Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To The House of the Lord

Dear All,

Growing up I always heard about the stories of peruvian members or some other place who ride the bus for 5 days just to get to the temple, and I always admired them, but I don't know if I really understood. But getting to Japan despite having a temple above our mission home I never actually got to go.The months passed and still no opportunity, and I just wanted to go so bad. If I had been given the opportunity even if I had to travel for a week it would have been worth it! I just love the temple so much! And it built and built but I still had no opportunity to go...

until now!

It was arranged as part of a stake temple trip. We woke up at 2:45am to leave Saijo and get on a bus in Central Hiroshima with the rest of the members that left at 5. Waking up so early and riding a bus I felt a little sick the way down, and we didn't get there till like 9:30 but it was so so so worth it!

It was inspiring seeing youth and all these members (who I'm sure have so so busy lives) give up all this time, give up sleep and money to go down and serve the Lord at the temple of God.

We got to the temple and it was so beautiful! I felt so clean and pure going inside and I felt like I was home! We were able to do two sessions and it was amazing. I also saw members from my first area in Sasebo. What a miracle!

I decided to use this opportunity in the temple to just ponder and receive revelation about what kind of person God wanted me to be and I really felt like I got so much guidance. I caught a bigger vision of how important and how precious a blessing this opportunity to serve the Lord is. I love the temple so much.

On the way back we had hours and hours to just talk with the members. I was sitting in front of two faithful relief society ladies. I talked for hours with them about their conversion experiences, their favorite parts of the book of Mormon and how we can help recent converts, less actives, and our friends to come unto Christ. I learned so much from these faithful sisters!

The work is going so good! We have several really solid progressing investigators, we have been able to get 2 or 3 investigators to church every week and they love it! Two specifically, Yi Song and Yamashita san have baptismal dates they are so so excited about! And another Junior has a testimony of the book of Mormon so so strong, he is just working out his worries about what friends and family will think. But he loves it all so much and believes this is the path he should take in life.

I love teaching these people and helping them feel the spirit, it is so wonderful to see them feeling that joy and light come into their lives. I love being a missionary!

Love you all!
Elder Walton

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seeing the Change

This was a great week! It included among others, meeting a Japanese grandpa who had fought 2.5 years in Russia, getting a ham radio referral from Elder Rees's dad (he talked to him from around the world over ham radio) who became a new investigator, and many other adventures!

For some reason during the week me and Elder Rees didn't feel like we had actually done or taught that much, but then when we looked at how much we actually had we realized that we had actually taught more this week then any week in the past month or two! We (thanks to God) really were doing way well! But sometimes we just don't realize it, He really is doing miracles!
This week we especially just got to see the change in so many people's lives from the Gospel!
Okayama san got baptized on Monday and he was so happy! The other Elders had been teaching him. (though I got to help a few times) Apparently at one point he had a date, but missed church from sleeping in and wasn't going to make it. So the elders went in there thinking they'd set a new date farther in the future because he probably needed some more time to prepare. But then he came to the lesson and was like, "I got these days and these days off from work so I can come to church and then I want to get baptized on this day! Okay?" And he was just so excited to make that covenant! 

Then yesterday right after getting the holy ghost and the priesthood after church our ward mission leader invited him to join Missionary Coordination Meeting and he loved it. He seemed just part of us already. He is only 24 so he could even go on a mission!

We have been seeing so much joy come into people's lives from the gospel. Two investigators specifically Yamashita san and Yi Song especially. Every time we meet with them they are even happier than before because of the change the gospel is making in their lives. It really is bringing them so much light! It is so wonderful to be a part of it!

We are seeing so many small and big miracles everywhere! The greatest is just how the atonement affects and changes lives. We taught Yamashita san the other night about the fall and the atonement, comparing it to a story of a bunch of miners who got trapped in a cave, and were lost in darkness, but then a rescuer climbed into the darkness himself and said "tie yourself to me, I'll pull us both up." In the same way because of the fall we are all in that spiritual darkness, but as we tie ourselves to and trust Christ he pulls us up and we can return to the light! 

The spirit was so strong and it really testified to Yamashita san that it was true.

There are many difficult trials going on here too, some recent converts are struggling, and other difficult thigns. We love and pray for them and do all we can, please pray for the recent converts here that they may be strengthened in Christ. 

But we know through Him all things will be made well. Because He loves us!

And I love you!
Elder Walton

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Elder Rees with a goat
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"Berry-Niku" a combination of berries, vegetables and meat we tried to make....It was interesting.
Also before the baptism we went to Hiroshima Castle with Okayama san (with me) and two kids of a recent convert Mona and Mina who are so adorable!
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Monday, August 11, 2014

The Scholars

This week we have been blessed to be teaching some real Grade A gospel Scholars here! 

We taught a muslim named M___ . He is way cool! His country is in a lot of turmoil right now and he is way sad. He is a strong muslim, but at the same time he is different from all of our other muslim investigators. He is actually trying to study and understand because he is curious and wants to know more, not because he is trying to convert us haha. 

He came to our second lesson with the lesson 1 pamphlet we gave all marked up. He had circled the vocabulary words and wrote all kinds of notes all over and had tons of good questions. He had even looked for and downloaded the arabic book of mormon on the internet. He is way way cool! He has tons of questions, but we still try to keep it under 45 minutes. (Its worth it) and then at the end of the 45 minutes he tells us, "What where did all the time go?!" If we let him he would probably read the scriptures and talk with us for hours on end soaking it all up. 

Our other scripture scholar is the golden Junior. He came to church this week for the first time it was so good! He ate it all up. He told us he wanted a triple combination because he has been reading the book of Mormon (He is probably 1/3 of the way through) and he sees all these footnotes for D&C and Moses and wants to look them up but can't find them. Also apparently he was a minister/pastor when he was 15. He is really religious and spiritual and is loving the restored gospel. We really didn't do anything he just already came super prepared!

Despite a typhoon this weekend yesterday tons of investigators came to church! There were exactly the same number of non members, missionaries, and members there which is probably not something you will find in almost any other area. 

When crazy miracles from God happen like this (This isn't nearly normal, I wish it was though) other missionaries sometimes ask "whoah what did you do?" And I always don't know what to say, because we really didn't do that much. I'm not even trying to be humble, we honestly didn't do anything, but try to be good missionaries and follow the spirit and the Lord was able to do his work through us, and He did crazy miracles. 

Finally a great miracle for Saijo, tonight the other Elder's investigator Okayama san is getting baptized!  He is this quiet 24 year old young man who works at a watch store. He loves fashion and is so excited to make that covenant with God and have the holy ghost in his life! I am so excited for him!

The Lord is doing so many miracles and I'm so happy to be His errand boy, bringing His love and gospel around the world!

Elder Walton 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Round 8!

Dear Loved Ones,

Well miraculously transfer calls came and I'm staying again!

This will be transfer 8 (transfers are 6 weeks) making it turn out to be just about a year. and it will be my 5th with my companion (making it 7.5 months) with him. 

If I stay the whole transfer, I will set the new record for the mission I think, (the last one stayed 8 but left to be in the mission home 2 weeks early) so it's quite astounding even for our mission. But I'm so grateful for it! I remember getting to Saijo and my first companion always telling me he wanted to stay his whole mission here. And I wasn't sure at first if I felt the same, but now I would do it in a heart beat!

I love this place so much! I have had some of the both the bitter painful moments of my life, and also the most joyful moments ever experienced in my life! I have been part of so many miracles performed by the Lord, humbled so many times by his boundless mercy. I've felt His love like never before, and come to know His son, Our savior like I never before have in my whole life. It's amazing. 

So I was pretty happy to stay. 

Now I have at least 6 more weeks, probably only that much more, to give my all to this place. And I will.

This week we have seen so many miracles in the lives of our investigators. For a while here we had many investigators who we were meeting, but not quite at the point where they were really feeling it change their lives. But this week we saw those changes really begin to take place in their lives. I saw myself not as simply a missionary teaching doctrine. But a friend to these people, who loved them and was showing them how the gospel would help them in their daily life.

We were able to help our beloved friend Yi Song see how prayer and the book of Mormon would bring peace to his busy college life and allow him to balance school work and the many things in his life. 

We showed Yamashita san how despite the car accident he got into caused by someone else who wouldn't admit fault, he can let the savior's atonement take away the hate and anger, and replace it with peace, and he can get answers through prayer of what to do. 

And we helped a man burdened with anxiety and stress for the future feel peace as he came to church and understand who christ was and what he could do for them. 

And we boldly warned our friend Yoshiyama of the consequences of following the path he was on, and helped him see the need for change in his life, repentance and to seek the Lord for that help. 

This week I really came to see and feel what our real purpose is. It's to change these lives, the doctrine isn't just true, but it really does help each one of us in our daily lives, helps us with our challenges and fears and brings us peace. And as we begin to trust God and His son, change and follow them, and make covenants and keep them, we are changed, changed to become more than we ever could be before and it is amazing! And I love it so much! 

This week I felt the Lord telling me,

Be First a Friend,
Then a Missionary

Meaning, declare the gospel, not because you are a missionary, but because you love them as your friends and you simply want to help them. Because if we really are true friends. We will share the gospel with all our friends, to help what our friends need in their life. And it will feel so so good. 

Love you all!

Elder Walton

Pictures:Me in my natural nature habitat
Me and Junior our miracle Brazilain