|Payne Shimai and Grundvig Shimai|
"Senkyoushi toushite, watashitachi wa ichinenhan no katsudo wo shite imasu....Ima, watashi wa ichinenhansugiru shite imasu...." (Payne Shimai).
One of the benefits of being a missionary in the Japan, Kobe mission is that when Zinke Kaichou chose the return dates for all of the sister missionaries after the transfer schedule changed due to the MTC time period being shortened, he decided to lengthen all of our missions by a month instead of shortening them by a few weeks. As such, the Japan Kobe Mission Sister Missionaries serve a mission for just under 19 months. The blessings of serving in Kobe :)
But...those 19 months come to an end. Often on the street people ask why we are in Japan...and how long we have been here. Payne Shimai would then say that we come to Japan for 18 months as missionaries. Which almost always resulted in the follow-up question: "Well...how long have you been here then?" To which she would reply....Oh....actually...over 18 months. Which resulted in a lot of really confused people. But even after hearing that over and over again...the idea of not being a missionary never really seems real.
It doesn't seem real when your companion says goodbye to investigators.
Or when the she gives her farewell talk in church.
Or when you look at the calendar and see that it is almost October 20th.
It only really starts to feel real when on Sunday night at 9:30 you are running around like chickens with their heads cut off...trying to pack and clean up the apartment. The good news is....even though we packed up her stuff the night before she left, we managed to fit everything and get her suitcases under weight. (The other thing is that my wardrobe has just about tripled in size). Hard things to explain are feelings of sitting on your futon the night before your companion leaves for Kobe...and talking about your three transfers together. The miracles we had seen....the sad things we had seen, the hard times, the best times...everything! It can be hard to explain the feeling of watching her write out her mission evaluation, and knowing that that time ACTUALLY comes, when my life is no longer the missionary schedule straight out of the white handbook and days of talking to lots and lots of people as I bike the streets of Japan. It is a very surreal feeling.
But. What I can explain is what I have learned during these three transfers with Payne Shimai.
The first Sunday we were together she greeted every single person at church with the biggest smile and an even bigger hug.
I was surprised. The members were surprised. Who was this girl that already loved them? She was met with some apprehension, and slightly anxious hugs.
The next Sunday the reception was a little bit warmer. And this time I followed suit! I wanted to show the members how much I loved them too! We greeted as many members as we could with huge hugs. I watched our reception become just a little warmer every single time we met with a member. We heart-attacked their doors, we made cookies and left them on door steps. We wrote notes to the kids in the primary. We made more crafts than I have ever made in my life, early in the morning or at night after planning, before plopping onto our futons exhausted. And, we always greeted everyone with hugs. Everyone felt her love, and I wanted everyone to feel my love too. We both worked SO HARD to show everyone how much we loved them. And slowly...but surely...all of those members started seeing us at church and their faces would burst into a smile. They would stretch out their arms and run and hug us. They would laugh and tell us all about their lives. And then slowly, we also started receiving some referrals. Love is the essense of the gospel. That is what we are really about as missionaries.
On Thursday night this week we went to dinner with one of my favorite couples. They are prime examples of service and just pure Christlike people. As we talked about Payne Shimai's mission and their lives, the wife stopped us and said something that I will never forget, that melted my heart forever. She very quietly said - "Ever since you two became companions, Tokushima has changed. This branch is different." I held back my tears...but then I looked at Payne Shimai....and we both teared up. The couple just smiled at us and thanked us for our work. There is nothing like the joy of having a positive impact on people.
Welch Kaichou once said: "If you are in control of yourself, the world around you changes..." Or something along those lines. I might be misquoting this...but that is the general idea.
"The world around us changes." In Tokushima we have seen more miracles than I could ever write about. There were people who rarely came to church, who after a little bit of love came every single week. And continue to do so. There were families who became more active. There was the 92 year old who worked to stop smoking. There were baptisms. And the branch became even more of a family.
Anything is possible. The environment we are in can change depending on our attitude and the help of the Lord. The world around us can change.
Payne Shimai changed my life. She changed me as a missionary. One of the members this week was talking to me and she said: "What have you seen in the past three transfers? Everything has changed since you two became companions, I think, do you think so too?" I smiled. And then I explained that I felt exactly the same way. The area had grown! And I had grown too. I am more loving, more Christlike...and my Japanese is a whole heck of a lot better. A consecrated missionary does not only affect the members, the people they meet on the street...but they have a profound impact on their companion. I can testify of that.
This week was amazing. I had the opportunity to see everything that had happened in these three transfers in real fast review. It was very, very cool. We had the opportunity to see who we had touched without even realizing it - and the opportunity to see how many people had touched us. The mission experience is the best.
And so these three transfers in Tokushima come to an end. Payne Shimai is moving on to the next phase of her life. And I move onto the next phase of my mission.....(where I will continue to hug every single Japanese person that I can :) )
SO on that note...I AM STAYING IN TOKUSHIMA FOR TRANSFER NUMBER 5! AND I couldn't be more excited! ANDDDD I am training a brand new missionary.
I am only slightly terrified.
But, as we rely on the Lord anything is possible. Plus, brand new missionaries bring miracles and so, I am so stoked.
I love Tokushima.
I love Payne Shimai to pieces. We will be friends throughout the eternities...because that is definitely supposed to happen.
I love being a missionary.
I love this work.
And I had an awesome quote that I was going to include in here...but I forgot it in the apartment so that is always good.
But, it suffices to say that I love my Heavenly Father. :)
Love you all!
Slash P.S. I got this hilarious email - shout out to Camille Helmick - but, I am glad to know that everyone and their dog really enjoyed the story about how I fell into a rice field Back here.....what a great thing to be known for as a missionary!
"Congrats on reaching your one year mark! I love reading your blog! So I was at the Provo Temple the other day and these four sisters came over to me and my friends and asked if they could bear their testimonies in Japanese to us. It was so cool! When they finished I was telling how they should be happy if they get you as a companion! And guess what?!?!? They knew exactly who you are. I guess they'd all read your blog about getting stuck in a rice field. So yeah, I thought that was super awesome!!! - (Camille Helmick)"
SLASH P.S. DANIELS SHIMAI IS A SISTER TRAINING LEADER IN KOBE! And I am not in her Sister Training Leader Area...but I am really hoping that one day I will get to go on an exchange with her at some point! Yay!! She will be the best sister training leader ever!!!!