Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 17, 2017--Happy P-day!

My most lovely Mom,

We had a little bit of a scare with F this week--we taught him the Law of Tithing on Tuesday, and he had a lot of concerns but didn't really say anything about them. When we went over  on Thursday, he just wasn't his usual genki self--he we straight to talking about how tithing was Muri for him, so it was pointless to keep studying with us. He took his bookmark out of the Book of Mormon and threw it away, and handed his Book of Mormon and pamphlets back to us. We were both flipping out on the inside but managed to keep it cool and continue talking with him. I have never prayed so hard during a lesson in my life! We were trying so hard to follow the spirit, and as we talked, he started to share more of his feelings and concerns, and by the end he felt better about everything and decided he wanted to keep studying with us after all! He took his Book of Mormon and pamphlets back, it was wonderful. Most of his concerns were pretty simple, we just needed to take the time to talk about them with him. He told us he was grateful we have a relationship of trust! I think we are even more grateful than he is. He came to church again his week and came to the branch barbecue today and had a fun time!

M kyoudai had also been coming to church consistently the last few weeks--and he just got called as the Sunday School President! We are trying out a gospel principles class for investigators and new members for the first time ever next week, and he asked us if it would be ok for him to teach it. Of course we were so excited for him to teach, and he seems so excited too! So amazing that someone who was "less-active" literally last month is now prepping lessons to help investigators when they come to Sunday School! He is doing so well. His wife still hasn't been able to come yet, but we visited the 2 of them last night and we think she just needs some time and she'll come around.

This week is the "kekko challenge"! Sekiguchi Kaicho is a genius--he is having a mission-wide competition to see which district can get the most kekkos (it will be averaged per companionship). We have some crazy plans to talk to so many people and get so many kekkos! (kekkos = no thank you's = being turned down!)

We don't have very much time today since we had a branch barbecue almost all day but things are going great here and we can barely keep up with everything! Life is great :)

Love you so much!! Thanks for all you do!
Elder Paskett
Big Boy's Burgers for Elder Holdaway's birthday!

Little birthday party at GoEigo!

Branch BBQ

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 10, 2017--Greetings from Kitakami!

Watashi no ai suru haha,

Things are going so well! I think we have finally chipped down through all of our PIs, we dropped a lot but we know which ones we want to continue to visit.

On Monday, we went tracting almost the whole night--I think that was the first time this transfer we have knocked on doors for more than 30 minutes at a time, just because we have so many other things to do. We stopped by a PI who lives about 20 minutes away, then we felt like we should knock on some doors nearby. And it was a gold mine! We only had time to talk to 6 people, but we taught a lesson on the doorstep to 4 of them. We were trying hard to keep our "doorstep approaches" fresh and personable and tailored to each person we met. The first guy we met has a young family, so we talked about families and God and ended up giving him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. He seemed way interested,  so we'll stop by again tonight and see how it goes!

His back door neighbor F was a lady who used to be married to a Buddhist monk, so she learned a lot Buddhism and thinks learning about religions is fascinating. She said she wants to try studying the Bible but doesn't have a Bible or anyone to study with. We offered her both a Bible and 2 Nihonjin sister missionary study buddies, all for free! The sisters went over to her house with a Bible and a Book of Mormon on Saturday, and they said it went so well--she wants to keep studying with them, and even committed to come to church next week! F's next door neighbor was a guy who told us that all religions are really the same, with the same purpose, and that he's already heard the Christian doctrine, and he likes Buddhism. We had a unique opportunity to talk about truth and apostasy and the Restoration on his door, and he started to listen a little more as he realized our message was different from anything he had heard before. He took a Restoration pamphlet and we will be following up with him tonight as well.

Then across the street from that guy, we met a high school student in his last year. He likes basketball and was way chill. We stared off with just an invite to English class, which is what we usually do for younger people, but we felt like we should talk a little more about the gospel with him. We introduced the Book of Mormon and he thought it was really cool--he took a copy and we'll see if he read any of it tonight haha :) So that may have been the most successful housing block I have ever been a part of during my mission, we only had time to talk to 6 people because they were listening to us! So great. We had 1 kekko, but that didn't slow our momentum at all.

F-san has been making solid progress--he has already cut his cigarette intake in half! We have been moving into teaching the other commandments, and he just tells us each time that he is already keeping them. We offered to set a baptismal date in August with him on Saturday, and he was kind of nervous and thought it was too fast. But we talked about just having the date as a goal will help us to be able to work together to be ready for baptism, and he told us that he would be ok setting a date next week! He wants to be baptized, but he still has some things he is nervous about--he told us it would be nice to read the whole Book of Mormon before he is baptized, and he wants to make sure he has all of the doctrine down in his mind. He also said that he wants to get baptized before either of us go back to America, so by June 2018 at the latest. I don't think he knows that we will likely transfer out of Kitakami before we go back to America, and that the next transfer calls come in August. It's hard because we don't want it to be a total surprise for him, but we also don't want to use the possibility of one of us transferring as leverage to persuade him to be baptized earlier, so we're kind of just waiting to see how things play out. But, we both really think that once he is able to stop smoking, he'll feel the spirit more and he won't want to wait to be baptized. He has been coming to church consistently and the branch members love him, so even if it takes some time, we're sure he will come around :)

We had an America-themed English class on Wednesday, we taught them some American slang and sang the Star-Spangled Banner together! It was a good time. We had another new student, which makes I think 4 weeks in a row with a new student! It's funny because we have been spending a lot of time giving out flyers to Jr. High and High School students on the street (we try to place ourselves conveniently near a different school each day around the time schools are getting out so we can catch the wave of students going home), but all of our new students so far have heard about the class through some other random way. One lady's friend's ex-husband used to come to Eikaiwa, and one lady saw a poster in a store 2 years ago and just recently had enough free time to be able to come, stuff like that. We went to a pretty far Jr. High School on Thursday to do some chirashi kubari, and this one san-nen-sei stud helped us out a lot--we gave him a flyer and he ran back to the school and got all his friends and brought them to us so we could give them flyers too. I think he was just trying to be funny, but he helped us talk to so many more students haha. He was trying so hard to talk in English the whole time, it was pretty funny. He even gave us hugs at the end haha.

Speaking of hugs, we kind of got hugged by this really old lady in a care center. We were doing service with the branch, each month we go to an old folks' home and change all the bedsheets. As we were leaving, this Obaachan in a wheelchair was super excited to see us. She couldn't really talk, but the worker was like, "wow she is so excited to see you guys. She loves young people, and especially young gaijin men apparently. I've never seen her this excited." Haha so the worker pushed her along so she could walk us out to the door, and she asked if we could take a picture with her before we left. Of course we said yes, but as we were crouching down next to her wheelchair, she put her arm around Elder Holdaway and pulled him in real close. I was laughing at him when she put her other arm around my shoulders and pulled me in too. Haha we figured that even if it might normally be against missionary rules, it was probably ok for that picture since she was close to 100 years old. Plus, it was visible on her face that she was just overjoyed, it was pretty cute.

We met Sekiguchi Kaicho this week! I am so excited to be working with him. We only met him for a few hours Friday afternoon, but he actually came down to Kitakami that evening to check out the church building. Basically he is just super funny and got everyone so pumped up to work hard and see lots of miracles!

We've had a great week here, glad you've had a great week too :) Thank for all you do and for raising us in the gospel. I love what you said about the RS lesson, that the happiest memories we have are centered in our families--so even if it sometimes feels like pressure, putting family first and doing the little things really brings so many blessings. Thank you for being such a wonderful example of putting family first and for being such an amazing mother! I love you so much!!


Elder Paskett

Yakiniku barbecue ↑↓

One last photo shoot with Masaki before he moves this week. (Ft. Masaki, Elder Paskett, Elder Holdaway, Momone, Ishikawa Shimai, and Mitsuyama Shimai)

Birthday party and ice cream cake! I promise it tasted better than it looked. ↑↓

Church with our homies Momone and Masaki ↑↓

Our sunburns

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 2, 2017--Spiritual physics & ice cream cakes

My most wonderful, marvelous madre,

We had an awesome experience on Saturday--right after our GoEigo Eiken class, we had a lesson with T Kyoudai (recent convert). We talked about the Word of Wisdom, and read and discussed D&C 89 together. We talked about what it means to find hidden treasures of knowledge--one thing I learned was that it's not so much that God will only bestow knowledge in us if we keep His commandments, but rather it's that by keeping His commandments, we prepare ourselves to be spiritually able to receive the knowledge He is always pouring down.

T Kyoudai has really solid doctrinal knowledge, especially for a recent convert, so we got to discussing how commandments are both physical and spiritual, and got into a little bit of spiritual physics haha. Usually we have to keep everything very simple and basic, but with T Kyoudai it's basically the opposite; we have to keep it intellectually engaging and keep him from getting bored haha. As we were talking, he said that he likes the word of wisdom and he sees why it's important, but he definitely wouldn't want to teach it to an investigator. He had agreed to teach F san with us right after his lesson, so we drove there together, and T Kyoudai wanted to practice some English on the way. We practiced and had a fun time, so fun that we forgot to tell him that we were teaching the Word of Wisdom to F san. As we sat down to start the lesson, right as the words "Chie no Kotoba" escaped my lips, I saw T's jaw drop. He had told us literally 20 minutes prior that teaching the Word of Wisdom to a non-member is not something that sounded fun to him, so we made sure to go out of our way to give him lots of chances to teach during the lesson and get him a little out of his comfort zone. The lesson went great and T Kyoudai shared some great experiences! As we were driving home after, he told us that recently he had been reading about Alma and the sons of Mosiah, and how they found such great joy from sharing the gospel. He said that he was starting to really feel that joy for himself! He wasn't sure if it was to the point where it would surpass his strength and he would fall to the ground yet, but it was pretty close. His dendo fire is so strong though! It's great because he was just baptized in March, so the gospel is still very new and wonderful to him. Even though I've been a member my whole life, I want the gospel to always be wonderful to me!

He went with us to visit some LAs on Sunday too. First we went to M Kyoudai's house. He came to church the past 2 weeks! He hadn't been to church for months, maybe years, and then we decided to visit him 2 weeks ago. We read the Book of Mormon with them and testified of Jesus' love, then left. Then he decided to come to church! I don't think we even specifically invited him to come to church. But just being reminded of what the spirit feels like and knowing he would have at least 3 friends there made the difference. He came yesterday again! If just 1 friendly visit can make the difference between someone attending church and not, I wonder what our wards would be like if all the members were regularly reaching out to the less active members...? When we went to visit, we read from the Book of Mormon together, and the 4 of us took turns sharing one of our favorite scriptures. We datduied and discussed each of them, and it was way cool because they all "coincidentally" had a common theme--we read from Mosiah about retaining in remembrance the Savior, from Alma 57 about the stripling warriors trusting in God and obeying with exactness, from Moroni 7 about suffering long and praying with all the energy of heart to have charity, and from Matthew where Peter walks on water but takes his eyes off the Savior and begins to sink. With each scripture, the discussion led to how we need to always have the Savior in our thoughts, and to have faith in and trust Him completely in order to receive the blessings he wants to give us. M Kyoudai had some crazy powerful insights during our study, it was awesome. And if things continue like the past 2 weeks, he will be an active member soon :) His wife has work on Sundays, so she hasn't been able to come yet, but hopefully she will soon!

In our lesson with F, we made a battle plan to start keeping the Word of Wisdom. We taught earlier this week about baptism and confirmation, and basically the situation was that he wants to be baptized, but knows that he needs to stop tobacco and doesn't think he can. So, we finally addressed the elephant in the room, and we just grabbed it right by the horns. We were trying so hard to follow the spirit during that lesson, because I wanted to be bold but not overbearing--one of the reasons he stopped taking lessons with the JWs was because they weren't very kind about him not being able to quit smoking. So, treading carefully and following the spirit, we had a pretty bold lesson. We restated so many times how God gives us commandments because he loves us and wants us to be happy, and how we teach and invite people to come unto Christ for the same reason. At the beginning, he told us he was feeling a little pressured, but we tried our best to not tell him to do anything, but just to invite him. The spirit was with us and Takano Kyoudai was a huge help, and eventually he was like, "yeah, I guess it's about time I stopped using tobacco, huh." This lesson was on July 1st, and we promised him that by July 31st, he would be able to stop smoking. At first he thought that that wasn't enough time, but we made a "battle plan" with him and he is excited about it. Basically it involves smoking just 1 less cigarette each day, and he will text us his daily goals for cigarettes in the morning, then let us know how close he was at night (guess where I learned about setting daily goals and accountability ;) ). I think it's super important that he feels like we are all working together towards a common goal, rather than just us pressuring him to conform to our goals for him. Please pray that he will have the strength to carry out the battle plan!

The sisters' investigator Momone chan had an awesome experience with the Book of Mormon his week! The sisters spent some time putting together this super cute decorated Book of Mormon for her (sasuga Shimaitachi), and they had the write little notes to put on it as well. We also made her a bookmark for it (which was our first experience with a laminator--we learned the hard way that 2 hot frying pans do not work as a laminator, and that you can't just put any random plastic into the laminator either. Eventually we decided to buckle down and buy some real supplies). She made us (the 4 missionaries) a video message of how much she loved her Book of Mormon, and told us through tears about some hard things she had been experiencing and how the Book of Mormon helped her to find peace. It made me realize how much I take that book for granted sometimes!

We visited K again (the American LA), he fed us some way good fajitas. Even though our visits aren't really teaching visits, we usually end up talking about God and spiritual stuff which is way cool. He loves fasting, so we talked about that a lot. He is big into health and nutrition so I have been learning a lot about the biochemistry of fats and carbs haha. I was actually to keep up with the conversation, it made me very grateful for PDBio and Neurobiology at BYU haha.

So, we usually eat pretty healthy. But, this week was Mitsuyama Shimai's birthday, and we were thinking it would be a good idea to make her an ice cream cake. We went to the grocery store and as we were buying our 2 cake mixes, 2 bags of powdered sugar, 1 bag of regular sugar, a tub of ice cream, and sprinkles, we happened to run into K of all people! The guy who doesn't even eat normal flour because the carbs are bad for you. He gave us such a hard time, it was so funny. We actually ran into him twice at the grocery store, and each time it seems like he is happier to see us! We have bonded pretty quickly over being the only gaijin in the whole city haha.

It's been a great week! The weeks are seriously just flying by. This branch is great and we are privileged to work with some awesome people :) We had to drop a lot of our potentials this week, but that means we will probably have some solid tracting time this week (hisashiburi). We will also meet President Sekiguchi this Friday! I have heard from the missioanries in the honbu that he is waayyy genki and so fun. It is so sad that Smith Kaicho is gone, but I'm also really excited for Sekiguchi Kaicho :)

Love you so much!!
Elder Paskett

Kitakami Zoolander?

R Kun; at the end of the lesson I asked who he would like to pray, and he said "we'll pray to God!" I rephrased the question and he asked me to say the prayer to God. 

Bookmark for M chan--finished product
DTM. The zone leaders came and had an hour of trainings, so I had
30 minutes to fill with whatever I wanted/prep to receive spiritual
revelation. I decided to do a massage train and some relaxation
exercises while listening to Motab, since everyone in our district was
way stressed. It actually worked really well!

Some random high schoolers we met. They wanted to take a picture
with the white guys.

Our attempt at ice cream cake...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

June 26--Video Journals and July 2--Singing at District P-day

Here is a video that me and the Elders in our district made the other
P-day. Hope you enjoy it! :)

June 26, 2017--Summer is official!

Ai suru haha sama,

Yeah it's way hot. And mushi Atsui. It's only been around 20-25 degrees, but with 99% humidity it feels much hotter! We just feel sweaty all the time. But it is a nice change from the piles of snow a few months ago!

Elder Holdaway is awesome--he is from Payson, Utah and is the youngest of 13 kids. Japanese people are always way shocked to hear that haha. He played the clarinet for a while and is a talented singer too! He is a little on the quieter side but is really hilarious, you have to really be listening to notice some of the funny stuff he says. Haha he also loooves chocolate! But yeah he is awesome and we are doing great :)

Our week has been great, and so fast--we have like 0 time to relax and breath throughout the week, but it's actually fun that way. The getting-ready time in the morning is the most relaxed time of the day for me. Usually we get back and still have to eat dinner, then record stuff in area book, and without fail someone in the district or the zone leaders will call us and then next thing we know it's 10:25! We have a digital clock on the wall by where we sleep, and almost every night this week I finished brushing my teeth then ran and dove onto my futon, then looked over to the clock right in time to see it change from 10:30 to 10:31. Haha it's like the Lord is helping us to be obedient.

We visited our PI M san and she has a super cute grandson, A kun. He is 3 years old and he loves us! He saw that we were there and he wanted to give us some muffins. M san was so shocked because she says he doesn't usually like to share his things. She said we are a good influence and good examples for him. A little bit later, he was rolling on the floor while playing with some action figures, and he was playing pretty rough and bending his brother's playing cards. M san noticed and basically said "come on A kun, play nice! Oniisan Tachi don't do things like that." It was just interesting that even though she hasn't learned very much doctrine yet, she can tell what kind of people we are, and she listens because she wants that good influence in her life, especially for her young grandkids. With both her and the T family, we are noticing that a huge part of softening the parents' hearts will be through being a good influence on their kids.

We had splits on Thursday, I got to work with Orgill Choro from Ichinoseki. We had a good time, we taught F san in the morning and spent a large chunk of our day looking for students to invite to English class. We try to position ourselves on a street close to a school around the time when schools are getting out, then talk to as many people as we can before the wave of students passes. In the evening, we were close to where the T family lives (M chan's family), and I felt like we should stop by. The whole family used to be investigators, but right now just M chan is taking lessons with the sisters. When we stopped by, her little brother Y kun answered the door, he is 15 years old. He was a little shy at first but he warmed up to us pretty quickly. We found out that he likes magic so we asked him to show us some of his card tricks, which he was super excited about. As we were talking, M chan heard us and came out to talk too, then as we were all talking at their door, their Dad came home from work. We had met M chan and her mom before, but that day we were able to meet their whole family! It was perfect because the Dad came back as we were talking and laughing with his kids. He had to leave to go back to work right away, but he was so friendly and likes missionaries a lot. We sang I am a Child of God with Y kun and M chan, and just briefly talked about the meaning of the song and testified about Heavenly Father. They are both so awesome, and need the gospel! We are hoping to be able to teach the whole family, but it's hard because the parents like missionaries but aren't too interested in the gospel right now.

We had 2 new students at our Saturday English class which made arecord of 3 students! Huge improvement from my first week at a solid 0 students haha. And our basketball friend, I, wants to learn English but his schedule is pretty tight right now so he can't make it to either of our 2 classes. But, we are working with him to possibly start a 3rd class, because he knows like every 19 and 20 year old guy in our area so of we can do a class at a day and time that work for him and his friends, that would be awesome!

That is great you get to go to Indonesia!! Make sure and take some pictures when you pass through Japan :) that is so awesome though! Take me with you next time ;) Have so much fun! And don't get typhoid.

Love you so much!!!
Elder Paskett