Friday, September 30, 2016

September 26, 2016

The most exquisitely beautiful and precious mother of all mothers,

The work is going well. Finding people to teach is still hard, but the work is moving forward. We still just have our 1 progressing investigator, but he is doing so well so I can't complain. And I think that we'll be able to find more people to teach through him once is he is baptized and is really converted. One interesting thing that Smith Kaicho said was that there are actually enough members in Sendai that they could build another temple--the problem is that so many are inactive. And when we meet some inactive members, like T Kyoudai, it's basically like teaching a new investigator because they don't really remember much from meeting with the missionaries previously. So I think a big part of the work in this mission will be finding and reactivating all the "バプテスマを受けた新しいきゅうどうしゃ。”

I'm glad the first part of conference was good! I was told that Uchtdorf Kaicho gave an amazing talk. We will probably be able to watch it all, I think they are showing it at the church (in Japanese) but two of the missionaries in our district are Nihonjin so we may be watching together in Japanese. Or we may get to watch it in English on
our iPads or something, I'm not really sure yet.

Glad the primary program went well, and that Jarom didn't have to exit his comfort zone. One family is moving out of our branch and their kids are like half the primary, so I'm sure our primary program won't go overtime either ;)

I have been reading a little bit of the モルモン書. Usually just a verse or two during language study. Sometimes I can pick out phrases that I understand, and usually I can kind of figure out the gist of the meaning. Sometimes I just can't understand it at all though. Haha but I look up all the words I don't know, and I'll look up the verses in
English after I try to read them in Japanese, so I'm undestanding more and more every day.

So I got my first haircut in Japan this week. I realized how trash my Japanese actually is haha, I've gotten used to teaching Gospel principles and some small talk on the streets, but I understood basically nothing the hair-cutters said. And it was one of those nice places where they wash your hair and shave your face and stuff, so they kept asking me different questions about how I wanted my hair and directing me into different chairs and I was just so lost. But I made it through, and my hair turned out fine. It was just kind of a funny realization for me that I taught someone the ins and outs of repentance and explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ to someone who had never heard it before, on the same day that I was not able to have a normal conversation with the guy cutting my hair.

On Monday R took us out to a steak dinner--oh my. How I missed steak. Which is weird because I really didn't eat a lot of steak in America. But it was delicious. After our dinner we had a lesson about repentance, and it went super well--I think it really helped him see the bigger purpose of all our meetings and even for joining the
church. He has had to work the last 2 Sundays so he hasn't been to church in a little while, but our next lesson is about the Sabbath Day and we are planning on inviting him to ask his boss for work off on Sundays--so if all goes well, we'll be able to go to church together every week until his baptism. We taught him another lesson on Saturday night--we reviewed the restoration and taught about prophets. Everything is just clicking so well for him, and his fellowshipper M Kyoudai has been super helpful, they're getting to be good friends. We're still on track for October 22nd please pray that he will continue to progress and be ready to be baptized on that day! :)
One interesting thing that came up during the repentance lesson was that he said he sometimes feels guilty when he smokes or drinks with everyone at work. And we haven't taught him a word of wisdom lesson yet--but I guess he remembered it from when he met with missionaries before? We were thinking we were starting totally from scratch, but I guess he remembers more than we thought. So we covered that commandment just very briefly, and it sounds like he doesn't really even like smoking or drinking but everyone does it as part of the social life at his work, so it's more of the social pressures that will be a problem. But I'm confident he'll be able to be strong when the time comes.

Things are going really well with N Shimai (the Eikaiwa student who came to church that one time)--she hasn't explicitly stated her interest in the church, but I can tell there is a little bit of interest there. Maybe mostly just curiously at this point, but definitely something she is thinking about a lot. After Eikaiwa on Wednesday we were talking about our families and our colleges, she was asking a lot about our lives in America. Then she asked why I decided to come on a mission, and why I'm a member of the church. So I had a cool opportunity to bear my testimony of how much God has helped me and blessed my life, and how excited I was to be able to share the
message of the gospel as a missionary. She thought about it for a second, then asked, "and are you happy?" So I smiled and I told her I was very happy. Then on Sunday, she came to church again! I think it's only a matter of time before she starts wanting to learn more.

We had a lesson with T Kyoudai again, he had to go on a business trip for the weekend so he couldn't come to church, but he is starting to gain his fiery passion again. He really trusts us, he tells us all of things he feels like he needs to change and we never have to probe or anything. He has gotten back into the habit of drinking coffee and tea but he says he wants to quit and he's glad to have our help. We kind of had to push to schedule this last lesson, but after he said he is really looking forward to meeting again. He really has so much potential, he just is so busy with work that sometimes he gets distracted. So we are helping him to realize where he wants his priorities to be--I think he just forgets how good it is to feel the spirit until he feels it again.

We had an Aomori district priesthood meeting (for all the branches around Aomori) so Smith Kaicho and his counselors came up to Aomori, it was fun too see them. And Seza Kaicho is always super happy to see me! He says I am a genki missionary just like Pasuketto Choro and Jole Shimai always were. :)

I guess the word got around that I have basic organ playing skills because I was asked to play the organ for the DIstrict Priesthood meeting and I was asked to accompany the ward choir (on the organ) on Sunday as well. Haha so I have been getting lots of organ practice this week.

So that's been my week! Thanks for being the best mother of all time!

Elder Paskett


My original soft-serve-ice-cream-waffle taco

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 19, 2016--Another week in the books!

My most aMazing marvelous mother of mine,

So the root beer came from Misawa--there is an American military base there and we can get peanut butter, root beer, whatever. It's not in our area but it's in our zone, so the ZLs (who are our roommates) go down there to do splits every transfer. But yeah root beer would be very hard to find otherwise. I'm sure much has changed since you were here, but I don't really have anything to compare it to. We do have a washer in our apartment that is both a washer and a dryer, so that's probably different. Still no dishwasher though. And no beds or couches. One of the other Elders calls Japan the most "third-world first-world country."

Yeah we are starting to feel fall was raining the other day and it was actually pretty chilly. Usually it's warm during the day, but it rains almost every evening and then when the wind picks up it gets pretty chilly. And in just a few more transfers, Aomori will be covered in snow, so we'll see if I get to stay for that or not.

Our branch isn't huge, but it's a decent size. probably 50 or 60 people that come every week. There aren't really any nearby branches--our boundaries go all the way to the outskirts of Aomori. But yes we do have our own building! It's nothing like the ones in America but there is a little kitchen and a good-sized chapel that divides into 3 classrooms. And the organ is really just an electric piano, still a blessing though. It's actually easier than a normal one because there is a sustain pedal so you can cheat haha ;) One of the families in the branch is moving to Tokyo so we had a shoujikai, that was way fun. We had tons of food, including lasagna and Oreos! Tender mercy right there. Almost no members even touched the Oreos, so I ate sooo many haha. Also the lasagna had potatoes in it, so it was like a double-reminder of the food of my home (a surprising number of Nihonjin know that Idaho has a lot of potatoes...they have no idea where it is, but they know about its potatoes).

We had to miss Eikaiwa on Wednesday for an appointment (but we got stood up...なきました). That was the first Eikaiwa of the transfer, so the other Elders told all the students that we were transferred out of Aomori. Then we showed up at the end and surprised everyone! They were actually way happy that we were staying, they said he class just wasn't the same without me and Hancock Choro. Warmed my heart. Still not much news from the lady who came to church...we invited her again but she was a going out of town. But I feel like she would not have come to church unless some small part of her was considering taking lessons. So we're just going to keep talking to her at Eikaiwa and keep that friendship going, and we're hoping that she will come to church again and we can talk more about how the gospel can really bless her life.

R Kyoudai went out of town for a work trip his weekend so he wasn't able to meet on Saturday or come to church on Sunday. But we're going to dinner and having a lesson with him tonight, so that should be good. We haven't seen him this week at all but we've called and texted him a few times. I'm actually learning a lot of kanji from texting, sometimes I'm surprised at how much I can recognize. Like there are a lot that I wouldn't be able to write, but when I see them I can identify them. Anyway, he has been reading and praying every day, and he wants to come to church this Sunday for the 2nd time! Things are going super well with him right now, if you could pray that he will continue to progress so well, that would be great! :)

We also had another lesson this week with the intercom lesson family, it was just a super short one through the intercom again. We taught the Gospel Blesses Families and bore our testimonies about eternal families, then sang Families Can Be Together Forever. That was on Monday, then we stopped by again almost every day but they were never home, so hopefully we'll be able to visit again this week. We are thinking we might make them cookies or something like that to start to gain their trust so that eventually they will let us inside for a real lesson. But for right now I think they are enjoying our little visits so that is good.

T Kyoudai returned from his bike trip and we were able to meet with him once this week--we had a good lesson about faith, we were a little concerned because it seems like he doesn't really have the same drive to get back on track with everything as he did the first time we met. But he re-committed to read and pray every day, and he has work almost every Sunday but he says he would like to start coming again eventually. He just doesn't seem super motivated right now because his job is getting busier and that's kind of his main focus. But I think as we continue to meet that will change. E Kyoudai (a member who  joined us for the lesson this week) texted us after and said he was very impressed with the lesson--in his own words, "長老たちは本当にせいれいました。” Haha so I think T Kyoudai will become active again, he just needs some time to let things calm down with his job.

We met a less-active named S Kyoudai. I guess that the other Elders just randomly ran into him on the street, and we stopped by his house without realizing that it was the same person.  So he met with the missionaries twice this week, haha but I think it was good because he came to church yesterday for the first time in months, maybe years. During our lesson, his main question was how there can be a God if there is so much suffering and hate in the world. So we just talked about having faith and how through that faith and diligence, we can receive answers to our questions. He seems hopeful, but his testimony is pretty shaky at this point. But he will continue being taught by the other Elders and will hopefully become active again here pretty soon.

We went to a college open-house thing to support one of the other Elders' investigators named Joseph. Malaysia but he says he goes by Joseph because that name is easier to remember than his actual name. We asked him why he chose that name and he said it's because he is a big fan of Joseph Stalin haha. But the open house was good, we met tons of people. A lot of them were interested in Eikaiwa, and even more were interested in trying to get the Gaijin to buy the food they were selling. Since it was on campus we weren't really allowed to proselyte but we made a lot of college-age friends, and it was a much better venue to meet people in a normal way rather than just stopping people on the street. We also saw H Kyoudai there! He was the kyudosha from Vietnam who was taking lessons and then just all of a sudden stopped. He would text us back sometimes but could never meet or come to church or anything. But it was super good, he was glad to see us and he said he wants to come to church because it's been a while. He has a full schedule with school and he also has work every day, so meeting is kind of hard right now but it sounds like when he becomes less busy he will start taking lessons again.

So it's been another great week! To be honest, the whole "days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days" thing has not really been true for me so far--it's more like the days feel like weeks, the weeks feel like months, and then the months feel like days. Haha but it's so good here, I'm loving it! Thanks for all you do and for being such an
amazing mom!!! Say hello to the Mitani Kazoku, and thanks so much for the advice about members and working with them. You're the best!!

Elder Paskett

the District

Yakiniku with Branch President

There's a little bit of Arizona in Aomori!

...more Arizona in Aomori

Bought myself some ice cream bars, turns out they are sooo tiny! Pretty good ice cream, though!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15, 2016--Konnichiwa, ichiban suteki no okaasama!

Konnichiwa, Ichiban suteki na okaasama!

Sounds like things are going well at home, glad to hear it! Maddy is not old enough to go to homecoming yet, was that a typo? Also, tell her she is not allowed to go unless she writes her brother ;)

Yeah I'm glad our typhoon wasn't nearly as bad as yours in Kagoshima! The wind only got bad enough to break umbrellas and some sunflowers, no real damage though. 

We found out yesterday about transfers, and all 4 of the Aomori elders are staying here! Which was a big surprise. Hancock Choro and Hawkley Choro have been here for 2 transfers already, so we were thinking one of them would probably leave us. But nope! I guess it means that there is a reason for each of the 4 of us to be here, I'm excited for these next 6 weeks.

So last Monday, we went to the beach and it was so fun! We found so many sand dollars and we built a sand-temple. I really wanted to swim but I resisted the temptation. The sand was pretty rocky and the water was dirty, we still had a good time though.

T Kyoudai just disappeared last week and we were actually getting worried--we had put a bag of chips and a note in his mail slot on Tuesday, and he wasn't answering his phone at all so we stopped by again on Friday to see if he was home. He wasn't, and the chips were still in his mail slot! So we hadn't heard from him at all since the typhoon, he hadn't been home at all and wasn't answering his phone. We said a prayer for him, then right after, he sent us a text saying he is on a cross-country motorcycle trip and gets back next Sunday. So that was a big relief, we were pretty worried over nothing. We'll start meeting again this week.

I had splits with Murai Choro (our Nihonjin ZL) and that was a lot of fun. We were able to communicate pretty well in Japanese. His English is actually pretty good (probably better than my Japanese), so we had that to fall back on as well. While we were on splits, we felt prompted to talk to one guy down by the Eki. He seemed pretty interested, but while we were talking, he got a phone call and needed to leave immediately so we weren't able to finish our conversation. But then the next day (when I was back with Hancock Choro), we were streeting and we totally ran into him! He was super surprised, but pleasantly surprised. We talked for a while and answered all of his questions, then introduced him to the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy. He didn't really want to give us his phone number, but he wanted ours and said he will try reading the Book of Mormon and call if he has any questions.

We had a cool experience while we were housing on Thursday--we rang the doorbell at one house and the Mom answered through the intercom thing. We asked if we could share a short message, and she said she was busy with her kids and asked us if it would be ok if we just shared it through the intercom. Of course we said yes, then we shared how God is our loving Heavenly Father, and sang I Am a Child of God, through the intercom. After the 2 minute lesson we asked if we could come again to share another one, and she said we're free to stop by again, so our plan is to keep having 2-minute intercom lessons for as long as it takes.

The branch president, Murase Kaicho, took us to Yakiniku on Saturday! That stuff is amazing! We didn't want to empty his bank account so we were going to be pretty conservative with ordering more plates, but he was so excited to have me try different stuff that he just kept ordering more haha. So I got to try gyuutan, liver, intestine, and some other random meats. The gyuutan was pretty good, the texture was pretty unusual. Not bad though. But apparently in Sendai they have really good gyuutan restaurants, so maybe I'll get to try the gourmet version eventually. Liver tasted pretty much the same as any other beef, and the intestine was just weird. The flavor isn't bad, just the texture. It was so rubbery, there was no point in trying to chew it, so we just had to swallow it whole.

R Kyoudai came to church this Sunday! The members were all super friendly to him, and excited that there was a new person. I was so grateful that everyone welcomed him so well, I think that will make a big difference in whether or not he comes consistently.

Also, I played the organ in sacrament meeting. When I started he intro to the first song it was on some weird pipe-sound setting and I didn't know how to change it. Luckily the chorister helped me change it to an organ sound, but it was pretty awkward for a couple minutes. 

After sacrament meeting, we went into another room and had a lesson with R and with S Kyoudai, a member who is around his age (R is 19). We had previously talked about baptism, and he actually had a baptismal date before, but then he got too busy and stopped meeting with the missionaries. So we set a new baptismal date with him, and he seemed pretty excited. We taught about faith and read parts of Alma 32, then talked about how we can nourish our faith to make it stronger. Specifically, we talked about daily prayer and scripture study, and he committed to do both of those! We promised that if he would do those things every day, before his baptism day he would know that the church is true. I think the lesson really helped him to understand how we can apply the scriptures to our lives, and he actually said he was excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. He is busy with work during the week, but he wants to meet again on Saturday and said he wants to come to church again if he can. If things keep going like this, we'll be able to see R be baptized this transfer!

So glad all the kids are doing well! Keep having fun! :) I can't view photos through the iCloud thing, feel free to email me any good ones though!

Love you, thanks for all you do!
Elder Paskett

Stereotypical Japanese t shirt with English that makes no sense



Shinkansen tickets

High-quality weight room at Aomori University

Root beer floats

Root beer floats

At the Beach

At the beach

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 8, 2016

My most marvelous mother who is mine,

That's too bad the email last week didn't go through! I'm sorry :( Nothing too big happened, honestly I can't even remember anything specific, it feels like so long ago. It's hard enough to remember just this last week haha. One fun thing was that we started trying to make any extra effort to make Eikaiwa fun so people will bring their friends, so we sang twinkle twinkle little star and then had everyone write their own poem to the same tune. My personal favorite:
"popping stepping jumping ice
why do you have such a price
how many ice cream in the world
a lot ice cream in the world
(repeat lines 1 and 2)"
Pure poetic gold right there.

We went to Don Kihote for the first time last week--that place is like a full-size Walmart crammed into a dollar-store sized building. Reminds me a little bit of IKEA actually. They have the most random stuff in there too. Like everything you could ever want is somewhere in the depths of that labyrinth. We found like 20 different flavors of kit-kats, so we tried some raspberry ones and they were actually pretty good.

We housed into a family last Friday who we thought had a lot of potential, but we dropped them this week...we weren't even able to give them a single lesson. It was actually really discouraging. We went for our original appointment on Monday and they weren't home, so we housed around a bit and then came back. They weren't there again so we housed around again and came back a third time--and they were home, but they didn't answer the door until the third time we had knocked. She said they were too busy that night, so we asked if we could come back another night and she said Friday would probably work. Then when we came back on Friday, the lights were on and the front window was open. I think they heard us talking outside, and then when we knocked on the door, they just shut the window and then didn't answer the door. Nice. 

So if that wasn't enough to rain on our parade, the next day there was a typhoon in Aomori. Haha I actually enjoyed the typhoon though, mostly because of how ridiculous it was when we were knocking on doors with rain pounding us horizontally. Originally they said we weren't allowed to leave our apartments at all on Tuesday, but when we got up it was a beautiful, sunny day. So they said we could go out, we just had to be back by 6. So we went out for normal dendo, and it started raining at probably 3:00 or so. We had umbrellas so it wasn't a big deal, but then the wind picked up so fast. It got so strong that it actually broke Hancock Choro's umbrella, and I had to stop using mine before the wind would sweep it away. So we kept knocking on doors with the rain coming horizontally, some people gave us the weirdest looks haha. But me and Hancock Choro had a good time. Then we got a call from the ZLs telling us we needed to get inside, so we went back to apartment and changed out of our soaking wet clothes and did weekly planning for the rest of the night.

We had a meeting in Sendai in Wednesday for all the new missionaries, so we got to take the 5-hour bus ride early in the morning. The meeting was really good, President Smith had one part of the meeting where he shared advice from previous missionaries in this mission (advice they would give to new missionaries, during their final interview as a missionary). The main idea I got from most of them was just that a mission really is so short--that we need to make the most out of every day. The 2 years will fly by, and we need to choose to work hard every day and also enjoy every day. So I am trying extra hard to make the Lord's time investment in me a profitable one :)

On the way back we got to take the Shinkansen, that was a pretty cool experience. It doesn't really feel like you're going fast until you look out the window and realize that you're flying past everything. We had to get back really quickly because the other missionaries in our district were staying the night in Sendai so there was no one in Aomori to teach Eikaiwa. But on the shink it took just under 2 hours instead of the 5 on a bus, so that was way nice.

One of the regular Eikaiwa attendees came to church! And even brought her little sister. She has been coming since before I got here and has never come to church before, so it really shows how important it is to keep inviting, even if people haven't shown interest previously.

We are still meeting regularly with T Kyoudai and J Kyoudai, and we were able to meet With R Kyoudai (a previous kyudosha from like 2 transfers ago, who disappeared all of a sudden). But me and Hancock Choro were able to meet with him out of the blue! He says he wants to be baptized, so hopefully we will be able to set a date soon and help him work towards that goal.

J Kyoudai has the goal to go to the temple but he hasn't really been coming to church lately (he came the first couple weeks I was here, but now he's kind of off and on) and has some word of wisdom problems too. He just told us that yesterday, which I think is a sign that he really trusts us and trusts that we can help him. 

So this week has felt slow, but a lot of good things have happened. It's interesting to look back at the whole transfer and just see the people that I have really been able to help--I really feel like helping T Kyoudai and J Kyoudai were our main purposes for being in Aomori this transfer.

 I'm glad you could spend the weekend with Taylor! Don't have too much fun playing ultimate without me!

Love you always!
Elder Paskett

Indo Curry

Baskin Robbins

A member bought us a watermelon! One this size was probably like
$20. #blessed

Eikaiwa poems

The apaato