Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy Father's Day!!!

こんにちは!!

Smile and wave, boys. Just smile and wave.

That is becoming my life saving motto for staying sane on the mission :) I got the quote from my New Zealand companion, who I think got it from a movie. The idea parallels one of my favorite philosophies of life, the serenity prayer. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” While nothing ever goes as planned for missionaries (or really anyone else in this life), I'm slowing learning that stressing out over the "things I cannot change" is simply a waste of energy and time. I've had a number of friends try to patiently teach me this over my life (Ashton Greenburg and Antony Park are two of the many), but it's a daily struggle.

Notes/Stories from the Week
Summary of the week! 
  •     Monday- Preparation day until 1800 (We took our time at McDonalds for lunch then played ping pong at the church for a few hours). That night we found a stud named Aoki San (The kanji means blue tree) and talked with him about God and the Book of Mormon for a while.
  •     Tuesday- District meeting with our 6 missionary, all elder district! Later that day we met with Ono San, a professional chef and owner of 3 restaurants. He LOVES prayer and the idea of communicating with God. The rest of the day was housing and streeting.
  •     Wednesday- The sisters' apartment got pretty wrecked by the earthquake a few months ago, so they had to move out immediately. On Wednesday the assistants, our mission president and his wife, and some other missionaries drove a few vans down to load up all the sisters furniture. That was all day, then we had EIKAIWA at night. About 20 people come each week of three classes. I taught beginner this past week and loved it.
  •     Thursday- Weekly planning (literally just planned for the next week), then took a two hour travel (train and bus) to our district leader's area.
  •     Friday- Companion exchange with Elder Murdock from my doki (he and I are both transfer 7 missionaries). We had a blast!! His Japanese and teaching skills are way better than mine, so I learned a lot from him! We went to McDonalds again for dinner (I hated McDonalds in America...I'm liking it more and more now...sorry, Mom).
  •     Saturday- We and two of the English students went to a volunteer center and spend all day volunteering! See pictures below. The damage from the earthquake is still unbelievable.
  •     Sunday- Special stake conference for two hours than a party with the ward (Family home evening). The congregation here is incredible!!! See pictures below!!
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
The miracle of this week was seeing the light of Christ illuminated in all of the volunteers at the Earthquake volunteer center. Hundreds of volunteers showed up on Saturday to go to work. The basic set-up is: 1) sign in, 2) get basic safety training; 3) get assigned a team to work with; 4) pick up supplies (shovels, bags, etc) for the job; 5) head to the job site and work your tail off; 6) come back and wait for another job. Seeing hundreds of people come together to help those in need was simply beautiful. My companion volunteered 6 days a week right after the quake, so the volunteers there LOVE him. As I see it, that genuine goodness in people is the light of Christ. It is the natural goodness in all of us that compels us to help those in need. Look up, "Elder Bednar, patterns of light, the light of Christ" for more information. It is the first video of the services.

Video and Invitation for the Week
I'd be a terrible son if I didn't mention Father's Day somewhere in here!!! Happy Father's Day to all the fathers and fatherly figures out there!! Thanks to my stud of a Dad for putting up with me my entire life!

Please 1) watch the video, 2) send it to your dad or fatherly figure in your life, 3) call them please!!!

 
Pictures for the Week.
1- Rice that had been left in the sisters' apartment for 2 months after they left. Eeewwwwwww.



2- The door of the sisters' apartment. If you look closely, the top caved in and they were trapped. They escaped through the window.




3-9- Service!








10- The ward activity. It's a thank you for all the help they received from around Japan from the earthquake.


Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Back to Fukuoka!



こんにちは!!

First off, shout out to Sam Pool from the West Point Class of 2018 for getting his mission call to the best mission in the world (the Japan Fukuoka mission!!!). Excited to see you here in August!!! Thanks Brother Fleek for the good news!

Anyways, life is running and I don't think it will stop until the end of the mission. This was one of the harder weeks of the mission for some reason, but had some incredible moments.

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Heading back to the mission home! One of the best opportunities as a zone leader is the opportunity to meet with the other mission leaders and our mission president at the beginning of each transfer (every 6 months). To give a quick break down of mission leadership: there are two assistants to the president in charge of the mission (198 missionaries and nine zones). For each zone, there are two zone leaders and two sisters training leaders that are responsible for the missionaries in that zone. At the Mission Leadership Conference this past week, all the zone leaders and sister training leaders (about 20 missionaries) met with the mission president and his wife to discuss the needs of the mission and receive training from him, his wife, and the assistants. Quite the party. President Egan and his wife have become to of my role models in life. Down to earth, hard-working loving people with testimonies that carry the mission.
  • Zone Training!!!: On the first Tuesday of each transfer, the missionary leaders go to the mission home for training, and then on Thursday they then present that information to their zone. Thus, this past Thursday Elder Whitmer, Sister Parmley, and Sister Butikofer and I help zone training for the Kumamoto zone. It was a blast!! The focus for this transfer is our mission president's second of five rules, "Work Smart through the Spirit."
  • Zone service: This past Saturday our zone had the opportunity to give service to parts of the area devastated by the earthquake. All 16 of us and few members spent 6 or so ours cleaning up a destroyed cinder block wall (see pictures below). We will continue to do that probably twice per week. 

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
Recognizing the help of God in my life has honestly always been a struggle for me. There are some members of the church that seemed to have always believed and never really wavered in that belief. While I hope that is my future, it has certainly not always been my past. Weeks like this one, however, are the reason why I believe. For a number of reasons, this was one of the hardest weeks of the mission so far. For most of it, I felt pretty alone and useless. Looking back, it as more of a self-pity party than real problem. 

As I turned to God and pleaded for help for a number of things, through a power and force I can't explain, I was lifted up. Do I have physical proof of His help? No. Did I see an angel or some glorious manifestation? No. I did, however, see my attitude and life transformed over the course of a week. John 14:26-27 explains it better than I can, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." That is one of the beauties of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can receive actual comfort and actually peace when we reach out to God.

Video and Invitation for the Week
On the topic of receiving help from the Lord, the video for this week is on hope! It is a short one, so please watch and share on social media!


Pictures for the Week
1- Sister Parmley, Sister Butikofer, Elder Whitmer and I on the way to Fukuoka for MLC!


2- After English class!


3-4- My previous companion with two recent converts from Shimonoseki (my first area). He told me they both went to the temple a few weeks ago for the first time! They Gospel has lit up their lives!





5- Zone conference!!! 


6- Service!!


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, June 7, 2016

Hello, Goodbye. Again.

 こんにちは!!

Life is good. Much, much busier that it has been since the West Point school year, but I love it. Like I've said, the mission structure is similar to West Point's. My current role as a zone leader is most similar to a platoon leader. In addition to my own area and working with my stud of a New Zealand companion, my zone leader companion and I get to lead and serve 15 other missionaries in and around Kumamoto. Thus, my real companion is Elder Metekingi from New Zealand (Quite the bro), but my zone leader companion is Elder Whitmer from California. They are both pretty incredible.

The area I am in is the area in Japan hit worst by the earthquake. Since the earthquake, the four Elders in the apartment here have been doing service six days a week for 6 or so hours a day. Other LDS missionaries in the area have been volunteering frequently as well. There are a number of volunteer organizations around the area that they work and volunteer at. See pictures below for some of the sites they have been working at. The need for volunteers has died down some, but we will still be volunteering a few times a week. I'll let you know next week more of what that entails.

The church reaction to the earthquake was nothing short of remarkable. The nights following the earthquake, there were 50 or so people, members and non-members alike, whose houses had been destroyed or at least severely damaged by the earthquake staying at the church. Many stayed at the church for a few weeks as supplies came in from all over Japan, and a family or two is still here as they try to put their lives back together. In total, over 5000 liters of water, 1500 kilograms of rice, and 2500 cups of Ramen were donated to the church in a matter of days. Quite the Christ-like response to horrific event.

As for the ward itself, the members are incredible!!! About 100 or so come to church each week!!! Very, very different from by previous area with a branch new branch of 15 at church on a good week. 

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Wednesday goodbye: Leaving the Saijo was much, much harder than I ever expected it would be. They always have a goodbye party for the missionaries transferring, but I felt mine came way too soon. We had English class from 1830-1930, and then the party from 1930-2100. The members and always bring tons of food and make bye bye books for the missionaries. See pictures.

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
The miracle of the week was a lesson with a man named Iwasaki San. He met the missionaries back in 2014 and has met of and on since. He summaries his beliefs in a English sentence, "I can believe the missionaries, but I can't believe in God." Well, yesterday we had a lesson with him (first time heard met with the missionaries in a few months) with a member of the bishopric as a joint. About 40 minutes in, I felt he had no interest to really learn and I was going to end the lesson and tell him to call us if he wants to learn more. Just at that point, my incredible companion stepped in and bore his testimony while explaining Alma 32 (a chapter in the Book of Mormon on faith). You could literally see the change in this man's heart as my companion talked. He committed to finish reading the chapter on his own (he has never read the Book of Mormon before) and meet with us again next Saturday! Still a long way to go, but this is step one to him letting Christ transform his life into more than he ever though possible.

Video and Invitation for the Week
On the topic of service, the video for this week is a simply story of 11 men who decided to do some good in the world. Christian or not, I feel we all have a responsibility to serve those around us. The invitation for this week is to watch the video and then decide one person you can serve this week, and actually do it!!!


Pictures for the Week.
1-6- Byebye party in Saijo








7- leving Saijo


8- Traveling wish the missionaries!


9-10- The earthquake in real life.



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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Off to Kumamoto!

こんにちは!!

Well, transfer calls came! I will be transferring to Kumamoto, the focal point of the recent earthquake. My mission president told me to get ready to join the missionaries down there in doing hands on service for the area. I'm excited to get to work!

Thus, a new companion, new branch, and new investigator pool. I have come to love Saijo and all of the members here. I was convinced I was going to stay since I felt I have so much I still have to do here, but at times like this we just have to trust in Jesus Christ. He is, after all, the one leading this work. Thus, "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord."

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Wednesday and Saturday English class: We recently started doing English class on Saturday, so it is now Wednesday and Saturday! Man is it fun teaching English. It is the last thing I expected I'd be doing as a missionary, but it is something I look forward to every week. Each week on Wednesday we have a class of about 10, and Saturday is a class of about 5. We have a work book we teach out of, but the fun part is being creative and simply helping them learn this impossible language of English. Good times.
  • Saturday Meet the Mormons! This past week we showed the movie, "Meet the Mormons" to some investigators. One of the people who came was a Japanese graduate student who spend two years in Mozambique as a humanitarian volunteer. We still wears traditional African clothing everyday! His English was way good and is quite the character. No interest in our religion, but a fun guy to get to know.
  • Saturday service ball: Another highlight of each week in Saijo has been Saturday service basketball. I've talked about it before, but every Saturday from 6-8:30 pm we volunteer at a near by rehabilitation center to help teach  and play basketball with a group of special needs kids and adults. I have learned to love some of those kids and will miss their smiling faces each and every week. One of the 19 or so year old kids every week follows me around and makes sure I run and stretch with him. He is simply always smiling and laughing. Does he always know what's going on? No, hence during the game part of it we have a volunteer who shadows him and tells him where to go. The most fun part is watching him score a basket during a game, as everyone cheers he runs around the court yelling and cheering with excitement. I'm miss that kid :)
  • Japanese for the week: This idea came from my sister. The word for this week is simple. It is the word for America!! It is...drum roll... " アメリカ," pronounced "Ah-meh-ree-kah." That is some katakana for you! Those Japanese words are the easiest to learn. Stay tuned for next week's word!

Miracle/"Tender Mercy" for the Week
The idea to do this also came from my sister, but each week I'll share some small miracle or "tender mercy from the Lord" for that week. This week's was a simple "Totsuzen lesson," or on the spot lesson, we had with an older lady we found while knocking apartments. We talked about the "basic" concept of God as our Heavenly Father and how if we ask Him for help, we can actually receive it. We asked her if this was true, what kind of help she would like, and she  sweetly responded, "shiawase," meaning happiness. We shared our personal experience how that God can give us exactly that, and so much more. She lit up and wanted to learn more. Hirose Choro and my replacement have a return appointment with her this Thursday

Video and Invitation for the Week
On the topic of service basketball, there are so many pure, simply good souls in this world that for reasons I think impossible to fully understand, have some sort of special need. The video for this week is of a mother of two boys with autism. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it can transcend all cultures and languages. As she has devoted her life to service, she has found hope and peace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please share with someone who you think would benefit! Or post it on social media! We all need some more good in this world!


Pictures for the Week.
1-  picture of the bullet train from last week to the Cook Choro conference!


2- The most incredible missionary couple ever! They serve here in the branch and spend all their time figuring out ways to strengthen and serve the members here. They are retired, but are some of thousands of senior couples around the world who leave home to serve the lord.


3- Picture from last, last P-day in Hiroshima.



4- District lunch!



5- Meal at the Minamimoto Fufu's apartment!



Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部