Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 29: メリクリスマス

Merry Christmas! 

With Christmas coming just around the corner, we have been blessed to see so many Christmas miracles. We have also been able to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. On Tuesdayafter Zone Training Meeting, I got to go on a kokan with Komai Shimai (one of the Sister Training Leaders). She is from Hokaido. It was so fun to be able to spend the day with her. 
Komai Shimai and Robotosan Shimai

We missed our bus to Yonago, so while we were waiting for the next bus, we had some hours to kill. We went to the Aeon (a big mall) and went finding. 

We talked to so many people, and were able to share with them just a little message about the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a big deal in Japan, but not in the way that it is in America. In Japan it is just the commercial side of Christmas that is a big deal. In all the store there is always Christmas music playing. And some people even have illumination (that is what they call Christmas Lights). But, even though many people love Christmas, they have no idea why we have Christmas. In Japanese Christmas is Kurisumasu. And Christ is Kurisuto, so they don't even really have Christ's name in their Christmas. It is fun being able to share the spirit of Christ every where we go. We didn't get to Yonago until around8pm, and then had to leave again after studying the next morning. 

So, most of Wednesday was spent traveling. By the time we got home on Wednesday night, it was about 7pm, so we ate dinner, and then worked on making Christmas cards for the branch, and updating records. Thursday was another slow day, and the more and more the week went on, the more and more my faith began to waiver. I know that if it is Heavenly Father's will, we can and we will see two baptisms by the end of the year, but with all of our plans falling through, and our K san not being able to meet with us, I knew that he wasn't going to be ready... So, we just kept praying, and working as hard as we could. 

Snow! On the way home from Yonago we passed through a giant snow storm! Luckily we were nice and warm on the train. Komai Shimai said it looked like Hokaido!
 (Which is the Island way north at the top of Japan, close to Russia)

On Friday we were able to have a lesson with M San again. She is so ready to be baptized, and to accept the gospel into her life. She even prayed about being baptized and was able to feel the spirit. She knew that it was true. She said though that right now she can't. She doesn't have the energy to fight with her son right now, but she knows that one day his heart will be softened, and she will be able to be baptized. I am grateful for her, and for the things that I have been able to learn as we have taught her. My testimony has been strengthened, and I know that this church is true. That is the whole reason I am here in Japan right now. 

On Saturday, we felt like we needed to visit H and M, our investigators who we have been trying to meet with for weeks. We have seen H every so often, but haven't been able to teach her, and her daughter M has always been busy as well. We felt like it was a good night to go though, so we reviewed the lesson we had prepared, and went over. At first H's friend was over, so we just visited, but then once her friend left, and M got home from work, we were able to teach them a little about the Plan of Salvation, and about the purpose of this life. We taught them about how this life is the time to prepare to meet God. We taught them about some of the obstacles we face, sin and death, and how because of these things, we can't return to live with God. We then talked about Jesus Christ, and through His atonement, we can overcome sin and death. We then taught them about the things that we need to do in order to return to live with Heavenly Father and with our families forever. First we need to have faith in Jesus Christ and in His atonement. We need to repent of our sins and transgressions. We need to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we need to endure to the end (by continuing to follow the commandments, continually repenting, taking the sacrament each week, and doing our best to become like Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father). As we were talking about all of these things, and how it is through this gospel that we can be with our families forever, M said that they needed to be baptized, and H agreed. H told us that she knew what we were saying was true, and that they wanted to be baptized. Although the date we set needs to change, it was amazing to see them so excited, and for them to recognize the spirit, and have the desire to do whatever they need to be with their family forever. It was truly amazing to see. I remember hearing all of the time, how if everyone knew what we know, they would be running to the baptismal fonts, because they would know of the happiness and the joy that this gospel brings. I am so grateful that I get to share that joy with God's children here in Japan. On Sunday, H, M, and K san didn't come to church, and it made me a little bit sad. But, I knew that everything would be alright. While we were sitting in Relief Society about 30 minutes before church ended, I saw a car in the reflection on a glass sliding door. At first I was trying to figure out who it was. I knew the car looked familiar, but I couldn't tell why. Then I saw a man step out of the car, I knew instantly who it was, but I tried my best to keep my composure. I tried to whisper to Howden Shimai who was at the church, but I Shimai, noticed that something was up. So I tried to very politely excuse ourselves. Luckily at that point the members could see the T family outside. The T's are a part member family, and we have been spending time with T Shimai and her daughter A chan, helping her to come back to church. The last time we saw them was on T Shimai's birthday last week. We were so excited to see T Shimai, her husband (who is not a member), and sweet little A Chan who just turned 5. They had come to drop off Christmas Presents, and M Kaichou (the branch president) convinced them to stay for the rest of Church. He took T Kyoudai to Priesthood, and then we took to A Chan and T Shimai to Primary. She did so well, and we were so excited that they came! We couldn't stop smiling. The members were all so loving and welcoming, and really tried to help them feel welcome. It was so nice to have another child running around, and it really helped to bring some life into the members. It really was a Christmas miracle. Although I won't be home for Christmas this year, I am really enjoying the time that I have to remember Christ as I serve Him this year. What an amazing opportunity is it to be a missionary.

I love you all so much and I am truly grateful for each and every one of you. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

You are in my thoughts and prayers! Love, 
Robertson Shimai
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Gifts from the Branch, they got matching turtle neck shirts! Howden Shimai and Robertson Shimai

Snow outside our apartment in Tsuyama (it isn't sticking yet though)

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