Saturday, April 8, 2017

I Love Japan!

こんにちは!

Weeks just keep flying by! This week was a blast with too many highlights to count! A FANTASTIC P-day in Fukuoka, two companion exchanges, and two zone conference (Kumamoto and Hiroshima).
Notes/Stories from the Week
  • Simply Loving Japan
    • This week was full of things "Japanese." It all started last Saturday on P-day when Elder Strickland and I decided to go and explore as much as we could. We started on a 30 minute bike ride to the Fukuoka Tower. Along the way we found some gorgeous bridges, rivers, and a giant rock statue that we still don't understand (see pictures). 
    • From there we found a gorgeous beach and found ourselves biking through a Japanese wedding. Elder Strickland's day was made when we saw Blue Seal ice cream (it's Ice Cream way famous in Okinawa. We ate this flavor called "Benimo," which is made from a purple potato grown in Okinawa.
    • After a trip up the Fukuoka tower and some attempted pictures on a giant raman bowl (see pictures), we started to head back. Along our way back, we saw a giant Buddhist temple that we stopped by. We planned to just stop at the Genkan, but the lady invited us in. It was honestly gorgeous (once again, see pictures). Elder Strickland grew up doing the incense Buddhist ritual with his Grandma in Okinawa. It involves lighting an incense stick and putting it in a bowl, putting your hands together, and kneeling giving thanks to your ancestors for the day. For the most point, it's more of a ritual in Japan than a religious belief. We had the opportunity to try it out. 
    • If I'm being honest, it was pretty surreal. While it certainly felt a bit strange kneeling in front of Buddha, there was something sacred and beautiful about the peacefulness of that room compared to the bustling outside world. I don't know the details about Buddhism, but the peace I felt in that room helped me appreciate their beliefs a bit more. It was similar actually to when I had the chance to visit St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican a few years ago with my brothers. As soon as I walked in, I was overwhelmed with a sense of revent fear compared to some all-powerful, awe-inspiring power in the room. 
  • Two more awesome companion exhanges!
    • This past week I got to go on two companion exhanges with Elder York from Kagoshima and Elder Tofa from here in Fukuoka. Two opposite dendo styles, but two fantastic missionaries. With Elder York, I have never laughed so much during dendo in my life. We found 6 or so interested people, and ended up going out to eat dinner with a random college student we found on the street. To try to describe his humor, after most contacts with young people, he'd go over to them, put his arm around them, and then ask them if they knew of any free English classes in Fukuoka. After thinking deeply, they'd say no. Elder York would then in a very serious voice say something like, "Well, if there was, that'd be awesome, right? Completely FREE english class. Wouldn't you would to go?" They would then typically respond with, "Well yeah, of course." Elder York would then ask me if I knew of one, and I'd pull out our English class chirashi (flyer). The person would then realize what we just did and we'd all be laughing. Good times :)
    • Elder Tofa is a chill, loving Hawaiian. He was smiling the entire day and simple enjoying life. We had a lesson with a Indian man who I had met with Elder York. We taught about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe it was because it was in English and I understood every word said, but it was fantastic! As we invited the man to pray about the message we shared and to read the Book of Mormon, we realized he was a bit more interested in simply learning rather than finding out if it was true or not. But, we will meet with him again in a week or so and hopefully he will have a softer heart.
Miracle/"Tendy Mercy" for the Week
I often have talked about how God leads us in this work. On companion exchanges with Elder York, we started to do an apartment, but I felt a strong prompting to not do the last two floors, but to go back two days later with Elder Tofa. Not thinking too much about it, I did just that. Last night, Elder Tofa and I knocked on those two floors, but didn't seem to see the "miracle" I was quite expecting. As we got back down to the apartment, Elder Tofa pulled out his iPad to see how to get to the member's house we planned to visit.

As he did that, he noticed according to the iPad map, we were right across the street from two other members whose name we didn't recognize. The house itself was dwarfed by 5-6 story apartment buildings in all directions. If it wasn't for the map, we wouldn't have recognized it. After praying and feeling good about it, we went over and knocked on their door. At first, an older Japanese lady came out. Happy to see us, she pointed to her ears and said, "Mimi ga warui, gomennasai," meaning, "sorry, I can't hear very well." She said that her and her husband were busy eating, so know was probably a bad time. At that moment, a lightbulb went off in her head, and she shuffled back inside.

She them came back out, and asked us to open the gate and come inside. As we entered the genkan (entrance), we were met by an old man with a smile beaming across his face. He was completely deaf, but seemed to be happier than a kid on Christmas to see us! He kept shaking his wife and doign sign language to her to make sure we would understand how happy he was to see us. We shared the new Easter video (see below) that had captions, and then left on our way. Elder Tofa and I left, soooo grateful we had followed the promptings of the Spirit to visit them. Moments like that make the mission worth. Pure joy on that man's faith from us simply showing up.

Video and Invitation for the Week
Easter is coming up! Check out these videos! The first is big picture about easter, but the rest are stories of people who's lives had changed through Christ. Please watch a few and share one with a friend who you think it could help!

Pictures for the Week.
Lots from this week!
They are all a combination of our P-day last Saturday and a picture of Elder Strickland and I on his first shikansen!






















Videos:
1) Heading up the Fukuoka tower on P-day
Note: An error with the videos prevented them from being uploaded.

2) The Shinkansen!
Note: An error with the videos prevented them from being uploaded.

Elder Kevin Cash Colton
Japan Fukuoka Mission

ケビン C. コルトン 長老
日本福岡伝道部

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