Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Mission

It`s my last e-mail!!!  I can hardly believe my mission ends tommorow! It`s been a wonderful mission. I am so glad I made the choice to come on my mission! If I hadn`t come, I would have missed out on meeting these amazing people, like Yamaguchi Shimai--and bringing them back to Christ!

Kurumi chan was baptized on Sunday, and it was wonderful. The young men and young women sang `As Sisters in Zion` and `We`ll Bring the World His Truth` arrangement together, and it was full of power and the spirit! The Kato family has truly added to the young men and young womens here, it`s just amazing. And if my old companion, Semba Shimai, had never stopped on her bike to talk to the oldest of the Kato siblings (Kyoka chan, who was also riding their bike), their whole family would not have entered the church! This is truly the Lord`s work!

I`ve reflected on my mission a little bit the past few days, and have realized how much God has blessed me as I`ve served here. I`ve grown to love these Japanese people, and some of them are my dear friends. Sharing my testimony of Jesus Christ with them has brought so much joy to my, and their lives! My mission has also at the same time, changed me as I`ve relied more on Christ for strength to overcome my weaknesses.

I know that this is the true church, with God`s power and authority once again on the earth. I know that we have a living prophet! The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and was translated by Joseph Smith. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and made it possible for us to return to live with God, our Heavenly Father, again. I know that God lives and loves each one of us!

I`ll see many of you soon.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Is it really the end?

It`s hard to believe that my mission ends next week...after just one more e-mail!! I don`t think it`s really hit me yet, and I don`t really want it to--that I`m finishing my mission. The time has flown! But I am so glad I came on my mission, and am so grateful for all the amazing experiences I`ve had here, and for all the sweet Japanese people I`ve met.

Kato Kurumi chan passed her baptism interview, and is all set for getting baptized this next Sunday! The young womens put together the program, and are doing the musical number, it`ll be so wonderful. And she`ll be confirmed in sacrament meeting the following week, so mom, dad, and Michael will see it! We`re so excited for her and her family!

Kokubun Shimai still hasn`t gotten her husband`s permission to be baptized, but she`s doing all she can. The branch has really come and welcomed her in, even though she`s not a member yet--this past Saturday we had a Mochi Ski Taikai--where we made the mochi I told you about last week, by hand! Dotson Shimai and I got there late, as Kokubun Shimai was walking out...our branch mission leader had stopped by her husband`s work (his own making chairs by hand shop, where Kokubun Shimai also works), invited Kokubun Shimai to the party, she`d come, had a great time with all the members, then left as we were coming in! She looked super happy, and we were so happy to see the members helping her--which they will continue to do after I leave/missionaries get transferred in.

I`m loving each day left I have serving as a missionary, even though it`s super cold and we can`t feel our fingers or toes as we knock on people`s doors/talk to them in the streets. Missionary work`s the best, I love sharing my testimony about God and Jesus Christ with every one I meet! I`m excited to continue to share my testimony with everyone, and help them come closer to Christ until the end! I know that God lives, and Jesus Christ is our Savior. The Book of Mormon includes the perfect gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this church is the true, restored church and through it we can return to live forever with our families with God again!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

It`s been a wonderful New Years here in Koriyama. For the Japanese people, New Years is a bigger holiday than Christmas. Instead of going back home for Christmas, everyone goes back home for the New Years to be with their family and eat traditional New Years foods, such as mikan (tangerines) and mochi--it`s rice flour that`s ground into a hamburger or square shape that they eat with everything. In soups, sweet beans, etc... We had lunch on New Years with the elders at a member`s house, where we had all these traditional foods, it was delicious!

New Years dendo has been fun, asking everyone if they have goals for this new year and how they would feel if God could help them with it. People are pretty busy around this time, but we`ve found some people who were alone for New Years and have been able to share a little of our message with them, including a sweet Baptist lady who invited us into her house and listened as we taught her about the Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith! She accepted a Book of Mormon and will pray about it.

Kato Kurumi chan is doing great and excited for her baptism in 2 weeks. It will be a great thing for her and her family, as she is the last of her siblings to get baptized.

A little bit of sad news--Mai san, the investigator I told you about last week--talked to her dad about how she was going to church and learning from us, and he said that it was `dame`--bad, and she can`t come to church anymore. Even though she`s an adult, she`s still living with her family and can`t go against her dad, so we aren`t teaching her anymore. When we called her and talked to her, we encouraged her to keep praying, so that someday the Lord will prepare a way for her to be able to join the church again. I`m sure someday, in the Lord`s timing, she`ll be able to!

Kokubun Shimai still hasn`t been able to get the consent of her husband. We`re continuing to pray for her, and hopefully after the business of the New Years we`ll get another chance to help her husband.

As I realize that my mission is coming to an end, I`m sad to think of leaving these wonderful people and not being a full-time missionary any more! I`ll try to do all I can, and all God wants me to in these last few weeks...this is His work! I know that God lives and loves each one of us.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A White Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

For a while, we were worried we wouldn`t get a white Christmas because it had only rained recently--but then on the 24th, and all night Christmas Eve, and during most of Christmas Day it snowed, so we had a white Christmas! I`d forgotten how beautiful (and also cold:) having snow is.

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas day! We went caroling on Christmas Eve/Christmas day to some member`s friends, as well as less-active and part-member families in the branch. And on Christmas day we were able to have lessons with one of our investigators and also our recent convert, Yamaguchi Shimai. I felt so lucky to be a missionary on Christmas Day (for the last time), and to be able to spread the glad tidings of his birth and share his love with so many people.

One of our investigators, 27-year old Mai san, was an old investigator from about a year ago, who the elder missionaries found while they were streeting. The 2nd time they ran into her streeting, they invited her to church, and she said she`d come--and she came to church!! That`s when we first met her, and began teaching the lessons again. Her meeting the missionaries again definitely wasn`t an accident! She needs the help of the Savior in her life right now. It`s been so wonderful teaching her, she already is gaining a testimony of her Savior and the church, and wants to be baptized. Her family is probably going to be pretty hantai (opposed) to the church, so we`re praying that the Lord will help prepare a way...

Osaka Kazue Shimai recieved the Gift of the Holy Ghost at church on Sunday, and became an official member of our church! She was so happy about it, and we`re so excited for her. The sisters in the branch welcomed her warmly by throwing a welcome to the branch party (as well as a farewell party for a sister who`s leaving for her mission). I love the Koriyama branch!

Kokubun Shimai wasn`t able to get baptized, because her husband still hasn`t given her permission. She`s really doing everything she can, and we`re doing all we can to help her--we just know that at the right time everything will work out. Next we`re going to try and see if a member from the branch can meet her husband.

Also, 14-yr. old Kato Kurumi chan is also progressing really well, besides catching a cold this past week and not being able to come for church.

Dotson Shimai and I are doing well. I am full of thanks for the Savior at this time of the year. Especially as I look back on this year, I realize how much the Lord has blessed me as I`ve served among these wonderful Japanese people.

I wish everyone a happy new year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!! I love this Christmas season. And it`s so fun dendoing around this time--we ask a lot of people we meet on the streets, `Do you know the real meaning of Christmas?` There are so many people that don`t know, and really don`t know very much about Jesus Christ--it`s so great being able to talk to them about Jesus Christ, and what he`s done for each of us. What a wonderful season to remember our Savior!

Osaka Kazue Shimai was baptized yesterday!! It was so wonderful, and felt like a family baptism--her 2 grandchildren, and daughter-in-law`s family who first introduced her to the church a year ago, participated in the program. We all really felt like her getting baptized has helped and will continue to help bring their family closer together. Kazue Shimai bore a sweet testimony of how she knows God is there because she felt like He protected her from not getting into a bike accident a few weeks ago (it was a close call). She`s getting so many blessings from the gospel, and has entered the path to return back to Heavenly Father!

Kokubun Shimai is still trying to work on things with her husband. We`re not sure if she`ll get baptized by the end of this year, but we`re sure at the right time she can be baptized...

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!! I`m so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ who was born and came into the world for us!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Greetings from windy Koriyama...

Sorry for the short e-mail last week. We went with a branch member and the elders to `Gold Mountain,` an old gold mine. We rode a rickety train into the middle of the mine, it was quite the experience! One of the elders, Ogaki Choro, was transferred, and now Ohsugi Choro`s companion is Watanabe Choro. He`s also Japanese, and is a wonderful missionary. He`s funny, he can tell a joke keeping a straight face all the time.

Osaka Kazue san is doing great, and set to be baptized next week. We`re still going to talk to the branch president about it, but Kokubun san may be baptized before the end of the month.

Do you remember Kato family, with Kyoka chan who was baptized before I came, then Kaoru chan and Naoki kun who were baptized in September? They have one more sister who hasn`t become a member yet, Kurumi chan, who`s 14...we visited their house this past week and taught a little lesson to everyone (including Kurumi chan), and then she came to church yesterday!! We had a lesson with her after church, where she told us that she`s wanted to get baptized for a while, but hasn`t been able to come to church/was a little nervous to come after a long time of not coming. We set a baptism goal with her for January--we`re excited to help her gain a testimony, and prepare for baptism!

Although it`s gotten colder with the wind here, Dotson Shimai and I have a great time doing missionary work everyday. It`s the best! Especially lately I have felt strength and peace from my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is always with us. I know that my Redeemer Lives, and I am grateful for this Christmas season where we can remember his birth, and what He`s done for each one of us.

Swain Shimai

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Safe---Not Transferred!

I don`t have too long to write this e-mail, but Dotson Shimai and I were not transferred!! That means we`ll be together until I finish my mission in January! I`m excited to continue to work with her and see miracles here in Koriyama.

Kokubun san and Osaka Kazue san both passed their baptism interviews!! Kazue san will be baptized on the 19th. Kokubun san was going to be baptized this next Sunday, but she has to go somewhere with her now we`re shooting for the 26th, and praying that her husband`s heart will be a little more softened by then; when she told him she wanted to get baptized, he wasn`t too supportive of it. Please keep them in your prayers.

I love all of you, and love being a missionary!
Swain Shimai