Monday, June 28, 2010

Ishinomaki and transferring...!

(This picture is all except two of the sister missionaries in the Sendai Zone...on transfer day at the bus stop.)

Dear family,

I’ve only been in Ishinomaki for a few days now with my new companions, Kouyama and Murase Shimai, but I already love it! Ishinomaki is not like the busy cities I’ve been used to in Izumi and Nagamachi—it’s a little further north and just along the ocean coastline—and it’s like being out in the country in Japan! When I first got here I felt like I was taking a step back in time here in Japan.

I’ll be learning different ways to dendo out here. Before in my other areas we’d go “streeting” and talk to those walking along the busy streets, but here in Ishinomaki there’s almost no one walking on the streets! It’s mostly houses, with a high school nearby and a few stores. So we’ll be doing a lot of housing here.

In the Ishinomaki branch, there were about 36 members that came to church on Sunday! It’s a small branch, but everyone is so kind and full of faith. It’s a very tight-knit branch, and I already love it! The branch president is wonderful and has a great vision for what the Ishinomaki Branch will one day become-through our (the missionary’s) help and the members!

It is hot and humid here-probably more humid than hot! I guess at least it’s not snowing!

At first I didn’t know how it would be being in a 3-some, but I absolutely love it! It’s like always having another person to help with the work, support, and bear testimony, and it’s so fun! I love and respect both Kouyama and Murase Shimai, and with all of our faith, efforts, and God’s guidance, we hope to see miracles happen here in Ishinomaki!

On Saturday we had a lesson with a referral, one of the branch member’s friends. We set a baptism date with her for next month! Already the Lord is blessing the work here-through the help of the branch members!

I’m so happy serving the Lord here in Japan! I love and am praying for all of you!

Swain Shimai

P.S. Thanks for your letter from Nauvoo! It sounds like you’ve had some wonderful experiences. Aren’t sister missionaries the best?!

P.P.S. I just found out that Helen san, our investigator in Nagamachi, passed her baptism interview! She’s getting baptized! I’m so happy!

P.P.P.S. This picture is me and Kamen Rider in downtown Ishinomaki. He's famous in Japan for rescuing those in danger. We have the same job!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Transferring to Ishinomaki!

Dear Family,

Today we received transfer calls, and I will be leaving Nagamachi! I’ve only been here for two transfers, but I love the people here and will be sad to leave!

My companion Kouzawa Shimai will stay here and become a trainer of a new Japanese sister missionary. I’ll go to Ishinomaki, where I’ll become companions with two other Shimais—we’ll be a three-some! One of them is Kouyama Shimai, who just has one more transfer left before her mission is finished! We’ll be co-seniors. My other companion will be Murase Shimai, who will start her 2nd transfer as a missionary. This picture is Kouzawa Shimai and I with recent convert Kimura Shimai after Stake Conference.

Ishinomaki is a bit farther north but is still in the Sendai Zone, the same zone I’ve been in my whole mission! I’ve heard that there are no elders serving there, just sisters—and it’s a branch, not a ward, so they’re aren’t as many members. One of my college friends is living there with her husband and daughter (teaching English) and she is the Young Woman’s President there (for the one young woman who was taught and baptized by the sister missionaries a few months ago)! It’ll be fun to be in the same branch with them!

So, while I’m sad to leave Nagamachi, I’m looking forward to the new experiences I’ll have in Ishinomaki. I won’t be able to see Helen san’s baptism here, which is scheduled for next Tuesday—but it’s OK. I’m just happy that she’ll be getting baptized! (And my companion promised to send me a picture.)

This past week has been busy! On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference, which was wonderful. The Sunday session was a broadcast from Salt Lake (shown to all the stakes in Japan and a few surrounding countries). Elder Evans of the 70s gave his talk in Japanese. He invited all the youth to serve missions! It was great. My companion, Kouzawa Shimai actually decided to come on a mission because of a similar talk he gave in her stake about a year ago.

Over the weekend I caught a little flu bug and fever but I was able to rest a little and am now feeling fine. (Thanks for all the meds mom.)

Yesterday we taught our friend Moloko san, from South Africa, about the Restoration of the church (lesson 1). We taught in English and the mission home couple (the Sudweeks) joined us for the lesson. Moloko san is wonderful and said she’ll get baptized when she receives an answer from God if this church is true or not. She said she has been confused (like Joseph Smith) about the many different churches and understood the need for a Restoration! She already believes in God and Jesus Christ and has great faith!

I love all of you so much! Take care!

Sister Swain

P.S. After our lesson in English with Moloko san, Sister Sudweeks said my English had become a little strange. I guess that’s what happens when I only speak Japanese all day!
P.S.S. This picture is me and my college friend, Jul Lamb and her little baby girl, Elsa. She's living in the branch I'll transfer to!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Teaching in English..."

Dear Family,

Next week is transfers-time flies! It sounds like all of you have been busy with BBQs, Nauvoo trips, family reunions...I hope you have a wonderful time! And that’s exciting that David is horseback riding again! I’m almost jealous!

This past week we met with Helen san and finished all her lessons. She’ll take her baptism interview this coming Friday, and if she passes she’ll be baptized on June 29th! We’re praying for her and we’re so excited.

As we were walking back to the church after returning from Soma (where we met Helen san) last Saturday, we ran into a cheerful, sweet girl from South Africa who’s been in Japan for the past two years teaching English! She believes in God and listened as we explained about our church and the Book of Mormon. We set an appointment with her for this next Tuesday! We’re so grateful we could meet her. We really feel like the Lord placed her in her path! We’ll teach her in companion Kouzawa Shimai has practiced teaching in English to me, and thanks to her hard work and prayers, I’m sure she’ll be able to do it.

I’m grateful for all your love and prayers. I love being a missionary here in Japan!

Swain Shimai

P.S. I love you all!! God lives and loves us. Christ is our Savior. The gospel is true!
P.P.S. I’ve included two DVDs: one is our mission concert before my first transfer in the Izumi ward—I both sang some of the songs in Japanese and played my violin. I also bore a little bit of my testimony as I introduced “Where Can I Turn for Peace.” The second DVD is of our concert we did at the Kamisugi church (stake center) in collaboration with the four missionaries there. I played my violin in several songs and as background music during a slideshow, as well as sang. It’s interesting that Morikoshi Shimai accompanied me on the piano—this was before we became companions!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Every Member a Missionary"

Dear family,

Another busy week here in Nagamachi! Last Monday/Tuesday during the zone leader training (where my companion was invited to) I stayed here in Nagamachi with Semba Shimai, who is in her 2nd transfer and serving in Koriyama. It was a blast dendoing (tracting) with her and learning from her great example! That first night with her when we were on our way with her bags to the apartment, I felt prompted to stop and talk to someone on his bike waiting at the stoplight. He’d met with previous missionaries and he gave us his number. We have an appointment with him this week! The Lord really places those who will listen in our path!

We met with Helen san last Saturday. She’s so busy with work and her family that we weren’t able to meet with her for about two weeks, so we’re pushing her baptism date back to June 29th. She’s super worn out from work, but is excited for and trying to prepare for baptism. She’s amazing!

Right now we have about 10 investigators—but only a few of them are able to meet every week. Among them is Shoji san, an 82 year old grandmother who lives by herself. She first became our friend when we met her a few weeks ago, then yesterday she came with us to church for a lesson! She is so sweet and believes everything we’ve taught her. We are not sure how much of it she will remember, but she’s reading from the Book of Mormon and praying!

Another one of our investigators is Suzuki san, a referral from the ward mission leader. She’s one of his classmates. She really wants to learn English before her huge exam next January. So, we meet her and teach ½ of the lesson in English, and then the other ½ is one of the missionary lessons. At first she was only interested in English, but she’s slowly started gaining interest in our message, especially when we taught about the Plan of Salvation. She thought it was amazing—all God did for us. Suzuki san is about our same age and has become a good friend!
Yesterday we had Zone Conference. It was wonderful as always! We learned about the importance of working with members in doing missionary work. Truly what President Kimball said is true: “Every member a missionary!” We hope to work in unity with the members here in Nagamachi and help inspire them to do missionary work.

It was also Yoneda Shimai (my former companion’s) last zone conference. She bore her “dying testimony” during testimony meeting. It was very touching and it will be hard to see her go. After she’s gone, all my companions up to this point (besides my companion Kouzawa Shimai, who will finish at the same time as me) will have gone home! Where does the time go?!

I love preaching the gospel each day to everyone I see! Lately as I’ve become more sincere in my prayers the Lord has blessed us with more guidance from the Spirit in finding those who are ready and waiting to hear the gospel. Only the Lord knows where they’re at!

I love all of you! Thanks for your love and support.

Swain Shimai

P.S. Transfers are coming up soon...
P.P.S. I love you all so much!
P.P.P.S. This is a "Book of Mormon" cake we made for an elder's birthday!