Monday, January 25, 2010

"Missionary Splits"

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a wonderful, and busy week in Izumi. Last Monday morning we got a call from our zone leaders, who said we were going to have a split with the Kamisugi sisters—where we trade companions for the day! The elders go on “splits” with the district leader every transfer, but the sisters don’t usually get to do them. The Kamisugi shimaitachi (sisters) came to Izumi Friday, and stayed until Saturday. It was a lot of work to prepare for but well worth it! I was able to teach a mogi lesson and go housing both with Kouzawa Shimai and Morikoshi Shimai (both from Japan). I learned a lot from their different approaches, as well as how I can improve my teaching and finding!

The split was just what Yoneda Shimai and I needed! In the 24 hours altogether we found 11 potential investigators, which is a lot! I think that most of all our faith was strengthened-that there are people here willing to hear the gospel.

This past week especially, I’ve had opportunities to open my mouth and share my testimony-with members, less actives, and non-members alike! I still can’t say a lot of things in Japanese, but I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to bear my testimony and to feel the Spirit confirm what I am saying. During the spiritual thought at the end of our Eikaiwa (English) class on Saturday we taught about prophets. I was able to talk about how we have a prophet today, like Moses of old. I felt the Spirit strongly as I bore witness of it. How wonderful it is that we have a prophet, and how important it is to follow His teachings!

Yesterday night Yoneda Shimai and I felt like we should change our plans and go to a different area to deliver a “Families Can Be Forever” video to one of our investigators. She wasn’t home, but at the nearby place we housed at, we met an 89 year old grandfather who looked and seemed like he was in his 70’s! He told us how he had seen gygiene (foreign) missionaries before but hadn’t had the chance to talk to them. He lives by himself- his wife and only child had passed away; he told us how lonely he is sometimes! We testified of the atonement, and how our knowledge of and faith in Jesus Christ has helped us through our hard times. Murakami san, before we could ask him if he wanted to learn more, asked us if we had a pamphlet about it, where the church was, and if he could learn more about it! We have an appointment with him tomorrow at the church, where we’ll teach him Lesson 2, the Plan of Salvation, with the Izumi elders. We’re excited to teach him about how he can be with his deceased family again and forever. This is God’s merciful plan to His children!

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

Swain Shimai

Birthday party for recent convert, Brother Onodera

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zone Conference!

Dear Family and Friends,

I was happy to get your letters and hear about the wonderful Christmas break you had! Sounds like it was very busy, but fun! I’m sad I missed out, but am grateful to be serving the Lord.

Another week has flown by. Zone Conference was wonderful, full of other missionary’s testimonies and inspired counsel from our mission president, zone leaders, and AP’s. Last year the Sendai mission saw 84 baptisms, and this year we will follow former President Hinckley’s counsel (and our mission president’s) to double them! Our goal as a mission is 180 baptisms this year. We’ll do all in our power to meet this goal.

At zone conference we had wonderful training to become more effective missionaries. The Sendai Mission is the best. (This picture is of me and Hansen Shimai--we are both missionaries serving from Las Vegas!)

I had a wonderful experience this week while teach Sato San for the last time before she goes to China for two months. Yoneda Shimai and I tried to encourage her to bring her Book of Mormon with her so she could read from it and continue to progress—but her mother is “hantai”-opposed to the church, so she can’t. Knowing that perhaps it was my last time teaching her, I said a prayer in my heart, so that I could feel God’s love for her and know what to say. At that moment, I felt God’s great love for her, and opened my mouth. The Spirit guided me to say what I otherwise wouldn’t have. I told her how God knew her situation and had seen her efforts to learn about the gospel—and would bless her for it, even if she can’t read the Book of Mormon for two months! How grateful I am for this experience. Perhaps the Lord sent me here to Izumi so that I could help her!! Her baptism is still a ways away, but I’m so glad I could be a part of the process!

The Lord has blessed me here! I’m learning more of the language and am becoming able to understand more. I still have a ways to go, but I’m grateful for the long way I’ve come already.

This is the Lord’s church! I love all of you so much!

Swain Shimai

Monday, January 11, 2010

Finding Investigators...

It’s just been a few days since I last wrote! Izumi is still the best area in Sendai. Since last Wednesday Yoneda Shimai and I had interviews with President Tateoka, who is so wonderful and reminds me of you dad. We also taught one of our investigators, Sato San, a few days in a row. She wants to be baptized, but has a smoking problem that’s keeping her from it. But, she is diligently studying the scriptures and exercising pure faith. She’s an example to us all!

Yoneda Shimai and I have really been trying to find more investigators. On Saturday we knocked on many doors—the last one became an investigator! She’s studying about Christianity in college and had so much interest in what we had to say. She eagerly accepted the Book of Mormon and said she would read it. The Lord is merciful to his missionaries! There are many among us who are looking for the truth, but know not where to find it.

Today the Izumi Ward had a New Year’s Party (it was a day off of school and work). I love this ward and the members who are so wonderful!

I’m sorry this letter is short! I’m out of time today! I love all of you so much! I also love being a missionary. The gospel is true and the Lord loves each of us soo much!


Swain Shimai

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

Dear Family,

Today was transfer announcement day and I wasn’t transferred! I’m happy to say that I will stay here in Izumi with Yoneda Shimai!

It has gotten super cold—sometimes it snows and sticks to the ground for a day or 2, but the worst is the wind! Yesterday it was hard to ride our bikes through the wind…

Besides the cold weather Izumi is wonderful. New Year’s Eve/day is a big deal in Japan! We had dinner on New Year’s day with our ward mission leader’s family, and a very traditional New Year’s meal the next day at another member’ s house. I don’t know the names of everything I tried- but among them were raw octopus, and ozoni (a soy bean based food that is hard to explain). I think I’m starting to turn Japanese—I don’t mind so much the raw things we eat anymore.

Recently I’ve especially been grateful for the kindness of the ward members, and of their examples! They invite us to their houses for dinner, while they still are living their own busy lives. When we went to our ward mission leader’s house and I watched him help take care of his children, I was reminded of what truly matters- love! While the rest of the world did not notice patience and act of love towards his rowdy kids, I was touched. It reminded me of our Father in Heaven’s perfect love for each of us, His children!

On Sunday, we accidentally walked in on a visiting teaching lesson with recent convert Miura Shimai (grandmother) and her visiting teachers. Miura Shimai was the one I wrote about before who really wanted to go to the temple to do her parent’s work, but didn’t have the means to go. We found out that she’d already been one time with her visiting teacher, and her visiting teacher will help her to get her parent’s names ready and go with her to the temple again! What wonderful examples…this is why we have visiting teaching!

Lately, we’ve had lots of opportunities to share the Joseph Smith experience with members while mogying (practicing teaching), and to investigators. It’s amazing how strongly the Spirit can be felt while testifying of Joseph Smith’s first vision! Each time I relate the vision and bear testimony, it strengthens my own testimony of it. How grateful I am that Joseph Smith had a question, decided to ask God which church was true, and after seeing God and Christ, restored God’s true church once again on the earth! How wonderful it is that the heavens are not closed-–we have a living prophet today, just like Abraham and Moses of old! How important it is to listen to and follow their teachings and guidance.

Since we began the new year, I’ve thought about what 2009 was for me. It was filled with many challenges, including trying to heal my hand injury and give a recital—to coming to Japan, a whole new culture, and trying to adapt to it and learn how to speak the language and communicate with these people! While there were many challenges (and still are as I try to learn the language and be a good missionary), I’m grateful for these experiences and what I’ve learned from them. I’ve learned to trust in the Lord because I could not do it on my own. I had no other choice but to trust in Him, and He pulled me through every time! I’m grateful for His love for me and the comfort I’ve felt as I’ve sought the Lord in prayer. There isn’t anything He can’t help us with! Matt. 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How grateful I am for the Savior. He is the way, the truth, and the light! It’s my prayer that we will all draw nearer to Him in 2010.

I love all of you so much!

Swain Shimai

Sister Danielle Swain