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!

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!

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!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Housing" with members...

Dear family,

Another week has flown by! This past week particular was full of great experiences and learning for me. On Tuesday we went on splits with two of the young women in the ward—my first time going on splits with members, and it was so much fun! As I went housing with 19 year old Megumi Chan, I felt like we should house a certain white apartment. When we got closer, we saw that no one was living in a few of the apartments, and it didn’t look like anyone was home in the others-so we were about to move on when once again I felt like we should go there. So, we began knocking on doors, and found a middle-aged woman, Emi san, who said she’d learned about Jesus Christ when she was younger and felt like she needed His help right now! We testified of the Savior’s atonement and His power to help and heal our hearts. She wants to hear our message and we’ll probably be able to teach her next week! I’m grateful for the hand of the Lord in helping us find her, and for the promptings of the Spirit I received—without them, I would not have gone there!

On Wednesday we had Zone Conference (which is now held monthly). We learned about using the Book of Mormon even more in our teaching and finding. I realized this is something I need to do better at! We talked about how Preach My Gospel says that anyone who reads the Book of Mormon and prays to know if it’s true with a sincere heart will get an answer from the Holy Ghost/Spirit that it is true! Our zone leaders gave us missionaries a commitment to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Even though I’ve felt and known of its truthfulness as I’ve read, studied, and prayed about it before-I decided to once again pray. I did, and felt in my heart and received another witness from the Spirit that it is true! It is another testament of Jesus Christ, and as the introduction says, “...a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book.” How often do we forget this and take it for granted? This is why it’s so important for us to read and ponder its truths each day—and why I will try to use its power even more in my missionary work!

We met with 3 other investigators this week, and one recent convert. It’s amazing to see the faith of those who keep the missionary’s commitments to read the Book of Mormon and pray, and who are willing to change to accept Christ into their lives—and the difference between those who don’t. I could go on and on with the great examples of faith and of the changes the gospel makes in people’s lives. And it’s all because of Jesus Christ, who died and suffered for our sins, and was resurrected so that we too can live again, and be freed from our sins if we just believe in Him, repent and be baptized, and endure to the end! The gospel is true!

Swain Shimai

P.S. General Conference was amazing! I loved all the talks! How wonderful it is that we receive revelation from God for us through living prophets.

P.P.S. Since I’ve left Izumi, I heard from Yoneda Shimai this past weekend when I saw her at General Conference—that Murakami san (the 89 year old grandfather we found at the end of January, who wanted to take lessons with us but couldn’t because his daughter was opposed)-decided he would take the lessons anyway. He now has a baptism date set for May 4th or 5th!!! I was super excited to hear that!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Transferred to Nagamachi!

Dear family,

Last Thursday I transferred to Nagamachi with Morikoshi Shimai (Morikoshi Shimai is on my right, and on my left is Ishikawa Shimai who just finished her mission). Since we’re both new to the area we don’t know a lot of things—and we’re both bad at reading maps! But we’ve studied a lot about the area these past few days. On Sunday we went to the Nagamachi Ward for the first time. It’s the biggest ward in the whole Sendai mission! On Sunday there were 114 people at church. It’s a lot of names to remember, but a lot of wonderful faithful members of the church! There are many young men/women in this ward, with strong faith and wonderful testimonies.

There’s something I didn’t get a chance to write about in my last letter. Last Tuesday we had a baptism in the Izumi Ward for Sato san, a 20 year old college student.
He was so prepared to hear the truth! Yoneda Shimai and I were housing one night and almost passed by his door because the mail slot was taped shut and it looked like no one was living there. But, for some reason I thought we should ring the doorbell, just in case. Sato san answered and listened to our message, and came to church a few Sundays later, took the lessons from the Elders, and was baptized! It’s amazing how the Lord guides us to do His work!

I’m grateful to be a missionary here in Japan and love doing the Lord’s work!

Sister Swain

P.S. Today it rained all day, but didn’t snow!!! I was pretty excited and am hoping it means winter is over here in Sendai...