Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mikan Cake :)

It has been quite the week in Niihama. We are busy ALL THE TIME here. And so it is a lot of fun, but time goes by really quickly. Plus, because it is really, really Inaka (country) and everything is far apart we are also spending lots of time biking which also sucks up time way quicker than I think it will. 
The Niihama ward members Heart Attacked us!

I was able to meet most of the investigators in Niihama this week. They are all really interesting people, and understanding most of their Japanese is really difficult and so every day I am learning lots and lots and lotsssss of new vocabulary words because a many of the things our investigators talk about does not fit into my current vocabulary range. Luckily, Ichikawa Shimai understands Japanese and so she can answer some of the questions we have been hearing. I am also learning a lot about loving people with not my own love, but with the Lord's love because this area is just really difficult to explain in words, but these people are not like anyone that I have met before! They are all really loving and kind people, and the members here are amazing and probably some of the most accepting people I have ever met. Which I think has some very strong correlation to why the branch in Niihama has been growing so much in the past year. 

Cute Mikan Cake
We spend a decent amount of our time teaching recent converts because there are a lot in this ward. It has been really fun to get to know them and hear their testimonies and their conversion stories. One of them makes us little cakes every time we visit her and it is the sweetest thing ever. This week the cake looked like the Mikan Character because Mikans are yume in Ehime Ken. It was super cute. 

I also went on my first koukan (worked with another sister missionary for the day) this week! I was a little bit nervous, but it ended up being a lot of fun! The sister I koukan-ed with is from Canada and she speaks both French and English. She was actually in the same stake as the elder from my MTC district who is from Canada. It was really fun to be with a first transfer for a day because it was like training again! It also made me realize that I am kind of an old missionary because she had lots of really good questions about what it was like to be an 11th transfer. It was all very interesting because I feel like my heart is still a first transfer. 

Our koukan started by me getting us dreadfully lost for about an hour just trying to find our apartment from the eki. I was kind of embarrassed. But we talked to a lot of people along the way, and we found two people who might meet with us later this week. They also helped us locate our apartment complex. It started getting dark outside while we were looking for the apartment, and eventually we said a prayer that we could find it. After praying I looked up and realized that the apartment was right across a rice field right in front of us and that I had basically been leading us in circles for an hour. So that was good. After coming home we went out housing for about an hour and we found three people who invited us to go back. It was a really fun experience and the faith of first transfers always brings miracles :) Also, we ate pizza together which is always a lot of fun. 

Ichikawa Shimai and Grundvig Shimai in Niihama
Yesterday we had a super miraculous day. We didn't have any time to eat food, but we were able to meet with a TON of people. Also, we met with a girl who is a recent convert but has gone less active and didn't really seem to want to talk with missionaries. But, we talked with her and then built a relationship with her and she ended up letting us into her house and we had a really powerful lesson and she opened up to us a lot and I think she will start coming back to church. It is so fun teaching with Ichikawa Shimai because she is an AMAZING teacher and listener and really understands the hearts of the people that we are teaching. She seriously was guided throughout the entire lesson and it was just a lot of fun. Also, yesterday we had a terrifying experience where a crazy man came up to us on the street and kept grabbing our arms, and he wasn't really speaking he was just sort of...frothing. And we were both really terrified. But then - in Niihama where there is never anyone on the streets - out of nowhere this huge group of boys all showed up and noticed that something interesting was happening and so they all stopped to see if we needed help, and then at the same time a member drove by and stopped because they also noticed that we might need help. So, the Lord really does protect his missionaries. 

I hope that you all had a great week!
I wish that I could more accurately describe the events of every day and missionary life and everything that we do....but here is just a tiny snippet of everything.

Grundvig Shimai 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I am safe and I have arrived back to Shikoku!!! 
It was a crazy week and it is almost like my transfer in Ibaraki was a dream because I left so quickly and I just popped back to Shikoku. It was so fun being able to call Hiatt Shimai and Chapman Shimai on the phone and talk to Chapman Shimai. Apparently they have been really sick, but Chapman Shimai told me that she prayed me back to Shikoku. I love her so much she is just so hilarious. Also - fun thing - I got to hear about all of the investigators and they are doing well and those wonderful college students are preparing for their baptisms! I was super full of joy to hear that. 

It was very sad to leave Ibaraki! We had some amazing lessons the last week. We had some investigators who contacted us out of the blue and started meeting with us again and are progressing super well.  I think the next few months are going to result in a whole lot of success in Ibaraki. We also started teaching this amazing girl who is golden and so that was a little bit heartbreaking to leave so quickly...but it is the Lord's will and so I am here and happy :) I think one of the highlights was a lesson we taught to a lady who was a former investigator, me and Mills Shimai started teaching on Christmas Eve. We stopped by and visited and taught her a lesson.  She told us that she had been praying ever since we had taught her prayer and that she had felt something she had never felt before. It was a powerful experience. We gave her a Book of Mormon with our testimonies and extended the invitation to read, and so I am excited to see where that goes for her. 
With Daniel's Shimai, see post from August 10, 2013

This week was crazy busy getting ready to leave Osaka - but I got to spend transfer day in Kobe and dendou with Daniels Shimai!! It was definitely all through the Lord's hand and I was super happy. Ichikawa Shimai (my new companion) was in Tokyo for the day because of some stuff that happened with her college and so she had to leave for an interview (it sounded really taihen). So I was in a trio with Daniels Shimai and Croft Shimai for the day! It was so much fun to dendou with Daniels Shimai, and she is such a good missionary! I just love her and I wish I could have talked to her forever, but it was fun to talk to people on the streets together and hear her speak Japanese because 12 months ago, or whatever, we couldn't really speak this language at all. Also, we taught a lesson to this lady from Pakistan and it was way cool, she was super sweet and plus... it was just fun to teach with Daniels Shimai. 

With my new companion...Ichikawa Shimai
Niihama is AMAZING! I love it here! It is by far my most Inaka area. OH MY GOODNESS IT IS SO INAKA (out in the country, countryside). There is absolutely NO ONE on the streets and the stores are all really far apart and it is so quiet all of the time, but it has a magically fresh feeling. There is something special about Shikoku and so I love it with all of my heart. The members here are amazing, I can't really explain them in words, but they are just special. And Ichikawa Shimai...OH MY GOSH I LOVE HER TOO! She is so sweet, probably one of the most Christlike people I have ever met and she is so humble. I have learned a lot from her in just three days. She is a really thoughtful person and so kind to me. Plus, she is Japanese and so she helps my Japanese a lot. She is basically fluent in English and she wants to learn more English, so we switch off every other day speaking Japanese and English. Today is a Japanese day :) We have a lot of things in common and so it is really easy to get along. She thinks about life the same way I think so, so far our companionship is just super great and I love it. I still don't really know a whole lot about Niihama, but we have been pretty busy these past few days and so it has been fun to be biking out in all of the rice fields again. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL HERE! And I haven't really taken any pictures...but I will next week!

Love you!
Grundvig Shimai

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


At the Red Arches in Fushimi, Kyoto
I have been trying to decide how to word this email all morning because there is this strange combination of excitement and nervousness that is flooding all around my stomach and so I am not really sure how to deal with that quite yet. But, in case you didn't read the title of this email SURPRISE I AM TRANSFERRING. Which is super sad because I LOVE THESE PEOPLE IN IBARAKI! And also because I DON'T LIKE PACKING. But, thus is the life of a missionary. 

So, I am transferring BACK TO SHIKOKU!! Woohoo!!! I love that wonderful little island. Turned out, all those tears I cried leaving it...were not completely necessary. I am transferring to the area of Niihama, where I will be Ichikawa Shimai's companion. I will also be serving as a Sister Training Leader, which is exciting and also makes me super nervous, because I don't really have any idea what to expect when it comes to being a Sister Training Leader - but I am sure that it will be fun, and, even though I am gypsing Ibaraki I know that the Lord wants me back on Shikoku and that He has work for me to do there! 

I was really surprised to transfer...because I definitely expected to be in Ibaraki until the end of my mission. AND It is really sad to leave Mills Shimai (this whole one transfer companion thing I am not a very big fan of). 

In Kyoto
Ibaraki and Takatsuki were super wonderful, and I have grown to love the people a whole lot more here in just six weeks than I thought was possible. There are lots of good things that are going to happen here in the future I think, and there have been a lot of seeds planted this transfer. It has been neat to be here for just....a snapshot...I guess of time and learn to love the people, and then also see the work progress just a bit further. I felt like because I was here for such a short time I was really able to feel how large the Lord's plan for every area, and every single person is, and how we all play just a tiny little piece in the Lord's master plan. I am excited to see how both Ibaraki and Takatsuki will grow from here on out. I wish I could be here to see it, but, I have made some friendships here that I hope last on into the eternities. 

One cool miracle from this week! Mills Shimai and I had decided that we would start calling all of the members in both Ibaraki and Takatsuki on their birthdays! So, we had been meaning to do this for about two weeks or so...but because missionaries are busy, and we were slow in starting...we didn't actually start until this week. On Monday after getting home from Kyoto and doing some dendou, we came home and then called all of the birthdays that had passed in January. The last man we called - whose birthday was actually on Monday - answered the phone and was SO SURPRISED that we had called! He has been less active for about 8 years and told us that he hasn't received any contact at all from the church in 5-7 years. He wanted to know who told us to call, and finally believed us that no one had told us to call. I ended up having an amazing hour long phone call with him, where I was able to teach him a lot about the Atonement and Forgiveness and how he could find comfort through Jesus Christ, no matter how lost he felt that he was. He told me that he was really lost at the moment and doubted God's existence, or that God cared about him at all...and then we called. Also, no one had told him happy birthday because he is lonely and lives by himself...and so he didn't think that anyone knew about it. And so, thus is life as a missionary. 

I love this work. I can't believe I am heading into my 11th transfer....and these transfers sort of just keep whipping by faster and faster and faster and I don't know why that happens....but, I do know that it is only as a missionary that I get to try and share this wonderful happy message with as many people as I come into contact with everyday...and it is wonderful. 

ALSO! This week Mills Shimai and I got to participate in Mochitsukikai!! Which is where you pound rice with a large hammer to make mochi and it was so fun and we made the most delicious mochi, and I got to eat it warm and it was wonderful.  

Have a great week! LOVE YOU ALL!

Grundvig Shimai

p.s. I apologize to anyone who has written me letters and that I have been terrible at responding. I fully intended to write everyone back today, but now I am transferring...and so I have to pack.....but I promise I still love you all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year!

Beautiful New Year's Day sunrise in Ibaraki
Happy New Year everyone!!

It was a wonderful week in Japan for the New Year :) During New Years week in Japan, there are tons of way cool cultural traditions, and last year I had no idea about any of them...but this year I did, because I can kind of speak Japanese and our mission president emailed the mission to inform us of a few of them, so we were able to participate!

It was also an effective week of just working super hard...even though the holiday would make it seem more difficult to teach people. We ended up being able to teach more lessons than we had yet in any of our weeks in Ibaraki! I also think that I ate more this week than I have eaten on my entire mission because so many of the members invited us over to their homes for meals. We had a ton of fun getting to know the members and becoming friends :)

Something that I have found interesting about my time in Japan is how much my love for these people has just GROWN. I think truly loving the people that I was teaching and the members that we were working with was something that I struggled with at the beginning of my mission. But, as my mission has gone on and I have increased a little bit in my charitable, Christlike love, my heart has just opened up and I have learned how to really love these people. Every time...well all of the two times...that I have transferred, I have noticed that I am able to really develop a love for the people that we are teaching and working with just a little bit faster than the time before. I think the same idea applies with my companions, with each companion I learn how to love just a little bit more. I learn how to love the people around me for exactly who they are and who they are becoming, instead of seeing all of the things in a companion that might make them hard to get a long with. I guess, it is learning how to really see the people around me the way God sees them, instead of the way my weak little eyes would see them.

This week I fell even more in love with Japan and the people. These people are just AMAZING. And they bend over backwards to serve others and see beauty in the world. As a result I have decided that I want to take up gardening because the Japanese people just see so much beauty in the world, and I want to be the same.

One of the Japanese New Year traditions (which completely juxtaposes the American tradition of staying up late on New Years Eve) is to wake up early on New Years Morning and watch the first sunrise of the New Year. Mills Shimai and I woke up early and biked across Ibaraki to this river where a group of people had gathered to watch the Sunrise. It was a WAY cool experience! One man and his wife were especially kind and explained to us that they come every year because watching the sunrise (Hatsu Hinode) for the first day of the new year is an exhilarating feeling. And it just awakens something inside of them. It was a very cool conversation that I wish I could translate better into English, but basically I just love JAPAN and I love JAPANESE :) And also JAPANESE PEOPLE!! Anyway, I was able to liken this feeling to feeling God's love (see 1 Nephi 11:22-23 Here), and we gave both him and his wife mormon.org cards, and they were really excited about the idea.

So, I will attach some pictures of this awesome sunrise for you to see and I hope that you enjoy them greatly. It was an awesome New Years here in Ibaraki! AND IT SNOWED ON NEW YEARS DAY! It was very beautiful. And also very cold and my fingers almost froze...but, there is nothing quite like biking on icy, snowy roads to make you feel alive on New Years Day! Have a great week! We are off to Kyoto this afternoon!

"It was an Awesome New Year's here in Ibaraki"


Grundvig Shimai

"Dendou is like a box of chocolates..."

Christmas Goodies
"...you never know who you are gonna find...or when...or where...or how...or why....and that's all I got to say about that."

The Skit..."Making Nabe"
Above Quote is courtesy of Lake Chourou from the Christmas Taikai, which featured a missionary talent show. Lake Choru and Tucker Choro, from my MTC district are currently...or at least they were...companions, and they put on a hilarious skit titled, "What if your mission president was..." And it was the funniest thing.. Featuring our mission president as characters from Lord of the Rings, and Bane, Forest Gump...and many others. Welch Kaichou (My Mission President) loved it.

Good to be together, some MTC mission friends
The Ibaraki/ Takatsuki district featured the "Making Nabe" skit - a spin off of "Making Beans" from the Annandale Stake Girls Camp. I did not tell the Elders that I stole the skit idea from Girls Camp, because I had a hunch that might make them want to perform it less. However, it turned out to be pretty good and we had a lot of fun performing it!! Also, at the Christmas Taikai, I was able to see a lot of the members of my wonderful MTC district... and we took a picture together and it was so crazy to see everyone after a year. Also, one of the Takatsuki Elders is being transferred (poor Takatsuki all of their missionaries are being transferred, quick and not regularly scheduled transfers) he is going to Kobe to help put together the portal for the iPads that we will receive in March - and Tucker
Christmas party!
Choro from my MTC district is transferring in! He had to pack up and move out in a day...because they needed him in Kobe, basically immediately, so that has been pretty taihen. My whole mission, transfers have never really affected me because I just stay...and then stay...and then stay....and it is wonderful!! But then all of these weeks of unplanned transfers is making me a crazy person.

But...back to the first line of this letter! You never know who you are going to find, or when, or where, or why or how....

This week we had a lot of amazing experiences where the Lord led us to exactly the people that we needed to find! We were really focusing on being where the Lord wanted us to be in order to find new investigators, because if we listen... the Lord will guide them to us, or guide us to them. So, after visiting a few members and sharing Christmas messages with them, we were housing near the church because we had a few minutes before Eikaiwa...and we felt prompted to leave and go house in a different area. Which we did. And the first door that we knocked turned out to be a lady who used to be an investigator and was SO excited to see us! She practically threw the door open and invited us in. She had absolutely zero money because it was the end of the month, she was super, super humble, but heated up water for us to have something warm to drink. It was so sweet. She became an investigator on the spot...and then we had to sprint to Eikaiwa to make it there in time. It was an amazing Christmas Eve Miracle!

The whole week we were led by the Lord, and He is really allowing His work to move forward here. This morning we ran into a lady who flagged us down and told us that she wanted to meet with the missionaries and pointed out where she lived. It was kind of crazy and I thought she was really confused about who we were...but it turned out that she did know that we were the Mormon missionaries and used to meet with missionaries and had also recently been missing meeting with us. So, that was also a neat morning miracle.

I LOVE being a missionary during Christmas time, and I feel super lucky that I get to be a missionary twice during Christmas. :) We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with a member in our ward who is AMAZING. And we talked about her mission, and when I shared a scripture with her, tears just started running down her face. And I don't really know what I said that she needed, but the spirit must have guided my words because I don't really remember what I said and I also shared a scripture that I was not planning on sharing -but, when we teach by the spirit we will be able to teach to the needs of the people around us.

The Lord loves us! He is our Savior! It is a special time of year and a wonderful time to be a missionary.



Grundvig Shimai