Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 13: "Sincere prayer is the heart of a happy and productive life."

Konichiwa Kazoku to Tomodachi!

Genki desu ka?

This week has been pretty great! So many things have happened, so hopefully I'll have enough time to tell you everything (or at least all the really exciting things).

This past week has been pretty amazing. McLaughlin Shimai and I were able to find lots of potential investigators, and we are excited to see where things go with them. We also had the opportunity to work with some of the members, which was great. It is amazing to see the changes here in Tsuyama that have happened in the short time that I have been here. The members have really started to understand missionary work, and how as missionaries we are here to help them. On Saturday we had the opportunity to serve a family in the ward. I love the K Kazoku, and I love doing what we can to help lighten their load a little bit. Every time we see K Shimai and ask how she is doing, she always says that she is okay with a very defeated kind of tone. We have been trying our best to help her feel loved. We asked if there was anything that we could help with, and the next time she saw us, she told us that she needed help with her house. Her house has been a construction zone for at least the last year. For the longest time, they didn't even have a back wall. We were able to go over and help her put her kitchen back together. All of her daughters even helped us! (She has 17 year old triplets, a 14 year old daughter, and then a little boy about Liam's age). I really love their family. They remind me so much of home and all of my sisters. It's the best!

When we got to her house, she told us that she had invited her friend over for dinner as well. We were able to talk with her friend, and get to know her a little bit. I think it was really helpful for the K kazoku to see how normal missionary work is. Before we left, we shared a message about Jesus Christ, and how he is our comforter. I shared my testimony, and although I still say things slowly, I knew exactly what I wanted to say, and was able to testify with power because I knew what I was saying. Sometimes I feel like when I speak Japanese, I just say the same phrases over and over, but when I am able to testify of what I know is true I can really feel the spirit testify through me. It is amazing. At church the next day, K Shimai told us that her friend loved us, and wants to meet us again. Missionary work really is so much easier with the members. It was also really nice to see K Shimai so happy. 

We were also able to go out and visit some less actives with the Relief Society president on Sunday. We weren't so sure how it would go, but even though the less actives we had planned on visiting ended up not having time to talk, we could tell that H Shimai was so excited to be out with us. The first less active that we visited was a sister that she hadn't seen in years! The smile that came across both of their faces when they first saw each other, was priceless. They were so happy! That smile really helped me to realize just how important members are in this work. We are hoping that the members will continue to realize how important they are, and will be more open to missionary work. 

Something else that I really loved this week, was Trainer Trainee Training (a training meeting in Kobe at the Honbu where all of the missionaries being trained and all the missionaries training meet with the Mission President, his wife, and the Assistants to the President). It was so nice to see everyone, and to feel like we are all in this together. That we aren't alone. Because all of the missionaries being trained are all first and second transfer missionaries, we are experiencing the same kinds of things. I also enjoyed everything that was shared. I learned so much! One of the things that I learned, was how to make my prayers more effective. I have really been trying to follow what S Choro taught us, and I have already started to feel the difference that it has made. I still have a really long way to go before I am able to pray perfectly (something that I know will never happen in this life), but I hope to continue to strengthen my ability to pray and to counsel with Heavenly Father. There were times growing up, that when I prayed I wasn't even sure there was anyone there that really heard me. Now that I know Heavenly Father is there, and that he really does hear my prayers, I want to be able to strengthen my relationship with Him. S Choro had us read an article with him about prayer. He told us that someone had showed it to him while he was on his mission, and that it changed his life. 

"Sincere prayer is the heart of a happy and productive life. Prayer strengthens faith. Prayer is the preparation for miracles. Prayer opens the door to eternal happiness. The Father of us all is personal, ever waiting to hear from us, as any loving father would his children. To learn to communicate with him, to learn to pray effectively, requires diligence and dedication and desire on our part. I wonder sometimes if we are willing to pay the price for an answer from the Lord.
As we learn to develop this two-way communication, the standard of our life will improve. We will see things more clearly, we will try harder to do better, we will see the real joy that can come through trials and testing. Although problems will still be with us, peace, contentment, and true happiness will be ours in abundance.
As you feel the need to confide in the Lord or to improve the quality of your visits with him—to pray, if you please—may I suggest a process to follow: go where you can be alone, go where you can think, go where you can kneel, go where you can speak out loud to him. The bedroom, the bathroom, or the closet will do. Now, picture him in your mind’s eye. Think to whom you are speaking, control your thoughts—don’t let them wander, address him as your Father and your friend. Now tell him things you really feel to tell him—not trite phrases that have little meaning, but have a sincere, heartfelt conversation with him. Confide in him, ask him for forgiveness, plead with him, enjoy him, thank him, express your love to him, and then listen for his answers. Listening is an essential part of praying. Answers from the Lord come quietly—ever so quietly. In fact, few hear his answers audibly with their ears. We must be listening so carefully or we will never recognize them. Most answers from the Lord are felt in our heart as a warm comfortable expression, or they may come as thoughts to our mind. They come to those who are prepared and who are patient."
It is amazing just how much prayer can change your life. When we really sincerely pray, I know that Heavenly Father will answer us. He loves us, and he wants to hear from us. So, this week I'd like to invite you all to make your prayers more meaningful. Really talk with your Father in Heaven. Counsel with him. Tell Him what you are going through. Ask him questions, and then listen for answers. Take your time, and be patient.
I am so grateful to be a missionary, and to serve in this branch. We had the opportunity to teach seminary early this morning. It was really early, but I loved every minute of it. I love spending time with the youth. They are so special!
I love you all! Sorry I'm out of time! I hope you all have an amazing week! 
Robertson Shimai
1. One of the little bridges that we pass almost every day. It was a really beautiful day, so I decided I had to take a picture to show you where I live.
2. Some of the youth and I after church yesterday. We didn't get the chance to take a picture at seminary this morning.

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