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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!