Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm grateful for earthquakes and snow


My advent calendar
Lets start with the crazy earthquake that happened Tuesday morning. Sister Chinain and I were at seminary and all of a sudden the whole room starts moving like a roller coaster, but everyone else was super calm and didn't do anything, they just acted like it was normal (which in Japan I guess it is). I just kept thinking "I was taught to get under a table or something when there's an earthquake. Why are you all just sitting there?" It went on for a while, and when it finally ended the members asked us it this was our first earthquake. I've been in 1 other one, but it was a lot smaller. Turns out there was a 7.6 earthquake about 300km away from Tokyo that morning. Nothing too bad happened, but people were talking about it for a few days. There was another on Thursday morning, but I was asleep so I didn't really feel it. Welcome to Japan. :)

With Sister Doll
Tuesday we also went to Koiwa for exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders. We were supposed to do it a few weeks ago, but it was the day that Sister Chinain was super sick. Well I was with Sister Doll and she was just starting to get sick so her throat hurt really bad. Did that stop us? Of course not! We stopped every person on the streets and we had some great lessons with less actives. It was way fun!
Care packages when we were sick

Wednesday we came back to Urayasu and we were running really late, but we still wanted to go back to Meikai University and study and eat there to see if we could meet any other students. Well we get there (talking to everyone of course) and we are wondering why there aren't any students around. Then we get to the cafeteria and there this unclear sign that just says the cafeteria is closed. That's when we realized it was a holiday, Labor Thanksgiving, so the university was closed. We felt pretty silly, but it was all good because we got to talk to even more people!

In Japan, Thanksgiving isn't big at all. Labor Thanksgiving is just a day off of work for them. However the members here know about Thanksgiving so we had some nice surprises.

Sushi bento boxes
Firstly was Liu-San, one of our investigators. We had dinner/a lesson planned with her on Thursday night and the day before she texted us asking if we had any plans for Thanksgiving. We told her we didn't. Well, for dinner that night she bought us sushi bento boxes and it was the cutest and most delicious thing ever. She is so sweet! We had an amazing lesson too. We found out that we really need to help her get to know Jesus Christ more before she will feel prepared to be baptized. She really wants to know him and we are excited to teach her more about him! That's why we are here, to teach about Jesus Christ and his amazing example to us. She is such an amazing person though. She really believes and really has a desire to have a strong testimony.

At the end of the lesson, we had about 10 min before we had to leave and she decided she needed to give us dessert so she really quick boiled some water and made these sesame mochi balls that were so good. We had to eat them so fast though to leave and be home on time. It was so bad, but so good!

Our second surprise was on Saturday. We started out the day helping the Ward clean the whole building (they pulled out everything in the closets and it took up the whole chapel. They threw away 200 kilos of trash). Then we rushed 30 min to Shin-Urayasu to meet with Kei Shimai, but she was late. She arrived right when we needed to leave to go to Suzuki Shimai. We had no choice, we had to leave. We were so sad to leave her. Then it took an hour to bike to Suzuki Shimai so we were late for her lesson too, but it turned out okay because the Yamashitas came and helped with the lesson. The lesson went all over the place, but the Yamashitas really helped. Their testimonies helped Suzuki Shimai make the goal to come to church at least once or twice a month. That's amazing . So that was a Thanksgiving miracle as well!

Some of my favorite youth - Sakura, Hannah,
and Momo
The ultimate Thanksgiving miracle came after Suzuki Shimai. All the missionaries were invited to the seminary FHE on Saturday night. We didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out to be so amazing. All of the seminary students bore their testimonies and it was so powerful. I didn't understand much of what they were saying, but I could feel their testimonies. These kids are really amazing. They not only have to struggle with being the only Mormons at their schools, they are also some of the only Christians in their schools. They juggle school, bukkatsu (after school activities) and extra tutoring and yet they still make church a priority. Japanese teenagers have such busy lives, yet these kids still go to activities and seminary. They have such strong testimonies and I loved feeling them.

Thanksgiving Dinner
After the testimonies, the teachers surprised everyone with a real Thanksgiving feast! They had a turkey, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, even sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top! It was delicious! Turkey has never tasted so good! (I also learned that turkey is expensive in Japan so this was really special). We had more time to bond with the youth which is always fun. Sister Sakamoto (the bishop's wife) later told us she was really impressed with the connection we have with the youth. Just 2 years ago the missionaries weren't close with the youth at all, but she can see such a difference now. I love working with the youth. They are so fun! They really are going to be the next generation of super strong stake presidents and relief society presidents. I'm grateful that President Nagano encourages us to work with the youth because I know that through the youth, we can really strengthen the rising generation and the future of Japan.

So my Thanksgiving turned out pretty well. I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm a missionary, I have an amazing family and great friends who support me, I'm serving in an amazing Ward that has so much dendo fire, and I am lucky enough to be living in Japan. I am grateful at I have the gospel in my life, and that I know about the happiness that comes because of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. That is a beautiful gift that I will forever be grateful for. There are so many more things I am grateful for, but we would be here all night. Just know that I am grateful for every single one of you. I can feel your love and prayers from Japan and I appreciate all of your support.
At the temple

Some other things that have happened this week:

On Sunday we had FHE at the Andersons with some investigators, recent converts, and less actives and I TAUGHT LESSONS BY MYSELF!!! I understood what people were saying and I was able to talk to them and share my testimony. It was amazing. I really felt the gift of tongues working in me. I was shocked as people would talk to me and I was actually able to respond. One thing I have really learned on the mission so far is patience with myself. I have to be so patient with myself as I learn new languages. I just want to jump in and be fluent, but that's not how it works. It takes time and work, something I am constantly reminding myself.

My companion and I at the temple
On Thursday we had another miracle. IT SNOWEDDDDDDDDD!!!!! Sister Chinain and I had actually heard it was going to snow, so we set an alarm to wake up at 1 am just to see the snow. Well the alarm went off and we didn't wake up. 6:30 am rolls around and the alarms go off and so I pray and start getting ready.  I hear this "ITS SNOWING!!!" We ran to the window and it was a mix of snow and rain but we didn't care, we were so excited. We ran outside and played in it a bit then we came in (it was so cold) and just sat in front of our window for 20 min while listening to Christmas music. It was beautiful. We got distracted so many times because we kept looking out the window. We didn't want it to disappear! Luckily it didn't and we even got to bike in the snow a bit. Yay snow!!! It made me so happy! I love snow so much!

Entrance to Asakusa
Today we went to the temple and it was just what I needed. I felt so much peace there. It was interesting. We actually went early to do some initiatories and we met Elder Kenley's grandma! Turns out, she tries to be in the same session as him every transfer to see him. She was super funny and she gave Sister Chinain and I cards afterwards. She was so sweet! I also saw a member that used to go to Oizumi even though she doesn't speak Portuguese and it was so nice. Ah, I love the temple!

After the temple we went to Asakusa. We met a guy who did a homestay in Portland with a Mormon family and a man who went to BYU and wanted a picture with us. It was so cool! People see our name tags and immediately know who we are! It totally made my day! So, if you ever see missionaries, please say hi to them! At Asakusa, there was a shrine and a lot of little shopping booths. We had so much fun looking at all the cute little things and taking pictures. We didn't have a ton of time, but it was still so fun. Ah I love Japan, it's just so cute!

So yeah, we are seeing little miracles all over the place and I love it! Heavenly Father blesses those who are working hard. We are working our hardest to help the people of Urayasu and we have definitely seen lots of small things.

One of these small things is the influence of the spirit of Christmas. This year, the church has the initiative to #LighttheWorld by following Christ's example and doing small acts of service every day of December until Christmas Day. I love it! They also put out a video (along with videos for each day of the month with ideas about how to serve) and we have been showing it to everyone. I love this video so much. Earlier I said that I've really been feeling the gift of tongues in my life, well this is part of it. I've been testifying about this video and the light and example of Christ a lot lately and when I do, I feel like the Japanese comes easier. That's 100% okay with me because the most important things I need to say are about Christ. If I can't say anything else, my testimony about Jesus Christ is enough. I love this video (if you want to watch it, go to Mormon.org/Christmas). I know that as we follow the example of Christ and work to light the world, we will not only feel more light in our lives, but we will help others feel more light as well. Truly, when we serve others we feel more love and joy. Right now I am serving others 24/7 and I feel so much happiness. I know that as we each strive to be more like Christ we can feel immense joy every day. Christmas is my favorite time of year and I am so excited to spend it in Japan this year, lighting the lives of others.

Thank you again everyone for your support and love. Have an amazing week ! See miracles and light the world!

Black Shimai

Monday, November 21, 2016

Disneyland? Almost.


This week went by crazy fast! How are we already done with Week 4 of the transfer? Someone told me that as your mission continues it goes faster and faster. I didn't believe them, but it really does! Ahhhhh!

At Mission School, Sue-chan and I made origami
of  flowers and the Tokyo temple
We decided to try something a little different this week. We heard about other missionaries visiting universities in their areas to find their English clubs to see if they could help them out and maybe interest them in Mission School. So on Tuesday, we went to Meikai University for lunch and to find the English Speaking Society. It was interesting. First of all, we ran into one set of the Elders (Elder Payne and Elder Akagi) who just so happened to do the exact same thing at the same time. That didn't stop us though. We ordered some food (it was interesting, I just picked something random because the ramen I wanted was all out) and sat next to a girl who was all alone. Turns out she is here studying Japanese and she is from Taiwan! She was so sweet and talked to us a little bit before leaving for her class. We want to go back and see her again soon! We were able to find an English club, but we aren't sure if we can join yet...we are waiting to hear back from the professor in charge.

This week we were also able to have a really good lesson with Liu-San. She invited us over for dinner, but that day she was running a little late, so we got there and she was still cooking. We were able to help her a bit while talking. She is such an amazing investigator! Her sister is a member and so when the Sapporo Temple was being dedicated, Liu-San was able to go to the open house and see the inside of the temple. We talked a little bit about temples, and I showed some pictures I have of the Sapporo Temple and she was like "I've been there!" It was so cool! One day I'm going to go to the Sapporo Temple! I want to see it so badly! We were also able to give a really good lesson about the priesthood to her and about why we need to be baptized with the restored priesthood, the right authority. It was such a spiritual lesson. She is really progressing well and I love watching her learn. She has such a strong desire to learn and follow the gospel!
Our Mission School is getting so big

On Friday we had Zone Conference and it was the best thing ever! Why? Many reasons.

Reason #1: We received some amazing training. I really learned so much from this conference and it was all about things that we have been struggling with as a companionship. For example, making sure we have study every day and don't overbook ourselves with lessons...or making sure we have a full p-day and don't overbook ourselves with lessons...or making sure we take the full hour for lunch and dinner and don't overbook ourselves with lessons. Are you seeing a pattern here? Yeah, we got the message pretty clearly. President Nagano actually told us specifically three times that we need to take a full P-day...people just keep wanting to set appointments on Monday! We are doing better though, don't worry!

With Bernadette
Another thing they taught us about was teaching in unity, especially with an inexperienced missionary (aka me). It was so helpful because that's something we have been trying to work on. They gave us some great ideas in how to mogi and practice. It was so helpful!

Reason #2: They gave us Thanksgiving dinner for lunch! They had turkey, cranberry sauce (sorry mom and dad, it was the one from a can), gravy, rolls, and mashed potatoes. Since I'm in Japan, I don't think I will be getting a Thanksgiving dinner this year, so this was a nice surprise. There wasn't any pie, but they did have Costco cake. When it came out Sister Pourre just turned to me and was like "Remember the last time we saw a Costco cake" I just died laughing. The last time we saw one was the Halloween party in Kiryu, the last day of our sugar fast. Good times.

Struggling with Hangers
Reason #3: No I didn't make a typo, SISTER POURRE WAS AT ZONE CONFERENCE!!! So this is a funny story. Flashback to the start of Transfer 2, right after transfer calls when Sister Pourre and I found out we were both staying. At that time we thought that at the end of the transfer Sister Pourre would be leaving so we decided to make plans for where she would go. I think I might have told part of this story before, but stick with me.

Basically my guesses for her were that she would either go to Urayasu and be with Sister Chinain, or that she would do whitewash training in a Japanese area. (This means she would be going to a completely new area without Sisters and train a new missionary. Therefore she wouldn't know the area and neither would her companion.) She thought I was crazy. Well, it turns out I wasn't because I was sent to Urayasu to be with Sister Chinain, and guess what happened this week? 3 new missionaries came to the mission from Brazil. One Elder went to Oizumi, one Sister went to Oizumi, and the last Sister? She went with a Sister Pourre to a brand new area in Chiba. So, it turns out I was right! Sister Pourre is whitewash training in a Japanese area! When she sent me that email last week I almost died laughing... many times.

Well, because it's the middle of the transfer, Chiba already had their Zone Conference, so President Nagano told Sister Pourre and her companion to come to our Zone Conference instead. So imagine my surprise when Sister Chinain tells me to turn around and I see my amazing trainer standing right behind me! We had so much fun catching up and talking about what's happened in the last few weeks. It was amazing to see her again! Ah, she is such a strong missionary, She's going to do great things in her new area! So proud!
P-day at Ikspiari

And that is my long explanation about why Zone Conference was the best!

Today for P-day we went to Ikspiari which we thought was going to be this super cool place that was like "an authorized Disneyland" but it was not. Cry! It was a cool little shopping mall and there were lots of little shops and places to take cool pictures. We also saw the Disney store (so cute! They are obsessed with a Alice in Wonderland and Ariel here) and a girl doing a dance/hula hoop show.

Also fun fact, this place was right outside Disneyland. The same station as the one you go to for Disneyland. We passed by the Disneyland Hotel on the way there. I could almost touch Disneyland. We were so close, yet so far. Don't worry, we still followed the rules. We just watched other people go to Disneyland instead. :)

One more crazy story. Sister Chinain and I have had a goal all transfer to reach the standards of excellence for lessons taught per week (20 lessons) and meaningful contacts (100). The first few weeks were rough because of lots of craziness, then last week we taught 21 lessons and had 89 meaningful contacts. Well, this week because of Zone Conference (which took all day on Friday) we got to Sunday and we only had 8 lessons and about 45 meaningful contacts. So in one day we needed 12 lessons and 55 meaningful contacts, and we had the faith that it would happen.

We talked to everyone that day. It was insane. On the streets we talked to so many people my head started to spin. Then we came home and did some calling to the Less Actives, Recent Converts, and Investigators that didn't come to church. At first no one was answering and we were really worried. We needed 6 more lessons and it was close to the end of the day. Then all of a sudden people started answering, then people started calling us back! We would be on the phone with one person and the next person would call. We would finish then call the next person and then another person would call and it just kept happening! It was insane because we were calling people back until literally the moment before we had to turn the lights out, but we hit our 20 lessons! Even more importantly though, every single person we talked to has been someone we have really been focusing on and they all weren't able (for some reason or another) to come to church. I really feel that these short lessons we had with them helped each of them to feel our love. They knew that we couldn't talk long, but we still took the time to see how they were and share a special message with them. I felt so much love for each person as we talked even just for 10 minutes. I know that we don't need a lot of time to show others how much we love them, it just takes a little bit of effort on our part.
Pie face - cute idea, difficult execution

This week we saw so many miracles! I've learned so much since being here in Urayasu, especially about how to show my love to others through the little things. I love the people here and I love being a missionary here. We are seeing so many miracles and we are seeing the area change so much! I love Japan and I love this work! Thank you all for your support and love!

Have an amazing week! (P.S. Next week is Temple p-day so I will be emailing a day later!)

Black Shimai

Princess staircase
And a secret garden

Monday, November 14, 2016

What do we do when we are sick? WE ORGANIZE


First of all, Japan is the best! :)

There are more at the bottom
I will start with today because we had an amazing P-day! We went to Daiba to go to the Tokyo Trick Art Museum, basically a 3D art museum where we took tons of pictures. It was so fun! There are so many cool things in Daiba like Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, the ferris wheel, and a Takoyaki museum. We only went to this museum, but maybe some day we will go back. It was so fun to take pictures! We thought it would be funny to do a lot of missionary pictures with our favorite Japanese Book of Mormon. It was great! We also did Purikura, a Japanese photobooth that makes your eyes really big. We also got Baskin Robbins! It was such a fun P-day! In this case, pictures really do speak a thousand words, so I will let the pictures do the talking.

Sushi with the Yamashitas
Last Monday, the Yamashitas took all 6 missionaries out to sushi and they let us eat as much as we wanted. With 4 Elders, it really was a generous dinner :) We went to a place where the sushi just goes around like a little train (like Genki Sushi in Factorial Mall) and you just pull the sushi out and its 100 yen per plate. You can also order other kinds of sushi and it will rush to you on the top level. I'll send a video so you can see. It was so fun and we ate a lot of good sushi! Sister Chinain and I were able to sit with the Yamashitas and talk to them. They are so funny! Sister Yamashita actually learned Spanish when she was younger and she wants to come to Mission School to learn more! The Yamashitas are one of my favorite families in the ward, they are so ready to help with everything and they are so warm and welcoming to all the members and investigators and missionaries.

Another fun thing about this sushi place was that they have a place to drop your plates down when you are done. Every 5 plates, a little movie shows and if the character wins, you get a prize! Sister Chinain and I each won once! I got a cute little juice key chain and she got a chicken one. It was adorable! Also, we went way over time, so we had to bike like there was no tomorrow to get home close to curfew. :) But it was worth it!

On Tuesday we were supposed to go to Koiwa to do exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. Last week I mentioned that Sister Chinain has been kind of sick, well on Tuesday she woke up and she was so sick that we had to cancel exchanges and we stayed in the apartment all day. It was both nice and terrible at the same time. Nice because we were able to recover from a crazy two weeks and we were finally able to organize the disaster that was our supply closet, but terrible because we couldn't go out and dendo!!!!! We did get a lot of contacting and calling done though and we were able to have a lesson with Miki Shimai about family history, which was nice.

Funny story, so on Mondays we usually do our grocery shopping in the morning, put all our groceries in a backpack and leave them at the church to pick up at the end of the night. Well, Monday night we had to rush to get home so we forgot our groceries, then we were sick on Tuesday so we couldn't get them, but we needed the food. So, we called the Elders and they were nice enough to meet us at a 7/11 near our apartment to give them to us. Well, the funny thing was that Elder Kenley and Elder Payne met us at 7/11 with our groceries, and as they gave us our groceries, Elder Akagi and Elder Kooyman showed up across the street, headed right towards us as well. How crazy that all 6 Urayasu missionaries would meet on the street? It was just so weird to see two sets of Elders coming towards us from different directions.

Anyways, after our sick day, we were able to continue for the rest of the week at like a 75% level. Sister Chinain was still sick (her voice sounded so funny) but we didn't want to take another sick day. Wednesday was a great day with a great miracle!

View over the water in Urayasu
At about 5:30am we got an email from a member far away (near Mt. Fuji) saying she would be in Urayasu at 2:00. There wasn't anything else. We had no idea who she was or why she was coming. So, we continued with our day and went to lunch with Sakamoto Shimai (ward missionary and the Bishop's wife) and asked her if she knew the lady. She didn't, so we decided to call the lady after our lunch.

Side note: Every Wednesday we have lunch with Sakamoto Shimai to talk about missionary work and how we can improve. She gave us a lot of ideas and gave us a lot of information about the Sisters in the ward that can help with member-present lessons and such. It was great. Also her family lived in Thailand for 2 years so she showed me a cool Thai cookbook (I recognized a lot of the food) and we talked about how awesome Thailand is :) Yay!!!

Free Food from Imaizumi-San
Continuing, at about 1:30, while we were still at lunch, the member called us saying she would be at the train station in about 30 min, and we finally got the full story. She is a member from the Nagoya mission who was bringing her friend, who lives in Urayasu, to the church for a church tour. So we hurried and biked to the church to prepare it for the church tour. They showed up just as we finished and it turned out that the friend was a former investigator! Her name is Imaizumi-San and she is this cute grandma who LOVES to talk. We only showed them the chapel and then they just talked and talked and talked. We could barely get a word in, but the member did a lot of testifying. We also found out that Imaizumi-San loves Christmas songs so we sang a few and it was really great. She is interested though, and it was a crazy miracle! After the tour, they gave us a huge bag of snacks as a thank you! It was so sweet!!!

Ice Cream from Baskin Robbins
Thursday was our last day with Hitomi Shimai. She was the first person I met when I got to Urayasu because she came with Sister Chinain to pick me up from the train station. She is a super sweet recent convert who just moved to Matsudo, but on Thursday we were able to help her pack her things into her car. It was fun and we were making jokes the whole time and she kept trying to give us things :) We got a free mirror from her which is great! Also, after we finished packing her car she played on the organ for us and let me tell you, she is amazing! We had a little organ dance party as she played everything from Pirates of the Caribbean to High School Musical. She is so artistic, it is insane! She made me want to learn the organ again!!! I will miss her lots, but I'm glad that we were able to have that little bit of time with her. <3

We had a great district meeting on Friday all about charity. I have really been focusing on having charity since the moment I got to Japan. My first few weeks in Oizumi, I had such a hard time and I prayed so hard to just be able to feel charity and love towards all the people, and over time I did feel that love for them. Here in Urayasu, I still feel like I barely know the people, but as I continue to pray to feel love for them and to be able to express that love, I have started to feel more charity for each person. Love is such a big part of missionary work. I am here in Japan sharing this message of hope and happiness because I love it and I know it can help everyone. However, it is hard to help others see that when you only get to talk to them for 30 seconds on the street. Sister Chinain and I are really working on showing our love to people even when we barely meet them, so that even if they say they aren't interested, they have the opportunity to feel the light and love of Christ through us.

Along those lines, at the end of the week we decided we wanted to actually talk to 100 people this week. By Saturday we only had about 20 meaningful contacts, so we made a goal to talk to 50 people that day. All day, we stopped every single person we saw and by the end of the night we had 31 meaningful contacts. So Sunday we set the same goal and we ended with 35 meaningful contacts. Overall, we got 89 contacts this week and even though it wasn't 100, we were really proud of ourselves. We didn't get any new investigators from this, but we were able to have really meaningful conversations with people and we were able to give them the opportunity to learn more. We are really focused on not dragging anyone to the church, simply giving them the opportunity to learn more. We met so many amazing people, all with different levels of interest in the gospel and mission school. I know that as we continue to try to talk to everyone Heavenly Father will guide us to be in the right place at the right time to talk to the right person. We know that we have been slacking on talking to people, mostly because we haven't been scheduling in enough travel time to talk to people, but these past two days, as we have taken the time to talk to people, we have seen such an increase in our happiness and we have been able to plant many seeds.

Our favorite approach lately has been to ask people "When have you felt the most happiness?" A lot of people say its when they eat food, which cracks me up. However, even if we ask the question and they say they have to go, hopefully as they walk away they think about when they felt the most happiness and they are able to feel a bit of joy as they think about that memory.

I love this gospel so much! It really does help us feel so much happiness, every day. I am so happy to be here in Japan, as a missionary. There are lots of trials and hard challenges, but the joy and happiness? That makes all those hard times 100% worth it.

I love you all! Thank you so much! Have a great week!!!!!!

Black Shimai

Monday, November 7, 2016

I'm a city girl now!


I am definitely not in Oizumi anymore. Urayasu is different from Oizumi, but I am loving it! Also, today I actually bought something...to wear...from a store! What?

Hitomi Shimai's last Sunday in Urayasu
We had a crazy week since Sister Chinain had to deal with a lot of things this week. She goes home at the end of December so we had to pick her classes for BYU and get her student visa since she is from Tahiti. As many of you know, picking classes can take a long time, and it did. Then we also had to go all the way to the U.S. Embassy to get her student visa. She went inside and I just sat outside the embassy, reading my Book of Mormon, and waiting for them to kick me out, but they never did, so it was all good. :)

This week our whole district also started getting sick. Sister Chinain got it about halfway through the week and it just completely drained her.  We have also been teaching a lot of lessons/spending a lot of time traveling to lessons so we were completely exhausted all week. We were getting really discouraged, but our District Leader is amazing and has really helped us. He gave us a lot of suggestions and he just really showed that he was worried about us and wanted to help us and that was enough.

Some of the craziness from this week that drained us:

In the big city now
We had two really great lessons with Liu San about the Law of Chastity and she totally agreed with it. She really saw how it can help us have the happiest marriages. Her older sister is a member, and I think she has seen how the gospel has helped her sister's family and she wants that for herself too. She also came to church! She used to go to Tokyo First because there was a Taiwanese Elder there who would translate for her, but he ended his mission this week so she said she would come to Urayasu again because she understands Japanese more than English! Yay!

We also taught Bernadette more Japanese. She is learning so fast! She came to church as well and she seemed to like it. We are working with the YW so that she feels comfortable going there since she is 13.

Our apartment
Thursday was a crazy day because we had Zone Meeting. Sister Chinain and I were in charge of a training on Following Up on commitments we extend to our investigators. It was so amazing! I learned so much! Following up to see if the investigator read isn't so much us trying to getting them to actually do the commitment, it's us giving them an opportunity to grow their testimony. Something we learned from the Elder Bednar conference a few weeks ago was that when someone shares their testimony, even if it is just by explaining what they learned/read, their testimony grows so much more. We are giving them an opportunity to act and to be agents and to really learn for themselves.

We saw this a little earlier in the week when we read in the Book of Mormon with Hitomi Shimai. She was confused, but as she started to try to explain what she knew, things just started to click for her. It isn't until we give others the opportunity to act and to grow their own testimonies that they will actually be able to grow.
Mexican restaurant

After Zone Meeting we went to a Mexican place to eat tacos and churros. It was really good. Haha I thought it would be a long time before I got to eat Mexican food again, I guess i was wrong :)

Funny story: so we actually got on the train going the opposite direction, and we figured this out when we got to the next station. We were with the sister training leaders and one of their less active members. Anyway, we figured out that we were on the wrong train so we decide to get off, well half of us got off and the other half were still on the train when the doors started to close...guess who was right in the middle of the doors as they started to close. ME! I got squished by the doors and it kind of hurt, but I saved us all because the doors opened again and we were all able to get off. So I am a lifesaver. Yay!

After all of that, we came back to the church where the members were setting up for the wedding reception of a couple in the ward. We helped out then stayed for the wedding reception. I had the chance to meet a lot of members! Sister Chinain was so so so tired, so I went around and started up some conversations on my own. Nihongo is so hard still, but I feel like every day it's getting better. Yay! Everyone keeps on telling me my Nihongo is way good, I'm not sure if they are just trying to boost my confidence ... Anyway, the wedding reception was such a good way to meet more members and talk about Mission School with some of them.

Our district
On Friday, as we were trying to weekly plan, we got a surprise phone call from Takagi San, the one who called us my first day here and wanted to investigate the church. She told us she read the pamphlet we gave her then saw there was a website she could go to to learn more. She went to the website and read more and she told us that she didn't know yet if she wanted to be baptized, but she wants to learn more. She brought up baptism all on her own!!! It was such a miracle! She is such a great person, she is doing all the work herself because she really wants to learn for herself.

View from our apartment
Well, after that we had to leave to go to Suzuki Shimai. We ended up taking a train and a bus to get to her house (and walked across a bridge with a beautiful view) only to find that she wasn't home. So we ate Italian food then went back to Urayasu.

During sacrament meeting on Sunday I bore my testimony and introduced myself in Nihongo. It was terrifying! I was more scared then my first Sunday when I had to say things in Portuguese. But, Illya Kyoudai (the ward mission leader) was sitting right in front and he was just smiling and that gave me courage to just say things even if they didn't make sense. I guess my challenge to all of you is to just smile and encourage others to act. I've been really trying to help my investigators to act, to think and ponder and share their thoughts, and I've noticed that it makes our lessons a lot more personal and effective because they learn so much more. I've also noticed that as others smile and encourage me, I am more willing to make mistakes and keep pushing forward. I have probably made a million mistakes already while speaking Japanese, but the support I feel from people I barely know has helped me so much. Even if it's just a smile, it can really help someone have more confidence.

So...funny-ish story of the week, so it's getting pretty cold in Tokyo right now, and my companion is from Tahiti, so she gets excited about the cold. We were on the way to an appointment earlier this week and she just stops and looks at me all excited and she's like "I'm making clouds!!!!" then she just starts breathing really hard to make clouds in the air. It was so funny. Later that same day, she turned a corner and biked straight into some tires and got stuck, it was hilarious.

This week was literally so exhausting. We were so tired every night and we were really frustrated with ourselves because we were tired and we were working so hard but we weren't seeing the results we expected. I don't really know how to explain it. The Elders noticed how much we were tired and Elder Kenley actually commanded us to go to bed two days in a row (not that we were being disobedient, we were going to bed on time). Anyway, it was getting so bad that we were doing our weekly call-in report (in person at the church) and Sister Chinain literally fell asleep in the middle of our meeting. It was so bad. Then the Elders asked if we would like priesthood blessings and we said yes. So, last night we both received priesthood blessings, and immediately we felt so much better, more like ourselves. I cannot explain to you how much of a change happened, but it was amazing. I am so so grateful for the priesthood. It has blessed my life in so many ways and last night was just another testimony builder to me. Today we were back to being normal and it is such a blessing.

I know that this Church is true and that the same priesthood that Jesus gave to his 12 apostles is back on the Earth today. The priesthood has blessed me so many times and I am grateful that the power of God is still here.

Urayasu is an amazing area, I love it. The members are amazing, the area is fantastic, the missionaries are really enthusiastic about helping the area. I really do love working here in Urayasu, there are so many great things happening and things that we are starting to do to make dendo even better. It was a rough week, but we are ready to go up and up and up!

Thank you all! See you next week!

Black Shimai

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Miracles are coming with me to Urayasu :)


I can officially say that again because I am now in Urayasu! A Japanese area! Speaking Japanese! Whoooooo!!!!

My last few days in Oizumi were crazy! We tried to visit a few people one last time and I had to pack all my stuff. It was rough, but I was able to say goodbye to almost everyone!

Marli and Abraham
On Tuesday, my last day, we had a party at Ping Pong and a bunch of people came by to say goodbye! The Elders even went out and bought food to celebrate a little bit. Dayane and Sayuri stopped by and gave me a cute neck warmer and gloves and everyone signed my bye-bye book with the sweetest messages. It was so fun! We played Ping Pong and took pictures and had a great time. Marli invited us over for one last Peruvian meal before I left and we were able to eat good food and teach her a really good lesson about the Restoration! She really understood it and had some good thoughts and questions about it. I'm sad that I won't be able to watch her progress more, but Sister Pourre told me today that she went to church on Sunday and that makes me so happy!

Wednesday was a strange day because it was the first time on my whole mission that I was alone! Crazy!!!!! On Transfer Day, the missionaries transferring are allowed to travel by themselves. It was so awkward. I'm so used to having a companion to back me up. It took me about 2.5 hours to get from Oizumi to Urayasu. I had to wake up at 5:30 to finish packing, have one last breakfast with Sister Pourre (CRYYYYYY) then walk to the station. It was a sad goodbye, but I look forward to seeing her again someday. She was a great trainer and I will miss her!
Naomi and Duda

I arrived in Urayasu about 10:30 and it is soooooo different from Oizumi. There are so many more people and more buildings, more everything. I met Sister Chinain and Hitomi Shimai (a super cute Recent Convert) at the train station and then we saw the church before going back to the apartment.

FUN FACT: The Church has 3 stories and used to be a Pet Store :) I will send a picture next week!

Another FUN FACT: Every night at 8:30, we can hear the fireworks from Disneyland. :) Also, one of the members in the Ward is a Disney Prince. I haven't met him yet, but apparently he is great.

That day we walked back to the church to help Yamamoto Shimai make Piñatas for the kids she works with. It was so fun because she speaks English (yay!) and we were able to talk about a lot of the people in the Ward. She gave us a lot of good advice, and even though I didn't know anyone at that time, I started loving them anyways!

Partway through making the piñatas we got a phone call. It was a miracle phone call! A woman called us saying she investigated the church about a year ago and she wants us to teach her more about the Book of Mormon and her daughter wanted to come to the Halloween party again this year. We were so excited! Later, we found her in Area Book and apparently she was not contacted earlier because her phone number changed, so it was amazing that she called us because she still has a desire to know! Her name is Takagi-San and she is so amazing! We were able to have a phone lesson with her later that week and she was so excited when we shared our favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon.

A bike parking lot in Urayasu
Friday was filled with more miracles. We had a lesson with Maria Shimai's niece who just moved here from the Philippines. We had to take a train and a bus to get to their apartment, and then we got on the wrong bus so it was super crazy and we were so late, but they were really nice about it. It's been getting cold here so they made us some hot chocolate! The niece's name is Bernadette and she is so sweet! Maria Shimai asked us to teach her some Japanese so we started out teaching her the Hiragana alphabet, and she picked up on it so fast. She learned the whole thing in like 30 min, it took me a solid 3-6 weeks in the MTC. We were also able to share a little message with her. She is really amazing. Her being in Japan is inspiring her aunt and uncle to come back to church and she wants to come too. It really is a miracle and we are excited to keep working with her as well!

Later that night was Mission School! In Urayasu, every Friday night they have 3 hours of Mission School. Hour 1: Eiken (an English test) Preperation, Hour 2: Kodomo Eiken (children's English class) and more Eiken help and Hour 3: Free Time where anyone can come learn anything. There is a chart with all the missionaries' names and the things they are good at, so people can come in and ask for help learning basically anything. Some people want to learn piano, others want to learn other languages. This week Sister Chinain taught French to two members and I taught another girl Spanish. It was way fun and I realized that I remember more Spanish grammar than I thought I did.

Elder Kenley (our District Leader) told me later "I now know that you actually know Spanish." Hahahaha, good to know that you now believe that I do actually speak Spanish, that I didn't just make it up.

I guess now would be a good time to introduce my fellow missionaries.

My new companion, Sister Chinain
Sister Chinain (Pronounced Shi-Na) is my new companion. She is going home at the end of December. She is from Tahiti (isn't that so cool!), is fluent in French, has been here one transfer, and it amazing!!! She loves to dance, she makes good food, her mom sent her a ton of soy milk so we are really blessed, and we accidentally twinned the first 3 days I was here. Sadly we don't have pictures, but if that isn't companionship unity, I don't know what is.

Elder Kenley and Elder Kooymen are the first set of Elders in Urayasu. Elder Kenley is my District Leader and he is hilarious. Elder Kooymen was in the MTC with me, but he was 1 transfer behind me. We played frisbee a few times when I hurt my thumb.

Elder Akagi and Elder Payne are the other two elders. Elder Akagi was in my MTC district, so that was a great reunion! Elder Payne transferred here the same time that I did, so we are both newbies in Urayasu.

Zone P-day
So those are the missionaries in Urayasu! They are all great missionaries and I look forward to a great transfer with them.

Continuing with the week though, on Saturday we had our ward Halloween Party and it was so fun! There were games on all 3 levels and kids running all over the place. The decorations were spot on, and although missionaries weren't allowed to dress up, everyone else did and there were some great costumes. The missionaries created a Halloween Race for the kids and it was really fun! I met a lot of Ward members at the party. There are a lot of people in this Ward so I really need to work hard to learn all their names. It was great to just be able to talk to people though. It really built my confidence because I seem to remember more Japanese then I thought I would. There is still so much more I need to study though! Ah!!!!! I have forgotten so much!

The Halloween Party was really good though. I'm glad I was able to meet some members because on Sunday I missed church. Why?


We woke up at 4:40am to get to the Kumagaya church by 8:00. It was so early, but so worth it.

As soon as I got my transfer call last week, I called President Nagano to see if I could still go to Sayuri's baptism and he said yes. I am so glad he did because it was the highlight of my mission so far.

Sister Pourre asked me to give a spiritual thought before the baptism so I gave a little talk about baptism and the Holy Ghost in Portuguese before the baptism. It was hard, but I did it! Then the actual baptism happened.

In that moment when Sayuri was baptized, I felt so much joy, I thought I was going to burst. I think that I was able to feel, just for a moment, just how much our Heavenly Father loves us. I felt so much joy and happiness and love for Sayuri, there is no way to describe it. I truly felt like my heart was going to explode, I was so happy for her. It was amazing to watch her grow over the last few weeks and to have this desire to receive baptism. I am so so so thankful that I was able to see her take this step and come closer to her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It was such a memorable moment. I want to be able to feel like that all the time. Sayuri is such a special special girl and I will never forget her. She is amazing and I am so thankful that she allowed me to be a part of her life.
Sayuri's baptism
After the baptism, we came back to Urayasu and there was another miracle! They were having a shokujikai, basically like a little party after church. Sister Chinain and I were so happy because we didn't have lunch and we were starving. It was another chance for me to meet some more members which was so great!

That night we went to FHE and we were able to eat more and build more relationships. This Ward is amazing! They are all so excited to do missionary work and to help us in anyway we need. They really inspire me to be a better missionary.

I am so so so excited to be here in Urayasu. It is an amazing area with a fantastic Ward. Sister Chinain and I are ready to work hard this transfer and see some miracles! Let's go!!!

Love you all, see you next week!

Black Shimai