Kobe, Japan

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 51 - The Gospel Net Catches Strange Fish

Hear the news?? Sister Scheffler and I get to be together one more transfer! This makes it my 6th transfer in Ootsu...WOOOAAAHHHHH! It`s super rare to be in an area any longer than 3 transfers, and it`s even more rare to be companions (with someone that`s known you your whole life) not only for one transfer but TWO! We are SOOOO stoked. Big things are going to happen.
Can you tell how excited I am to still be companions with Sister Scheff?
The buzz from last week`s luau is still in the air!
Not only is the good luau feeling still left over, but lucky me, so is some of the teriyaki chicken!
People at church kept coming up to me and saying `Aloha!` Even the primary kids. All these families in the ward are like my family. I`ve spent more than 6 months with these beautiful people and look forward to continuing to work with them for another transfer! Last night as we were plugging numbers we found that we visited 105 less actives, and 3 of which have been reactivated and we have a couple more making their way back to being totally active. It`s nice to look back and see how the Lord`s blessed us in our efforts, but there`s so much more to do. 
Playing around with children of one of my investigators
A big focus for our mission has now been the 5 elements of missionary work (Find, Teach, Baptize, Retain, Rescue) and applying that to not only investigators but members as well. In interviews this week President Welch asked us how many of us know someone who needs to be Retained or Rescued who are already members and every single missionary raised their hand. People all around us need to be rescued.
Bye bye for Jackson choro
President Welch is an amazing man. He said, `The gospel net catches strange fish. There is no, `well, in japan`... `well, in America`...we are all part of the same culture, the culture of the Gospel.` 
Matsuri! People everywhere.
He also said that in his opinion polynesian people are the closest to the ideal gospel culture because we hug and kiss a lot! When here in Japan you stand feet apart and bow a little. He wants to see more japanese people hug and even more japanese people smiling. 
Pics with some of our favorite investigators. Been forever since Sister Scheff and I had a corn dog!
He`s a really funny but real man. He makes us laugh but makes us cry all within the same 5 minutes. The spirit was so strong as he and Sister Welch testified to us of why we are here. Not only to help those that still don`t know about the gospel, but to help those that are already fully on the path of Enduring to the End -- to help them endure well. 

President also made it a point to tell me he`s a big fan of dad in front of all the missionaries. Everyone was super confused, I think they think dad`s in the Quorum of the Seventy or something like that because no one`s thinking along the lines of sports right now, haha. It was such a great experience being able to receive counsel from our president and then be individually interviewed by him. He asked if he could help me with anything and I said, `Well, you could leave me in my area with my companion!` and I guess Scheffler shimai said something along those lines too. So you can imagine how surprised we were when we opened transfer calls! I love this work, this gospel is true, we can all be apart of the greatest culture on earth...the culture of the gospel.

Work hard, smile, and have a great week!


Sister Heimuli

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 50 - Aroha!


Of the 60 or so people that showed up for the Luau, 22 were nonmembers and less actives! Speaking of less actives, this week we were able to contact 34 less actives. There`s nothing more rewarding than finding and helping less actives. Even with how fun the Luau was, nothing tops working with our less active brothers and sisters.

I know you`re dying to hear all the details...here`s a little run down of the craziness we`ve had the past couple of weeks:

-We were in charge of the main course (Teriyaki chicken), entertainment (hula, singing, teaching hula), and spreading the word (PR)
Sister Scheffler became a teriyaki chicken preparing pro. She can do it all, I tell you!
-Sister Scheffler had to learn how to play the uke, hula, and learn all the words to the songs we sang in just 2 weeks
Teaching the Hukilau, along with some basic hula terms
-I had to teach a bunch of ladies how to hula in Japanese
Hula practice...thank you, PCC!
-Bishop gave us 40 dollars to buy all the things we needed for the party (food, decorations, etc)
-I was preparing a talk for the Sunday, the day after the Luau
-We were in charge of a section of District Meeting the day before the Luau
Shiga District...in a rare serious moment
-Doing all this while finding the Lord`s elect and visiting his less active children

It was a crazy busy week...which is why it was so amazingly fun! So in order to work with the ward, we decided to delegate some of our responsibility, we took a whole day to hand out flyers with the YSA and YM/YW, our neighbors helped us go to the store and buy all the things we needed while staying in budget (we spent 38.97...yes!), and my dear companion and I ate small meals so that we had more time at meal times to practice.
Everyone else at District Meeting ate big meals, but we had sandwiches so we could squeeze in some luau practice time
All the hard work and cramming for time paid off! The Luau was a success! Sister Scheffler and I made over 50 leis to give to everyone at the party, fake paper ones for people that came, and 3 real ones, one for bishop. 
Sister Scheffler made her first leis. She's turning into a real Hawaiian!
 When we handed out the leis everyone was so excited!
Human lei stands haha
The kids loved wearing them and saying `Aroha!` (because they don`t pronounce L`s in japanese). Of the 10 women I taught the hula to, half of them were non members. They did so great! They not only danced well, but they learned all the english words to Hukilau and sang it while I played for them during the performance.
The now-famous Ootsu Ward Hula Troupe
Sister Scheffler and I sang 2 songs and played the uke.

Sister Scheffler killed it! The elders did a haka, everyone loved it. It brought everyone lots of happiness and a good laugh. Some YSA sang and played the piano, there was lots of music and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun! 
Bishop Hayashi in front, Elders & Bro Yoshizawa (YM Pres, RM, fluent English, awesome guy)
I danced 2 numbers and we took lots of pictures after the performance. We had a big feast afterward and everyone LOVED the teriyaki chicken! (Way to go mom and dad, I used your secret recipe.)
Traditional Japanese style Nagai Somen, you eat it as it slides down this rain gutter thingy...super good!
But while this was all going on, something that really impressed me was how well the members fellowshipped our investigators. 
Cute daughter of one of our investigators
We didn`t have to assign anyone, or tell them who to fellowship. When a person walked in that no one knew, 3 or 4 members walked up to them and introduced themselves. Sister Scheffler and I were running around like crazy trying to cover our missionary duties and our luau duties. It made it so much easier with the ward being so willing to fellowship our investigators. That`s the way it`s supposed to be!
This one is for Dad. I was so happy to see Bro Yoshizawa rockin' this Tongan Pride t-shirt!
Our purpose for doing the Luau was to help our ward have fun and be excited about missionary work. Also, it was to give our less actives and investigators an enviornment that wasn`t too intimidating, and give everyone an opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level.
In addition to sharing island food, song and dance, I taught Bro Izumo important island culture. That is, if an island queen gets uncomfortably warm, things could go really bad, so he needed to start fanning. Ahhhh!
I know we achieved our purpose because the love from that party carried over to church the next day. When we greeted members they just seemed happier. They still had a light in their eyes from the night before. We had a few sisters come up to us and give us referrals, members were asking when the next activity was, and how they could help. People were asking us to spend time with their less active sons and daughters and teach them to hula or play the ukulele. Many members were humming the hukilau as we walked passed them, and a couple of the brethren were still wearing their paper leis around the church building. At church there was such a good environment because everyone was able to find Joy in being a member of this church.

Honestly, none of this would`ve been possible without the support of my awesome companion and the help of our Lord. We practiced hard, we did everything we needed to do, and we prayed just as hard for the Lord`s help. When you`re united with your companion, it`s easier to be united with the Lord, and you get stuff done. 
People asked if Sis Scheffler was Hawaiian, too (must be her beautiful blonde hair and green eyes!)
Also, thanks to you, family, for the packages! The night after the party we were getting ready for bed and our doorbell rang...and there were your packages! They didn`t come in time for the party, but it was a nice little after-party for me and Scheffler shimai! 
Care packages with leis and grass skirts arrived just a few hours too late, but Tasha was happy to get Almond Joy and Heath bars, and Hevynn got her Sour Patch candies and Skittles!
You guys rock. You always pull through, thanks for being so supportive and helping your sisters out here in Japan!

The luau was great, but you always ask me what was the BEST part of my week. The best part of my week was yesterday when one of the less active brethren finally met all the requirements for reactivation. He`s now a newly reactivated member of our ward!

``And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy in the kingdom of my Father!`` (D&C18:15)

I got a tiny tiny taste of that joy this weekend. And how great it truly is. Even with the crazy planning, the practicing, the laughing, the luau, the people`s smiles -- even with all of that, nothing brought me more joy than seeing this brother become active. I know our joy can be great, not just joy for the things in this life, but true joy -- joy after this life.

Love you and pray you all can experience this kind of joy this week too.

Sister Hawaiian-party, a.k.a Sister Heimuli

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 49 - She Didn't Call the Cops...Thank Goodness

This past week feels like a blur! All the events that happened just mush into one big....blur! Time just seems to be going faster and faster, and I am afraid there`s nothing I can do about it. Maybe I need a companion that I don`t love so much -- maybe that would make time slow down. I just adore Sister Scheffler!
We had to be home by 9:30pm. It was 9pm when we left an investigator house which was still an hour away from home. We biked fast and furiously to make it on time!
It makes being a missionary easier when you`ve got a sister that`s got your back right beside you! She`s such a trooper, she`s learning Uke and Hula and how to sing while doing both! We are SOOOOO excited for our luau this Saturday. The ward`s getting pretty excited about it too. Yesterday, the relief society presidency pulled me aside and set up a hula class this week for me to teach. Then the bishopric printed out a million flyers and had all the youth and YSA go to the surrounding neighborhoods here at the church and put flyers in all their mailboxes letting them know about the luau! There`s so many things we need to do for the party and so many details that factor into it. Thank goodness the ward is working with us and helping us out. I think it`s kind of like the work of the Lord, without the ward`s help it`s impossible!

But without the Lord`s help, it`s DEFINITELY impossible. As a missionary there are very few things we can do alone. Very basic stuff like wake up, talk to people, walk around. But when we are doing the things we are supposed to do, the Lord is able to place people in our paths to help us get done what needs to be done. Here are a few examples from the week:

-a kind SGI (japanese religion, super stubborn believers who usually want nothing to do with us missionaries) woman gave us the address to a Less Active brother`s house whom she used to live next to. Because of that we were able to contact his family.

-Fukuda shimai (a less active we`d been working with, but who got offended by some members and then wouldn`t talk to us) suddenly called us after a month and half of no contact and wanted to meet up for lunch. At lunch we got to rebuild our friendship again and now she`s going to start coming back to church.

-a nice mom by some apartment complexes, even though her baby was screaming bloody murder, took the time to use her navigator and help us find the address to a less active man`s house. She said she might come to the luau!

-the neighbor of a less active man came out after seeing us. She read our tags and said that even though she doesn`t feel she needs religion, she felt our presence when we got to her neighborhood and she knows what we`re doing is for the good of her neighbor. She didn`t call the cops or anything...thank goodness.

-We found 27 more less actives houses thanks to kind and patient neighbors and people willing to help 

-a less active sister we found is now in a wheelchair and she`s too  old to really talk anymore. But her daughter and her daughter`s family were kind enough to let us teach her and they participated in our lesson. They weren`t against our teaching and they said they`d like to take their mom to church again.

-we taught 2 less actives in one afternoon and that`s really rare here!
We were dripping when we got home, we threw our clothes off and soaked up our sweat with our towels. 
We can be that person the Lord puts in the paths of others too! If it weren`t for these people we couldn`t have found and contacted as many less actives as we did this last week. And as of yesterday we`ve gotten 2 newly reactived members in the ward!!!! I can`t explain how rewarding it is to see your fellow brother or sister return to church.

I hope we all feel that way when we see people we haven`t seen in a while come to church. Do me a favor, try to notice them! When you see them tell them you`re happy to see them. Even just that simple acknowledgment will make a world of difference for the members in our wards. Here in Japan they`re really good at noticing when people haven`t been around and they`re really good at being sure to shake every person`s hand. I believe that if we just take a few minutes after sacrament to walk around and just say hello to people you haven`t seen in a while or don`t usually talk to, it will make all of our journeys of `enduring to the end` just a little easier. I`ve learned that and many other things this past week.

Love you all! I`ll let you know about how fun the Luau is next week :)

Sister Heimuli
These sweaty pics are super gross, mom. Not even kidding. DO NOT put these on the blog. [Note from Mom: Oops.]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 48 - Sheep

Sister Scheffler and I threw a ping pong party on Saturday because it was the 4th of July in America and we had all our investigators and friends come! We didn`t have fireworks or anything but we did have watermelon so it was as close to a legit 4th of July celebration as we could get! 
Having fun getting the watermelon ready for our 4th of July celebration!

My beautiful companion with a ping-pong ringer from the neighborhood, haha!

Me with this cute gal getting ready to kill it in ping pong!

One of the very few pics of us together, with another cute girl at our July 4th ping-pong and watermelon celebration.

And the winner is...in the Ping-pong contest: Scheffler shimai.  In the Pretty contest: Gotta give that to Scheffler shimai, too!  I love her. 
It`s been another blessed week here in the Japan Kobe Mission. Friday we got to meet our new president, President Welch, and his amazing companion, Sister Welch. 

President & Sister Welch
Sister Welch came up to me and gave me a hug after the conference. She said they know Dad and that they left the U.S. around the time Dad was playing, and so in their minds BYU`s still their favorite team and Dad`s still their favorite player, I just laughed! And thought WOW they left the U.S. a looooong time ago. Jk, Dad! President and Sister Welch are AMAZING!  I`ve never laughed so hard, and cried so hard, in one meeting.  Both of their testimonies are so strong. President has a big belief in `Learning correct principles` and letting us `govern ourselves.` He believes in having little rules, and doing LOTS of work. Something interesting that he shared with us was that when he was a missionary here 40 years ago their focus was FTB…(Find, Teach, Baptize). He said that our new role as sisters in finding and reactivating the less actives is partly because of the problem he started. Back then, they baptized around 200-300 people a month! Who would have ever thought that was a problem? But we understood his deep concern. Japan actually has many members but only about 1% are active. President got emotional as he told us how he realizes it`s a blessing to be able to come back and serve here, and try to fix the problem he felt he created years ago. What a humble man. Love President and Sister Welch already. I also love their point of view on missionary work. I think this change is exactly what we need as a mission.

President told us that we won`t be having any big changes right now, but that we`ll slowly add on new things (line upon line, precept upon precept, right?) and progress a little at a time. He said the elders will slowly be focusing on less actives too. Speaking of which, we had 3 less actives at church yesterday! One brother is really close to being fully active, and one sister is making goals to become active again. This was a great reward to our long week of trying to track down a bunch of less actives` houses. 

Burned, aching feet from biking many miles and several hours in the humid heat...a small price to pay for finding sheep.
We found almost 30 houses this week but most of them were vacant, which means we turned into detectives and started asking neighbors and close-by store owners for any information.

Jeremiah 50:6 `My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.`

Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Everything we do all day, every day, is to bring those lost sheep back to the fold. President also announced to us HOW we are going to avoid losing anymore sheep. Yes, we are focused on Finding, Teaching, Baptizing…AND R&R…Retaining & Rescuing. In order to do that, Sister Scheffler and I made goals to compliment every member whenever we see them, whether it`s on the street, in the store or wherever we may be. When you stop and think about it, we and everyone around us are just trying to Endure. It`s what we`ve been commanded to do. So how do WE keep from wandering from the fold? We endure well by loving each other, welcoming each other, and always doing our part to help the person next to us.

Next week, we plan to double the amount of houses we found this week, and try to contact at least half of them. The work we are doing is evidence of how important each and every one of God`s children are to Him. Some people we are trying to find went inactive about 50 years ago, yet we are commanded to find them. That`s been a huge testimony builder to me of everyone`s individual worth to our Father in Heaven.

I know God knows each and every one of us. None of us can wander outside of His reach. I see proof of that every day! It`s amazing to me how well God knows us, and I can`t even begin to understand how much He loves us. What a blessing it is to be a missionary at this time here in Japan. I hope you all have a great week and try to recognize those moments when God`s showing His love to you. And better yet, show your love to Him by serving someone around you! Even small acts are good! Just a knock on someone`s door and a `Hello, I was in the neighborhood and just wanted to say hello. Can I help you with anything?` We do this every time we knock on doors. I tell you there`s nothing money can buy that`s better than these few words and a little bit of action.

Love you all!

Sister H

Not Our Weekly Letter - Anything For Her

Hi mom!!!!

So big news. Our ward wants to do a Luau to help all our investigators and less actives. It was my crazy companion`s idea....but they just took it and ran with it! We, your daughters
, Scheffler shimai and I, are in charge of a hula, teriyaki chicken, and a uke solo. So will you please send me the recipe for Dad’s teriyaki sauce, the chords and words to Smiles, Over the Rainbow, and Hukilau please?? 

The ward is planning on feeding 50 people (which I know is NOTHING compared to our parties, but it has never been my total responsibility to feed them all, haha). Would you please email it to me by the time I get off email. I will be back on at 1 pm our time (9 pm your time Sun night). Also is it possible to speed deliver the PCC dvd back to me by July 17? We have the Luau on the 19th but I would like everything ready a few days before. And do you have any IZ songs and hawaiian music you could send over in MP3 right now so I can stick it on Scheffler shimai`s harddrive? Have Houst get on the computer and send me a bunch of slow Hawaiian jamz and stuff. That would be GREAT! LOVE YOU!!!!!!! Sorry this is so much!!! LOVE YOU!

[Note from Mom: Had all the boys and Norma home for dinner; Alyssa’s in Europe. As soon as Hevynn’s email landed, the boys sprung (is that a word?) into action! Houston downloaded music copying programs, Helam started downloading multiple IZ and Keali’I Reichel songs simultaneously. I picked Hema’s brain about chords to send. He and Norma took off for home to get more Hawaiian music and email it off to Japan. I was very grateful -- and not at all surprised -- at the kids’ willingness to jump in and immediately respond to their sister’s request for help. They love her. They would literally do anything for her. And all I had to do was send a recipe, lyrics and uke chords…easy.  Later…]

Thank you that helped soooo much! Hemz is the bomb digz. [Sounds like she received the emailed music from her brother already!]
Just had to throw in a pic of eldest brother Hema...the bomb digz (whatever that means)...and his beautiful wife, Norma (aka Mrs. Bomb Digz)