Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Transfer Three!

It is weird that I am not a trainee anymore...because it still feels like I have so much to learn. But at the same time, when I look back at where I was when I first got to Japan, I have learned SO MUCH.
Grundvig Shimai and Cain Shimai
Cain Shimai is my new companion and she is wonderful. Something that has really struck me this week is what a wonderful opportunity it is to have so many different companions on the mission. Each new companion is an opportunity to learn something new...about teaching styles, about the gospel, about my relationship with the Lord, how to cook...Japanese, etc. I have learned so much from Cain Shimai already and it has only been three days. She is a great, hardworking missionary and I am so excited to see how the work is going to progress in Higashi Osaka over the next six weeks. 

Dean Shimai and I had a fantastic last week together. We were SO busy...visiting our investigators, saying goodbye to people, scheduling appointments and making sure that everything was ready for transfers. I am happy to say that thus far, even with Dean Shimai gone, I have been able to find my way around Higashi Osaka...which is quite the feat in my opinion because I can't read Konje. And when I first got here, I never thought that I would be able to do it. 

I love this area. I love the members. I love our investigators. As I have been helping Cain Shimai learn her way around the area and give her background on each of our investigators, I have really become aware of how much I love these people. It has been really fun to tell Cain Shimai everything about the area and our investigators and the members and the work in Higashi Osaka, because I love it so much. The work in Higashi Osaka is progressing, and miracles will happen this transfer as we rely on the Lord and put in all of our efforts...and all of our heart, might, mind and strength.

I have also learned how to cook more Japanese food from Cain Shimai the past few days...which is nice because I didn't know how to cook much more than instant ramen...

I love you all! I'll end with a great quote...from Brigham Young when he was asked by a reporter if he really believed that his faith could move mountains, he replied: "Yes, and I would be the first one at the base with a shovel." 

I love it. The Lord will help us, but he does expect us to put in our own efforts and work.

Grundvig Shimai
And I wonder why I am getting rice cheeks!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Transfer Calls!

With Dean Shimai
I am staying in Higashi Osaka for one more transfer!!  Dean Shimai is transferring somewhere very cold and far away.  Her new area is super 田舎 and my new companion is Cain Shimai! She trained another girl in my doki, and from what I have heard she is a really fantastic missionary...and I am excited for what the new transfer will bring!

This week was good...and went by really fast.  As I am writing I am trying to remember what even happened.  We taught a lot of lessons this week, which was refreshing.  It is always nice to teach after not having taught very often for a while.  I love our investigators more and more the longer that I teach them.

On Friday we went to Habikino for a Zone Training.  It was so fantastic.  Our Zone Leader, Kato Choro is a convert to the church and converted through the Eikaiwa program.  He just became the new assistant to the president, and he gave us a really fantastic Zone Training. Often, as a missionary, the thing that is hardest to remember is to keep the right perspective.  We focused on that a lot.  We also talked about how faith always will override skill, but skill is still incredibly important.  Diligence is really a key aspect of missionary work - and one of the hardest ones.  To be doing something productive for every waking moment of the day is something that I have LOVED about my mission...but it is also a challenge to keep working hard when you are DEAD tired...and the last thing that you want to do is study Japanese.  The Lord will always work through our faith, but when we put our efforts into learning Japanese, studying the gospel and becoming a better teacher ("sharpening our tools and refining our skills") we will become a more able instrument in the Lord's hands.  I think this is something that particularly applies to me as I grow in missionary "years." New missionaries...really only have faith.  (I really still fall into this category...) but, part of showing the Lord our faith is remembering to continue to work hard to improve as the things that were hard at first...(like going to sacrament meeting in Japanese...when I first got here, that was an act of faith), become easier and more commonplace.

We divided up after Zone Training and I went on an exchange with one of our sister training leaders who is in the Habikino area.  She is SO awesome!  And I learned a lot from her.  We met a family that is super interested in the gospel and I am excited to hear how they progress.

Hospital visit to a friend
Something that I have really loved about this transfer is giving referrals. There were a lot of setbacks in my own area, but during contacting, area book dendo-ing and talking to people on the trains, Dean Shimai and I found a lot of people that didn't live in our area that were interested in the gospel...and a lot of those people are now studying the gospel. It has been so fulfilling to see that as a missionary sometimes the Lord will place me in a position to help another missionary, if I will just open my mouth.
I am so excited for what this next transfer will bring! Love you all!

 Grundvig Shimai

Love it Here!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Making friends for 18 months

Our mission is focusing on relying on the Lord...and over and over...and over and over...and over...again for the past few weeks, I have seen how the Lord will provide in His own way as He sees is expedient. We had interviews with Zinke Kaicho (Mission President) this week (mine lasted about three minutes. I never know what to say during interviews because I am such a terribly awkward person...basically it was like Kaicho: "How are you doing?" Me: "Good...I love Japan. I love the work...." Kaicho: "Good! Any problems?" Me: "Nope..." Kaicho: "How are things at home?" Me: "Fine...uhh...my brother broke his leg." Kaicho: "What has been the hardest adjustment?" Me: "Uh.....people rejecting the greatest message on the entire planet...slash not running to my little hearts content..." And that was basically how it went. But, at interviews Kaicho gave us an amazing training about what is in our power, and what is in the Lord's power. The things that fall within our power, as missionaries, are our faithfulness, our diligence and effort in learning the language, at teaching, etc, and our obedience. The things that fall within the Lord's power are who listens to us, whether or not the Spirit is present (because we can't force the Spirit into any lesson), whether or not a miracle occurs...etc. And ALL the time as missionaries we try and force things that are in the Lord's power into our power. We forget that everyone has agency. And when our investigators use their agency to drop us...well...as much as we would love to take it away from them...we learn from the scriptures that when people suggest plans in which Heavenly Father's Children lose their agency, things just don't turn out so great for them...
Street Contacting and making new friends
During the training, Kaicho asked us if we are putting our faith in the OUTCOME or in CHRIST. And a lot of time we get these things confused. If we get discouraged when we aren't having "success" well...obviously the success is not expedient for that area of the mission (if we are doing all things in our power), but, if we get discouraged than we are putting our faith in the outcomes, instead of in Christ. This applies so well to everything in life. When bad things happen, do we get discouraged? If so, then where are we putting our faith? In Christ, or in the outcomes? 

This week Dean Shimai and I worked SO HARD! We went and visited about seven different people all over Higashi Osaka on Saturday- and invited ALL of them to church. None of those people came. And a lot of them weren't even home. We talked to TONS of people on the street. And invited ALL of them to church. None of them came either. We called pages and pages and pages of people from the Area Book....and none of them came. We had two of our investigators come. And the Elders had two investigators come. But we had 13 people at church. Thirteen. How? We relied on the Lord. We did all that we could, and through the members...and a miracle...people just showed up at church. Our mission had a goal of 400 people at church this Sunday. We had 396. That is a miracle. That is hastening the work. That doesn't happen in Japan. Unless we work with the Lord, and with the members. I found a really penetrating quote when I was reading the Liahona earlier this week. "The world is in need of our help. Are we doing all that we should? Do we remember the words of President John Taylor: 'If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those that you might have saved had you done your duty.'" How powerful and terrifying is that? This week, in our little ward in Higashi Osaka we saw the kind of miracles that can happen when the members and the missionaries work together. The work can't move forward - nor can it really be hastened - unless members and missionaries work together. The hastening of the work is not solely because there are more missionaries in the world than there have ever been, it is because more people are prepared to hear this message of truth! It is because the members and the missionaries are learning how to work together and really gather Israel. 
A shrine we saw on our morning run
The other day I was thinking about my calling, and I had a little bit of an obvious realization that I have devoted a year and a half to making friends with people - while speaking Japanese. Granted, it is a little more than friendship because I am inviting the people that I become friends with to Jesus Christ...but it really boils down to making friends. Basically, this is the most legit thing ever... to become friends with Japanese people...and then ask them to change their lives forever! How sweet is this work? 

I love this work! I met a lot of really fantastic people this week...on the street, from knocking on their doors...from stopping and talking to people playing basketball in the park...from talking to people on the trains. One of my most memorable moments from this week started at a crosswalk. I turned to the Lady next to me and said "こんぼんわ!!" And started a conversation. We walked and talked for a while, and she spoke a little English (which is always nice) and when we parted ways, she asked to meet with us again - because she was Christian too (a rare occurrence in Japan) and because she wants to take us to some real Japanese food (we told her we were planning on eating Peanut Butter and Jelly for dinner). She was the cutest lady ever and we are going to dinner with her later this week! 

A fun trip to Yao Mall 
Make this next week a great week! And to quote an email I got from Matthew Frederickson - "Don't give up five minutes before the miracle." You never know what the Lord has in store for you. What is that next 5% going to take?

Grundvig Shimai