Monday, December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016--Merry Christmas!

It was so fun to see everyone yesterday!! It went by way too fast.

So yesterday we had Christmas dinner with Murase Kaicho and his family, it was so nice! They fed us so well. After that we did a little bit of tracting, nothing too eventful. It was a good Christmas though!

This morning, S stopped by our apartment (we have no idea how he knows where we live) and we gave him a video about the Church, made by some Japanese broadcasting agency. He loves movies so we thought that was a good Christmas present! I think things will start to pick up with him this week, he loves the missionaries so much and I think he is starting to realize that there is something more to the Gospel than he has realized before.

I told you most of the exciting stuff from this week, but here are some other fun things that happened...
On Friday, we got to down to Misawa for Zone Conference. Nathan Choro got us hooked up with some peanut butter and Oreos since the American base is there. And the English ward relief society made us the best lunch of all time! We had cheesy potato casserole stuff with ham and salad and all kinds of American food. Then they sent us home with more ham and cereal and mac n cheese and root beer and just so much food! Seriously so nice!
At the Zone Conference, we learned so much! It was great. I got to sing and Nathan Choro played the piano, and we also learned Elder Holland is coming in February! We also got some little stocking presents assembled by YW in Utah and Idaho, to give out to investigators and LAs for Christmas.

On Saturday, we were out streeting and we ran into a bunch of Christians handing out bibles for Christmas Eve! We were both so pumped to see other Christians! We had cookies that we were using to invite people to Christmas sacrament meeting, so we gave them all the cookies we had left. And we each got a Japanese New Testament that we didn't really know what to do with.

Later that day, Kimura Kyoudai asked us to go home teaching with him to Niiyama Kyoudai. He is an older guy who is in a care center right now. He isn't able to come to church but he was so excited to see us, he has all the missionaries he meets sign his Book of Mormon and mark their favorite scripture. We gave him one of those little stocking presents, and then gave him a second one with the New Testament we received, and invited him to give those to a friend for Christmas! So we asked him to re-gift a gift, as a gift to someone else, that Smith Kaicho re-gifted to us and asked us to re-gift to someone else. In addition to a gift that we had received earlier that day. There was a lot of re-gifting this Christmas.

I'm so glad everyone is doing well and it was so fun to talk to you guys for a little bit! Already excited for Mother's Day! :)

Love you! Merry Christmas!
Elder Paskett

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 19, 2016--So much snow!!

Konnichiwa watashi no ai suru, utsukushii, subarashii hahaoya,

There is so much snow here. It is crazy. It hasn't been too cold, but tons of snow. We actually made a snow cave last P-day! That was way fun. But when we came to church this Sunday, it was totally gone! Not collapsed, or even melted--a big tractor came to clear all the snow from the parking lot and they took our snow cave and dumped it in the ocean. Sad day.

Today we had our district lunch at Stamina yakiniku!! Always fun. It was Hall Choro's first time at yakiniku so that made it extra special!

We got a referral from the Sisters named T san, he is our main kyudosha right now. The problem is that he doesnt want to join the church--he told us straight from the beginning that he doesn't want to enter the church, he just wants to learn more about Christianity because it's interesting. He wants to learn about lots of different  religions and follow the truth from each of them to find the most happiness. So it's great that he is searching out truth, and obviously great that he is willing to meet with us, but it's a super hard situation. We're thinking that even if his interest starts as just wanting to know more information, as we teach and as he feels the spirit, he'll start to realize that there is more to this church...we've only met with him once so it's still hard to know where it will go, but it will be an interesting journey.

We haven't had any contact with O san this transfer--we have texted and called him, and even went to the store where we would meet for lessons, but haven't heard from him or seen him at all. The other Elders told me that the day I left Aomori to go to Sendai, they visited O's Dad, and Murakami Choro kind of had an argument with
him--apparently O's Dad kept trying to slam the door, but Murakami Choro stopped him and held it open, and kept trying to get him to take an invitation to the Christmas Seisankai. Nice right? So that is unfortunate, we will probably stop by their house this week and apologize, hopefully try to start meeting with O san again.

On Wednesday I had splits with Mimaki Choro, the new ZL in our apartment. That was so fun! I don't think there was a single time the whole day that I didn't understand what someone said. It felt amazing! We talked to so many people and I felt like all of our conversations were so good. Unfortunately, we didn't see many results--we walked a very long way through slushy snow to visit someone who is technically an investigator, but hasn't been taught since before I got here. Then when we got there we found out they had moved houses! Zannen ne. We
were able to find a new investigator and set up an appointment for Sunday, but then he didn't show up and he hasn't answered his phone at all. Mata, zannen ne! It was still a good day though, we worked hard and I feel like we did the best that we could have done.

We met this guy with a beard while we were housing, never got his name, but we had an interesting  conversation. Basically we kept talking with him just because he was willing to talk with us, which can be rare. He was smoking right in our faces the first time, but we endured it talked to him about God and Christ and what he believes. He has some background knowledge but told us he doesn't believe in any of it--but he feels like his life is miserable right now and wants to find more happiness. We invited him to the Christmas sacrament meeting
but he said he cant come becuase he doesnt have any money. We told him it was free but he didn't believe us! It took us about 15 minutes to convince him that no one would ask him for money, and he said he will come.

Nathan Choro and Garacochea Choro came to Aomori this week for splits! (Also, Garacochea choro's Dad served in Fukuoka around the same time you guys did, so the Elder you knew is probably his Dad!) We went to
that super good Indo Curry place since Nathan Choro had never been before. I met the workers on the street my first week in Japan, which happened to be the first week their restaurant opened as well! So we are pretty good buds by now. I gave them a Hindi book of Mormon last time (they are all from India and Nepal) and the waiter asked for our number, said that maybe we should do something together for Christmas! So we'll see how that goes.

On Sunday we had dinner with J Kyoudai and his home teachers. J Kyoudai is doing so well! He is coming to church on Christmas, and he wants to come consistently so bad, he just feels stuck with his work situation right now. But he has been so good with keeping all the commandments lately, and he is going to pay a full tithe starting at the new year. He wants to go the temple so bad, and he has a goal for next Fall. His home teachers have been a huge help, I really think that he'll be able to meet his goal!

Dendou this week has been pretty slow since it takes forever to walk in the snow!! It is so hard to not be able to fit very much into the day anymore. But we are making the best of it, and helping a lot of people shovel their   driveways haha.

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

Snow Cave!!

Indo Curry

Christmas Cookies

Stamina Yakiniku

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December 12, 2016

Hello my most beautiful, wonderful, subarashii Mother!!

Glad the Sezas sent you the pics! It's always so fun to see those two. I actually saw them down in Sendai, and they said they were coming up to Aomori for the Christmas party! Seza Kaicho made a comment about how Santa wasn't tubby like he was expecting, Santa told him that Mrs. Claus put him on a diet.

Being Santa was so fun! I only made one little girl cry. She was looking a bit intimidated, so I gave her a big smile and waved at her, then she burst into tears. Oops. But all the other kids loved it! I got to give them presents from the big bag and it was so fun to see their faces light up. And Japanese kids are the cutest!!! Make sure and look for the pic with Murase Kaicho's little daughter. She is the most adorable little girl I have ever seen! She even grabbed Santa's fingers, I almost cried.

The new challenges are fun so far! Training isn't too complicated, it's actually nice in a lot of ways because I have so much flexibility to try new things. And I am way more conscientious about being enthusiastic and cheerful and obedient, just knowing that someone is watching my example makes me want to be a perfect missionary haha.
So my companion is Elder Hall! He is from Ogden, and he likes running and swimming. Perfect right? We'll probably be going on some snow runs this transfer! He is doing really well so far, I don't think he's quite enjoying his mission yet though. But I think very few people enjoy the first couple days of dendou, especially with jet lag and not understanding anyone and all that good stuff. It will be fun to see how he grows!

These last couple days have made me so grateful I had a Nihonjin comp last transfer. I think we also have an added amount of the gift of tongues, because I feel like I am understanding people better than I ever have before. Also, knowing that that responsibility rests mainly on me has helped to be much more diligent about listening intently.

We've seen some cool miracles this week! Especially when I had the opportunity to work with Nathan Choro in Sendai. So I got to Sendai monday night and spent the night in the honbu, then had training meetings all day Tuesday. We were originally supposed to meet our trainees Wednesday morning, but their plane got delayed going out of Salt Lake, so the missionaries going to Japan this week were scattered throughout Seattle, Tokyo, China, and Korea. Almost all of our missionaries came in Wednesday night, and some got stuck in Tokyo and came in Thursday morning. That was kind of crazy but it meant that Nathan Choro and I got to just dendo in Sendai Tuesday night and all day on Wednesday! That was so fun.

Miracle #1 -- While we were changing my bus tickets from Wednesday to Thursday, we met a lady from South Africa in the bus office. We talked to her a bit after, in English. She told us a bit about her conversion story and how she accepted Christ. Super cool lady, she has even talked to alot of her coworkers about Christ. We invited her to come to church, and she said that while she has been in Japan for work, she has been looking for a Christian church to attend but hasn't found one. So that was perfect! Then, part 2--normally, we only carry Japanese Book of Mormons. I have never yet gone finding with an English one. But, I had a copy of an English one on me that I had been studying and marking up! I was following Elder Bednar's challenge to read through the Book of Mormon with 1 topic you want to learn more about or question you want answered. I had been reading and marking everything that talked about the Holy Ghost, I was about halfway through first Nephi. It was in my backpack since Nathan CHoro and I were both carrying everything with us from the honbu to the Kamisugi apartment to spend the night--which was crazy because in any other situation, I would've left it in the apartment instead of taking it with me proselyting. So of course I gave her my English copy of the Book of Mormon and she said she would take a look!! THen we got her number to give to the Kamisugi missionaries.
Seriously though, what are the chances that 2 Americans would meet a South African lady in Japan, who is looking for a Christian church to attend, and have an English Book of Mormon with them? Especially in a city that is on the opposite side of the mission from where we are living.

Miracle #2 -- The next day, we had a full day of finding in Kamisugi since the new missionaries' arrival was delayed. That night was Eikaiwa--we were considering going, since Eikaiwa is always fun, but we decided since they already had more than enough missionaries there to teach, our time would be better spent out talking to people on the street. So, we were out on the street, and after talking to tons of people and having a good time since Nathan Choro is the best, it came to our dinner hour. We were walking towards a Indo Curry place, and as we were waiting at a light, I noticed the lady next to us kept looking at us. So I said, "konbanwa!" And she replied, "good evening. How are you?" Surprised that she spoke English, we talked for a bit, and she said that she loved English and used to always go to an Eikaiwa class, but she had to stop because it was too expensive. She perked right up when we told her about our free Eikaiwa, and she asked when it was. We told her it started 10 minutes ago--but she wanted to go catch the remainder of class anyway, so we walked her to the church for the last half of Eikaiwa.
That was a testimony to me of using time effectively! We could have gone to Eikaiwa, and had fun being extra teachers, but instead, we were the only missionaries on the streets in Kamisugi on that Wednesday evening. And we just "happened" to run into a lady who was looking for a new, more affordable Eikaiwa class, and was willing to walk with us to the church right at that moment! Cool right?

Miracle #3 -- Since we walked that lady to the church, our time for dinner was dying very quickly. We didn't question the sacrifice to give up dinner time to drop her off at Eikaiwa, but we realized that we were going to have to book it if we wanted to be able to eat and get home by 9:00. Long story short, we ended up running through downtown Sendai from restaraunt to restaurant, trying unsuccessfully to find something that would fill our vast missionary bellies without emptying our thin missionary wallets. We chased down one restaurant that exists on Google Maps but not in real life, then went to another and it was closed, and so on. Eventually we went in to a regular curry restaurant, one of Nathan Choro's favorites, and decided we would look for a lesson opportunity so we could have until 9:30 to get home.
We ate and there was nothing--but as we were leaving, after accepting the fact that we would return home late, I just said "this place is delicious, have fun" to a guy walking in the door. He laughed, and then he grabbed the to-go bags that were prepped for him and came back out! That was surprising, but it meant we were able to have a full conversation with him. He was interested in learning more about God, he took a Book of Mormon and we exchanged phone numbers. It was probably 8:55 at that point, and that conversation qualified as a lesson (to be a lesson, we have to teach a principle, extend a commitment invitation, and have contact info to follow up) so we had until 9:30 to get home and still be obedient! It started snowing as we jogged home, and we made it at around 9:20.

Hancock Choro is one of the ZLs in Kamisugi, so we got to refer our newly found PIs to my mission "dad"! We were also able to get one referral to the sisters, plus an extra Eikaiwa student! It was a great day's work with Nathan Choro. We felt that we were truly laboring for the Lord since we knew we wouldn't be able to see any of these new investiagtors progress, so any selfish motives were out of the equation. It was outside our own District, outside our own Zone, but we worked so hard and it felt so good.

So that was all before we even met our new companions! Thursday morning we met all the newbies, then found out I would be training Elder Hall and Nathan Choro would be training Elder Garacochea. 
Elder Hall gave out his first Book of Mormon in Japan right before we got on the bus to Aomori! I felt like a proud parent. Since then, we haven't had tons of dendo time but we have found one new PI and we have gotten a couple referrals (from the sisters) who we will try and visit this week.
Our district is so good! Satomi Shimai (who was here my first transfer then left) came back to finish training Candland Shimai. Morris Choro is finishing his mission here, and Mimaki Choro just came and replaced Murai Choro. So we have 2 Nihonjin, 2 Beans (new missionaries), 1 "dying" missionary, and me. It is going to be such a good transfer though I can already tell.

Last night was my first Houkoku! During DL training, they talked lots about being a Christ-like leaders, but we didn't learn a thing about reporting numbers. So that was a mess, we barely finished by 10:30. But I learned enough that everything should go smoothly next week.

Snow has been crazy here!! There is probably more snow than I have seen in a city ever before in my life. And it just keeps coming. So we have just been walking everywhere. But it's great!

Thanks for all you do! Love and miss you!
Elder Paskett

New Leaders' Meeting:

Ward Christmas Party:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 4, 2016--Happy December!

I have like no time today so this will be a short one! Transfer calls came yesterday and surprise! I am staying in Aomori! I thought for sure I would be leaving, but I will be here for a 4th transfer! We moved back downstairs on Saturday, so when we were packing things up to move apartments, I decided to save some time and just pack everything in my suitcases. But then I found out I am staying! So my stuff is very organized now haha. I am excited to stay in Aomori! Murakami Choro unfortunately will be leaving, but I will be training a brand new  Americajin! I don't know his name yet, but I will be training him and I will be the Aomori DL so I have to leave this afternoon to go to Sendai for training meetings all day tomorrow and Wednesday morning.

One highlight of this week was when I went on splits with Nathan Choro right after ZTM (while our companions were in a leadership meeting). We talked to a bunch of people on the street, and we meet one guy named S. He is a firefighter, in his 20s. Super cool guy--we had such a good conversation with him, I was actually a little shocked how much both of our Japanese has improved since being in the MTC. We talked to him about his job, his goals and dreams, and talked about Christmas and Christ and why God is important. The conversation eventually led into baptism, and we asked him if he wanted to be baptized! Then he said no. But, he is interested in learning more. So we asked for his number, and he said he forgot his phone today and he doesn't have his number memorized (which is generally a sign that they are not actually interested...) so we were like, "ok, here's our number, give us a call when you have time!" So far in my experience, no one has ever called if we give them our number but don't get theirs. But this is where the miracle happened! He totally called us! The first time, he called us from a pay phone. He said that he is interested in Christ and God, but he doesn't want us to pressure him into joining our church. But he likes us and invited us to go out for sake sometime. So I told him we don't drink, but he said he'd still like to go out to eat with us sometime, but just as regular friends--he doesn't want us to try and convince him to join the church.

Of course we said yes, so then he called us from his personal phone and we will probably be going out to eat sometime! It is kind of a weird situation but I think it has good potential. Because normally, people don't have the desire to hang out with random people they met on the street that day, especially when they are wary that said people will pressure you to join a church. But something touched him, told him that we are good people and makes him want to be around us--it reminded me of the multiple times Elder Bednar told us in the MTC, "it's not so much about what you say, but who you are that matters." I know he felt the spirit while Nathan Choro and I talked to him on the street, even if he doesn't recognize it yet. So we'll see how that one goes!

Other than that I got hugged by a female Eikaiwa student when she heard that I might transfer out of Aomori, that was scarring. I didn't hug her back. My hand was still out, ready for the handshake. The sister missionaries were almost crying from laughing at me so hard. I also got a couple packages this week! Really feeling the love!!

Thanks for all you do! Love you momma!!!

Elder Paskett

Zone Training Meeting

That service project a couple weeks ago.

Christmas calendar!