Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That one time I biked into a rice field

Hello everyone!

It was a very eventful week and we struggled a lot with various injuries and unfortunate events, caused largely by our own clumsiness...luckily, Payne Shimai and I are super duper tight and we just laugh a lot about everything that happens to us. Which is good, because otherwise it would have been a very unfortunate week.

On Wednesday we had the craziest lesson ever.  We were trying to refer this guy that we had met a week before to the Elders, so we met with the Elders and this guy at the church to teach him a lesson. Basically, what ended up happening is Payne Shimai and I led the lesson (one of the Elders in the area is a brand new missionary - so he essentially had no idea what was happening at all) and it was the craziest lesson ever and I think that he is very possibly insane.  But, basically we sat down and he launched into an explanation about various social movements that he wanted our support on and crazy political stuff and various conspiracy theories...and Payne Shimai and I were like - well, actually, as missionaries we can't really be involved in this stuff.  But, all of this could be solved by the gospel! And he didn't really seem all too interested in that.  So, we taught him how to pray, and told him that he could talk to God about his political matters.  So that wrapped that up nicely.  Sort of...he keeps trying to talk to us about strange conspiracy matters so we are figuring out how to deal with that currently. 
That one time I biked into a rice field

From that lesson we went to visit a less active!  Who was not home.  And on the way to our next appointment...we were biking a new way...and at one point, there were these two old ladies talking. So I saw them down the street and I turned to look at them, thinking that maybe I wanted to go contact them...and I didn't look at the road ahead of me, and when I looked up, I realized that I was heading straight into a rice field...and it was a little bit too late to stop that. So, I biked into a rice field.  I got very muddy.  You can't really see the mud on me or the bike in the picture...but there was lots of mud. And the mud also got all over my bag and the Less Active information...and that was unfortunate.  So, I extracted my bike and bag from the mud, and Payne Shimai turned around and saw me in the rice field...and we laughed for a while.  I also had a pretty bloody knee because I had hit it on something when I fell into the rice field, and so we started making our way back to the apartment.  Side note - the rice was all a little bit bent but we didn't really know how to fix that...we sort of just shuffled it all around a bit and are hoping that it still grows nicely.  On our way home, Payne Shimai and I decided that this would be a good time to contact absolutely everyone we saw...which we did.  Meanwhile, I was standing there with a very muddy bike, muddy skirt and blood running down my leg.  When we were almost back to our apartment, we contacted a lady standing outside her house.  Her husband came out and they were incredibly friendly, so we talked to them for a while and then they invited us in!  So...I parked my muddy bike and got some of the mud off my bag and we went in!  So they sat us down on the couch and gave us some drinks (which led to a classic word of wisdom discussion - Japanese people and their tea...) and then one of them noticed that my leg was bleeding.  And then they also noticed that I was rather muddy.  So naturally they wanted to know what happened.  So we all laughed for a while about me falling into a rice field (everyone was very confused about how this could possibly have happened.  The mom asked Payne Shimai if I was just really bad at biking, which was hilarious). And I had to explain that I got distracted by the two elderly ladies, which was embarrassing. Basically, they just thought that I really struggled with biking.  But! Then this nice family helped us out a ton!  The dad was the nicest guy ever and he cleaned my bike, and the mom poured this cleansing stuff on my knee that stung a lot, but washed it out a lot better than I could have with my limited medical supplies.  And it was super super nice. AND THEN we found out that this family is actually an incredibly important family in Tokushima and they have a son who is running for some office and we see his face on posters everywhere.  And the dad used to be a really important basically we just have friends in really high places and they offered to help us if we ever need help with anything.  And my leg has healed and my bike is fixed :) And telling people about falling into a rice field has been quite the fun experience to share.  It usually makes people laugh a lot and then also worry about my ability to bike. 

The next morning, we went out running...and Payne Shimai fell and hurt her hand!  So we were just quite the injured companionship.  Her hand however ended up getting worse and so we had to go to the hospital this morning...which was unfortunate. (Oh quick peek into Japanese culture, there aren't regular doctors, so you just go to the hospital for absolutely everything.  It was very confusing when I got here...because people in the ward would get a cold and then go to the hospital and I was perplexed to say the least).  But, all of the hospitals were closed because apparently it is a Holiday here. (A member took us to one that she thought might be open...but they wouldn't look at her hand for some reason, I don't really understand why exactly.  I think because it was an injury from falling herself or something). But, luckily we now have some medicine from a member, so Payne Shimai's hand is healing.  Also this morning, Payne Shimai dropped her bike key down an irrigation thing by a rice field (curse these rice fields.....) and we couldn't get the grate up to find we had to go to a bike shop. (We had to carry the bike, which was heavy) and so today has already been a little insane.  But, the good news is...the bike is fixed, Payne Shimai's hand is healing, my knee seems to be ok and we finally made it to the email place.  Only a few hours later than usual hahahaha. 

In good news though...we had interviews with Welch Kaicho this week.  He is the most inspired person ever, probably.  It was such a good interview.  I received soooo much revelation and he knew exactly what to say to me, and answered so many questions that I didn't even get the chance to ask. I had written out some questions that I wanted to ask, but I only was able to ask two.  But in the process of answering those two, he answered all of the other ones.  He was led a lot by the spirit.  He was able to discern things about me that he had absolutely no way of knowing, it was way cool.

This week we had another amazing experience with one of our investigators. We met with him and when he sat down he immediately started sharing some really hard experiences in his life.  He opened up more than ever before.  After he talked for a while, Payne Shimai shared a thought and then I shared a thought, and then he just got this huge grin on his face.  His countenance completely changed.  He had been really down-trodden looking, and he just looked so happy.  He said: "Are you trained to talk or something? You are very good with words, you always know exactly what to say to me to strengthen my faith." We both laughed and told him that no, we weren't trained, but that sometimes words are just put into our mouth to help people.  He was clearly astonished and he left with a lot more faith.  He also expressed great amazement at our Japanese.  He was like: "I don't know how you do it, but I see you one day, and then three days later I see you again and your Japanese is already way better!" And we told him that we have the gift of tongues and that God helps us a is amazing to see other people notice these things.  Other people besides ourselves I guess.

In other news, Tokushima is doing well.  The transfer is ending, but I just love this place so much. Since I got here I have had the most amazing experience of watching the branch grow and the work expand.  The Eikaiwa class has grown, game night has grown, many more people are coming to teach. We are teaching more, finding more, teaching more Less Actives...and it has just been one of the best things ever.  I am unbelievably grateful for this place.  It is an island of miracles. 

I hope everyone has an amazing week!

Much love,
Grundvig Shimai

Thursday, July 17, 2014


So this week there was an enormous Typhoon in Japan....apparently. 

On Monday we heard that there would be a Typhoon and that it would begin on Wednesday and then go into Thursday. On Tuesday all of our investigators started canceling lessons because Tokushima was supposed to be hit pretty badly. (Our mission president called the zone leaders and told them to keep an eye on us...because we would be hit pretty hard). And then on Wednesday everything seemed fine so we went and biked to Naruto (about two hours away) and visited some less actives. We prayed that we would be protected from the storm, which we were, and it started raining on our way back...but we made it home fine. And then for the remainder of the week everyone canceled appointments due to the Typhoon! On Thursday, our Zone Leaders called Tokushima in a frenzy because apparently half of Tokushima was flooded and there was a storm cloud covering all of Japan....and it was perfectly sunny and there was zero water anywhere and we were out dendo-ing and basically the entire country was very confused about this Typhoon. So that was an adventure. We were hearing all sorts of stuff about how the Typhoon was coming from Osaka, and then going to Tokushima, and then it would jump over to Okayama and then it would go back up to Tokyo. I am doing a rather poor job of explaining this...but basically it was the most confusing thing ever and everyone was going crazy... we were supposed to have been flooded and everyone was canceling on us...when in reality everything was fine! But, it gave us a lot of time to go visit lots of less actives and meet people all over Tokushima and it was a really eventful full week :) 

We had some amazing lessons this week and one of our investigators who is going to be baptized has the strongest desire of anyone I have ever met in my entire life to go to the temple, and she is the cutest person ever and I love her so much. And she just really desires eternal life and understands that commandments come from Go. She is willing to live them without a problem because she has the strongest faith ever and she wants to share the gospel with the entire world.  She also thought that we stay missionaries for our entire lives and that we are never normal people. So when we explained that we are not, she got really sad because she couldn't imagine anything better than sharing the gospel and she was also sad that we would not be in Japan forever with her...but basically she is amazing and there is a lot to learn from her example. 
1. She has to completely change her life to join the church. But she knows that it is true. Her testimony development is the most solid thing ever and even though there are things that are hard to give up, she knows that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, she knows that the Book of Mormon is true. She knows that she needs to be baptized. She knows that Jesus is the Christ and that He died for her. She is so solid that she will do anything because she knows in a deeper way, than anyone could deny, that this church is true. She was truly converted by the is the coolest thing in the entire world to see. And on another note, she keeps telling all of our other investigators that they should just get baptized with her. She says "I understand why you are nervous! I was nervous before too! But now I am SO EXCITED! You should just get baptized with me in August!" And they are like...oh....ya...maybe I do want that...and it is the best thing ever. Nothing like missionary work through the investigators. 

2. She is not even a member of the church yet and she understands the PURE JOY of missionary work. And the biggest thing about the joy of missionary that we are not searching for joy. It is just...when you are just doing, because it is what the Lord wants you to do...that nothing else even really matters. And then all of a sudden you look back...and you realize that your investigators have changed. And you realize that you have changed. And you realize that somehow you are so freaking happy and you just have no idea why. And you also realize that the elect are real and so that is all that really matters and also that true happiness comes from service and that everything your parents and church leaders ever said is true and so you should just always obey them and then you will be happy forever. 

3. She loves the Book of Mormon. She loves prayer. And she loves church. Thus is the foundation of her testimony. Without these three key things...absolutely nothing will happen. She knows how to receive her own revelation...and so she does...and then she tells us. She basically just takes care of herself because she has a relationship with God, and it is strong. 

Tokushima is amazing. I love this place. We are working really hard at trying to help the Less Actives. It is slow coming right now. There have been a few times that we have seriously considered going back to regular dendo, especially with the new mission president, whether or not we continue doing the Less Active work (especially on Shikoku) is kind of just up to us. But every time we think about just going out and housing or streeting...something happens that clearly manifests to us that the Lord still has some lost sheep that He really wants us to find here. He has people waiting for us to visit and to meet. We have seen a lot of miracles as we just continue to visit the Less Actives...and the Lord places people who need the gospel in our path. I have become a pro at stopping people in the middle of the street while biking because that is largely how we do most of our contacting on the way to visit less actives...and it is a very fun time. It takes a lot of enthusiasm and effort (and mostly just mindset) (and being American helps) (And also being a servant of Jesus Christ helps too) to not make it awkward. But I just really love it a lot. We have been meeting tons of people who are just...willing to come to church...and one of them wrote us a letter yesterday that we didn't read until this morning? And I am not exactly sure what it meant because it was in rather poor English but basically I think he was asking if he could join the we are working on figuring that one out...

But it has been an eventful and amazing week! Rely on the Lord! Miracles are possible :) 

Grundvig Shimai

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Japanese Addresses and beauty in simplicity

So much has happened in a week...slash it has already been a week and I don't even know how...and I also don't have a whole lot of time to write. #classic #missionary. 

But...the week in super-speed style. 
Tokushima Beach (Not sure that is the name, but that is what I call it)
 We have a new mission president! It is the strangest thing ever...all of a just have a new mission president and Zinke Kaicho is gone...and the work just moves on like normal and you hardly even notice! And that is how that went. But at the same time, things are changing, but it is good because you can feel it in your bones that the work is moving forward and that the mission was ready for changes and Japan was ready for changes...and this world..EVERYTHING is about eternal progression and the church leaders have a pretty good idea about what is going on in the world and how to run the church...and so mission presidents transition the way that they do for a reason. So this is how it all goes down...on Friday night (of last week) Welch Kaicho arrived at the Kansai airport. On Saturday morning he and Welch Shimai have breakfast with Zinke Kaicho and Zinke Shimai. Zinke Kaicho and Zinke Shimai have three hours to tell them everything they want to tell them. And then Zinke Kaicho and Zinke Shimai hand over the keys to the car (when Zinke Kaicho explained it to us this way, Zinke Shimai burst into tears and then I also burst into tears because when Zinke Shimai cries...I cry) and then Welch Kaicho becomes the mission president! And the Assistants have to catch them up on what is happening in the mission and all of that fun stuff...and then Welch Kaicho does whatever the Lord has revealed to him that he needs to do! 

SO! This week I got to meet Welch Kaicho. We left for Okayama and I slept on the most disgusting futon of my entire life....which probably had been used by centuries of Elders, it probably was around when there were dinosaurs in Japan or something. Mostly I spent the entire night trying not to touch my futon, but that is beside the point...
so on Thursday morning we went to the Okayama church and met Welch Kaicho! And he is awesome! And Welch Shimai is AWESOME! And Welch Kaicho sounds like a Japanese person when he speaks Japanese. Most of our training is in English, everyone just speaks in their native language and then there is translation and what not. But, at one point Welch Kaicho was giving specific instruction to the Japanese missionaries (it was very hilarious) and he just went off in Japanese and it sounded way cool. Granted he has been living in Japan for over 14 years and running large business meetings in we all figured that his Japanese would be way good. BUT Anyway. He talked a bit about his mission when he served in Kobe, Japan. And how he cried all the way home to America because "I would never see Japan...again." The sarcastic expression on his face as he said that was priceless. (He had just spent the past little while explaining to us his past 14 years in Japan and what it was like for Welch Shimai to come here, as it had taken all of his convincing to get her to come for just one year....and then they stayed for 14). But they both just have so much love for Japan and they understand the Japanese people so well and they understand the church in Japan because they have been here and lived in it and helped it and they know exactly how to move forward and they are definitely called servants of the Lord. 

Also - one of my absolute favorite quotes from him was: "If you learn how to do things the right way - the world around you changes." We have a larger circle of influence than we know or can see - that is obvious from the work I have seen done on my mission. Members - you influence our lives more than you think. Random girl on the street - you changed my day...and maybe even my life. Crazy grandma that almost hit me on her bike - I will remember your face forever....
Tokushima Beach (The pictures don't really capture how
 beautiful Japan is)
And then as missionaries...we stick out a lot. People know who we are. We have a very large circle of influence. The world around us changes.

In other news, we met a less active this week who is 92 years old. She is absolutely hilarious and I think she thinks I am speaking English when I speak in that is always awkward...but sometimes I might get my accent right. She loves missionaries though, and loves the church...she just needs to...remember the gospel. So we will be working on that with her :) 

This week we had a cool experience with inviting people to church. We tried way hard to help all of our investigators get to church this week...and for whatever reason...none of them could come...but we just invited everyone and three people showed up! One of them being this guy that comes to game night every week and used to come to church, but then decided he had zero faith, but on a stroke of genius I invited him to "come help me translate sacrament meeting." (And by stroke of genius, I mean a completely led by the spirit idea that ended up being a way bigger deal than I realized). And he came! And the entire branch kept coming up and being like "Wow...he is here? He has not been for 10 years...what did you do?" And I was like... uh .... nothing. Hahha. But, during sacrament meeting he kept telling me that everything was way natsukashii and he was having all of these memories from coming before and great questions and all sorts of stuff.

And we called a bunch of other people and people came and then some even came after church and we taught them lessons with the of the guys that came said probably the funniest prayers ever, but I was way heartfelt, so good for him! He is leaving for America in two weeks, and he prayed that he could please find an american girlfriend. I love my investigators prayers...they don't have any sort of structure in their minds. I learn a lot from that...they just talk with God. And that is what it should be! He really does want to hear EVERYTHING!  

Rice Field Week 6
But was an amazing week. I am happier than I thought I could be in a country where I can't read signs and I get lost like...all the time. (How in the heck people expect me to find my way anywhere when addresses are in Japanese....I do not know....) I would honestly rank that in the top five for hardest things about my mission...the addresses. Whoever made up the Japanese address system....basically there just is no address system......I do not understand their logic. The numbers have absolutely no order. At all. But...nonetheless, despite the crazy address system, and the rainy days and the sometimes strange food #fermentedsoybeans #nato, I just love this place. And I love what I am doing. On the fourth of July...when I remembered it was the fourth of July...I thought a bit about that. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. There is just some moment...where this really does become the happiest you have ever been. And you don't really know why, because your bike helmet is gross and your clothes are getting a little old and sometimes the Japanese words you say don't make any sense...but it is just the best thing ever. Missionary work is the best thing ever. I would highly recommend it :)

Much love,
Grundvig Shimai

Oh p.s. the visiting member from Michigan got up and bore his testimony yesterday in the funniest Japanese I have ever heard. I would imagine he sounded much like me in the MTC. And it was probably the most powerful thing of my life. I very nearly cried. Simplicity is the easiest thing for the spirit to work with sometimes. 

At Tokushima Beach

With Payne Shimai and a dear friend
We had a barbecue and I had a hot dog. I don't remember the last time 
I had a hot dog.  But it was very large. I think they are not that big in america?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I love fried tofu, kinpo and the Lord!

We saw SOOO many miracles in Tokushima this week.
Something that I have really learned on my mission is that half of the work is about faith and expectations. We have to believe that we will see success - we have to BELIEVE that the Lord really wants us to do His work and bring His children back to Him. We have to believe that through us, He will perform His work. This is especially true in Japan.

We saw the Lord work through us so much this week. We taught some of the most powerful lessons together that I have taught in my entire mission, and we have only been companions for a week. As we have become united we have seen the work in Tokushima CHANGE. In just one week. We have so much fun while truly devoting EVERYTHING to the Lord. I don't even know how to explain how productive I feel....

We are just going so hard all the time and I love it. We mogi on our bikes, we talk about what we are learning about Christ, about the gospel and about our gospel in Japanese..when we aren't moging on our bikes. We efficiently figure out how to eat healthy and quickly so that we can maximize all of our time! We both like running, so we exercise a lot! We are even trying to learn French in the mornings sometimes for our French investigator! My companion is basically just awesome and full of all sorts of crazy good ideas for how to teach the Japanese people. We talk to tons of people on the we always make it home later than we plan....because we just receive prompting after prompting to talk to people...and we receive those promptings, because we followed the one before it. (And through this, I think we have found several new investigators for the Elders...because everyone seems to have male friends that they want to refer to us hahahah). The Less Actives hearts are being softened. Our investigators hearts are being softened. They are meeting with us more. They are choosing to follow the commandments before we even teach them to them. They are desiring to come unto Christ and be baptized. The members are helping more than ever before. I am seeing the work pick up around me like I have never seen before...and I know that this is only the beginning of it! The Lord is blessing us SO much and there is just no doubt in my mind that all of this comes from the Lord....because I just couldn't be making this happen by myself. My study feels more is just...EVERYTHING is improving around me and I think it largely just comes from focusing on the Savior more and the work and really working hard at our companionship unity. It is so crazy.

In other news, we got to do this cool thing called Kinpo. It is like Karate. Mostly we just watched...but we met this guy through an investigator who took us and the Elders to watch it and then talk to all of the young Japanese students and the Japanese Kinpo sensei about English classes. So that was like the coolest thing ever.
Making Enormous Cabbage Egg Pancakes

Also we hiked a mountain this morning and met some men who want to come to church and Eikaiwa (English class) and want to take us on another hike next Monday where we can see monkeys in the mountains. So we are stoked, and we invited the Elders today and we are really hoping that we can go hahhaha. All of this crazy cool stuff is happening.

Morning Hike
One of our transfer goals is to ask our self at the end of each and every day: "Can we stand still?"

This refers to the scripture: "Stand still and watch as my hand is extended..." I forget the reference, but that is the general idea. Each night we ask ourselves if at the end of the day, we can truly stand still in all that we have done and say that we can watch as the Lord's Hand extends upon His work. The miracles that have come because of this - as I try every day to give my all...because  a year and a half is just way to short...have been amazing to watch.

The Lord Lives.
I have seen His hand extend upon Japan!
I have faith that He wants this work to move forward.
I know that my investigators are coming to Him with increased faith!

Continue to show faith - in everything! And the Lord will provide a way to move His work forward as He sees fit!

Much love,
Grundvig Shimai

With Payne Shimai : Hiked Bizan

Rice Field (Week 5 or 6)