Tuesday, June 24, 2014

E-mail 6/22/2014

Hello my wonderful wonderful family!!!

I dreamed about President Rasmussen on Tuesday. I dreamed he took the missionaries to this animal preserve but it was just this giant cage out of in the forest with all these animals running around and they were all really dirty and scruff[y] and this particular raccoon kept following me around, haha. :D

Tuesday, we went up to Yakata (an hour bike away) and visited a ton of people. On our way back we went a different way out of the neighborhood than I've ever been before and made the most incredible discovery; a sidewalk above the main road that looked out from the hill over over the whole valley area. It was the most beautiful, gorgeous view with all these flower[s] and trees and layers and layers of gorgeous, green and blue Japanese mountains in the distance all misty because of the rain earlier. I was just in awe. It was the most beautiful bike ride ever. What a beautiful world Heavenly Father has created for us! He loves us! And the people who live there sure are lucky to have such a beautiful view. And one house we passed has the coolest terraced rose garden--you would've loved it Mom! 

Wednesday, I had a delicious cheese-toast, cabbage, tuna, and tomato sandwhich for lunch. It was delicious. Thought you ought to know. :D Haha, we had seminary and Best Life service (sang for them and Elder Patterson played guitar). It was super fun. Then Eikaiwa [English class].

Thursday was our last Zone Conference with President and Sister Rasmussen. Our District was singing a musical number ("I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go") so we went down to the Kamisugi church early to practice before all the missionaries got there. (We all wore white shirts and black skirts/suits and glasses and the elders wore red ties.) When everyone started arriving we all went to our places on the stage in the Relief Society Room for our Zone Picture and started singing hymns while waiting for President and Sister Rasmussen to arrive. We started singing "How Great Thou Art" when President Rasmussen walked in. He stood at the front of the room whipping tears from his eyes and watching us while we finished singing and then started singing another hymn. And then he said hi to all the visitors and sat down with Sister Rasmussen and the Assistants and Zone Leaders set up the camera and took the picture. Then President and Sister Rasmussen stood by the door and shook everyones' hands as we walked into the chapel for Zone Conference. I was trying so hard not to cry I could barely speak. I love the Rasmussens so much. Then we started Zone Conference.

Sister Rasmussen talked about how before she left for her mission the advice she got from another mission mom was to bring a project you can take with you that you love that you can do while you're waiting for your husband--because you'll do that a lot as a mission mom. :) So Sister Rasmussen bought a cross stitch of a geisha. And 3 years later she's only halfway finished. It's been a busy 3 years! But like a cross stitch we only see the underside of the weaving Heavenly Father is making of our lives. And every thread we cross makes our pattern beautiful. Then President Rasmussen talked about love and being free agents. It was everything I needed to hear. The Assistants did training on good planning. We had an incredible testimony meeting. We played the video we made for the Rasmussens. Our District sang. I said the closing prayer in Japanese. It was so wonderful wonderful wonderful. I didn't want it to end. We love them. We don't want them to leave but we are so happy they get to go back and see their family again.

Friday Watanabe shimai [Sister Watanabe] was sick so I spent the day looking up every member, less active, and old investigator's address and flagging them in our map book and writing down the page number. Then I organized our old investigator records and tabbed, flagged and wrote down why all the old investigators were dropped. Then I made some "how to pray" cards, etc. It was a good day. Then we did an hour of Weekly Planning in the evening because Watanabe shimai was feeling better. The Sister Training Leaders had splits here in Izumi with Shimith shimai [Sister Smith] (from the MTC!!) and Isogai shimai [Sister Isogai] so it was so fun to see them! Watanabe shimai said to me "Do you like organizing? You're good at it. It would be a good job for you." Haha. Yeah, I like it.

Saturday we did weekly and then went down to Kamisugi for Stake Conference. There were so many missionaries there!! Probably 60~70. CRAZY! The theme was Missionary work. So many good talks. Highlights: 
  • Missionary Work: Do what you can; pray, follow the Holy Ghost
  • Read "The Power of Everyday Missionaries", do Elder Ballard's commitment from General Conference (invite someone to recieve the missionary lessons 4 times a year), pray daily for missionary experiences, use the internet to dendo [proselyte]
  • Dendo success is opening our mouth
Sunday we had Stake Conference again--a broadcast from Salt Lake. I didn't understand a thing. Okay, I understood a few things, but I was mostly 100% confused. But some of the speakers served missions in Japan so they spoke in Japanese themselves without translation. So all and all it was really cool! Oikawa shimai [Sister Oikawa] didn't come to stake conference. :( But I did get to say hi to a lot of other Kamisugi people liek [like] Muto shimai [Sister Muto], Furukawa shimai [Sister Furukawa], Ishizaki kyoudai [Brother Ishizaki] and Aizawa shimai [Sister Aizawa] so that was cool. We also had dinner at the Chapman family's house that night which was so wonderful. Love them.

So fun to hear all you are up to! So excited for Shelby. And it soon will be JULY!! I love you guys so much. You bring me so much joy. Thank you thank you for all you are doing. I know God loves you and is watching over you for me. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

P.S. Brother Browne in Izumi Ward is SUPER good at Japanese and I'm attaching the vocab packet his mission president gave the missionaries when he served in Japan. It has a few mistakes as it's 15 years old but thought you might like it!

P.P.S. I have pictures to send you (including one in the bridesmaid's dress!) but I brought the wrong cord so I'll have to send them next week--sorry!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

E-mail 6/15/2014

My dear wonderful family,

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!! I love my Daddy! You are amazing! Favorite memories are just spending time with you--watching movies together, playing sports, at the beach, roller coaster rides, family vacations, seeing you at church. I love you!! Always my hero. Rescuing me from bad dreams. Sharing your love and your testimony. You are wonderful. I love you. I hope you have a wonderful father's day!!! Have you done anything fun yet? You'll have to tell me all about it.


Tuesday, all 4 sisters went to Kaneko shimai's [Sister Kaneko's] house and did service with her family. It was so fun! We weeded their entire yard. It took about 4 hours. 

Wednesday started off with an awesome District Meeting about knowing God's will through personal revelation by repentance, humility, and charity. I loved it. It made me want to study that topic more. After that we went to Best Life (retirement home service) for the first time with Elder Patterson and Elder Bethea. It was way cool. We made tissue paper flowers with the residents and talked about English, haha. After that we went to Ueno Junko shimai's [Sister Ueno Junko's] house (LA) [less active] and talked about faith and miracles and then Eikaiwa [English class].

Thursday we had Ladies' Eikaiwa. The topic was illnesses and [we] ended up teaching the students words like "blood transfusion," "911," and "ambulance" and then talking about blood types. They have lots of good questions, haha. Then we had Izumi Meeting and set up the room for our first English choir--which was awesome! We started teaching "I am a Child of God" and it was way cool. Oh, and that night I got your package!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!! The bridesmaid's dress is so cute. I will take a picture in it and send it to you. :) And then maybe you can make a cardboard cutout of me for the wedding.... ;)

Friday morning in personal study I read Alma 26:35.

"Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name."

I love love loved that. We have so many reasons to rejoice and the biggest reason is that we have father in Heaven who has so mercifully given us so many blessings--like our families and the gospel and everything about it. I love him! I love the scriptures! I love my family!

We also had a lesson with Wako-san on Friday. And since I have a Nihongin [Japanese] companion now we have to seiza (kneel) for a lot longer. We seiza-ed for 40 minutes (yes, I was counting). I thought I was going to die. My legs and feet were completely just-got-a-cavity-and-your-mouth-feels-like-rubber numb. I need to practice seiza until I can do it without dying. It's a super handy skill. I should probably teach my kids that too. :) We were able to teach Wako-san a tiny bit of an overview of the Plan of Salvation but she's not really ready to accept the gospel for herself right now. I pray that will change and that her family in the spirit world will can be a part of helping her be ready to accept it.

After Wako-san's lesson we biked up to the Akatsuka's and shared a message about missionary work with Sister Akatsuka and her twins (Lauren's age) using cookies. It was really fun. The cool thing was that after that they walked us over to a less active's house down the street and introduced us to her and then we sang a hymn to her together and then walked us to a couple other houses. Such good member missionary work!! I want to do that when I get back. A perfect way for members and missionaries to come together.

Saturday we had a super fun sports activity--Eikaiwa students came, the Chapman family come, two of the Browne family kids came--and we played soccer and frizbee [frisbee]. It was perfect weather and so much fun. Then we had song practice for Zone Conference as a District. Orr shimai [Sister Orr] is in charge and she's really good. She could definitely go into music education. It was really cool too because she explained why she wanted to sing our song ("I'll go where you want me to go") for President and Sister Rasmussen--that we've been serving with them for so long and now they're going where God wants them to go and we are too just they're two completely different places. And the verse that says "There may be now in the paths of sin some wanderer whom should seek" is about us saying to them I know I've been sent here to Japan to the Sendai Mission to find someone who needs me specifically. And you know what, maybe today I'll find that person, so I'm going to go out there and work as hard as I can so I can find them. That really motivated me. Who am here to find? Who will I connect with instantly? How can I find and recognize them? Orr shimai said she had that experience--and it was with a girl that came to Japan all the way from Switzerland and when they met they connected instantly. So maybe I need to pay more attention to when I feel a connection with someone and then act on it.

And guess what I got in the mail that night. JESSICA JACKSON'S letter. SHE'S GOING TO THE GERMANY FRANKFORT [Frankfurt] MISSION AND REPORTS ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone planned that! Oh yeah, I know who... ;) LOVE YOU JESS! SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!!!!

Sunday, I translated for YW's [Young Women's], Sunday School and Relief Society. That was pretty funny. Remember how I don't really understand quite yet? There were times when I was translating where I'd have no idea what they were saying but I'd hear something like "shinko (faith)" and I'd understand nothing else so I'd just say "Faith is important." Watanabe shimai [Sister Watanabe] was laughing so hard. Pretty funny. Fun. :) After church I was standing next to Brother and Sister Browne and they were talking about after church plans for their family and it hit me--Oh, that's what normal people do after church. That's pretty cool. Haha, Sundays are super busy for us! We went and visited Ami chan (LA, 14 yr old) and she was home! And we were able to share a message with her about Jesus Christ. It was so good. She didn't know that much about it, so it just felt so right to just teach her about him. Ami chan loved Watanabe shimai. :) Then we visited other people (weren't home) and then on our way back to the apartment we met the Chapmans at a stoplight on their bikes to go to the park! So fun! Everyone in the crosswalk said "Woah! Holy cow!" because 5 blonde America[n]s were crossing the street together, haha. And they invited us over for dinner next week. Love them!

Watanabe shimai is so funny and cute and is really good at talking to people and has the best smile and knows so much! She knows everything. It helps me so much! I am the eternal bean-chan (greenie)--I always learn so much from my companions!! 

Orr shimai and Hamano shimai [Sister Hamano] live in our same apartment. So 4 sisters in an apartment about the size of our kitchen plus keeping room area. I am staying safe on my bike. The weather has been nice. Zone conference and Stake Conference is this week. That may be the last time we see the Rasmussens! The Chapmans are doing great! Love them! We have 8 missionaries in our ward. Hinode kyodai [Brother Hinode] is an awesome Ward Mission Leader. Our ward usually has 90 people in sacrament meeting, a LOT of youth (probably at least 25) and young kids (so fun!). Seminary is fun! I loved the picture of Lauren at graduation! Looked so cute! Summer goals--I'll have to think of some! Mom, I want to see some pictures of your garden. 

Funny story: A coworker came up to Johnson shimai's [Sister Johnson, Katie's old companion] dad and said "I just [saw] two guys in suits and wearing nametags biking in my neighborhood." 
Brother Johnson: "Oh, yeah, those are missionaries." 
Coworker: "Missionaries?" 
Brother Johnson: "Yeah, missionaries. They go around helping people and teaching about God... And they're usually hungry. Maybe you should feed them." 
(a week later, they're talking again) 
Coworker: "Hey, I saw those people you said were missionaries again, and I invited them over for dinner." 
Brother Johnson: "You did??" 
Coworker: "Yeah. They were so kind. So polite. They loved the dinner. And we had a great discussion about God too. We invited them over again next week, too." 

Hahaha! Love it! Go member missionary work!

So, I bet you can tell it's been an awesome week! Miracles miracles. I feel so blessed. I know God loves us. I think he is willing to help us even more than we realize if we are but willing to humbly seek and ask for his help. And he especially wants to help us be happy and serve his children so when we ask for help with that and are trying to do his will he will shower his blessings down on us. I am so grateful! I love this gospel and I love you guys!! You are wonderful, wonderful. 

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you have an incredible week. :)


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

[No pictures this week.]

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

E-mail 6/8/2014

My dear wonderful family,

My new companion's name is Watanabe shimai! She went to BYU Hawaii for 2-3 years and after her mission will go back to finish her degree in Graphic Design so she has perfect English and is so cute! She is from Tokyo and has been out for over a year. She also just finished her 4th transfer as Sister Training Leader so she knows SO MUCH! I love it! She is so kind. The Izumi shimai apartment is now 1/2 Japanese! Hamano shimai's [Sister Hamano's] new companion is Ore shimai [Sister Ore] (who is from Hawaii but not Hawaiian). There's a lot of Japanese speaking in the apartment now! But I am so grateful! I know it will help me start understanding more. 

The weather is wet! The rain season has officially started! Thankfully last P-day [preparation day] Johnson shimai [Sister Johnson] and I bought some rain boots so I've been staying dry. I'm going to buy some rain pants today and that should make things good too.

It was so fun to hear about all the Wedding planning! I am so happy for Tyler and Kelsea! The engagement pictures are just lovely. I'm downloading them to my camera so that I can look at them again and again. I wrote on my calender 'They're engaged' and every time I see it I just grin. :) I am so happy for you!

Even though I still feel so inexperienced I feel like the Lord has prepared me for this part of my mission and has blessed me so much! I've been able to be the navigator and remember people's names and get us to the places we've needed to be. I feel so blessed.

I also had the blessing this week of being able to record a song for the bye-bye DVD for President Rasmussen this week. Elder Patterson wrote it for President and Sister Rasmussen and played the guitar and sang and I figured out a duet part. It is beautiful. It really touched me! I hope I can send you a copy. It was wonderful to be able to do something for them when they've done so much for us! We also took a video as a Zone for them for the DVD as well. We love them so much! We will miss them!!

Monday, Johnson shimai and I were blessed to be able to have dinner with Sasaki shimai [Sister Sasaki]. And then all the missionaries were invited over to the Chapman's house for a 'Banana SPLITS' (because 3 missionaries were transferring) desert. The Browns came over too and they talked about missionary work and how grateful they were for us and we took pictures. It was so kind.

Tuesday, we had a lesson with Ishihara-san (such a tender mercy so that Johnson shimai could say goodbye!) and (ANOTHER tender mercy) a lesson with Okuyama-san (a pass lesson to the Elders).

Wednesday was transfer day--Smith shimai [Sister Smith] and I went down to Sendai Train Station and Watanabe shimai and I became companions and Smith shimai met her companion and went to Takajo! I love Watanabe shimai!!

Thursday, we were able to have a lesson with Ueno Junko shimai [Sister Ueno Junko] (LA) [less active] and it was wonderful and then Izumi Meeting where everyone shared their favorite scriptures. Some of them were: 2 Ne. 4:35, D&C 88:63, D&C 122:7-9. Mine was Ether 12:27

Friday we had Zone Training Meeting. All Japanese. I survived--and understood most of it! It was great. :)

Saturday was the first day of rain!! We even did our Sports activity in a little bit of drizzle--but we had people come and it was super fun! 

In other words, it's been a wonderful week! 

Thank you for all the emails!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so proud of my wonderful, wonderful family!!!!!!!!! You are doing amazing things. I am so happy. :) Thank you for the package! I haven't gotten it yet, but I am excited to open a little box of home. :)

How is England? I hope things went okay with your flights Dad. I'd love to see a ring picture if you have time! Congrats on fifth grade graduation Lauren!!

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


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

[No pictures this week. Sorry!]

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

E-mail 6/2/2014

My dear wonderful family,

Woah--was totally expecting that. But I'm still surprised!!! Holy cow! CONGRATULATIONS TYLER AND KELSEA!!!!!!!!!! How did he propose? How is all the planning? So excited to see pictures! Happy happy happy. :)

It's been nicer weather this week. 25 degrees Celsius. 27 degrees Celsius. 31 degrees Celsius. Yeah.... It's going to be a HOT summer. :D Just going to get a great tan and awesome sweat stains! Definitely not snow coat weather!

This week's highlights:

Monday we went to our appointment with Hasegawa-san but she said she had a friend die recently so we couldn't talk about Jesus Christ or pray, but she said it was okay if I taught her American Sign Language. So I taught her how to sign "Families Can Be Together Forever" and the signs for family, brother, sister, dad, mom, etc. She loved it. She said we could come back and talk more about that song. It was an absolute miracle to be able to remember so much sign language. It brought back good memories. It was wonderful. Amazing how the Lord prepares us for people before I even imagine meeting them--and whoever thought that I'd be able to use American Sign Language in Japan! It was really special.

Tuesday we had our first Eikaiwa [English class] chirashi kubari [flyer distribution] of our week of daily chirashi kubari [flyer distribution]. In Izumi we have to pay to use the road to hand out flyers, but the money is good for a week so we decided to pay the money and then hand out chirashi [flyers] every day (minus Sunday and Monday) for an hour. It was so good! There were tons of people and we got to talk to a lot of them. We're excited to see how many new people come to Eikaiwa because of it!

Wednesday at Seminary (which won't get out for a while) we talked about Jacob 5 so I learned a lot of plant vocabulary. ;) We also were able to visit Ueno Junko shimai [Sister Ueno Junko]--a less active who is so close to becoming active--and had a really sweet lesson with her. And even though it's an hour long bike ride to get to her house I didn't get sunburned. So grateful! We also visited Namura-san and couldn't teach her because her husband was home but we were able to admire her beautiful yard--she loves gardening. It's so fun to see what's new every time we go!

Thursday one of Johnson shimai's [Sister Johnson's] old investigators (Kou-san) from Aomori came down to have a lesson from her (approved by Rasmussen kaicho [President Rasmussen]). It was incredible. Kou-san was so kind. It was amazing to see the impact that a missionary can have an investigator and how they can help them even after they transfer. Kou-san is ready for baptism--whenever she chooses to receive it. In preparation for our lesson she read Alma 32 and she said she loved [the] part "it beginneth to be delicious to me." She said she had felt that. It was incredible. 

After our lesson with Kou-san we were going home for dinner when we got a text from a PI [potential investigator] who Johnson shimai has texted (an Eikaiwa reminder) every Tuesday since February but then stopped just a couple weeks again. The text said "Is there Eikaiwa tonight?" We called him back and told him about the 30-30 program (30 minutes English, 30 minutes Gospel message) and he said "Yes, I can meet tonight." So we called the Elders and met them at the church and had an INCREDIBLE lesson. He is so strong. I can see him getting baptized. So excited!!

Saturday we had our first soccer activity in the part and lots of the youth came and brought their friends. We're excited to use this as a new dendo [proselyting] tool!

Sunday, the Chapman family brought their neighbors (who can't speak English) to church--amazing! Anyone can be a missionary! Even if you can't speak the language.

Also, Sunday transfer calls came!!!! Changes, changes! Elder Paxton, Sister Smith, and Sister Johnson are transferring! Sister Johnson is going to Hachinohe and is going to learn shu wa--Japanese sign language!! So cool!! My new companion is.... Sister WATANABE!! My first Japanese companion--wish me luck!!

I am so excited for Tyler and Kelsea!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't be happier. :) I expect lots of pictures!!!!!!!!!! So proud of all you guys are doing!!!!!!!! I love love love you!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

Week 31 Pictures