:) Hello! Or perhaps I should say good morning...I think I am sending this off about midnight Utah time. Yosh! I love you all so much and I pray you are all happy and healthy and genki as ever! I got two letters this week; one from Brent yesterday, and one from grandma today. They SO lifted my spirits!
Japan is slowly beginning to feel like home. It was a major adjustment, but I think my body and spirit are finally getting settled here as a missionary. There is so much to tell that I don't really know where to start! I have met two girls who knew Tandy. Both were sister missionaries and one was her companion in Kobe. One of them is Sister Soto and the other I don't remember. Sister Soto facebooked Tandy and sent her some pictures so you'll have to ask for them. Very cool! There is also an Elder in my district from Tandy's home ward...Elder Kinnison? Something like that. So I've been eating a lot of good food this week! Quite a few members have had us over. I even got SALAD and it was SO DELECTABLE! My diet generally consists of rice, noodles, tofu, cereal, and some other weird things in balls of cheese with spam. Haha. I just don't ask sometimes. So I was thrilled when salad was brought out. The most recent home we were at was the Utagawa family. They had us come and bring investigators to FHE. My first surprise was that they had couches, and my second surprise was that they let us sit on them!! Haha some people we visit have couches but for some strange reason we always sit on the floor in front of them and not on them...hmm....
Oh and I am going to be able to pound anyone at leg wrestling when I get home! We've been on the bikes a lot this week, which is awesome. Some members/investigators live about an hour away by bike so they're keeping us in shape. I'm getting the feeling I'm going to go through a lot of skirts on my mission though...
I need to share a bit of my testimony of prayer. Just when I start to think I understand prayer, God starts to remodel my life and I find myself pleading for his help more and more. There was a particularly challenging day last week where I felt I was doing everything wrong. I was failing at several small cultural decorum's, my language skills were lacking, my mogi lesson with a member felt strained, and I was feeling crushed under a weight of expectations and responsibility. It got to the point where I absolutely didn't know what to do or how I could continue on with my heart in turmoil but still have the full presence of the spirit. Finally I was able to go to the Lord in quiet, personal, tearful prayer and plead for his help for truly I was overwhelmed on my own. Nothing in my outer circumstances changed, but there was a tangible weight lifted from my heart as I laid all my worries and stresses at his feet. What an incredible blessing! That people such as we, young in spirit and seemingly small through the eyes of the universe, can kneel before the creator of all mankind and receive personal comfort, personal direction, and peace that only He can give. Sometimes it is in difficult circumstances when we finally realize the reality of our relationship with God. How miraculous! He has given me so many tender mercies as I try to become the missionary he needs me to be.
I am feeling much more happiness this week. There is so much joy in the work we are doing here. Tomura Shimai and I are becoming good friends and I am learning so much from her. Most of the people here adore her. Yesterday we got permission to visit one of her old investigators in another area. Sister Saruma, an African woman who speaks Swahili, Japanese, and English. She is having a bit of a difficult time getting use to the new sisters in her area so Tomura Shimai and I went to see her with the sisters to make the exchange more comfortable. I was able to talk with her in English which was strange but cool. She was such a sweet woman. There are also quite a few Philippine people who the missionaries work with. We visit one who is less active named Ootake Shimai. It's kind of funny because we teach her in Japanese, she reads the Book of Mormon in Tagalog, and she uses English church vocabulary. We just got a referral for another Philippine (sp?) woman who is suppose to be golden and the missionaries said she speaks better English then Japanese so if we can get ahold of her I will have an English investigator!
So a bit about our schedule: we wake up at 6:30 (although the sun is up by 4:45am) exercise and get ready for the day. Starting at eight we have about 3 hours of personal/companion/language study. Sometimes more or less depending on if we have appointments. We meet with people often around 9 or 10 so our study is sometimes split up throughout the day. If Tomura Shimai believes in food we have 30-60 minutes for lunch and dinner. The day is full of streeting, housing, visiting members and less actives, and teaching. Wednesdays nights and Sundays after church we teach English class with the Elders. There are two companionship's of Elders working in the same ward as us. One is Nihonjin, one is from Idaho, the other two from Utah. They are awesome. Goofy sometimes, but great missionaries. We get a LOT of our investigators from English Class. Since it is held at the church, people get to feel the spirit there and get to associate with the missionaries in a non-intimidating environment. They figure out we're real people and we are able to become friends with them before introducing them to the gospel. This is the best way to do missionary work here because people generally don't let you into their lives until you first have a good trust relationship. I've been able to use my violin once so far when we were meeting with some recent converts. This Friday we are giving an investigator a tour of the church and singing hymns and she wants me to bring my violin so that should be fun.
I realize this is super long but I hope it has interesting content. :) My heart just overflows when I think of home and I long to write you and hear from you. The Lord is with me here, and He is teaching me so much. I've found that although the language is hard, I can bear testimony of the gospel and right now that is enough. I can smile, I can show love, and I can serve without saying anything. I love cleaning the apartment or doing dishes or helping at the church because although I can't speak very well yet, those are things I CAN do. Oh! I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting on Sunday! That was so neat. I felt this explosion of happiness in my heart as I walked up to the pulpit and looked out on all the beautiful families in my ward here. They are my people now, and God is beginning to fill my heart with the love he has for them.
Thank you so much for your support and prayers. I cannot describe how much they mean to me. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. I MISS YOU. Oh I miss you. But I know this is where the Lord needs me.
With love, Your missionary....Wylie Shimai
P.S. Tell Alex to look up Sky Tree in Tokyo. It is this new tower they built that is GJINORMOUS and bigger then Tokyo tower. We rode by it on our bikes and I could NOT BELIEVE HOW MASSIVE it is! You've got to look it up and tell me how tall it is!