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.

Love,
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 husband...so 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!
Love,
Swain Shimai

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trip to Sendai!

The internet`s working again!! It`been a great past few weeks, I can hardly believe how fast time goes. Next week is transfer week...and then, I`ll be in my last transfer! It seems like yesterday that I had just gotten to Japan.

It`s gotten pretty cold, but still no snow. Last Thursday was Thanksgiving--we didn`t have pumpkin pie, but Dotson Shimai made mashed potatoes and pork, and we had a great time! If I have time there`s half of a pumpkin in our fridge that I may try to turn into pumpin pie, thanks for the recipie dad!

We spent half of this past week in Sendai--I went to the honbu (mission home) for training with the other zone leaders/trainers, and Dotson Shimai got to go on splits with the Kamisugi sisters--she got to see our old companion, Semba Shimai again!! There are 4 Japanese sisters right now in Kamisugi, and she actually went on splits with the other companionship, including my old companion Murase Shimai! I was able to see Murase Shimai at the bus stop for a few minutes, it was so good to see her again and see her doing so well. Dotson Shimai had a great time with 4 Japanese sisters, and I also learned a lot from the training at the honbu.

Our investigators Kokubun san and Kazue san are doing great--Kokubun san is keeping the Word of Wisdom! We just have to help her break the news to her husband, then she`ll be ready for baptism. We practiced the baptism interview questions with Kazue san, and we`ll probably do it again next week because she doesn`t have the best memory...but her heart is definitely in the right place. Yesterday she told us how lately she felt that God is protecting her, when she almost got into a bike accident but didn`t, and when she prays and feels a warm feeling. She`s been coming to church almost every Sunday for about a year--we definitely feel like this is her time to be baptized!

I`m loving every day and minute left of my mission, and I`m striving each day to become the missionary God wants me to be. I know that this is God`s work, and that He loves each one of us! He hears and answers our prayers, and knows the desires of our hearts, and what we need. I have felt His love for me, and for these wonderful Japanese people!

Love,
Swain Shimai

Monday, November 8, 2010

No Snow in November!

It`s been another great week here, and during the day, when the sun is out, surprisingly warm for November! As soon as the sun goes down it gets windy and cold, but no snow yet--I heard it doesn`t snow here in Koriyama until December! I`m counting my blessings.:)

This past week nothing super big happened, except that our investigators are doing well, and I taught my Eikaiwa (English) class about Thanksgiving--now they all want to eat pumpkin pie and have a stuffed turkey! I haven`t seen any canned pumpkin puree since I`ve been in Japan, so I guess they`ll just have to come to America to experience it.

Today I`ll introduce one more of our investigators. Her name is Kokubun san, and she`s in her 60`s (?). The elders found her when they were talking to people on the street. She`s a cute obachan (grandmother), who loves coming to the Ping Pong activity we have every Saturday. She`s faithfully reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day to know if it`s true or not--she doesn`t feel like she`s gotten or recognized an answer yet, but we know she will as she continues to seek to know. Kokubun san came to church this Sunday and had a great time. She wants to be baptized next month, so that she can return to live with God! Her only obstacle is her husband, who apparently doesn`t like religion; but he know`s she`s been up to some religion lately, and hasn`t said anything about it yet. We`re praying and hoping he`ll understand her desire to come to church, and hopefully one day he too, will want to hear our message.

On Saturday night we met with the Elders and a man from Peru, who we found streeting two weeks ago. He`s been in Japan for 20 years now. He was born Catholic, but since he`s come to Japan, he hasn`t really been to church. When we met him, he said that `God` part of his life has been missing lately, and he wants to come to church again. We shared about the Restoration of our church through the prophet Joseph Smith, and he agreed to read the Book of Mormon (in Spanish) and pray to know if it`s true. I know that he will, as well as anyone who prays to know the truth of it, will receive an answer from God. I know that this church is true!

I love and am praying for all of you!
Love,
Swain Shimai

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rain...

It`s been just a few days since I wrote, but it`s getting colder here. Saturday there was a typhoon and it rained hard the entire day! :)

Since Semba Shimai transferred, Dotson Shimai and I are doing our best, as two gygienes (foreigners) here in Japan, but everything has worked out, and I`m even getting used to reading the maps here (which are all written in kanji--I can`t read all the kanji but I can figure out the locations/where things are.) It`s been an adventure doing all the things my Japanese companions used to do, but definitely a learning experience. And the Lord has been strengthening us to do it.

This weekend was District Conference (like Stake Conference)--the Koriyama district consists of three branches, Koriyama, and two neighboring cities, Iwaki and Aizuwakamatsu. The theme was on bringing people unto Christ, and centered on missionary work. It was wonderful, and our mission president President Tateoka and his wife both spoke. During the Saturday session, President Tateoka had everyone in the audience practice with the person sitting next to them on inviting their friend to the Christmas Party/giving them an introduction DVD to our church. It was so great! As missionaries, we do `mogi`, or practicing what we want to say, all the time, and it`s super effective, I highly suggest it!

All the recent converts, Yamaguchi Shimai and the Kato siblings, are doing great! The oldest Kato daughter, who first joined the church, gave a talk on her conversion story and meeting the missionaries at District Conference. It`s so wonderful to see everyone progress.

One of our investigators, who I don`t think I`ve mentioned yet in my e-mails, is a sweet, 69 yr-old grandmother who lives alone. She was a member referral from her daughter-in-law`s mother, who lives nearby (they share the same grandchildren). She`s been coming to church almost every Sunday this whole year, but has been worried about being baptized, because she doesn`t know as much about the gospel as she sees her relatives do. But lately, as she`s kept her commitment to read the Book of Mormon every day and pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true or not, she said she sometimes feels a warm feeling in her heart when she prays! At first she thought it was because she`d just eaten, and she took her sweater off...but we were able to tell her it`s the Holy Ghost, God`s messenger telling her that it`s true!! We`re continuing to teach her and help her realize that it`s her answer, and she hopes to be baptized before her birthday in December. While maybe a lot of things are hard for her to understand, she`s really progressing at her own pace and gaining a conviction of her own.

I love missionary work! Thanks all of you for your love and support.
Love,
Swain Shimai

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Transfer Call

This morning we got our transfer calls, and Dotson Shimai and I will stay here, but Semba Shimai will be transfered to Kamisugi and become a trainer of a new Japanese sister missionary who`s coming in tomorrow! We`re sad to see her go and will miss her here, but know that she`ll see miracles in Kamisugi and help her new companion. It`ll be the first time I haven`t had a Japanese companion with me here in Japan!


On Sunday Yamaguchi Shimai was baptized!! The baptism service was at 8:30 in the morning, and she was confirmed during Sacrament Meeting the same day. Everything went smoothly, and it was so wonderful and filled with the Spirit! I played my violin for the musical number, with the other missionaries singing 2 verses of `I Need Thee Every Hour.` Yamaguchi Shimai shared her testimony after her baptism, about how she`d felt God`s love during the music, and how she felt so wonderful after being baptized!! I can`t express adequately in words how happy we were to see her whole conversion, and baptism--it truly was one of God`s miracles that we found her!

Saturday was the Branch Halloween Party, and it was a lot of fun. We helped set up and run some of the games/activities, and our investigators had a great time.

I`m out of time today, but love all of you and pray for you!
Love,
Swain Shimai

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not By Accident

Guess what? Yamaguchi san passed her baptism interview and is going to be baptized next Sunday!!! Lately she`s felt like she isn`t ready for baptism because her daughter, who is a Jehovah`s witness, kept asking her questions about the church that were hard to respond to, and also because she doesn`t understand everything in the Book of Mormon. We told her that the most important thing was her testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that Joseph Smith restored Christ`s church on the earth--she believes this and has this testimony! And she wants to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and following his commandments for the rest of her life--she is truly ready for baptism. After she passed her interview, she came out and hugged us all and was so excited, and said, `I can be baptized!!` We all were so happy--I think part of the reason me and my companions were so happy was because Yamaguchi san was so happy and excited for baptism! Also, Yamaguchi san saw the poster for the branch temple trip and wants to go with them to the Tokyo temple, just two weeks after her baptism. She has so much faith, and we don`t believe it`s an accident we knocked on her door at the end of August. This is definitely the Lord`s work, and he directs us to those who are ready to hear and accept our message.

This past Tuesday, all of our appointments cancelled and fell through, and although we talked to everyone, no one really seemed to want to listen...but then the next day, Wednesday, was filled with so many small miracles! I believe that the Lord, according to His timing, rewards us according to our faith, and hard work. On Wednesday, we went to the church to do a mogi (practice lesson) with an amazing couple in the branch (who always helps the missionaries), the Mizumoto couple, when we walked into the church, and with them was a man who we hadn`t met before. We found out that he was standing in front of our church, looking at the sign of our church `The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints` when Mizumoto Kyodai came outside the church to look for us...the man, Sato san, asked if he could go inside and see our church, so Mizumoto Kyodai took him inside and was giving him a tour of the church when we found them. We had a lesson with him right there, and he told us that he`s wanted to learn about Jesus Christ for a long time! He really wants to make changes in his life and follow the example of Jesus Christ--now the elder missionaries are teaching him, and preparing him for baptism! Sato san is another testimony that God knows and loves each of His children!

I love all of you!
Sister Swain

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Bike Crash...!

Wasn`t General Conference wonderful?! My companions and I, and our investigators who came all loved it! It`s so amazing that we could listen to a broadcast of it all the way here in our branch in Japan--and feel as we heard our living prophets speak through a staticy t.v that they are truly called of God! I loved all the talks, but especially liked President Monson`s talk about being grateful, and Elder Holland`s talk about how they were grateful for the faith and good works of everyone. We`re so blessed to have the guidance of living prophets!

Our investigator Yamaguchi san is doing so well! This past week she`s really changed, and her testimony has become so strong--we think part of it is definitely because she`s reading the Book of Mormon and praying everyday. She attended 3 of the 4 General Conference sessions, and loved it, and even cried during some of the talks. She`s most likely going to be baptized on October 24--she`s so ready!

I crashed my bike for the first time on my mission, but it wasn`t that big of a deal--when we were going to get off our bikes and stop to talk to someone on the street, I decided I`d try and get off my bike a different way (the way Semba Shimai does), but accidentally put my brakes on too soon and lost my balance, going down with the bike. I only had a few scrapes and bruises on my hands/legs, but the lady who we were going to talk to had seen it happen, and came over and looked at my hand. She pulled something out of her purse and lit some wood thing on fire and put it in a lead pipe and applied it to my hand, saying it`d help my hand not hurt the next day! Afterwards we found out she`s a therapist that does things like that. We talked to her about our message and she said we could share it with her again, and gave us her contact information. What a way to get a potential investigator! (And she was right, my hand didn`t hurt the next day!)

I`m loving each day serving as a missionary, for the little while I have left. I don`t want to stop being a missionary! I know that this church is true and led by living prophets!

Love,
Sister Swain

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Rainy Week

I`m so excited to watch General Conference next weekend! (We watch it a week later because of the time difference.) We`re going to teach all our investigators this week about how we have a living prophet, and the importance of following him, and then invite all of them to General Conference to hear our prophet speak!

Our investigators are doing pretty well, although many of them have caught colds this past week (it`s rained a lot) and couldn`t come to church. Yamaguchi san`s body condition hasn`t been the best lately, so we haven`t been able to meet with her for about 2 weeks...but we`re praying that she`ll get better soon and be able to come to General Conference. Even though she couldn`t meet with us or come to church, she`s been reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day!

We had specialized training this past week, where the mission president came and taught us. It was great, and I realized that even though I`ve been a missionary for a while (almost 1 yr. in Japan!) I still need to improve my dendo skills and seek to become a better missionary.

We had several small earthquakes this week...they`ve pretty much become normal for me now:)

Last Tuesday, some of our appointments cancelled and our plans changed, and we ended up going somewhere besides where we`d planned...as we were riding we came up to a stoplight, and I felt like I should talk to a lady who was waiting at the stoplight. As we started talking to her, she told us that she used to take lessons from the missionaries 30 years ago, but her family didn`t have good feelings towards the church, so she couldn`t join our church then. As I talked to her and bore my testimony to her of how God lives and loves her, and wants to help her through her trials, her face expression really changed as she felt the Spirit, or God`s love! We exchanged phone numbers and hope to meet with her this coming week. I`m grateful that our appointments were canceled, so that we could meet Miyashita san--the Lord truly placed her right in our path!

I love serving the Lord every day! And I love all of you! Thanks for everything!

Love,
Swain Shimai

Monday, September 27, 2010

Smiles:)

Congrats Nate on winning the audition!! I`m sure mom and dad will be glad to see you more often, and I will be too once I get back from my mission.:)

It suddenly turned from summer to fall this past week--with several windy and rainy days. It`s starting to get cold again...

We had a wonderful week! Katou Kaoru chan and Naoki kun were confirmed in Sacrament meeting, and are now official members of the church! They are already great friends with all of the primary children/young women and love coming to church each Sunday. They`re the best!

This week we had our third lesson with Saito san, who the elders found streeting and passed to us. She`s a mid-aged lady, and has studied/joined 8 different religions throughout her life, and has now been part of a religion called `seicho no ie` for 10 years. She came to church once, and told us she loved our, the missionaries` smiles, and all the members` smiles she saw at church. She thinks that the reason behind our smiles is that we`re receiving some kind of inspiration from God...we explained to her simply that it`s because of the joy we feel from living this gospel. The gospel is true, and definitely brings us this joy that Saito san saw through our smiles! We hope as she continues to learn about the restored gospel, she`ll realize that it`s true, and experience herself the joy that comes with this knowledge.

I`m enjoying my time every day as a missionary, and also helping our new companion. Dotson Shimai is doing so well, and her language and skills as a missionary are improving each day. I`m so grateful to be a part of seeing her, and our investigators progress!

I know that we are God`s children and that he loves each one of us!

Love,
Swain Shimai

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fishing!


It`s been a great past few days!! We went again to the mission office in Sendai (a 2 1/2 bus ride away) and picked up our new companion, Dotson Shimai! She`s from Seattle, Washington, and is so sweet and works super hard. She`s a head taller than us, loves basketball and reading books--she was an English major at BYU before she came. She`s got `dendo fire`--she`s excited to do missionary work, and we`re excited to work with and help train her!

Sunday Kaoru chan and Naoki kun were baptized! It was so wonderful! The water in the baptismal font wasn`t very high, so they ended up each being baptized 2 times before they were fully immersed by the water. Afterwards Kaoru chan(age 13) said she felt `ureshii`--super happy, but Naoki kun (age 11) said he felt cold from his dripping wet clothes:) They are the cutest, and have amazing testimonies of Heavenly Father and the Book of Mormon. We`re so excited for them, and what being baptized will mean for their future--receiving so much love, guidance, and direction when they need it, and eventually being able to live together forever with their family, and Heavenly Father!

Today for p-day we went with some branch members, the elders and some of their investigators to go fishing...I caught a fish but was too afraid to pick it up with my bare hands afterwards...Semba Shimai helped. Then it was cooked by the people in charge of the mini pond/lake, and we ate our catch! It was quite the experience--at least the fish wasn`t raw:) Sorry dad, I still don`t really like sushi...
A little bit of sad news--our investigator Iizuka san called us and said that she doesn`t want to be baptized any more. We talked to her for a long time on the phone, expressing God`s love for her, as well as the need for baptism, but she`d made up her mind. Ultimately, it is her free agency, her choice--but we`re praying and trust that at the right time she`ll get another chance to accept the gospel, and realize what the atonement of Jesus Christ can do for her! I know that God loves her and is watching out for her!

Thanks everyone for your prayers, love, and support!

Love,
Swain Shimai

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Going Co-Trainer...

We got our transfer calls this morning, and neither Semba Shimai or I will be transfered, but we`ll become a three-some with a new sister, Dotson Shimai. So Semba Shimai and I will be co-trainers! I`m excited to be in a 3-some again, and to help Dotson Shimai as she comes to the mission field for the first time! I`m not sure where Dotson Shimai is from, but she`s not from Japan--probably from America. We`re going to pick her up from the Mission home this Friday...we`re excited!)

It`s been a wonderful past week! On Sunday we had 10 investigators attend church, as well as the luncheon after church! It was super busy trying to watch out for each one, and make sure they were having a good time, but the Koriyama branch members stepped in and helped a lot with fellowshipping these wonderful people. We were so surprised on Sunday when, during Sacrament meeting, Iizuka san, who has work and said she couldn`t come on Sunday--came to church! Her job had finished early and she`d rushed over to the church! She had a great time. We talked to her again this week about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and she said she`ll do all she can to come to church 2 times a month. Probably this Sunday she`ll have an interview with the Branch President, then her baptism interview, and will be baptized after that. She`s wonderful!

This coming Sunday is Katou Naoki kun and Kaoru chan`s baptism--they passed their baptism interview last week! They are both ready and excited to be baptized and make that promise with God. They`re the cutest!

Yamaguchi san is still doing well--she came to a Relief Society activity with us on yesterday and had a great time. She did what we invited her to do, to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God--and she got her answer! She said she felt a really peaceful, and warm feeling, and knew that it was true! She`s truly gaining a testimony.

Last Saturday we had the Music Concert, with about 10 or so musical numbers, including a piano solo from one of our investigators and guitar solos from the elder`s investigators. It turned out great! I ended up playing arrangements of 2 hymns on my violin. (Thanks for the music mom and Mrs. Mary--I didn`t get them quite in time to play them at the concert, but there`ll be another one in the next month or two!) There were between 30-40 people that came, and it seemed like they enjoyed the music.

I`m loving it here in Koriyama and am grateful for the many blessings, and miracles the Lord has blessed us to see here. Missionary work is the best! There are many sacrifices required, but the joys more than compensate for them.

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. I got your package mom--thanks:) It would help to have the accompaniment too--but not for everything. Probably just Meditation from Thais and the Bach one? I forgot but I`ll let you know next p-day

P.P.S. I`m sorry, I didn`t have time to do a hand-written letter last week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Splits! (email)

It`s been another wonderful, busy week. Last week on Thursday Sister Semba and I went on splits, or companion exchanges with the sisters in Niigata, a 2 1/2 hr. bus ride away. The sisters there are both senior missionaries--one is Japanese and 65 yrs. old, and the other is from Hawaii and in her 70s--they are both serving proselyting mission, doing the same things that we do (teaching, housing, etc.--they just use a car instead of a bike). I was so impressed with their example--with their determination to serve God at this time in their lives, leaving their children/grandchildren to come out here. The sister from Hawaii served a mission here in Japan 45 yrs. ago, and she`s remembered Japanese as she`s come out here. What wonderful examples they are, and it was a joy to work with them for a day!

Also, my companion Semba Shimai and I went to the mission home the past few days with our Zone Leaders/some of the district leaders for Leadership Training--they`ve started to invite sisters some times as well. We received lots of training from our Mission President--instructions for training that have come straight from the 12 Apostles of our church--it was wonderful! I learned a lot of things I want to apply to my dendo (missionary work) as well as things that will help our investigators.

Our investigators are doing well! The week after next, Kaoru chan (age 13) and Naoki kun (age 10), the younger brother of a recent convert into the branch, will be baptized! Last Sunday we had a really fun lesson with them where we used the whole church to teach the Plan of Salvation, and had a different room for this earth life, etc, going down the escalator during Adam`s fall--it was great! They are both excited to be baptized and understand the importance, and blessings of making this promise with God.

Yamaguchi san came to church again this week and is doing great. She even remembered Joseph Smith`s name from 20 years ago! Iizuka san is having a hard time coming to church because she has work a lot on Sundays, but she`s trying her best and praying about it. Also, one of our investigators, Seiko san (a mother, in her 30`s) has started reading the Book of Mormon every day, and says she feels a good feeling when she reads it! It`s been neat to watch her testimony grow...at our last lesson she said since she`s learned about God, she`s started to feel bad about wrong things she does, when she didn`t feel bad about them before--she`s truly starting to repent and come unto the Savior.

I`m so grateful to be a missionary, and be a part of/watch the changes that the gospel makes in peoples lives! This church is true, and every one is a child of God, our loving Heavenly Father!

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. Transfers are next week--whatever happens, I`m sure it`ll be what the Lord wants!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Small and Simple Things! (letter)

Sounds like you’ve had quite the summer. Michael, congrats and good job on your Eagle award. That’s wonderful!

I was happy to hear from dad that you’re all doing your best to share the gospel with friends and neighbors! I can promise you that the things you are doing now to share the gospel, even though they may seem little, will have a big impact in the future! Many of our investigators knew members/missionaries in the past, and it made a big impact on them. That’s why they’re listening now! So keep up the great work! Remember Alma 37:6, 7….”by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord…bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” Alma wrote this about the plates of brass and the records he kept, which may have seemed like such a small thing then---but think about it now. Anyone in the world can read the Book of Mormon—his writings--in their own language!

This past week was truly a miracle week. Semba Shimai and I fasted, prayed, and did our best, and the Lord took it from there. Along with Iizuka san & Yamaguchi san wanting to be baptized, we invited recent convert Kyoka chan’s younger brother and sister to be baptized, and they said yes! Naoki chan is only 10, and his sister Kaoru chan is 13, but they understand the importance of being baptized and want to be baptized!

Right now, we have eight investigators with baptism dates---it seems like more than I’ve seen at other times in my mission! I’m so grateful for the Lord, who truly gives us the desires of our hearts---and whose work this is.

I love being a missionary! Thanks for your love, support, and Dear Elders.

Love,
Sister Swain

(Me and Semba Shimai after Akiko Shimai's first "Preach My Gospel" lesson..


PS. We found a less active member as we went streeting the other day. He hadn’t been to church in 20 years! The Lord definitely placed him in our path.

Camera...Lost then Found! (email)

I have a funny story that happened today--today is preparation day, but we went to a member`s house for lunch--it took about 45 min. by bike to get to her house. We took a picture with this sweet member at the end, and I put my camera back into my bike basket. My bike basket cover was pretty old, so I had decided to buy a new one today--on our way back from the member`s house, my basket cover fell off two times before stopping by a store and buying a new one. I didn`t think too much of it, until we reached the mall where we were going to develop the pictures, and realized my camera was gone! Semba Shimai and I prayed together for God`s help to find it, then marked our way back to the store, then back to the member`s house, and didn`t find it. So then we went to the `police box` where you can report missing items, and if they are turned in, they`ll be returned to us. We talked to the police there, filled out a form...less than an hour later we got a call from them, saying the camera had been turned in! It must have fallen out of my basket, and someone brought it to the Police Box. I`m grateful God heard our prayers, and my camera was found!

Besides the camera drama today, this past week has been so wonderful, and full of miracles! Semba Shimai and I fasted and said a special prayer at the beginning of last week, because we really wanted to find those who are waiting to hear our message! After our fast, it seemed like each day there was just miracle after miracle that happened. One night we had a little bit of time to go housing--as we were riding our bikes we saw an apartment building that felt like a good place to go to. The very first person that answered the door was a nice, 50 year old woman who we found out had taken the lessons from the missionaries 20 years ago, but was afraid of water then so she hadn`t gotten baptized...but she`s no longer afraid of water! She came to church on Sunday, and wants to be baptized! Her name is Yamaguchi san...

We had invited another one of our investigators, Iizuka san, many times to be baptized, but she`d kept saying `no` even though she felt what we were teaching is true. She really believes in Jesus Christ and has pictures of him in her house. The last lesson we`d had with her, we had commited her to pray to God to know if God wanted her to be baptized or not. Last week when we went to visit her, she said she`d thought a lot about baptism, prayed, and wants to be baptized!! Her change of heart was truly a miracle--and true conversion! God definitely knows what`s best for us and will make us happy, and will tell us individually if we only ask Him...

I`m out of time today, but I wish I could tell about the many other little miracles we see each day as missionaries. This is truly God`s work, and I love being an instrument in His hands!

Love,
Sister Swain

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wonderful Koriyama! (letter)

It’s been another great week here in Koriyama. I can hardly believe the transfer is ½ over! But, at the same time, so much has happened here that it’s hard to imagine life outside of Koriyama.

I love all the ward members and investigators here. Each investigator has their own problems/different struggles in accepting the gospel, but it’s so wonderful to just love them and do all I can to encourage them to change – to repent, and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. And oh, what an amazing change it is for them—the recent convert who bore her testimony on Sunday has grown so much! There isn’t any greater joy than seeing investigators progress, be baptized—and then watch as they continue to change their lives!

Misaki chan, who plays violin/piano & is the daughter of the recent convert---agreed to be baptized next month!
(Picture of recent convert and her daughter Misaki chan, Semba Shimai, and me)

So we’ll teach her the commandments and help her prepare for baptism. She’s sweet and pure and wants to obey. On September 11th we’re doing a Music Fireside, where I’m hoping to play a duet with her!

Semba Shimai is wonderful and is very full of energy and focused on our missionary purpose. She keeps me going! She’ll probably be transferred at the end of this transfer, so I’m enjoying this wonderful time I have with her.

Sounds like Mom and Grandmas had a great time at organ week, then Brevard & Arizona! Good luck with the start of a new school year.

I love all of you so much! Thanks for your support and prayers!

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. I’m glad you could hear Hansen Shimai’s talk and had her over for FHE. She was such a wonderful missionary, companion, & friend!

P.S.S. I was surprised and happy to hear that one of my investigators in Ishinomaki, Suzuki san, had read through the whole Book of Mormon and came to church!!

Another Busy Week!

Thanks for your DearElders--sounds like it`s been a wonderful summer!

This past week we practiced the baptism interview questions with our investigator Shizuka chan, she took the interview, and passed!!! But a few hours later we got a call from her telling us that she`d told her dad about wanting to be baptized, and he told her she couldn`t. She`s in her 20s and doesn`t need his permission--but she is still living in the same apartment with him. He told her if she moved out she could join our church. When she told her dad about wanting to be baptized, it was the first he`d heard about her going to a church/learning at the church, so he must have been surprised and had some misunderstanding. Then the next day we got another call from Shizuka chan saying both her mom and dad said she can`t meet with us anymore... We were super sad, but know that she`ll one day be able to be baptized in the Lord`s timing--she`s the most ready I`ve ever seen anyone for baptism! We`ll keep praying for her, and have faith that the Lord is watching out for her!

Our investigator Seiko san came to church on Sunday, where a recent convert bore her conversion story--it was so wonderful! Afterwards we went to dinner at one of the ward member`s houses. Seiko san is so great and wants to learn more about the gospel to help her 8 yr. old son.

It`s been a wonderful and busy past week! We had had great training on Tuesday from our zone leaders and Mission President and we`re trying to become even more obedient, and talk to even more people each day. I love talking to so many people each day about the happiness we and our families can find through Jesus Christ`s teachings!

Love all of you so much!
Swain Shimai

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Love Koriyama! (letter)

How are all of you doing? Did you get my two emails? I guess school’s about to start. I hope you enjoy the last of your summer break!

I love serving in Koriyama! I still don’t know the names of everyone in the branch, or the way to different places—but I’m confident that through time it’ll be easier. This is Semba Shimai’s 4th transfer in her 1st area, so she’ll probably be transferred after this transfer ends. By then maybe I’ll understand the directions.

One thing I forgot to write in my email is that one of our investigators, age 14, (the daughter of a recent convert) plays the violin very well! I haven’t heard her play yet, but Semba Shimai says the school’s music program she is in is one of the top of Japan! I’m excited to maybe play a duet with her sometime in church, or at the music fireside we’re planning for next month….I don’t think it’s a coincidence I came here to Koriyama to teach Misaki chan! She’s so cute and innocent, and accepts what we teach her very easily. I’m excited to help her gain a testimony of the gospel, and of Jesus Christ!

I’m doing well, and I love my diligent and obedient companion, Semba Shimai. The Lord truly is giving me strength I need each day to preach His gospel…and ride my bike to far places! I think when my mission ends I might go in hibernation and sleep for a week…is that OK mom? Just kidding—but even though missionary work is wearing on our bodies, it’s amazing the strength God gives me each day to go on to do one of the most important works in the world!

Thanks for your love and prayers!!

Love,
Sister Swain

A Missionary's Purpose...Baptism! (email)

I had a wonderful second week in Koriyama. We taught many lessons this past week--there are lots of investigators here in Koriyama so it seems like we spend more time teaching than finding new investigators! Three of our investigators have a baptism date that we`re working towards--they each have different challenges to overcome before being ready to be baptized. One is Shizuka chan, who I mentioned in my last e-mail--she just has to tell her dad before getting baptized. She has really grown and progressed so much--from dressing modestly to reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and on Sunday we fasted together for her to be able to forgive her father and be baptized. I know that with the Lord`s help, at the right time she`ll be able to be baptized.

Also, we`re teaching Yaeko san, who lives alone and is in her 60`s. Since she met the missionaries, she got into a bike accident and was really humbled...she really wants to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized! But she smokes a lot everyday, so we`ll do what we can to help her to overcome it so she can be baptized. Her husband died a few years ago, and she has one son but no daughters--so she thinks of us as her daughters.

Our other investigator with a baptism date is Seiko san, a mother who came to Eikaiwa, our free English class, where she met the missionaries and started taking the lessons. Her testimony has grown little by little as she`s taken the lessons--she`s so busy so we haven`t been able to meet her every week, but she knows that baptism is a good thing and wants to be baptized! I`m excited to continue teaching her and watch as her testimony grows...

This past week we had Zone Conference--it was very different from the Sendai zone I was in before--in the Koriyama Zone there are about 12 missionaries! But it was wonderful to be together with the other missionaries and receive training from our Zone Leaders and Mission President. We learned about focusing even more on our purpose of baptism--our zone leaders even challenged us to talk about it when we`re finding--to refer to it simply as a promise we make with God, where we promise to follow Him and He blesses us! Semba Shimai and I have already started talking about it when we meet people on the streets/housing, and it`s made dendo even more fun, and definitely helps us feel like we are fulfilling our purpose!

I`m loving each day learning, growing, and serving as a missionary. When else can I testify to people all day that I know God lives and loves us?! This past week I was saddened as I realized how little time I have left as a missionary...after just three more transfers! It`s my hope that I`ll be able to do what God wants me to for every day that`s left, and help bring those who are searching for the truth but know not where to find it back to the knowledge of the God who created them! I know God lives, and this is His work. It`s the best!

I love all of you. Thanks for your support and prayers!

Love,
Sister Swain

Monday, August 9, 2010

Transferred....and now I have email!!! (Email)

I was so surprised when I received a transfer call last week...I was transferred to Koriyama!!! (Koriyama has e-mail!!) I was only in Ishinomaki for one transfer! But it was really a wonderful transfer, and so fun being in a three-some. Before I left we set a baptism date for August with our investigator Kimura san! He`s really humble and loves learning about the gospel. He`s gone through a lot of hard times, but has really found peace as he`s developed faith in Christ. My last lesson with him, I played the piano for an arrangement of the hymn `I Know that my Redeemer Lives` and Hansen Shimai sang it in Japanese--he was really touched by the Spirit as he heard it! I know he`ll continue to progress as Murase Shimai and her new companion, Kado Shimai from Hokkaido, teaches him. It`s so amazing to see this message change people`s lives!!!

I`ve been in Koriyama for about 5 days now! It`s in the southern part of the Japan Sendai Mission. It`s not in the Sendai Zone--for the first time I`ve left the Sendai Zone! My companion is Semba Shimai from Kumamoto-ken (southern Japan). She`s in her fourth transfer as a missionary--she`s so wonderful!! She really has an enthusiasm to do missionary work and puts all her heart and efforts into it! I`m excited to be able to work with her this transfer.

There are around 70 people that come to the Koriyama branch each Sunday. Everyone here is so kind! There are quite a few recent converts in the branch that the sisters have taught. It`s been neat getting to know them, teaching their AB lessons and hearing their amazing testimonies! There are a lot of investigators here--Semba Shimai has been a great help in explaining about all of them. We`ve had lessons with a few of them, and it`s been great to see their progress, little by little as they excersise faith in Jesus Christ and change their way of living to be more in line with Christ`s teachings. To one of our investigators in her 20s, we explained the importance of dressing modestly and she wants to do her best change her standard--it`s so neat to see her faith! She wants to get baptised, but first has to get courage to tell her dad about it, who doesn`t like religion.

I love serving the Lord each day!! Even though I`m in a different area, the work is still the same, and it`s the Lord who truly leads it and guides His missionaries each day. Being a missionary is the best!!

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." 1 Nephi 21:16 The Lord loves us and never forgets us!!

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. I love all of you!

Leaving Ishinomaki and Transferring to Koriyama! (letter)

I’m sorry you won’t get a letter from me last week because I had no time to write. I wasn’t expecting to be transferred so I had a lot to do! But the little time I had in Ishinomaki was wonderful! I felt like there were some people there that the Lord sent me to help. I love them so much! One is the investigator, Kimura san. He’s had a really hard time lately when his girlfriend left him – as I played “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” he wept!! Truly there’s a special spirit that can only come through music!

The other person I felt I was really able to help was a less active member named Kumagai Shimai. She was baptized five or so years ago but stopped coming to church when she started smoking again. We met with her one time at her house, and through feeling our love she felt God’s love for her and gained hope that she could STOP! She comes to Eikaiwa each week and two weeks ago when we met with her she bore to us her testimony of reading the Book of Mormon. When she felt stress and wanted to smoke she would read the Book of Mormon and feel a wonderful feeling and didn’t want to smoke anymore! I think she’ll return back to church in a little while. I love her so much!

Koriyama is wonderful, and full of more investigators than I’ve ever had in one area before! Since I came here I really felt that this is where the Lord wants me to be, especially to help my companion Semba Shimai. I’m her 2nd companion after her trainer, Andros Shimai (an American).

Mom & Dad, I got your letter about when I should end my mission. I prayed and thought about it and feel good about finishing in January and waiting to start school until Spring. I want to do missionary work as long as I can!

Thanks for your love, support and prayers.
I love all of you!

Love,
Sister Swain

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hot and Humid--but the Work Is Moving Forward!

(This picture is me next to the rice fields in Ishinomaki---the field is white already to harvest!)

How fast time has flown. Next week is transfer week again! My companion Hansen Shimai will finish her mission and go back to America! It’s pretty hard to believe, it’s gone by so fast.

This past week has been pretty hot – in the 90’s with humidity. One of the branch members said it’s been unusually hot here in Ishinomaki this summer. A few days ago our companion Murase Shimai told us the reason we hadn’t used the small A.C. (I hadn’t even realized we had it…) was because it was broken. So, we’d been bearing the hot weather with our two little fans. We’ll be excited once it’s fixed in the next few days. August is supposed to be the hottest month here…

For preparation day we had a fun time watching seminary videos in Japanese at the church (in an air-conditioned room). I was also able to practice/play my violin for about an hour, and was happy to find I hadn’t forgotten how to play it! I actually played my violin in church last week, and the week before I’d played the piano for a musical number. I think in the next month or two, I’ll put together a music concert/fireside. There are some talented singers in the branch here—that will help with the work here!

The work is moving forward here in Ishinomaki, slowly, but surely. 91 year old Hayashi san’s grandchildren are over for the summer break, so we’ll have to wait until it’s over to meet with her. This past week we met two times with a man we found as we were riding our bikes over to the church. His name is Kumura san. He was wondering what his purpose in life is and wants hope for the future. So far we’ve taught him the first two lessons, and he’s accepted our commitments well. He even said he wants to be baptized once he gets an answer from God! He’s wonderful and is really searching for the truth. I know the gospel will help him so much, and he’ll be a wonderful priesthood holder some day if he chooses to accept our message!

One of our other investigators was an old investigator of previous missionaries. She’s Korean, but married a Japanese person and has lived in Japan for a while (her Japanese is very good). We met her for the 2nd time today and watched the DVD “Finding Faith in Christ” together in Korean. It reminded me of when I first came to Japan and couldn’t understand anything…The Lord has really blessed me to learn Japanese!

Thanks for your letters. Sounds like it’s been a busy, but fun summer! Even though it’s hot, I’m grateful every day for the chance I have to do missionary work! It’s sad when people choose not to listen, but I’m glad I can give them that chance to listen to a message that can change their lives.

I love all of you! Thanks for your love and support!

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. Don’t worry Dad, even though I’m turning Nihonjin (Japanese), I haven’t yet, and probably won’t ever, develop a taste for Nato!



(This picture is Hansen Shimai, Murase Shimai and Me in the Sendai Station on our way to district meeting. The decorations are celebrating the Tanabata Festival.)









(This is me on a bridge next to the ocean in Ishinomaki!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Love Missionary Work!

I can hardly believe there’s only 2 ½ weeks left of this transfer! Soon Hansen Shimai will go back to America. She’ll be the 3rd companion I’ve sent back home!

It is nice and hot here in Ishinomaki. I think I’m just getting used to always having sweat on my face and body as we ride our bikes and dendo in 87 degree, humid weather. But it’s fun! Especially with two companions, every day is a party!

Hayashi san, our 91 year old friend is still reading the Book of Mormon and praying. We’re just waiting to hear if her family will let her get baptized. She’s the best!

It was another busy week as we did our best to reach the Sendai Mission Standard of Excellence – of teaching 20 lessons/week and finding 3 new investigators/week. With the Lord’s help, we were able to do it this week!

I guess today I don’t know what else to write, except that I love missionary work! Each day the Lord gives me strength to go another day and do all I can to help move the work forward. Japan is the best! I love and pray for all of you!

Love,
Sister Swain
(Me, Sister Hansen and the Statue of Liberty in Ishinomaki! There's also a Japanese Flag!)

P.S. On Sunday, I played the piano for a musical number in Sacrament meeting-“Armies of Helaman/As Sisters in Zion—my companions and a few branch members sang. The Ishinomaki Branch is small, but boy can they sing!

P.S.S. Hansen Shimai said my Japanese is getting a lot better faster. She said over the course of a week it changed dramatically! I’m grateful for her encouragement, and grateful for the Lord for the gift of tongues. It’s real!

P.S.S. Murase Shimai is a very good cook and I’m learning a little from her of how to cook Japanese meals…I promise to make then when I come home!

Monday, July 12, 2010

God Loves Each of Us!

Dear Family,

It’s been another week full of wonderful experiences! We met with Hayashi san again today, our 91 year old and genki (healthy!) investigator. She was so happy to see us and had read some of the Book of Mormon and prayed! She’s so wonderful and full of faith and I love her so much! We taught her about the first half of the Plan of Salvation—of how we lived with God before we came to earth, how we came to earth to learn to progress. As we taught about Jesus Christ and what He’d done for us, she felt like she wanted to believe in Him too! She wants to be baptized but first has to talk with her daughter that she lives with for permission. We’re afraid her family will be opposed to our church—so many are—but are praying for her and know the Lord’s hand will be in whatever happens.

We also had Zone Conference this week. As always, it was wonderful.

This past week we found out one of the church members, in her 60’s/70’s who works in and runs her own garden/farm—had a bike accident as she was bringing her harvest, on the back of her bike, to the market. We visited her in the hospital three days after it happened, and it was a pretty bad accident. It reminded me of my car accident! She asked us to help tend her farm occasionally. We went afterwards and harvested some fruit and picked some weeds. It was fun! I was amazed how she runs the farm herself!

We also met with a member, and her friend she wanted to introduce to us! We taught lesson one to her. It was wonderful to have the support and testimony of the member, who is a recent convert herself!

I love being here in Japan and serving each day as a missionary! I know God loves each one of us and gives us direction when we ask for it! I have received so much of His direction to do His work here! I pray for all of you!

Love,
Sister Swain

3 Nephi 14:7: “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

P.S. Here are some pictures of me in my purple yukata and my companions, Hansen Shimai and Murase Shimai. We all bought yukatas (the summer kimono) and Murase Shimai taught us how to put them on. We wore them around our apartment on Preparation Day. (P-day)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rain, Earthquake, and New American Companion!

Dear Family,

It sounds like you all had a great trip to Nauvoo! I’ve been here in Ishinomaki for a little over a week now! Last week it rained hard for two of the days. I think the rainy season is coming up. We had fun riding our bikes through a few inches of water!

This morning we had a #4 earthquake, but they’re becoming more normal to me and just feels like the apartment is rocking like a boat for a few seconds.

Last Friday we got a call from the Mission President saying that our companion, Kouyama Shimai, needed to pack her things and leave that day. She was transferred to an area they just opened for the sisters! So we were only with her for one week, but in her place Hansen Shimai (from Las Vegas) came to Ishinomaki! So now it’s a “three-some” with me, Murase Shimai, and Hansen Shimai. This is Hansen Shimai’s last transfer and the first time I’ve had an American companion since coming to Japan! It’s going to be a fun transfer!

Since Kouyama Shimai left, I’ve felt even more responsibility as co-senior companion because Hansen Shimai doesn’t know the area yet. I’ve found that the Lord has led and blessed me to love the people here, and to know who to help and how to help them.

Today we were handing out Eikaiwa (English Class) fliers by the train station when we met a cute 91 year old grandmother, Hayashi san, who took us to the nearby hotel she and her daughter runs! We learned from her daughter that 30 years ago the missionaries had borrowed the tub in their hotel to do baptisms, because there was no other place to do it in! They both warmly accepted us, and Hayashi san, even at age 91, was so humble and willingly accepted our message! She told us she felt something special while reading the Book of Mormon.

I love missionary work, and all of you! Take care!

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. I gave in and bought a summer kimono-yukata-because it was purple and on sale! I’ll send pictures next time.
P.P.S. We visited a less active member who hadn’t been to church in four years, but now she wants to pray and read the Book of Mormon every day and come to church in a few months!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ishinomaki and transferring...!

(This picture is all except two of the sister missionaries in the Sendai Zone...on transfer day at the bus stop.)

Dear family,

I’ve only been in Ishinomaki for a few days now with my new companions, Kouyama and Murase Shimai, but I already love it! Ishinomaki is not like the busy cities I’ve been used to in Izumi and Nagamachi—it’s a little further north and just along the ocean coastline—and it’s like being out in the country in Japan! When I first got here I felt like I was taking a step back in time here in Japan.

I’ll be learning different ways to dendo out here. Before in my other areas we’d go “streeting” and talk to those walking along the busy streets, but here in Ishinomaki there’s almost no one walking on the streets! It’s mostly houses, with a high school nearby and a few stores. So we’ll be doing a lot of housing here.

In the Ishinomaki branch, there were about 36 members that came to church on Sunday! It’s a small branch, but everyone is so kind and full of faith. It’s a very tight-knit branch, and I already love it! The branch president is wonderful and has a great vision for what the Ishinomaki Branch will one day become-through our (the missionary’s) help and the members!

It is hot and humid here-probably more humid than hot! I guess at least it’s not snowing!

At first I didn’t know how it would be being in a 3-some, but I absolutely love it! It’s like always having another person to help with the work, support, and bear testimony, and it’s so fun! I love and respect both Kouyama and Murase Shimai, and with all of our faith, efforts, and God’s guidance, we hope to see miracles happen here in Ishinomaki!

On Saturday we had a lesson with a referral, one of the branch member’s friends. We set a baptism date with her for next month! Already the Lord is blessing the work here-through the help of the branch members!

I’m so happy serving the Lord here in Japan! I love and am praying for all of you!

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. Thanks for your letter from Nauvoo! It sounds like you’ve had some wonderful experiences. Aren’t sister missionaries the best?!

P.P.S. I just found out that Helen san, our investigator in Nagamachi, passed her baptism interview! She’s getting baptized! I’m so happy!

P.P.P.S. This picture is me and Kamen Rider in downtown Ishinomaki. He's famous in Japan for rescuing those in danger. We have the same job!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Transferring to Ishinomaki!

Dear Family,

Today we received transfer calls, and I will be leaving Nagamachi! I’ve only been here for two transfers, but I love the people here and will be sad to leave!

My companion Kouzawa Shimai will stay here and become a trainer of a new Japanese sister missionary. I’ll go to Ishinomaki, where I’ll become companions with two other Shimais—we’ll be a three-some! One of them is Kouyama Shimai, who just has one more transfer left before her mission is finished! We’ll be co-seniors. My other companion will be Murase Shimai, who will start her 2nd transfer as a missionary. This picture is Kouzawa Shimai and I with recent convert Kimura Shimai after Stake Conference.

Ishinomaki is a bit farther north but is still in the Sendai Zone, the same zone I’ve been in my whole mission! I’ve heard that there are no elders serving there, just sisters—and it’s a branch, not a ward, so they’re aren’t as many members. One of my college friends is living there with her husband and daughter (teaching English) and she is the Young Woman’s President there (for the one young woman who was taught and baptized by the sister missionaries a few months ago)! It’ll be fun to be in the same branch with them!

So, while I’m sad to leave Nagamachi, I’m looking forward to the new experiences I’ll have in Ishinomaki. I won’t be able to see Helen san’s baptism here, which is scheduled for next Tuesday—but it’s OK. I’m just happy that she’ll be getting baptized! (And my companion promised to send me a picture.)

This past week has been busy! On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference, which was wonderful. The Sunday session was a broadcast from Salt Lake (shown to all the stakes in Japan and a few surrounding countries). Elder Evans of the 70s gave his talk in Japanese. He invited all the youth to serve missions! It was great. My companion, Kouzawa Shimai actually decided to come on a mission because of a similar talk he gave in her stake about a year ago.

Over the weekend I caught a little flu bug and fever but I was able to rest a little and am now feeling fine. (Thanks for all the meds mom.)

Yesterday we taught our friend Moloko san, from South Africa, about the Restoration of the church (lesson 1). We taught in English and the mission home couple (the Sudweeks) joined us for the lesson. Moloko san is wonderful and said she’ll get baptized when she receives an answer from God if this church is true or not. She said she has been confused (like Joseph Smith) about the many different churches and understood the need for a Restoration! She already believes in God and Jesus Christ and has great faith!

I love all of you so much! Take care!

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. After our lesson in English with Moloko san, Sister Sudweeks said my English had become a little strange. I guess that’s what happens when I only speak Japanese all day!
P.S.S. This picture is me and my college friend, Jul Lamb and her little baby girl, Elsa. She's living in the branch I'll transfer to!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Teaching in English..."

Dear Family,

Next week is transfers-time flies! It sounds like all of you have been busy with BBQs, Nauvoo trips, family reunions...I hope you have a wonderful time! And that’s exciting that David is horseback riding again! I’m almost jealous!

This past week we met with Helen san and finished all her lessons. She’ll take her baptism interview this coming Friday, and if she passes she’ll be baptized on June 29th! We’re praying for her and we’re so excited.

As we were walking back to the church after returning from Soma (where we met Helen san) last Saturday, we ran into a cheerful, sweet girl from South Africa who’s been in Japan for the past two years teaching English! She believes in God and listened as we explained about our church and the Book of Mormon. We set an appointment with her for this next Tuesday! We’re so grateful we could meet her. We really feel like the Lord placed her in her path! We’ll teach her in English...my companion Kouzawa Shimai has practiced teaching in English to me, and thanks to her hard work and prayers, I’m sure she’ll be able to do it.

I’m grateful for all your love and prayers. I love being a missionary here in Japan!

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. I love you all!! God lives and loves us. Christ is our Savior. The gospel is true!
P.P.S. I’ve included two DVDs: one is our mission concert before my first transfer in the Izumi ward—I both sang some of the songs in Japanese and played my violin. I also bore a little bit of my testimony as I introduced “Where Can I Turn for Peace.” The second DVD is of our concert we did at the Kamisugi church (stake center) in collaboration with the four missionaries there. I played my violin in several songs and as background music during a slideshow, as well as sang. It’s interesting that Morikoshi Shimai accompanied me on the piano—this was before we became companions!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Every Member a Missionary"

Dear family,

Another busy week here in Nagamachi! Last Monday/Tuesday during the zone leader training (where my companion was invited to) I stayed here in Nagamachi with Semba Shimai, who is in her 2nd transfer and serving in Koriyama. It was a blast dendoing (tracting) with her and learning from her great example! That first night with her when we were on our way with her bags to the apartment, I felt prompted to stop and talk to someone on his bike waiting at the stoplight. He’d met with previous missionaries and he gave us his number. We have an appointment with him this week! The Lord really places those who will listen in our path!

We met with Helen san last Saturday. She’s so busy with work and her family that we weren’t able to meet with her for about two weeks, so we’re pushing her baptism date back to June 29th. She’s super worn out from work, but is excited for and trying to prepare for baptism. She’s amazing!

Right now we have about 10 investigators—but only a few of them are able to meet every week. Among them is Shoji san, an 82 year old grandmother who lives by herself. She first became our friend when we met her a few weeks ago, then yesterday she came with us to church for a lesson! She is so sweet and believes everything we’ve taught her. We are not sure how much of it she will remember, but she’s reading from the Book of Mormon and praying!

Another one of our investigators is Suzuki san, a referral from the ward mission leader. She’s one of his classmates. She really wants to learn English before her huge exam next January. So, we meet her and teach ½ of the lesson in English, and then the other ½ is one of the missionary lessons. At first she was only interested in English, but she’s slowly started gaining interest in our message, especially when we taught about the Plan of Salvation. She thought it was amazing—all God did for us. Suzuki san is about our same age and has become a good friend!
Yesterday we had Zone Conference. It was wonderful as always! We learned about the importance of working with members in doing missionary work. Truly what President Kimball said is true: “Every member a missionary!” We hope to work in unity with the members here in Nagamachi and help inspire them to do missionary work.

It was also Yoneda Shimai (my former companion’s) last zone conference. She bore her “dying testimony” during testimony meeting. It was very touching and it will be hard to see her go. After she’s gone, all my companions up to this point (besides my companion Kouzawa Shimai, who will finish at the same time as me) will have gone home! Where does the time go?!

I love preaching the gospel each day to everyone I see! Lately as I’ve become more sincere in my prayers the Lord has blessed us with more guidance from the Spirit in finding those who are ready and waiting to hear the gospel. Only the Lord knows where they’re at!

I love all of you! Thanks for your love and support.

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. Transfers are coming up soon...
P.P.S. I love you all so much!
P.P.P.S. This is a "Book of Mormon" cake we made for an elder's birthday!

Monday, May 31, 2010

I Love Missionary Work!

Dear family,

Where does the time go? Tomorrow is June...Happy Birthday Becca!

We had another wonderful and busy week here in Nagamachi. Saturday was the Nagamachi Ward Sports Taikai, and Sunday all the Nagamachi missionaries (6 of us) did a musical number in church, “Come, Come Ye Saints.” Everyone sang, one of the elders played the piano and I played the violin for the last two verses.

We weren’t able to meet with Helen san this past week (she lives an hour away!), but we will this week and help her prepare for her baptism! This past week we had the opportunity to visit a few less active members in the ward. Some we couldn’t meet and just left brownies for them...but we were able to meet with one sweet family and share a message with them. It was so wonderful to be with them and encourage them to pray and come to church, promising them the blessings that come from it! The mother came to church on Sunday. The Japanese people are so kind-I love them!

Tonight and tomorrow there’s a zone leader training at the Honbu (mission office), and for the first time they’ve invited a few sisters to come. I won’t be going but my companion will, so I’ll be companions with another sister for a day! (She just came to Japan three weeks ago.) Recently I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do splits; it’s been so fun, and I learn so much!

I love missionary work so much! Little by little the Lord is helping me to speak the language a little better, and with the confidence I need to invite everyone to learn about Christ. I love the Japanese people, and I love my mission!

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. I love you all! I have the best family in the world!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Missionary "Splits"

Dear family,

Today has been a busy P-day, full of deep-cleaning our apartment and running errands. Right now we’re waiting at a bus station to go to the Honbu (Mission Home) for F.H.E. with other missionaries and their investigators. It’s rained hard all day...I hear that the rainy season is coming soon! (It is supposed to start in June?)

This past week was wonderful and busy! On Thursday Kouzawa Shimai and I went on a split with the sisters in Morioka, Hansen Shimai (from Las Vegas!) and Shibata Shimai. It took a while to get there—2 ½ hours by bus—but it was so fun to be with them and learn from each other’s different ways to dendo. Morioka is up by some mountains—very hot in the summer and cold in the winter-it was absolutely beautiful! I learned a lot from the split and had wonderful experiences teaching two lessons with Shibata Shimai, one was to a cute, shy Eikaiwa student. During the lesson I felt inspired by the Spirit to know what to say that would help her. She ended up in tears because she could feel God’s love and the Spirit! I’m so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit, and that the Spirit is the teacher, and I’m not!

I’m out of time now...but I love all of you so much! Thanks for your love and prayers!

Love,
Sister Swain

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kouzawa Shimai and Helen San


Dear family,

It’s not even been a week yet with my new companion, Kouzawa Shimai, but we’re already such good friends and have done so many things together that it feels longer! Kouzawa Shimai is so kind—definitely one of the nicest and most selfless people I know! She only speaks a little English, so we really only speak in Japanese—which I’m sure will really help my Nihongo! It’s so fun being her companion and so fun doing missionary work with her!

Lately missionary work has become more fun and rewarding than before! I’ve realized more and more what it means in Ether 12:27: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” This has become my theme scripture lately—truly the Lord’s grace is sufficient if we are humble and trust in Him! With the Lord’s help, it’s sufficient, it’s enough! Recently I’ve been blessed with more confidence than before to open my mouth and talk to everyone I see to share a message that is the most important they will ever hear! I love testifying to everyone that God loves us, and that Jesus Christ lives!

Today (Preparation Day) we were able to meet with an investigator we haven’t been able to meet for a while because she’s been busy and lives far away. But she has so much faith-even though we hadn’t met for a while, she prays and reads the Book of Mormon every day. She wants to be baptized. We were able to set a baptism date for next month! Helen san is from the Philippines but married a Japanese person and has been here in Japan for a long time. Her Japanese (and English) is very good. She has two children, one is nine years old and she wants him to be baptized too. Helen san is wonderful, and definitely has been prepared to hear this message and be baptized. We’re so excited for her!

I love all of you so much!

Love,
Swain shimai

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oyama san's Baptism!

Dear family,

Tomorrow is transfer day! Morikoshi Shimai is going home, and my new companion will be Kouzawa Shimai! She was Morikoshi Shimai’s companion before me. She is from Kumamoto, Japan, southern Japan in the Fukuoka Mission. (She’s from Morikoshi Shimai’s same stake/area!) She and I began our missions at the same time and will finish together, but she’s two transfers ahead of me in Japan because I was in the MTC for a long time. She is so nice and I’m excited to become her companion!

Last week was pretty busy—we went on splits—a companion exchange with two of the Kamisugi sisters. I went with Sister Wetlaufer, who will also finish her mission tomorrow. It was my first time, since the MTC, being with an American companion! The split was only for a day, but it was so fun and I learned so much from Sister Wetlaufer!


















The next day we had Zone Conference, which was wonderful. We learned about following the guidance and promptings of the Holy Ghost in order to know what God wants us to do—what to teach, and what these people need!

Because Morikoshi Shimai is about to leave, many ward members invited us to their houses. We had meals at 5 of their houses in the last week and a half! The ward members are all so wonderful and are great examples of living the gospel.

Saturday, Oyama san was baptized! His baptismal service was so wonderful! One of the sisters who used to teach Oyama san, Weaver Shimai, was able to come from nearby Fukushima and watch the baptism. Oyama san was baptized by Elder Sudweeks, who works as a volunteer with his wife as the mission office couple. It was wonderful to watch Oyama san get baptized, then bear his testimony of how he’d been led and guided to our church, which he knows is true! After the baptism he told me he felt happy, and felt so much of God’s love for him throughout the service. His conversion was definitely a miracle, proof of the great love God has for everyone, and of the wonderful changes that can happen to those who gain this knowledge!

I love all of you, and I love serving a mission!

Love,
Sister Swain

P.S. It was great talking to all of you on the phone! It sounds like dad’s birthday was fun!

P.P.S. Morikoshi Shimai and I played the violin and piano in church, “How Great Thou Art.”

Monday, May 3, 2010

Another Great Week in Nagamachi!

Dear family,

This past week it’s begun to really feel like spring! Besides the days it rained, the afternoons have been nice and warm—a welcome change.

We had another great week here in Nagamachi. I can hardly believe it, but this transfer ends next week, and my companion Morikoshi Shimai will be going back home! I’ll then get a new companion and begin my 6th transfer...I’m starting to feel old!
Oyama san is prepared and excited for his baptismal service this coming Saturday. It will be wonderful—he, along with many others, has changed through this gospel. He’s stopped smoking to get baptized and now believes in God and knows this church is true.

This past week and until Morikoshi Shimai leaves we’ve been invited to several of the member’s houses for meals and a lesson. It’s been wonderful to get to know the ward members even better, and see the loving atmospheres in their homes, and their examples of living the gospel. One member, Sato Shimai, invited some of her friends over—one of them was from America, an English teacher at some of the schools! It was fun to talk to her. She’s about my age and it will be neat to see if we can teach her about our message-in English! It will feel weird not teaching in Japanese!

I love all of you and hope you’re all doing well! You’re in my prayers every day!

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. We had Family Home Evening at the Mission Home, and I got to see an Izumi investigator-Fukunaga Mitsu san!!! She’s afraid of baptism and cancelled—but it was so wonderful to see her again! Also recent convert Brother Mori came. He’s been less active for the past few months, but the elders got him to come back. I was so happy I cried!

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Wonderful, Unique Birthday"

Dear family,

It’s been another great week—thanks mom for the birthday package! Saturday morning the Nagamachi elders surprised me and showed up at our door with a cake and sang "happy birthday!" Morikoshi Shimai and I ate cake and opened the presents you sent-thanks so much Mom! I like all the clothes and they’re the right size. Also thank Grandma Swain for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD she sent me. It’s already been well-listened to!

I had a wonderful birthday, definitely unique to all the birthdays I’ve ever had. We went housing, then had a lesson with a sweet 22 year old Chinese girl we had met streeting a few weeks before. She’s been in Japan for 1 ½ years going to college & working-her Japanese is very good! Saturday was our first lesson with her. We taught her about the Restoration, and she thought Joseph Smith’s experience was neat. She’s excited to read the Book of Mormon in Chinese and pray!

After her lesson we went to another baptism in Morikoshi Shimai’s former area, Kamisugi, together with another girl we’re teaching, Naoko Chan. The baptism was for a girl whose mother is opposed to the church—but she’d just turned 20 so she could get baptized without her parent’s permission. It was neat to hear her testimony and see her strong faith!

So, I was lucky enough on my birthday to find, teach, and see a baptism! It was a great day!

Oyama San passed his baptismal interview this week and is ready to be baptized on May 8th! We had a wonderful lesson with him where we watched “The Testaments” together. He felt the Spirit and afterwards bore his testimony of how he had come to believe these things. He even began crying, and we did too! What a special experience it is to watch and help someone plant their seed of faith and see it begin to grow!

On Sunday we had ward conference, with around 140 people in attendance—which is very big for Japan! Wonderful messages were shared, especially about doing what we can to reach out to others.

My companion caught a cold a few days ago, so I’ve been doing my best to not catch it from her-when she had to take a nap to get better, I took a nap to not get sick! I’ve had just a little bit of a cold, but the Lord is blessing me with good health. I pray He’s doing the same for all of you!

Love,
Swain Shimai

P.S. The sakura, or cherry blossoms, famous to Japan are absolutely beautiful! I’ve never seen anything like it!















Me & Morikoshi shimai in front of a sakura tree!
















We went to a nearby park to see all the Sakura! It was beautiful! Me, Morikoshi Shimai, and 2 ward members.

P.P.S. Again Happy Birthday Dad, and soon it’ll be Nate’s birthday—tell him Happy Birthday for me!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oyama San's Conversion

Dear family,

We had a great past week here in Nagamachi. It was cold and even snowed again Saturday morning, but we’re hoping from here on out it will start getting warmer. On Saturday we had a lesson with one of our investigators, Oyama san (he's about in his 40’s), who has taken lessons from the sisters since last October but hasn’t gotten baptized yet because he said he hasn’t gotten an answer yet if this church is true. Saturday morning, before we even started the lesson he surprised us by saying that he’d gotten personal revelation. He knows that this Church is true, and wants to get baptized! We were way surprised!!! He said he “gave up” and will be baptized! When we asked him more about how he got his answer, he said that since he went to the Saturday morning session of general conference and heard the talks, he felt like he needed to seriously seek for an answer if this Church is true or not. Then, one day while he was listening to the CD of hymns the sisters had given him and reading the Book of Mormon, “Seirei-san ga kita!”-he said that the Holy Ghost came! He said it was a small “voice” and feeling that he could not deny, and knew that this Church was true. Also, he’d had a dream where Hansen Shimai, the sister who was here before we came and taught him for a long time—came and told him to be baptized. So, he’s getting baptized next month! We’re so excited!

This Wednesday we were handing out Eikaiwa (our free English class) fliers when I found Yuko chan, who had talked to elder missionaries before, but never to sisters. She was delighted to meet us, and when we asked if we could have her phone number so that we could meet her at the church and teach her, she said, “Oh, can I please give it to you?”! She’ll come to Eikaiwa this next week and we’ll teach her a lesson afterwards. I’m so grateful we could meet her. It has made me want to share the gospel even more with everyone I see, because we never know who it is God has placed in our path!

I love you all and pray for you everyday!

Love,
Swain Shimai

This picture shows the Kamisugi & Nagamachi sisters! From top to bottom: Wetlaufer Shimai, me, Onda Shimai, and Morikoshi Shimai














This is my companion Morikoshi shimai, me, and our investigator, Naoko chan. We went to see the beginning of sakura (cherry blossoms) that were blooming...but it turned out to be a cold, rainy day!