Monday, July 26, 2010

Hot and Humid--but the Work Is Moving Forward!

(This picture is me next to the rice fields in Ishinomaki---the field is white already to harvest!)

How fast time has flown. Next week is transfer week again! My companion Hansen Shimai will finish her mission and go back to America! It’s pretty hard to believe, it’s gone by so fast.

This past week has been pretty hot – in the 90’s with humidity. One of the branch members said it’s been unusually hot here in Ishinomaki this summer. A few days ago our companion Murase Shimai told us the reason we hadn’t used the small A.C. (I hadn’t even realized we had it…) was because it was broken. So, we’d been bearing the hot weather with our two little fans. We’ll be excited once it’s fixed in the next few days. August is supposed to be the hottest month here…

For preparation day we had a fun time watching seminary videos in Japanese at the church (in an air-conditioned room). I was also able to practice/play my violin for about an hour, and was happy to find I hadn’t forgotten how to play it! I actually played my violin in church last week, and the week before I’d played the piano for a musical number. I think in the next month or two, I’ll put together a music concert/fireside. There are some talented singers in the branch here—that will help with the work here!

The work is moving forward here in Ishinomaki, slowly, but surely. 91 year old Hayashi san’s grandchildren are over for the summer break, so we’ll have to wait until it’s over to meet with her. This past week we met two times with a man we found as we were riding our bikes over to the church. His name is Kumura san. He was wondering what his purpose in life is and wants hope for the future. So far we’ve taught him the first two lessons, and he’s accepted our commitments well. He even said he wants to be baptized once he gets an answer from God! He’s wonderful and is really searching for the truth. I know the gospel will help him so much, and he’ll be a wonderful priesthood holder some day if he chooses to accept our message!

One of our other investigators was an old investigator of previous missionaries. She’s Korean, but married a Japanese person and has lived in Japan for a while (her Japanese is very good). We met her for the 2nd time today and watched the DVD “Finding Faith in Christ” together in Korean. It reminded me of when I first came to Japan and couldn’t understand anything…The Lord has really blessed me to learn Japanese!

Thanks for your letters. Sounds like it’s been a busy, but fun summer! Even though it’s hot, I’m grateful every day for the chance I have to do missionary work! It’s sad when people choose not to listen, but I’m glad I can give them that chance to listen to a message that can change their lives.

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

Swain Shimai

P.S. Don’t worry Dad, even though I’m turning Nihonjin (Japanese), I haven’t yet, and probably won’t ever, develop a taste for Nato!

(This picture is Hansen Shimai, Murase Shimai and Me in the Sendai Station on our way to district meeting. The decorations are celebrating the Tanabata Festival.)

(This is me on a bridge next to the ocean in Ishinomaki!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Love Missionary Work!

I can hardly believe there’s only 2 ½ weeks left of this transfer! Soon Hansen Shimai will go back to America. She’ll be the 3rd companion I’ve sent back home!

It is nice and hot here in Ishinomaki. I think I’m just getting used to always having sweat on my face and body as we ride our bikes and dendo in 87 degree, humid weather. But it’s fun! Especially with two companions, every day is a party!

Hayashi san, our 91 year old friend is still reading the Book of Mormon and praying. We’re just waiting to hear if her family will let her get baptized. She’s the best!

It was another busy week as we did our best to reach the Sendai Mission Standard of Excellence – of teaching 20 lessons/week and finding 3 new investigators/week. With the Lord’s help, we were able to do it this week!

I guess today I don’t know what else to write, except that I love missionary work! Each day the Lord gives me strength to go another day and do all I can to help move the work forward. Japan is the best! I love and pray for all of you!

Sister Swain
(Me, Sister Hansen and the Statue of Liberty in Ishinomaki! There's also a Japanese Flag!)

P.S. On Sunday, I played the piano for a musical number in Sacrament meeting-“Armies of Helaman/As Sisters in Zion—my companions and a few branch members sang. The Ishinomaki Branch is small, but boy can they sing!

P.S.S. Hansen Shimai said my Japanese is getting a lot better faster. She said over the course of a week it changed dramatically! I’m grateful for her encouragement, and grateful for the Lord for the gift of tongues. It’s real!

P.S.S. Murase Shimai is a very good cook and I’m learning a little from her of how to cook Japanese meals…I promise to make then when I come home!

Monday, July 12, 2010

God Loves Each of Us!

Dear Family,

It’s been another week full of wonderful experiences! We met with Hayashi san again today, our 91 year old and genki (healthy!) investigator. She was so happy to see us and had read some of the Book of Mormon and prayed! She’s so wonderful and full of faith and I love her so much! We taught her about the first half of the Plan of Salvation—of how we lived with God before we came to earth, how we came to earth to learn to progress. As we taught about Jesus Christ and what He’d done for us, she felt like she wanted to believe in Him too! She wants to be baptized but first has to talk with her daughter that she lives with for permission. We’re afraid her family will be opposed to our church—so many are—but are praying for her and know the Lord’s hand will be in whatever happens.

We also had Zone Conference this week. As always, it was wonderful.

This past week we found out one of the church members, in her 60’s/70’s who works in and runs her own garden/farm—had a bike accident as she was bringing her harvest, on the back of her bike, to the market. We visited her in the hospital three days after it happened, and it was a pretty bad accident. It reminded me of my car accident! She asked us to help tend her farm occasionally. We went afterwards and harvested some fruit and picked some weeds. It was fun! I was amazed how she runs the farm herself!

We also met with a member, and her friend she wanted to introduce to us! We taught lesson one to her. It was wonderful to have the support and testimony of the member, who is a recent convert herself!

I love being here in Japan and serving each day as a missionary! I know God loves each one of us and gives us direction when we ask for it! I have received so much of His direction to do His work here! I pray for all of you!

Sister Swain

3 Nephi 14:7: “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

P.S. Here are some pictures of me in my purple yukata and my companions, Hansen Shimai and Murase Shimai. We all bought yukatas (the summer kimono) and Murase Shimai taught us how to put them on. We wore them around our apartment on Preparation Day. (P-day)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rain, Earthquake, and New American Companion!

Dear Family,

It sounds like you all had a great trip to Nauvoo! I’ve been here in Ishinomaki for a little over a week now! Last week it rained hard for two of the days. I think the rainy season is coming up. We had fun riding our bikes through a few inches of water!

This morning we had a #4 earthquake, but they’re becoming more normal to me and just feels like the apartment is rocking like a boat for a few seconds.

Last Friday we got a call from the Mission President saying that our companion, Kouyama Shimai, needed to pack her things and leave that day. She was transferred to an area they just opened for the sisters! So we were only with her for one week, but in her place Hansen Shimai (from Las Vegas) came to Ishinomaki! So now it’s a “three-some” with me, Murase Shimai, and Hansen Shimai. This is Hansen Shimai’s last transfer and the first time I’ve had an American companion since coming to Japan! It’s going to be a fun transfer!

Since Kouyama Shimai left, I’ve felt even more responsibility as co-senior companion because Hansen Shimai doesn’t know the area yet. I’ve found that the Lord has led and blessed me to love the people here, and to know who to help and how to help them.

Today we were handing out Eikaiwa (English Class) fliers by the train station when we met a cute 91 year old grandmother, Hayashi san, who took us to the nearby hotel she and her daughter runs! We learned from her daughter that 30 years ago the missionaries had borrowed the tub in their hotel to do baptisms, because there was no other place to do it in! They both warmly accepted us, and Hayashi san, even at age 91, was so humble and willingly accepted our message! She told us she felt something special while reading the Book of Mormon.

I love missionary work, and all of you! Take care!

Sister Swain

P.S. I gave in and bought a summer kimono-yukata-because it was purple and on sale! I’ll send pictures next time.
P.P.S. We visited a less active member who hadn’t been to church in four years, but now she wants to pray and read the Book of Mormon every day and come to church in a few months!