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