Tuesday, April 29, 2014

To my Future missionary friends!

This was a letter Ariana wrote back during her MTC days.  For some reason we did not receive an email for her blog this week.  So here is one she wanted posted when she left the MTC, and I forgot to.  So, here it is!  Perfect timing since lots of good friends are heading on missions now too.

Helpful tips from the Provo MTC: (or little things I learned!)

  • Don't fall asleep in class.  This is the Lord's time, not ours.
  • Focus
  • Good, better and best.  there are lots of things to occupy your time.  You will always be busy.  Focus on the BEST things.
  • Divine dignity: Remember, you have literally been set apart from the world as a representative of Christ.
  • Read the "MTC foldout" that comes with the white handbook the FIRST day you get to the MTC...that way you don't accidentally break lots of rules that you didn't know existed.
  • only bring cute comfortable clothes.  If your comfortable clothes aren't cute, you will wear them all the time anyway.
  • Eat the ice cream.  It is always worth it.
  • Be EXACTLY obedient.  Do you want the Lord to trust you with the salvation of His children in the field?  That starts in the MTC.
  • Join the choir!  Not because of the singing, although that is all good too...but because the choir director is INCREDIBLE!
  • Love your "fake" investigators like they are "real" investigators, because role play is the way God trains His servants.  So, no pressure.
  • Have a good attitude.  About everything.  Even the food (yes, that will be the hardest part).
  • Don't freak out.  Everything will work out in the end-this is the work of Salvation.  DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW LEGIT THAT IS?  So don't freak out, this is God's work, of course everything will be fine. :)
Grundvig Shimai

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reflections, Easter and wonderful people

I feel that I have really learned to love the work even when people tell me that they are Buddhist and that I am wasting my time, or when they speak Japanese to me and I have no idea what words are coming out of their mouth! I have learned to love this work simply because it is the Lord's. Sometimes discouraging things happen in our lives. Sometimes things may turn out to be a lot different than we thought that they were. I can testify that the Savior's Atonement encompasses all of that. All of the pain and instability of LIFE! Whatever happens that we don't quite understand there is someone who really truly does. Our Heavenly Father has a greater plan for us than we do for ourselves. 

Something that I love doing every night is laying down on my futon and reflecting on my day. I assess the parts that went well, the hard parts, the things I learned, and I find great satisfaction when I am completely exhausted because I know that I am working hard. This reminds me of a quote from Elder Holland's talk during General Conference: "Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don't rock the boat but don't even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes - and this seems the greatest irony of all - these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of "comfortable God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like "comfortable" doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in." 

I believe in a Savior that suffered for my sins. I believe in a Savior who has a perfected, glorified body. Who lived a perfected, glorified life. He is all love, all mercy and all justice. He is the Savior of our world. Because it is Easter, it is the perfect time to focus on the Savior. To think about why our Heavenly Father allows us to be put in a rough spot. Why He allows the trials of life to sand us down, refine us a bit, and put us in a bit of an uncomfortable spot. 

Sometimes I think about what it must have been like for Heavenly Father to watch the Savior suffer on the cross. I think about how He must have felt as he heard the Savior whisper the words "...remove this bitter cup from me..." or as He heard the Savior quote scripture: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" as he suffered the physical pain of death. I cannot imagine the pain that our Heavenly Father felt as He watched His beloved son suffer for all of mankind. That is real love. "For God so Loved the world..." (John 3:16). "For this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39). And so it is. How AMAZING is that? I am so full of AWE! When I think of that perfect love, that perfect mercy, and the perfect justice that is wrapped up in the Atonement of Christ. I will never fully understand it. 

"This is the testimony last of all which we give of Him: That He lives!" (D&C 76:22) I add my testimony to the testimony of Joseph Smith! That He lives! 
From Preparation Day when we took a trip to the Mountains

(And a quick update on some fun dendo stuff....) 
This week we met with a girl from China! She is so cool! And her Japanese is pretty good, she has been living here for 7 years and studied before she came to Japan. But, we have to speak a little slowly and precisely because her Japanese is more simple. I love it because I can understand everything that she says! And not just by the context of all the words! But, she was nervous about studying with us (largely because of the language barrier, because we would all be speaking in our second language) but we helped to dispel her fears and she is now open to coming to church and studying the gospel with us!

We also were able to meet with our amazing sixteen year old investigator who I love to pieces. She is amazing. She was like "I am SO sorry! I only read the Book of Mormon a little bit every day and I mostly only pray twice a day...but I try to do more! I am just so busy!" The doseki in the lesson was like "uh...that is awesome!". It was so great. She also applied for a home stay in America and she is going later this year! So if anyone is hosting a Japanese Exchange Student, you might get my favorite sixteen year old girl in the world. In other great news- she fully intends on going to church in America! I am excited for her to see what a larger ward is like! 

Oh and a hilarious story - this week we were out talking to people at a park, and we were called over by a large group of Vietnamese and Korean guys who all spoke decent English (but fluent Japanese, so that was good) and they made us food and might all come to English class. It was pretty interesting. We also taught a spontaneous lesson on the side of the river last Monday night. It was an interesting experience. 

Have an amazing week!
Grundvig Shimai

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A week behind the world

In Japan, General conference was this weekend instead of last weekend, because of the time change! So I feel a week behind everyone talking about general conference...but, I got to watch it in English, and that was a blast. I loved all the talks basically, and so I can't really choose a favorite. 

Here is a quick miracle/ funny story from the past two days! (Side-note - although, the Sister missionaries will now mostly be working with less actives, a new mission wide teaching plan, I can't actually do anything until we receive records from the ward, which we currently have not received, so it has been business as usual). So! Last night we were at Fuse Eki, making contacts. And we talked to this one lady outside of a Sushi Restaurant who had about zero interest in what we were talking to her about, but she was very nice. When all of a sudden someone runs up to me and says: "Excuse me! Do you have a Japanese Book of Mormon?!" And I felt like the WORST missionary in the world! I DIDN'T HAVE ONE!! And so I stumbled through my words, I actually don't even remember what language I was speaking with him, but we ended up exchanging phone numbers with him and giving him our chirashi (card). It turns out that he lived in America and recognized us as missionaries. He had seen missionaries bike by in America, and wanted to know more. So, when he saw us he got really excited. This morning, we called him and had a very confusing phone call and we didn't really understand what he was talking about, besides that somehow he knew the elders in our area...so we thought we had accidentally contacted one of the elders investigators. So then we called the elders to ask if they knew who this guy was and it turned out that they were teaching him at that very moment! He had followed the map on the back of the chirashi to go to the church and walked in on the Elders while they were emailing their families...and they started teaching him there! It was super cool!
Another funny thing...we met a girl this week named Yagi. Yagi in Japanese means goat. But, she is amazing and we think that she is still one of the Lord's sheep :) She is 20 years old and recently moved to Higashi Osaka and she is one of the hardest working people I have ever met and I love her a lot. We helped show her where the cheap grocery stores are because we know our area pretty well. I also maybe got into a small bike accident with her, but we were both fine and we sat on the side of the road laughing for a while.
I love you all a ton!!
Grundvig Shimai :)

I hope you enjoy this beautiful message of Easter:  Because of Him

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cherry Blossoms and Honey Bunches of Oats

This week was so beautiful in Japan! I love this country even more as the weather gets better and better. Talking to people is always fun...but it is even more enjoyable as my Japanese continues to improve and the weather gets nicer, and  my toes aren't always cold. The cherry blossoms have started popping out and it makes me happy every single time we leave our apartment to see the cherry blossoms everywhere.

I spent a lot of time reflecting this week on the things I have learned on my mission thus far, and how I have changed. On Wednesday night at Eikaiwa (English class), Tomura Kyodai (previously Tomura Choro, returned missionary) showed up. He returned from the Fukuoka Dendobu (Mission) on Tuesday, and he is so pumped up with the fire of a fresh returned missionary. He came to Eikaiwa and fellow-shipped all of our students after the class (his English is also pretty good because he spent a lot of his mission in Okinawa). He offered to Doseki any time that we need help. He asked us about our investigators and said that he would pray for them. And he brought the missionaries a box of Honey Bunches of Oats back from the military base - this is the biggest treat ever because....we just can't get stuff like that, ever.
He is helping the ward get really excited about missionary work. It is the best thing ever. He gave his homecoming talk at church yesterday and it was incredibly motivating and uplifting - partially because I could understand all of his Japanese (Japanese missionaries are really easy to understand because they spend so much time around Americans that their Japanese becomes simpler), but he also told some stories from his mission. I love hearing stories from other places in the world and other places in Japan because I can see how the Lord is hastening His work not only where I am...but everywhere. His talk also made me think a lot about how I have changed on my mission and how I will apply what I have learned when I get home. I don't want to lose everything that I have learned or my excitement about what I am doing. But the reality is that there is no way to be a full time missionary for my entire life...but there are still things that I will be able to do, even when I am not a full time missionary.

Every single day in Japan we are talking to so many people...I don't know the exact math...but with all of the missionaries here combined, there are numerous. Across the world the missionaries are working harder than others realize. Changes are being made that may be going unnoticed, but the work is progressing. Everyone can be a part of that.

In Higashi Osaka this week, these were some ways I saw missionary work moving forward:

1. We housed an apartment where a man answered over the speaker. He said that he would like to learn more about where he came from, why he is here on earth and what will happen to him after he dies. He had thought about all of these things before, and he wants to learn more.
2. I stopped a Chinese girl on my bike (on a rather dark street- I sort of scared her). I invited her to church. She said she believes in God. She wouldn't exchange numbers with us (given the dark ally and the sudden stop, I don't blame her....) but she wants to come to church. 
3. We housed an apartment with a lady who had been to activities at our church before. She invited us to come back at some point and said that she will think about going to church. 
4. A man stopped us in the mall and asked us if we were missionaries for the LDS Church. We said we were. He was interested in the church and eikaiwa and plans to come next week.
5. We met a girl in the park who wanted to know all about us and what we were doing. When we invited her to come to church with us she got incredibly excited and asked if we were sure if that was OK. She has never been to a church before, but wants to experience it.
6. We taught a 21 year old girl that we met outside of a Chinese restaurant. As we started out the lesson I said: "Kyo wa kite kudasatte, arigato gozaimasu...oai dekite, totemo ureshiidesu. Mizuki San niwa, tokubetsu na mono o kanjimasu. Mizuki San wa, reiteki na koto ni, kyomi ya kanshin ga aruyo, desu ne." (Thank you so much for coming today, we are so grateful that you came. Mizuki, we feel something special about you. You seem to have an interest in learning about spiritual things...) It sounds a lot better in Japanese than it does in English. But, at this point she started crying. Throughout the remainder of the lesson we told her that we could answer her questions about God, about where she came from and about what her purpose is here on earth. She said: "This is so different from the world that I live in...this is so different from anything that I have felt before..." 

The experiences of a mission are priceless.
Much Love,
Grundvig Shimai