Friday, March 30, 2012

Letter from Jenna...Here comes conference!

General Conference starts tomorrow! So excited. For a lot of reasons. :) I have so many things I'm thinking about this time around, I am planning on completely exhausting the 'docrtine of conference'. I think Conference is an easy thing to take for granted when we've had it our whole lives, but the blessing of having living prophets speak to us has weighed heavily on my mind the past few weeks, and I am so excited to tell people in Japan that God has a prophet leading the church today. I remember before I left Tandy mentioned to me how much she admires the people in Japan because they believe in a prophet that doesn't even speak their language. I'd never thought about that before. What incredible faith!
 
This week I got some really wonderful letters. :) God works the timing of my mail so that I always get it the MOMENT I need it most. Thank you so much for writing! I don't always have time to get back to everyone right away, but I will get you all eventually! Speaking of letters...one of our awesome Elders in my district doesn't get hardly any mail and I was thinking maybe Sara or some of her friends could send him some letters? His name is Elder Kevin Norman and he has the exact same address as me. He was our district leader for the first month and is just awesome. Oh! I don't know if I ever thanked you for those DELICIOUS pumpkin cookies!! :D We loved them!
 
I met a girl from Poland about a week ago who is a convert of about 16 months. She got up in Relief Society and told her conversion story on Sunday and it was so inspiring. It was fun talking to her since I've been to Poland and know a little about her country. Her English is perfect and she has the most fantastic accent. Tough girl too. So nice but very bold. She is going to be a fantastic missionary. I wonder what it would be like to serve a mission when you've been a member for such a short period of time. I really look up to the converts here. Although, in reality, we're all converts of some sort.
 
Learning a lot about obedience this week. Someone brought up a quote by President Hinckley that I just love and repeat to myself all day long. "Today I will follow. Tomorrow I will understand." Sometimes the rules don't always make sense. This is especially apparent on a mission, but it applies to everyone who has committed to follow Christ. We don't always understand why things are the way they are, why we are asked to do certain things, or why the Lord guides us in certain ways. I am still learning so much myself about walking into the dark while holding His hand. But the one thing I do KNOW is that He IS holding our hand. If we can't find His hand in our lives, it is because WE have let go, not vice versa. Becoming a missionary is a process I believe and it takes a lot of effort on our part. A lot of effort in prayer. Prayer isn't always supposed to be easy. Aligning our will with the Lord's, converting my stubborn, naive, selfish, prideful, young self to His ways, is anything but easy. But God is with me! And He is with all of you!
 
Something exciting happened yesterday when Long Shimai and I were teaching. I had nothing in me that could even hold onto stress anymore or be uptight about the language, so I just let go. I dropped a wall I didn't even know I'd been holding up. And I was just myself. :) Can I just say, speaking Japanese is SO much easier when you're not freaking out! I was just Wylie Shimai during this lesson and I was relaxed and genuinely HAPPY and enjoying our 'investigators' company, and because of this I was able to love them so much more effectively and the Spirit was there and I could actually TALK like a normal human being! It was grand. :)
 
I love you and miss you! And Alex, if my letter doesn't get to you in time, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! MY LITTLE MAN IS TURNING 15!!! :D :D :D
 
Ai shite imasu!
 
Your missionary, Wylie Shimai
 
P.S. Yes Elder Archuletta is here. I have lots of respect for him. Sat behind him at lunch the day he came in. Most of us are just trying to give him his space and let him be a missionary like everyone else.
 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Letter from Jenna...AND...watch for her in the MTC choir at the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference!

 What a week. The time is just flying by here. It's so strange to think I am in week five now. More then half way done! Rumor has it, we might actually be going to Japan. For reals. Wow.
This week was tough. Go figure! I came to the MTC expecting to be humbled and expecting to be overwhelmed with Japanese, but for some reason my heart still feels like it's going to pound right out of my chest sometimes. Yesterday Black Sensei had Baldwin Sensei come in and demonstrate a lesson, Baldwin Sensei being the investigator. After a few minutes he paused and asked what our thoughts were and what we would do next. Fitzpatrick Choro told him what he thought would be good, and Black Sensei hopped out of the chair and said, "Okay, you're up." Fitzpatrick Choro turned white as a sheet but somehow managed to get himself to the front, where he proceeded to take over teaching. This happened a few times with different people, after each one Black Sensei would say something like, "You better be listening because you're probably next!" Oh I almost forgot to mention...Baldwin Sensei is half Japanese. At the end of this experience, Black Sensei said we all looked like we were about to pass out. Haha I think he was right. It was definitely good for us, but incredibly difficult. This week they've really shot the expectations for us through the roof. During teaching this week I started to feel like I was falling behind. Long Shimai (being an English major) has really taken off with the Japanese grammar and I found myself teaching with her and listening to her go off about something and totally losing what she was even talking about. This really made my heart drop a few times this week, but I am working hard. I keep saying to myself 'after the trial of your faith...after the trial of your faith....' I know the Lord is with me through this. Baldwin also worked with us on some grammar yesterday and he talks faster then a bird can fly. He said that compared to the people in Japan he is a 'slow-poke'. Yosh!

As always, there were a lot of blessings this week. Elder and Sister Oaks came to speak to us on Tuesday. Sister Oaks served a mission in Sendai, Japan. :) About half of my district is going to Sendai so that was pretty exciting to hear. We also listened to a re-run of a talk by Elder Bednar that he gave to the missionaries on Christmas Day at the MTC last year. They show the reruns because this talk is one of those that changes your life. He teaches that the key to becoming like Christ is turning OUTWARD when the natural man turns INWARD. He shared numerous examples of the Savior, even in the most difficult moments of his life, always turning outward. We have to tear out the natural man and become as Christ. Oh and I have to say, there is nothing more entertaining then watching an apostle imitate the cookie monster from Seseme Street. "I want cookie now!!" (while pounding the pulpit, an example of the attitude of the natural man). Priceless.

Have I mentioned that I have the best companion? Like, seriously. She is an artist and she writes her journal in comics. Epic. I'll send you a copy of some of the pages sometime. She captures the MTC quite fantastically. We have been becoming better friends every week. I'm really grateful that we work together so well as we teach. We don't even have to split up the lesson before teaching our investigators, we just naturally pass the ball back and forth. I really do love teaching. It is the hardest thing we do and stretches me every single day, but when it boils down to it, it is my favorite thing. Our teachers are actually the ones who are the progressing investigators that we teach. TRC is something different that we do on Saturday mornings where volunteers from the community come in and help us practice the language. We teach them as 'them' though, and there is no 'roleplay' involved. I'm sure the missionaries would just ADORE Bree, btw. :) Speaking of Bree...one of the Branch leader's wives comes to visit us a lot in our residence and I just found out that she has two little autistic grandchildren who live with her. We had a long conversation. :) One of them sounds just like Bree.

Give Mac a kiss for me! I love you all so so much!
 
Your one and only, Wylie Shimai 
 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Letter from Jenna...

Yesterday Black Sensei announced that when we teach our progressing investigators, we are ONLY allowed to bring in our scriptures and a Japanese dictionary, and a TINY notecard with the the lesson plan on it. No reading anything. Oh, he also said we could bring the gift of tongues. Sister Long and I teach a lesson tomorrow. Wow! I am not TOO nervous. I think we will learn Japanese a lot faster this way. This week I have actually enjoyed teaching a lot. Even though it is only 'practice' the Spirit stills works with us and it feels very real. Our other Sensei, Mortensen Sensei, said she has been touched by the missionaries over and over again when she's been the investigator so in a way we truly are teaching! I told you a bit about Black Sensei last week, now I will tell you about Mortensen Sensei. She is wonderful! For the first two weeks we ONLY knew her as Higaki-san because she was our progressing investigator, and we only saw her when we taught her. Then one day we found out she was going to become our second Sensei. It was SO strange when she started talking to us in English! I think some of the Elders were actually convinced she didn't speak American. Haha. She is wonderful though and I just think the world of her. She served in Hiroshima (sp?) and got back I think a year ago and is now a math major at BYU. She is a bit taller then me, but TINY. Her arms are about as big around as one of Black Sensei's fingers. :) Sister Long and I can both understand her Japanese a lot better then we can Black Sensei's. Maybe because she is a girl? Who knows!
 
So the other morning at breakfast Tanabe Shimai started laughing and said "Oh I just remembered...you were TOTALLY talking in your sleep last night really loud...in Japanese!" haha. Sister Omen said I'd woken her up too but she'd thought it might have just been a dream. LOL. They said they weren't sure exactly what I was saying...but! That's almost as good as dreaming in Japanese right??
 
Sister Eubank from the Relief Society general board came and spoke to us during relief society on Sunday. She is SO AMAZING. She served a mission in Finland. And I didn't realize this until the end but she has never been married or had kids. I think when she said that everyone in the audience listened a little closer, because what a DIFFICULT, difficult trial that would be. But she absolutely beams with light and joy and I know that God will give her the blessing of an eternal marriage when the time is right. I also met a senior sister this week who is going to Tokyo with her husband. She doesn't know the language, but her husband does. They got to the MTC last Wednesday and they left on Monday! What incredible faith that woman has! How scary to go into Japan so quickly without knowing the language or much about it. I am striving to have that kind of faith every day.
 
 I have been sleeping very well here, so your prayers are being heard. :) Goodness though we still get so tired during the day it's ridiculous. I hope my capacity to feel the Spirit is getting bigger because I think feeling the Spirit is high quantities drains the mortal body!
 
I love you so much! Thank you for the prayers and thoughts! :) THE CHURCH IS TRUE.
 
~Wylie Shimai

Friday, March 9, 2012

Letter from Jenna...

Well that week certainly seemed to blow by! So a few things from this week...we have firesides every Sunday night, and this week we had the one and only Alex Boye come to speak to us. He said it was his first time coming to the MTC. Everyone LOVED him. He told about his conversion story, which was so cool to hear especially since we are missionaries now, and especially because he was taught by sister missionaries! He talks of 'his missionaries' so highly and told us that people will talk about us like that someday. He sang a few songs too which was awesome.
 
My last couple emails have been overflowing with the spiritual experiences I have here at the MTC. So I think some information about my every day life is in order. (Though the spiritual experiences have anything but died down!) First off...my Japanese teacher! Black Sensei. How to describe Black sensei...well he reminds me of Captain America. Seriously, some chorotachi (Elders) walked up to him on Friday and said "Black! Your arms are as big as my thighs!" hahaha and the funny thing is, he was right! Black Sensei is a beast and our Elders are convinced he's thrown students into the wall before. He has this deep deep voice and is tall and must have been a giant in Japan. Pictures coming soon! He served in Tokyo as well so lots of cool stories from the city I'll be serving in. :) One fact that surprised me was that he said we'll be lucky to get one or two Nihonjin (Japanese) companions in Tokyo, because almost all the missionaries from Japan are from Tokyo and so get sent out to places like Sendai, Kobe, etc. Black Sensei is awesome and really nice and patient with us as we try to pick up this language. He says this is the first time he's had sisters in his district. Speaking of my district....I LOVE THEM. We are really becoming good friends and all the companionships work together so well so I feel we have a great atmosphere. Our Elders really step up to the plate of their calling and in their priesthood duties are we're so proud of them. They also keep us laughing A LOT.
 
Interesting fact I discovered this week...it is quite remarkable that I landed my mission when I did, because this group is the first one they have tried the nine week program with (which, is actually only 8 weeks) AND...they are going back to the 12 week program right after us! We are pilot guinea pigs for this run around and I think it's incredible that I landed in this group. DEFINITELY not coincidence, but definitely remarkable. I am super grateful to be where I am and think that 9 weeks will be perfect. I want to get out into the field ASAP. Our Senpai district (the ones who came in December) leave on Monday and have been losing their minds all week.
 
The past few days have been a bit of a roller coaster. Long Shimai and I were really struggling with teaching and didn't feel like we were getting any better. Teaching in English felt so easy but then teaching in Japanese was so difficult and full of awkward silences and flipping through dictionaries. BUT...the Lord is with us, and this week we FINALLY started to figure it out and have started a new way of planning lessons, and our last two have been GOLDEN compared to the first two weeks. We are so grateful and feel like we are actually teaching the gospel now. AND...the language is coming!!! :D :D :D This week we are moving in leaps and bounds. In the middle of a lesson on Wednesday our investigator asked a question and I was able to form a CORRECT sentence in my head about the prophet and what he does without looking at notes and I was like WHAAAAAAAAT and was walking on clouds the rest of the day. I have been so blessed and God is supporting us so much as we work hard and do our best. I can't explain it, but the language is starting to come together in my head and flow out my mouth and I could sing all day it makes me so happy.
 
I love you all SO MUCH and your letters mean the world to me!! I wish I could express how grateful I am for all your love and support! Thank you for your prayers and your thoughts and your love...I feel them so strongly in my life! My time is up but AI SHITE IMASU! I LOVE YOU!
 
Your missionary,
Wylie Shimai  

Friday, March 2, 2012

2nd Letter from Jenna...

Can you believe I've been here over a week now? Actually that makes it sound like I haven't been here long, when in reality I think I've been here for months! Time is SO different in the MTC, I don't even know how to describe it. EXCITING NEWS OF THE WEEK! Guess who was the speaker for my FIRST Tuesday devotional?? Elder Holland!! Nobody knows who the speaker is going to be until he walks in the room. Before he came in, the MTC president got up and said, "Now I know sometimes it is hard to be quiet when someone exciting walks into the room, but for future reference, please maintain the reverence of the atmosphere and do not disturb the peace when visitors enter the hall' and then he sat down...I guess we should've been expecting someone big, but I totally thought he was just saying that in general for future reference. But then...in walks Elder Holland! I couldn't help but gasp as the whole room stood up to welcome one of our great apostles, and probably a favorite for most missionaries. Needless to say...the Spirit, which is already prominent at the MTC, just EXPLODED when he walked into the room. Oh! And I was in the choir and we got to sing for him! Come Thou Fount. Wow. Enough said?
 
 
Choir in and of itself was a fantastic experience, and one of my favorites so far at the MTC. The director is an institute teacher and teaches a class specifically based on the hymns of the church. During rehearsal on Sunday he talked to us a lot about the meaning behind Come Thou Fount. He talked about the people of Ebenezer who originally raised up a stone in remembrance of their choice to turn their hearts and their lives completely over to God. "Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I come..." Just gorgeous. And the mount, our director believes, represents Golgotha. "Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it." So ultimately this song is about turning out hearts to the Lord, and right now our missions are like our personal Ebenezer that we are raising to stand as a testimony for the rest of our lives that we are committed the the Lord and to the pursuit of eternal life.

Back to the devotional...as soon as the opening prayer was said and the song sung, everyone burst out their paper and pens in anxious preparation to listen to Elder Holland. He spoke powerfully and bluntly and in love towards us. You can tell he is passionately interested in missionary work and the missionaries. He said that the Brethren expect A LOT from us, and they don't apologize. But in the end the only thing they absolutely require of us, is ONE convert. And that one convert is our own selves. He wants us to come home from missions CHANGED...never to go back to who we were before. Even if we were great people, we were a "young great." He says that we have to be and do what we expect our investigators to be and do.

The other thing I felt strongly this week was Christ's power to heal us. We watched a video in relief society of Christ administering to the American people after his resurrection. It showed him healing the physical infirmities of the people, and I realized more strongly then I ever have, that Christ can heal us completely. He can heal those wounds and those pains that no one else can see. HE CAN HEAL US. I know this with all my heart. He is waiting for us to reach to him.

I am out of time but more coming soon! I love you all so much and appreciate your prayers. I need every single one! Japanese is incredibly difficult but the Lord is with me and I am learning so much every day. To answer some questions....there are 11 of us in my district and in my class. 4 sisters and 7 Elders. They are all amazing and I am learning from each of them. The Elders can get incredibly goofy sometimes!

Mata Ne!
Wylie Shimai