Monday, February 22, 2016

A Baptism, A Bullet Train and A Lot of Crazy Japanese Kids

Hello from Nippon! 

This missionary life rocks. I'm a fan. You all should try it some time.

Notes on the Week
  • 村石さん was baptized!!!!: A miracle is the only way to describe the change that has taken place in this mans life over the past few months. Madson Choro (my trainer/1st companion) and I found Murashi San last November while talking to people in the streets. When we first met him, he had long, scruffy hair and quite the beard. He had just come home from work and had some time to talk. We ended up getting his phone number, but honestly didn't think to much of it. Over next few days, we tried to call him, but no luck. About a month later, we felt we should call him again, and man am I glad we listened to that prompting. He said he wanted to meet and we set up an appointment at the church. We then started meeting with him twice per week and teaching him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He's a super fast talker so it took me awhile to understand what he was saying (I still only catch about 20%), but with the help of incredible member joints, he was able to understand the good in the Gospel, how he can be cleansed from sin and feel joy in this life, and how he can achieve eternal life in the life to come. He was baptized this past Sunday morning at 0800 by my companion, and then given the gift of the Holy Ghost later that day (see https://www.mormon.org/blog/gospel-of-christ-part-3-baptism for more information on baptism). He came to the baptism that day in a ridiculously suteki suit (before he always wore jeans to church). Watching his life brighten up as he has recognized the help of God in his life has been a privilege I'll never forget. Why would a 100% normal 65 year old Japanese man listen over and over to two 20-ish year old American punks who can barely even speak his language, and then completely change his lifestyle and life views all in about two months? Well, it's actually quite simple. God.
  • A trip down to Fukuoka on a SHINKANSEN (bullet train!!!!!): Every so often, one of the leaders from our church tours around Japan and gives trainings to the missionaries. This past week, we got to head to Fukuoka with about half of the mission (100 or so missionaries) and hear from Elder Yamashita of the first quorum of the 70 (If we compare the leadership of the church to American policies, think of him as a senator). He's pretty incredible. His English was actually pretty good for living in Japan his entire life. I also got t see a bunch of MTC friends, as well as play an arrangement of "Come Follow Me" for it. While the training itself was great, the highlight might have very well been riding the bullet train down to Fukuoka. They go sooooooo fast. See the video below.

Video and Invitation for the Week
I think I might have shared this a few months ago, but it is short, simple, and worth watching again. Please watch and share!


Pictures for the Week.

For some reason the quality has been bad when I try to attach pictures, so I'm putting them all in a PDF for now. Hopefully the resolution is better.
1. We got to teach children's English class this week to a member's kids and their friends!!! So fun!



2. Pictures of the bullet train.  (Note from the editor ... this picture was missing from Elder Colton's email)



3. The baptism!!



4. Video of the train (real speed).

video


Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Chanto Military Kid

Hello.

Another great week in Japan. My companion, Elder Mismash, always keeps things interesting and fun. Most missionaries now a days leave for their mission right after or soon after graduating high school, this I often feel old, boring, and strict...my companion always calls me a "chanto military" kid. Luckily for me, he always finds ways to have fun. He's a punk, but I love him. Having a companion is pretty much like having a college roommate that goes with you to all of your classes, all of your sports practices, dates(if we could go on dates as missionaries), and and any other activity you have. Let's just say companionship unity makes your life great or miserable as a missionary. Luckily for me, I've loved all my companions so far. Anyways, update on the week. 

Notes on the Week
Strange parts of the week: Missionary life is always strange. You just get used to strange things happening all the time. For example, this week a deaf Japanese guy came up to us at a convenii (convenience store. In Japan gas stations and convenience stores are separated). He grabbed my hand, felt my finger tips, did the same to Elder Mismash, then walked away. Apparently he's done the same thing to the other set of Elders in my apartment before. My companion also crashed and ate concrete haha he was sore for quite 
some time after that.
Investigators: For some reason, the majority of the investigators I've worked with so far have been in their 50s or 60s...I'm not quite sure what that says about me...anyways, we have a few we are working with now. Ishizawa San (65 or so year old lady) came to church yesterday! She is a friend of a recent convert. Muraishi San is on track to be baptized this Sunday!!!

Video and Invitation for the Week
Since yesterday was Valentine's Day (nothing like spending Valentine's Day in an apartment with three other dudes. #missionarylife. My mom sent me a valentines package though, so at least I felt some love from her. Thanks Mom :) ), the video for this week is about love. But, the link is to a bunch of videos all about love. The invitation for this week is to pick a video from the link, watch it, and then send it to a friend!


Pictures for the Week.
1。Dinner with Uehara San. We met Uehara San awhile ago and met him a few times. He was progressing towards baptism, but then moved to Tokyo and finish up college. He recently came back and we went out to eat with him this week. He's a stud. The food is called Okonomiyaki. Look it up online, it's so good! Here are some pictures from the night.


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, February 8, 2016

Watch a life change

Hello again from Shimonoseki Japan!

These emails never adequately describe my week. Simply too much happens in the life of a missionary in Japan each week to be able to fit in a short email. But, long story short, this work is incredible. While I loved high school and college (well, sometimes I loved college), watching a real person find God in their life is a bit more thrilling and rewarding than playing in a state championship high school lacrosse game or performing well on a CS301 test at West Point. I love this work!

Notes on the Week
Watching a life change: One of the best parts of missionary work is watching God work in the lives of others. As missionaries, we spend all day everyday trying to help people, but what we can do is immeasurable compared to what God can do for others. Recently, Muraishi San (the 65 year old guy, see past weeks for more information) has been finding more and more joy in his life has he has learned to recognize God in his life. This past week we committed him to write down one blessing each day that he recognizes. This past lesson, he brought out the notebook by himself and showed us all the good things he wrote down. Yesterday he drove an hour and half with us to District Conference (a meeting with 5 or so local congregations). He is incredible and is progressing towards baptism.
District Conference: Speaking of District Conference, it rocked. We got a ride with a recent convert who takes us everywhere. While I'm still not understanding all that much of what speakers are saying, Muraishi San seemed to have a good time. Egan Kaicho and Shimai are technically responsible for this district, so I got to see them as well (my mission president and his wife). They are both incredible!

A Messenger From God
Last week I shared a story about finding my scripture at the MTC. This week is another miraculous story that I experienced during one of my first few weeks at West Point.

About ten days into CBT (Cadet Basic Training) as a new cadet at West Point, my roommate quit. At that point, he was my only friend. I had struggled adapting to the new environment during those ten days and had relied on my roommate for support and encouragement. Well, now he was gone and I had missed my chance to say goodbye.

The night he left, I had a few hours by myself in the room before my new roommate came. I felt utterly alone and scared. 

While my belief in God at that time wasn't all that strong, God was the only person I could turn to. So, I prayed with all my might and asked God for help. I wasn't quite sure how God possibly could help, but I knew I needed something. 

Sure enough, a few minutes later one of my old roommates's friends knocked on my door. He was hoping to say one last goodbye to his teammate (hockey team), but instead found me. He stayed for a few minutes and I ended up breaking down in front of him. He told me how he'd been strugging too, and we helped build each other back up. 

Do I know exactly how prayer works? Honestly no, I don't. I do, however, know that God and prayer are real. I have had way to many experiences in my life where my prayers have been answered. Sure, you can call instances like this coincidences? Or, you could call it a miracle, and then experience with prayer yourself. God is there. He will answer you. Not always in the way you expect, but He always will.

Video and Invitation for the Week
In continuation of the prayer theme, the video for this week is about the role prayer can play during hard times in our life. The video is entitled "Wrong Roads" and walks us through what role God plays in hard times, and what God expects us to do in hard times. It is only 4 minutes. Please watch and share the link with a friend!


Pictures for the Week.
1 and 2。Yamaguchi Zone! This is my zone for this transfer! My companion and district leader it the big guy to my right. Elder Tschirki from my MTC Zone is still with me, and Luczak Shimai from my MTC district joined the zone this week (the red head a few to my left).



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, February 1, 2016

New companion, Same area

Konnichi wa!

Transfer calls came and...(pause for dramatic effect), I'm staying in Shimonoseki with Tschirki Choro! He and I have now been together every day since day 1 of my mission, July 22, 2015. We were in the same MTC zone and have been in the same apartment since I got to Japan. He's pretty incredible.

My new companion and district leader is Elder Mismash from Sandy, Utah. He's a stud with super good Japanese. I'm excited to work with  and learn from him. I'll be very happy if my Japanese is anywhere near his at the end of my mission.

Notes on the Week
The Book of Mormon Coming to Life: As a Christian, I believe in and cherish the Bible and it's teachings. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I also believe and cherish the Book of Mormon and it's teachings (see https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-11-018-a-book-of-mormon-story?lang=eng for sweet video introduction of the Book of Mormon). Anyways, one of the stories in the Book of Mormon is of a missionary named Aaron in the ancient America's (around 90 B.C.) who introduces the idea of God to a king that really has no concept of God. Here are some of the excerpts from the story:

And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem? And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth" (Alma 22:9-10).

Well, I had a very similar experience last night. Mismash Choro and I were streeting and starting talking to a Nihonjin guy around 30 years old. He recognized us as missionaries and started telling us that he believed in some sort of "big power" that has protected his for his entire life. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but knew this power was there. Well, Mismash Choro and I explained to him the basics of God and how this great power is God! The man was intrigued and asked a few more questions. While he didn't want to meet again, it was pretty cool to literally use the same strategy that Aaron used 2000 years ago.

How We Get Around: My incredible sister sent me a bunch of questions a few weeks ago that I'll try to answer over the next two years. They should make my emails a bit more interesting. The question was: "How do you get around?" Biking, biking, biking. And some trains. We bike everywhere. Typically everything in our area is no more than 30 minutes by bike. Rain or shine, we bike. I love it actually. We stand out because we 1) are taller than everyone we see, 2) have bigger bikes than everyone we see, 3) are foreigners, and 4) wear these matching white helmets. No one in Japan wears helmets except for kids. When we have trainings (typically a few times a month), we take the train places. 

The MTC Scripture Chase:
This story is from the MTC, but is a pretty cool experience I had about the power of prayer. I'll probably share some of these stories of the next few weeks. Prayer is so real. 

About six weeks into the MTC, I lost my scriptures. Irresponsible, I know. I searched for about a week and a half with no luck. I prayed and prayed, but couldn't find them anywhere. Nine days later while I was saying my nightly prayer, I asked Heavenly Father that if it was His will, to help me find them. I got a distinct impression that said, "If you pray, you will find them tomorrow." I wrote that phrase down in my daily planner before I went to bed.

Well, the next night before class, these two sister missionaries came into my classroom with my scriptures! Their teacher had found them after one our Japanese Skype lessons, took them back to her classroom, and then forgot about them. Personal revelation is real. God answers prayers.

Video and Invitation for the Week
The video for this week will be the link I shared above about the Book of Mormon. Whether you fall in the categories of believing the Book of Mormon is the word of God, believing it is all made up, or having no idea what it's about, I invite you all to watch it!


Pictures for the Week.
1。My new companion and I!



2. Food!



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