Kobe, Japan

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 16 - Light

I want to be in Akashi forever. I love this place. It is my home. 

Heimuli Shimai (front & center) with her very first District
Yes, I survived transfers! I got to see Scheffler Shimai! LOVE HER!!

She`s adorable. We WILL be companions one day! I got a new companion, Ellefson Shimai who is from Kaysville. She`s like a short, white, blonde version of me! I really love her. Our ways of dendo are the same; we let the spirit guide. Already within the last 4 days I have been able to see how much our kyudosha [investigators] and I needed transfers. They needed her fresh point of view and her amazing raw talent of instantly connecting and talking with people. We`re going to have a fun transfer!

At first, I was super nervous for transfers and I knew I would miss my wonderful trainer.

I am Area Senpai now. I am in charge of the phone and navigating and pretty much making sure that Ellefson Shimai survives on the streets. She comes from the country so she doesn`t know what it`s like to be a city girl! I LOVE the city!! We went streeting for her first time the day after she got here. Our goal was to talk to 12 people. Well, we talked to waaay more than that! We`re both pretty young in our missions, so there`s a lot we aren`t quite sure of when it comes to the language. When we teach our kyudosha, I am so surprised how much they understand what we`re trying to teach them. They`re either pretending…or the spirit is telling them the things we are unable to say. I hope it’s the latter, ha.

Yesterday, we had a lesson with our yakusokusha. I got to color with her cute daughter during our lesson.

She was telling us about how her friends have pointed out that she looks different. They told her they can see a difference in her face. She tells them it`s the gospel! When she told us that, she looked at us for confirmation to make sure her answer was correct, and we just burst with joy! I can promise you, our lessons are not normal. We are always so excited about our kyudoshas’ improvements and their answers and their questions. Of course, she is right. There is a difference. It`s called the light of Christ. Soooo many people stop and stare at us on the streets. I believe that it’s probably because, yes, we`re gaijin…but it`s more than that. I know they can see the light that we carry.

D&C 50:24-25, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.  And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you…”

This is why we have light. This is why SHE has light. Our kyudosha isn`t even baptized yet and her friends are already recognizing how different she looks. I testify that light is real! And our choices either brighten that light or dim it, so my dearest family and my dear friends, please keep doing things that brighten your light! People will notice, I promise. You don`t need to speak Japanese to have that light either (belieeeeeve me). You`ve just got to have a sincere desire to follow God`s will.

Today, we were housing at some apartments by the nearest Eki. Everyone was kekko-ing us but we met a couple of nice people who accepted our chidashi. So we were on level 6, working our way down from level 10, when this guy comes running down the stairs. He tells us really harshly, ``I`ve received complaints about you two, so leave now!`` We looked at each other. We told him we understood and we respectfully bowed. We were going to walk down the rest of the stairs but he stopped us and made us ride in the elevator. I don’t think he wanted us talking to another person there. He hurriedly escorted us all the way to the bottom level. He said it was his job to make sure the people living in those apartments were taken care of, and he didn`t want any trouble. We left peacefully and walked in the direction of where we had parked our bikes. We weren’t mad or discouraged or anything like that -- we just figured the Lord must not have needed us to go there after all. As we were walking, it began raining really hard but neither of us bothered to take out our umbrellas. So there we stood…in a downpour…waiting at a stop light. All of a sudden, a little lady came up behind us and put her umbrella over all three of us. First of all…THAT is totally uncommon here. Everyone keeps to themselves and no one else has EVER offered us their umbrellas before. Second, she was super sweet and began talking to us. After the light turned and we started walking, she asked, `Have you had lunch yet? Come, follow me.`

She totally takes us to this cool undercover shop and escorts us to the back. There were 5 little old ladies around this table sewing some cool Japanese things. Then the shop`s owner comes out and he happens to speak a little bit of English! We met all the ladies, got to talk some more with the lady who brought us in, and we talked to the store owner. Later, we sat while they brought all this food out to us.

AMAZING, right? Turns out that sweet lady who gave us her umbrella also paid for our lunch. We ate and talked. When we left we exchanged numbers and made an appointment to see her again. I testify that there are no coincidences when you align your will with the Lord’s. If we hadn`t been sent out of that building at the time and if we hadn’t been standing at the light without umbrellas, we wouldn`t have met such a sweet lady, nor would we have made an appointment to teach her the gospel. All the people in that shop were so kind. Hopefully, we will find a way to contact them as well. This wonderful lady was so sweet and kept commenting on how kind we looked, and how she was so grateful we came to have lunch with her. What?! We were just two souls trying to make our way to our bikes without making anyone else mad, ha. There are no such things as coincidences. The Lord knows what He`s doing. We just have to be willing to follow Him.

You said that at your Stake Conference the theme was “Hastening the Work”. I know God is hastening His work, we just have to let Him do it! Once we let go of our way of doing things and start doing it His way, I promise this work will continue to hasten until it`s complete. God will continue to bless us as we continue to obey Him. I promise that the biggest beauty secret is reading His word, keeping His commandments and seeking His guidance. Praying and reading and going to church are so simple, yet they are the things that make ALL the difference in the brightness of the light we have. Like my kyudosha said, people will really notice and ask why you look different, or comment on how happy you look. There`s no better way to move the Lord`s work forward than by being an example of truth and having it shine through your face. I promise, people can see your light.

This next transfer is going to be full of some amazing opportunities to grow. Throughout it all, I hope to continue to grow that light – in my kyudosha and in myself – I am learning soooo much!

God knows YOU. He is aware of YOU. God loves His children. He loves His work because it`s what brings us back to Him, to immortality and to eternal life. I know without a doubt that things happen according to the Lord`s time table. We`ve just got to adjust ourselves and keep pushing forward. The Lord will be with us the whole time.

Sorry to be so short, we`ve got some souls to save and not a lot of time to do it. Love you all the way from Japan!

All my love,

Heimuli 姉妹

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week 15 - Nine is My Favorite Number


I am SO excited for Toa to go on his mission! It's nice to know my best friend and I will have mission stories to share in the near future! Being a missionary, you get super geeky when people tell you they're going on missions...I freaked out about this elder from my ward, Tsuda Choro. He left today for the MTC and he's going to the Honolulu, HI mission! I told him he'll absolutely love it. Hayashi Shimai and I made candy leis for him. I absolutely love his family! His dad went to BYU-H and speaks English really well. His sister went to Snow College and learned English. Needless to say, I REALLY love talking to them at church, haha. Missionary work is exciting!

Yesterday was Tsuda Choro's farewell and one of our kyudosha came to church with her 2 kids! I absolutely adore her! And guess what...she accepted baptism! She's getting baptized December 28th, however she wants to get baptized sooner, haha. Her faith is amazing. She told me during the lesson yesterday, "None of my friends are Christian, but I got on facebook and told them they all need to believe in Jesus!" Whaaaaa??? She's so awesome! I've been LDS my whole life and I would have NEVER had the guts to do that...as I said before she's AMAZING! So we have 2 baptisms scheduled for December, so please keep those 2 individuals in your prayers. They'll need as many prayers as they can get in order to be ready for baptism by that time. Especially since this upcoming transfer Hayashi Shimai is going to a new area and I am staying here with a 4th transfer. I'm excited and super nervous about the language, but I know the Lord is happy that our kyudosha have accepted baptism. I know He will help us out!

Earlier this week we went housing at some apartments between the chapel and our apartment. We live in the city so there are apartments everywhere! This one was the tallest and before we started knocking, we prayed for guidance as to where, and whom, we should seek. We took the elevator all the way to the top and decided that unless we get prompted otherwise, we will just start knocking from the top until we get to the bottom or until it was time for dinner. So we went! As soon as we reached the top floor, Hayashi Shimai turns to me and says, "I really want to go to level 9."

I said, "9 is my favorite number! Let's go!" Obviously, she was prompted. And obviously, I was just going because it was my favorite number...We waited for the elevator and started down to level 9. The whole way down I kept thinking about what I was going to say in Nihongo. We rang the first door on the left. As soon as a man opened the door Hayashi Shimai said, "Konban wa!" He looked kind of beweildered. He was on the phone and started waving as if to say, "I'm not interested." I felt like I should start speaking English so I did. Suddenly, he got a lot nicer and hung up the phone. He relaxed a little and told me he's an engineer from India and he's only been in Japan for 6 months. He doesn't know any Japanese but his job brought him here, so here he was. I told him I've only been here 6 weeks so I knew exactly how he felt. I told him why we were there and I invited him to church. He was way cool! He said he really wanted to come to church and learn Japanese. We gave him a flyer and exchanged numbers. Hopefully he'll be at church on Sunday

I was feeling really good after that. I love contacting in English! I said a little prayer of gratitude that he spoke English then we moved on to the next door. At the next door the lady spoke Japanese so I tried my contact in Japanese. When you approach houses here they have a little box thingy with a camera so they can see you through it and talk to you on it kinda like a phone. I guess -- no, I KNOW -- I talk really slow because she ended up hanging up on me...hahaha. Hayashi Shimai just sat there and laughed. 

D&C 75:20 says, "And whatsoever house ye enter, and they receive you not, ye shall depart speedily from that house, and shake off the dust of your feet..." so that's what we did! We laughed, shook it off, and kept knocking for another hour or so. We are counseled to rejoice regardless of what happens during our missions. There's evidence of this all over the scriptures. So many scriptures say, "...be glad of heart..." "Continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice..." D&C 29:7 the Lord says He has His elect, and they hear his voice, and they harden not their hearts. This is my calling. If they receive us and message that we bring then they have been prepared by the Lord. If not, then we just keep working until we find those who are ready!

This Thursday will be the start of a new transfer. Today is the start of a new week. The Lord doesn't want us to be miserable in this life. He wants us to be happy and to have joy. Even when things don't go the way you want them to, just laugh it off and keep working. We had a tough week with getting a hold of investigators and teaching, so we have had to do a lot of shrugging it off and we have just continued to work. 

The Lord promises to be with us every step of the way and I have 100% faith in that promise. I know He helps me in every way, shape, and form. I am so grateful for His help! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me this upcoming transfer!!!!

The work is working, ya'll!

Heimuli Shimai

We went "finding" at Oukura Beach Park this week.  Isn't it lovely?

My investigator, her adorable daughter and just me at church yesterday. She's the awesome one -- I absolutely love her!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week 14 - Righthandturnaphobia

I discovered that I have a phobia of Right hand turns. Anytime we`re biking and we round a corner; if it`s a right hand turn I always swing out way too wide. My first few days here in Akashi were miserable because I found myself getting extremely anxious if I saw Hayashi Shimai biking ahead of me turning right. My hands would get sweaty and my heart raced...this is all true I promise!
Heimuli Shimai & Hayashi Shimai...one of these sisters is afraid of right hand turns!
So Tuesday we biked an hour to a new convert`s house. She`s the only member in her family. We taught a short lesson on repentance and she didn`t know that we can repent everyday...so she learned something! Yokatta! She was so sweet and fed us some yummy fruits and made us tea, Mugicha...which I absolutely hate. But it looks healthy so I drank it anyways. I could tell she feels lonely and just wanted to chat. We were in a hurry to get to another appointment, but she just kept talking. When we finally left we were already late. We were in a hurry to get to our next appointment but the only problem was that every turn there were RIGHT TURNS. I had no time to crash or unnecessarily slow down.So I tried as hard as I could and prayed really hard that I wouldn`t crash...miraculously I didn`t! We actually made it to the appointment only a couple minutes late and since then my right hand turns have been pretty much successful. I can testify God really does strengthen our weaknesses!

I know God cares! You can know too if you look in Alma 26:37. My phobia is a small problem compared to other people`s problems but I promise God cares about what we care about. God`s timing is impeccable too...go figure! He`s all knowing. He`s the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Moroni 8:18)

Yesterday I experienced how much God really cares and how he knows what`s going on in his children`s lives.

Weigl Shimai spoke in Sacrament Meeting and us 4 shimaitachi sang. There was a baptismal service scheduled that morning too. We invited all our kyudosha to come and between the 2 companion ships there are about 20 kyudosha. In the morning before we headed out to church we walked down to our bikes and there was one of our kyudosha sitting on the sidewalk. We were surprised to see him there! We had told him about the baptismal service the day before and he told us he wanted to come. So we called a member to give him a ride and we rode our bikes to church. The baptismal service was great and I think he really felt the spirit. So next was sacrament meeting. He decided to stay for sacrament meeting and we were sitting in the back chatting with him when all of a sudden another kyudosha of ours walked in! We were so happy to see that we had 2 kyudosha come! Hayashi shimai and i exchanged looks we were so excited but that also meant we needed to split in order to teach both of them after sacrament.

Sacrament went fine and both our kyudosha wanted to have lessons but our first kyudosha wasn`t feeling well and he needed to go home. At first we were sad but we knew it would do him no good sitting through a lesson feeling sick. We needed to teach our other kyudosha but needed a chinese speaking member to doseki for us. We looked and couldn`t find anyone. All of a sudden a sister who is from China that happened to be visitng our ward said she`d doseki. (doseki is a member sit in) We began the lesson and it was kind of difficult, I was transulating japanese for the Chinese Sister into English, She was speaking chinese to our kyudosha, and the kyudosha and Hayashi shimai were speaking japanese. The kyudosha speaks a little bit of Japanese but it definitely helps to have a native chinese speaker helping us! The spirit took over and the lesson went amazingly well! Our kyudosha just kept saying, ``shinjitte imasu! shinjitte imasu!`` I believe I believe! I know it was not a coincidence that the Chinese sister was visiting our ward that sunday and that our other kyudosha went home. There are other things that also fell into place perfectly in order for us to teach that lesson to her. God really does have a hand in his work!

I testify God is aware of us. If I knew nothing else except that, I could be happy in life. But lucky me I have the whole gospel! I can be happy now, tomorrow, and forever! Try to recognize the evidence of God`s awareness of you this week. You`ll see some cool experiences as you try I promise! You`ll see miracles.

Keep up the good work ya`ll! Like Elder Keith K. Hilbig says, `You survived the war in Heaven; you can win the war on Earth.`

All my love,

That sister in Japan

Shimaitachi with investigator (standing next to me). Cute baby and ward missionary in the background. Gotta love the fancy frame -- a member sent this to me of our volleyball activity last week. Wearing my C4DZYNZ shirt!

Taken today (P-day): Kids playing at the park...they're adorable! I want to take them all home!
View from the back door of our balcony

Hayashi Shimai during our study sesh at the church...she's so crazy...she cracks me up! I LOVE HER!

Indo curry place where we ate...totes good.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 13 - Building Kankei

Yay! That was the most descriptive email I`ve ever gotten from Heels...LOVED IT! Got an awesome email from Norms whom I love! I was so happy to get an update on her and Hema. I think about them a lot. My prayers are never shorter than 15 minutes cuz there are SO many people to pray for. Will you have Houst email me on his email or something? I need an email for him so I can write to him. I`m too busy to write hand written letters and any down time we have I`d rather be studying so the only time I can communicate is on P-day on the computer and I would really love an email from Houst so I can write to him about some stuff. I need him to read D&C 93. It’s an awesome chapter that I`ve been studying every night before I go to bed. It`s about how everything is a process....so he should read it! And write to me about it. I loved my email from my baby, too! He`s so cute. I miss him every day! Oh yes I did get my package from Daddy so THANK YOU! Hayashi Shimai absolutely DIED when she got the Doritos! it`s all she’s been eating for the past week. We also ate up those chocolate-covered macadamia nuts faster than anything. There are 4 girls in our apartment and I feel like we`re always eating! Thank you so much, I loved it. I loved Daddy’s letter. It made me cry. It makes me kind of feel bad about teasing him all the time about his English...but then again, not really. LOL

I kind of hate emailing home because it makes me reflect on my week and I see how fast time really does go by! This week has been busy as usual. Not as many lessons as we wish we could teach but we`re building kankei (relationships) with our potential and progressing investigators. For example, on Tuesdays we teach an English class here at the church. I met the 2 cutest nihonjin women. I love Eikaiwa (English class) because you can only speak English there....YAY! I can totally do that!

We were running a little late so we were half-running down the hall and saw these two cute little ladies. They turned and my first reaction was to speak nihongo, so I said `Konnichiwa! Watashi wa Heimuli desu. Onamae wa nandesu ka?`

They started answering me in English and their English was AWESOME! I soon realized I was supposed to speak English and we chatted a little in the hall. They were so excited that they came to the class the shimaitachi (sister missionaries) teach, which is for beginners. But they were too advanced so they had to move to the class the chorotachi (elders) teach, which is for really good English speakers. They made it very clear that they wanted to talk afterwards though! So we met them outside their class and hugged and laughed – shimaitachi power! We exchanged numbers and we`re making an appointment to meet with them tomorrow! Missionary work doesn`t have to be teaching only, we can also teach through our actions, through smiles and hugs. I know that`s a very girly thing to say, but I promise, here in Nihon where people don`t even smile at strangers, a smile and hug go a long way! If I could just stand outside the street and hug every single person that walks by every day, I would be so happy! Sometimes that`s all people need is just a little bit of love, you know?

Halloween isn`t celebrated here like it is back at home. No trick-or-treaters. We had family home evening at the church like we do every Thursday. It was really cool though because we had a Halloween feast that I didn`t even know about! The food was amazing. Our ward is so giving and so fun! Hayashi Shimai and I taught the lesson about Alma 32 growing our faith. That`s one thing about the church here, it`s still pretty young, so everyone can always use lessons about faith. Shoot, I`m a missionary and I STILL need to study and use my faith every day!

My first Halloween was great, but not as good as my first Fast Sunday. A sister in the ward just got home from her mission to Sendai so she bore her testimony first. As a new missionary sitting there listening to this returned missionary, I thought about all the great and hard times she had, and all the great and hard times I have yet to have. She bore testimony about lessons she learned on her mission and I wished I could write down (and understand!) every word she said because she has amazing insight as a newly returned missionary. There are 8 missionaries in our tiny ward of maybe 50 people. Three of us bore our testimonies, including me! It was scary, but at the same time, I needed the practice. Everyone really appreciates hearing testimonies here no matter how simple they are. Every chance you get, bear your testimony! The world has lots of religions people argue about but you can never argue with a testimony. 

Later that night the Orito and Yoshida Kazoku invited us all over for dinner. We had fun! At their house, we met a new family that just moved into our ward. Oritos are ward missionaries and they remind me so much of Grams & Gramps Murray. Soooooo cute. Dinner was absolutely delicious and their daughter`s family, the Yoshidas, are so funny! Yoshida Shimai went to BYUH and learned to hula so she danced for us last night...I felt like I was home! I was so excited! Their families are amazing and you can really see the true joy people have in their lives when they have the gospel.

I want everyone to experience this joy, too! When I teach people I always think about their ancestors and the generations to follow. I think about how happy both sides are when they accept baptism. We taught a lady yesterday before heading to the Oritos. She thinks we`re nice girls with a nice message but she doesn`t think she needs it. She says, `I`m happy, I`m healthy, I don`t think I need your religion.` She doesn`t realize how happy this gospel makes us and how much MORE happiness she could feel in the gospel. That`s been the biggest challenge and the biggest blessing I`ve seen this week. It`s a challenge because people don`t see it, they struggle to understand what happiness we`re talking about. They are content with today and they don`t worry about the next day until it`s the next day. I know the gospel brings happiness forever but it is hard for the people I love to comprehend that. This concept of happiness is a blessing as well because...well, it`s happiness!

I hope you feel the joy this gospel brings to your life. We can get tired as we serve, we can get down when we feel inadequate, but regardless of what happens in this life, we always know that happiness will follow as we continue to PROGRESS. I wish I could implant this fact into everyone`s minds...but I can`t. It is a choice. I love this work. I love this gospel. I love seeing how happy this gospel makes people. That`s what brings me the most joy in my day!

How are you mommy? You never update me on you and dad. I love the fam but they can all write to me about themselves. How’s work? How’s dad’s work? Do you both still have jobs? Are you both happy? I think you two should get away somewhere for a couple days and just be you and dad for a while. Relax and have fun, but put the Lord first in everything and it will all work out.

Tell Pua and Sifa I love them!!! Thanks for their awesome letters. The last letter literally changed how I`m approaching my mission. And tell Pua I send my condolences? What are they called...my sorry? Sorry she’s gonna be stuck with him for eternity! Haha. I gotta run! We`re playing volleyball tonight from 1-5...which we`re late for, of course. Everyone`s bringing potential investigators and less actives so I’m excited!!!! I`ll take more pics this week I promise! Love you mama. Oh, tell Sif I’m wearing one of the shirts he made to v-ball tonight....whoo!

Continue to be happy people. If something goes wrong this week just laugh it off and keep going! Have a blessed week. ‘Til next Monday....

Heimuli Shimai

PICS! Sorry mom, this is all I have! When we were getting on our bikes I said, “Hey, my mom will kill me if I don`t take a pic!” So here you go....you can`t even see Hayashi Shimai....and these are our super ugly helmets! 
Hayashi Shimai took this. We had dinner with 2 college girls we met at a train station - another kankei building activity. We did a lot of dinner and lunch dates last week just getting to know people and laughing and talking and stuff...if only they would just be baptized! We met them at the Kobe daigaku. I LOVE COLLEGE KIDS! They`re both 21…older than me...weird, right? Cuz everyone looks like babies here...