Monday, January 28, 2013

Ghibli Film Museum- home of Totoro

Christmas comics are finally done!

Letter Jan. 28, 2013

Hi family,
First of all, Lacey got her teeth whitened?! What have I been missing?! (STILL waiting for you to write to me, by the way!) It's always fun to see photos of the family. You are all growing up too fast.
Today I got to go to the Ghibli Film Museum again! (Ghibli made My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo, if that rings a bell.) My companion had never been, and we took a recent convert from Taiwan (Sophia, who's in the photo with me) who's studying art at college. The elders in our area happened to be there at the same time so it was a ton of fun. You can't take pictures inside the museum (that giant robot is on the roof) but I did buy a book about it to show you eventually because the architecture is SO COOL! The museum itself is pretty small, with only four or five display rooms, but it's like Disneyland in that the designers created a whole different world for the museum. Remember the teeny animation exhibit section of California Adventure? It's sort of like that, only more Japanese-y. The museum's always packed too, because Ghibli is very popular inside and outside of Japan. Anyway, it was a fun day because I love art and films and Ghibli makes some of the most acclaimed in the world.
Missionary work wise, this week was full of ups and downs with mostly downs, but we still have miracles happening every day. We make sure to write down at least five in our daily planners to help us recognize the Lord's hand in the work.
What I want to write about today is YOUR missionary work! Yesterday in church Elder Coleman from Texas spoke in Sacrament meeting and he shared a cool but simple experience. He was into kick-boxing in high school, and one day after a match his trainer took him out to eat and ordered him alcohol. Elder Coleman explained that he didn't drink, and his trainer asked why not. How many of us have been in a similar situation? What do we usually answer with? "I don't drink, I'm Mormon." "It's part of my religion." "It's bad for you." "I choose not to drink."
Elder Coleman answered with, "I believe that God has a living prophet on the earth, and that prophet has said God counsels us not to drink alcohol, so I don't."
How great of an answer is that? We all have reasons we keep the commandments, and they are founded on testimonies of the Restoration of the gospel. Our duty is to not be shy about sharing those experiences with others. From Elder Coleman's short answer, his trainer became interested in the church and they had weekly discussions after practice from the Book of Mormon. His trainer isn't baptized yet, but Elder Coleman has plans to do the baptism himself when he goes back to Texas.
Most of us are too afraid to approach our friends about the gospel, and that's okay, but most of the time our friends will not approach us with questions either. However, we can use short, powerful statements about what we believe to open doors for gospel discussions that will touch people's hearts. This missionary work is natural and is founded upon friendship and curiosity, not putting down what others believe or turning it into a sermon. Don't soften your testimony for fear of offending someone or looking like a religious fanatic. Be brief and sincere about why you keep commandments. People will respect you and pay attention to the way you live your life.
The easiest missionary work is to live the gospel joyfully; smile; show people you are happy. Tell people why you are happy, and because there is something different about you, they will listen.
Missionary work is so important, family! Right after our Sacrament meeting about missionary work, the Sunday school lesson was on the same topic. The teacher had us make a list of the reasons we love the gospel, or the reasons we come to church. It amounted to joy, peace, and friendship. We talked about the importance of sharing these things with our friends and family members. Heaven is only a place we want to go if our loved ones can be there too.
Thank you for all the work you're doing already! I'm excited for all the activities you're up to with jobs, school, extracuricular stuff, etc.
Dad: I'm glad you're getting the extra work! I bet you love teaching those people a lesson C: That's awesome that you got to talk about the church too.
Mum: It sounds like you love what you're doing now, and that you really want to work at BYU! Keep your heart open and the Lord will help you know what to do!
Lacey: Good luck with preparing for college and stuff! I can't believe you're getting so OLD!
Tyler: I hope you get into volleyball! Kick-boxing sounds way fun too, anything to get in shape and get active. Missionaries are required to exercise thirty minutes a day because of all these statistical reports about how daily heart-pumping workouts improve your ability to focus, feel happy, and of course burn off calories from too-friendly Japanese moms feeding us.
Bridgette: Mum and Dad keep telling me how talented you are! I'm excited to hear you play the violin and watch you act!
Benjamin: Mum and Dad told me how much you love playing the wii and playing with the new butterflies. That sounds so fun!
Be good and keep up your prayers and be consistent about family home evening. Oh, and Mum could you send me a good banana bread recipe? We have tons of bananas in the freezer and I'm afraid to try winging it.
Your Japanese word for this week is "Oishii!" (oh-ee-shee) It means "delicious!" and you say it repeatedly whenever eating something that has been served to you.
I love you! またねー
Long Shimai

Monday, January 21, 2013

Christmas comic journal still

Challenging new companion

Hi family,
Remember I told you our mission made a New Year's video to send to all the stakes in our mission? The link is here: We're singing our mission theme song "United in So Great a Cause" written by our mission president's wife. Our missionaries are all a bunch of goofballs.
Well, this week like last week has been really tough. My companion is a huge disappointment. She's Japanese and on her last transfer so I expected to be able to learn from all her mission experience, but when we go out to do missionary work she doesn't want to talk to anyone. Most of our investigators have either dropped us or are sick, so we spend almost every day finding, i.e. street contacting and ringing doorbells. We haven't even gotten anyone's phone number this whole transfer, and since I'm the only one talking to people I feel like it's a personal failure of mine. I'm not sure what to do for my companion since she only has three weeks left. I still have six months left, but I feel this urgency to get something done, to actually accomplish something so I feel like I've actually done something worthwhile. My hardest days are when things don't go right, and I've had a lot of those lately.
But the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and so is His church, and so is the cause I'm out here for. It's in my blood, did you know that? God picked the tribe of Ephraim specifically to prepare the world for Christ's second coming, and I'm trying to do my tiny part to make the country of Japan a little more ready. I sure appreciate all your prayers, and I'm praying for you too every day.
If you have some free time this week (or even if you don't, it's worth the watch), President Uchtdorf spoke at a Church Education System devotional last week about what truth is and how we can recognize it. He's hilarious and smart and in tune with the will of God. We're blessed to have the scriptures, but we're also blessed to have a living prophet and apostles. Here's the link on lds.org
I love you all!
Long Shimai

Monday, January 14, 2013

Comic Journal Dec. 10-17, 2012

It's snowing in Tokyo! 1/14/13

Hi family!
Sounds like everyone's stressed out at home but in a good way---keeping busy and counting your blessings! I've been hearing a lot about the new Sunday School program for youth and also about all the new sister missionaries! Trina emailed me that this time last year sister applications were 15% and now they're a full half. I love sister missionaries! I'm excited to hear about all the missionaries leaving from our family and our home ward! Missionary service is by far the most meaningful thing I've ever done and an experience that will continue to change the way I live for as long as I live. I've only rarely felt like it was a sacrifice to give up this time---you can't give a crust of bread to the Lord without Him giving you a warm, buttery, fresh-from-the-oven loaf in return---along with enough loaves to feed your family for a year as well as the key to His immensely successful bakery around the corner. I'm sure an apostle said something like that.
I don't really have much to report on this week...forgive me? You get to find out about all the cool stuff Tokyo missionaries do in my journal anyway, albeit a few weeks delayed. Enjoy what I draw, read the church magazines, savor the Book of Mormon, and attend the temple. A few measly requests from your favourite Asia missionary!
Love you all,
Long Shimai

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Comics Dec 3-9, 2012

First week of Jan. 2013

Happy New Year family!
Remember last week when I told you how to say "Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu" ? Well. Yesterday in fast and testimony meeting, every speaker who got to the pulpit started with "Happy New Year" and because this is Japan the entire congregation said it back every time (more like a general murmur, not like the ALOOOOOOHA! you might be picturing). The mutual greeting thing is HUGE here, especially around such a big holiday like New Year's. I think it's almost obligatory to repeat it back to someone. For example, when we were housing just for a change of pace I started talking with a big friendly "Happy New Year!" The man at the door wasn't interested, but he let me finish introducing myself, said "Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu" back before promptly telling me to go away. I love Japan.
Another funny thing from sacrament meeting: Sho, a Chinese college student who was recently baptized, got to pass the sacrament for the first time today and he was great. Then the bishop asked him to say the closing prayer and he included, "Dear Heavenly Father, We're grateful that we got to eat such delicious bread together even though we're all fasting." I LOVE recent converts. They have a lot of faith because they're changing their whole lives around for the gospel, and in return they get so many blessings.
Let's see...the other thing I wanted to talk about this week was Naoko! She's a woman in her early thirties we're working with who lives in a town not far from Kichijoji, and she helps her parents run a bakery. We've become such good friends over the past few weeks (and her bread is to die for!). She loves English and wants to visit America, so I hope it's okay that I offered to let her stay at our house when she stops by Las Vegas! She really doesn't want me to leave Japan and offered to let me stay with her for a summer and help run the bakery. What do you say, Lacey, want to come to Tokyo and learn how to make bread and pastries? :D
But anyway, the reason I wanted to talk about Naoko was because I had a really cool experience with her this week. She loves missionaries and has been to church before but never really saw it as fitting her lifestyle. This week when we visited, she talked a lot about a personal problem she's dealing with, and because she really trusts us as friends she asked for our advice. I could have talked about worldly solutions to her problem, but instead I brought up prayer and asking God, who's the smartest person in the world and who loves her, what He thinks the best course of action is. She was skeptical at first, of course, but I shared an experience about when I prayed to know which college to go to, and how through good feelings in my heart I was able to know which one was right. Her interest was piqued and so I pulled out a pamphlet from my purse explaining about prayer and went over it with her. She was conflicted; she wanted answers, and she really hoped she would get them, but she wasn't sure what would happen if she tried---but she trusted me and knew I cared about her.
I wanted to share the experience because I feel like it's a natural way to do missionary work in your normal lives at home. You all have so many friends who may or may not know you're a member of the church, but they do know there's a difference about you. When you share simple things like why you go to church, or what you do when you struggle with problems, they'll listen. Sharing the gospel isn't about wearing a badge and knocking on doors; it's just telling your friends what you're doing to be happier and how they can be too.
I've probably gone over time, but I hope you're all doing well and getting back into the swing of things! I love and pray for you!
Long Shimai