Sunday, August 31, 2014

Photos sent to Ammon - 28 August, 2014

Found the spear in a Narnia hole.... I'll explain those later haha

Elders Livingston and Nagano

Letter to Mom - 28 August, 2014

Oh mom, what am I going to do with you? ;) Why in the world did you have to go and break your ribs??? That probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world. ;D haha but in all seriousness, I'm really sorry that happened. I'm so glad that you are starting to heal though, and that you are feeling a little bit better every day. Don't worry, you will be back to normal (and above what you were) before you know it!! :) and way to take care of Emmett even when you fell!! :) That truly is superwoman right there. You really are incredible mom. I love you <3

So, what to say this week!! :) haha I guess I will start with yesterday we got to skype someone who is actually in Japan (a member) and just talk to them a little bit, and then give a short lesson. It was so so so fun, and I understood basically everything she said!! She was this super nice old lady and I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to speak with her. I'm pretty sure that she was speaking incredibly simply for our benefit, but that's okay, it was still really good practice. And she said that I had a pretty accent, which I loved!! :) So, apparently I have a nice accent in Japanese . . .who knew!! But the most amazing part came after, when our teacher Brother Hollister talked to us about how it went. First of all, a little about Brother Hollister. He is ripped. There is no other way to put it. He has been through basic training twice, wrestled in college, and actually won the Iron Man award at his last basic training (that is the award for the most physically fit at the camp). For example, one day he had us all do as many push-ups as we could in a minute to wake us up and get the blood pumping, and the record in our class was about 50 I believe (we have a wrestler in our district too). And then we asked him to do it. Guess how many he did? In one minute, he cranked out 105 push-ups, and he said the only reason he couldn't do more is because gravity couldn't pull him down fast enough so that he could push up again. So, I feel like he has a little bit of an army personality, so he is harder to be really impressed. But when he reviewed our lesson that we had with us, he said it was absolutely incredible, and that when he talked to the lady afterwards she had really felt God's love when we said we would pray for her son who had just barely taken an important test and was going to get the results back. To me that had been such a small thing, but it was exactly what this lady needed. So the message I would ask for you to take from this is don't forget the small things. When you get a small thought or prompting (and in all reality, if it prompts you to do good they are one in the same. Elder Bednar has some really cool insights on that too.) to do something tiny for someone else, please don't hesitate to do it, because it is from the Lord. :)

Also, guess what?? First off, tomorrow we get our flight itinerary!!! :D :D I am so so so so excited!! I really can not believe that in a week and a half from now I will be in japan. I will be honest that there are times here that really feel like I was born in the MTC and that the outside world technically exists, but not really. Because we literally do not see any of it, or have any interaction with it. It is like it's own separate world here and the only link to the outside world are the letters and packages. Second, Elder Nagano and I will be released this Sunday from being zone leaders, which is kind of weird. This coming week will be the only time on my mission so far (apart from the first day) where I haven't had a leadership position. Kind of a strange concept to me. Haha 

Speaking of packages and letters, if you are thinking of sending me a letter for when I get to Japan (to get there within a week or so of when I actually get there) I do want to say you should probably send it now or next Mondayish due to the amount of time that it takes for stuff to get to Japan. 

Ahh, I love you all so so much. Thank you for your letters and emails (those letters on Monday from you mom, and Kaitlyn were absolutely perfect and I loved them. That system really is nice that you can send it the same day). They mean so so much to me. :) This church is true. I know it with all of my heart. And the incredible thing is that when you testify of the truthfulness of it, you learn it more and more. Thank you so much for being amazing. I challenge each of you to share your testimony with someone this week too (hopefully you always do ;D haha) and really make an effort to put your heart into the testimony. The Lord doesn't need eloquence to bring a piercing message to a hardened heart. He needs sincerity, love, and boldness. So don't be afraid to very simply speak and bear testimony of what is true. Don't worry. The Lord will consecrate all things for your good. :) I love you and miss you all!!


Elder Livingston

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Photo Email - 21 August, 2014

I'll write my full email in just a second, I just wanted to send these and then read the rest of my emails. Love you!!

MTC Room

Elder Nagano


Letter to Mom - 21 August, 2014

Okay, here is my real email!! :) haha okay, so first of all my visa. They will give it to me the day that I leave from the MTC, and the only way I will know if it is a problem is if a week from Friday I don't get my travel itinerary! haha But I am not worried about it being a problem, because it is Japan. :)

I am so happy that you are all doing so well!! Man, I really have the best family in the entire world. :) No comparison. It is so fun to hear all of your stories, and it seems like things have been pretty busy there lately! I'm glad that things are going well though, and that even though it is busy you are enjoying it. :) Also, congrats to Ammon and Audrey on getting the garage door open! :) haha that's always good. And I love seeing the pictures of everyone, (especially Emmett ;D haha) so keep sending them!! :)

What is the update with me this week? Well, I have quite the experience to share, so wait until the end, because it's a thriller! ;) haha About last Thursday, I was really hit with intense feelings of low self-worth. I'll admit, it came as a complete shock. If you know me at all, and I know you know me better than anyone else, you know that on the contrary one of my bigger trials has been not letting my confidence be too high. haha so when these feelings came, I'll admit I was at a complete loss as to what to do, and I didn't really know how to cope with it for a little while. Over Thursday, Friday, and into Saturday and Sunday a teensy bit, I struggled with this low self confidence. I really felt lower than the dust of the earth, and that I really wasn't worth anything. But I always kept in mind that I knew those feelings were not from God. So I prayed. I prayed so hard. I put my heart and my soul into prayer and did everything to remember the good things that I have been able to do, as well as who I really was (A Son of Heavenly Father). As I prayed and really tried to focus on those things, my spirit began to lift. It was incredible to me that all I really had to do to come out of what was honestly the lowest self-esteem point in my life was to lean on God instead of leaning on myself, and instantly everything was made better. :) Does that mean the answer came right away? No, of course not. But it came. It came quickly too. I am not struggling with that at all anymore (do I still feel inadequate enough to motivate me to be better, of course. But that is good if it drives us to God :) ). It was incredible for me to see a 180 degree change in myself as I trusted the Lord. If anyone is struggling with self-esteem who is reading this, I plead with you to turn to God. He is the source of all goodness. Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy, "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." God is waiting to help you. He is trying to place miracles in your life, and all that you have to do is open your eyes to his grace and goodness and you will see all of the incredible things that He has done for you.

Also, this week our investigator had an amazing experience. We got to teach about the Word of Wisdom, and she didn't want to give up tea. She made the goal to give it up Saturday, but that she was going to continue drinking it until then. We decided that would be okay, but made sure that she knew we were going to follow up. Then, when we went to teach her yesterday she told us a story. She said that on Tuesday she had gone to make tea, poured it for herself, and then realized that she didn't want it. So she got a drink of water. And then she stopped and realized what had happened. She poured out her tea, and told us that she was going to keep the Word of Wisdom. She was grateful that God had helped her to overcome her desire to drink tea, and I couldn't help but beam as she told us the experience. It was so incredible, and I can't wait for real experiences like that to happen in Japan.

Speaking of Japan, I am so so so so so excited to go!!! It is less than three weeks away, and I really don't think that it could come fast enough!! I just want to get out there and share the gospel with everyone there. I know that this gospel is true, and that we really will come so much closer to God and be able to serve Him if we desire to. The Book of Mormon is true. I challenge everyone who is reading this right now to share their testimony in person with one other person outside of their immediate family this week. And be bold. If God tells you to share it with someone who you think would completely reject it, don't trust yourself. Trust God. It may be that they need to hear it at that time anyway, to prepare them to receive the message later. I love you all so so much, and don't you ever forget it!!

Love, Elder Livingston

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Letter to Mom - 14 August, 2014

Well, I am still trying to figure out how to attach photos . . .so hopefully I can get that by the end of today!! :) haha Thank you so so so much for your package! That was very sweet of you to send and I absolutely loved it. I will be using that card reader to get my pictures to you very soon! I love you so so much!

So, to answer your questions, my companion is amazing, and I love him. He really pushes me to know the language and it is really nice to have him  there to help me when I am not sure what to say. It is really strange, because the spirit can do amazing things and really give you the gift of tongues. I have an incredible experience that I have to share. Yesterday we were teaching our investigator, a girl named Taira Shimai (shimai means sister, and I'm not sure if I have mentioned her before.) Anyway, we started of normally just asking how she was and how she had been doing recently. She said good . . .actually not that good. We asked her why, and she said that when she had gone to college she had to take out loans and she was worried about her money situation. Right when she said that the Spirit told me, "You need to talk about tithing today." I kind of shrugged it off for a minute while my mind was going a million miles an hour trying to think if we could talk about tithing (had the vocabulary for it), how I could tell Elder Nagano, and if I really should. We said the opening prayer after going over what we had assigned her in the scriptures last time we had talked to her, and during the prayer again the spirit said, "You need to talk about tithing." So after the prayer, I just dove in and said, "Today we are going to talk about tithing. Is that okay?" And then turned to Elder Nagano and asked him the same thing. haha While I had him give a super short explanation right on the spot, I looked up the Malachi 3 reference in the Book of Mormon, so that we could still get our normal lesson across a little (We had planned on talking about effective studying the Book of Mormon that day . . .a little difference there. ;) haha). I shared that scripture and she asked, "Well, how is spending more money going to help with my financial situation?" I wasn't sure how to answer that, so I decided to tell a story. I had told earlier a little bit about Ammon and his sickness, so I asked her if she remembered. She said she did, and so I started to tell how when he was sick his treatment had cost a lot of money (another little tender mercy: I didn't know how to say spend, so I said used money. I found out later that the word for spend money is the same as the word for use, so I had actually been saying the right word the entire time! haha). I told her how we had always paid our tithing, and even though it may have been hard, we always had enough to take care of our needs. After telling the story, she said thanks and then said something incredible. She said that when we had explained it to her, her head didn't understand how that would help her. She really couldn't comprehend how it would be a good thing. But when I had told that story, she said her heart understood it, and knew that it was right. I was so so so grateful for the Spirit, because it taught her something that I never could have explained with my broken Japanese. The spirit really is so powerful. I didn't know exactly what was going to happen when I started to talk about tithing. In fact, if I had thought about it, it would have been so counterintuitive to talk about tithing because she was worried about money. But because I was willing to trust in the prompting that I felt I had received, the Lord blessed me infinitely more than I could have known. She committed to pay her tithing after she got baptized, and then after the lesson I had another testimony builder given to me. We finished the closing prayer and she looked at us right in the eyes and with disbelief said, "How do you always know what I need to hear?" I wasn't sure how to answer that, but I knew that the story of Ammon talked about it, so next time we are going to talk about Ammon and prophets!! It was such an incredible experience. :)

Japanese is coming along so well!! Do I know a lot? No, not even. But I do know how to talk about the gospel pretty well! haha :) I love learning it, and I feel like I make a ton of progress so much faster than I should. It is hard, and sometimes I honestly feel like my brain is going to explode, but I survive and keep pushing through, and it is always great!! Sometimes you just have to take a break and read the scriptures :) haha The scriptures are so incredible. They are powerful tools, and it is really through them that we need to work. Preach My Gospel (PMG) says that the Book of Mormon coupled with the Spirit are the most powerful tools that we can have. I know that they are the word of God, and we need to read them so that we can come closer to Him. Keep reading well, every day!! It is so worth it. :)

Thank you for everything. I love it here, even if it is hard. I miss you all so much, and I love you more than I could say!! Keep writing me when you can. I love you all with my whole heart! I'll be back on later to send pictures and finish my email time, so for now, just know how much I love you!! You're the best! <3

Love, Elder Livingston

Letter to Dad - 14 August, 2014

I had written to Tanner about some translations I made using Google Translate because I couldn't find them on and this is his reply to me this week...

I don't think that's right, actually. In fact, I know some of it isn't. I'll work on the translation this week and send it to you. Honestly, I can't read most of what you sent! haha We primarily use the hiragana and katakana alphabets, not the kanji that the Chinese use, and a lot of what you had up there was kanji. I will learn some of that in Japan, but for now I just know hiragana. So I'll work on it and send it to you okay? Thanks for always keeping it up, Dad!! I don't have a ton of time today, but I am going to attach and explain the photos.

This first picture is the set of main resources that we use. In keeping with our Japanese Spirit, they are called (In order from left to right, top to bottom): Pikachu, Wartortle, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Katana, Ninja, and Miyagi san They have saved all of our lives here at the MTC and we learn SOOO much from them.

After that are pictures of my district and me and my companion!!

Elders Nagano and Livingston

I hope that you enjoyed them! Sorry, there's really not that much to take pictures of here. I'll make sure and get one of my room for next time, and another one with me in it (obviously that's what you want, right? ;) haha) I love you so much Dad!! Make sure to share this with everyone!! I hope that they like it!

Love you lots!!

Elder Livingston

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Letter to Mom - 7 August, 2014

Hi Mom!!

I love getting your emails! Thank you all for keeping me updated. I love writing you back, and don't worry, it's not that stressful. haha I just prioritize and make sure that I write you first! ;)

When we really strive to follow the Lord's will, He really does bless us more than we could ever know. I've seen that so often here. One of the things that is emphasized a ton at the MTC is exact obedience, as I've talked about before. There was this one day this week though that I had a cool experience with that. After lunch often times people get sleepy and find it hard to stay awake, because it is at that point the second three hour block of study and that can be hard to focus for that long. Also, your body just kind of wants to lay down after lunch, and so people (especially in the other residence room) have been tired. They have actually been staying up talking past the time they should be to bed. But, the other day I'm pretty sure that they went to bed right at 10:30, and that day I didn't notice anyone tired. One of the incredible parts of the Lord's promises is that He fulfills them as soon as we are worthy of them. So all we have to do is strive to be worthy of them!!

I really want to send you pictures! I will attach one picture that we got to take with a congressman from the Japanese Diet! Other than that, I think you should probably send me an SD card reader so that I can start sending them. Sorry I haven't been able to supply any so far. :P Do you know what is crazy? Tomorrow is the halfway point for my MTC stay! It has been the longest, shortest four weeks of my life! When I think about the Japanese that I know and can use and especially understand it is truly miraculous. I look back at where I was when I entered and I feel like I have been here for a million years, but then I think about how far I come and that it has only been four weeks and they have been the fastest four weeks of my life. It's also weird to see how your brain starts to rewire a little bit. For example, the word "hi" as in greeting other people has lost basically all of its meaning for me. haha The word "Hai" (pronounced the same way) is the Japanese word for yes, and you say it so frequently!! The other day I saw this teacher as I was washing my hands in the bathroom and he said hi and it took me a minute to register what he meant. Haha But it is also really cool to teach lessons!!

Speaking of which, let me tell you a little bit about teaching lessons. First of all, our investigator is a 22 year old woman named Taira Shimai (at least that is the person she is portraying) whose parents got divorced when she was young and her dad got remarried. She has a bad relationship with her dad, but wants it to be better he just won't be involved in her life at all. She has a boyfriend she has been dating for two years and they live together, so we'll have to address that soon haha. They want to get married so badly, but the boy she is dating wants a good job before they get married. She loves the gospel and is just struggling a little bit with the Joseph Smith story. She knows God loves her because she has prayed about it (she didn't know when we first started teaching her). One really cool thing about teaching is that the Lord knows the companions we need. Let me explain: Elder Nagano is probably the most advanced Japanese speaker in the district, but his favorite way/thing to talk about is people and their lives. He struggles a little bit (or thinks he does, so he isn't very confident) to express his feelings about the gospel and answer gospel related questions. On the other hand, I can basically only feel confident when I am talking about the gospel. I think because I've taken the time to learn the lessons well in English and know how to simplify things in English I feel confident when I talk about the gospel in Japanese. These two different preferences work brilliantly. He knows how to just communicate with her and connect with her life so much better than I do, and I am able to step in and explain gospel principles a little more when he feels like he can't, or when she has a question. The Lord really knows what we need, and who we need to teach with. The other incredible thing about teaching is that the Spirit is there, and it is real. It isn't just a roleplay. The people that our teachers portray are real people that they know, or have known in the past, and the spirit reaches out to them and us in a very genuine way when we teach. It isn't just a roleplay. It's real. And the spirit is real.

Well, I love you all so so so much, and I miss you!! Thank you for sending those pictures!! I love looking at them at night while I am writing in my journal and getting ready for bed and just remembering how much I love you and care for you!! I'll be in Japan before you know it, and then my emails will have even more fun stories!! haha Love you all!!

Elder Livingston

Letter to Dad - 7 August, 2014

Woohoo!!!! I am so glad that I graduated seminary finally! haha :) Thanks for writing me dad. Let everyone know that I am sorry I wasn't able to email them back today, as my other emails were a little bit longer than usual. I will try to write them when I can, and may even get to hand write a few since I have quite a bit of time to do that today.

That is crazy about the stairwell!! No wonder it has been flooding so much. I am so so glad that you have been able to finally start fixing that. It is going to be such a blessing. Also, thank you so much for sending pictures about the zoo trip that you had! It was so good to see everyone. I love you all so so much. Also, could you send me a card reader? I think that is going to be the easiest and perhaps only way to get pictures from my camera at this point. A lot of the other elders and sisters in my district have been struggling to do the same thing.

Dad, I want you to know that I love you. Your example to me is so incredible. You are the epitome of a worthy priesthood holder, and I know that the Lord can trust you with anything. Thank you for showing me what it really means to be a man of God. I miss you so much too, but I know that this is where I need to be. The Lord is going to bless us more than we could imagine because of the sacrifices we are willing to make for His other children. Also, I have this strange feeling that this mission is going to fly, and before you know it we will be looking back wondering how in the world two years has already passed. So let's cherish every second.

Thank you for the spiritual thought that you share. It always is so good for me to read, and helps me in some way. The messages that the gospel has to offer are so incredible, so please keep sharing them! I will keep sharing some with you too. The message that I want to share today is this: Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I had the chance to not only watch the Joseph Smith movie but teach the message of the restoration in our lessons with our investigator. I definitely saw the gift of tongues that day. Previous to that lesson, we had planned for Elder Nagano to talk about the restoration story, but as we memorized the first vision the night before, I memorized it insanely fast, and he didn't seem able to get it. So I had the opportunity of sharing it, even though I didn't feel quite ready. As I started to say the words that Joseph Smith wrote, they came out in a fluidity and power that is beyond what I could ever have done. It still wasn't perfect, but God was definitely supporting me. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet, and this church is true. I know it.

I love you so much and I hope that you have an amazing day, Dad!!

Love, Elder Livingston

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Letter to Dad - 31 July, 2014

Hey dad!! So, I actually heard that I can come and put my SD card right into some of the computers, so I will look into doing that so that I can send pictures to you. Also, could you send me another SD card? Audrey knows the kind to get. One of the Elders here didn't have a card so his camera couldn't take more than like, 5 or so pictures, so I gave him one of mine so that he would be able to use it.

That drain is so cool!! You have worked super hard and it looks like it is paying off really well. Really well . . . .that's punny right there. ;) haha I'm glad that we won't have to worry about that problem anymore. That has been a problem throughout our lives so it will be nice to get that taken care of. You know, I think this teaches a really good principle though. Just like the window well, there are things in our life that can often cause our burdens to overflow, and become too much for us to handle. But when we dig down and find out what is causing it to brim over, then all sorts of opportunities open up, and we are able to install "bigger buckets" in our own lives. The thing that I think is most amazing is that through the Lord, we can install an "infinitely deep" bucket that will never brim over so long as we trust in Him. The principle that nothing is impossible through the Lord really is true, and I know that. There is no way that I could be where I am and doing what I am without Him. The language is coming so quickly. By no means do I feel prepared, but I am learning it so much faster than I have learned anything before, and I am astonished every day at the lessons we teach and the things that we say. As my understanding grows I am coming to love the language more because I can communicate (exceedingly simply) with the people around me. Simplicity is the key. Even in English. I think we often complicate things because we just have the words to do it when we should really just keep it simple.

Thank you for your love and support. I love you so much, and I hope that everything is going well. Keep me posted, okay? Love ya!!

Love, Elder Livingston

Letter to Mom - 31 July, 2014

Hey!!! Ahh, all of that is so so so exciting! I am thrilled that Josh got his mission call! Tell him congratulations for me, okay? And that storm sounds insane! Kaitlyn wrote me about it a little bit too, but it sounds way worse in your email. Um, not to my knowledge did that storm hit here. The past couple days have been overcast and there have been some light showers, but I haven't experienced any windstorms. One of the elders in our district put it best: The MTC is kind of like the Mecca or Vatican of Provo. :) haha It's so crazy!! It's this little city . . .inside of a city! They are treating me very nicely, but like I said the food quality is horrible. They don't know how to have real vegetables here. :P The only vegetables that we do get are mediocre salads or overcooked under  spiced veggies. So yes, if you are wondering, I miss white sauce so so so so much!! And just how healthy we ate. I am definitely looking forward to Japan so that I can eat healthier and I've heard that the food there is incredible!!

So guess what?? We had a Japanese congressman from the Diet come yesterday!! It was so cool! He kind of just sat in there and watched what we did for 5-10 minutes, but it was cool! I'll send you the pictures when they send us copies. Man, I am so excited to go to Japan. I wish I could just go today! haha all in due time though. He was so much shorter than I thought he would be from the picture we saw of him! haha so I guess I have a better frame of reference for when I go to Japan. :)

Also, this week our senpai left. Senpai is the Japanese word for "higher ups" so it is used to refer to the district(s) older than you in your zone. It was surprisingly sad to see them leave. None of them are going to Tokyo South, and they are all so amazing. I wish that I could tell you about each and every one of them, but I'm not really sure that there would be time to put that much information in an email! haha They were amazing examples to me though, and I learned through their examples that if you really focus and try so hard to study then The Lord really makes up for our weakness, and qualifies us for His work. We are the all that He has, and He can mold us into the perfect tool if we only allow His hands to do the work instead of our own.

So, a little more about what we do every day: We wake up and have gym time for an hour, and then we get ready for the day and go to breakfast. After that we have a 3 hour class instruction block. During those three hours we: 1. Teach our progressing investigator for about 30 minutes, 2. Receive individual/companion coaching from one of the teachers, 3. Some other activity, usually that has to do with learning new Japanese. After that we have a daily planning session for around half an hour, and then we have additional study (whatever we feel we need to study for our investigator, for our own needs, etc.) for about an hour. After that we have lunch, and then back to the class for another 3 hour block! In that block we usually practice teaching lessons (In Nihongo of course (Nihongo is Japanese for Japanese . . .I'll let you figure that out haha)), learning more Japanese on a language program called TALL, and learning doctrines and fundamentals of teaching or being a good missionary. After that we have additional study again, and then dinner! Following dinner we have different activities such as teaching members on family night (In Nihongo) going to a devotional on Tuesday night, or most nights we have an hour of personal study, an hour of companion study, and then an hour of language study. Then we head back to the residences and get ready for bed, write in our journal, and then go to sleep!! It is such a busy day, and you always have something to do. I am so sorry that I am slow at responding to letters, I will definitely write them as often as I can, but I've found that will usually only happen on P-day because every other second of my day is super busy. I'll do what I can though.

I love you all so so so much!! Thank you for your examples. I can definitely see the light of Christ that works through each and every one of you. Mom and Dad I want to specifically thank you for being the most amazing parents that anyone could have ever asked for. Your examples and letters to me have been perfect, inspired, and so full of love. I love hearing from you and I look up to you all so so much!

Thank you SOOOO much for the package!! It was absolutely perfect! I am still working on the Tic Tacs and the Icebreakers, but the Doritos were gone very quickly! haha I loved it. Thank you. I will write you back letters and get them sent as fast as possible.

Lastly, put your trust in the Lord. He knows what He is doing. :) He is so incredible, and through Him I feel like I have grown so much. Honestly though, it still isn't that I'm such a better person. It is just that when I can recognize my need to be humble, Heavenly Father makes up for my inadequacies a million times over. I am so happy, and the spirit here is so powerful. I love it. I can feel it every day of my life. I know that the Lord lives, that Jesus Christ, His Son, is our Savior and Redeemer. He died for us on the cross, and suffered for us in Gethsemane, because He loves us with a love that is so infinite and eternal that we could never imagine. I know it. I love you all so much, and I miss you tons!! Keep me posted, okay?? And thanks again for the written letters! Those really are so amazing to get in the middle of the week. :) Love you all!!

Love, Elder Livingston

P.S. If you have the chance look up a talk/devotional by Elder Bednar called the Character of Christ. It has changed my life, and I know it can change yours.