Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Well, that was a good year!

Happy New Years' Eve (I think that's normal English...)!!

I hope you have all had a fantastic 2016! Like I said last email, the good and bad thing about time is that it always passes. It is largely up to us whether we want to enjoy that time or not. I recently realized that for my entire life, 2016 will be the year I spent all my time as a missionary. 
As I reflect back on this year, I have no high school lacrosse statistics, no West Point GPA, and no crew regattas to help myself feel accomplished. I fell embarrassingly short of my yearly baptism goal that I set for myself, and still see many of the weaknesses in myself that I hoped to eliminate this year. Despite that, I have never felt more successful in my entire life. If I am honest with myself, the main reason for that is the relationships I've built with others, especially with Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
After being rapped up in numbers and accomplishments for my entire life, the mission has been the best blessing I could ask for. While yes, the mission does have a lot of numbers involved and I have gotten rapped up in them to many times to count, "failing" over and over have helped me realize there is so much more to life.
Thus, I am grateful for gaining a much stronger belief in a loving, Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ who play a profound role in my life everyday. I am grateful that my doubts are a tiny fraction of what they were in 2015. 
I am also grateful for the relationships I built in 2016 with the Japanese people and with the missionaries I've worked with. My favorite part of serving in the mission office is the opportunity to travel around the mission and get to know all the missionaries we work with. I love meeting missionaries for the first time who before were only a name to me, and be amazed that we have more hard working, incredible missionaries that I thought.
Despite talking to my family only twice on the phone for a total of 80 minutes this year, I feel closer and respect them more than I ever have before. I am grateful for the ability to email them each week and stay connected. I am also grateful for the relationships I've been able to continue with those who actually read these emails!
This intro sounded more profound in my head when I got the idea, but long story short, 2016 has taught me the important of relationships in my life. 
Notes/Stories from the Week 
  • Miracles in Honbu!
    • I have been told over and over by others that no matter how busy we are, we need to get out and procelyte ever day. This week has been full of traveling around the mission for zone conferences, but getting out when we can is worth it! Last night, the Missionary Supply Manager (elder Haoka) and I went out last night for just 45 minutes. Wow, it was awesome! We headed off on bikes and made an effort to talk to every single person we could. 
    • Two of the highlights were: 
      1. Finding to a less active of about 40 years outside of a convenient store. He got baptized in high school, but fell away in college. He has since had a rough life and currently has a desire to go back, but doesn't feel worthy or clean to go back to church. He said he'd come to activities if we had them, so we exchanged phone numbers!
      2. Finding a young college boy who is currently searching for the meaning of happiness. We got his phone number as well and will meet with him just after New Years'.
  • Traveling Japan!
    • The past week or so has consisted of four zone conferences around the mission. We typically have a day or two between these trainings. For those who want to look it up, our first was in Yamaguchi, followed by Okinawa (my only time on a plan in 2016), followed by Hiroshima, and then Fukuoka. We have a few more next week.
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
This week had tons of what I could consider miracles, but one that stands out to me was the opportunity to skype with my family. If we take a step back and realize that we can talk to people across the world by touching a few buttons on a screen, we can't help being mind blown! I believe in the power of the human mind and all, but I see the technology we have as gifts from God. I don't know for sure, but I can see Him smiling and laughing a bit up in heaven when someone thinks they made a giant breakthrough in technology. God already figured that out eternities ago. Oh the nothingness of man...
Video and Invitation for the Week
Okay, last time I promise! Even if you have seen this, please visit one last time and pick from one of the days of an activity of service you can do!
Pictures for the Week.
1: The office elders enjoying some Christmas presents.

2: The Office staff (left to right: Elder Haoka, Elder Hassell, me, Elder yamanashi)

3: Meal at members!

4: Christmas presents from the Fukuoka ward (yes, all those missionaries are in one ward)

5: more time with members! The Ogata family

 6: Christmas lunch with the Kakutani family!
 7: Christmas lunch!

8: another picture from the Ogatas

9: My first plane ride of 2016!

10: CLOUDS! Mathew Pattillo understands :)

11: Bullet train to Hiroshima!

12: Thank Mom and Dad

Love you!!

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

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