Thursday, July 16, 2015

The End

Well, this is it. There and back again, a missionary tale by Elder Walton.

I have been filled with so many emotions the past few days. People ask
if I'm excited to go home, but I can't really describe the different
emotions that are swirling around in my heart. The best I can say is
mixed feelings. This is my journal entry from 3 days ago.

"It is starting to hit me hard how sad it is that I am leaving Japan.
Last night as I began to pray, the emotion overwhelmed me and I curled
up and just silently cried for probably 10, 15 min at the love I felt
for the people of Japan and how sad I am that I am leaving. These
people here have become so dear to my heart. They have taught me so
much and so many times helped me feel so much love. Despite being a
complete stranger so many of them have shown so much love to me, been
willing to invite me into their home or their doorstep, or given me
fruit or praise or kindness. These people love peace and goodness and
they are determined to help those around them, they are so incredibly
kind and I love them so much with all my heart."

I am so happy to see my beloved family, but so incredibly sad to leave
his place of my heart. It has become so incredibly precious to me.
Truly to me it has become holy ground.

I have learned so much here, I have learned that Heavenly Father truly
lives and loves people no matter what country they live in, what
language they speak, or what age they are. They are his children and
each one of them has so much value to Him.

I have learned that Christ truly is the Savior of each of those
children. He lives. And I have watched time and time again that as
people turn to Him, like the Nephites of old they are healed, every
last one.

And I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is an amazingly
powerful testimony of Christ. I testify that Joseph smith was a true
prophet and that this is the restored church of God, and it will fill
the whole earth.

I have so much left in my life to learn, and I still have so many 
weaknesses and inadequacies within me. But I am more grateful than I
can ever find words to express for these two years that I could come to
 know these precious truths and change so much more to be like and 
closer to my Savior.

Love you all,

I'm excited to see you soon.

A Missionary Forever
Elder Walton

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Monday, June 15, 2015

One more year?

Well I don't have a lot of time left in the mission, but I'm definitely not going to slow down and let my faith cool. I'm going to end burning like a bonfire.

Literally. This next week in Okinawa along with super high humidity,
the low is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, THE LOW. Ha!

But that's okay! I wouldn't have it any other way than giving my all
despite fierce winds or hot sun and humidity and I'm going to love it!

Yesterday was a wonderful day of feeling the true joy of missionary
work and being an instrument in the Lords hands.

It started out with some rough setbacks though, this next week Mitsuru
was supposed to be baptized, so he had his interview on Saturday. He
was all ready, but then at the end of the interview he told the
interviewer that he wants to push it back and that he had some new
worries. So we were a little disappointed considering a week earlier
he said he wanted to have the blessings of baptism as soon as
possible. But we decided that an interview with the bishop would help
smooth out some of his concerns. So we set that all up for after
sacrament meeting and Mitsuru agreed.

But unfortunately right after sacrament meeting, Mitsuru again said he
had to go right after sacrament meeting and couldn't do the interview
(we had just taught him that week about coming to all 3 hours) and so
we had to let him leave right after the meeting.

The next few hours I was honestly pretty frustrated. It was like all
these things we were trying to teach and help him were just going in
one ear and out the other. I was down and disappointed, so I decided
to take a few moments after church and just pray and read some Book of
Mormon. While I did I felt Heavenly Father explaining lovingly to me
again what he had taught me before, that this work wasn't mine, that
it was his and that he would do it, so I humbled myself and decided to
put my trust in him.

Then that night we went out finding, and I felt this super fire to
talk to everyone and testify of the gospel to all I could find! And
Heavenly Father blessed us so much! We found multiple new people just
on the way to our appointment, it was the best day in weeks!

The best was the final door we knocked on. It was an almost log cabin
kind of house with a nice pine smell. We knocked and out came a 38
year old dad. He was kind and listened to us for a bit,  then out came
3 daughters from about 13 to 5 years old and they were just so cute
and so fun and happy, we stooped down to their level and showed them
pictures of our family and they were so happy. They loved them!

We explained that we wanted to do an FHE with them with a game a treat
and a message and the kids got really excited! "How about next week?"
We asked.

"I'm free!" Exclaimed one of the kids, and he father said if they had
time he would welcome us so we took down his phone number and will
hopefully go back at the end of June. Me and my companion left that
house walking on clouds. It was the nicest little family I had ever
talked to and those girls had just so much love and pure goodness. It
was such a sweet experience.

While walking a way I felt a really strong desire to stay in this
beautiful country with these wonderful people and families and to keep
sharing the gospel with them. At that moment I would have chosen to
stay a whole another year if I had the option.

It was such a sweet experience. Later my companion told me that he had
a feeling from spirit that the Lord saw our hard work despite our
disappointments earlier and that all this was a blessing from God for
our hard work.

My mission may be winding down, but up so grateful for this wonderful
two years. I will never be able to thank him for such an amazing
blessing.

Love you all,

Elder Walton

Friday, June 12, 2015

By Small and Simple Means

Dear Loved Ones,

What I learned this week can be summed up in this simple sentence:

Even if we feel like dirt, God can use us to make a beautiful flower
in the life of someone else.

That's not to say that this week was especially bad or anything, I
mean it was pretty normal with normal ups and downs, but I just saw
this week multiple times God using me to do amazing things even when I
didn't feel the best. This is probably illustrated best by a new
investigator we started teaching named Iha San.

On Friday we were out proselyting and it just wasn't really my day. I
was just kind of stressed about the normal worries of missionary work,
and on top of that while finding we were facing a lot of rejection and
people just not really wanting to listen to us. It was starting to get
to me a bit.

Anyways we finished the last a house on the street and again the man
rejected us and don't really want to listen. Then we walk down to the
street and we only had 15 min left to find so I looked around trying
to decide what we could use that small amount of time for.

Then I look up and see this older man on a staircase just standing
there and I felt like maybe we should talk to him. So we go up and
introduce ourselves and start talking about God. Turns out he does
believe in God, though he doesn't know who He is. We invite him to
learn who God is and he agrees to meet with us on Sunday at the church
to learn more, but unfortunately he had no phone that we could call
and confirm with.

Well it came to Sunday and we were out finding before the appointment
with him, and again I just wasn't feeling so great. Though this time
it may have been my own fault. On fast Sunday's we always get a fruit
basket full of deliciousness from our loving members so at dinner time
when we broke our fast we feasted on those. Unfortunately I think I
was a little too hasty and I ended up feeling not so good at what I
ate leaving me again feeling kind of crummy while housing.

I wasn't sure whether or not he would actually show up, since we
didn't have a number to confirm with but then at 7pm when we had made
the appointment we show up at the church and there he is just sitting
outside waiting for us.

So we invite him inside and start teaching him. Turns out he is 72
years old man who had been in the hospital a year and half and only
got released last year. We asked what kind of person he thought God
was and he answered, "I don't really know, will you please teach me?"
with a genuine humble desire to learn more. His humility and desire to
be taught surprised me coming from an older Japanese man, as most of
them I've met on my mission just love to talk, but not really be
taught.

We taught him about gods love and the amazing gift of Gods son, and we
could tell he was really feeling the spirit. We testified and taught
of Christ and his love and perfect example and invited him to follow
Christ and be baptized. At first  he simply said, "Really? Would I be
able to?" But after assurance from us that we would help him prepare
he gladly accepted and said he would pray, read, come to church and
meet with us twice a week to prepare to be baptized on the 18 of July.
After the lesson he kept repeating in his head when we were going to
meet again so he wouldn't forget, " Tuesday and Thursday 6pm, Tuesday
and Thursday 6p." He was just so excited to come to know and grow
closer to God it amazed me!

We left that lesson and me and my companion just looked at each other
so surprised at how prepared and ready he seemed and how much he
really wanted it. And It really amazed and humbled me that though I
had been feeling crummy both when we found him and when we taught him,
despite all that, God had still used the weak and simple me to do a
great work and help this child of his that God loves so much.

That perhaps is one of the biggest miracles of my whole mission, that
God could take something like me, and something like Iha San, and make
us so much more than we ever would have been without him.

This life has challenges and trials, ups and downs, and to be honest
sometimes you just plain feel crummy and feel like dirt. But through
these I am coming to see gods beautiful amazing plan and how He uses
us as his instruments even when we ourselves feel down.

Even if we feel like dirt, God can use us to make a beautiful flower
in the life of someone else.

I'm so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ that makes that
possible. And I love Him so much!


Love,
Elder Walton
Okinawa, Japan

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Family

Wow already June?! Crazy!

Also it's crazy hot. Especially here in room where we are emailing,
but I guess that's what happens when you're a missionary and "The
Spirit of God like a fire is burning." Ha!

This week there was night in particular that was such a wonderful one
to me, this is the journal entry of that day (with just a few more
details added later)

"Today we went to a Barbeque at the church in Naha with all the
priesthood holders. It was so delicious! I loved simply looking around
for the people who looked lonely and showing them love and kindness.
Like this old grandpa member sitting there all by himself, I went over
there and listened to his stories and laughed and enjoyed time with
him. I love that simple loving and ministering to people, it really is
the fruit of life.

Then later we went with brother Yoshimura to teach a family named
Komesu we found recently. We got there earlier so we had about 10 min
just sitting there on the 7th floor of their apartment building
overlooking the city and I asked him about his mission. He told me of
an elder in his mission who until the last minute went out handing out
book of Mormons and testifying to people, and how he wanted also to be
that kind of missionary so at the very end of his mission, instead of
having all sorts of dinners where people would praise him, he just
wanted to go out housing and find and help people.

It filled me with a desire to do the same. I want to end my mission
not worrying about what others around me think of me, but I want to
end thinking what Heavenly Father would think and serving as he would
have me serve. It was a precious moment with such a great member.

Then we taught the Komesu family and it was just such a sweet
experience. The mom had already had an experience with the Book of
Mormon that helped her with problems at work. Then when we taught
about Christ and his love we showed her a bunch of pictures of Christ
loving and ministering to others around him, while we did that she
started to tear up because she felt such a strong desire to be a
better person and love others more.

The father told us how right before we had housed into him he had been
out on his porch step pondering about the world and about life and
that his heart had been opened, and the 16 year old daughter was just
so sweet and kind as she shared her own feelings about how Christ
loves and helps us in our lives.

I'm so grateful to be able to teach this family, they are such a
blessing. They are such a precious family! I hope so much that they
can get baptized and become that amazing eternal family I know they
can."

It was truly a precious experience to see just how much this gospel
really does bless and help people's lives and families lives as they
accept it into their lives. I don't think everything will simply go
smoothly and easily for them to conversion, just as it doesn't for
anyone. Even that man last week, despite that amazing miracle, we
haven't able to meet him yet. But just because things don't work out
in a storybook perfect ending doesn't make the miracles along the way
any less miraculous or amazing, or the experiences any less sweet.

I'm so grateful to Heavenly Father to each and every part of it. =)

Love,
Elder Walton



Picture: the sister in he middle is sister Joyce Curtis, she is my
second cousin and currently attends church in the same building here
in Okinawa as me (though a different ward)
Picture: me and one of our high school investigators, he is like my
little brother ha

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Dear Beloved Family and Friends,

This week has been full of so many different things. We got transfer
calls for my final 5 weeks. This last month I get to train a new
missionary! I feel so privilege because that is exactly what I really
wanted to do, to help and love and train like a father. My new
companion is elder Lotti from Arizona and he is a wonderful
missionary!

This week was a little difficult in several ways, we had several
investigator appointments fall through due to the rain, and several
investigators who said they would come to church didn't, so the usual
missionary disappointments. For some reason I also struggled with the
change of being a trainer and having a companion so different from my
last.

It came to the point where I started feeling frustrated at the trials
and challenges I was facing. Then I remembered one of my favorite
scriptures before the mission 1 Peter 1:7

"7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold
that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto
praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"

A trial being more precious than gold? How can that be?

 And yet it's true! These trials we have might be difficult, but if
used correctly they can be powerful opportunities for grow and drawing
closer to savior that will truly become more precious than gold. They
might be hard, but trials are truly precious gems in the treasure box
of our life.

Within the trials of being a missionary though, there are miracles
that blow any trial out of the water and his week I had one of the
most amazing miracles of my entire mission.

A few weeks ago I was out finding on splits in another area and we
talked to normal looking older Okinawan man, we asked what he thought
the purpose of life was and he amazed us by giving an answer I had
never heard in my whole mission,

"To find spiritual truth" he said.

I was astounded! I had never heard anyone say that before in two
years! So obviously we gave him a Book of Mormon and testified of the
spiritual truth inside its pages, left it with him and exchanged
numbers. Over the next 2 weeks he texted us and told us what he was
learning. He clearly loved the book and in two weeks had finished 2/3
of it saying "now I see, the Book of Mormon has the fullness of the
gospel of Jesus Christ! Amazing!" Yet still we hadn't been able to
meet again in person or teach him anything.

Then on Friday in personal study I was reviewing my notes from when
Elder Nelson and his wife spoke to our mission. Sister Nelson told us
to "pray to find the descendants of those who are ready to receive the
ordinances on the other side of the veil. Pray to find them so their
ancestors can receive the gospel." So I took a moment right then and
offered a prayer for that.

Then two hours later I got a text from that man we met two weeks
earlier that said,

"Hello, I would like to participate in ordinances for ancestor files
at the temple, but is that possible?"

I was speechless. We had not taught him anything, we had said nothing
of anything beyond the Book of Mormon, and here only 2 hours after I
offered that prayer to find the descendants of those who are prepared,
a man texts me saying he wants to receive ordinances for his
ancestors.  I have never seen a prayer like that answered so
immediately and so dramatically. I was amazed and truly humbled at how
Heavenly Father really does do his work.

I truly know that this is not our work, it is His work and it
stretches across aeons and across generations and the veil, and that
there are truly people waiting and ready to hear he gospel, they are
eager and ready for us and for others we may help to receive the
gospel and to free them from the prison they are bound.

Isn't it truly amazing?!



Photos
-We went to an art museum that had a making of Disney exhibit, look at
my new companion! I think he might scare the Japanese though...


-My son! Isn't he cute!

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Friday, May 22, 2015

The Last Transfer

Dear beloved family and friends,

This week had many wonderful miracles as well as stretching and
growing trials. Both of which I am so incredibly grateful for!

The other morning I felt this emotional wound in my heart I couldn't
let go because of actions of others who I had been hurt by, I felt
both that emotional pain as well as resentment and difficulty to
forgive. But that morning in personal study I imagined I was in the
temple and just talked with my loving Heavenly Father. I poured out my
soul to him and sought his guidance and love to heal both the pain and
also help me to forgive. I felt the spirit speaking the healing word
of God to me and I really felt the power of the atonement  healing the
wound in my heart and helping me let go and forgive. I finished that
prayer feeling so much peace and joy and so grateful for the power of
the atonement.

As always the work isn't easy, it takes a lot of housing and working
and talking and getting rejected to find those who are ready and who
will listen, but he lord has blessed us so much! This week we were
able to teach a family named the Komesus. We met them housing and the
father, a big almost Polynesian looking Okinawan told us that he had
met a missionary twenty years ago and became friends, so he let us
come back and share our message to his wife and 16 year old daughter
as well. We gave him a plan of salvation pamphlet to read before we
met.

A day before the appointment he called us and asked we could meet that
night, so we adjusted our plans and went. We went and felt so much
warm love and acceptance from that family! And especially the daughter
was really interested and had read the whole pamphlet before we even
met her! At first they said they just wanted to listen because they
thought it was amazing how we were volunteers and giving so much. But
as we helped them see how the gospel changes hearts and strengthens
families they opened up and allowed us to come back again next week. I
am so excited!

Today is the transfer call day for my last transfer. What makes it
worse is that my last transfer is only 5 weeks. I will be happy to see
my loved ones again, but I will miss Japan and being a missionary so
much! I'm determined though that my mission will not end. I may return
home, but my mission and my discipleship in following Christ will
continue forever! And I'm so excited to live my life as a light on a
hill for those around me and love them as He would.

Me and my companion were talking about the song "come unto Christ" the
other day and I realized how amazing it truly is to be a
representative and servant of Christ. In the song the lyrics encourage
us to come into Christ and be healed by him, but often to come into
Christ we have to go towards his servants who he has called. And for
the non members and investigators here, I am that servant, to come
unto Christ, they need to come unto me and then I bring them to Him.
That is simultaneously so amazing and also such a huge responsibility
I want to give my all to live up to especially these last several
weeks. I love it so much!

Love Elder Walton
Okinawa Japan

Sent from my iPad
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video

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Fight For the Family


I was studying in the Book of Mormon about the people of king Noah and
Limhi and found a powerful example of how the family is being attacked
and also how it needs to be defended today. In the Mosiah 18 and 19 I
read how Gideon goes to fight king Noah and dethrone him, and right as
he is about to slay him they see the army of the lamanites and he
stops to save their people. Noah commands the people to flee, but as
they flee they are too slow, so Noah commands the men to leave their
families and run for themselves to save their own lives.

What an example of selfishness he was to leave those he was meant to
be a protector of simply out of his own selfishness. That philosophy
self interest is hitting the world hard today. Maybe they don't leave
them to run from a physical danger, but how often do people neglect
their families, or refuse to start building a family out of
selfishness, for careers, for personal joy or some other reason?

But then in the next few verses we find a striking contrast example to
Noah and his selfishness. Here the Lamanite armies are advancing on
the people. And the young women of the group truly rise to bravery and
courage to defend their families.

"their fair daughters [did] stand forth and plead with the Lamanites
that they would not slay them." -Mosiah 19:13

I bet these young women were young and agile, they probably could have
outrun their mothers and fathers and younger siblings. Yet despite
that, they decided not to be selfish, but to stand firm for those they
loved and for their beloved families, even risking death or worse.
These righteous young women were examples of how we need to be today.
We need to be willing to fight for the value of family. Even if we
have to give up our fears, our own interests. We need to follow their
example.

To me these young women are amazing parallel examples of bravery to
the 2000 stripling warriors, young men who were similarly fearless in
fighting for their families and fighting for the right. It shows just
how powerful youth can be when they fearlessly stand together and
stand for the right.

I love as a missionary the chance to boldly declare God's word and his
beautiful purpose for families. And I am so grateful for the amazing
family he has given me, and especially my angel mother. Happy Mother's
Day!

Love,
Elder Walton


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Monday, May 4, 2015

The Holy Sabbath

This week we taught an investigator who is named Nakayama. He is
Japanese, but he is so good at English usually we just call him his
English name, Alex.

He is a 30 year old classic happy surfer guy. He always has a huge
smile on his face and is full of laughs. He is also really spiritual
and really wants gods power and help in his life to protect him from
the temptations he faces.

Anyways this week he told us he would come to church finally after we
had invited him a few times. So on Thursday we met him with a member
and taught him about keeping the sabbath day holy so that this
upcoming Sunday could really uplift him and help him progress towards
baptism.

It was an amazing lesson, not really because of us, but because of
Alex. have never in my whole mission seen someone who wanted to keep
the sabbath day holy so much! He had such a huge desire to make that
day a really special day to come closer to God and to feel his love in
his life.

We told him about the different blessings of the sabbath day and what
kind of activities on the sabbath day help us obtain them, and then we
read a quote from Elder Nelson at the last general conference which
said

" I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the
Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With
that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don'ts. When
I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate
for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, What sign do I want to give
to God? That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal
clear." -Elder Russel M Nelson

And then Alex amazed us by saying,

"I write down what I am grateful for every night, but so basically the
sabbath day is taking that gratitude and not just saying it but
showing it by your actions too!"

He was spot on! In my life before the mission I wasn't always the best
at following the sabbath day, I usually avoided things I knew I
shouldn't do, but I still often was focused on myself. Now however I
see that the sabbath is this beautiful day to give back to the Savior
as thanks for what He did for us. When I return home the sabbath will
be my day to really be a missionary again, to be a completely
consecrated disciple of Christ. The sabbath truly is a delight!

I am so grateful for our loving Heavenly Father who has given us these
commandments this roadmap to guide us I our lives. Isn't he great?

Love,

Elder Walton
Okinawa Japan

Photo: my previous zone leader (who also went to timpview) who had
returned a year earlier came back to my current area to visit the
members here,

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Digital Age!



This week we have entered the digital age is of missionary work! I'm currently typing this email on my iPad. And by "my ipad" I mean the missions iPad I get to use till the end of my mission.


We got tons of training on iPads to help prepare us to both be safe from temptation and distraction and also to be effective with it. It was a really powerful training that I think will really help me the rest of my life. Some of the main points they emphasized were:


-The iPad will not convert people. The iPad does not have the Holy Ghost. You do! Nothing will replace a testimony borne sincerely by the Holy Ghost.


-Temptations to misuse technology are greatest when we are feeling bored, stressed, angry, lonely or any of those negative emotions. We need to be able to recognize those feelings in ourselves and avoid using it when we have those feelings.


-Filters are helpful, but they are always changing and no filter is perfect. The only filter you can always rely on is your own personal testimony and the help of the Holy Ghost.


-Don't turn on your device till your intention is clear. If at some point you you aren't sure what your purpose is, turn it off.


Its amazing the help it will be, but at the same time, I think it will always be missionary work. It has been the same since the dawn of time, and will be today, only that now God is hastening His work in His time.


Along with many miracles this week there were also stresses as well, with lessons not turning out how planned, stresses in relationships with members or missionaries and also just in worries that came to me.


This past week I started noticing how difficult it is sometimes to be a parent, the messy diapers, the lack of sleep, the stress and difficulties. Ever since I was young I have always wanted to be a parent, I love being a kid myself! Playing and enjoying the simple things of life, but I think for the first time in my life I realized that it isn't all fun and games, that there were challenges and difficulties too. As I watched these Japanese families and there adorable little kids I wondered, " Can I handle that? Would I be able to be a good father?" "Will I be able to manage, work, family, school, church, and all the other demands in life?" These kind of worries and fears started to come to me.


With this in the back of my mind, on the way back from church I read President Eyring's talk at the women's session called "The Comforter" about the power of the Holy Ghost


When I got to Mosiah 24:14-15 my eyes stopped, and it sunk deep into my heart. I felt the Spirit truly speak to my fears. It says,




"And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

When I read this scripture a calm peace swept my fears away, I literally felt this comforting power of the spirit like a cool breeze blowing the stress away almost as if to say, "Yes, you won't be able to do it yourself, but don't worry, you don't have to.

Because I will be with you."

And I know and trust that He always will.

Love,

Elder WaltonSent from my iPad