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

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