Monday, June 24, 2013

Brittany's last transfer

Hi family! Happy Monday!
Thank you for the fun emails, photos, and Sacrament meeting talks from last week! I'm still waiting on Dad's and Bridgie's. My companions and I had a chuckle reading Mum's because her perspective is so interesting, and when I was reading Benjamin's it sounded exactly like the way I teach lessons in Japanese! It was all really fun and I miss you guys!
The news is that I'm getting transferred one area over to re-open a place called Oyama. It's a bit bigger than Kiryu, and I've heard great things about the ward. I will be training a new missionary again, another Japanese sister! I haven't met her yet, but President read me her profile and said in her photo she's got huge smile and sounds great. I'm excited! Of course I'll let you know more next week when I'm settled in my new area (I'm in Kiryu now and won't actually get to Oyama until Wednesday night), but first some final words about Kiryu!
I LOVE Kiryu! I'm sad I don't get to finish my mission in this area because it has been such a special little place. I learned so much from all the people here and made lifelong friends. During my ninth transfer I feel like I accomplished more work than I ever did as a missionary, and during my tenth transfer I think I grew personally more than ever. I am sad to leave my green hills and church-building-that-used-to-be-a-factory and all thirty of the quirky personalities in the ward. I'm sure I'll get to come back before long, but leaving a place before you're ready is always tough!
I never feel like writing much in these emails because I spend so much time on my journal, but know that I love you all and will work my tail off for the next couple weeks! No summer vacation for busy missionaries C: I hope you're all having fun and doing lots of fun activities! You're the best!
Short but sweet,
Long Shimai

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Comics May 9-13, 2013

June 10, 2013

Hi family!
Thank you for the emails from everyone!
I totally messed up and didn't write happy birthday to Lacey and Tyler last week even though I totally had it written on my planner. Sorry! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I cannot BELIEVE Lacey just graduated! That makes me feel really old. It doesn't help that all the other missionaries call me "obachan" (Grandma).
This week was...well, you'll learn about it in a few weeks when I get around to the journal pages. It was a really long and interesting learning experience, that's for sure. Things are looking on the up-and-up, companionship-wise. Next week we get transfer calls, and then our mission is splitting into Tokyo and Tokyo South! Had I told you that already? We'll see how it goes.
First of all, I am VERY disappointed that nobody did the homework I gave out last week! But I guess you were all busy playing in Manhattan (do I get to come next year?) so hopefully I'll get some responses next week! Has the restored gospel changed you? How?
This week we got to hear from Elder Ringwood (Asia Area President) who had us all study Moroni 7 before the conference. It was a really enlightening experience, and it reminded me of something Karmin sent me in an email this week:
Faith is believing in God.
Hope is believing in yourself.
Charity is believing in others.
I feel so blessed to be a missionary. I love the Lord and I love serving Him. I feel His love for me being placed in an environment where I can grow and help others grow. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. I love you very much! You're the best!
Long Shimai

Comics June 16, 2013

Last transfer in the mission!

Hi family!
Thank you for all the emails this week C: Sounds, as always, like things are fun and exciting at home! Well, maybe not so fun in the surgery aspect, but my prayers are going out for you and I know everything will work out okay.
This week in a surprising turn of events, my companion Tada Shimai and I got an emergency transfer. A sister in another area got sick enough to go back to America, so Tada Shimai went out in her place, and for the week I'm in a threesome with Wylie Shimai and her trainee Lowry Shimai. It was a huge relief for everyone involved. Now I'm just waiting to see what happens next. It's been a fun few days in a threesome, of course---our first together, we got caught in a huge downpour and came home absolutely drenched. Photos follow, of course.
Another fun thing we did this week was visit a less-active who lived way up in the mountains. She taught us how to make giant rolls of sushi and then we ate them. I still don't like sushi because of the seaweed wrapped around it, but when I'm a guest I eat whatever's put in front of me. (Except the shellfish soup she served with it. I had Tada Shimai eat it when the less-active wasn't looking.) We had another sushi adventure recently: we went with our investigator Dai-san to a conveyor belt sushi place where they charge you by how many plates of sushi you stack up. I didn't eat sushi because there were also plates of salad, egg, rice, and cheesecake rolling around. I feel like Japan has some of the most fun dining experiences in the world.
This week was a slow week for missionary work, but we had our Tuesday Temple P-day today and I got to talk to all the sisters around the mission, especially those serving my old areas. It's always a bittersweet experience; sometimes they talk about how your investigators are doing really well, other times they've been dropped for not progressing, and sometimes you get to offer advice on how to help because you know them a bit better. One thing I'm so grateful for is to be a missionary in such a technologically advanced place and time. I get to email many of my old investigators frequently and encourage them to keep trying.
I'm grateful I get to email all of you too! I'm sorry P-day fell a day late to wish you a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY but know that I love you Dad! On Sunday in Primary we helped the kids sing "I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home" (in Japanese of course) and it brought back some fond memories. Thank you for all you do and especially for being patient with all that I do!
I love you all very much and hope you enjoy the pictures! Good luck this week and keep me posted on your summer vacations C:
Long Shimai

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Comics May 4-May 8

Letter home June 3, 2013

Hi family!
Thanks as always for the emails and photos and words of love and support! Everyone looks great in the photos you sent this week. All you kids need to stop growing up and having such stunning good looks---you're going to make me look bad!
I appreciate all the words of advice and support regarding my companion. I've also been working closely with my mission president, who decided that what a rebellious new missionary needs is to be whipped into shape right off the bat so they don't struggle the rest of their mission, and he picked me to be the one to call her out every time she steps out of line. You can imagine how fun that is. I won't bore you with the whole thing, but suffice it to say every day is filled with new challenges. This morning I read in the Book of Mormon, "And it came to pass that they did multiply and prosper exceedingly...Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless---whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day" (Mosiah 23:20-22). I'm really feeling that right now. I was getting comfortable with missionary work and the Lord decided there was room for improvement in my character, so He gave me a huge opportunity to strengthen my faith and patience. I still don't understand why the Lord tests us like that, but it gave me some comfort this morning to know that there's a reason behind pain and struggle. That's one of the hardest concepts I've come across on my mission in Tokyo. There are so many people who find it impossible to believe in a loving Heavenly Father because their lives are so difficult, and they can't believe in a God who would let His children suffer like that. It's hard to accept that hard times result in our growth, and I probably won't ever like it, but I plan on learning every day---especially about the Saviour, who experienced more injustice than man is capable of suffering and dealt with it all perfectly.
I've been reading Elder Long and Elder Duncan's emails the past few weeks (thanks for forwarding those to me!) and I realized my emails home have been pretty devoid of anything spiritually uplifting for months! Which is weird, because I spend all day long trying to uplift people here. But anyway, I wanted to share a quick thought and give you some homework too.
This week we had Stake Conference in Kiryu, and the theme was "真の改心、真の成長” (Makoto no Kaishin, makoto no seicho). It means "Real Conversion, Real Growth." I love studying Japanese kanji; the word for "conversion" literally means "change of heart." Conversion isn't just joining the church; it is changing the way you think and the way you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Anyway, the theme scripture of the conference was Alma 5:14 from the Book of Mormon, "And now, behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"
During the Saturday night session of conference, one of the speakers turned the audience into a discussion group and asked us to ponder these questions: Has the gospel changed you? How? (keeping in mind that "the gospel" includes all the teachings of Jesus Christ and God's plan for our eternal happiness). The speaker asked for some responses to be shared, first of all from the missionaries since he figured we would have most recently experienced the most change. He picked on Wylie Shimai first. She said, "I was raised in the church, and so the gospel was always a part of my life, but since becoming a missionary the gospel has become the center of my life. Everything I do now is based on whether it will help me grow closer to the Saviour or not." I was asked to speak next. I said (or tried to, anyway---Japanese is hard), "Just like Wylie Shimai said, I have experienced a change since the gospel has become the center of my life. Before, I went to church and kept the commandments because I figured the gospel of Christ would help me achieve my goals. Since becoming a missionary, living the gospel of Christ is my goal. As a missionary I work all day to help everyone be able to think this way and change their lives for the better." Recent converts, long-time members, bishops, and other priesthood leaders in turn shared the dramatic ways that the gospel has not only changed what they do; it's affected what they have become and who they want to be.
Here's the homework part: in your next email, I want you to answer those questions for me. Has the gospel changed you? How? If you can narrow it down to a single experience, that's great; if your change has come gradually because of daily living (which is probably the more common situation), that's great too. I want to hear your conversion stories, the ones about changing your heart. Write them in your own journals, if you haven't done so already, and share them with your Sunday School class or your children or your roommate. Hearing the word of God builds faith, strengthens friendships, and changes lives.
I love all of you and want to tell you again how much I appreciate hearing from you every week! One more piece of homework: I'm still waiting to hear from everyone what presents you want me to bring back to you from Japan! I only have a few shopping P-days left, so I don't want anyone to be left out! (No, Tyler, I am not bringing you home a katana.)
Work hard, pray daily, and be good missionaries! Love you!
Long Shimai