Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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!)

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