Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On the first day of Christmas, my parents gave to me ...

Merry Christmas Eve!
It is almost Christmas AND 2017. Most of my high school and West Point friends graduate from college this year...where does time go? I've recently been thinking a lot about that idea of time and how no matter what we do, it passes. President and Sister Egan, Elder Yamanashi, and I are currently traveling the mission over the course of three weeks to participate and give trainings in seven zone conferences (about 30 missionaries at each). This time, Elder Yamanashi and I felt we needed to teach on "The Pursuit of Happiness." (I won't go into too much detail because some missionaries who get this email haven't the training yet). 
Long story short, time will pass, and it is largely an individual choice whether we enjoy that time or not. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quourum of the Twelve Apostles teaches us, "If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we wil never know joy. ... Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is a gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life as taught by Jesus Christ." Thus, only true strict, whole-hearted obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His servants can we experience that true joy that even human on this earth hopes to feel.
Notes/Stories from the Week 
  • One the first day of Christmas, my parents gave to me...
    • My parents deserve a shout out for the best 12 days of Christmas ever! See pictures below for it to make more sense, but starting on December 13, we opened a present that included a scripture as a hint for what it was. The office staff loved opening it daily.
  • He's still around?
    • Shout out number two goes to the one and only Mismash Choro for sending all his companions (including me) my favorite food in Japan, furugura! It is my breakfast every day :) I promise all the new missionaries when they come in that if they eat it everyday they won't get sick. It's worked for me so far. Hopefully their is some truth in there!
  • Christmas party!!
    • Yesterday was the Fukuoka ward Christmas party! It was fantastic! The first hour was a show that depicted the life of Jesus Christ, as well as why that should matter to us today. The show itself was a combination of video clips and musical performances from members and missionaries. For some reason accross the world their is a correlation with a ridicuously high percentage of Mormons being ridiculously talented at music. One of the missionaries made a joke before we started practicing for it that he was a failure as a Mormon boy becuase he had no musical talents. Throughout the practice session, he, as well as the rest of us, were shocked that he has the voice of an angle if he actually puts forth effort (Just to clarify, even if music isn't your thing, that's okay:) ).
    • I performed an arrangement of "O Little Town of Bethelehem" that someone in my family performed at a Miss Tomi Christmas recitial in 2005, as well as a "Joy to the World/Angels We Have Heard on High" arrangement that I performed at a Miss Tomi Christmas recital in 2011 or so. Moral of the story, thanks Miss Tomi!
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
God is great! From my amazing district at the MTC, five of us came to Fukuoka (Elder Johnson, Elder Rowe, Sister Luczak, Sister Myers, and myself). Since we split up on September 24, 2015, I had the hope that at some point on the mission the five of us would be together again. My thinking was the same zone. A few transfers ago, four of the five of us were in the same zone, but Myers Shimai wasn't there. Last transfer at Missionary Leadership Conference, four of the five of us were there, but this time it was Sister Luczak who wasn't there.
Well, this past Tuesday we had Missionary Leadership Conference and all five of us were there! While I'm sure God had much more important reasons for putting each of us in our current positions than simply being reunited again, we felt a small glimpse of the joy that the sons of Mosiah and Alma felt when they met back up after years of being apart. "Therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth" (Alma 17:2).
Video and Invitation for the Week
One last chance! If you have ignored this part of this email for the past few weeks, please visit this link and choose one of the ideas to do. Elder Yamanashi and I have been working on the, "Take a moment to enter all of your friends’ birthdays into your mobile device. Then make a point to wish them well on their special day." We are trying to call all our missionaries on their birthday! What will you do to follow Christ's example for caring for loved ones?
Pictures for the Week.
-Set 1: 12 days of Christmas! See explanation above.














-Set 2:
1: The 5 of us from the MTC district in Fukuoka- September 2015

2: The 5 of us again! December 2016


3: The doki (all same transfer) at the Yamaguchi zone conference (Elder Rowe, Elder Barker, me, Sister Magleby, S. Olsen)


4-the end: all my companions! Test for you Mom and Dad, do you know all their names by memory??












Love you!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

It's Still Christmas time in the City!

Merry Almost Christmas (again)!!!
Another transfer week is come and gone. To give a little perspective of transfers in the Fukuoka mission, we have 40+ flights, trains and buses for 100+ missionaries, and bike transportation for everyone transferring. Elder Yamanashi and I have the opportunity to coordinate all of that. The reason I bring any of this up, is to show how incredible it is that Elder Yamanashi doesn't stress during any of this. He stays calm and in control, despite new challenges appearing at seemingly every moment possible. Yesterday after all our missionaries had arrived safely, I asked him how is so calm and in controlled (For those who don't know me, I'm one to stress out a bit and get a bit snappy with others when things are going right). Elder Yamanashi explained to me that it was because he wasn't the one in charge, God was. He further clarified that there are thousands of details we can and do miss during this transfer process, but that every time we do, the Spirit informs him of what we missed, and he fixes it. Sure enough, it all worked out, as it always does when we do the work of God.
I'm not sure I've ever met someone with so much trust that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly leads this work. Elder Yamanashi knows without a shadow of a doubt that God lives, and that as missionaries for His church, we are simply tools to be used in His hands. It's pretty remarkable.
Notes/Stories from the Week 
  • Caroling!
    • Like I said last week, last Saturday we went to an outdoor mall to put on a caroling show! It was incredible. We had practiced for a few weeks when we had time, and it actually turned out pretty well. Throughout the 30 minute performance, hundreds of people stopped and watched at some point. Our ward is having a special sacrament meeting on Christmas day (Thanks Elder Oaks and Brother Gavin), so the primary kids passed out invitations to that. The night was the epitome of Christmas joy. See pictures and videos below!
  • Another Beginning, Middle, and End
    • From Tuesday to Thursday was all working with our missionaries. The new missionaries (18 of them) came in on Tuesday night, were trained by us on Wednesday, met their trainers Wednesday night, and then headed off to their areas on Thursday morning. 
    • Thursday was the day were all the rest of our missionaries transferred as well. This time about 80 of our missionaries transferred. That morning, we picked up all of the returning missionaries- 24 of them, including my senpai sisters :(. See pictures below. They had their final interviews with President Egan, did some last dendo, and then headed out on flights early Friday morning. It's amazing how fast the mission goes!
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
One of the highlights of transfer week is always the meeting where trainers meet the new missionaries they will be training. I'll try to explain the setting briefly: the trainers sit in the back of the chapel and stand up when the new missionaries start to file in. The new missionaries then sit in the rows in front of their trainers. The meeting starts with President Egan welcoming everyone, followed by everyone singing the first off, "I'll Go Where you Want Me to Go," (https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/ill-go-where-you-want-me-to-go?lang=eng) in English and Japanese. President Egan then talks for a few minutes and does one of the things he does best, invite the Spirit. 
President Egan than randomly calls up a new missionary, has them introduce themselves, and then tells them who their trainer will be. At the point, the trainer, who at this point still doesn't know who they will be training, stands and walks (sometimes jumps and sprints) up to the front, gives their new missionary a hug, and then sits with them off to the side. We do that for each new missionary and their trainer (this time 8 sisters and 10 Elders). Elder Yamanashi and I get to simply watch from the back and feel spiritual confirmations as each new missionary meets their trainer for the first time. 
President Egan, Elder Yamanashi, and I pray and fast in the weeks prior to all of that to help determine first who the Lord wants to train, and then which of the new missionaries (who we only know by paper) they should be with. Seeing it all unfold is always one of the most spiritual moments of the week for me. Like I keep saying, we are not in charge of this work. We simply do our best to follow the Spirit. 
Video and Invitation for the Week
If you didn't have a chance to check out this website last week, here is your second chance! 
Please check it out and then figure out at least 3 things you can do this Christmas season to "Light the World" around you.
Pictures for the Week.
-1: Some of our returning missionaries and their companions coming up for an early exit interview (left to right: E. Hassell, E. Yamanashi, me, E. Ballard, E. Krebs, S. Miller, S. Brown)
-2: The quartet-ish for the caroling event- left to right- S. Cox, S. Willson, S. Myers, Akichan, me, E. Yamanashi
 

-3: The comp

 
-4: The singing group!

 
-5: Elder Coleman- we sang about 300 meters in front of that

 
-6: The missionaries in the Fukuoka ward at the bishop's

 
-7: Sister Nohagi returning after her mission ended!

 
-8: Some of the best missionaries ever that are now back in the states- left to right- S. Jorgensen, S. Jesperson, S. Cox, E. Yamanashi

 
-9: The entire group of returning missionaries :(

 
-10: My companion's beautiful food creation!


 
Videos for the Week.
1: Sister Willson and S. Cox (me on the piano)
video

2: The quartet turned quintet (This might have been the start and end to my singing career)
video

3: The group

video


Love you!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"What are you now? A Mormon?"



Merry Almost Christmas!!!
Not much time this week so this will be short!
Notes/Stories from the Week 
  • Companionship exchange with Elder Strickland
    • Like I've said before, many of the highlights of my mission have been 24 hour companion exchanges with other missionaries in the mission.The exchanges allow us to learn from other missionaries and help fix some any problems the mission is having. Up to this point I've been about 25 of them. Well this past Monday was one of the best yet! Elder Yamanashi and I headed down to Nagasaki to dendo with the zone leaders down there, Elder Strickland and Sherman. Elder Strickland and Sherman are half-Japanese, and Elder Yamanashi is complete Japanese, so I was once again humbled with my Japanese :) Elder Strickland and Sherman are two of the best missionaries we have in the mission, so lots was learned!
    • Anyways, one of the highlights was a college student who after a short 5 or so minute conversation on the street, said he had time right there to talk with us. It just so happened that a park was about 50 feet away. The three of us headed to the park, then talk this young college student a 40 minute lesson on what we call, "The Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Elder Strickland is a ridiculous teacher and took charge like a boss. While teaching isn't a strong point of mine yet, I love watching people light up when they start to consider the possibility of a Heavenly Father than loves them and has a plan for them.
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
Every Monday, we hokoku (report??) with the zone leaders about how each of their zones are doing. Thus, we get to hear all of the miracles in the mission! One of the highlights this past week a young couple at one the military bases in Japan that have been investigating the church for the past few weeks. He is in the Navy and learned about the church from one of his friends while out a sea for a few months. When he came back to port a few weeks ago, he and his wife immediately found the missionaries and started taking the lessons. Their lives have completely transformed in these few weeks as they have begun living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
The day after they were taught the Word of Wisdom (The law of health that the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith. Honestly what most people think of when they think of Mormons. See the link for part of why we follow is https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/principles-and-promises?lang=eng), they were at a party when one of the higher up officers offered him a beer. As he took a step of faith and politely refused, the officer remarked, "Huh? What are you now? A Mormon?" The young sailor smiled and replied, "Well, kind of." He and his wife will be entering into the waters of baptism next Saturday! They have never been happier.
Video and Invitation for the Week
This one doesn't need too much of an explanation. Visit the website and watch the "Light the World" video!
Pictures for the Week.
-1: trying to discretely eat on the train (look up onigiri)


-2: Incredible orange rolls from Sister Egan. She is incredible!!! (I ate mine a bit too fast...) 




Love you!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部