August 25, 2013

Life as a Missionary in AKITA JAPAN!
Biking, sweating, biking, sweating, talking to as many people as I can, biking, lessons, and oh more sweating!
I am absolutely loving my mission in this lively city of Akita. Every day I`ll be biking with my trainer sister Stevenson riding infront of me, and start looking all around me and think, “Wow, I`m a missionary…in JAPAN!“. I get so excited and have this urge to just talk to every Japanese person I see! The mission is so fun, but it`s not easy. This past week definitely had it`s ups and downs.
Every Monday is our Preparation Day or, P-day, and we have time to go shopping and do mailing. Last p-day sister Stevenson and I had spent some time talking to people and trying to see if anyone would be interested in our message. We always go by the train station and mall area. It`s the biggest shopping mall I`ve ever been to. So many stores in many buildings that are 6 or 7 stories high, and also 3 stories under ground. The escalator ride to get to a store at the top is like 6 escalator rides up! Right outside along the pathway is this beautiful huge lilly pond with the biggest lilly pads I`ve ever seen! Sometimes I see people in a little raft paddling around. We had been talking with people for about an hour on the side walks, but no one seemed interested. We started to walk back when I saw a young girl across the road and thought I should say hi, but in English. I yelled, “Hi!“ and she smiled and said “Hi!“ and then I asked “Can you speak English?“. She looked confused and ran across the road to see what this silly American is saying. I then asked her again and she started giggling and covering her mouth and saying, “a little“. We talked for a little bit and then asked if she has interest in learning English. She said yes and we invited her to Eikawa, English class, every Wednesday at 7pm at our Church and told her it`s free. She said she wanted to come and then we started talking to her about how we`re missionaries and asked if she believed in God. She was so sweet and only said one word answers and said, “yes“. Sister Stevenson and I both looked at each other smiling and then asker her “Can we share a message with you about God some other time?“. She then said, “yes“ smiling. Again, sister Stevenson and I looked at each other in awe and asked if we could get her phone number with another one word reply, “yes“. Her name is Natsuko chyan and she is 15. After we parted our ways I instantly thought, “what if I had not followed that prompting to just randomnly yell “hi“ across the road, we would have never talked with her and who know`s, Natsuko chyan could have been just waiting. I learned from that experience that I should always open my mouth. I also learned the Lord will let you work for a while and then place someone along the path with faith and action.
Wedensday Natsuko did come to Eikawa! All of us 8 missionaries had planned for Eikwawa this week and wanted to make it super fun. We spent a few hours on Tuesday evening handing out flyers and Elder Bailey and elder Fitz even played their guitars and ukelele to try and get people to come. So many people said they would come, but Wednesday night ended up only being about 6 students. We still had a great time and I got to teach the beginning English class. I am so impressed with the dedication of the members of the Akita Branch. It`s so small, but these faithful families serve so much having many different callings in the ward. The Branch President, President Sato comes to Eikawa every week, and comes to all our meetings. Natsuko chyan liked Eikawa and we invited her to Saturday`s FHE game night. She said yes!
Saturday us missionaries had put together a “Minute to Win it“ Game night for all the members, Eikawa students, and LA`s and investigators. Once again, the members that came are so dedicated to helping us missionaries. The Sasaki family, Shindo family, President Sato and a few others who are the only members in their families came and got involved with our fun little games we had put together. Natsuko chyan came! Our other investigators were all busy. Only two other potential investigators came. It was a small turn out with 20 or so but it was so fun! I laughed so hard watching President Sato, brother Sasaki, Yokoyama, and recently baptized Takaku play this one game all together. They had this box attached to their lower back with ping pong balls inside and had to shake out as many as they could in a minute. Watching Japanese men try to shake their hips is probably the funniest thing I`ve ever seen! I love these members! sister Stevenson and I try to ride our bikes to the houses we can to go visit them as often as we can. They really do need unity and love. The members are so kind and will always be willing to do a joint lesson with an investigator anytime we ask. Japanese people are just so respectful and kind. I have learned they do show affection differently though haha. I tell sister Stevenson I love her all the time and she just laughs and says “okay“. Last night during our companionship inventory…AKA talk about your companionship strengths and challenges…I told her at the end “I love you“. She started to uncomfortably laugh and attempted to try to tell me in english that she`s not used to hearing I love you. I told her I was going to keep telling her anyways. I already realize she`s opening up. I`ll put my arm around her for a picture and tell her it`s okay to put her arm around me too. She`s so cute! This past week though we did have our challenges. I like to ride my bike faster…she likes to ride hers slow. When we`re streeting, I like to walk quicker to talk to people….she likes to walk very slow. I like to ask questions when I don`t understand something….she likes to not answer so many questions haha. We are different, and there were many times this past week I felt frustrated or impatient but I do love sister Stevenson and am so grateful to have her as my trainer. This past week we wanted to visit 6 less actives in 2 hours, but sister stevenson didn`t really look at the map and so we spent about an hour and a half just trying to find the houses. There are times like that when I feel like we waste so much time. Sometimes we`ll be at the Church with the other missionaries and hang around and I want to go out and talk with people and not waste time just casually talking with our missionary friends. Sister Stevenson doesn`t like to feel in a rush and so I`ll just wait. I let her know that I feel we waste a lot of time. We only went out two times this past week to go streeting. I want to be an effective, hard working missionary, and it`s been hard feeling like sometimes I`m not the best missionary I can be. This week Sister Stevenson and I made the goal to be on time and work hard. She did tell me though that I should worry so much about our goals. Every day we make goals of how many lessons, potential investigators, referrals and we try to reach our goals. There were many 0`s this past week. She said, “as long as you`re having fun the goals don`t matter.“ I told her I don`t feel the same way because the goals will help us work hard. She still doesn`t feel the same way I do but I realize I can only try my best and love and serve her.
We had our first lesson with our new investigator Natsuko chyan on Saturday after FHE! She said she would read the scriptures we gave her from the Book of Mormon and pray. As I study the Book of Mormon each day I realize that every single day we all need to read from the Book of Mormon. It is our spiritual nourishment, and if we do not drink from it`s pages we will die, spiritually. The Book of Mormon truly is God`s word. I have read every single page and know that the Book of Mormon is true. I am filled when I read it each day and I understand my purpose on this earth. I understand more fully God`s mercy and Eternal love. I feel the Lord`s love and recognize His hand in each day. Today we met with another new investigator, Fujisawa! It was our first lesson with the other elders too and the Spirit was there. I love the Book of Mormon and invite all to sincerely read it. We met a back packer from Spain today and I felt prompted to follow him to talk to him across the road. Once we found out he was from Spain I felt like I needed to give him a BOM but I didn`t have one in Spanish! We ended up taking him to the Church to meet the elders and as I looked in the Church my prayer was answered. There was ONE Spanish BOM, what are the odds! My prayer was answered. His name was Lorenzo and he said “I`m grateful for you, Thanks be to God“.
This is the Lord`s work. Every nation will here His word and know one day every person will confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I know this to be true.
Another fun week ahead! Thank you for your prayers and love.
Love,
Sister Butler

August 18, 2013 – Life in Akita!

By Small and Simple Things are Great Things Brought To Pass

 
This past week was full of so many experiences. It’s still hot and humid, but Akita is always cloudy so it’s never a clear blue day, but I am loving the heat. Every other missionary isn’t too fond of sweating all the time, but I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts before the freezing cold 3 foot snow winter comes!
    Sister Stevenson makes great Japanese meals and I’m trying to learn to make some Japanese food. I’m excited to learn so I’ll be able to cook. Japanese food is so yummy! My first Japanese restaurant experiences was unforgettable! Our whole Zone of missionaries, 14 of us, went to a Japanese buffet together. You take off your shoes and kneel on these mats sitting in front of just a foot-high table. There’s raw meat you pick and put in this big pan and you cook your own meat. It was super fun. I love my Zone of missionaries. The Zone leaders, Elder Akiyama and elder Hakaria are great Zone leaders. They all made me beat-box and want me to beat-box in the streets to get more people to come to our English classes every week. I don’t know about beat-boxing in the streets of Japan as a missionary. That seems intimidating haha and I don’t know if that sets a good image. They told me, “No you’re supposed to use your talents!” haha Elder Akiyama is the funniest Japanese guy! He’s 26 and a convert. He is so nice and always makes me laugh. We only meet with our Zone once a week for a meeting.
    There were many times through out this week that I would go up to someone to try and speak to them and as soon as I said, “I’m a missionary…” they would cut me off and walk away. I realized that I needed to show these people love first and not seem like a sales person. So I told sister Stevenson, “Okay let’s try to talk about Akita the city and tell them we just got here and what fun things there are to do here”. She agreed and we went down the streets of people shopping by the huge shopping malls and train station. People actually would stop and listen, but we wouldn’t focus on our message and then the conversation and end and we would walk away. It didn’t feel right to not mention we were missionaries of the Lord and had a special message. So Yesterday I had a determination I would try to boldly share my testimony and just trust my words would be guided and they would be able to feel the Spirit. We met one girl name Mika, and she was so kind! As I looked into her eyes and shared that I knew that God loves her and has a special purpose for her life she listened and smiled. I gave her a Book of Mormon and since she’s not from Akita, we parted our ways. I realize there’s many times I will never see the person again, but I don’t know the affects it could have on their life. I pray Mika will read the Book of Mormon and feel it’s true message.
    Our apartment is so small but it feels like were a little poor family and I love it! Since there’s four of us we’re always with each other in the apartment and cooking dinners for each other and eating together. I love feeling poor, because it helps me realize how blessed I am and think of all those in the world who have so little and yet can still be so happy. It reminds me of the story of Christ telling the woman at the well that, “whosoever shall come unto me shall never thirst”. The Lord’s message will fill our souls and we may not have a lot but we will be happy because we are full spiritually. I know that through prayer and reading the Book of Mormon every day, we can feel God’s love and understand our purpose in life more fully. We will be happy and desire to serve others. I know when we serve others we are truly happy. Christ served everyone around Him always. I desire to be more like Christ each day.
I am still trying to memorize all the members in the Akita Branch. They are all so sweet and kind.
I am so grateful for your prayers. I love you!
Love,
Tori

August 12, 2013

In the Land of Japan! AKITA district! Morioka Zone!

I am so excited to tell you all about my mission so far!!!
I am in the Morioka Zone in the Akita district!  I am loving AKITA! and I love my trainer sister STEVENSON!  Sister Stevenson is so sweet and honestly the best trainer in the whole world I’m convinced. Coming here I was a little bit nervous about who my new companion would be I’ll admit, but she is exactly what I need!  You’d think she was an American with her last name but she’s definitely Japanese! haha! She is 23 years old and from Tokyo and there’s 9 in her family! She has an older brother who’s an RM but inactive, an older sister, and four younger sisters. Her dad is American but they’ve lived in Tokyo her whole life. Even though she’s only half Japanese she seems whole to me because she acts full Japanese.  I love her so much and she is so obedient and kind. She is very patient with my slow Japanese. The Japanese is coming little by little every day. I love my branch! There’s about 30 active members in this tiny branch and there’s probably around 60 or so less actives. The members are so kind and bow when you meet them about every second, the Japanese people love to bow. It’s very respectful. And they say the phrase “yoroshiku onagai shimasu” all the time. It means “looking foward to getting to know you”. But it’s said so much you’d think it would mean a simple phrase like, “good to see you”, except said 100 times during a conversation! haha. I say it all the time and bow constantly, I know by the end of my mission when I come home, I will be like a Japanese person! I already have picked up many of their mannerisms.
When I first arrived in Sendai! I was so exhausted from the plane ride, all of us 24 missionaries were. I love the weather! It is pretty humid but I love the heat, even though Im sweating all the time! We all stayed at President and sister Rasmussen’s house. It was so fun being with most of my district and two others districts from the MTC.  We didn’t end up going to bed until 11:30pm that first night. The next day was some training at the Church building and then our trainers came! When they all walked in the room I looked at all the sister missionaries and knew exactly who my trainer would be, probably because President Rasmussen told me she was half Japanese haha. We all got our areas told to us one by one and as President Rasmussen announced, “Sister Butler you are going to Akita” sister Stevenson came running over to me. I ran to her to and we hugged and I immediately had a really good feeling that she would be the best companion. She has already taught me so much and I will be forever grateful to her. And what a tender mercy that Sister Kirby from my MTC district is with me here in Akita! Her trainer sister Nakaima is super sweet too and we all live together in a tiny apartment near the Church.
I have a bike and I love riding my bike! It is definitely an older bike and the brakes make a screeching sound but I love riding my bike so much that I dont mind.  Some things have changed here in the Sendai mission, like for example, we don’t buy our bike and keep it our whole mission, we use other missionaries when we transfer. Also there’s 12 weeks of training. I will be trained my first 12 weeks by sister Stevenson and then I will become a trainer most likely. The point of this new training way is so that missionaries can be prepared to become a trainer after their first 12 weeks.
I love the Japanese food!!!  Noodles, yummy bread, amazing Japanese popsicles all day e’ry day! well…when we have time to eat. So my first day with Sister Stevenson started off with morning studies in the apartment and then we went out by the huge train station/mall to go streeting. We went to find anyone who would be interested in hearing about our message about Jesus Christ. I thought I would be intimidated and especially scared not knowing the language, but I was so ready to go!  All that MTC waiting feeling came out and I maybe even got a little too excited haha. Every time anyone would make eye contact with me for more than a second, I’d run after them. I learned that first day Japanese people think it’s weird if you run after them to talk to them…well probably everyone thinks that’s weird haha. I gave out my first Book of Mormon to a young Japanese girl studying in school, probably around 22. Her name’s Morita and I had such a good feeling about her. We got her number and I got to talk English to her because she knows some english. We texted her but she never texted us back. Hopefully she will read the Book of Mormon and feel the need to call us.  The Branch I’m in is so great! I have been constantly studying the names of all the members and trying to memorize names and faces. With only 30 members it’s not too many, but Japanese names are a bit difficult.  Sister Stevenson and I spent 4 hours last nice organizing the Area book. I want to make it neat so other missionaries who come to Akita won’t have the problem we do of calling a less active to find out they’ve moved or they don’t want anything to do with the Church.

My first lesson in a Japanese home was so fun! It was with brother Takaku who was baptized in April. He is about 55 and lives with his parents. He loves Japanese caligraphy and he taught Stevenson shimai and I. I couldn’t say much but ask a few questions and bear my testimony but I tried to do it from my heart. He’s very nice man. We have 5 investigators and are constantly trying to find more people. I’ve already had many learning experiences of what I’m sure the usual missionary experiences, such as no success knocking doors. But I know that if I put my whole heart into this work the Lord will guide me to those who are seeking the truth, but just don’t know where to find it.
I am just loving life as a missionary. We have 8 missionaries in our branch, 8 of us! can you imagine 8 missionaries even in a normal 150 member ward? The elders are so great and guess what! When I was in Jerusalem my friend and roommate Kara Trammell told her friend that I got my mission call to his same mission. So for the past months he wrote me a few letters getting me excited for Japan. Well guess who’s branch I’m serving in…his branch! That’s so crazy to me. Out of all the missions in Japan we are in the same branch and see each other all the time.
My very first moment in Akita sister Stevenson and I jumped off the bus with my bags and raced to the church because we, meaning I, would be teaching english class. Every Wednesday missionaries teach free english class to anyone who wants to come. It was so fun! only 8 or 9 come, but they love it. We are going to try to make Eikawa, english class, more exciting and I got a few ideas. Please any ideas to make teaching english fun and easy SHARE! Our next topic is the difference between pronounciating R’s and L’s. For Japanese people they sound the same. I’m excited for this next class.
I love you my family and friends and I am going to try and work my very best this next week thinking of you as I preach the word of God to all who will hear.
 I love the Lord and I know He is mindful of us all. I am so grateful for prayer and the peace and comfort it brings me.
Love
Sister Tori Butler

8/3/2013

Off To Sendai Japan!
My last week at the MTC just flew right by! All of us missionaries ready to depart for the field are so excited. I don’t feel scared or nervous, which I guess is weird to others haha. I am just EXCITED! I know as soon as I get to the SLC airport it’ll hit me, “Oh I’m a missionary, I should talk to people”. I have made the goal that I will talk to as many people as I can on my trip over to Japan. I know someone along the way is prepared to hear the Gospel, I just need to find in faith.
So I have a few stories about this past week. I hosted the new missionaries on Wednesday and saw my two friends from Jerusalem, India my roommate going to Kiev, Ukraine and Ashlee Lyons going to Brazil. It’s so fun seeing all these nervous and excited new missionaries. It brings back memories of when I first arrived at the MTC 9 weeks ago, ready to start the mission I’d be anticipating for so long. Now it’s as if my anticipation is arriving in Japan.
Sister Morrison and I were able to do our last skype teaching a member in Japan. We skyped with a 60 year old man named Muira san. He had the kindest smile and as we asked questions about his life we found out he’s a convert to the Church and was baptized when he was 31. He told us that all his children are inactive and I soon found out he was divorced. I could feel how this kind man only wanted his family to be happy. I could see the sadness in his face that he desired the happiness he felt through the Gospel for his children. He seemed so diligent in Church and truly converted to Christ. He goes to the Temple in Nagoya often. Sister Morrison and I asked him many questions and I felt unsure at first what we should teach him. Then as I began to bear my testimony I began to cry as I told him the great love I have for the Japanese people and that I am serving a mission because I want to help the Japanese people and love them. I could feel the Spirit strongly. The Spirit is so amazing, you can feel unsure in one moment but then as you bear truth you are filled with light and feelings of peace and comfort. I have learned that in helping others to come unto Christ, it is important to always leave an invitation to a commitment. I asked Muira san how often he speaks with his children.  He said he doesn’t talk with them very much. I then invited Muira san to share his testimony with each of his children this week and promised him that they would feel the Spirit if he did that. He said he would.
I have loved getting to know my district. I am really going to miss each one of them. On Thursday we had our last class together with our teacher Sister Watanabe who’s 25 and Brother Workman who’s 23, they both served in the same mission in Japan. I have loved these teachers and learned so much from them. Sister Watanabe taught me to always teach people, not lessons. Brother Workman taught me how to truly love others and he honestly is the best teacher I’ve ever had. Every time he teaches I feel the Spirit. I desire to be like him, and one day I’d love to teach at the MTC because of his example. Thursday’s class sister Watanabe wanted us all to have the opportunity to share our testimonies in Japanese. I can’t even describe in words the love I’ve felt for each person in my district. They’ve been my family, and we really do feel like a family. As I listened to each heartfelt testimony I was touched. I then thought for a moment. Here are these young 18-19 year old boys and 19- 21 year old girls are out giving one and half to two years of their live to completely forget themselves and serve others. For some it wasn’t easy coming out to serve a mission, but each one said that it’s been the greatest decision they’ve made so far. I know that true joy comes through forgetting yourself and serving others. Christ was that example his whole life. When others turn inwards, Christ always turns out.
   I have a little story about two elders in my district. First of all I have been so blessed to have such diligent, kind elders. They can be young boys at times but they have such good hearts and I love em like brothers. During our Testimony sharing, Elder Low started to speak. He began sharing with all of us how this morning him and Elder Sorenson got into an argument and he was really mad. He was feeling frustrated and then he realized, “I’m a missionary of the Lord, I shouldn’t be getting mad”. He said that he started to say a silent prayer in his mind that he would be able to not not be angry. He said before he could even finish that first sentence in his mind, this overwhelming feeling of love came over him and he felt all this love for elder Sorenson. As he told us this he began to weep and said that he could feel how much Christ loves elder Sorenson. He then testifed to all of us that Christ has an even greater love for all His children that we can’t comprehend. After his testimony, I heard soft sobs and looked over to see elder Sorenson crying. I never thought I would see Elder Sorenson cry. He just seems like he likes to keep his feelings inside. He then quickly said, “I have to say something”. He began to tell us that this morning he too was angry and frustrated after Elder Low and his argument but felt feelings of guilt and said a prayer that Elder Low would feel God’s love. He said, “My prayer was answered”. We all got teary and so much love was in that room.
    I know that Christ loves all of us so much. I know that He knows us each individually. Prayer is real and Heavenly Father will always answer your prayers.
I am so excited to meet my new ward in Japan and meet all the membres. I am excited to finally meet my mission President, President Rasmussen.
Thank you for your love and support. I love all of you and pray for you each night. The Lord lives and He will come to the earth again someday and we will all see Him as He is, the true Son of God, even Jesus Christ.
Love,
Sister Butler