Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Transfers!!

Ni Hao!

Today (Tuesday) is transfer calls (hence I P-day is today and not yesterday)! Both my companion and one of the other companions in our apartment are heading home to America. Their short two years has come to an end. My trainer (First companion) is also going home in a few days. These two years go fast!

Anyways, this week was incredible!!! Probably the most culture (Some Japanese, some Chinese, and some Indian). I've experienced in awhile. I'll do my best to explain why the week rocked so much.

Notes on the Week
  • The Miracle Lesson: While experiencing the culture here is incredible, we are here to help bring lives unto Christ. Thus, the highlight of the week was a lesson with Muraishi San. I've mentioned him before, but he is a 65 year old Nihonjin who we met on the street a few months ago. We have met with him a few times a week for the past few weeks, and he is working towards baptism in a few weeks. This past week we taught him the Word of Wisdom (Seehttps://www.lds.org/topics/word-of-wisdom?lang=eng for an explanation). Anyways, he has decided to give up smoking for two weeks! That was the goal our member joint set for him. That in it of itself is a miracle for me. That is how this gospel works. One step at a time, we follow Christ.
  • The Mochi Making Party. This past Saturday we had a mochi tsuki taikai, pretty much a Mochi (condensed rice) making party. The simple steps are, 1) make rice, 2) put it in a stone giant bowl, 3) get a giant wooden hammer and smash it all together, 4) break it off into smaller pieces. See pictures below. Two of these Chinese guys we met a few weeks ago came to it. I got to practice my Chinese and realize how much I forgot (I studied it in high school and college).
  • Culture: So, Japan is very Japanese. The country has foreign influences, but keeps its own culture and identity alive. Thus, my entire experience so far has been Japanese culture (obviously). This week's non-Japanese culture activities including going to an Indian restaurant and loving the music (It was pretty cool to see Indians speaking fluent Japanese), and talking with some Chinese friends we made. Cultures rock.

Video and Invitation for the Week
For those of you who watch these videos each week, you have probably realize that I'm a fan of the inspiration story ones. This week is a pretty cool story of a young girl who overcomes some severe challenges and serves others. My invitation for this week is: 1) watch it, 2) pick one thing you can do today to serve someone, and 3) actually do it. よろしくお願いします。


Pictures for the Week.
1。Making mochi :)


2. The weather his past week was crazy!!! It got freezing and snowed for a day straight (not normal here). We had to stay warm somehow. #thosewhitehelmetsdoough



3. 20 is the "coming of age" age here in Japan. Once a year, they have a holiday that is to celebrate everyone who turned 20 in the year. Some of the members of the branch turned 20 this year and stopped by church to show off their Seijinshiki formal wear.



I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Monday, January 18, 2016

Growing up with doubts

こんにちは!

Hello, again, from Japan! Weeks are starting to fly by! I love it! Is it always fun? No, not at all. But, I'm enjoying it more and more. Although I've learned a lot of Japanese over the past 6 months, the biggest change in my life has been my strengthened testimony of God. Some people seem to believe since they were born, and to never really doubt. I wish I could say that's been me, but that's just not the case. Growing up, I doubted. I grew up in an incredible family that taught me the teachings of Jesus from the day I was born. Despite this, I doubted. A lot.

Luckily for me, however, God is patient. He patiently waits for us to turn to Him. I think I always believed, but something was always holding me back. After seemingly millions of promptings from my family, friends, and the Spirit, I slowly started to recognize the subtle promptings from the Holy Ghost and the magnificence of God. It's an eternity-long pursuit, but at this point in my life, I can promise you all that God exists. The feelings we feel from Him are not made up (Trust me, I thought people around me were making things up for quite some time). 

This is all a bit scattered, but God is there and is patiently waiting for all of us to turn to Him. Does He expect perfection? Of course not. Just for us to get back up every time we fall. 

Notes on the Week
  • The Music Night!!!!: This past Saturday the missionaries and branch put on a music night! My district leader gave us the idea a few weeks ago, and we got it rolling about two weeks ago. The night consisted of a 30 minute piano concert. I played a "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Chopsticks" song (Thanks Miss Tomi), Elder Tschirki and I played a "Heart and Souls" arrangement that ended up with both of us playing upside down (Thanks Jon Schmidt), the other missionaries played a song each, and one of the members form the congregation performed two songs. We then had a "Name that Tune" game, followed by a 20 minute performance of our branch president and his rock band!!! They sang "Let it Be" and a few other songs. We then attempted to have everyone sing a Japanese song in English (The Only Flower in the world). Kind of worked. The night concluded with an "I'm a Mormon" message of a Japanese lady who has used music to help her get through hard times. Total, about 26 people came, including a few investigators, potential investigators, and recent converts. It was honestly a blast. 
  • Service with Tomita Kyodai!!!. This past Thursday we got to help out a member of the congregation with his green houses. He owns 5 green houses and sells flowers. The four of us in the apartment biked an hour down there and then helped clean up the area (had to move tons of wood and steam pipes). It was a blast.
Video and Invitation for the Week
The video for this week is simple and short. The voice is from one of the leaders of our church. The invitation is simple and short as well! Watch it, and then write down 3 of the day to day joys you have in life.


Pictures for the Week.
1. The Music Night! The leader of our congregation (branch president) and his band!!


2. Missionaries sometimes get a bit bored in the apartment...we find ways to have fun. The stud on the left is my district leader, Elder Horstmeier. He's incredible.



I love you all!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Monday, January 11, 2016

Almost six months...

こんにちは!

My 6th month mark is in 11 days! Somehow I'm almost a fourth of the way done with my mission. Well, I should say the Lord's mission. One of the main things I've been trying to learn on the mission is to forget myself and lose myself in the work. It's rather difficult when I can't really speak Japanese, but my trainer, Elder Madsen, was at the level of humility that I hope to be close to by the end of my mission. Nothing was about him. Everything he did was to either help me, other missionaries, the congregation, or our investigators. 

Notes on the Week
  • The Important Part of Why I am Here: Without going into too much detail, I'll explain some of the investigators we are working with. 
  • First, Muraishi San (村石さん). He is a 60 or so year old electrician by profession who loves the idea of God and Christ. Like most people we talk to, he has had no background with Christianity, so everything is new for him. He especially loves the idea of all his guilt being washed away through baptism. He is slowly learning how to use the power of Jesus Christ's atonement in his life.
  • Murata San (村田さん). Murata San is a 40 or so year old Nihonjin who has always believed in a God. He has never really known why, but the idea of a God just simply makes sense to him. For some reason, he loves to read Isaiah's writings from the Bible and Book of Mormon (Typically very difficult for most people to read and understand. Including me.). He will do just about anything to feel the Spirit and draw closer to God. 
Video and Invitation for the Week
Over the past few years, my church has come out with a number of "I'm a Mormon" videos that share some of the lives of members of our church. Most are pretty incredible. The video for this week is a story of an inspiration mother. The invitation is to watch it, and then watch another that applies to you. 


Pictures for the Week
1. Tabehodai! This past P-Day we went to an all you can eat restaurant and got waaaaaay to much steak. So delicious. We had 100 minutes to order as much food as we wanted. And yes, that is a grill in the center that you cook your meet on.  [Note from the editor ... this picture did not come through in Elder Colton's email.]

2. Lesson with Tanaka Kyodai. This past week we had a lesson with a recent convert on faith and repentance. We used this scratch pad for an example. He doesn't look too happy in the picture, but he enjoyed the lesson (I think).  [Note from the editor ... this picture did not come through in Elder Colton's email.]

3. Eating blowfish! this past week one of the members took us out to eat Blowfish at a restaurant far nicer than we deserve! But, it was so, so very tasty. 



I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Monday, January 4, 2016

Nihao!

Nihao!

P-day's have been on Friday's the past two weeks (Christmas and New Years), but they are back on Monday now. I emailed just three days ago, so this one will be pretty short. 
Also, if anyone who reads these ever has anything they want to hear about, let me know! My email is Kevin.colton@myldsmail.net.

Notes on the Past Three Days
  • Dinner with the Hiramatsu Family: Last night we ate dinner at the house of one of the members in the congregation. The grandfather of this family has made it near the very top of my list of role models in my life. From day 1 in this area, he has taken me in, loved me, encouraged me, and strengthened me. He is so involved in the congregation and literally never worries about himself. To put it in perspective, he is up there with Antony Park on his level of selflessness (Antony Park is one of my best friends from college for those who don't know him). Hiramatsu Kyodai the one who always takes pictures for us (see last week Santa pictures). Anyways, one of the recent converts, Tanaka Kyodai, came to dinner with us. We ate Sukiyaki , which is pretty much boiled meet and vegetables that we dip in a raw egg. Super tasty. See pictures below.
  • Other Stuff: That's about all I have for this week. Life in Japan is still going well. Slowing figuring out this language and how to forget myself and serve. For anyone on the fence about serving a mission, do it! It is the most fulfilling thing I've done in my 21 short years of life.
Video and Invitation for the Week
I'll go ahead and step off my usual soap box for today. Todays's message is simple; the video is simple; and the invitation is simple. The message is the world needs more love; the video is about love; and the invitation is to love. お願いします!


Pictures for the Week
1. Dinner with the Hiramatsu Family! From left to right: Hiramatsu Kyodai, his granddaughter, me, Elder Horstmeier (my district leader). Notice the Frozen picture. They love that movie here!



2. This was from a week or so ago, but this is my zone for this transfer! I failed on the Christmas cheer.



I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Years

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi,

Happy New Years!!! It's 2016! Somehow. New Years in Japan is one of the biggest holidays of the year. No one really gets work off for Christmas, but nearly everyone does for Shogatsu (New Years). Thus, everything was pretty much closed down yesterday and will be today. To put it in perspective, we went to three restaurants yesterday before we found one open for lunch. The Japanese love their New Years!

I've talked about it before, but here is my basic schedule each day:
-0630- Wake up, work out for 30 minutes, breakfast, shower
-0800-0815- Pray
-0815-0900- Personal study (study the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and other church related books and articles)
-0900-1000- Companion study: Plan for lessons we have that day and plan how to improve as a companionship.
-1000-1100- Language study: Try to learn this thing called Japanese
-1100-1200- Lunch
-1200-1230: Mogi- meaning practice teaching lessons in Japanese to my companion
-1230-1700- Teach lessons and talk to as many people as we can through knocking on doors and talking to people in the street.
-1700-1800- dinner
-1800-2100- More lessons and finding.
-2100-2130- Plan for the next day
-2130-2230- Prep for bed.

Yup. Missionary life. Pretty much the same anywhere around the word. I love it!

Notes on the Week
  • Interviews with Kaicho: Yesterday my zone had interviews with our mission president, President Egan. He and his wife are simply incredible. They are two of the most loving and humble people I know. Despite being in charge of roughly 200 young missionaries, 6 senior couples serving in the mission, and many of the congregations in the area, they make every missionary feel loved and appreciated. They kinda rock.
  • New Years Celebration: Last night we went with one of a recent convert to our branch president (the leader of our congregation). We had a delicious meal called Nabe! So oishi. See pictures below.

Video and Invitation for the Week
We all have struggles in life. That's just how it is. While we can't always control what trials we have, we can always decide how to react. Is it easy to see trials and struggles as opportunities to grow and turn towards God? No. Possible? Yes.

The video for this week is a story of a young man who struggles throughout his life to accept responsibility for the struggles in his life. It will certainly make you think and self reflect.

I invite all of you to watch it! It's not too long. So, please 1) watch it, 2) think about how you can handle trials better, and then 3) find a quote or scripture to turn to when life gets hard. The quote should help you put life back in perspective this year. Here is a website with a bunch of awesome potential quotes (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/october-2015-general-conference-video-quotes?lang=eng&start=13&end=24&order=default)


Pictures for the Week
1. New Years party. Picture from last night with the crew!



2. Food from lunch and dinner. My lunch and dinner were pretty much the same, except that dinner was homemade and much bigger. This dish is called Nabe. Yes, that is a raw egg. You dip the boiling meet and vegetables in the egg (after you scramble). So delicious!!



3. Japanese kids are adorable!!! I took this during a picture taking battle with one of our Eikaiwa (English class) students.


Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Friday, January 1, 2016

Merry Christmas

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi,

Merry Christmas from Japan!!! Christmas on a mission is a bit different than in the states. For example, last night during Christmas Eve we were out on the streets talking to people about Christmas. Tonight we have a lesson with one of our investigators. So, missionary work doesn't really stop. But, sharing the joy of Christ is the best thing we could be doing on Christmas, so I don't mind. Do I miss my family? Of course. I just got off of a 40 minute phone call with them (that's all we get) and was reminded at how incredible they are. But, as a missionaries, we have the opportunity to give up just a small portion of our life and give 100% of our time and efforts to the Lord. 

Notes on the Week
  • Christmas Party: Last Saturday was the branch Christmas party and was incredible!!! About 75 people showed up, including 10 of our English class students and a few of the members who have fallen away from the church. The children put on a Christmas play, the college age kids made it Hawaiian themed by doing a Christmas-Hawaiian dance, and the branch showed a few of the church-produced Christmas videos. 
  • Highlight of the Christmas Party: While the entire night was memorable, the highlight was the closing song, "Silent Night." Towards the very end of the program, I had to give up my seat to someone else, so I got to stand in the back and observe everyone when the closing song started. As soon as the song began, I felt a feeling of pure joy and peace flow into my heart. I switched off between singing and simple observing. The sweet joy of Christmas filled that Japanese church building. Could I understand the meaning of any of what everyone was singing? Not at all. But, the language of the Spirit (God's love) is universal. The Spirit transcends past any language and into any heart if we let it. It's not always easy in the busy world we live in today, but we can feel God's love if we listen.
  • The "Performance": This past Tuesday we had the opportunity to go to a retirement home and put on a little Christmas performance! I was on a dinky keyboard and the other three missionaries were singing. While the actual skill level of all of us was questionable, it seemed like the crowd enjoyed it! The other three missionaries were in Santa suits and handed out Christmas presents to them all at the end.
Video and Invitation for the Week
Amidst the joy of the holiday season, some one always gets left out. Whether it is that family member who doesn't seem to quite fit in with his family, the person who doesn't really have any family to celebrate with, or simply the person who struggles to feel loved, someone always misses out on the holiday joy. Well, my challenge this week is to reach out to that person in need; to look for and find that friend or family member who might be struggling. Simply talk to them and help them feel included. If that means you missing out on part of the fun and simply talking to them off to the side, so be it. That's the true meaning of Christmas.

If you are someone who struggles, I plea with you to reach out to your Savior, Jesus Christ. He is there and understands you perfectly. He wants to help. He is patiently waiting. Recognizing His influence can be difficult at times, but He is there.

Here is a link that describes the role of our Savior. Whether you believe in Him or not, I invite you to scroll through it.


Pictures for the Week
1. At the branch Christmas party, Elder Tschirki and I were the Santas that everyone took pictures with! The lady in the picture is an 84 year old incredible lady who joined the church a few months ago. It's never too late!



2. Volleyball activity with the YSA and investigators



3. Taken at the retirement center (see above).



I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton

Transfer Day!!

Konnichi wa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

It's transfer day!! Like I've mentioned before, missionary life works in 6 week periods. Every six weeks, we can be reassigned to new places with new companions. Sadly, no one has called us yet to tell us our fate for the next 6 weeks, so still we wait.

Notes on the Week
  • A Performance in Church: This past Sunday during Sacrament meeting (our main church meeting), we had the opportunity to perform a Christmas medley with one of our investigators! She (see last week's note on "The Institute Investigator") played the flute, Elder Madson and two members of the branch sang, and I accompanied on the piano. We threw together an arrangement of Silent Night, The First Noel, and Joy to the World. I wish I could have somehow recorded it! Anyways, it was a blast. That was the first time she had been to church in a few months, so quite the Christmas miracle!

Video and Spiritual Thought/Invitation for the Week
The thought for this week is again on Christmas! Another awesome video. I love this year's video, but last year's was hard to beat. Thus, today's video is last year's video that my church came out with.

The invitation is the same as last week: watch it (it's short) and please send it to two of your friends who would be interested.

Also, every year in most congregations around the world, a choir made up of members of the congregation put on a Christmas program (songs and what not) during the first hour of church. They always rock. If you are a member, please invite your friends to it! If you are not a member, please ask your Mormon friends when it will be. I promise you will enjoy it!


Pictures for the Week


Picture 1. The Apartment Christmas Tree!  My family send us our Christmas tree for our  apartment. It now has decorations and what not. Thanks family :) The person on the left is my district leader and the person on the right is my companion (notice the sorted trash in the back).

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Picture 2. Nativity Number 2!  Just another nativity in our church building! My Mom loves these!

I love you all!!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton