Monday, August 29, 2016

Typhoons are here to stay...


It's been less than a week since I last emailed all of you, but it's been crazy.

My rain pants
Let's start out with the rain. So I found out that Japan has both a rainy season and a Typhoon season, and right now we are in the middle of Typhoon season. Last week, I thought we were just getting caught in a bunch of rain storms, but those were typhoons, and another typhoon is going to hit tonight. This week it rained a lot more and I got soaked. I actually completely forgot that I brought rain pants until 2 days ago and those made all the difference. They can be a little annoying since you have to take them off every time you go to someone's house (even if it's just to knock and see if they are home) but I was so much more dry and it was so worth it. Yay for rain pants!

I love the rain, it looks so pretty, it's kind of fun to bike in, and it's even fun to get a little wet, but when we get soaked it's a lot less fun. Earlier this week we got completely soaked and we felt so bad visiting people because we didn't want to go inside their houses and drip water all over the place. It was rough, but now I have rain pants so it's okay!

This week was also Zone Conference, which was so amazing. We had a whole day in Oyama with both the Kiryu West and East zones, do you know what that means? I GOT TO SEE BARTON SHIMAI!!!!! She is in the other zone, so this was the first time I got to see her since we got to Japan and it was so sweet. She is amazing! Ah, I've missed her, and it was so nice to see her. It's comforting to know that we are all struggling here, but we are supporting each other from afar. Barton Shimai is so strong and she is doing so well. I also saw Honda Shimai...haha we always have a good time together. I'm so glad she is in my zone. They gave us these huge bento boxes for lunch with rice and chicken and she ate hers so fast! She says it's because she was a water polo player, haha, she ate so fast, it was kind of amazing.

One thing I learned at Zone Conference, is how much President and Sister Nagano love us. They really do! I love our Mission President and his wife. They took the time to talk to each of us and to really help us learn. They weren't afraid to do mogis with us and set an example. They really lifted my spirits and made me excited to be a missionary. Zone Conference really helped me get back in the missionary spirit, something I feel has been dwindling over the last few weeks.

At Zone Conference, we also did mogis. Lots and lots of mogis. For those of you who don't remember, mogis are role-plays. Sister Pourre and I did all of ours in English since no one else could understand Portuguese and we aren't teaching in Nihongo. It was interesting to role play in my native language, where it's more of a challenge to decide what to say than trying to figure out how to say it.

After Zone Conference, we got on the first train to go home. It takes about 3 trains to get from Oyama to Oizumi. Well, on the first train we got off the wrong stop. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but we needed to be back in Oizumi in time for Eikaiwa that night. Never fear though, the Lord always has a plan. The next 2 trains that we got on both had kingens (golden investigators)! We met Shizuka and Giovanna, both of whom were so prepared to hear about the gospel! We are excited to teach them this week because they are so ready! So even though we made a mistake, Heavenly Father was guiding us to the people we needed to talk to :)

On Tuesday, I finally got to go to Ping Pong and someone showed up! So funny story, before coming on my mission, my mom made me practice ping pong every day because every church building has a ping pong table here (maybe I've already told this story...) Anyway, my skills have not gone away! The investigator was super good, but I managed to score a few points, so yay!!!

Japanese Candy Mix - Before and After
We had so many great lessons this week. I don't even know how to express it to you. I have felt the Spirit so strongly this week and it's been amazing. There are still many people who aren't home and it is frustrating to bike all around Oizumi and not teach any lessons, but those lessons we did teach this week were amazing. I will just tell you about one of them.

On Saturday, we taught Maribel the Plan of Salvation and it was so great. First of all, she told us she was already trying to change her work schedule so she could go to church, without us having to ask!!! Then we taught her the Plan of Salvation and she was so excited. She said it answered the question she has had for so long about where our spirits will go. Then she gave this amazing description of the Terrestrial kingdom and I got worried that she was going to say that the Terrestrial Kingdom was enough for her, she didn't need to aim higher, BUT SHE DIDN'T. She said that if the Terrestrial Kingdom was that amazing, she didn't even want to try to describe the Celestial Kingdom. It was so sweet and the Spirit was so strong. It's lessons like this one that help remind me just how amazing it is to be a missionary. I have the opportunity to help others learn about this amazing gospel.

Sunday was so good as well. Ana Paula and her daughter came to church and in Relief Society we talked about the talk "Do I Believe?" from Bonnie L. Oscarson and we were able to talk about a wide variety of things that the church believes. It was a good overview, especially since we have only taught her 2 lessons. It was probably a lot of information, but the members did such an amazing job of explaining and testifying to her and she loved it!

Another reason why church was so good was that I'm starting to understand more! Not just at church, but in lessons as well! I'm teaching more and I understand more too. I can't think of a response fast enough, but understanding is the first step! Yay Portuguese!

So many exclamation points...but it really was a great week. I love being a missionary!

The only bad thing that happened? Hehe...I fell off my bike and really scratched up my leg. The members yesterday saw it and told me multiple times that I better be careful from now on. I will! I promise!!! Don't worry!

Our pumpkin soup
Also, my mom asked me about food from the members. The members here are amazing and they do give us food and they always make sure there is water in the fridge. There is one member that gives us vegetables every week, it's interesting to see how we can use the vegetables. He's given us tomatoes, potatoes (we still have so many), bell peppers (I put them in my curry), and this week he gave us a small pumpkin. Today we made soup in the pumpkin and it was so good! Good thing it was p-day though, because it took longer than we expected. :) The members here are amazing! They are always so excited and they have so much faith. I love them!

Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I love being a missionary and helping others come unto Christ. This week has been rough, but also so rewarding. The people here are so great, I love Japan!


Black Shimai

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I've lived through a Typhoon...or two

Tokyo Japan Temple

Sorry this email is a day late, but today is Temple P-day! We got to go to Tokyo and go to the temple.

This week was a little insane.

On Tuesday we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders in Oyama. We actually forgot to set an alarm the night before (we needed to wake up early to catch our train) so we ended up waking up 1 min after our first train left. We were so late, but it was ok. Exchanges were so much fun! I was with Sister Wooley, who was Sister Pourre's MTC companion. That day we were going to go to a lesson mogi with a member, except she lived really far away. So we biked 1 hour to get there on some pretty sketchy sidewalks, but once we got to the city, google maps decided to not work. We spent an extra 40 min trying to find her house. We had to call her twice and we asked 2 different people for help. We went into a fireworks shop at one point to ask this grandma for help and just as we were about to leave, it started pouring. We hadn't been expecting the rain so we were not prepared, but this nice grandma saw our problem and gave us 2 umbrellas! We returned them after the lesson, but it was so nice! That's just Japanese culture I guess. She even told us that we didn't need to bring them back.

The actual mogi was really fun. Some of the member's family was there eating dinner so we got to talk to them a bit and then teach her after they left. She even fed us some curry! Japanese curry is so good. Did I mention that this was all in Nihongo? I've missed Nihongo, and it was so fun to be able to spend a whole day speaking Nihongo. I was a little sad when we went back to Oizumi the next day, I missed Nihongo so much.

On Wednesday we came back to Oizumi and we had the chance to talk to Leia. She is amazing! Her faith is out of this world and I love teaching her. We talked about prophets and she just understood and accepted everything. It was so great. She also gave us more Goya, bitter melon. Apparently you need to cook it for 15-20 min, and last time we only did 5 min and it was so bitter.  Feel free to go try some Goya though, it's more bitter than you think it is.

Dinner with Adriana
We also had the chance to go eat some Brazilian food at Adriana's. The Japan Tokyo mission has a tradition where the last 2 days of your mission you get to go visit some of your old areas. Well, Sister Sakamoto is leaving and she wanted to visit Oizumi so Adriana made her lunch and invited us to come. It was so good! Seriously, this was a week of delicious food. She made some fried cheese balls and fried chicken cones and stroganoff (but Brazilian). I didn't understand most of what everyone was saying, but that's ok because Sister Sakamoto's companion didn't understand anything either. It's nice to have someone who doesn't understand, makes me feel better that I'm not the only one.

On Thursday we had Zone meeting in Maebashi, which was way fun. I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but Honda Shimai (my childhood friend from Minnesota) is in my Zone, so we got to see each other! Zone meeting is really interesting because they tell us all these things to work on and it's super inspiring, and then the Oizumi missionaries have to take everything and apply it to Oizumi in a unique way. Oizumi is kind of it's own separate mission because it's a different language and culture and has some different rules (we get up at 7 instead of 6:30 and go to bed at 11 instead of 10:30 for example). We have to be a little creative with how we apply the things that they talk about in Zone meeting to fit our culture. It was so fun though. The missionaries in my zone are great!

After Zone Meeting, Sister Pourre and I had the chance to go eat lunch with Tessa. Tessa is an investigator that lives in Maebashi and we recently had to refer her to the Elders in Maebashi since we can't visit her very often. Maebashi is about 1.5 hours away from Oizumi by train. We had the chance to eat with her and it was so fun! We got udon and takoyaki (octopus in dough) and it was delicious. We had a chance to talk to her about a few different things like missionary life and I think she is going to be an amazing investigator.

That same night, we were calling Potential Investigators and we found a girl named Nisha who was super interested in the gospel. We were so excited! She actually lives in Hiroshima, so we had to refer her to another mission, but we are excited for her to learn more about the gospel as well. I love when people we meet show that kind of excitement to learn.

On Saturday, it rained a lot. I actually got to wear my rain shoes (Crocs). It was so wet. My skirt got soaked, which was really fun. There was just SO MUCH RAIN! And despite the rain, no one was home. It was weird. But funny story, we were turning around on the street because we had gone the wrong way and somehow the toe of my shoe got caught on the ground and my shoe came off! Luckily it wasn't too busy of a road and a nice lady stopped her car so I could go grab my shoe, but it was funny. Dangers of riding a bike in flats I guess.

On Sunday we took the train to go to Takesaki and watch a broadcast of the Sapporo Temple dedication! We went with some members and it was amazing. I'm so excited for the people of Japan to have this third temple. It is beautiful and it really helped to remind me why I love temples so much. Temples are the best and I'm so excited that we got to go to the Tokyo one today!

Now we get to the typhoon part. I'm not exactly sure which parts of the week were typhoons and which parts were just rain. Maybe there was a typhoon on Tuesday when we were on exchanges, maybe there was one on Saturday, but I do know that Monday there was a typhoon for sure.

It was pouring all day, and for those of you who don't know, missionary work doesn't stop for a typhoon. We were biking all over trying to visit people, but again no one was home (so weird). My skirt was soaked within 2 min of stepping outside, but the top part of me was dry thanks to the great rain coat we got. Thanks mom! We did a lot of phone call lessons on Monday as well because it was so rainy. When it wasn't raining, the wind was insane, making biking really hard. I would pedal and wonder if I was actually going anywhere, the wind was so strong. But now I can say I survived a typhoon!

Japanese Raman
At dinner we had the chance to go eat Raman with Naomi and Camila, two recent converts. They are so cute! Naomi reminds me of Alena a lot. The Raman was really good too. You haven't tried anything until you've tried Japanese Raman. We were able to have some good lessons with some sweet spot investigators (teenager/young adult age) last night as well, so it was a good day.

Then today we had to ride trains for almost 2 hours to get to the temple, but it was so worth it. I love the temple! The Tokyo temple is gorgeous too. Also, I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but the Tokyo temple isn't closing any time soon so I still have many more chances to go! Yay! Honda Shimai's Great Uncle actually happened to be in our session so he took all 4 of us to lunch. We got so much food, but it was so good. He was really nice and he has done so many crazy things. He taught Elder Stevenson Japanese at the Language Training Mission (what they had before the MTC) and when the Tokyo Temple was dedicated, he took President Kimball's luggage to his hotel. He has done so many cool things, it was so nice to talk to him. It was a great experience. I love the temple and I can't wait to come back soon!!!

This week has been rough. It's been raining and many people aren't home, but it's also been great. We have gotten better about talking to everyone on the street and inviting them to learn more or to come to Eikaiwa. I know that the Lord is preparing people in Oizumi for us to teach. Oizumi is great and I'm excited to be here!

At the Tokyo Japan Temple
Also, funny story, my mom mentioned in her last email that my brain might be going crazy because of the Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and English. It is so true, I have started mixing languages so much and it's a problem, especially when I know the person understands Nihongo and Spanish...oh dear. Well, the other night, Sister Pourre was reading phone numbers to me and she said the numbers in all 4 languages. One second she would be in English, the next in Portuguese, then Nihongo, then Spanish. Then I did the exact same thing to her! We just about died laughing. I guess it's a good problem to have though since it means I know enough Portuguese to start mixing it with other languages.

I've also started teaching parts of the lessons, so Portuguese is going well.

Lastly, I am on Facebook, this is a Facebook mission. I can't respond to messages though and I can't see what you all post. However, I will probably be posting a few things throughout my mission, so enjoy those!

You are all amazing! Thank you for your love and support!

Black Shimai

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Just keep biking, just keep biking


This week was literally insane! Because I have my own bike now, we can bike to some of the investigators and less actives that are far away. We can also visit way more people. We taught so many lessons this week, it was crazy.

At the beginning of the week, we biked to Isabelle's house. She is a recent convert that lives decently far away. She is so sweet though! We had such a good lesson with her. After the lesson, we didn't really know how to get back, so we just started biking. We biked halfway to the next city before realizing we went the wrong way. Whoops! At least we passed some beautiful rice fields. :)

The first few days of this week were kind of a blur, to be honest. We taught a lot of lessons and we found a lot of new investigators. Then on Thursday, I had my first District Meeting! The District Leader and the Sisters from Kumagaya were both pretty late because the bus schedule changed, so we had some time to do personal study. During the meeting though we talked about mogis and practicing our lessons. In the MTC, mogis completely changed my lessons, so I'm really glad they talked about it. Sister Pourre and I have been doing role plays every day, and it is so helpful.

With Sister Parker and Sister Wadsworth
After District Meeting, we went to lunch with the Kumagaya Sisters, Sister Parker and Sister Wadsworth. They were amazing! They are actually going home this Friday, so this was their last District Meeting. We went to go eat some hamburgers (so good) and on the way, they found some Nihongen kids to give Eikaiwa flyers to. They were so bold, it was great. I learned a lot of great things from them, most importantly patience. Becoming bold and becoming good at a language take time, but as long as you stick with it and push forward, great things can happen.

Also, turns out that Sister Parker is from the same stake as Sister Hill (my MTC companion) so we talked about her and how great she is! <3

So the first part of the week was amazing, but the second part of the week was really rough (still good, but rough). Right now is a big holiday in Japan, called Obon. It's a really cool Japanese holiday where every one goes to their hometowns and celebrates their ancestors for a week. In Oizumi though, it's a little different. Obon is huge in Japanese culture, but many Brazilians just use it as a holiday. Therefore, no one is home. So many of our appointments fell though, so we did a lot of housing and finding, but even then, not many people were home. It's all good though, because the lessons we did have were amazing.

We taught a new investigator named Marcileia about the Restoration. She was so prepared! She loved it. You should have seen how carefully she held the pamphlet after the lesson. I'm really looking forward to our next lesson with her.

We've also been teaching Leia more. She has a baptismal date now and she is so excited to go to the temple soon! We are so excited for her! She wasn't able to make it to church this week, but she has a clear schedule from now on to come to church!

All of the people here have the cutest families and I love teaching them. Kennya has two kids who are so cute! The last time we saw them they just got a new kitten and they were playing with it and it was so cute. Kennya is such an amazing investigator as well. I tried to share a message last time we visited her (in Portuguese of course) and she was so patient with me.

Kennya and her family
Which leads me to Portuguese. It is still hard, but I am learning! Last week we found the Portuguese version of the Ninja (basically a Preach my Gospel phrase book in Portuguese) and so I've been using that to learn sentences to use when teaching. I can now teach about half of the Restoration very simply, but it's a start. I'm also really working on staying focused and actively listening to investigators during our lessons. I might not understand what they are saying, but I can pick out words. I'm also working on speaking up sometimes and sharing my testimony or asking questions. I know that as I put in effort to speak, my language learning will improve so quickly.

Now for some funny moments...kind of funny.

On Saturday night, Sister Pourre found a huge cockroach in our bedroom and she freaked out, except that I couldn't find it to kill it. Therefore, we had to sleep in the study room that night. Haha, we still can't find it, but we think it's dead or gone, so it's all good.

Black Thunder Ice Cream!!!!
I found Black Thunder Ice Cream!!!!!!! And it is sooooooooo good! Just as good as the candy! It was the best day! I found it at 7/11 after a long day of canceled appointments and not being able to find anyone, so it made the day a little bit better. Also, for those of you who don't know, 7/11 in Asia (especially in Japan) is super huge. They sell prepared food and they are literally everywhere. We probably go into a 7/11 at least once a day. They are great!

Vivi, another of our investigators, noticed how sweaty we get when we bike so she got all 4 of us missionaries little sweat towels! It's so nice, especially since I sweat a lot. I got to Japan in the hottest time of year and since we bike all day, I just sweat constantly. The towel is nice so that I don't look as gross when I go to other people's houses. Such a nice gift.

Haha, also everyone found out that I can play the piano, so not only do I play in sacrament meeting and at church, I also play at District Meetings and I will be playing at Zone meeting this week. Don't worry mom, I'm still putting those years of piano lesson to good use!

Lastly, there is CK. She is Filipino and a recent convert and she is so great! We talk about all sorts of things with her. This week we gave her a Book of Mormon with our testimony in it and a few of our favorite scriptures marked and she was so excited. She wants to take it to school to read! She also fed us a huge Filipino feast! She has all these different Filipino snacks and treats, it was so good. We also started talking about different fruits from the Phillipines and they have a lot of similar ones to Thailand. Sister Pourre hasn't tried many of them, so today when I spotted a dragonfruit I had to get it. She's going to try it tomorrow. I'm so excited! Other fruits we talked about were mangosteens and rambutans (look them up on the Internet, they look kind of funny, but they are so good).

This week was really good. I have a lot more confidence than I did last week. I'm trying to talk more and I even took the lead when speaking to Nihongens. I still feel more comfortable in Nihongo, but as I learn more Portuguese, it is getting harder to remember Nihongo. Luckily we are going on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders tomorrow, so I will have a whole day of Nihongo!

I just want to leave you with a little thought. This week I've been reading a talk about the "4th Missionary." Basically there are 4 kinds of missionaries, the first two go home early because they aren't obedient, the 3rd is obedient because it's what is expected of him and he doesn't get much out of the mission. The 4th missionary completely submits his will to the Lord and comes away from the mission changed. There is so much more to the talk and it is so good, but I only have a little bit of time. I just want you all to know that I am really trying to be the 4th missionary. I want to come away changed, I want to help others, I want to spread the gospel, but I can only do that if I let the Lord guide me. That's hard for me to do since I always want to do what I want to do, but I've been trying this week to really focus on what the Lord wants me to do. There have been times when I feel prompted that we need to go visit someone on the other side of town. My body doesn't want to do it because it's a lot of biking, but I know that it's what the Lord wants. We have been so blessed this week to teach many people and find new people to teach. We may have biked over 10km a day, but it is worth it.

Thank you so much for your love and support!

Black Shimai

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hola from Japan


 You read that right. Hola from Japan. I am currently in my first area in Japan! I am in Oizumi which is kind of a suburb kind of a country town kind of place. But the most important thing you need to know is that it is filled with Brazilians and Hispanic people. So, I am not speaking Japanese, I am trying to remember the Spanish I learned in Middle/High school and I am learning Portuguese. But more on that later.

I will start with the airplane. That was a rough airplane ride. I was able to call my family when I was in the airport in Salt Lake City and it was so nice to hear their voices. I love my family, they are the best. Our first flight was to Portland and that was pretty ok. I mostly just read my scriptures.

Once we landed in Portland though, our flight to Japan was already almost done boarding. We all thought we would have an hour in the airport, but nope, it was straight on to the next flight. That flight was about 10 hours so I tried to sleep, but it was hard. I only fell asleep for 20 min at a time. The food was pretty good though and many of the missionaries had the chance to share the gospel with others. I talked to one of the flight attendants about missionaries because she sees them flying to and from Japan all the time.

Black Shimai with Mission President and his wife
We landed in Japan at about 3:00pm and had to go through customs and get our luggage before going to meet our Mission President, President Nagano. After which we drove almost 2 hours to the mission home. We were all so tired and I had the worst headache, but I couldn't fall asleep. I wanted to see Japan. There is a lot of green here, in some parts, so it's a little bit like WA.

When we got to the mission home we had a light dinner. That was the most delicious soup and rolls I have ever had! Maybe it was because I was so tired? Then President Nagano interviewed each of us briefly. At this point, I was about to fall over and die, I was so tired.

Anyway, earlier at the airport he asked if any of us knew Spanish, so me and 2 other Sisters said yes. During my interview, I explained that I took 6 years of Spanish. He prayed for inspiration on where to send each of us and apparently Oizumi is where I am supposed to be. So, that's how I ended up here.

After the interviews we all collapsed in bed. It was only 8:00 but we were so tired. The next morning, Hill Shimai, Barton Shimai, and I ran around the block a bit for exercise then got ready for training. Training was a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be. I didn't realize that in training, they don't really teach you how to be a real missionary, your trainer does that. Training was over by 1:00 and then we were given our area assignments and our trainers and we were sent back to our areas.

It takes about 2-3 hours to get to OIzumi from the Mission Home, so I got to see a little bit more of Japan. My trainer is Sister Pourre (pronounced Poh) and she is from Brazil. She has only been in Japan for 2 months, so we are both kind of new!

Black Shimai with her new companion Pourre Shimai
Oizumi is great though. I have only met some of the investigators and members, but they are all amazing. It is really frustrating that I cannot teach lessons or really talk because every one speaks Portuguese (which is very different from Spanish). I have been struggling over the past few days because I can't help much because I am new/don't really know how to be a real missionary and I can't speak/understand anyone. However, I am on my way to learning the language, and a lot of my Spanish is coming back so I can speak with our Spanish investigators.

Besides the constant struggle of learning the language, there have been some miracles.

1. Because of my thumb, we couldn't bike the first few days which meant we had to do a lot of walked. Many of our investigators live far away from each other so we could only visit a few a day and it was really hot and hard. However, on Saturday, my thumb felt good enough that we got permission to start using bikes! I'm using someone else's bike for now, but I'm getting my own soon. I will send you pictures next week. 2. One of our investigators, Leia, came to church on Sunday! She speaks English, so when we visited her last time I was able to help teach her. We emphasized the importance of church. She had never been to church before. This time she said she didn't want to make a promise, but then she showed up! It was so amazing! 3. Last night, we were tracting and we were able to give out a Book of Mormon. That just felt so amazing. We can tract for an hour and not find anyone, but we found her within 10 min. It was amazing!

So yeah. It's been a rough week, but there have been some small miracles. My trainer is amazing, she always supports me and helps me. She also rides her bike super fast, so I'm trying to push myself to ride faster as well! We also have 2 Elders here, Elder MIller and Elder Passos. Elder Miller is kind of like me, he came to Oizumi 3 months ago and has had to learn Portuguese. His is so much better than mine though, so I hope that I can be like him in 3 months. Elder Passos was actually in my Senpai group so I already knew him. At the MTC, he was super quiet though, but his English is so much better now and it's great!
All the new missionaries with their companions and the mission president
Other fun moments...In Japan, we teach Ekaiwa which are English Classes. This week we played charades and it was so fun. I had to try to act out "Shrek" and someone else had to act out "Disneyland". We also tried to have a volleyball activity. That was the first time I've played volleyball since I hurt my thumb.

Also I have cooked! What?! We walked into a little store one day and I saw the same Japanese Curry squares that my mom uses at home so we bought some and made curry two days in a row. It was super good. Haha, my companion can't cook at all, so I do most of the cooking. I also convinced her to buy some fruits and vegetables at the grocery store today. :)

Japan is so fun! It's hard to be learning 3 different languages, and sometimes I accidentally use a mixture of all 4 that I know, but it's great. I feel really fortunate to be teaching so many people and helping them come unto Christ. I have basically just been getting to know people so far, so hopefully next week I can tell you a bit more about them. Also, I don't understand what most people say, which makes it hard to have stories to tell you about. It's getting easier though! Baby steps. Thank you for all of your support and prayers! I can really feel your love!


Black Shimai

Last Email from America!


This is my last email from the MTC. Technically, I am writing this email at the MTC, but I will be sending it from Nihon. I just wanted to get all my thoughts down from my last few days in America, because I am sure I will have lots to say about my first week in Nihon.

These last few days have been insane. I never really thought the time would come for me to be leaving the MTC. Every spare moment is spent either packing, last minute studying, or having people sign my Sayonara Hon (basically like a yearbook for missionaries). However, we are still on a normal schedule, so we have to plan lessons and teach.

My MTC companions
We had our last lessons with Shimada-San, Marissa-San, and Asuka-San on Thursday and Saturday and they were all amazing. Hill Shimai, Barton Shimai and I really focused on bringing the Spirit to those lessons, and they were all so great. The Spirit was so strong and we felt like we were really connecting with our investigators. I felt so much love for them in those lessons and I just wanted to finish teaching them, but sadly, we have to go to Japan. Teaching these investigators makes me so excited to teach the people in Japan. It's going to be an amazing experience!

On Friday, we had In-Field Orientation where we spent the whole day learning more about the basics of being a missionary. It was so much fun! We focused on the Doctrine of Christ, finding, goals and planning, and working with members. We had the chance to practice talking to people (other missionaries) and tie in the gospel. I had so much fun because I got to meet missionaries that are going all over the world, including some Elders that are going to Argentina and have to fly for 16 hours then take a bus for 30 hours to get to their mission. I feel lucky that my flight is only 13 hours.

Some of the key takeaways from In-Field Orientation were: Love the people, love the members. They can feel your love. If you are in a ward for 4 months and don't know everyone's names, you are doing something wrong. Listen because you care, not so you can respond. Goals are so important because they push you to be better.

Orientation was so much fun! I even got to be in a play about the first few days in the mission field. I was a Primary President and I only had 2 lines, but it was pretty fun.

Saturday was by far the saddest day. It was our last day of classes, our last exercise time, our last time seeing our teachers. In the morning, Lewis Shimai and Haderlie Shimai taught us. I am going to miss them so much! They were always so cute, and they have the strongest testimonies. During this last class, the Spirit was so strong. They were amazing teachers and I learned so much from them. We took some final pictures with both of them and it was so sad!

In the afternoon, it was our last class at the MTC and Lewis Shimai was teaching us. We had a really good discussion about how we have grown over the past 9 weeks and how our views of the Missionary Purpose have changed. I know how important the purpose is and how it can help us become better missionaries. We also read Alma 29 and it could not have been more perfect. Recently, I've noticed how many times the Book of Mormon says that Heavenly Father promises that the gospel will go to "all nations, kindreds, tongues and people" and I am a part of that. I am going to share this gospel with the people in Japan and fulfill this promise.
All the sister missionaries from our zone.

We took one last picture with Lewis Shimai and with our other teachers Gappmayer Shimai and Budge Kyodai. I feel really blessed to have been able to learn from all of these teachers. They are all amazing and they have helped my testimony, my ability to speak Nihongo, and my desire to serve grow. I will miss them all!

At Zone Devotional, all of the Senpai bore their testimonies and it was so sweet. I will miss the Kohai as well. They have been such an example to me. Their testimonies and they way they conduct themselves makes me want to be a better missionary.

Saturday was sad, but it will all be okay. It is a happy sad because we are going to Japan.

Today (when I am writing this email originally) is Sunday. Today we turn in our iPads and we go to our departing devotional. I never really thought this day would come. Have I really been here 9 weeks? 2 months? Is 1/9 of my mission really done? While I am excited to go to Japan, I also do not feel like I am prepared. Are any of us really prepared though? Today in Sacrament Meeting, the Senpai will be singing a medley of "Lead Kindly Light" and "I Need Thee Every Hour." It took us a long time to decide on those songs, but now that we have, I don't think there is a more prefect musical number that we can have.

As I begin this journey in Japan, I will have to rely on the Lord a lot. However, I know that he will always be there to guide me.

As I leave the MTC, I would like to share my testimony with all of you.

Our MTC District and our teachers

I know this church is true. It can bring happiness, joy, peace, and love into your lives. I have seen it work miracles and bring light into the lives of those who are lost. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have read it 1.33 times here at the MTC and it has brought me so much joy. I decided to serve a mission because of how happy the Book of Mormon made me and I am excited to share that happiness and joy with others. Joseph Smith was a prophet, called of God. He translated the Book of Mormon. He was an uneducated young man, but he brought forth the most important book in the world. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. There have been so many times when I have wanted to give up, but He is always there to help me and guide me and tell me what I need to do. I know that the Holy Ghost is always there to guide and comfort us. I have felt so much peace because of the Holy Ghost. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. His Atonement is an amazing gift. When we use it, we are able to change our lives and be forgiven of our mistakes. I am a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I love this gospel. I know the power it has to change our lives.

I love you all and I look forward to emailing you from Japan!

Black Shimai