Monday, February 27, 2017

Why I Love Urayasu


No one was more surprised than me when President Nagano called us today and said that I was being transferred to Matsudo! That's insane! And I will be a Sister Training Leader, which basically means that I get to work with all the Sisters in the Matsudo zone and I am so excited! It is going to be so weird though. I love Urayasu so much! You have no idea how many times I wrote that I love Urayasu in my journal this week. There were so many things that happened this past week that just made me want to stay forever!!!!!!

Looking down from Skytree
The first thing was Aoi-chan! So on Tuesday we were going to meet her at the church, but there was some insane wind and rain so the trains were being really slow and she wasn't able to come (totally understandable). What completely made my day was that she called us and asked to have a lesson over the phone while she was waiting for the bus. We were able to start talking about the commandments. Then on Friday we were able to meet her in person and talk about Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. We were a little worried about this one because she has a job on Sundays, but she talked to her boss and she can come to church every week! She has a super strong desire to keep all the commandments and go to the temple. It really is amazing. She inspires and surprises me at every lesson. Her testimony has grown so so strong in such a short time, it has been a privilege to watch her grow. She came to Family Home Evening at the Anderson's last night and made friends with several ward members. I know that I am leaving her in good hands here and I look forward to hopefully coming back for her baptism in a few weeks!

Just Aoi alone is reason enough to want to stay forever. There are not enough words to describe how amazing she is. When we talk about missions, we often talk about finding our eternal friends, and I know that she was one of my eternal friends that I was sent here to find.

Another reason to never leave: the ward.

That same Tuesday, with the insane rain and wind, Sister Atkinson and I were just emailing and eating dinner while waiting to meet Aoi when we heard running footsteps. Turns out, one of the Young Women and her friend came to the church to get wifi because the rain and wind were crazy, and when they found the church unlocked (because we were there) they were able to come in and dry off a bit. They were completely soaked, so I'm glad we were there so that they could come in and get a little bit warmed up before going home. It was just a little thing, but the young woman made sure to shout "Hey Sister Black, we're leaving now" and it made my day. Just to know that you mean as much to the ward as they do to you. I don't think I ever learned all the names of the missionaries in my ward, but she remembered mine.
A pretty plum tree we found

Then on Saturday we had an Onjakusai (a music night) where the members and missionaries sang a lot of songs and put on a little show. It was way fun! The missionaries sang a beautiful version of "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" and the Spirit was so strong after we sang. I loved being with the ward, having fun, and feeling the Spirit together.

We also received these new manga flyers to hand out to people explaining who missionaries are. The Bishop wanted us to bring some to the church for members to see, and the members went crazy! Everyone took some to give to their friends because they are just so cute! This ward is amazing.

Besides these little things, the ward in general is amazing. I love the people here so much and I will really miss them. Urayasu has become a second home to me. But I will be back! I know it!

Third reason, the people.

Not just Aoi, not just the ward, but all the people that I've met here. The Mission School students are some of my favorite people! We started telling them about the Family History class we are having next week and one of the students freaked out because he didn't think that he could find his ancestor's names. It was so great! I am so excited for how Urayasu's Mission School is growing.

4th: The Missionaries

Every transfer, missionaries change. That's just the nature of missionary work. But I will miss them a lot.

Especially Sister Atkinson.

This week we almost left the phone at the church (a big no no since we have to call in to our District Leader every night to say we are safe, and if you don't the the District Leader has to come check on you) and she had to rest some more (YAY MORE STUDY TIME!!!!!!) and we went all the way to Nakano for follow-up training (so many memories of when I was there for my own follow-up training). I really will miss her. It was weird training my own doki, but she was an amazing companion and I will miss her a lot.

As you can see, Urayasu is the most amazing place ever. This might not have been the most organized email, but my thoughts are scattered all over, just like the things I need to pack.

I have learned a lot here, and I have grown a lot. This was my first Japanese area and in the 3 transfers I've been here, I've had 3 different companions, 1 went home, 2 just came from being home.

In Urayasu, I learned to be patient. I learned to show love to every single person, all the time, because when you show more love, you feel more love. I learned how to be a better teacher and how to apply lessons to people to help them see how the gospel can help their lives. I learned more about the importance of prayer and what a blessing it is to know that when I pray, Heavenly Father is listening, waiting to give me an answer to a question I haven't even asked yet.

There have been so many times when I have prayed to know what I need to do. It isn't always that I receive an answer right away, but I always know that Heavenly Father will answer me.

I love Urayasu so much and I will miss the amazing people here. I look forward to emailing you all from Matsudo next week!!!

Black Shimai

Monday, February 20, 2017

How many languages are you planning on learning Sister Black?


This has been a crazy week, how did it all fit into just 7 days? We are starting the last week of the transfer and it is insane to me!

Relief Society Activity
If you all remember from last week, we were able to set a baptismal date with our investigator, Aoi. Well, she had been a little unsure about what day she wanted to be baptized so we encouraged her to pray and we followed up with her the very next day. She told us that she felt like Heavenly Father really wanted her to receive baptism soon! She kept praying all week and she had some amazing and powerful experiences with feeling the Spirit and wanting to be baptized. We finalized her baptismal date and so she will be baptized on March 19th! Less than a month away! AHHHHHHH! She is so excited though and we are too! We were able to contact her every day this week and it was so amazing to hear about her experience and see how her testimony has grown every day. We have another lesson with her tonight and I am really excited!

This week we were also finally able to get in contact with another investigator, Liu-san. She wanted to call us on Monday night and during that call we were able to set an appointment with her on Wednesday morning. That was a powerful lesson. We started out talking about the Book of Mormon, then finally just asked her if she still wanted to learn more. Her answer broke my heart. We said one last kneeling prayer and her words, even though they were in Chinese, were so powerful. The Spirit was so strong, but afterwards, she still had the same thoughts and so we won't continue to visit her. It is so hard to meet these people, teach them, feel the Spirit, and then have to leave them. Sometimes it just isn't their time yet. One day, she will be ready to accept the whole gospel of Jesus Christ and when that day comes, Heavenly Father will help her and the missionaries meet again.

The gospel is a beautiful gift, but it also requires us to change. Heavenly Father and his commandments don't change, they are eternal and unmoving. We are the ones who have to change in order to receive all the blessings. I guess that's the hard, but also most joyous, part of being a missionary. Helping others to change their lives so that they can receive all the blessings that God has for them is amazing. I can see the change. Over the past 2 months, as I've been teaching Aoi-chan, I have seen more joy and light come into her eyes. Seeing her change her life, one step at a time, has been a joy.
Zone P-day - Ultimate Frisbee

Our last investigator, Nemoto-san was also able to meet this week. We taught her and her 6-year old son the Restoration. She enjoyed it and we took it as a good sign that she kept explaining what we were teaching to her son. He really liked when we used the Children's Book of Mormon to teach him about Joseph Smith. We then taught him how to pray and he said the sweetest prayer to end the lesson. It is so humbling to hear a young child say a prayer because they just ask for the simplest things. As a missionary, I pray all the time, I need the guidance that Heavenly Father has. Before my mission, daily prayer was a struggle for me. I would constantly forget, but now I have a strong testimony of prayer and the help it can bring us. Heavenly Father does answer prayers, I promise that he does. Sometimes it comes as a feeling, or a little thought, and sometimes it will come through someone else, but he always answers. We testify about this to our investigators ALL the time, and we can do that because we have put it to the test. We pray many, many times a day, but Heavenly Father always answers all of our questions.

Valentine's Day
This week we also spent a lot of time doing mogis with members and trying to figure out how to help Mission School grow. Luckily, the two go hand in hand! When we mogi with members, not only do we get to know them and they get to know us, we also improve our teaching skills, and have the opportunity to invite them to Mission School. Personally inviting the members has been more successful than anything else. We are at least able to help them understand what Mission School is and how it can help them. Although not all of them come, we have been challenging every one to come once next month. I love mogi-ing with the members! Seeing their faith and hearing their testimonies strengthens my faith!

This week we had a chance to mogi with Miura Shimai and it was amazing! We got lost for 45 minutes trying to find her apartment building, but when we finally got there she was so sweet. She gave us chocolate cake because it was Valentine's Day and she said we were her Valentines. So sweet!!!! We were able to mogi the Plan of Salvation with her and the Spirit was so strong! I love the members here!

One other thing to love about the Miura's. Their oldest daughter, Sarasa, is marrying Tadashii Maeno, so sometimes the Maenos (from my first area, Oizumi) come to visit and it makes me so excited! I love their family! And now the Miuras want to learn some Portuguese because Maeno Kyoudai doesn't know much Japanese. So cute!

This week's Mission School was amazing! We had 3 new students and many of our regular students came again! We had a really good Eiken class where Makoto (a regular who is fluent in English) actually helped us teach some of the other students. It was really helpful and I think she really liked it, so we might involve her more in teaching in the future. Then during free time, one of the students taught me the colors of the rainbow in Chinese. He also taught me how to write the.colors in Chinese and Japanese. So how many languages will I know when I come home? Hahaha, Chinese is way hard for me though. I'm just learning Chinese for fun. I really like learning the Kanjis though so maybe he can teach me more of that.

Mission School
For the spiritual message at Mission School this week, we shared a video about a boy who gives his coat to a really poor boy on the street. It was a beautiful and simple video, that had no words, just music. The amazing thing was the Spirit that was in the room as we shared the video. Everyone definitely felt the Spirit and they were so reverent as we asked them questions afterwards. It was the most powerful message that I've shared at Mission School so far. It was such a special experience to see these people who don't know about Jesus Christ, who aren't actively learning about the gospel, feel that special Spirit.

One last miracle for the week. Elder Jeffery R. Holland was in Japan and so he had a few special broadcasts. There was one on Sunday night, and Sister Atkinson and I were contacting everyone to see who could go. I really felt like someone needed to hear the words that Elder Holland was going to say, I just didn't know who, but I told Heavenly Father "If someone needs to hear these words, let them come and we will stay and listen with them, but if there is something more we need to be doing, don't let anyone come." And no one came. We went back to the apartment and started calling people on our Eikaiwa list on the phone, and we saw so many miracles! We definitely needed to be doing that last night! Out of 7 people that we called, 5 answered and 4 of them have interest in Mission School. That's so amazing! It's amazing what happens when we keep up our end of the deal. Heavenly Father will always bless us.
The city at sunset.

It's been a good week, sorry that there aren't many funny stories. I have been remembering too many of the miracles, not so many of the funny things. Today's p-day wasn't too exciting either since we decided to go shopping a bit and then take a nap. The wind was so strong today though that I had to change gears on my bike just to move forward! It was insane!!!

Oh I remember one!

So we were biking to a Less Active's house and we stopped at this huge intersection and there were about 20 elementary school kids there. So I was a little further away, but Sister Atkinson stopped right by them, and this one boy goes up and says "Hello!" She was zoned out a bit so she didn't realize that he was talking to her until all the kids started laughing and he said hello again. Haha, I was just watching from 5 feet away and laughing. The kids started asking her where she was from and the one boy kept saying "They don't speak English, but I'm from America too!" It was so cute! Then the light changed and all the kids started jumping up and down and saying goodbye. It was hilarious and adorable and it made our day!

Well, that was the week! Next week are transfer calls, so we will see what happens! Have a great week!

Black Shimai

Monday, February 13, 2017



Zone Conference
This week started off with Zone Conference and Interviews with President and Sister Nagano. We got to go all the way to Honbu twice this week. It was tiring and hard because it took a lot of time, but it was also completely worth it.

At Zone Conference, we learned about the importance of daily repentance and teaching repentance to others as well. It was eye opening to see that we can teach repentance simply and in a way that allows people to understand that it is an amazing gift that we are given. I make mistakes every day and knowing that I can repent every day and become better gives me so much hope and happiness. I loved this simple reminder of what a beautiful gift the Atonement is to all of us.

Then on Wednesday we had interviews and although I was only able to talk to President Nagano for 10 min it was very helpful. Lately I've been thinking about being comfortable. One of my favorite quotes is "You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable." As a missionary, that's so true. You can't grow if you are comfortable. Lately, I've noticed that I've started to feel comfortable and I have been working on challenging myself and pushing myself to really improve. President Nagano really helped me to see the bigger picture and I walked away with more fire.

Because we had to go to Nakano twice this week, we lost a lot of dendo time in Urayasu and I was a little frustrated because last week we'd also lost time because I was sick. However, we did see miracles on the trains to and from Nakano.
A cute t-shirt

My favorite was Tuesday after Zone Conference. I sat next to a lady and asked her where she got her bag and she was telling me that her friend got it for her from France then she said "Thai-jin" which means Thai person. At first I thought she was asking me if I was Thai, but then I realized she was talking about herself! We really bonded over the fact that we are both Thai and we ended up switching Facebooks. It brought a little light into my day right when I had been wondering to myself about how I was going to be effective this week with so little dendo time. Little miracles!

This week we also taught Hanai-chan more English and it was so cute because afterwards her mom asked for our parents' email addresses so she could email them a picture we took with their family. My mom sent me the email this week and it was so sweet and cute! I love their family so much and it warmed my heart to know that they appreciate and love me as much as I appreciate and love them.

Biking in the snow
It also snowed this week!!!!!!!!! And I got to bike in the snow!!!!!!!! And it made me so excited! I love snow so much. It was another little tender mercy and I felt like Heavenly Father was just telling me to keep pushing forward and I will progress and see miracles. AND WE DID!!!

The second half of the week was amazing! It was almost like the whole Ward got really dendo fire all of a sudden. Within our district, all of us started thinking of better ways to work with the Ward and how to promote Mission School. After 3 weeks of decent energy and ideas, all of a sudden we had a ton! We were able to share a lot of those ideas with the members on Sunday and they are really pumped about it too! I love seeing this energy! It's so energizing to have the Ward backing us up and willing to help. Missionary work goes 100x better when the Ward is helping us as well.

Eating gyoza with the Murakamis
One thing that we are trying to do is talk to everyone in the Ward about Mission School so that they understand what it is and come. On Sunday we were able to talk to everyone we needed to and then start on this goal. We were able to use our time very effectively and it was such a miracle. After church, Sister Atkinson and I just sat down to go over everything that had happened, and it was amazing!

Then that night we had a truly amazing lesson with Aoi-chan.

We had planned for Kei Shimai to be our doseki but we miscommunicated again and she wasn't able to come, so at the last minute we called our Ward Mission Leader's wife/Ward Missionary, Nagisa Shimai, and luckily she was able to come. She got to the church a little early and we were explaining our plan and she just raised her hand and asked "Is it okay if I share my conversion story? I really want to" and we were just like "Yes of course! That's exactly what we want you to do."

She shared it with us right then to give us an idea of what she was going to say and as she did, the Spirit just told me that she was the exact doseki that we needed. She was the perfect member to be present to help with this lesson. Our main goal for this lesson was to set a baptismal date with Aoi-chan so it was important that we really brought the Spirit.

When Aoi got to the church, we were able to start. First of all, she's been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and she loves to mark it and ask us questions. She has so much faith! She's also been praying which is amazing!

The whole lesson went really well. The Spirit was so strong and she told us that she really has a desire to be baptized. Having a desire is so important because it leads you to act, to read the Book of Mormon, to pray, to change your life to follow Jesus Christ's teachings. At the end of the lesson we asked her if she would be baptized on March 26th and she said yes! She then asked if we could do it another date too and we decided to kneel and pray about it. She gave the most simple, honest, beautiful prayer and afterwards, even though she hadn't received an answer, she committed to continue to pray to know exactly what day will be her baptismal date.

Today she messaged us on Facebook telling us that when she prayed she started crying and she knew that Heavenly Father wanted her to be baptized as soon as possible.

I am so grateful for Aoi-chan. Her progress has 100% come from her and the Spirit. She has so much faith and is constantly wanting to learn more and follow Jesus Christ. She is a beautiful soul and I feel grateful every day for Elder Sasaki and his idea to contact her and share the gospel with her. I can see the light in her eyes every time she talks about the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. I am so excited for her to begin preparing for this next step! She is amazing!

I love being here in Japan! I love seeing miracles here! Thank you all for your support and love!

Black Shimaia

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Urayasu Young Women are the Best!


Making miso soup
February marks the start of my 9th month as a missionary and it's so crazy! Time has gone by so fast!

This was a bit of a rough week because I got sick and we had to take some time away from dendo so that I could rest. I guess I didn't take enough time during the week because by the time Saturday came around I was feeling so bad that I just slept the whole day and we didn't even go to Mission School. I'm feeling 100% better now and I'm ready to dendo hard this week!

Despite my being sick, we still saw some pretty cool miracles this week!
While going house to house

First of all, was our lesson with Karin Shimai on Tuesday. The Ward has a calander for people to sign up to mogi (role play) with us and she signed up, but she actually wanted English help. She has the goal to listen to General Conference in English! Such an awesome goal! Anyways, we decided to do some listening practice with her so we watched "Continue in Patience" a Mormon message from a General Conference talk that President Uchtdorf gave. We helped her go through it a couple of times until she understood almost all of it, then we shared a message about patience and how important it is for us to be patient with ourselves and with others. She told us that this was actually a message that she really needed to hear! The Spirit 100% guided us to pick this video and share the words we did to help her. That just goes to show that we don't always know people's needs, but Heavenly Father does and he will guide us to help the people we are serving here in Japan.

Typical missionary
This week we also helped Hanai-chan with English. She is so cute! She's one of our young women that we have been helping prep for the Eiken. She took the first part recently and although she was still waiting for the results to come out and tell her if she moved onto the interview part, she decided to come study for the interview with us. It was really fun and she was really getting the hang of it by the end. Then on Sunday we saw her again and she told us she passed the first part! Yay! Ah I just love the Urayasu youth so much!

That same day we had a really cool meaningful contact. At lunch we decided to go buy some sushi bowls and while there we saw this mom and daughter (so cute) and their friend come in. While we were all waiting we started talking and it turned out that the mom and little girl were visiting from Ireland and the little girl was Catholic. The mom pointed out our name tags saying "Iesu Kirisuto" and it was so cute. We gave them an Eikaiwa flyer and said goodbye. Then when we were biking home from Hanai-chan's lesson we went a way we don't usually go, but we passed the same family and friend and it was so fun to say hi again. Haha! I really hope they come to Eikaiwa!!!

Some shrines at Asakusa
Sunday was the big miracle day. After church we went on splits with two of the young women in the Ward. Sister Atkinson had a great lesson with Ashely (the YW) and Bernadette. My lesson fell through, but the YW I was with said she was totally willing to help any time this week with any lessons we have, which is so helpful!

After those lessons we got to go to the Kawamuras' for dinner and we had a really powerful mogi with them about praying to know that the Book of Mormon is true. The Spirit was so strong and even though not all of our Japanese made sense, the Spirit was speaking through us and it was amazing. We had fun afterwards eating spaghetti and celebrating Sister Atkinson's birthday! Yep, Sunday was also Sister Atkinson's birthday! I couldn't do much to surprise her, but I did get most of the Young Women to sign a cute card for her and it was really fun. :)

When it is cold, hats and coats
are put on the Buddhas
Our last stop for the night was yoruseisankai (Night Sacrament Meeting) which we have every month, on the first week. This one was special because, Kei Shimai, Eri Shimai, and Aiko Shimai came (all Less-actives we had been trying to contact all week) AND AOI-CHAN CAME!!!!!!! She is our super amazing investigator who has been wanting to come to church, but because of work wasn't able to until yoruseisankai. She really liked it and she had fun meeting some of the members. Afterwards, we had an amazing lesson about prayer. She read way past what we had asked her to read 2 weeks ago and she's been marking it and seeing the similarities between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Although she didn't outrightly say that she knows it is true, I could tell that she is definitely on the path. She had such a light about her as she talked about her experiences and she was very open to our invitation to pray about the Book of Mormon. She is such an amazing, sweet person. I am so glad that I have the chance to work with her. I don't know everything about her, but I can feel that she has a really sincere desire to learn the truth and she is hoping that she finds it here.

It really was a day of miracles and we slept very well last night. :)

Today has been a pretty relaxing p-day. We managed to bake a cake, clean the apartment, study, and go to Asakusa all before 1:30. This was my second time at Asakusa, but it was still so fun. We just looked through all the shops and took lots of pictures. There were many girls in kimonos there and it made me want to get one so bad! They are so pretty!

We also met an LDS couple from Utah who had a 9 hour layover in Japan and decided to come visit Asakusa. They were so sweet! Haha, last time I went to Asakusa I met a member too. Is this going to become a habit? Haha, it was really funny because we walked past and the husband was like "SIsters? I just saw your name tag and even though I can't read it, I thought I'd give it a try" it was funny.

Thank you all for your love and support! I will see you next week!!! I'm excited for this week because we have Zone Conference and Interviews with President Nagano. Ah I'm so excited!

Black Shimai

Moshi chopstick holders

Pulling handcart outside Asakusa