Sunday, February 21, 2010

Still in Izumi!

Dear family,

Today I was able to use e-mail because I came to Kamisugi to practice a musical number for Zone Conference this Thursday--Elder Choi of the Quorum of the 70s is coming to speak to us!

Transfers were last Thursday, but I ended up staying in Izumi! I was so happy to stay here and be with Yoneda Shimai for another transfer.

We had a great Sunday yesterday-one of our investigators came with us to church, Mitsu san. She is an 83 yr. old obaachan-grandmother-but she looks and acts much younger! We think it's because she does volunteer work all day long-she tells stories to kids at schools. She loved church yesterday-the sacrament meeting theme was perfect for her-on service! She felt the Spirit strongly and cried during one of the talks! Mitsu san thought it was wonderful that all the members were friends, and were voluteers in their callings. We are excited to teach Mitsu san and soon invite her to be baptized!

Yesterday we went housing and found another grandmother, who told us, before we could say anything, that she had interest and wanted to learn about our church! I felt that the Lord had prepared her for us to come and teach her-we will visit her again this week and teach about this wonderful gospel!

I am doing well. It is starting to warm up a little! Thanks for all your love and prayers!

Swain Shimai

P.S. This picture is fried rice with a thin omelet on top that Yoneda Shimai made for me!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not Transferred!

Dear family and friends,

Today was transfer announcement day (tomorrow the new transfer begins)...and I’m staying in Izumi with my companion, Yoneda Shimai! It will be my fourth transfer here in my first area, Izumi-and my third transfer with Yoneda Shimai. I love both Izumi and Yoneda Shimai and am grateful to be able to stay here for another transfer!! I can hardly believe I’ve been in Japan for four months already!

It’s been a wonderful past week and a half. We’ve had two Izumi ward sports taikai’s (activity)-one soccer and one volleyball–and went with investigators to both. The soccer taikai was intense-besides one other girl, Yoneda Shimai and I were the only girls-and Japanese people are so good at soccer! Yoneda Shimai and I were both pretty sore afterwards!

Last Wednesday we mogi’d (a practice lesson) with one of the recent converts, Yukina Shimai. She’s in her 20’s and the only member of the church in her family-but is planning to go on a mission in the next year! We studied the first lesson together and practiced teaching it with each other, switching who taught together. When I was teaching without my companion, Yoneda Shimai-I had to teach more and couldn’t fall back on Yoneda Shimai to help me. As I tried, I was able to teach a big part of it by myself! It may seem like a little thing, but I’m grateful for this small success that built my confidence in teaching in Japanese.

On Sunday we had a neat experience. Saturday night we both felt like we should contact a member’s referral-their neighbor who they wanted us to visit the next day (Sunday). We hadn’t been able to yet because they live far away, about an hour trip by bicycle, and mostly uphill. Yoneda Shimai and I were both still sore from the sports activities and tired, but we decided we’d go.

Sunday after church one of the ward members asked where we were going for the rest of the day. We told her how we were planning to go to Akenodaira. She and her husband (both return missionaries) offered to drive us there (and our bikes-so we could come back, mostly downhill)! This was an answer to our prayer, and it strengthened our faith that the Lord prepares a way for us to do what He wants us to do! 1 Nephi 3:7: “...the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” The member’s neighbor ended up not answering, but we were able to leave a note as well as visit some members in the area we’d never visited before.

I know that this is the Lord’s work! I’m grateful to be able to continue to serve in Izumi. I know that God loves each one of us. We are His children! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and I’m so grateful for His sacrifice for us.

Swain Shimai

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February Zone Conference

Dear Family and friends,

Last week was so cold, it snowed every day! One of the ward members said this is the coldest winter they’ve had in 10 years! It’s been exciting learning how to maneuver my bike through/over snow, ice, and slush. Thankfully, it’s begun to warm up this week—I’m hoping this will continue!

Despite the cold, it was a wonderful week. We had zone conference yesterday. Instead of having them once a transfer, we changed them to once a month. It’s a lot of work for our leaders, but it’s wonderful to have training once a month! Yesterday we learned about finding those who we can teach. We talked about having the faith to find those who are ready for the message, as well as different ways to find. We practiced with ward members who volunteered to let us practice on them. I learned a lot! I think since I’ve come here, it’s been hard for me to be confident during finding because of the language. But yesterday I realized through the practice (mogi) that I still can be confident and contribute even if it is just with my smile!

This week we taught a lesson to Hirose san, 21 years old, who we found streeting a few weeks ago. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation. She’d gone to a Christian high school and had lots of questions for us. Because the gospel is perfect, we were able to answer each one of her questions with a gospel principle/scripture. She believed everything we taught. We’re excited to teach her again next week.

I’m learning so much through all the experiences I’m having. Not only are my missionary finding/teaching skills starting to get a little better, but I’m realizing the importance of loving and serving my companion as well. I know that this comes first, before I can love and serve the people! Yoneda Shimai and I have learned a lot with and from each other. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to serve!

Swain Shimai

A snowy day in Izumi!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gospel is for everyone!

Dear loved ones,

Another week has flown by. This week we had our Izumi district conference. (See photo). The transfer ends in two weeks. I think I’ll probably be transferred because I’ve been in my first area for three transfers now! Izumi is so wonderful. I’ll be sad when the time comes to leave it. I especially love the ward members here!

The 89 year old grandfather I wrote about last week ended up not being able to come to the church and be taught. His daughter (who we didn’t know he had) was very opposed when she heard he’d talked to us, so he felt like he couldn’t meet with us. We’ll pray he’ll get another chance to hear the gospel!

This week we met some Vietnamese people working here in Japan for a year and a half-with their limited Japanese we were able to let them know who we are, and about our message. Two of them are leaving to go back to Vietnam in a few days, but we were able to get their addresses to send a Vietnamese Book of Mormon to them. We will visit the one remaining Vietnamese person and give him the Vietnamese Book of Mormon we order. It’s so neat that the gospel is for everyone, and the Book of Mormon has been translated into so many languages so that everyone can hear the gospel in their own tongue and language!

Yesterday I spoke in Sacrament Meeting on eternal families. My talk was short and my Japanese was simple, but I’m so grateful for how far I’ve come with the language! I was able to express my thoughts without having to write them down in Japanese beforehand. I still have a long ways to go, but am grateful for how far I’ve come!

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

Swain Shimai

P.S. It’s still cold, but some days are starting to get warmer! After "housing" (tracting) for thirty minutes, we came back to our bikes and found this ice and snow!