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!





March 26, 2018--highlights from the week

Glad the ballroom competition went so well!! Sounds like Maddy is just killing it. Grayson too! So proud 😅
Working hard at video games I guess is an honorable pastime too. がんばってね!

Just a couple highlights from this week... 
First, we had a great lesson with A san! It was her first lesson and it was so solid. She read all of the pamphlet we gave her. Like, really read it! And it made such a difference. She even read the list of terms in the back and right off the bat she asked us about バプテスマ and asked if that was still a thing in this time period!! We told her definitely yes. Mateaki Choro showed her pictures of his baptism and she liked it a lot.

She understood everything really well, I think it was the most in depth Restoration lesson I have taught yet. Usually it takes an entire lesson to make sure they understand God is Our Loving Heavenly Father, but she just soaks it all up so quick. During the Joseph Smith part, we were even able to talk specifically about what the priesthood is and how it was restored. Miracles happen when people keep their commitments to read stuff you give them! We taught her about prayer, and she has never really prayed before in her life, but she was down to try! First we each said a prayer and talked about it a little bit, then she tried praying and it was so simple and wonderful :) She said what really stood out to her about our prayers was how we sincerely thanked God for simple blessings like the good weather. So we are having her pray daily this week, and she is getting a little busy prepping for the start of the school year but I think she will continue to progress crazy fast! She is so prepared.

There was a blizzard on Thursday (my birthday present from the heavens)! That was such a surprise since we have been biking recently. But we pulled our scarves and coats and gloves and boots back out and did some 久しぶり snow dendo. We weren’t having much success but the last door we knocked on was a super nice middle-aged man who was kinda quiet but talked with us a bit. Then as we were talking, his mom and little brother pulled in, and the mom talked with us for a while. She works at the post office and lives with her 2 sons, and loves her family so much. She is so nice and welcomed us back to share a message another time!

We made a personalized Book of Mormon for our investigator H san, she is a lady probably in her 50s. We are having a hard time getting her to come to church, but she likes when we visit and she loved her Book of Mormon! We wrote our testimonies in it and marked up a bunch of our favorite scriptures. We also made a similar one for another investigator, an ojiisan named M san. We are having a hard time getting him to pray or come to church, so we figured a personal Book of Mormon would be good because he would not only be more likely to actually read it, but it would help him to see that we want him to accept the gospel because we love him and know it will bless his life, not because it is our “job” to get people to join the church.

Other than that we have been dropping a lot of new investigators lately, there were quite a few who took a pamphlet and expressed some interest, but when we were able to get in contact again basically told us they weren’t really that interested. Some people just take pamphlets because they are too nice to say no, haha Japanese people are the best. They really don't want to offend us and they want us to feel successful, so it is super hard for them to tell us straight up if they aren’t really interested. It’s kind of nice because they are so nice even when they reject you. These people are the best! But yeah we are hoping that some seeds were planted with the ones we had to drop, and we have faith that they are more who are ready now!! From here on it is supposed to get way warm and hopefully no more snowstorms! Short-sleeve season will be coming soon :)

Love you so much Mama!!!!

--
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett

1 - Elder Mateaki made me a wonderful birthday breakfast!
2 - The leftovers from the last snowstorm
3-5 - DTM!  Ft. My birthday potato (both the Sisters are from Idaho so they gave me potato with a little bow on it haha)  Also ft. the Omer couple from Herriman, Utah! They have never been to Japan before but just got called here to be Military Relations/Service missionaries at the military base in Misawa!






Thursday, March 22, 2018

March 19, 2018--This week was the best!

My awe-inspiringly wonderfully fantastically fabulous and exquisitely gorgeous Mother dear,

This week was the best!!!

To be honest I cant keep track of what happened last week and what was 2 weeks ago but I’ll fill you in on a couple of the recent highlights...

We met probably the most golden investigator of my entire mission! Maybe we aren’t supposed to use the term “golden investigator,” but we knocked on her door and explained who we are, and tried to just get to know her a little bit better before we went into our message and invited her to learn more. But before we could even get that far, she told us that she has been thinking recently that she really wants to learn about Christianity! She went to a friend’s wedding at a church and thought it was kind of もったいない **(what is that in Eigo? Haha)** [more or less..."it's a waste of time" or "meaningless"] that they were all there and signing hymns and said アーメン at the end of the preacher’s talk, but no one (including the one getting married) knew anything about Christianity or what it actually meant! We decided to show her the Book of Mormon and invite her to study it with us and take lessons... but she just took one look at the book and was like, “this looks really hard. Is it ok if I just have you guys teach me?” So tomorrow we will have our first lesson with A san! We also realized that it is super easy to set up appointments if they actually want to learn haha.

Also, she is a high school teacher and right now is spring break (which is in between school years for Japan), so she told us she would be getting a transfer announcement on Friday and might stay or might have to go teach at a school somewhere else. We prayed so hard that she would stay...and she did! She sent us a LINE saying, “I’m technically not supposed to talk about for another couple weeks...but I’ll be staying in Towada for the next school year!!” God is good.

We were finally able to meet again with S san! We met her housing a few weeks and she is Christian and showed some interest in the Book of Mormon. We had come to follow up a few times but she was never home, until this week! We invited her to church, and she accepted! She said she had her own church though, and gave us some pamphlets about 統一教会。[Unification Church?] But she actually came to the Misawa Branch and brought 2 friends! We went there this week as well because the Branch President wanted us to give talks. Her friends both left partway through sacrament meeting but she stayed the full 2-hour program, and we were able to talk for a while after, and we set up a lesson for Monday morning at a member’s house. She and a friend came, and it was a very very tiring lesson. She and her friend are pretty active members in their church, and we spent probably 2 hours listening to them talk about their church and their doctrine.

After we listened, they were willing to hear our spiel, and we just showed a simple video about the restoration and explained that Jesus Christ’s church is on the earth once more. I bore testimony that this church truly has the authority of Jesus Christ, and that God gave us the Book of Mormon so we can know if that is true for ourselves. It made me realize how simple, and yet how significant our message is. Christ’s church has been restored. We didn’t need to expound on doctrine for hours, we just bore simple testimony and the spirit was there. Even though the 2 of them probably just wanted to convert us to 統一教, S san for sure felt something. She looked me in the eye while I bore my testimony, and accepted an invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Her friend didn’t answer our invitation, but I think a seed was planted in S san’s heart!

Our Eikaiwa class has been way sukunai (like 0 to 1 students) lately, but we had 3 last week because the Buddhist people who taught us wanted to come learn English! They weren’t interested in learning about Christ, so we were worried that we had wasted the Lord’s time listening to them teach us about Buddha. But we were able to build a friendship and they came to English class, so maybe the door to them accepting the gospel is starting to open!

Other than that, we met a lonely obaachan who needs friends to talk to and has a lot of opinions about different religions. Most of her opinions were in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so we told her “you already sound like a Christian, you should totally get baptized.” She was like “really? I’ve never thought of becoming a Christian before... hmm...” and she told us she wanted to try coming to church when she gets the chance! She even said a prayer to end our conversation/lesson at her genkan. We taught her how to pray, and I was going to ask her if I could pray before we left, and then she just went ahead and started praying! Haha it was great.

We met the most chill elderly couple of all time, who just moved here from Kanagawa (I think) and they were so friendly to us. The Obaachan asked where our church was and said she would go and hear what we have to say! We told her that we could come teach her at her house but she wanted to go visit our place. We invited her to the sacrament meeting at the community center and loaned her a Book of Mormon to read until then! Her husband is also super friendly and way funny!

We have been meeting lots of new Qs lately but have been having a hard time having solid follow-up contacts with them, so we decided to make cookies for St. Patrick’s Day and take them to a lot of our new-ish investigators who we haven’t really been able to start teaching yet. It worked really well actually! One mom opened the door and immediately said “sorry, we’re busy...maybe next time if the timing is better!” But we were like, “we just brought over some cookies for an American Holiday! We just wanted to drop them off and we’ll be on our way...” She was so surprised and talked with us for a little while at the door, and her little daughter came to the door too and was super pumped about the cookies. Service soften hearts! 

We have been really trying to focus on individuals and love them as Christ does, and we have found that when we just truly forget about numbers and focus on doing the Lord’s will, we are able to be guided by Him, see miracles, and our numbers naturally go up. As we have really tried to love the people, we have been blessed with more people to teach and more opportunities to teach them. The Atonement enables and strengthens us not only to overcome our sins and the natural man, but to grow to be more like Christ. Not just to get rid of negative habits and tendencies, but to add on positive ones—love, patience, charity; even the ability to smile at people who reject us is a gift from God. I have felt my love for this people grow so much, I hope that someday I can love as perfectly as Christ does. I know that Christ loves us! He wants us to be happy. I know He lives. I love His Gospel!! I am so grateful that I can share it every single day :)

Love you so much Mama!!!
--
パスケット長老
Elder Paskett


Celebratory Aisu!

Our new Indonesian homie! We knocked on his door and started
talking in Japanese, and he responded in way good English that hedoesn’t understand Japanese.

The district! The new sister is from Idaho so now there are 3
Idahoans in the disutorikuto.



Making St. Patrick’s Day cookies!!

March 12, 2018--Staying in Towada

Another great week! We got transfer calls and we are both staying another transfer! Actually all 6 elders in our district are staying. Sister Ishikawa is headed up to Aomori and we will be getting a new Sister from the MTC and a new Senior couple from Herriman, Utah.

We have been trying to follow up with our contacts a lot this week, we have had some trouble getting the timing to line up right, but we visited the A family again and it was great!! The son R kun (8 years old) saw us through the window and opened the door before we even got there. His Dad was home so we got to meet him! I was a little nervous because as I’m sure you know, the Japanese Dads are often the ones opposed to Christianity and religion...but he was so friendly!! We told him we came over last week and met his wonderful family, he was like “yeah I know, R was talking about it all week!” Haha. He asked where we were based out of because R kun really wants to come visit “our place”! So we invited them to church, and he said they would come next week. “We’re not Buddhist or Christian or anything, but R kun really wants to go so we’ll go together next week if that’s ok.” Way to go R kun! The Dad doesn’t seem crazy interested yet, but he is open-hearted. He is such a great Dad too. I really think that if he and his wife have a chance to hear and understand the Gospel, they will accept it. And R kun is providing that opportunity! We played some basketball with him (he is really good for an 8-year old...low-key better than I am haha) and had a good conversation with his Dad too. Please pray for the A Kazoku!!

As far as snowstorms, I think they are done for the year! We spent almost the whole week last week in Hachinohe, and when we came back the snow was almost all melted from being rained on. Yesterday we were out on bikes and it was great! We can’t ride in the rain or snow, so they are both pretty taihen if we want to go anywhere far away.

Glad Willy Wonka was good, hope tour and ballroom comp go well too! Are Grayson and Maddy both in it?

We left on Wednesday to go to Hachinohe for DL splits on Thursday. I was with our DL’s comp Kaku choro who is awesome! He swam in college before his mission. His parents are both Japanese, so he looks like a Nihonjin and has really good Japanese, but was born and raised in the U.S. It was pretty funny to see which people thought he was from Japan and who could tell he was a foreigner.

The next day was DTM, and we spent time that afternoon on Facebook as a mission sharing the Hana wa Saku video! So that’s why it probably popped up on your news feed a million times...but yeah a lot of different members and non-members have expressed their thanks for the video and said it was very moving! I realized that even singing that is not the best will bring the spirit if it’s from the heart :)

We were planning to attend a “Harry Potter party” in Hachinohe the following day (Saturday), and we realized that if we went back to Towada we would just have to come straight back in the morning, so we stayed the night in Hachinohe again on Friday. The party was great! The sisters planned most of it, and they wanted me to make a skit for the end. “We want to write out a skit to teach everyone the plan of Salvation using Harry Potter characters, we want it to be really easy to understand and funny.” So I stretched my creative muscles and wrote “Harry Potter and the Plan of Happiness” this week! Haha. Probably my finest work of all time. It was set in potions class, where the trio decide they want to make a happiness potion—then Dumbledore comes and explains how our life IS a happiness potion! So I got to teach a group of people about Christ and the Plan of Salvation, while holding a magic wand.

The past couple days, like I said already, we have had trouble getting timing right with our new investigators. We tried to visit about 8 different people on Sunday, but only 1 was home. So that has been hard, but now that we have bikes it doesn’t kill our day if someone isn’t home. In between follow up visits, we have tried to really listen to the spirit to be aware of more finding opportunities. On Sunday, we were trying to go to a Q’s apartment but went to the wrong place and ended up at an apartment building that looked very similar but was not his. We decided to hit it up anyway, and only a few of the doors answered. One of them was a nice guy named S who thought we were the pizza guy—but he gladly took a pamphlet about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of pizza! Didn’t even seem that disappointed. He doesn’t have a job right now and spends most of his time just playing video games, so meeting with him shouldn’t be too hard.

We also met a super solid couple last night! We had about 10 minutes of finding time left before we needed to head towards home, and the very last door we knocked on was the M's. They are probably in their 70s, but they are both super nice and so funny! Mrs. M asked if we had a church, and said she wanted to come this Sunday! They aren’t Christian, but they said they would try listening to our message and see what they think. She was like, “sorry we’re so old. I hope it’s not disappointing that it’s just an old grandma who wants to come to church.” We assured her that we were very excited to have her there, haha :)

いつも愛してます!!!

--
パケット長老
Elder Paskett



Photos 1-4: Bandai Conference from a couple weeks ago






Photos 5-9: Behind the scenes of the "Hana wa Saku" video (and he says about #9--"can you tell I've been doing squats lately?")







Photos 10-12: DTM / Sis Ishikawa Birthday Party; Sis Hirano (deaf member whose boyfriend we are teaching)




Photos 13-18: Harry Potter Party!