Monday, April 7, 2014

E-mail 4/6/2014

My dear wonderful family!!!
How are you? Is it warm and sunny? It is starting to warm up here and the blooms are SO close to blooming--we are so excited! And it sounds like Conference was amazing!! We can't wait! Our ward will watch them this weekend at the church (in English and Japanese). We are so excited! I can't wait to see the conference flowers and the temples and the prophet! Signs of spring! Happy birthday Kelsea!! I hope it was a great one!! And my six month mark is this week?? Wow, and Sunday will be the last day of my 3rd transfer. Crazy! Last Monday we watched 17 Miracles as a District and I have been seeing miracles ever since. :) This week has had so many tender mercies and miracles!
Tuesday we had a lesson with Ishihara-san--the super cute investigator from a few years ago who's in her eighties--and had a really great lesson about faith, Jesus, the Atonement and the Sacrament. She was concerned that we didn't partake of the Sacrament because it isn't in the Book of Mormon but we read the part in 3 Nephi where Christ gives the people the Sacrament and it made her happy. It was a great lesson. :) After the lesson she was standing up and showing us pictures of the 2011 Earthquake and we had a little wiggly earthquake right then--but she didn't notice, so Johnson shimai [Sister Johnson] put her hand up behind her just in case, but thankfully it was just a small one, and she didn't fall and she didn't even notice the earthquake either. It was super funny. She also told us that the 2011 Earthquake wasn't just one BIG earthquake--there were tons of aftershocks too. She said after the first earthquake all her books and food and everything in the fridge were strewn across her floor and there was a giant crack in her floor. So she cleaned it all up and put everything back in place--and then the next aftershock happened. So she cleaned it up--and the next aftershock happened. And then another one. She laughed and said she gave up cleaning everything and just made a little path to her bed, to her fridge, to the bathroom, and to the door. Amazing. Then we had chirashi kubari [flyer distribution] in the Izumi eki [station in Izumi]. It must have been a holiday or something because there were SO MANY PEOPLE. I gave out a GIANT stack of chirashi and there were at least 4 miracles: 1) A business man took a chirashi (they NEVER take them), 2) one woman RAN back to take one, 3) one guy went all the way around the corner and then came back for one, 4) one guy walked straight up to me and asked "So are you guys Protestant or Catholic?" and started talking to me about the church. It was amazing! Then we had DCS [district companionship study?].
Wednesday we had Seminary about the part in 1 Nephi where Laman and Lemuel murmur even after seeing an angel and talked about why they did that. Why did Laman and Lemuel murmur even after seeing an angel? Because they didn't remember their spiritual experiences. DON'T forget!! Oh, remember remember! (Helaman 5:12) Then we went housing and then did service at the Lodging home. It was super fun. I actually went straight to the resident with memory problems because I knew she'd repeat our conversation 2-3 times and thereby maybe I'd be able to learn and understand what she was saying. :D She was super genki [energetic?] and fun to talk to and one of the employees was sitting next to us with another resident, listening in to our conversation and when she asked me "When did you come to Japan?" And I said "Four months ago?" He about fell out of his chair. And then when she asked me "How old are you?" And I said "19" he said "What??" And turned to his co-worker and said "Gaijin [foreigners] look so old!" haha. It was super funny. And I also told her I was here as a volunteer missionary so know he knows that too. :D Then we went to an Udon [wheat noodles] shop for dinner and then had Kid's Eikaiwa [English class].

Recently, I've been thinking about the Willie and Martin Handcard [handcart] companies. I think I understand them a lot better now. I'd been wondering why did they have to suffer so much? Why did they have to keep going? Why why why--and I realized... they were just doing the best they could. They were in an impossible situation and just tried to act in true faith and Christianity. And that meant that their best course was to go forward--even though it meant suffering and many death[s]--because every other course they could take would lead to the same thing, but not to Zion. So they acted--and called upon God for help because they were doing what they'd been asked to do. And He helped them. He watched over them every step of the way and sent down angels from heaven to watch over them and bear them up and save them. They saw His hand moving powerfully in their lives. They saw miracles. And they knew of God's love. They knew He loved them. Because He never abandoned them.
Thursday was ZONE TRAINING!! It was awesome--in Kamisugi again so I got to see everyone and the big highlight was that Sendai Zone had 2 baptisms this months! And one of them was Oikawa shimai. :) They asked Orgill shimai to share her experience with it and she got all choked up and said "Oikawa shimai's baptism was the most spiritual experience of my life." It about made me cry too. It made me so happy. Also at Zone Training they said that when we send in our numbers to the mission online each week they go directly to Salt Lake, and that when we get our iPads we will report our numbers daily--also straight to Salt Lake. Amazing! Imagine what they can do with that kind of data--it will change the face of missionary work! Also, in June our new mission President, President Smith will do a mission tour and visit every apartment--pretty exciting! And from a servey [survey?] from converts 65% realized our message was true right at first. Crazy! First impressions are so important! The big idea I took from training was: Through the Atonement we can overcome our challenges. It was a great spiritual boost! From there we came back to Izumi and did some housing before going over to the Yamaguchi's and making (and eating) a delicious gyoza feast! Delicious! And we had a great gospel discussion with her friend. It was awesome. :) They are a super cute family.
Friday, the Sister Training Leaders had a split with the Nagamachi sisters here in Izumi so I got to see Stice shimai!!! It was so fun--and hilarious because our entire outfits were matching--accidentally! And she brought be [me] the button for my pink coat (that I'd given to her in the MTC) and even sewed it on for me. :D It was so fun to see her.
Saturday we visited a lot of people and an investigator (who isn't interested anymore) and housed with no luck, but we had a wonderful dinner with the Kanazawa family and shared a message about faith. They are so cute! They loved talking about Japanese culture with us--Japanese family symbols (like crests) (are on the back of family kimonos, on their dishware, etc.), Kanji (they wrote Bellows in kanji--club, Russian, whirlpool--haha), and apparently they have Phineas and Ferb in Japanese--I want to see it! Perry doko [where's Perry]? They loved the fact that Dad and Tyler have both served in Japan and there are temples in Fukuoka and (almost) in Sapporo now. They're hoping that means that Sendai is next. :D Oh, and that night I got a letter from JESSICA!!!!!!!!!! It made my day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday was a wonderful fast Sunday. :) We found a PI [potential investigator] and Johnson shimai made delicious navajo tacos for dinner. Yum!
In other words it has been a wonderful week! It was so fun to bump into Mom, Zach, and Grandmother on email today. :) Glad to hear Conference is amazing! I can't wait to see it! Thank you for all your prayers, love, letters, and support! I love you all so much! I am so proud of you!

Kelsea's mom is in my prayers. Transfer calls are sunday--after general conference! I hope the peppermint keeps the deer away. Lauren--I hope soccer is fun! Zach--unrestricted driving??? And you have to take the ACT again? Sounds like you will have an awesome Spring Break! Don't forget to take pictures!! Tyler--how does it feel to have another birthday coming shortly? I'm glad you got my letter!! I love the shirt and sweater--they look like spring! :D We got a lot of appointments with members this week--hopefully many referrals. Thank you for your prayers! We do service every week. Our apartment building is probably 6 stories. We live on the 2nd floor, but no one lives on the first floor--it's just mailboxes. We don't have pictures on our door but we do in our apartment! We like to eat at this Udon shop between the church and the lodging home--it has delicious curry udon and yakiimo [baked or roasted sweet potato]! Grocery shopping... I don't really read the labels, I just grab what we've had in the fridge before. :D And lots and lots of funny looking vegetables. :D I'll have to take pictures. For breakfast I have oatmeal, cereal, or eggs, and lunch and dinner are typically fried veggies on something--toast, navajo tacos, rice, or noodles. There's a lot of good sauces here. The members feed us a good amount too. If we ask for an appointment with the family, a lot of times they will feed us, haha. I hope Mr. Kimbrough is doing okay.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your missionary,
Bellows shimai :)
P.S. Tyler, can you send me more info about Chiba-san?
P.P.S. I love you!!!!!!!!

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