Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ibaratsuki Shimai

Merry Christmas!!

This year for Christmas, Mills Shimai, Mackenzie Shimai, Mitsuyama Shimai and I received a surprise telephone call. Or rather, Mackenzie Shimai and Mitsuyama Shimai received the call. As of December 24th, our apartment of four will become an apartment of two. Mitsuyama Shimai and Mackenzie Shimai are transferring to Kyouto and Mills Shimai and I are whitewashing Takatsuki and taking over both wards. So, we have become the Sisters for both the Ibaraki and Takatsuki wards....hence making us the Ibaratsuki Shimai. That phone call ended with a lot of tears on all of our parts, it is really sad for the Takatsuki Shimai to be leaving for the entire ward, and the apartment will be really different with just the futari. It is slightly overwhelming to be learning our way around two areas at once, since Mills Shimai and I are still learning our way around Ibaraki....and also learning all of the member’s names in both wards, as well as adopting the investigators from the Takatsuki Shimai. But, the Lord has a way of stretching our comfort zones and showing us that we can accomplish more than we think we can when He is on our side.

It was a really weird week though...we didn't know when the Takatsuki Shimai would be leaving until Saturday night because we kept hearing lots of different things from mission leaders...but it was finally decided that the Takatsuki Shimai would be leaving on Christmas eve. So, I have re-decided that transferring is a very sad thing...even when I am not even the person transferring!

On a happier note, we had a fun ward Christmas party this week! And we had a few of our investigators come and they all loved it a lot. Also, two missionaries from Ibaraki finished their missions and just came home...which was incredibly exciting because they are really excited about helping the missionaries do missionary work. The members here are really wonderful and super loving especially at Christmas time. They are just such an amazing group of members and they always do so much for us at Christmas time. After church yesterday they gave all of the missionaries a large box of presents for Christmas and it was the sweetest thing ever. (Japanese church members really help you feel super loved all of the time :)

There is nothing quite like being a missionary at Christmas, especially at Christmas time. As a missionary, Christmas just  pops up way faster, for whatever reason. And I have decided that it is because we are focused on "Christmas" every single day for this 18 month period. And the Christmas season just makes it even more wonderful to share why we are out here talking about Christ, every single day - on Christmas there is a light brought into our work. I found this quote on and I really liked it.

"When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning."

The Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ, and we may notice it more at Christmas, but we can keep this spirit with us at all times.

Merry Christmas everyone!! I love you all :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

10 days and 11 sleeps until Christmas!

It was a miracle filled week in Ibaraki! It is really throwing me for a loop being back in Osaka, especially since I came back around the exact same time that I arrived in Japan last year. It is so interesting to take a look at how much I have changed since last year. It is also very cool to see that I am able to understand what is going on in the world around me and that I am capable of knowing what is going on in missionary work, at least a little bit more. :)

It is Christmas Time!! I believe that the count down is currently at 10 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!! Hooray hooray hooray!! :) I love Christmas! And it is just a different thing to be a missionary for Christmas, but if anything, I just feel even more excited about the season because of the miracles that pop up right now and because there is nothing better than testifying about Christ during Christmas. 

This week was full and Mills Shimai and I had a lot of fun just going out and working and doing lots of finding :) We found a family that we started teaching that surprised us by inviting us in for dinner! Mills Shimai had actually met the mother the last transfer.  We ate delicious Japanese food with them and the two adorable little daughters performed a dance for us and a song, which involved "Be our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast. And also "Hi - Ho" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It was one of the most adorable things - and then we literally sprinted home to make it home on time.

Yesterday we had an amazing lesson in relief society about Christmas! We talked about how we can make sure that we are keeping the "Christ" in "Christmas" and not turning it into "X-Mas." In Japanese the word "Christ" is not actually part of the word "Christmas" (in Japanese Christmas is Kurisumasu and Christ is Kirisuto and those two words sound nothing a like, so there are quite a lot of people who just have no idea at all what the purpose of Christmas is and are very surprised to discover that it is actually a celebration of Christ's this relief society lesson was particularly effective for Japan, but I loved it none the less). It made me think a lot about how important it is to always keep the spirit of Christmas - the true spirit of Christmas in our hearts.

Also, this week I had a wonderful Christmas present because the Ibaraki Church building has a GYM! Which is amazing because it is the only church building that has a gym in the entire Kobe Mission, I think. But, we do a sports night every week. This week, I got everyone playing soccer and I was super happy and I had a giant smile on my face, for about forever, after that wonderful game.

Merry Christmas to everyone from me and Mills Shimai! I am so grateful for my new companion, she is just the sweetest person and she is working really hard to learn Japanese. I am very impressed with how good her Japanese is after only being here for 6 weeks, and that she is still really positive, even though she usually doesn't really know what the investigators or I am saying. She is also incredibly patient with me when I get us dreadfully lost for three hours in the freezing cold :)

Much Love,
Grundvig Shimai!!

And because I haven't told everyone how much I love this video yet, but it is lighting up the world.  I promise that if you give it a chance, it will change you. And you will never view the world the same way again!

Click below to see the video

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Goodbye Tokushima, Welcome to Ibaraki!!

Goodbye My Beautiful Tokushima
My last week in Tokushima was a dream of my life. I loved it so much, it was also the hardest thing of my life to say good bye to everyone and I cried so much. My tears gradually deceased throughout the week as I got used to the idea of leaving, but I still cried a lot at transfer point saying good bye to Chapman Shimai.
On Monday we had family home evening...I told the family we were with about the experiences I had had in Tokushima, and the family and us cried hahaha. It was heart wrenching...and the Elders were really fighting to keep their eyes dry. And they were not too successful at that :)

The week was full of saying goodbye to investigators and members, but it was truly an amazing week. I was able to see how much the Lord had blessed me in Tokushima. It was neat to be able to talk to people and see how much we had learned together in the past seven and a half months. I received a lot of letters that ripped my heart to pieces, but really just left me feeling so humbled knowing that the Lord has blessed so many lives here. I left with a feeling of joy and peace knowing that I had done what I was called to do in Tokushima.

I received one gift leaving Tokushima that just melted my heart completely. From our two college students (who are being baptized soon!!) I received a soccer ball that they had written their testimonies on in English and little thank you notes. It was the sweetest thing ever. They had run to their college English professor to get his help with translation, but they essentially wrote: "Thank you. I am so happy that I met you. Because of you, I know about Jesus Christ." And I just cried a lot about that.

Another moment that melted my heart was saying goodbye to Chapman Shimai. She pulled me aside and told me that she had seen me all of those mornings I woke up early to make her learning tools for Japanese...and that she had cried when I would wake up early because she could see the sacrifice I was making for her. And basically that just also made my heart melt. She left me a note in my suitcase and a necklace from Tahiti that I discovered this morning as I unpacked my bags and it was the sweetest thing ever.

Tokushima is a special place and it will live on in my heart forever. A few investigators and a member came to say goodbye to me at the bus stop and I left Tokushima with some tears in my eyes...after the most exhausting week of my life (waking up between 3:30 and 5 every morning to make sure that the Chouro (Elders) and Chapman Shimai knew the 7 and a half months worth of information stored inside my brain)...and I said goodbye to Tokushima!

So! For the last two days! I have been in Ibaraki! Mills Shimai is amazing! She helped dear Chapman Shimai in the MTC a whole lot, and I am forever grateful for that. Training an American who speaks English is 700% different. My world turned back to normal side up instead of the crazy roller coaster ride it was at the beginning of last transfer. Ibaraki is amazing, the members are super sweet and it is so much fun living in an apartment with four Shimais! I am with Daniels Shimai's trainee, Mackenzie Shimai from New Zealand and she has the craziest conversion story ever, it is way cool!!!

Anyway....I am excited for the upcoming week in Ibaraki and learning a new area and all of the new investigators :) It is a great place and WAYYY more city than Tokushima, which is crazy. I am definitely back in Osaka!!
I love you all!

Grundvig Shimai
Goodbye Tokushima

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Back to the streets of Osaka!

Hello everyone!!

This morning I received the most heartbreaking news....I am leaving Tokushima! I will be going back to Osaka...the Osaka North Zone, where I will be training a second transfer missionary named Mills Shimai. I actually talked to her and her companion on the bus last week when Chapman Shimai and I went to Kobe, and I believe that she is from Utah. She is very nice.

With Chapman Shimai.  I am really going to miss this girl!
My heart is broken into little pieces though to leave Tokushima. I love these people SOOO much! And I love Chapman Shimai soooo much!! When I saw the email this morning I just started crying and Chapman Shimai started crying. But! We both know that this is the Lord's will for us and that He has a bigger plan than I do...and right now the Lord needs me in Ibaraki! The funny thing is that Mill's Shimai's trainer and I are switching Chapman Shimai's new companion is a sister named Hiatt Shimai. She is AWESOME!! I love her a ton, we were in the MTC together and we sat next to each other on the plane ride to Japan. I know that Hiatt Shimai and Chapman Shimai will see tons of miracles together. They will be a dynamic duo undoubtedly.

This week was super great!! We had lessons with our amazing soccer playing, college student investigators and they are so cute. We had Family Home Evening at a members home with them, and that all went really well. They are both praying and they LOVE prayer! When investigators really, really desire to know the truth and they pray from their hearts, they receive answers. 100% guaranteed. Both of these sweet girls are experiencing this. They both shared powerful experience of prayer with the members, and the Elders who were also at the Family Home Evening both shared funny experiences with our investigators that they had had with prayer. Although both of the Elder's stories involved getting lost in mountains (one in Japan, and one in Utah), they both learned that God HEARS our prayers and that He will send help and comfort.

On Thursday Chapman Shimai and I went to Kobe for Trainer Trainee Training. It was super awesome! I loved it SO MUCH! I learned a lot about how to be a better trainer, I am sad that I only had a few days to apply what I learned with Chapman Shimai...but I am excited to go apply what I learned in Ibaraki with Mills Shimai. The miracle of the day was that we did not think that Chapman Shimai would have anyone to translate into French for her...but an elder showed up who is a second transfer who spoke AMAZING French! The cool story behind this is that Chapman Shimai actually knew him in the MTC, and although he did take French in High School....he really could not speak French at all. So, that being said, he came to Japan...and ended up with two investigators from France. Over the course of 3 months he became fluent in French and was able to translate the entire meeting for Chapman Shimai. It was awesome.

Then on Saturday we had this super great American Pizza Party! We have been inviting people to it for a while on the streets and we had a pretty good turn out. The Elders made a ton of pizza for it, and they are great cooks and it was the best pizza I have had yet in Japan. On another note, the Elders looked hilarious in the aprons and matching cooking utensils that they bought from Daiso. It went really well and we also taught everyone how to sing American Folk Songs....including Yankee Doodle Dandee and You are My Sunshine. Needless to say, it was a huge hit.

I guess in closing....some reflections on what I have learned this transfer.I will never forget that day that I picked Chapman Shimai up from the hombu, and the feeling of complete overwhelming-ness that engulfed me as we left Kobe and headed back to Tokushima. When Chapman Shimai fell asleep on the bus, I let myself cry like three tears. I had no idea what I was doing teaching someone how to be a missionary in French. But I learned oh so very much this transfer, it will be one of the ones that I treasure most on my mission. Chapman Shimai and I have forged a deep friendship....that will last despite that we may live far away from each other for the rest of our lives. The Lord taught me that I really have no power to do...anything. He taught me that I am not the trainer, He is...and that my trainee can only really learn through the spirit. The same thing applies to my investigators...and really anyone that I may encounter in my life. Plus, I have seen amazing growth in Chapman Shimai. She can speak ENGLISH!! And her Japanese is coming along too! It was so fun to go to Kobe and for her to see all of her missionary friends from the MTC. They were all completely blown away that she could speak and understand SOOOO much! It made me so happy for her. It was a joyful moment for both of us. It has been a transfer of relying on the Lord, a lot of prayer, and sooooo soooo much joy. But, I know that the Lord lives! He loves us! And He has work for me to do in Ibaraki. So....back to the streets of Osaka I go!

Much love,

Grundvig Shima