Wednesday, December 31, 2014

E-mail 12/29/2014

My dear family,

It was so fun to talk to you on skype! Loved it!! You all seem to be doing so well! This week was awesome!

I had a great week! 

Monday we wrote Christmas letters to investigators!

Tuesday we went as a district to the neighborhood Christmas party of a less active sister and helped out. We did games and activities together. 5 little 6th graders ran the activity. So cute! Then the sister drove us back to the church where we set up for the ward Christmas party and then had a lesson with a recent convert (Kato shimai [Sister Kato]) on faith. She really misses institute and can't wait for it to start back up again. Then we had the Branch Christmas party! LOTS of Eikaiwa [English class] students and their families came!! Lots of games and a few musical numbers so it wasn't really as spiritual as I had hoped but it was good for the Eikaiwa students to build friendships with ward members. Really fun. I know [want] to know them and their families better. They are really good people and seem to connect well with the Branch members here. 

One thing I learned as I was studying the gospel of Jesus Christ [lesson in Preach My Gospel] this week (faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, endure to the end) was that these aren't just arbitrary hoopes to jump through to get back to God; they are how we change to become like Him. So we need to not be missing that as we do these steps! We need to be changing to become better through following this process. 

Wednesday was Christmas Eve! We had a mogi [roleplay] with wonderful Sister Saito. She fed us lunch, printed pictures of our Eikaiwa students who came to the Branch Christmas party for us to give to them, did a mogi with us, and drew a map for us to get to our next location. So kind!! Then we biked to the hospital to visit Kie-chan (19-year-old investigator) but they wouldn't allow us to visit or contact her and wouldn't say why. So we went across the street to where Shion-chan (RC [recent convert]) was working at Moss Burger and bought ice-cream from her and made her smile (she said after that it was the first time anyone has ever visited her when she was working). Then we had the Eikaiwa Christmas Eve Party! No class, just activities; White Elephant, Charades, Nativity videos, and Santa giving out CDs of church music. Then 2 students did talents. Really effective dendo [missionary work]! It was exciting how intently the students watched the Nativity videos. Great potential there! The students we asked to do talents were so thrilled and happy. They asked if they could do talents again and all the students said they wanted to do an Eikaiwa like that again. I think it was really effective! After Eikaiwa we got a call from Kie-chan (the one we were unable to visit at the hospital) and she said her doctor banned us from visiting her because we're missionaries. :( So we can't teach her until she's out of the hospital. I hope she gets better soon!

Also on Christmas Eve I opened the rest of my Christmas presents!! WOW!!! Thank you thank you thank you!! I've already studied part of the Japanese book, am listening to the music, using the hairbands and clothes, eating the food, and loving the paper cutter and makeup remover wipes and tiny scripture set!! Thank you! Thank you!! I hope you get to see the before and after pictures. :) Lauren, thank you for the necklace you made! It is so pretty! Very happy Christmas!

Thursday was Christmas! We got up early, went to the church, and SKYPED!!!! It was SO FUN to talk to all of you!! It was just so fun and happy! Highlight of my Christmas! 

After that, we (as a District) rode a train to Misawa for Christmas lunch with the Larsen family.  Very fun! Chips and dip, potatoes, pretzel jello salad, bean salad, pork, rolls, and then cheesecake and ice-cream. So fun! We actually had to wait a while before lunch because their pressure cooker wasn't working so we played games with the kids. Sister Lauren [Larsen] is a grade school teacher on the Misawa military base. They gave all of us Christmas stockings with peanut butter, etc. So kind!! Then we came back to Hachinohe and taught a Free Family English Program Student at the church (Yamashita-san and her daughter). 

Friday morning we did service at a members home and then came back and did study. Then we had Fun Friday; the students all really enjoyed the spiritual message Elder Moo and Elder Hansen gave--a blind maze.

Saturday we went as a district to an early morning fish market with an Eikaiwa student and ate fresh raw fish for breakfast. Yum. Came back to the church and studied and then had District Meeting and then Ward Coordination, and then visited a less active family that Iwahashi shimai's [Sister Iwahashi’s] Mom knows. Total miracle; the house looked like no one was home. Then a woman answers the door and says 'I know who you are and I don't want you.' BUT SOMEHOW she stopped, listened, didn't close the door, and ended up giving us apples as we left. Total miracle. AMAZING. Iwahashi shimai was so brave talking to her! Amazing! Came back and had Eikaiwa.

Sunday we taught Gospel Principles at church and had dinner with the Kimura family. We did the spiritual message on how everyone has worth and everyone had fun and loved it. Then we went to the church for Iwahashi shimai's skype. So cute! Very genki [energetic] and fun. 

Yes, I am default thinking in Japanese, haha. You all speak very good Japanese inside my head. 

You wanted to know more about Hachinohe. Hachinohe is a big branch with about 60 members who come to Sacrament meeting. The apartment is a 15 minute bike ride from the church across a big river. There are 3 bridges by our apartment and they are very pretty with all the stars at night. We can see the ocean when we go shopping so the members feed us lots of seafood. Iwahashi shimai said there are some pretty places to see it here. It feels a lot smaller than Sendai--my first week I kept saying to Iwahashi shimai 'There are NO people here!' haha. Its a very nice town. Probably bigger than Greensboro. Our apartment is very nice and very big for two people. We could each basically have our own room with 2 desks each as our closets but that would be too lonely so we just each have our own closet and study in the same room. There are 3 other companionships of sisters in our Zone (in Aomori, Hirosaki, Odate) but we only do splits with Aomori and Hirosaki. We will do those splits the 2nd and 3rd week of January. Brother Ono is a very nice ward mission leader. He is 50 and single and the missionaries are his best friends.

Christmas was so fun! Now it's the time for goal setting. Goals goals goals. Thinking thinking thinking! Exited to hear about how goal setting family home evening goes!

I loved 12 days of Christmas! Thank you so much!

You asked what I want when you come to Japan in February. The only thing I've thought of so far is toothpaste. :D

I am so excited to make New Years goals! I have learned so much this year about how to use the enabling power of the Atonement and how through it we can change and become better and I am so excited to apply it! I want so much to become more Christ-like and to become the person he wants me to be. I love my Savior and hope to more perfectly testify and teach of him in his way and to be a window to his heavenly love.

Have a wonderful week and New Years!!!

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Bellows shimai :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

E-mail, 12/22/2014

My dear wonderful family!

Hello from Hachinohe! It is windy and cold here but thankfully the
 snow hasn't been sticking.

This week was very interesting with transfers and all of that. I
 didn't actually get to Hachinohe until Thursday night so I was still in Nagamachi for most of this week.

I don't really know my new area very well yet. It seems very nice from
 what I've seen so far, although I do dearly miss Nagamachi and all the wonderful people there. The temperature is colder and the wind is so strong! Hachinohe is known for its very strong wind and for its community of Deaf people so many of the missionaries learn Japanese sign language. Iwahashi shimai [Sister Iwahashi] is also a sister training leader. We travel and go on splits with the sisters in our zone (2 other companionship). I don't know any of them very well. There are about 20 sisters in our mission right now. We also do training at Zone Conference. My companion has been here for 1 transfer so fairly familiar with the area but still learning. My Japanese is fine, I think, haha.

Monday I was still in Nagamachi with Carr shimai [Sister Carr] so I finished packing
 and the shippers picked up by bags to take them to Hachinohe. Then we had lunch at a recent convert's house (Yokoyama kyodai [Brother Yokoyama]) and in the evening had a lesson with Sato-san (our investigator, Brother Sato's Mom). Felt such great love for her. We talked about the Book of Mormon and she talked about how grateful she is to be learning our message and how grateful she is that she started meeting the missionaries and we both started crying. I love her so much. So grateful. We sang as a bye-bye present to her and took pictures together. I hope we can keep in touch.

Tuesday we went to Ladies' Eikaiwa [English class] and then met Wong-san (PI [potential investigator]) at the
 mall and ate lunch with her. Study. Volunteer. Came home, last companion study with Carr shimai. So sad! 13 people slept in our apartment that night for transfers! Crazy! But it was warm. :D I called Bishop Ishizawa to say bye and he said thank you for writing all those thank you notes to me while you worked her (I had forgotten I'd done that). Wow, they meant a lot to him! I was so surprised, I completely forgot that I'd done that.

Since Holmstead shimai [Sister Homstead] (Carr shimai's new trainer) arrived Tuesday
 night, Wednesday morning Nishikawa shimai [Sister Nishikawa] and I became companions and did personal study and then made sure all the area information was updated together for companion and language study (translating lots of different things and such). Then we went and picked up Stice shimai [Sister Stice] ([my friend] from the MTC!) at Sendai station and became a trio and then ate lunch and then biked and dropped off notes for various people in the area. Then had Eikaiwa. It was so awesome to be there to be able to say goodbye to everybody! I wrote and handed out lots of meishi [business cards]. Abe-san, Cassie, Rei-chan, Brother Sato, Wong-san. They all said they'd miss me and that I should come back and visit. So wonderful to be able to be there to say goodbye. Building bridges. Planting seeds. I want to see them again. Brother Sato said to me thank you so much. We will miss you. But people are waiting for you in Hachinohe. Go find them! Maybe 1 or 2 or 3.

Thursday we 3 (me, Nishikawa shimai, and Stice shimai) went to the
 meeting for all the new District Leaders/Zone Leaders/Sister Training Leaders. We talked about Christ-like leadership and our responsibilities. Sister training leaders are responsible for the training and welfare of the female missionaries assigned to us and participate the in the Mission Leadership Council (once a month). That includes doing splits with the sister assigned to us, giving training in Zone Training Meeting, and calling/texting our sisters every night to make sure they're safe. We report to President Smith. It was a
really good meeting. After that we went and met our new companions at
 Sendai station. My new companion is Iwahashi shimai (Japanese, from Chiba). We bought lunch, got on a bus and rode 5 hours to Hachinohe. Yep, it's far!! By the time we got to Hachinohe it was dark and we walked home and ate dinner. The apartment here is so pretty and big!! I didn't take any pictures of it yet, sorry, but it is SO PRETTY! The genkan [entryway] is on the first floor but the rooms are on the second floor and there are 2 study rooms, a big kitchen, and a bedroom with bunkbeds--with actual beds! What?! And there's just the two of us! (The number of sisters is going down in our mission so all of the sisters[’] apartments are down to only 1 companionship). SO CRAZY!

Friday we had Ward coordination meeting. Then we had an activity
 planning meeting with the District. Then we did weekly planning. Iwahashi shimai is so good at it! So fast! Then we had "Fun Friday" (FHE [family home evening] kind of a feel--we did the musical number). Iwahashi shimai is so good at singing! And she plays a little piano.

Saturday we visited an LA [less-active member], planned Eikaiwa, did posting--and met a
 Buddhist missionary who dendoed [proselyted to] us. Really funny. Then we had Free Family English program with the Ashita family (2 daughters and mom) and taught about Jesus Christ. Then we had Eikaiwa and I taught kids class.

Sunday we sang with the Relief Society in a very normal sacrament meeting. It is so small compared to Nagamachi!! Came back and had lunch. Then visited a PI and had a lesson about the Atonement. Had dinner with the Ueyama couple. SO nice.

I don't know if it's due to the transfer or travel or newness or what
 but I am way tired! And having the traditional bike problems that come when I transfer to a new area. Haha, Bellows shimai [Sister Bellows] just the bike fixer-upper!

I love your insights on my blessing Mom!

I have been able to do the 12 days of Christmas! Very fun!

Well, my dear family, I love you. I am so grateful to be a missionary.
 I am so grateful for the wonderful people that I have been priviledged to meet and work with. And I am so grateful to be a missionary at this wonderful Christmastime! I love the words of 2 Nephi 19:6.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the
 government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

I know Jesus Christ, our Savior and great Redeemer, came to Earth as a
 babe just as each of us did. And like us he learned and grew. And for us he lived his life and gave his life--a life that no one could take from him, a life that he freely gave because of his love for us. Glory be to his name. I am so grateful for my Savior and to be able to celebrate his birth each Christmas. I love Jesus Christ and I love wearing his name every day.

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. I'd love any ideas you have for teaching kids English!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

E-mail, 12/14/2014

My dear wonderful family,

So I am transferring up to Hachinohe! It is snowing today just to prepare me for it! 

Sorry, that was probably anticlimactic for you. I really tried to think of a more interesting way to say that but I couldn't think of anything. :D One cool thing is I get to learn Japanese sign language!

We had a great week! We were able to meet with Sato-san and it was an amazing lesson and she is progressing! 

Tuesday we had the Christmas Zone Conference!! My notes on it are currently in my suitcase which is hopefully on it's way to Hachinohe but we four sisters sang O Come [O Come] Emmanuel as the special musical number, we got presents, watched lots of Christmas videos and learned about Jesus Christ and letting Him reclaim us. Made me so grateful for my Savior and want to talk to more people about Him!

Wednesday we had chirashi kubari [flyer distribution], Japanese class, District lunch at an awesome sushi restaurant (kurazushi), planned and taught Eikaiwa [English class]. At Eikaiwa I got your packages!!! Thank you so much!! The Taylors drove us home with them since they were so big. :) Wong-san came to Eikaiwa and went to the Taylor's class (advanced) and we set up an appointment to make lunch together with her and her husband!!

Thursday we did hand massage volunteer with Okumura shimai [Sister Okumura]. Came back and set up the church for our Christmas Open House. Then we stapled Ward Christmas Party flyers together with Sister Abe and then posted them in the tsunami victim housing close to the church. Then we came home and had companion study to prepare for our lesson with Sato-san but we were having the hardest time trying to figure out what to teach her; we had all these ideas of what we needed to teach her but couldn't figure out how to organize them into a lesson plan, so we went into the lesson with only a commitment invitation written down. But our District members were praying for us and the Spirit was there and guided the entire lesson adn [and] everything we had thought about needing to teach her came up!! The spirit!! We followed with Book of Mormon reading and prayer (she said the opening prayer) and she said pryaing [praying] isn't hard now and she feels like God exists. She called Him "Heavenly Father" all the time now. And she read up through Chapter 11 in the Book of Mormon!! She is understanding--not so confused about it anymore. We asked what parts she liked and she liked 1 Nephi 10:10-11 (about Christ's baptism) and so I asked her who it was talking about there and she figured out it was Christ and she asked why is Christ called the Lamb of God? We explained that its because of the Atonement (something we'd felt when we were planning that we needed to teach her about)--he offered himself as a sacrifice for us. She understood super well and was able to explain it back in her own words. Then we explained (L3 [lesson 3]) how because of the Atonement Christ can cleanse us from sin as we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ so we can get back to God--and that her commitments are helping her with the first 2 steps--faith and repentance. By her reading and praying she is showing faith and repenting. We recommitted her to Book of Mormon reading and family prayer and committed her to daily personal prayer. 

So grateful for the Spirit!!!!

Friday as we studied I was thinking about how wonderful teaching people about the gospel is and how I want to teach more and I really felt "If you want to teach more you need to talk to more people." At first I thought--I already talk to a lot of people! But then I decided if that's what the Spirit specifically said to me and I need to do it. Recommitting to talk to everyone at all times as prompted by the Spirit. Then we had lunch with and shared a message with Sister Hanzawa. Then we had a lesson with Sister Obuchi (less active [member]). We talked about "Filling the Earth with Christ's Love". She said: Oh, the world really does need the gospel. I know it. Then she explained an article she and her husband read in the newspaper about a boy who died in Japan and she started crying as she talked about the article (opened up like I've never seen her open up before) and she was just so sad and I wanted to help her so much and I wanted to comfort her so much, it was so strong. I felt like I should share a scripture with her about God always being with us and first I shared D&C 84:88 and then I remembered Carr shimai [Sister Carr] and [I had] found a scripture about that earlier so I had her share it Isaiah 41:10 and they seemed to comfort Obuchi shimai [Sister Obuchi] and she said she would share the Isaiah scripture with her friend and invite her friend to the ward Christmas party.

Saturday we studied and made pie for Wong-san and her husband (Chen-san) and then went up to her apartment and made and ate lunch together. It was so good! We asked them if we could pray before we ate and they said yes and then during the meal we were able to talk a lot about the church. Not an offic[i]al lesson but I think we--and the Spirit--were able to do enough groundwork that they may be open to lessons soon. They are an incredible family. I pray for them so much!!

Then we came back and got transfer calls and then got everything ready for the Christmas Open House. It was kind of a musical fireside kind of a program with LOTS of musical numbers and scriptures and Bible videos about the first Christmas including He is the Gift. We sister missionaries sang The First Noel, O Come [O Come] Emmanuel and Silent Night by ourselves and sang 3 other Christmas songs with a YSA choir. Many ward members and Eikaiwa students came and the other sisters' investigator Endo-san came. Some of Eikaiwa students expressed how touched they were--good potential!! We had lots of heavenly help.

Sunday we had a member of the 70--Elder Otohara--there so he and President Sugawara (stake president) spoke. President Sugawara said he printed 50 pamphlets with the words to the church videos "Because of Him" and "He is the Gift" and is giving them out to all his neighbors for Christmas--I love that idea!! I want to get one of those pamphlets. The ward announced our transfers in sacrament meeting and allowed us 4 sisters to sing O Come [O Come] Emmanuel--it was so nice to sing as kind of a bye-bye to everyone. Elder Otohara heard Sister Morgan was going home and said to her "The Lord recieves your work and will bless you for it for the rest of your life." Then he talked about the Loving kindness of God. Amazing and inspiring. During Relief Society they teacher had the missionaries lead 4 discussion groups about how to explain what Christmas is to those who don't know--I love the dendo [missionary work] fire in Nagamachi!!

Then we had dinner with the Furusawa family.

I got up waaay early this morning and just barely finished packing at 8 o'clock for the shippers to pick up my bags today. I will be sending home a box of clothes and things that I can unpack when I get home and a smaller box for you all for Christmas. It's not anything amazing but I put lots of love and hugs and kisses in it for you! There is a lot to get done today--warm clothes, a ukelele case, a lesson with Sato-san and many other things so pray it all goes well and we can get all we need accomplished!

I got your boxes and sent them up to Hachinohe for me to open them! I'm so excited!! Thanks for coming to Japan Dad! Is Dad still not finding out what the gender of the baby is? I'm glad Kelsea is doing well! Did Where is Jeremy? How is Maria doing?

I will find out more about skype when I get to Hachinohe. I don't think I personally can do google hangout but if you can use it while you're using skype--like I think you did when I skyped you in Izumi--then they should be at least able to hear and see me even if I can't see them. Wow does Candice have her cello already?

Well my dear family, I [am] just so filled with gratitude today. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve here in Nagamachi. I love the people, the members, the investigators, the missionaries, the people we meet on the street. I love the area and the beauty and the hills and the bridges. I love our Sister Carr and Sister Nishikawa and Sister Morgan and our Bishop and Ward and Stake Leaders and the Obuchi family and the Sato family and Sato Nobuko shimai [Sister Sato Nobuko] and the Furusawa family and the Wong family and the Japanese class and the Eikaiwa students and the Taylors and the Yamada family and the Shingaki family and I could go on and on and on. Watching videos of the Savior this week and studying about Him has strengthened my faith and my desire to ever be more like Him. I hope to be able to more fully follow His example and be a true disciple. I love this work! Thank you for all your support. You are a wonderful support. My favorite cheerleaders! Thank you for your letters and emails and pictures. I love you so much!

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)


P.S. Mom, can you email me your Sams and Walmart shopping lists? I want to compare them to my Japanese shopping list. :D

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

E-mail, 12/7/2014

My dear wonderful family,

How are you? No snow yet? We saw some snow when we went to Zao (mountain farm) and again when we went to Yamagata with week but no snow here in Nagamachi yet.


My week was great!

Tuesday we had an appointment with a less active [member] that lives really far away but something came up and we weren't able to go so we called a member that lives right across the street from her and said "Will you go for us?" And she said Yes! And visited her and it sounds like it was really really good! So happy it worked out! I really really wanted to visit the less active but I guess maybe Heavenly Father had
different plans.

Wednesday we went to the community center Japanese class (I love it so much! It's all taught in Japanese by native speakers--the best!!) Wong-san was there and we got to talk to her and she said she wanted to come to Eikaiwa [English class] so we made plans with her to meet her at the mall and walk together to the church. Then we had a lesson with our investigator Sato-san with Sister Sato and Sister Yamagishi at the church. We taught more about the Book of Mormon and the first vision. It went well. Sister Sato was a little shy. We're hoping to help her feel more comfortable asking us more questions. Brother Sato told us on Sunday that she's reading the Book of Mormon a little every day now and they pray together every night in Japanese (she originally thought you had to pray in English--probably because the people at Eikaiwa pray in English, but we always pray in Japanese in our lessons so we had to clear that up.). Feeling so much hope for her! We're thinking we need to focus on teaching really simply so she can understand (because she's willing to believe everything we say, we need to just teach it simply enough so she can understand) and helping her feel comfortable asking questions. She also needs a testimony of her own--believing because we say so is okay but she needs to have a personal testimony too. So excited for her. After her lesson we went and picked up Wong-san from the mall and went to Eikaiwa with her. It was so fun! She is brilliant! She has a PhD in Physics. And in-between meeting us she has been researching our church on the internet and has lots of questions. (Thankfully she still has a good image of us despite information she found in places like Sherlock Holmes.) Sister Carr directed her to look up her questions on Mormon.org so that will probably be more helpful to her. She questions about things like the Word of Wisdom and other things so she's really been looking into our church. Strong potential. I love her! We walked halfway home with her, talking to her the whole way and she was so excited and hugged us when we said bye. I think we will be teaching some official discussions in English very shortly.... :D I hope so! She is from Shiang, China. The place with the Terracotta warriors. Do you know anything about Shiang? I think it would make her happy if we researched her hometown. She's amazing!

Thursday we searched for and picked daikon [radishes] and red daikon and carrots at a part-member family's farm (Kaneko family). It was fun!

Friday we had Zone Training Meeting in Yamagata--and it started snowing on the way over there--pretty fun! Highlights: The Yamagata District did "A Window to His Love" as their musical number--Mom do
you remember playing that for me to sing at Girl's Camp Meeting once? I do! Zone Leaders did training on gratitude; gratitude is looking beyond our present-day challenges (not focusing on them) through the
eyes of faith--hope and humility. Knowing things are good and will get better! We have hard things. We can't change them but we can change the meaning of them by having the right attitude--the attitude of
gratitude.

Also on Friday our new apartment heaters came! Yay! Now we don't have to study in our coats and hats anymore! So grateful!

Cool story about that; So our heaters came Friday night, but they are kerosene heaters and we didn't have kerosene. In Japan how you get the kerosene (if you ride a bike) is from trucks that drive around playing music and saying "Toyu!" (kerosene). You go out to the road and they fill up your containers and pay them and they bring them back to your apartment for you and then you have the fuel and can heat your home.

So, Friday our heaters came but we didn't have any kerosene. So we're all praying that a toyu truck will drive by our neighborhood on Satu[r]day so we can heat our apartment over the weekend, but we're only
going to be in our apartment for a few hours that day so chances were slim. So we were there, studying, when... we heard the toyu truck! Miracle! The only time we were at the apartment the truck came by!
Morgan shimai [Sister Morgan] and Nishikawa shimai [Sister Nishikawa] ran after it and it drove back to our apartment and gave us fuel. So now our apartment is warm! Small and wonderful miracles!!

Also on Saturday we had a really good dendo [missionary work] training from Sendai Stake Missionary Work high councilor, Brother Nasukawa. It was really really good! He also talked about an activity one year called a "Super Finding Saturday". They had all the YSA [young single adults] and Youth go on splits with the missionaries and go finding with them. Sounds so cool!

Sunday was Fast Sunday! So good. We went to the YW [Young Women] Sunday School class and the teacher was teaching about callings and how sometimes we don't feel like we are capable of doing them. She shared an experience of one time on her mission where she was feeling so discouraged. She felt like she had been called to be doing bigger, better, more significant things that she was doing and that she wasn't doing that and she felt so discouraged. But she had this experience of God putting her at the right place at the right time and just a small things she did had a big difference in someone's life and she realized; I thoguth [thought] I was called on a mission to do big things, but I realized I was called to do small and simple things.

Alma 37:6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

In other words it has been a good week!

Lauren and Contacts! Welcome back to Japan Dad! Wow, Dad, congratulations on finishing the biography! Nice first orchestra concert Lauren! Candice, otsukaresamadesu [you are a hard worker]!

I want to Skype again if we can but I won't know until next week (transfer calls are this weekend. If I'm still in Nagamachi I will probably know enough to give you the details on Monday but if I'm transfer[r]ing I may not know until the next Monday--sorry.) Would you like to do Christmas Day in Japan or America? (America would probably be best, right?) What time?

Well my dear family I love you!! I am so happy to be a missionary. I am so grateful to be able to do small and simple things daily in the service of the Lord. I will happily be his errand runner my entire life. There is no greater thing than to be on the Lord's errand and to proclaim the message of Christ to the world at this wonderful Christmas time. I know He lives and His my Savior. I love Him and I love this work!

I love you! Hope you have a great week!

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Your missionary,

Bellows shimai

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

E-mail 11/30/2014

My dear wonderful family,

Happy Thanksgiving! Sounds like you had fun! Was it delicious? 

This week we had several activities--including TWO Thanksgivings--so we didn't have as many teaching appointments but the activities were really good for finding! No using the ukelele just yet--still need to practice more.

Tuesday we went to Ladies' Eikaiwa [English class] and had a surprise birthday party for Sister Smith. Fun and delicious! Then we had District Meeting. The Zone Leaders came and did training on positive thinking. Then had volunteer. 

Wednesday we biked up to the honbu [mission home] area in really cold rain. Went to the honbu to dry off and then visited a potential investigator (she was too busy to talk). Came back, warmed up and had a planning meeting with the District.  Then had our lesson with Sato-san (our investigator) with Sister Yamagishi and Brother Sato there to teach with us. Taught about baptism and prayer. We actually hadn't really planned to teach a lot about baptism, we were just mentioning it from bullet point #10 from How to Begin Teaching in Chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel but she asked a lot of really good, detailed, interested questions about baptism so we ended up talking about it for a while and reading the baptismal prayer in 3 Nephi. We asked her if she wanted to be baptized and she said yes. We asked her when she would like to be baptized and she said she didn't know yet but wanted to be baptized at some point. Then she said it again. I think I want to be baptized. The Spirit in that room was so powerful. Then she looked at us and said "You're shinning [shining]. Your eyes are glowing. It must be from your hearts." One of the most amazing experiences of my life. 

Then we talked about her Book of Mormon reading. She's read 1 Nephi chapter 1 and a little bit of chapter 2! And she's been highlighting it. She read to us the parts she highlighted--and several were parts about light. Amazing. 

Then we explained prayer and helped her think of things she could say in a prayer and then she said the closing prayer. (She's refused in the past, but said it that day!) So happy! She is really progressing! 

Thursday was Thanksgiving! We studied and then went to Hand Massage Volunteer with all the missionaries. At the center, a man cut fresh greens from his 8 foot square greenhouse garden and had us eat it as salad--DELICIOUS!! Then we all rode of the Honbu with the Assistants for Thanksgiving Dinner at the mission home. We helped in the kitchen to the sound of Christmas music and then ate! Cornbread stuffing, turkeys, cranberry sauce, rolls, potatoes, dessert. DELICIOUS! Did lots of dishes. Really special, really fun, really yummy! We were there with all the Nagamachi missionaries, the honbu staff, President and Sister Smith, and some of the Kamisugi missionaries. Special experiences: Talking with Shitami shimai [Sister Shitami] (senior staff missionary) and her hugging me and telling me "dai suki dai suki dai suki [I love you so much, I love you so much, I love you so much]". Drying the dishes Sister Taylor was washing and talking to her about Sato-san and her progression and Sister Taylor saying with so much heart, "Good! I hope things can start happening for you!" (meaning: finding and teaching and baptizing because we think you are just such a wonderful missionary). And then she gave me a book of conversion stories before we left. Listening to Smith kaicho [President Smith] tell Carr shimai [Sister Carr] about miracles in this mission. Felt like a heavenly family gathering. Warm, happy, light. (The only thing that could've made it better is if you could've been there!) Elder Taylor gave us 4 sisters a ride home and told us about their first mission in Chicago, searching for and rescuing less actives for the ward. So neat. 

Came back and studied. It was a wonderful day! A Thanksgiving full of wonderful, small, tender moments--blessings from a Heavenly Father full of love. So grateful to Him!

Friday I had to take a moment during personal study to write down all the blessings of the week so far. Then we went to a Japanese class at a community center. Turns out it was culture day--which was perfect for dendo [missionary work]! They had 3 activity stations (caligraphy, artwork, tea ceremony) and we were able to talk to people at each station while doing the activities and after we explained at the tea station that we don't drink green tea because of our religion lots of people asked us questions. It was really good dendo! I got to really talk to one student: Wan-san from China. She is 28, married, pregnant, so kind. I really like her. Her English is better than her Japanese so we talked in English (it was so weird not being able to translate English she didn't know into Japanese for her! I had to reexplain things in English instead. Not how it normally works here, haha!). After we finished at the tea station (and everyone kind of passed word around to all the other students and teachers that we wouldn't drink the tea) she said to me "Someone told me you are a missionary. What God do you believe in? Jesus Christ? Why?" Lots of good questions! I asked her if she believed in God. She said; No because none of my family does. We had a chance to talk about a lot of things and invited her to some church activities and Eikaiwa and exchanged contact information. She was really excited about it and said she'd try to come. 

Then we had a lesson with Obuchi shimai [Sister Obuchi] (LA [less-active member]) with Elder Yamada (member of the bishopric and a service missionary). Talked about patriarchal blessings. It went so well. Elder Yamada is so amazing. He explained things so well and gave her the form to recieve her blessing after an interview with the Bishop. Was so good!

Saturday we had the Eikaiwa Thanksgiving party! It was really just a miracle. We had a perfect amount of food. 30 people came. Everyone talked and enjoyed the food and party charades. Went so smoothly. We definately couldn't have done it on our own power. God's help. We had a lot of families come too! We shared a spiritual message at the beginning and got to talk about the church throughout the activity and afterwards with individuals as well. Super neat! 

Sunday in personal study I finished the Book of Helaman! You know what that means? Today, on the first day of December/Christmas I start reading 3 Nephi! And I only have to read 1.5 pages a day to finish reading it in the month of December! So excited!!

Sacrament Meeting was a musical chairs of callings and releasing for the priesthood leaders. All the leaders spoke. Brother Sato--the new Ward Mission Leader--talked about his mom (our investigator) hopefully getting baptized next year and how she is reading the Book of Mormon and they've started praying together every night (keeping the commitments we've given them!!). Then President Tanaka talked about enjoying our callings--they are all given us so we can progress to having eternal families. Really good! Then Carr shimai and I taught PMG [Preach My Gospel] class. Then the 3rd hour of church was combined for a dendo fireside! Went super well. They loved the visual we used. Went really well!

Today we're going electronic dictionary shopping. Hope we can find all the good stuff!

Thanksgiving sounds fun! And so does White Friday. :) I love the idea of a monthly temple trip! Remember how I used to go every week at BYU? Father, thank you for sacrificing your fashion for my Christmas package. :D Congratulations Tyler and Kelsea! Sounds like fun to have the cousins over during the holidays!

I am so grateful to get to be a missionary for 2 Christmases! I was thinking the other day about how much we think about the Savior every day as missionaries. I think we are pretty close to the mark of always remembering Him! I am so grateful to get to study and learn more about Him this Christmas. He is the first gift of Christmas. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I am so grateful for my Savior! 

My dear family you are so wonderful! Thank you for all your letters and emails and pictures and prayers!!!

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. LOVE YOU!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

E-mail 11/24/2014

My dear wonderful family!!

Hello from Nagamachi! How are you? How is the weather? The weather here is cold at morning and night but not bad in the afternoon. This week was Eikaiwa [English class] flyer hand out week (chirashi kubari [flyer distribution]) so we went to the train station and handed out flyers every day and tried different ways of doing it to see what worked best to have people take the flyers. Fun! Busy!

Tuesday was so busy! We had chirashi kubari, Ladies' Eikaiwa, a joint lesson with Sato-san (our investigator) and Yamagishi shimai [Sister Yamagishi], studied, went to pocket house volunteer, and had a Christmas season planning meeting with Elder Yamada. Crazy! Our lesson with Sato-san went really well. I feel like Sato-san got really excited to read the Book of Mormon and she asked about baptism and after we explained it and said she could be baptized too if she wanted she seemed really open to it and said she thought it looked so clean and sacred and we almost committed her to be baptized right then but then the member with us started talking about the priesthood so we'll have to bring it up next time. We'll see! I think she has so much potential! Pray for her! We're thinking about baptismal dates.

Wednesday we had a mogi [roleplay] with Sister Nishimura and with Sister Kaoru. Then Eikaiwa. We played vocabulary bingo and taught them "Row, row, row your boat". Very fun. Afterwards two of the students (one in his 40s and the other is about to turn 19) asked me about what missionaries are and what we do and we were able to have a really good discussion and they asked a lot of good questions. Hoping they will decide to start doing the 30-30 (English/gospel lesson) program or come to church!

Thursday was Sister Carr's 20th birthday! We had splits with the Sister Training leaders, District Meeting, a Relief Society Activity with a less active, a less active [member] lesson (We taught Obuchi shimai [Sister Obuchi] about families and the temple and invited her to attend church with her family and she agreed and opened up a lot about her family), a mogi with the Sister Training Leaders, visited 2 potential investigators, an ice-cream party with the seminary and eikaiwa students where we had a cake and sang Happy Birthday for Sister Carr and then seminary. So a very busy day! 

Friday morning Sister Kaneko (my good friend from Izumi Ward!) picked up us 6 missionaries and we helped out her family (who are not members, but now love the missionaries!) harvest 1/2 of one of their 10 fields of daikon (huge green and white yummy radishes). We picked 6 truckloads full and sang Christmas songs as we unloaded the daikon at their barn. Her mom (who isn't a member and used to not trust missionaries) said to us as we were leaving "Please come back soon!" Good seeds being planted! (no farming puns intended). (If you check Kaneko shimai's [Sister Kaneko's] facebook she said she posted pictures and a video of us singing on there.) We came back and helped out with YSA FHE [young single adult family home evening].

Saturday we sang Christmas songs while doing chirashi kubari. I was the designated harmonizer. It was so fun! Then we went with a member (Sister Nukui) to visit her Mom in a nursing home and we sang Silent Night, the Star Spangled Banner, and Amazing Grace for them and they were both so excited about it. As we were driving I asked Nukui shimai [Sister Nukui] why she likes her job (she's a nurse at [a] heart and gastrointestinal surgery hospital) and she poured her heart [out] about how much she loves it (she studies at home for fun--that's how much she loves it) and how she really feels like she is saving peoples lives, and she told me about how she wants to go to America to work at hospitals for people who can't afford healthcare. So amazing. It was so inspiring to hear her talk about her work. It was so enjoyable. Her grandmother also seemed really excited about us visiting her. Miracles. I think we may be making a difference here!

After that, we went to Stake Conference in Kamisugi with Nukui shimai. It was so good! All the talks were on missionary work! And they were all so inspiring. One message I really liked was by our Stake President Sugawara kaicho [President Sugawara]. He held up a ball that was yellow on one side and green on the other. One said was the members and one side was the missionaries. He said some people look at this ball and see only one side of it and think missionary work is just the members or just the missionaries or they see it and think missionary is 80% the missionaries and 20% the members, but it's really the same ball. Members and missionaries. Only through becoming one can we see miracles. Loved that!

Our investigator Sato-san went to Stake Conference that night and loved it. She loved the video about Jesus Christ and had lots of questions about Him after that and was really impacted by President Sugawara's talk. Really good for her! She was just glowing afterwards and her member friend went around and introduced her to everyone, including the Stake President!

Sunday, we had Stake Conference again and there was again a lot of focus on missionary work. President and Sister Smith [the mission president and his wife] also spoke. Really good! Recent converts, returned missionaries, the mission president and the stake presidency all spoke. Really really cool. President Smith talked about how men are that they might have joy. Wickedness never was happiness so we have to be righteous to be happy. That's why we're preaching the gospel because there is no other way for everyone to be fully happy without living the gospel. He also told about his experience in taking in medical exams after accepting 8 callings in his stake (thereby being rendered to having only 2 weeks of cram time to study before his exams). He remembered everything he had studied by the power of the Holy Ghost. He knew the answer to every question. Why? Because he was worthy to receive it by accepting every calling he was given. I really felt the Spirit speaking as he spoke. It was very inspiring. 

After Stake Conference I found Oikawa shimai [Sister Oikawa] (my convert in Kamisugi)! So good to see her again! She remembered me! So happy to see her! 

Also after Stake Conference, I was also able to talk to the Kamisugi Bishop, Ward Mission Leader, and Ward Missionary about our Investigator Anazawa-san who is going to move into their ward in a few months. They are ready to receive her when she gets there!

Since Anazawa-san is currently in the hospital in Kamisugi, we obtained permission from the Assistants to go visit her. Luckily I had served in Kamisugi before and we had the Spirit's help to be able to go and visit her and teach her a lesson without getting lost or having any problems! And she was so happy and receptive to us and to the Spirit as we taught her there. It was just amazing! I have been praying since the time I met her that her heart would be softened so that she would be willing to recieve the message of the gospel and yesterday her heart was the softest I have ever seen it! It was amazing! Sister Carr did a beautiful job of teaching and testifying about God's love and her own conversion. Anazawa-san really liked it.

Then we came back to Nagamachi and got a musical number ready for FHE tonight! Excited! 

Setting goals with people sounds fun!
I like the idea of recording how she saw the hand of the Lord in her life everyday. We watched a video about that in YSA FHE this week.
White Friday is so cool!
 
That's awesome that you will have an orchestra for Lamb of God!

I am still practicing the ukelele and haven't played it in public yet but we're thinking of playing and singing Christmas songs outside near the train station when we hand out Eikaiwa flyers next month. 

Thank you for sending pictures! I love seeing you guys!!
 
Still biking! Not too cold yet!

During street contacting this week we talked to some people on the train. Sister Carr had a really cool experience. She went up to this college kid and asked him what he was reading and started talking to him and he asked her why she was in Japan and she said "I'm a missionary!" and he said "Woah, really??" and had a really good reaction. Sad thing is we had to get off the train right then but if we'd been able to stay things might have been really good. Planting seeds!

Training is great. I like it. It's nice to feel like I can help someone get off to a good start on their mission in Japan. Sometimes I feel like I'm really bad at it but I guess those are just my opportunities to learn and improve. Like learning how to lead without feeling bossy because I hate it when things feel like we're on different levels. We're all the same, we're all on the same level. No one is above or below the other and we need to treat each other like we're on the same level, but sometimes that can be hard to do when you have to correct things.

Carr shimai [Sister Carr] is great. She has a lot of dendo [missionary work] fire and desire to preach the gospel so her priorities are all in the right place. She is very capable and learns very quickly. I just need to remember all the things I'm supposed to teach!

We have a Thanksgiving Day appointment and have a Thanksgiving party this week for the ward as a part of Eikaiwa with soup and sandwiches. I remember Thanksgiving in the MTC [Missionary Training Center]! So fun!

How is Logan doing?

love Alma and Amulek.

Smoke detectors sound like a good idea.

Funny Japanese mistakes; I was trying to say Because his feelings are deep "Fukai node"/"because it's deep" and instead I said because his feelings are unpleasant "fukai na node"/"because it's unpleasant". ;D Another one; Carr shimai was trying to say what kind of "aji"/"taste" is it? but instead said said what kind of "haji"/shame is it? Funny!

Thanks for the copy of your PMG [Preach My Gospel] lesson! That is so good! So helpful for me too!
Wow! 39 missionaries serving from our Stake!

I was thinking this week about covenants and wanted to make a list of "My Covenants" to put somewhere where I can see them often. What would you put on your list?

My dear wonderful family I am so grateful for this gospel and for the lifting influence it is on our lives. I have felt the blessings of us with me this week as I have sought to share it and to improve myself to become more like Christ. My prayers have been answered, I have seen God's hand in my life, I have felt the guiding, comforting influence of the Holy Ghost, and I am surrounded my wonderful, incredible amazing people who are blessing my life in ways that send me to my knees in gratitude. This week I looked through my journal to find my goals from last year and reread over those and the promises of my setting apart blessing and was able to see how much the Lord has blessed me this year. He loves us so much more than we can comprehend. I love the Book of Mormon and resources the church has for us. We are showered with daily blessings more than we can imagine, we just have to close our umbrellas and lift our head heavenward to receive them. I have been lifting and strengthened this week because of the Holy Ghost and the wonderful people around me and the truths of the gospel. I am so grateful!

Your letters and emails and prayers nourish and strengthen me! You are so wonderful! I pray for you daily!

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. My black shoes are wearing out.... yeah, the ones you just sent me.... They're perfect! But I guess we've been busy lately or something...

P.P.S. I LOVE YOU!!