Kobe, Japan

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 64 - Since You NEVER Emailed Me!

[Note from Mom: Checked my email fairly early on a hectic Sunday night.  Read this title.  Heart dropped.]

I`ve been a missionary for almost 15 months. I`ve seen a lot, experienced so much, and learned countless things.

Photobomber Elder Harris, now you see him, now you don't.
But I have to say that what I love MOST about being a missionary, is watching people feel the Spirit. It might sound kind of funny, but it`s true. As a missionary, watching people change and be moved by the Spirit, is like watching the World Cup or Superbowl for sports fanatics. Except, it`s not that crazy, noisy WOOOHOOOO! feeling, but a deeper, silent excitement that hits you down to your very soul.

We visited a Less Active couple who hasn`t stepped foot in a church for over 15 years. The husband is pretty against going back to church. They had us over for dinner a couple weeks ago so we decided to stop by just to say Thank You. When we did, they let us right in. We talked and laughed, and they also showed us pictures from their baptism and when they were sealed in the temple. They both recognize how important the gospel is but they`re just exhausted and don`t want to put in the effort anymore. A few months ago I wrote my own version of "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" mashed with Aunty Tina`s "Walk Within His Light," so I decided to play and sing it for them. At the end of the song, the husband was crying. He told us he`s never felt so close to Jesus Christ since leaving the church. I invited him to come back to church just one more time...and he and his wife AGREED! They will be coming to church on November 9th so please, please pray for them!
Sister Crofts is seriously so talented!
Last night we visited a LA brother and his family. His wife is not a member and they have a 6 year old son. We talked with them for a bit and they fed us delicious Okonomiyaki. This brother loves the violin, and Sister Crofts is a pro, so she played some hymns for them. We sang "I Am a Child of God" and knelt in prayer with them before we left. As I opened my eyes at the end of the prayer, I looked at this Brother and saw tears rolling down his cheeks.

We have an investigator who says that if she can keep the commandments she`ll get baptized. But she has a problem with coffee. I said a quick prayer in my heart at that point in the lesson, then I told her that if she handed me all the coffee in  her house, and promised to never drink it for the rest of her life, then I would give up chocolate. Chocolate. I know. It is a big deal. And she agreed. And that is a huge deal! But the miracle was that in every lesson I taught her over the previous transfer she always said, `No, it`s impossible.` and `No, I can`t give up coffee.` But I know it is because of the Holy Ghost that she was able to hear more than just the `And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly` part of the commandment, but she also heard the `Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.`(Psalms 119:2)

What is it that brings grown men to tears? What causes a change of heart? What teaches people words that man cannot say? The Spirit. I watch the Spirit move people to do things that are considered impossible. I`ve seen the Spirit change fellow missionaries. I`ve seen the Spirit change me. All of God`s children feel the Spirit differently, but if you watch people as they feel the Spirit, I promise it`ll be an experience you`ll never forget! 

The Spirit also helped us as we were teaching a sister who`s been less active for 25 years. She`s agreed to work towards taking the sacrament again. 

Like Elder Klebingat says, `Have the Faith that precludes steady streams of tender mercies and miracles.` 

Believe the Spirit will soften those hearts around you. Believe the Lord is working a miracle for you. All miracles are only possible through the Spirit, and I look forward to another week full of the miracle of seeing changed hearts this week! You can all see miracles too. Just have the faith to do. The Spirit will do the rest!

Love you all so much! Thanks for your prayers and love in my behalf. I feel them every day.

Love always,

Sister Heimuli

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 63 - First Time You Realized God Lived

Have you all ever heard of Taiko Matsuri? Look it up on Google. It`s the coolest event that takes place every year October 16-18 and it happens here in Niihama...and guess what....I got to go to it! It was an exciting week here in Niihama last week! And people were all 10 times nicer and 10 times more interested in Americans. Japanese people love their culture, so if you show any sign of interest in a Japanese person`s culture they will love you to pieces! We had some Less actives take us, and then a member and her friend took us to another day of it. I love Japanese culture. Japanese people are so calm and reserved all the other 362 days of the year, but during these 3 days they`re the craziest, most fun people I`ve ever met! 
LA and his cute grandson. He actually proposed to me during lunch with their family.
People dress up all crazy. These girls are like the Taiko cheerleaders!
I had no idea Houston was so famous here in Japan
Asian babies are by far the cutest things. She is only 3 months old. Love that hairpiece.
Taiko! Over 30 guys carry this heavy gold object around the streets.  So fun!
These random girls asked to take a picture with me???
Dinner anyone? Daddy would love this tako (octopus) vendor!
Isn't he adorable? Did I mention he proposed?
Natsu, Crofts Shimai, me and Rina
Even though this Matsuri was a once in a lifetime experience, the most rewarding part of my week and part of missionary work is hearing people`s prayers. I think I`ve told you that before, but it was especially cool this week! We have an investigator who struggles with the Word of Wisdom. She said that if she can keep that commandment she`ll get baptized, but she can`t keep that commandment. We decided to teach her about Christ and how to use the power from His atonement to overcome her weaknesses. At the end of the lesson she prayed, `...I want to believe in Christ. I want to be baptized. Please stretch out Your hand to me...` 

I thought about how I learned through prayer that our Heavenly Father existed. It was when Marqel had her accident and we didn't know whether or not she was going to live. I remember we were fasting as a whole extended family and I was maybe 7 or so? Everyone was fasting but I was so hungry and started eating honeycomb cereal. Helam told on me. I was so mad at him and so embarrassed. Mom took me into the room and explained why we fasted: so that Heavenly Father would hear our prayers and bless Marqel. I remember mom sitting me down and tell me we should pray and tell Heavenly Father what happened and tell Him I would try again. Mom said the prayer and I remember listening to her words and thinking that if she's talking like this, it was not like a normal conversation. It was the most earnest I had ever heard my mother speak, so someone must be there listening. I had never felt so close to Heavenly Father before that, and ever since then He has been a presence in my life that I knew I could rely on. Through that small experience God helped me overcome my weakness to make it a strength, and He blessed Marqel who now has a lovely family.

Rehearsing for a musical fireside. Crofts shimai is on the piano.
It`s promised to us in the Book of Mormon that if we `open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.` (Mosiah 2:9) There are things we just simply cannot do as humans. We cannot read minds, suddenly make people desire not to drink coffee, or heal someone who is close to death. But we can rely on the Lord to give us the strength we need to endure whatever trial we have. I know the Lord will hear our investigator`s prayers, just as much as He hears the prayers of little children. I know He`ll answer your prayers and mine. You`re pouring out your heart and I know someone`s there listening. Don`t forget this as you go through your week! Someone IS listening, and the person that`s listening just happens to be our Loving Father in Heaven who desires nothing more to help us throughout this trying life.

Love you all! Have a fabulous week!

Love, Sister Heimuli

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 62 - Favorite Part of My Week

There`s a huge typhoon outside right now...when we were riding our bikes to the church I didn`t even need to pedal. The wind pretty much pushed us the whole 15 minutes to here!
THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE FOR THE BIRTHDAY WISHES! and packages...and presents...and food...I`ll send some pics from my bday. 
All my cards for my bday! And I still got some in the mail yesterday!
Thank you! I love you all so much!
Had a cute little surprise waiting for me after our morning run the
day of my birthday. I got out of the shower and went to my desk! Look
at the sweet card my companion made! She`s the best!
Love the shirt, Sifa & Pua, thank you!
Go Housty!
A recent convert, Sister Hino, was so thoughtful and got me a little dessert
thingy. It was delicious!
I walked into the church that night and had this waiting for me! A new
convert, Brother Ryouta left me some presents too! Such a sweet boy!
Believe it or not...my favorite part of my week was not my bday but a couple days before! I had my first exchanges as STL! I was so nervous a few days leading up to it. I tried to prepare really well but when it comes down to it we just have to go with the spirit. She wanted to work on finding techniques like housing, streeting, talking to people, teaching lessons and that kind of thing. I am by far the worst person at teaching but I told her I`d do my best and teaching her what I could but that she should pay more attention to the Spirit as we were companions for 24 hours. The Lord really opened up a few finding opportunities!

As we were studying at our apartment a lady rang our doorbell. She was trying to get us to go to her church but instead of slamming the door in her face like people do to us, I decided to just sit and talk with her. She couldn`t come in but we sat outside and talked about family and about life. Her religious beliefs really aren`t that different from ours. We talked and invited each other to each other`s church. In the end she didn`t have interest but she did walk away with a good image of our church. After that contact we evaluated what we did and how it could`ve been better. Sister Nara (the sister I was exchanging with) said `How can you sit and talk with people like that? She was trying to get you to go to her church!` 

Sister Nara (the pretty one in the middle). I was her companion for 24 hours on exchanges!
I told her it pretty much boils down to one principle: We are all children of our Father in Heaven, regardless of what religion we are a part of. This poor woman had been knocking doors for what could`ve been hours, just like we do, and a friendly conversation will do wonders for a person. Not only that, but unlike us she didn`t even have a companion who could support her when people said no. Like President Monson says, `Christlike love flowing can change the world.` Although we`re not changing the world at once, we were able to talk to this woman and at least change her day, making it just a little brighter.

Another finding opportunity we had was a couple hours later while housing. An old man answered. Instead of waiting for a Yes, or I`m not interested, I just started in on a lesson. I opened up the Book of Mormon and showed him the pictures and started testifying about what was written in this book. By the end of the contact he said he was interested, he wanted the Book of Mormon, and he asked us to come back the following week. Sister Nara and I were blessed with many, many other finding opportunities and I learned so much from those 24 hours!

The other part of my week that I absolutely loved was General Conference. I`ll just end with a quote from one of my favorite talks by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland `My work is about love, not statistics`. It`s true. God doesn`t care about numbers. He says so himself in D&C `...bring, save it be one soul unto me...` 

God loves His children but not only as a whole, but individually. He loves my sweet companion Sister Nara. He loves that lady from another religion. He loves that man who accepted the Book of Mormon. He loves the other 20 people walking the street. He loves you and me. This work is about the love He has for us. I love being a part of it!

I pray we can all do as Pres. Hinckley said:  "Just try a little harder." I hope we can all try a little harder to love those around us no matter how hard it may seem to be to love them. I love you, too!

Sister Heimuli

We had dinner at the Nakanishi couple`s house and watched the Solar
eclipse..can you guess what I`m eating?? [a fish head]
Sister Crofts, Sister Nakanishi and I

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 61 - Sitting

Coming on a mission I never thought I`d suddenly be doing so much sitting. I expected hours and hours of biking, walking and waiting for trains, and that is exactly what I did for about the past 15 months. But sitting? We sit and study for 3 or 4 hours every morning, which I love. On Tuesday, I sat on a 4 hour bus ride to MLC (Mission Leadership Council) which is a big meeting for all the leaders in the mission and that lasted all day. On top of that, it was Chihobu taikai or District Conference here on our side of the island so we had to sit through 2 days’ worth of meetings. We spent so much time sitting, listening and receiving training that by the time it was time for proselyting, I just wanted to sprint out of there and go to work like crazy! But I`ve really learned so many wonderful insights this week I don`t even know where to begin.

Here are 2 things I loved learning about this past week:  1. In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ was strengthened by the angel Michael (or Adam), and 2. What it truly means to be BOLD.

1. Agency and the Fall are one of the least studied topics. Missionaries get pretty scared to teach that because it`s so deep and profound that they don`t want to mess it up, so instead they just barely scrape the surface. However, we have the Atonement because we have the Fall. We have the Fall and that`s why we are here. Adam`s fall started it all. I can only imagine how amazingly hard it was for the angel Michael see his beloved brother Jesus suffering in the Garden, and being the one who went to strengthen Him. Reminded me sort of when the boys and I would go running at the track or training early in the morning. we used to say things to each other like `Come on! You can do it!` or `Push it! Keep going!` The things we said were meant to encourage each other to run just a couple more feet or for just a few more seconds. Imagine the things Michael must have said to his brother Jesus. they probably wept together because of the Savior`s extreme physical agony, but remembering with hope that Christ`s suffering was for all who were ever on the earth and who would ever be on the earth. What a beautiful reunion it must`ve been for the 2 of them as Christ completed the final act that changed all of history.

2. What it means to be truly bold. We taught a woman named Chizuru san about the Word of Wisdom. Three minutes into the lesson, she straight up told us it`s impossible to keep the Word of Wisdom. But we decided to keep going, keep explaining, and keep testifying. By the end of the lesson she agreed to pray for the strength to keep the Word of Wisdom. Had we been overbearing instead of bold, I don`t think she would`ve accepted our invitation to pray for strength to keep the Word of Wisdom. I also think she would`ve kicked us out of her house and told us never to come back again. But like President Uchtdorf says `Overbearance is boldness without love.` She could tell we loved her. She could see we knew that keeping this commandment has blessed our lives. If all missionaries would be bold out of love, rather than being overbearing, I think their missions would change for the better!

We were out of our area this past week for a total of 4 days! But we were able to get a lot of things done. I`ll be going on my first exchange as Sister Training Leader tomorrow...I`m so excited but so nervous. I pray I can be the means whereby the Lord can teach His sister missionaries. I pray I can strengthen them and help them know how much He loves them. I know that by strengthening our testimony of the Atonement we can endure all things. The Atonement was so much more than just Christ praying for us in the Garden of Gethsemane. I know that I want to never be overbearing. I want to be bold with people because I love them. I hope you all do too! Have a great week! I`ll let you know how my first exchange goes! Love you all!

Sister Heimuli

At MLC I said goodbye to Sister Lofthouse who will be going home this transfer. She`s so awesome! She`s from Alaska and knows Spencer and them. Love this girl.
An investigator got this for me...cute right?
My wall of fame over my desk. Keeps me motivated and helps me continue to work hard everyday! (The hearts were done by Stevenson shimai before she left. Miss her.)
There was a baptism this weekend!
Naomichi kyoudai! He`s 18 and He`s awesome!
He was pretty stoked to get baptized

Welcome to Niihama branch, Naomichi! Love, The Niihama missionaries :)