Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 30, 2017--Another crazy week in Yokote!

To the most fabulously fine and delicately delightful, exquisitely beautiful mother of all mothers,

It's been a busy week, here are a few highlights...

On Tuesday, we were trying to visit some PIs, and there were a couple houses of former investigators on the way, so we figured we might as well stop by those and see. The first address was either recorded wrong or the house doesn't exist anymore, but the second house was for someone named O San. When we first got there, there were 2 girls walking up to the door, and we assumed it was the Jehovah's Witnesses. They were talking and laughing with the lady in the house, so we were planning our battle strategy to be even more happy and friendly than the JWs. But when they walked out and passed by us awkwardly waiting in the street, we talked for a second and it turns out they weren't with any religion, so that was a relief.

We rang the doorbell and a lady in her 30s answered the door, we asked if she was O san and she said no. But after that we went into our regular tracting spiel, and she listened. We talked about God and Christ and families, and she accepted our invitation to learn more! We went back over to the A family the next day and taught the Restoration to her and 2 of her daughters. The husband and her son were there but decided not to join us this time. But the lesson went well, the 14 year old daughter was especially engaged the whole time, and we planned a little object lesson with a candy bar to engage the 6 year old daughter. The Mom said she still doesn't really know much about Christianity, and wants to learn more about the beliefs and history, so I think that probably made the message of the Restoration of His gospel less meaningful to them. But, we are planning to go over again this week, I'm so excited to be teaching a family!

I got yelled at by one of our other Investigators, Ya san. He has been an investigator for 8 years and hasn't really been progressing, so we finally did the "do-or-die" lesson. He has been teaching tea ceremonies for 30 years, so he knows the Word of Wisdom but he says tea is too important to give up. We talked about Ether 12:6 and how God will try our faith, but he can't understand why God would disapprove of something that is such an important part of culture. That led us into talking about how race and culture aren't eternal things, but the Gospel is, and I told him that tea doesn't have eternal significance. That was when he yelled at me and told me my way of thinking was a mistake, and let me tell you, it is very scary to be yelled at by an old Nihonjin man. He told us that he would rather go to the Terrestrial Kingdom than give up tea, so we told him to just keep reading and praying, and give us a call if he wants to meet again.

We set a baptismal date with our Investigator Y!! He was the one we coincidentally met in Akita last week. We tried really hard to apply what we learned in the missionary broadcast, and rather than just presenting information, to help them think about it and be taught by themselves and by the spirit. The lesson went so well (he also speaks fluent English so that helped), we helped him to really understand the atonement and how important it is. Maynes Choro used a nice metaphor of being at an expensive restaurant and ordering a bunch
of food, even though you don't have any money, then when the bill comes there is no way you can pay for it. We asked him how he would feel if someone just came up and said he would pay for all of it. At that point something clicked in his mind, he said he would be so thankful.

Once he understood the atonement, repentance and baptism came so naturally. At the beginning of the lesson, he said he wasn't yet sure if he wanted to be baptized. He prayed about it and said he just felt awkward. But by the end of the lesson, he said he definitely wants to be baptized, and he would like to be baptized before he  leaves for college in April. We pulled up a calendar to pick a date with him, and he said his eyes shot straight to February 17th. He was like, "I don't know if that means anything but my eyes just went straight to that day
and it's all I saw." We hopped right on that and asked him if he would be baptized on that day, and he said yes! He wants to study and learn more, but he didn't even seem nervous that it's less than 3 weeks away.

He came to church yesterday and it was great! The branch mission leader's wife gave a superb talk about the Book of Mormon and getting answers to prayers. She talked about how once she knew the Book of Mormon was true, everything else just falls into place automatically. That was perfect for Y since he said he has specifically gotten an answer that the Book of Mormon is true! We taught him the word of wisdom after church, and he really liked it. He said, "many Nihonjin use alcohol and tea and tobacco to calm down, but it's probably better to calm down through prayer and the Holy Ghost." He is so golden! I wish he would have a chat with Ya.

We mentioned during the lesson that Satan doesn't want him to be baptized, and how he will be working his hardest to prevent it from happening. Then right after that lesson, he went home and said his parents (who previously said he was ok to be baptized) weren't sure if they wanted him to be baptized. His Mom was asking him all kinds of questions about what type of funeral he would have and stuff and his step-dad is a Buddhist monk so that doesn't help. He said his Mom thinks it would be better if he waits until he is 20 (he is 18 right now), but hopefully we will be able to talk to them this week and ease their concerns.

In other news, we have started visiting M Shimai, an obaasan who used to be an investigator but was dropped because she wasn't progressing. When we stopped by, she said that she didn't know why the missionaries just all of a sudden stopped visiting her, and she was glad to see us. She has a dog, Bebe, who she walks twice a day, but she is scared of slipping on the ice and asked us to help her walk her dog. So we spent Wednesday morning with her and Bebe chan, it was way fun! Bebe is super cute. Since there was snow everywhere, everyone will be able to see her pee spots for weeks. Kinda gross. But dogs are the best! I wish I had a dog. I think I might get a dog after my mission. They are just so fun! I bet that would be a good birthday present for Dad if you need any ideas.

We also met an old man with one eye! We knocked on his door and started talking in Japanese, then he got this little smirk on his face and started talking to us in English! He was super friendly and invited us into his house. We talked for a while, and he seemed like he really needed someone to talk to. He doesn't have any friends or family nearby and he was just pouring out all these thoughts he's had onto us, I think we listened to him for almost an hour. He loves movies and books, he even invited us over to watch movies with him. Obviously we had to decline but we gave him a Book of Mormon and explained what it was, and invited him to church the next day. He was
45 minutes late but he came! The Sunday school lesson was a super solid one about the restoration so that was perfect, we watched a lot of the restoration movie and he said afterwards that he felt like it was true! He said that Book of Mormon is hard to understand in Japanese so he wants an English one, so we'll drop by to deliver that
this week. Still don't know what happened to his left eye though.

And there are also many other things which Paskett and Maynes Choro did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the internet itself could not contain the emails that should be written. But it was a great week!
I love you!
Elder Paskett

5, 6. These giant snow gumdrops are called Kamakuras, they have been
popping up everywhere. In February they will hollow them out and have
some big festival where you can chill inside the snow caves!

Some pretty snow

My submission for Smith Kaicho's birthday slideshow
Little taste of home (mashed potatoes)

People spend insane amounts of time shoveling off their roofs here. Notice the sled/shovel on the roof and the ladders.

These giant snow gumdrops are called kamakuras, they have been popping up everywhere. In February they will hollow them out and have some big festival where you can chill inside the snow caves. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 23, 2017

My most wondrous, fantastical, beautissimous mother who is mine,

Yeah Yokote is great! I actually love riding trains, because it gives us a chance to have longer conversations with people. When we stop people on the streets, we can only talk for a minute or two, but train conversations give us a little more time to get to know them. Having everything so spread out has been hard, we spend quite a bit of time walking. There are so few people on the streets compared to Aomori, so that's hard too. But so far everyone here is so much nicer than in Aomori! Almost every time we say hello to people, they say hello back, and when we have conversations with people, they will even ask us questions back! It's like I'm an actual person again, it's

Elder Maynes is great! He did a good amount of college before his mission so he is 4 years older than me, but we get along great. He's a super cool guy. He is from Vancouver, Washington, and he's studying business at BYU. This is his 3rd transfer in the field, so he entered the MTC 3 weeks after I left. It's kind of fun because we're both pretty new, but not so new that we're lost.

So good to hear about these mission calls and farewells! Tell Allysa and Bria and Jake ganbatte for me! Where is Jake going? And let me know where JD is going when he gets his call!

We had a record low of 10 people in sacrament meeting yesterday. It was pretty funny because 6 of us were sitting up front (branch presidency, organist, and us 2 blessing the sacrament), and 1 person came in late, so we started the meeting with 3 people in the congregation. The high schools were having their big tests this weekend so our investigators weren't able to make it, but we should have some there next week.

I gave my first talk in church! I talked about Christian love and service. I felt like it went really well. I typed out an outline of my talk with quotes and scriptures, but most of it was just speaking from the heart. It may have been the first time I have given a talk without typing out the whole thing like an essay. As I was speaking, I saw the Dendo Shunin's wife pull out a notebook and start taking notes on my talk! I wanted to cry.

Since the branch is so small, I was thinking they would all have crazy dendo fire, but so far it hasn't quite been that way. But we are getting to know them all really quickly, and I think things will start picking up with the members soon. The ward mission leader and his wife have been super helpful, they are great. Right now we are focusing on a couple sisters who have husbands and kids who aren't members.

Our Eikaiwa here is way small--we teach 3 times a week, once in downtown Yokote, once at the church, and then once in Oomagari, a neighboring city. Last week we had 6 people on Monday, 3 on Wednesdaythen 1 on Thursday. But the Eikawa program is changing to GoEigo Mission School, and we'll doing Eiken and TOIEC prep classes to try and get more high school and college students to come. The problem is there are no colleges in Yokote. But hopefully we'll be able to get momentum going more with the high school crowd.

One student who comes on Thursdays is named I, she is way awesome! She's 50 or 60 years old and her English is way good. And she's a hair stylist so she cuts our hair for free! She gave me a haircut yesterday and even fed us dinner afterwards, it was so nice. Her husband doesn't speak any English, and their 30 year old son who lives with them speaks a little bit.

We found a family this week!! We were knocking on doors in the late afternoon and it was going pretty slow, but then one door was a young mom and her 2 year old daughter. We introduced ourselves and talked a little bit about Christ, and how our families can be blessed through Him and His teachings. I could see in her eyes a spark of curiosity--she said that she had never really thought about religion, especially Christianity, before, but she was interested in learning more. She said that her and her husband usually both have work off on Sundays, so we are going back this Sunday for the first lesson with the I family! She said that she and her husband almost  always both have work during the time we stopped by, so it was a crazy coincidence that she happened to have a random yasumi the same day we were tracting around her area. But we know better than to believe in coincidences!

A couple cool miracles--on Saturday, we went to an appointment that we made with a PI right after lunch. We ate lunch in our apartment, then walked about an hour to her house, then when we got there, we saw that she was making lunch for us! But didn't tell us we would be eating. WE thought it would just be a lesson. Then on top of that, Sister Yamanobe from the branch was there helping her make food! Apparently they are really good friends. So we were able to have a lesson with a member present, and 2 lunches that day haha. Her name is I*, she was very obstinate that she doesn't believe in God, because she can't see God. No matter what we would try to teach about faith and prayer and the spirit, she would just go straight back to "I cant see God, so I cant believe in God." It was a little frustrating. But she is a very sassy obaachan so we were able to be pretty bold with her without offending her.

Yesterday, we had interviews with Smith Kaicho up in Akita, and things were running late. We ended up having to miss the train we were planning on taking back to Yokote, the next one was about an hour later. So we sat down on some chairs in the Eki to finish our language study while we were waiting. Then, this guy walks by and sees Elder Maynes, and he comes up and talks to him. It turns out he is one of our investigators, Y san! I hadn't met him before this. We tried to meet with him during the week, but he couldnt because he was planning to go up to Akita. Then we just happened to run into him, in Akita, because our interviews went late and we missed our train! That put us on the same train back to Yokote, so we taught him a lesson on the train, and he said he has been feeling warm and peaceful every time he prays. We helped him identify the spirit, and he committed to pray to know if he should be baptized in February!! There really are no coincidences.

So it's been another great week! It had been pretty sunny lately, still cold though. There is still snow everywhere but usually the roads and sidewalks aren't terrible. Stay safe in that crazy ID weather!!

Love you!!!
Elder Paskett

Us and Y san at the Eki in Akita

Post-haircut meal!

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017

So glad the letter made it on time! Happy birthday my wonderful Momma :)

And that is so exciting about Rachel and Taylor!!!!! Ahhh that is so soon!!! Can't wait to see my nephew Landon Jr. coming along 2018... :)

So this week has been crazy! Like usual. Transfers didn't happen until Thursday this week, because no new missionaries came in this week! Crazy right?? Around 7 missionaries left but no new ones came in. We will get 1 new Nihonjin sister next week, then that will be it until the next transfer. That means a couple areas that used to have 2 companionships now have 1 trio instead.

So I got to have a couple extra days in Aomori, we were able to visit a few members and have one last lesson with S, and one last Eikaiwa as well. I didn't get much of a chance to pack, so I got up at 12:30 Thursday morning to finish up packing, then went back to bed for a few hours. We had to go to the Eki to drop off Elder Morris for the 7:10 bus, so our ward mission leader told us he would pick us up at 6:40But then he showed up at 6:25, and I was just getting out of the shower when one of the other Elders told me he was at the apartment already!! So I threw the last of my stuff together super fast and my hair was still wet as we drove through the blizzard to the eki. My train wasn't until 9:20 so I had a couple hours to be with Elder Hall and Elder Mimaki before leaving Aomori! There was so much snow on the way down to Morioka that the bus got delayed about an hour and a half, but I eventually met up with the ZLs and with my new comp メインズ長老!(Maynes Choro) We rode the train from Morioka to Yokote, and literally the first person we talked to on the train became a new investigator! We were still in Morioka so we referred him to the Morioka ZLs, but that was so cool. I think it's an omen that this will be a great transfer!!

That night (Thursday) we had a lesson with our investigator R, he's a 17 year old and he loves English. He's pretty good too, so our lessons are usually in half English and half Japanese. He has a baptismal date for this December when he turns 18, but we feel like if he really wanted to be baptized then he would want to be baptized now instead of waiting almost a year...which leaves us in kind of a pickle. He tells us he wants to be baptized, but he thinks it would be good to wait until he is 18 because his parents probably want him to wait. Often it feels like he just answers our questions the way he thinks we want them answered, rather than really speaking from the heart. He always does his reading assignments and keeps all his commitments, but I think it's mostly just because he likes us, rather than having that desire to draw closer to God. So we're still working on him, he is such an awesome kid though, it is fun to be able to teach him.

We went up to Akita on Friday for DTM, about an hour and a half train ride. I am realizing how much we will be riding trains this transfer. It's good though, trains are way good for finding people. We found two new investigators last week, who have appointments for tomorrow and Wednesday, so that is exciting!

A less active member took us out to Yakiniku on Saturday! That was so nice, but we felt super bad because he works in a factory and he just kept ordering more and more plates, and it was a pretty expensive place. It was so delicious though. We tried to pay but he insisted that he would. His name is T, he's in his 20s and he loves death metal music. He is the only Nihonjin I have met with gauges, lip piercings and a nose ring haha. He was baptized like 3 years ago but then became less active really quickly, then just recently he saw an Eikaiwa chirashi, called the Elders and told them he wants to start keeping all the commandments again. Awesome right!! It is weirdly similar to the situation with T Kyoudai (in Aomori). T has work usually every other Sunday, but wants to come to church when he can. We shared a lesson at dinner and set a goal for him to go to the temple eventually! After that, he insisted on paying for us to take a taxi to the Eki (again, he works in a factory so we felt super bad!), then we were supposed to catch the 8:45 train to get back to Yokote (he lives in Oomagari, a neighboring city) and get back to the apartment by 9:30. But, the trains were delayed because of snow and ice, so the train didn't come until 9:20! We were near severe panic mode after everyone else at the Eki had left, and we were just alone in the freezing cold a half an hour after our train was supposed to come! We were worried we had missed it or misread the schedule or something, and were stranded in a city that was a 15 minute train ride from our apartment. It probably would've taken us until past midnight to walk home through the snow and the wilderness haha. But it
eventually did come, and we ended up getting back at like 9:45.

Another miracle we saw was on Friday, we got a call from this guy whose name Maynes Choro had never seen before. But his name was saved in our phone, so we assumed it was a member or something. I answered and said my name, then he asked if I was a new missionary in Yokote, so I told him yes and he said he wanted to meet with us that night at 6. We looked his number up in the area book and it turned out it was a former investigator, who had been dropped and restored 5 or 6 times. He ended up cancelling that meeting, but wants to meet sometime this week instead.

So Yokote is pretty awesome, there is sooo much snow here!! It just never stops coming down. The parts that aren't touched are up to my waist, and in the spots where they pile up the snow it is well above my head. The Shibu Kaicho and his wife didn't come to church this week, and one sister had 2 sick kids, so minus those 4 we had a record low of 13 people in attendance at church. Usually it's around 17 or 18. I know almost all of their names already, which is good! There are mostly older people, then there are 2 young couples--the Miyakawas and the Bundys. Miyakawa Kyoudai is the Dendo shunin and Miyakawa Shimai is an RM so we will be working with them a lot! Then the Bundys are an American couple who are here as Assistant Language Teachers. They don't speak any Japanese. He was giving a talk in sacrament meeting so I got to translate it, that was an interesting experience. I was actually surprised that I managed to find a way to say everything though! Sometimes I had to simplify his sentences, but the branch members said they understood it all. They also had me play the piano since the usual accompanist was gone! So I had no advance notice and no practice time and they started singing before I finished the intro and I messed up a lot and it was rough but I was glad to help haha :)

So, Yokote is great and I am so excited to work here! Our area takes in basically all of Akita Ken expect for Akita Shi itself, so we will be riding trains to different neighboring cities almost every day.
Loving this transfer so far!

Thanks for the email, I love you Momma!!!!!!

Elder Paskett

One last run to the best Indo Curry place in Aomori

Third floor view from the apaato in Yokote

Us and T san at yakiniku

Snow and icicles

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 9, 2017

Wow that snow sounds crazy!! Things in Aomori have actually warmed up a bit lately. We have been able to ride bikes almost every day. We're not allowed to ride bikes if it's raining or snowing or if the ground is icy, but it has been nice weather lately. It's rained a couple times, so almost all the snow is gone. I guess it all went to Meridian!!

This week has been good, not a lot of dendo time though. Monday and Tuesday were no dendo days (still recovering from New Year's), we were able to go visit a Jinja (Shinto shrine) on Tuesday though. We tried to get a Nihonjin to go with us, but everyone we asked was busy, so we just went with the 2 of us and checked out a couple Jinjas. It was interesting to see everyone come and do the little prayer thing and ring the bells, it makes me want to learn more about how Shintoism started.

We make cookies with the Peruvian family on Wednesday! It was so good. At first it was awkward because me and Elder Hall were both using the bathroom when they came into the church! So I heard them walk in and they were just like, "where is everyone....is this the right place...?" And I could hear them but felt too awkward to say anything before I finished. But eventually I came out and got to know them a little bit. The Mom couldn't come but it was the Dad and 3 little girls! When we met the Mom we met the 8 year old and 5 year old, and it turns out they have another daughter who is 3!!! She is SOOOO ADORABLE. I thought the other 2 girls were cute, but man. Little H is the most adorable thing ever. They are seriously the cutest family.

We were planning to use that sugar cookie mix you guys sent (thanks so much!!!) so we brought over an egg and some margarine since we don't have any butter. But either that was a mistake or I guesstimated the wrong amount of margarine, because the dough was not forming dough at all. We just put all the ingredients in a bowl and let the girls go ham mixing it up, that may have contributed to the problem. Then, on top of that, we couldn't get the oven to work, the Dad was helping us read the kanji to operate it, but we just couldn't get anywhere.
Eventually we figured out that the gas was turned off, and fixed it, and I added some water to the dough to try and fix it. But, I added way too much because it turned into batter instead of dough!! Yabakatta. I didn't really know what to do so we just put plops of batter into a pan and put it in the oven. We tried using the snowman cookie cutter but it's pretty hard to cut batter into shapes. So we just put 3 plops by each other in three pan, hoping that it would cook into a rough snowman shape.

In the oven, the batter all cooked into one big cookie, and it was sticking to the bottom pretty bad, so after scraping them all out they were definitely nowhere remotely close to a snowman shape. But, the girls put eyes on them and had fun decorating them like snowmen. It was actually super funny, the cookies all looked like half-melted snowmen.

So even though pretty much everything went wrong, we had some good bonding time with E (the dad) and the 3 girls love us now! Then at the end, the mom came, and we shared the cookies with her and it was great!
Right as we were eating the cookies, S came in (early to Eikaiwa) and enthusiastically introduced himself to everybody and started showering the Peruvian family with random treats and snacks!! And he was just shouting out nonsensical English the whole time, not knowing that E speaks Spanish and Japanese but very little English, and they were also confused because they had no idea who he was or why he was there. It was literally total chaos for about 5 minutes.

As they were leaving, we were able to give them a family: proclamation to the world and just explain it a little bit, she said she would read it and she said they all wanted to come to Eikaiwa on Saturday! They are just the most precious little family.

We had a lesson with S that same day, and tried to make it as interactive as possible to keep his attention focused. It wasn't the first time we had taught the plan of salvation but it was the first time he understood it all! We are gaining ground, it's great. So he is at least comprehending everything, but it's hard because he just tells us which parts he believes and which parts he doesn't believe. We talked about reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if these things are true, but I'm not sure he really understands how important everything is yet.

On Thursday we went down to Morioka for the new missionary training meeting, and we just barely missed our bus back to Aomori!! We had originally walked to Indo Curry restaurant and found out it was closed, then walked to a karaage restaurant and ended up starting lunch late, then our bus to the Eki hit so many red lights and took way longer than we expected, and we just barely missed it. We ended up having to buy Shinkansen tickets in Morioka to get back up in time, and we actually got back to Aomori before our original bus did.

On Friday after our zone training meeting we went to the Nokkedon fish market and someone had the bright idea to see how many wasabi packets we could down (...it was me). I only downed two packets, and I quickly realized that even though my mouth and nose could take a little more fire, my stomach was severely offended. Those two wasabi packets wreaked havoc in my digestive system for like 4 hours. The Zone leaders were in pain too. Somehow Nathan Choro downed three packets and it didn't affect him at all? Wakaranai.

On our splits on Saturday both companionships got stood up for both of our lessons! There were originally 4 lessons planned for that day, but both companionship ended up having 0 total lessons for the day. We did have a new student at Eikaiwa so I guess that was the silver lining of the day!

One cool miracle was that we ran into the beard man on Friday! We had just barely tried to visit his house, but no one was home. Then probably 15 minutes later, we totally ran into him on the street! He proudly showed us all the Sake and cigarettes he bought. He also called us handsome, said we had faces like movie actors, and told us we could definitely get Japanese girlfriends if we wanted to. Probably the weirdest compliment I have received. I think he was a little bit drunk, but he told us he would like to come to church again eventually, and he probably has time for us to stop by and teach a lesson in February. As long as we don't ask him for his money.

On Sunday we (the 6 missionaries) sang in sacrament meeting and I got to bear my testimony for the last time in Aomori! We got our transfer calls that night, and I am going to Yokote in Akita ken. Apparently it is a branch of about 15 members, there are just 2 Elders in that city. It will be sad that I don't get to stay with Elder Hall but I am way excited for Yokote!

Love you so much, thanks for the email and for all you do!!
Elder Paskett

District Dinner

Jinja visits...

Pretty snow on the way to Morioka

New Year's Party: we all drew kanji of our goals. Guess which kanji is mine. ;)

Zone Training Meeting