Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 21: What happens when you forget your phone in a member's car...

You get 13 missed calls, 1 message, and 1 voice mail. We got calls from our district leader, our zone leaders, or sister training leaders, and even from the APs (assistants to the President). We realized once we got home that we had left the phone in the H's car on the way home from dinner. It was too late to go to the Elder's apartment so that they could call the H's, so we just prayed that everything would work out. Luckily after trying to contact us 13 times, eventually they contacted the Elders so they knew that we were okay, and had just forgotten our phone. The Elders called up the H's, and then H Kyodai dropped off our phone at their apartment. Then this morning, the Elders stopped by and brought us back our phone... Whoops. Moral of the story, never forget your phone when you are a missionary. Especially not on Sunday night when everyone is calling for follow ups.

What a crazy amazing week. So many things happened that I'm not sure I will be able to tell you all of it, but I'll try my best. 

On monday evening last week, we were able to teach one last lesson before McLaughlin Shimai headed home. We had been trying to schedule an appointment with one of our investigators, but she would always have to cancel. We decided to give it one last try before McLaughlin Shimai headed home, and before we dropped her since we could never meet. I felt like we really needed to teach her again, so we set up an appointment. We told her that McLaughlin Shimai wanted to say goodbye, and she said we could come over that night. On our way home from Family Home Evening, we stopped by her house hoping that we would be able to teach her. She invited us in, but we weren't sure if we would be able to teach her a lesson. Then her daughter came downstairs. As I was talking with her daughter, McLaughlin Shimai was able to talk with H about families. Then she asked if we could watch a quick video. They gladly said yes, and so we put in "Together Forever." There is one video where a mother and father are talking about their daughter, who had passed away, and how they know that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they can be with her again someday. As we were watching the video, the spirit was so strong, and I know that both H and her daughter were able to feel it. (H's dad passed away recently, her mom is really sick, and her other daughter just had a baby. She has been experiencing a lot of big events these last couple of weeks, and has expressed how important family is to her.) After we shared the video, we bore testimony of eternal families, and why we are here as missionaries. We asked them if they would like to learn more, and they said they would. I was so grateful that we were able to follow the spirit and not give up on her. She needs the gospel in her life, and I know she is ready to hear it. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary, and to share the gospel with so many people. To help them to change their lives, and to help give them hope. It is truly amazing. 

On Tuesday morning, we headed to Okayama where McLaughlin Shimai dropped me off and headed to Kobe. 

Mc Laughlin Shimai and I on the train to Okayama

The Sister Training Leaders where there to pick me up, and then I spent the rest of TuesdayWednesday and Thursday in Okayama with them. It was so fun to be in a san nin (trio) for a couple of days. We were able to teach a lot of lessons (3 a day), and with every lesson I felt more and more confident speaking Japanese. We also went housing a lot, and as a result laughed a lot. At one point we were housing, and I didn't know what to say, but instead of just letting them talk, they told me what to say and I repeated it. By the time I was done saying a few sentences, the person actually came to the door (I was just talking the the ping pong box - with a video camera). :) Although he wasn't really interested, it was nice to be able to get him to come downstairs so we could talk to him. 

( I forgot my bike helmet in Tsuyama, so I had to borrow one... This was all we could find.)

Being in Okayama was really great, but I was really excited to meet Howden Shimai on Friday and head back to Tsuyama. Howden Shimai is great. She is from Utah (although her parents are both from South Africa). She is on her 11th transfer, so just a transfer behind McLaughlin Shimai. We get a long really well, and I am excited to work with her. 
(Howden Shimai and I)

On Saturday the Branch had a Halloween Party, and we dressed up as spring and autumn faries. It was so fun. The members already love her. At our Halloween Party, we had two members bring their friends, and we also had three families from Eikaiwa come. It was so much fun, and a great way for our Eikaiwa students to build a relationship with the members. :) 

( Halloween Party, Almost everyone at the party)

Yesterday after church, we were able to go to the Autumn Festival with two of our other Eikaiwa students. There was a parade with o-mikoshi and danjiri. 

( o-mikoshi - it was really heavy, and had to be carried by all of those people)

The o-mikoshi is a little shrine that is carried, and then the danjiri is like a float.

(One of the six danjiri)

 In Tsuyama we have the third ranked o-mikoshi in all of Japan. It was cool to be able to learn a little bit more about Japan, and the place where I am serving. We also had the opportunity to share a little bit about how we don't buy things on the Sabbath day, and about God. As they were telling us about the customs behind the o-mikoshi, and about all the different gods in the Budhist religion, it made me grateful for the knowledge that I have of our Heavenly Father. I am grateful that I can pray to Him anywhere, and about anything. I am grateful that my relationship with Him has strengthened since I have been on my mission. I know that Heavenly Father is real. I know that He loves each and every one of you. He loves all of His children. I know that He hears our prayers. I am grateful for His love and guidance. I know that He answers our prayers, and that He is always there for us. We just need to ask. I promise that as you really sincerely pray to Him, you will feel of God's love for you.
I love you all, and I pray for you everyday.

Robertson Shimai

 (Okanomiyaki Cake for an investigator's birthday. He is diabetic, so we couldn't make real cake)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 20: Transfers week has come!


I can't believe I am already at the end of my second transfer here in Japan. I have been so worried about transfers, and what will happen with Tsuyama. Well, after a couple of weeks of freaking out, we finally know! I am staying here in Tsuyama! And I honestly couldn't be happier. As I was getting ready for bed last night, I felt so much peace and I knew that no matter what, everything would work out. My new companion is Sister Howden. I'll meet her on Friday.

Miku (Mc Laughlin) Shimai and I
Tomorrow we head to Okayama where Sister McLaughlin will drop me off to spend the next few days with the Sister Training Leaders, and then Sister McLaughlin will head to Kobe on her own. It will be so weird not being with her all the time. It's been so wonderful having her as my companion (and trainer), and I have learned so much.

 I'm so excited to be staying here in Tsuyama! And to serve with Howden Shimai.

This week has been crazy. We had a typhoon on Monday, and as we walked out the door to go home, the wind was whipping, and it was pouring... We decided it wasn't the best idea to bike home in the storm, so we called K Shimai, who came and saved us. :) So, even though there was a big storm, we were safe. Tuesday we had to go back to the church to get our bikes (since we had to be driven home the night before). We woke up, got ready, and walked to the Elder's apartment to get headphones. Then we walked to the bus stop, rode on the bus for about 5 minutes, and then walked 30 more minutes to the church for church study. We also had to take the Language Assesment (a test where you have to record yourself talking about different situations). We have to take it once every couple of months (I think). We took it twice in the MTC, and I remember not being able to say that much. This time though, I was at least able to answer all of the questions, so that was an improvement. There is definitely still room for improvement. Mostly I am just glad I don't have to worry about it for another three months!

On Wednesday we were able to meet with a recent convert who we haven't seen the whole time that I have been here in Tsuyama. She and her husband were baptized by the Elders a couple of months ago, but over time they stopped coming to church. Since McLaughlin Shimai is leaving, we thought that maybe they would like to see her. So, we called and I Shimai said that would be great. We were able to go with K Kyoudai and the Elders (since they haven't really met the I Family). I Kyoudai wasn't there, but we were able to see I Shimai and share a little message with her about Jesus Christ. We hope that the Elders will be able to meet with them again, and that they will be able to come back. 

Because of Interviews on Friday, we had District Meeting on Thursday, so Thursday morning we headed to Okayama for a couple of hours. We talked about the importance of Sacrament Meeting, and about teaching first lessons. I was able to really think about what the Sacrament means to me, and why I go to church. I go to church for the sacrament. By taking the sacrament, I renew the covenants that I have made with Heavenly Father. I also have the opportunity to be cleansed from my sins, and my short comings. Through the sacrament, I feel peace and comfort, and I am able to truly use the atonement of Jesus Christ in my life. I remember there were times growing up that I liked going to church because that was where I could see my friends. But, it wasn't until I got older, and especially since I have been on my mission, that I really began to understand the importance of taking the sacrament every week. After we got back on Thursday, we were able to go visit some less active members with the H Family. H Kyoudai called us while we were in Okayama, and asked if we were wanted to go visit people with he and his wife. When they came and picked us up, we found out that it was H Shimai's birthday! They wanted to spend the day with the Sister Missionaries on her birthday! What amazing people. I hope I can be like them someday. They are so selfless, and love helping the missionaries. We were so grateful for their kindness. We were even able to go visit some of the people we haven't been able to visit because they live too far away. We are so grateful for people like them that go out of their way to help serve us. On Friday we headed back to Okayama for our interviews with President Welch. We were also able to sit and talk with Sister Welch. I love the Welch's, and I am so grateful that I get to serve with them. 

After we got back from Okayama on Friday afternoon, we had sports night with the youth. 

Then we went to the young women's activity. We made homemade apple pie. 

It reminded me of Thanksgiving at home. :) I love the youth, and I was so glad that we were able to spend so much time with them. 

On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference in Nimi (a beautiful city in the middle of nowhere). We were able to go with the K Family. I love the K Family! They are so sweet. I was also given the opportunity to speak LOTS of Japanese. I would try and say something, and more often than not it was in broken Japanese. Then one of the triplets would daitai wakaru (mostly understand), say it back to me in proper Japanese, and translate it for the other two. It was really funny. :) I was grateful that I was able to say more, and that I was able to communicate with them. Heavenly Father has definitely been blessing me. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary, and to serve here in Japan. When people ask me my favorite part, it is always the people. The people here make all of the hard times so much more worth it.
 Stake Conference in Nimi with some of my favorite girls. (R, S, M, me, Miku Shimai, M, and M's friend)

I love you all so much, and I hope that you have an amazing week!

Robertson Shimai

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 19: Sometimes there are たいふ

Sisters Mc Laughlin and Robertson and the triplets

Once upon a time there were these missionaries that thought it would be a good idea to brave the storm and bike to the church so that they could email their families and friends. It was just raining, so they suited up, and headed out on their trek to the church. By the time they made it, they were soaked from head to toe despite their efforts to keep out the rain. (Don't worry, there is a video to follow.) They made it safely though, and were able to email in their dry clothes (that they were smart enough to pack) in the nice, warm, dry church building.

Haha. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. We really needed to email, because McLaughlin Shimai is leaving in a week, and she needed to find out what the plans are for her next week. So we braved the rain.

I don't know where to even start this week. It has been an amazing week. I have seen so many wonderful things happen, and I have felt so much peace. This week we had a kokon (exchange) with the sister training leaders. When Colter Shimai asked what kind of goals I had for our Kokan, I thought about the how I wanted to have more confidence, and to know how to better manage stress. Recently I have really been worried about a lot of things, most of which are out of my control. As the week went on, McLaughlin Shimai and I weren't sure how we were going to be able to make the kokan work, since she spent the majority of Tuesday in bed. We called the STLs and told them our situation. They told us that they would call us back and let us know what we were going to do. When they called us back they had already planned how we were going to make it work. They had talked with the Elders in our area, and were going to meet them at the train station, borrow their bikes (mountain bikes... there is a reason we use Mamachatis as sister missionaries... Mountain Bikes are really hard to bike on with skirts), and bike to our apartment where they would drop off Donnely Shimai. Then Colter Shimai and I would bike back to the train station, and head to Okayama. I was so grateful for their dedication to make it work. I was able to learn so much, and I was so grateful to be able to get out and teach. Colter Shimai and I were able to talk about all of the things that have been worrying me lately, and as I wrote them down, she had me go through and cross out anything that was out of my control. That, and a couple of other questions really helped me to be able to write it all out, and stop worrying about it. One of the last questions that she asked me was what the reality of my mission is right now. I started out with things like, I have been learning Japanese for 4 months, and I have been in Japan for 2 months. As I continued to write out the reality of my mission right now, the things I was writing started to change. I started to write the miracles that I have been seeing back home with my family, and the changes that I have seen in them since I have been on my mission. I started to write about how much closer my relationship with my Father in Heaven has become. As I finished, I could feel this load lifted. As soon as I started to really focus on the positive things, the worries went away. I was grateful for that simple lesson. While on our kokan, we were able to teach 3 lessons. It was wonderful. I absolutely love teaching the gospel. 

This week we were also able to watch General Conference. That was amazing. Never before have I loved conference so much. I was able to learn something from every talk, and when it was over, I couldn't help but want more. It's like Elder Ringwood was telling us, as a missionary you all of the sudden love conference so much, and never want it to end. Something that I have been thinking about recently is my vision of who I want to become, and aligning that with what Heavenly Father knows I can become. I thought about that a lot during conference, and the more and more I listened the more and more I realized another reason that I am on a mission right now. I want to prepare myself now to become the best mother I can be. I was reminded of the little things like saying family prayers, studying the scriptures together as a family, and the importance of Family Home Evening. It's amazing to me just how much I have begun to really love these things since I have been on my mission. I love praying, and not just praying, but sincerely praying to my father in Heaven. I love studying the scriptures, and learning something new every time I read. Being on a mission has really helped me to realize the importance of these things now so that one day I can do these things with my own family. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission. I am so very blessed.

For General Conference, we were able to stay in Tsuyama and watch conference in English on a member's computer. It was so nice to be at home in my "darling precious Tsuyama." On Sunday we had lunch with the branch in between sessions. It was so much fun. I really love this branch, and I love when they are happy. Being a missionary is the absolute greatest. :)

Well, I wish I could write more, but I should probably finish, so that we can make it home safely.

Remember that you are loved. Remember the importance of the little things. I love you, and I am so grateful for your love and support, and all of you kind words.

Sister Robertson

Well, I was going to send a video... but the file is too large. Sorry.

The Tsuyama Branch

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 18: He always answers our prayers, but not always in the way we want or expect.

Japanese Sunsets

Sometimes being a missionary is hard. And sometimes you get you heart set on one thing that will just make it a little bit easier. This week I was really looking forward to seeing the General Women's broadcast, and I was excited that we would be able to see it in English because we were headed to Okayama where there are people who speak English. Well, we got everything planned and set up, and we found a member to drive us, and we were so excited. We got to Okayama, and then the sisters there told us that there was only going to be Japanese. My heart sunk, and I just wanted to cry, but I had faith that it would be okay, and at least if I didn't understand anything, I would be able to learn from the spirit. As I sat there, the frustration set in. I only understood a couple of words here and there, and I wasn't really getting anything out of it. At one point I was so frustrated that I sat there and prayed. I begged and pleaded to just understand something. This was a good thing that I wanted, I just wanted to be uplifted, and have my testimony strengthened as I listened to the general women presidencies of the church. Well, just then, they showed a video, and there were English Subtitles. (I think this is the video that she is talking about).
 I remember being so grateful, but so frustrated all at the same time. I guess I was hoping that maybe all of the sudden I would be able to understand Japanese perfectly or something. As I sat there, trying to be strong so that the members didn't know that inside I was a complete mess, I tried so hard to be grateful for that little bit of English. Thinking back on that experience now, I've begun to realize that learning Japanese is not going to be easy for me. It's going to take work and effort, but it is also going to take a lot of faith and trust in Heavenly Father and in His timing. The times when I have trusted in Him the most, are the times when Japanese comes more easily. The times when I just try to do it on my own it becomes almost impossible. For me, learning Japanese has been the hardest thing on my mission. I mean everything else is hard, but Japanese is the hardest. I have really had to rely on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I have learned so much as I have strengthened my relationship with him. It's amazing the blessings, and the miracles that I have seen as I have served Him. I have begun to really love praying. I remember before my mission it was just something that I did (or didn't do because I was too tired, or too busy, or too lazy). Now though, I pray when I need peace. I pray when I need comfort. I pray when I am frustrated and things aren't going the way that I want them too. I pray when I feel like no one else understands. I pray when something good happens. I pray when I am filled with so much gratitude. As a missionary I pray all the time, and I love it. I have truly seen the happiness and the blessings that it brings into my life. When I pray now, I know I am praying to my Heavenly Father, and I know He is listening. I know He really cares about me, and He wants to help lead and guide me. So even though I have been having a hard time, I have also been having the greatest time of my life. 

Last week we found out that Sister McLaughlin (my companion) is going home at the end of this transfer. It has been a possibility and we were just waiting for news. I am so sad that she is going home, but I am grateful for the time that we have had together, and for the two weeks left that we still have. I have learned so much from her, and from serving together. It is amazing to look back at these last two transfers and remember just how amazing it has all been, and how much I have grown. McLaughlin Shimai has been great at helping me to be more confident in myself, and being together through all of the trouble she has been having with her knees has taught me a great deal of patience. Together we have seen a lot of struggles, but we have also seen a lot of miracles. Tsuyama is my favorite place, and it will always have a big piece of my heart. We aren't sure what is going to happen here in Tsuyama.  Within the next two transfers, about half of the sister missionaries in the mission are going home, and we don't really have that many coming in. A lot of the areas are going to close for Sister Missionaries, and we are hoping and praying that Tsuyama isn't one of them. It has been amazing to see the changes that have been happening here. The strength that the members now have, and the smiles on their faces. Church is a happy place now, and we have even had members bring their friends two weeks in a row. The work here in Tsuyama is starting to pick up, and they are starting to see and understand a least a little part of their true potential. It is one of my favorite parts of being a missionary. I am so grateful for the time that I have been able to serve here, and I hope that it's not over yet. I really love Tsuyama. 
 Last zone picture (it was our last zone training meeting before transfers). I love this zone!

I love you all so much, and I am grateful for your love and support. I pray for you, and hope that you are all doing well! I hope that this week you are able to feel of Heavenly Father's love for you. 

Robertson しまい

LINKS to the talks Amanda mentioned from the General Women's Broadcast 

Keeping Covenants Protects Us,Prepares Us, and Empowers Us 

Sisterhood: Oh, how we need each other 

Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten the Work

Daughters in the Covenant

This rainbow she took a picture of with the Caption: Tender Mercies (from the Lord)