Monday, August 29, 2016

Another Transfer Come and Gone

こんにちは!!

Each transfer on the mission, more gets thrown on your plate and life gets moving a bit faster! It's interesting though because we have a 1030 curfew...As someone who is a night person who has always stayed up late to get homework and stuff done, I have always put sleep as a low priority. You would think that getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night for the first time in my life would help me recognize the importance of sleep. It has down the opposite! I sure love my sleep, but I am still convinced that me brain works best from 1100pm to 1am. I'll blame my mother and my good friend Antony Park for that one...

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Parting ways with Elder Metekingi
    • After spending three months with Elder Metekingi, he got transferred down to Okinawa. Man, he was up there with my MTC companion with being one of the most loving, down to earth people I know. He is one of those people who simply enjoys life and helps others do the same. He deserves a prize for putting up with me stressing out over everything for the past 3 months. I already miss that kid!
  • Party in Fukuoka!!
    • On Wednesday I headed down to Fukuoka to pick up Elder Huege de Serville. He is another Australian! Just got out of the MTC but has the faith and fire to baptism the world! We are way excited! In Fukuoka I got to see Elder Johnson from the MTC with me! Way fun!!

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
Elder Serville (shortened version of his name) is huge on following the Spirit. The miracle for this week was one night where we decided to focus on testifying and following the Spirit. Simply put, I think of the Spirit as a guide that leads us to do the will of God. It was incredible! I have never poured out my soul to so many strangers in my life.

Video and Invitation for the Week
I've shared some of these Bible videos before, but I love how they put the Bible into real life. This one depicts the miracle of Jesus calming the tempest. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He still lives and can come the tempest in each of our lives. Trust me, He helps me everyday!

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-01-030-calming-the-tempest?cid=HP_WE_24-8-2016_dPFD_fMLIB_xLIDyL1-B_&lang=eng


Pictures for the Week.

-1: Seeing Elder Johnson from the MTC in Fukuoka!


-2: Going to seminary this week



-3: Saying goodbye to Elder Metekingi with a family in the other ward (he is getting his PHD at a nearby college)



Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

A Cup, with Dirt In It

こんにちは-

Great week! Another transfer has come and gone. I will be staying in Kumamoto! Elder Metekingi his heading out. I'll find out who my new companion is tomorrow when I pick him up from Fukuoka!

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Free Tabehodai!
    • On Thursday one of the younger members brought a ridiculous amount of meet and vegetables to the church to feed us and Sato Kyodai (see last week). It was endless amounts of delicious meat and vegetables! Heaven!
  • Another concert!
    • This past Saturday, four famous singers from around Japan came to our church and put on a concert. They asked the missionaries to join for a song called, "I'll find you my friend." Wayyy cool experience.
  • "It's a cup, with dirt in it. I call it a cup of dirt."
    • This past Sunday we had a meal and a lesson with Ayumi San and her two kids! We all ate some delicious food with the Tojo's (see pictures below). For the message, we planted some seeds with the kids and explained the seed and faith analogy in Alma 32.
    • For those who don't know it, a Book of Mormon prophet named Alma compares faith in Christ to a seed. He explains that just like a seed starts small and takes nourishment to grow, our faith needs the same. Often that planted seed of faith is "no more than desire to believe" (Alma 32:27). He further explains, "Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves--It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me (Alma 32:27).
    • He ends the analogy by explain what this seed of faith can turn into: "But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life" (Alma 32:41).
    • Thus it is with faith. A simple experiment. If a seed it good and you nourish it with water and sunlight, it will grow. If it is faith in truth, our seed of faith grows with simple things such as prayer and scripture reading.
    • To read more, see LDS.org and search for Alma 32.

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
While our seed of faith often seems to be struggling to break free past the soil, God is pretty incredible and will help if we let Him. Thus it is as missionaries. We work and work and work, but often feels like it's all for nothing. I have found, however, that if we do our part, God will always bless us in ways we don't expect. This past week, we got a call from a member in the ward who said that her daughter's boyfriend is interest in learning about Jesus Christ.

The three of them live in Amakusa (three hours away), but came up this past Saturday to go to the hospital and to meet with us. We realized early on in the lesson that it was more the Mom wanting him to learn than his own interest.

As we got to know him and became friends with him, we were able to figure out some of his current concerns and troubles in life, and then relate how God and Jesus Christ can help. By the end, he had a Book of Mormon in his hands and was excited to learn! We have a lesson set up with him the next time we head down to Amakusa in a few weeks!

Video and Invitation for the Week
This past week we were able to spend a lot of time with families. While no one has the perfect family, it is beautiful to see the influence that living the Gospel of Jesus Christ has in family relationships. The video for this week is a simple one, and expresses the important of the important things in life. Please watch and post this one on social media somewhere!

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-06-012-moments-that-matter-most?lang=eng&cid=HP_FR_19-8-2016_dPFD_fMLIB_xLIDyL1-C_


Pictures for the Week.
-1: Dinner on Monday with Kenji, one of the English class students


-2-4: We did some service at a member's house this past week. Before and after pictures! Wayyy hot but fun.




-5: The zone for this transfer!


-6-7: Meal at a members this past week with Ayumi San and her kids!




-8: A run/bike ride Elder Bunker and I went on this past week.



-9: The plant we are growing with Ayumi and her kids!



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, August 16, 2016

Some Exercise, Some Piano, and Some Miracles

こんにちは!!

(First off, Happy early Birthday to Steve Colton and Ellie Colton (my wonderful Dad and grandmother). They are two of the best examples on this earth of showing unconditional love to those around them! Like Christ, they want you to do your best, but they love you know matter who you are or what you do. I hope you two have the incredible birthday you both deserve!)

Anyways, every morning from 0630 to 0700, all 80,000 missionaries across the world are supposed to exercise to help prepare for the day. For anyone who has served a mission before, we all know that motivation to ACTUALLY work out during that time is often a struggle. Well, this past zone conference Elder Bunker and I invited everyone in the zone to go outside during that 30 minutes to actually wake yourself up for morning studies.

Thus, he and I went outside everyday this past week and loved it! My motivation to work out was actually there for the first time in a few months. We found a place to do pull-ups and what not. It's amazing how much a little exercise can rejuvenate you (Even if it is blazing hot at 0630. Check out the weather in Kumamoto. It's rough!).

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • American football
    • This past week for P-day we joined up with some members of the zone and played a game of American football with some Japanese high schoolers we made. It took some time for the high schoolers to realize you couldn't keep throwing the ball forward to each other, but they were the fastest ones out there! There is something about playing two hand touch football with no shoes on a giant grass field that makes you feel alive. Way hot, but good times.
  • A Piano performance at a retirement center home
    • Throughout high school, I had the opportunity to accompany my wonderful piano teacher and many of her other students to retirement homes to put on concerts. I have always loved the opportunity and have looked for ways in Japan to continue it. This past week, Elder Metekingi and I put on a 40 or so minute concert/show to about 30 or so rather (very) old Japanese people. In addition to playing some songs on the piano, we explained some of American and New Zealand culture. Except for when one of them brought up the war (WW2), we had a fantastic time.

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
Since I got here, we have been working with a 27 year less-active, Sato 兄弟, who has struggled and drifted with life for 7 or so years. He was baptized in high school, and then a few years after diagnosed with some pretty severe mental disorders. We have met with him about each week, trying to help him give God a chance in helping him out, but haven't been able to make any visible progress.

This past week we met with him and another member, Shohei 兄弟. Shouhei 兄弟 is one of the most incredible people I know (see pictures of his apartment below). He drifted from the church soon after high school and moved to Los Angeles to learn to paint. There, he got involved in some pretty serious drugs and a rough crowd. Upon coming back to Japan, the death of his grandfather forced him to reconsider his life.

Over the course of a few years and many miraculous missionaries, he changed his life and developed unshaken in God and Jesus Christ.

Well this past week, Shohei 兄弟 shared his conversion story with Sato 兄弟 and caught his attention from the start. For the first time since we started meeting with him, Sato 兄弟 actually asked for advice and how to change.

Sato 兄弟 still has a long way to go, but witnessing the power of the personal conversion of Shohei 兄弟 touch the heart of Sato 兄弟, was quite the miracle for me.

Video and Invitation for the Week
Sadly, millions of people around the world suffer like Sato 兄弟 from some sort of mental illness that seems beyond their control. Luckily, we live in a world with the resources to give those people the help they need. Even more miraculous, we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, that understands those mental illnesses and the dark feelings that accompany perfectly. The video for this week addresses that very miracle. Please watch and (with thought and prayer) share with a friend or family member who you feel it would help.

https://www.lds.org/youth/video/broken-vessel?lang=eng

Pictures for the Week.
1-2- Shohei 兄弟's apartment!




3-4- A game we played with some members this past week! THe Ooshima family and Sister Saruwatari.




5-8- This past week we went to Amakusa again (3 hour drive that is in our area). These are some pictures of the drive.






9- Some more members in the ward that we had a meal with last night. I love the members here!



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, August 11, 2016

Leadership, a Stake President, and a brotha from Las Vegas

こんにちは!!

This school called "West Point" claims it is the best leadership academy in the world. Well, I'd say an LDS mission sure beats it on that claim! The mission just throws you into awkward, uncomfortable situations over and over and over and over and over and forces you to grow. Leadership also is best taught through the example of Jesus Christ, so the mission had a leg up on that one as well. Sorry, West Point :)

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Zone Conference 
    • His past week Kaicho, Shimai, and the assistants came down for zone conference! One of my main takeaways was that success on the mission, and in life, doesn't come from numbers and positions (how many baptisms you have, whether you are an assistant or not). One of the definitions I like to use for success/greatness comes from President Hunter, a previous prophet. "True greatness [comes from] the thousands of little deeds and tasks of service and sacrifice that constitute the giving, or losing, of one’s life for others and for the Lord." Service and sacrifice for others and the Lord. That simple!
    • Elder Bunker and I got to give a two hour training, focusing on using scriptures and the words of modern day prophets as the basis of teaching investigators. It's a simple concept, but one that brings power and simplicity into our teaching. 
  • Stake President meetings
    • Probably the scariest part of my mission so far has been recent meetings with stake presidencies. The zone leaders meet with them once a month here. My first two times, Elder Whitmer was the area senpai (been there longer) so he took charge and talked the whole time. His past time I had to take the lead. The stake president and his counsellors are incredible, but they expect us to baptism as a zone and for Elder Bunker and I to be on top of things. They also don't seem to slow down any of their Japanese for us haha this past week we had one of those meetings. It was a good growth experience.
    • After zone conference elder Bunker and I met with our stake president and mission president to discuss possibly moving some of the apartments in our zone. The two of them actually asked for and listened to our advice (that's a scary thought!). It was pretty incredible to see my mission presidents interactions with the stake president. President Egan is a gaijin like us with imperfect Japanese, but he showed nothing but love and support. Perfect communication isn't necessary to show love. The love and the spirit truly transcend all languages and cultural barriers.
  • Just another saturday
    • Crazy day. Found a prior investigator who had a baptism date before the quake, but then the missionaries lost contact with because of the quake.
    • Met a African American from Las Vegas (you don't see much diversity in Japan) who had his Japanese wife stop his car so he could talk with us. When we asked why he was here in Japan,the first thing he said was that he has a green card. Huh? We also asked if he spoke Japanese, and he proud said, "I am American. I speak English."

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
There is an English class student named Ayumi San who has been coming for about 2 years now. She starting taking the lessons from the missionaries before the earth quake, but things dropped when the quake came. At the concert last week, we closed by sharing how that warm, hopeful feeling from music can always be felt by the spirit. Well, after the concert she wanted to start taking the lessons again, specifically to learn about the spirit.

We taught her with two other members and used scriptures and questions as the basis of our teachings. It went fantastic! She understood well and we were able to understand tons of her concerns and current trials in life. We meet with her again tomorrow!

Video and Invitation for the Week
Luckily for people like me and Ayumi San, Jesus Christ understands us all, and through His grace we can all be healed of whatever problem we experience. The link is to a number of videos that share real stories of people who reached out for help and received it. The Church of Jesus Christ isn't full of perfect people, rather sinners who keep trying!

Please watch and share with a friend who you think it would help!

https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/his-grace

Pictures for the Week.
I failed this week! No pictures this week except for one I just took. This is elder bunker and I everyMonday morning for reporting with our district leaders and then the assistants.



The video is the end of my companion singing at a members house. They always make the missionaries sing a solo. :) I was the one filming. Fun time!



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, August 1, 2016

A French Guy, Some Noodles, and Some Music

こんにちは!!

Fantastic week with tons of activities and lots of music. Thus, I loved it!

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Service with Pierre 
    • About once a week or so, we go to the Mashiki volunteer center and help with earthquake cleanup. The basic set up is: sign in, receive a job with others, go with those people to the job site, work, and then come back. One of the best parts is getting to know the people in your group! This past week our group was a few Japanese guys and a French stud named Pierre. He is an elementary music school teacher in France who loves Japanese. He is currently traveling about the country for his summer vacation. We had a blast with him! At the end he brought out his guitar and sang some songs for us. See pictures!
  • Dendo at Amakusa
    • There is a group that meets in a place called Amakusa that are in our ward. They drive up everyou her week to church (about 2.5 hour drive), and have their own service the other Sundays. They want missionaries sooo bad, so they drove up this past Wednesday in the morning, picked us up, brought us down here so we could explore the area and the possibility of missionaries being sent there. They then drove us back 2.5 hours and then drove back themselves. Incredible people who will do anything to get missionaries in their town. It was gorgeous! Look up pictures of Amakusa! We met tons of friendly people with interest!
  • The Soumen Party
    • This past Saturday the ward had a soumen party! See pictures below. It is a summer tradition in Japan where a group of people grab and eat noodles as water pushes the noodles down bamboo.
  • Concert
    • In my life, I always feel God's influence through music. Thus, his past week our wars missionary leader and us put on a concert for the stake. Lots of planning, but lots of fun. Our ward missionary leader is one of my favorite people I've met in Japan so far. The type of chill, hardworking, loving, spiritual giant I hope to be one day. Everyone loves him. 
    • For the concert we had 6 different performers: two singers, one on basoon, one on guitar, one on flute, and me on piano. I played a piece by Khachaurian, "River Flows in You," and some good ol' Jon Schmidt upside down piano. We ended it with a Japanese "I'm a Mormon" message and two missionaries sharing how that feeling everyone felt was the spirit. One of the students who had been coming to eikaiwa for a few years said after the concert she wants to learn more about God and Christ! We have a lesson with her on Tuesday.


Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
The miracle for his week was a wonderful Obaasan (look that up) coming to church! She took the lessons from some sisters about 2 years ago, and recently regained interest. She came to church and loved it! After we had a Curry party and she stayed for it! Definitely on th older side of life, but wants to teach her family about Christ!

Video and Invitation for the Week
My iPad restrictions prevent me from watching this video, but the title sounds awesome! Please watch and enjoy! https://www.mormonchannel.org/blog/post/a-needed-and-powerful-video?cid=HP_WE_29-6-2016_dPFD_fMRMN_xLIDyL1-C_

Pictures for the Week.
1-2: earthquake cleanup service


 
3: one of my friends from the MTC made this; it is a bunch of us at the MTC then after a year

 

4-8: soumen party!








Video
Pierre singing


Soumen party



Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部