Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June 4, 2018--Another Solid Week

My beloved, amazing mother who is mine,

This week, we fought hard. We fasted twice with M san and prayed for her husband’s heart to be softened. She was able to have the courage to talk with him, but he didn’t allow her to be baptized. She told us that just by talking with him, she was able to realize a lot more of how this would affect her and her family, and actually helped her to feel closer to him, even though he said no. She believes strongly that her time to be baptized will come. She called us at 5 in the morning yesterday, in tears, saying that we may not be able to meet anymore. But she said that someday, when her husband’s heart changes, she wants to be baptized with him and her daughter, and wants him to baptize her son once he turns eight. God has great things in store for M san and her family!

We saw a few other miracles this week. We met a nice lady on the street who expressed some interest, and we gave her our contact info, but were not able to get her contact info. Then, a few hours later, we ended up knocking on her door! We taught her a briefly about the restoration, and she told us to come back to teach her more!

Sunday morning was District Conference, which meant all the members from Aomori Prefecture came to Misawa for church, so I got to see the members in the Aomori branch again after about a year and a half! There was a weird sense of closure for me to be greeted on my last Sunday by the same people who I had met my first Sunday in Japan. That was a tender mercy for me.

On Sunday night, I think I was the most tired I have ever been—but we hit the pavements and found a good neighborhood. At first it was just the regular kekkoes, but the last house on the street was a lady named I. She had somewhat recently talked to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she had some questions about God and Christ. She said she did not believe in God because there are so many terrible things in the world, and bad things happen even to good people. We were able to address her concern with love and explain to her about trails and opposition, and agency. That led us into the Atonement of Christ, and how through His sacrifice, all that is unfair about life will eventually be made right. The spirit was there with us. She told us to come back anytime, and that her son would be interested in learning about our message too.

This really is the Lord's work! It is such a privilege to be part of it. I know that God lives, that Christ is our Savior, and is at the head of His restored Church. What an amazing message we have.

Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.


Elder Paskett

Alma 26:1-5; 35-37

Lots of pics! These are from district pday last week. The white rock in the distance is not white, nor is it covered in snow...it is so splattered with bird poop that it has become a nation-wide famous tourist attraction. (Sister Matsuura in our district likes photography and has a really nice camera so she took like a bazillion pictures, please enjoy them all!)

Last District Meeting

Pics from the Idaho/Hawaii party! About 20 non-members, 2
missionaries, and 0 members. It was a good time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

May 28, 2018--Pedal to the metal

This has probably been the most stressful week of the last 2 years...we are trying frantically to put together a baptismal service while trying to help M san commit to finally talk to her husband, all the while continuing lessons and trying to make time to find. Add to that daily follow-ups from various Mission leaders and branch and district leaders, trying to prepare for and schedule an interview, help her prepare a testimony, throwing together logistics for the service, all on top of our normal dendo. I love it. I love dendo!!

On Sunday, Mie san came to the morning sacrament meeting like regular, then came to the Misawa branch in the afternoon for the first time. The members were super nice and friendly and supportive, the talks were solid, and the Sunday School teacher helped involve her in the lesson/discussion, it was so great. We showed her the font and got her a dress, she is so ready and so excited. But,  still hasn’t talked to her husband! We fasted on Wednesday, the night she was planning on talking to her husband...then she didn't end up talking to him. But she committed to do it on Saturday, so we fasted again...and it fell through. Sundaysame thing, again. We went forward with the baptismal interview on Monday, and she passed with flying colors!! But obviously cant be baptized unless her husband says it’s ok. She is planning on having the talk tonight, for real this time. Please pray that she will have the courage she needs!

I am so tired. I am tired to my bones. But I love it so much. I can feel the Lord sustaining me. Yesterday we helped an old lady pull weeds in front of her house and listened to her share her thoughts about the problems with government welfare programs. We just smiled and nodded, and listened. Sometimes what people need most is just another person to listen to what’s on their mind.

I love feeling like I can dedicate all my efforts to doing as Christ would do—to lift and love others. There is no other way of life that leads to true fulfillment. The mission is such a blessing, such a privilege. I want to live just as He lived, even after the tag comes off.

Please pray for M san! We will probably fast again. Basically the whole district, then the whole zone, then the Mission president and wife, and probably the whole Mission are praying their hearts out for her to have the courage to ask her husband, and for her husband’s heart to be softened.

Today we are going to the beach for a much-needed break :) Then it will be pedal to the metal, hitting the grind with everything we’ve got. Check facebook on Saturday to see if there are some baptism pictures!!!

Elder Paskett

1 - service picking up gomi at the umi (trash at the ocean)
2-4 post-baptismal interview celebration!

May 21, 2018--Highlights

Highlight of the week—Thursday I came back to Towada (Wednesday we had splits) and we had a lesson with M. She walked in and we had barely finished greeting her and she was in tears over some stuff that happened at work. We explained priesthood blessings to her and offered to give her one, and she accepted. I thought of President Nelson’s counsel to not just pray for or give advice to those you give blessings to, but to actually bless them. I blessed M san to have the specific blessings, help, and peace that I felt like she needed. It was a very spiritual experience and a solid way to start off the lesson.

We taught her every day this last week and finished all the lessons she needs for baptism! Her first lesson was last Saturday evening, and we finished the lessons this Saturday morning. She accepted all the commandments, some of them even a little easier than I was expecting! From here on we are just prepping for her baptismal interview and baptism and working with her to get her husband’s permission to be baptized. Please pray that her husband’s heart will be softened!

A kind of random story but we housed into a nice grandma who teaches flower arranging, and we asked her if she would teach us! So we met up last Saturday and learned some master ikebana techniques from our new Sensei. After the class we talked for a while and she asked us a lot of questions about our lifestyle and what we do as missionaries. We were able to resolve a lot of weird ideas she had about Christian missionaries, and she was really impressed with the missionary system in our church. She was so surprised that we are so young, working for 2 years with no pay, and so lively and excited about it! Even if she’s not investigating yet, she at least has a better impression of Christianity and missionaries. Little victories!

Love you so much Mama!!!! Have a fantastic week!
Elder Paskett

Not too many this week but here are a couple from a flower-arranging
class that we attended last week with M san. Seems like a good life
skill to have.

May 14, 2018--Hisashiburi

My beautiful mom,

It was so good to see you yesterday!!! So fun. Still feels like the same family, except that Grayson’s voice has dropped an octave. Haha.

I think you’re already updated on everything but as a quick recap...

We invited our English student M san to do family home evening with us, we made tacos with her and her husband and 2 kids and had a great time! The next day she brought us a DVD of Heaven is For Real, and we obviously couldn't watch it but we asked why she liked it and she ended up sharing a lot of things about her life and beliefs in God and Heaven and such.We saw her almost every day after that, sometimes for planned activities and sometimes just coincidentally! She started crying one day after we felt impressed to just stop by and say hi, and shared some struggles with us. We invited her to church and she came, and was in tears during the testimony meeting! But for some reason it was super hard to get a real gospel conversation going. We invited her to watch the Restoration video with us that night, but it just didn't hit home quite like we were expecting. She thought it was a nice story but wasn't really touched. We tried to do a more personal approach, so we sent her personalized
excerpts from the Book of Mormon that we thought would apply perfectly to the struggles he was sharing...but it was basically the same, didn't quite get to the heart.

Then a few days later, randomly, at like 5 in the morning, she sent us a Facebook message saying she had some burdens from her past that she really felt like she needed to share with someone, and that we were the only ones she felt comfortable enough to tell! She sent us a detailed essay over Facebook messenger that took us probably over 30 minutes to read it all and look up kanji we didn't know and finally get the whole meaning. She was obviously burdened down by her past, so we explained to her how taking lessons with the missionaries works and invited her to officially do lessons with us, and she gladly accepted!

Saturday was the first lesson and we taught about God, Christ, and prayer. The spirit was so strong! She told us after that she felt very strongly during the lesson that God loves her personally. I was sharing an experience with prayer and started tearing up a little bit which made her start crying which made me really cry which made her cry harder, and so on until we were all just crying and laughing at ourselves crying while laughing which made us cry even harder. She told us she doesn’t know why, but she has just been so much happier and enjoyed life so much more since she met two guys with white shirts and tie pass by her on the street and offer to help snow shovel and invite her to English class. She said she used to have a lot of ups and downs, and prior to meeting missionaries she was kind of a longer depression streak, but since meeting us she has been on an especially long happy streak! At that point the spirit was like a megaphone right in my ear...”invite her to be baptized!” It was only the first lesson, and she didn't even really know who Christ was, let alone what baptism is, but with every excuse to wait that I thought of, I just felt more strongly prompted to invite her to be baptized. So, we explained to her that the feelings she has had are from God, that they come from His Holy Spirit. We told her that through the Gift of the Holy Ghost she can always have these feeling with her. She immediately asked, “how can I get this gift??” We just had to teach her what baptism and confirmation were and she basically committed herself. Right now she’s on date for the 2nd of June!

She came to church again the next day, and it was a great spiritual experience! Then we had the 2nd lesson yesterday, we taught about faith and repentance and started into the commandments as well. She committed to pray and read from the Book of Mormon every day and to keep the Word of Wisdom!! She already doesn't drink or smoke, she said she’ll be totally fine without coffee, and as long as she has mugicha she’ll be fine without ocha!! She likes English, so she asks us to call her シスター美恵, and each time we extend a commitment she just says “うん, アイ カン デゥ イッテゥ!!!” (Yes, I can do it!)

Anyway hope there are some new details in there for you, if not then I’m sure everyone else will enjoy the story ;) Other than that we have been working hard, knocking doors and meeting with some other investigators, but it has been hard to help them progress. I wish everyone had faith like M san!

Love you so much Momma!! Please pray for us and that M will be able to get her husband’s permission to be baptized!

Elder Paskett

Going up to visit Shichinohe!
Ft. Mariko, Koharu, Iroha, Rui, Yuuto, Elder Mateaki, Elder Paskett,
Mie, and Hisashi! (Roughly in that order...haha). They are all our
English students!

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!!

Elder Paskett


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 :)

Elder Paskett


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