Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 12: Being a Missionary is the Best

Kazoku to Tomodachi!                                                                      

      Aug 25, 2014

Being a missionary is the best. Now let me tell you why. Sometimes when you live in Japan it pours rain all of the time, and sometimes we get really wet. Let me tell you though, getting wet is the best, and I don't mind it at all. Sometimes when it is pouring rain we just keep on biking and everyone smiles and waves and looks at us like we are crazy. It really is the best. Missionary work never stops, and we don't get to have a day off because it is pouring rain outside. Instead we get to go out and find people to teach. Sometimes because of the rain more people are home, so we have the opportunity to talk to more of God's Children and help invite them to come unto Christ. Another thing that I love about being a missionary is that we are sometimes able to talk to people in the weirdest ways. We have had a couple experiences where they don't really seem interested, and their hearts are really closed, but as we talk to them they become more friendly and more receptive to hearing our message. This week we went out housing before a dinner appointment. We hadn't really been before, so McLaughlin Shimai thought it would be an awesome opportunity for me to learn. She started and showed me how with two different homes. No one was interested though, but they were all very polite. Then we saw this really cool house, so we decided why not? As we walked up to the house she told me it was my turn, and the things that I needed to say. She told me it was very important to say something that would interest them, and give us the chance to share our message. To make it a little bit easier for me, she told the woman who answered the intercom thing that we had been walking by and had seen her beautiful house, and were wondering if we could talk in the geinkan (doorway). She came down, and I told her that we were missionaries and had an important message about families that we would like to share with her. McLaughlin Shimai asked her a question about families, and as we were talking she was politely listening, but we could tell that she was still a little bit closed off. McLaughlin Shimai asked me if I could bear my testimony on families. I struggled to get the words out (speaking to actually people makes me nervous, and then I forget everything I know), but as I was trying so hard, we knew that the spirit was teaching her. As we were talking, we asked if she would be interested in meeting with us again and learning more, she seemed like she might be a little interested but wasn't so sure. We gave her our phone number though, and then we saw her husband walking down the stairs. As he got closer and closer, I knew that we were about to be kekoed. He came to the door and then told us they weren't interested and shut the door in our face. But, I loved it! We were hopefully able to help his wife feel the spirit, and although he shut the door, the spirit was able to help open her heart just a little bit, and I knew that we were doing what we are here to do. Invite others to come unto Christ. 

There are so many more stories that I could tell you. I could go on for days about how wonderful being a missionary is. I especially love being a missionary in Tsuyama though. The people here are so sweet. This week we have been able to spend a lot of time with our branch. On Friday night we had a sports night with the youth, and a couple of friends. It was so much fun. We played basketball and soccer (rotating back and forth every 10 minutes). The youth here are so wonderful. We have 2 young men, and 5 young women. Most of the youth will be graduating this year though. 

On Saturday we had a somen nagashi party (don't worry, I'll add pictures) with our branch. It was so much fun to spend time with them and to see how happy they were. We even had two less actives show up! This week I learned the importance of inviting people. Sometimes people just need to be invited, and when they are, they feel so loved. 

They ate Noodles, and Rice.

(She said they ate Rice cooked in Bamboo., I don't know if that is what these large bamboo are for but I thought it was interesting)

At one point they even sent noodles and candy down the chute.  It was so fun!

At night they had a fire and roasted Marshmallow's. 

On Sunday we finally had our branch Dendo Fireside! I have never loved being here in Tsuyama more that I did during that fireside. Each of us missionaries took turns talking about finding, teaching, baptizing, retaining, and rescuing. As one of the Elders spoke about rescuing those who have fallen away over the years, the spirit was so strong. He asked us why we are here? Why do we come to church? Why do we need the atonement? As he asked all of these questions, it really made me think. Why do we need the gospel in our lives? What is the point of all of this? Why am I on a mission? There are lots of different answers, but the biggest reason, is because we want to receive Eternal Life, and I want to help others receive Eternal Life as well. The gospel is so important to me, and it makes me so happy. There are days when life gets really hard, but knowing that I'm not alone and that there is a reason makes it all so much better. 

As we were driving home from a dinner appointment with a member, he was telling us one of the reasons that he comes to church. Life is so hard sometimes, and he knows that at least when he comes to church on Sunday, he will see the happy missionaries. He sees their smiles, and hears their laughs, and it helps him get through the hard times. I never realized how much of an impact we can have on those around us. Imagine how wonderful it would be if everyone tried their best to support those around them. If we all turned outward, and brought joy to others lives. If we did something as simple as inviting others. It doesn't even have to be big. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile. Sometimes I feel like all I have is my smile, since I can't always convey what I want to say. But at least I have my smile. So this week, look for opportunities to serve others, and to invite them to come unto Christ. You can invite them to a ward activity, or to Family Home Evening, or to learn more about the gospel and why it brings you so much happiness. I know that it will not only help those you serve and invite, but it will help bring you joy as well). And if you ever feel like you need some help? Ask the missionaries. They can help you. They want to help you, but sometimes we just don't know how. 

I love you all so much, and I am grateful for the impact you have all had in my life.


Robertson Shimai

Shrine Adventures 
More Shrine Adventures

Sometimes we even take Shrine Selfies :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 11: A Ship in the Harbor

Konichiwa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

What a week. :) It has been raining like crazy, and I love it. There have been a couple of thunder storms and it reminds me of home. Luckily it has only been super rainy when we are inside and not biking for hours (okay... that is a little bit of an exageration). One day this week we were out visiting oyasumikain (less active), and we had parked our bikes on the drain cover things (the metal things... I can`t remember what they are called. Haha.) and I thought about how unfortunate it would be if my bike key were to fall down into the gutter drains. Well, as soon as I had that thought, McLaughlin Shimai`s bike tipped over, and then as we went to stand it back up... down went her key into the gutter. I just started laughing! I felt so bad, but it was just so ironically funny. We were able to get it, but it was pretty disgusting. We went and knocked on the door, and then no one answered. We found a little faucet and as we were washing off McLauglin Shimai`s key, the lady we went to visit came to the door. Had she not dropped her key, we probably would have missed the opportunity to talk with her. So, Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways sometimes, and at least we got a good laugh out of it. Don`t worry... I made her sterilize it when we got home. :)

This week we were able to get gelato with the youth. We have been trying to help build up and strengthen them, and have enjoyed getting to know them. While we were eating, we were talking about Scripture Mastery, and I mentioned that most of the ones I knew where because I had learned songs... Well, if you mention songs in Japan, they are going to want to hear you sing them. So, that meant I had to sing some of the songs. Man oh man was I nervous. I`m sure my face got bright red too. It was fun though. The youth here are so great!

On Friday we had zone conference. It was the greatest thing ever! I feel like I say that a lot, but it`s true! I love conferences. One of the things that really had the biggest impact on me was something that was said a couple of times, and something I didn`t even realize I was struggling with. As I`m sure you may know, learning Japanese is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I survive, and I know a lot more than I give myself credit for, but I don`t always use what I know. Instead I tend to sit back and let my companion talk (which is sometimes what happens regardless because I can`t understand most of what anyone says). I struggled with the same thing in the MTC. Well, at zone conference we were talking about ways that we can help stregthen our teaching, and our commitments. The very first thing that was said, was the power of a simple testimony. Especially from the younger missionaries. I didn`t even realize consiously that I really was feeling self consious about speaking Japanese, especially since mine is so limited right now. As they said that though, I realized just how important my testimony is. I realized that my small contribution can have great power, and if I am too afraid to say something, then I am not helping anyone. Wow! What an eye opener. As I was talking with McLaughlin Shimai about it later, she was telling me that when new missionaries talk, they carefully chose what words they are going to say, and you know that they really are trying. They speak slower, and because of that the person listening hangs onto every word they say. They really listen because it is not just a bunch of words that are easy to tune out. I was thinking about how carefully I listen when people learning English try to talk, and I do the same thing. I hang on to every word they say, and I listen so intently. "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not why ships are made." If I don't really try to say anything I won't be helping anyone. Since then I have been much better at talking to people, and I have been trying harder and harder everyday.

On Saturday we were able to do some service. We read in the Library to some children (like story time in Madison), except we would read a page in English, and the Chorotachi (Elders) would read a page in Nihongo. It was so fun. I have really missed being around children! There are only two primary children in my branch, so I rarely ever see children. There are a lot more grandmas and grandpas here in Tsuyama than there are young families. After reading we talked about summer in America and the kinds of things we do. Then we sang songs (Once there was a snowman, ABCs, and the hokey pokey), and played rock paper scissors the American way. Jan ken po is a BIG deal here. You can even play it across trains. It is the best. After the library, we met with a less active, her husband and four year old daughter. We played with bubbles and were able to talk to her about her conversion story. She hadn't shared anything like that before, so we are hopeful that her heart will soften and she will come back soon. Her husband is also great. They are such a wonderful family, and I loved spending time with them!

The gift of tongues is a real, and I have learned that it only works when you need it. Sometimes people will be talking and I will have no idea what they are saying. Other times though I am able to understand most everything (when it is gospel related). Sometimes it can be slightly difficult, and it can be really difficult to focus when you can't understand what is even going on. Yesterday at church was one of those days. Sometimes I understood a lot, and then as someone was giving their talk the only word that I recognized was neko, or cat. I'm sure it was gospel related somehow, but as a new missionary I was uterly confused. Things definitely get lost in translation. Haha. After church we went over to a members house for dinner. They have three girls, and two boys (one is on a mission, and the other lives in Fukuoka). It was fun to get to know the members, and they fed us really well. I was grateful that they didn't give me seconds though because I was stuffed. After dinner we were sharing a message. We started out by asking what they had been studying/had learned recently. As they were sharing about repentance, and Family Home Evening, I began to think about how we were going to tie it back into what we were going to teach about, Eternal Life. Just as I began to wonder, I had the thought that each of those things, as well as studying and continuing to learn and progress are how we can receive Eternal Life. I was able to bear my testimony about Family Home Evening and Eternal Life. I felt like it was the most Japanese that I had used recently. A lot of the people we teach/ visit also speak English, so I haven't had to speak Japanese, and I really haven't been pushing myself. I remembered that simple was good though, and so even though I was nervous, I was able to hopefully help strengthen their family in some way.

The moral of this whole week/email, is that you are better than you think you are. Your Heavenly Father knows and loves you. Never forget that with Him, and with the help of our Savior Jesus Christ, we can do anything. We can do those hard things, like speak Japanese. I know that, because I have seen it happen more than once. And it is the greatest feeling ever. A ship may be safe in the harbor, but if it sits in the harbor it is not helping anyone.

I love you all, and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

Robertson Shimai

1. A funny name of a store. Engrish is the best. :)

(There is a website called that has very funny Engrish signs, labels on products, etc. from Asian countries.  It is quite entertaining. ~ Wendy (mom) ;)

2-3. Lots and lots of pretty clouds out here in the Inaka.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 10: Overwhelmed by the Spirit

Hello Family and Friends!

I hope you are all doing well! I am loving it here in Tsuyama. It may be humid, and rainy, but I love every minute of it. On Monday nights we have FHE (Family Home Evening) at the church with some of the members in the ward. We also have investigators come sometimes. Last week, we started out by playing a game where the name of an animal was taped to the back of the chair. Someone would sit in the chair and have to guess what animal they were while others complimented them. For example, one of the words was duck (but the word in Nihongo, which I forgot). Two people would have to tell them nice things, like I really like that when you are little you are yellow. Or I like your big feet. Basically you just tell them things you like about them that will help them to guess. It was a little bit hard (okay, who am I kidding, really hard) when you don`t know how to describe things. I tried to say some things in Japanese, and other things, I would ask what a word was in Japanese, and then I would tell them something about that. Anyways. It was a fun little game. And I think the purpose was maybe to compliment others? I`m not quite sure. That part was lost in translation. After our game we watched a short movie. And although I didn`t know what they were saying, I was able to feel the spirit. That is probably one of my favorite things. There are lots of times where I feel like I don`t understand a single word, but I feel the spirit so I know that whatever they are saying is true. I love spending time with the members of this branch. They are so wonderful and in need of so much love. 

Our branch was going to have a Dendo Fireside (Fireside about Missionary Work) yesterday, and so we (the missionaries) prepared all week. One of the things that we volunteered to help with was to bring refreshments. We knew that the Relief Society was feeling a little bit overwhelmed, so we felt like we should help out. Sister McLaughlin knew that one of the less active sisters we were teaching was really good a baking. She had owned or worked at a bakery before, and we felt prompted to ask for her help. We called her, and she was so happy to help us. She sounded so excited on the phone, and we knew that we were following the spirit. The next day we stopped by to pick up the recipe. She had never let the missionaries inside before, so we thought that maybe she would just hand us the recipe and talk to us at the front gate. We were so surprised when she invited us in! She had written out the recipe for us, and had even thought to write out the furigana above the Kanji (since we are both gaijin and can`t read Kanji). She was so sweet! She even went a step farther, and had made some cookies for us to try! We were so happy that we were able to help her feel loved and needed in some way. We weren`t able to teach her a lesson, but we felt like we should visit her again later in the week and teach her something. Well, as the week went on, she was always on my mind. We were constantly thinking and praying about what to teach her. We decided to share with her a poem about Footsteps in the Sand, and how when things get hard, Christ carries us through our trials. Sunday came, and we had a plan to visit her after church and  the dendo fireside. We wrote her a note, and were going to give her some cookies that we had made. As we were about to get on our bikes and head to the church, the Elders called us and said that the Branch Presidency had called and said that both church and the Dendo Fireside were canceled because the Typhoon was supposed to hit Tsuyama sometime in the early afternoon, and last into the evening. We were SO bummed! We were really looking forward to church, and to the fireside. They also told us that the Branch didn`t think it would be safe for us to be outside after noon, so that meant we couldn`t visit I Shimai either! We were so sad! We went inside, and got a few things together to take to the Elders (some paperwork and cookies), and then spent the morning planning and working on paperwork. Some of the members stopped by and brought us some food as we waited out the storm. 

Well, a couple hours later, around 1:00 PM, the Branch told us that the Typhoon had gone around Tsuyama, and we were safe to go outside. We figured out where to go, and who to see, then grabbed our bags and headed out the door. Yesterday was a day of miracles. We started out by trying to find a less active member that hadn`t been seen for about ten years. The sisters had looked for her before, but had the wrong address, so there was no luck. With a new address in hand, we were full of hope, and knew that it was going to be a good day. We found the apartment and knocked on the door. The door opened (just a teeny crack), and a lady stuck her head out. She didn`t look like the woman in the picture that we had, but we asked her if she was so and so anyway. She said she was, and was seemed so surprised that we were there. We almost thought she was going to close the door on us. We told her who we were, and she said she knew (although she had never seen sister missionaries before). After talking to her for a little while, we asked if there would be another time that would work better for us to visit her. She told us a day that would work, and seemed happy that we had come. After that we went to find another Less Active member. We found her house, but were told she had moved two years ago. The lady we talked to was really nice though, and we were able to find out the area where she had moved. Next we headed to I Shimai`s house to drop off the note, and cookies, and to share with her the poem. We got to her house, and she was excited to see us. Her husband and daughter were home, so we ended up just standing and talking at the gate. Before we left, we shared the poem with her, and she started reading it before we asked. She then shared with us how grateful she was that we had asked for a cookie recipe. She felt very blessed, and could feel God`s love. We thanked her for helping us, and shared with her how we knew God loved her. Right before we left, she asked if she could pray for us. We didn`t even need to ask! It was so amazing, and such a sweet humbling experience. Who knew that one simple thing like asking for a cookie recipe could help someone feel so loved? I sure didn`t, but God did. He knows His children, and knows what we can do to help them. All we need to do is ask, and look for opportunities to serve. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission. I love helping others to feel God`s love. I love inviting them to come unto Christ, and helping them to change their lives. We were able to contact two more less active members, and share a short lesson with one them. I have definitely learned that this is God`s work, not mine. I can`t do it alone. 

This week my testimony was strengthened on multiple occasions. But, there is one experience in particular that I would like to share with all of you. As we (the Tsuyama Elders and Sisters) were preparing for the Dendo Fireside this week I had been thinking a lot about member missionaries. I never before realized just how important they are. Especially when it comes to fellow-shipping the new members, and helping to bring back those who have fallen away. Missionaries come and go, but the members are always there. As one of the Elders was sharing with us how important it is for all of us to be missionaries, and to work together to bring back all of God`s children, I knew that was true. The spirit was so strong. We all no someone who is less active. Someone we love dearly, or maybe someone we don`t know too well, but someone who is a child of our Heavenly Father. He loves each and every one of His children, and it is our responsibility to help them feel loved and needed. I know that as we pray for opportunities to invite others to come unto Christ, and then act on those promptings that we receive, we will be able to help so many of God`s children. Imagine how much of an impact it would have if every member of the church helped bring back one person into the fold of God. How amazing would that be? The work is hastening. I know that this church is true, and I know that it blesses lives. It has blessed mine in so many ways. I know that Heavenly Father loves us, and I am grateful to share that love with those around me. 

I love you all!

Robertson Shimai   

1. Cookies
2. Sister McLaughlin and I
3. President and Sister Welch, and I

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We heard from Her Mission President

Dear Brother and Sister Robertson,                                                                                   August 5, 2014

We are happy to have your wonderful missionary here with us to serve in the Japan Kobe Mission.
President and Sister Welch

Sister Robertson’s trainer/companion is SisterMcLaughlin 

and will be serving in the Tsuyama area. (the top of the big blue area)

かぞく と ともだち、                                                                 Monday August 4, 2014

I finally made it to Japan! I had forgotten how much I loved it here! And although I can`t understand a thing, I really do love it!

(we got to call home from the San Francisco Airport Hoping my family would pick up. They did!)

Early Tuesday morning we started our long trip to Japan. We had to meet at the travel office at 2:30am, and we didn`t get to Japan until Wednesday at 4:00pm (granted there was a time difference and I lost about 14 hours, it was still a LONG day!). While we were at the airport in San Francisco, a few of us were able to talk with a father and daughter from Guam. C wasn`t very interested in what we had to say, but his daughter C was. We were able to talk to her about how the gospel blesses families, and Fuller Shimai even gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon! She started reading it right away! It was a pretty cool experience and taught me that there really are people that Heavenly Father has prepared for us everywhere we go! If we pray for opportunities to share the gospel, I know that Heavenly Father will give them.
 (My first glimpse of Japan :)

Our first two nights in Japan, we stayed at the 本部 (honbu - mission home) with President and Sister Welch. I already love them so much, and I can`t wait to work with them over these next 16 months. On Thursday morning, we woke up and went with the APs to a park near the honbu. We ran down the road, and it was so nice to have nice wet air in my lungs (Utah`s dry air made it pretty hard for this Southern Girl to breathe). Once we got to the park we did something called Taisan (I think...). Basically it is this radio program that comes on every morning at 6:30, and all of the 

(Friday morning after we hiked up a mountain)

Elderly people go to the park to do this workout. It is SO fun! :) We were able to do it, and I remember thinking Just how much I LOVE Japan! I am so lucky and blessed to be able to serve here!

On Friday, we met our trainers! My trainer is McLaughlin Shimai! She is from California, and is almost done with her mission. She only has three transfers left! We get along so well, and make a great team! I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to work with here. We are serving in an area called Tsuyama. It is in the middle of NOWHERE and is SO big! McLaughlin Shimai said that she once biked 2 hours and wasn`t even close to the end of our area. It took us 5 hours by train to get here from Kobe, but boy do I love it! Tsuyama is definitely an Inaka (countryside area). It is full of rice fields and farmlands as far as the eye can see. :) It makes me happy, and in someways reminds me of home.  

(Me outside our Apartment complex - The Shining Smile Apartment Complex ;)

Tsuyama has SO much potential, and I am so excited to serve here. Our branch is made up of about 20 people with about 200 less active members. And each of the members in our branch is in need of lots and lots of love. It`s a good thing I have lots and lots of love to give! Not to mention Heavenly Father has even more love to give, and I can`t wait to share that love with them every chance I get! There is a lot of work to be done here in Tsuyama, and I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to help!
Yesterday was my first Sunday here in Japan, and to top it all off, it was also Fast Sunday. I was a little bit nervous that I would feel overwhelmed, but I know that Heavenly Father blessed me because I loved every minute of it. I may not have understood a single word, but I felt the spirit so strongly. The language may not be the same every where we go, but the language of the spirit is always the same, and as we strive to listen to it, we can learn so much! In Sacrament Meeting I was asked to introduce myself to the branch. I told them a little bit about myself, and bore a brief testimony about God`s love for us. Then each of the Elders serving in Tsuyama bore their testimony as well. After that, many of the branch members got up and bore powerful testimonies. The spirit was so strong in that meeting. In the middle of Sacrament Meeting, McLaughlin Shimai leaned over and whispered that she had never seen so many of the members bare such powerful testimonies. Often they just get up and talk about how difficult their lives are, but this time they each spoke with such power. Most of the youth even bore their testimonies,and they never do! It was such a wonderful experience, and I know that Heavenly Father really does love each and every one of these members! They are so wonderful, and I know that they have testimonies, we just need to help strengthen them. Because there are only 5 worthy priesthood holders in this branch, a lot of them are overworked. We are hoping to help them in whatever ways we can to help take a burden off of their shoulders. Like I said, a lot of work to be done, but I am excited!

(the Church Building)

Last night we were able to spend some time with the K Kazoku Triplets. We walked with them to the Matsuri to watch fireworks. They are 17, and are thinking about serving missions. We love spending time with them, and helping to strengthen them. I really do love this branch!


(Rice Fields outside of church.  Inaka for days!)

Robertson Shimai
(or as I am known here Robotosan Shimai. :) They all get a kick out of my name! It usually ends up with some comment about Robots. They even do the robot. I kindof love it!)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm Alive!

July 31, 2014

I made it to Japan safe and sound. :) I love it here! We find out who are companions are and where we will be going tomorrow. Preparation day is 
on Monday, so I'll write you more then. Just wanted to let you know that I am alive and doing well!

I love and miss you all! :)

Your favorite Missionary