Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in Saijo!

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

I don't have a lot of time so this one will be short. But this week was super amazing! 

We have a lot of investigators with miracles happening and some real progress being seen. Hopefully at least one of them will be able to be baptized by the end of the transfer.

This past week we went to a school as the 8 elders in the Hikari ward. There were 150 kids we played games with and did a presentation on christmas. It was such a great opportunity and the kids loved us and were so happy! We made a tunnel at the end and were giving all of them high hives. It was super fun! I know that when those kids are grown up and missionaries knock on their door they are for sure going to listen to them. 

Also yesterday we had a christmas fireside in our new Saijo church room! It looks beautiful and it was such a successful fireside! We weren't sure how many would come, but we ended up getting like 12 non members there, including investigators english students and others it was super great!

Everyday there are miracles I love it!

Love you all! Elder Walton

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

We had so many awesome miracles this week! 

Remember the guy we visited who went from "no im buddhist" to being full of interest? We were able to go back and teach Morita san and his wife this week and it was so good! We were worried about his wife having interest (we've been having tough time with interested husbands with uninterested wives) but she was sooo dang nice, and she seemed just as interested as he was, and guess what!? They now have a baptismal date! It's is a pretty dang awesome miracle! Finding and teaching families is not super easy here. But God can work so many miracles if we have faith and believe.

And actually on Thursday while we were weekly planning we got a call,
"huh who could this be" we thought.
"Shoots its president Gustafson! What did we do wrong!?" Was our first thought. 
But he told us he had been reading our letters, and while he was reading mine, about how we had fasted and prayed for a family and found Morita san and what a miracle it was, he said he was just so caught up in my letter that he felt like he should call us. And we were able to tell him we taught them again and they have baptismal dates. "Thank you for your hard work elders, this helps me really believe that we can baptize in Japan" 

Now I know this really wasn't anything due to me and Elder Bloomfield, we really were just instruments in Gods hands as he performed a miracle, but it is so cool to be a part of that! I think that is my favorite feeling of being a missionary. That feeling of whether or not people are listening, as you give up your whole soul to God, he uses you to do his work, though me may not be able to do some things, he can do all things and perform so many miracles for his children.

Also it's official that we will have the first Saijo church on the 22nd. Which we will be so cool! We have a whole bunch of people we're planning on bringing including the Morita family. Honestly we'll probably end up with more investigators than members the first week. 

And of course there is our main man Sho. He has had his problems with the commandments. But he is progressing bit by bit, he is following the word of wisdom, and has committed to follow the law of chastity. And though his family and upbringing is pretty athiestic he has slowly transformed the way he thinks and speaks, from that there is no God to that there is. It's kind of funny actually, he'll say he doesn't entirely believe in God, but then he gives some of the most sincere prayers I've heard. More sincere than prayers I've heard by many a member of the church. If all goes well, he will be baptized by Christmas! 

The change to become a member is a huge change for him, but he is such a trooper, and he has tasted how the holy ghost feels and influences his life. I love him so much.

Don't give up when things are hard, I've come to believe that some of the greatest blessings that God gives us, are the ones that come through trials, at least that is what I have learned on my mission so far. And though I know they will hurt, and not be fun, and I'll probably wish that they are over when I get to them haha, at the same time, I look forward to them, because I know how they can bring me to the lord, and refine me to be a better, more loving, more compassionate person than perhaps anything else can. So bring them on. 

Love you all so much! I pray for you everyday!

Elder Walton


We got to go to Miyajima again this week It was so dang gorgeous!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Best Week of Miracles Yet!

Wow was probably the most miracle filled week yet, so I'm going to have to speed through to share them all! 

First off. It's official! We have the keys to the room we will have church in Saijo!!! We probably won't have church there till maybe the 15, but from now on we can use it for lessons and for all sorts of stuff! It's so great! I'm so dang excited!!!!!!!! =D =D

Sho has had his struggles, but he is getting closer and closer to baptism every day. He will probably be baptized in the next two weeks! I'm so excited for him! He's already given up tea, which was pretty hard for him. He doesn't think he has that much faith, but he really truly does!

Also we had three thanksgiving dinners this week. Man am I stuffed! Two of them were with american families in Hiroshima and the third is actually a bit of a thanksgiving miracle. 

So a senior couple here in Hiroshima Zone was thinking a while back, Hey lets get the missionaries at our place for a zone thanksgiving dinner. But then as the zone grew and grew from 18 to now like 40 they realized we needed it at the church. So they went to costco and asked them if they could cook the turkeys in the ovens at costco since the church didn't have room for turkeys. But they said they wouldn't. Undeterred Elder Schroeder wrote a letter to the CEO of Costco essentially saying, There are 38 young men and women serving as volunteers for two years far away from their family, and we just want to give them a thanksgiving dinner, we will still love costco if you can't help, but we would love to just give them a good thanksgiving dinner. So the CEO got that letter and then called the head of the costco here and said, "Give these people everything they need to have a thanksgiving dinner" So we had a thanksgiving dinner entirely paid for by Costco. It was so delicious and it really helped me feel God's love despite being so far away from home.

Another miracle is haven't been able to meet Gary lately, but we ran into him and his wife at the 100 yen store the other day. It was such a random chance, but it allowed us to talk to his wife, (who we havent seen in 3 months and is what is holding him back) and helped us to be able to hopefully get her and them to something where they can feel the members love, so that she will be okay with Gary being baptized. He is so close!

Then on Tuesday night we were housing and we met a man named Morita san. At first he said, " Oh I'm buddhist" "Cool you're buddhist? What do you believe as a buddhist?" we replied. "I actually don't believe anything" (Which is pretty typical of the "buddhists" here. So we both laughed with him. (He's a super cheery guy) Then shared some of our message and he said "Oh Im not really interested) But for some reason I felt impressed to share how before I came to Japan I didn't like curry and wasn't interested in eating it, but now after I tried it I love it. And he was like "Ahhhh now I see haha" "So can we can come back and visit and share our message?" "sure" he said, so we set an appointment to come back thursday night.

Thursday night we went back, and I wasn't sure if he would let us or not, but we came and he let us come into his house, (actually pretty dang rare) and we sat down. He brought out his 1 year old child (so so cute) and we talked and shared the message of the restoration with him. He went from "Oh im not interested" on tuesday, to at the end where he said he was "kyomi bukai" or "full of interest/really interested" That is the one word every Japanese missionary wants to hear! We have been praying and fasting to find a family this month for Saijo. And since that we went from having all single investigators to now, more than half of our investigators or potential ones are now families including two other families we've found in the last two and a half week that might listen. "Ask and ye shall receive knock and it shall be opened unto you"

This gospel is so true and changes the lives of so many! Thank you for all your support! I love you all so much!

Elder Walton

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Week of Miracles in Saijo! II

Dear Loved Ones,

This week has been a week of Miracles!

Last week me and my companion prayed and were really feeling like what Saijo needed most for the work to go forward was a family. We have tons of single college students investigators. But no stable full families. So we prayed and set the goal to find a family to teach by Dec 1. Well not even a week later a 30 year old Mongolian man showed up at our english class and said he had really interested in God and wanted to learn more. So the other Saijo elders went and taught him and his wife and they seem really interested in the Gospel! They are really wonderful people and they gave us tons of fruit because they heard we don't each much because it's expensive.

And another miracles was this week our first investigator this transfer came to church! Sho a chinese college student came to church with us this week. And not only did he come for all 3 hours, but he also came to a dinner appointment with us (an extremely long one) and we taught him while we were at the church waiting for the dinner appointment. All in all it was a 10 hour sunday for him. He is such a champ! He has a baptismal date in December and I think he'll really be able to make it. His only problem is he has a really tough time with the parts in the scriptures that are violent and difficult for people (me included) to understand why they are there such as Nephi killing Laban, Abraham sacrificing Isaac, God being a jealous God vising the iniquities on the children and such. Any good talks or such on that subject if you could find any would be really helpful.

Yet another miracle was yesterday the other Elders taught a 17 year old high school student named Ikeda san. After they met him the first time, Ikeda san called several times wanting to meet again, then when they did he brought a friend too. And yesterday they met again and he brought two different friends, and then he taught them how to pray. They both wanted to get baptized as soon as they could. He is definitely going to become a future missionary! The only possible problem is that we have to get their parents permission to keep teaching them, so please pray that their hearts will be softened for that.

Have I told about our (by our I mean Saijo's, we're basically one big 4 man companionship) Muslim investigator from Iran? We found out a little more about him this week. He is an extremely nice guy. He is currently getting his 2nd PHD in political science. But way back in his youth he was actually in the revolutionary guard and helped overthrow the Shah of Iran, and then fought in the Iran Iraq war. He has seen so much war and death in his life. Of the 28 people that left his village to go to war, he was one of 3 that ever returned. His family still lives in Iran which right now means he can't be baptized, but they are planning on moving to be with him soon. And if he never plans to return to Iran he might be able to be baptized. He is a very sincere seeker of truth.

I love being a missionary so much! There are hard times for sure, life always has though. But it is so great! Press on, keep the faith, and fight the good fight!

Elder Walton

Here are some pictures!

Man fall is so gorgeous up here in Hiroshima Japan.

Classic Japanese kids park.

Also I thought that pig was really adorable so...yeah.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Week of Miracles in Saijo!

Well this week has been an amazing week full of miracles and an awesome p-day!

For P-day we went to Miyajima, one of the most famous places in our mission and really in Japan. (its the place with the giant red gate in the ocean) It was so fun! We took a ferry to get to the island, and I felt like I was in spirited away entering the spirit world. Miyajima is a super old island with tons of really awesome shrines. It also is full of very domesticated deer that will come up to you, let you pet them, and then try to steal your food. Actually one headbutted me when I wasnt looking. It was quite a surprise! I will throw some pictures on so you can enjoy them too!

Also while we were heading back we found this place where you could have fish eat your feet for 10 min if you payed 5 dollars. So of course we did it. They are actually called doctor fish and they eat the dead skin off your feet and do a lot of good my feet felt so smooth and good afterward. It felt so weird and ticklish during it though, and looked hilarious with all these little fish eating at my feet, but it felt so good! It was such an interesting experience haha!

But the spiritual aspect of this week has been even better! We got 4 new investigators. One of which named Kojima san was really interested and we have a return appointment with. We also taught Sho san, a chinese college student. He is super interesting and asks the craziest questions (he asked us if we could read dreams the other day) but he is really interested and prays and reads the Book of Mormon everyday.

Gary is another chinese college student, and if it werent for his wife he would probably be baptized now. He has so much faith and desire for good, but his wife is really concerned about a lot of things right now, and doesnt think he should be joining a new religion. But he will be able to be baptized someday I know!

And there are several other investigators here! Its amazing how the work is exploding!

The best part is that in a few days we may get a place to have church here in Saijo next month! Its so hard to get investigators to church in Hiroshima, but if we had it here, the work could really explode! Pray that we can for us please!

This week has been filled with miracles too full too count! I felt so truly through the power of prayer God do miracles. And I know that if we rely on him he can heal anything, whether its a body, a soul, a heart, a family, a marriage, a companionship.

I love you all!

Elder Walton

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week 2 in Saijo!

It's been a great week here in Saijo! All the leaves are turning and it's so so gorgeous. I cant help but be incredible grateful to be here. I was really hoping Id be somewhere north for the fall to see how gorgeous Japan is in the fall, and wow!
Some fun things that happened this week, we had a stake barbeque where we grilled up all sorts of delicious meats ourselves (really they were so so good) and had rice and other delicous foods and then played games, it was super fun! Also we wanted to meet an investigator so we ended up meeting him at this bible study. It was this group of christians who meet every friday to study the bible. It was really interesting being there. It was composed of two phillipian girls, a bunch of black people from various countries in africa, and one Japanese man playing the guitar called Farmer John. We sang for half an hour, and read the bible. I learned some cool things from them, but one thing I really learned and appreciated is how the Book of Mormon really helps us understand the bible. There were so many things they werent entirely sure about but the Book of Mormon answers perfectly!
Also we met with several investigators this week!
Gary is a chinese man (he speaks really good english) who has so much faith. He reads the Book of Mormon and prays everyday and he would probably be baptized now if it weren't that his wife wants him to be focused on work and school and not religion. But he committed to talk to his wife, and so doing we hope his wifes heart will soften. Gary is the coolest guy every!
Then there is Rueben (the investigator we met at the bible study) and he is from Sierra Leone studying peacebuilding at the university. He has a strong christian background and is so prepared. He just needs to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and everything else will fall into place.
And then we have Takamatsu who is our only real Japanese investigator (we teach so much in english) He is addicted to video games and smoking, but he wants to change his life. Hopefully we can help him make that change.
Saijo is such an amazing place I feel so humbled to be here. The lord is performing miracles here everyday.
Love you all so much!
Elder Walton

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Off to New Places

Hello Everyone!

Well something sad and happy happened this past week. After only 6 glorious weeks in Sasebo, I got transferred. I am almost on the other side of the mission, in the north most zone in Saijo! It was sad to go, but its going to be so great here! As my bus pulled away from Saijo a little 9 year old member named Yumeko (dreamchild) ran after my bus smiling and waving. I teared up.

Sajio is so great though! Its about a 30 min train ride just outside of Hiroshima. Which is actually where we go to church! Saijo is a town probably somewhere around the size of Provo. And it too has a really quite large University. The university has international students from allll over. So the investigators of Saijo include an iranian, a man from Sierra Leone, several chinese, several Japanese, and now one we found yesterday a man from Sri Lanka. We teach some of them in English and Some in Japanese so that`s exciting!

We are in a 4 man. My new companion is Elder Bloomfield from Texas! He has actually only been on his mission for 3 months (6 more weeks than me!). So between us we have not a whole lot of Japanese, but we have a lot of faith! The other elders are Elder Trane whos a really great missionary on his last transfer, and Elder Henderson who just got here from the MTC. They are both awesome missionaries and both ridiculously tall as is Elder Bloomfield. Im the only missionary that doesnt hit his head (in our tiny apartment) on a regular basis haha.

Saijo does actually not have a branch right now. There are only about 5 or so active members. But the Lord and the mission president really want a branch here. 2 months ago there were only 2 missionaries here. Then in one transfer it became 8! We have 4 elders, 2 sisters, and a senior couple. Saijo is on fire right now. It had two baptisms last transfer and it has so many investigators. Its awesome here!

Also today for P-day we went to the Hiroshima peace park (the memorial of where the atom bomb fell) I will probably send some pictures next week of it. But it was a really beautiful and reflective, but sad place. Im glad I got a chance to go to it.

Fight hard, Press on and Keep the Faith. Love you!

Elder Walton

Friday, October 11, 2013

Last Week of the Transfer!

Well I've now finished one transfer (6 weeks) Whoah!!
This week has been of week of Miracles!

This Sunday we were in the church when we got a call from one of our potential investigators and he said basically, "Hey I'm here outside the church." Which we were not expecting. So we took him to the end of sacrament meeting, taught him and he got to meet the entire ward council! It was so great! It was our first investigator at church so that was pretty exciting!

We also met another really great guy this week, but unfortunately he leaves today to go back on a ship (he's in the military) today. :( Literally the top 3 people we've met who have seemed most likely to listen and want to join the church have all been in the Japanese military and almost all of them have been there for just a short time and then leaving so we couldn't teach them. It's like "arrrrggh! You're so perfect, but this is your one day of leave in Sasebo. Whhhhyyy?"

Also this week me and Elder Rees (Another fresh newbie) did splits with each other here in Sasebo while our trainers went to Saga to do splits with elders there. Just so you realize it's two elders who have both only been here for a month doing splits together. But it was sooo fun! We talked to a ton of people (including one random basketball coach who loves the Utah Jazz even though he's never been to Utah) and we had so much fun! We also bought and ate some food we didn't know what it was from a street vendor. It was next to some fried brains. Yeah we probably shouldn't have eaten it. Turns out later it was fried squid so it wasn't too crazy haha.

This week we've been so blessed with miracles of meeting and finding people and just love in general. We somehow always manage to catch our busses just barely on time. And we got so much food this week from members (and a HUGE bag of frozen meat from Elder Kameta's mom. Yeah that probably wouldn't work from the states) it's a miracle.

Oh and yeah there's a typhoon coming today, but don't worry we'll be fine. :)

Love you all!
Elder Walton

-Yeah we're a little addicted to Black Thunders....

-A missionary caught in his natural habitat.

-A hilarious poster we found on a store window haha.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My First Last Week

Hello Everyone!

Well it's my first last week of the transfer. It's so crazy how fast time flies! Here are some of the things we did this week:

-Had interviews from the Mission president and training from the AP's. This was great because we'd previously only had like 6 words with the mission president because of the crazy circumstances of our arrival in Japan.

-We met 4 awesome people on the street at the beginning of the week who all gave us their phone numbers so we could contact them again, (it's usually quite hard to get phone numbers) one was an american named Ken that I could actually talk to! Actually since my trainer is Japanese and has never really shared the gospel in english before I did almost all the talking, It was so great to be able to share the gospel in a language I spoke!

-And so cool was yesterday we went and had dinner with a Japanese family called the Yasunaga's and his conversion story blew my mind away! Way back when (like 55 years ago) he was a young college student preparing to be a policeman, and his job took him to Fukuoka. He went to the Zoo and then across the street he saw a church and went to check it out. It turned out to be the Fukuoka LDS branch building (the only branch in all Kyushu at that time, which now has 6 stakes) But the building was locked up tight. So he looked in the glass of the building  and inside he saw a picture of Joseph Smith with his testimony. And when he saw that he said, "Now this is the true church." And it took him a while, but a few years later he found the church again and he was baptized by Brother Hara (Who was the first member in Sasebo and has been branch president like 4 times) It helped me to see that there really are people who are so ready for the gospel out there. We just have to find them! Sometimes it's hard to remember that, when we talk to people all day and they don't really want to listen. But I know they're out there, and I'm going to find them!

Elder Walton

Living and Loving

Well it's been a great week here in Japan!

Here's some of the things we've done this week.

Black Thunder Dendo (Dendo=Missionary Work) There's this chocolate called black thunder that is ridiculously delicious (I'm so addicted) it's like little chunks of oreo and some other stuff covered in chocolate in bar form. We've been using them in street contacting lately, basically go up to people and say, Have you ever hard black thunder? I know it's so good right! I love it! If you had a friend who hadn't had it before how would you describe it's taste to them? And usually they say something like "I'd have them eat it!" Yeah! Because you can't know how good it is without eating it right? Well we have another really wonderful thing that you can't know how good it is without trying it. It's called the Book of Mormon!" This actually has been pretty effective at getting people interested and it makes street contacting so fun! Usually at the end whether they want to listen or not we give them a black thunder and go away friends so it's great!

Also this week we went to a barbeque with the military branch at Saikin park, it was sooo beautiful and a huge park too! We did splits with the zone leaders, I gave away an english book of mormon! And we had dinner with two Japanese families with non members there so that was great!

Sometimes people have this idea that Japanese members are too shy to do member missionary work, or don't have a missionary passion in them. But here in Sasebo I see the opposite as being true. We visited the Hamaguchi family this week. (the father is the branch president) And I don't know if I've ever seen a family with as much dendo fire as them. His wife talked to us for so long about how we can get nonmembers and members meeting each other and interested in the gospel. Their son told us how he wants to invite his friend. And basically every sunday the branch president gets up and bears this powerful testimony that inspires me despite my inability to understand it on how important missionary work is. And also there's this young girl about 17 I think, named Satsuki. And I'm pretty sure she's done more member missionary work in the month I've been here than my whole life. And the area book is full of people she referred to the missionaries. She's amazing, she wants to serve a mission to, she'll be such a great missionary!

I love being a missionary! At first it was hard and sometimes hard to love being here. But I can feel how the power of the atonement has wrought a change in my heart, and has filled my heart with love for these people, even when they reject us my heart reaches out in love to them. That change didn't happen because of me or anything I did. I know it was through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

This church is true! Live and love it!

Love you all!
Elder Walton


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Week 3 in Sasebo!

This week was a week of miracles!

We have our first real investigator (me and my companion were 2 new elders in sasebo so we had to start from scratch) His name is Kiyoshi. He is in his 60s and lives alone. He is divorced and has some kids. He feels a lot of pain from mistakes and guilt in the past, but we can feel he wants to change so much. He has a great smile and he likes to give us delicious milk. He is so great! 

We also had one time where we were streeting and we met this really buff Japanese guy and started talking to him. He didn't seem especially interested in the Gospel, but he was really impressed with missionaries, and really respected them, so much so that he walked us down the street and bought us soda's from the vending machine. He was so nice!

They don't always want to hear about the gospel, but the people here are so nice to us. I think I've only gotten the door slammed on us like once or twice the whole time we've been here. 

And probably the coolest miracle this week was when we had called a young woman who was a former investigator. She had seen the Salt Lake temple and gone to english class a little bit. She told us we could meet at the church Saturday night. But then on friday she called us and told us she got off work early so we went down to the church to meet her. And guess who else was there? Every single young woman her same age from the branch. It was so awesome! We introduced her to all of them, and now she knows all the young women her age in the branch!

I started back up going running every morning with Rees Choro. At first I thought people might be weirded out by my barefoot running, but they were all super nice exchanging "Ohayo Gozaimasu!"'s and smiles while we passed each other!

I love this place so much! This truly is the work of the Lord. It's hard, but it's so so worth it! Love you all!

Elder Walton

Oh also did I mention one of our neighbors is a castle? Yeah you wish your neighbor was a castle, here's a picture of it!

My first dinner in a Japanese home! The Yoshimura family were so nice! And their food was so so delicious!

And these others are beautiful Sasebo from this awesome view a member took us too. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Week 2

Hello Everyone!

I'm starting to get the hang of it....kind of. It's really hard to understand the Japanese of some of the people here. Frequently we'll talk to someone and then when we leave I'll ask my native Japanese trainer what they said, and he'll say "I didn't understand a word they said." So that tells you a bit about how thick some of the dialects people speak with here....but I'm actually starting to understand the members a decent amount so that's great!

In the Book of Moses there's that part where Enoch gets called by God to preach the Gospel and he's like, "I'm but a lad and all the people hate me and I'm slow of speech." I honestly never felt like that while in the MTC. I was like sure missionary work is hard, but I can do it! And then when I got here in the field, I understood EXACTLY what Enoch was talking about. I don't think I've ever been humbled my whole life. But it really has forced me to rely on God in a way I don't think I ever have in my whole life so that's a blessing.

I love the members here! We have both an american military branch and a Nihonjin branch so I get to actually speak a language I know while doing missionary work sometimes! Yay! We actually have dinner tonight with the American Branch president so that's great! They really are some astounding branches. I learn new things every sunday with both of them. (We get to have 8 hours of church every sunday back to back. It's actually pretty awesome! But my blood flow isn't happy by the end haha."

One awesome member is named Brother Nakagawauchi. He's blind and mostly deaf and like 70 years old (he has a hearing aid though) every week the missionaries go visit him, because he's actually pretty lonely. The first time we went to visit him we walk up to his house and we just hear this ukele being played inside. And we walk in and here's this boss old Japanese grandpa strumming away on his ukelele. It was so awesome! And on Sunday he blessed the sacrament. He did it like he was calling down thunder from the heavens in this booming Japanese voice. It was so cool!

Also one member from the American branch named brother Graham took us fench/sword fighting for p-day (don't worry it was quite safe) we got all suited up in armor and had sword duels like pirates and a few big battles. It was awesome! I'll have to get some pictures next time!

Sometimes things are so hard I'm not sure what to do. But through relying on God I've always made it through to the sunshine on the end. Just keep praying!

Love you all!
Elder Walton

Monday, September 2, 2013

My First Few Days!

Hello Everyone!

I am now indeed in Japan. And the area I'm in (Sasebo) is about an hour and half away from Nagasaki (it's in the nagasaki zone) and I'm pretty sure when Adam and Eve were taken from the Garden of Eden it was moved to Sasebo. Everytime we take through the countryside I basically die from how beautiful it is. There are all these rolling hills that are so green they are basically just giant bushes, and then in each valley there's all these beautiful Japanese style houses with gorgeous rice fields around them. It's so crazy awesome!

The first few days here were pretty hard. Let me tell you, walking around miles looking for a bike, with 3 and a half hours of sleep and having forgotten to bring water was not quite what I was expecting when I got to Japan. Also I'm not sure I thought about the natural rejection that comes from being a missionary. So it was really tough. But through it I really learned to rely on the Lord. Because I knew there wasn't anyway I was getting through those days without his help. 

But after those two days It's been so great! I really do love the people here! Even though there are those people that won't even talk to us. There's also people here who despite not wanting to hear our message, still give us a smile and say (gambatte kudasai!) which means basically "good luck!" And the members here are so amazing! We had a district conference yesterday, and really the faith of the members here brought tears to my eyes a few times. It's amazing! It provides such a reason for why I'm here. Why I'm tracting through what feels like a waterfall and still ending up drenched from my own sweat even with a raincoat. 

Me and my companion Elder Kameta (who is really an awesome missionary) are both new in this area (Sasebo previously only had two elders) so we don't have any investigators yet. But we do have one that has several miracles attached to them which I really want to share!

At the end of our second day we decided to go housing, the only thing is it was kind of dark and really POURING rain. It was a wicked storm with thunder and everything. But we threw on our raincoats and went out, (in turned out dendo (missionary work) in the rain was to me the funnest thing ever) but anyways, we're our doing dendo and not having much success when I realize, "hey we never actually prayed" so we went right there and prayed. We continued onward.

Now we really wanted to find a nice big apartment building, but most of them have locks at the bottom so we can't get in. 5 min after we prayed I saw a massive one and said, "let's go there!" And so we went. And finally we found someone who wanted to listen! We taught her about the Book of Mormon and gave her one, and she said she likes reading books so she'd read it. It was great! So we did a little more and then went home. Which was a miracle we found our way back, because we were so dang lost that whole time. (The streets where we live are crazy and the address system is impossible. It's a little difficult haha) But we got back home and we were like, "shoot! We have no idea where that apartment building is! Or even which apartment she was in!" And we were mad at ourselves for not remembering. 

The next day we decided to go visit a member. We went down and after 10 minutes of searching and asking actually found which house was hers (again the addresses are kind of really difficult) But she wasn't home. So we looked down the street and said, hey let's doing some contacting down there. We walked down 2 blocks and lo and behold right in front of us was that very same apartment building from yesterday! We had had no idea where we were so it was quite a surprise. But we still had no idea which of all of them were hers. 

So we started walking up and just stopped on one of the floors. We were going to see if we could just find the right horizontal one and then try all the floors. So we find one we think might be it and we knock. Sure enough there she was! We were so surprised we weren't quite sure what to say! She said she hadn't read the book of Mormon yet, but was still planning on it. And we gave her a pamphlet and headed out, but this time we made sure we knew where it was. It was really a testimony that God really is leading us and helping us, because there isn't anyway in the crazy streets of Sasebo we could have done that on our own! 

Thanks for all your support everyone! Love you!

Elder Walton

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Off I Go!

Well off I go!

Monday morning at the wonderful time of 2:30 AM we leave the MTC and begin our long journey to the SLC airport, then to Dallas, then to Tokyo, and finally to Fukuoka arriving who knows when haha. But I'm so excited! I really already love the Japanese people so much! One of my favorite things to do here in the MTC is talking to the missionaries from Japan! They are so awesome! I probably won't have one as my trainer, but hopefully I'll have a couple throughout my mission!

Also we finally got to go to the temple this last week and tomorrow so that's been so wonderful after a long 6 week time when it was closed. It's a great way to prepare us for this final journey ahead of us.

This past week has been so great and just sort of flew by! We're all really going to miss our sensei's and also teaching our investigators. We all grew to love them so much. And that last lesson was so sad for us. But I'm sure we'll have to do the same thing in the field.

Also last Sunday I got asked to give a talk (which they inform you of during the sacrament meeting) but it was actually so fun!! I was a little nervous, but I had prepared a scripture and had an experience. And I didn't worry about writing down my words, just sharing an experience. It was amazing how after only two months I could walk up and comfortably speak in another language. It was definitely a miracle.

I'm excited to let you know about my first week in Japan!

Love you all!
Elder Walton

Sunday, August 18, 2013

One Week More!

Well I head out in just about a week! We got our flight plans yesterday. Everyone was really excited, and I mean I was. But it really wasn't a huge deal to me. I'm way more excited to go to the temple tomorrow, since it's been closed for 6 weeks. (Ironic how the longest time thus far since I've been to the temple since being endowed has been in the MTC.) 

But I really am so excited to go! It's going to be so great to teach and see and talk to real Japanese people everyday! But I actually don't really feel like I have any problem being trunky. It's probably partly that's only been 9 weeks. But I've learned to just enjoy wherever you are. In President Monson's words to enjoy the journey.  I have actually come to love the MTC more and more the longer I've been here. And I just love Provo it in general. It'll be a little sad when I won't be able to look up and see the majestic mountains of my home anymore. But my excitement to go to Japan far outweighs that!

One thing I didn't really realize till now is how different the way the MTC teaches now than it used to even a year or so ago. I've been writing like they've always done it this way, so that might have been a little confusing. But I really LOVE how they teach and what their focus is here.

Basically the MTC's teaching focus is all about our "progressing investigators" which are really our sensei's acting as investigators. But they aren't just acting as some role. They're being real people who they know to the core. So we may be teaching people acting, but we learn to really love and pray for the real people. 

Everything in our learning is centered around these investigators. We teach them around twice a week, and check up on them on other days. We pray for them and seek and answers to their questions. We watch their progress and invite them to make commitments. We study our language for them specifically. It's amazing how this really excels our learning, and helps us learn how to stop focusing about ourselves, to stop focusing on even becoming better missionaries. Because that's not our purpose. Our purpose to help people come to Christ. And everything else, learning the language, improving teaching etc...goes towards that purpose. It truly is inspired. 

Also this week our first (and probably last) apostle came and spoke at the MTC. It was Elder Scott and he talked about personal prayer. I learned so much about how to just have a deep sincere conversation in personal prayer. It was so great! Even before he began speaking I could feel so powerfully that he truly was called by God. It was so clear that he loved us so much. General conference is great! But there's something different about being a missionary and being there live with them. 

I used to have trouble thinking of what to write in my journal. As the weeks went on doing the same things I felt there was nothing to say, and would write only a few sentences or two. But then something one of our sensei's said and something Elder Eyring once said struck a chord in me. They talked about writing every night about the way you've seen God's hand in your life blessing you or a loved one, about looking for miracles everyday and writing them down. I decided to try and it and man! What a difference it has made! Where before I'd write a single paragraph, now every night it seems I'm filling an entire page or two or three with the miracles I'd seen that day. 

Here's just one of the miracles I've seen, it's a small one. But it's a miracle nonetheless. We were thinking of what to teach to one of our investigators, Ryan. And we felt like we should just read the Book of Mormon with him and talk about Lehi's vision of the tree of life and what it means. So we got a picture ready, and read about it in the Japanese BOM. Then we went to our lesson, and when we asked him about his Book of Mormon reading he said he had read about Lehi's vision, but he didn't understand it. We were taken back with how it was exactly what we had planned. God is definitely guiding us as missionaries, even here in the MTC. It's so amazing. I love being a missionary!

I love all of you!

Elder Walton

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Final Stretch

So this week is my final stretch in the MTC. We are now the oldest group of Japanese missionaries here, (called Daisempai) so we're pretty cool I guess....haha. I made a goal for the rest of the time in the MTC to almost never speak in english, and to only speak in Japanese with maybe a few english words thrown in if I don't know them. I've got a whole two weeks left and I know if I really push I can make a whole lot of progress so wish me luck!

Also this past week I've been trying to really constantly be grateful, to have a prayer of gratitude in my heart throughout the day. And man what a difference it has made! It's brought me so much joy! And apparently from my smiles lots of other people have been uplifted, so I'm really glad I've been able to help someway. I'm really gonna try to work on that and make it not just a one week thing, but a deep character trait. I think with it and the joy and smile it brings I'll really be able to help people in Japan!

Our district got to skype member Japanese people and just share lessons to them as members this week and it was really fun! Though our investigator was actually in Sandy Utah unlike most of them that were actually in Japan. It's okay though because she was so great! I loved sharing beloved parts of the gospel with others!

I've also been really feasting and learning so much as I've studied the scriptures (currently in Matt 17) searching to understand about the character of Christ. I've been writing what I know in a nice bound journal specifically for insights into the character of Christ and I've already filled around 20 pages! I thought I understood who Christ was before, but I'm really coming to a deeper understanding of who he is. Of his humility, his love for people over things of the earth, his will and his dedication to his purpose. It's really been an inpsiring adventure and I've learned so much! Hopefully I'll be able to take these insights and help myself become more like Christ.

Also I've really come to appreciate and understand deeper how the Atonement of Jesus Christ connects to everything in the gospel. The past few lessons we've had despite being about different things have almost all drew from or to the Atonement of Christ. For example the other day we had a lesson where we were teaching investigators who at one point through a curveball at us we weren't expecting. At first we went kind of into flustered fire control mode speeding along at what we thought we should do and the lesson starting falling apart. But after saying a prayer in my heart and trying to listen to the spirit I felt that we should really teach about the atonement of Christ. And as we did, the connections were made clear, and the whole message drew back together, the spirit was there and hearts were touched. The atonement of Christ is EVERYWHERE. Throughout the Book of Mormon and life, throughtout every one of our trials and difficulties, if we seek to partake of the fruit of the tree in Lehi's dream, the love of God, or the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be healed.

Love you all,
Elder Walton

Week 6? I'm not really sure...

Hi all!

This week we had one really not so great lesson where me and my companion were not super unified and then we had several really amazing ones, after we took what we learned and fixed it.

Our most amazing lesson was with a new "investigator" named Ryan Watanabe. Now I know they're our teachers roleplaying and not real investigators, but having been one of those roleplaying investigators many times i know that the spirit doesn't roleplay, and when you do it you only do what you feel like you should/would do.

Anyways it was an an amazing where basically all we talked about was his life and circumstances, a little about the Book of Mormon and basically all about God's love. We've been trying to get better at inviting people to commit to baptism earlier, even in the first lesson. So after explaining a little about what baptism is, and especially since the spirit was so strong in that lesson we invited him to baptism and even (following a prompting from the spirit) invited him to prepare for baptism on a specific date and he said yes! We had never imagined before getting a baptisimal commitment with a specific date in the first lesson, but after it made so much sense why that was so good. To give them something they're working towards and understanding where we want to help them come to.

Funny story about that though. So I'm really not that good with dates and in the lesson I had to do some quick calculating to figure out whenSeptember 2 was, so I said it was the 8 month and 2 day. Which was the day after we first met with him. Obviously he was a little confused, but after really my mistake I quickly fixed it to the 9 month and 2 day haha. So it was all good.

But it really was such a powerful lesson, where we tried our best to invite the spirit through testimony, scripture, personal experiences, and teaching to his needs, and because of that the spirit came and did the rest. Having been an investigator I know he wouldn't have committed to baptism if he hadn't felt the spirit really strongly.

The past week almost all my district has been a little sick with sore throats and coughs and such, including me the past few days, but it's not too bad and I'm getting better so that's good!

The food though is getting a little tiring though. It's that it's bad at all by no means. It's just with the same things every week and the slightly less appetite missionaries feel makes it a little harder. I find fun ways to mix it up so it's all good.

The church is true and the Book of Mormon really is the word of God! Pray and do good stuff! I'm praying for you all!

Love you all!

-Elder Walton

Week 4!

Dear Loved Ones,

So I'll tell a funny story. We have a sensei named Seito Sensei (he's native Japanese) and the other day we made the connection that his dad is "Seito Bishoppu" one of the first people you see on our language learning software. (That kind of blew our minds) Anyways we did TRC (where we teach volunteer members as themselves) and guess who was there? Seito Bishoppu and his wife! Our sensei's parents! After seeing their funny adorable family interactions our sensei told my companion and me that we would teach his father. Excited and nervous to teach "Seito Bishoppu" We trecked in.

Unfortunately although we knew he was supposed to be himself as a member, he though he was supposed to be an investigator. What followed was a lesson full of confusion and being taught how we needed to teach prayer more simply to Japanese people who didn't understand prayer. And also he was a native japanese speaker who spoke really fast so that was kind of hard too haha. Anyways our sensei was watching us through a camera and apparently (we heard through some other missionaries) went up to his mom and exclaimed, "Mom! Dad's gone rogue!" in english and then started talking fast in Japanese. Ha! Anyways after the lesson we had a good laugh about it. It's always good to be on the same page with investigators you're teaching and members who come to teach with you.

Also this week we watched an MTC devotional (from the past) by Elder Bednar called "The Character of Christ" It was soo goood! It sent me on a quest to try harder to study and understand the true character of Christ so that I can try better to be like Him.

I'm frequently surprised at how powerful the things that PMG and the MTC teachers teach. At first you hear or read them and think, "Oh that's nice." But then when you actually do them you realize that in every line there is so much power. That's kind of how the scriptures are too a lot of the time. So you future missionaries, pay close attention to everything PMG and your teachers teach you! There's is so much power in them that you won't come to realize till you apply them in your life.

Also we passed our halfway or "hump" day at the MTC on Friday. It's crazy how fast time flies! Last night I had a dream where my two year mission flew by in a matter of minutes and I was already home! I was glad when I woke up that I still basically have all of it left to enjoy.

Love you all and hope you are doing well!!!

-Elder Walton

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Almost A Month Now!

Hi all!

So this week we got new kohai (new Japanese missionaries) so now I'm basically a veteran...ha! But I really do love them a ton! I just have this inner desire to look out for and help them. I think it comes from my days of being on band council and looking out for freshmen. And despite being basically the same age they all look so much younger to me. Though actually a lot of them are fresh out of high school so maybe that's why.

It's crazy how much my japanese has come in 3 weeks! I go to lessons and then words come out surprisingly freely. Comparing to what I knew 3 weeks ago I never would have expected to learn so much Japanese so fast.

One thing I learned over the past few weeks is that even though you might have a desire to only study or focus on the language, the language really is no the most important thing. Having the spirit and bringing the spirit in a lessons makes so much more of a difference than that much language would. I've learned a lot about why that is so important.

I'm really starting to grow ito loving being a missionary. Understanding more and more about what it means to be a missionary and I love it! Last week we had a lesson and we tried really hard to have the spirit and follow while we prepared the lesson and while we taught. We ended up following it to do a lot of things we wouldn't of thought of without it. It ended up being our best lesson every. I loved it and it reminded me why I'm a missionary and why I'm out here.

Love and miss you all!

Elder Walton

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A note from Patrick

Hey all!  I asked Nick if he'd like this and he does, so if you comment on any of his blog posts, I'll forward them to Nick.

Going on 3 weeks!

Hello Everyone!
I hope you've been getting my emails now that I realized I should actually push the send button...ha!
It's crazy how fast two and a half weeks have flown by! This next wednesday a new batch of Japanese Missionaries (They only come in every 3 weeks) come in so we'll be no longer the "Kohai" or the newest Japanese missionaries and we'll become "Sempai" the second oldest group! The older groups of missionaries always seem like they're 20 or 21 despite the fact that we're all basically the same age. I'm so waku waku! (excited!)
The Japanese is actually coming along pretty fast! I'm frequently suprised by what I can say and the sentences that issue forth from my mouth. The gift of tongues is definitely real! But it does take a lot of work. Sometimes I envy the english missionaries a little bit, but I am really grateful that I get this opportunity and it also really helps me focus on the simple important truths rather than bombarding them with the less important.
I definitely understand why the brethren make sure the missionaries have P-day. Yesterday I could feel the weariness and some of the stress that had built up over the week and I was just a little plain old cooky. So it's good that today we get to relax so we can work hard the rest of the week.
My district is very personal and closely connected. There are some nights where we all just go to bed feeling like our hearts have been stripped away of our walls and are connected. I have a wonderful district.
The other day during personal exercise me and another Elder in my district went running around the MTC. At first I was afraid of running barefoot because despite the fact that there's no rules about it, I realize that some people are a bit pharasiacal (like a pharisee) So I always want to be careful that my unorthodox ways don't offend anyone. But I decided I to actually run barefoot again and it was so worth it!! My feet felt so free after being in shoes almost all the time.
It's amazing how much more focused you can be and how much you can get done without all the distractions there are out there in the world. I was never able to get so much done so fast at BYU. Thinking about all I've learned in the past few weeks it's amazing.
I've especially learned tons about listening and following the spirit. We even had a devotional entirely about it. It was great!
I love you all and hope you are doing great!
Elder Walton

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 1: Love the MTC!

Hello Everyone!!!
So it's been a week and half here in the MTC, crazy!!! I love how the MTC really focuses you on your purpose. There are so many things I haven't had to think or worry about here and it's so great. The only thing I have to worry about is teaching the gospel....oh and learning Japanese. But that part is actually coming along quite well! In just this week and half I've picked up tonsss of grammer and vocab. I still have a lot more to go, but I've received lots of blessings when it comes to learning Japanese.
Sometimes it gets a little stuffy and hot in our classroom with 14 missionaries cramped in a tiny room, but it's great. :) Last night there was rain and lighting and thunder and we enjoyed it so much we just stood outside for 15 min during some free time enjoying how beautiful and wonderful it was. I honestly enjoyed it a lot more than the fireworks haha.
I love being surrounded with so many wonderful missionaries with the same purpose as me. I learn so much from all of them.
We had a devotional on Tuesday and then after a district devotional review. Apprently almost all the elders in my district are much more weepy than I am, it almost made me feel bad I wasn't haha. But people are different, and that's one thing I love about the gospel. That everyone is different, but to Heavenly Father we are all important and all just as valued.
If any of you want to write me some letters or send me something while I'm in the MTC that would be great. I've gotten one from my mission president and one from someone in our Stake I don't know haha! My address is on the blog if you need.
But yeah things are going great! Since the temple is closed we have so much time this P-day. Way more than we know what to do with haha. We'll find good uses for it though.
Love you all!

Walton Choro