I hope you are all doing well!
This week has been great.night the Sister Training leaders called and told us that they wanted to go on a kokan with us. So, 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. 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, 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!)
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., 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.
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!