a Christian channel on the radio every morning! God has put us in the right places at the right time as we’ve sought His guidance.

We had Zone Conference on Saturday and it was great! We are focusing a lot on doing mogis and really improving our teaching skills to be able to guide more investigators to baptism. I got to be back in Aomori for a few hours, way natsukashii. The Ward Mission Leader Ebina Kyodai stopped by the church while we were eating lunch to say hi to me and the other missionaries who used to be in Aomori! I was a little surprised he remembered me but it made me happy.

After Zone Taikai we became a trio with Elder Nathan (he is on a special assignment in the honbu and went to all the zone conferences as President Sekiguchi’s companion), and visited a few people that night and Sunday morning. We brought some people Easter candy and invited them to church! One of them, Ak san, came that night for the first time! He has read the entire Book of Mormon and says he likes it, but doesn’t think he needs to get baptized. He is a pretty funny ojiisan, he is making progress slowly but surely.

The Sekiguchis came to the morning sacrament meeting and it was an awesome fast and testimony meeting. We also had interviews with Kaicho right after that and he is sooo tired! I think he almost fell asleep during our interview, haha. He showed me some things he has been working on on the mission facebook page and I was like...”Kaicho, it says you posted this 7 hours ago!”
“Yeah, I did.”
“...it’s 11:00 right now.”
“Yep.”
“What are you doing up at 4 in the morning?!”
“I just had a lot to do that night, don’t worry about it!”
So basically our President never sleeps, he is just going hard literally 24/7. Our interview was good though, I want to work so hard up to the very end!

Anyway sorry I don't have more interesting or cool stories, but the work is plugging along. I am loving it!

Even though Easter isn’t really celebrated in this country, it gave me a chance to personally reflect on the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and how much it means to me personally. Not only would my life be drastically different if it weren’t for Christ, but my life would have no purpose. There would be no repentance, no forgiveness, no hope. But because of Him, I have hope. I have a reason to live, a reason to keep going even when I feel weighed down by my own weaknesses. I am so grateful that Christ loves me enough to suffer and die for me, and I know that he literally rose from the grave with a living, perfected body. He lives! And so will we. I know it with every fiber of my being!

 Love you more than words can express!
XOxoxoXOOXOXOxoXOXXOXOOXoxoxOXOXO
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett

Just 1 this week, our Easter Sacrament Meeting ft. Elder Nathan and
President and Sister Sekiguchi!