Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 22, 2016--re: Deja vu weekend

私の 愛する、かんぜん な うつくしい 母、

Glad to hear moving in went well, and that's fun that Taylor has a mission buddy there! And sounds like Brent will be in his ward then?? So fun! That is too bad about the 2:30 p.m. church though. But tell Taylor to still set an alarm for church the first week, just in case. Learned that one the hard way ;)

So this week, it has still just been blitzing the streets...the hardest thing is how insanely busy everyone is! Our investigators H and R have so much potential but they are crazy busy with school and work so we haven't been able to meet at all this last week. Hopefully next week will be better with those two.

Usually we'll get contact info for at least one or two people each day, but the hard part is setting up an actual lesson. A lot of the time (again) they are just so busy, but also pretty often people aren't really interested but they're too polite to say no, so they keep coming up with excuses why they can't meet. So it can be hard to gauge whether we want to keep pursuing an appointment or drop them.

Last Monday, we visited a recent convert named T Kyoudai who just moved from Sapporo. He is 22 and was baptized about a year ago, and he moved in a month ago. We're not sure how active he is but we'll definitely be visiting him again. He is super friendly, we are thinking that he will potentially be a huge help in finding and fellow shipping new investigators. We had a lesson set up with him on Thursday but then he had to cancel last minute because of work, hopefully we will get something set up for this week.

On Tuesday, Nathan Choro and his doryo stayed in our apartment to do splits with the ZLs! That was way fun, except they had to sleep in the kitchen because that was the only place we could fit 2 more futons. And our dinner table could barely fit the 6 of us. It was a good time though, it was good to see them again.

It has been so rainy this week. Really rainy, Like Japan rainy. And we're not allowed to ride our bikes when it's raining so we have been doing lots of walking, oftentimes walking with our bikes. On Tuesday we were pretty far out and then it started raining, so we decided to eat out so that we didn't have to walk our bikes all the way back to the apartment. We went to this とんかつ (tonkatsu) place that was soooo delicious. Reminded me of having とんかつ at the McCuens. とても おいしかった。(very delicious)

We blocked out that evening to call all of the Potential Investigators that we had accumulated, and it wasn't as fruitful as we were hoping. We ended up dropping nearly all of them, but there are a few that we are still hopeful about. 

Wednesday was even more rainy--we broke out the raincoats, and it was あるくこと だけ (only walking) all day. The weird thing about the rain is that it is still hot. I'm sure you already knew this, but it doesn't cool anything down, it's really just 100% humidity plus the normal heat. So I'm not really the biggest fan of this Japan rain thing.

On Thursday we housed into a lady who seemed super interested, especially in Eikaiwa. She even had a friend that she thought would be interested, so we gave her an extra restoration pamphlet and Eikaiwa flier to give to her friend. But then she texted us the next day and said that she can't become a Christian because her grandfather is a Shinto priest, and it would be disrespectful to him. And she has work both days we do Eikaiwa so she can't come to that either. So that was a bummer, we are still trying to see if her friend has any potential.

We got ice cream from a dainty little shop down the street, it was actually maybe the best soft-serve ice cream I've ever had. We talked to this little family inside, it was a Mom and her 2 little kids. The kids didn't want to talk (I think they were scared of us), but the Mom was really friendly. Kind of the opposite of how things usually are.

This weekend was the dedication for the Sapporo temple!! We saw a broadcast for the cultural celebration on Saturday, except the broadcast was super spotty so we only saw about a third of it. What we saw was great though haha. There was a lot of dancing and I think there was a little play/skit about the history of the church in Japan. Then they all sang Happy Birthday to President Monson at the end!

On Sunday the broadcast was really spotty as well. We actually ended up seeing all 3 sessions of the dedication (because they needed us to check recommends at the door) so between the 3 I think we got the gist. Most of the talks were in English, and they would repeat each sentence in Japanese, that was fun to listen to. I would try and beat the translator in my head. He usually beat me though. And then Elder Stevenson was conducting the meeting, in Japanese, so that was a surprise. I think they had a romaji TelePrompTer or something. And the white handkerchief part was way fun in Japanese! Overall, I just felt so impressed by the faith and dedication of the members in this temple district. I think living as a member of the church in Japan must be so much harder than in America, just because of how small it is and just of the general opinion of Christianity here. I'm so excited that they have this temple now though! Even though Tokyo isn't that far, it's a lot easier (for the people in Aomori at least) to make a trip up to Hokkaido than to go down to Tokyo, so it will be much more accessible for the people in our branch.

So that's been my week! Hope you have an amazing week! Don't get too swamped with Cantus and RS and all the stuff you have going on. I'm excited to hear how everything goes though! 
Thanks for all you do!

いつも 愛しています! (love always)
Elder Paskett

Monday, August 15, 2016

August 15, 2016--日本 week 2! Adventures in あおもり

Hello my wonderful mother who is mine,

So I found out that President Smith doesn't allow us to use the iCloud photo that's why I haven't posted anything this last week, you guys can send me pics over email but I can't view them through the iCloud thing anymore. Maybe it'll change next July, I guess we'll see.

We have still been doing almost all just finding, but we have found a lot of potentials so I think we will start teaching more and more. THis week we also did a couple mogi (mock) lessons with members, both to practice teaching and to BRT. So hopefully we will be able to get referrals from those members eventually. But yeah it feels slow to me but Hancock Choro says we are getting more contact info from people on the street than he's ever seen before, so the Lord really is helping us, I think we'll be teaching more and more from now on.

On Tuesday, 大きい きせき を 見ました!(saw a big miracle)  We were trying a new method of streeting--we divided up our area into 10 sections, then we prayed and separately chose 3 sections. Then we would compare our choices and whichever number we had in common, that was the area we went to. We got #9 on Tuesday, and we actually didn't even make it to that area but I know it was inspired because on the way there we ran into a guy named りょう きょうだい。 (Brother R)  We just started having a normal conversation with him, we asked about where he was going to college and what he was studying. We actually didn't even talk about the gospel for like 10-15 minutes, but then he asked us why we came all the way here to Aomori from America. Classic mistake--it was a straight せいれい (Holy Ghost) punch to the face from there. We talked about our purpose as missionaries and taught a little bit about God and Jesus Christ, and gave him a すくい の けいかく (plan of salvation) pass-along card. He asked about the picture of the temple on it so we explained what ordinances and covenants are, and how they've helped and blessed our lives. Then that led perfectly into the first ordinance, baptism, and we invited him to be baptized. Right there on the street. AND HE SAID YES!!!! So we asked if we could teach him more about it and our church and he said he would love to learn more. We got his contact info and he has been really busy this week but we will start teaching him as ASAP as possible!

One weird, less spiritual story from streeting this week...we stopped this guy in the street and started talking to him, and once he saw that we were gaijin he said (in his thick Nihonjin accent) "アイム ワキング デード (I'm walking dead)" then put his hands in the air like a zombie and walked away slowly. True story.

Hancock Choro and I have been going hard coming up with better ways to do finding. We have been brainstorming ideas this week, and the ZLs are in our apartment, so they decided that that would be our topic of discussion for Zone Training Meeting. Dad had a lot of good ideas too. What did you feel like were the best ways to find/connect with Nihonjin?

We just taught a few lessons this week...we taught the ふなはし かぞく (a less-active family) about gratitude, they have been coming to church more and more lately so hopefully it will continue to improve! We taught two もぎ lessons to members, one on the Restoration and another on Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. The mogis were helpful partially because we (but really just I) need the practice teaching, but also we are trying to build relationships with the members and start to use them more in our dendo efforts. We thought that teaching them would help get them excited about sharing the gospel, so hopefully it'll work.

This week I had 2 must-have cultural experiences--Ramen (real Japanese ramen) and Mr. Donut! The ramen place was good, I could only read half of the menu but I just got the #1 regular ramen bowl. They bring it to your table and then heat it up right in front of you using a little canned flamethrower thing! So cool.
Mr. Donut was fun, they have so many different flavors. I got 3 but my favorite was this inside-out maple bar churro stick...maple on the inside, cinnamon in the outside, とても おいしかった。(Very delicious) Did they have Mr. Donut when you were here?

At Eikaiwa this week I was teaching the "advanced" group so basically we just had a conversation in English, and I helped them with pronunciation. One guy had super good English but he studied in Italy so he was a Nihonjin speaking English with an Italian accent...was not expecting that. We ended up talking mostly about the Olympics so I got all the good deets from them. I thought Michael Phelps was done, but I guess he's still getting gold medals? Isn't he getting old? It made me miss swimming a little bit. And they said Japan wasn't doing as well as America, but Japan's gymnasts and judo wrestlers are better at bringing out the beauty of their respective sports. Haha gotta have something I guess.

On Friday we had zone training meeting, which meant that I got to see all my Doki! Me and Nathan Choro sang/beat boxed a little bit of Joseph, just like old times. The ZTM was fun, I got to tract with Nathan Choro and Livermore Choro (from my Doki) for a little bit while our trainers were in a leadership meeting. I think we did a really good job of talking to everyone we saw, even though it was hard without any "experienced" missionaries.

That evening we went to Mr. Donut again--I am convinced that revelation can come through the stomach, as well as the heart and mind. We had met a woman named S earlier this week, and she said she was interested but she was pretty busy this week and we couldn't schedule any lessons. But she is apparently an employee at Mr. Donut! So we saw her there, she actually came up to us and said hi, and it wasn't very busy so we spent a while talking with her and the other employees. She wasn't able to come to church but she was really excited to see us, hopefully she'll be able to start taking lessons soon. If she can't then we might just have to try and teach her at Mr. Donut. And then if she gets baptized maybe the mission would reimburse us for all the donuts!

The spirit also guided us through our stomachs on Saturday--we went to get some ice cream at a conv. store right before Eikaiwa and we talked with the cashier for a while. His name is M, and apparently he was good friends with some previous missionaries, but they didn't put him in the area book as a PI for some reason. So we got his number and he said he likes hanging out with missionaries, so hopefully that will turn into a desire to learn the gospel. But for now at least he is open to meeting with us!

On Saturday, we did an all-out blitz inviting everyone we met to church. Literally everyone. One guy we tried to talk to just kept walking and ignored us, so I threw my bike down and caught up to him. He just kept ignoring me but we needed to give him some kind of invite...his hands were full with grocery bags so I just put a pass-along card in his front pocket. Hancock Choro thought it was so funny.

No one could come to church that we invited on the street (even people that were interested couldn't because of the Obon festival) but the Lord rewarded our efforts because H was able to come to church! We haven't seen him since we went to Nebuta together, he has been super busy and hasn't been able to meet. Then kind of out of the blue he was able to come. 

The branch president had me and the other new elder, Murai Choro, give short talks. He let us know like 5 minutes before sacrament meeting started. Except Murai Choro is nihonjin so it wasn't that big of a deal for him, haha I was freaking out a little though. I just gave a short introduction and talked about gaining a testimony and why I came on a mission. I think it went well, but I am now realizing that everyone will tell me "Nihongo Jouzu desu ne!" (Your Japanese is excellent!) either way, just because I am American and trying to speak their language.

Right after church we gave H a lesson and we were hoping to set a baptismal date because he had been taught by previous missionaries for a while, but they didn't teach him nearly as much as we thought. He said he felt like he wasn't ready for baptism yet, but he does want to keep learning more and find out for himself if it's true. We taught mostly about how God is our Heavenly Father and how we can know that through reading the Book of Mormon. And he had a lot of questions about the Seirei, (Holy Ghost) so we talked a lot about that. He thought it was pretty cool that it can dwell in us. And he also thought it was awesome that eventually, after he gets baptized, he would be able to get the authority to baptize other people!

Hai is our main kyudosha right now but we have a lot of good potentials that we met this week. We are going to try and contact most of them today if we can.

We did teach J Kyoudai again, and I understood so much more Japanese than our first lesson with him. He wasn't able to come to church yesterday but he is coming to the Sapporo temple dedication this weekend. He really likes when we visit so hopefully we will be able to keep helping him be more active!

Thanks for all you do!! Keep being a wonderful mother, hope the kids have fun starting school!!

Ai shite imasu,
Elder Paskett

Beautiful art at Eikaiwa this week!

Zone Training Meeting

Indian curry spiciness scale from 1-10 ( they have these in Indonesia?)

Monday, August 8, 2016

August 8, 2016--日本 (Nihon) week 1! Adventures in あおもり(Aomori)

Wow. So much has happened this week. I am currently eating トリオ デ ジャネイロ and ポッピング ショワ ice cream from Baskin Robbins which is actually サーティワン アイス クリーム。Basically living the dream! Let me start from the beginning...

[translations: ice cream flavors--"Trio de Janeiro" (3-flavored sherbet: kiwi, lemon and blueberry--colors of Brazilian flag) and "Popping Shower" (has pop rocks in it...); Baskin Robbins = "sa-tee-wan a-ee-su-ku-ree-mu" or "thirty-one ice cream."]

The last week at the MTC went by super fast. I gave the closing prayer at our departure devo and I felt so weird praying in English. We had "in-field orientation" one of our last days and they had us practicing meeting people on the street. The 3 nihonjin shimaitachi were in our group so I practiced with them, it was a lot of fun. It's so easy to make them laugh, I feel so funny when I hang out with them. Saying goodbye to everyone was sad, but it was all swallowed up in how excited I was to finally get to Japan!

We flew to Portland and then to Tokyo and then Sendai. Sister Williamson and I were sitting by each other for all 3 flights, it was pretty fun to get to know her better. We were trying to be #pro missionaries and planted seeds the whole trip...We talked to a guy named Michael about missionaries and missions and he talked to us about his life as a Catholic. I tried to talk to an old Nihonjin guy when we were almost in Tokyo and I couldn't understand anything he said. But he was really excited that I was trying so that was nice haha. On the flight to Sendai we met this awesome girl named りおな、(Riona) she is 10 and we are best friends now. She taught us some Japanese and we taught her some English, it was pretty fun.

Three of the biggest things I noticed right when we got to Japan...first, the humidity is crazy! I could feel it as soon as we got off the plane in Tokyo. And I have been sweaty ever since then. The only time I don't feel sweaty is when I'm in the shower. Second, there is still English everywhere. I was expecting straight Japanese everywhere but there is so much English. And the people try to practice their English on me haha. Mostly just littler kids, but as soon as they see me and realize I'm a がいじん、(gaijin--foreigner) they are like, "ヘロ!ヘロ!ナイス チュ ミーチュ! セィーユー!" (Hello! Hello! Nice to meet you! See you!) There have been a couple times where I am trying really hard to figure out what someone is saying but I'll be totally lost...and then I'll realize that it's actually English. Or イングリシュ。Third, the bathrooms are incredible. At least the one in the Tokyo airport is. I made sure to use it while I was there, and I have decided that I am getting a bidet (bidette? Biday? You know what I'm trying to say) in my future home. Life-changing. It even had like 5 different water pressure settings. I was really curious so I turned it on after I stood up to see what it looked like. Big mistake. Holy cow. Even on the lowest pressure level, I swear the stream almost hit my face. I got my sleeve and my tie soaking wet, luckily I had my suit so I put it back on and no one had any idea that I made the classic gaijin mistake.

We arrived in Sendai and everyone was so happy to see us! I met my trainer, Elder Hancock, and the trainers for my Doki. Our first night we all slept packed into the little apartment above the mission office. It was actually pretty fun, it was good to get to know the older missionaries. In the morning we had interviews with Pres Smith, he is a really cool guy. His main focus is on exact obedience, and you can just feel how enthusiastic and passionate he is about missionary work. We had an amazing French toast breakfast that Sister Smith made for us, then we had some "training" from the APs and then they shipped us out pretty quickly after that. Nathan Choro and I and our trainers rode up to the Eki (station) together, then we split up. I miss that guy. We are in the same zone though so I should be able to see him soonish. Elder Hancock and I rode about 5-6 hours on a bus up to Aomori!! Aomori is up at the very tippy tippy top, just across the bay from the Sapporo mission. But it's still hot here haha. And our AC was broken when I got here, the apartment was roasting. We just got a new one today though!! That will be so nice!! This whole week we have just been sweaty literally all the time. It makes me excited for winter, although I'm sure I will eat those words when we are freezing to death. I'm just excited to not have to come home drenched in sweat haha.

The bus was good, I slept a little bit and had some good bonding time with Hancock Choro. He is from Sandy, he has been out a little over a year. He wants to be a heart surgeon so we are going to start a joint heart/brain surgery business when we grow up. He is half Nihonjin, his Mom is Nihonjin but grew up in Brazil speaking Portugese. So he looks a little Japanese but obviously didn't learn any growing up. He's a super cool guy, and a great trainer!

We had a long walk from the bus stop to our apartment, then the other 2 elders in our apartment prepared the most authentic Japanese meal they could make. It was some weird looking stew with noodles, it was actually really good. Then of course they had natto and they made me try disgusting. I shoveled a little bit into my mouth with my chopsticks and I wanted to throw up. So I didn't finish that haha but I guess it was a good welcome to Japan. Then they had the strongest mugicha of all time. It was soooo nasty haha. They didn't put enough water in it and it was boiling hot too. But I've actually had it quite a few times this week, and when it's diluted correctly it's not bad at all. I like it better when it's cold too. That night I crashed on my futon so hard. Between the crazy long flights and getting up super early for interviews and the long bus ride and the long walk I was just drained. I slept so good, the jet lag didn't even wake me up a single time.

I thought our apartment was tiny when we first got there but I am realizing more and more that it's actually pretty big for Japan. There is one study room with 2 desks by the front door, then a storage/living room (for everyone's clothes and belongings and all the missionary materials) then a tiny toilet room (it's basically the size of a coat closet, and there's nothing in there but the toilet), then we have the laundry room (which has the sink) connected to the shower. Our kitchen has 2 burners and a sink, then on the other side we actually have a decent-sized fridge with a freezer. There is enough room between the sink and the fridge for the fridge door to open all the way and then we have about 1 cm of extra space. We have kind of a "dining room" that also has 2 desks for study time. Then there is one sleeping room with our 4 futons. It's pretty cozy, the weirdest thing is just how narrow the hallway is and how low the ceiling is. In the shower, I can almost touch the ceiling with my head if I stand on my tiptoes.

Each morning we do workouts from the "7-minute workout app" on our iPads, I was actually super sore the first couple days. It feels so good to really exercise again though. Also, I had real scrambled eggs for the first time in months! So delicious. I have some almost every morning. The MTC scrambled eggs are literally the worst. The yolks here are orange instead of yellow so that was surprising, but they taste the same.

For the 1st 12 weeks we have an extra hour of comp study, so we are still sitting down for most of the morning. But then we go out and dendo in the afternoons which is good! Except we don't have any investigators right now so it's been only finding, and so far only street finding and tracting. I'm loving the biking, there are lots of hills in Aomori so we get a pretty good workout.

Finding is so hard! Holy cow! I now know what the "kekko hand" is. Almost everyone either gives us the hand, or says they're bukkyo, (Buddhist) or sometimes people just stare straight ahead and keep walking like they don't hear us. So it's hard. But it's worth it for the ones that are interested, because every once in while we'll talk to people and you can just see in their eyes that they are genuinely interested. Usually the ones who listen are younger people, they're usually a lot more comfortable talking about God and religion than most adults. We've handed out a lot of Book of Mormons, and gotten a few phone numbers. So we'll have investigators soon, it's just been really hard this week because it's been all finding and almost no teaching.

We did teach one lesson to Jin Kyoudai, who is less active. He looooves bugs and has showed us a book that was basically a picture encyclopedia of millions of types of bugs haha. In his free time he likes to go and catch different types of bugs haha, what an awesome hobby. He hasn't been able to come to church consistently for at least 5 years because he always has work on Sundays. But we had an awesome lesson about keeping the sabbath day holy and we tried really hard to not be chastising him but to just help him see how it will help him. The problem was, like 5 years ago he asked his boss for work off on Sundays and his boss said no. So he's been scared to ask since then. But we challenged him to ask his boss for work off again so he could make it to church and he accepted! We promised that the Lord would help him and bless him as he tried his best to follow Him, even when it was hard. Then yesterday we saw him in sacrament meeting!! So awesome. We will visit him again this week, hopefully he will be able to keep making it consistently.

We got to see the Nebuta festival this week!! It's one of the biggest matsuris in Nihon, right here in Aomori this week! So lucky. One of the members got us tickets so we got to sit in the seats (instead of standing by the street) with one of our potentials, Hai. Hai is vietnamese, in Japan for college. He was taught by missionaries before but had to stop because he got too busy with school, so hopefully we can start teaching him again soon. The matsuri was awesome! The floats were so intricate, and everything was just so cool. Definitely a good intro to Japanese culture. Video and picture attached...

This week was fast Sunday so all the missionaries (the 4 elders in our apartment and the 2 sisters in our district) in the branch bore their testimonies. Pres and Sis Smith came to our branch too, so that was cool. They both bore their testimonies, it was pretty funny because half the people who got up had missionary name tags. I had prepared/translated a testimony that morning but I actually didn't read from it, except for a scripture that I shared. My testimony went so well!!! Such a relief. I said in the beginning that in Idaho we only eat potatoes, so I was really excited when I got to Japan and there was food other than potatoes! I think some of them realized it was a joke. But yeah it went so well, I felt so good. The members were actually super surprised that I just got to Japan on Tuesday, they would all come up to me and say my Nihongo was jouzu, (expert) then they would rattle off some more Japanese and I wouldn't understand any of it. Chotto (a little) ironic haha.

There were a couple of American RMs in the branch, one served in Sendai and one in Fukuoka. It was fun to get to know them, one said he might take the 4 elders out for burgers because he has been craving American food and found some place with really good burgers.

The rest of church was good, I kept falling asleep but when I was awake I could usually at least understand the topic of the discussion. I still don't really understand most of what people say but in church they were using MTC vocab so that was nice.

Anyway, it's been a busy week but I love it here! I'm learning so much every day and every night I am just sooo exhausted. It's a good exhausted though :)

I love you so much and I pray for you and the fam every day! Thanks for all you do!! :)

いつも あいしています、
Elder Paskett