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

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