Monday, December 7, 2015

It's almost Christmas!!

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

It's almost Christmas!! Christmas is hands down my favorite part of the year. Despite the weather turning drearier, love and celebration fill the air! I love it! See attached picture for the Shimonoseki district Christmas card picture (Picture 1).

Notes on the Week
  • An Unexpected Visit from KaichoOn Saturday night we received an unexpected phone call from our mission president who said he'd probably be coming to our church the next day. He lives about two hours south of us, but he tries to visit a different congregation each Sunday. Anyways, I've never seen the branch so excited (well, except after a baptism). As soon as he and his wife pulled into the parking lot before church started, a greeting party of 5 or so members ran out to the parking lot to greet him and his wife. During sacrament meeting (the main meeting of our church), he and his wife spoke at the end. Despite her very limited Japanese, she bore one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever heard. He served a mission hear back in the day, so he is relatively fluent, but also shared a powerful testimony of Christ and this work. I got to talk to him for most of the last hour of church. He is incredible!
  • The Institute Investigator: This week we started teaching Tanaka San (a different one than previously mentioned). She is a college student who has been coming to institute (a young adult Mormon study class) every week for the past year or so. The institute teacher invited us to come to institute a few weeks ago to start getting to know her. She is super into music so we jammed out after (piano, flute and singing) for a few weeks. Well this past week we met with her for the first time outside of institute and are meeting with her again tonightat a members house! Miracles!
Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week
This thought for this week is on Christmas! Every year, my church comes out with a Christmas video. This year's is kids around the world telling the story of Christ from the Bible.

My  invitation is simple: please watch it and send the link to two friends who you think would like it. 

The video is at Christmas.mormon.org.

Pictures for the Week

 


Picture 2.  P-day at the aquarium. Like I've said before, every Monday from 10am to 6pm we have preparation day where we do laundry and shop and email. This past week we also had time to go to the aquarium downtown with our district!!!



Picture 3. Christmas decorations in the church! This past week the members put up some decorations in the church. For those who don't know, my Mom collects nativities. This picture is for you, Mom!

I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Incredible week! Time is flying by. Last week I hit my four month mark!

Notes on the Week
  • Tanaka Kyodai's Baptism: Tanaka Kyodai was baptized this past Saturday! We've been teaching him a few times a week since I got here, so I've learned to love the heck out of him. Here is part of my journal entry from this past Saturday:  "Tanaka Kyodai was baptized today! ... About 25 branch members showed up for it. So supportive!! Watching Tanaka Kyodai's life brighten up as he's learned the Gospel has been incredible. Tonight was the happiest I've ever seen him. At the end, with a smile on his face, he said it feels like his birthday. In a sense it was. 28NOV2015 will always be his birthday into his spiritual new life. Today, he was born again. ... Between watching the Spirit flow into Fukatani Shimai's life since her baptism and seeing the genuine joy on Tanaka Kyodai's face after the baptism, my testimony has been strengthened. ... My faith has increased as the light of Christ has lit up the lives of Tanaka Hiroshi and Fukatani Sumire. I love this work!" 
  • The Professional Primary Program!  I have a new found respect for the primary age members in Japan (kids ages 3-11)! Once a year or so, the primaries around the world are in charge of our main meeting in church and put on a program that lasts about 45 minutes. I participated in countless programs as a kid and loved them. They consist of short speaking parts and lots of songs. In most congregations in America, the primaries are big enough where each kid only says one or two parts, often either a sentence or a short story. Well, the primary here consists of only four children. Thus, each had 15 or so parts and a few solos throughout!! Most of the parts were memorized!!! So impressive!!!
Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week
This week is on something we can all do better, love. The video is of a young girl who exemplifies how to emulate Christ-like love to all. The invitation is to 1) watch the video, and then 2) continue the invitation from last week: forgiveness. None of us are perfect. Everyone wants to be and deserves to be loved. Forgive and love kudasai! 



Pictures for the Week (We're still working on getting picture again. They haven't been coming through recently)
1. Tanaka San's baptism!

2.  Elder Tshirki's birthday! 
* One of my apartment-mates turned 19 this week! I've known him since day 1 at the MTC, so we've gotten pretty close. Decorations from Mama Colton (my Mom).

I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving isn't celebrated at all really here in Japan. Most people know that the holiday in America is, but that's about it. Thus, no turkey for us today. Most people we've asked here have never even had turkey! How sad!

Anyways, I thought about doing something about gratitude today for my spiritual thought for the week, but for some reason I felt like I should talk a bit about forgiveness. It's a bit long, but please read it and apply it to your personal lives!

*Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week*
Thanksgiving is obviously a day of gratitude. I have always loved going around the family table during Thanksgiving dinner and taking turns saying what we are thankful for. Sure, life can be super challenging at times, but there is always so much to be thankful for.

Amidst this excitement of gratitude, I invite you all to think a bit about forgiveness. We have all had people offend us. That's just life. Whether it is several small acts over many years, or one big action, people offend us. Jesus talks a lot about forgiveness in the Bible, here are some examples.

"I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have ... compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matthew 18:32-33).

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:37-38).

"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Christian or not, I think we can all agree that no good comes from holding grudges against people. Thus, my invitation and plea for all of you reading this is to decide today to forgive anyone who have anything against. It may seem daunting and maybe seem impossible, but I promise you it is possible. Do I have any right to tell you to forgive people? Not really, just personal experience. I've done this before and creating a list of names helped me start. As I went through the list and prayerfully forgave each person, a new joy and peace filled my life. The same can happen in yours. Thus, my invitation is to 1) decide to forgive, 2) create a list of people you need to forgive, 3) forgive each of them, and then 4) if you feel it will help, reach out to them and apologize. Yes, you apologize to them.

Lastly, please forgive yourself for anything you have done in the past. With the Savior's help, I promise you it is possible.

Here is a pretty remarkable story on a father who was able to forgive a young man who killed his wife and several of his children in a car accident. Please watch!

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-14-forgiveness-my-burden-was-made-light?category=mormon-messages/mormon-messages-2010&lang=eng

Okay, I'll step off my soap box now.

Notes on the Week
  • Tanaka San is getting baptized!!! On Saturday, my good friend Tanaka San is going to get baptized! We have been teaching him 2-3 times per week for the past two or so months, so I've gotten to know and care about him so much. For an explanation on what baptism means to Mormons, see the blog entry around October 27, 2015, or visit LDS.org for a better explanation.
Pictures for the Week
1. Eikaiwa

(The image didn't come through this week, but we will put it up next week)

This was taken before our Eikaiwa class yesterday. My Aunt Carolyn sent me the spinner things and they rocked! The students loved spinning the them, even the two 65 years old adults.

I love you all!!!
Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

21 Years Down

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Another week down. I love this work! 

So, I was told this week that we can't prepare emails throughout the week. Therefore, all of my email typing has to be done in 75 minutes, which isn't a lot of time at all. So, I will probably get worse at responding to people, and if I do, they will most likely be short emails. Sorry.

But, I certainly appreciate all the emails and mail you all send me!

Notes on the Week
  • The Big 21: Well, I am now 21 somehow. Because the legal adult age in Japan is 20 and I don't drink, 21 really isn't too exciting of a birthday. But, my birthday still rocked. After Eikaiwa (the free English class we teach everyWednesday night), Koganemaru Shimai, one of the students/member of the branch, brought in a cake and drinks! They (about 15) all sang Happy Birthday in English and we had a little party! Plates were somehow forgotten, so we all just went ham on the cake with spoons and forks. See pictures below.
  • ありがとうございました!
  • Thank you very much to all who sent birthday presents and cards! I tried to send you all personal emails. But if I forgot, thank you very much. They were all much appreciated!
  • Japanese culture: Japan and America are very similar and different in many ways. I've only lived in this part of Japan so I'm not to sure how much this list applies to all of Japan, but here is list of some of the cool/different things I've noticed in the past two months.
    1. Lots of old, super healthy people! It is not out of the ordinary for us to see super old Nihonjin riding bikes or mo-peds or walking to and from the grocery store.
    2. Super strict rules with sorting trash. We have four trash cans in our apartment for trash! Apparently some missionaries in the past had the police called on them because they weren't sorting their trash properly. It's actually a pretty useful system. Similar-ish to what my sister has described as California's trash rules.
    3. Everyone bows all the time. I love it. 
    4. Rice with every meal.

Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week
This is a pretty incredible video on Jesus Christ and His role in our lives. I invite you all to watch it (3 minutes), and then just take a few minutes to ponder it. If you believe in Christ, I invite you two write down three ways Christ has helped you specifically. If you don't believe in Christ, I invite you to write down three ways that others might believe Christ helps them. It'll help you understand your Christian friends more.



Pictures for the Week
1. The Eikaiwa Birthday cake! See above for more info.


2. Birthday lunch at the Fukatanis! They are both recent converts that love to feed us food. In addition to this, we had two large pizzas. They are incredible!!


3. New transfer so this is my new zone. 


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I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Monday, November 9, 2015

One transfer down, Fifteen to go

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

One transfer down (6 week period), fifteen to go! Time is flying by and I am loving it here in Japan. I love the people, language, and culture here! Quite different from America, but incredible.

Notes on the Week
  • Junkai: As missionaries, we go on a few companion exchanges each transfer, meaning for 24 hours, we go with a different companion than our own. The goal is to learn knew ways to do things and how to improve, typically from more experienced missionaries. Well, this past week I spend a day with another 1st transfer missionary, Tschirki Choro. I got to know him well at the MTC and he lives with my in my apartment, but this was our first time as companions. He had some Japanese experience in high school, but both of us are relatively at the same point, which isn't very fluent. But, with faith, we set up big goals for the day! Long story short, it rocked. We taught a 45 minute lesson about Jesus to one of our investigators (with a member's help) and had another 16 short lessons throughout the day with people we met. I realized that the Gospel and love transcends beyond any language or culture. Super cool experience.
  • Eikaiwa (english class/conversation): Eikaiwa rocked again! This week's highlight was the Hoki Poki! We had only adults in their this week, but they all loved it!
  • Investigators: As missionaries, we refer to the people we are teaching as "investigators." So, I'll talk about some of the people we are teaching (Just last names).
            *Uehara San- He is a college student who is actually studying English. We found him while knocking doors a two weeks ago and although he had never really thought about God much, he agreed to meet again. At this point, we've had two lessons with him and have two more planned for this week. We also came to church this past Sunday! He originally he said he could only stay for the first hour, but ended up staying for all three as well as a YSA (young single adult) meal afterwords! We actually barely talked to him during church because the college age members were with him the entire time. The members here are incredible!
            *Tanaka San (Mr. Tanaka, somewhere in his 60s)- We started teaching Tanaka San my first day here. Since, we've met with him 2-3 times a week, almost always with another member. He has a goal to be baptized in a few weeks and is progressing well!
            *Nishimura San (also somewhere in his 60s)- Nishimura San is a stud. He rocks a pony-tail and lights to dress to his own style. We've taught him a few times and he has come to church a few times. Some of my favorite times of the day are calling him on the phone and trying to figure out what he is saying. We always just end up laughing at each other trying to figure out what the other person is saying. Last conversation, he decided that since I couldn't really understand his Japanese, to make it fair, I could only speak in English. Let's just say he doesn't really understand English that well. Lot's of laughter ensued.

Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week
Two videos and a thought for this week. One on finding peace amongst the craziness of life, the other about Christ. 

So, finding peace amongst crazy busy schedules. I'm only 20 so I don't think I really know what busy means yet, but this video is pretty incredible. The invitation is to watch it, and then to write down 10 good things that happened last week. Also, all the invitations that I ever give on here I always do myself, so I only give them if I think they will help. Here is the link: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-00-008-you-never-know?lang=eng.


Pictures for the Week
1. Soccer: This past preparation day we played soccer with some of the members and their friends! Three of them were investigators and the rest will hopefully soon turn into investigators! I was the one who took the picture, so I'm not it it.

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2. District Pizza Party! Every week, we have a district meeting (6 or so missionaries) where we talk about the people we are teaching and share ideas on how to improve. After, we always go out to eat somewhere. Often, it's at a sushi restaurant where endless sushi comes around on a conveyor belt. Sadly, I'm a poor missionary, but I always spend a decent amount of my weekly budget here :) 

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I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween in Japan

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

This week was awesome!! We found a few more Nihonjin interested in the Gospel and had a two incredibly fun experiences the branch (congregation)!

Notes on the Week
  • Halloween in Japan: If it wasn't for the Halloween party that our congregation put on, October 31 would have seemed like any other day for me in here Japan. It's expanding here, but except for a few decorations in stores, we didn't see too much of it. But, the Halloween party was 素晴らしかった(awesome)! Highlights were the costume contest and the food (the food is always a highlight at these things). See the picture more about the costumes. As for the food, they had two tables full of food and gave everyone a plate and chop sticks. Everyone then just dives in. 好きですよ。
  • Mikan Gari! This was pretty much heaven on earth. Today for preparation day we went to a Mikan Gari with some members from the branch. Mikan means orange/clementine and gari means "to cut." In other words, we paid 4 bucks to cut off as many oranges as we could eat from a giant orchard. I probably had around 30 or so.
  • A Lesson in Japanese: Like I've been saying, Japanese has three alphabets: Kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana (basic native Japanese words), and Katakana (foreign words adopted into Japanese). This week I'll talk a bit about Kanji! I took Chinese for a few years in high school and college, so I recognize a decent amount of characters. The Japanese and Chinese meanings are the same, but pronunciation is typically completely different. The sentence example last week was "I am a missionary." It would actually be written as. "私は宣教師です," or "watashi wa senkyoshi desu." Fun stuff

Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week

This is all combined into one for this week and applies to everyone. 

Here is a link to a number of videos about gratitude. 


I invite you to watch or two videos and then write down the 10 things in your life you are most grateful for. Yes, an actual list. It could even be on your phone. Put that list somewhere easily accessible. Then, when a bad day comes along (we all have them), find that list and read it. 

Pictures for the Week

1. The Halloween Party: This was taken at the ward Halloween party. These are two of the college age people in the branch who help us out with lessons all the time. Studs. 
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2. Scouting in Japan: At the Mikan Gari today, we ran into some local Japanese scouts. A few years ago at the Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia, I traded one of my scout shirts with a Japanese scout that was there. I was cool to see that shirt being worn here in Japan! Yes, I was a Boy Scout. And yes, I think scouting is cool.



3. Sledding??: I learned today that here in Japan, sledding is a year round activity. On a hill at the orchard, there were kids sledding down grass. It actually looked liked tons of fun. We had some kids from the branch there with us, so they got to show off there skills.

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I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Monday, October 26, 2015

First person baptized

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Missionary life is measured by transfers, which are 6-week periods of time where we serve in a certain place with a certain companion. Every 6 weeks, our mission president lets us know if we are going to stay in the same place with the same companion, or go somewhere else. My first transfer is coming to an end! But, as a new missionary, there is a 99% chance I will stay in the same place with the same person for next transfer. Still, time is flying by.

Highlight of the Week
This past Saturday one of our investigators got baptized!!!! Many of you are probably wondering, "What is baptism?" or maybe "What is baptism to Mormons?" or maybe "Why is it important?" I'll do my best to answer those questions. This will be baptism according to the knowledge of 20 year old Elder Colton, so it will by no means be a perfect explanation.

I'll begin with an analogy.
A kid goes outside, plays in some mud, and gets dirty. He tries to go back inside, but his Mom won't let Him back in because he is covered in mud. But, if he realizes how dirty he is and decides to let her spray him off with a hose to clean him up, he will be able to come back into the house. Thus it is with baptism. As humans, none of us our perfect. We try out best to live the best lives we can, but we all make mistakes. Because God is our loving Heavenly Father, He has given us a plan to be able to be "sprayed off" and return back to Him. This step is baptism.

Simply put, baptism is a promise, or a covenant, we make with God. It shows our willingness to follow Christ's example and to make promises with God. 

Specifically, we promise to 1) take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, 2) to keep His commandments, and 3) to serve Him to the end. In return, we are promised blessings, including the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost/Spirit, the remission of our sins, and the privilege of being spiritually reborn.

This ordinance is to be done by immersion in water. Why immersion? Well, 1) we believe that's the way God wants it. 2) Immersion is symbolic of the death of a person's sinful life and the rebirth into a spiritual life, dedicated to the service of God and His children. There's a bit more, but that's the gist.

I purposely didn't use scriptural references in order to save space and to not start a biblical debate. But, all of this is in the Bible and Book of Mormon. I am fully aware that many of you reading this do not have the same beliefs. My intentions are not to tell you that what you believe is wrong, but rather to explain my beliefs. Obviously, if I didn't believe it, I wouldn't be living in Japan right now.

Once again, this is baptism according to Elder Colton's knowledge and by no means a perfect explanation. See lds.org for more information.

A Bit More About My Purpose
In the book of Matthew (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus commands His apostles to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Similarly, I am in Japan trying to do just that.

Notes on the Week
  • A Lesson in Japanese: Like I said last week, Japanese has three alphabets: Kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana (basic native Japanese words), and Katakana (foreign words adopted into Japanese). This week I'll talk a bit about Hiragana. Hiragana is the basic Japanese alphabet. Pretty much everything in Japanese can be written out in Hiragana, including Kanji. The first few sounds in the alphabet are: あ, い, う, え, and お, which correlate with the English letters: a, i, u, e, and o. For example, to say, "I am a missionary" in hiragana would be, "わたしはせんきょうしです," or "watashi wa senkyoshi desu."
  • Eikaiwa: Every Wednesday night, we teach a free English class. It is always one of the highlights of the week! Between the four missionaries, we teach a beginner, intermediate, and advanced class. Madson Choro (my companion) and I have taught the beginners class since I've been here. There are typically about 4 adults and 3 children that come to our class each week. This past week, the theme was health. We decided to play charades to help keep things interesting. I haven't laughed so hard in quite some time :) Watching these adults act out words like "sore," "health," "doctor," and "hospital" was rather amusing.

Spiritual Thought/Invitation
As a missionary, I'm sure I can be a bit too bold sometimes. When spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is your entire purpose, it is easy to get a bit too excited and appear to be forceful. If I ever seem forceful, I apologize. If you were as convinced as I am that the Gospel of Christ can bring you more joy and happiness than anything else in this world, you'd probably be a bit eager to share it as well.

Anyways, the invitation for this week is two fold, 1) to love more, and 2) to invite others to or to attend a baptismal service. 

1. In the Book of Matthew, Christ tells us that the second great commandment is to "love thy neighbour as thyself." This includes your family, best friends, enemies, those who have wronged you, and everyone else. Thus, my first invitation is simple. It's easier said than done, but simple love everyone more and show it.

2. My second invitation is to attend a Mormon baptismal service! If you are a member, find out when your congregation is having one and go to it, and invite your friends to it. An invite can be as simple as, "Hey Bob, as you know, I'm Mormon. This Saturday, my congregation is holding a baptismal service for so and so. Want to come and see what they are like?" If you are not a member, you could ask your Mormon friends something like, "Hey Bob, I know you're Mormon. My friend told me to ask you to go to a baptism service. Do you know of any coming up?"


Video for the Week
If you are into the Bible at all, the video for this week is for you. Even if you aren't, you'll still enjoy the videos! My church has produced tons of Bible videos portraying the life of Jesus Christ, as well as countless other stories from the Bible. Here is the link to one, but there are more below it. Share with anyone you think might be interested. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-10-066-jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind?category=bible-videos-the-life-of-jesus-christ&lang=eng

Pictures for the Week
1. The Shimonoseki Branch: This was taken after the baptism on Saturday night, so it's not the entire congregation, but a bit over half. They are awesome!!!!



2. The Baptism:  This was taken before the baptism on Saturday. See from 4:27 to 4:45 in this video (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-06-1031-ill-go-where-you-want-me-to-go?lang=eng) to see what the actual ordinance is like. Ask your Mormon friends if you have more questions, or anyone in my family!



I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Monday, October 19, 2015

A little about Japan and Japanese

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Yet another week has gone by here in Shimonoseki, Japan. This past week was actually quite possibly the fastest of my life. The days are going faster and faster as I learn to give my 100% effort to this work. While the past three months haven't necessarily been the most fun weeks of my life, I can without hesitation say that they have been the best three for my life.

Notes on the Week
  • Time Spent Doing "Missionary Things:" Missionary life is pretty fantastic. Mentally exhausting, frustrating, but fantastic. We are kind of like salesman, but instead of selling a product, we hand out free pots of gold to whomever is interested. As of now, next week we are holding a baptism for an incredible lady who's husband was baptized about a year ago. I'll explain more about what baptism is and why it is so important next week. Another one of our investigators will be getting two weeks after that! Both are incredible people that I've learned to love as I've seen them grow closer to their Father in Heaven. Before coming to Japan, I was told that missionary work in Japan is slow. I refuse to accept that. I know that God is preparing many, many people here in Japan to receive His Gospel. It is my responsibility as a missionary to do everything I can to play my small part. I still have sooooooo much to learn and a lot of humbling to go through, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that the church will soon start to explode in Japan. I guess Colton stubbornness can have its perks. 
  • A Lesson in Japanese: Japanese has three alphabets: Kanji (Chinese characters), Hiragana (basic native Japanese words), and Katakana (foreign words adopted into Japanese). This week I'll talk a bit about Katakana. Katakana makes communicating much easier. Here are some examples: アイスクリーム is also written as aisu kurimu, and is pronounced I-sew-koo-ree-mew (ice cream). プリン is also written as purin, and is pronounced poo-reen (pudding). Pretty convenient.
  • Japanese Cuisine: I have still yet to eat something here that I don't love! This past week, a member in the Branch took us to a nearby all you can eat restaurant called a Tabehodai. Literally heaven on earth. All you can eat Sushi, meat, ice cream, vegetables, fruit, cotton candy, desert, and the list goes on. And is was all only about $10! Not a bad life.

Spiritual Thought/Invitation
Since I was 10 or so, I have kept a journal off and on. Some years I wrote a few times, and some I wrote close to everyday. Over the past few months, I have written in one everyday. There are few things I treasure more than my journals I have kept over the years. Being able to go back to Kevin as a freshman in high school and see what my life was actually like is pretty incredible. It may sound lame, but journaling is worth it! Whether is it a microsoft word document, an actual journal, or something else, I promise you that if you keep a journal everyday, or week, you will look back a few years from now and be glad you did. It also allows your kids and grandkids to be able to understand you better. 

This past General Conference (see last email if you don't know what that is, or the blog atelderkevincolton.blogspot.com), one of the talks was on the last words of prophets before they passed away. For those not of my faith, before you assume anything, I invite you to read this talk, specifically the latter part of it.https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/chosen-to-bear-testimony-of-my-name?lang=eng

Video for the Week
The video for this week is a short one. The attached link has tons of short videos of clips from General Conference. Feel free to watch more! https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-10-420-nothing-will-change-his-love-for-you-veme?category=october-2015-general-conference-video-quotes&lang=eng

Pictures for the Week
1. P-day Adventures: Every Monday, we have Preparation day, where from 10am to 5pm, we prepare for the rest of the week by doing laundry, shopping, and going on adventures! This past week, we biked about 30 minutes north, and then hiked about 45 minutes up a mountain, with no idea where it led. Our hope was that eventually we'd find a good view! Well, near the top, we did. To put it in perspective, we are looking at the southern tip of Honshu. Gorgeous view!



2. Buffet, Japanese style: See above (Japanese Cuisine) for more info, but this was at the all you can eat place! Yes, that is a grill in the middle of the table!



I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Colton

Monday, October 12, 2015

Inspiration from Brad

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Hello, again, from Japan! I've been here now for just under three weeks and am loving life. I spend the first few hours of everyday studying Japanese and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then the rest of the day trying to find Japanese people searching for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's an incredible exhausting, but rewarding life.

This week was overall a good one with some awesome experiences.

Notes from the Week/Life:

1. The Small Things: While at the MTC, my Australian companion taught me to appreciate the small things in life. At the MTC, it was things like sliding down railings (maybe not the most appropriate thing), using his Australian accent to get everyone to talk to everyone, and having chip/salsa night every night in the dorms. Here, I've continued looking for those "small things" that make everyday life more enjoyable. Here are some of what I try to do: 1) Japanese school children LOVE showing off their English. Whenever we pass them while we are on our bikes, we ask, "Hello. How are you?" Every time, an eruption of "I AM GOOD" or "I AM HAPPY" or "I AM FINE!!" takes place. 2) I also be sure to take some time each day to laugh at how much Madsen Choro stand out. Here are two relatively huge white guys biking around in suits with matching helmets and bike baskets talking to everyone we can in a language we can't fully speak. Good times.

2) General Conference! Every six months, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (my church) holds a world-wide conference where the leaders of our church speak and give us divinely inspired counsel. Six, two hours sessions are broadcasted throughout the world and translated into pretty much every language possible. As a missionary, it is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and our birthdays all combined into one weekend. The conference was held last week in Salt Lake, but because of the time difference, we watched in this week in Japan. Luckily, I got to watch it in English. I learned a lot from it, but one of my take aways was that if we can start to see others through the eyes of a parent, even Heavenly Father, we can truly learn to love and appreciate everyone.   Here is the link to the talks: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2015/10?cid=HP_SU_10-4-2015_dPTH_fGC_xLIDyL1-C_&lang=eng.

Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week

In high school, my good friend Brad would send out weekly inspirational thoughts (mostly Bible verses) to his friends. I loved receiving them each week, so I figured I would start doing the same (after all, I am a missionary). They will all apply to everyone (Christian or not). The invitation from this week is to ponder a scripture/inspirational quote every week. I got the idea from a talk that was given at General Conference this past week. The basic steps are: 1) Pick a scripture/quote, 2) put it somewhere you will see it multiple times a day (for me it is the background of my iPad), 3) think about it throughout the week and how it can apply to your life, 4) Share it was others. If you do it with scriptures, think of how much closer you will get with the scriptures throughout your time doing it! If you do it with quotes, I am sure you will also be lifted up. I am starting now, and have a goal to do a new one each week for the next two years. I invite you to do the same.

Pictures for the Week
1) Like I previously said, we stand out a lot here. This was Madsen Choro and I on our way back from buying groceries.



2) This was taken from a nearby park. Shimonoseki is gorgeous! Not a bad place to live.



Video for the Week
I realize many on this list are not Christian, but I still invite you to watch this video- It's pretty incredible. This video describes much of what I believe. I've shared the Japanese version about 20 times over the past few weeks.
 
Love you all! I apologize if I haven't responded to those who have written me. We have 75 minutes each week to email, and this email takes up most of that time. But, I truly do appreciate all who have written me!
 
Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Monday, October 5, 2015

Missionary firsts...

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!
 
Another week in Japan has come and gone. Japan is a pretty incredible country with incredible people. I`m excited to continue to learn Japanese so that I can continue to understand the people and this culture!
 
Anyways, lots of memorable moments from the week:
  • Why I`m here: Earlier this week, we approached a man walking on the street and starting talking to him. When he found out what we do (share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ), he got a bit frustrated with us and told us that as missionaries, we should be focused on helping impoverished countries with electricity, water, education, etc. While he had a good point and I am a strong believer in that type of service, that is not why I am here. I am here in Japan to help improve lives through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life. If you teach a man the Gospel, you feed him for Eternity. Yes, that is a bit bold, but I wouldn`t be here if I didn`t believe it from the bottom of my heart. My purpose is not to force my beliefs on anyone else. Neither is it to tell  anyone that their beliefs are wrong. Rather, it is to simply invite others to come unto Christ and experience more joy and peace than anything else in this world can give them. While humanitarian work is necessary and many LDS missionaries around the world are in fact assigned to do just that, my purpose is to invite others to find something greater than anything money or education can get them.
  • The Police: It seems like every missionary has an awkward/terrifying encounter with the police at some point in their mission. For me, it happened my second week in Japan! As a missionary, much of our time is spent knocking doors and talking to people in the street (my companion and I call it housing and streeting). Well around 8:30 a few minutes ago, we were knocking on some doors in an apartment complex when a truck pulled up and slammed on it`s brakes. To our surprise, a man stepped out and started chewing us out. Luckily for me, I don`t really understand too much Japanese, so I wasn`t quite sure what he was saying. Still, because he was about a foot away from us and screaming, I figured he was pretty upset. Before I knew it, he had his phone out and was making a phone call. A bit terrified (we were in a pretty sketchy area), I told my companion we should leave. He just laughed and told me the man called the police and that we should stay. He didn`t quite catch all of what the man said, but the basic gist was that he was upset for us being out so late and knocking on doors, as well as me locking my bike to a pole. According to this man, both were against the law. Long story short, the police came and were total bros. They calmed the man down, sent him on his way, and they talked to my companion and I about life in Japan. We gave them an invitation to our English class we teach on Wednesday. We`ll see if they actually come.
  • Other firsts that happened this week:
    • Eating Sushi in Japan.
    • Having had a door slammed in my face.
    • Biking in down pouring rain (on the way back from buying my bike while wearing a suit. Fun times.)
  • The Shimonoseki Branch: The branch (congregation) here is absolutely incredible. It has about 40 active members that are all firmly rooted in the Gospel and extremely supportive of the missionaries. One older man makes bread for us each week, and another lady gets milk for us each week. They also love to come and help us in our lessons to people. To put it in perspective, the first Sunday of every month, all the leaders of the congregations (about 10 or so) meet at a nearby park at 6am to pray for missionary work in the area. The work is a bit slow still, but I can feel momentum building.
Video for the Week
Everyone reading this probably knows someone who has suffered from or is currently suffering from some sort of an addiction. Whether it is alcohol, pornography, sex, drugs, food, or any other type of addictions, addictions are real and can destroy lives. Luckily, through a higher power, any addictions can be overcome through change. The LDS church has a 12 step recovery program that is open to all. They recently came out with 12 videos that explain 12 real stories of addiction recovery. Just a heads up, because of the nature of addictions, the videos are a bit intense. Here is the trailer and website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW1fkViJLPk
 
Pictures for the Week:

1. Madsen Choro (my companion) and I

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2. Shimonoseki is apparently famous for Puffer-fish. One of the other missionaries in my apartment always wanted to get a picture with this giant painting.

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My Address:
My address for mailing letters and packages is the address for the mission office:
     Elder Kevin Colton
     Japan Fukuoka Mission
     9-16 Hirao-josuimachi, Chuo-ku
     Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka 810-0029
     Japan

Love you all!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

He's in Japan!

Konnichi wa Tomodachi to Kazoku,

Well, I`m in Japan!!! I am living in a city called Shimonoseki with about 300,000 people in it. It is not touristy in the slightest...the only non-Japanese people I`ve seen here are my companion and the other two missionaries I am living with. Anyways, update on the week. I`ll try to go chronologically.
  1. Last Thoughts on the MTC: Overall, the MTC was an incredible experience. I spent nine week total there and loved just about every minute of it. I lucked out with an incredible Australian companion who taught me how to love everyone and to enjoy the small things in life. I had an incredible district (12 people who I did everything with) who helped me strengthen my testimony in Christ and His Gospel. I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to spend so much time in such an uplifting, motivating environment.
  2. The Supposedly Long Travel Day: Around 3am on Monday, September 21st, my journey from Provo, Utah to Fukuoka, Japan began. Around9pm on Tuesday, September 22, my journey ended at the missionary home in Fukuoka. While it took three flights and lots of driving, the entire experience flew by. I have a unique skill to be able to sleep anywhere (on planes, in the car, in class, in church) that is both a blessing and a curse. When it comes to traveling it`s pretty awesome. I spend the majority of the time on all the planes passed out. It also didn`t hurt that I love traveling and was just excited to leave the gates of the MTC in Provo for the first time in two months.
  3. The Solution to Jet Lag: I learned that the solution to jet lag is to just not accept that is it a thing. Our first day at the mission home, they put us to work starting at 6:30am. We (18 other missionaries from the MTC and I) spent the morning sitting through training on the Fukuoka mission (bike rules, mission rules, etc) and then were paired with a missionary who had been out for a while and started talking to people in the street! I was paired with a native Japanese missionary who could also speak English. For about 3 hours, we traveled the streets of Fukuoka talking to people in the street and knocking on doors. I understood absolutely none of what anyone said.
  4. President and Sister Egan: All LDS missions around the world are led by a missionary president and his wife. Mine, President Egan, is in charge of 204 missionaries across 4 or so islands. He is from Utah and will serve in that capacity for three or so years. Quite the responsibility. He and his wife were the ones who picked us up from the airport and hosted us for the first two days in Japan. They are both some of the most loving people I have ever met. I am honestly pumped to be able to serve under them for the next two years.
  5. Intro to Missionary Work: On Thursday, Elder Tschirki (one of my travel buddies) and I set out for Shimonoseki. We took four trains total over the course of a few hours, but somehow made it to Shimonoseki on time. Our companions met us at the train station, helped walk our luggage to our apartment, and then immediately put us to work with weekly planning. My companion, Elder Madsen, walked me through all of the Nihonjin (Japanese people) we are currently teaching. After that, we hit the streets and started talking to people.
  6. The Missionary Schedule: I apologize for the length of this email. If you are already bored and want to stop reading, I won`t be offended.
    • 0630- Wake up and work out
    • 0800- Personal study
    • 0900- Companionship study (two hours for the first 12 weeks)
    • 1000- Language study
    • 1100- Lunch
    • 1200-2100- Trying to spread and teach the good word of God. Dinner is also somewhere in that time frame.
  7.  The Heavenly Food: Americans could learn a thing or two about cooking from Nihonjin. The food here is incredible!! Sure, we may have rice at every meal, but even the rice here is incredible. To be honest, I`ve only had three meals from restaurants/cooked by Nihonjin over the past week, but they were all incredible. All consisted of rice, a soup, and some sort of meat/fish. Later today a member of the branch is taking the four elders in my apartment out to a sushi place for Elder Flippo`s birthday.
Pictures for the Week
1) The five members of my MTC district at the Fukuoka, Japan temple.
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2) My last moments with Bauer Choro as we head to the Salt Lake Airport.

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Video for the Week


Thank you all for your emails and support. I apologize if I didn`t have time this week to respond, but I read them all and truly appreciate them!