Monday, April 24, 2017

Love from Above

It's that time of week again.  I wasn't actually expecting emails from Jordan on Sunday night (they actually did come very early on Monday morning) because she thought they were going to get to go to the temple which would have meant we would get the emails later today.  However, there was a rule change about how often they could go to the temple (once every two transfers vs. once every transfer) so they have to wait until the next transfer to go.  At any rate, here's her email with a lot of raw, pure, unadulterated feelings and experiences:  it's not all sunshine and roses on a mission.  Most missionaries will tell you it's the hardest time of their lives but also the best.

Not gonna lie, this week wasn't the best.. Kiriko chan wouldn't commit to a new baptismal date, we got straight roasted more than once and some other stuff.. but It's okay because I'm in Japan and doing the Lord's work and nothing can be better than that. 

As you know, last week we had a huge miracle where we went to junshin (the all girls' college) and were let right in and everybody loved us, including the principal. Well at junshin this lady who's name was Ono sensei came up to us and started yelling at us for coming and we had no idea who she was or why she was yelling at us. She told us that it is very rude to just show up and that we should've asked her beforehand if we could come. We explained to her we didn't know who she was, but that we were very sorry and didn't mean to do anything wrong. She still didn't get it and kept saying the same thing, but finally the principal said that he was happy we were there and she stopped.

Fast forward to Tuesday: we went and taught Kiriko, who lives in Hanyu (about an hour and a half bike ride away) and junshin is in the same city, so we thought we'd make use of our time and stop by the college and thank the principal for letting us come. We brought some chocolate and wrote the principal a note and we were again welcomed with the same warm welcoming as before. The principal was so happy to see us and thanked us for coming and he asked if we wanted to come back, so of course we said yes and made sure it was okay which he assured us it was. We exchanged contact information and thanked him again and were on our way. 

Now fast forward to Thursday: we get a call from Ono sensei and we pick up the phone and she starts yelling at us. We were caught a little off guard and asked what was wrong and she told us, "I heard you went to junshin on Tuesday and I'm very mad, why did you go there, you're suppose to go through me!!" Something along those lines at least. We explained to her our intention of going was just to thank the principal, but she was not having it. She kept yelling at us, and then said, "Where are you, I want to do this in person so I can see your faces. Can you meet me at the church?" We told her yes and ran to the church right away.

Sister Domino and I sat there for 30 minutes while Ono sensei metaphorically ripped us to pieces and then stomped on us. She disrespected our religion, our schooling, our culture, and basically every essence about us in ENGLISH which made it hurt even a little more. There were a lot of disrespectful things said, but the important thing is what I learned from it. 
1) This gospel is so necessary. It literally changes lives and makes everyone that is influenced by it into a better person.
2) Christ has suffered for everyone and every situation specifically, including this one. 
3) You can feel love in the midst of your afflictions. I have never felt such an abundance of love from above than I did this day. After she left, I felt this overwhelming comfort in my heart that I knew came from my Heavenly Father. Then, Ishida kyodai (our ward mission leader and japanese dad) walked in and immediately noticed something was wrong and comforted us in a way I knew that Christ would've done if He were here. I legitimately felt Christ's love through him.
Words can't actually describe exactly how I felt, but I'm really thankful for the experience. 

ie. The turn around!! We did the free english challenge today which is where we stand around with signs saying free english challenge and people come up to us. We give them a short little quiz and talk to them in English and invite them to our English classes. Well we talked to a whole lot of people today and there were about 5 people who just came up to us and said, "I want to come to your English class, do you have a flier?" That usually doesn't just happen so that was a huge tender mercy. We are so excited to see what's to come for mission school. During the free english challenge, I started feeling so happy again and I realized one key thing: the harder I work and the more focused I am on my purpose, the happier I get! 

 Word of the week:
 Word: nihongo
 Pronunciation: knee-hon-go
 Meaning: Japanese (the language)

Always remember that you're loved from above.
Wunderli Shimai 

1 and 2: We had a BBQ last pday at the Ishida's house and ate at ton of meat!
3. Obaachan wanted to sit in the back with us ❤
4. Pretty bike rides are the best bike rides
5. How many things can we fit into Domino Shimai's fro?
6. Ishida kyodai!! One of my favorite humans ever
7. A lavender tree

As always, thanks for your positive thoughts, your prayers, and your emails and snail mail.  Jordan (and her parents) truly appreciate them.  Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comment section.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Leave It All In The Pool

I'm getting to email a bit with Jordan this week although it's shorter than I'd like because she is going to lunch at a ward member's house.  She really likes the members and this one is the Ward Mission Leader so she likes him and his family a bit extra.  I really LOVE all of her weekly emails but this one meant a bit more to me because it made me think of all the meets I went to at the various pools in the Vegas area, Nevada, and even in California during the nearly 7 years that she swam.  There are a lot of great memories there.  Enjoy the email.

Before every race I swam, my dad use to tell me to "leave it all in the pool." I've been thinking about this phrase a lot this week. Sister Domino (who is near the end of her mission with only one transfer left after this) and I were talking about where we want to be at the end of our missions and what we want to say we have done. I immediately thought of the phrase my dad told me countless times: leave it all in the pool. That's what I want to have done on my mission; I want to say I've done my absolute best and left everything in the mission field. I love my mission and just want to do the best I can do for everyone in it.

So she didn't get baptized on her scheduled date, but do not fear!! She's still going to get baptized. We had a great lesson with her this week on baptism. She told us that she didn't want to get baptized and at first we were a little concerned because she said she doesn't have a testimony of anything, but after talking to her, we realized that she does have a testimony, she just can't see it. She reads the book of mormon and prays everyday and sends us what she learns that day and her favorite scripture of the day. She also loves coming to church and said that even though Sunday is her only day off, she would never miss church because she loves it so much and that's her time to thank Heavenly Father. Sister Domino and I are going to start re-teaching the lessons and set a new baptismal date with her. She's going to be okay.

My Japanese Obaachan:
It was transfer day on Wednesday and Gorner Shimai left at 8:30am and Domino Shimai wasn't supposed to get here until 4:30pm so I needed to have a member be my companion for that whole time. The first member I thought to call was Ishida kyodai (the ward mission leader, ie the missionary lifesaver), he said, "just come over to my house and you can hang with Obaachan all day!!" How could I turn that down?! 

I thought Obaachan and I were tight before this, but now we're just on a whole new level. We showed each other our family albums, I helped her do her laundry - she started leaving the room we were in and I started following her because it's a missionary rule that you have to stay with your companion at all times and she said no no no, you stay, and then Ishida kyodai explained that we had to stay together haha, so I went with her and helped her hang up her laundry outside - I taught her how to play tic-tac-toe and and she loved it, so we played it for an hour, she sang me some Japanese songs, and she taught me how to write the kanji for their last name, 石田.

The miracle of Junshin:
On Friday we went to junshin (an all girls junior college) and we were a little nervous because sometimes missionaries don't have the best experiences at colleges. We went in and we're immediately welcomed by the whole staff. The principal came over and talked to us and even gave us junshin goodie-bags. He then called the whole staff over and they made a circle around us while we gave our self-introductions. We got a tour of the school after that and then we're introduced to the English teachers. We helped out in two English classes and made friends with a ton of the girls. One of the teachers said how thankful he was that we came and how it was a special experience for all the girls.

Talent show:
On Saturday, for our mission school activity, we had a talent show! It ended up being so much fun. One guy did a stand up comedy routine and it was funny, we learned how to do some karate, we learned some yoga, and everyone had a ball.

Word of the week:
Word: nihonjin
Pronunciation: knee-hon(long o)-jean
Meaning: Japanese person 

Thank you all for your love and support, I feel it all the way in Kumagaya, Japan!! 
Wunderli Shimai 

1. Our Eikaiwa just keeps getting more lit
2. Obaachan turned into Wunderli Shimai for a day :')
3. Domino Shimai and indo curry, two of my most favorite things
4. Gorner Shimai and Sakura, also two of my most favorite things 
5. Fukaya station 
6 and 7: just can't get enough of the Sakura 
8: Gorner Shimai is a pro photographer 
9. We had a picnic under Sakura trees!!! 

As I say every week, we appreciate all of your thoughts, prayers, email and snail mail.  As you can see from the end of her weekly email - she really does feel it.  Here are some bonus pictures for this week.

Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comment section.  See you next week.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Gorner Shimai is getting transferred after I finally get her name right!!

Jordan was hoping that she and Gorner Shimai could stay together for one more transfer but it didn't work out that way.  What did work out is that she is now companions with Domino Shimai who she got to know and REALLY liked in Niigata.  She was Jordan's training leader when Jordan would got to Niigata for splits and zone conferences.  The other cool thing about this transfer is that Domino Shimai taught Kiriko up in Niigata so she'll be able to be there for her baptism.  This was probably the best possible scenario for Jordan in terms of transfers outside of Gorner Shimai staying one more time.   The word of the week has got to be one of her favorite.  Enjoy the email and feel free to share your thoughts and questions.

I'M STAYING IN KUMAGAYA FOR ANOTHER TRANSFER!! This morning was so unproductive for us, Sister Gorner and I were basically freaking out the whole time up until president Nagano called us. 
Let me give you a quick recap:
6:30am: wake up, the freaking out has already started because I happened to have a dream about transfers...
7:00am: trying to focus on cleaning but still freaking out
8:30am: phone rings and we freak's just Engrid
9:25am: phone rings again and we freak out's Engrid again 
9:47am: phone rings again and it's the Niigata Sisters this time 
9:50am: still no call and now I'm on the floor freaking out 
9:52am: phone rings and it's president Nagano... 
Sister Gorner will be transferring (noooo) and I'll be staying (yayyy) and my new companion will be Sister Domino (she was my sister training leaders for 3 transfers and we joked about us being companions at some point, so I'm way excited!! 

This past weekend was general conference weekend for everyone in Japan  (they have it a week later so they have time for translating), but it was amazing! I loved general conference and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have to listen to the prophet and apostles. If you haven't watched it, it's on and it's so worth watching! 

We went over to Kiriko's apartment and read the book of mormon with her. She loves reading from the Book of Mormon and we wanted to invite her to be baptized so we thought we'd combine the two and it worked out pretty well. We invited her to be baptized on the 16th and she said it was pretty fast but she thought she could do it (which she totally can). We asked her if she had any concerns concerning baptism and she said yes so my heart started beating and I was thinking oh no oh no oh no, but I kept my cool and preceded to ask what her concerns were. She then told us that she wants to have read more of the book of mormon before she gets baptized. What a great concern if that's even considered a concern haha. We asked her how we could help her with that and she asked us if we could message her everyday and remind her to read the book of mormon and send her a scripture to read. Well of course we agreed! 

The rest of the week was full of biking to and from places, visiting members and less actives, and just doing some good ole' missionary work.  I love this work and I'm so excited to be able to work for another transfer in Kumagaya!! Have a blessed week! 

Word of the week:
Word: zou
Pronunciation: zo (long o)
Meaning: elephant 

Wunderli Shimai 

1. Just shoveling natto down my beloved companion's throat for zone pday last week
2. Zone selfie 
3-6: We made chocolate roses for a ward activity 
7. Bike ride views
8. Japan in a picture - vending machine and Sakura
9 and 10: more Sakura 
11. Just writing a member a note 

In 4 days, Jordan will have been out for 9 months - her midpoint.  While I miss her dearly, I feel as close to her as ever and the first nine months have gone by pretty quickly; I'm hopeful the back nine (I'm not much of a golfer but I couldn't resist the temptation to throw in a sports metaphor) goes just as fast.  Thanks again for your thoughts, prayers, emails and snail mail you send to her.  She really loves and appreciates them all.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Natta fan of Natto...BUT I am a fan of Japan and I'm loving the people

Because of zone p-day I didn't get to email live with Jordan but I did get several emails including this great weekly email.  It makes me so happy that she's loving her mission and the people of Japan.  She's got another great investigator who is very close to baptism so that's a great thing as well.  Next week is when the transfer calls happen and she's afraid that she and Gomer Shimai will be split up so she's praying they get to stay together one more time - I'll be praying for that as well but it's whatever the mission president thinks is best and is inspired to do.  Based on the last pictures (see bottom of post), I think the word of the week was very appropriate.  Thanks for reading and enjoy.

Wow I'm just having a grand ole time here. This week was great and filled with lots of smiles. 

We were finally able to meet Kiriko this week (the referral we got from the Niigata sisters)!  We actually went to her apartment twice this week.; the first time we biked to it and were just hoping she would be there because she would never really text us back to set up a real appointment. The bike ride was 2 hours each way and she ended up not being there so we left her chocolate, hearts, and map to the church, and a note. We texted her the next day and she thanked us and when we asked if we could meet she said yes!!  

We went back the next day (by train this time) and met with her. She is 20, loves Disney, and works in a floral shop; she's just the cutest!! She told us that she's been praying, reading the scriptures everyday, and keeping the word of wisdom! We told her about the young adults in our ward and about the activities coming up and she was really excited about them. We gave her homework to read Alma 32 and she had read the whole thing within an hour after we left and messaged us saying her thoughts on it..did I mention she's amazing?? And on Sunday she came to church! Everyone just jumped on her and loved her immediately. She told us after that it feels like the Niigata branch so it feels like home. 

Weekly Engrid update/praise:
We met with Engrid and had a lesson on prophets since general conference is being broadcast this next weekend in Japan. We gave her two general conference talks to watch in preparation for next week and I'm pretty sure she's watched the whole last general conference... when we went to visit her a few days later she said she's just been playing the talks all day and listening to them.. she loves them!! She's so great.

Zone p-day: 
For zone p-day about 14 (give or take a couple) got together and just had a ball. We played tons of little games and although my team didn't win first in a lot of things, we won first in spirit. We did win in volleyball though so ya know.. one of the things we had to do though was an eating competition to see who could eat natto the fastest.. well the English translation for natto is fermented soybeans and is perhaps the grossest food on the planet. Someone even told me it's in the top 10 for most smelly foods in the world so there ya go. Anyway Gorner Shimai and I about threw up so we definitely didn't win that one, but we tried our best haha and didn't throw up which is what really counts.

Word of the week:
Word: furisosogu
Pronunciation: foo-di-so-so-gew
Meaning: to rain incessantly, to downpour 

As Kiriko said, kumagaya feels like home to me too. I have grown to love it here so much and I'm so grateful to be in such a special place. Have a great week everyone!! 
Wunderli Shimai 

1 and 2: the Sakura is starting to bloom woohoo 
3. These drinks were way overpriced but the cool bottles were worth it 
4. Kiryu!!
5. Just such a vibrant plant
6. Kiriko! Bad quality pic, high quality time 
7. Sometimes you just gotta stop and take a juice box break
8. *tries to take a decent pic for our flier* Elder Jones, "stair off in the distance!" 
9. Comin' in live from kumagaya 
10. This tree looks like popcorn 
11. It was pouring rain and we didn't want our helmets to get wet and I'm wearing my rain suit.. well hope this brightens your day 

As always, thanks for your support.  Thanks for your positive thoughts, prayers, emails and snail mail.  I can't stress enough how much Jordan appreciates all of them and they all help because she's having such a great experience.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comment section.  Back with more next week.