Friday, December 8, 2017

December 4, 2017--It's been a good week!

It's been a good week!

We were actually out of our area from Tuesday until Saturday afternoon, then there was a baptismal service Saturday night! It feels like we never have time to work in our own area haha. Today we are headed up to Aomori Ken for a Christmas Conference! and we'll be back Friday morning.

I had splits with Elder Fujiki on Wednesday, we had a good time! We met a super solid high school student on the street--I called out to him in English while he was riding his bike, he responded and then actually stopped and turned around to talk with us. We got to know him and found out that he is working really hard to try and get into a way high-up-there university. I told him about my first year of college and how much the Book of Mormon helped me--we offered him a free copy and promised him that if he read when he studied, he would be able to focus more and study more effectively. He gladly took it! I'm so grateful for blessings like the Book of Mormon!

On Thursday was MLC, and for the first time President Sekiguchi had all of us discuss what would be good for a new "standard of excellence," rather than just deciding himself. That was pretty interesting, it really made me think harder about what our mission needs and how we can use "the standard" to help direct our efforts to better fulfill our purpose.

Yesterday I had splits with our DL, we picked up trash at park and had a lesson with a golden investigator Y san. It was his first lesson, we taught him the Restoration. He was smiling the entire time, and was so engaged and answered our questions just so perfectly. He looked me right in the eye as we shared the first vision, and gladly accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon to find out for himself if these things are true. We asked if we could meet again, and he said "yeah of course! This was fun." It was basically the "ideal" preach my gospel lesson, we were able to teach everything win order and it was all just so simple! Why can't missionary work always be that easy haha :) He had been going to a different Christian church for a while, but recently moved and was too far away from the church so he stopped going. Then, with uncanny timing, he met the missionaries and we were able to share the restoration of the fullness of Christ's gospel!Heavenly Father really is working hard preparing people to receive this message

I got to work with Elder Holdaway again this week! He left me in Kitakami in August, and now he is the district leader of Sakata in Yamagata zone so we got to be companions again for a day :) We worked hard and talked to lots of people in the snow, but weren't really having any success. We came back to the apartment at the end of the day for dinner, it felt like we had worked hard, but hadn't really seen any miracles. We were coming into the apartment around 8:20, and the other Elders were starting to cook dinner. I remembered the countless nights in Kitakami where we decided to push dinner back just 10 minutes, then another 10, and another, and then ended eating at like 9:30. I just kept thinking, "we can't end his split on such a boring, non-miraculous note..." I looked him in the eye, and I think he was thinking it too. I said, "you know, we have 40 more minutes until 9:00..." and gave him a double eyebrow raise. We both thought, "it's a Friday. It's douryou koukan day. This might be our last chance to work as companions. Gotta do it one more time." Who needs dinner anyway? Without another word we put our wet shoes back on and ran out into the snow to find a miracle! 

We ran from door to door, from kekko to kekko through the slushy snow, and watched the clock tick past 8:30, then 8:45, and 8:50, and we knew we'd have to start heading home real soon. Then at 8:55, we knocked on one last door--a surprised young mom said "come inside! It's so cold out there!" We quickly followed her instructions and started to talk with her in the genkan. She thought it was great that we were volunteer missionaries out sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ--a very nice contrast to most of the day haha. She asked us questions, and--what seems to be a common trait among people who will receive the gospel--she seemed to recognize that we were not just representatives of a church, but two individuals with lives and families. We were able to quickly build a relationship with her and her two young sons. One of them showed us all of his character erasers haha it was so cute. She told us that she actually went to go to a Christian school when she was younger, and read the bible and all that good stuff. We introduced the Book of Mormon to her and she scanned the pages with wonder. She began to hand it back, and we told it was hers. She lit up and said she really wanted to try reading it! We exchanged contact info and and she wants to come to church when she can! Her son has basketball games on Sundays so it's kind of hard right now, but once things clear up I think she will definitely come :) We left the house and forgot about how cold our soaking wet feet were as we dashed home and into the apartment right at 9:30. I have never had as delicious a dinner as that cold stew at 9:30 was!

It's been an awesome week! I realized all of my stories are from splits haha me and Watanabe Choro have had like no time together this last week, he is awesome though :) The Yamagata sisters' investigator got baptized on Saturday so that was great! She is actually the mom of a different Recent Convert.

I love being a missionary!
Love you so much! Thanks for all you do :)
Elder Paskett

1 - Tsuruoka chorotachi!
2 - Fujiki Choro
3 - the Adachi family! (Mom didn't want to be in the pic)
4 - Me and Elder Holdaway back together again!
5 - PI we met on splits
6 - second meeting with "leopard-print glasses" man

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 28, 2017--try the yakiniku!

To my amazing, beautiful, exquisite, superb mother,

The snow is real. We went to Sendai for splits and it was raining--on the bus back, we saw the rain turn gradually into snow and then into the blizzard that was consuming Yamagata. It actually warmed up the past few days though, so it hasn't been too bad.

Our splits in Sendai were good! I was with Elder Ito, my "grandson." We met one guy who expressed some interest and exchanged LINE with us. That night was Thanksgiving and we were somehow able to compile a Thanksgiving dinner out of random foods in the apartment--instant mashed potatoes, instant stuffing, jello, biscuit mix, and a rotisserie chicken. It was a glorious feast!

S san has been doing well! We are so busy traveling all over the place so we have been teaching him over LINE video chat. It's great because we are able to meet almost every day for a 15-20 minute lesson, which is sooo much better than long lessons with lots of time in between. As he has been learning the commandments, he has accepted so many of them with such strong faith; his only concern is the first of the 10 commandments--to have no other Gods before Heavenly Father. He lives with his Dad who it seems is a pretty active Buddhist, so S san is concerned that he can't just stop being Buddhist. We are trying to help him see how he can keep the good teachings in his life and still participate in the cultural aspects of Buddhism, but just needs to keep Heavenly Father as the only focus of his worship in order to keep that commandment.

To try and be able to help him, I have been studying about the 10 commandments and ancient Israel a little more--it has been way eye-opening to me. What is also interesting is that all of the conference talks on the subject that I have read say "you might not think that idol-worship is a problem in this day...but we make Gods out of our cars, jobs, reputation, etc." or something along those lines. Which I think is great and definitely important, but the problem we have here is literal idol worship, haha. And their butsudan has been part of their family for generations and is very important to them. So that has been an eye-opening experience for me. 

We met a man on the street yesterday who is in his last year of college--we had a good normal conversation, but each time we started to talk about our actual message, he would say how he is Buddhist/not interested/doesn't know about religion. He was very friendly though, and willing to talk. I asked him if he had a favorite food--he said he loves meat, and yakiniku. I asked him what he would do if he had a friend who had never eaten yakiniku before--obviously, take him to yakiniku right? But no matter how well you describe it, hey won't really be able to understand what yakiniku is like until they try it for themselves. I told him that our message was exactly the same way--we can try and explain it, but it won't really do it justice. I asked him if he would just be willing to try it out for himself, and then decide whether or not he is interested. At that point he said we had piqued his curiosity a little bit! He accepted a Book of Mormon and agreed to start reading it that night.

On Monday we were invited to family home evening at Yoshimura Family's house with 2 recent converts. They fed us way spicy mabodofu and it was delicious! Brother Yoshimura is orignally from Hawaii so he speaks fluent English as well as Japanese. Elder Watanabe was struggling with the spicy-ness, so Sister Yoshimura offered him some mayo to put over it. Brother Yoshimura turned to me and said, "that's what you call weak-sauce." It was he first time I had heard him speak English and no one else understood it, which made it just sooo funny for some reason. Man I laughed so hard. It was much funnier in person, I promise.

So the meetings and the busy-ness is more than normal, because we have a 5-week transfer and the last week is a mission-wide Christmas conference, so we have to fit into 4 weeks what we usually have 6 weeks to do. We normally just have 1 District Training Meeting every week, but the ZLs have to visit the other districts' DTM once a transfer. So that's why we're doubled up on DTMs. And the splits are normal, but just crammed together since we are short on time. We go on splits with the APs, DLs, and new missionaries, and in Yamagata Zone that means splits with every single Elder companionship haha. Add to that MLC and interviews with the President and basically our transfer is full to the brim. It's great though! 

Elder Watanabe is great! He is from Tokyo and goes home at the end of next transfer. We have been getting along great and working hard. It's also nice to be able to speak Japanese all the time! 

Thanks for the email! Love you so much!

Elder Paskett

Thanksgiving dinner!

District P-day

S Kyoudai

DTM in Sendai + Elder Sato's birthday

Thanksgiving Party

November 21, 2017--I'm Dreamin' of a white Thanksgiving!

To the most beautiful, wonderful mother of all,

Well, it's snowing here! It was falling pretty hard on Sunday. I guess winter is official! Still feels like last winter just barely ended to me though.

I had a split with a new missionary, Elder Fisher who is working down in Yonezawa. We were knocking some doors in the morning, and we were just getting nowhere. Even just getting people to actually come to their door to talk was hard. Nothing too out of the ordinary as far as tracting goes, but I was starting to second guess our decision to come to that area. At this point we see a man walking quickly on the other side of the street, looking very busy. I thought about whether or not it was worth it to cross and try and stop him, and we decided it was. We go over and call out to him, he doesn't stop walking but asks if we are Mormons. We tell him yes, and he says he wants to talk to us but doesn't have time right now. He is still walking and getting farther and farther away, so I run to catch up to him and hand him our business card, then we let him go. 

Fast forward to that afternoon, he actually called us! We set up a time to meet and found out that he used to be an investigator about 20 years ago, but didn't get baptized because he joined the army where religion is prohibited. We asked if he still wanted to be baptized and he said yes, so we set up a date for December 9th! He came to Stake Conference with us on Sunday and we met on Monday again for a lesson. He has accepted every single commitment so far with absolutely no hesitation or concerns! So easy to see how S san has been prepared by the hand of the Lord over the course of years and years.

That night we ran into a guy on the street, we asked if he had met missionaries like us before. He said yes, about 30 minutes ago! The other Elders talked to him but for one reason or another he decided he wasn't too interested. Then when he ran into us, maybe he started to realize God was reaching out to him, I don't know. But he accepted an invitation to meet at the church and at least hear us out and see what our message has to offer for his life. :)

Friday was Zone Training Meeting, basically a mini-Zone Conference but run by the ZLs instead of the Mission President. I think it went really well! We have a pretty solid zone. We gave a training about miracles and what we can do to see miracles and have the Lord's help in His work. I know the day of miracles has not ceased, we have seen so many miracles this week alone!

Last night, we were parking our bikes to go streeting by the Eki, and a guy was parking his bike right next to us. I noticed that he was wearing leopard-print glasses, so I complimented his glasses, he told me they were fake and had no lenses, but that he liked fashion so that's why he was wearing them, then one thing led to another and the next thing I knew we were eating dinner at ガスト's and discussing the Restoration of the gospel. I love my job haha. He is a history teacher and believes very strongly in God, and loves the bible. He believes Christ's teachings are the way to peace and happiness but doesn't know how he feels about the resurrection. He asked us all kinds of questions, and was so interested in the idea of modern revelation and the Book of Mormon. The only problem was that he kept asking if there was a way to know where Jesus would come if the 2nd coming is real. We said it doesn't matter so much where He comes to, but what is more important is what we can do to prepare. A lot of his questions weren't necessarily about things pertinent to Salvation, so we are a little worried he is missing the mark a little. But he is willing to talk and humble enough to learn, so I think he has a lot of potential.

There are so many prepared people here in Yamagata! We are loving life and having a grand old time. We have 2 DTMs and 1 split this week, then 2 DTMs, 2 splits, and MLC next week, then the week after a mission-wide Christmas conference and 1 more split. Then transfer calls come the next day--basically is transfer is going to fly by! It already is haha. I wish time would slow down!

I love you so much Mama!!

Elder Paskett
Batting cages last p-day
Won a free drink!


More ZTM! We decided to do a circular formation to spice things up.

Videos of ZTM--time lapses of trainings and a scripture mastery game:

November 14, 2017--Yamagata

My wonderful mother,

Things are great here! Yamagata is crazy! I haven't seen in a tanbo in almost a week. It's the weirdest thing, we can ride our bikes for 20-30 minutes and still be surrounded by buildings. Big change from Kitakami and Yokote. My companion is Elder Watanabe from Tokyo! He has been out for a year and 10 months, he goes home at the end of next transfer. We live in a 4-man apartment (めっちゃ久しぶり) with Elders Willardson and Travis, from Wyoming and Utah, respectively.

The ward is amazing! I love everyone so much already. I had my first legitimate DCS meeting since last December on Sunday, it was awesome. The Ward mission leader is around 30 years old and is とってもオシャレ、and has so much dendo fire. His wife is a convert of about 5 years and smiles more than anyone else I've met. Their 2 year old daughter is my new best friend, we had a little imaginary picnic together in the chapel after church per her request haha. Her Mom said she almost never talks to new people but was super happy that I was somehow able to make friends with her.

We also have ward missionaries here! There is one couple, the Takedas, who did a Mogi lesson with me and Elder Travis (we had splits yesterday). Afterwards we asked them if there was anything we could do to help them, and they asked us to pray that they would be able to find someone to introduce to the missionaries! They are amazing.

It was weird being at church for 3 hours again, it was good though. Sacrament Meeting was he primary program, it was soooo cute I actually teared up a few times. We talked about eternal families during Gospel Principles class, and learned about dendo during priesthood! We feel so supported by this ward. One of the members brought us lunch to eat after church, and the choir director had me accompany them on the piano to practice some Christmas songs. I feel like I'm already a part of the family :)

We don't have too many people to teach right now, but we have an appointment with a young investigator named T on Friday. He seems to have a lot of potential. Watanabe Choro and I both haven't met him before, but we're excited!

We taught a lesson to an RC Akiba Kyoudai as well, he was actually taught by my previous companion Elder Pratt and Elder Livermore from my Doki!

There is also a deaf member is this ward, so I studied a little bit of 手話 on Saturday night so I could talk to him on Sunday. He lit right up when I started signing to him, and didn't seem too bothered that I only know like 4 words haha.

One cool story from this week was on Saturday, we were street contacting and saw this young lady sitting on the bench talking on the phone. Usually we don't interrupt people if they're in the phone but we heard her switching between Japanese and English, and then talk about how her English has gotten a little rusty and she wants to practice more. I figured the Lord was dropping so pretty clear hints, but I didn't want to be rude, so I just kind of awkwardly went up and handed her a flier, pointing at the "Free English Class" part but not saying anything so as to not interrupt her phone call. She saw it and then actually asked the person on the phone to wait so she could talk to us! She said she lived in America from when she was like 2 until she was 10, and she actually used to come to our class a few years ago. We invited her to come again and she sounded super excited about it, so we'll see if she comes tonight :)

One other little miracle, we met a guy from Colombia! He was walking with his Nihonjin girlfriend and conversing with her in Spanish. We stopped them and she wanted to keep walking, but he was like "I want to wait and see what they have to say." He spoke a little English but no Japanese. He is Catholic so we shared the message of the Restoration with him, it reminded me of practicing teaching the Restoration in one minute back in Priests' quorum. I was glad I had practiced it back in the day because I realized in that moment how un-eloquent my English has gotten haha. He said he was leaving back to Colombia the next day, but he thought it was cool and said he would definitely look at our website and research more about this Joseph Smith guy. Hope the missionaries in Colombia will be getting a self-referral pretty soon :)

Things are fantastic here and Yamagata is great! Living the dream every day :)

Love you so much!

Elder Paskett

Me and K san (Kitakami)

Yamagata District

Ramen with Elder Watanabe

November 7, 2017--Transferring to Yamagata

Hey Momma!

Yeah we have splits with all the new missionaries, the DLs, and the APs. Which means we have splits at least one time in every single area in our zone haha. It's good though :)

So glad to hear about the temple dedication! It sounds like everything is going really well, that's awesome! :)

Things are getting pretty cold here, too. We are starting to break out the jackets. I found out that I will be transferring to the Yamagata Ward--not branch, but Ward! Which will be a first for me! I am excited, but also really sad to have to leave Kitakami. We spent most of today just meeting with investigators and members and saying goodbye to everyone.

We saw a couple cool miracles, I want to share just two of them. The first was Wed night, we were walking down the street to the Mission home. As we were walking, a man walking next to us started talking to us, and we found out that he used to be an investigator for other missionaries in Sendai. He said he wanted to be baptized, but he did not want to disturb his family traditions, so he decided not to. But, we were able to have a really good conversation and invited him to take lessons again if you ever felt like he wanted to. He was so glad that we took the time to talk to him and kept thinking us and did not want to leave. I think he just really needed someone to listen to him. I am glad we were able to make a difference in his day :)

We also met three people from Vietnam on Saturday night, and one of them said he is Christian. We asked if he was attending church, and he said he is not because she does not know of any churches in Kitakami. He and his friends just moved here about two weeks ago. We invited them to our church and they gladly agreed to attend! We picked them up on Sunday morning and came to church together.  The only problem was that they do not speak English and barely speak Japanese. During Sunday school, we went into a different room and taught them the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in very simple Japanese and, with the help of an iPad, in some Vietnamese as well. We also just happened to have exactly 3 Vietnamese Joseph Smith pamphlets in our apartment,  so we gave them those to take home. Perfect right :)

Things are going great and I'm loving life! Glad to hear about everything, thanks so much for the email :)

Love you!

Elder Paskett

District P-Day

Vietnamese Friends

Ayako's baptism

MLC, Mission Picture Day, and DTM

Video Journal:

October 31, 2017--Ghostbusters! Photos and video journal

Photos with Elder Richardson, Elder Hisaka; Ghostbusters!

I spent all day napping and cleaning so it's just the video Journal
this week sorry love you!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 23, 2017--A bunch of videos

Video Journal:

Running and biking to district p-day hike:

Kitakami kitchen: Tonkatsu

Kitakami kitchen: frying up everything else