Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Saito san's Baptism

Dear Family and Friends,

The language is coming slowly (it seems at times), step by step, line upon line and precept upon precept. My understanding and comprehension of the language is much better now than when I came. I hear it around me 24/7! As I’ve opened my mouth, the spirit has helped me know what to say! Even when I can’t correctly express myself, the Spirit is the #1 thing!

Last Thursday we visited Numakura san, a 50-year old lady who is blind. She’s been taught the missionary discussions since she met the missionaries 15 years ago, but has not yet had a true desire/interest to learn about it. She continues to want to meet with the sister Missionaries for lunch every once in a while (this was the 2nd time we went to her house this transfer). On Thursday we found out why. We helped her make lunch, ate with her, and then taught again about the Restoration. My part of the lesson was to recite the 1st vision and bear testimony of it. As I was reciting it, I got a bit mixed up and skipped a part, but it didn’t matter because the Spirit was there! I realized then, in a very real way, that the Spirit was what was important--and anything I could or could not say was secondary to it.

I extended to her the commitment of praying to know if Joseph Smith’s vision is true—she did not directly answer and still perhaps doesn’t have an interest in the message because she doesn’t realize how it can help her...but she felt the Spirit, our love for her, and God’s love for her. She opened up (Tani Shimai said for the first time) and told us how grateful she is for the missionaries and the power we carry from our God. She said she feels it each time the missionaries visit! She sobbed, telling us how grateful she was for the power we carry. She recently became blind and it has truly humbled her and been hard on her. She said she doesn’t know what she would do if it weren’t for the missionaries who’ve visited her!

I’m grateful for the power of the Spirit that has helped Numakura san! I pray that one day she will be receptive to the message and realize that this is where the power, the peace comes from! The Lord loves His children, and prepares them to accept the message. God in His wisdom knows the right timing for each of His children!

Mom, you asked about Kodama san...he is slowly progressing as he learns about the church. Tani Shimai and I visited him once a week for a few weeks and taught him short, 10-15 minute lessons in the genkan (the entry way area where shoes go). We then referred him to the chorotachi (elders), who came with us this past week and we taught him together. It’s been wonderful to see the small changes in him, little by little, as he feels the Spirit each time.

On Sunday, Saito san was baptized, and Mori san was confirmed! Tani Shimai has been teaching Saito san for some time now (before I came). He has faith, but often cancels appointments, so we’ve pushed back his baptism happened on Sunday! Tani Shimai and I fasted that he would show up and be able to be baptized. The Lord heard our prayers and he came and was baptized! Although I don’t know him very well and wasn’t involved in a lot of his learning about the church, I felt so much joy for him. He has found the true church and started on the path!

Saturday we had our Izumi Ward Dendo Concert. The Ward Mission Leader was in charge. Some ward members and their families did musical numbers, and the YSA members and us (the missionaries – me & Tani Shimai and the two elders) sang two numbers. Tani Shimai and I sang a duet about miracles from the Joseph/Moses movie (I think? They’re all in Japanese). I played “Where Can I Turn for Peace” and the “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” duet with the other elder from America (Andrus Choro), who sang it in Japanese. It was wonderful. One of the members had even put together a stage and spotlights, microphones... Seventy people came, including ward members, investigators and Eikaiwa students (English students)! (The American missionaries teach English class once a week.) It was a lot of work and took a lot of preparation, but was well worth it. The investigators who came felt the Spirit through music – and even one of my English students who came gave me flowers after I played my violin, and said she was deeply touched.

Being a missionary is the best! There are both hard and joyful times. The hard times make the good times worth it! The Lord is in it all and knows not only what we need, but also how we can bless the lives of those around us.

Tomorrow is transfer day, and Tani Shimai is going back home to Osaka, Japan! I am going to miss her. I have learned so much from her and have experienced much with her. She truly has worked miracles on her mission. She has seen 12 baptisms! This is because she has relied on the Lord. She has accomplished the mission He’s given her, with His help. I hope I will be able to feel the same way when I finish my mission.

But for now, one step at a time! This morning the Mission President called and told me who my new companion will be – Yoneda Shimai from Nagoya, Japan. (I’ll be staying in the Izumi area.) Tani Shimai knows her from the all-Japan YSA conference and says she’s wonderful. This will be her 8th transfer. I’m excited to meet her and learn from her. I’ll tell you about her next week!

I love you all so much and pray for you daily!

Swain Shimai

P.S. I read Kent’s email--Furukawa (where he stayed in Japan) is in my district! We had district meeting there last week. It’s about an hour’s bus ride away. I will talk to the missionaries there about Yoko Chiba, his homestay mom. I’m glad Tyler’s doing well.

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