Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 13 Pictures

E-mail 1/20/2014

My dear wonderful family,

As I am typing this letter to you I am snacking on octopus and eating with chopsticks. I think I might be in Japan or something! It has been an AMAZING week!

Tuesday, during personal study I was reading in Alma 37:16-17

16 But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you, (for you must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever ye must do with them) behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.
 17 For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.

and it made me think about the promises God has made to me about my mission. So I reread the notes Candice took for me during my setting apart--and everything in there is either something I've prayed for since becoming a missionary or something I've tried to become. It was amazing!

We also got 2 potential investigators during companion study! We were calling former investigators and saying we'd heard about them from previous missionaries and could we meet? And 2 said yes! We have 1 appointment and the other said to call back later this week when she knows her work schedule. Yay! We also went to this udon [wheat noodle] shop for dinner and I had udon curry. So yummy!

And DCS was awesome. Ishizaki kyodai [Brother Ishizaki] (Ward Mission Leader) said to share your desire to baptize and see miracles with people--to be LOUD about it. Believe in these things. Have faith and hope and always ask yourself "what should we do next?" Commit yourself to finding and baptizing and believe that you can do it and find out God's heart for you in this area. It was great!

Wednesday was awesome! We had district meeting about consecration and got this amazing talk called "The Fourth Missionary." Our theme was "Consecration is the only surrender that is also a victory" (Neil A. Maxwell). They shared the John Tanner video (clips). I've never seen it before so it was way good. McClellen chorro [Elder McClellen] (to whom President Rasmussen tells everything) said President said that since this area hasn't seen baptisms in a while he sent missionaries he that he trusts and that through our sacrifices we will see miracles. It was an awesome meeting!

After District Meeting we were back studying at the apartment when Tomita-san called us and said "Hey, I have 40 minutes. Can we do a lesson?" So we ran over to the church and quickly made a lesson plan and she goet there and it was amazing! She is such a kinjin (golden investigator). We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ [one of the lessons] and I was able to understand and jump in and give input and share experiences. She says she's felt the Spirit before! It was incredible. Now we just need to pray that her husband will let her be baptized! MY FIRST LESSON WITH AN INVESTIGATOR! Yay! I'm glad I didn't go my whole first transfer without one. :)

Then we had a lesson with Kanae shimai [Sister Kanae] (LA) [a less-active member] and Eikaiwai [English class]. It was fun! And I got your letter/package Mom! It was an awesome day. :) It was SO fun to read all your goals and see that everyone's personalities are still intact. :) I loved it. :)

Thursday we went to Morioka for a Sister Training Leader Split! We took a 2 hour bus up there into the snow and jumped right into the split with a mogi [roleplay] with the members. I was with Hyodo shimai [Sister Hyodo] (Nihongin [Japanese]). She's so cute! She finishes on Wednesday! Then we came back together and Orgill shimai and I mogied for them and then we split again and visited members and then had dinner and came back and planned. Hydo shimai has very good English but we spoke mostly Japanese and since she studied programming before her mission she was able to switch our phone into English mode! Hooray!!

Friday, we wrapped up the split with morning study and lunch and then bussed back to Sendai and went to Shabu Shabu (really yummy food) with Cindy (Chinese LA) and read "Pray in Faith" from PMG [Preach My Gospel, the missionary study/teaching manual] (really good!).

Saturday, we went to lunch with Nagase shimai and her friend Yabe-san (who came to the ward Christmas party). At first Yabe-san was very closed off, but by the end she had opened up A TON and shared experiences she had where she felt something (aka the Spirit). And Nagase shimai even opened up more to us (and she'd been way open before). It was amazing how much they trusted us. Yabe-san had lots of questions about missionary life and was very impressed with us and our testimonies of how we'd come to know the church is true and by the end she was smiling and laughing and even said she wanted to meet with us again. It was such good dendo [proselyting]! Her English is amazing.

It's funny, during lunch Yabe-san said to me "You're cute" and then to Orgill shimai "You're adult." We died laughing. (Partially because Orgill shimai told me she always hated being a kid and always wanted to be an adult and I told her that I loved being a kid and never wanted to grow up.) So then she tried correcting herself. "You're cute," she told me. "You're beautiful," she told Orgill shimai. We laughed even harder. :D

Then we came back to Sendai and made cookies for our activity with Kanae shimai (LA) Sunday.

Sunday, after church, we had our cookie decorating activity with Kanae shimai (LA) and Airi-chan [Airi, who is a woman] (preparing for a mission). It went really well! They really seemed to like each other and I hope they will be good friends (and then hopefully Kanae will come to church!).

And guess what else came last night. Transfer calls!! Don't worry, I'm safe. :) Orgill shimai and Kirby shimai and Whittle chorro [Elder Whittle] and Nation chorro and McClellen chorro and I are staying in Sendai. But Thompson chorro (aka Ton-chan) is transfering to Tagajo and Hamano shimai to Izumi and Nishikawa shimmai to Hirosaki and Kim chorro is done and going home! Whittle is getting a Nihongin [Japanese person] as his fellow Zone Leader and McClellen (new District Leader) and Nation will be companions. And guess who gets the only new missionary that's coming to the Sendai mission this transfer. Kirby shimai! And the new bean [greenie] is Nihongin! Haha, we're way excited. Everyone got what they wanted out of transfer calls. But it also means that Kamisugi ward is changing a lot and we'll be going down to only 4 companionships!

Can you believe today's my first day in my second transfer? Holy cow! Time sure does fly!

Thank you all for your support and prayers and letters and emails!!! I love it here! I feel so blessed to be a missionary at this time and to be here in Kamisugi. I can't wait to find out what the Lord has in store for us. I see his hand at work in our lives every single day!

I'm glad you guys got my letter! I'm so excited for Riley! Way to go Basketball team! (What's your team's name and colors?) Mom, your FHE [family home evening] ideas sound awesome! Middle school--what? That's crazy! Lauren, are you excited? Wow, Tyler, lots of awesome oportunities this week! You are amazing! Candice, I'm glad you're enjoying your novels about punctuation. Things sound wonderful!

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Week 12 Pictures

E-mail 1/13/2014

Hello my dear wonderful family!

Wow, have I really been a missionary for 3 months and in Japan for a month? Amazing! I love it! This week I had many Nihon-poi experiences. :) Haha.

It all started with last Monday. We went to a sushiya! It was a really cool sushi place as a district that was like a buffet on a conveyer belt (or you could order specific items by bullet train conveyer belt). It was fun! We all enjoyed it and some people enjoyed participating in a wasabi challenge after the meal. Some people did not enjoy it. Others did not participate. Woohoo! :D

Tuesday was a crazy busy day with lots and lots of difficult Nihongo [Japanese]! But it was way good. :) We finished the White Handbook [the missionary rulebook, which companions study together] for my first time in the field in companion study. Pretty special. :) Then we had this great lesson with Aizawa shimai [Sister Aizawa]--the new ward missionary. She's awesome! We did the Plan of Salvation--which has lots and lots of difficult tango [words], but it went really well. (Aizawa shimai also made me a kanji name!) Then I called a bunch of people--all in Nihongo. Then I did the DCS progress record (in Japanese). It toook me a goooood long hour, haha. Then we had DCS and I did a good chunk of the reporting--in Nihongo. Seeing a theme here? It was hard! But also awesome practice. One thing that Ishizaki kyodai [Brother Ishizaki] (the ward mission leader) said in DCS that I loved was find the method that overcomes your fear and discomfort of talking to people and use it. Love is the number one thing we need in inviting, so before you invite people, imagine them in white, recieving baptism, entering into the Celestial Kingdom. Think about that and with that feeling in mind you will always be able to talk to them. You can use this throughout your life in all areas. Having perfect love for the people is success. :)

After morning study on Wednesday we left to try and visit a former investigator. We actually didn't get very far. Well, Orgill shimai [Sister Orgill] did, but I didn't. As soon as I got on my bike it was fishtailing all over and I hopped off to see what the problem was and by back tire was dead. So, we walked over to the biek [bike] shop near the church and they put on a new tire and fixed my brake in 20 minutes for 8 dollars. Woohoo!! After that we did a Mogi [roleplay] with Watanabe shimai [Sister Watanabe]. She said that even though my Japanese is bad she still wanted to listen to what I had to say, so suppose that means the mogi went well! Eikaiwa [English class] was awesome! So many new and kind people came. It was really fun to meet all of them.

Right now we aren't actually teaching any investigators and we're only teaching one less active. All of our investigators said they can't meet until Feburary. Please pray that we can find some people who we can teach! (Hopefully one will be Shizuka-chan [Shizuka, a woman]!)

Thursday we had Zone Training! It was all in Nihongo (suprise, suprise) but I got to wear the little earbuds for translation. :) There were about 30 missionaries there--including Berkley choro [Elder Berkley] and Canipari choro [Elder Canipari] from my doki [MTC training group?]! It was awesome to see them again! The thing I got out of Zone training is that the most important thing in this work is to know the will of the Lord. We need guidence to find people to teach and to know how to teach them. And if we have guidence we will find success. After Zone Training we went to Yamagi shimai's [Sister Yamagi’s] house and taught her some songs on the ukelele [ukulele] so we can do a musical activity with her and our PI (potential investigator). Then we went to a member's house for dinner and ate SO MUCH FOOD. (We've been told it's rude to not eat all the food members give you so we were not feeling very good after that dinner.)

The funny part was that the next day after that dinner we met up with the same member to visit Less Actives in Miagi-dai (you need a ride to get there) and she took us out to a buffet to start the activity off. (We still were feeling a little sick from eating so much but we managed to convince her that we loved it. haha, the food was really good but there was just SOO much of it!!) That was a really good dendo [proselyting] activity. We sang to everyone of the people we visited (except one who didn't want to talk to us) and I think they all felt the Spirit. It was really amazing.

One of the people who let us in was really touched by our music. But it made me so sad because one of the things that makes me so sad is that domestic violence is know[n] and unstopped and that culturally the husbands are allowed to control their wives'. And she and her family were in one of those situations. It made me want to cry.

A highlight of Saturday: I had 2 full-length conversations with strangers in Nihongo on the bus! One was an adorable 9-year-old who sat next to me and chatted my ear off (and I barely understood a thing) and the other was a super patient middle-aged woman who let me make lots of mistakes and still wanted to talk to me. :) It was awesome!

Sunday, I was on a split with the Nihongin because Orgill shimai went to a 20-year-old party and found us a PI. Woohoo!

This morning the ward had a mochi [rice cake] party and we all got to wack the rice into mochi with this giant wooden mallet. It was way fun! And one of our Qs came for a few minutes before she had to leave--Woohoo! (Tomita-san). It was way fun.

So, just doing normal missionary things and hoping we can find people to teach! I am starting to understand so much more every day. Thank you for all your emails and prays! I feel blessed by them everyday. :) 

Hope you feel better soon Mom! Where is Maria doing Les Mis? Congrats to Allison!! Mom, I want to see a picture of you with your Gardening textbook. :) What city are you going to in Febuary Dad? Congrats to Natalie and Chris!! Zach. Of course. But WHAT!!! BRILLIANT! Candice, I'm glad you kept up the family tradition of scaring TB needles into the corner. :)

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. There's a snail-mail coming your way! Mom, I explained in there about the cup activity so you can read all about it. :)
P.P.P.S. Can you send me the cousins and Michelle and Justine's mailing information?

P.P.P.P.S. What are everyone's goals?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Week 11 Pictures

E-mail 1/5/2014

Hello my amazing, wonderful family!


The weather has been warmer and I'm bundling up with the s[c]arves and gloves you sent me--thank you thank you! Orgill shimai [Sister Orgill] and I also love the pita chips. I'll send you a great picture of that, haha. :)

Oshogatsu [New Year’s] was fun! We went whipped our apartment into shape and went to a shrine with 2 potential investigators so it was fun! But the dendo [proselyting] was really really slow. :( But now that the holiday is over hopefully that will pick up!!

Tuesday was O-soji [Cleaning]! Japan's tradition is to DEEP ULTRA clean their apartments on New Year's Eve before the celebrations so that's what we did! It was awesome! I think our apartment is the oldest in the mission and therefore it was in need of some love and lots of trashbags (to throw out all the random stuff past missionaries left there.) It was so great. The kitchen was overflowing with garbage bags. I think I've finally adjusted to how small everything is in Japan though because after all the garbage bags were gone our kitchen seemed so spacious, haha. It's probably only 10 feet by 6 feet.

Wednesday was New Years! Woohoo! Our special schedule was to go to a jinja [shrine] with a non-member or less active and to read all of 3rd Nephi and set goals. So that's what we did! We had our normal morning schedule and go ready, and then in personal study I started on 3rd Nephi, in companionship study we read several chapters aloud together, and then we kept on reading at our own pace. I kept reading until about 2pm when I finished! Woohoo! I loved it. 3 Nephi and the Savior coming and the 3 Nephites--I love that book of scripture. Then I set goals for the New Year. Well, some of them are more like aspirations, but they're what I hope for this new year!

1. Write in my journal everyday
2. LOVE the people
3. LOVE my companions
4. LOVE Japan
5. Christ-like attributes--work on and study one a month. (Faith, Hope, Charity, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence, Obedience)
6. Make my bed everyday
7. Clear off my desk every night
8. SINCE [sincere?] prayer--every single one
9. By March, be comfortable understanding Japanese
10. By June, be comfortable speaking Japanese
11. Keep in good contact with family and friends
12. Start a conversation with a Nihongin [Japanese person] everyday
13. Once a transfer, write my testimony in my journal
14. Look up all the scriptures in PMG [Preach My Gospel]

That's them! Do you have any more for me?

After that we prepped and left for the church to meet up Kaneko shimai [Sister Kaneko] and some of her friends and we all walked/bussed to the shrine together. It was so huge! So pretty! It was kind of raining but not very dark out so it wasn't too cold and paper lanterns lit the path of lots and lots of stairs lined with little market-type stands of food up to the shrine. There were lots of people! Kaneko shimai said that people believe a God lives in the godhouse of the shrine and people come to pray for a good new year from him. Shizuka-chan said she was going to pray for true love and happiness this year. I said I was going to pray for help with Japanese. (Not sure what that says about me...)

When you get up to the actual shrine/godhouse there's a row of bells with colorful ropes in front of this kind of trough (for the coins I think). When it was your turn you'd throw your coin in, ring the bell twice, bow twic[e], cap [clap?] twice, pray, and bow again. Then, if you want, you can go buy a fortune. If it's good you keep it, if not you tie it to a tree so it doesn't come true. We all did the prayer (I don't know who everybody else prayed to but I just prayed to Heavenly Father :D) and I'm pretty sure I messed up the whole bowing/belling/clapping thing. Whoops! I'm a gaigin [foreigner]! :) Then we went back to the church for dinner and Kaneko and her friends left and we had district meeting. Kim chorro [Elder Kim] talked about Unity and told this story about a bland [blind] man and a lame man who travel together in safety because they were each other's eyes and feet. Then we came home and I got a card from the Greensboro Activity Girls and from Mom! Loved it! The card was adorable! Thank you! Mom, I LOVED your letter. Thank you for the photocopies from your journal--that was so special. But what a cliff hanger! What happened with the Book of Mormon? You'll have to keep updating me. :)

Thursday, we tried doing area book dendo but no one answered our calls! (That was actually pretty funny because Orgill shimai and I had done all this prep so I could try and do some of the calls but then no one even answered, haha). So we baked cookies and dropped them off at our Q and member's houses. I also got the package from you guys that day!!! SO nice!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have felt the strength of your prayers and the warmth from my new socks and mittens. :) Thank you!!! Tyler, I've been reading the book you sent me and I love it. Thank you! In scripture study that day, (Mosiah 23:21-22, 24:10-17) I really felt like God was speaking to me. I knew that he'd heard my prayers and will helkp me so that I can stand as a witness of him hearafter, and know of a surety, that God DOES visit his people in their affliction. I just need to trust him with faith, patience, and hope, and he will bless me. :)

Friday we went to this Indian restaurant to try and visit a PI [potential investigator]. It was so yummy! The actual restaurant was really cool, with Indian music playing, and the food was delicious and the server was from India and spoke like 7 different languages.

Our ward is made up of a few young couples, a good number of families kind of like ours, and a number of middle-aged/older couples and lots of grandmas. They're hilarious. Geographically our area is really small, but it seems HUGE to me. There's a TON of people. Since we have so many missionaries in our ward (9 to be exact) we split our ward into 6 groups and rotate every week. We try to visit everyone in our group (they're divided geographically) to strengthen their testimonies and to help them do dendo. District meeting is every week and it's really great. It's all in Japanese. We have an English lesson, a Japanese lesson, a spiritual thought, and district updates/announcements and training from Kim chorro (the district leader). It's really great. Since I'm in training, we have 2 hours of companion study every morning and we follow the 12 week training booklet. We mogi [roleplay] certain lessons, watch certain clips from the district [The District, a video series used to train missionaries], and read certain sections in PMG. It's a great program. It's really nice.

Saturday had dinner with the Hiyashi couple. It was really awsome. He's not a member, but their daughter is on a mission and he has a really good image of the church and they've been reading the Book of Mormon together. During the spiritual thought I could tell he felt the Spirit. And he loved me and Orgill shimai, haha. Oh, and we also randomly got Christmas cards from the First Presidency that day. Cool. :)

Sunday was fast Sunday! I fasted for Orgill shimai and I to have a great companionship, the gift of tounges, strength, for our kyudoshas [investigators] and LAs [less-actives] and to be able to get one new kyudosha this transfer--which ends in a couple weeks--can you believe it?

As we were riding back from visiting investigators on Sunday I looked down the hill out at the city of Sendai and I was filled with love and gratitude for Sendai and Japan. It was beautiful.

Funny stories from the week:

Orgill shimai was in Kirby shimai's [Sister Kirby’s] room and I was coming back from the kitchen to our room and I get to Kirby shimai's door, about to go through it, when Orgill shimai turns around and says "Hey, let's plan!" all excited--and shuts the door. Then, realizing this might've been confusing, she opens back up the door, points to the futon room, says "you go that way" and closes the door again. So I busted up laughing, and she realized that what she did totally made no sense and started cracking up too. Hilarious.

Also, my bike bell is broken, so whenever I hit a bump (which is about, you know, every 2 or 3 seconds) it rings and so everyone stares at this blonde gaigin, bouncing down the street on her orange bicycle, her bike bell ringing to announce her prescence as she rolls along. I'm sure my sanity is regularly questioned.

Candice have you joined the ranks of the benders and discovered your element yet? Lauren, way to go you basketball star! Uncle Peter's family sent me a Christmas package with American food and peanut butter! Loved it! Mom's going to be a fancy gardener.

Thank you all so much for the emails and letters and packages and prayers!!! I am so grateful for you and love you all so much!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Have a wonderful week. :)



Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. Sister Rasmussen said on Sunday: "If you are worthy of a temple recommend, then you are celestial kingdom material." Loved that. :)

P.P.S. Also for new missionaries to learn: How to give and recieve compliments, and how to thank people. Could you forward those two lists from my last email to Bishop Williams?

Week 10-ish Pictures