Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 24: Gyoza Party! It's almost like Thanksgiving at home...


I hope you are all doing well!
This week has been great. On Monday night the Sister Training leaders called and told us that they wanted to go on a kokan with us. So, on Wednesday night we met up, and I headed to Okayama with Colter Shimai (we are always together for kokans and I love it. We are like honorary companions), and then Howden Shimai and Donnelly Shimai headed back to Tsuyama. The thing that I wanted to learn most on my kokan (exchange) was how to make finding more effective (since we have A LOT of finding time), and how I can better study Japanese, since I feel like I am finally getting a grasp of the language. So we worked on that. I've realized that when we go finding, I don't really know how to say the very basic introductory stuff (without really thinking about it) besides, Hi, we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have a message we want to share with you about eternal families, or the purpose of life, etc. But then after that I just freeze, and don't know what else to say, so then comes the "keko desu" which very nicely means, thanks, but I'm fine, and not interested at all. So, I really wanted to work on that. I have learned that when I know the words, then I don't get as nervous, but when I struggle for them, I get scared and end up saying nothing, just waiting to be kekoed. Colter Shimai helped me work on what I would want to say in English, and then translate that into Japanese. She also helped me talk to a couple of people (on the train, in a restaurant, door to door, on the street), Then when Howden Shimai and I were on our way home, I felt much more confident and was able to talk to a lady on the train. Nothing really came out of it, but I was able to practice my Japanese and become more comfortable with the language, and with speaking to others. Kokans are the greatest! But as always, it is always nice to be back home with my companion, and back in the area with the people that I love. 
While I was in Okayama, Howden Shimai and Donnelly Shimai were able to contact a referral that we got from the elders a while back. We have tried to get in contact with her, but she hasn't been home. Howden Shimai and I felt like it was the perfect time to go and try to contact her again, so off they went. K was home, and they were able to teach her a lesson. She is 15 years old and so prepared to hear the gospel. Her family situation isn't the greatest (her mom, step dad, and half brothers live somewhere else), and she lives with her grandma in a little 1 bedroom apartment. She really wants to have a better family though when she becomes a wife and mother, and even though her family situation is rough, she still loves her family and wants to be with them forever. The sisters taught her about God, and how He is our loving Heavenly Father. As they taught, she was so interested in everything they were sharing with her, and she was absorbing it like a sponge. They taught her how to pray, and she said that she wanted to pray, and that she would pray this week. We are so grateful for her desire to learn, and we are excited to teach her again on Wednesday. She is the same age as one of the young women in our branch, and we are excited for them to meet as well (especially since R will be the only young woman when M, M, S, and T graduate at the end of this school year). The work is really starting to pick up here in Tsuyama, and I know that Heavenly Father is placing people in our paths who are ready to hear the gospel. It's amazing all of the little miracles that we see everyday.

One more cool thing that happened this week, was with our young women. After District Meeting on Friday, we headed over to the K Kazoku's (Family) house. We had asked if there was anything that we could do to help them, and K Shimai asked if we could help clean her house. So, we headed over and weeded her garden with the triplets until it got cold and dark. Then we went inside and helped clean (their house was recently remodeled, and so there was a lot of saw dust on the windows and doors). Then we made some gyoza for dinner (it was just like Thanksgiving, and reminded me so much of home!) 

Gyoza Party!
After dinner, we shared a short message with them about the BOM (since they haven't all started reading yet). We talked about how important the Book of Mormon is to us, and how much it has changed our lives. Then we challenged each of them to start reading every night. When we asked if there was anything that we could do to help them, they asked if we could help them prepare for their missions. We were SO excited, and told them we would love to help them, and that they could come dendo with us if they had time. Also that they could doseki some of our lessons. When we were headed home, Howden Shimai and I couldn't even express how grateful we are to know these girls. We had hoped that something we had said had touched their hearts, and that they would have the desire to read the Book of Mormon, and to prepare for their missions. On Sunday, K Shimai was talking to us, and thanking us for coming over and helping. She then said, that R had mentioned that she thought it might be a good idea to read the Book of Mormon. And even though R didn't get up and come to church, that her mom had found a Book of Mormon lying next to her on her pillow. :) Even though it was a really little thing, it really touched my heart. I love this branch, and I especially love the Youth. They are so amazing, and I am grateful for all that they've been able to teach me. 

We "Heart Attacked" a member's house
I love you all so much! You are so amazing, and I am so grateful for the impact that you have all had in my life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and know that I am praying for you!

Robertson Shimai

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 23:What a week. Where do I even begin?

What a week. Where do I even begin? Let's see. This week, on Tuesday we biked to visit one of the members in our branch. She is probably in her late 80s, and she lives all alone. We felt like we needed to stop by and share a little message with her. So, we set up an appointment on Sunday, and then on Tuesday after study and lunch, we biked up to her house. When we got there we looked for it, but couldn't quite find the right address, so we asked a neighbor for directions. He told us that it was actually the house next door, so we said thank you and headed our way. As we got to her house, we couldn't tell if anyone was home or not. The garage has pretty much become a shed full of old worn out appliances, and piles of boxes everywhere. We headed to the front door, and knocked, but no one answered. We went to the door in the garage, and knocked on that door, but no one was there either. So, we decided to just go housing (door to door finding/tracting). I am still not the most comfortable with housing, or finding in general, because I am not very good at conversational Japanese. I know how to teach a lesson, and to bear my testimony, but that doesn't always work so well. Well, we knocked on a couple of doors, but they either were't home, or weren't interested. We kept on going though, and we got to a house a little bit down the road from M Shimai. We knocked on the door, and someone actually answered (which doesn't always happen because when the do answer it is just through the ping pong box - I guess in America you would probably call that the security camera...). We started talking to her, and were able to teach her about the purpose of life. She said that we could come back if we were in the area. We aren't sure if she is really interested, but we'll see. After we had finished talking to her, we decided to stop by M Shimai's house one more time before we headed back to the church for Eikaiwa. We knocked, and there was still no answer, so we decided to leave her a little note telling her that we loved her, and were sad that we missed her. Well, as we were writing the note, and didn't have a whole lot of time left, a car pulled up. And there was M Shimai, so sad that she hadn't been there, and that we had had to wait. She asked if we had time to come in, and knowing that she would be devastated if we said no, we went ahead and went in. M Shimai is such a sweet lady, and half the time I can't understand a word that she is saying. We can't really communicate all that much, but everytime I see her, she is always filled with the biggest smile, and with so much joy. That particular day though, we could see that she was having a rough day, and we were so grateful that Heavenly Father helped our paths to cross. Had we felt like we should leave and go housing somewhere else, we wouldn't have been able to help her in her time of need. Little things like that have happened so many times this week. It is definitely all God's timing. As we try our best to follow Him, and to listen the little promptings that we get everyday, He helps to put people in our paths who really need the gospel. Another day when we were out finding, we went to this apartment complex that I had felt like we needed to go to when we passed by a few days before. As we went up to the top, I wasn't so sure why we needed to be there, but we had been guided to this area two times before. So housing we went. The first door, no one answered, but then the next door we knocked on, a mom answered the door with this smile on her face. Like she was so happy to see us. Usually when people come to the door they just look overwhelmed, or not interested, or uncomfortable. But rarely ever do they look happy to see us. We told her that we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she just kept smiling. Then we told her we wanted to share a message with her about how she could be with her family forever. It was then that she said something. She told us that now was not a good time, because her children were sick, but she didn't tell us that she wasn't interested, which is the usual response. We gave her a chirashi with our information on it, and then kept on housing. Although we are not sure that she is interested in the gospel, we are going to go back another day. Even though we have not had a lot of success when you look at our numbers, we have been working hard, and Heavenly Father has been blessing us. He has helped me to become more confident in myself, and more reliant upon him. When we are led to an area where all we get is rejection, it helps me to appreciate the gospel even more, and appreciate the blessing that it is in my life. 
As a mission, we have all started reading the Book of Mormon, with a goal to have it finished by February 28, right before my birthday. The youth in our stake were also invited to finish the Book of Mormon by the next Stake Conference (in April). Over the last week, I have really gained a love for the Book of Mormon, and I never want to put it down (although I only have a few minutes here and there to read it, outside of my personal study every morning). On Saturday, we went to Young Women's in Excellence, and the young women were talking about the goals they were setting for this next year. When one young woman mentioned that she wanted to finish the Book of Mormon over these next six months, everyone giggled, and you could tell that no one thought that she could actually do it. They asked where she was, and she said that she was still reading in 1 Nephi (the very first book). I was so grateful at that moment that President Welch had committed us as missionaries to reread the Book of Mormon. I was able to tell her that she wasn't alone, and that we were right there with her, and that I had just started that morning. I'm not sure if it really sunk in, but I hope that my love and support, and my testimony was able to help her in some way. I truly love these people, and I truly love the gospel. I love that I have the opportunity to not just read, but to study the scriptures, and the serve God with all my heart, might, mind and strength. As I have been reading, I have been marking all of the times that the scriptures refer to God, or to Jesus Christ. I have also been marking anytime that they speak, as well as marking any Christlike Attributes, or Characteristics of Christ. It is amazing to see just how much they are in the scriptures. The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ. They only time you don't see His name, or a reference to Him, or His life in some way, is when the people are being wicked, and forgetting to recognize the hand of God in their lives, and to recognize that they need to follow the example that Jesus Christ set for us. I am so grateful for the scriptures. I could talk about them all day if I had the chance. Just know that I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that is is true. I know that it contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that we truly can come closer to God by reading and studying the Book of Mormon. So this week, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon, look for the ways that you can apply the teachings into your life. Look for all that it teaches us about our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. I promise that if you really look, you will find Him on every page. 

I love you all so much, and I wish that I had time to write you all back individually. Remember how important you all are to me, and just how much your Father in Heaven loves you. I'm praying for you all. 


ロボトサン しまい

Week 22: I've never been happier! Being a missionary is the best.

It has been an amazing week. We have really been able to get out and get to work. We have also had lots of finding time over the past week. 

This week we had a really cool experience while we were finding. We had been finding before, but weren't putting our all into it. On Saturday though, we had the whole day to find. As we headed out we prayed to make sure where we were headed was right. Then we headed out. 

While we were biking Howden Shimai told me to lead the way. I told her that in theory I knew where we were going, since I had only really been there once or twice and not for a whole transfer. So we put our trust in Heavenly Father, and contacted people along the way. We were also able to talk with two of our Less Actives who the branch has been asking about but we haven't been able to get in contact with. They were both home, although neither of them were interested in hearing from us. We also contacted a lady on the street, but she didn't have any interest either. We have realized, and  really feel that in Tsuyama, we really need to find those people who will be able to strengthen the branch rather than really needing to be strengthened. We are still keeping our eye out for everyone, and contacting everyone we feel directed to talk to, but now we have a little bit more of a focus. As we kept biking, I was trying my best to be guided by the spirit, and not over think where we were going. Each time we came to a place where I felt like we needed to turn, or to go straight, or to go this direction, we tried to follow those promptings. After a while, we came to the place that I had in mind. A ramen shop where McLaughlin Shimai and I had eaten dinner once before heading home. We had met this couple there that seemed interested, but because we had to answer a phone call from one of the members in the Branch Presidency, we weren't able to get any information from them. We knew that they must live close though, because we saw them riding their bikes home. Once we found the ramen shop, we said a prayer, and then listened to know where to go. Our thoughts were guided to an apartment building off the road, and down this little bridge. So, we headed over and said a prayer before we began housing. As we were knocking on the door of the first couple apartments, a girl on a bike rode up. Neither Howden Shimai or I felt directed to talk to her (we felt like we should just wait until we got to her apartment). So, she went upstairs, and we kept housing. No one was home, and we weren't having a lot of luck, but we knew that we were directed there for a reason. So we kept on housing. We got upstairs, and with only four apartments left, we ping ponged, and a girl answered the box. She seemed like she may have been a little interested, and didn't immediately keko us, but after about a minute, she and her boyfriend told us they weren't interested. I thought that she was the girl on the bike, and said a little prayer that we could be guided to someone who was ready to hear the gospel. We ping ponged the next door, and another girl answered. We told her who we were, and she told us to wait a second, and then she came to the door.  There she was. The girl on the bike! As we talked to her, and told her that we had a message to share with her about the purpose of this life, she said please share. Please teach me! We were so surprised, and we knew that Heavenly Father had guided us there to find her. She told us that she was moving the next day to Tokushima (on Shigoku), and that we wouldn't be able to meet with her again. We told her that there are missionaries there as well, and she seemed really interested. After teaching her for about an hour, we asked if we could pass her information along to the missionaries in Tokushima, but she said she didn't have a phone, or an email, and she wasn't sure of her new address. She asked if we had their information, and we gave her a chirashi, and told her where she could get in contact with them. It was an amazing experience to really try and rely completely on the Lord as we were finding, and although we didn't find someone who could strengthen our area, we were able to find someone who was prepared. It also helped to remind us that there are others out there who are prepared now to hear the gospel, we just need to rely on Heavenly Father to guide us to them, and them to us. I have been thinking a lot recently about why I am here on a mission. Over the past 5 months, and even the 5 months leading up to my mission, my reasons have changed. I've realized though that one of the reasons I am here right now, is so that I can learn now how important the gospel is, so that one day I can teach my children that. I have really grown to love reading the scriptures, and praying, and bearing my testimony. I don't do it anymore because I have to. I do it now, because I want to, and I love it. I want to share the love I have for this gospel with everyone I meet, and I want to be able to help my children love it too. Being a missionary is the greatest, and like I said before. I couldn't be happier!

I love you all so much! You are all so wonderful, and I pray for you everyday. I know that your Heavenly Father loves you, and cares about you more than you'll ever truly know in this life. He wants to hear from you, and He wants to help you. I promise He hears and will answer you prayers!

I love you!
Robertson Shimai