Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week Five at the Missionary Training Center

Konnichi wa Kazokua to Tomodachi (Hello Family and Friends),

First off, just making sure that everyone who gets these knows that I have a blog that my brothers update. It has my past emails and pictures. The address is:www.elderkevincolton.blogspot.com.

So, in three and a half weeks I'll be in Japan, and the greeting line above is about the extent of my Japanese! Not really, but I'm no where close to fluent. At this point, I can pretty much say anything I want to about LDS missionary related topics (families, the Bible, Book of Mormon, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, etc.). That alone is a miracle based off studying Japanese for just over a month. I'm not worried though, the Japanese will come as long as I do my part.

Japanese included, life here is going pretty well. I still spend about 24 hours a day with Tyson Bauer, my companion, but we get along great. Both of us aren't near perfect, but we see enough good in each other to enjoy being with the other 24/7. I figure it's decent marriage practice. I just hope my wife can put up with me as well as Bauer Choro can (Bauer Choro is "Elder Bauer" in Japanese).

Pictures from this week (for more pictures, go to www.elderkevincolton.blogspot.com)

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My companion's first time trying Squeeze Cheese! He said he hated it, yet had about 10 crackers with it on it...Over the past month, he has also had his first Pop Tart and Hot Pocket. I'm embarrassed to say that his English hasn't improved since being with me...he still calls the water fountain the "bubbla" and calls napkins "serviettes."

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Sweater weather! My mission will be EXTREMELY hot, pretty much year round. Because of that, some elders in my district decided to wear sweaters this past week Wednesday even though is was about 70 out. The person in the center is one of my Japanese teachers, Chris Crandall (Dakko San).

Highlights of the week:
  1. Performing in church Sunday with Sorensen Shimai (Sister Sorensen): A few weeks ago, she brought up the idea of us playing a song together for church or on of the MTC devotionals (A little background on her: She has been a violin performance major at BYU for the past two years and was a part of the band "The National Parks" before coming on her mission. My brother actually showed me her band before I came on the mission. Long story short, she is super talented when it comes to anything violin related). As a dork who is obsessed with anything music related, I gladly agreed. We played "I Need Thee Every Hour," arranged by Marshall McDonald and Steven Sharp Nelson. It is a beautiful arrangement, especially if played with passion. The piano part isn't anything special and doesn't have any solo's, so I got to focus on the violin part the entire time. Pretty memorable experience. Today, we auditioned to perform in one of the MTC devotionals that take place Tuesday and Sunday nights. Of course, the "judges" loved her playing and said they'd let us know when we'd perform.
  2. West Pointers take the MTC: This past Wednesday, two of my good friends from West Point, Elder Kendall Munsey and Elder Corey Nielson, got to the MTC. Elder Munsey's classroom is just one floor above mine, so I see him pretty often. He and I enjoy going into each other's classroom when the other one isn't there, and writing something embarrassing about the other person on the board. We probably have a bit too much fun messing with each other, but it's so nice knowing someone from the outside world. The rest of the West Pointers get here next Wednesday. Unless I'm forgetting someone, we have four more coming, including the first female West Point cadet to ever serve a mission for my church. Here's the link to an article on her! http://www.ldsliving.com/LDS-Woman-Will-Be-First-Female-West-Point-Cadet-to-Serve-a-Mission/s/79811?utm_source=ldsliving&utm_medium=email.
  3. Teaching Dakko San: A few times a week, our two teachers put on their acting skills and take on the persona of someone (we use the term "investigator") interested in learning about Christ's Gospel. At the beginning of class each day, two of the companionships practice teaching these "investigators" as if they were real people. We end up teaching 3-4 lessons each week. The lessons are all in Japanese, which by now is fine, but our first one was on our third day here at the MTC. Let's just say that the quality of teaching and Japanese has significantly improved. Anyways, this past week we had an incredible lesson with Dakko San that I want to share. Dakko San is a 50 year old man with two sons (20 and 25), works two jobs and 100 hours a week, thinks he is a terrible father, and is all around unhappy. We've taught him about 6 times, and up until this past week we hadn't been able to peel his onion and figure him out. As Bauer Choro and I were planning for his lesson, I came across a video about parenting that I felt Dakko San needed to see. I'll attach the video at the end of my email. I showed the video with Japanese subtitles, and saw the message sink into Dakko San's heart. Yes, it was just my 22 year old teacher playing the role of Dakko San, but it helped me realize how much of a different in the lives of others I, as a missionary, can make. It'll make more sense once you see the video.
  4. Volleyball Thursdays and Saturdays: Every Saturday, my district (12 people) play sand volleyball, and every Thursday, about 30 missionaries from my zone (about 60 people) play sand volleyball. It's always one of the highlights of my week. Colton family, start improving your volleyball skills, I think I found our new family sport! Trent (my sister's husband), as the expert volleyball player in the family, I expect you to take the charge on this one.
Video for the week: Like I said above, the email from this week comes from a lesson I taught earlier this week. We were teaching Dakko San (see paragraph by Teaching Dakko San) about how through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you can be a better father. I've never been a father and have quite some time from when I do, but I think we can all learn from this video how to be a better friend, sibling, spouse, father, mother, and just overall person. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cxHd773Ya0

Love y'all!

Elder Kevin Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

Photos

Elder McArthur's Birthday
 Elder McArthur's Birthday
 My attempt at photography
 Workout Tool Club (Elder Sherman and Elder Tschirki)


Zone Leader Workout Buddy (Sherman Choro) and Me

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Week Four at the Missionary Training Center

Konnichiwa Friends and Family,

It's pretty crazy to think that I've been here for over a month. In just another month I'll be in Japan! I still don't really know Japanese, but that's a minor detail. On the bright side, I'm getting to the point where I am more comfortable in Japanese than Chinese. Not that my Chinese was that great, but I did take it for four years, whereas I've taken Japanese for a month. The MTC must be doing something right. It also probably doesn't hurt that I have God helping me out.

Highlights from the week:
  1. Piano! My companion's patience is pretty incredible. After lunch and dinner almost everyday, I pop into one of the rooms with a piano and play for 5-10 minutes. It's my way to relax and escape the world temporarily. This past Sunday I got to accompany on of the missionaries in my zone during our sacrament meeting (our main church service) on "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." She is an incredible flutist, so I loved the experience. Accompanying talented musicians/playing duets is probably my favorite thing to do on the piano.
  2. The Gospels: Yesterday I finished reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and Acts from the New Testament. I had a few take-aways that I think relate to all of us (Christian or non-Christian)
    • Just about everything we need to know on how to be a good person can be found in Matthew 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount).
    • Part of West Point's mission statement is to create "leaders of character." Well, the character of Christ is exactly what I think West Point tries to create. Time after time when He is persecuted and put through trials, He patiently turns out and helps others. He loves, leads, and helps others in ways that we can all learn from.
  3. My Mission President: I found out that my mission presidents's (kind of like the superintendent of the Fukuoka, Japan mission) five expectations for his missionaries are: 1) work hard, 2) work smart, 3) Be obedient, 4) have fun, and 5) come home tired. As a squad leader for cadet basic training a few weeks ago, my expectations that I told my squad were: 1) work hard, 2) work smart, and 3) work together. I also found out that my mission president loves music. I have a strange feeling that I am going to love working under him when I get to Fukuoka.
Video for the week: My video for this week comes from Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." It is about anti-bullying. It's amazing how even here at the MTC bullying goes on. No matter what stage of life we are all at, we all see bullying to a certain extent go on. Life is hard enough as it is. The last thing any of us need is for others to bring us or others down.

Love you all!

Elder Kevin Colton
Fukuoka Japan Mission

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week Three at the Missionary Training Center

Friends and Family,

Konnichiwa! Hello again from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Time here is starting to feel like the last two years of school for me: the days are long but the weeks fly by. I've somehow already been here for three weeks! If my timing is correct, all you West Pointers are currently in the midst of Re-Organization week. Good luck with the upcoming school year. To all my 2017ers, good luck leading the school! To all the 2018ers, try your best to avoid yuk cynicism...it'll be hard, but you can do it.

Update on the week:
  • Japanese: Well, I'm still not fluent. I'm still more comfortable speaking Chinese than Japanese (I took Chinese for a few years in high school and a year in college), but my Japanese is slowly progressing. I now naturally use Japanese in my everyday speech, such as saying, "hai" for "yes." I often get weird looks when I say that to people who don't speak Japanese.
  • The Aussie: Well, my companion is still the man. He's also an excellent wingman...which doesn't help me out too much on the mission, but if I'm ever in my 30s and still not married, I'm going to fly him in from Australia and have him help me out some. 
  • Crew: Coach K (West Point crew people, make sure Coach K sees this por favor), I've been erging some! By some, I mean I've been on the erg twice. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. Maybe erging isn't so bad after all. 
  • Leadership: One of the members of my branch presidency (for those who don't know what that means, he's one of the adults in charge of us), served in the Army for 30 years! I've learned a lot about leadership through working with him. Not that I know too many, but he is the most kind, caring, and loving retired Sergeant Major that I know. He's helped me adapt my leadership style to the new missionary life. On that note, I got rotated out of serving as the district leader and am now one of the "Joes." I'm enjoying focusing on increasing my testimony and learning Japanese. My new district leader is straight out of high school, but is doing an incredible job.
  • Friends heading off to Japan: This past Monday, a bunch of the friends I've made here headed off to Japan. They had only been here for 5 more weeks that I have. It made me realize how little time I actually have until I head to Japan. Only five weeks until I'll be thrown into a country where I don't understand the culture and I will barely be able to speak the language. That being said, I'm more excited than nervous. I have to work as hard as I can over the next few weeks, but I know that the message I'm trying to share is one that can bring happiness and peace across any culture and in any language.
  • TRC experience: Once a week, we get to teach local Japanese speakers a lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Japanese. Each companionship is given 20 minutes to teach a volunteer. We attempt Japanese the whole time, but we often get strange looks from the volunteers when we try to say things...such as saying, "I know I was perfect," rather than, "I know I'm not perfect." This past week though, we had a super cool experience while trying to teach about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Although a member of our church for her entire life, our volunteer actually wanted to know more about how Christ carried out the Atonement. While we were constantly flipping through the English-Japanese dictionary and the "Ninja" (pretty much how to speak Mormon Japanese 101), we were actually able to get our message across and I think she learned something. I know that God is helping us carry this message of joy and hope. Although we aren't even close to fluent in Japanese yet, we can still make a difference in the lives of those looking for something more in life.
Video for the week: Just a cool story of a 13 year-old boy trying to do some good in the work. My challenge for all of you, and myself, is to set a goal this week to go out of your way to help someone else. https://www.lds.org/youth/video/daytons-legs?lang=eng. We all struggle at times in life, but helping others is one of the best ways to find that joy we all want in this life.

Well that's about all I got for now. Thanks again to all those who have been writing me. I promise my emails will get more exciting once I'm in Japan!

Love,

Elder Kevin Colton
Fukuoka Japan Mission

Friday, August 7, 2015

Week Two at the Missionary Training Center

Elder Colton (Kevin) with his Australian Companion

Elder Colton (Kevin) with his Australian Companion in front of the Provo Temple

Elder Colton (Kevin) with his district (squad)


Hello Family and Friends!

Honestly, life here is pretty great. The majority of missionaries here are incredible people that truly want to serve the Lord. I've made some incredible friends that I hope to be friends with for life.

Stories/Notes from the week:
-My companion, as an Australian, says a lot of things very differently than most Americans. I have way too much fun messing with him for "not speaking English." Here are some of our differences:
  1. He calls a napkin a "serviette"
  2. He calls sandals "thongs" ("Hey Elder Colton, think it's alright if I wear thongs around the MTC?" That was when I learned "thongs" were sandals...)
  3. He says "How are you going?" rather than "How are you doing?"
  4. He says "Dob in on someone" instead of "Snitch on someone"
  5. He says "ta" or "cheers" for thank-you
  6. He doesn't say his R's (wuda for water)
  7. He says "bubbler" for drinking fountain.
  8. And he calls cotton candy "Fairy floss"
  9. That's about the extent of our disagreements though...he is the man.
-(Mom, feel free to take this out if you don't think it's appropriate) After hearing I was from Georgia, someone asked me, "Is it weird seeing so many white people here?" I honestly wasn't sure how to respond.

-We have the opportunity to hear from some incredible speakers here! This past week, Sherri Dew spoke to us on Tuesday and President Russel M. Nelson spoke to us on Sunday (If you have no idea who any of these people are, that's okay. Just know they are awesome people). Both were incredible speakers with powerful, thought-out testimonies of Christ. Sherri Dew is one of my new favorites Mormon leaders. If the rest of her books and talks are anything like the one she gave to us, I highly recommend looking into that (more so for the Mormons who get these emails, but others feel free as well). My big takeaway from her was that it is okay for us to not understand everything about the teachings of Christ. When we have those questions, it is okay for us to "wrestle" with the Lord and do everything we can to figure it out. Sometimes we will, sometimes we won't.

-Japanese: Well, Japanese is certainly no Chinese. My four years of Mandarin hasn't helped me as much as I hoped it would...it will once we get into Kanji (basically, Chinese characters in Japanese), but not yet. That being said, it's pretty cool to look back and see how much Japanese I've learned over the past two weeks. I know the man upstairs has helped me with that one.

Love and miss all of you! Thanks for those who have written me so far. I'm trying my best to get back to you.

For those feeling a bit down about life and looking for some answers: https://www.lds.org/youth/video/come-unto-christ-2014-theme-song?lang=eng