Monday, April 25, 2016

04/25/2016 | College Life with Egyptian Coconuts

Well, I guess it's been a week again. We had some interesting happenings this week. We both decided that we were kind of sick of the traditional ways of finding that we have been doing a lot of recently.
Housing, and Streeting, and visiting old, and potential investigators, it was getting boring, ineffective, and we just were not having a good time. So in brainstorming some other finding Idea's,

Elder Thurston mentioned doing work at the College, because he had done so in California. So we went, and found the International affairs office, to offer our services in English classes at the college, or Japanese translation, or basically whatever we could do. We got to meet this really nice German lady named Natalie, who was actually the director of the international affairs for the college. Turns out that there isn't too much we can do, besides talking to the students, and offering it to them, but they did have, on Friday this little party for all of the international students, other foreigner's, and really just anyone that wanted to come. So they invited us to that, and we went, and it was sooooo much fun.

They started off by playing the "never have I ever game," but in a different way. They would read off, "If you have ever..." and then if you had, you would run to the center, and high five with everyone else that had done so.  Then, they had a little introduction time, where they had everyone get up, and announce, where they were from, and introduce who they were. It was actually extremely nerve racking. My stomach was flying like crazy, but I got up and did it. It was funny, because there would be people that had been in Japan for a while, (longest being 10 years) and they were still shaky in their Japanese. Then I got up, and told everyone I had been in Japan for 1 year and a half, and they all flipped. "Your Japanese is so good" "How long did you study before you came out" etc. 

Then we had a Bingo game, and in the end, we all danced. We did this fun dance, that an Egyptian got up and taught us. Who would've thought that the first Egyptian I would meet would be in Japan. It was called the Coconut dance, and I really wish I had gotten more pictures, but in the end, I just got one video... Oh well. Sorry. I'll try again next time. It was a lot of fun, and we were able to make a lot of new friends. We also got a lot of people who said they'd like to come to English class. Way way way better than pinging houses all day. It was neat to see so many different people from all over the world gathered in one small hall.

I do have a request now though. We don't really have that many good finding idea's now, because those parties only happen once a month. We've got a few things that we are trying, but haven't found anything too successful yet. If you could all think of some idea's that we could try to find someone interested in learning about the gospel, and letting me know, that would be great. These day's, going around housing all day, just isn't effective anymore. Everyone has been housed at some point in their lives. Whether by us, or by J-Dubs, or some other religion, no one wants to talk to the missionaries anymore. They don't think that we actually care so much as we have to do so. Once upon a time, it was a lot more effective, and worked, but now days, it's all up to the members to help us. The missionaries cannot do it alone anymore. We can work our butts off all day, we can always be better, and we can always get more obedient, but even at our peaks, we aren't likely to get more than 1 or 2 baptisms. Those 1 or 2 people are important too, but what about the other 20,000 that we tired contacting to get those.

We actually had numbers given to us of 2015's stat's for the Sapporo Japan Mission. For every 4,995 people contacted by the missionaries, be that Housing, Streeting, or just talking to people on a train, 1 person got baptized. For every 42 that were referred by Church Headquarters 1 got baptized. That is all those that found it themselves, or were transferred by some other missionaries somewhere else in the world. And then finally for every 8 people that were referred by members 1 got baptized. The difference is INSANE. It takes 5,000 contacts to get one baptism for the missionaries, but only 8 for a member. Because those 1/4,995 people are still important, we will continue to work hard, and contact, but you as members, can help a lot. If we are out trying to find the 1/4,995 all day everyday, we could get 5 baptisms throughout our 2 years. Maybe... And that's still good, but it gets tiring, not fun, and depressing. Missionaries are a lot happier when they are teaching. If every member would just give 10 referrals throughout the year, that's more than 1 person per member. Minus the inactive, and young children, that's still almost 1 million baptisms in a year. You will be happier because you helped bring someone to the gospel, and we as the missionaries will be happier, because we will be teaching everyday, and we will be seeing a lot more success.

I promise you that no one that you invite to listen to the missionaries will stop being your friend. If they do, then they weren't a very good friend in the first place. I challenge you all to pray, think about who you could share this wonderful message of hope with, and who you could invite to listen to the missionaries. Make a list. Pray about each one of them. The numbers for this mission (one of the lower baptizing missions in the world by the way) say that if you can just invite 8, you will see a friend get baptized. It won't take too long. You could do it while you eat. You could do it instead of watching the sports statistics at the end of the news that you don't care about anyway. You can all do it, and I know that if you do, it will make a huge difference. The number of convert baptisms is on the decline. The member's need to take the initiative help the missionaries to get to those people that don't accept us because we are missionaries. That is my challenge to you this week. Talk to 1 person. If they do reject you, than that is OK. They have their agency, but you need to give them the chance to exercise it.

I know that this church is true, and that you can see success. I know that Everyone needs this gospel, and the Atonement. You can give it to them today. I know that Jesus Lives. I know that he loves everyone. You can know it too.

We'll catch you next week.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

04/17/2016 | Safe and Sound

Kitami City

Map of Japan, Kelson is in Kitami

Hey everyone. This week went by really fast. Like really really fast. We've had a lot of adventures, and I've learned alot of diffrent things this week.

First of all I'll let you know, that we are all OK. Hokkaido almost didn't even get affected by the Earthquake at all. It occurred down in an area called Kyushu, which is where the Fukuoka mission is, which is on the other side of Japan. I don't know about the rest of Hokkaido, but here in Kitami we didn't feel anything. I've actually been told by people here, that the safest area in all of Japan is Kitami. Apparently the plates are situated so that, all of the waves that are caused by earthquakes go around Kitami, and never through. They'll hit Abashiri, but Kitami hasn't had an earthquake larger than 2.0 in centuries. At least that's what I've been told. Hokkaido itself is situated in an area that keeps it pretty safe. Even back when the large Earthquake hit Sendai, Hokkaido didn't really have any damage. No Tsunami's, No large Earthquakes. It's kind of interesting. However, it has been pretty bad down in the Kyushu area. I haven't heard any specific reports, but it sounds like all of the missionaries down there are safe. We are keeping the kyushu area in our prayers. It sounds a little scary. Apparently there have been earthquakes in other parts of the world as well. I guess the important thing to remember is that it is all necessary. These are the signs the proceed the second coming. There's a scripture that talks about it actually In D&C 45:33-35

33 And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.

34 And now, when I the Lord had spoken these words unto my disciples, they were troubled.

35 And I said unto them: Be not troubled, for, when all these things shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled.

It is all supposed to occur. It is what we have to go through before the Second Coming can occur. It is scary, and we should be dong all that we can to help the people going through these circumstances, but we should be Rejoicing. If we are prepared for the second coming, trying to keep ourselves clean, living worthy lives, these are blessed times. Only those that are unworthy should fear the coming of Christ. If you are scared, that's OK. It's natural, but it is a step in the process to the end of this life. 

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

Another insight on fear, is the continual war we are going through now between God, and Satan, with us in the middle of it all. I was reading in Deuteronomy, which if anyone has ever done, knows that it is all the law of Moses. Interesting, but doesn't really pertain to us as much these days. However, I was reading in Chapter 20, in which the law for going to war was laid out. In verses 3-4, it says 

3 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;

4 For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

This is what the Elders were supposed to tell all of those going to fight, before they go to fight. It is a reminder to them, and to us, that it doesn't matter what fight we are fighting, who we are facing, how many there are, if we are on God's side, he "goeth with [us], to fight for [us] against [our] enemies." How cool is that. It doesn't matter if we are fighting temptation, and evil spirit, or even the evil influences from others. God is before us. As long as we do what he directs, and we are on his side, he will defend us. And when that happens, we have experiences like Ammon, were no one can stand against us, and we get people like King Lamoni to say things like he does in Alma 18:20-21.

20 And the king said: How knowest thou the thoughts of my heart? Thou mayest speak boldly, and tell me concerning these things; and also tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms of my brethren that scattered my flocks--

21 And now, if thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee; and if it were needed, I would guard thee with my armies; but I know that thou art more powerful than all they; nevertheless, whatsoever thou desirest of me I will grant it unto thee.

I wouldn't mind someone like him saying something like that to me.

Anyway, sorry for sending out a novel this week. Just some thoughts that I have been having. Thought I would share some with everyone. Remember to pray for those affected by the earthquakes. They could use your prayers.
I hope eveyone is safe and sound. My prayers go out to you always. I love you all, and we'll see you next week.


Elder Eliot

Sunday, April 10, 2016

04/10/2016 | Week of Spirit

Well This week has been kind of insane. We started off by heading down to Kushiro for ZTM (Zone Training Meeting), at which we got to here some very good workshops about being better missionaries. One of my personal favorite ones was a workshop given by Sister Nishiyama who is a Sister Training Leader in Obihirio right now. It was really neat. She talked a lot about fear. Overcoming Fear. She related her story to the tree of life (God), and the Iron Rod (the word of God). Sometimes in life, things might seem very scary. We can't see whats ahead of us, we are in the mists of darkness. Even though we've been told, that we just have to hold onto this rod, and walk, and we'll make it to the tree, sometimes, it doesn't seem right.

Sometimes we here things in the darkness telling us we are going the wrong way. Telling us to come a different way, and there's something better. Sometimes we even listen to those things, and let go of the rod. Why? Because we are scared that the rod isn't going to take us to where we have been promised. We are scared because we cannot see, and we keep hearing the temptations from Satan. He is very enticing sometimes, and it can cause fear. However, fear is something that God has given us as a challenge. We are only meant to be able to overcome them and move forward. Sometimes as missionaries, it's scary to talk to this next guy, or ping this next house, or invite this investigator to be baptized, but if we lose our fears, and have faith, God will help us out.

The interesting thing is, that our fears are correct. We are scared to invite this person to baptism because they probably won't listen to us, and because we aren't good enough to do it. That is right. We can't do that, but God can. That's where the faith comes into the situation. Believing that God won't leave us out to dry, believing that no matter what happens, it was the way he wanted it, and the way he designed it to be. Once that faith is there, the fear leaves, because you can't have one with the other. And then, even though we are weak, and we can't do it, God uses us, God helps us, and through our combined power, we can do it.

Something that I enjoyed before my mission was working at scout camp. I loved getting to help
participants with Rock Climbing, and jumping off of a zip-line tower, and doing other things, that are normally pretty scary. I remember when I first started, I didn't want to do it very much either. It is
really scary. If you fall off of a 40 foot Rock Cliff, the chances of living are pretty slim. But we trust in the equipment, we trust in the instructors, and those with experience, and we learn, that it is OK.
We can do it, be safe, and have a heck of a lot of fun. One other thing that I would enjoy doing is going to some caves out near our camp. I am claustrophobic. I've never been comfortable with tight
spaces, and have even lost it a few times when I feel like I can't move. But I know that with the equipment I have (including the body, and mind God gave me) I can do it, it's not scary, and I can have a lot of fun.

I loved overcoming these fears that I had, because it made it so that I could help others do the same. It helped me to be able to sit down next to the scared 14 year old girl on the Zip-line tower, and tell her that it was OK. It scares me too. But I've done it, It is a lot of fun, and it is safe. And that I know that she can do it, because I could do it. And if I can do it anyone can. In the aftermath, after she has gone down, been cheered on by friends, and had a lot of fun, she is always grateful. I want to be able to do that now. I want to overcome all the fears I have in dendo (door to door contacting), and I want to turn around and help all of my Junior companions, and District members, and potentially Zone members to do the same. Because if I can do that, then I will be better as a missionary, as a person, and then I can help others to do the same, and then this mission will become that much better.

Sorry I kind of ranted on about that a lot. We got to see General Conference this week as well, and it was really good this year. I was impressed by President Monsons (president of the church) choice of words this time around. If you didn't notice, there weren't many. His health seems to be making things harder for him, but rather than not talking, he chose to offer a few words. In doing so, he probably contemplated, about what he could say in 5 minutes that would help everyone. He decided to talk about the importance of choices, and agency, and exercising it properly. It was short, yes, but it was powerful. My favorite part of it, was at the end when he talked about how it's better to make the ''harder right, instead of the easier wrong," and that "if we choose Christ than we have chosen right" I hope everyone will remember the prophets words to us. He tells us just what we need to know every time, and this specific time, it wasn't long, and full of complicated stories, and jokes. It was short, sweet, and to the point.

I know that He is a prophet who has been called of God. He guides us and leads us in these latter days. He is God's chosen servant among us, and he does receive revelation for us. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Don't forget to remember these wonderful teachings, and press forward.

愛しているよ (love you)
Elder Eliot

Sign warning people of squirrels, Kelson isn't their biggest fan!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

04/03/2016 | New comings, Miricles, and Pancake KitKat's

Happy Birthday to Maegen

The whole KitKat thing is ignoble. I just wanted a 3rd thing to write in the subject line and that was the first thing I saw. 

So, We have had transfers!!!!!! I am now officially on my 13th transfer, and I only have 6 months left... Not quite sure how that happened, but I guess I am half way down the down hill now... dang it... 

Anyway, we did have transfers, and now the situation here is different. I am still in Kitami, but Elder Vanishi has left. Sad day. This time I am no longer with a bean. Whooooooooo Hooooooooo. Not that I don't love all my son's (all 3 of them...), but It feels like it's been forever since I've been with a missionary that isn't a bean (new missionary). All though, I am still with someone that is working hard on there Japanese, It still feels different, and different is what I was looking for. I am now with none other than the Elder Thurston. It is THE Elder Thurston. None of you have heard of him... oh. Well he is from Colombia. Yeah not even America. He if from South America. Even though he had lived in Utah for the last 10 years... lol. He was born, and lived in Columbia until he was 9 years old, and then they moved to Utah, and as he puts it "They had the pool waiting for me to get baptized right off the plane." He is really cool. He is currently on his 5th transfer. That means he was in the MTC with Elder Pace. They were in the same district, so I have heard lot's of stories. For those of you that know Elder Stone, (Mitchell Stone) who is also out here, he was companions with him in the MTC. He is way chill, and I've loved getting to work with him these past few days, and am looking forward to the rest of the transfer. He has spent his mission so far in 2 area's. His last one was Ebetsu, down near Sapporo, and his first one was in Arcadia California. They had problems with him getting his Visa, so he had to hang out in Cali for 2 transfers. Because of that, he forgot a lot of the Japanese that he learned at the MTC, but he is working to get it back, and is fearless in talking to people. He is a lot of fun.

Elder Vanishi went down to Kushiro (not to far away) to hang out with my old comp Elder Thompson. They should have a good time. Update on some others, Elder Bailey is still hanging out with Elder Santos in Muroran. They are wrecking it over there (this is a good thing), and I'm really proud of him. And then Elder Pace, moved from his area up north, down into the city. He is in an area called Shiroishi (white rock) with 2 elders that I haven't met yet... Yeah I'm getting to that point... anyway he is with Elder's Tamura, and Straghn. One is (mission wise) older, and the other is younger. I think he's still Junior though... Not quite sure how all that works. He killed it up in his old area though (another good thing), so much so, that they decided to send a bean up there with him. My only other companion that is still in the mission, is Elder Birch... dang it... he is now Zone Leader in Moiwa. 

So the cool miracle that occurred this week. On Tuesday, after we had gotten our transfer calls, and after we had finished District Training Meeting, we went out to eat with Elder Tokuzawa, who was going home. We were going to got to a delicious sushi place called Toriton, but it was almost an hour wait, and so we went to some weird random place across the street. While we were sitting there eating, a man comes up to our table, and starts speaking to his daughter who is coming up to him. My thought at this point, was that it was someone Elder Tait had contacted. But Elder Tait was thinking the opposite. Turns out, it is a family of 5. They just returned to Japan from America 2 weeks ago. They were living there for 3 years, while the Dad taught at this school for Japanese children that were going to go back to Japan eventually. His kids are 9, 7, and 4, and they all speak English just like a native speaker would. He told us, that he saw us at Toriton, and was going to come say hey, but then we were gone. He was disappointed, but he saw us walk into the place across the street, and so he drove over, just to walk in and say hi. They came to Eikaiwa (English Class) that night, and then to church just yesterday. We had a lesson with them after church, and now they have baptismal dates. They have been super prepared to receive the gospel, and I'm confident that the prompting to say hi to us was from the spirit. They currently have dates for the 30th of this month. I'm excited to watch them progress. It was such a miracle, and I am so grateful. I look at it, and think, they had been prepared, but their English wasn't good enough to listen to the lessons in English. However the second they got back to Japan God sent them to us. I feel such responsibility. I'm glad that I can be here to take it, and that God trusts me to do it. It's so cool to see all the miracles he sends us everyday. I can't wait for another week full of them. We get to go down to Kushiro this week, and learn from our zone leaders. Then this week we get to see General Conference. Way excited. I love these opportunities to learn from our leaders. 

Challenge for all. I have not yet seen conference, but we did have an interesting lesson last Sunday about penguins. There once was a group of penguins. These penguins all decided to have a big conference. They all walked to the gathering point, and once they were there, they saw 1 penguin come flying in. He flew right into the middle of all of them, and they were all amazed. "teach us how to fly" they said, he then proceeded to show them how to take off, fly, land, etc. They were all able to do it, and had fun flying around together. At the end of the conference, they all began WALKING home. Moral of the story. You have just been to "conference" you have just listened to talks that were prepared by the leaders of the church, whilst praying for revelation for every member of the church both collectively and personally. Don't just through away the things you've learned. You just learned how to fly. Don't be satisfied with walking home. I'll try my best not to either. 

Well I think that about sums up the week.  Thanks to everyone for reading these everyweek, and dealing with some of the annoying things that I may say. I love you all and pray for you every day. I guess we'll see you all soon.