Sunday, October 28, 2012

Out come the scarves! wakaranai!

Beautiful Chichi to Haha...
 
I got COLD last week...COLD! Unthinkable! Haha it was the strangest experience. We were out on our bikes and suddenly we both looked at each other and said, 'samui!' and from then it feels like Autumn has started. We are wearing more long sleeves and scarves. It is actually kind of nice to be able to switch up the wardrobe a bit. Sure love being a Shimai!

This week has been busy with a lot of late nights and running from place to place. Splits, Halloween party, Tama district meeting, ward conference, Korean cooking activity, and new investigators. I was also humbled to my toes when we had a lesson with an Eikaiwa student named Yu san. He is actually one of my favorite students, and one of the funnest, in the advanced class. His favorite game is charades and he is hilarious. Also he is a genius. 30 years old. Wants to be a philosopher. Anyway the Elders have been teaching him but I bring up the gospel a lot with him in a friendly natural way during Eikaiwa, and then he asked to have a lesson from the Shimai. I was excited because I feel strongly he will be a member in the future. So we found a member (an RM who went to Hawaii) and had a lesson with him on Saturday. The Elders warned us that usually lessons consist of answering his endless list of questions. I guess I didn't ponder much before hand on what it would be like to teach a philosophy guru who is brilliant and full of deep questions...in Japanese. He jumped right in to deep questions about Christ and about self-improvement and all sorts of things...really great thinker, really great heart. But I was humbled by my lack of intellectual conversational skills in Japanese and about deep doctrine in the bible. It was kind of a flash back of lessons during my first few weeks when I wondered what in the world I could possibly contribute. My simple way of usually teaching the gospel seemed utterly insufficient. At the end of almost 2 hours when we were packing up to leave he said kindly, 'This was a really great experience to be able to discuss my thoughts with the sisters. But it would have been nice to hear more from Wylie Shimai.' Whoops. I realized how silent I had been during the discussion. About 20 minutes in I'd started desperately searching for heaven's help. But perhaps my prayers were too late. From this experience I have been really pondering on how much I NEED the spirit. I need to be much more conscious of his guidance and seeking of his help before and during lessons. And in my life, I have to absolutely put everything on the altar that might possibly hinder his influence. Of course this is something I already knew, that I'm sure most missionaries know...but, being human, sometimes we let the things of a spiritual nature become habitual and our heart slightly disconnects. Lucky for us, God loves us, and is quick to remind us to keep our eyes turned towards heaven!

Thank goodness everyone except me had a really great experience. Haha. Yu san is even bringing a friend with him to eikaiwa and our lesson next week.
 
Yesterday was ward conference and I played my violin with the choir. Strange how I'm not so uptight about playing my violin here as I was in Utah. Anyway the Spirit was felt and that is the purpose of my music, so I felt good. Ward conference was also fantastic. I love our bishop and stake president. We've been able to build really good relationships especially with the bishop's family. They are pretty young, maybe late 30's. We went to their house for dinner a few weeks ago and we we walked into the genkan there was this container with dirt and these huge larva and I was like what in the world is that? He said it was beetle larva and they ate it with their meals. Of course, being me, I completely believed him. And naturally, being about to eat dinner at their house, I was only slightly able to conceal my horror. Haven't heard the end of it since.

Sadly Iida Shimai got sick on Friday and was unable to come see me on Sunday. I haven't asked her again about the Liahona but I will let you know. :)
 
My cough is still here but I do have medicine, and I think it might be asthma...so might just have to deal with it until the air clears up. Besides my lungs I am genki! So no worries. :)

LOVE YOU TO PIECES! Next week will be my halfway mark. When did that happen?????

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ai shimeshite kudasai

Davin is going on a mission!!!!! :D :D :D Wish him my luck! I will try to send him something to the MTC. And Dallin is in Brazil. They are both going to be stellar missionaries. How long is Davin in the MTC for?

The weather is finally cooling down here in Machida. I actually use a big blanket at night now. It gets pretty cold at night and is the PERFECT temperature during the day. Not sure how long that will last, but I have high hopes!

For starters...yesterday I could not speak Japanese. Seriously my brain just completely shut off the Japanese switch!! Ridiculous. Haha. Anyway we were visiting an 80 year old grandmother we found housing a few weeks ago. She has the CUTEST smile I've ever seen. We were talking casually in her kitchen and I was teaching her how we pray. I told her to fold her arms or clasp her hands, and then I meant to tell her to close her eyes...but I was thinking in half English, and the Japanese half wasn't functioning properly, so I said 'eye o shimeshite' instead of 'me o shimete'. 'eye' sounds like 'ai' which means 'love'. 'shimeshite' means 'show'. So instead of telling her to shut her eyes, I told her to show love. Hahaha. She looked confused and Takei Shimai cocked her head to the side until it dawned on her what I was trying to say. (She is really good at figuring out my Japanese). Anyway we had a good laugh about it and life went on.

Have I mentioned that Takei Shimai looks like an Indian princess? Well she does. She is so beautiful! I attached a picture of us we took while at the Sister Conference this week. Yes, we had an all sister mission conference...and it was so awesome! There are 34 of us here now. But numbers are going down soon...last transfer no new sisters came in. This coming transfer only 1 is coming. The transfer after that, none again. So it looks like I won't get the chance to  train for a while...which may be a good thing. We don't want any poor sisters being traumatized by Wylie Shimai. I can just see it...Sister Budge getting a call late at night, "Wylie Shimai is making animal noises again....I don't know what to do....make it stop!" Haha.

Apparently Brother Sakai (the man I talked about a few weeks ago) was Jeff's mission president. What! Tell Jeff he needs to write me and send a note for him!
 
I mentioned we are teaching a lady named Satomi san. Her 13 year old son just became an investigator too! He is awesome. Makes me think of Alex. Kept popping his head in during our lesson or bringing us water or something so we invited him to come listen. He became an active participant and even shared about how he's convinced he's felt the Spirit before helping him make decisions. When we told him we were going to pray, we explained that prayer is talking with God....his eyes about popped out of his head! He was so surprised. So cute. What a great age to be introduced to the church! We have such high hopes for their family.

Iida Shimai is actually coming this Sunday. :) And I am playing my violin with the choir. Lucky for me music is a language I can speak!
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Conference

Last week I was missing my dear sweet Iida Shimai like crazy so I decided to give her a call. We email back and forth every week or so but I wanted to talk to her. My zone leader told me it was fine. It was the happiest 20 minutes of my week!!!! I was seriously bouncing around my apartment like a leprechaun! (sp?) She wasn't expecting my call so it was a pleasant surprise. The best part about it? I could understand her! :D The last time we talked was at her baptism over two months ago...which doesn't sound like very long ago, but that's a long time as a missionary! Anyway...it was the most beautiful thing. I felt suddenly I could hear her whereas it's like we were speaking under water before. I love her to pieces. I hope you can meet her someday. She is coming to Machida ward in a few weeks to visit. The same day I am playing violin with the choir. Should be a good day. :)

General Conference was a miracle. We had five investigators total come! Quite unexpectedly too. We'd invited just about everyone of course, but until Saturday morning and Sunday morning we didn't have a definitive answer from anyone. Because not many people come for the Saturday sessions there weren't any English speaking sisters...so I got to watch 5 hours of conference in Japanese! I'll tell you what...there is no better way to humble an American missionary in Japan! Haha. But it was all okay because I was with our investigators. I couldn't seem to piece together sentences after that though. In trying to retell a phrase Takei Shimai taught me, I said 'Even dishes fall from trees.' LOL. The correct phrase is 'Even monkeys sometimes fall from trees.' It got some good laughs though. I actually pray sometimes to be able to make my companion laugh, and those prayers are almost always answered...generally by me doing something ridiculous like mixing up names or shouting happy birthday to members when it's not their birthday...but it makes people laugh so it is okay!

Unfortunately I have to cut this short today we are out of time. I love you.
 
Machida missionaries and some investigators.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Machida

First things first...I am staying in Machida for another transfer....and keeping Takei Shimai for her last!! I am so so happy to be working with her another six weeks. And it will be special working with a 'dying' missionary. We are planning out a lot of fun P-days, and some serious dendo time! If the Lord has any reason not to work some serious miracles here in Machida this coming transfer, we want to make sure it is undoubtedly not us!
 
Today we went with some of the single adults in the ward to a food festival thing, featuring tons of booths with food from Hokaido. We also went to a big park and my first shrine. Amazing I've been in Japan for five months, and just barely got around to seeing a shrine!! Haha. It was pretty neat. Nestled in the middle of woods. The woods were my favorite part. I don't think I've been somewhere not surrounded by some type of building until today. Don't worry though, living in a big city is fun. I actually enjoy it quite a lot.

About Conference...we actually haven't watched it yet. They get it a week late here in Japan. Not sure why, but it is what it is, and boy are we looking forward to it! A little strange feeling a bit disconnected from Utah. But I get to split with Juliander Shimai and watch it in English, so I am grateful for that. One of Takei Shimai's biggest dreams is to be able to understand the prophet, in English. I admire so much the strength and testimony of the Japanese people. They obey and love a prophet who doesn't speak their native language! But they have so much faith. Anyway since it's Takei Shimai's last transfer she is going to come listen to the last session in English with me. I know she'll do great. :)

I did hear from the zone leaders about the big change in missionary age. God and I had a little laugh about that one. But I am excited. What surprised me the most was that they lowered the age for the young men. I think this is going to bring out a burst of missionaries within the next year or so. How exciting!! I wish I could watch the press conference with President Holland! What a special time to be alive. You can feel the energy of 'hastening the work' coming from the Brethren.

We have a baptismal date for one of our investigators, Nakajima san. She is a classy 60 year old woman we found on our phone that was a former investigator. She likes to go out to expensive restaurants with us about every other week. We do phone lessons the other times. She has helped me gain a testimony of how powerful the Book of Mormon is in the lives of people investigating the church. Since she keeps her commitments, her faith is growing, and we are simply here to guide her along her road to the Savior. What a special opportunity.

Anyway it is finally starting to cool down here. I even wear socks in the morning. :) We are happy and healthy and ready to run into a new transfer!
 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Here comes transfer 5...0.0

Where to start this week! We've been busy. Maybe I'll start with saying they made me give another talk in church on Sunday...in the same ward, too. Haha. Great fun. I spoke about 1 Nephi 11:17. We don't know the meaning of all things, but we can know God loves us. And when we know that, we can overcome anything. I used to worry about what to say when investigators asked me hard questions like why there are starving children and war and things. Now I know that it isn't my responsibility to answer all those questions...just to testify and be a witness to God's love. Once they let a bit of that love into their lives..they'll be able to answer that question themselves. It was a good experience anyway. It's actually not as scary to speak in sacrament in Japanese because they expect me to be simple, and I just say what I can from my heart and know that even though I can't speak Japanese, the Spirit can, and he will teach them what they need to hear.

A surprising experience this week was visiting the Sakai family. Turns out the couple I thought was one of the normal ward couples is actually absolutely remarkable. They were both converts when they were young, 17 and 20. They met through the church and were married. When Brother Sakai was 32 he was working for the church. One day he got an unexpected call in the middle of the night from church headquarters to inform him that he was being called as mission president for the Sendai mission! Not only that but they wanted him to leave as soon as possible. Apparently the current mission president had become very sick and hadn't been able to interview or work with the missionaries for over a month, and they wanted to get someone in as fast as possible. So his wife wrapped up their life in Machida and moved to Sendai with their two boys under 6. They served a full 3 years as mission president. Amazing! I'm not sure when this happened but he also had President and Sister Hinckley stay at their house while visiting Japan. Sister Sakai said after they fed them dinner, President Hinkley insisted he help with the dishes. During his stay President Hinckley's health went down because of the many countries he'd been visiting, and because of an asthma condition. He asked Brother Sakai to give him a blessing before he flew home. Imagine giving a blessing to the PROPHET! Brother Sakai's description was awesome. He even did it in Japanese because he'd never given a blessing in English and he was too nervous to try. Later Brother Sakai was asked to write a piece in President Hinkley's biography about the experience. If you have the book you can probably find it! The Sakai's were also temple president for several years. Amazing couple. After we did a practice lesson with them, Brother Sakai even did an example lesson for us about how to teach the atonement simply. So fantastic!

Sister Sakai made us meatloaf. I didn't know they believed in meatloaf here. Made me think of you, mommy! She made meatloaf in this round glass bowl and surrounded it with veggies and sprinkled cheese on the top.  

I also like the Sakai family because I was able to understand 80% of what they said. Haha. Some people are easier then others!
 
This past week I also went on splits with O'Rourke Shimai who is from Australia. She was converted when she was 20 and left on her mission a year later. Way awesome. I loved hearing about her story. When she was in college she moved in to an apartment that touched property with the Brisbane temple. She said before the missionaries found her she used to sit out on the back porch smoking and watching the angel Moroni, haha. She is on transfer 6 so we aren't that far apart. I got to go out into the country a bit to a place called Kiryu. The ward there meets in an old factory building that's been converted to a church. Only about 40 active members. A Sisters only area right now. It was fun being out away from the city and surrounded by rice fields and rolling hills. Honestly in some places going down the streets looked like Salem Utah haha except with cool Japanese style roofs. Housing as two guijin is such a different experience! We went to a poor part of town, and wow poor people are almost always warmer then rich people! Even when they rejected us, they were nice and polite about it. We knocked on one door and this adorable little grandma popped out and chuckled as she listened to my blip, and they called out to her husband in Japanese, 'Otosan! Two beautiful white people have come to our door. Do come and see!' Haha. We introduced ourselves and the church a little, and they sent us away with bananas and energy drinks. Being a missionary is great. :)

Today after going to the temple we had MEXICAN FOOD. This little shop the Shibuya sisters found a while ago. A big group of us sisters went. I think that's the second time I've had a tortilla since coming to Japan. Afterwards Takei Shimai had to go to the dentist. They actually had a genkan there to leave your shoes and then you got slippers from a vending machine, haha. Japan is awesome!! We also had a big miracle today. So Takei Shimai's crown fell off her tooth so we went to the dentist. We went to one of our investigators offices in Shinyurigaoka. Afterwards to make use of the trip we handed out eikaiwa fliers. We usually wouldn't be handing out fliers at this time. At one point a lady came up to me and started asking me about the class. She said she wasn't interested in English, but she had a son with Asperger's (sp?) who loved learning English. She then noticed I was from a Christian church and started talking about how she was really interested in Christianity and wanted to find the right church but there were so many she was confused. She then said her son might not like our eikaiwa since a lot of kids come now and he doesn't like being with a ton of people. I told her if she was willing to listen to our message, we could come give her personal lessons at their home. She readily agreed. I introduced her to Takei Shimai and we talked a bit more and turns out she is SUPER interested in the church and has concerns for her son and family and wants badly to find answers in church. She is such a sweet mommy! She even said she wants to enter our church (as in become a member) and is going to come on Sunday. It was such a miracle to find this beautiful woman! We both felt the spirit so strongly when talking with her. Wow wow wow. :) This past week had been a bit rough. Investigators dropping us, baptismal dates at 0...so this was such a miracle. After trials come the blessings!! Please pray for this family. :)

Transfer calls are this weekend. I want so badly to stay with Takei Shimai here in Machida for her last transfer!! Especially now that we found this lady. God knows best!
Jenna's recent 95-year-old convert and her companion...it is never too late to change!