Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Life is good!

こんにちは!

Life is great!!! This was transfer week for the mission, which has become one of the best weeks of each transfer.

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Another week!
    • Tuesday: The New Missionaries came in!
      • And they are incredible! 23 brand new missionaries from the MTC with the faith to baptize the world. Having the chance to spend even a few hours with them over the course of Tuesday-Thursday was fantastic. It is impossible to get trunky when I am around them. Over 13 sisters and 10 elders came in, with two from the Philipines and one from Brazil!
    • Wednesday: Training the new missionaries and the trainers
      • Another fantastic day! We got to introduce the new missionaries to the mission, and train the trainers as well. The highlight, as always, was Wednesday night where the trainers meet their trainers for the first time. Kaicho calls each new missionary up one at a time and then calls up the trainer. Always one of the most spiritual moments for me in missionary work.
    • Thursday: Transfer day (every six weeks)! 
      • It's pretty incredible how smooth transfers typically go. I have no doubt in my mind that God is in charge of this work. There are two many moving pieces for 200 transfering missionaries for it to always go as well as it does.
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week

Similar to Old and New Testament times, the Lord has commanded us to build and worship in holy temples. These past few days have increased my testimony and love of temples. Here are few of the experiences I've had in the past few weeks.
  1. We had the opportunity to go to the temple this past week. One of the highlights was the very end of the session. After ending a prayer, I looked up and realized that Elder Strickland (my current companion) and Elder Yamanashi (my previous companion) were the last three in the room. With appreiciation and joy, I realized that Heaven would be a bit like that. Joy and rejoicing with each other as we understand what the Lord has done for us.
  2. Today both the Shimonoseki Branch and the Kumamoto members are at the temple (see pictures below). I was able to see Suzuki Kyodai, my ward missionary leader in Kumamoto, as well as tons of the members from the Shimonoseki branch when they brought their primary into the mission home for a tour. I'm sure being able to actually talk to them in Japanese helps (my first area was Shimonoseki where I was first learning Japanese), but I absolutely loved it. One of the members who came, Hiramatsu Kyodai, jointed for us 1-2 per week for my entire six months there. He is raising his granddaugther, has a job, and is in the branch presidency. Despite all of that, he found time each week to help us teach lessons to the Japanese people. When I thanked him for that today, he simply smiled and said it was a blessing for his to be able to do it. He is up there with people in this world I respect the most!
  3. Tanaka Kyodai and Muraishi Kyodai (both baptized in Shimonoseki) are back at the temple today to do baptisms. God is great!

Video and Invitation for the Week
One of the best parts of the temple is that once you enter, everyone is the same. Your job, financial situation, and any difference virtually vanishes. If only all of the world could be that way. Please watch and share with someone you think it could help!

Pictures for the Week.
1: Elder Yamanashi (previous companion) and President Egan at the hakata eki


2: Elder Yamanashi (previous comp) and Elder Strickland (current comp)



3; Suzuki Kyodai from the Kumamoto ward! He was my dendo shunin for six months. He was here for the temple today and I got to see him.


4: Look who happened to stop by today! The Luczak twins! They were both in my MTC district. The one on the left served in this mission, and the one on the right served in Kobe. They returned a few months ago and are back visited both their missions.


5: The Shimonoseki Branch Primary



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

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Small Things

こんにちは!

Not much time today so this will be short!
Notes/Stories from the Week
  • The Small Things
    • Last Saturday
      • Last P-day jamming out on the piano with Elder Strickland (Thanks Jon Schmidt for the tips)!
    • Sunday
      • Seeing the Lord's hand in the transfer process to see where each missionary will go.
    • Monday
      • Spending a few hours with zone leaders and then a few hours with Kaicho talking about all of the missionaries in the mission and all of the investigators with baptism dates in the mission.
    • Tuesday
      • Going to an absolutely fanastic district meeting by Elder Tofa where he skillfully called us to repentance for being even remotely trunky.
    • Wednesday
      • Meeting on the street a young father who's mother in law just passed away. He was wondering if there was hope.
    • Thursday
      • Meeting "Go" on the street! See story below.
    • Friday
      • Eating out an Indian curry with the office staff!
      • Making a delicious no-bake cherry cheesecake.
    • Today
      • Going to a grocery store and given free mochi! See the video! We even got to help make it!
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
This past week's dendo was a blast! While getting rejected certainly isn't always fun, finding those with interest makes it all worth it. This last week we met a man named, "Go," (I told him my name was "Stop." He actually laughed so I immedietely liked him). He is interested in God and actually gave us his contact information so we can meet with him. To most it would just seem like a random interaction, but it is always a miracle to me when we find people like him who seem to have been searching for the truth for their entire lives.

Video and Invitation for the Week
A bit similar to the last two weeks of videos, this one talks about how we naturally judge others. Whether it is judging the homeless, those of a different faith, or those that are simply different than you, I think we can all agree it does no good in the long run. 

Pictures for the Week.
1: Just one for this week- The crew with Elder Hazelbarth (financial secretary) at an Indian Curry restaurant!


Video for the Week.
1: Making mochi outside the grocery store!


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

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Simplicity of Salvation

こんにちは!

One of the best parts of being a missionary is working with other missionaries. Most are either straight out of high school or have a year or two of college under their belt. Nearly all come out with little "worldly" experience, thus it is pretty incredible to see the work that the Lord is able to do through us. Last week Elder Whiting point out to us that there has got to be a better way than working through largely 18-25 year olds to help carry out God's number one purpose, the entire salvation of His children, but the fact that God trusts the simple things of the world (us) in simple language (like me trying to speak Japanese) to share His simple, but powerful message (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) is evidence to me of the truthfulness and power of this message. We speak words, but the Holy Ghost teaches and has the power to impact and change lives. We have the privilege of witnessing a small part of not only this marvelous work, but the wonder that accompanies it.

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Spreading the Gospel
    • A large majority of our time as missionaries in Japan is spent walking the streets and neighborhoods of Japan, talking to everyone we see about the message of Jesus Christ. Luckily, Japanese people are VERY kind and either talk with us or politely decline. I think back to some of my time spent in New York city where people passing out pamphlets or things like that are 100% ignored as if they don't even exist. Luckily, our message is much more important than an invitation to a comedy show. While often, many Japanese people see "イエスーキリスト” (Jesus Christ) on our nametag and quickly lose interest, we find tons each day who we are able to have a "totsuzen lesson" with. Within a quick five minute conversation on the street, we are able to introduce who we are, find out who they are, and they relate some aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their lives. The goal is to have the Spirit touch them in such a way to have a desire to learn more. It might not sound like it, but it's quite the party.
  • Elder Strickland breaking records!
    • My companion is a legend! This past week we went through the process to get him a license in Japan. The test itself is kind of ridiculous and often takes people 10+ times to pass. The number of times it has taken prior missionaries recently has been 2, 4, 8, 11, and 13. Pridefully, I was hoping it'd take him a few times so I couldn't feel a bit better about myself. Believe it or not, he passed on his first try! He hadn't been behind the wheel of a car in over a year and a half! He had prayed all morning to be able to pass so he wouldn't have to waste any more of the Lord's time (it takes about 7 hours overall to take a test, lots of waiting time), and the Lord heard and answered his prayer!
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
For almost everyone week of my life, I have had the opportunity to go to church. Once I got on the mission, Church took on a very different meaning. While at first I had absolutely no idea what was being said, I understood exactly what was going on. On of the beauties of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that God's church is the same everywhere. I can go to an LDS church any where in the world in any language, and the second I walk in, I'm home. I have recently been enjoying church more and more, and realizing the miracle it is for us. While the renewing covenants with God is obviously the most important part, the simple stressfree break from life is incredible. In Japan, the average person works more hours than a first year young accountant in New York city. They all need church as a both physical and spiritual reboost everyweek. 

Video and Invitation for the Week
Often we judge others largely based off our own insecurities. Although targeted towards youth, this video applies to us all. Please share with someone you think it could help!

Pictures for the Week.

1: Just one for this week- me, Elder Haoka, Elder Strickland, Elder Haoka, and Elder Ishikawa. Elder Haoka and Ishikawa are full Japanese, the other two are half. I'm just a wanna-be!



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, March 5, 2017

An Even Better Week

こんにちは!

My email from last week said that week was pretty good, but this past week was even better! We had the opportunity as a mission to be trained by Elder Whiting of the Quorum of the 70 and President of the Asia North Area (This is his background- https://www.lds.org/church/leader/scott-duane-whiting?lang=eng). Simply put, it was incredible. He had no script and no powerpoint. He simply asked for a whiteboard and a marker. Over the course of the week, I listened to him talk for about 12 hours total, and had absolutely no problem staying awake (For those who have ever sat next to me at a military briefing or General Conference, you know I often struggle with that...). Incredible public speaker that invited the spirit with power and used and understood the scriptures like he had written them himself. Below are some of my take-ways.

Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Xuzhe- Episode II
    • More to follow for next week! He was a bit busy this week, but he had the chance to talk to him a few times on the phone this week. He is about half-way through 1 Nephi now in English and reads whenever he can! He is in pretty desperate need of Gods help, so please pray for him!
  • Elder and Sister Whiting
    • Wow, talk about to Christ-like people. Whether you believe in LDS doctrine or not, it is impossible to meet someone like Elder Whiting and claim that the message that has shaped who he is has an evil in it. He is a man of love, of understanding, and of an ability to connect with all he talks to. He and his wife had spent the last two weeks with Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and thus could give us tons of advice and counsel like Elder Holland would.
    • Here are some of the take-ways I got from him, his wife, and President and Sister Egan throughout the conferences.
      • Christ has commanded us to "Be ye therefore perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Thus, we need to strive daily to do so. This strive leads us to true conversion in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is an activity for you, read the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-3 (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/25.1-13?lang=eng), but replace the world "lamp" with "testimony" and "oil" with "conversion." A belief in Christ is good, but only a whole-hearted conscious acceptance of the will of God is what is expected of us.
      • Our missionary purpose at it's simplest is to "Preach My Gospel by the Spirit" as Doctrine and Covenants 50:14 says. Language skills, scripture knowledge, obedience, testimony, it all goes into that.
      • The Atonement of Jesus Christ covers everything. Whether it be an addiction, a hot temper, or even low-confidence, believing we can't change is in essance not believing that Jesus Christ suffered enough for each of us. That is the miracle of Jesus Christ. Because he suffered for all of us, we can overcome any weakness through his help.  "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:27).
      • The most important work in the universe is the work of saving souls. Our entire purpose of existence is just that. Thus, family/parenting, missionary work, service to others, and virtually anything that leads to that needs to be the focus of our life.
      • There are a lot of problem identifiers in this world. That is an easy skill to have. The world needs more problem solvers.
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
Growing up, my grandpa has always told me a few phrases at the end of ever phone call or visit. These were, "Remember who you are and what you can become. Keep the commandments (and all the mission rules). Work hard and work smart. We love you." My Grandmpa would then always chime in, "and have fun!"

I'm a bit slow, but this past week I realized that, although they have never met, my mission president's "rules" for us are practically identity. His are 1) Work hard, 2) Work smart by the Spirit, 3) Be strictly obedient, 4) Have fun, 5) Come home tired. He also tells us all the time how much he loves us.

For some reason, it seems the Lord wants to me understand and master those principles. Two of the best men I know always telling me virtually the same thing! 

Video and Invitation for the Week
Elder Whiting said that during his just short of two weeks with Elder Holland, he didn't hear one negative comment about anything! They have conferences daily and all sorts of unexpected problems. Despite all of that, nothing but positivity and encouragement, This video talks about some of the importance of being optimistic and loving all, even those we don't understand. Please watch and think about how you can judge others less!

Pictures for the Week.
1: The Naha/Ginowan Zones!


2: The Kumamoto/Nagasaki/Kagoshima zones!



3: The Fukuoka/Hiroshima/Yamaguchi zones!



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