Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28, 2016--Happy Thanksgiving!

Sounds like Thanksgiving was way fun!! Glad you guys had fun in the sun. :) And holy cow those pies sound amazing. That is good you got to spend time both with cousins and with the Mitanis! And sounds like the Grand Canyon was awesome too!! My Thanksgiving here was probably the most uneventful Thanksgiving of my life so far, basically just a normal Thursday. I actually forgot that it was Thanksgiving until around 7 in the evening. When we visited J Kyoudai that night he made us some Misoshiro, so even though it was a coincidence I considered it my Thanksgiving celebration.

It's been a good week! Last Monday, we tried to visit M san, but he wasn't home--just his wife was. But we talked with her for a little bit, and it turns out she is a less-active member! They are now a part-member family instead of potential investigators. But for some reason, her records never came to Aomori. She has been less active since before she came to Aomori, so that's probably why. She doesn't seem interested in coming back to church right now, but her husband seems interested in learning, so the way to get her to come back might be through him.

On Tuesday we had splits, and the timing was actually terrible because we had two first lessons with two new investigators that day! I was sad to miss those. We finally had an appointment with WR, a guy that Hancock Choro and I found back in August, but he went to the hospital and just got out this week. Then we had a lesson with an investigator, K san that Murakami Choro and I found just on MondaySo I was super excited because we were having two lessons with two new investigators that I helped find, and then because of splits I had to work in the ZL's area instead. That was disappointing, but Murai Choro and I had a good day of finding. The other Elders said the lessons went well, but they didn't set up a return appointment for we haven't been able to meet with them again yet. Hopefully we will this week though!

Mom, I made a very important decision this week that was a huge step for me in my life--I really wanted to buy some fruit, but it's way expensive here, and I realized that if I bought the fruit, I wouldn't have enough money for ice cream. So I bought the fruit. A bunch of bananas. Instead of ice cream. I guess I'm a real man now. So I started the week thinking I just wouldn't have any ice cream, but then Murase Kaicho took the Elders to a tabehodai pizza place (the same one where I had the waffle taco) so I had a waffle stack with a mountain of soft serve ice cream on top, all soaked in hot chocolate. And french fries on the side. Heavenly Father is looking out for me.

We had a few good lessons with R, he is really getting integrated into the branch. We were able to go to the normal Sunday School class and leave him with some member friends in Gospel Principles, which I actually think is better than us hovering over him all of church. We had a lesson on Wednesday before Eikaiwa, and one of the students, M, came to Eikaiwa two hours early. He is retired so he has a lot of free time, and he is usually there 30 minutes early, but this was the first time he was 2 hours early. Normally, even we wouldn't be at the church that early. But, since we were having a lesson with R, we were, and we asked if he would like to join us! He accepted, so we had the very unique opportunity of teaching the Plan of Salvation to both an RC and a PI at the same time. I was trying really hard to get M interested, his wife passed away in the last couple years, so I talked a lot about eternal families and how we can see our loves ones again after this life. I'm not sure if him showing up crazy early to class was a coincidence or a miracle, but we made the best of it! Hopefully his interest is at least piqued.

As far as the Christmas thing, it definitely feels like Christmas here! I don't if it's just because Aomori is a big city or if things have changed a lot since you were in Japan, but since the day after Halloween, everything has been Christmas. All the stores are playing Christmas music (always familiar, English songs too), and the conbis too, even a lot of houses have Christmas decorations. We're doing the #lighttheworld calendar! I'm way excited. They even got us some in English, so that was nice. I'm not sure if we'll be able to do all of the days with our missionary schedule, but we'll try. It may be that most days end up as a  "Jesus got baptized, and so can you" day :)

Thanks for the email and for all you do!!! Love you so much Mamasama!!!
Elder Paskett

The snow on Thursday

"Curry" I made from scratch! And without a recipe too. It was kind
of weird. Not terrible though.

The "snow" on Friday

Saturday, November 26, 2016

November 21, 2016

My most fantastically fabulous mother dear,

Yeah the snow...there has a been no hint of it this week! It has actually been kind of warm to me. Last night, I got super hot biking in a sweater and a raincoat. The other guys in the apartment still blast the heater every morning, so in the morning it feels like summer again. Then the day is pretty mild. This week is supposed to get pretty cold though, so maybe we'll see some snow again.

We got most everything transferred to the new apartment, still no desks though. It's actually way harder to study and keep my stuff organized without a desk. I don't think we have any plans to get those desks up soon though...
Other than that, just all of our printed materials are downstairs. So we just stop by the old apartment to get モルモン書s [BoMs] and pass-along cards and such. The workers who are in there working smoke so much! The apartment smells like a pachinko now (not that I know what a pachinko smells like haha), we're thinking about leaving a Chie no kotoba [word of wisdompamphlet out for them.

The branch is doing a really good job of reaching out to R, I definitely agree that that is super important. That is interesting that is so important even with active members with the ward splitting. Sounds like you are doing well though and making sure all the new sisters are being fellowshipped!

Unfortunately, R had a sudden work training that he had to go to on Sunday that he didn't know about until the morning of--so he wasn't able to make it to church his week. That was killer, since it would have been his first week after his confirmation. But we've had a couple good lessons this week and he was interviewed by the branch president to prepare to receive the aaronic Priesthood, so he is still progressing well. And it wasn't just normal work, it was a pretty sudden, one-time thing, so it shouldn't be a problem in the future.

On Thursday, we had a good service opportunity with a guy named S from Eikaiwa--he wanted us to place a bunch of side panels along his house to protect it from snow build-up. Imagine sixteen 10'x3' frames of wood, with strong, ridged plastic screwed onto them. We carried them from the garage to the other side of his house and leaned them against his house, so it's basically like an extension of his roof that goes to the ground. The problem was that his house was on a steep hill--they carved out where his house is, but it meant that we were
working right at the top of a 7 foot drop to the bottom of his house.

It was thin enough that we were able to have our feet on the high ground and our backs on the house, then the little crevasse right below us. I don't know if that makes any sense but I drew a little picture that explains it better. Probably chotto abunai [a little dangerous] but we were all fine, it went well. Right after, he fed us lunch and he showed us tons of picture albums--he has known missionaries in Aomori for like 15 years. And he has pictures of him with all of them. We dont have any record of him ever being an investigator though.

As he was showing us his stacks of picture albums, I noticed a Morumon Sho in one of the stacks. I looked at it, and there was a note written inside the cover, in English, from President Smith! Dated February 2015. I asked S if he had read any of the book, and he said no. I asked him if he had read Smith Kaicho's note and he said yes but he didn't really understand it. (Actually he said, in English, "It's way over my head!) So I offered to read it to him in Japanese. So I did what I thought was a pretty good job of translating it, basically it said that it was more valuable than money could buy, and that it would bless his life immensely. After I finished, I asked him if he would
read from it--and he said he would! So hopefully this will be the start of him finally becoming an investigator.

We taught O san twice, he is doing well. We taught the doctrine of Christ on Thursday--beforehand, we had unsuccessfully tried to find a member who could come. We kept trying until about 30 minutes beforehand, we figured we'd just be teaching without a member. Which isn't the end of the world, but ideally we would have a member. Then, literally right as we are leaving the church to go to the lesson, Seza Kaicho and his wife pull up! So we say hi, and he says he is here to do some inspection of the church building. We tell them we are on our way to a lesson, but we weren't able to find a member to joint--and Seza Shimai volunteers to come! She said she would just be waiting around for her husband for the next hour anyway, so it was perfect! She was a huge help, she shared some awesome experiences, and she is soooo genki. Definitely a miracle right there! The lesson went so well, and he committed to be baptized in January! We read 1 Nephi 3:7 together and talked about if he commits to obey the commandment to get baptized, the Lord will prepare the way for him, even with a father who is hantai.

Speaking of his father, we tried the coincidental housing idea, and we got kekkoed right away. Big surprise, it's looking like he will need to confront his dad and just express clearly why he wants to be baptized. But I didn't realize last week that he lives with his parents--so even though he is old enough to not need permission, he's not really independent enough to go against his father's will without big consequences. And we don't want him joining the church to have a negative effect on their family! So that's still kind of bimyo. We have faith it will work out though.

We had a cool experience visiting the K Kazoku, they are an old couple (they are members) and they live mecha mecha tooi. It was about 45 minutes by train. But they were super happy to have us visit! And they even had a service project they wanted us to do--I guess they needed someone to put up these boards over the windows at their son's old house, but they can't do it themselves, and their home teachers do lessons at the church because their home is so far. So they were just hoping and praying that someone would come to do that project, then we showed up at their house! The Lord truly is guiding us. They were so grateful, they gave us a bunch of food after--including the best corn dog I have ever eaten. I hated corn dogs before my mission, they are just so oily and fake and gross. These corn dogs were still oily and fake, but holy cow they were so delicious. This Japanese diet is making me forget what America tastes like.

So it's been a good week, we've had some cool miracles! On Saturday we spent most of the day knocking on doors, and it felt weird because we hadn't spent more than an hour tracting the whole week! Which is awesome. It feels so good to finally be busy, and teaching often.

I love you so much! Thanks for being such a great mom!
Elder Paskett

My homemade creations

My homemade creations
We don't have a can opener. The other elders told me it was unsafe,
that I would hurt myself. but I did it anyway. When I finally
punctured through the can the first time, I screamed and held up the
knife, dripping with tomato sauce. Haha.

Our service project with Sam:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 14, 2016--Baputesuma!

This week was crazy! Definitely the craziest week of my mission so far. Also probably the best! We had snow, and our pipes froze, and we moved apartments, and we rode a taxi for the first time, and we had all-you-can-eat yakiniku, and we are teaching a guy who sees dead people, and Ryouma got baptized! So many cool miracles and also just unusual experiences.

To start from the beginning...first, on Tuesday, I had the chance to give a blessing to one of the sisters in our district. It was the 2nd time (the first was in the MTC) and it was still just as scary. I think it went well though. That day it was pouring rain, then Wednesday was a blizzard. It snowed so hard. We were walking into the snow for probably an hour or two, just totally blinded by the snow flying in almost parallel to the ground. It was crazy. The snow was good snow too--it was like little dippin' dots. Tons of 'em. Everywhere. In the snow we had a cool miracle! There is guy named M San who was a PI from like May or June. We have been trying to visit him off and on but he has never been home when we visited. Then this week, we were going to try and visit again. Right before, we met a couple in the parking lot of his apartment building. They were changing the tires on their car, so we stopped to help and we figured we would knock on M San's door after that. But as we were talking, we found out it was actually M san that we were helping! So that was pretty funny. We had a good chance to get to know him and his wife a little bit, they have read from the Book of Mormon they received and are interested in learning more! We weren't able to set up a specific appointment but we will definitely stop by again sometime.

Another miracle this week! We were sending out a bunch of texts to invite people to the baptism, and I sent one to all of the former investigators in our phone. One of them, O san, responded! As if that wasn't miraculous enough, he called and said that unfortunately, he couldn't make it to the baptism, but he wanted to start taking lessons again! We looked on his record and he has a tooonnnn of stuff--most of it was from paper records from 2010, added into the ipads in 2013. Apparently he was super close to getting baptized multiple times. He was dropped twice before in the digital record, maybe more before his records were put into the ipad. Basically he would be keeping all the commandments and ready for baptism, but his father was opposed to it. So the missionaries would keep trying to meet but just couldn't gain any ground with his dad, then eventually dropped him. So we met once, and it went well! I think. Apparently he sometimes hears voices in his head (in Japanese and sometimes English) and sometimes sees his dead relatives...Murakami Choro didn't seem at all phased by this so maybe it's common in Japan? I don't know but we'll find out more about everything this week. He told us some seriously creepy, weird, spiritual visions/experiences that he has had. But he and Murakami Choro were just conversing about it like it was a normal conversation topic, so I just kept it cool while I was kind of freaking out on the inside.

Overall it did go really well, we got a good feel for his understanding and expectations. He still understands the gospel and the commandments well, the main thing still keeping him from being baptized is his father--who hates all religion. O is in his 20s so he can be baptized without his father's permission, but he personally doesn't want to go against his father. O wants us to knock on his father's door, but act like we are just doing regular tracting and just happened to run into him. So we agreed to, we'll see how it goes! I feel like he is just going to have to confront his dad about it and make a stand eventually, but hopefully this "coincidental" housing idea will soften his dad's heart.

So after the blizzard day, it got warm again. Still cold enough that we are wearing sweaters and jackets, but warm enough that it has been raining on the piles of snow on the sides of the road. On that one really cold day, something got damaged in our water pipes. That night all we could get out of the sink was a tiny trickle of water. Before we realized something was damaged, we were visiting the Funahashi Kazoku and they decided to send us home with some rice and curry. That was super nice of them, and then when we got home we found out that we wouldn't be able to make any rice or pasta because the water wasnt working! So that random dinner was a lifesaver. Definitely a miracle!

That night we called the landlady person and we figured out that the damage would take a while to fix and it would be pretty invasive, so we needed to move apartments! We spent most of Friday moving. We are still in the same apartment complex, just on the second floor. That morning I took the coldest shower of my life (they fixed the water enough that we could get a full stream, but it was ice cold--and if you turned it to hot water it just turned into an ice cold trickle instead of turning warm). It was like an ice-bath for my entire body. I went numb all over, just like when we would do the whirlpool ice-bath after track practice. Except for track it was just my legs. Seriously, I could see my breath forming clouds. It was frigid. After that, the other 3 guys didn't take showers that morning haha.

Moving went well, the ward mission leader came and helped us take stuff up. The apartment people hired some guys to take the fridge and washing machine up and install them, so basically everything is the same except the apartment is so new and clean! The layout is exactly backwards from our old apartment, so that has been a little weird. Also, our desks are still downstairs...they are too big to fit through the doorway without taking them apart so we can't really move them on our own. We have just been doing studies sitting on the floor this week.

Finally, the baptism! It went so well!! The night before, a bunch of members were at the church so we had a joint lesson with 4 members and Ryouma. We had a little testimony meeting kind of thing and it was so good! We were so busy that night that we didn't end up having time for dinner, but one of the members who taught with us brought us food! Another little dinner miracle. At the baptism, I was a little stressed out to be honest. That morning Ebina Kyoudai asked if I could play the organ for the baptism, He showed me the songs I was playing on the organ and one of them doesn't exist in he English hymnbook--I had never seen it before in my life until like 30 minutes before I was supposed to play it on the organ. So I was trying to fit in little bits of practice here and there while we were prepping everything else. He also asked the 6 missionaries in our district to do a musical number. We had decided to sing I Need Thee Every Hour. We were practicing that morning and one of the Shimai was way sick and her voice was gone--but we wanted all 4 parts and there were only 2 sisters, so I ended up singing alto and she sang tenor haha. I was so preoccupied with all the music stuff, trying to figure out how/where I would change, and trying to memorize the baptism words in Japanese, that I totally forgot he had asked me and Murakami Choro to introduce Ryoma Kyoudai to the branch over the pulpit. I remembered when he invited us and Ryouma up to the stand. I said a little bit about him but quickly realized that I did not have the necessary vocabulary to do an adequate introduction, and Murakami Choro still didn't know him super well. So after the first awkward 30 seconds of me stumbling through a brief introduction, I told everyone that we wanted to do an   interview type of thing and we opened the floor for questions about Ryouma. I started off by asking where he would pick to travel if he could go anywhere in the world. Then the branch participated really well, and we had a fun time listening to his answers.

So that part ended up way good, and my organ playing wasn't terrible, the musical number went well, and I said all the baptism words right! The ZLs told me horror stories of missionaries having to repeat it 10 times before getting everything right. But luckily we only had to dunk him once! It was such a cool experience though. Right after, I kneeled down in my make-shift changing room in my soaking wet clothes and said a prayer of thanks that everything went so well.

Overall, I was just so overwhelmed by how much the Lord really loves us, and how perfect His plan is. As Ryouma bore his testimony at the end, it really hit me how little I did. He mentioned some things that I said during lessons that I had forgotten about--things that I had said just in passing, but were things that he needed to hear or things that had a profound effect on him. Things that the spirit said, through me. I don't have what it takes to convert someone--not even close. I don't even have the capacity to tell the barber how I want my hair cut. But the Lord knows exactly what each of His children need, and I am just lucky that I get to have a front-row seat to see the Spirit converting Ryouma. This work is real! It was also comforting to me to reaffirm in my mind that I do have what it takes to be a successful missionary--because the Lord does all the work! Alma 26:11-12 became real to me that day.

God lives. He loves us. He has a perfect plan for our eternal happiness. I know it. I am so grateful to be able to a part of his marvelous work!

I love you so much, thanks for all you do and all you sacrifice for us!

Elder Paskett

Highlight of the week! All 3 of my eggs were twins!

The beginning of the snow

The Branch--the ones who came to the baptism
 Also there was a baptism:

Friday, November 11, 2016

November 7, 2016--Gengo Immersion

Gengo immersion has had mixed kekka. It's muzukashii because it doesn't really feel like I'm learning a whole lot very quickly, but I probably am. Like any kind of growth I guess, it's just hard to see it happen little by little. But I have been learning some useful phrases that Murakami Choro uses a lot, so that has been good. On the other hand, I still feel like I don't know him super well as a person. He doesn't really like English, usually doesn't use his language study time, which means our conversations are usually 100% Japanese. Which, again, is good for my language but not necessarily good for our relationship. Not that we have a bad relationship, just that it is taking a lot longer to get to know him that it did with an English-speaking companion.

The food is pretty much what I expected--on a day-to-day basis we don't eat anything too weird. Lots of rice, and stir fry, and chicken. Lots of curry too. I was definitely shocked the first time I went to a grocery store. There is so much crazy stuff. But as far as what we actually eat in the apartment, most of it is pretty normal.

Things with R are going so well! He had his baptismal interview yesterday and he passed! So we are good for this week on Saturday!!  We had a scare last Saturday though--apparently he had a pack of cigarettes in his pocket during our lesson (I didn't see them but Murakami Choro and Ebina Kyoudai both said they saw them), so after we were worried that he either didn't understand or just wasn't keeping the word of wisdom. Since neither of them wanted to draw attention to it during the lesson, we decided Sunday morning we would go over the word of wisdom again. Our lesson Sunday morning ended up starting 30 minutes late, so we were hurrying to get done before church started. It turned out that he was totally fine, I guess he carried around a pack of cigarettes after
work so that when people offered him a cigarette he could just say no because he already has some. So we talked a little bit about how it's good to let other people know what your standards are, and that people will respect them if you are firm in your beliefs. So that was a huge relief!!

After that, we had to rush to get him in an interview with the ZLs, and then decided on a time for the baptism with the branch president probably 10 minutes before sacrament meeting started. But he announced it in Sacrament meeting, so we should have a good turnout with the branch members, and everything is looking good for this Saturday!!

We visited T Kyoudai again, and we invited him to attend R's baptism. I was thinking that we really need him to come, because it would remind him of his own baptism and also help him meet the branch, so it could be a huge help in re-activating him. I had an idea to invite him to give a short talk at the baptismal service, to make sure that he comes, and also so that he feels like we need him, and knows we trust him. So we extended the invitation and at first he said that he wasnt sure if he was a good enough person, but we reassured him of our confidence in him and he said that if he could make it, he would do it. So I thought that was a good idea, but the branch mission leader was a little alarmed, saying that T Kyoudai hasn't been to church a single time since he moved to Aomori, and he's never met T Kyoudai before, and neither has R, and he doesn't want him to make R's baptism less spiritual! So that kind of made me second guess myself, made me wonder if it was a mistake to invite him to give a talk? But I feel like if we want him to become active, we need to not treat him like a liability, and emphasize that the branch needs him, rather than just the other way around. But at the same time, the branch mission leader is kind of in charge of the baptismal service and I probably should have cleared the idea by him first... So I'm not totally sure what will happen there, but we will probably end up taking Ebina Kyoudai (the branch mission leader) to meet T and they can talk with each other about how to make sure that R's baptism is a spiritual experience.

We also had zone conference this week which meant I got to go on splits with Nathan Choro! That's always a fun time. I love hanging out with him. Unfortunately, Livermore Choro's is no longer companions with a DL so he didn't get to come on the non-DL splits during the DL meeting.

Today we went to a fresh fish market called Nokkedon! The fish is so fresh, and it's all raw. It's set up so you can try a bunch of different fishes. Some of the fish are so fresh, they are still alive until you order them. When you order it, they grab it out of the tank it's swimming in, cut it up, and put it on some rice. So fresh!! I tried not to think about it too hard. I tried some whale and octopus, whale is actually not super good. And octopus us good but only if it's in really small pieces because it's impossible to chew. Right after the fresh fish market we went to an aquarium (I know, I know...) and it was way fun. It was our district p-day so it was with all 6 missionaries. We saw sea turtles and dolphins and penguins and basically every fish from Finding Nemo.

So that's been my week! Sounds like you have had an exciting week too! So glad Grayson bore his testimony, that's way cool! He is really growing up too fast. And glad you had a fun time playing ultimate and watching Taylor beat the old man at the half marathon!

Thanks for the email, I love you!!!
Elder Paskett


from the Halloween party last week! Its a little blurry,
but i dressed up as a missionary wearing a wig

this was a special meal I made called "use the very last scraps of
whatever type of food is left in our apartment the day before grocery
shopping"-stir fry. It actually wasnt bad.

Zone Training Meeting