Monday, August 30, 2010

Small and Simple Things! (letter)

Sounds like you’ve had quite the summer. Michael, congrats and good job on your Eagle award. That’s wonderful!

I was happy to hear from dad that you’re all doing your best to share the gospel with friends and neighbors! I can promise you that the things you are doing now to share the gospel, even though they may seem little, will have a big impact in the future! Many of our investigators knew members/missionaries in the past, and it made a big impact on them. That’s why they’re listening now! So keep up the great work! Remember Alma 37:6, 7….”by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord…bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” Alma wrote this about the plates of brass and the records he kept, which may have seemed like such a small thing then---but think about it now. Anyone in the world can read the Book of Mormon—his writings--in their own language!

This past week was truly a miracle week. Semba Shimai and I fasted, prayed, and did our best, and the Lord took it from there. Along with Iizuka san & Yamaguchi san wanting to be baptized, we invited recent convert Kyoka chan’s younger brother and sister to be baptized, and they said yes! Naoki chan is only 10, and his sister Kaoru chan is 13, but they understand the importance of being baptized and want to be baptized!

Right now, we have eight investigators with baptism dates---it seems like more than I’ve seen at other times in my mission! I’m so grateful for the Lord, who truly gives us the desires of our hearts---and whose work this is.

I love being a missionary! Thanks for your love, support, and Dear Elders.

Sister Swain

(Me and Semba Shimai after Akiko Shimai's first "Preach My Gospel" lesson..

PS. We found a less active member as we went streeting the other day. He hadn’t been to church in 20 years! The Lord definitely placed him in our path.

Camera...Lost then Found! (email)

I have a funny story that happened today--today is preparation day, but we went to a member`s house for lunch--it took about 45 min. by bike to get to her house. We took a picture with this sweet member at the end, and I put my camera back into my bike basket. My bike basket cover was pretty old, so I had decided to buy a new one today--on our way back from the member`s house, my basket cover fell off two times before stopping by a store and buying a new one. I didn`t think too much of it, until we reached the mall where we were going to develop the pictures, and realized my camera was gone! Semba Shimai and I prayed together for God`s help to find it, then marked our way back to the store, then back to the member`s house, and didn`t find it. So then we went to the `police box` where you can report missing items, and if they are turned in, they`ll be returned to us. We talked to the police there, filled out a form...less than an hour later we got a call from them, saying the camera had been turned in! It must have fallen out of my basket, and someone brought it to the Police Box. I`m grateful God heard our prayers, and my camera was found!

Besides the camera drama today, this past week has been so wonderful, and full of miracles! Semba Shimai and I fasted and said a special prayer at the beginning of last week, because we really wanted to find those who are waiting to hear our message! After our fast, it seemed like each day there was just miracle after miracle that happened. One night we had a little bit of time to go housing--as we were riding our bikes we saw an apartment building that felt like a good place to go to. The very first person that answered the door was a nice, 50 year old woman who we found out had taken the lessons from the missionaries 20 years ago, but was afraid of water then so she hadn`t gotten baptized...but she`s no longer afraid of water! She came to church on Sunday, and wants to be baptized! Her name is Yamaguchi san...

We had invited another one of our investigators, Iizuka san, many times to be baptized, but she`d kept saying `no` even though she felt what we were teaching is true. She really believes in Jesus Christ and has pictures of him in her house. The last lesson we`d had with her, we had commited her to pray to God to know if God wanted her to be baptized or not. Last week when we went to visit her, she said she`d thought a lot about baptism, prayed, and wants to be baptized!! Her change of heart was truly a miracle--and true conversion! God definitely knows what`s best for us and will make us happy, and will tell us individually if we only ask Him...

I`m out of time today, but I wish I could tell about the many other little miracles we see each day as missionaries. This is truly God`s work, and I love being an instrument in His hands!

Sister Swain

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wonderful Koriyama! (letter)

It’s been another great week here in Koriyama. I can hardly believe the transfer is ½ over! But, at the same time, so much has happened here that it’s hard to imagine life outside of Koriyama.

I love all the ward members and investigators here. Each investigator has their own problems/different struggles in accepting the gospel, but it’s so wonderful to just love them and do all I can to encourage them to change – to repent, and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. And oh, what an amazing change it is for them—the recent convert who bore her testimony on Sunday has grown so much! There isn’t any greater joy than seeing investigators progress, be baptized—and then watch as they continue to change their lives!

Misaki chan, who plays violin/piano & is the daughter of the recent convert---agreed to be baptized next month!
(Picture of recent convert and her daughter Misaki chan, Semba Shimai, and me)

So we’ll teach her the commandments and help her prepare for baptism. She’s sweet and pure and wants to obey. On September 11th we’re doing a Music Fireside, where I’m hoping to play a duet with her!

Semba Shimai is wonderful and is very full of energy and focused on our missionary purpose. She keeps me going! She’ll probably be transferred at the end of this transfer, so I’m enjoying this wonderful time I have with her.

Sounds like Mom and Grandmas had a great time at organ week, then Brevard & Arizona! Good luck with the start of a new school year.

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

Swain Shimai

P.S. I’m glad you could hear Hansen Shimai’s talk and had her over for FHE. She was such a wonderful missionary, companion, & friend!

P.S.S. I was surprised and happy to hear that one of my investigators in Ishinomaki, Suzuki san, had read through the whole Book of Mormon and came to church!!

Another Busy Week!

Thanks for your DearElders--sounds like it`s been a wonderful summer!

This past week we practiced the baptism interview questions with our investigator Shizuka chan, she took the interview, and passed!!! But a few hours later we got a call from her telling us that she`d told her dad about wanting to be baptized, and he told her she couldn`t. She`s in her 20s and doesn`t need his permission--but she is still living in the same apartment with him. He told her if she moved out she could join our church. When she told her dad about wanting to be baptized, it was the first he`d heard about her going to a church/learning at the church, so he must have been surprised and had some misunderstanding. Then the next day we got another call from Shizuka chan saying both her mom and dad said she can`t meet with us anymore... We were super sad, but know that she`ll one day be able to be baptized in the Lord`s timing--she`s the most ready I`ve ever seen anyone for baptism! We`ll keep praying for her, and have faith that the Lord is watching out for her!

Our investigator Seiko san came to church on Sunday, where a recent convert bore her conversion story--it was so wonderful! Afterwards we went to dinner at one of the ward member`s houses. Seiko san is so great and wants to learn more about the gospel to help her 8 yr. old son.

It`s been a wonderful and busy past week! We had had great training on Tuesday from our zone leaders and Mission President and we`re trying to become even more obedient, and talk to even more people each day. I love talking to so many people each day about the happiness we and our families can find through Jesus Christ`s teachings!

Love all of you so much!
Swain Shimai

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Love Koriyama! (letter)

How are all of you doing? Did you get my two emails? I guess school’s about to start. I hope you enjoy the last of your summer break!

I love serving in Koriyama! I still don’t know the names of everyone in the branch, or the way to different places—but I’m confident that through time it’ll be easier. This is Semba Shimai’s 4th transfer in her 1st area, so she’ll probably be transferred after this transfer ends. By then maybe I’ll understand the directions.

One thing I forgot to write in my email is that one of our investigators, age 14, (the daughter of a recent convert) plays the violin very well! I haven’t heard her play yet, but Semba Shimai says the school’s music program she is in is one of the top of Japan! I’m excited to maybe play a duet with her sometime in church, or at the music fireside we’re planning for next month….I don’t think it’s a coincidence I came here to Koriyama to teach Misaki chan! She’s so cute and innocent, and accepts what we teach her very easily. I’m excited to help her gain a testimony of the gospel, and of Jesus Christ!

I’m doing well, and I love my diligent and obedient companion, Semba Shimai. The Lord truly is giving me strength I need each day to preach His gospel…and ride my bike to far places! I think when my mission ends I might go in hibernation and sleep for a week…is that OK mom? Just kidding—but even though missionary work is wearing on our bodies, it’s amazing the strength God gives me each day to go on to do one of the most important works in the world!

Thanks for your love and prayers!!

Sister Swain

A Missionary's Purpose...Baptism! (email)

I had a wonderful second week in Koriyama. We taught many lessons this past week--there are lots of investigators here in Koriyama so it seems like we spend more time teaching than finding new investigators! Three of our investigators have a baptism date that we`re working towards--they each have different challenges to overcome before being ready to be baptized. One is Shizuka chan, who I mentioned in my last e-mail--she just has to tell her dad before getting baptized. She has really grown and progressed so much--from dressing modestly to reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and on Sunday we fasted together for her to be able to forgive her father and be baptized. I know that with the Lord`s help, at the right time she`ll be able to be baptized.

Also, we`re teaching Yaeko san, who lives alone and is in her 60`s. Since she met the missionaries, she got into a bike accident and was really humbled...she really wants to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized! But she smokes a lot everyday, so we`ll do what we can to help her to overcome it so she can be baptized. Her husband died a few years ago, and she has one son but no daughters--so she thinks of us as her daughters.

Our other investigator with a baptism date is Seiko san, a mother who came to Eikaiwa, our free English class, where she met the missionaries and started taking the lessons. Her testimony has grown little by little as she`s taken the lessons--she`s so busy so we haven`t been able to meet her every week, but she knows that baptism is a good thing and wants to be baptized! I`m excited to continue teaching her and watch as her testimony grows...

This past week we had Zone Conference--it was very different from the Sendai zone I was in before--in the Koriyama Zone there are about 12 missionaries! But it was wonderful to be together with the other missionaries and receive training from our Zone Leaders and Mission President. We learned about focusing even more on our purpose of baptism--our zone leaders even challenged us to talk about it when we`re finding--to refer to it simply as a promise we make with God, where we promise to follow Him and He blesses us! Semba Shimai and I have already started talking about it when we meet people on the streets/housing, and it`s made dendo even more fun, and definitely helps us feel like we are fulfilling our purpose!

I`m loving each day learning, growing, and serving as a missionary. When else can I testify to people all day that I know God lives and loves us?! This past week I was saddened as I realized how little time I have left as a missionary...after just three more transfers! It`s my hope that I`ll be able to do what God wants me to for every day that`s left, and help bring those who are searching for the truth but know not where to find it back to the knowledge of the God who created them! I know God lives, and this is His work. It`s the best!

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

Sister Swain

Monday, August 9, 2010

Transferred....and now I have email!!! (Email)

I was so surprised when I received a transfer call last week...I was transferred to Koriyama!!! (Koriyama has e-mail!!) I was only in Ishinomaki for one transfer! But it was really a wonderful transfer, and so fun being in a three-some. Before I left we set a baptism date for August with our investigator Kimura san! He`s really humble and loves learning about the gospel. He`s gone through a lot of hard times, but has really found peace as he`s developed faith in Christ. My last lesson with him, I played the piano for an arrangement of the hymn `I Know that my Redeemer Lives` and Hansen Shimai sang it in Japanese--he was really touched by the Spirit as he heard it! I know he`ll continue to progress as Murase Shimai and her new companion, Kado Shimai from Hokkaido, teaches him. It`s so amazing to see this message change people`s lives!!!

I`ve been in Koriyama for about 5 days now! It`s in the southern part of the Japan Sendai Mission. It`s not in the Sendai Zone--for the first time I`ve left the Sendai Zone! My companion is Semba Shimai from Kumamoto-ken (southern Japan). She`s in her fourth transfer as a missionary--she`s so wonderful!! She really has an enthusiasm to do missionary work and puts all her heart and efforts into it! I`m excited to be able to work with her this transfer.

There are around 70 people that come to the Koriyama branch each Sunday. Everyone here is so kind! There are quite a few recent converts in the branch that the sisters have taught. It`s been neat getting to know them, teaching their AB lessons and hearing their amazing testimonies! There are a lot of investigators here--Semba Shimai has been a great help in explaining about all of them. We`ve had lessons with a few of them, and it`s been great to see their progress, little by little as they excersise faith in Jesus Christ and change their way of living to be more in line with Christ`s teachings. To one of our investigators in her 20s, we explained the importance of dressing modestly and she wants to do her best change her standard--it`s so neat to see her faith! She wants to get baptised, but first has to get courage to tell her dad about it, who doesn`t like religion.

I love serving the Lord each day!! Even though I`m in a different area, the work is still the same, and it`s the Lord who truly leads it and guides His missionaries each day. Being a missionary is the best!!

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." 1 Nephi 21:16 The Lord loves us and never forgets us!!

Sister Swain

P.S. I love all of you!

Leaving Ishinomaki and Transferring to Koriyama! (letter)

I’m sorry you won’t get a letter from me last week because I had no time to write. I wasn’t expecting to be transferred so I had a lot to do! But the little time I had in Ishinomaki was wonderful! I felt like there were some people there that the Lord sent me to help. I love them so much! One is the investigator, Kimura san. He’s had a really hard time lately when his girlfriend left him – as I played “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” he wept!! Truly there’s a special spirit that can only come through music!

The other person I felt I was really able to help was a less active member named Kumagai Shimai. She was baptized five or so years ago but stopped coming to church when she started smoking again. We met with her one time at her house, and through feeling our love she felt God’s love for her and gained hope that she could STOP! She comes to Eikaiwa each week and two weeks ago when we met with her she bore to us her testimony of reading the Book of Mormon. When she felt stress and wanted to smoke she would read the Book of Mormon and feel a wonderful feeling and didn’t want to smoke anymore! I think she’ll return back to church in a little while. I love her so much!

Koriyama is wonderful, and full of more investigators than I’ve ever had in one area before! Since I came here I really felt that this is where the Lord wants me to be, especially to help my companion Semba Shimai. I’m her 2nd companion after her trainer, Andros Shimai (an American).

Mom & Dad, I got your letter about when I should end my mission. I prayed and thought about it and feel good about finishing in January and waiting to start school until Spring. I want to do missionary work as long as I can!

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

Sister Swain