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

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