Wednesday, May 14, 2014

East Osaka to Virtue Island!

I LOVE TOKUSHIMA AND PALMER SHIMAI! MY new area is amazing and my new companion is also amazing and I don't understand why people don't like serving on Shikoku because it is the most beautiful place on the planet earth. Ok, maybe I understand a little bit why people don't completely love serving on Shikoku...but only because we are kind of just our only little piece of the mission. The missionaries that are on Shikoku tend to stay on Shikoku for a long time...and I got here...and I had no idea who anyone was. I am emailing on Tuesday this week because we had a zone taikai yesterday, and it was a strange experience to arrive...and know absolutely no one in my zone. Or have even heard of any  of the missionaries in my zone. My current companion has been on Shikoku for all of her mission except for her first transfer, and so before coming here, no one really knew who she was, and she has never heard of a lot of the new missionaries...but basically she is an amazing missionary and she is really good at Japanese and she is really Christ-like and I just love her to pieces. Also, Tokushima is like a painting. It is basically what I had imagined when I thought of Japan, and it is not even that Inaka! It is a good mix of city and country and it is gorgeous. 
Tokushima Rice Field
The Less Active work is actually starting to wind down on Shikoku, because they started first, and so I don't know how much of the less active work I will actually get to do...but my companion is very experienced with it because she has already been doing less active work for about five months, and so that is very nice. Yesterday at the zone taikai, Zinke Shimai asked the Shikoku missionaries for help on how to train the rest of the mission for working with less actives....and I felt very useless...because I wasn't here for any of the work that they have been doing, but it was really neat to hear about all of the miracles and experiences from Shikoku that started the less active work for the rest of the mission. No one has really left Shikoku for the past 4 transfers because of the Less Active work, or really come onto Shikoku, so is pretty weird to have just transferred here. I think only me and one other missionary came from the mainland to Shikoku this transfer and we both were feeling pretty out of the loop! On Shikoku both the Elders and the Sisters have been doing less active work, so it is definitely different dendo!

Anyway, so a little bit more about Tokushima! My area is the ENTIRE PREFECTURE. I don't know if I spelled that right, but, basically it is HUGE. ALL of the areas on Shikoku are huge. Travel takes FOREVER and it is expensive. I was so spoiled in Higashi Osaka and I didn't even know it. Yesterday I had to wake up at 5 to get to our Zone Meeting....and we took a two hour train just to get to the area next to us! And then we had to rent bikes because the church is so far from the eki. It was the craziest travel experience of my life. In Higashi Osaka, we could bike to the next area in about 15 minutes. The Elders in the area next to us (who I met at the taikai yesterday) did a marathon bike trip and biked 100 miles in one day to go visit a less active. (These elders have the biggest area in the mission). I think my area might be the second biggest). I have biked more here in the past three days than I probably have in my entire mission, but I love biking so it is ok. Also my watch tan and other weird tan lines are ridiculous. Oh and it is SO HOT on Shikoku. And it is only May! The summer here might actually kill me. My first long day of biking and visiting less actives in Tokushima...I got a flat tire! So we had to walk my bike to the nearest bike shop...which was FAR and then we got home rather late. It has been a pretty crazy first few days, but my companion is a champ so it is ok :) The apartment is really nice, and it is right in between two rice fields. I think I have seen rice field my entire mission. But I have seen SO many rice fields in the past few days. The frogs go crazy in the rice fields at night, and so it was really hard to sleep my first night here. Tokushima is beautiful and it is an entirely different feel than the Osaka Zone was. The air is cleaner, the sun is brighter....and it feels so PURE! Which is fitting.
Rice Field next to our Apartment
Oh random cool thing about Tokushima! So Toku means virtue and Shima means island! So my current area is called Virtue Island! I love it!

The investigators here are amazing. I love them already. I have only met a few of them....but they are wonderful. We have a few investigators from the Congo. And we have an 80 year old obachan who is the cutest little genki grandma ever. I love her so much. She is so cute. She told me I was pretty and then she got really worried that I wouldn't understand the word pretty. It was hilarious. The branch is HUGE. It is way bigger than my ward was in Higashi Osaka which doesn't really make a lot of sense. We had 91 people at church on Sunday. In Higashi Osaka we would maybe have around 40 every week. I am super stoked to get to know them better. There is a guy in our ward who just moved here from Michigan, and so my companion has to translate church for him. On Sunday we had our investigator who is from the Congo  (she is this tall, beautiful African woman who mostly just speaks French and a tiny bit of Japanese and a tiny bit of English....) so on Sunday I had to translate sacrament meeting into English for her. MY BRAIN ALMOST DIED. The gift of tongues is real because there is just no way in the entire world I could have ever done that without the power of God, because usually I barely understand sacrament meeting myself. But, this week I understood almost all of it...and I was able to translate it. When I realized I was going to need to translate, I was basically just completely terrified...but when I would hear words that I wouldn't know, somehow the translation would just pop into my brain. It was a miracle. Where there is a need, the Lord provides a way.

We have already seen a lot of miracles in Tokushima! Between people just calling us on the phone and asking to meet with us, meeting less actives on their doorsteps and singing them hymns, to finding lost apartments through the power of prayer. We even had a lady walk up to us while we were outside exercising and ask if we were Mormon Missionaries, and then invite us over to her house for a later visit. It was pretty exciting. I love Tokushima. It is beautiful, the ward is wonderful, biking is fun, rice fields full of frogs are noisy.....and the summer is HOT.

I hope that everyone has a great week!!

Much Love,
Grundvig Shimai

Oh P.S. I should probably write a little bit about my last week in Higashi was basically the best and worst thing ever! I was so sad to leave Cain Shimai and my investigators...but I only cried like a tiny little bit and I don't think anyone noticed maybe? But, I got to say goodbye to some of my most favorite members and lots of people fed us delicious food and gave me presents and I felt really loved. But, my suitcases are going to have a hard time making it back to the United States probably. Also, we met some wonderful less actives who were excited to meet with us and that was great. I didn't get to say goodbye to my 16 year old investigator and so my heart cried but she promised that she would write me....which is wonderful...but I mostly won't be able to read that hahaha. Also! I got to see Daniels Shimai and Violette Shimai at transfers and it was the happiest reunion of my life and I love them with all of my heart  
Leaving Higashi Osaka

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