Kobe, Japan

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 60 - You Would Not Believe the Week I've Had

You would not believe the week I`ve had....it`s been AWESOME! I got a call Monday night before the big conference on Tuesday from the Assistants to the President. Naturally, I was super nervous to see their name across my phone`s screen. But I answered. They told me that Elder Michael T. Ringwood of the First Quorum of the Seventy wanted to have an interview with me after the conference the next morning. I was already pretty nervous about singing at the conference and this just added to it! 
Stevenson shimai and I walked to the station in Marugame at 4:30 a.m. It was a 3 hr train ride to Okayama to attend the Ringwood conference 
But what a wonderful opportunity it was to meet with him and discuss how to better fulfill my calling, and help our brothers and sisters here in Japan. Together with Sister Bean and Sister Bowman, we sang a beautiful arrangement of "Be Still My Soul." The first time we ever practiced together was 30 minutes before the conference! Still, people said they felt the spirit, and that`s all I can ask for. Afterwards I had my meeting with Elder Ringwood which was surprisingly fun, funny and uplifting. 

During the conference Elder Ringwood quoted Elder Bednar, `A mission is good for every young man and young woman. But not every young man and young woman are good for the mission.` As he allowed all of us missionaries to ponder on that, he continued with `Do you allow the mission to change you?` He pointed out that we can all benefit FROM the mission, but can we all do good FOR our missions? As missionaries, we are not only here to find people and baptize. We are here to build and strengthen our wards and branches. There are missions within our missions. 

I think we can also apply that to our callings. Are we good for our callings? Do we allow our callings to change us and make us better? Or do we just go through the motions because it`s volunteer work and we don`t get paid?

After my interview with Elder Ringwood, the Assistants pulled me and Stevenson shimai aside and said President Welch wanted to meet with us. We gathered in a room with 6 other shimai and APs and President and Sister Welch. We learned that Stevenson shimai was getting transferred to a different area on Shikoku and I was being called to be Sister Training Leader (STL) over all of Shikoku. I was SHOCKED!  STLs are like the equivalent of Zone Leaders (ZL) here, but STLs watch over the sister missionaries.  I feel like I`m still trying to learn how to fulfill my duties as a regular missionary, but Elder Ringwood`s training helped me get into the right mindset for such an opportunity and responsibility. We also learned that we needed to go straight home, pack up our things, and Stevenson shimai was transferring that Friday. We left the conference and the week`s been crazy ever since! 
Good bye dinner party with missionaries and Ryouta kyoudai for Stevenson shimai
Last night in Niihama for Stevenson shimai...I miss her!

My new companion is Sister Crofts from Idaho Falls, ID. She`s a gem! 
New Comp: the lovely Sister Crofts
She`s been in a different area as an STL in Yonago, so we both have no clue where we`re going and I have no clue what I`m doing. But as we`ve tried to just get out and work, we`ve been blessed with many miracles and many things falling into place. I don`t have time to explain all the miracles today because we`re off to Kobe (which is a 6-hour bus ride) for the night for a meeting. 

I promise we can all DO GOOD FOR our callings, no matter what they are! Whether it's caring for the cute babies in nursery, teaching Gospel Doctrine, ushering during sacrament meeting or even just being participative and attentive in class...we can all be good for our callings. By fulfilling our callings, we can be changed -- truly changed -- for the better. I'm doing my absolute best to do good...not only for me, but for my whole mission. I challenge you all to try just a little harder to fulfill whatever calling you have. I promise you will see the change it will make in you.

Love you!
Sister Heimuli

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 59 - Never Given a Book of Mormon Out Before

It`s been a whole week here on the island, and I`m loving it! My very first week here we were housing and we found a really nice lady that didn`t have a lot of interest in the gospel but she sat outside and talked to us for a really long time. She told us how amazed she was that 2 young ladies like ourselves were giving up 18 months because of our faith. And on top of that she praised our parents over and over again for raising us to be this way. She told us she used to go to a Christian church when she was younger but she doesn`t believe in Christianity. She also doesn`t believe in Buddhism...which is rare! Usually people use the `I`m a Buddhist` excuse on us but she was very open and honest. When we left we told ourselves we wanted to visit her again. Last week Saturday night came and we were nearby her house and decided to drop by. She came out and was so happy and surprised to see us! She was actually on the phone when we rang and she immediately hung up and swung open her door! She said she`s been thinking about us and wanted to see us again. Then we showed up! We talked a little more and eventually gave her a Book of Mormon. What is interesting is that during personal study that same morning we had both highlighted some of our favorite scriptures in a Book of Mormon and made a goal to give it out that day...perfect opportunity! She accepted it and apologized that she wasn`t a believer but she said she`d read what we had highlighted. You know what, that`s all we`re asking for. She promised us 3 minutes of reading of highlighted passages every day before she went to bed! 

What made this experience even better was how excited Stevenson shimai was. She`s never given a Book of Mormon out before so it was awesome just watching her hand this lady a copy of the book we all love so much. Stevenson shimai is a 4th transfer so she`s relatively young, I`m considered a grandma in the mission. Sometimes I forget how young Stevenson shimai is mission wise, because she`s such a mature missionary! It was awesome to be able to share an experience like this with her.  
Our week was full of unexpected things, but one of the BEST things was when we were riding around trying to locate a less active`s house but couldn`t find it. It was weird that we struggled to find it because we`d been there a couple times before and looked it up in our phone before (which has a built in navigator). So it was weird that we couldn`t find it. We were looking for almost a half an hour when an investigator called and said they wanted a lesson in 20 minutes. The timing of it all was just perfect! And we were able to get a solid lesson in. I don`t believe in coincidences. I don`t know how anyone can. There`s a Greater Power out there, and the Person who holds it is our loving Heavenly Father who will guide us and make things happen in our lives if we let Him. I`m so grateful I have wonderful parents who taught me that our Heavenly Father loves His children too much to leave things up to chance. He has a Plan, and He`s always aware of us. Like the Stripling warriors said, `We do not doubt our mothers knew it.` (Alma 56:48).

I have learned over and over again out here in the mission field that God loves His children here in Japan too much to leave His most important work to chance.  There are no coincidences.  We are ALL part of His plan.  It is OUR CHOICE what part we play in this wonderful Plan of our Heavenly Father.

Love you all!  Have a great week!

Sister H

Some island pics for you!
These are all the missionaries in my district! The Watabe fufu (front row at left) love
dad. They said they`re his number one fans...
Niihama church building
Our baptismal font
Heart-attacking some members
Stevenson shimai did all the work...go girl!
Elders and Ryouta kyoudai (choro in the pic)
Dinner at the Nakanishi fufu`s house!!!! It was the BEST! Yakiniku
is probably my favorite thing in the world!
At the chapel

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 58 - Goodbye Ootsu, Hello Niihama

Saying goodbye to Ootsu was harder than saying goodbye to you guys. But life is full of hellos and goodbyes, closing doors and opening new ones. I`ve learned the Lord blesses us with opportunities to level up, to grow every time a `goodbye` or `hello` is needed.
Had my last lesson with Chona. Her mom made us dinner and we ate with their family. I love these 2 and miss Chona so much.
Eikaiwa class
Bishop`s wife, Sister Hayashi (blue shirt on my right) and Sister Takeda came to our apartment to say bye. Sister Hayashi is like another mom to me. It was so hard to say bye when she said `I`ll miss my Hawaiian daughter, and my Japanese daughter is leaving on her mission in october...I don`t know what I`m going to do!`
I remember when I first met with Pres Welch and he said he wanted to see Japanese people smiling more and hugging more. I have tried to do my part in Ootsu!
Sister Hijioka, Less-Active but working on being active by next year, and her mom
Sister Tsuji (will be reactivated in October!)
An old investigator called us early on my last morning in Ootsu. She had just finished a triathalon and she said she wanted to say bye to me (she had been in Hawaii the last 2 weeks) so she brought me a candy lei and walked us up to the train. I love her! Sonae Lopez and family are the BEST!
Misato san, for our last lesson she told me she wanted to be baptized at the end of the year!
Yoshimi san; my Japanese Shinto grandma. She got me that white flower bracelet. She`s so funny!
Saying bye to Sister Hasegawa, she said we have a place to stay when we go back to visit Ootsu after the mish...
Sister Scheffler, me and Sister Aoki, she`s the Young Women`s pres. I`ll miss this funny lady!
Brother Okada and Brother Yoshizawa (Served in Australia with lots of Tongans, his English is perfect) - Ward Mission Leader and YM Pres - brought me some goodbye presents and a card form the ward YSA, they were awesome help in teaching and fellowshipping our investigators. I`ll miss Ootsu ward!
YES! Thanks daddy you`re the best! [Note from Mom: She asked her dad to translate Bro. Yoshizawa’s Tongan note, above.] I hope you two have a happy happy...what anniversary is it? 28th? [Note from Mom: 29th]  I love you. I`ll be thinking about you! xoxoxoxox
Yamaoka san and her friends! They had us over for dinner and lunch all the time. What wonderful ladies.
Yoshikawa san, she bought me these cute little animals that symbolize the years with the animal names? I don`t know how to explain it anyways, I will miss her so much!
I said goodbye to the mountains and beautiful Lake Biwa of Ootsu 
I LOVE YOU OOTSU! We had dinner at the lake for my last night in Ootsu, I will miss this view!
I got the whole wide...Ootsu Prince Hotel...in my hand!
and said hello to the ocean and the rice fields of Niihama!

Walking the streets of Ootsu you could talk to maybe 50 people in a matter of 10 minutes. 
I love Zeze! I will always be an Ootsu girl at heart! This is a tunnel we rode through almost every day. We came home from some awesome lessons through that tunnel!
Here, everyone drives cars and there`s not enough people to be walking streets. So I knock a lot of doors here in the country. But the quiet, the fresh air, and all the good that comes with country living are definitely some things I love! 
If we all had bikes like this...we could REALLY hasten the Lord`s work! hahaha
Also, I said goodbye to cute Scheffler shimai 
My favorite shimai!
and hello to my new companion Stevenson shimai. 
She is from Tokyo. Her dad is from Utah, he served a mission in Japan, then moved back here and married a Japanese woman, so Sister Stevenson has grown up here her whole life. 
My comp, Sister Stevenson, today at lunch...she`s cute right??
She doesn`t speak a lick of English...which threw me off because of her last name. But then I thought about my last name and how people used to give me weird looks in Hawaii when I said I was a Heimuli and they`d speak Tongan to me and I didn`t understand a word...so I get it. She`s SO cool though! We`ve had so much fun the past 3 days together...I can`t wait to see how great this transfer turns out. She`s only a 4th transfer but she acts like a 15th. She`s so amazing! She actually speaks Korean so that`ll come in handy when we finally meet a Korean here in Niihama.

Our branch is made up of about 30 people and everyone is so friendly! I don`t think they talk that fast. But there are some words they use here that they definitely don`t use in Kyoto area. Also, the spiders here are unbelievably huge and there`s enough rice fields around our apartment, that if there was a disaster, we would be totally fine....so no worries mom! I`ll send a bunch of pictures with more info. 
In Niihama, we played scripture Jeopardy with our investigator and new convert. This is all 6 of us missionaries!
I wanted to tell you how comforting it is to know the gospel is the same wherever you go. Whether it`s a ward of 300 or a branch of 30, we all are part of this same gospel. We`re all just trying to make it through our trials, and we`re all children of God. 
This is Brother Ryouta. He`s 18 and was baptized in March. He wants to be a missionary so he wears his badge around...he`s SO awesome. This past Sunday was his first time passing the sacrament (We only have 1 person pass because our congregation is so small, and church is only 2 hours long...crazy right??) Ryouta kyoudai is my favorite member!
I love Niihama and my companion already, and I pray the Lord can help me fulfill whatever duty brought me all the way from Kyoto to Shikoku. I love you all! Have a great week!


Sister Heimuli

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 57 - Ganbarimasu

It`s been an unreal past 2 transfers. I`m going to miss this pretty lady so much!

I am being transferred to Niihama on Shikoku. It`s an island right off the coast of Japan.
 We went to Kyoto on Monday with our district.

Little did I know it was going to be my last week in the Kyoto area!
Elder Jackson and I were looking at some really cool ancient graveyards that were around the Kiyomizudera Shrine.

We decided to switch things up a bit, and proselyte in yukatas.

It was way fun and people loved it! More people stopped and talked to us.
These are my japanese teachers that I go to every week during language study. They`re awesome! I will miss them!

We went out with Yoshikawa and her Husband! This is us at a little cafe on the banks of Lake Biwa in Ootsu :) I`m really really going to miss this place!

As missionaries, we can`t wear backpacks because we`ll look too much like tourists, but we have SO many things we HAVE to carry around so our bags get pretty heavy sometimes. My shoulders were sore so I decided to put my bag somewhere else where it wouldn`t hurt my shoulders while we waited for the train, Scheffler shimai took some sneaky pics...i had NO idea.

We had `Super Saturday` at the Shimogamo stake center in Kyoto with the YSA and youth of the Kyoto stake. We each got either 1 or 2 new companions (ysa, yw/ym) and you take them out and proselyte.

I was put in a threesome with Sister Hayashi and Sister Fukuda. I only got a pic with Sister Hayashi, but here`s what the turn out was! It was SO fun! I hope my next area does this!

Me and the Sister Training Leaders! Sister Griffins and Sister Lofthouse. I love these sisters!

After Super Saturday we had to walk to the bus stop in the rain, but it`s always a good time when you`re with the missionaries!

These are the elders in my area.

Speaking of elders, we had to save one who got in an accident last week. hahaha no it`s a cool story...we were doing personal study and we were trying to prepare for 3 lessons but we were both not getting anywhere and we just couldn`t focus. As soon as personal study was over and we started companion study our District Leader called and said our Elder got in a bike accident and was in the hospital. I called the elders right away to see if we could help and the one elder that was ok said he was dealing with doctors and policemen and insurance people, so obviously that`s japanese that`s WAY too hard for us. The elders also don`t know anyone in the ward really to ask for help and I`ve been here the longest so I know everyone the best. I called the Bishop`s wife who just happened to have the afternoon off of work so she hurried and picked us up, went to the hospital, she took care of the hard stuff and we just got juice and treats for the elders.
So we moved all our lessons into the evening and were able to help the elders AND teach all our lessons that day. It was cool to see how the Lord makes time in everyone`s schedules to get what needs to be done, done! The elder that got in the accident took meds and was feeling pretty good until right before the missionaries from the office came to pick him up. We had to stay there all day until he left and the other elder got his new emergency-transferred companion. It was a crazy day but every day is an eventful day here on the mission.

As far as a package..there`s nothing I really want for my 21st bday. You mentioned it may be a tough week at work. Why?? Can I help you in anyway?? Yes please survive this week, I`m going to have to figure out how to survive this next week as well! We`ll just try hard together! In japanese you say `Ganbarimasu` (gan-ba-ree-mah-s) なのでがんばってください!We`ll try our very best and we will both make it just fine!

Just a really quick experience from this past week...So you know that Sister that we are teaching ukulele and gospel lessons to? Yeah well this past week she just committed to becoming fully active in January and she`s agreed to preparing to receive her patriarchal blessing. Her mom stood up in sacrament and bore testimony about how meeting with the missionaries has blessed every individual in her family not just her LA daughter. As she bore her testimony I sat in the back and just cried. I`ve been here for so long and it`s so nice to know. Knowing that makes me feel like my work here in Ootsu is done and it`s time to be somewhere else. I feel so at peace with transferring. Of course I will miss this area, but it`s one thing knowing that you did what you were sent to do. 
Yesterday, another Less active sister committed to becoming fully active by the end of the year. That makes a total of 3 newly actived members and 2 working their way back here in the Ootsu ward! It`s funny how excited I get talking about members who are feeling their way back to the church. Before my mission, I didn`t really care or notice those that weren`t attending church every week. Sometimes we think we have to be `worthy enough` to step into a church building. I think that we often think of church as a building made for perfect people to sit on chairs and sing hymns. When in reality, church is a safe haven for those who need the nourishment of the gospel, who are working towards perfecting themselves. As I meet with and talk with Less Actives and Recent Converts I`ve seen how this image of church -- being a perfect place only for perfect people -- have hindered their testimonies, making them lose their confidence, avoiding anything that has to do with religion.

I testify to you that church is not for perfect people. It`s a place where God, through Christ`s atonement, will fill our missing pieces, make up the difference when we fall short, and perfect our imperfections.

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-12
2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ

Notice the scripture says, `For the perfectING of the saints...` not for the PERFECT saints. We`re all in our own phases of perfecting. But like Pres. Uchtdorf says, it`s not in this life that we are perfect but in the next. I know that as an imperfect servant of the Lord, only through the gospel of Jesus Christ can I endeavor to pursue perfection. These beautiful saints of Japan are trying their hardest to become perfect through Christ`s atonement and I`m so grateful for their humble examples. Change is hard, but it`s what we need in order to grow and become perfect even as our Savior. I`ll be making quite a few changes myself this week but I`m excited to see where those changes will take me! I love this gospel. I love this work. I love you all. I love being a missionary. I hope you love being a missionary`s mom!

Have a great week!

Love always,

Sister Heimuli