November 23, 2014

I LOVE MY MISSION!

The earthquake was shaky but I wasn`t scared. I`ve experienced so many little one`s it doesn`t phase me anymore. But this past one was a little bigger than most. We were in the Church with the elders having a meeting and the building started to shake. We all went silent and waited for it to pass and then just kept on talking as if it was no big deal haha. In America we would defintiely be talking about it but we`re all used to it I guess haha.
The clock is ticking and every little second counts at this point of my mission!
I can`t believe I only have 3 weeks left in Aizuwakamatsu!
I am so excited to see Hirano san`s baptism on December 6th! I at least get to see one more baptism before I go home! He`s the investigator the elders are teaching that Nakaima shimai and I found housing. He has been truly converted to Christ and it`s been amazing to see!
This past week we had our first lesson with our new investigators, the Tsunoda family! The two cute daughters, Noa and Chihaya loved the lesson! Noa who`s 11, has  a little kids Bible picture book that she ran and got during our lesson to show us. She has read about the Bible stories since she was little and that was cool to see! We have a lesson with them tongiht and they are going to feed us dinner! We will be teaching them on Thursday too!
Kodama shimai and I went to Yamagata to do a split with the sisters there on Tuesday and came back Wednesday. Then the sisters from Iwaki came on Thursday to Friday for a split with us!
The Thursday`s split was so great with Moon Shimai! I remember when I was in Akita exactly one year ago and Moon shimai was my STL at that time. Now I`m her STL. She has always been an inspirational sister missionary to me. We had lots of lessons together on Thursday. We taught Hirano san her second lesson and sister Takase came to do a member joint! It reminded me once again how important it is to always have a member present in the lesson. The lessons are always much more powerful! We shared about the Plan of Salvation.
   It seemed like this past week`s theme has been Plan of Salvation haha! I gave a talk yesterday in Church on the Plan of Salvation. Before my mission I felt like I would really ponder and take a long time to prepare my talks. I would write down a lot of the time word for word what I felt I should say. But now I feel like I can get up with out any notes, just my Scriptures, and share what I`ve prepared heartfully more than before, even though it`s in a different language! I feel like I have more confidence speaking infront of others when I speak in Japanese! haha, I never thought that would happen!
I was able to translate during church for brother Bochi, who`s from Germany. Sister Bochi his his Japanese wife and brother Bochi doesn`t speak any Japanese, just German and English. I used to be really nervous translating because I would mess up and it didn`t sound like natural English. But from being able to sit behind brother Bochi in Sacrament Meeting and translate, I`ve noticed I`ve come to even put enthusiasm and expression in my translating haha. Brother Bochi turned around after and gave me a German candy and said, “You`re very good at translating“ in his cool German accent.
  We have two  more splits this week, Tuesday through Friday. I can`t believe Thursday`s split with Arashiyama shimai will be my last split!
I am excited for this next week! Many exciting lessons planned! We have a girl named Maki from Koriyama who wants to take the lessons! We have our first lesson with her on Friday!!!
Miracles are everywhere.
I love the Lord and I am so grateful for your prayers and love.
Love,
Tori

November 16, 2014

 Kodama shimai and I have a new investigator!!! The elders found Yasuyo housing and she`s in mid 50`s and had interest right away. They let us know and set up an appointment for us to go with them and teach Yasuyo a lesson. We got to her housing planning to teach her the Restoration since she asked, “Why does your religion have another Book?“
   We walked in her house and she was so friendly. We got to know Yasuyo a little bit and she told us that she would let the Jehovah Witnesses come in and teach her a short lesson before, but felt that there was something more. We began with a prayer and then I began to tell her how our message`s focus is Jesus Christ. When I asked her what she knew about Jesus Christ she said that she know He Atoned for our sins and died for us and was Resurrected. She talked about how when she first heard that tears filled her eyes and she was so impress that someone would die for her. Us sisters looked at the elders impressed that she had a deep understanding of Jesus Christ and actually a testimony of Him.
  We began to explain how after Jesus Christ established His true Church on the earth according to Godly authority, known as the Priesthood, people had crucified Christ, killed His Apostles and that Authoirty and Christ`s true Church was taken away. We told her how with the records of Christ`s Apostles and all other records in the Bible, many mis-interpretaions were made and many different people created their own Church, but with out that proper authority. Yasuyo seemed to understand it all very well. And then we introduced how in 1820 a 14 year old boy who lived in New York had a burning question of which church was right. And how that boy read in the Bible from James 1:5,
    “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and if shall be given to him…“
Then Yasuyo understood that what that boy named Joseph Smith did next was exactly that, he went to a secluded area in the woods by his house and knelt in humble prayer to ask God which Church he should join.
Then elder Suzuki recited Jospeh Smith`s own words in Japanese,
  “ I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun which decended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages; who`s brightness and glory defy all description standing above me in the air.
   One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said pointing to the other,
`Jospeh, this is my Beloved Son, Hear Him“
Yasuyo seemed to deeply ponder as she looked at the picture of Joseph Smith with God the Father and Jesus Christ above him standing in the air with such glory. I always feel the Spirit when I talk of Jospeh Smith`s experience, because even though I wasn`t there, I know it`s true. I feel it`s true every time I tell it. Through Jospeh Smith Jesus Christ`s true Church and that Godly authority, the Priesthood, was once again established on the earth.
   We have our next appointment on Thursday with member sister Takase.
We also have an appointment tonight with the Tsunoda family who came to our Sports activity two weeks ago. They will be doing the 6 week Free English Program to do 30 minutes English and 30 minutes the Church message. It is such an inspired program!
I had a funny experience this past week. After teaching Eikaiwa, English class, in Koriyama us two sisters and the two elders rode back with brother Saito to Aizu. Brother Saito made us all sandwiches for the ride back! We were so grateful because we hadn`t eaten dinner and began to eat. I asked the elders a question while I was eating and all of the sudden the Japanese elder who`s on his 3rd transfer just fresh out swung his head towards me and said, “Butler shimai, talking with your mouth full is very rude. It is not pretty to see and very rude in the Japanese culture. You better be more careful“. Now this elder is always joking arond and sometimes he has a hard sense of humor. The car went silent and it was a little awkward. I barely had said anything and didn`t even have my mouth full. I then said, “Okay elder. I`ll be more careful.“ I couldn`t tell if he was joking but then realized he was dead serios, but he said it in such a strict way I was surprised. Then my companion Kodama shimai with as much sandwich as she could fit in her mouth said, “Elder, this sandwich is delicious isn`t it!“
     He swung his head around and everyone started laughing. I thought, I have the best companion!
Kodama shimai had the best conversation last night during dinner. We talked about the joy we`ve felt in our family`s and we were both getting emotional sharing experiences of memories from our family`s.before our missions.
We were able to teach 12 lessons this past week! 1 of those was to investigator Yasuyo, but the rest were Less actives and members. We will try and teach as many lessons we can in a week!
I know this is the Lord`s work and my love for the Lord grows each day that I share with a stranger, “God loves you“.
Love,
Tori

November 9, 2014

First Week of My Last Transfer

All of us 4 sisters headed to Sendai Wednesday morning. I was a little nervous to meet my new companion but of course excited. As we entered the Train station, we saw where all the missionaries were gathered. I was so happy to see the sisters I was in the MTC with and we encouraged each other to do our best this last transfer. I saw many of my past companions, sister Iwahashi from Akita, sister Kanno from Hachinohe, sister Konishi from Morioka, and I saw my trainer who went home, sister Stevenson. She was smiling with excitement to go home and I hugged her congratulating her. She said “Freedom at last“. I just laughed and then I saw sister King from when we were in Morioka together! I cried when we hugged because she really has been my closest friend on the mission.

Then I saw my new companion sister Kodama and we hugged and I told her how my prayer was answered that I would get to work with her my last transfer in Aizu. And ever since we`ve been working hard!
As soon as we got to Aizu we prepared for Kids Eikaiwa and a new family came to Eikaiwa! A mom and two daughters, 7 and 11. There the Tsunoda`s. The next day Kodama shimai and I had lots of appoitments. We went to service at the Retirement home with the elders at 2pm, then rode to less active, sister Tachikawa and shared a message with active member sister Haga, then we rode to visit LA sister Otake and then rushed to FHE at the Church.
    Friday was even busier with teaching Izumi in the morning and having two lessons in Koriyama with Maya and Katono san.
Izumi`s lesson was focused on the importance of studying the Book of Mormon in building that relationship with Christ we all need. She mentioned how she feels she doesn`t really have a close relationship with Christ. Kodama shimai and I both feel we need to teach the Hoshi family as a FAMILY not just Izumi san, but Tatsuya always has work through out the week until late. We are going to try and commit this family to come to Church this month of Novemeber and read the BOM every day!
Investigator Maya is progressing! We taught her Joseph Smith and the Restoration. When we showed her a picture of Joseph Smith`s first vision, she said, “Wow, there`s two Gods!“. After explaining that both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, she said she was impressed that they both appeared instead of just one. I hadn`t really thought that deeply about it but then realized that`s another testament of the importance of two witnesses.
   We have two eyes to witness that we can see. Two ears to witness we can hear. God gave us two of many things two symbolize the importance of two witnesses.
Our lesson with Katono san was more focused on listening to her concerns than teaching. I was a little disappointed we didn`t get to teach any doctrine since she only can meet once a week and won`t be able to meet for two weeks. She has only had 3 lessons and is up to reading 1 Nephi 16! She said she would continue to pray before reading and read focusing on the mentioning of Christ.
    In this lesson she mentioned twice how she feels there`s something about this Church and members she can`t describe. She told Kodama shimai, and I and the Koriyama member couple that were jointing how we have this special atmosphere about us. She said,
“When I come to this Church everyone is so happy and smile the same. There`s something different but I don`t know how to explain it. I always feel so good when I come.“
   I felt the spirit so strongly when she said this, because I knew that what she was seeing was the Light of Christ. I have heard others say this before in my life, but not the way Katono said it. She said how she wanted that special thing we have. I realized how open her heart is and how clearly she can define Truth and Light. Since we can`t meet we will txt her through out the week about the readings and just pray that she can have a spiritual experience as she continues to pray and read.
Last night all of us missionaries went to the Takase family`s home for dinner. Our investigators the Hoshi family, Izumi, Tatsuya and 3 year old Yuna were there! The elders gave a great spiritual message on gratitude. Returning missionary sister Gass was there with her brother who flew to spend a week with her in Japan. It was weird seeing Gass shimai with out her name tag and she said she still reaches for it when she introduces herself haha
  Sister Haga and her non-member husband Haga papa were there too! Kodama shimai and I came prepared with a message. We all read the meaning of Lehi`s dream of the Tree of Life and for the first time I saw Haga papa serious. He is super funny and always joking. I`d never see him serious when we`d share a message but this time I think he felt the Spirit. He said the opening AND closing prayer haha! He wanted to pray both times. He is not an investigator yet, but he reads the BOM with sister Haga every day before dinner. She won`t give him dinner until he reads a verse haha.
A lot of information on lessons from this past week but all in all Kodama shimai and I are busy, working hard and it`s a lot of fun with just us two in the apartment!
I love that we both have the same desire to be exactly obedient and same drive to work hard! I think this may be the first time I`ve had this kind of companionship where I feel we can work our hardest as a TEAM.
This past week`s FUN NEWS is we had a SPORTS NIGHT!!! MY FAVORITE!!!
It was by far the best sports night I`d ever been to, out of the very few on my mission. What was awesome was that brother Yoshito, a member, put it together instead of the missionaries. Many investigators, potential investigators, that new family, the Tsunoda`s, all came! We did lots of fun games and I noticed how happy I get after running around. I was so bubbly and realized I hadn`t done something active like that in a LONG time.
I`ll send a few pictures of the Sports Night. We did a relay for one acitvity, where we ran around the gym and had to spin in place and then grab candy with your mouth from a string, it was so fun!
  The best part was Kodama shimai and I got the Tsunoda`s number and they want to do Free Family English Program where we can teach them the Gospel!!!
I believe faith will move mountains. We might need to start alone by first gathering the dirt from the mountain and moving it to one place. But soon enough others will come to help move the dirt piles too and little by little that mountain will move!
Love,
Butler shimai
Tori

November 2, 2014

Transfer Call Came!!!

Guess what!

Usually transfer calls would come Sunday morning or Saturday night, but mine came Friday night at 10:27pm! President Smith only talked to me saying,
   “Well Butler Shimai, the other three sisters are returning home which leaves you alone…you will be staying in Aizu your last transfer as STL with Kodama shiami“.
I was so happy I can`t even express how grateful I felt. Now here`s the miracle!
I wondered if my time would end as STL, since I`d been STL the past 4 transfers. I wondered if I would leave Aizu and they would close having sisters there. I had been praying the whole past week that this last transfer of my mission I would be with a sister where we could work hard and have love in our companionship. When I thought of all the Japanese sisters, sister Kodama kept coming to my mind. She is the sweetest Japanese sister I know! She would always hug me and was always so kind to me. I remember the first time I met Kodama shimai in January I thought, “I would be so lucky to be companions with her!“.
   My dream came true! I know Heavenly Father knew my desires and I feel so blessed!
So many things are changing in Aizu now that there will only be two sisters instead of four.
I know this will be my busiest transfer I`ve ever had! I am so excited!!!
My investigators just moved up to 4!
Maya, 24 years old, loves English. Nakaima shimai and I started teaching her FFEP (Free Family English Program) 30 min English/ 30 minutes Church message.
Katono san
Hoshi family: 26 year old wife, Izumi and 27 year old husband, Tatsuya and 4 year old daughter Yuna!
    I have been praying my WHOLE mission I would be able to teach a family, mother, father ,and child and Heavenly Father answered my prayer! I have already been around this family a lot, and taught my first lesson last week on Christ`s Atonement with Izumi. I have a special feeling about this family and believe that Kodama shimai and I have been placed to teach them and help them come unto Christ. I am excited to start teaching them!
Maya came to Church this Sunday in Koriyama! She is becoming good friends with the members! We went to Chruch in Aizu so we didn`t meet her but the members in Koriyama are so great and really fellow shipped Maya!
Katono first came to Eikaiwa in Koriyama  last month and then started having interest in what us “Missionaries“ are and why we`re in Japan. One of the Koriyama members invited her to have a lesson with the sisters and now she`s had about 3 lessons. She is reading the Book of Mormon and praying! I haven`t had a lesson with her yet because she was Johnson and Kushi shimai`s investigator but now Kodama shimai and I will start teaching her!
I`m excited to experience what it will be like living with just two sisters in an apartment. Since I`ve always lived with 4 in an apartment, I always thought it would be so lonely with just two. But after this last transfer and experiencing gossip, I am excited to have just two. I feel Kodama shimai and I will become really close. We will be having splits with the Iwaki sisters and Yamagata sisters, so we`ll be traveling a lot each week!
   I used to go to Koriyama to help with their Eikaiwa (English Class) every other Friday, but now we will be teaching kids class in Aizu every Wednesday and Koriyama kids class every Friday.
We also will still be doing service playing basketball with special needs young adults on every other Thursday and going to the Retirement homes for an hour each week.
   President Smith wants us to have at least 2 hours of pure community service each week, and we`re really lucky to have around 3 hours of service opportunity each week!
This past week was so fun!!!
First, Tuesday and Wednesday Nakaima shimai and I went to Sendai for MLC at the mission home! I learned so much and had a greater desire to be EXACTLY obedient. My goal this next transfer is to do my very best to be exactly obedient.
We also had two Halloween parties! One on Wednesday in Aizu and the other in Koriyama on Friday! We had a lesson with Maya before the party on Friday! She is progressing and praying with such sincerity. She said she has a worry and has been praying to Heavenly Father for help.
  We also had a Zone Training meeting on Friday where all the Iwaki missionaries came and the Zone Leaders gave us a training and Nakaima shimai and I also did a 25 minute training.
   We trained on being exactly obedient.
I want to write so much more but time is up! I am so excited to start off this new transfer with so many exciting new things! I know Kodama shimai and I will see many miracles together this last transfer of my mission!
love,
Tori