Kobe, Japan

Monday, December 29, 2014

Letter 3 - Grounded

I got a call Sunday night from Sister Welch saying I was grounded to my apartment until Tuesday. I caught the flu Friday after I skyped you guys but we were so busy I couldn`t take a rest. Somehow my District Leader found out (probably through my concerned companion) and he made calls to the President. I was bummed out that we couldn`t get out and work on Monday but Sister Welch is like our mom in the field, and what mom says goes.
After I talked with you on Christmas we headed to a potential investigator`s house where we taught a lesson about the meaning of Christmas. She asked us a really interesting question as we testified about how important Christ was to us. She said she thinks it`s weird that there are so many Christian churches. She went on to ask, ``You all believe in the same Christ, right? Why aren`t you all the same church?`Just like Christianity, Buddhism has hundreds of sects. However, buddhists never point fingers and say each other is wrong. They just accept their differences and agree that they believe in the same God but they just worship differently. So for that reason, Japanese people don`t like to get tangled up in Christianity. 
At the end of the day I pondered her question a little more. We have the knowledge of the apostasy. We know there is a power above our own on this earth. That power is called the priesthood. We know of these things because we`ve done like what is written in Mormon 9:21 `Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.` Through priesthood power perfect truth was revealed. This was revealed to Joseph Smith. If we all believe in the same Jesus, why are we not all the same? If you`re reading this and you`re thinking `She`s just another mormon girl saying what all mormons say.`  
I invite you to pray and ask God in the name of Jesus Christ what is true -- just like we invited that woman who asked us this question to pray and seek her Father in Heaven`s guidance.Yes we all worship and love the same Jesus Christ. We all just spent a wonderful Christmas season remembering Him and celebrating His birth. But I believe in a resurrected, living Christ! He`s the Head of His Church. He appeared to Joseph Smith and this is where His perfect truth was restoredThe scriptures say `it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all...`
God will answer you whether you`re Christian or not, whether you are Japanese or American. He`s promised that He will answer and I know that He willIn Mormon 9:31 Moroni writes `Condemn me not because of mine imperfection...` I ask the same for my imperfections and for the imperfections of other mormons and Christians. Don`t let the imperfections of those around you hold you back from receiving the answers to your questions that you deserve and that only your Father in Heaven can give. 
As we approach a new year and look back on 2014, I hope you all are filled with gratitude for all the blessings and lessons learned this past year. I know I am!I hope we all can see where we can grow a little more, then push yourself to do so in 2015! Don`t you love fresh starts? I love fresh starts. I especially love the fresh start we call repentance. I look forward to repenting and changing more and more as the year goes on.
I hope you all have a wonderful new year filled with all the blessings you deserve! It will be hard to proselyte this week since New Years is a huge buddhist holiday, but we are excited to see what`s in store for us this week. 
I love you all!
Sister Heimuli
Mission Christmas:
Practicing a song I wrote for our mission.
Sister Bowman...such an awesome missionary.
No one ever had a better mic-holder than me!
(L to R) Elder Roylance (Idaho), Sister Zamani (LAX), Sister Furusawa (Sendai)
Sister Tenney (Hawaii), Sister Something, Sister Nara
President & Sister Welch -- my favorite people.
 Christmas Dinner with Elder Aoba (Seventy) & family:

Dinner at Aobas with Sister Ichikawa and Brother Ryouta
This mac salad with a snowman on top.  Almost too cute to eat.
Look at this place setting...so creative
The Aobas are very artistic! The Church has commissioned his work. He owns a pottery shop.
Elder Aoba's daughter, Kumi Chan
Cheers haha!
With my beloved companion

Sick at Home:
Ichikawa shimai tried to make me feel better by doing this to my hair.  It worked, of course.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Last Christmas Call

It's been a beautiful day, full of fun, family, food and fond memories. So happy to have Hema and Norma, Helam and Alyssa, Houston, Harrison, grandparents and Aunty Nei in our home. The icing on the cake was getting to skype with Hevynn. She looks great. She's so happy. She teased her brothers and laughed with her sisters-in-law. She smiled as Hema sang her a song. She bore heartfelt testimony of her love for our Savior and the people she serves.  And she will see us again in 23 days!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Letter 4 - 'Twas the Email Before Christmas

[Note from Mom: I’m not sure whether you'd call it a premonition or not, but I had a feeling something would go wrong this week. After all, we had another Christmas call to set up. Technically, you might call it déjà vu. Just like last year, we were at the Heimuli family Christmas party at Uncle Hema's (yep, Dad, Harry & Aunty Nei were there again, too) when the email-before-Christmas got messed up...again. If you’re new to the blog, or just need a reminder and a good chuckle, go ahead and click on this link. Though some things are different, one thing's still the same -- I love being a missionary mom, even if it's only for 4 more weeks.]


On Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 6:38 PM, Haruna Ichikawa wrote:
Hey mom,
So my email`s not working and I`m using my companion`s email for a minute. I had a great week! What`s going on with Christmas? Are we skyping? Are you calling? Email me asap.
Love you!


On Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM, Pania Heimuli wrote:
I sent you my email hours ago. Do you want me to send it to ichikawas email. Here it comes. 


On Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 6:49 PM, Haruna Ichikawa wrote:
Yes Ichikawa shimais. I can`t use my email. Thanks for resending. The skype should work. If you are all at Hema`s house and use his internet it will work. I only have 40 minutes. I will use your skype account and you guys use hema`s skype account or something. Is that okay? My number is 080-____-____ do you know how to do the whole international dial thing? I think you would dial 088-81-80-____-____. Can we do Skype at 11 am, Dec 26th my time? Which is 7 pm your time on Dec 25th Christmas?


On Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM, Pania Heimuli wrote:
I just sent 2 emails to ichikawas email address. Did you not get them? One was my weekly letter. The other was about hearing your Christmas song playing on FM100 today. Yes we can call you at that day/time. Love you. 


On Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 7:06 PM, Haruna Ichikawa wrote:
Yes I got it! Thanks mom! Here`s a couple pics from the week. Sorry I can`t write a full email. I`ll talk to you guys soon anyways ;)
I think that`s funny that my song is still playing on the radio! bwahahaha I was so young. Okay I`ll be waiting on Skype for you guys :)

Making cookies as Christmas presents for our ward and investigators.
Kento kyoudai and I getting our stomachs ready for the Shokujikai after church.

This is how we do Christmas dinner here in Japan!
Nanami chan and Brother Ito creepin in the back.
My comp is adorable. I love this little 4th transfer missionary!

On Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM, Pania Heimuli wrote: 
She is so pretty! Is your email messed up because I registered you for Institute and had to do it on LDS.org? So your new login is ______ and your password is ______. Try that. Sorry. 

[And that was it. Ugh. Can't wait to Skype on Christmas night! J]

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Letter 5 - WOW

[Note from Mom: Attended the homecoming of  Scheffler shimai today. I wrote to Sister Heimuli and started out describing Tasha's testimony in basically one word: WOW]

Isn`t Sister Scheffler amazing?? What?! She thinks everyone back home is loud and obnoxious? Did she forget what our apartment used to be like?! Ha! I love her. I am so grateful for the 2 transfers we were able to serve together. It`s amazing how much we were able to grow in just those 3 short months. Now I am her trainee`s STL. Sister Kasteler showed me all these videos from when they were together and I just died laughing, thinking about all the fun and ridiculous things we did together. Love you, Sister Tasssshhhh!

WOW. That word really got me thinking.

W:  Work. There`s something scary but exciting about this word. Some people are scared of work especially hard work, while other people love to work so much that they forget about their loved ones at home, so they just go and go and...find themselves unhappy. Then there are those who work not for their own desires, but to do the Lord`s work. MLC (Mission Leadership Council) is one of the most powerful meetings a missionary can ever attend. Last week we had special guests at MLC: President Heaton (MTC coordinator...I think is what his calling is?) and his newly returned missionary daughter from Fukuoka mission. Pres. Heaton trained us and taught us a really good principle that we missionaries seem to forget when we are trying so hard to avoid becoming prideful, and trying hard to stay busy in order to feel like we`re accomplishing something. He reminded us that this is not our work, it`s the Lord`s work. And as we seek those who are prepared to be taught, sometimes we refer to them as `They are lost and it`s up to us to find them` when that`s not the case at all.

He reminded us that it is we (missionaries) who get lost if we are just going through the motions of this work. The Lord does not lose His children. He knows exactly where they are, what they are trying to accomplish in their lives, and exactly how they need help. Think about Lehi in the wilderness. God didn`t lose track of them. It was because of their own choices that they lost their way. We are human and we will lose our way, but Matt. 18:11 gives us hope, `For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.`

O:  Original. What`s the original meaning of Christmas? In emails I`ve received recently, everyone`s told me about how they are on the hunt for the perfect gift this Christmas. We had a Christmas party on Saturday the 13th with our tiny branch of 25 people who regularly attend. However, this time we had almost 100 people come and learn more about the original meaning of Christmas, the True meaning of Christmas!
I was the background music for a reading of `The True Meaning of Christmas` a Japanese rendition of Christ`s birth.
I watched tears fill their eyes, lights brighten their faces, and I watched people laugh and clap for joy as we performed hulas, sang songs and shared other dances. 


My cute little English class kids performed Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer! They did so great!

As stated in Articles of Faith 13: `...We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.`

What a fantastic time it was to spend with so many people who are not of our faith! They were able to see, hear and feel what we truly believe. Christ wasn`t born into a party with people shouting and opening presents. He was born in a stable where humble shepherds came to draw near to Him and `adore` Him. I think spending time with those we love without the noise of wrapping paper or jingling bells would be a perfect Christmas present for anyone.

W:  Will. We had a lesson with an investigator who wants to be baptized but she`s scared of what her parents will think. My companion, Sister Ichikawa, was in the same situation when she wanted to get baptized. Her father was abusive to her and her brother while they were growing up so she was scared to tell her father that she wanted to get baptized. She wrote him a letter, and bore sweet, simple testimony about how much baptism meant to her. A few days later he gave her the letter back...with written permission for her to get baptized. So, at the young age of 12 she was baptized and now she`s my amazing companion!

I just LOVE Ichikawa shimai! I am so grateful she is here with me!
We told this story to our investigator and she decided she`d write a letter to her parents and give it to them tonight.

Our own will can push us to do amazing things. Now, think about our will combined with our Father in Heaven`s. How much more would we be able to accomplish if we could some how align our will with His? I ponder this often, especially as I consider the things I`ve been able to do on my mission. I definitely see those times when I was working off of my own will, not aligned with the Father`s. Then I look at those times when I asked Heavenly Father what His will was, and I asked Him to help me to be strong enough to do His will, and I saw nothing but miracles.

I pray that the Lord continues to bless us and help us become one with His will, so that we can share the original meaning of Christmas, and help those who have lost themselves to again come to know that which they once knew. I love this work because it`s not mine. It`s the Lord`s. I love that He`s in charge and not me. We know that through His power and His guidance we cannot fail. I pray that you all can feel that too this season! Remember the greatest gift we received for Christmas, our Lord and Savior, came not in fancy wrapping paper and bows, but as a babe in swaddling clothes.

Love you all! Make it a great week!

Sister Heimuli

At the Ward Christmas Party
A couple of random pics and a couple of random thoughts:
This little tiny banana was in my bento box. Soooo cute.

Sister Scheffler looks beautiful! And I told her to go brown a looong time ago but she wouldn`t listen. Now look at how beautiful she is!

So there`s this young man in my ward here who is my best friend! He ran up to me at English class and was like `Sister! Sister! There`s a video of your brother on facebook!` and he showed me Hema on KSL last week. I was soooo happy to see that he was on the news!

I can`t believe everyone`s getting married...Jarom, Kastle, Evan...what the heck?!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Letter 6 - A Dream

Hey hey hey!

With Crofts shimai going home, this week was full of goodbyes and see-ya-laters...I am so tired of saying those words! However, it is really comforting to me to know that with our gospel there aren`t really ever any goodbyes. I`m not just talking about eternal families, but there`s no ending to our progression if we choose to live the gospel.

A few days ago I read Jacob 7:26 which said, `...by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream...` I asked Sister Crofts, as we walked towards the station to head towards Okayama on her last day, if she felt like her mission had come to a close. We talked about how missions are funny because sometimes they feel like a dream.
Saying goodbye at the train station
I asked her if she felt like all was done and if she was ready to go home. Her answer surprised me, `No, not at all! I feel like I`m just getting started. I feel like I`ve built up momentum and it`s all coming to a sudden stop.` For some reason, I feel like that`s a good way to feel at the end of our missions. I think it`s good to feel like we can continue to improve and get better except we just won`t be improving here in the field, we`ll be improving in our home wards, improving in our own families and homes, improving with our friends and loved ones. How grateful I am for having had an amazing companion, Sister Crofts. I am so grateful for all the things we learned together, but especially for the things she taught me.
An investigator gave us these kimonos. Here is a sneak peek of what they look like. 
I know that I look back at the beginning of my mission and feel like it passed quickly as if it was a dream because somehow the Lord strengthened me enough to get through it. The reality is that even though our environment may change, or our surroundings change, our personal progression does not. We can keep progressing and we can continue to become better!

Something I love that Japanese people say here is `level up`. These wonderful people understand perfectly that aspect of our gospel. I ask them, `Why do you want to level up?` and they say `Because I want to be the best me that I can be.` Isn`t that what we strive for? We strive to be the best, like our Savior Jesus Christ. We strive to become bright as we strive for our personal best, like it reads in D&C 50:24 `... light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.`.

I feel like I`ll definitely be stretched a little more this last transfer! My awesome new companion, Sister Ichikawa, is so young.
Ichikawa Haruna shimai! She`s adorable! I love her!
zhe doesn`t speak very much english, which is
great! It gives me a chance to use my japanese more ;)
She is a 4th transfer missionary from Tokyo. She told me she has so much to learn. However, she`s got an amazingly pure, fresh view on the work which is something an old missionary like me needs! I love her!! I am so humbled to work with her and so excited to see how much our lights can grow brighter and brighter throughout these next 6 weeks.

As this beautiful Christmas season starts up, always remember how grateful we are for our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of Him we are able to repent and be better. Only through Him are we able to grow brighter and brighter! Love you all, make it a great Christmas season!
Preparing for our Ward Christmas Party...

...Thank you Elder Santa! (Elder Harris)

All My Love,

Sister Heimuli

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Take Me Back Tuesday

Her quick email said, "Sure hope you're keeping all these photos I'm sending you! Cuz I'm not."

I had to smile.  It took me back to when our family would spend all day at Lagoon.  Preparations included me filling the cooler full of food, and each child filling their own backpacks full of whatever they thought they would need for the day.  I didn't ride or swim.  I was too busy holding onto everybody's stuff while the kids ran from ride to ride and played at Lagoon-a-Beach.  Then, when they needed their bag, got thirsty or hungry, or wanted their towel or dry clothes, I magically produced it for them.

So, in honor of Take Me Back Tuesday (I don't even know if that's a real day) here are a few pics I don't think have been posted.

As you can probably guess, I am keeping all the photos she's sending me. 

Cuz she's not.  :)


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Letter 7 - I Am Grateful For...

Love these cute kids!

I  can only sum up my week with this scripture: 3 Nephi 21:9-10

9 For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.

10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

`My wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.` Sometimes we doubt or underestimate God`s power. When big, huge, miraculous things happen we have NO problem saying it was God`s power. However, when it comes to tiny, simple, every day things we begin to doubt God`s power by thinking `Oh, there`s no way.` or `Is that really possible?`

We had an investigator who FINALLY met with us after a whole transfer. Now, if she would`ve emailed us out of the blue and said `I want to be baptized tomorrow!` we would totally take that as God`s power. But when she simply said she would finally meet with us, we treated it really lightly, as if it was some sort of coincidence. You would think I would know better.

The night we met with her it just happened to be movie night at our church. We were watching The Testaments. So we taught her a lesson about prayer, had dinner with the whole branch, then headed down to the first floor to watch the movie. For me, the best part was always at the end of the movie. Remember, Helam. I love watching The Testaments with other people because watching everyone else`s reaction is absolutely the best. However, this time all the members and investigators around me seemed like they weren`t phased at all. Hmm. Then I reached behind me and asked our investigator how she was doing. She burst into tears. I was SHOCKED. She had told us over and over again that she was Buddhist, but now between sobs she was telling me how grateful she was for Jesus Christ. That is the power of our God. I`ve said it many times and I will say it again: only God has the power to change hearts. If you want yours changed, He is who you should go to.

But the best of all was Sunday morning when we were getting ready to start DCS (a morning meeting before church where missionaries and members coordinate missionary efforts by talking about needs of investigators and less actives), when right before it started Brother Ashitani walked in!

With Brother Ashitani
He`s the brother that hadn`t stepped foot in a church for more than 20 years but finally came with his whole family to our music fireside. And now he was at church! All of us -- 6 missionaries and 3 members just gasped as we jumped out of our seats and ran over to welcome him. It was one of the happiest moments of my mission. To see someone you`ve come to love because you`ve been praying for them, worrying about them and studying for them, walk into the church, it melts your heart. Like the scripture says, you feel spiritually healed. Brother Ashitani didn't give is any reason as to why he came but I think Sister Crofts leaving played a big part in it.

She`s returning home but the work she did here in Niihama is
eternal. Sister Crofts will be missed here in Niihama!
The hand of the Lord was definitely seen this week. His work is working. I can`t say that Brother Ashitani will fully return to activity, or that our other investigator will choose to be baptized; but I do testify that God`s power is being made manifest in my life through our less actives and investigators.

Since it was Thanksgiving, I have a list of 10 things I`m grateful for:

There is no beauty like Japan's beauty.
1. I am grateful for Niihama skies.  Niihama is not nearly as cold as Kobe right now, so these skies are the best! It also doesn`t snow very often. Yay.

2. I am grateful for the Niihama branch.  It is so full of amazing people! Yes we`re a tiny branch but we`re strong. If we don`t feel like we can do something by ourselves, we all lean on each other and help each other out.

3. I am grateful for rain boots.  Although it doesn`t snow here in Niihama, it has been raining A LOT lately. Without my boots I can`t even begin to imagine the trouble I`d be in!

4. I am grateful for convenience stores. We`ve had absolutely no time this week. Most of our meals, if we had any time to eat, were all purchased at convenience stores, which are so conveniently placed on literally every street corner here.

5. I am grateful for my Branch President`s guitar.  He`s lending me his guitar until I go home. We`ve been using it to go from house to house and sing songs to people. I love being able to use our God-given talents to spread the gospel.

6. I am grateful for Family.  Even though I`m not related by blood to the people here, we have a special connection. I love every single person I have had the honor of working with since coming to Niihama. I know without a doubt this is where the Lord needs me.

7. I am grateful for our senior couple missionaries, Elder and Sister Nakanishi.  The Nakanishis are my Japanese grandma and grandpa. They do so much for us missionaries. Instead of having to bike 2 hours to visit people, they give us rides, pack us treats, and help us with our Japanese. They also bring a special light into this branch. Without them, Niihama would be a darker place.

Another yummy dinner at the Nakanishi home.
8. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon.  I`ve come to really love this book! As we`ve been studying these sacred writings as a mission I`ve felt my love for them deepen, and my relationship with my Father in Heaven become stronger. I know these words aren`t just written to look nice on paper, but if pondered, they can be a powerful source of strength for us during those times when we don`t think we can make it.

9. I am grateful for Japanese hospitality.  I don`t think there is anything like it. I would invite everyone to go on a mission, and go to Japan! If your call says any place else, send it back and tell them you only want to go to Japan! Hahaha JUST JOKING! Don`t do that (Houston). I can`t put into words how polite Japanese people really are. You`ll just have to experience it for yourself!

10. I am grateful for my phone.  I know you think I sound like the old Hevynn but seriously, without it I wouldn`t be able to talk to my lovely sisters here in Shikoku, or contact our awesome investigators. I use a phone way more than I ever thought I would as a missionary. But I`ve been blessed to have had some very uplifting conversations thanks to this old phone! I am so grateful for technology because it`s helped us hasten the Lord`s work here in our little corner of the world.

....Last but not least, of course, I am so grateful for my own family and friends. I am especially grateful for everyone`s prayers on my behalf. I feel them. Thank you so so much. Last but not least, I am so grateful for this gospel. I`m so grateful for the choice that I made, and the privilege that I have, to serve a mission.
These feet have taken me many places, but Niihama, Japan, is the best place yet!
I`ve learned so many things that I just couldn`t have learned anywhere else. I`ve had lots of ups and downs that just wouldn`t have been the same if I had experienced them somewhere else. This short year-and-a-half has turned into a spiritual source of tremendous experiences that I will draw on for the rest of my life. I love my mission, I love those I serve, and those I serve with...and I love YOU!

Sister Heimuli