Monday, January 30, 2017

Is Your Grandpa Sterling Colton?

こんにちは!
Notes/Stories from the Week (or two)
  • The Changes
    • Must of the next few weeks around the world will have some very big changes for missionaries. Here are some:
      • All of the world: a much more loose schedule with more decisions for missionaries to make. From 10am-9pm, we now choose our entire schedule (dinner being done before 6pm), and where to fit in our studies and what not. For those who have ever been missionaries, it is quite the change. The main reasons that the LDS Missionary Department announced in a world wide broad cast this past week were to allow missionaries to 1) be more productive each day, 2) set more inspired goals and plan more effectively, 3) be healthier, and 4) use our agency to make righteous decision about how best to spend our time.
      • All of the world: The four key indicators we track and set goals for now are investigators baptized and confirmed, investigators with a baptism date, investigators who attend sacrament meeting, and new investigators. For those who have never served a mission, this is also a very big shift in the way missionary work it done. Previously we had nine of these "key indicators" that we used each week to help us bring others unto Christ. I'm excited to see how this helps make us more effective missionaries!
      • All of Japan: A new English class program that focuses on the rising generation! We will now be teaching towards two English proficiency tests taken by millions of people in Japan: Eiken and TOIEC. The Eiken is taken primarily by middle school and high school students, and the TOIEC primarily by college and young working adults! We are excited to be able to work much, much more with the young generation of Japan.
  • The End of Seeing Japan!
    • This past week we finished up this round of interviews by heading to Okinawa (see map below), Kumamoto, and Kagoshima. I got to go on companion exchanges with Elder Lustiv from Bulgaria (one of two missionaries in the world serving from his country; fascinating missionary) and Elder Hardy (my senpai from the MTC). Good times.
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
  1. Two for this week:
    • See picture below: Sister Hazelbarth, one of the office couples who works with us in the mission office, was baptized in Maryland years ago. While eating lunch with her husband this past week, I mentioned my grandparents live in Maryland. Elder Hazelbarth than asked, "Is your grandpa Sterling Colton?"
    • It turns out that when Sister Hazelbarth (at the time Patricia Dao) was baptized, my grandpa was her bishop in Maryland! To this day, she remembers him for his kindness to her and to his wife (my grandma). She said that he could never talked about my Grandma without his eyes watering. She had never seen a husband have so much love for his wife in her entire life.
  2. I meant to share this a few months ago but just remembered. I think I have the details.
    • Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints value family history a lot (Seehttps://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-05-1080-why-mormons-do-family-history?lang=eng  for more information. Simply put we see it  is a way to save more souls and strengthen the eternal family unit. In Japan, doing family history is often very difficult. A few months back, a missionary raised in America that was half Japanese/half American, was called to serve in the Kitakyushu area in our mission. While there, a member of their the congregation they were serving at realized there was a shrine nearby that contained his family name. Sure enough, when this missionary visited the shrine, he found records and records of his ancestors that went back hundreds of years. If he hadn't been called to serve there, finding those records would have been nearly impossible. 
    • Thus, God truly knows us and knows where we need to serve. Sometimes it is to baptize someone, sometimes it is to change the life of a companion, and sometimes it is as specific as finding the records of many of your ancestors!. We just finished one more round of transfer board discissions with President Egan, and once again I realized that President Egan is not in charge. Rather, an all-loving, all-powering Heavenly Father is.

Video and Invitation for the Week
As missionaries, we share a bold message that can honestly sound crazy to those not family with our message. One of those bold truths we share is that reality of living prophets and apostles that lead this church under the direction of Jesus Christ. The video below is from one of those very people. Mormon or not, please watch and think about the possibility of what he is sharing.
Pictures for the Week.
1: Two of the best people this world has ever known! My grandmother said this quote to my cousin, Dan, on the phone and he made this for them.


2-5: Nothing like good food! Had this waiting for our flight in Okinawa.






6: Okinawa map- That island where all the flights go into are where about 50 of our missionaries are at! 



7: Sister Hazelbarth who works with us in the mission office. See story above.





7 Leaving the Hiroshima apartment and heading to the Eki on Sunday morning





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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Blizzards and Miracles

こんにちは!
(P-days are still weird. My next will probably be Saturday, January 28).
No standing on a soap box for this week! But, great week!
Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Seeing some more of Japan!
    • Like I said last week, starting next transfer, much of our focus as assistants will change. We have been traveling around the mission a lot recently to help assist President Egan in trainings. Starting next transfer, our role will change slightly to traveling much less, and getting out and dendoing (proselyting) a lot more! 
    • That being said, this past week consisted of traveling with our mission president to train on the new Eikaiwa program and the new missionary schedule while he conducted interviews for all our missionaries. If you want to look it up on Google maps, we headed to Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, and Saga! I love spending time with our missionaries! One of the highlights was getting a short training from one of my prior companions, Elder Metekingi. He is a district leader now and has become one of the best district leaders, and overall missionary leaders, I've ever seen! He gave a training based off the example of Alma and Amulek in the Book of Mormon and how they worked together in their teaching. The basic gist was when teaching a lesson, to briefly testify of and repeat what your companion just shared before going onto a new point. Elder Burgener and I tried it in our lesson with Shiba San (see the miracle for the week) and it worked perfectly!
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
After giving some trainings to the Hiroshima zone this past week, we had the opportunity to go on a companion exchange with the Hiroshima zone leaders. The point of these exchanges are for training to take place from leaders, and for us to learn from each other. I went with Elder Burgener and had a blast (sorry, forgot pictures!). 

At the beginning of the exchange, Elder Burgener and I set a few goals, focusing on finding a new investigator. We had a return appointment that we felt would work out, but sadly it fell through (it was quite the snowstorm). Later in the night as we were walking to the area we had planned to dendo at, we both stopped at a certain apartment. We looked at each other and asked what the other thought. After a prayer, we decided to do it despite only 3 of 10 apartment lights being on. 

At the 5th or so door, Shiba San. a man in his 30's opened his door. He is a programmer (we nerded out when I saw Java up on his computer) whose kids are the most important thing in his life. Sadly, he is currently separated from them as they live with their mother in a different prefecture. After some BRT ("building the relationship of trust" with a random stranger) and asking if he had time right now for a message, he let us in. In our short 15 minute lesson, Elder Burgener felt inspired to ask if he had ever thought of the three classic questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?. Well, Shiba San said he had thought a lot about our purpose in this life when we was younger, but never figured out the answer. We were in! We explained we had the answer to that very question, and asked if we could come back the next day. Elder Burgener and his companion went back on Sunday and then again last night. He is now headed towards baptism and will meet with them a few more times this week.

Video and Invitation for the Week
Here is a video I haven't shared in awhile. If you like music, please watch it! It is a music video of a song that talks about the help we can get from Jesus Christ in this life. Please watch and then think about something you will do today to follow Christ's example more.
Pictures for the Week.
1-5: Some more pictures of visiting Daizafu shrine a few weeks ago.






6: American kids just aren't as cute as Japanese...




7: Leaving the Hiroshima apartment and heading to the Eki on Sunday morning


8: arriving at the Hiroshima apartment on Sunday morning


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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Legend of Elder Yamanashi

Happy Almost 2018!

(P-days got a bit weird. My next one will be sometime next week).

Maybe there is some mathematical proof behind it, but life seems to go faster and faster the older I get (There is probably some cool psychological studies about that). Anyways, I just realized this time next year I will be in a very different place! For one, I'll be an uncle! Maybe of more than just one niece/nephew (***cough cough Meredith/Trent and maybe even Brandon!).

Anyways, fantastic week. Working everyday with Elder Yamanashi is incredible. Last night in my journal I was writing about our relationship, and realized we are similar in some ways, but opposites in many. 
I am more of the "Let's simply get the job done" kind of person, but easily gets stressed out doing it. I am currently working on our prophet President Monson's council of, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." Elder Yamanashi, on the other hand, it a patient, easy-going, God trusting saint. He knows and truly believes to the core that God is in charge of this work, and that everything always works out. 

As far as planning goes, I am more of a "Lets throw out tons of ideas and talk our way to the answer" type of person. He is more of a "Let's think, and ponder, and use the Spirit to figure out what to do."
As far as leadership goes, I am more of a "Let's love them, but give them a little slap in the butt when they need it" type of person. He is more of a, "We can't change others. Only the true love of God can change people long term and bring them back unto our Savior" type of person.

Working with him now over the past three months or so, I have realized that his some of his strengths are virtually all of my weaknesses. I'm not sure if he has learned much from me other than how to easily stress out :), he has taught be through example of what it truly means to trust in God. I have never heard a single negative comment about anyone from him. He has never even said anything remotely mean to me, despite my often overly-dominate personality. It is incredible the companions that God puts us with. God knows us and what we need. He knows that I needed an Elder Yamanashi to help overcome my Cash/Colton stubborness (love you family :) ).

Gomen, that went a bit longer than expected. It's always fun to start typing these up and see where my thoughts go.

Notes/Stories from the Week 
  • Seeing some more of Japan!
    • Starting next transfer, much of our focus as assistants will change. We have been traveling around the mission a lot recently to help assist President Egan in trainings. Starting next transfer, our role will change slightly to traveling much less, and getting out and dendoing (proselyting) a lot more! 
    • That being said, this past week we attended zone conferences in Kumamoto, Nagasaki, and Kagoshima. I absolutely love seeing the missionaries and participating in their trainings. Each training lasted about six hours, with trainings from President and Sister Egan, Elder Yamanshi and I, the zone leaders, and the sister training leaders. It is always fun to see what plans the zone leaders and sister training leaders come up with for their zones (one of the fun ones was the theme of "The Lord's Gym," building your area like your body. It sounds cheesy, but they related how just like working out, we have to work on different parts of dendo to be effective as possible. If you skip leg day, you don't improve!).
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week

The training we just gave to all eight zones was based off the idea that true joy comes to the faithful followers of Jesus Christ. We used the good, better, best principle, and related it to it is GOOD to follow God because of fear and guilt (from Him, family, friends, etc), it is BETTER to follow Him out of faith in the promise that obedience brings blessings, but is is BEST to be obedient to God out of true love for Jesus Christ. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). 
One of the miracles I shared for the BETTER portion, was how when I trained, my companion and I struggled the first few days with getting along. We were both a bit stubborn and didn't want to change. We had the same goals for the mission, but couldn't see eye to eye on a lot. After a few days of struggling, we talked it out and decided to followed President Nelsons council of, "Obedience brings success; exact obedience brings miracles" by making a "Miracle Card" of some of the mission rules we were struggling with. We made a list of 15 or so things we could do each day to be more obedient. We set out each and every day to do our best, bore our testimonies to each other nightly before daily planning, and started loving the mission. In my journal I wrote how I had never been happier. 
Thus, the scriptures are true. While it may sound strange, the more strictly we head the teachings of Jesus Christ, the happier we are!

Video and Invitation for the Week
This week is actually an article that is short, but powerful! Like I said above, Elder Yamanashi understands the key to happiness to loving God and loving others. Check out this article if you want to be happier (yup, that's all of us).

Pictures for the Week.
1-3: The Kagoshima train station





4: The office staff with ties we all got from Elder Haoka's Mom.


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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year's!

Happy New Year's!
P-days were changed around, so I had P-day again today, but my next won't be until Saturday, January 14. For those who don't like getting these emails, you have a little break :)
Today we had the opportunity to explore a bit more of the Japanese culture. Overall waaaaay fun, pretty Japanese day. The highlights were visiting Dazaifu, a Shinto shrine (see pictures below) and making Takoyaki with some over missionaries and ward members.
Dazaifu was absolutely fascinating. The fifth picture below is what everyone in the fourth picture are waiting for. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the kami, or God, of scholarship. Those in the fifth picture are donating offerings to the Gods in order to receive blessings for this upcoming year. For some it is a true believe. For others it is a tradition, a part of being Japanese. Quite fascinating actually.
Pictures:
1-8: Dazaifu Shrine










7: Elder Hassell and I


9: The beginning stages of Takoyaki (an octopus pancake ball is the best way i can describe it)



10-11: The crew!



12: Elder Yamanashi and I enjoying New Year's a few days ago :)