December 14, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,
This is the last letter I will write as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Serving a year and a half in the Japan Sendai mission was my dream come true! I cannot express in words alone the gratitude I now feel for the Lord blessing me to come to Japan.
   I`ll never forget only 3 days before leaving for my mission my dad found a paper with my Japanese family history on it. On that paper was information that my great grandfather, Shichijuro Satou, was born in Fukushima-ken, and my great grandmother, Tora Masuzawa, was born in Sendai. The Lord had a plan for me to come here, a plan I didn`t know about. I served in four areas in the Tohoku, upper North part of Honshu Japan. I loved all my areas! Akita city, Hachinohe, Morioka, and last Aizuwakamatsu! I had seven wonderful Japanese companions and love each one of them! All of the members and investigators mean everything to me. Those who I taught and were baptized, Ishida Ryujiro from Akita, Shion Sasaki from Hachinohe, Hirono kyodai from Aizu are like precious pearls to me. I wasn`t able to find my Satou family, but I realized my family was all around me my whole mission! Every where I walked I saw my Japanese brothers and sisters. We are all part of one big heavenly family who lived with God before we came to this earth. Every person we see, meet, and talk to each day is a precious child of God.
      The Lord has always been my best friend, but I have come closer to Him through times of falling down and Him picking me back up. I love the Lord. As I told people every day about Jesus Christ my love for Him tremendously grew.
        This is not the end, this is only the beginning! My time might be completed as a full time missionary, but I will press forward with a love of God and of all men, feasting upon the words of Christ and continue to share with others about Jesus Christ!
Butler Shmai

December 7, 2014

Last Week of my mission has COME!

This past week was a lot of fun!
     Tuesday and Wednesday was my last MLC as Sister Training Leader in Sendai. I had many great experiences and I want to tell you all about them!
The first great experience was regarding Family History! My whole mission I`ve been searching for my Satou family. Anytime I meet a Satou I ask where their family roots are from. Well, On Tuesday in Sendai Kodama shimai and I went to City Hall and did one more check. They couldn`t find anything on Tora Masuzawa. I`ve gone to the City Hall in Aizuwakamatsu and in Sendai but there`s no information. Then the miracle! Wednesday`s MLC meeting, a brother Sugimoto came to talk about Family History. He encouraged us all to make a “My Family“ booklet. After his presentation I was so pumped to do Family History! I talked to him after about how I`ve been trying to find my great grandpa shichijuro Satou who was born in Fukushima-ken. He looked up the information on his computer and told me that he`d send me information.
   My great grandpa shichijuro immigrated in 1905 to Honalu-lu Hawaii at the age of 17 and had 7 children, one of them being my grandma Eyoko. The interesting reason grandpa Shichijuro immigrated is because of the rice famine. There was so rice and little food during that time and many immigrated to have better living. I hope brother Sugimoto can find some information!
  Tuesday evening all of us Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders gathered and went caroling to many Less Actives in Sendai. Brother Heaton, who`s director of the MTC, flew all the way from Provo to join us! He served in Fukouka many years ago and was in the same mission with President Smith. I remember he spoke my first Sunday at the MTC. It was fun seeing him again His daughter ends her mission this week and so that was the main reason he came to Japan. She served in her dad`s same mission! Brother Heaton was in my caroling group. Everyone switched companions, and I was with sister Smith (who lived with me one transfer in Akita!).
The LA family we visited welcomed us right in as soon as we started singing. We all shared with the Tauta family a message that Jesus Christ lives. The miracle was when we sat in their home and talked and laughed with them, they shared that they want to change and become better. In their own words, “I want to be clean“.
    It was amazing to me that we visited this family at the very moment they needed us.
Wednesday for our training, brother Heaton gave us a training. He focused on planning. He said, “Focus on people, not appointments“.
  I think this can apply to all aspects of life. Life is richer and more full when we forget ourselves and focus on others and their happiness.
Kodama shimai and I had lots of lessons planned this last week…all 5 of them canceled last minute! They were all scheduled for Thursday, so our plans changed to finding. During lunch time that afternoon Kodama shimai and I were eating what last food we had, cabbage, tuna…Kodama shimai boiled cabbage and put in the meat. We ate like a poor little couple haha. Kodama shimai was looking depressed as we ate and said, “I used to look forward to lunch and now I`m sick of it“. I told her we should buy more food on p-day and she just looked irrated. I wondered how I could cheer her up. Then after lunch, while washing the dished Kodama shimai came to me and said, “I`m so bored with everything“ in a depressed voice. I swung around and gave her a huge hug saying,
   “Today with be different! We`ll do everything different than how we ususally do!“
She got a huge smile on her face and we started to race washing the dishes to see how fast we could do it. Before I knew it we were laughing and the whole mood changed. I realized that when feeling down, show love! Laughter and play makes sadness go away! No, I did not mean for that to rhyme.
  After we were joking and laughing, we rode our bikes happy, instead of down. We were excited to go greet people on the street and share the Gospel. If things would have been down like before our whole day would`ve been different. I love Kodama shimai and I`m so happy she is playful and fun! It makes everything brighter!
Saturday was Hirono`s baptism!!!
It was wonderful! I know Hirono felt the Spirit and talking to him after I encouraged him to write down his experience in his journal. He said, “I don`t have a journal“. So I am going to get him one before I leave!
He received the Gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday and it was really special!
Well, this last week many fun things planned! CHRISTMAS ZONE CONFERENCE is tomorrow in Yamagata!!! We take a bus tonight to head up there. I remember last ZC was so special!

November 30, 2014

Happy Late Thanksgiving!!!
I actually didn`t remember until the day OF Thanksgiving that it was Thanksgiving haha. We had a meeting with our District and I my assignment was to teach an English lesson for the 3 Japanese missionaries in our District. Once I remembered it was Thanksgiving I decided I`d teach them on the meaning and traditions of the Holiday. I got up and said, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!“
All the American elders paused and said, “OH, that`s today?! I totally forgot!“ It was funny we all had forgotten but we all took turns saying what we were thankful for.
    I feel so blessed to be here in Aizu and also have investigators in Koriyama. The Lord is blessing Kodama shimaia and I to be teaching lots of investigators and finding new investigators. This is the most teaching and finding I`ve seen my whole mission,and with only 2 weeks left! I feel so blessed and I know the Lord trusts Kodama shimai and I.
   We have 7 invesigators! We are teaching two families, the Hoshi family and the Tsunoda`s. We had a lesson with the Tsunoda`s twice this past week! They kept their commitment to pray as a family everyday. Little Chihaya and Noa love praying! Chihaya especially. She shoots her hand straight up when we say, “Who wants to pray?“. The father was in town from work this week and so he was present for both lessons! He sat quietly and listened. Both Kodama shimai and I were happy that he is a father who has joy in his daughters learning about God. Little by little this family is progressing and I feel great things are ahead for them.
   We have a new investigator! Maki! I mentioned her last week, but she`s 20 years old and asked us last week, “So, how can I become a missionary?“ Since then she has had two lesson and is reading the Book of Mormon and said her first prayer at the end of yesterday`s lesson. She said in her prayer, “I want to come closer to Christ“. I was amazing!
   I had a humbling experience this past week.
   Kodama shimai and I both have struggled somewhat with companionship study. It seemed to always have an off feeling and I felt like I was being prideful. One morning this week after companionship and just feeling frustrated we couldn`t have a unified companionship study, I went to the other room and prayed. I felt that I needed to throw away my pride and just say “sorry“. I went back to the other room after a while and put my arms around Kodama shimai and just said, “I`m sorry I was so prideful“. Then Kodama shimai`s heart was softened and she apoligized saying she felt that she had been prideful. Later we had weekly planning and doing companionship inventory we opened up our feelings of wanting to have better companionship study and be more unified in teaching.
    Kodama shimai is so skilled at teaching, and I love watching her teach. Sometimes we both would talk too long and the other companion`s pride would be hurt. I realized I was prideful and told Kodama shimai how sorry I was and I want to be more humble. We both felt the Spirit as we decided we would pray every morning together as soon as the alarm hit 6:30am. Our companionship has always been great, we just needed to have a better companionship study and teach in unity more. I have felt our companionship blossom even more through being open and loving with Kodama shimai! I am so grateful to be her companion!!!
    Once again, I learned that I need to throw away my pride and be humble. I have learned my whole mission that I am always improving and even though I am far from perfect I can always become better through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every day I can change and become better!
I studied a talk this past week titled, “Bewar of Pride“ by President Ezra Taft Benson. I have read this talk almost every transfer of m mission, but this time something really stuck out to me,
“Unity is impossible for a proud people“
I also loved studying this past General Conference talk “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority“ by Elder Scott.
   He talked about prayer and how we should never believe Satan`s lie that we don`t have time to study the Scriptures. We need to CHOOSE to make time.
The same goes with Family Home Evening. We need to CHOOSE to make time for family every Monday. I remember after studying “The Family, A Procolamation to the World“ in my Family Foundations class at BYU-Idaho 3 years ago, that I made the commitment I would do FHE every Monday with my own family.
We have FHE every Thursday for the single members and this week was hilarious! We played a gesture game and brother Kuriki was trying to pass the gesture of a “Zoo“ to brother Ichikawa. He was jumping up and down flapping his arms and wiggling, it was so funny we all could barel breath we were laughing so hard. I don`t think watching Japanese people doing gesture games will ever get old.
Two more weeks to go!!! I go to Sendai this week for MLC and we have a 30 minute training at Zone Training Meeting on Thursday. Lot`s of lessons planned! we are praying we can set a baptismal date with one of our investigators!
Butler shimai