August 19, 2013
I saw Uncle Vai and his family yesterday! I can’t even describe how wonderfully amazing it was to see my Sikahema family. I never knew it would be this hard to leave home. The last 10 days of being in the MTC my prayers have been “Please help me not feel so alone here. Help me feel the love and presence of my family here at the MTC” because I already know you’ve all been praying for me. It’s so easy to get discouraged here at the MTC when you’re surrounded by so many kids your age who all miss their families. Everyone is at different stages in the gospel and with their Japanese.
So I went to choir practice last night. They kicked us out because security had to come check the premises before we’d be allowed back in. I was joking with everyone outside. I was, like, “Ooh, the Prophet must be speaking at devotional tonight or something.” Once we were allowed back in, we quickly found floor seats, which are so hard to get. We almost sat in the overflow which is in a whole other building, but my curiosity got the best of me, so we stayed…which ended up being a blessing because as soon as we took our seats, I looked up at the stand and saw someone looking just as beautiful as Aunty Keala. I looked harder…and it was her! I jumped over all the sisters and elders in the aisle and booked it to the front! I ran to her as fast as I could and we embraced each other with tears. I was so overwhelmingly overcome with happiness that I had family here! I hugged Lana as we squealed and shook hands with the Sikahema boys and Lana’s hubby Marcus. Lana and I played catch-up until the program started. We sang a prelude song when Uncle walked in and onto the stand. I got goose bumps all over and Aunty and Uncle just cried as all of us missionaries sang for them. The program started and Uncle and I mouthed some words to each other. I mouthed, “I’m so happy to see you!” We exchanged smiles and I couldn’t hold back any tears.
Uncle Vai makes me think of you, Dad. Your personalities may be a little different but your love radiates the same way. I just thought of you and how Heavenly Father was finally answering my prayers.
The program was beautiful and funny. I was so happy to have Lana on my left and my adorable companion on my right; my Uncle and Aunty in front in a room full of fellow missionaries who probably missed their families so much at that moment, but I was lucky and blessed enough to actually have my family with me! What was even more outstanding was that for our closing song we sang, “Called to Serve” and all the missionaries stood up out of respect for Uncle and Aunty’s testimonies which they shared with all of us. I couldn’t even sing. I just stood there crying as the song described exactly how I feel about my mission:
“Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name. Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing. God our strength will be, press forward ever called to serve our King!”
Once we closed the meeting, I jumped right up to see Uncle and Aunty. There was already a huge line of people waiting to speak with them, but you know me – I cut them off! I walked straight up to the stand to give Uncle a quick hug before he was whisked away by elders. Then I turned to Aunty and we hugged and cried! It felt good to hug her and to feel like I was hugging Mom. She told me, “I couldn’t look at you while I was up here because then I would start crying!” This made me cry even harder. Since entering the MTC, I have turned into a cry baby! Aunty told me to make my way to the foyer, so my comp and I did. We waited as missionaries talked and took pictures with Uncle. I talked with Lana and Kaylie and just had a great time being with family. Once the foyer cleared a little, we all took pics and hugged and laughed. I didn’t want to say goodbye but we needed to find my district, so I gave my final hugs and kisses and said my goodbyes for 18 months. Aunty told me that if I ever need anything, to just send her an email. This made me cry AGAIN! The Sikahemas always do service and make everyone feel good. I hope I can be amazing like them one day, too.
Dad, I felt like I really needed to write you this letter and tell you this. I hope Uncle sent you the pics by now. Will you please call him and tell him thank you for being an answer to your homesick daughter’s prayers? And send me their emails and address please. I should send them something. So I’ve been feeling so blessed and so full of love because Heavenly Father knows I struggled with the language. I feel like it’s His way of comforting me.
So that was Sunday (yesterday). Then this morning after breakfast, before class, one of our elders stands up and closes the door. He tells us that he needs to say something to the sisters. My heart sank. He told us he was going home and needed to take care of some things, but that he’d be back out in 6 months. He apologized and thanked us for being such great examples. We told him there’s no need to apologize. Class carried on for an hour then it was time for him to report to the travel office. We all said, “Aishitte imasu” which means “I love you.” Our Sensei didn’t know he was leaving and asked when, where and why 4 elders were leaving class? As I said in my last letter, I feel like my district is my family. To see him leave was like saying goodbye to a brother, and you know how I feel about my brothers! Tears started…again. I am so incredibly proud he has such integrity and faith to go home and take care of his past, then make his way back here again. I cannot imagine what he’ll face going back home, and my motherly instincts make me feel like I want to protect him from everything. I am so grateful for the Atonement and for the encouraging Spirit this gospel brings. He left and everyone in my district/little family became very quiet. I know I will see him after our missions but I feel like I’ve said a lot of goodbyes lately. I don’t know how many more goodbyes I can take.
This work is amazing and I know there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than struggling right here. I’ve grown so much, Dad. I’ve been tested constantly during my first few days, but I’m full of hope and I know my family and my Heavenly Father love me. Some days I wish I could just pick up the phone and call you because you’re the one I always called whenever I needed anything (especially money! LOL). Sometimes just hearing your voice on the other end of the phone made my day better. I guess this is the closest I can get to a phone call, Dad.
A scripture I’ve really come to love is Romans 8:31 ~
“…if God be for us, who can be against us?”
I’ve got the Lord on my side and nothing can stand in my way – not homesickness, or negative thoughts, or this language! I hope you’re doing well. Be positive and be a great example at work like I know you are! Oh, by the way, I don’t want family coming to pick me up from my mission. I need to just come home with the rest of the pack.
I’ll love you forever! You’ll hear from me later this week.
Love you, Daddy!
Heimuli Shimai xoxo