Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Living Life Dangerously in Tokyo Japan

Ushiku Transfer 9 Week 6


Memories from Matsudo
The last week of the transfer is always a time of miracles! Yay! Sister Honda and I saw many many miracles, the biggest one being that we received transfer calls on Monday and WE ARE STAYING TOGETHER!!!! We will have one more transfer together here in Ushiku and I am so excited!!!!!!!

The only person in our district who is transferring is Elder Price. He will be going to Urayasu!!!! The happiest place on Earth! Yay!!!!

Let's start out with a funny story. Hehe. So on Monday night, I felt my allergies acting up a bit so I decided to take a Benadryl before going to bed. What I didn't know is that if you haven't taken Benadryl for a while, you might have some side effects which one nice Sister called a "Benadryl Hangover." So the next morning, I expected to wake up well rested, but instead I was so tired that I almost fell off my bike while we were going to find a former investigator. Luckily it wore off later, but I never want to have a hangover of any kind ever again. Bye bye Benadryl.

Onto the other miracles:

On Thursday, the Sister Training Leaders came and I got to work with Sister Fernelius. We finally had a big chunk of time to do finding, and as a result we were able to find 2 new investigators! It was such a miracle. We also tried this new thing where we went to an Eki and walked around asking people if they would take a survey. We then asked them different questions about God and their purpose in life and we were able to have some really good conversations. The others sisters found another new investigator through that and we were so excited. There is just something about good old fashion finding (streeting, housing, talking to people) that gives you such a rush of energy. I felt more energized and ready to work than I have in a while.

Haha, then we had a really small but meaningful miracle. We finished the survey dendo and all 4 of us got on the train. Sister Honda and I were getting off in just 1 station, but the Sister Training Leaders were going to ride it all the way back to Matsudo. We said goodbye and got off the train at our stop, but right as we did, I asked Sister Honda if she had my bike key (she and Sister Shim had used our bikes during the exchange). Sister Honda gave me horrified look and started running to the train even though the doors were already closed. We desperately tried to run alongside the train as it pulled away, but of course it was useless. We quickly texted the Sisters and they said they would change trains at the next station and come right back.

The only problem? Their train would arrive at 6:27 and the train to Matsudo left at 6:28. We told them this and then told them to just throw the key at us and run to catch their train. When the moment finally came, I can honestly say my heart was racing. I was so scared that they would miss the train. They ran up the stairs, threw the key at us and ran down, barely making it on the train on time. It was such a small miracle, but it was really needed so that they could be back in Matsudo in time for their meeting and we could be at our lesson on time. Whew. We like to live life dangerously here in the Japan Tokyo Mission. 1 minute train connections and all that.

Then on Saturday, the Elders' investigator, Luigi, got baptized. It was a beautiful service and it was so amazing to see the change that he went through as he got baptized. I have never been to a baptism for someone else's investigator yet, so I was surprised by how strongly I still felt the Spirit. The day after, at church, he was a completely different person. He was so full of light and hope and faith. It was amazing. He is really going to be an amazing member and help for the Portuguese Group.

However, his baptism was another example of us living dangerously. I am the only missionary in this area that can play the piano, and there was no one else at the baptism that could play the piano, so I was playing. However, the baptismal service was changed from 10 to 10:30 that morning and we had a lesson appointment at 11:30, so it was cutting it close to begin with. Then the service started 10 minutes late and there was a lot of talking and so it was 11:40 and we still hadn't sung the closing song yet, but I couldn't leave!!!! It was so nerve-wracking. Sister Honda and I kept looking at each other and the clock, then finally we sang the song. We grabbed our stuff, rushed to shake Luigi's hand and congratulate him and then rushed out of the church at the speed of life (many members were laughing as we ran out) and we made it to our appointment only a little late. The investigator was totally fine with it though (thank goodness)!

I managed to stay reasonably safe and not dangerous for the rest of the week (with the exception of some really delicious ice cream...dangerous? Yes. Delicious and worth it? YEP YEP!).

At the BBQ
Sunday and Monday I received some really amazing sweet surprises! On Sunday, the Ouichis (from the Matsudo Ward) and the Killians (from the Urayasu Ward) were both visiting Ushiku! It was so sweet to see them (especially Ashely Killian, one of my favorite Young Women from Urayasu) and although we didn't get to talk much, I was beaming all day. It was such a sweet surprise. I was so thankful to Heavenly Father. Then on Monday, we had a huge Brazilian BBQ and tons of people came. The biggest surprise came when I looked across the street and I was like "That looks like Miki from Oizumi...???? WAIT THAT IS MIKI FROM OIZUMI!!!!!! WAIT IT'S EVERYONE FROM OIZUMI!!!!!!!" And then I almost started crying right there. I was so happy. My favorite members and friends from Oizumi had all driven 2 hours to come to the BBQ. I know it wasn't for me, but it meant so much to me that I could see them all again and hug them and talk to them.

As a missionary, I sort of accepted the fact that every time I transfer, it is really really likely that I may never see any of the friends I've made ever again in my life. It's a hard thing to accept, but it's true. I don't know if I will come to Japan many times during the rest of my life. So these little moments when I get to see people that I worked with 6 months ago, a year ago, and to have them still remember and love me as much as I love them, it means so so much to me. I feel so blessed to have seen some of my best friends from every area I have served in on my mission so far over the past two days. It has been so so sweet. I'm almost crying just writing about it. AHHHHHHHHH

As for the rest of the BBQ, it was so so so amazing! A little big of background, on Sunday I was asked to give a talk in Portuguese for the Portuguese group and I was terrified. However, I wrote it all out and translated it and it was all good. I really felt like the Spirit was speaking through me and helping improve my pronunciation to help everyone feel the Spirit as I spoke. However, another blessing that came from this talk was that on Monday, there were a lot of Brazilians. Thus, I had the opportunity to talk to many of them. I talked to this one 14 year old girl and because of the talk I gave on Sunday, I felt enough confidence to not only talk to her, but to make lots of mistakes and we ended up becoming really great friends.

I also had the chance to talk to the daughter of a recent convert in Abiko (the neighboring area). She really wants to be baptized and she loves Sister missionaries so much (Abiko doesn't have any Sisters). We had so so so much fun together and I love her so so so much!!!! I can tell that we will be eternal friends! It was so great to be able to talk to so many people at the BBQ yesterday. It was such a success. Everyone was talking to each other and fellowshipping each other and the members were mingling and everyone had a really great time. Yay for BBQs!!!!!!

Well, this is it. I am entering double digits now. Sister Honda and I are both Transfer 10 and it is scary. We really want to make this the best transfer ever.

One thing I learned as I was writing my talk for Sunday was that the most important way that we can make Sundays more meaningful is to listen to the Spirit, to really focus on it as we go to church and learn. I think that this is true for all areas of our lives. I've been doing an activity in PMG about recognizing the Spirit. I've been reading many scriptures about different ways that the Spirit speaks to us and then recording any experiences that I have had with those feelings and it has helped me to realize that I have felt the Spirit so many times in my life and just haven't attributed those experiences to the Spirit. I know that as I really focus on the Spirit and what he is guiding me to do every day this transfer, I will truly be guided and I will be able to make the most of each day.

Transfer 10. I truly never believed that I would make it this far. Two of my amazing mission friends (one of whom is Sister Atkinson, my trainee) are going home early this week for medical reasons. I truly feel blessed to be here in Japan, to have been here so long doing the Lord's work. It feels like I have been here for just a few weeks, but it is crazy to me that it has been 1 year already. I really feel blessed that Heavenly Father called me to serve in this amazing mission. I am so so grateful for every day that I get to wake up and say that I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is truly a blessing.

I love you all!


Black Shimai

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

365 days in Japan

Ushiku Transfer 9 Week 5


1 year in Japan
We are officially in August which means that Sister Honda and I have been in Japan for 1 whole year!!! It doesn't feel like I've lived in Japan for a whole year, but at the same time I definitely know a lot more than when I first came here.

To celebrate our 1 year mark in Japan we bought ourselves a feast of some of our favorite Japanese foods and some things you just have to have when celebrating in Japan (aka strawberry cake ^^). It was a party :)

We also had interviews with President Nagano this past week and what he told me really hit me. At first he told me that the only other Portuguese speaking missionary in the area was being emergency transferred out and so I was naturally a little distracted because I didn't know what I was going to do, but then President Nagano told me

"Sister Black, you need to give yourself more credit. Are you listening to me?" I will admit that I was a little distracted, but I focused a lot more on what he was saying after that. I am so thankful for the opportunity that we have to have interviews with our Mission President. I know that he was guided by Heavenly Father to say exactly what I needed to hear in those short 10 minutes.

Favorite Costco chicken
Ushiku has been an amazing area and I love it so much, but it has also stretched me in many ways. President Nagano told me the things I needed to hear to be able to continue on and push myself to do better.

Right after the interview, as we walked back to the train, we ran into Ai-san (the recent convert who just got baptized on Saturday) and we were able to give her hugs and say hi to her really quick. That made my day! It was such a small tender mercy from Heavenly Father. It was so sweet to be able to see her again, even just for a few moments because it isn't very likely that I will see her again while on my mission.

This week we also finally had some time to do finding!!!!! This whole transfer has been full of crazy appointments and running all over the place so we haven't had a lot of finding, but we finally had a big 3 hour chunk where we could just find and it was amazing! We had a list of less actives and former investigators that we wanted to visit and so we headed out.

Girls from the ward

Our first stop was a Less Active named Nagata Shimai. She sounded promising in Area Book, but when we got there we found out that it was the mom's house and that she had no interest. However, as we were walking back to our bikes, we met Nagata Shimai's younger sister, Imamura Shimai (who is also a less active). She was surprised that there were Sisters in Ushiku and she really really wanted us to come visit her. She said that out of her whole family, she was the most open to the church. She really likes the missionaries, but it was hard in the past because there were only Elders and they couldn't come in. She gave us her address and phone number right there on the street and we invited her to Kodomo Eikaiwa the next day. I mean, that was all a huge miracle, but then she actually came to Kodomo EIkaiwa!!! And she loved it!!! And she knew a bunch of the moms there!!!!!!!!! They kept asking her how she found out about the class and she told them that she used to come to this church when she was younger. It was amazing!! It really was an amazing miracle.

This week we also had a chance to go to a baby shower for a Brazilian member. It was a great opportunity because there were many Less Actives and Investigators there so we were able to spend a little time building relationships with them. There was also this one really cute Japanese girl who came with her Brazilian co-worker and she really wanted to learn Portuguese and English, so we showed her the Eigo-no-tore and she was so excited! She and her co-worker started doing it together to learn Japanese and Portuguese and it was so fun. Both of them have so much potential and I really really hope that we get to see them again soon!

Nao Chann and her brother Kota
One thing that was pretty hard for me this week was when some members started talking to me about my Portuguese and how its mostly Spanish and one Sister asked if I used Google Translate to write my messages to her. Normally none of this would affect me, but for some reason it really hit me this week and it made me almost wish that someone else had been sent instead of me. But then I realized, it was literally a year ago when I started studying Portuguese and I only studied for 3 months. I studied Spanish 3 years ago, it is amazing that I am able to communicate with these amazing people at the level that I am. It astounds me when one of the members starts speaking to me in really fast Spanish and I actually understand what she says. What is even more amazing is the fact that I can't use my language study time to study Portuguese or Spanish, so this is all from memory and Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father is blessing me every day and of course there will be hard times, but we can't let those hard times keep us from recognizing the amazing blessings that we have.
One year celebration dinner

I think that the number 1 thing that I have learned in my last year in Japan is that Heavenly Father is always there for me. He has a perfect plan laid out for me and it is nothing like the plan I have for myself. He sees the bigger picture. He sees what I can and will become. He knows the path I need to take to get there. If I could have chosen exactly how my mission was going to be, there is no way that I would learn nearly as much as I have learned. Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves.

One last little miracle. Back in January, Sister Bede showed me this cute little video about the Plan of Salvation. It was so simple and clear and I loved it so much. Sister Bede actually found it when she first came to Japan and when she went home she wanted to make a Japanese version, but she wasn't able to. Well, we decided to write down the entire video so that we could translate it. Eventually that project got forgotten because we both didn't have time.

District Lunch made by Sister Tobe and one of our investigators

Fast forward to today. I recently found that notebook and flipped through it. Today we were supposed to have a lesson with an investigator and we wanted to teach the Plan of Salvation really really simply, but we were having a hard time with it. Then I remembered this video and because we don't have wifi in the apartment, that script saved our lives! In the end, the lesson got canceled, but I was so so grateful to Heavenly Father for preparing that video to come back into our lives before this lesson. I have been wanting to simply my teaching even more and the Plan of Salvation is the perfect place to start. I am so grateful for all that Heavenly Father has done to prepare me throughout my mission. From the little things like this video script to the big things like Portuguese. I am so so grateful that I have a Heavenly Father who I can turn to in times of need. I know that he sees the big picture. I know that he loves me enough to guide me. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me.

I love you all so so much! Have an amazing week!


Black Shimai

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Normal Weeks Don't Exist in Japan

Ushiku Transfer 9 Week 4


This was definitely a one of a kind week.

This week we went with Sister Tobe to go be on a Radio Show. Every week, Sister Tobe has a 30 minute English show on the radio, so this week she invited Sister Honda and I to come and be on it. We recorded 2 shows, each 30 minutes, and they will air in September. For the first show, Sister Honda helped do some English teaching and then I did an interview. It was so scary! She asked a lot of questions in Japanese and then I would answer in English. We had a chance to talk about a lot of different things though, like how my parents have influenced me growing up and a little bit about missionary work too. It was a really good exper

For the second interview, we switched so I did the English help and Sister Honda did the interview. It was such an interesting experience, but it was really fun. Hopefully, we will get to do it again sometime soon :) Haha, I never ever thought that I would ever be on the Radio in Japan. ^^

Another fun thing that happened this week was that we went to visit the Kijimas. They are a couple who just moved into the ward (the same time we did). They built their own house in the Ushiku Ward and we were the first ones to visit. However, it was a little tough getting there because Kijima Kyoudai came by himself to come pick us up from the train station, but as part of missionary rules, we can't be in a car when there is only 1 man and no woman. So instead, he helped us find a bus and he picked us up from the bus stop with Kijima Shimai. The only scary part was that the bus stop that we got off at was in between these two huge fenced off areas with people in army uniforms guarding the entrances. I learned from Sister Shim that Japan doesn't have an army, but we were still nervous to be standing there anyways. After a few minutes the Kijimas showed up and all was fine. ^^

We went to their house for lunch and a mogi lesson and it was amazing. They were so nice and we were able to really bond with them and learn about their lives. The most amazing thing though, was that the moment we walked into the house, we felt the Spirit so strongly. It was so peaceful and quiet and still. It really felt like a temple. They left us for a little bit so that they could finish preparing the lunch, and all we could do was stare in awe. When we were in this home, we really felt like it was as the prophets commanded us, to have a "house of order" and to make our homes temples.

Saturday was by far the craziest day though. Why? BECAUSE AI-SAN GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I almost died on Monday when I found out that she was being baptized on Saturday. Ai-san is an investigator that I taught in Matsudo, who was just so prepared when I met her, and then after I left, she started progressing so fast. On Saturday morning, we woke up early to go to Matsudo for the baptism and it was just so amazing. We were able to sit with Mami-san (another investigator that I worked with and love so much) during the whole service and the Spirit was just amazing.

With Ai-san
When Ai-san bore her testimony after she was baptized, I could just see a light around her. She was so happy. Afterwards she told us that she couldn't describe how she felt, she just felt warm and happy. I am so so so happy for her! She is amazing and I love her so so so much!!!!

I truly feel so blessed that Heavenly Father has put me in the paths of these people. There are so many prepared people in the world, and I know that as I work hard and do my best every day, I can find those people who are prepared for the gospel. Ai-san was so prepared and she has truly changed as she has chosen to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am just so so so happy for her! I almost cried! All the missionaries sang "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" for her baptismal service, and I just felt the Spirit testifying to all of us that this was true. This church is true.

After the baptismal service we had to rush back to Ushiku for a meeting and then we got ready for the Kappa Matsuri!!!

Little Turtles
Background: A Kappa is a mythical creature that is really famous in Ushiku because he supposedly lives in the swamp here in Ushiku. He has a turtle shell and a little plate on his head and there always needs to be water in the plate or else he will die. He also really likes cucumbers.

Every July there is a big festival (matsuri) in Ushiku called the Kappa Matsuri. There is tons of games and food and a huge parade that schools and clubs and workplaces can sign up to be in. There was a young woman who was going to be in the parade so we made plans to go with her family to watch her in the parade and then a potential investigator also wanted to go with us, so we ended up going to the festival for 4 hours and just building relationships with all these amazing people. It was so great. It was a really really good way to build relationships with both our PI (and her mom and son) and the member's family.

The young woman and her family are actually Japanese and Peruvian so they speak Japanese and Spanish and they help a lot with the Portuguese Sacrament Meeting. I have become really close with them since coming here to Ushiku, so I was excited to go with them to the festival.

Another fun thing about Japanese Festivals, is that a lot of people dress up in traditional Japanese attire. So, yes I got to wear a yukata!!!!!!!!! (A summer kimono). The member that we went with took us last week to buy our own yukatas and so Sister Honda and I were really excited to wear them. Luckily, Sister Honda knows how to put them on, so she was able to help me. We saw a lot of really beautiful yukatas that day. It was just an amazing experience to really live Japanese culture and bond with the youth.

By the end of Saturday though, we were exhausted. :) It was a crazy, but amazing day.

The last big event of this week was that on Sunday, Elder Tokuzawa of the 70 came and visited Ushiku. We had several investigators come and it got a little crazy. Sister Honda and I were running around the whole time. President and Sister Nagano, as well as many stake leaders were there too (which means that I saw a lot of Matsudo members ^^). At one point, Sister Honda and I were talking to President and Sister Nagano for a little bit and then we had to quickly go on splits. Sister Nagano started dragging Sister Honda away and we were like "But who will be Sister Black's companion?" Everyone else was in class, so President Nagano was like "I'll be your companion." And that is how I ended up being companions with the Mission President for 10 minutes. (The rest of the background is way to complicated to explain in an email, sorry ^^).

Elder Tokuzawa and the Stake Leaders also came to the Portuguese Sacrament Meeting which made things interesting, because we had to translate it all for them. Then on top of that, Larissa (an investigator) brought her 3 NIhonjin friends who also needed translation (there are only so many of us who can understand Portuguese and Japanese). In the end, Elder Price translated for Elder Tokuzawa's talk, another member was translating for the Stake Leaders, and I translated for the 3 Nihonjin girls. I was praying so so hard the whole time that everyone would have the gift of tongues. It all worked out though and the Spirit was really strong. For the 3 girls I was translating for, this was their first time in a Christian church, so I'm sure it was overwhelming for them, but they paid attention and seemed to enjoy it all. There was a special Spirit during that meeting and I'm glad that I was able to be a part of it.

So many things happened this week, it's crazy to think that it's only been 7 days. Ushiku is seeing miracles and I love being a part of it. I am so thankful for this area, this ward, and the love and support I feel from all of you.

Thank you so much!!! Have an amazing week!


Black Shimai