Monday, August 27, 2012

Did I mention that what goes down must come up?? These hills are something!

One of my favorite highs this week...well favorite shallow, not missionary-purpose-oriented high....is the bike I am currently riding! Haha. My bike is in the shop getting a new tire rim. But since people can't live without their bikes here in Tokyo, bike shops lend out bikes while they are fixing yours. So I have been pedaling around on what is called a 'mamachayri' or what I like to call a 'momma chariot'. It is a heavier bike with a low low bar that is sturdy enough to carry a handful of kids! I am TOTALLY getting one of these when I am a mommy and live in a flat place. The seat is also the most pleasing thing to sit on. It's HUGE. The bars turn inward so you are actually sitting up completely straight while riding. Maybe I won't come back with a hunchback after all. So strange to get used to at first. And going down hills it just cruises and I start laughing out loud every time because I feel like I'm in a movie. Mary Poppins. Anyway...pictures next week!

So we just had transfers. As expected, Takei Shimai and I will both be staying in Machida. :D YAY! President Budge is leaving a lot of people in their areas longer, and leaving companionships together for longer. Very interesting. I am so so grateful to be staying here in Machida because we've had so many miracles the past few weeks and have found many new people. I want to share a quote from our last district meeting...

"We may turn from him, but he is still there. We may feel that he is hidden because of the cloud cover of our concerns, but he is still close to us. We- not he- let something come between us. But no lasting eclipse need ensue...our disregard of him is no match for his love of us."

I testify that this is true. He is always there. And, wow, his love for us is so big. When we turn outward in service of others this love begins to seep into our own hearts. I'm sure it magnifies like crazy when we become parents. God is love!!

So on Friday we had a self referral call from the elders. Her name is Miyuki Yamada san. She is interested in English and more so in religion. So she came to Eikaiwa on Saturday and at the end of church on Sunday. Miyuki san has a lot of problems, but she is a beautiful spirit. I have never met someone so open hearted and ready to listen. She is special. I spent some good time talking with her on Sunday and she got to meet a lot of people in the ward. Wow, though she challenged my Japanese with some DEEP questions. I haven't been faced with questions like hers so far on my mission. One thing she asked me was, 'Am I sick now because of my sins, or something I did before this life?' Miyuki san has some illness that gives her a ton of fatigue. She hasn't had it forever, she said she use to be extremely genki. We aren't quite positive what specifically her problem is yet, but it is evident in her countenance that she is not well. She accepted a Book of Mormon and we are visiting her house today. She called us last night with some worries and we taught her how to pray. I am so humbled by her sweet spirit and readiness to accept whatever we teach her. She is 42 years old. She is so patient with my Japanese. One of the most humble people I've ever met. I think I have a lot to learn from her. Some special prayers in her direction would be wonderful.

Last week I had my first American companion! We had splits and Lundy Shimai came to work with me here in Machida. She worked here for two transfers just before Takei Shimai came so she was SO excited to be back. It was so different being with an American! Not to mention that she is tall and has long blond hair. Lundy Shimai just DUMPS love on people!! It is amazing to watch. She is on transfer six and OH! She is training Dolan Shimai, mom! Yes I finally met Miss Dolan Shimai, and she is great. She wants to be thrown into everything here head first! She has a lot of fire and isn't afraid to talk to people. Hopefully I'll get to work with her in the future. Apparently you and her mom have become friends...? Haha uh oh. I told Dolan Shimai that my mom is very ambitious and will teach her mom all kinds of things.

So this past week was a bit tough. There were a few times where I really wanted to call my mommy or sleep or run around crazy outside to release some of the stresses and pressure of being a missionary. There was a point where I felt frustrated because missionaries are so limited as to our communication with home. I thought that if I could just call home I would feel better. I didn't feel I had an outlet. I think this type of situation happens to everyone at one time or another. There comes a point in life where we don't know where to turn for relief, when the pressure is high and our spirits are sore and our hearts sorrowful. Everyone has to make the choice to either turn to the world, or lift their eyes to heaven. We see so many people who have reached for alcohol or other things in attempts to find solace. As missionaries we are here to point people towards heaven. Towards the only real and true hope. My favorite scripture on this is Moroni 9:47. "...may Christ lift thee up...and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever." I think one of the reasons missionaries are asked to separate themselves from the world is so that they realize they must turn to him. They have to rely on him. God reminds me of this often. :) When I finally decide to turn my eyes to him, he frees my heart and lifts my soul. He has really blessed me this week.

Our Ghasemi family is doing well. Nedar san, the father, is a future leader!! We slammed them with a ton of commitments on Sunday since they are getting baptized so soon, and they accepted all of them. One of the commitments was tithing, and we actually forgot at first to tell them where tithing funds actually go, but they still said they would pay! Then we were like...oh...by the way...do you want to know how tithing is used?? Haha. They are so great. And Tina chan has the BIGGEST smile I have ever seen. I will get pictures of them soon. :) Special special family. Trevor I need some Farsi phrases! Did I mention Nedar san reads the Book of Mormon in Farsi (the parts that are translated) English, and Japanese? Amazing.

I love you so much and I pray for you every day. I would not be here without you!! Your love and support mean SO much to me. Good luck jumping into another school year!

Monday, August 20, 2012

What goes down...must go back UP!

To my most loved and thought about family...and to the many other fabulous people that take a peek at my letters home... :)
 
 
So strange things are happening here in Machida. First of all, I am starting to almost like the strange Japanese sweets Obachan gives us. I need to take a picture. They are these big balls of mochi on a stick covered in this brown sauce of soy and sugar and who knows what. They look like eyeballs. I have had to stomach them several times now but could hardly stand them. This last visit though, I realized, wow...this is actually kind of good!....What is happening to me?? Haha. I am also a big fan of mogi-cha (barley tea) which absolutely tasted like ash-tray water to me my first transfer. Now I think I will probably keep drinking it once I return to the states. Yikes!

There is so much in my head I want to share so we will see how fast my fingers can go today! First of all, such a miracle, my dear Sachiko Shimai was baptized on Sunday. Unfortunately I was not able to return to Koiwa to attend. I was so very sad about this, but so grateful and happy at the same time. My two best friends in my first area have both entered the Lord's church. It fills my heart! I hope I am able to visit her in the near future. In the meantime I have a letter and the CD's you sent to give to Tomura Shimai tomorrow at the temple. Sachiko Shimai wrote me the sweetest email last night after her baptism.

"Dear Sister Wylie, Thank you for your kind email, which made me happy. Yes, I am thankful for your setting today as my baptism day, otherwise I would not be baptized for many years to come. I appreciate your thinking to look far ahead and into the future. Thanks to brothers and sisters of Koiwa church, my baptism was carried out so smoothly. I realized I am trying to lead my new life being supported by brothers and sisters of Koiwa church. During baptism gathering, we sang Teach Me To Walk In The Light. Thank you again for your thought about me and my baptism. Please take care in this hot and uncomfortable season. Sachiko."

I started emailing her my first week in Koiwa. She is so special to me. Honestly the first two transfers for me were so challenging, and I often felt like a shadow. Or a kid holding onto a big kite and getting dragged across a field. But, Weight Shimai said something at mission conference that really summed up what I have been learning. She has had a lot of physical challenges on her mission and was telling about a time where she was feeling very physically and spiritually weak. Her brother, who is also on a mission, wrote a letter to her and said, "Feeling weak is a sure sign of being a missionary!" Truly God can use the weak and simple to do his work. If we really think about it...God is all powerful. Of course He will accomplish his work. Of course he can work miracles with whoever will give their lives and hearts to him. Why do we even dwell on our incapacity's? Haha well of course we do because we are human...but really, He can do ANYTHING. We just have to trust him. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with our eyes facing the heavens. He will hold onto us. If He is far away, we are the ones who have let go.  

Now for life in Machida. First of all, this week Shoko san took us to REAL sushi...like...serious sushi! The whole place smelled like fish. As we were sitting on the waiting bench near the front I was happily watching the chefs bustle about and particularly enjoying the enormous tanks filled with fish swimming around on the back wall. My smile began to go slightly pinched however as I watched a man in a tall white hat dive a fish-net into the tank after one of the fishies. Though they scampered about wildly for their lives, the man in the white hat was triumphant, and soon pulled an unfortunate fishy out of the tank. My pinched expression they turned to one of horror as he immediate slapped the fish onto a plate and grabbed a knife...our little fishy-friend was on someones plate within minutes. Yeah. Fresh, fresh sushi is the hit here in Tokyo. Shoko san and Takei Shimai thought my reaction was hilarious. Eventually, somehow, though I was sure at times that the fish on my plate was still flopping, I was able to overcome my shock and find my appetite. Needless to say it was very, very oishi.

Experience number two...this actually happened on Saturday. We were out visiting less actives and housing when the Elder's called us to see if we were coming to Eikaiwa. I teach every Wednesday but usually the Elder's teach on Saturdays and Takei Shimai and I just participate and get to know the students. Anyways they asked me if I would be willing to teach. They were still going to be there but since they will probably transfer they thought it would be good for me to teach. It was 30 minutes before the class was supposed to start which meant we would have to haiyai to the church and I would walk in and improvise. Last week I was asked to give the spiritual thought on the spot and translate and it was a train wreck so I had a sour taste of walking into eikaiwa unprepared. Of course though we said yes. I am ashamed to say my attitude was slightly below what it should have been and as we rushed back towards the church there were grumblings in my head. I promise I am not kidding when I say the thought crossed my mind that it would be a convenient time for my bike to break down and then I wouldn't have to teach. I hushed such thoughts and carried on after my punctual companion. Within a few minutes however there was a big clank below my legs and my usually sweet-sounding bicycle began crunching dinosaur bones. My pedaling efforts suddenly yielded no results and I came to a stop. Being in a very big noisy city Takei Shimai didn't hear my calls and was soon out of sight. Honestly at first I definitely laughed out loud at the irony of the situation. Then I took a look at my bike. The wheel was crooked and the chain had come off the runner. After several attempts of getting it back on my bike was rideable and I made it to the church in one piece. I didn't make it in time to teach Eikaiwa. I have now thanked God for his lesson on attitude and am humbly hoping I can be better in the future!

Yesterday after church we finally got to visit the Ghasemi family. They met Sister Derricott around Christmas and are an absolutely fabulous family. However they are SO SO incredibly busy so it has been impossible to meet with them this transfer, except for going to Yasuko san's ballet performance, and one time when Nedar san and Tina chan came to church. Anyway...they picked us up at the train station and took us to their adorable house. Yasuko-san loves ballet and her house is absolutely brimming with pink and the furniture looks like she took it from a ballet dressing room. Nedar san is actually from Persia. (Trevor...teach me some Persian!) but he speaks fluent English and Japanese too. They have been married since '89 and have their 11-year old daughter, Tina chan, who is just a doll. We spent a lot of time with them yesterday to make up for the last few weeks. We invited them to be baptized and they actually wanted a sooner date then the one we originally set. Amazing family. Nedar san's Japanese is actually a lot easier for me to understand...probably because he is also a foreigner! Haha. While Takei Shimai spent some time helping Nedar san with Kanji, I talked with Yasuko san and helped Tina chan on her violin. Turns out Tina chan is slightly autistic. (I actually know that word in Japanese) so we talked about Bree a lot and about school and Yasuko san's worries about her future. I am really grateful I was able to connect with this family. I was worried that being the new missionary, and they having known Sister Derricott for so many months, that it would be difficult to build a relationship. But God answers prayers! It is amazing how he weaves our lives, isn't it?
Yasuko san actually doesn't like to cook so we had a very Persian style dinner. Pasta with hamburger meat  and eggplant and potato salad. Yummy!
 
I also made a special friend this week from Eikaiwa. She invited me and Sister Takei to a tea party at her house. Her name is Suzuki san. We made sure she knew our tea standards, and she ended up giving us her homemade tea. I thought about Kathy Anderson! Suzuki san loves studying health and herbs and was telling us all the benefits of the teas we tried. One was Red Clover and apparently it is really good for your brain. I told her I was going to start drinking it during language study. Her English is very good and she is such a sweetie! Lives right by the church and has been watching the church members for a long time. She is super curious and very open to coming to church or to relief society activities.

Ok well this is a novel now so maybe I will finish. I love you all so so so much. MOMMY and DADDY thank you for your letters!!! I look forward to them eagerly every week. MY LITTLE ELLIOT IS SUCH A STUD! I loved loved loved the picture of him upside down on dad's lap. So so cute. I miss him! Well I miss everyone. So so much. I am so grateful everything was okay this week with the car having issues...what a miracle you were so close to car shop and not going to fast!! Many prayers of gratitude from me to Heavenly Father for protecting my family.

With all the love I can catapult across the pond...your missionary....
 
Wylie Shimai :) :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baptesumakai

Baptisms are the most amazing thing ever. They make everything pale in comparison.  
 
Saturday was beautiful. I was expecting it to be wonderful, but I was absolutely blown away by the spirit that absolutely soared into the room and into my heart as I watched my dear sweet Iida Shimai enter the water in the baptismal font. She has come so far. I am so, so proud of her. I was kneeling next to Sato Shimai on the floor close to the font, both of us completely overcome with joy and with emotions that perhaps have no name. Sato Shimai was practically our third companion with Iida Shimai, and has been a huge blessing for her. We have been so grateful for her consistent love and fun spirit on this journey with Iida Shimai.

Iida Shimai was so beautiful in her white dress! It was such a joyous reunion to be back with her and Tomura Shimai. They are both so special to me. I wish I could poetically and accurately explain my experiences on Saturday but I just don't have the skill. Needless to say...it was beautiful. I hope and pray I can always stay in touch with my first friend here in Tokyo. Saying goodbye after the service was so difficult. But...the timing is just right, that I will hopefully get to go through the temple with her a year from now. I hope hope hope the timing works out!! Tomura Shimai said she will come back for that too. I pray for this special day at the temple! And hopefully this month I will get to go back to Koiwa for Sachiko Shimai's baptism. :)
 
I have no doubt that this is the Lord's work. He has been in this vineyard much longer then I have. So many of his precious special children are here in Tokyo and they don't know who they are. They don't know! And we want so badly to tell them. It breaks my heart when we look into their eyes and tell them from the bottom of our soul that they are a child of a loving heavenly father...but they don't listen. If only they knew. If only they could see! But, "...the elect hear my voice..." and Akiko Iida Shimai has turned her life towards her loving heavenly father.

This last week actually blew by crazy fast. On Monday we got to go to the American base with the elders. One of our members is Japanese but grew up in Canada and Hawaii and works for the US military. He met his wife at BYU Hawaii and they moved here about 4 years ago. She is from Taiwan. They are the most awesome couple ever. Two boys, and one little girl that reminds me so much of Eden. She is turning 4 this week. So cute! They took us to this place on base that has all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta. Does God love me? Yes, yes he does. :)

On Tuesday we went with a PI to a sushi restaurant!! Can I just say...sushi is SO, SO good here. Maybe even good enough for you to like it mommy! The fish is fresh. And they don't even fry it. Healthy. :D Anyway they have these super cool conveyor belts that always have plates of sushi and other things sliding by your table, and you can grab whatever you want. If you want something specific, every table has a computer screen and you punch in your order and within a few minutes it comes by on a special plate. SO AWESOME. The system is genius. America needs to figure it out!

Haha I promise not all my cool experiences have to do with food. Lately there have been tons of super loud booming military airplanes flying over the city here. I was talking with Shoko san about it and she told me rather seriously that she wants me to go back to America and talk to Obama, and let him know that his planes are disturbing her peace. LOL. It was so so funny. We also went to Akino mama and Akino papa's house on Friday, where we taught them about repentance and she taught us about sewing. Haha. Good trade right? We made these awesome hanger things-pictures coming soon- and she also made us little cloth covers for our hymn books. She is such a cutie! But oh I had a big surprise at her house when she came out of the back room with a little container to show us...can you guess what was inside?? MASSIVE man eating beetles!!!!! I couldn't believe our dear Akino mama could have such an outrageous hobby as collecting ginormous fighter beetles. Haha. Nihonjin are awesome.

Anyway...rainy day today! And it is still hot here. And it's apparently going to be hot for another two months. Oh boy. Wearing our raincoats on days like this seems rather ridiculous because we get just as wet with sweat as we would with rain. Haha. Everyone always talks about the weather here. It's actually a great conversation starter on the street. All we have to do is pull up next to someone on our bikes at a stop light and say, "Atsui desu, ne!" and they launch into a conversation with us about the blithering summer heat. Haha. I love Japan.

The church is true. The Book of Mormon is so, so true. And the Lord is leading this work!!
 
I LOVE YOU ALL.