Monday, December 10, 2012

Here comes Santa with a bag full of sushi...

Well first of all I managed to NOT pass out during my talk on Sunday! That by itself is something I'm quite pleased about. Haha. :) Okay so my talk went decently I think. All leading up to it I had the feeling you get when you're standing under a massive elephant in the jungle and if you make a wrong move he's going to step on you and then you realize that you're also standing in a puddle of pickled plums that someone might make you eat....

...OK so I've never stood under a massive elephant...but I have stared at a bowl of pickled plums with a grimace wondering when someone is going to make me eat them! Haha anyway where were we? Oh yeah my talk! Okay so I felt pretty strange all leading up to it like I said but once I started talking I was fine. Also Mikami Shimai, one of my favorite people in the ward, was also on the stand to give a talk so that made me happy. Sort of wondering if everything I said was chipunkanpun (gibberish) but everyone was smiling anyways. I talked about God's love being the center of missionary work, and talked about Sister Sachiko. :) Did I mention that Sister Oseki also worked in Koiwa and met Sister Sachiko?
 
Bree has most definitely been a blessing to me, and I've noticed it the most since coming on a mission. Right now I have FIVE investigators who have children or siblings with autism or Down syndrome or aspergers! Can you believe that? Not to mention families in the ward. It has been such a miracle, first of all, that I can relate to them. Second of all, that I can testify powerfully and with conviction about the purity of these spirits and the reality of the resurrection.
 
It was so cute yesterday in sunday school...one of the autistic boys in our ward, Yuji kun, about 20 years old, was giving a little presentation in the single adults class. He stood up and held up his pictures and then looked around until he saw me, and then asked, "Wylie Shimai can you see okay??" Haha it was so cute. He always remembers my name and wanted to make sure I was watching.

This week was absolutely ridiculously challenging, but we came out of it with SO MANY miracles.

Thank you so much for your prayers for Sister Oseki! She is walking and riding her bike again which is a miracle, we just make sure to walk up hills instead of bike them. The doctor honestly didn't do much of anything except give her these funny knee patches that she wears every day now. From what I've been able to figure out it is a ligament inflammation problem, or a nerve sliding under her knee cap. Whatever it is...a priesthood blessing, everyone's prayers, and Sister Oseki's unshakable faith have really brought her a miracle. We're being careful, but the work is unhindered! This transfer is blowing by and I hope and pray we don't get moved from Machida! Until this transfer I haven't ever given specific requests for transfers but now in every president letter I've been asking to stay! Ultimately of course the Lord knows best but if he gives me any say in the matter...I am quite planted here in Machida. Hopefully I'm not cursing myself by saying that. Haha.  

Another miracle this week...I've been talking to Miyuki Shimai again. It was such a warm sweet feeling that came when she started to call me again. I really want to help her. Lately she's been having some weird problems that have been taking her to the hospital a lot, and they're wondering if it's cancer. I don't know her reason for coming back in contact but I am so grateful, and hopeful that her heart will be softened to hear the gospel again.

Next miracle...the Kondo's. Brother and Sister Kondo were first found by Elder Davis about 1 1/2 years ago. They've been investigating the church on and off ever since and slowly their lives have been changing. They showed me a picture of them with Elder Davis from maybe a year ago and I couldn't believe it! The gospel changes people. It changes hearts. And the power of the Savior is real. :) They came back in contact with the missionaries during my last few weeks with Sister Takei. They've been to church almost every week since and have finally managed to quit tobacco. Sister Oseki has been an angel for them. For some reason they clicked right from the start and we went from hoping to set a date with them for next year sometime this transfer to an actual baptism in two weeks! They have a baptismal service planned for December 22nd. Looks like it's going to be a white Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Not slowing down!

So this week has been a roller coaster of sorts and definitely a time of learning and growth. Usually at the beginning of a new transfer things slow down for a bit but this transfer we seriously hit the ground running and have been going ever since! The Lord has blessed us with many people to teach, many opportunities to make friends, and a full schedule. I remember biking back to the apartment around 8:40 one night from an unfamiliar place in Machida and wondering at the fact that we'd been all over our bit of Tokyo that day from zone meetings to distant investigators and barbecues on random mountains...and had managed to fit in all into one day. Definitely wouldn't recommend that schedule to anyone on a regular basis! Haha. Actually our rather challenging schedule is probably the cause of our big trial this week. Oseki Shimai, her first transfer, had a big problem with her knees to the point where she couldn't walk. After being told to not walk for two weeks, however, she received a priesthood blessing and was able to get out within two days. Well her knees gave out again when we were heading to the church on Saturday. Honestly I can't figure out exactly what the problem is because of all the Japanese medical terminology...but the nerves in her knees slip under the bone or something and get grounded and then there is something wrong with the muscle. Either way, we've had a break from the bikes since then and are waiting for a doctor's appointment this week. I told you Machida hills were something! She was actually surprised when she first got that transfer call to Machida because of the many hills. We usually walked up the bad ones, but I guess we pushed too hard. Foo! But, the Lord is with us, and we know he has a higher plan and purpose for this circumstance. We've been able to call all the Elder's investigators and PI's they left us, and have been plowing through the area book and updating our records and things. We've also managed to get to some appointments by bus and train. My biggest concern is that they'll take her away from me next transfer! Please pray for her. :)

A few more tidbits about my adorable little companion. Oseki Shimai has a super high octave voice that makes everyone smile, especially the members at church. She sounds like a little girl and loves it. She also loves to laugh. Seriously she is so cute I'm sending you a video soon with my Christmas package. Her dendo style is a lot like mine so we've been able to unite in our purpose here quickly. Oseki Shimai also is not afraid of anything. She will talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I am astounded with how naturally she just talks to people all around her. I have a lot to learn from her and I hope God has it in mind to let me keep her for a while. A few funny facts about Sister Oseki...she doesn't like sushi. Or sashimi. In fact, she hates raw fish. 0.0 What! I'm not joking. First nihonjin I've met that doesn't like raw fish. And she is allergic to wasabe! (not sad about that one!)

So on Sunday I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting. Our stake is doing a 40 day fast and the zone leaders wanted a missionary in each ward to testify about that. It was a nice experience and I was even brave enough to read a scripture in front of everyone. Well after sacrament meeting, Brother Takayashiki comes up to me with a grin on his face and says he has 'a favor' to ask of me. As soon as he said that I knew I was in trouble because Brother Takayashiki is the ward secretary and in charge of the sacrament meeting program. Sure enough...I'm giving a talk in church next week. 3 minute? 4 minutes? Nope. We're going for a homerun this time and pounding 10 MINUTES!...please pray for me. :)

Uyama Shimai, one of our investigators, came to church on Sunday. She's actually been coming to church about twice a month for a year now. Brother Takabayashiki used to work with her in the same business and brought her to church. She actually lives in Koiwa boundaries (1 1/2 hours away by train) but has friends here so she comes to this ward. I love Uyama san. She is such a sweetheart and looks like a member, and her personality is so much like mine that we get along well. We don't meet with her much for lessons because of her work schedule but we do skype lessons sometimes, and talk at church. Anyway I got to sit down with her in the chapel after sacrament meeting and have a good heart to heart talk. She and her whole family have been catholic for about ten years. She has one younger brother who has autism. She asked me about Bree and we started talking about people with special needs. I told her about how my mom always taught me that people with these handicaps are God's special, beloved children who were pure spirits before this life and didn't need the same tests from mortality that we do. That they came here, really, for us. She then told me that her family first sought after a Christian church because of her brother. Without him, they wouldn't have come to know Christ. What a beautiful story! Talking about this really hit her heart and she got emotional, especially when I told her that after the resurrection her brother wouldn't have autism anymore, and she will be able to meet him as his pure, unhindered self. Such a blessing to have this knowledge. Uyama san felt she wanted to investigate the church for at least a year before she joined, so now that it's been a year, we are working on picking a date with her. I love her so much!

Bree has really been a big blessing to me as a missionary. Having her as a sister has helped me to connect with a lot of people, and to share the gospel. The Spirit always testifies to my own heart when I talk about her that this gospel is real and the resurrection is real, and Bree has a beautiful, pure heart that will one day shine through even brighter then it can now while in it's mortal frame. Bree, I love you! Thank you for coming here as my sister, and for loving me through all these years! You are beautiful and your light is reaching all the way across the world to the Japanese people through me.

This work is challenging but full of miracles. The light of Christ is real. The love of God is real. And the overcoming power of the atonement floods every continent and every people. Though we are imperfect, God loves us perfectly. Though in life we often have to be cut down like the current bush, we can trust the master gardener and know that it is in order for us to be all he knows we can be. Being in a very foreign country and speaking a language I still know so little about, I've had to accept that I don't know a lot of things. I don't have much wisdom and I am naive in the eyes of many. I've had to take lots of correction and hold on tightly to my heart as it's been given a world of responsibility and asked to love deeper then it has before. Honestly, I feel very small. I'm really not much of anything just yet. My heart often sinks and my shoulders often sag. My weaknesses ever threaten to pull me down. But...I know the Lord is real. I know he loves me. And I know he loves these people. And in the most trying moments when I find the courage to look up, I realize heaven is so, so near.

 
I love you and I miss you so much. And always, thank you. :)

 Your Jenna Shimai