Monday, December 29, 2014

Week:30 This has been the most difficult and most trying week of my entire life.

Yet, somehow the most rewarding.

I have never prayed so hard or so often in my life. I have never worked so hard either. Or given so much of myself before. Last week we weren't sure whether or not H and M could be baptized this week (on December 30). On Tuesday (December 23) we had a Christmas Taikai (conference) in Okayama. We got to spend time with Welch Kaichou and Welch Shimai. There was also a talent show, and we got to watch the end of the year slideshow. It was a lot of fun, and we were able to stop worrying about all of the really hard things, at least for a little while. As Welch Kaichou was talking to us about Christ, and about the true meaning of Christmas, my heart just felt so heavy. I knew that everything he was saying was true, but all of the frustrations that I had pushed aside for a couple of hours came rushing back. All I could think, is "how are we going to do this? How is He going to help us do this? I know that H and M are ready, but there are still so many obstacles in the way." As I sat there, I tried my best to not think to much about it. To just allow the spirit to touch my heart, and to remember the birth of my Savior. 

 Happy Birthday Jesus cake at our Christmas Taikai

After the Taikai was over, and once most everyone had left, we decided that we needed to talk to Welch Kaichou. That maybe he would know what we should do. As we talked to him, I felt peace in my heart. He reminded us that sometimes miracles break rules. When Moses parted the Red Sea, the rules of man were broken. When Jesus walked on water, and healed the sick, and fed 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, the rules of men were broken. Sometimes for miracles to happen, the things that we put restrictions on and set rules for don't always apply. So, although in almost all cases it is much better for our investigators to be coming to church every Sunday for at least three weeks, that does not always apply to miracles. With that new found reassurance, we headed home with a resolve to do everything in our power to help them to be ready to be baptized on the 30th. 

On the train home we got to talk with this little family, and share with them about the birth of our Savior. And then we headed to H and M's house as soon as we got back. We went over, ready to teach them, and then we were thrown for another loop. M was feeling really sick, so we weren't able to teach them, but we followed up with them about our last lesson, and prayed with them. We also gave M her own Book of Mormon (since we only had one with us when we taught them a few days before). When we got home, neither Howden Shimai or I knew what to do, so we did what we always do when we are lost, or confused, or in need of some guidance and direction. We prayed, and although we still didn't know how, we knew that it would all work out, and that they are still ready.

On Thursday we went over to try and teach them again. We knew that it would be difficult, but not impossible. We just needed to meet with them and teach them. When we got there, M was sick in bed. As we talked with H, she seemed a little concerned about the 30th, realizing just how close that was, but she said that it was okay, it would still work out. We felt prompted to talk to her about the Priesthood, and about Priesthood blessings. As we taught her, she said that we should come back the next day at the same time with the Elders, so that they could give M a blessing. 

The next day, as we were praying before we headed out the door, we got a text from H, but because it was in Kanji, we couldn't read it all. So, we hoped and prayed that she wasn't telling us not to come. We met up with the Elders, and then asked a Nihonjin (Japanese person) to read it for us. As they did, it was exactly what we thought. H wasn't going to be home because S (her grandson was sick - last week he was in the hospital with RSV). We felt like maybe we should just go and check to see if at least M was home, since she was the one who needed the blessing. But, she wasn't there either. So, we sent the elders on their way, and sat there outside H and M's house. I was filled with so much stress and frustration and disappointment that once again they weren't there, and another obstacle was being thrown in their way to keep them from being baptized (this has been something we have struggled with ever since we started teaching them. At first they were just busy, and then people would get sick, and just thing after thing, and trial after trial). As we sat there and prayed and cried and tried so hard to know what we needed to do, M pulled up. As we talked to her, she looked terrible. She was so sick, and we felt so bad. We asked her if the Elders could come over and give her a blessing, and she said although she wanted one, now was really not a good time. That she had a fever, and felt awful, and just wanted to sleep. So we told her that we were praying for her, and that we loved her. 

That night, H texted us saying that she had taken M to the hospital, and asked if we could pray for her. I have never seen someone so tried and tested before. The more and more they learn, and the closer and closer they get to being baptized, Satan just throws more and more obstacles in the way. We know that God must have some really big plans for H and M, because of just how hard Satan is trying to stop them. From the little that we have seen, we know that a lot of people will join the church because of H and M. They will have such a powerful influence on so many people. 

On Saturday, we were able to teach K San, and it went really well. He made friends with K Kyoudai, and we are excited to continue teaching him. That night we headed back to H and M, and we caught them just as they were running out the door. They both looked like they had just been put through the ringer. So, we told them that we loved them, and that we were praying for them, and asked if there was anything that we could do for them. We were trying SO hard to teach them, and to help them, but everything kept being thrown in the way, and it just kept getting harder and harder to keep my faith, and not give up. Both Howden Shimai and I knew that they were ready, and we were trying our best to do everything that we could to help them to be baptized. 

Sunday we told the Branch President and our Branch Mission Leader, and told them about how there is going to be a baptism on Tuesday. We told them about what was going on, but that we knew they were ready. We then brought the Elders with us to their house, and as we got there, we ran into H's other daughter A. H told her that we were the ones that had been praying for S (H's grandson/A's son). M wasn't home, she had to go to work because she didn't have anymore days off, but we talked to H to see if they still wanted to get baptized on the 30th. She said that they did, and that we could come back at 7:30 that night with the Elders, and that the Elders could give M a blessing, and that we could teach them. At around 4:30 we got a phone call from H telling us that M was taken in an ambulance to the hospital, and after talking, she said she would let us know when they were headed home. A couple hours later, she said that they were still at the hospital and would let us know when things calmed down. That night we went home, and we prayed and prayed to know if we should just postpone their baptism, or if we should keep it scheduled for Tuesday. And, like before we knew that we could wait, but that they are ready now. 

I have never prayed so much in my life, and there have been so many times that I just wanted to give up. Why is the 30th so important? Why do they need to be baptized now? But every time I think that I am reminded that everything will be okay. We just need to do everything that we can, and hope and pray, and have faith that Heavenly Father can make up the rest. So, although we are still in the middle of this trial, we know that it always gets hard right before the miracle. The witness comes only after the trial of our faith, and we know that no matter what happens, it will be according to Heavenly Father's plan. And despite how hard this week has been, I know that I have also grown so much. 

I love you all so much, and I hope that you have a Happy New Year.

Love and Prayers,
Robertson Shimai

Our Bethlehem DinnerChristmas Omelets

  Our futons, and Christmas ornaments :)

We were heart attacked by the K family. :) I love those girls!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 29: メリクリスマス

Merry Christmas! 

With Christmas coming just around the corner, we have been blessed to see so many Christmas miracles. We have also been able to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. On Tuesdayafter Zone Training Meeting, I got to go on a kokan with Komai Shimai (one of the Sister Training Leaders). She is from Hokaido. It was so fun to be able to spend the day with her. 
Komai Shimai and Robotosan Shimai

We missed our bus to Yonago, so while we were waiting for the next bus, we had some hours to kill. We went to the Aeon (a big mall) and went finding. 

We talked to so many people, and were able to share with them just a little message about the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a big deal in Japan, but not in the way that it is in America. In Japan it is just the commercial side of Christmas that is a big deal. In all the store there is always Christmas music playing. And some people even have illumination (that is what they call Christmas Lights). But, even though many people love Christmas, they have no idea why we have Christmas. In Japanese Christmas is Kurisumasu. And Christ is Kurisuto, so they don't even really have Christ's name in their Christmas. It is fun being able to share the spirit of Christ every where we go. We didn't get to Yonago until around8pm, and then had to leave again after studying the next morning. 

So, most of Wednesday was spent traveling. By the time we got home on Wednesday night, it was about 7pm, so we ate dinner, and then worked on making Christmas cards for the branch, and updating records. Thursday was another slow day, and the more and more the week went on, the more and more my faith began to waiver. I know that if it is Heavenly Father's will, we can and we will see two baptisms by the end of the year, but with all of our plans falling through, and our K san not being able to meet with us, I knew that he wasn't going to be ready... So, we just kept praying, and working as hard as we could. 

Snow! On the way home from Yonago we passed through a giant snow storm! Luckily we were nice and warm on the train. Komai Shimai said it looked like Hokaido!
 (Which is the Island way north at the top of Japan, close to Russia)

On Friday we were able to have a lesson with M San again. She is so ready to be baptized, and to accept the gospel into her life. She even prayed about being baptized and was able to feel the spirit. She knew that it was true. She said though that right now she can't. She doesn't have the energy to fight with her son right now, but she knows that one day his heart will be softened, and she will be able to be baptized. I am grateful for her, and for the things that I have been able to learn as we have taught her. My testimony has been strengthened, and I know that this church is true. That is the whole reason I am here in Japan right now. 

On Saturday, we felt like we needed to visit H and M, our investigators who we have been trying to meet with for weeks. We have seen H every so often, but haven't been able to teach her, and her daughter M has always been busy as well. We felt like it was a good night to go though, so we reviewed the lesson we had prepared, and went over. At first H's friend was over, so we just visited, but then once her friend left, and M got home from work, we were able to teach them a little about the Plan of Salvation, and about the purpose of this life. We taught them about how this life is the time to prepare to meet God. We taught them about some of the obstacles we face, sin and death, and how because of these things, we can't return to live with God. We then talked about Jesus Christ, and through His atonement, we can overcome sin and death. We then taught them about the things that we need to do in order to return to live with Heavenly Father and with our families forever. First we need to have faith in Jesus Christ and in His atonement. We need to repent of our sins and transgressions. We need to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we need to endure to the end (by continuing to follow the commandments, continually repenting, taking the sacrament each week, and doing our best to become like Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father). As we were talking about all of these things, and how it is through this gospel that we can be with our families forever, M said that they needed to be baptized, and H agreed. H told us that she knew what we were saying was true, and that they wanted to be baptized. Although the date we set needs to change, it was amazing to see them so excited, and for them to recognize the spirit, and have the desire to do whatever they need to be with their family forever. It was truly amazing to see. I remember hearing all of the time, how if everyone knew what we know, they would be running to the baptismal fonts, because they would know of the happiness and the joy that this gospel brings. I am so grateful that I get to share that joy with God's children here in Japan. On Sunday, H, M, and K san didn't come to church, and it made me a little bit sad. But, I knew that everything would be alright. While we were sitting in Relief Society about 30 minutes before church ended, I saw a car in the reflection on a glass sliding door. At first I was trying to figure out who it was. I knew the car looked familiar, but I couldn't tell why. Then I saw a man step out of the car, I knew instantly who it was, but I tried my best to keep my composure. I tried to whisper to Howden Shimai who was at the church, but I Shimai, noticed that something was up. So I tried to very politely excuse ourselves. Luckily at that point the members could see the T family outside. The T's are a part member family, and we have been spending time with T Shimai and her daughter A chan, helping her to come back to church. The last time we saw them was on T Shimai's birthday last week. We were so excited to see T Shimai, her husband (who is not a member), and sweet little A Chan who just turned 5. They had come to drop off Christmas Presents, and M Kaichou (the branch president) convinced them to stay for the rest of Church. He took T Kyoudai to Priesthood, and then we took to A Chan and T Shimai to Primary. She did so well, and we were so excited that they came! We couldn't stop smiling. The members were all so loving and welcoming, and really tried to help them feel welcome. It was so nice to have another child running around, and it really helped to bring some life into the members. It really was a Christmas miracle. Although I won't be home for Christmas this year, I am really enjoying the time that I have to remember Christ as I serve Him this year. What an amazing opportunity is it to be a missionary.

I love you all so much and I am truly grateful for each and every one of you. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

You are in my thoughts and prayers! Love, 
Robertson Shimai
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Gifts from the Branch, they got matching turtle neck shirts! Howden Shimai and Robertson Shimai

Snow outside our apartment in Tsuyama (it isn't sticking yet though)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 28: I know Heavenly Father loves me.

(Our Little Christmas Tree to help us remember our Savior - 25 days of Christmas, 25 names of Christ)

I don't actually know where to start this week. It was a little bit of a hard week, with lots of trusting in the Lord. Over my life I have learned that when Heavenly Father gives you this tremendously enormous amount of blessings, there is usually a trial that is on it's way as well. I have also learned to really be grateful for the hard times, because I know that it is an opportunity for me to learn and to grow, and to stretch myself farther, and to trust my Heavenly Father even more. However, despite those things, hard times are still really hard. Sometimes I think about how frustrating it is when someone cancels an appointment, or when someone doesn't keep their commitments, or doesn't come to church, or even when they are to busy to meet with you. This week I got really upset with the agency that we are all given. I learned just a little bit about how Heavenly Father must feel when we don't do the things that we should, and that He wants us to do. And then to remember just how much He still loves us. I am so grateful for His love, and for His patience. I am trying my best to become more and more like Him everyday. 
(Christmas Card Ribbon Garland Decorated with Nativity Ornaments)

 Cards and Pictures from home

 (THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO much! I am SOOOOOOOO grateful! And thank you so much for getting together with Anna and sweet baby Aashi! It made me SO happy to see her sweet little hand prints! And the tree, and the nativities, and the cards! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! We used the finger puppet one with the daughter of a less active, and she loved it! )

It is so amazing to see just how much Tsuyama has changed in the 4 months that I have been in Japan. The work really is hastening, and I am grateful for the little part that I get to play. This week we were able to teach one of our Less Active members who really wants to come back. She is just afraid of her daughter being to crazy and rambunctious, and is afraid to take that first step, but we know that with time and with a lot of love, she will come back. We also had an investigator tell us about how she was talking to her friends about Heavenly Father and about prayer. She was saying that even though they don't believe in God, they all said that if they were in the midst of a crisis they would probably pray. It is amazing to see just how strong her testimony of the gospel is, even though she only knows very little. Heavenly Father really is preparing people here to receive the gospel. It may take more effort than I have ever used in my life. But, I know that as we continue to put our trust in Heavenly Father, he will help us to find those who are ready. Through Him, we will be able to help invite people to come unto Christ. So, despite the hard things, I couldn't be happier. Nothing is better than helping others to come unto Christ, and teaching them about their true potential, and their purpose here on Earth. 

On Saturday, or branch had their Christmas Party! It turned out so well! There were about 50 people that came (and half of them were non members)! It was amazing to have the chapel filled. To have so many people singing the opening and closing hymns together. To see so many smiling faces!
 We are excited for the day when that happens again. We know it will, just in the Lord's timing. Mostly though, it was wonderful to see so many of the members smiling, and fellow-shipping those who came. We had members talk to H and her friend (H is our investigator that shares the gospel with her friends), and teach them a little bit about the scriptures (there was a scripture written on a little paper with the little candy bags from Santa). We also had one of our Potential Investigators make friends with one of the sisters in our branch as well. We were so excited that they were able to make friends. :) And to see them really apply the things we taught them a few weeks ago at our dendo fireside. I am so proud of them! It just made me so happy and I couldn't stop smiling. 

Despite all of the hard things that happened this week, there was also so much good. I know that as we seek to look for the good in the midst of our trials, we will find it. I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of you!

I love you, and I am praying for you all! I hope you all have a wonderful week, and that you are enjoying this wonderful holiday season! Thank you for all of the love, and support, and for all of the sweet letters, Merry Christmas!

Robertson Shimai

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 26: a week of miraclesWeek 26: a week of miracles

I'm staying in Tsuyama for another transfer! :) Yay! Howden Shimai and I will be together for Christmas, and until she goes home in January. I am so excited to be with this sweet branch for another transfer. I truly love it here, and I am glad that I don't have to say goodbye yet. :)

Let me just start out by saying how grateful I am to be serving a mission. I have honestly never been happier. This week, both Howden Shimai and I feel like Heavenly Father is just dumping buckets of blessings on our heads, sometimes so much more than we can even begin to comprehend! I don't know that I even have time to write out all of the amazing things that has happened. I'll try though.

 I'll start with TuesdayOn Tuesday nothing really big happened, just little tender mercies that helped us to know that Heavenly Father was looking out for us. We were able to visit T Shimai, a less active who is having a hard time. She thinks her daughter might have ADD/ADHD, or Aspergers or something. Sometimes she can be a handful. The last time we visited T Shimai, she had just gotten home a few days earlier from her moms. Between just having come home, and her daughter, and being back in quite Tsuyama, she was just struggling. This time though, she seemed much happier, and we were able to talk with her about one of our potential investigators with a daughter about the same age as A chan. She said that she would be happy to meet her, and talk with her about the church. We were so excited. We have learned over the time that I have been here, that she has a hard time coming to church because of her daughter. She doesn't feel like she can keep her quiet and behaved long enough, and so she stopped coming. We are hoping thought that as we start teaching O San, that they can become friends, and help support each other in coming to church with young kids. After visiting with T Shimai, we went housing. While we were housing, although we didn't find anyone to teach, we were able to talk to a lot of people. There was this really nice woman who told us that she had promised her dad that she wouldn't have anything to do with religion for a year (in respect of his death), and so although we couldn't share a message with her, she gave us a little gift, and said that she'd be happy for another opportunity to learn some other day. I am so grateful that I don't need to make any promises that I will not have any affiliation with religion for a year, it seems like a really sad way to live. But, we were grateful to have met her, and were grateful for her kindness. Especially since the majority of the houses that we went to, no one wanted to talk to us. 

That night during Eikaiwa, one of our investigators came, and she brought her friend. :) She was so happy to see us, and we were so happy to see her! She has been introducing a lot of her friends to us recently, and we are truly grateful for her. On Wednesday after teaching a lesson to O San, we had to stop by the dentist. On Monday I had a filling that chipped, and I was so worried about the dentist. Luckily one of our Eikaiwa students recommended a good one just down the road from our apartment. They were really nice, and my tooth was fixed in less than ten minutes! They were so fast, and I was so grateful! Heavenly Father knows just how much I hate the dentist, so I was grateful for the little tender mercy. While they were smoothing the filling, I just sat there and prayed that everything would be alright, and that it wouldn't hurt, and that I would be okay. He definitely answered my prayers. That night we went to teach a lesson to K Chan (our 15 year old investigator). She said she wasn't able to do a lesson that night, but that we could talk for 10 minutes, so we just followed up on what we had taught the week before. She told us that she had prayed during her voice recital, and that she felt peace. She told us that the recital went well, and she knew that God had answered her prayers. She also told us she knew that he was a really important person. :) We asked if she had the chance to read the Book of Mormon, although she had told us the week before that she didn't know if she would have time because of all of her tests she had to study for. She told us that she had read though! We were so excited! We asked if she had any questions, and she said she did, but her friend helped to answer them. We were afraid who had helped her, but then she explained that she and her friend had read the introduction together. Her friend had gotten a Book of Mormon from her older brother as a birthday present. After they had read it, they asked the friend's brother for help, and he had helped to answer her questions. What a sweet tender mercy, that our wonderful 15 year old investigator was able to read the scriptures with her best friend, and learn from a member who speaks much better Japanese than we do. Once again we were so grateful for the people that Heavenly Father had placed in our path, and in the path of our investigator. Heavenly Father is so aware of each of us, and He always prepares a way for us. 

That night when we went home, the Elders told us that they had found three people for us to teach. This week I have been filled with so much gratitude for my Heavenly Father and for the blessings that he gives us. On Thursdaywhile we were SKKing (planning for the week), we got a call from H, our investigator that brought a friend to Eikaiwa. She said that she wanted us to meet her friend Y, and wanted to know if we had time to come over. So, we took a break from SKK, and headed over. When we got there, we were afraid that it was just going to be a we want to speak English with you visit, rather than a we want to learn about the gospel. As Howden Shimai and I were thinking about leaving after a while, we felt like we should stay. H's other friend, C San (who we had met on Sunday), had come over, and started talking to us. She asked us about Noah, and somehow we ended up teaching her about Christ, and the great apostasy, and about the restoration of the church through Joseph Smith. We had prepared a similar lesson to teach K chan the day before, but we hadn't ended up teaching it. Heavenly Father knew we were prepared though, and we were given the opportunity to teach C San. What a wonderful blessing from our Heavenly Father, and an amazing reminder about the importance of being prepared. 

The next day was FridayOn Friday we had so many things happen, that I don't even know that I can write all of it. After District Meeting (in Okayama) we had a lesson scheduled to teach K San (a referral from a less active member in our branch). We had planned to meet with him at3:30, and as soon as District Meeting was over, we caught a train back to Tsuyama, were we would have 15 minutes to meet up with him. As we were about in Tsuyama, I looked at my watch and realized that we had a whole hour (we had gotten the times mixed up, and the train arrived an hour earlier than we had expected). We were able to get to the mall and eat some lunch before teaching him. After lunch we ran into T Shimai (the less active that we taught on Tuesday). She didn't have time to talk, but we were excited to see her. Then, we taught K San, a wonderful man who is so prepared for the gospel in his life. We taught him about God and prayer, and after we taught him how to pray, we asked if he wanted to pray. He said that it was a little bit embarrassing in the Shotengai (kindof like Bridge Street... Kindof), but that he would feel more comfortable praying at the church, he also recognized that he felt the spirit after we had prayed with him. After teaching him, we were able to set up an appointment to teach him at the church. Howden Shimai and I were just filled with SO much gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the wonderful blessings He had given us. Everything that had happened that day, had been a blessing from Him. We realized that we should go to the bathroom before we headed to contact a referral an hour bike ride away, so we headed back inside. While walking to the bathroom, we saw T Shimai again. And this time we were able to say hello, and talk for a few minutes. Her daughter also talked to us a little bit, and even told us "see you," something that her mom said she had never said to anyone before. As we turned around to walk away, we ran into K San, another Eikaiwa student who insisted that we have some ice cream with her and her friends. We were able to tell them a little bit about why we are here in Japan. 

Thing after thing, Heavenly Father kept helping us to know that He truly is in the work here in Tsuyama. He knows us, and is aware of us. And as we do our part, and are prepared, he helps to place people in our path to teach. So many more things like that happened this past week. More things than I can even begin to express. Like I said, it was a week of miracles, and I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven. I know that He loves me, and that He knows what I am going through. I know that I am never alone. I know that as we take the time to prepare, and truly look for His hands in our lives, we will find it. 

I love you all so much, and I am so grateful for each and every one of you! Know that I am praying for you. 

Robertson Shimai

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 24: Gyoza Party! It's almost like Thanksgiving at home...


I hope you are all doing well!
This week has been great. On Monday night the Sister Training leaders called and told us that they wanted to go on a kokan with us. So, on Wednesday night we met up, and I headed to Okayama with Colter Shimai (we are always together for kokans and I love it. We are like honorary companions), and then Howden Shimai and Donnelly Shimai headed back to Tsuyama. The thing that I wanted to learn most on my kokan (exchange) was how to make finding more effective (since we have A LOT of finding time), and how I can better study Japanese, since I feel like I am finally getting a grasp of the language. So we worked on that. I've realized that when we go finding, I don't really know how to say the very basic introductory stuff (without really thinking about it) besides, Hi, we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have a message we want to share with you about eternal families, or the purpose of life, etc. But then after that I just freeze, and don't know what else to say, so then comes the "keko desu" which very nicely means, thanks, but I'm fine, and not interested at all. So, I really wanted to work on that. I have learned that when I know the words, then I don't get as nervous, but when I struggle for them, I get scared and end up saying nothing, just waiting to be kekoed. Colter Shimai helped me work on what I would want to say in English, and then translate that into Japanese. She also helped me talk to a couple of people (on the train, in a restaurant, door to door, on the street), Then when Howden Shimai and I were on our way home, I felt much more confident and was able to talk to a lady on the train. Nothing really came out of it, but I was able to practice my Japanese and become more comfortable with the language, and with speaking to others. Kokans are the greatest! But as always, it is always nice to be back home with my companion, and back in the area with the people that I love. 
While I was in Okayama, Howden Shimai and Donnelly Shimai were able to contact a referral that we got from the elders a while back. We have tried to get in contact with her, but she hasn't been home. Howden Shimai and I felt like it was the perfect time to go and try to contact her again, so off they went. K was home, and they were able to teach her a lesson. She is 15 years old and so prepared to hear the gospel. Her family situation isn't the greatest (her mom, step dad, and half brothers live somewhere else), and she lives with her grandma in a little 1 bedroom apartment. She really wants to have a better family though when she becomes a wife and mother, and even though her family situation is rough, she still loves her family and wants to be with them forever. The sisters taught her about God, and how He is our loving Heavenly Father. As they taught, she was so interested in everything they were sharing with her, and she was absorbing it like a sponge. They taught her how to pray, and she said that she wanted to pray, and that she would pray this week. We are so grateful for her desire to learn, and we are excited to teach her again on Wednesday. She is the same age as one of the young women in our branch, and we are excited for them to meet as well (especially since R will be the only young woman when M, M, S, and T graduate at the end of this school year). The work is really starting to pick up here in Tsuyama, and I know that Heavenly Father is placing people in our paths who are ready to hear the gospel. It's amazing all of the little miracles that we see everyday.

One more cool thing that happened this week, was with our young women. After District Meeting on Friday, we headed over to the K Kazoku's (Family) house. We had asked if there was anything that we could do to help them, and K Shimai asked if we could help clean her house. So, we headed over and weeded her garden with the triplets until it got cold and dark. Then we went inside and helped clean (their house was recently remodeled, and so there was a lot of saw dust on the windows and doors). Then we made some gyoza for dinner (it was just like Thanksgiving, and reminded me so much of home!) 

Gyoza Party!
After dinner, we shared a short message with them about the BOM (since they haven't all started reading yet). We talked about how important the Book of Mormon is to us, and how much it has changed our lives. Then we challenged each of them to start reading every night. When we asked if there was anything that we could do to help them, they asked if we could help them prepare for their missions. We were SO excited, and told them we would love to help them, and that they could come dendo with us if they had time. Also that they could doseki some of our lessons. When we were headed home, Howden Shimai and I couldn't even express how grateful we are to know these girls. We had hoped that something we had said had touched their hearts, and that they would have the desire to read the Book of Mormon, and to prepare for their missions. On Sunday, K Shimai was talking to us, and thanking us for coming over and helping. She then said, that R had mentioned that she thought it might be a good idea to read the Book of Mormon. And even though R didn't get up and come to church, that her mom had found a Book of Mormon lying next to her on her pillow. :) Even though it was a really little thing, it really touched my heart. I love this branch, and I especially love the Youth. They are so amazing, and I am grateful for all that they've been able to teach me. 

We "Heart Attacked" a member's house
I love you all so much! You are so amazing, and I am so grateful for the impact that you have all had in my life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and know that I am praying for you!

Robertson Shimai

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 23:What a week. Where do I even begin?

What a week. Where do I even begin? Let's see. This week, on Tuesday we biked to visit one of the members in our branch. She is probably in her late 80s, and she lives all alone. We felt like we needed to stop by and share a little message with her. So, we set up an appointment on Sunday, and then on Tuesday after study and lunch, we biked up to her house. When we got there we looked for it, but couldn't quite find the right address, so we asked a neighbor for directions. He told us that it was actually the house next door, so we said thank you and headed our way. As we got to her house, we couldn't tell if anyone was home or not. The garage has pretty much become a shed full of old worn out appliances, and piles of boxes everywhere. We headed to the front door, and knocked, but no one answered. We went to the door in the garage, and knocked on that door, but no one was there either. So, we decided to just go housing (door to door finding/tracting). I am still not the most comfortable with housing, or finding in general, because I am not very good at conversational Japanese. I know how to teach a lesson, and to bear my testimony, but that doesn't always work so well. Well, we knocked on a couple of doors, but they either were't home, or weren't interested. We kept on going though, and we got to a house a little bit down the road from M Shimai. We knocked on the door, and someone actually answered (which doesn't always happen because when the do answer it is just through the ping pong box - I guess in America you would probably call that the security camera...). We started talking to her, and were able to teach her about the purpose of life. She said that we could come back if we were in the area. We aren't sure if she is really interested, but we'll see. After we had finished talking to her, we decided to stop by M Shimai's house one more time before we headed back to the church for Eikaiwa. We knocked, and there was still no answer, so we decided to leave her a little note telling her that we loved her, and were sad that we missed her. Well, as we were writing the note, and didn't have a whole lot of time left, a car pulled up. And there was M Shimai, so sad that she hadn't been there, and that we had had to wait. She asked if we had time to come in, and knowing that she would be devastated if we said no, we went ahead and went in. M Shimai is such a sweet lady, and half the time I can't understand a word that she is saying. We can't really communicate all that much, but everytime I see her, she is always filled with the biggest smile, and with so much joy. That particular day though, we could see that she was having a rough day, and we were so grateful that Heavenly Father helped our paths to cross. Had we felt like we should leave and go housing somewhere else, we wouldn't have been able to help her in her time of need. Little things like that have happened so many times this week. It is definitely all God's timing. As we try our best to follow Him, and to listen the little promptings that we get everyday, He helps to put people in our paths who really need the gospel. Another day when we were out finding, we went to this apartment complex that I had felt like we needed to go to when we passed by a few days before. As we went up to the top, I wasn't so sure why we needed to be there, but we had been guided to this area two times before. So housing we went. The first door, no one answered, but then the next door we knocked on, a mom answered the door with this smile on her face. Like she was so happy to see us. Usually when people come to the door they just look overwhelmed, or not interested, or uncomfortable. But rarely ever do they look happy to see us. We told her that we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she just kept smiling. Then we told her we wanted to share a message with her about how she could be with her family forever. It was then that she said something. She told us that now was not a good time, because her children were sick, but she didn't tell us that she wasn't interested, which is the usual response. We gave her a chirashi with our information on it, and then kept on housing. Although we are not sure that she is interested in the gospel, we are going to go back another day. Even though we have not had a lot of success when you look at our numbers, we have been working hard, and Heavenly Father has been blessing us. He has helped me to become more confident in myself, and more reliant upon him. When we are led to an area where all we get is rejection, it helps me to appreciate the gospel even more, and appreciate the blessing that it is in my life. 
As a mission, we have all started reading the Book of Mormon, with a goal to have it finished by February 28, right before my birthday. The youth in our stake were also invited to finish the Book of Mormon by the next Stake Conference (in April). Over the last week, I have really gained a love for the Book of Mormon, and I never want to put it down (although I only have a few minutes here and there to read it, outside of my personal study every morning). On Saturday, we went to Young Women's in Excellence, and the young women were talking about the goals they were setting for this next year. When one young woman mentioned that she wanted to finish the Book of Mormon over these next six months, everyone giggled, and you could tell that no one thought that she could actually do it. They asked where she was, and she said that she was still reading in 1 Nephi (the very first book). I was so grateful at that moment that President Welch had committed us as missionaries to reread the Book of Mormon. I was able to tell her that she wasn't alone, and that we were right there with her, and that I had just started that morning. I'm not sure if it really sunk in, but I hope that my love and support, and my testimony was able to help her in some way. I truly love these people, and I truly love the gospel. I love that I have the opportunity to not just read, but to study the scriptures, and the serve God with all my heart, might, mind and strength. As I have been reading, I have been marking all of the times that the scriptures refer to God, or to Jesus Christ. I have also been marking anytime that they speak, as well as marking any Christlike Attributes, or Characteristics of Christ. It is amazing to see just how much they are in the scriptures. The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ. They only time you don't see His name, or a reference to Him, or His life in some way, is when the people are being wicked, and forgetting to recognize the hand of God in their lives, and to recognize that they need to follow the example that Jesus Christ set for us. I am so grateful for the scriptures. I could talk about them all day if I had the chance. Just know that I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that is is true. I know that it contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that we truly can come closer to God by reading and studying the Book of Mormon. So this week, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon, look for the ways that you can apply the teachings into your life. Look for all that it teaches us about our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. I promise that if you really look, you will find Him on every page. 

I love you all so much, and I wish that I had time to write you all back individually. Remember how important you all are to me, and just how much your Father in Heaven loves you. I'm praying for you all. 


ロボトサン しまい

Week 22: I've never been happier! Being a missionary is the best.

It has been an amazing week. We have really been able to get out and get to work. We have also had lots of finding time over the past week. 

This week we had a really cool experience while we were finding. We had been finding before, but weren't putting our all into it. On Saturday though, we had the whole day to find. As we headed out we prayed to make sure where we were headed was right. Then we headed out. 

While we were biking Howden Shimai told me to lead the way. I told her that in theory I knew where we were going, since I had only really been there once or twice and not for a whole transfer. So we put our trust in Heavenly Father, and contacted people along the way. We were also able to talk with two of our Less Actives who the branch has been asking about but we haven't been able to get in contact with. They were both home, although neither of them were interested in hearing from us. We also contacted a lady on the street, but she didn't have any interest either. We have realized, and  really feel that in Tsuyama, we really need to find those people who will be able to strengthen the branch rather than really needing to be strengthened. We are still keeping our eye out for everyone, and contacting everyone we feel directed to talk to, but now we have a little bit more of a focus. As we kept biking, I was trying my best to be guided by the spirit, and not over think where we were going. Each time we came to a place where I felt like we needed to turn, or to go straight, or to go this direction, we tried to follow those promptings. After a while, we came to the place that I had in mind. A ramen shop where McLaughlin Shimai and I had eaten dinner once before heading home. We had met this couple there that seemed interested, but because we had to answer a phone call from one of the members in the Branch Presidency, we weren't able to get any information from them. We knew that they must live close though, because we saw them riding their bikes home. Once we found the ramen shop, we said a prayer, and then listened to know where to go. Our thoughts were guided to an apartment building off the road, and down this little bridge. So, we headed over and said a prayer before we began housing. As we were knocking on the door of the first couple apartments, a girl on a bike rode up. Neither Howden Shimai or I felt directed to talk to her (we felt like we should just wait until we got to her apartment). So, she went upstairs, and we kept housing. No one was home, and we weren't having a lot of luck, but we knew that we were directed there for a reason. So we kept on housing. We got upstairs, and with only four apartments left, we ping ponged, and a girl answered the box. She seemed like she may have been a little interested, and didn't immediately keko us, but after about a minute, she and her boyfriend told us they weren't interested. I thought that she was the girl on the bike, and said a little prayer that we could be guided to someone who was ready to hear the gospel. We ping ponged the next door, and another girl answered. We told her who we were, and she told us to wait a second, and then she came to the door.  There she was. The girl on the bike! As we talked to her, and told her that we had a message to share with her about the purpose of this life, she said please share. Please teach me! We were so surprised, and we knew that Heavenly Father had guided us there to find her. She told us that she was moving the next day to Tokushima (on Shigoku), and that we wouldn't be able to meet with her again. We told her that there are missionaries there as well, and she seemed really interested. After teaching her for about an hour, we asked if we could pass her information along to the missionaries in Tokushima, but she said she didn't have a phone, or an email, and she wasn't sure of her new address. She asked if we had their information, and we gave her a chirashi, and told her where she could get in contact with them. It was an amazing experience to really try and rely completely on the Lord as we were finding, and although we didn't find someone who could strengthen our area, we were able to find someone who was prepared. It also helped to remind us that there are others out there who are prepared now to hear the gospel, we just need to rely on Heavenly Father to guide us to them, and them to us. I have been thinking a lot recently about why I am here on a mission. Over the past 5 months, and even the 5 months leading up to my mission, my reasons have changed. I've realized though that one of the reasons I am here right now, is so that I can learn now how important the gospel is, so that one day I can teach my children that. I have really grown to love reading the scriptures, and praying, and bearing my testimony. I don't do it anymore because I have to. I do it now, because I want to, and I love it. I want to share the love I have for this gospel with everyone I meet, and I want to be able to help my children love it too. Being a missionary is the greatest, and like I said before. I couldn't be happier!

I love you all so much! You are all so wonderful, and I pray for you everyday. I know that your Heavenly Father loves you, and cares about you more than you'll ever truly know in this life. He wants to hear from you, and He wants to help you. I promise He hears and will answer you prayers!

I love you!
Robertson Shimai

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 21: What happens when you forget your phone in a member's car...

You get 13 missed calls, 1 message, and 1 voice mail. We got calls from our district leader, our zone leaders, or sister training leaders, and even from the APs (assistants to the President). We realized once we got home that we had left the phone in the H's car on the way home from dinner. It was too late to go to the Elder's apartment so that they could call the H's, so we just prayed that everything would work out. Luckily after trying to contact us 13 times, eventually they contacted the Elders so they knew that we were okay, and had just forgotten our phone. The Elders called up the H's, and then H Kyodai dropped off our phone at their apartment. Then this morning, the Elders stopped by and brought us back our phone... Whoops. Moral of the story, never forget your phone when you are a missionary. Especially not on Sunday night when everyone is calling for follow ups.

What a crazy amazing week. So many things happened that I'm not sure I will be able to tell you all of it, but I'll try my best. 

On monday evening last week, we were able to teach one last lesson before McLaughlin Shimai headed home. We had been trying to schedule an appointment with one of our investigators, but she would always have to cancel. We decided to give it one last try before McLaughlin Shimai headed home, and before we dropped her since we could never meet. I felt like we really needed to teach her again, so we set up an appointment. We told her that McLaughlin Shimai wanted to say goodbye, and she said we could come over that night. On our way home from Family Home Evening, we stopped by her house hoping that we would be able to teach her. She invited us in, but we weren't sure if we would be able to teach her a lesson. Then her daughter came downstairs. As I was talking with her daughter, McLaughlin Shimai was able to talk with H about families. Then she asked if we could watch a quick video. They gladly said yes, and so we put in "Together Forever." There is one video where a mother and father are talking about their daughter, who had passed away, and how they know that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they can be with her again someday. As we were watching the video, the spirit was so strong, and I know that both H and her daughter were able to feel it. (H's dad passed away recently, her mom is really sick, and her other daughter just had a baby. She has been experiencing a lot of big events these last couple of weeks, and has expressed how important family is to her.) After we shared the video, we bore testimony of eternal families, and why we are here as missionaries. We asked them if they would like to learn more, and they said they would. I was so grateful that we were able to follow the spirit and not give up on her. She needs the gospel in her life, and I know she is ready to hear it. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary, and to share the gospel with so many people. To help them to change their lives, and to help give them hope. It is truly amazing. 

On Tuesday morning, we headed to Okayama where McLaughlin Shimai dropped me off and headed to Kobe. 

Mc Laughlin Shimai and I on the train to Okayama

The Sister Training Leaders where there to pick me up, and then I spent the rest of TuesdayWednesday and Thursday in Okayama with them. It was so fun to be in a san nin (trio) for a couple of days. We were able to teach a lot of lessons (3 a day), and with every lesson I felt more and more confident speaking Japanese. We also went housing a lot, and as a result laughed a lot. At one point we were housing, and I didn't know what to say, but instead of just letting them talk, they told me what to say and I repeated it. By the time I was done saying a few sentences, the person actually came to the door (I was just talking the the ping pong box - with a video camera). :) Although he wasn't really interested, it was nice to be able to get him to come downstairs so we could talk to him. 

( I forgot my bike helmet in Tsuyama, so I had to borrow one... This was all we could find.)

Being in Okayama was really great, but I was really excited to meet Howden Shimai on Friday and head back to Tsuyama. Howden Shimai is great. She is from Utah (although her parents are both from South Africa). She is on her 11th transfer, so just a transfer behind McLaughlin Shimai. We get a long really well, and I am excited to work with her. 
(Howden Shimai and I)

On Saturday the Branch had a Halloween Party, and we dressed up as spring and autumn faries. It was so fun. The members already love her. At our Halloween Party, we had two members bring their friends, and we also had three families from Eikaiwa come. It was so much fun, and a great way for our Eikaiwa students to build a relationship with the members. :) 

( Halloween Party, Almost everyone at the party)

Yesterday after church, we were able to go to the Autumn Festival with two of our other Eikaiwa students. There was a parade with o-mikoshi and danjiri. 

( o-mikoshi - it was really heavy, and had to be carried by all of those people)

The o-mikoshi is a little shrine that is carried, and then the danjiri is like a float.

(One of the six danjiri)

 In Tsuyama we have the third ranked o-mikoshi in all of Japan. It was cool to be able to learn a little bit more about Japan, and the place where I am serving. We also had the opportunity to share a little bit about how we don't buy things on the Sabbath day, and about God. As they were telling us about the customs behind the o-mikoshi, and about all the different gods in the Budhist religion, it made me grateful for the knowledge that I have of our Heavenly Father. I am grateful that I can pray to Him anywhere, and about anything. I am grateful that my relationship with Him has strengthened since I have been on my mission. I know that Heavenly Father is real. I know that He loves each and every one of you. He loves all of His children. I know that He hears our prayers. I am grateful for His love and guidance. I know that He answers our prayers, and that He is always there for us. We just need to ask. I promise that as you really sincerely pray to Him, you will feel of God's love for you.
I love you all, and I pray for you everyday.

Robertson Shimai

 (Okanomiyaki Cake for an investigator's birthday. He is diabetic, so we couldn't make real cake)