Kobe, Japan

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 28, 2013 - General Relief Society Meeting

Sister Heimuli's mom and Aunty Nei were able to attend the General Relief Society Meeting at the Conference Center where Hevynn sang in the MTC Sister Missionaries Choir.  Simply radiant, she sang her heart out and looked happier than ever!  As soon as the camera zoomed in on Sister Heimuli for those watching the broadcast or live stream, Mom's phone lit up with emails/texts from people saying, "I just saw Hevynn!"  Hevynn's Laurel advisor, Tam Simon, sent some great pics -- the ones we took in the Conference Center didn't turn out so well.  Here's one of the pics Tam took:
Courtesy: Tam Simon
It was an inspiring evening with words of wisdom and counsel from the General RS Presidency, Sister Burton, Sister Stephens and Sister Reeves, and our beloved prophet President Thomas S. Monson regarding keeping covenants.  Mom and Aunty Nei did not move an inch when the Conference Center began emptying out, but stayed (and waved, laughed, cried happy tears, and flashed "I Love You" signs back-and-forth).  Seemingly all-too-soon, Hevynn waved one last wave, walked off the stage and headed back to the MTC.  
Courtesy: Aunty Nei's blurry iPhone
Sister Heimuli leaves for Japan next Monday, October 7th.  Hope the next 16 months fly by!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week 7 - How Did I Get Here?

Want to hear a funny story? Every week, we prepare talks because you just don't know who's going to talk until they announce it in Sacrament meeting. You're given a specific topic which has to do with the Missionary Purpose and it's given in your mission language. 

So in the morning I had this awesome feeling that it wasn't going to be me even though I'm Dai Senpai which means I have a greater chance of being called on. I was walking around to all the other Districts and giving everyone a hard time about being picked on. I told them, "I just have a feeling it's not me today! So you better have an awesome talk ready!" I was joking around with everyone but I was 100% certain I wasn't speaking. I told that to every single other person in our branch. As soon as we walk into the chapel my happy feeling suddenly disappeared...and I just knew I'd get called. Before I knew it Brother Marks announced, "And our speakers today will be Jensen Choro and HEIMULI SHIMAI" Everyone I gave a hard time to that morning was fist bumping and snickering...ughhh it's what I get! So I gave my first talk in all Nihongo on Sunday which was actually really fun. I don't think anything I said made sense! This was the perfect start to my crazy week.

As I mentioned in previous emails, there's just not enough time...ever. We got travel plans on Thursday and when I held those papers in my hand I just thought about all the time that had flown by up to that point just thinking, "How did I get here?"

Sister Heimuli receives her travel plans.  She leaves for Japan on October 7th!

In District Meeting on Sunday Cope Choro and Hyde Choro gave an awesome lesson on Taeshinobu or Enduring to the End. We read 2 Nephi 31:15-21 together and picked faith, hope, and love to discuss. We decided that in order to endure well we must have all 3 of these Christlike attributes. As I think back on the days I've spent here I think about he song Lead Kindly Light. "Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see." As a companionship when you plan every night you plan for the next day not the next month or the next year. Taking it a day at a time or one step at a time is what it takes to endure. As we pondered what enduring really meant this is part of the list we came up with:

-feasting on Christ's word
-unshaken FAITH
-rely on Christ
-Press forward
-Baptism, repentance
-LOVE for God and all men (charity)

Notice how most of these factors of enduring are Christlike attributes? Hyde Choro said, "None of us can appreciate all of Christ's characteristics until we develop it ourselves." So many of us talk about Christ and how much we love him but do we really? Do we really appreciate Christ's sacrifice? Or do we just like the story and the idea of his mortal ministry? I think the only way to really know Christ like we know our family is to do exactly what Hyde Choro said and develop his attributes. Since I'm coming up on my last week here I've been soaking in every second that I can with my district. I watch these chorotachi teach and I've seen them grow so much in only 8 weeks. I get teary eyed just thinking about what 2 years is going to do to everyone in my district...my district is a force to be reckoned with. Their testimonies and their experiences have strengthened my testimony to the point that I think my heart is going to explode! Sometimes I feel like God loves me too much because I'm so blessed by the people he places in my life. Like one of my dearest friends...who recommended last week that I read 2 Nephi 4 -- wow! Like Nephi says, "He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh." (2 Nephi 4:21)
Heimuli Shimai & her doryo Black Shimai ready to leave for the Conference Center to sing in the choir at the General Relief Society Meeting, September 28, 2013
Leaving the MTC not only means leaving my very first district, but leaving our teachers as well. Without a doubt, our teachers' testimonies have forever changed how we view ourselves and our calling. Our sensei, Reading Sensei shared a thought the other day about our purpose and why we are here. He shared 4 Nephi 1:5 which starts off, "And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus..." As a disciple of Jesus Christ our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ through FAITH in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. This scripture ends with, "...and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus Christ." Reading Sensei asked us to think about what kind of miracle we want to see in our last week of the MTC. As I pondered the idea of miracles this scripture popped into my head; Ether 12:16 "Yea, even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith..."

We have this set aside time every night for what is called 'coaching'. Our sensei will take a companionship out into the hall and just talk to us. I can't remember if I've written about this before but I love coaching! Our senseis have done exactly what we're about to do and they're here to help us in every way. Thursday night Ellsworth Sensei did coaching as a class. He shared some awesome things with us about how the Lord is hastening the work. He then asked us, "When did the most important events of Christ's life take place? Mostly everything we know about Christ happened in the last week of his life." He compared that to our last week here at the MTC that most of the things we'll remember about our MTC experience will happen within our last week of being here. He asked us not to lose focus, to hit a peak so that when we land in Nihon we can hit the ground running! Last night's coaching was with Murray Sensei and he coached a group of us and said, "I promise the Lord is preparing something for you this week. Think of what he wants you to learn, set a goal, and do it." Up until the Savior's last week, even the night before he was crucified, he was engaged in his work. I've been here about 8 weeks now and the Lord still has things he needs me to learn and accomplish within my last week. 

My time is short and I haven't even expressed 1/10th of what I wanted to. All I can say is that I'm so grateful for the teachers and people I've met so far in my mission. I got an awesome email from Hawkes Choro (he played football with Houst) a part of his email was exactly what I've needed to hear, "...don't get down on yourself it's gonna be hard...but we'll conquer this mountain!" and it's true. 
Elder Marshall Hawkes (2nd from left -- one of Houston's teammates) before he left for Japan
We all have good days and bad ones but stay true to your faith and like President Holland says, "Hold to the ground you've already won." Sometimes I think we stomp out our own faith when we over criticize ourselves or compare our god given gifts to other people's gifts.

Helam wrote me this past week and said, "If you slip, get back up quick!" Even when Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane he took up his cross and finished what his father needed him to do. We're all going to have those moments where we slip but I testify that Christ's already atoned for it. All he needs us to do is pick ourselves up and continue our work. As you can see, there's so much change that will be coming up this next week! With change comes trial and with trial comes growth. I'll tell you what I tell both my investigators, I know this gospel is true. I know Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and through him we are made stronger. I know that Joseph Smith restored this gospel and I know that thanks to him I am where I need to be. I'm grateful for my brothers and sisters that I get to labor alongside everyday. I know that our Heavenly Father loves his children and I know that it's that love that pushes me to be a better missionary. Sorry this letter is short compared to my other ones but it's going to be a busy day! I'll leave you with this D&C 68:4 

And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by he Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation...

and John 14:18 
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  

This week try as you come up against an obstacle ask the Lord to show you how to use the gifts he's already given you to overcome it. I promise that when you do that the Lord will see your willingness to learn and bless you with more gifts and opportunities to use those gifts.

Thank you for the love and support! Heels, thanks for the awesome letter. I hope you know I miss you best friend! Norms, thank you for the update on the little boys. Sounds like you all had a crazy week as well! Thank you for being the best sister-in-law since their sissy is gone. I love you Ohana and miss you choke. Harry, I love you baby! You're my favorite boy in the world! Thank you Dad for the donuts my district (and sensei) LOVED it! Have a blessed week everybody, help someone in need today ok? Love you lots!

Heimuli Shimai

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 6 - Don't Change Yourself...Find Yourself

This wouldn't be a real letter if I didn't address the big rivalry game today...I don't have any red in my wardrobe, I'm a Weber State fan and today will be a sad day for the Y so I had to go with all black! (Check the pic with Kerr Shimai and Beane Shimai...can't you tell where each of our loyalty lies???) 

I guess if I don't hear much cheering from the stadium tonight then it means it's a good game! I have to say my withdrawals from sports are finally leaving. I got an awesome package from Jessye a couple days ago with pics and candy and everything I could ever wish for!

Then I got letters from Toa and Harry today which made this PDAY the BEST ONE EVER. I'm so glad some of my favorite boys finally met each other!! It's been a crazy fast week here in the MTC and letters from home are like gold here.

I want to give a shout out to all the women out there!! Can you believe the General Relief Society broadcast is next Saturday?? This meeting is always such a great prelude to hearing Thomas S. Monson and the apostles words the following weekend. I'm so excited to hear what Sister Burton and her counselors have to share with us. I've never been more motivated to do things for the sake of being a woman than I do while I've been on my mission. Women are so amazing in so many ways and this Saturday is going to be an empowering experience. I've been trying to think of something that would benefit anyone reading this letter and I couldn't just think of one thing...there are LOTS of things I want to share with you all but there's just not enough time or space for me to do it. This is what I learned this past week:

Sister Edgington from the General Relief Society Board told us the story of Jack and Jill. Jack is her grandson. Jack isn't good at holding still and when he was moved into Sunbeams his teachers couldn't handle him. Within 5 minutes of being in class they would take him straight to his mom who already had her hands full with another baby and her calling in Primary. One Sunda,y Sister Edgington's daughter realized by the end of class that no one brought her son to her. She walked over to his classroom to pick him up and when she walked in he was sitting reverently in his sub's lap (whose name was Jill!) with his arms folded. Jill told Jack's mom he was such a sweet boy and he had been so good throughout class. Later in the week Jack told his mom while they were driving in the car, "I love Jesus now." His mom asked why only now and he said he used to hate Primary because his teachers never let him stay in class. Then he replied, "I love Jill because Jill loves me like you love me." It's easy to be good when you feel loved. And the feelings children receive in Primary are usually how they feel about Christ. Besides sports, I miss working with kids the most! I miss my adorable Primary class and their sweet spirits. When you look at a child, you're looking at Christ. They embody everything we spend the rest of our lives trying to emulate. 

Speaking of examples, can I brag about my district for a second? First of all, we have the most talented senkyoshi in the whole mission. Cope Choro, from Tokyo Japan, has mad skills on the piano. He played a beautiful arrangement of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief on Sunday for Relief society. Not only is he insane on the keys, but his testimony is so strong. I love to eavesdrop on his lessons or when he and his companion mogi because without fail I always learn something new. Tolley Shimai has the most beautiful voice I think I've ever heard. Her knowledge of music is way more than I could acquire over the span of my life. She and her companion, Larkin Shimai, are our Sister Training Leaders and they do such a great job. 

I know callings come from God because they're exactly who all the sisters need as their leaders right now! Gonzalez Choro, from Colorado, or I like to call him Gonzalez Sensei because he's brilliant! He helps me with nihongo all the time and if I ever have a question about anything he's always so willing to help me out. I absolutely love and adore my WHOLE district. They're all awesome missionaries and they'll be such a blessing to Nihon. My new companion, Cortes Shimai is from Mexico. She's the first Mexican woman to go to Japan on her mission so my doryo is making history!

Ugly pic but ehhhh that's all we got cuz Cortes Shimai doesn't like pics...LOL
Within the past 6 days of her being my companion I've learned so much about being a missionary and more importantly about the language. What I love the most about our district is how much love and support everyone has for each other. We all get excited for each other when we get letters, we all open and share our packages, we all laugh and tell stories with one another at meal times...I don't think I'll ever have a better district! I'll be so sad to see our Fukuoka chorotachi leave but we'll all keep in touch.

Sister Schwitzer, whose husband is in the Quorum of the Seventy, told us an awesome story about her dad when she called him, crying after she failed one of her nursing tests. She said she was crying and telling him what happened when all of a sudden she heard a click. She said, "Hello, hello...dad?" He hung up! She tried to call him again and when he answered she asked him why he hung up, he said, "I'm not going to sit there and listen to you cry about failure. Hold your head up, roll your shoulders back, and get to work." I couldn't agree more. Whenever you're discouraged just hold your head up, roll your shoulders back, and get to work.

Elder Schwitzer's talk was so powerful! He told us not to take notes, just to listen to what the spirit is telling us not what he's telling us. He told us, "Don't change yourself, find yourself." We're only missionaries for so long, 2 years at most. The changes we make on our missions don't have to be temporary. A lot of missionaries have a hard time adjusting to post-mission life and Elder Schwitzer explained that it's because we expect to "change" ourselves while we're serving when really we should be "finding" ourselves. His sweet wife said in her talk that when they left for their mission to Russia she wanted to go home that very first day but she knew her companion wouldn't go home with her. She remembered the words her son had said to her before they left, "Everyday you're on your mission you'll think about home. When you get home everyday you'll think about your mission." Everything about home will still be there when we get back like Cafe Rio, and City Creek Center; so why not make these next 18 months - 2 years the best memories we can reflect on for the rest of our lives? 

I was on LDS.org a couple days ago and I was reading up on the 50th Anniversary celebration of PCC. I love my culture and I love the opportunity I had to dance at PCC because I met so many people that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. I made so many memories there, I think about all the memories I made working for a short time and all the memories I'll make here as I serve my mission. I thought about all the funny things that would happen back stage, all the things that could and would go wrong. I remember how hectic back stage was as we ran from one end to another trying to change and keep our make up intact. I thought about the singing, the dancing, the food, the laughing that we all enjoyed every night! My favorite part of performing at PCC was seeing how our culture uplifted everyone in the audience. Some people had tears streaming down their faces by the end of the show, others laughed and clapped loud! I loved being able to bring happiness to those people in the audience. That's what I like about being a missionary, bringing happiness to other people. 

Mahaloz to all the fam and friends for the love & support! I can't tell you how much I appreciate the letters and the pictures and the awesome packages you send me. Every time I get a package it's at the perfect time, right when I need a little pick me up or something to snack on I find out I have a package! You're all amazing. Thank you for reading my letter, I hope this letter helped someone because it sure helps me feel closer to you as I write it! This week will be full of amazing adventures and opportunities to make memories so PLEASE make some good ones and write me all about it! 

All my love, 

Heimuli Shimai

On our way back from the temple this lady stopped us and asked us to return a spoon her "friend" had stolen when she was in the MTC almost 2 years ago!  Haha funny, so we took a pic with the infamous spoon before returning it to the MTC and relieving this lady of her guilty conscience.
And did I already tell you to go to the General Relief society broadcast on Saturday?? Well you'll wanna go cuz I'm singing in the CHOIR!!!!! This will be the last time we'll sing together for the next 18 months.
This is me and Black Shimai with the notices we got in the mail that we were chosen to sing at the General Relief Society Broadcast next Saturday! So come so we can be in the same buildling!!!! I hugged Sister Burton at practice yesterday...actually she hugged me LOL after practice she and her counselors were just standing there so I walked up to her and shook her hand (normal for me now) but she grabbed me and hugged me. She said she loved me and I told her thank you for being there and for giving us all this opportunity. She an amazing woman, she and her counselors! It's cool to think that I'll be singing for 7 million women worldwide...we are part of the largest woman's organization in the world and I have an amazing opportunity to bring music to them. I can't talk any more about because I'll start crying while I'm typing and everyone will think I'm crazy LOL love you mama, miss you all the time!!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week 5 - Two Minutes and Nine Seconds

Pre-Letter: Shoot me details of Housty's game. quarter by quarter kudasai (please). And what time is Helam's game?? I will check my email around 10-ish...if i don't have an email with football stats in it, I will not be sending an email home this week...xoxo...football scores ima! (now)

Time really does fly by.

Remember the rankings among the Nihon missionaries I talked about in my letter a couple letters ago? Well this coming week I will be DAI SENPAI! I still feel like Kohai, I think I'll be a Kohai forever. Thank you for sending me Scheffler Shimai's letter. I know that in no time I'll be riding up those mountains of Kobe like she is. I've now been preparing myself mentally for the bird-sized dragon flies...I hate flying insects! 

If I could describe my week in one word it would be FAST.

Here's how my day goes:
-Alarm goes off. I beg the Lord for 5 more minutes of sleep
-I'm in class stressing over grammar
-Teach kyudosha (investigator)
-Sitting in more class
-In bed at 10:30, wondering where my day went

In the moment I feel like my day will never end, but by the time we return to our residence and reflect on our day I just can't believe it's been another day. On Thursday we had a sub come in that taught me something really interesting. He asked us, "How many days of ours is a day to the Lord?" A choro in my class raised is hand and said "1000 or our days = 1 of the Lord's." Then our sub says, "If that's right, then 2 years = 2 min 53 sec to the Lord." Our missions are a matter of minutes in the Lord's time. For us sisters we have even less time...2 min 9 sec! Within these couple years to us or couple of minutes to the Lord we may be the most Christlike person a Nihonjin may meet in their life. 

In 3 Nephi 5:13: "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." 

Japan is a predominantly atheist nation with little to no knowledge of our Savior. The thought that I might be the most Christlike person someone will meet in their lives because I have his name next to mine on my little black name tag, is pretty intimidating! There's no excuse for us to not live up to the name we bear on our chests so we must push ourselves to be like Christ. We only have a little bit of time when we are set apart as disciples of Christ and my district made it a goal that we're going to make our missions Celestial ones! In no time we'll be home, thinking back to our missions, just wondering where our time has gone.

Speaking of time...Happy 28th Anniversary on Monday, Mom & Dad!!! We have the sweetest Branch Presidency wives who come and visit with us throughout the week. The nights they come and talk with us and give us hugs are definitely the best parts of our week. Sister Waites is the sweetest woman. She brings what she calls 'Throw Aways' to every single sister in our branch. They're these little slices of paper that have awesome scriptures on it centered around a certain theme. Every time she brings a Throw Away they have the scriptures on it that are exactly what I needed for that day. There's a million tender mercies I receive from the Lord everyday! In order to get a Throw Away you have to share a tid bit with her. A tid bit about your day like what was the best part, or something new you learned, or even the worst part of your day. She just wants us to share whatever! After my room shared our tid bits I asked her what her tid bit was for the day. She said the cutest thing:

"I retired back in June and it came as a surprise to me. Since then my husband and I are able to be together more. We were only together just the two of us for a couple years before we had kids, then after that he was always working and we were always busy. Now we are together all day and you know what...after all these years I STILL LOVE HIM! We're still courting and I still love him."

When they first got married she told us that they spent a couple years trying to figure out what they had in common. She said, "All we knew was that we loved each other and that's the only thing we had in common."

Now they're going to be receiving their mission call soon and they left for a trip to their grand daughter's baptism this week. I found what she said to be absolutely adorable! I hope you and Dad look back on the past 28 years and find that you still love each other just as much as you did on your 1st anniversary! 28 years will turn into 50 and before you know it you'll be stuck with each other for Eternity! Haha, I'm so grateful for such amazing parents and for amazing examples all around me even here at the MTC.

Thinking back on this week I would have to say that a recently returned missionary's testimony I heard at Devotional on Sunday was the best part of my week. Hearing the testimony of a recently returned missionary as a new missionary sitting in the audience you realize how fast your time goes here on the mission. She said, "The name on my tag is engraved on my heart. This is a sacred time in your life. Love; the pure love of Christ has the power to change hearts. Through the Book of Mormon, I saw those changes in people's lives. I knew the church was true before but now it's a different kind of know." 

She went on to say, "Elders and sisters, I remember sitting where you are sitting and thinking about what my mission might be like. Now I'm up here and I can say I love the Lord and I know this work is true." 

I love what she said about Christ's name because it's true, the longer you wear his name closer to your heart the deeper it sinks into it! In Ether12:27 it reads 

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." 

I haven't had any crazy hard trials in my first month of being a missionary, but I do believe the closer we come to Christ the more humble we become. The more I'm working on my relationship with Christ the more my weaknesses will be tested and, as a really good friend wrote to me, the more I'll have many opportunities to grow -- it was his way of letting me know I would experience many struggles but that those struggles would end up making me stronger. Through Christ (studying the Book of Mormon, studying his life, constant prayer, diligently seeking opportunities to serve, etc.), our "weak things become strong".

Like I mentioned earlier, tender mercies from the Lord are REAL. I got an awesome letter from Normz this week on a day when I just really needed to hear from someone not at the MTC...I have the best sis-in-law in the world! 

I got a package from Marsha full of all my favorite candy and food! There were li hing mui candies and arare...I've missed it all so much!  Yummmmm. 

Thank you so much family and friends for everything every single thing every single one of you do for me. I can feel your prayers and I'm so grateful for them. I love your letters.  I love your packages.  I especially love your love for me. I hope you all know that I love being a missionary, and I'll love it even more once I get to Nihon!  Everyone, have a blessed week!  Sorry Mom this letter is short. Time is short. Love you all!

All my love,

Heimuli Shimai

P.S. Heels, you better send me a nice long letter this week. I don't care if you have 100 hours of homework. Take 3 minutes and write me something good!! I miss you, best friend!

P.P.S. So I need to make a list of clothes I'll need you to send me...but I'll make that later tonight. ummmmmm I don't know that I absolutely need anything at all. I just want Weber State to win!  I hope they do well. Send me an update on Monday thru DearElder or something. Here are some pics!

At our tanning spot by Samuel HARRISON (love that name!) Smith, I think?? On sunny days we sit by this statue...you get the best sun at this spot...gotta stay brown as long as I possibly can...

On a walk with my doryo during lunch. We walk around the temple every day during lunch because we want the extra exercise and we don't like to eat the food
Got my nihongo name tag! Celebrating while getting ready for bed...
My name tag up close...pretty exciting!...but we're ordering new ones when we get to the mish field because I want to change my name a little bit.
LOVE YOU SO MUCH, MOM!!!!!!!!  I'm starting to hate Pdays...they make me homesick.  I probably won't write you guys on my Pdays when I get to Japan cuz I don't wanna think about home at all when I'm there...hahaha! LOL!  ("Fat chance," says Mom)

Have so much fun in Logan tonight! xoxo

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week 4 - No Doubt in My Heart

Good news & Bad news:

Good news: My cold is completely gone! Thanks to my awesome chorotachi who asked if I wanted a blessing because I was not getting better at all.

Bad news: Heavenly Father didn't feel bad enough for me while I was sick to just hand me the gift of tongues. I'm still human and mainichi takusan manabimasu (everyday I learn a lot). However, I'm not just human..I'M A MISSIONARY! My doryo said to me the other day, "I love being a missionary. This is the happiest I've ever been!" It's true. Being a missionary is one of the best experiences I've ever had.
Roomies caught Heimuli Shimai and Black Shimai teaching a Lorax in Nihongo
Teaching in class...all those Lorax lessons must have paid off
If you haven't heard by now, Devotional on Tuesday was SO good. Elder Evans from the Quorum of the Seventy spoke. He mainly talked about Jacob 5, the Lord and his vineyard, which is a scripture I've read over 100 times in my life and only now realized something interesting. In Jacob 5:72, it tells us:

"And it came to pass the servants did go and labor with their might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them..."

I can testify to you that the Lord is here and He is laboring with me. Every day, it is evident the Lord works alongside His servants (missionaries). The MTC isn't necessarily hard but this is where we make the most adjustments, we are slowly transitioning out of the world and into the Lord's work, we are learning languages and principles, we are meeting new people and making connections all the time. We are waking up earlier than before and studying harder than before, and there's no way we could do this successfully if the Lord weren't here with us.
Pretty great sketch of all the shimai's in the district.  Yes, that's Heimuli Shimai on the far left.
Sunday night devotional was empowering as we learned what we can give to our Heavenly Father. We can't give Him our time -- this is Heavenly Father's time. We can't give anything we own because everything is essentially from God. The only thing we can offer our Heavenly Father is our Will and Desire. Christ always taught that His will was His father's will. Even until He was crucified, Christ humbly accepted, "Not my will, but Thine be done." As we learned more about our will and righteous desires, I thought about a lesson from Gospel Doctrine class I had a couple years ago. Someone said, "At the end of your day, go to the Lord with a platter. On that platter, give Him something you can offer from that day." I imagine my desire on that platter when I go to Him at the close of my days. I still remember that fire I felt in my chest when I heard the mission age changed. I'll never forget how those few simple words President Monson said ignited my desire to serve. I still feel that same way today.

As a missionary who's still training - and truth be told I feel like I'm going to be training for the rest of my mission! - it's very easy to fall into busy work. Staying busy is good and working hard is better; however, Elder Holland has counseled us, "Don't work harder - work smarter."

One of my good friends told me, "I don't believe in luck, I believe in preparation-meets-opportunity." I've been studying Diligence this week and it's applicable to every aspect of Life. Diligently preparing for a lesson, or using my time wisely during study time, or seeking opportunities to serve while I’m still in the MTC, I can testify that being prepared by working smarter can be tough, but when an opportunity comes, all the preparation will pay off!

The highlight of my week actually happened in class while we were studying. I have 2 senseis, Reading Sensei and Ellsworth Sensei. Ellsworth Sensei served his mission with Kastle and Evan. Our lesson was about teaching our investigators, not teaching lessons. When teaching, I am learning how important it is to ask the right questions and Christ was an amazing example of that. In John 8, Christ teaches the woman taken in adultery a whole sermon with just 2 questions:

"Where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?"  She answers "No man, Lord."

He teaches me how important it is as a missionary to ask the right questions. And then he invites her to act, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

In PMG, Elder Holland is quoted, "If we listen with Love, we won't need to wonder what to say."

How many of us are guilty of thinking about what to say to the person we're talking to, while the other person is still talking? Or how many of us shy away from gospel topics when conversing with friends or coworkers, or even nonmember family members, because we're afraid we won't know what to say? When we listen with Love, we don't need to wonder what to say -- and that's a promise from a general authority, an apostle called by God. 

This week has been such a blessing as are all my weeks here. I can't quite write everything I want to because there's just not enough time in the world and not enough space on this email to contain how much I learn every day and how very grateful I am for this gospel. As a missionary, what would make us the most happy is if we could bring someone closer to Christ or at least help someone gain that desire to come unto Him.

At our devotional on Tuesday, Elder Evans gave us one specific assignment as we continue to labor in the mission field. He said, "Don't fail to teach that this gospel came from the Father. The Father is the one to whom we pray." Christ always gives credit to His father, and His father is always well pleased. Likewise, I want to give credit to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with supportive family and amazing friends! There are countless tender mercies I receive throughout my day – especially this past Tuesday -- that I've begun to recognize. He's allowed me to be here and be a servant in His vineyard and I am eternally grateful for this opportunity. I'm grateful for those that have served before me -- especially my brothers -- and I am also grateful for those whowill serve after me, like my little brothers. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. There's not a doubt in my mind and, more importantly, there's no doubt in my heart. 

God bless! Until next week....

Ai shite imasu!

Heimuli Shimai

P.S. Mom - Tuesday was one of those days I wish I could text you.  So Tuesday after dinner my DL gets the mail and he's like Heimuli! You got 3 packages and a letter -- I can't deliver our district's mail and all of your mail, too. I go and get the packages and 2 are from you guys....so thank you! I loved it and my district absolutely loved the donuts! And I didn't really pay attention to the other one, because the letter was from Bo! Turns out, the other box was also from him -- he is the best! He sent me cinnamon rolls, and my district ate those too haha. They are going to get so fat! He's famous in my district now because of the cinnamon rolls and because everyone wants to know about my life before LOL. Well I really hope the game goes well. LMK early Monday with Dear Elder or something with the score update because I'm dying to know how it all goes. I just got back from the temple, sent you my weekly email and now i'm ganna go study more japanese and practice my lesson for tonight. Mom, I hope you know I absolutely love you. You're the best mommy in the world and my family is the coolest family on this planet. Hope you enjoy my letter...small kine boring cuz I didn't have much time to email. I love you lots!!!!!! Can't wait to hear back from you :) Oh! and please tell Aunty Nei yes I got her package today and I loved it and I love her! It's perfect. But I can't email her cuz I'm outta time! I'll email her next week. Ai shite imasu!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week 3 - Sacrifice for Love

One of the Shimaitachi I've become really close to is Kerr Shimai from somewhere south of Salt Lake. She is studying to become a sports journalist and she's awesome! In the hallway during one of our breaks I saw her and the moment we looked at each other we started squealing and jumping up-and-down and practically shouted while talking about all the season openers we are missing these next couple of weeks! Utah State and the Utes vs. Weber State, and even a little bit about BYU. Even though I'm not a Y fan I hope they do well this year. We were geeking out about all the football we've missed, high school and college. I love her because she understands my need for athletic talk. There's only so much talk about musicals and make up that I can handle...I need some sports talk in my life if I'm going to stay sane here! I just had to tell you about how sports deprived I am here, but it's my sacrifice! Like Elder Neil L. Anderson said this week, "We love the things we sacrifice for, and we sacrifice for the things we love."

Oh, quick story! I walked into the cafeteria during lunch on Thursday and my district has this one particular area we always sit. So I was walking over to where my chorotachi were and I saw this really handsome and familiar-looking guy...it was Jared! Er...Elder Olson! I ran up to him dragging my doryo behind me and gave him a nice firm handshake. I was SO happy to see him finally! We talked for a bit while he stood in line, then he told me to save him a spot by me. Elder Olson ate with my district and met some of my chorotachi. We talked about what was going on before he left. He talked to me about how he wanted to go home after the first few days, and trust me...I know exactly how he feels. We chatted through lunch and when we said our goodbyes I figured it would be the last time I'd see him for the next 2 years. So we exchanged emails and he said if I needed anything while he's here in the MTC he'd find a way to bring it to me all the way from West Campus, haha. He's such a great missionary and he will do amazing things! I've been so fortunate to know so many good people. Every single day I meet new Elders and Sisters, and everyday I meet people who know people I know. This world is so small!

Tuesday's devotional speaker was Elder Neil L. Anderson and of course that was a highlight to my week. Here are some key points I gathered from his talk:

-When weeks are tough, VISUALIZE your testimony of eternal truths
-LOVE is the most powerful, eternal emotion
-Through REPENTANCE all things that burden the soul are lifted... ALL things
-Serve with COURAGE and HUMILITY
-We are servants of the Lord!

After devotional we ran from the Marriott Center back to our campus and into our classrooms. There was a crazy thunder/rainstorm we ran through and by the time we got back to class all of us were soaked and all our mascara had melted off our faces! We had our district devotional review and I heard all the sweet testimonies of my district. Johnson Kaicho (President Johnson) made a comment that really pierced me, "Faith is a prerequisite for Patience." The person I've been most impatient with is myself. After I reflected on how much patience I have NOT had with myself, I could really see the small amount of faith I had been working with. After our meeting we sang and prayed together as a district like we do every night. I love my little district/family.
Hevynn's MTC District w/Sensei Watanabe
The next morning was Wednesday and you know what Wednesday means...NEW KOHAI...which means I'm SENPAI! Here's how the ranks of the Nihon-bound senkyoshi work: KOHAI: Newbies. 1-4 weeks
SENPAI: Still newbies but can't use it as an excuse anymore! 4-6 weeks
DAI SENPAI: Been here forever. Still can't speak Nihongo, but have the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menus memorized. Not much use around here anymore, ha. 6-9 weeks

I am now Senpai...I can't believe I've been here for 4-ish weeks. I decided to Host so I could experience coming into the MTC for the first time again. At orientation for the new hosts we learned that our job was...HELP THE MOM. Of course directing the missionary and making sure they don't get lost is good but when the missionary enters the MTC they have other missionaries and teachers and amazing staff to offer comfort. But besides family, moms don't have anyone to console them. So I spent a lot of time talking with the moms of the 2 sisters I hosted. I told them that we would take great care of their daughters. I told them exactly what the rest of their missionary's day would be like, and I thanked them for raising daughters who are so willing to serve. I guess that's where my customer service skills I picked up from Tucanos stepped in! Other skills I learned from dancing at the Polynesian Cultural Center have already helped me with our investigators, too. 
2012-2013 school year Hevynn danced at the Polynesian Cultural Center while attending BYU-Hawaii

It doesn't matter how awkward an investigator is, it's always our job is to make sure the spirit can testify of the truthfulness of the gospel. Our purpose is to invite others to come to Christ, helping them build their relationship with their Heavenly Father.

I love my brothers...I grew up with 4 crazy ones. Everybody knows all my closest friends are boys, and I cling to every word Dad and my uncles say----HOWEVER there is nothing more empowering like a conversation with another woman who understands what I go through. Thursday mornings we have the opportunity to do service in our residence building. The young lady in charge of coordinating what we need to clean is Beatriz Woodard from New Jersey. She was in the Sikahema's stake. She's absolutely adorable and she's so much fun! Not only am I working on my teaching and Nihongo skills here, but I'm also working on my toilet-scrubbing skills. You would be so proud of how clean I can get these stalls, Mom. This service opportunity gives 8 of us Shimaitachi a little time to get away from the pressures of learning and just talk with our fellow sisters. I always leave our service assignment so uplifted because for the first 20 minutes we open with prayer and then we discuss how our week's been going. I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful and inspiring women on this planet! My doryo, Black Shimai, is fantastic! Our roommates and shimaitachi from the district are Tolley Shimai and Larkin Shimai. Tolley Shimai is from San Diego, she's so talented and so smart. Her Nihongo is flawless and she's got such a strong testimony. I look up to her in so many ways. Larkin Shimai, her doryo, is from St. George. She's smart, witty and funny! Whenever she talks in class I feel like I should be taking notes, her comments are so profound. I love all these women that I get to serve with.
Black Shimai, Watanabe Sensei and Heimuli Shimai

Of all the amazing opportunities I have to grow while I'm here, and of all the fun and inspirational things we do as a district, I have to say that the BEST THING that happened to me with week happened about 2 nights ago. As you can probably tell from the pics, I've been feeling chotto byoki (a little sick) for the last 2 weeks. After class when we have personal study time or gengo benkyo (language study), my doryo and I like to go outside so I can get some fresh air and not be so nauseous. I remember looking at the sky after I couldn't handle reading one more page from my textbook...the clouds were a really cool yellow-gold color and the sky was a dainty purple. I had a tiny fever so I decided to fan myself with my textbook instead of read it. I was a little distracted by nature when a pair of elders walked up to me hesitantly. They asked if they could have 5 minutes of my time. They started to bear their testimony in broken English. One Elder was from Mexico, called to serve in Provo. The other was from China, called to serve in Canada -- both English- speaking. Their sentences were very simple and their grammar wasn't perfect, and I figured that's what I must sound like in Nihongo, only I probably sound worse. By the end of their 3- minute testimonies, I could really feel the spirit. Their simple testimony was all I needed to hear. When they finished I stood up, shook their hands and told them how beautiful their testimonies were. They seemed relieved when I told them I knew they'd be wonderful missionaries. I wished them luck, then they were off! Who knows if I'll see either of them ever again, but their testimonies left a lasting impression on me.

There's so much to learn every day that sometimes we forget about the simple truths. As I've tried learning another language I've had to learn how to really simplify everything and anything I want to say. I think we could all use a little simplifying in our lives, whether it's simplifying our daily schedules, or simplifying how we approach situations. Our gospel is simple and I think I need to do better at remembering that. Like Nephi says,

"I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1Nephi 11:17)

It's that simple. God loves His children! That's where everything starts.

Thank you for the package, mama! Like President Lincoln said, "All that I am and all that I hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." I don't care what mistakes my parents have made or what mistakes I've made because you've both done a wonderful job raising some beautiful babies and loving us with all that you are. I hope my mission makes me at least half the mom you are for the boys and I. You all know how much I love you, but I'll say it one more time...LOVE YOU!
8 year old Harrison sent his sister and her comp glow-stick promise rings...promising he will wait for them.

Baby boys: Have a crazy week! Have lots of fun, be kids, don't grow up too fast like your sissy did. You have plenty of time to be adults - just have fun this week, okay?! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO
A page out of Sister Heimuli's daily planner...notice all the times blocked out to "[think about Harrison]"!
Please tell Lil Sifa I love the shirt. Heels: Love you, ugly boy! You are the background on my iPod :)

I like Sheri's (Scheffler Shimai's mom) idea about the prepaid phone. I would really love that so I could talk to all of you the whole time I'm still in America. But instead of mailing it to me, couldn't you just give it to Hema to give to me at the airport??? Nice excuse to see him! LOL!

And one more thing........eh! I can't think of it. Update me on the Weber State game. I hope it's so fun and I really hope Helam and Bo and team do well!!! I want them to beat Utah State and the U so bad!!!
Sister Heimuli at her desk in the MTC...let's see...a box of Caramacs, a Harrison-autographed Pokemon card, her boys at Weber State, and scriptures, too!

Forever yours,
Heimuli Shimai