Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 17, 2017--Happy Easter!!

To the most awesome Momma in the whole world,

A couple stories from this week...
We were trying to follow-up on some PIs one day when we ran into a few people from Vietnam! They spoke very little Japanese, but we managed to communicate. Apparently there are 12 of them that work together and live in nearby apartments in Yokote. We have like 5 PIs in that neighborhood, and it's where the branch mission leader and his wife live too, so it's perfect. We ordered some Vietnamese Book of Mormons and gave 2 of them out yesterday. We have an app called Drill that we use for language study, it has key sentences for each principle in PMG. I downloaded Vietnamese in Drill and we taught them a lesson by just playing the audio for different key sentences, awesome right? Sometimes God gives you the gift of tongues, sometimes He gives you an iPad.

We had a few great lessons with K--he has been just eating up the Book of Mormon and understands it so well. He compared Nephi and Laban to him and his boss--he said his boss is pretty lazy and doesn't like to help the people under him. K told us jokingly that he would totally be willing to chop off his head if God told him to. Haha. At least, we assumed he was joking.

He has been understanding the doctrine so well, the trouble right now is helping him to see that it applies to his life individually. We've been working through some basic commitments though and he has been making huge progress. He wasn't sure at first if he was ready to try praying or not, but the spirit convinced him to. He took a few minutes until he had thought of a few things to say in his prayer, then gave a beautiful, sincere, prayer. We visited him on Saturday and invited him to church. Usually he parties super late on Saturday nights, so we were thinking that would be the main obstacle, but as we talked with him, it came out that he actually just hates crowded places (which was funny because we started sacrament meeting with only 4 people, including us). He told us that he doesn't even go to movies or baseball games or anything like that because too many people are gathered in one place. He said between that and the fact that he doesn't like singing, he didn't really want
to come to church. It was so interesting because he is a super chill, fun, laid-back 29 year-old who is still 22 on the inside, and we would never have guessed that crowded places were not his forte. But I guess it just goes to show that you can never really assume what investigators' concerns are/will be. We offered to give him a tour of the building as a nice middle ground, and he accepted our offer. We walked around with just the 3 of us and sang some hymns and did a lesson in the church. He was bouncing around the idea of coming next week, so I think it's just a matter of time at this point.

We did a lesson with our Chinese investigator, I Shimai, and 2 Sisters from the branch taught with us, which was great. By the end it turned into some solid Sister-Sister bonding, which I think was more important than anything we could have taught.

On Sunday night, we were biking along and I saw this light on at a 2nd story apartment. I felt like we needed to stop by, so we parked our bikes, rang their doorbell and met a guy who was shirtless and only opened his door a tiny crack. He was willing to listen, so we talked with him for a while, but he wasn't interested and wouldn't take any chirashi or anything. That was disappointing, especially since I thought that it was a spiritual impression to knock on that door, and I felt like we had just wasted 15 minutes of our precious Sunday evening proselyting time. But, as we were walking out to our bikes, someone pulled up in his car to the same apartment building. We said hi as he was walking from his car to his apartment, and he was really friendly. We found out his name is R and he is 25, we became friends right away. It was Easter, so we shared an Easter video with him and asked him what he thought about Jesus Christ. He didn't know anything about Christ, he didn't even know it was Easter. We testified that we can find true happiness and peace through Jesus Christ, and he said his life is already fine. But we told him that even if he's already happy, he can find even more happiness--true joy. His life might be a piece of cake right now, but the gospel can be like frosting on the cake. I'm not totally sure if he was pricked in his heart or if he just thought we were funny, but he agreed to let us come by and share our message with him!

This was the first week of the new transfer so our district has changed--my new district leader is Elder Mimaki, we are good buds from Aomori! We were in the same apartment for a transfer, it was way good to see him again. In our district, there are now 3 Elders who are fluent in Japanese. Two are Nihonjin and one is a Brazilian but he grew up in Japan. Then there are 3 American Elders and 2 American Sisters. Our district is so solid! We are expecting some sweet miracles this transfer.

 Love you so much Momma!! Thanks for everything you do!!!
Elder Paskett

Us with our new homies from Vietnam!

April 10, 2017--Countdown to Easter

My beautiful mom,

Yeah things are great here! That is surprising it wasn't the same in Fukuoka back in the day...I mean, they have a temple there! I'm pretty sure Sendai is on the slower of the Japan missions too. I think part of it may be a cultural loosening, I think that is especially true among the smart phone and internet generation. Also, I think preach my
gospel has a lot to do with it as well. He Lord is hastening His work!

Yeah it was a bummer Y had to move away, the Akita missionaries haven't been able to meet with him yet. But, we'll try and introduce them to him this week when we go up for DTM.

It's been a way busy week! We had exchanges twice, with the DL on Tuesday and then with the ZLs on Friday. That meant that I took a train to Akita and back on Wednesday morning, then again on Thursday morning, then we took a Shink to Morioka Thursday night, and had to get up at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday to take the 5:20 train back to Yokote in time to show general conference. It was an exhausting week haha but so good.

I Shimai and S Kyodai both came to conference on Saturday, it was so good! At the very beginning, the motab was singing and I Shimai was totally in tears, the spirit was so strong. And we hadn't even gotten into any of the talks yet! I Shimai stayed for both sessions on Saturday and had originally told us she wasn't able to come to the Sunday ones, but she ended up cancelling her Sunday plans so that she could come watch!! It was so great. And we had branch members there on Sunday so she was able to sit by our branch mission leader's wife and they are good friends now! S Kyodai came up to us after and was like, "hey, that lady, I, is Chinese. She seems to really like this stuff. You should teach her." We decided that that would be a good idea.

On Saturday night, we went over to T K's (a less-active member) apartment to watch the priesthood session with him. He didn't smoke at all during conference even though he really wanted to! Afterwards, we had a very interesting conversation with him. He said he likes us as friends, but he is no longer interested in Christ and the church because he hates one of the missionaries who taught him. He said that whenever he wouldn't keep commitments like reading the Book of Mormon, he would just tell him "yome!" and he just didn't feel any love from him. Always just ordering him to do things, without any praise for things done well. I'm confident that he'll be able to forgive and come through eventually, but it would have been so much easier to have just kept him active and feeling loved in the first place. It makes me want to make sure I always show love to investigators as I am helping them to keep commitments and progress!

Saw so many other miracles this week that I dont have time to write about...on splits in Morioka, we just happened to ask for directions from a guy who got a Book of Mormon from missionaries a year ago and is now interested in learning more. We stopped by K san's house and taught him about reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, and he asked us why he needs to pray about it, because he already believes it is true! On Saturday night, we weren't sure when our train was leaving, but the road blocker arms at the RR crossing came down right as we were passing by, giving us a warning that the train was coming and giving us just enough time to run to the Eki and catch the last train (that would get us home in time) seconds before it left!

Things are going great here, I hope you are Genki and having fun with the wedding prep!! Make sure and keep that cardboard cutout polished and shiny ;) I love you so much!!
Elder Paskett

Nice sunset out on the tanbo

Splits with my man Elder Cannon

lunch at ドジャース ft. Ki's crazy face and a random photobomber

The Squad

Homies from Israel!

General Conference + pancakes

"Hawk-wing" san

This is what happens when you have to wake up at 3:30 ↑↓

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April 3, 2017--Living the dream!

This week...

We had a lesson with a new investigator named Ig. She was actually an investigator last year, but was dropped, then this last week she gave us a call, wanting to meet. She is Chinese but has been living in Japan for about 20 years. We read from the Book of Mormon together, we would read in English and she would read in Chinese, then we would talk about it in Japanese. As we talked about praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true, she told us that she has felt the Holy Ghost before. She also has a testimony of the power of prayer from when her younger sister (who is Christian) prayed for her to recover from an illness, and she did. It seems like she will progress very well, her only concern is that she doesn't want to be pressured to join the church. When we asked if we could call her Ig Shimai (sister), before she said yes, she checked to make sure that it didn't mean she was  committing to join the church. But since she already knows what the spirit feels like, I think that she will be able to overcome her concerns pretty quickly.

Y moved to Akita this week! That was so sad. But we had the best lesson with him on Saturday--we talked about repentance and what it means for his life. We went through all the baptismal questions, the only thing he wasn't sure about is if there is a prophet on the earth today. We invited him to watch general conference this next week, and promised him that when President Monson speaks, he would feel the spirit and know for himself that President Monson is God's prophet. We were seriously floored by the strength of his testimony! He is so great, and honestly ready for baptism. He is starting college at AIU in Akita this week, and he said it would be nice to start off college with a seiyaku and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The only problem is still just that his parents want him to wait. Luckily, we were able to meet his step-dad (who is a Buddhist monk) on Saturday! Y invited us over to his house, and his step-dad gave us a little tour of their o-tera. We asked a lot of questions and were able to learn a lot. It was actually really interesting. At one point we saw a picture of a man who was glowing, and he had just died. All the people were gathered around weeping, and the animals and the earth and angels were weeping as well. He told us that it was Buddha, and that he died, but he lives on, through his philosophies. But we were both this is definitely Jesus right here. Also the top 3 Kamisama's were in gold, with one at the top and 2 by his sides, like counselors in a presidency or something That was so good, and I think it was great for his Dad to see that Mormons are nice people and respectful of other religions. Hopefully that will help soften his heart to let Y be baptized.

My favorite part of the tour was when Y's step-dad was telling us the story of one of the Kamis who used to eat children, but then recognized his wickedness and changed his life to start protecting children instead. Then Y whispered to us, "repentance."  We went out to Yakisoba with him and then said goodbye--luckily, we go to Akita at least once a week so he said that we should go to lunch sometime when we're there!

We spent some time on Saturday chilling with T, a less-active member. He is trying to quit smoking and start keeping the commandments, and we made some huge progress on Saturday. Mostly thanks to Elder Haskins' knowledge of death metal music, we were really able to talk to him and strengthen our relationship with him. We had a good time and he wants to keep meeting with us consistently. He agreed to cut his cigarette usage in half, from 20 a day to just 10. He said he would come to church the next day, but then when church started at 10:00 he wasn't there. We were pretty disappointed, but about 10 minutes into the meeting, we saw him walk in with another member! He sat down and stayed for all of church, it was great.

We did some hisashiburi ni housing this week, and we have been visiting some long-time PIs more consistently, things are really starting to pick up! We're doing great in Yokote, and hoping that we can have this next transfer together too.

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

Otera tour with Y and his dad
chilling with T

District P-day

Sunday, April 2, 2017

March 27, 2017--From your 19-year-old son

Riding the shinkansen

Hello to the most wonderful and ichiban subarashii mother of them all,

We have been so busy! The highlight of this week was with S Kyoudai--the last 2 weeks, he has working little by little to keep the word of wisdom. He has been cutting down his coffee intake, and he was having us check his box of cigarettes each time we came over. On Sunday, we came over, and he had smoked one after a hard conversation with his brother, who is opposed to the church. But, S decided right there that he was ready to start keeping the Word of Wisdom entirely. He gave us his coffee and tea and cigarettes, and we watched in wonder as he dumped all of his alcohol down the sink. He had probably 10 bottles of various drinks, some of them unopened, but he dumped all of them down the sink without a moment's hesitation. He was truly willing to give up his sins to know God. Alma 22:15. He just dumped them right down the sink. Do we sometimes hesitate to give up what God requires of us? Once S knew what he needed to do and was committed to do it, he was 100% on board. I admire his strength and faith!

We left together, he drove off to go buy himself some soda to replace his alcohol, and we biked off holding a pack of cigarettes, a bag of coffee, and 10 empty booze bottles. Hopefully no one thought too much about the white guy wearing Christ's name on his chest holding a 3 liter bottle of Jack Daniel's. We're not sure if we threw them away in the right place but we got rid of them as soon as we could. 

We had a hard week with Sh Kyoudai, with some really good spiritual moments, but ending with him pounding his fists on the table and telling us, in English, "I REJECT YOUR CHURCH." That was rough, and we are sad that he is missing out on so much happiness that the gospel could bring. But, we ended on a good note, and he at least knows that we are his friends.
New friend K

We have an awesome new friend named K, Barton Choro and I found him tracting, then Haskins Choro and I went to follow up this week. He totally listened to our message and accepted a Book of Mormon, he thinks Christianity is very interesting, but doesn't really understand that it applies to him yet. He told us he thinks we are funny and wants to hang out with us, so we went to ramen Saturday night and had a good time. He is 29 years old, and basically his life is working, working out, playing video games, and partying. He may be the most chill Nihonjin I have ever met. He didn't come to church this week because he was up until 5 playing video games with his online friends, but he wants to come eventually.

Birthday cake from I-san
Bday pancakes

On my birthday on Wednesday Haskins Choro made me pancakes in the morning and I-san brought a cake to Eikaiwa (I'll send some pics), it was wonderful! Feeling loved.

In other news, we ran into a very suteki young man from Osaka, he is a professional photographer and he was so friendly. I guess the Osaka rumors are true. We talked for a while and he took a Book of Mormon and gave him a card, so we are praying that some Osaka missionaries will be getting a self-referral pretty soon :)

On Sunday night we were in exactly the right places at exactly the right times, to run into S san (the guy who hit me with a car) and then later Kn, our investigator who has been too busy to meet recently. We caught them both as they were returning home to their apartments, so we got to talk for a little bit. S san asked if I was doing ok, and said that he is sorry he hasn't been able to come to church yet, but said that he will come if he has a Sunday where he doesn't have work! And we were able to follow up on Kn's Book of Mormon reading, and he told us he wants to take us out to eat again sometime.

Things are going great here in Yokote, thanks for all the love and the prayers!

Love you! Thanks for all you do!
Elder Paskett
Zone Conference
With I-san

Random high schoolers on the street

T & R at the batting cages

New friend T

R and us

Sh and S at church

M, new Eikaiwa student

This is what happens when your comp's last area had a Costco!



Lunch at I-san's