Monday, December 10, 2012

Dec. 10, 2012

Hi family!

My companion and I are in the church (in the family history center) waiting for an investigator to come while we check our emails, and the keyboards here are crazy! Remember when we went to Europe and the letters were all in different places? It's not as bad as that, but all the punctuation is a bit off, the keys are different sizes, and there are two or three symbols on each key depending on which language you want. Every now and then I sit back and am amazed at how much Japanese the Lord has helped me learn. We open up the scriptures in a lesson or write an email to our investigator and I think, "A year ago there's no way I could have understood all these scribbles!" But the Lord opened up a way for me and all the other 700 Japan missionaries to make sense of it all so we can communicate with the people here and teach them the gospel. I still have a long way to go, but even learning kanji is getting easier and more meaningful. You who have studied other languages will know how cool it is to compare scriptures and stuff and see how the meaning is enhanced. But yeah, even though some days it seems impossible, it's very fun. 

My President's letter this week was a little lengthy because I wrote individually about some of our investigators, but it's all great news so I'll include everything and you can read at your leisure:

Dear President,
This week was a little slow; Sister Facer got sick so we didn't get to proselyte much, but we still were able to teach our scheduled lessons and saw so many miracles! 
Hasegawa Shimai - She's been an investigator for a long time and knows all the lessons, so we teach her Christlike attributes using PMG and it's been going very well. This week she told us that the more she applies what we teach, the happier she is all day and the better she feels. We've been focusing on prayer, and she's been able to find more comfort in addition to improving relationships with her family. It was really cool to see how she's making the connection between the gospel and an improved life. 
Bi Shin - She's our Chinese member referral; she knows nothing about religion but she wants to know. She has so many friends who are Christian and are happier than she is "even though she has more money than they do." We had a member joint lesson this week and Bi was able to hear more testimony about how we can feel God is there. She's still not sure she believes but she wants to believe so badly. When we read scriptures together it's difficult for her to understand, but her face lights up and she eagerly sets the next appointment.
Kajita san - We met her housing and were able to start doing personal Eikaiwa with her. We brought the GoEigo book but she didn't like it very much---instead she wants to learn English out of the church magazines! She has a lovely little family and cares so much about teaching her children good values. Her kids are very good at English too, so hopefully through the Liahonas we can help them learn about and apply the gospel.
Miho chan - She's the girlfriend of a member and today was her second time at church. She is SO prepared; she accepts everything and is so thirsty to learn more. She prays every day on her own and, because of that, said she feels more prepared throughout the day; she said she can understand more of what she wants in life and how she can achieve it. We told her about how happy God is to communicate with her and she was so pleased. Today we set a baptismal date for December 30th! She said the closing prayer for the lesson and it was so cute. She said, "Heavenly Father, I want to work really hard to get baptized on the 30th, so please help me understand." Our member joint is a great teacher and is helping her progress daily. I love being able to work with the two of them.
Matsunaga san - She is a widowed older woman who houses foreign exchange students, and she's impossible to contact by phone but whenever we stop by she is so hospitable. Although she forgets to pray and read the Book of Mormon, she loves listening to us teach. Today we taught the Restoration and it really helped her understand Christianity. She'd seen some anti-Mormon program on tv this week, and talking to us made her feel so much better. She loves how everyone in our church helps each other and is genuinely kind. The more she hears about the church the more she wants to join; our focus this week will be helping her convert to the gospel of Christ as well as His church.
Kichijoji is a wonderful place to work! The people here are amazing and I love helping them. It's such a special privilege to share my testimony with those who need it. Today in church we sang "Because I have been given much I too must give" and I felt that sentiment so strongly. The gospel has blessed my life in too many ways to count and it makes me so happy to share that with others.
Thank you for all you do President! We'll work hard this week to fill our stockings with miracles!
Long Shimai

As for Skyping on Christmas, Sister Facer is probably going to talk to her family around noon on Christmas day which is 9 pm for her family in Utah. We usually proselyte in the evenings so it would be better to call before lunch, but that would put my call right in the middle of the Long Christmas Eve Extravaganza which might be difficult. Or I could push it one more day and call you in the evening on the 25th if that time is easier (for me the 26th around 10am). Talk amongst yourselves and get back to me!

Did you guys all watch the First Presidency Christmas devotional together? Wasn't it great? How about reading the December church magazines? Reading the Liahona (international Ensign) has become one of my very favourite things to do on my mission. Those magazines were a huge source of comfort when I was struggling, and now that I'm doing much better I still turn to them almost daily for wisdom and beautiful pictures. People here, when they find out I've already graduated from college, ask me a lot about what I want to do when I go home, and I usually say that working on the church magazines seems like such a dream job. I would love to use my interests in writing/design to help spiritually uplift people worldwide. Maybe I'm just on a missionary high and never want to quit, but it would be a meaningful career and there is some appeal in that.

Well, I know everyone at home is busy with Christmas preparations, so I'll let you get back to it! Enjoy all the music and treats and family extra for me! Love you!
Long Shimai

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