Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016--Transfer 3!

We are writing in the morning so I haven't read your emails yet! We are sending them in the afternoon, I don't know if I'll have time to read or if I'll only have time to send my drafts.

Anyway...New transfers start today! Hancock Choro is leaving me. I'll sure miss that guy. But I'm excited for this next transfer. I am staying in Aomori and Murakami Choro will be my new comp! I haven't met him yet but he is Nihonjin and has been out for around 20 months I think. Pres. Smith said it will be a very unique opportunity because he wasn't always active growing up, so he will benefit from my testimony and I will benefit from his Japanese. Exciting times ahead :)

So you're probably wondering about R's baptism...we have good news and slightly less good news. The slightly less good news is that it didn't happen. But the good news is that it will! We are now planning on November 12th. I hate to keep pushing it back (this is now his 3rd date) but now we know what we need to do in order to make sure that date happens, and it won't be rushed like it would've been this weekend.

So he is all prepared for baptism in terms of the commandments, the only thing holding him back was that he had only come to church one time (it's supposed to be at least 3 times). We called President Smith and he said it is up to us--that we should not worry so much about the number of times he has come in the past, that we need to focus on his personal commitment and use our judgment to gauge his readiness. But we kind of had some resistance from a zone leader who didn't believe he was ready this week, and then we we were having district conference in Misawa so he wouldn't receive the gift of the Holy Ghost for another week, and since everything was last minute it would've been hard to invite members and plan the service. 

So, long story short, we decided that we will wait a couple weeks so he can attend church and we can make sure that he's ready and we're not rushing into it. He's doing so well, he asks us questions about his Book of Mormon reading--like who the Lamb of God is, if the Spirit of the Lord is different than the Holy Ghost, stuff like that. Shows that he is reading with a sincere intent to learn, and he feels comfortable enough to ask us questions.

We did a mission-wide fast this week! It was my first 24 hour fast, it was a cool experience. On Wednesday, all the missionaries across the mission said a district prayer at the same time, for the Lord to pour out His spirit on this people. Then we were each able to end our fast with individual prayers, and I felt closer to God during that prayer than I ever have before. I know He is here helping us and guiding this work! I am trying to work harder to be a more consecrated missionary, and I know He will help me and magnify my efforts. I'm excited to see things in this mission improve!

We went to sushi as a district to end the fast, and it was so fun! We went to one of those places where you order it plate by plate and it comes on a little conveyor belt. I tried some shrimp, salmon, octopus, eel, and some other random fishes. They also had one with steak so I tried that. And they had ice cream so you know I got some of that!! And I tried rice-flavored soda. It was weird. But all the sushi was delicious, I ate soooo much. It seems so cheap when you order it one by one but it really adds up haha. It was ¥100 per plate, each plate had 2 pieces of sushi, and I spent about ¥2300 so you can do the math and figure out how much sushi I ate ;)

We went down to Misawa to watch district conference, with our area seventy presiding. On the way there, Murase Kaicho was already giving 4 people a ride (including us) so his car was full. But a member came to the church and did a joint lesson with us, then he said he could come to Misawa if he could get a ride! We decided it was worth it so we rode there for an hour and a half with 3 people in 2 seats haha. Hancock Choro was like halfway on my lap, and the member kept falling asleep and leaning his head over on Hancock Choro's face on accident haha. It was a very funny car ride. I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to walk when we arrived.

The conference was god, I am getting better at understanding church talks. Still hard through. IT was way fun to see my doki again though! Nathan Choro is doing so well! We'll still be in the same zone so hopefully we'll be able to do splits again after Zone Training meetings. Love that guy.

So that's been my week! Looking forward to an exciting transfer ahead :)

Love you!


Elder Paskett
My first Japanese written testimony! Gave this Book of Mormon out on
Tuesday to a girl who is now an investigator for the shimai! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17--We got ghosted...twice! (and a bonus donut story)

My most perfectly pretty and breath-takingly beautiful mother who is mine,

Glad you guys had fun in Vegas!! Sounds like a great trip. That is too bad about the smoking though. As far as smoking in Japan, we don't see a ton of it. I think more people smoke here than in America, but it's not noticeably different. It seems like everyone knows it's bad for you. R Kyoudai kind of explained how it's more of a social thing (people smoke when they go to business lunches and stuff) than something that people actually like.

Speaking of R, we had a very alarming week. So we met him last Friday (I think the 7th) and finished up the commandments, then he went home over the weekend to get his parents' permission. He said he would be back either Sunday or Monday. So we called him Sunday night, no answer. We weren't too worried because he was probably traveling or still with family. Then we had our p-day, and Monday night we called him again. No answer again. We were assuming he would call us back the next day, but we called him twice on Tuesday and he didn't answer either time.  he second call, it didn't even ring, just went straight to voicemail. So by Wednesday we hadn't had any contact, and we were worried something went wrong with hantai from his parents and he didn't want to talk to us anymore! We were so worried.

Wednesday night, right before we were going to try calling him one more time, but then we got a call from the branch president. He said he had been texting R and he had an appointment with him set up for Friday. He said we should just ease off, then after Friday he would let us know  what was going on. So grateful Murase Kaicho is such an awesome, personable guy. But then on Friday, R had to cancel his meeting with Murase Kaicho! So it had been over a week with no contact and we just had no idea what was going on from his side. But we were assuming we would have to wait until he turned 20 so he wouldn't have to get parent permission to be baptized. If he even still wanted to be baptized! So that was kind of the state of mind we were in, then in hyogikai on Sunday morning Murase Kaicho told us he invited R to the Elder Bednar  Fireside that night, and R couldn't come but he could meet for a little bit before the fireside. Murase Kaicho invited us to join them but said they might talk with just the two of them if he seemed uncomfortable. So, 6:00 last night, we finally saw R again! Things were totally just normal, we said hi and just talked about how he's been lately. Then, out of the blue, he was like, "oh yeah sorry I haven't been able to contact you, I've been super busy with work lately." So we said it was all good, and we asked about his parents' permission for baptism.

And he got it! He said they were a little surprised that he wanted to be Christian, but they were fine with it. We were seriously freaking out. For nothing! I guess it was just a total coincidence that he didn't contact us for a week right after he was supposed to get parent permission for baptism. So things are all good, but since we missed an entire week, we are a little bit behind our lesson schedule. Normally, we are supposed to have the  interview at least a week before the baptism. So that would've been this last weekend, but we worked it out with the Branch President. Our plan right now is to meet with him this week and teach the Plan of Salvation and lesson 5 from PMG (laws and ordinances). Then we'll have the interview on Saturday and do the baptism on Sunday. So instead of the 22nd, it will be the 23rd. But we are so relieved it only had to be postponed for 1 day!

Around the same time we lost contact with R, we lost contact with T Kyoudai. It was the weirdest thing! We had our shortest weekly planning session yet because the two main people we are focused on weren't answering calls or texts. We stopped by T Kyoudai's apartment 4 different times, gave him a few calls and a couple texts throughout the week. His apartment was on the way to a big group of danchis that we have been housing, so on Saturday we stopped by his apartment both on the way there and the way back. He wasn't home, or didn't answer, either time. I said a prayer that we would be able to talk to him somehow. Later that day, we were stopping by a grocery store to ask if they would hang up an Eikaiwa Poster for us. As we were leaving, I felt like we needed to go left, even though it would take us farther away from the church, which was our next stop. But we had time, so we went left and we came across this lady walking. We stopped and talked to her for a while, and I had a distinct feeling that we were supposed to give her a Book of Mormon. She seemed only mildly interested in our message, but she wasn't trying to walk away from us so we figured we would keep talking. We introduced the Book of Mormon, and bore our testimony of it, but she said she just couldn't believe there was a God. We invited her to read, pray, and find out for herself whether or not God exists. We promised her that she would get an answer from God. She still just said she couldn't believe. For some reason, we just kept trying and trying to get her to try reading the Book of Mormon. But she kept saying that it made sense in her mind, but she just couldn't believe that God actually exists. After probably 20 minutes of talking, we left, somewhat discouraged. We talked about it and we both had distinct impressions to keep talking to her, even though it didn't seem like it was going anywhere. And then it didn't lead to anything.

But! From there, we found a little grocery store that we would not have stopped by had we not been going in that direction. We went inside and gave them an Eikaiwa poster, they said they would hang it up for us. We exited the store, unlocked our bikes, put our helmets on, then right as we were about to leave, T Kyoudai walked right in front of us!! We called out his name and he came and talked to us for a little bit. He said he has been crazy busy with work and hasn't been able to contact us (sound familiar?), but towards the end of this week things should be dying down a little. So we'll probably be able to meet this weekend!

Crazy right? I realized after that if we had left the store 10 seconds earlier, or 10 seconds later, we would've missed him. So by prompting us to turn left, the Lord led us to the right place. And by prompting us to keep talking to that lady who didn't take the Book of Mormon, he helped us be there at the right time. The Lord really is guiding us. Sometimes it's hard to see until after, but He's always there. It reminded me of at BYU, (on a couple different occasions) when I needed to talk to someone but didn't have any contact info, I would say a prayer and just start walking through campus. I remember 3 times where I just happened to run into the person I needed to see. And now 4 with T Kyoudai! Cool right? I wonder if that's one of the gifts of the spirit. Really though, it was a cool miracle.

We got to see a broadcast of Elder Bednar's Devotional for Japan, it was soooo good! Probably the most spiritual fireside I've ever seen. He talked mainly about joy, about how to have happiness in the Gospel. Joy is a gift of the spirit, and like all gifts, it's not given just because someone thinks it would be nice to have. It is given to people so that it can bless others, through that person. I had never really thought about joy that way before. We are given joy, not simply because it's nice to be happy, but because Heavenly Father can bless other people through the joy he gives to us.

It's been another great week, thanks for being such a stellar mom!
Elder Paskett

My average breakfast. So you know I'm eating good!

Zone Taikai

BONUS: Donut Story from last week!

I have a fun story for you guys! This family we saw reminded me of my wonderful little siblings, so I am sending it to you guys.

Once upon a time this week...
We went to Mr. Donut (a super good donut store) to see if one of our potential Investiagtors was working. As we were walking in, we noticed a family of 6 waiting outside and we said hi to them. We thought it would be a fun service idea if we bought them donuts! So, we entered the donut store and started picking out donuts that we thought each of them would like. We had selected a few donuts for each of them and then we got some more for the two of us. We were going towards the cash register when suddenly the family is ushered into the restaurant they were waiting by. We watch disappointed, but then we realize that we no longer want all those donuts since we can't give them to family.

So that is how I came to be standing in a Donut Shop in Aomori with about 2 dozen donuts that I didn't want piled on my little tray, surrounded by Japanese people who are amazed and disgusted by how much Americans eat. We decided that we must put the donuts back, and it was ok since we grabbed them with tongs and not our hands. But we didn't want anyone to see us putting them back--so we make our way to the back of the line. But then another customer comes in--followed by another, and another. So we have to tell each person--while holding a tiny tray stuffed with 24 donuts--that we are still deciding which donuts to choose (because the mountain we had alrerady chosen apparently wasn't enough), and they can go ahead of us in the line. We would take every 2-second window when no one was looking and really quickly put a donut or two back. Sometimes they would look back and we would still have the donut in the air, in our tongs, so we would bring it down slowly and pretend that we had just grabbed it off the shelf. After continuing this painstaking process for an eternity, we were left with only a couple donuts that we wanted for ourselves, and we checked out, victorious.

So moral of the story--be careful how you choose to serve others. 
And it's the thought that counts, right?

Love you guys!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016

Thanks for the email, sounds like everyone is doing well :) That's fun you get to do some extra conducting work on top of all the RS stuff...sorry you're so busy! Glad you're enjoying it though. So the melon soda float...the one I had was just melon soda mixed with calpis with vanilla ice cream in it. You'll have to try it someday!

So this week has been so good...on Tuesday we had splits with the ZLs (the other Elders in our apaato). We visited this less active guy named K Kyoudai who was super friendly. But we taught about prayer and how Heavenly Father loves him and wants to hear from him. He said he hasn't been praying at all recently, but he committed to pray every day and he prayed at the end of the lesson! In the prayer he gave thanks to the Lord for sending us his way. Super solid guy.

We taught R Kyoudai the word of wisdom while on splits. It went really well, he already knew kind of what it was, so really he just needed to verbally commit to live it. He did, and he even asked us to call him every day to follow up! It's super good that he wants to be accountable. We taught him again on Friday, we taught the 10 commandments and the Law of Chastity. He said he thinks the law of chastity seems like a really good thing, good for society. So golden. So we have taught him all of he commandments and he doesn't have any problems keeping them! We do have to get his parents' written permission for him to be baptized, but that's the last thing! Still planning on October 22nd. Please pray that there won't be any problems with his parents! :) They gave permission for him to take lessons way back when so it should be fine.

On the way to Eikaiwa on Wednesday we happened to be walking the same direction as this middle-school aged girl, so we talked with her for a while while we walked. It was pouring rain, and she had a tiny little umbrella that was totally busted. Mine was just fine, so I traded her umbrellas. I got totally soaked! Worth it though.

We had our 2nd new missionary meeting this week, in Morioka. It's about a 3 hour bus ride from Aomori. It was way fun to see all my doki again!! The meeting was super good. President Smith is so awesome. For the first part of the meeting, he talked to just the new missionaries (without our trainers) and we listed on a whiteboard everything that was surprising, and everything that went wrong. Then he invited our trainers back in and we talked about each item on the list. Then we talked about how different Christ-like attributes will help us to solve the problems we have. Rather than trying to change or fix our surroundings or others, we should just try and focus on being as Christ-like as we can.

General conference was so good! We had to wait until this week for them to translate it into Japanese so we could watch it at the same time as the branch, but we got to watch it in English in another room. It seemed to me that there was alot about member missionary work, and the Book of Mormon, and having joy. And it was cool to hear all the talks from a missionary perspective. Also, I think this is the first time in my life that I have watched all 5 sessions without falling asleep a single time! Amazing how much more you get out of it when you're awake.

So that's been my week! Nothing too exciting...between Morioka and general conference we had very little actual dendo time. But it's been good! Still livin' the dream!

Elder Paskett

Some pics from すたみな all-you-can-eat Yakiniku!

October 3, 2016--9 weeks in Japan have flown by

Hello my exquisitely gorgeous and wonderfully brilliant mother,

Can't believe how long it's been! I have officially been in Japan longer than I was in the MTC. It still kind of feels like the MTC was long, but these last 9 weeks in Japan have flown by. I am also realizing how cushy and convenient and easy everything was in the MTC compared to here--so I have repented for complaining about how long the MTC was.

Yeah I really am glad I have had these opportunites to play the organ and piano! It's kind of funny because I felt like everyone played the piano in the MTC. And especially my old doryo, Nathan Choro, is a piano prodigy. So I didn't really need to play much then, but out in the field those talents have been put to good use. So, note to any pre-mission piano players reading this letter--keep practicing! Because you'll for sure use it in the mission field. And the more you practice, the fewer number of times you'll mess up, and the fewer number of times the ward choir director will wince from your mistakes. ;)

Happy to hear that Relief Society is going well and you're learning a lot! I'm not sure why someone as perfect as you would feel that you have room to improve, but I suppose eternal progression is the goal. Hope the meetings and trainings go well and you continue to enjoy everything! Don't get stressed out please!

Glad general conference was good! We will be watching it this weekend, I think what we will be watching at the church when the branch is showing it, but we'll just watch it in English on our ipads. I'm excited, and hopefully R Kyoudai will be able to come as well. He read one talk by Pres. Monson from last conference (called Choices) and said he really enjoyed it--it was much easier to understnad than the Book of Mormon and kind of helped him to have more of a context of how the gospel will help his life.

We had one lesson with R, about tithing and fasting. Murase Kaicho was there with us too, and he basically taught it all, he is super good. He even prepared a video of Elder Bednar talking about tithing, and shared some experiences, basically all we had to do was extend the commitment invitation. He fasted yesterday with us, he unfortunately wasn't able to come to church or have a lesson because of work, but we talked on the phone that night and he said he fasted, and he will pray tonight about a special question that he has (he told me what it was but I didn't really understand...something about God's will for us and how he wants us to be happy) so we just promised that from fasting, he would be more receptive to the spirit and would be able to get a special answer.

We were planning to teach him the 10 commandments and the sabbath day, but he wasnt able to meet--and that would've put us behind schedule to be ready for his baptism on the 22nd, so I managed to teach a little sabbath day lesson over the phone. He actually already knew some things about it, like how God rested on the 7th day after creating the earth. So I asked him how it applies to modern day, and he said it is still supposed to be a day of rest. So we talked about that a little bit, and invited him to ask his boss for work off on Sundays--and he said he would! I asked if he thought it would be difficult, and he said it would probably be totally fine. So hopefully that will go well and he will be able to come to church consistently after this! Talking on the phone with him has made me more aware of how real the gift of tongues is--I am just able to understand so much over the phone with him, more than I would normally be able to pick up. Heavenly Father really does have a plan for R to accept the
gospel, and he will make up for what I lack so that I can help him. It has been awesome, and humbling, to see how much the Lord really is guiding the work here. I am just honored that I, weak as I am, get to be a tool in His hands.

Last Monday we went to follow up on a Book of Mormon that we had placed while housing. We had given it to super friendly, genki obaasan named H Shimai at a danchi. We weren't expecting much, but she had read 20 pages and had even marked them up and taken notes! She had a concern about why Nephi killed Laban, if killing is a sin and the center of Christianity is forgiveness. Honestly though, I think having this concern shows how sincerely and intently she is reading. But we tried to explain how the killing was justified in this instance, but she said it was still hard for her to understand. We ended up just bearing our testimonies about it and encouraging her to keep reading. She said she would continue on and said it was ok for us to stop by again another time. We passed her on to the Sisters, but it was cool to see that just reading a little bit, sincerely, can change someone from listening out of politeness to genuinely wondering about the truth. The Book of Mormon is powerful.

We tried a cool idea with the Funahashi Kazoku--before we went housing, we stopped by their house and decided together which area we would go to. We left with kind of a vague direction to travel rather than an area, but the important part was that they helped us decide. So we housed in said direction for two nights, then we returned and reported the miracles we saw. There were two that stuck out the most--the first was a man who answered the door with his shirt unbuttoned, his hairy chest exposed. He was very friendly and open (open in more ways than one!), and he took a pamphlet but didn't have too much interest. But he said that since we were working so hard, he wanted to give us something--he went into his house and then came back with a plastic jar of pumpkin flavored kit-kats! Never seen those before. But that was so nice! Then miracle #2 was a younger guy who wasn't super interested at first, but as we kept talking, he just started getting into it more and more. By the end he was asking us questions about God and Jesus and how they are different, and if we worship Mary, and he was just really intrigued. He has a little bit of previous knowledge of Christianity, so I think that made him even more interested in the message of the Restoration of Christ's Gospel. We left him with a Book of Mormon and a promise that it would answer his questions about God and life, so we will stop by again this week and see if he read. When we stopped by the Funahashi Kazoku again, they were super excited to hear about everything! The kids were the most enagaged they have ever been so far. We gave them the pumpkin kit-kats and then shared a
video with President Eyring about how God's hand is always in our lives, but sometimes if we're not looking we will miss it. Definitely a good reminder for both missionaries and members :)

It's starting to get cold here, we are beginning to break out the long-sleeve shirts and such. I'm excited for some real snow though!! The other guys keep telling me winter is horrible and freezing cold, but I am stubbornly excited about winter haha :) I actually prayed for snow this morning in comp study, then it dumped rain on us today, so I
guess I still need to learn patience. 

We went to an all-you-can eat Yakiniku today!!! Holy cow. I probably ate an entire cow. Maybe I should say hole-y cow instead ;) But it was way good. I also discovered the melon soda calpis float, and my life has been changed for the better. Did you guys ever do melon soda floats? :)

So this week has been good, I'm loving it here and each week gets faster and faster. Please keep R Kyoudai in your prayers, and K (the guy we gave a Book of Mormon to) as well. Thanks for all you do, and for being such an amazing mother!!

Elder Paskett