Tuesday, September 16, 2014

E-mail 9/15/2014

My dear wonderful family!!

It's been an awesome week! And I guess I'm officially 20--yikes!

First, a funny story: we had free time last p-day [preparation day] and it felt so wrong! I didn't know what to do with myself, haha!

Week summary:

Tuesday we went to Ladies' Eikawa [English class] with a ward members' mom who isn't a member (her name is Sato-san) for the first time and it was so fun! She is so nice and cute and she loved meeting all the relief society women. I translated for her which was super fun. She loved it. She said everyone was so bright and cheery and that she'd love to come again. Then we mogied [roleplayed] with Imano shimai [Sister Imano[ and then from there went and taught Obuchi shimai [Sister Obuchi] (LA [less-active member]) the same lesson we just practiced (So it was perfect help!). Service, etc.

Wednesday we went to Indian Curry for lunch as a district and everyone gave me presents and sang to me. So cute! A sister in our ward (Hanzawa shimai [Sister Hanzawa]) left lots of juice for us at the church for my birthday. So sweet! Came back to the apartment and as we tried to leave the District threw water balloons at me! Haha! So I ran back inside and watched through the window as they threw them at each other instead, haha. Then we went to the church for a mogi with Tanaka shimai [Sister Tanaka]--only she sent her husband (who is in the stake presidency) instead because she had a sudden schedule change. So we sat in the parking lot with President Tanaka and asked him for ideas on how to help Obuchi shimai reactivate and go to the temple and he had a ton of great ideas! Then we had a mogi with Ishizuka shimai about the Sabbath day and it was so good and at the end she went out to her garden (HUGE--it's her hobby) and picked fresh carrots and vegetables for us to eat. SO COOL! At Eikaiwa everyone sang Happy Birthday to me. Came back and the sisters blindfolded me and dressed me in a paper kimono they drew. Haha! (Japanese tradition--except with real kimonos--when you turn 20--adult age in Japan). Very nice. ;D And I opened my package from you guys!! Thank you so much! The shirt is perfect I'm so excited to put the scripture stickers in my Japanese scriptures so I know what's going on! :D Yep, so I had a great birthday as a missionary in Japan! Sister Lindsay and the Honbu [mission home] emailed me to wish me a happy birthday and Sister Smith (mission president's wife) called and sang Happy Birthday to me. So nice! :D

Thursday we had an awesome mogi with Abe shimai [Sister Abe] (RM [returned missionary]). Weekly planning. Seminary. The Iwake sisters [i.e., sister missionaries who serve in Iwake] came and spent the night (so they could go to Mission Conference with us on Friday) so we had 8 sisters in our apartment. SO FUN! A party! Lots of futons! And I got to chat with my MTC [Missionary Training Center] sister Smith shimai [Sister Smith]! So fun! Hard to sleep with all the excitement of seeing friends and getting to have mission conference the next day!

Friday we had Elder Whiting (of the 70) mission conference!! We all took the train up to Kamisugi and waited in the chapel (about 80 missionaries) and then Elder and Sister Whiting and the Smiths came in and all the missionaries there went through a line and got to greet each of them. I accidentally tried to shake Sister Whitings' hand so she hugged me twice and asked me where I'm from. She's so pretty! Elder Whiting shook my hand and just seemed so happy to meet me. Amazing! I also got a hug and a Happy birthday from Orgill shimai [Sister Orgill, Katie's first companion]! Made my day! I about cried! She remembered! :) Then we sang an opening hymn and had an opening prayer and then they turned the time over to Elder Whiting. I'll just give a little summary of how things went down and then what I learned. Let's just say it was amazing. If you're curious about what they said in more detail I sent pictures of my notes.

Mission Conference Outline:
1.     Greeting, opening hymn, opening prayer
2.     Elder Whiting: Explanation of the 12, 70, why he's here (on assignment), authority, small self-introduction (which Sister Whiting interrupted and explained further :D). Then a little Q&A. Then training on becoming highly favored of the Lord via analyzing Nephi.
3.     5 minute break
4.     Elder Whiting: Training on Authority and power. You have priesthood authority. To hasten the work you must receive spiritual power, the power of the Holy Ghost, priesthood power and change yourself through the power of the Atonement.
5.     10 minutes to ponder
6.     Closing prayer
7.     Picture, lunch
8.     Opening prayer, musical number
9.     Sister Smith: Conversion and the miracle of how her great-grandparents and their family were baptized
10.  President Smith: Obedience leads to the Spirit which leads to Spiritual power.
11.  Sister Whiting: Corinthians 2:1-5. God sent you at your young age, not knowing everything so you can learn to rely on Him and turn to Him and trust Him.
12.  Elder Whiting: Training on the Character of Christ. But for the character of Jesus Christ--constantly, continually focused on others--there would be no Atonement. Ideas of how to become like that. Elder Whiting's witness and testimony.
13.  Closing hymn and prayer

What I learned:

·  Why did everyone talk about the topics they did? Because the only [way] for us to maintain our conversion (a giant task) is through the enabling power of the Atonement
·  This is how you apply the Atonement: use it to sustain your efforts to become Christ-like and to do good things
·  Whenever you're able to maintain change for the better it's because of the Atonement--I want help to be permanently changed!
·  Always have a list of questions
·  As a missionary how have I heard Christ or the Spirit say "follow me"?
·  You are expected to become extraordinary. Get about doing it.
·  What type of prescription is there to overcome defects in the heart?
·  I want to be a mother of peace, love, faith, the Holy Ghost
·  If Laman and Lemuel had been Hyrum Smith...
·  Love the people here
·  Love the Savior and testify of Him every chance you get
·  I know the Spirit helps me see more than my mortal eyes and understand more than my age
·  Focus outward
·  Companions are great marriage prep; conflicts are great! Learn how to solve them now not in 10, 20 years!
·  You love people more when you serve them
·  Bottom line/what I learned from everything in one sentence: Get power through the Atonement to become better and hasten the work and you will see miracles.

So, amazing. 

We rode back to Nagamachi with Brother and Sister Miyake (so nice!) and then went and visited an LA that went to Nishikawa shimai [Sister Nishikawa--I think there are some words missing here]. He said he might come to church again!

Then we went back home and studied. I reviewed my notes from Mission Conference and then studied the Atonement in PMG [Preach My Gospel] and Grace in the Bible Dictionary. Amazing! Reading "Grace" really helped me understand more about how to rely on the Atonement--kind of an abstract concept. By our own means there are some good works we cannot maintain. But because of the Atonement we can pray and receive strength and assistance as we use our own total effort to do those good works. It helps us develop the ability to do extraordinary things on our won to in the end actually become extraordinary people. Totally makes sense! Example I thought of is that sometimes people say: "How can you always be so nice? How is that real? You can't really be this way all the time." Answer: GRACE. Also made me think of: we can't maintain a mission by ourselves. We HAVE to rely on the Lord. That's one reason why he wants to send us on missions--to learn to rely on Him. 

All my questions for mission conference (about 12) were answered (except for the ones about the Plan of Salvation). COOL!

Saturday we had a mogi [roleplay] with Kawamura shimai [Sister Kawamura] and then met with Sato Nobuko shimai [Sister Sato Nobuko]. We were planning to do a mogi but just listened to her questions and testimony instead. But it was really good. She asked if she could have the after baptism lessons as a refresher course because she was LA for so long she doesn't know all the doctrine so we're planning to start meeting with the regularly. Then I really felt like we should go visit an LA who just got back from the hospital even though she told us it was impossible to meet (Kamata shimai [Sister Kamata]) so we bought her food and then took it over to her apartment to drop it off and when she saw the food she let us in and we were able to have a great lesson with her about the Godhead and prayer and committed her to try and pray when her legs hurt and explained the ward members who have offered to drive her to church and she said it'd be fun to see everyone at church again but not this week because of her legs. She also showed us all these letters with pictures that missionaries have sent her--super cute!--and one of the pieces of stationary said "Happiness Depends on how you enjoy yourself." and I thought That is so profound! That is inspired stationary!  And a message that I've been looking for. Little miracles. God loved me enough to send me a message through a piece of stationary. I feel special! :)

Sunday we gave Brother Nishimura (WML [ward mission leader]) cake and sang happy birthday to him during DCS [I still don't know what this means!]. Church. Sato-san came to church so we reintroduced her to Hanzawa shimai from Ladies' Eikaiwa and they sat together and Hanzawa shimai explained everything to Sato-san (so cool!). Taught PMG class on Chapter 5--The Book of Mormon. Came home after church and had personal study. I've been reading the war chapters recently and have been using a map I copied from the seminary textbook and those chapters have become so interesting to me! There is so much to learn from them that I didn't realize! Like: Because Teancum stayed strong in Bountiful (in the East where Moroni's army came) the 25th year of the reign of the judges ended with a Nephite victory adn [and] the 26th year started with a new Lamanite king who retreated but left his army and then got a second army and started attacking the Nephite cities to the west (where Helaman's army was). OR: Was Helaman so detailed about their war tactics in his letter to Captain Mornoni in order to give Captain Moroni ideas of things to try? SO interesting.

Then we had dinner with the Furusawa family and sang hymns with them and a did a mogi with them while their daughter and Yim shimai [Sister Yim] made cake. So fun!

In other words it has been a wonderful week my dear family. Wonderful to teach so much! We didn't meet our goal to teach 16 lessons but we still saw many miracles. I felt very loved on my birthday--hey I got a 70 come visit me for my birthday! I feel pretty special! And I love the birthday blocks picture!!

You asked what our apartment is like. It's the biggest sisters' apartment I've been in. We have 2 tatami [Japanese straw floor covering] sleeping rooms that can fit 5 futons in them each side-by-side (most only fit 3) and a big kitchen/study room area plus a bathroom area. Really really awesome. It's an old apartment so some things are a little funky but it is HUGE. I like that part the most, so it's probably my favorite apartment so far. We sleep on 2 futons on the floor. so about 7 inches off the floor. :D You roll off your futon and you don't fall at all since you're already on the floor, haha. Recently I s[p]lurged on 2 dollar cereal and peanut butter so I have been having peanut butter toast or cereal for breakfast, but when I don't buy cereal I have boiled eggs, or leftovers or something like that. Nothing fancy. Most of our meals aren't really fancy since we don't have time to cook anything that takes more than 30 minutes. People usually give us something to drink when we visit, sometimes some crackers or some snacky food from the grocery store. 

The only thing I really need is more food ideas/simple recipes. It's fun to live with 2 chefs and they want me to teach them how to make American food/give them American recipes. So any simple, 30 minute or less recipes from your red checkered cookbook mom, pancakes, meatloaf, anything fast or sweet that you could send me in a letter that would be cool!

Congratulations Tyler--full time engineer at John Deere Dubuque Works! Woah, I want to hear more about Elder Nelson's talk about angels. Congratulations Zach on National Honors Society! Wow, 100 inductees--crazy! Glad people are coming to the primary program and that Lamb of God rehearsals are going well! Not knowing how to make coffee is great dendo [missionary work]! Wooo Lauren, soccer team champion! Lauren, your birthday is next!! Young womens, yay! So fun and awesome! I loved it! Did you get my little package I sent? That's fun that you got a call from Saudi Arabia! Congratulations National Merit semi-finalist! Glad you are getting better Mom! Do you graduate as a gardener in October? Thanks for sending pictures! Congratulations to Brother and Sister Johnson! Glad you having miracles of quick learning Candice!

I feel so lucky to be engaged in this great cause. I'm a year older and I've almost been out on my mission for a year. I feel so lucky! I love this work. I'm so glad to be a missionary. The Lord's hand is in his work. I love Him and I love dendo!

And my dear wonderful family I love YOU! Thank you for being my wonderful favorite family! Have a wonderful week!! I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!


Your missionary,

Bellows shimai :)

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