Monday, July 24, 2017

Tender Mercies

Ushiku Transfer 9 Week 3


Summer Festival
This was a crazy week! We started our week with a Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival) at the church on Monday and so many Kodomo Eikaiwa students came. It was so fun! We got to build better relationships with many of them. They also had a Brazilian food booth so I got to drink Guarana again and I almost died. They gave me an extra can at the end of the festival and it made my day.

Brazilian Hot Dogs
One little miracle from that festival, was that we went upstairs where all the games for the kids were and a Kodomo Eikaiwa student's grandma was sitting just watching everyone so I started talking with her and we had a great conversation. At the end she said she really appreciated me coming and talking to her because she felt pretty sad that she couldn't join in because her back was really bad. It was just a small thing, but I am glad that Heavenly Father was able to work through me to comfort one of his children.

Tuesday and Wednesday were crazy days because we went to Matsudo for Zone Conference and Exchanges. Wow, it was so weird being back. It almost felt like a dream. I'll start with Zone Conference.

President Nagano gave a really important training about having the Spirit with our companionships always. Sister Honda and I were talking about this afterwards and so we decided to do a 40 day fast, basically 40 days where you give up anything that would cause the Spirit to leave you such as reading emails during the week (even though it is allowed) or exact obedience to specific rules. We started on Saturday and on Sunday, during a lesson that we were losing control of, Sister Honda suggested that we sing "I am a Child of God" and as we did the Spirit was so powerful, more powerful than any other time that I have sung that song. It was amazing. I really appreciate this training that President Nagano gave because it gave us the push we needed to become even more consecrated. Since being together, Sister Honda and I have marveled a lot at how fast time goes. We know that it will only go faster and we really want to become the most consecrated missionaries we can be so that the Lord can work through us and really help his children.
Zone Conference

Another miracle from Zone Conference was a short conversation that I had with Sister Nagano during lunch. During that 5 minute talk, she said 2 things that really really helped me.

We don't expect you to see miracles right away. She doesn't, the Assistants don't, President Nagano doesn't. That really just took a lot of stress off of my shoulders. When we were setting up our apartment the first two weeks, I felt a lot of stress because I felt like everyone expected us to find all of these prepared people right away. I wanted to prove to everyone that there was a reason why the Ushiku Sisters needed to be opened. But it isn't like that at all. We really are laying the foundation. We are laying the foundation for the relationship between the Sister missionaries and the ward and the foundation for how missionary in this area progresses.

Training at Zone Conference
They could have sent any Spanish speaker, but they sent you. This past week we had a long conversation with the Assistants about the boundaries and limitations for the Ushiku Sisters. The Ushiku A Elders have many exceptions so that they can travel around and teach Brazilians and Spanish speakers, but the Ushiku Sisters do not have those same exceptions. So it kind of made me wonder why I was here if I couldn't do much to help Brazilians or Spanish speakers. I think I learned a lot though from Sister Nagano's simple phrase. I am by no means the best Portuguese or Spanish speaker, I am still struggling a lot with both (especially now that Japanese is fairly natural now) but Heavenly Father doesn't need me to be here to find and teach all the Brazilians. He needs me here to support those Spanish and Portuguese speaking members and investigators and help them feel the Spirit at church so that they can continue to follow Christ. He didn't need a fluent speaker here to do that, he needed me.

So yeah, that Zone Conference really helped me.

And then we went on Exchanges. Oh my goodness, it was probably the funniest thing ever.

So I went on exchanges with Sister Shim, my former companion, in the same area that we worked together in. Hahahahahahaha it was so nostalgic. (Sorry it sounds better in Japanese... natsukashii)

A member gave us mango popsicles
The first fun thing was that we went and taught MISSION SCHOOL!!!!!!! It was so funny sitting at the front desk and greeting everyone and each student would come in and say hi and grab their name tag and then they would do a double take because Sister Black was back! I really wish I had taken a video of their reactions. They were so funny! I laughed so hard! It really meant a lot to me though that everyone was excited to see me. I love them so much and it means so much to know that I mean something to them too.

After Mission School, I got to surprise a member too. :)

I think this exchange was really hard for the Elders, both sets of them. They would keep seeing Sister Shim and I together and their first reaction is "Oh year, Sister Black and Sister Shim, that's totally normal" and then they always had to do a double take as well. Ahhhhhhh I just love Matsudo so much!!!!!!!!!

On the second day of exchanges, we were planning and Sister Shim just turned to me and said "So Sister Black, who do you think we should visit today? Who needs to see you today?" I was a little surprised, but I thought about a less active Young Woman, so we tried to visit. She wasn't home, but we were able to do some good finding together.

I loved being companions with Sister Shim again. She helped me so much with some things that I had been struggling with. It was so weird but nice to be back in Matsudo for a short time and I walked away with more energy and desire to help Ushiku improve too. Ushiku has so so so much potential! It can do it!!!!

As for other miracles this week.

Sister Tobe and Kazumi-san
We went to lunch with Sister Tobe and one of her friends, Kazumi-san (who Sister Shim and I actually met about 2 months ago when we were helping Sister Tobe out) and it ended with her becoming an investigator! She wants to study English and said she would be willing to listen to the lessons too. Yay! Sister Tobe has been praying for this day for 16 years, so she was so so excited. After dropping us off at the church, she came in and asked if we could all pray together. She started crying in the middle of her prayer because she was so thankful. We are really excited to start working with Kazumi-san too, she has so much potential!

The last miracle of the week.

I taught Gospel Principles Portuguese. Oh it was rough, but Heavenly Father helped me. Let's give this some context. I studied Portuguese for only 3 months, then went on to speak Japanese for 9 months, including having a companion that I spoke almost all Japanese with. I have not studied or spoken much Portuguese since. So I was a little scared going into this lesson, because now when I speak Portuguese a lot of Japanese accidentally slides in and it makes my speaking really slow.
I caught two fish on P-day, but released them.

However, the Lord provided a way. I split the class into groups and they each presented about their section and it was great, then at the end I shared a little analogy that they all loved. During this whole class I was praying in my heart so hard that if nothing else, the students would be able to feel the Spirit. There were 2 investigators there and I just wanted to teach them and help them understand everything and it was frustrating that I couldn't. However, at the very end I bore my testimony and as I spoke I prayed so so so hard that they would all feel the Spirit. As I bore my simple testimony, I felt the Spirit fill the room. I know that if nothing else, they felt the Spirit and that is the most important thing. I am an imperfect person, but with the Spirit, I can do anything.

It was an amazing week. I can feel the Spirit more strongly in our companionship and I know that we will continue to grow and become better every day.

I am thankful for all of you! Have an amazing week!


Black Shimai

Monday, July 17, 2017

Debt is bad.

Ushiku Transfer 9 Week 2


Week 2? It's going so fast! Ahhhhh!!!

Ward Missionary Pictures
So this week started off a bit rough. On Monday, after writing emails, we decided to go to Nitori (the furniture store) to buy Carbon Monoxide detectors and try to return some 600 yen (about $6) blinds that we didn't need for our apartment anymore. Well we got there and all was going well, but then they tried to swipe Sister Honda's card. It turns out that instead of just giving us the 600 yen back, they voided the entire transaction and were trying to charge us for the entire transaction minus the blinds again. The only problem was that the transaction was about 17000 yen and Sister Honda only had 88 yen on her card left. This led to a lot of confusion as they kind of tried to explain this to us, but not really. They called the credit card company, and we called the Commissarian to talk to them (but they just ended up asking him to come from Tokyo to pay for the transaction) and in the end, we had to pay for it with personal and emergency fund money. Luckily we had exactly 18000 yen between the two of us. That was a miracle. (Just that morning I decided to pull out 10000 yen in personal money even though I wasn't planning on buying anything. I had no idea why I did it, but later at Nitori I was very glad that I did).

I learned an important lesson that day. Don't get into debt.

I mean we had money, we weren't in debt, but when we got reimbursements over the next two days it was a pain to have to divide up what was actually personal money and what was emergency fund money. Just don't get in debt. Nothing good comes from it. Debt is bad. Even if you do it so that you can have plates and lights in your apartment. Don't do it. ^^

So that was our practical lesson learned from the week. :)

Natsu Masuri (Summer Festival)
This week we also tried to visit a college that is in our area. There are tons of young people over there and there is so much problem. The only drawback is that its really hard to get there by train, and biking takes 1 hour, with almost no one on the streets. And its now summer. The day we went, we were just trying to find an English club of some sorts and we didn't have much success. I was getting a little down thinking that maybe we had wasted our whole day. Then, as we were leaving, a student on his bike passed us and asked "Are you from the Mormon church?" Turns out that he is a Less Active member who comes to church every now and then. It was nice to just talk to him and here a little bit more about the college. We told the Elders later in the day and they decided to try and contact him again, so little miracles came from it. Yay!!!

Later that same day, we decided to do some housing and we saw so many little miracles! We were able to give away quite a few pamphlets and have face to face conversations with many people. Usually people just talk to us through the intercom doorbell and don't actually come out, so it was great to talk to people in person. One dad that we talked to kept straightening up in surprise whenever we mentioned Jesus Christ. It was pretty funny. It felt really productive though so that was good.

Our District
Right now, we are in a big finding phase because we only have 1 investigator. We are trying all sorts of things to find investigators. We tried the college, some housing, we talked to the Relief Society President and the Young Women President about people we can visit and who we can help, and most recently we went through the Elders' old investigators. We found all the females and sent them to ourselves. Many of them have a lot of potential, and the only reason they were dropped was because there were no Sister missionaries and the Elders were focusing on men. We sent almost 100 former investigators to ourselves, so we are excited to go through and see miracles from that.

One amazing miracle that we saw this week though was that we met this woman on the street who actually knew a little bit about the church. She remembered going there when she was really young and playing with the missionaries while her parents took the lessons. As we talked to her, I just saw so much light and potential. She lives in the Tokyo South Mission, so we could only give her a flyer and hope that she finds the missionaries, but I really really hope she does. I really felt like she was prepared for the gospel. I hope that she takes the chance to find the missionaries and open her heart to their message.

Another miracle happened on Sunday. In between the Japanese church meetings and the Portuguese church meetings we had 2 hours stuffed with lessons and meetings and talking to members. We hadn't planned for lunch so we were starving and Sister Honda was so hungry that she started searching through our fruit basket for food. Well we had one last meeting with the Young Women President and when we walked in, they were having a shoukujikai (potluck party) and they started giving us tons of food. It was such a miracle. I was so grateful.

Also, we had a dinner appointment at some Brazilian members' house and I got to eat Brazilian beans and rice and salgados (fried dough filled with meat)!!! Then today at our Summer Festival they had Guarana (Brazilian soda) and I almost cried. I was so happy!

Putting furniture together (cabinet took 2 hours)
Lastly, this week our futons, desks, table and chairs and kitchen cupboards all came, so we spent a lot of free time and meal times building furniture (luckily Sister Honda is an IKEA expert). As we built the furniture, we listened to some Conference CDs from 2010 that we found in the things that the Honbu Elders brought us. One talk that really hit me was one about pride and the priesthood. I don't really remember anything specific, but I do remember thinking a lot about pride.

I had many expectations when I came to Ushiku. I expected to work hard, but I also expected that Heavenly Father would have everything set up for us an that this would be just like any other area, with many investigators already and waiting for us. That was not the case. It is definitely a challenge to not be finding anyone. It's hard to feel like you aren't being successful, that your day may not have been effective because you didn't find anyone. It's hard to see the progress being made and feel proud of everything when there aren't many tangible fruits of your labor.

However, that being said, I think I came with a lot of pride. I thought that I could do this all on my own because I knew just a sliver of what Ushiku was like. Truthfully, I don't know much. Sister Honda and I are both just figuring these things out together. Of course there are going to be mistakes. Of course it's going to feel like we aren't being effective, it is because we aren't. We don't know enough to be effective yet. Heavenly Father doesn't expect us to know enough to be effective.

This past week had its rough patches, but I think that those challenges were necessary to help us to learn about the area and find the resources to be more effective. After that rough day at the college, we called some of the past Elders who had served in Ushiku and worked at the college and we received a lot of valuable information. Would we have done that if we hadn't had a subpar day? Trials are truly there for a reason. Heavenly Father knows exactly how to teach and help us.

One thing I recently learned about the way Jesus Christ taught was that he sometimes let people make mistakes so that they could learn for themselves. This is something I have a really really hard time with. All my life, I've known a lot of things, useful things, random things, important things, things other people don't normally know. I have always struggled with wanting to just tell people what to do and why they should do it. But that isn't how Christ taught. He let people make mistakes and from those mistakes, they were able to learn so much more. It is something I have been trying to work on not just in teaching investigators, but also in the way I try to teach others around me. Most importantly, I'm trying to apply it to myself. Making mistakes isn't a sign of failure, it is a sign of progress. If we didn't make mistakes, we wouldn't be using our agency to make choices and thus would not be fully embracing our Heavenly Father's plan for us. So embrace the mistakes!!!!!

I really hope you all have an amazing week! Love you all!


Black Shimai

Monday, July 10, 2017

From Your Friendly Apartment Moving Expert

Ushiku Transfer 9 Week 1


Welcome to Ushiku!!!!!!!!! It's a magical place full of miracles!

I started out the week in Matsudo, doing a lot of packing. So much packing. I have too much stuff. I'm so sorry :)

However, on Monday we had a Family Home Evening with some members and mission school students and it was so powerful. We ate a bunch of really good food then Sister Shim and I shared a video called "The Hope of God's Light" and bore our testimonies. The Spirit was so strong and right before our eyes we saw a Mission School student whose heart had been really closed to the gospel, open up just a little bit. I then had the chance to share why I decided to serve a mission and I felt the Spirit so strongly. I am so grateful that I chose to serve a mission. Nothing has changed my life more than serving here in Japan.
Last night in Matsudo

On Tuesday, we had to spend a lot of time packing and doing last minute things, but we did have a chance to walk through the pouring rain after Mission School and go to a dinner appointment with Mami-san. We went to the Watanabes' and they were so cute! They even made a 4th of July Cake which was great since all of us had forgotten that it was the 4th of July. Whoops! I will miss all of them so so so much though!!!!

Wednesday was a special day though because usually transfers happen on Wednesday, however because Sister Honda and I were opening an area and didn't have an apartment, we had to stay the night in Matsudo. So I got to go to one more Eikaiwa!!!!!! YAYAYAYAYAYYAYAYAYAYYAY! However, having gone to one more Eikaiwa, I realize why we transfer on Wednesday mornings. That last Eikaiwa was so hard, I didn't ever want to leave. Many of the students found out that I was transferring and wrote me notes, we took lots and lots of pictures, and some of my favorite members came to say goodbye. I was so sad. I am going to miss Matsudo so so much!
Last Eikaiwa in Matsudo

Before Eikaiwa on Wednesday though, we saw a huge miracle. Hitomi Shimai (a recent convert from Urayasu who moved to Matsudo and stopped coming to church) called us! I was able to talk to her for the first time in months and it was so good. She really wants to come back to church and I hope the sisters are able to meet with her. She is so sweet and adorable and I was just so so happy to talk to her.

Thursday was the day, the day we went to Ushiku.

We got to the eki (train station) on time, then the Ushiku Elders called us telling us that the Honbu Elders were closing the apartment in Mito (about an hour away) and were going to be late. So we made this huge list of questions for the Elders since we had no idea about anything in Ushiku.

Some of my favorite mission school students
Eventually the Honbu Elders came and we made it to our apartment where both the Bishop and his wife and Shigematsu Choro and his wife (the senior missionary couple who got released a little while back) were waiting. It was such a big surprise to see all 4 of them there! We thought it was just going to be us and the Elders. It was such a blessing though.

All of our furniture came from the Mito Elders' old apartment, so we had the chance to go through all the things we wanted and didn't want. There wasn't much to begin with, but we were able to get appliances and some shelves. Currently we are waiting on futons, a table, desks (our chairs arrived yesterday), and a washing machine. :)

A Sister in the ward found out that we didn't have futons and were just sleeping on some blankets on the ground and she came by with some futons for us to use. Ushiku members are so sweet!!!

We were also lacking a lot of important things, so on Thursday and Friday we went shopping with the Bishop and his wife. We spent so much we had to go into our emergency money and personal money because we had to buy dishes, pillows, curtains, and lights (lights are so expensive). It was bad...but we are getting reimbursements so, we will be fine. The whole time we were shopping we just kept saying to ourselves "We are investing in future sisters."

I think I can safely say that I am an apartment moving expert now. If they ever need to move apartments somewhere else, I know exactly what to do. ^^

Since Wednesday, our apartment has improved dramatically and we are so so excited to be working here in Ushiku. We have had the chance to do some normal dendo and this area has so much untapped potential. It's amazing.

Some favorite Matsudo members
On Saturday, Sister Tobe invited us to a seminar she was teaching to talk to some of the moms and we met a mom who actually comes to Kodomo Eikaiwa and she is so sweet and has lots of potential. Masuda Kyoudai, a ward missionary from Matsudo, was also at the seminar and I almost cried when I saw him. I miss Matsudo already! But that's okay because I'm still in the same zone so I will see them again soon.

The funny thing about Ushiku is that I know a lot about Ushiku, but I know nothing at the same time. For example, I came to Kodomo Eikaiwa in Ushiku last week and met some people and knew a little bit about how it was run, but that didn't make it any less confusing when I actually went this week and had to teach. It was chaotic. Another example was the Portuguese Sacrament meeting. I know many of the people who come and they have all seen me at least a few times, but now this is my ward and I really need to get to know them and know how to help them. It's a small difference, but it's an important adjustment that needs to be made.

Side note: Sister Honda and Elder Kooyman (the other new Ushiku missionary) were both so confused during the Portuguese Sacrament Meeting. It was the funniest thing. At one point, they were talking about visiting teaching in different countries and Elder Kooyman thought they were arguing about Japan and America and Brazil.

The Elders here have been a huge help, they have referred many of their female investigators to us, so we aren't starting with nothing. One potential investigator came to church on Sunday and somehow I was thrown in a room with her and a member while Sister Honda and another member went in another room with a less active during the third hour of church. We were so confused. I just tried to build a relationship with the potential investigator and learn about her needs and desires and in the end I invited her to take the missionary lessons and see how they can help her in her life. Heavenly Father really blessed us this week to find this investigator. He knew that we were moving into a new apartment which didn't even have the basic necessities and that we knew nothing about the area, but he still helped us to progress the work forward this week.

I'm really excited to be working here in Ushiku. It's weird because I feel like I know a lot, but I know that I know nothing, but Sister Honda and I are so excited to work together and see lots of miracles this transfer. The transfers are starting to feel shorter and shorter and now more and more missionaries that I know are going home. It's getting real. Time really does fly on the mission and that is so scary. This transfer, Sister Honda and I will hit our 1 year in Japan mark together and that is insane.

Now for a few funny things, because you know there will be funny things when you have to go shopping for everything in an apartment:

1-Star pot for the apartment
So we had to buy a pot for our apartment because we had no cooking utensils whatsoever. We found a pretty good one, bought it and brought it home. Then as we were unpacking it we noticed that the package literally says that it is a 1 star pot. 1 out of 3. They didn't even try to hide it. We absolutely died (probably because it was the end of a really really long and tiring day) that of all the pots we bought the "1 Star Pot". Good times.

Second, so usually in Japan, when you move, the Landlord will give you this big complicated sheet explaining how to separate your garbage and what days the different garbages are picked up. Well, we never got this vital piece of paper, so the Elders' helpful suggestion was for us to go house our neighbors and ask when the garbage gets picked up. (Housing/tracting is when missionaries knock on houses to share the message about the gospel...however instead of sharing the gospel message we would be asking about trash).

Last. Let me just preface this by explaining that sometimes Portuguese, English, and Japanese hymns have slightly different melodies. One of these songs is "I Believe in Christ" where English and Japanese have the same tune, but Portuguese is different and Spanish is different from all the rest. Naturally, the branch decided to sing this song at sacrament meeting and I'm the poor pianist trying to play this song which people singing in Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese and it was just all wrong. Afterwards, everyone got into a big argument about this hymn and why we couldn't sing it and it was just a big disaster. The funniest part though was that Sister Honda and Elder Kooyman didn't understand what they were arguing about at first, then I told them that they were arguing about the hymn and they died. Well, naturally, they decided that we needed to try again so they sang it for Sunday School and Elder Kooyman decided to sing in English just to mess it up. It's the little things I guess.

This week wasn't really dendo heavy, but we were the recipient of a lot of help and miracles from the members. They really helped us out with moving, futons, buying us some food, and just helping us to jump right into missionary work. The ward is so excited to have sisters and we are so excited to be here.

Love you all! Have a great week!!!!


Black Shimai

Monday, July 3, 2017

Egg ood mother


First of all, to explain the title. We taught English to this old lady this week and she brought her friend along, and she was trying to show off her English skills a little bit by doing this elaborate self-introduction. Her English was really good, but then we got into the lesson and I said something like "Is your daughter a good mother?" (The original sentence was "is your father a math teacher?"). Well, this woman starts going on and on about the different pronunciations of "a" and how she couldn't understand what I was saying and all she could hear was "egg ood mother." It was pretty funny.
Pizza for transfer calls

Also, it reminded me of my amazing mother who had her birthday this week. My mom is egg ood mother and I love her very much!

Now, onto the Transfer Call announcements. The biggest news is that I WILL BE COMPANIONS WITH SISTER HONDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It finally happened!!!!!!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!! (For those of you who may be wondering why this is a big deal, we've been friends for a long long time, reconnected when we both got called to Japan and have been hoping to be companions since Day 1).

It's actually kind of funny, because the email with the rosters came and Sister Shim and I were so confused because we hadn't received our transfer calls. We just got a bunch of emails that made our phone buzz and made us all nervous as we waited for our call. Well the roster came and we still didn't have our call, so we actually had to call the Assistants. Haha, they felt really bad. But yeah. I called Sister Honda right after and we are so excited!!!

The second big news is that we are actually whitewash opening Ushiku Sisters!!!!!! This means that there is no Sister in the area that has worked there before, so we will be starting from scratch. There haven't been Sisters in Ushiku for a very very long time, so we will be opening the area! Haha, we actually are moving into a new apartment (again ^^) on Thursday so we will spend Wednesday in Matsudo still. It will definitely be a challenge though. We will be starting with no investigators and very little information about the area, and it is a Portuguese and Japanese area so I will need to get all my Portuguese back.

This announcement wasn't a big surprise to me, since at interviews President Nagano told me that they were opening Ushiku Sisters soon. Since I've worked in Ushiku a little bit in the past (with the Portuguese sacrament meeting) I had a feeling that I might be going. I'm so excited to see Ushiku grow though! They are seeing so many miracles and it will be so great to work with Sister Honda!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

As for this past week. There were 4 major things that happened.

1. We weren't able to set a lot of lessons this week, so we finally had time to find and visit all the Less Actives that the ward has been asking us to visit. Wow, it felt so weird but good to have time to do all of that. Usually we are so packed that we barely have time to eat, so this was a change. Our investigators are still doing really well though and we have plans to meet with them this week.
From Bulgaria

2. We found out that Shizuko San's family is pretty hantai (against the church) so she is feeling really stressed and she feels like she needs some time, so we have dropped her baptismal date for now. She has a desire to still know if it is true, so we will continue to pray for her.

3. Culture Night!!!!!!!! Over the past 2 weeks we have been planning this Cultural Celebration activity for Wednesday after Eikaiwa. We asked two members (one from Bulgaria and one from Austria) to come and give short presentations about their home countries in English for the students. It went so well! The ward really came together and it went perfectly! The presentations were perfect, fun, and the students loved it. After the presentations, we had some snacks and tons of members came and talked with the students. Almost every student was talking to a member and when it came time to end, no one wanted to leave. It was such a good opportunity for students and members to mingle. We hope to hold more activities like this. What really amazed me was how simple it was. The activity was so simple, and we planned it so quickly, but it worked so well. It was truly a miracle. The members were really impressed too.
Sister from Austria

One thing that really hit me though was at the end when one member came up to me and said "Thank you for asking me to do this. I feel like my family doesn't contribute much to the ward, so I'm glad you invited me." She doesn't speak much Japanese and requires English translation at all of our church meetings so I can understand why she felt like she didn't contribute much. The amazing thing though was that her name was the very first one that popped into our heads when we started planning this activity. I'm so glad that we were able to incorporate her and her family into the activity and help her feel more like a part of the Matsudo Ward Family.

My bike and its twin
4. Lastly, IT WAS SISTER SHIM'S 21ST BIRTHDAY!!!!! Yep! We celebrated both of our birthdays this transfer! Yay! It was so fun! We had church that day so tons of members came up and said happy birthday to her (there was even one little boy who came up to me and said happy birthday, so I quickly redirected him to SIster Shim, it was so cute!). Some of the primary kids made her a card too! AHHHHH! For dinner, we brought an investigator and her friend to a member's house for dinner and it was great! The member was Yukimoto Shimai who is Korean so she made all sorts of traditional Korean food including a special soup they eat on birthdays and it was so so special. I tried to make it special for Sister Shim too by surprising her with a cheesecake and decorating her desk. It was a great day and she said she really enjoyed it. I'm so glad! I love Sister Shim so much!!!!!

Shinto shrine
This has truly been a crazy transfer. It flew by so fast! We are already in July and that is insane to me. We did so much this transfer, we saw so many miracles. I will really miss Sister Shim! She was an amazing companion and I learned so so much from her. She is such a strong missionary. Hehe I'm excited to go on exchanges with her this transfer ^^ Yay for still being in the Matsudo Zone!!!!!!!

There is one last experience I would like to share with all of you.

Over the past 2 transfers I have really been struggling with myself. Just knowing that I have so many weaknesses and feeling powerless to overcome them and become not just a strong missionary, but a strong person. It has been some thing that I have really been studying and trying to work on and overcome these past two transfers.

On Sunday, a Primary teacher asked us to come and be a surprise guest for her class of 4 year olds and talk about being missionaries. Well we walked into the classroom (filled with the cutest little 4 year olds ever!!!!) and they were just so excited to see us and hear us. As we introduced ourselves, I just felt a simple joy. There was something about telling these children that I was here to share a happy message with everyone I met, that just made me so happy. It truly is the little things.

BYU student who also knows my brother
After our little visit, we went over to the Young Women and they were singing one of the Youth Songs for this year called "Ask of God." We can't listen to EFY music, but I've sung this song in Young Women's several times since being here in Matsudo and it has come to be a very special and powerful song for me. As we sang, I could see the light from these beautiful daughters of God and it gave me hope.

Joy and hope. Heavenly Father really knows how to help us. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. I am so grateful to have a loving Heavenly Father who cares for me.

I hope you all have an amazing week. Please remember that you have a Father in Heaven who loves you.

Love you all!

Black Shimai