First of all, I received my last transfer call of my mission and Ichikawa Shimai and I are both staying in Niihama! I AM SO HAPPY. I am probably one of the luckiest people in the entire world to have a Japanese companion for my last transfer, and especially because that Japanese companion is Ichikawa Shimai and she is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. The sad news is that Chapman Shimai is transferring from Tokushima :( and so I will not be able to go on koukan with her.
Something that I have been thinking about a lot this week is the power of prayer. Recently, Ichikawa Shimai and I have been teaching about prayer a lot and hearing a lot of first prayers. One of the things that I love most about my mission, and particularly about serving a mission in Japan is hearing people pray for the very first time. Most Japanese people have never looked at prayer the way that I look at prayer - as a conversation full of gratitude and my own thoughts and then onegais for the things that I need help with as well. Particularly the idea of giving gratitude through prayer is really mind blowing for a lot of my investigators. This week we taught one family about prayer, and the 7 year old daughter prayed the sweetest little prayer I have ever heard - full of gratitude that her family met us and that we are teaching them. It melted me heart. Another lady we are teaching - the girlfriend of one of the members in Niihama, who has had one of the hardest lives of anyone I have ever met - prayed her first prayer and it was so sweet! She was really nervous, but had the same sort of gratitude filled prayer and there was a strong spirit of peace in the room.
This week was full of so many wonderful moments that I wish I had more time to record...but I ate a lot of udon, hiked a mountain in Niihama, bought a very Japanese poi skirt that cost less than a dollar, biked a lot of different places, memorized the area as much as I could in-case Ichikawa Shimai transferred (luckily I dodged that bullet...), taught some powerful lessons and felt the Lord guiding His work!
We have been focusing on working with the members in Niihama and my love for them has grown so much this transfer. I think that is one of my favorite parts of working with the members, as I learn about them I just love them more and I also learn more about Japan and the culture and my heart just expands a whole lot. But, the branch president's wife teaches a class in her home (an after school cram class) and every week we volunteer in her class. The kids are hilarious and it has been way fun to teach them English. But, this week she asked us to spend the first hour of the class just teaching them about missionary work and what we do. We explained who we are and told them about our backgrounds, and then showed them our Mormon.org profiles, and then after that showed them some of the Japanese members Japanese Mormon.org videos. It was a super success and the branch president's wife was so grateful. As a result, most of the class members are planning to go to youth conference and they came to the church hiking activity this weekend. They are all 13 and they remind me of Japanese versions of Ethan.
Love you all!
Love Grundvig Shimai