Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017--Toilet dendo, hooked on Motab, and other stories

First off, thanks so much for the package! And shout out to the Clarks for the birthday package too, that was a total surprise and so nice! Feeling so loved :)

Saying goodbye to Barton Choro was so sad! I miss that guy. At the honbu, I slept in (until 6:30) but he left at 6:00 so I didn't get to give him a goodbye hug! Sad day.

On our last day, we had a nice lesson with R, then Smith Kaicho and Shimai picked us up from Yokote and drove us back up to Sendai, where we had our interviews. That was the best interview I've had yet--I can't really explain it, but the mood was just different. We talked like father and son, I really felt his love for me and for this work. I left feeling so much more energized and motivated!

The next morning, I met up with Haskins Choro in downtown Sendai and we took a bus back to Yokote. We have only had like 3 days together so far but things have been going so great!

We picked up an old investigator named T. He is in high school and is good friends with R because they're in the English club together. We met with him, and he is looking for more direction in his life as well as to develop more self-control. He is such a great kid, he warmed up to us really fast. I can already tell that he is the kind of person who will be sensitive to the spirit.

Su and Sh have come leaps and bounds the past few days! Saturday and Sunday were saturated with miracles, mostly involving the 2 of them. I read in PMG in chapter 11 about helping investigators keep commitments--it says that we should be making daily contact with our investigators, and stop by for short visits in between our scheduled lessons. I realized that we had a lot of room for improvement there, so we have been trying to make more frequent contact with our Qs and it has worked wonders! Yet another confirmation that the Lord's way is always the best way.

We stopped by Sh's house on Saturday, and he invited us right in and was his normal friendly self. About 5 minutes into the conversation, he told us he didn't want to go to church the next day. We said "ok," but kept teaching about God and the restoration. Then, suddenly, he told us "I will go to church tomorrow." We told him that was great! Eventually we got on the topic of prayer, he told us he would come to church but he didn't want to pray. We said "ok," but talked about God and His love for us. Then, again, in the middle of the conversation, he suddenly said "ok I will pray. But I don't want to get baptized," and motioned sprinkling water on his head. We hadn't mentioned anything about baptism before. We said "ok," and he finished our lesson with a beautiful prayer. The spirit was seriously whispering in his ear that entire lesson, it was amazing! We stopped by his house after church on Sunday, and he said he definitely wants to come again next week.

We had a lesson with Su on Friday, he is really starting to understand who God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and prophets are. Truly comprehending those fundamentals has made everything else just come together so well in his mind. He came to church on Sunday, and we asked if we could stop by later that day, but he said he had some errands and stuff so he probably didn't have time. After visiting Sh's house, we were riding past Su's apartment, and Haskins Choro said he really had to pee. So, we had the idea to ask Su if we could use his restroom. Su was surprised to see us, but of course happy to let Haskins Choro use his restroom. While he was peeing, we talked and he told us he was cooking some dinner, I commented on how delicious it looked, and he offered to share it with us. He said the おでん would take about 45 minutes until it was done, and asked us if we had time to stay. We said ok, then sat down and talked for 2 hours. Toilet dendo for the win. The spirit was so strong! He had such good questions, and as we were talking about faith and Ether 12:6, he asked us, "but, how can I show my faith to Jesus?" I could've cried. We told him, "by obeying the commandments." He got out a piece of paper to write down what the commandments are so he could keep them. We reviewed the few we had already covered, and he just kept asking if there were any other commandments. We ended up teaching almost all of them right there, it was amazing. His perspective about commandments really humbled me--God's commandments are not restrictive or bothersome, but an amazing opportunity to show our love and faith to God and Christ. At the end, we somehow got talking about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and we showed him the website to listen to their songs. We left, and before we had even exited the apartment building, we heard him blasting Motab loud enough to hear in the hallway. We are just waiting for his neighbors to refer themselves now.

Sunday night, it was 8:45, and we had planned to visit the F's. We were about 15 minutes away from the apartment. The F's were about 15 minutes away, but in opposite direction. I told Elder Haskins, "well, if we go to the F's, we will probably get there right around 9:00. We don't have an appointment, and if they are not home, we will end up being fujuujun and get home around 9:20. And, we still have to report numbers to the DL at some point before 9:00." We both just thought about it for about 10 seconds, and we both just knew we were supposed to go the F's. We took off on our bikes, and the DL called while I was riding, so I managed to do all of houkoku while en route to the F's, then we arrived at 8:58. R chan answered the door, so we talked with her and shared a scripture. She is 10 years old and was baptized about a year and a half ago, she was so happy to see us. After we said good night, she came back and opened the door to wave good bye again, twice. She waved us all the way to our bikes, then we took off and made it home at 9:30 on the dot.

I miss Barton Choro, but Haskins Choro and I are working very well together, so that is good. I was inspired by Elder Clark in Chile and we have started setting some crazy high goals! I am loving the work and things are just wonderful here in Yokote!

Thanks for all you do! Love you so much!!!
Elder Paskett
Teaching Eikaiwa with Elder Barton

Haircut from I san

With Elder Haskins

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017--Top o' the week to you!

My most exquisite and excellent ママさま、

We have some good news and some bad news--good news is that Barton Choro and I are getting along really well and working together well, the bad news is that we are having some emergency transfers in the middle of this week. Long story short, I will be getting a new companion from Tsuruoka named Elder Haskins. I haven't met him but I am excited to work with him and I hope he is as stellar as Barton Choro has been! 

As far as the door slamming thing, I don't remember being very surprised my first transfer. I do remember being surprised when people would pretend not to see/hear us, or when they would just put their hand up as a shield and start speed walking away from us. Haha I have learned to laugh at and love it though.

R is doing alright. He sent us a text on Tuesday telling us he really wanted to meet, so we met with him and asked if there was anything he wanted to talk about/discuss. He said not really, that he just wanted to do some free talk to practice English. He told us that talking about the Gospel stuff is pretty boring, and basically it's just a hoop he has to jump through so that we will speak English with him. That was like a knife to the heart, but not really surprising. But we talked about ways that the Gospel has helped him, and he actually loves praying. He prays every day at least once, and he feels like God has helped him and answered his prayers. But, he says that God still hasn't answered his prayers about the Book of Mormon. It's hard because sometimes it feels like he doesn't really want an answer, but other times it seems like he is golden. He has definitely made some progress in the last few months though, so I feel like he still has some good potential. He told us that he would rather get baptized in December after he turns 18, but we're hoping that as he understands more, he will start to have more of a desire to be baptized and then will want to be baptized sooner. Or even December would be fine, as long as he actually does get baptized. We'll see how it goes with him.

We taught S the Chie no Kotoba lesson, and before we had even finished introducing the commandment, he asked "but how can I quit drinking coffee?" We talked about the power of the Atonement, and agreed to start  working together to keep the word of wisdom little by little. He had no problem accepting it as from God. He says he feels peace from us, and we told him that he will be able to feel that peace, the spirit, more fully if he keeps the Chie no kotoba. I was so impressed by his faith and trust, but he is very worried about being physically able to stop. He drinks coffee, tea, and alcohol and smokes every day, so we have a long way to go. Our first step this week was to cut the coffee down to just 1 cup per day, he is doing great so far. He came to church this week, and he told me that he loved the pamphlet of the Testimony of Joseph Smith. He said we should have given him that one before all the other pamphlets! Understanding that helped him really put everything else in context. Makes me think I should be using it more.

We met Obama in the Eki this week--or at least, a crazy old man who tried to prove he was Obama. He was very friendly and actually greeted us first, then we had a long conversation of listening to him go on and on about war and God and freemasons and Christ's second coming. I thought we were going to have a good gospel discussion at first, before we realized that he was just crazy.
He asked me, "who's the guy who's president of America? The black guy?" 
I said "....Obama?"
And he said "that's right. Obama....*points to himself*...Obama....*points to himself*"
"Yes. You're Obama. *points to himself again*"
He went on to explain that if you cut off his finger, he would bleed red blood, and Samurai also have red blood, and the Samurai have leaders, and America's leader is Obama (apparently he doesn't know about Trump yet), and guess what would happen if you cut off Obama's finger? He would bleed red blood. Therefore, he is, in fact, Obama. We decided that we couldn't argue with that logic and left.

We visited the house of a PI this week, we went inside and I asked him how his week has been. He kind of mumbled, then said "talk about God and the Bible now." So, we did. We taught him the message of the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon, he said that he didn't agree with everything we taught, but that he would try coming to church this Sunday. He came, and he and S sat next to each other and became good friends. Literally, S is a better fellowshipper than the members are haha. He even offered to give him a ride to church next week! Not including missionaries, they were only 9 members at church, so having S be a good friend was super helpful.

We met a boy on the street who used to go to a Christian school, so he has read from the BIble and thinks it is interesting. We explained what the Book of Mormon was, and  he said he would really like to try reading it. We offered to give him one, for free, and he was so excited! He said thank you multiple times, and told us that he would definitely read it. God really does prepare people!

It's been another great week, we went on a fun little "hike" through some snow to see a Jinja today for our last P-day together, that was a good time! Even Yokote is beautiful.

Tell Kara congrats for me! That is so awesome!!

Love you so much!!!
Elder Paskett

The last of the snow

Sakura-flavored milkshake

Food experiments

Trip to the jinja...

New shoes
New shoes

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017

Things are going great here! Elder Barton is adjusting way fast, I don't think he even has jet lag. He is a hard worker and very talkative! He is American but he grew up in Australia (doesn't have an accent though), we get along well.

I was in my first earthquake this week! While we were at the Honbu being trained on how to train, the table suddenly started shaking. Then the pictures on the walls and the hanging light fixtures started shaking as well. It stopped pretty quickly though, I think they said it was a 5.6 earthquake with no real damage to anything.

Shortly after that, we went and picked up the new missionaries from the airport! They have a Doki of 6 people. This was the first time being back to that airport since August, it was way なつかしい。 It feels like I have only been here a short time, but waiting on the other side of the glass made me realize that I'm not really new  anymore. This week was officially 7 months in the field!

We had a little bit of time to dendo in Sendai, which I always like because the streets are packed with people, so if 1 person doesn't want to talk, it's easy to find someone else. In Yokote the streets are still pretty bare, so we end up knocking on doors a lot. On our bus ride back, we talked the whole way, I was actually expecting him to sleep but he didn't. I know on the bus ride to Aomori on my first day I was so exhausted, I slept for probably 3 or 4 hours. But it was good! We got back barely in time for Eikaiwa, and we had like 7 people come which was a lot more than normal. We had to split into 2 classes,  Barton Choro did a great job of ad-libbing a medium-level class while I taught a kids class. And I-san was the only "advanced" speaker there, so she actually helped me teach the kids class which was way fun for both of us! She would translate my English for the kids, there is one who is in elementary school and one in middle school, they both don't speak any English but they are loving Eikaiwa so far.

We had a miracle lesson with R this week--we had been teaching about sincere prayer, and he said he feels like he doesn't know how to pray sincerely. He says he has a hard time believing a lot of the things we teach him, but he wants to believe. We shared Alma 32, about how even just a desire to believe is enough, then explained the analogy of the seed. I asked him what kind of things he thinks he could do to nourish his seed, and he told us that he already had that answer memorized--pray, read the scriptures, and go to church. We told him those were all great things, but talked a little more about why they are important and about what it means to exercise faith. Barton Choro did a great job of inviting him to show his faith by being baptized, and R told us that he would get baptized in April if he gets an answer about the Book of Mormon! Please pray that he will get an answer and be able to recognize it!

On Friday, we met with S san. Comprehension has been bimyo with him, but he really understood prayer this week! First we were talking about prophets and apostles, and he said we are his prophets. We told him we are not prophets, just missionaries, but he said we are prophets to him. Haha I think we'll still have to spend some time clarifying that, but the bulk of the lesson was about prayer, and he said he has been praying often. We asked him how his prayers usually go, and basically he had just been thinking/wishing thoughts in his mind and directing them towards God. But we were able to explain how we can pray just as if we are conversing with another person, and it really clicked in his mind. I think that's the first time I've been able to really see that he understood a principle, it was great! He gave a wonderful little prayer at the end of the lesson, and he looked up at us like a cat who had just caught a juicy mouse for its owners (Dad told me about that one) and asked us if he did it right. He told him it was perfect and he got so excited! He even wanted to pray again, right away. Then he prayed and told God that he really wanted to drink coffee with us, but we had said no to his coffee offer the first time, so he prayed that God would please bless that we would all drink coffee together. It was so cute haha but we told him that we would teach him about something called the Chie no Kotoba [Word of Wisdom] next time.

We did a lot of fruitless housing the last couple days, which I guess is good because it will help Elder Barton appreciate the times when we are so busy teaching that we don't have to do a lot of knocking on doors. There was one older lady who answered the door, but as soon as she heard the word Kirisuto, she yelled "kyoumi nai" and slammed the door. I just moved on and didn't really think anything of it, but Barton Choro was just like "shoot! Holy cow that was crazy!" He actually shared that experience with the ward mission leader when we went to visit him, but shared it like it was a crazy unusual experience, and I still don't have the heart to tell him that it's not really that rare. But we were able to find a new investigator on Sunday! We housed into this lady who lives in Sendai, but was in Yokote visiting her daughter for just a few days. She told us her daughter would definitely not be interested, but that she would be willing to listen to the missionaries. But, she said that she couldn't since she was leaving to return to Sendai the next day. She was so surprised when we told her that there are missionaries just like us in Sendai, that would love to meet with her. She gave us her address and phone number and we set up appointment for the missionaries to meet with her on SaturdayThat experience reminded me how much God really does guide us, even if we aren't always aware of it. She was only in Yokote for a few days, but God placed her in our path. Especially at a house that would not normally be interested, but it just happened to be when that lady was at her daughter's house and her daughter wasn't home. We really were right where we needed to be, right when we needed to be there.

We also broke out the bikes on Sunday!! I forgot how nice it is to be able to ride bikes. While we were riding to the church, we stopped to talk to this older man, and he said, in English, "you are the Mormons!" Apparently he used to go to Eikaiwa a long time ago and he really likes missionaries. He said he knows a little bit of our beliefs, but he would like to learn more. We gave him a Book of Mormon and set up an appointment to meet with him on Tuesday! He also said he might start coming to Eikaiwa again, he was really excited when he found out Eikaiwa is still being taught in Yokote.

To answer your questions...yes we are in Akita district, there were previously 6 elders and 2 sisters in the district, now there are just 4 elders and 2 sisters. The other 4 are in Akita city, then Yokote area covers pretty much the rest of Akita ken. We are pretty isolated in Yokote, I think it's more fun to be in an apartment of 4, but it's all good. We go up to Akita once a week for District meeting, and this week we went out to lunch with the other 2 elders right after, which was fun.

Good luck with Cantus tour, and good job being such an amazing RS president and teacher! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and thanks for the update!!

I love you!!
Elder Paskett

Us w/ R and R's friend at the City Hall

We found where Mr T lives

A couple of me and Elder Barton