Monday, September 26, 2016

Get Up, and Finish the Race

こんにちは!!

Last week I went on a bit of a rant about success. I'll keep this short, but I'd like to share another thought on the topic that I took from a poem that our mission president gave us a few weeks ago. I wrote it out and keep it above my desk in my apartment (see attached picture).

Here is the poem:

The Race


"Quit, give up, you're beaten"
They shout at you and plead
"There's just too much against you
This time you can't succeed".

And as I start to hang my head
In front of failures face
My downward fall is broken by
The memory of a race

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene
Or just the thought of that short race
Rejuvenates my being

Childrens race, young boys
Young men, how I remember well
Excitement sure, but also fear
It wasn't hard to tell

They all lined up so full of hope
Each thought to win that race
Or tie for first, or if not that
At least take second place

The fathers watched from off the side
Each cheering for his son
And each boy hoped to show his dad
That he could be the one

The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire
To win and be the hero there
Was each young boys desire

And one boy in particular
Whose dad was in the crowd
Was running near the lead and thought
"My dad will be so proud"

But as they speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped

Trying hard to catch himself
With hands flew out to brace
And amid the laughter of the crowd
He fell flat on his face

But as he fell his dad stood up
And showed his anxious face
Which to the boy so clearly said
"Get up and win the race"

He quickly rose, no damage done
Behind a bit that's all
And ran with all his night and mind
To make up for the fall

So anxious to restore himself
To catch up and to win
His mind went faster than his legs
He slipped and fell again

He wised then that he had quit before
With only one disgrace
"I'm hopeless as a runner now
I shouldn't try to race"

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his fathers face
That steady look which said again
"Get up and win the race"

So up he jumped to try again
Ten yards behind the last
If I'm going to gain those yards he though
I've got to move real fast

Exerting everything he had
He regained eight or ten
But trying hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again

Defeat, he lay there silently
A tear dropped from his eye
There's no sense running anymore
Three strikes, I'm out, why try?

The will to rise had disappeared
All hope had fled away
So far behind so error prone
A loser all the way

"I've lost, so what", he thought
I'll live with my disgrace
But then he thought about his dad
Whom soon he'd have to face

"Get up" the echo sounded low
"Get up" and take your place
You were not meant for failure here
"Get up", and win the race

With borrowed will "Get up" it said
"You haven't lost at all"
For winning is no more than this
To rise each time you fall

So up he rose to run once more
And with a new commit
He resolved, that win or lose
At least he shouldn't quit

So far behind the others now
The most he'd ever been
Still he'd give it all he had
And run as though to win

Three times he'd fallen, stumbling
Three times he'd rose again
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed the line first place
Head high and proud and happy
No falling, no disgrace

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line, last place
The crowd gave him the greater cheer
For finishing the race

And even though he came in last
With head bent low, unproud
You would have thought he'd won the race
To listen to the crowd

And to his dad he sadly said
"I didn't do too well"
"To me you won", his father said
"You rose each time you fell"
written by
D. H. Groberg

Thus it is with life, especially life as a missionary. We make mistakes, embarrass ourselves, and fall down. We then get back up, even more determined to change ourselves and the world, only to fall down once more. Often staying down seems to be the only sensible thing because getting back up only means we have another chance to fall! Luckily for us, the Savior's hand is always waiting to pull us back up and give us a little push to finish the race.

While I'm not perfect, I've learned on the mission I don't need to be. Whether we "fall" from self-exhaustion, being pushed down by others, or any other reason, all the Savior expects us to do is get up, and finish the race!

(Stepping off soap box now) :)

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • A Little Bike Ride in the rain
    • This past week we had another companion exchange. This time I went with Elder Owens from (you guessed it!) Utah. Wow, quite the day. We started out by biking about an hour and a half to two the area where some members and less actives live. It was by far the biggest hill I've seen yet in Japan! We just might have walked part of it...Anyways, after some awesome lessons with the members and a delicious lunch, we had the time of our life biking down the hill! I have a speedometer on my bike...the peak speed was in the 40mph range...wayyyy fun, even if it might have been in the rain. 
    • We also ran into Elder Lotti (lived with me in my Shimonoseki apartment) and Elder Sherrill (my 5th transfer companion) who were heading back from service in the areas with members. Later than night we had a meal at another members with Ayumi San's family there (see picture below)
  • Maybe they drank just a bit too much...
    • Last Sunday before church, Elder Serville and I tried some morning finding and found an awesome couple who let us come back the next day, and then invited us to a BBQ this past Saturday. Their house was destroyed by the earthquake, so they are currently living in an apartment. Wayyy fun people. Our plan for the BBQ was to eat dinner, and then teach a lesson. As soon as we starting eating, however, they asked us to start explaining who Joseph  Smith was. Thus, we explained all of that (what we call Lesson 1) over the course of a rather long, chill dinner. They knew we didn't drink alcohol, but that didn't help them from drinking throughout themselves. At first it started out fantastic, but as time went on and they continued to drink more and more, they got a bit crazier and crazier :) I forgot what it is like being around drunk adults. My companion seemed a bit uncomfortable, but I had a blast. Hopefully they will remember most of the details of the lesson. They are coming to English class on Wednesday and church on Sunday!

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
Before reading this, please read last week's miracle post (elderkevincolton.blogspot.com). God is great! The miracle card works! Our investigators bumped up from 2 to what will soon be 8 this week! We are focusing on praying at every decision point in the day and pleading with the Lord to lead us to the prepared. Sure enough, the Lord fulfills His promises.

Video and Invitation for the Week
This week is simple! Simple visit this website and check out some of the videos on it. I'd also recommend checking out some of the music videos. Yeah, it's meant for teenagers, but you can all find something you relate with on it.

https://www.lds.org/youth

Pictures for the Week.
-1: "Get up, and Finished the Race"- see above


-2: Meal and the Suzuki family (ward mission leader and one of my heroes in life) and an investigators family




-3: French toast party with French toast elder Serville made for us!



-4-9: some of the members in the congregation








-10: some delicious udon kare we ate today!



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, September 20, 2016

Success

こんにちは!!

Success. Now that is an interesting word that is on the minds of missionaries (as well as probably nearly everyone else's) very often. When I first came on the mission, my ideas of success was 1) numbers (the number of people you baptize, the number of investigators you have, or even the number of people you talk to each week) and 2) positions (district leader, zone leader, trainer, assistant, etc.). Since I've been on the mission, I've received trainings over and over about what REAL success is and what God has defined success for us as, but still, deep down, to me it was about baptisms and positions.

For those who have followed my emails from the beginning, you know that in the first few months of my missions I had the opportunity to see a few of my closest friends in Japan follow the example of Jesus Christ through being baptized. Since then, finding interested people has honestly been a struggle. I've thought and prayed long and hard about why over the past few months I've "failed" so much. Don't get me wrong, I've had a blast still, but anyone who has ever served a mission knows that not much is more frustrating than giving what you think is your all and not seeing any "success."

Well, over the past few weeks, my pride and stubbornness have been forced into humility over and over and over. It has finally hit me that while yes, if I was doing more, I honestly think I could have helped more people, true success isn't in the numbers.

Our missionary guide (Preach My Gospel) defines success as our "commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost." The key word to me their is "commitment." While my "numbers" might not be what I hoped they would be, my commitment is do my very best and give it my all has never been greater on my mission. Preach My Gospel  says that we are successful when we do things like "Love people and desire their salvation," develop Christlike attributes," and "teach and serve other missionaries."

I'm not genius, but that to me sounds like a pretty good definition for life. While yes, often the results we achieve are important, if we are committed to the best causes, love others, become more like Christ, and serve those around us, I'd say we are doing just fine. 

Gomen, this is a rather long intro that I was debating even throwing in here or not, but  for some reason felt I should. The rest of this email will be pretty short!

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Interviews with two of the best people I know!
    • Every few months, our mission president and his wife tour the mission to meet with us one on one! Those talks are some of the best moments of my mission so far. They are two of the simply most incredible people I've ever met. They are sacrificing three years of the lives (away from their kids and granddaughters) to serve the people of Japan and keep track of 200 punk 18-28 year olds. I talked a lot to Sister Egan about choosing the harder right over the easier wrong, and to President Egan about leadership as a missionary.

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
I talked about him a bit last week, but Elder Serville is pretty incredible. Having him as a companion is a huge miracle to me. This past week we made a "Miracle Card" where we listed about 13 or so things we do that aren't 100% consistent with being representatives of Jesus Christ (leaving the apartment at 6:05 pm instead of 6:00pm, keeping visits with members to only 1 hr, etc.). Honestly small things that don't seem that important, but that we have been asked to do as missionaries. I can honestly say that it is the most obedient and optimistic I have been on the mission so far! If we give it our all, God will bless us. It's that simple.

Video and Invitation for the Week
This is idea of a loving, Heavenly Father is sadly foreign to many, many people around the world. This video talks a bit about our self worth because we have a loving Heavenly Father. Please watch and share with a friend who it would help!

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-04-20-our-true-identity?category=individual-worth&lang=eng

Pictures for the Week.
-1: Elder Mizoguchi and I at interviews with Kaicho


-2-3: Earthquake damage service! Still toooons of work to do





Video: awesomeness!




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, September 13, 2016

Elder Rowe, Elder Yamashita, and Sister Jones!

こんにちは!!

At this point, I've been "training" for three weeks. Training means they put a brand new missionary with an old man like me to give the older missionary some extra motivation and a kick in the pants. The older missionary tries to teach the new missionary how to be a missionary, but if for others it's anything like my experience so far, I'm the real one being trained. Elder Isaac Peter Huege de Serville is pretty incredible. He is from Australia and just graduated high school a few months ago (I'm a grandpa!). Coming from the MTC, he has a spiritual power that has given me the spiritual boost I didn't realize I needed. He likes to question everything we do, so it's helped me rethink the effectiveness of what I've been doing for the past few months. It's been a blast (even if he does call a water bottle a "drink bottle").

Also, he picked up very quickly that I call people I like "stud" a lot. For our first two weeks, he counted every time I used it...51 times in two weeks...trying to improve my vocabulary.

Anyways, fantastic week. I'll keep it short.


Notes/Stories from the Week
  • The dream companion
    • As a part of missionary life, we go on companion exchanges every few weeks or so to learn from and to help other missionaries. Many of the most fun memories I have on the mission so far have come from these 24 hour companion exchanges. This past week I had the privilege of going with Elder Rowe from my MTC district! I lived in the same room as him for the first 9 weeks of my mission and spend pretty much all day with him. I haven't seen him too much over the past year, but he came up this past week. He and I both like to run, so the day started out with a 8 mile run at 0530 :) wayyy fun. He and I both have the same genki, both boldly testifying dendo style so it was one of the best days I've ever had out here.

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
This past Saturday we were at the church to study some and in comes Elder Yamashita  of the 70 and Sister Jones of the general Primary presidency! We talked with them both for only a minute or two, but the simple joy and love they radiate lifted me for the rest of the day. Two simply incredible people with incredible testimonies.

Video and Invitation for the Week
This email is all a bit scattered with thoughts, but this past week I saw this new website on our church website. Please explore and talk to a friend or family member about your thoughts.

https://www.lds.org/preventingsuicide/?lang=eng

Pictures for the Week.
-1: Elder Serville playing the saxophone at a members.



-2: Elder Rowe and I after our morning run.



-3-5: Art museum!








-6-8: Parade we saw at a jieitai base!





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, September 8, 2016

A Party in Fukuoka, A Party in Kumamoto, and a Party in Amakusa

こんにちは!!

At this point on the mission, a large majority of the friends that I've made over the past year are either already done with their mission, or will soon be heading home. While at first two years often felt like an eternity, I am realizing more and more how little time we have as missionaries to devote every ounce of our time and energy to this great cause. Our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ have given us everything we have. Two years is nothing compared to that. Ganbaro!!!

Anyways, fantastic week. The highlights were Missionary Leadership Conference in Fukuoka, zone training meeting and heading down to Amakusa!

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Missionary Leadership Conference
    • Like I've said before, every 6 weeks, all the zone leaders and sister training leaders in the mission (about 28 missionaries total) head to the mission home in Fukuoka to council with the assistants, Mission president, and his wife about how the mission is doing. It is always a spiritual boost as we are surrounded by our incredible peers with incredible faith, as well as a humbling experience as we realize how much more we and our zones can improve. See pictures below!
  • Zone training meeting
    • Sorry to the rest of the bajillion missionary zones around the world, but we have the best zone with the best missionaries I've ever seen (see picture below). This pastFriday we met with all 25 members of our zone and gave a three hour training on a number of topics. 
    • One of the highlights for me was a training we gave on unity and teamwork. Our zone is mainly elders who love sports and things like that, so we based our training off a talk called, "Band of Brothers." Please read it!
    • https://www.lds.org/ensign/2008/02/band-of-brothers?lang=eng
    • To share the story of Easy Company, I walked over to the piano and struck a chord, as Elder Bunker started telling the story. As I continued to play epic background music, the two district leaders in the district stood up and joined in at their assigned parts to help tell the story as epically as possible. Waaaaay fun times. Super cheesy, but I think everyone enjoyed it.
    • The other highlight was a training we gave on being a "challenging and testifying" missionary. The basic idea was to be ready to bare your testimony and beliefs to anyone at anytime. 
  • Beautiful Amakusa (look up pictures online!)
    • We have a group that is a part of our ward that lives about 3 hours away by car. My companion and I go down there every 3 weeks or so to help them out. Currently they have a solid 8 people that go to church each week down there at a member's home. In addition to talking to some fantastic people (see miracle for the week), we saw a gorgeous sunset on the way back. See pictures below!

Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
One of our reasons for heading down to Amakusa this past week was to meet with an 18 year old, 1st year college student who is interested in learning about Christ. He is the boyfriend of a semi-active member down there who we had briefly met once before. This time we had a meal at the girlfriends house with him and taught the basic ideas of God and baptism. It was thrilling to see his eyes light up when he realized for the first time in his life the possibility of all this being true. He committed to be baptized next month if he receives a confirmation from God that He exists and that this message is true. Please pray for him to let Christ into his life! His name is Shou kun.

Video and Invitation for the Week
Like Shoukun, there are billions of people around the world who sadly have never thought of the actual reality of a living, loving God that is willing and ready to help in more ways than we can imagine. This video introduces the idea of this all-loving God through the analogy of fatherhood. ENjoy!

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-01-002-earthly-father-heavenly-father?lang=eng&_r=1&category=mormon-messages/mormon-messages-2013

Pictures for the Week.
-1: Sister Shibayama and Elder VanAlfen from the conference in Fukuoka!


-2-3: The Kumamoto zone!




-4: A giant, ugly spider my companion and I found this week in Amakusa.


-5-10: The car ride back from Amakusa








Video: Amakusa



Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部