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.

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