Kobe, Japan

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 8 - Last Week as a Dai Senpai

Well, this is my last week as a dai senpai...then it's back to kohai (newbie) when I get to Nihon!

"And I will also ease the burdens which are put on your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions." Mosiah 24:14

Throughout my last week here at the MTC there were hundreds of ways the Lord has eased my burdens. Between packing, class, cramming as much info into my head as possible, and saying more goodbyes there have been all kinds of burdens my district and I have been feeling weighed down with. We're thinking a lot about adjusting to a new country, new language, new people and the physical as well as emotional burdens have been on our minds. I want to tell you about three ways the Lord has eased my burdens this week.

I am such a lucky girl! Thank you family and friends who have all been so kind as to send me letters and packages! We get mail twice a day and without fail everyday this week I've gotten at least 3 packages and 5 or 6 letters. By the end of the day I was drowning in letters and food and I LOVED it! Thank you thank you thank you. I'm so blessed to have known such wonderful people in my life. This week will be one I'll never forget and all the love and support I've felt from home have made this week a little easier. 
Heimuli Shimai received packages and letters every day this week with birthday puzzle pieces of over 100 photos sent in by family & friends. Her companions and district also participated-- they made her do crazy things to earn puzzle pieces.
Black Shimai (Hevynn's companion) had the "master" copy of the puzzle as well as the checklist for her to mark off when she received puzzle pieces from family & friends. She had a blast putting it together and getting everyone's letters, cards, packages and love!
Speaking of family & friends, Hevynn sent a quick extra email -- she was worried because she knew she would not be able to write back to every single person who sent her birthday wishes.  Here's what she said, "Mama, please be sure to say THANK YOU to everyone who sent in Happy Birthday pics, including some awesome families:  Andrus, Bolen, Chaus, Een, Eyre, Gautavai, Gough, extended Heimuli, Johnson, Knickrehm, Laumatia, Lopez, Mauigoa, ext Murray, Nordfors, Olson, Parry, ext Pili, Rigby, Robinson, Semaia, Sikahema, Simmons, Soliai, Stanger, Tate and Welling families!  I'm afraid I don't have enough time to write them all but I want them all to know I love and appreciate them so much. Love you."

Our senseis are students with personal lives and they have to teach us language and gospel principles on top of their studies so I would imagine it gets pretty stressful sometimes. I've truly grown from their testimonies and their examples. 
Heimuli Shimai, Ellsworth Sensei and Black Shimai.  Ellsworth Sensei served in Nagoya with cousin Kastle Soliai and friend Evan Parry.
As the end of the week approached I was reflecting on all the events that have lead up to the end of our MTC stay. No one ever told me how many goodbyes you'd be saying as a missionary! First you say bye to sins and your old way of life as you prepare to serve. Then you say bye to family and friends. Next you say bye to everything you've ever took comfort in as you adjust to missionary life. Then as soon as you get used to the MTC it's time to say bye to your senseis and your district whom you've grown so close to and really learned to love.

Heimuli Shimai and her district share a candid moment as they pose for last district pictures before going their separate ways in Japan. Yes, she's gonna miss this group.
Beautiful Branch photo in front of the Provo Temple.
That's what's amazing about this gospel, it makes you love more deeply than you have ever loved before. Soon, I'll be saying bye to America! I already know when I get to Nihon there'll be many more byes said; however, I'm grateful for that. To me, goodbyes are a sign of progression and moving on. Even though goodbyes aren't easy they are necessary. I think the hardest goodbye we've ever made was before we left our Heavenly Father because although he has a plan to see us again we have our agency so returning to him is no guarantee. I know he longs for us like we long for things we say goodbye to. Heavenly Father is fully aware of that and that's why he sends missionaries around the world to teach his plan so that ALL his children have a chance to live with him again. I've been privileged to be a missionary and I can't wait to help the Nihonjin say their necessary goodbyes and begin to say new hellos. There's so much to think about as we part ways and learn to say goodbye, but I already know for every goodbye there's a new hello! (When one door closes, another one opens...kind of like that, haha)

"But behold...I will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of their deliverance." In the midst of a stressful week the Lord never ceases to bless us. It was Tuesday or Wednesday and Black Shimai and I were outside trying to plan our final lesson and do a little bit of study before heading back to class. As we studied outside we heard someone call out, "Sisters!" 
Sister missionaries, called to Japan, who had the privilege of singing at the General Relief Society Meeting
This super cute lady walks towards us. She says, "I saw you and I just had to come over and talk to you. I've just had the strongest impression to tell you that I can feel God's love for you. He's appreciative of your work. I hope you know he's aware of you." My jaw dropped. Of all the crazy things going on for every person in this universe the Lord took time to impress on someone to tell us that he loved us??? She then says, "You have such a strong spirit about you and you just glow! I had to come over and say something." I introduced myself and asked what her name was. She is Sister Wadsworth from Arizona...I believe...and she's been home from her mission for about 6 months. She's also a new teacher only been working 4 weeks but already she's helped a missionary in training (me!) learn something! We  expressed to her how inadequate we feel to be going to Nihon and how she has been an answer to our prayers. She smiled and said she understands, she says she feels inadequate everyday to be working in the presence of new missionaries. I expressed to her how the stresses of change and expectation have gotten the best of me and she says, "Lean on the Lord! 'I need thee every hour' right?" We talked a little bit more and then it was time for us to go back to class. We shook hands and told her how appreciative we were to her for following that prompting. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways, none the less he's always working!

There's no way to measure how much I've learned and how much my love for this gospel has grown throughout these 9 weeks here at the MTC. "For I am God, a God of Miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." I testify that is true! Our God is a God of miracles and anywhere you see the word God in the scriptures there's a scripture next to it with the word Work. He is always working and he is all knowing and he is fully aware of his children here on Earth. Everything else in the entire world you can forget about, but don't ever forget or doubt that God loves you. As women we are daughters to a king and we should never let anyone, even ourselves, treat us less than that. It is my testimony that the power of God is on the Earth today. I am so thankful for Joseph Smith and his sacrifices because if it weren't for him I wouldn't be on my mission. I know this gospel is true. After 9 weeks of studying this gospel you'd think I would've found out by now if it wasn't. But it is...it is!  I've found this gospel to be more true than anything else on this Earth and I testify of that from the bottom of my heart. The future holds exciting things for all of us, "Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even until the end."

God bless,
A Nervous but Excited Heimuli Shimai

P.S. Okay so here's a list of people that wrote me thoughtful, uplifting letters and/or sent me awesome packages my last week here -- they're amazing! Unfortunately, i dont have time to write back so if you see them around PLEASE thank them for me!  Val Faldmo, Rod & Dierdre Nordfors, Maxine & Stephen Keller, Larsons, Debbie Dickerson, Johnson's, Emily Een, Aunty Mari, Sheri Scheffler, Phippens! Love them all!  Yes I saw Elder Scott this week! Tell Housty his friend Cowboy says hi...Elder Smith? I swear. Everyone knows Houston at the MTC. He should just come here already. LOL. Just FYI, i still don't have a jacket or any of my winter stuff Aunty Nei said she'd send...I'll just buy that in Nihon? Also will you please ask Hema if he'll bring me my white converse bag that I can stuff books and stuff in at the airport? I'm checking 2 huge bags and then i have a roller and i need a carry on cuz i can't fit all my stuff in just my bag...LOL...I'm turning into a revenue traveler. So could you have him bring that for me on Monday? I report to the travel office at 3:35 AM then they take us to front runner and we take front runner to the airport. So IDK what time I'll be getting to the airport. I'll be calling/texting once I get closer to salt lake though. Tell the baby boys I'm calling them first! I want them to be the first ones I talk to :)  Mommy thanks so much for the awesome bday presents and puzzle! I'm almost done with it! I've had such a crazy week that I didn't get to take a lot of pics. Here's a few but there's not that many. I love you. I can't wait til monday so I can talk to you guys! I need to talk to dad. I have lots to tell him! I'm so excited for general conference. So sorry my letter was super short I have NO time ever. The Johnsons sent me 2 huge packages this week with awesome goodies and i LOVED it. I love all my brothers...I really am SO excited to see Hemz. I have been thinking about my cute brothers all week! I did get the phone, thank you for that. I'm excited to use it! Ummmm what else.....I don't know I'll hop back on email later today during lunch or something so if I think of anything else I want to tell you I'll let you know. enjoy General Conference! Make sure the boys are awake and pay attention. This will be a good one! Oh and tell Normz thank you for the awesome packages and letter. I honestly love all her letters. I love all my letters from everyone but especially my sis-in-law! I'll send pics. LOVE YOU MOM!!!!!!!!!!
In the green room at the Conference Center

Before the General Relief Society Meeting began

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