Monday, November 26, 2012

Best Missionaries Ever

Brittany in Tokyo and Tanner in Chile

Holidays in Japan 2012

Nov. 26, 2012

Hi family!
I'm glad you all had a fun cruise! Looking at all those photos was torture! I'm glad you still got to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home. Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays, so I missed having all the family around! We still got a lovely dinner though; a half-American family here invited us and eight other missionaries over. We had all the traditional foods (minus my favourite green bean casserole) and had a really great time.
In my president's letter this week I talked a little about the cool teaching experiences we've been having, so I thought I'd share with you:
We had a great week! We received a referral from a member and were able to teach together today! I really had my testimony strengthened of how powerful member missionary work is. The girl we taught was able to have a friend she trusted teach and bear testimony of why the gospel is important in every day life. She wants to get baptized, and we may have to refer her to another area, but she is so prepared! She accepted Joseph Smith's testimony right away and is so excited to learn more. Christmas miracle!
Another miracle we had was yesterday we met someone on the street while biking, and she said she didn't believe in God, but when we talked about our church she thought it was really unique among Christian churches and decided to come. And she did! She didn't show up until Relief Society, but it was a great lesson and she wants to meet again.
Lately I'm learning about how important the unique message of the Restoration is. We just started teaching a Christian obachan (grandma) every Sunday night about the Book of Mormon, and she thought it was just okay---she said she'd heard Jesus' teachings many times before so it was nothing new. BUT we taught her tonight about how our message is special; the Book of Mormon is evidence of the Restoration of Christ's only perfect church. She was really impressed by that and promised to read and pray to know if what we teach is true.
We're working hard to strengthen our investigators' faith in Christ. Already the gospel is changing their lives! We'll keep working diligently to be part of the Christmas miracle!
Even though the Nihonjin aren't Christian, Christmas is still a huge deal in this country because of all the commerical possibilities! All the stores are decked out and it's a really fun atmosphere. BUT of course Christmas is all about the Saviour. As a mission, we want it to be a white Christmas; we want to see as many people as possible in baptismal and temple clothes, so we're working hard. All the missionaries watched the video below and are working on what we want to give the Saviour for Christmas. It's helping us strengthen our faith and be more dedicated to the work.
I want you all to watch it too and do the same thing. The Saviour did everything for you. What can you give to Him?
I love you all! You're the best! Have a great week!
Long Shimai

Nov 3-Nov 8, 2012 comics

November 23, 2012

Hi family!
I didn't get very many letters this week, so I'm assuming you are all having way too much fun on the CRUISE that you're taking without me! As you're lounging by the beach and stuffing yourself with gourmet food at the buffets, remember poor old Long Shimai who's out in the frigid cold trying to get millions of Nihonjin to take a Book of Mormon...
Just kidding! Actually, we're getting pretty stuffed here too! In the last week we went to fourall-you-can-eats with investigators and members, plus in the coming week we have three members' dinners AND Thanksgiving at an American's house (yay!). 'Tis the season. All the members, despite being Japanese, know how explicitly we Americans associate the holidays with food and so they're being extra generous, bless their hearts.
I'm sending photos of some investigators we got to hang out with this week: Yu-chan and her daughter at a Chinese buffet, Momoko-chan at an okonomiyaki restaurant, and then a bunch of us missionaries coming home from watching a live performance of the Messiah (in Japanese! I understood nothing). A word about okonomiyaki restaurant: they're way cool. There are so many neat dining experiences we don't get to have in America...anyway, you sit at a table with a giant griddle in the center, and you choose on the menu which kind of okonomiyaki you want to order. At its basic, an okonomiyaki is a cabbage pancake that you can add whatever you like to: cheese, vegetables, fish, meat, etc. You mix it all up, cook it on the griddle, then top it with Worstershire sauce and mayonaise (bonus points if it looks pretty before you eat it). It's way delicious! If you're interested in Japanese cook-it-yourself cuisine, also look into shabu-shabu, yaki-niku, and nabe. All really fun.
The big buzz in our mission right now is the all-new website is now in Japanese! We love using it to show investigators and even members because it has so many great resources. You can go on and look at members' profiles, watch cute videos about family values, and read simple statements about Mormon beliefs. It's such a great tool to share the gospel with your friends. I love how the church is making such great use of social networking. Check it out:
I hope you guys all have fun! Eat extra cornbread stuffing for me, and give Friday a big squeeze-your-eyeballs-out hug! Love you!
Long Shimai

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November in Japan

Hi family!
Japan is really cooling down! It's not too bad during the day but when the sun goes down it's FREEZING! I've whipped out my gloves, tights, scarves, and winter coat. Bring it on, Tokyo!
This week was way fun; we got to switch companions twice in just a few days because of scheduling, and I sure learned a lot. Lately I've been feeling so much love for these people, but I realize it's much more powerful when I actually SHOW that love! I visited less-active members and former investigators with two sisters who were totally sweet, gave compliments like candy, and wouldn't leave without a hug. The people we visited completely melted and there was such a good spirit. When was the last time you showed love to people you love?
Thank you for all the fun photos you guys! I'm so proud of everybody for working hard and sharing the gospel, especially Brad! You're awesome!
This week we met a really cool high school exchange student from Germany who came to church with us. She's full-blood Polish but grew up in Germany and her English and Japanese are both great. I told her I had a cousin in Germany right now and she was excited, but then I was embarassed because I had no idea where Julianne is studying! I get updates from Grandma's letters sometimes. Anyway, meeting this student was just a really cool experience. She goes back to Germany soon but we'll get to refer her to the missionaries in her home town. How cool is that? Sometimes I forget that Christ's church is worldwide! I love opening the Liahona (or Ensign) and reading all the languages it's printed it (on the inside front cover). God really does love all His children, and we're spreading the gospel a little at a time. Sometimes it's easy to get frustrated that the work isn't going as fast as we want, but we have to remember Heavenly Father has His own timing and we're just His helpers. He knows what He's doing!
Lastly---I've been forgetting to write this the past two weeks, but: I have a little less than a month in my current sketchbook and would like a new one. Are you able to send me one through Amazon yet or do you still have to buy it and ship it yourself? I hate to bug you, but I've kept looking around here and amazingly can't find one similar here. If you don't have the picture I sent last time, it's a Canson XL Mix Media (light blue cover) 7 by 10 inches, 60 pages, 98LB. I hope you're all enjoying my journal pages...anything you're wanting to see?
This next transfer is going to be exciting. Japan doesn't have Thanksgiving, so it's going to be CHRISTMAS for the next six weeks! For missionary work here, it's the best. "Christmas is coming up soon. Do you know why we celebrate Christmas? You don't? It's Jesus Christ's birthday!" Anything to get conversations started.
Anyway, I love you all! Thank you for writing to me! This gospel is one of hope, peace, and love---those are the best things we can experience in this life, and the only way to find peace that continues is through the Savior. Thank you for your testimonies and support! You're the best!
Long Shimai

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween in Japan!

November 5, 2012- 10 Miracles

Hello family! It sounds like you had another fun, busy week! Thank you for all the photos! I cannot believe you guys are growing up so fast---I haven't even been here that long! I especially loved hearing about the missionary madness activity. It sounds SO fun! I'm glad everyone went and had a great experience. That's what it's all about folks! I hope you ALL are preparing for missions. Mine has changed my life and I'm not even halfway done yet; the real joy is in seeing others change their lives.
I don't have a ton of time today (like every week since I got to my new area!) so I'm going to copy and paste my weekly letter to the mission president again. (Then you can hear about what I've been up to!)
Ten miracles from this week:
1. A member took us to Costco and bought us so much food! It was SO nice! She is a convert and always helps missionaries because she's so grateful to the missionaries who taught her the gospel so many years ago. There are so many members like her in Japan and that is a miracle! I love how supportive the members are of our work!
2. We had a special Halloween Kodomo Eikaiwa (Kids' English Class) and so many new non-member moms came! The member who basically runs it posted about it on the internet so about six new moms and their kids came and had fun with us. The party went great and most are excited to come back, plus it helped build kankei (relationship) with some member moms who also came for the first time. We always teach a short message at the end of Eikaiwa, but we're working on how to use this great finding tool better to invite the moms to take missionary lessons.
3. One of our investigators had a birthday, so we called her just to sing Happy Birthday and she loved it! Her home situation is a little taihen, so receiving just a little bit of love from us made a big difference. The next day we had a lesson and we talked about how God really loves her, so that's why He reminded us to call her and help her feel a little joy. She likes studying with us but sometimes she struggles to see how it personally applies, so that tiny experience was great in building her faith.
4. Wednesday we got to meet one of our investigators after not seeing her this whole transfer; we went out for ice cream and it was so fun! She'd gotten busy recently and missed her baptismal date, so getting the chance to build some shinrai kankei (relationship of trust) with her was a huge blessing. And she's now great friends with an SA (single adult) in the ward who's going to joint (help us teach) for us next week.
5. Our Eikaiwa Halloween party was a HUGE miracle! We didn't do a very good job preparing, i.e., we didn't delegate well to the ward so we were frantically taking care of everything right before. However, it turned out GREAT. Lots of people came and it was very fun, and then at the end a dozen members came to the church to help us clean up which was an enormous blessing!
6. One of the families that came to the Halloween party was a family we'd housed into last week in a random place; we didn't expect to see them again, but they showed up and are really interested in personal Eikaiwa! They currently go to another church, have lived in America, and seem like they have really great family values, so we are so excited for the chance to teach them the restored gospel.
7. The zone taikai (conference) this week was a miracle! After an exhausting Halloween, it was so nice to be spiritually refreshed all the next day. We learned a lot and got some new ideas for dendo (missionary work), especially using more with people we meet and even members.
8. We were able to contact a referral we received from the Honbu (headquarters); the friend of a shimai in Sister Facer's last area is Chinese and interested in the church. We gave her a call and she agreed to meet us at the church soon to learn about how the gospel can help her recover from depression. We're looking forward to helping someone who really needs the gospel!
9. We met a super nice woman on the street who told us all about the different service activities she does because volunteering has been her "hobby" for the past few years. She didn't have much interest in the church, but talking to her was such a spiritual experience for me. I felt the Savior's love for her! I got the chance to testify about how Jesus Christ loves her and can help her. She wouldn't give us her contact information, but she said she would contact when she needs extra help in dealing with hard things. Sometimes streeting is frustrating because we may never see these people again, but I know God is in the details of their lives and guides them every day.
10. A few weeks ago we met an Ethiopian man at a train station who said he was really interested in coming to church. He was busy with school, but today he finally came to church and it was such a great experience! He bore his testimony in Sunday School about how the morning he met us, he had just been praying for God to lead him to a church in Japan. He said how we were an answer to his prayer, and after having a lesson with the elders he agreed to study the Book of Mormon and be baptized if it was true! I am so grateful for Heavenly Father answering this man's prayer; it strengthens my testimony that He is answering prayers of His children all around the world who come to Him with sincere desires. It makes me feel the weight of my responsibility to teach the Nihonjin how to communicate with God and receive all His wonderful blessings.
I don't have time to respond to all your emails, but know that I read them all and appreciate them a lot! One of my favourite things to testify about is eternal families, because I'm grateful for mine!
Love you all~~~
Long Shimai