Kobe, Japan

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 56 - Only Prays at Dinner

I hope you had just as a rewarding week as I did! We met with a Less Active sister who stopped coming to church when she was 14. Her family is totally active. They are very involved and very kind. I didn`t know they had a Less Active daughter until their mom came up to me at church a few weeks ago. Her mom took a video of us playing the ukulele at the Luau we had last month and showed her daughter. Her daughter said she wanted to learn how to play the uke so her mom asked me to teach her daughter. We set up an appointment to teach her at the church. When she came I taught her some chords, we played I am a Child of God, and then I started asking her mom questions about her own conversion.

Usually Japanese people don`t share those things with their children and I really wanted the daughter to hear her mom`s conversion story. As we discussed her experience her, the daughter (Yumi shimai) started asking questions about how we find comfort when life gets hard. Scheffler shimai asked her if she`d ever prayed before and she said she only prays at dinner when it`s her turn to pray. Scheffler shimai then bore testimony that God lives and that He knows each of us. He knows our trials and our weaknesses, as well as what makes us happy. This sister just cried and cried as we used our simple Japanese to testify of the fact that we have a loving Father in Heaven. She said she`s needed someone to say this to her for years but she wasn`t sure where she would find someone to tell her this. We invited her to continue meeting with us so we could not only grow our friendship, but so she could get closer to God again and she agreed SO fast! She said she would make time every week to meet with us. She also said she`d start praying everyday!

On top of that, we also had another less active sister come to church today who is well on her way to being fully active. She stayed for ALL of church and she told me she`d be coming again for sure this week too.

That`s the little excerpt from my week. There`s so much more that happened but it would take me too long to type out. So here`s a bunch of pictures instead! I don`t have anytime this week because we`re headed to Kyoto with some missionaries from Oomihachiman including the Boettchers` nephew, Elder Hansen.

The gospel is true. I love you!


Sister Heimuli

Love this lady.  We are Scheffler shimai and Heimuli shimai!

Griffin shimai and her companion came on exchanges with us.

My comp. She works hard, plays hard and sleeps hard. I looked behind me while I was getting ready this morning and she was passed out.  LOL!

Tell me this isn't the CUTEST thing you've ever seen!

Nasty squid thing from Zeze Matsuri. Can't believe I let Scheffler shimai talk me into buying it...waste of 6 bucks

Yummm...now that's more like it!  Corn dog and cotton candy...

People dressed in their yukatas for the festival

Candied apples from the festival

It's just me, Queen of Ootsu. Been here for 7 months.  Whaaaa?!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 55 - Move Your Feet

We FINALLY got in touch with an investigator (LA sister) that`s been MIA for the last 2, almost 3 months. She came to church for the first time in almost 15 years about 2 transfers ago, and then we never heard from her again. My last companion and I were frantically mailing and calling and visiting, but she was never home. When Scheffler shimai transferred in, this Sister`s house was the first place I wanted to go, so we did and her dad was there. He told us she had been hospitalized and he didn`t know when she would get out. He also wouldn`t give us any other information like where, whether or not we could visit, and so on. He was polite to us, but you can tell he doesn`t really like gaikokujin (foreigners, especially not foreigners that can`t perfectly speak his language) or people of our church. So I decided to call her visiting teachers and ask them. They gave us the name of a hospital she had been to a few years ago and said she might have returned. So we looked it up, hopped on our bikes and went. We`ve visited this hospital almost 10 times in hopes of finding her, but the doctors and nurses would never let us speak with her.

Now, 2 weeks ago the Elders` investigator was hospitalized in the exact same hospital, so we decided to pay her a visit. It was easy to get in to see the Elders` investigator, so we decided to try again this week, so that maybe by some chance, we could intercept our investigator. I know there are no such things as coincidences. We got into the visiting facility and waited a couple seconds by the elevator. When it opened, HER DAD WAS STANDING THERE! He was pleasantly surprised to see us and he was a lot nicer this time. We explained that we came to see a friend. He told us he wanted to take us up to see his daughter, our LA investigator! In the end, we FINALLY made contact with her. She told us she`d been praying to get better faster so she could return to church, and then we came to her! She also told us how much she missed reading the Book of Mormon with us and hopes to study again once she is released.

Scheffler shimai and I came here in search of a less active brother. It was crazy to see how weeds had taken over the residence. Nobody answered when I knocked on the plant-covered door.
I have a testimony that the Lord can do anything, but He can definitely guide MOVING FEET. We have to be walking, ready, prepared, and He`ll lead us right where we need to be. If we would`ve taken a short konbini break in the middle of that hot afternoon (a konbini is a convenience store or gas station...they`re on every corner here), or ignored the idea of visiting the Elders` investigator that day, we would`ve missed this Sister`s dad and we would have totally lost out on an opportunity to be not only an answer to her prayer, but to be in the right place at the right time in order to see her again. She`s not allowed any communication with the outside world right now like phone calls or emails, but she`s okay to have visits every now and then. You can bet we`ll be there pretty frequently now!

You know you're in Japan when you can literally touch the next apartment building from your balcony!
Move your feet this week! Be the tool by which the Lord can help His children.

I told our bishopric that I would not take their picture unless they all smiled. It took a while but Bro Hasegawa finally cracked...just for me. These men are awesome.
Chona is seriously one of my most favorite people in Japan. I just love this little girl.
I love you all and pray that we can all be better at aligning our will with the Lord`s -- not worrying about the details, and just going for it! Have a fabulous week, all!

Love always,

Sister Heimuli

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week 54 - Worth It

Brad, what a stud. I remember we use to make trouble to each other in school. And I would ditch out on classes to buy him and Houst burgers at McD`s or Wendy`s. Brad`s a good, solid young man. I`m so grateful he and Houst are such good friends after all this time! I love those two boys.

Another week has come and gone. To answer your questions....YES we had 2 less actives at church and 2 investigators. The 2 less actives were two sisters that we visited, weren`t home, so we stuck hearts all over their doors that said `We love you` and I was shocked to see them walk up to me at church yesterday just ecstatic because of those paper hearts! One of them hadn`t been to church in over 5 years, and the other is a Less Active YSA who usually doesn`t go out on the weekends because she`d rather hang out with friends or do homework, but she came!

Since church was canceled last week, it was the first time I`d taken sacrament in a long time. I just sat there in our full congregation (it`s been pretty sparse lately), our 2 less actives sitting with their active families, our 2 investigators right next to us, and all their beautiful japanese voices singing about our Redeemer, and Savior Jesus Christ. I couldn`t bring myself to sing. I just sat there and soaked everything in.

Sister Scheffler and I are doing GREAT! We are healthy, happy, and we might gain 30 pounds this week because of the amazing package Aunty Nei sent us! There`s candy and goodies to last for a couple years in there! I usually don`t eat after planning at night (usually because we just don`t have food) but last night we stuffed our faces with girl scout cookies and swedish fish! It was awesome!

My favorite part of the week:  Finding a less active who lives down the street. While we were looking up addresses we noticed a Less active that lived right by us! We were kind of surprised that we hadn`t noticed it before. We walked to the apartment complexes and started knocking doors. This really kind grandma answers, looks at us, looks at our name tags and says, `Hey, you`re the two that are always wearing helmets and riding bikes, right? You always say hello and smile at me. Here, let me help you.` She took our paper with the Less active`s info on it and started walking around, knocking doors for us.

Everyone was really kind to her, because A) She`s a grandma, B) She speaks perfect Japanese and C) If that would`ve been us, people would`ve been slamming doors right and left! Every time someone opened the door it gave them an opportunity to see this Japanese, non-Christian lady helping 2 foreign-Christians. It also gave them opportunities to see our badges and to know that we are out trying to find people that used to come to our church that we haven`t seen in a while `...that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.` (3Nephi 12:16)

One thing that makes my day is when I notice people looking at my badge and as they read it, I see them mouth, `Iesu Kirisuto` -- I LOVE IT! Because that`s one more person who knows Christ`s name. It also reminds me that I maybe their only example of who Christ is, for the rest of their mortal lives, so I always keep that in mind and try to be the kind of person He would want me to be! I run into people everyday who have never heard of Jesus Christ. Because we are always smiling and greeting people even as we ride past them on our bikes, a kind grandma took time out of her night to help us and we were able to meet more people in our neighborhood. Not only that, but when they asked `Why do they need to find this woman?` it gave us a perfect opportunity to tell people why we`re here and what we do.

I`d like to add my witness to that of President Holland`s...it`s worth it. Being a member of this church IS worth it. Smiling even when it might hurt IS worth it. Living up to the standards of this church and following the commandments IS worth it. Serving a mission and putting aside other affairs IS worth it. You can`t see the blessings now, but if you could....

I know this church is true.

It`s the simplest, most repeated line in the church. Yet it`s a line that`s changed my life.

I love this gospel. I love the atonement. I love you!

Make it a good week. Don`t wait for someone to tell you to have a good day. Just go ahead and make it a good one!

Love lots,

Sister Heimuli

P.S.  Just a few pics:

Sister Welch sent this photo to Sister Heimuli's parents.

Hard to say goodbye to another American:  Sister Stevens.

Siser Heimuli teaching eikaiwa (English class).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week 53 - Took Him to His Own House

No intruders in our house this week. However, I did wake up in the middle of the night because I had been sick for a couple days, and I thought my stomach was going crazy. But then I realized it wasn`t just me that was moving, things outside were moving. So I put my hand on the ground and sure enough it was an earthquake. A million things rushed through my head like `I should probably wake up my companion and get under something` and `If we jumped out the balcony is it too far up to survive?` but then I thought, `Or you could just keep sleeping...` and that thought won. I rolled over and went to sleep. No worries! The shaking stopped after a few minutes and I got a good night`s sleep!

Yesterday was pretty crazy though. We got emails and calls from our Bishop telling us alarms had gone off to warn everyone about the typhoon and so church was canceled.
Scheffler shimai watching the typhoon from our balcony. I was afraid she was gonna blow away!

Our zone leaders told us to fill up our bathtub just in case. I was kinda excited to use it but the storm blew over quickly.
You know you`re a missionary when the first thing you think as you hear such news is, `Dang! We had investigators coming today!` and `Darn, I really wanted to take the sacrament today.` Before my mission I would`ve been outrageously happy if I found out there was no church...funny how things change. So no investigators or less actives came to church. But real quick while on the subject of Bishop. He told me about Nick`s (Boettcher) mission call! I'm so MAD I will be home before he gets out here. Maybe I will ask for an extension.....

Anyways after study time we were so sick of being inside so even though it was raining we rode around the neighborhoods to see if we could give any service.
YESSS! Opportunities for service!
We tried to help people sand bag an overflowing river but they weren`t too happy to see two foreigners with Christ`s name on them. So we rode around and picked up fallen bicycles and things in people`s yards. We stopped by some investigators and less actives houses just to make sure they were okay. That was my first typhoon here in Japan, definitely one I won`t forget.

The best part of my week was a lesson we had with a less active sister. We have had the last 3 lessons more focused around her, for example we talk about her work, her family, and about why she liked certain principles of the gospel while she was first learning with the missionaries years ago. We started putting more effort into listening instead of talking. As we have been doing this, she`s changed a little. She`s more happy when we meet, she`s more open. This past week when we met and talked about the sacrament she committed to becoming fully active again by the end of October. Like the scriptures say, we were `truly astonished` by what she committed to. When we first met with her she told us she wouldn`t ever go back to church because she thought it was boring and long. However, only 2 months later she`s now totally committed to being a fully active member in the church. You can`t imagine how happy we were to hear this.

It`s kind of like Amulek and Alma in Alma 15. Amulek was a less active himself when he met Alma, then became active again and started preaching alongside Alma. Now Amulek was a really wealthy guy, he had lots of money, lots of land, a big family, yet he chose to put all those things on hold to preach the gospel with Alma. He went through a lot of affliction, being cast into prison, etc. As they were converting the Lamanites and establishing a church in Sidom verse 16 says, `...Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred;` What happened next?

Alma checked on the church, saw that it was doing alright and the people of the church were okay, then verse 18 `...Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.`

`...took him to his own house...` what exactly does that mean? It means Alma loved Amulek, just as I love my companion.
Love her. Just love her.
Although what Alma and Amulek were doing was -- and is -- the most important work on earth, Alma still saw that Amulek also needed a friend. He needed to be retained and rescued. Alma saw his companion every day, knew his struggles, and Alma took Amulek back to Alma`s home to help him out and to strengthen him again. As missionaries sometimes we forget that we are not teaching lessons...we are teaching people. I`ve seen over and over again that helping people feel our love for them will help them out more in the long run, than just trying to spit out a quick 20 minute presentation about things we think are important. Only after we show love and genuine interest in the things our investigators care about, can we truly help them.

So earthquakes, typhoons, and love...it`s been quite the week in Ootsu!

Love always,
Sister Heimuli

Speaking of love, here are some pics from this week:
Me and Yamaoka-san. She is like our grandma here. She said she is already planning her first trip to America for my wedding. Wedding? Whoa.
I love Japan.....'s food. Yamaoka-san made this for us. Almost too beautiful to eat, right? Almost.

No place does fireworks like Japan!
Aunty Nei sent a ton of stuff for my one-year mark. She loves me. I love her. Thanks, Aunty!
If you're reading this family and friends, I hope you know I love you. All the way from Japan.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Best Sis a Bro Could Have (a 1-year letter from Harry)

Heimuli shimai turns a year old (in the mission) today -- time flies!
[Note from Mom:  Instead of a silly poem or cartoonish picture, I thought I'd mark Hevynn's one-year milestone with a letter her baby brother sent on Sunday.  Don't mind the typos...he's only nine.]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Week 52 - Thanks for Your Prayers

It`s good to hear that everyone at home is busy too! I know you are all praying for me and Scheffler shimai and I wanted to say thank you. We`ve been running around like crazy, I don`t even know where to start. I guess I could start at the beginning of this new transfer.

Scheffler shimai made mousies. Not sure what is in them but they are super yummy!
We had a weekly planning session last Thursday in which we set some awesome goals for this new transfer. Later that night we said companionship prayer right before going to bed. We turned the lights off, hopped in our futons and were in the middle of personal prayer when all of a sudden the doorbell rang.

First of all, we have no friends in our apartment, except for one woman that lives at the bottom of the apartment and she wouldn`t be out this late. Second, 10 pm in japan is like 3 in the morning in America. No one leaves their houses after 8 pm. So we thought it was odd that our door bell was ringing. We looked up at each other during our prayers, looked at the phone which said 10:23 and I got up to check who it was. We have to be sleeping by 10:30 so we didn`t have much time to talk to whoever it was.

I think I may have mentioned to you before that there`s a cool little phone thing that you use when someone rings the bell it`s like a speaker. So they can speak to you and you can speak to them without going all the way to your door. But for some reason I felt like I should just go straight to the door. Instead of opening the door I looked through the peep hole just to be sure it was our neighbor from downstairs, but instead it was a bigger man wearing all black.

I thought, `Hmmm that`s weird. I don`t know him.` So I just watched him through the peep hole. This whole time I didn`t know where Scheffler shimai was. But I watched the man pace back and forth, then he tried to climb over our ledge to get into our window!

This whole time I was thinking `What is going on?? Who is this guy?!` I was thinking maybe it`s someone from the ward...nope. He hopped off the ledge and looked around, and then he went for the door.

We USUALLY lock the door right when we get home, but this night we forgot to. I was on the other side watching him through the peep hole. As he reached for the door handle and opened the door, I forcefully yanked it back from him and then slammed it shut super fast, made a huge banging sound! I locked it up really fast and just held the doorknob with all my strength and leaned my body up against the door so that he couldn`t get in.

All of a sudden I heard Scheffler shimai whisper, `Are you okay?`

Me (whispering, trying not to yell), `There`s a man.`


`There`s a man...trying to get into our house.`


`There`s a man trying to get into our house! He just tried to open our door!`

`What?!!! Where are you?` (Every time she said What? her voice went up an octave higher.)

It was pitch black in our house but I grabbed her to look through the peep hole. The man was gone. We ran through the house, shut and locked all our windows and doors (which is torture because it`s way hot right now so we had no breeze making it really hard to sleep/breathe at night). But here is the best part. After all of this, Scheffler shimai asked me to describe the man and then she was like, `We can take him! We can take him!`

It was SO funny. We were SO scared but we were dying of laughter. After we called the Zone Leaders and let them know the situation, Scheffler shimai grabbed scissors and slept with them...we still sleep with a pair of scissors by our futon just in case...

A page from my journal where we made an action plan in case this ever happens again
I know prayers are heard. I`m not sure who rang our door bell that night but I am pretty sure it wasn`t that guy if he was trying to break in. I don`t know why I got up to walk to the other end of our house when we were already in bed instead of using the phone to answer. I just know I did what I felt prompted to do and that is the real lesson learned here. The next few days were spent with us watching out wherever we went to make sure no one was watching us too closely. We always lock the door whenever we come home now, even if it`s just to grab something we forgot.

Other than that, the most adrenaline rushing thing that happened this week was heart attacking some members and the bishop. It was so nice to see them all super happy yesterday. It`s amazing what a few paper hearts and some words like `Thank you!` `We Love You!` can do for a ward.  Like D&C says `...be one: If ye are not one, ye are not mine.`

Misato did our nails
Small acts like this really bring a ward together. Usually bishop is falling asleep at the podium, but yesterday even though it was fast sunday he looked awake and refreshed! As a missionary that`s all I can ask for. We pray so much for our beloved bishop.

Did you know bishopric meetings here in Japan start around 9 or 10 pm and finish around 1 am? And this is only church calling. They still have their work lives, family lives, and social lives to keep up with. The japanese people really work hard. I`ve never met a people that are so willing to work just because they are supposed to. Usually we need a reason to do things, but these members just know it`s the right thing to do so they do it. I love the japanese people, I love being able to serve here in Ootsu for one more transfer.

Our newest investigator. She is so cute and so sweet.
This makes it my 6th transfer in Ootsu, my 8th as a missionary, and my 1 year being a missionary is coming up this week. There are too many lessons I`ve learned. I will never be able to count them all, and far too many blessings that I`ve received than I deserve, but I can tell you that this work is the Lord`s work.

It`s the work that we get to be apart of even long after our tags come off.

It`s a work that never fades with time or changes with the seasons.

It`s a work that will bring all those who will accept it Eternal Life. What better work is there than this?

Love you all, thanks for your prayers!

Sister Heimuli

One more pic. FINALLY met another brown girl out here...