Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review - December 31, 2013

 Thanks to everyone for making my christmas so special!
 Does this mean that I was a good girl because Santa came? :)
 Christmas Meal #1
 Thank you everyone for making Christmas so special from so far away!
 Christmas Meal #2

 I absolutely loved the Idaho Potato!! Everyone got a laugh out of it. Suita Shimai nearly fell over...she couldn't believe it. :)

 Skyping with my girls!
 My new christmas outfit.
Here in Kasukabe, I've personally decided that the Christmas miracle isn't over yet. Actually, the Christmas miracle will never be over. Every day, I live because of the gift of the Plan of Salvation. In return for that gift I receive 24/7, I will must certainly continue to do all I can to bring Christ as many gifts as possible.
This past week's miracles:
  • Do you remember Muranaka-san that I told you about last week...or at least I think I did. She really wants to get baptized!! She has a friend back in Peru-his name is Jeffery-who is going on a mission soon. He has been telling her about our church and even told her she needed to stop drinking coffee! What an example to all of us Jeffery is! We are really excited to continue to teach Muranaka-san. Please pray for her to be able to be baptized! Please pray for her husband to open His heart to the idea of religion. That he too may know that there is a God.
  • Since I first got to Kasukabe, I have been meeting with Sayaka-chan, who is 11 years old. Her mother is a less active, but Sayaka-chan has been coming to church on a fairly consistent basis. My first couple of transfers, we weren't able to meet with her very much. She lives about an hour away from the church by car and she is super busy with schooling and other activities. However, recently we have been meeting with her a lot thanks to her good friends in this ward. Today we extended the baptismal invitation with a date and she accepted! She is really excited. It has made a huge difference to have members of the church that are her own age doseki(member present lesson) with us. Their influence has been crucial in her conversion process.
  • Both of these incredible stories happened because of the members!! Members are sooooo soooooo daiji (important) in this work! The Kasukabe ward has been changing-I can see it. As we have built strong relationships with them and invited them to help us take part in missionary work, they have changed their very nature. Today in our fifth-Sunday lesson, everyone was so excited to talk about dendo. The Lord has truly opened the hearts of the members here.
As we close 2013, what a wonderful time we have to reflect on our year. This year has certainly been one to remember. I have learned so much! I think one of the most important things I've learned as a missionary is love/charity.This transfer, I have been studying (just a little bit every day) how the Atonement and missionary work are related. It has been such an incredible, spiritual experience for me. John 15: 13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." It was love that allowed the Savior to perform the Atonement. So, too, is it love that is the motivating force behind missionary work. No matter how inadequate we may seem, the Lord trusts us with the work. He has said that out of the weak things of the earth will He fulfill His purposes. Do we love our friends enough to tell them the most glorious news of all? There are people all around us. I have no doubt that we knew most if not all of them in the zense (pre-earth life). I can imagine that they begged for you to help them here on earth. We can't disappoint them. Let's all try to be a little bit more like Jeffery. When we extend commitments to our friends out of love, anything is possible! It is the start of a new year! May we all take a step of faith into this new year and work hard to achieve our goals (hint, hint...member missionary work) that will help us out on the road to our full potential.
Wishing you all the very best 2014. I've got a feeling it's going to be the best year ever!!
In PMG, we read that the two most important tools in missionary work is the Spirit and the Book of Mormon. So, as a mission on December 31, we will be cleaning our apartments from morning until evening. This will help us to have the Spirit in our apartments so that we can receive revelation for our investigators and our area. Then, on January 1,  we will be having a mission-wide Book of Mormon reading day! Dedicating this day too reading the Book of Mormon will help us to renew our testimonies and start a new year of dendo off right. I'm way excited for the way that I get to celebrate this New Year. It's going to be fabulous!
Love you the most,
Yamauchi Shimai

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's a miracle! - Dec 23, 2013


Elder Healy as Santa Claus
Our biggest miracle of late has been Blanche. This week we taught her the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. Before we taught her about the Word of Wisdom, she knew about the normal things that are bad for our bodies, such as tobacco, alcohal, and other harmful substanes. However, she drank tea and coffee. She told us that she didn't know it was a commandment and that from that time forward she wouldn't drink tea or coffee. When we taught her about the Law of Chastity, she accepted it and said she wants to keep the Law of Chastity too. She is such a Christmas miracle to us!

We also received a referral from church headquarters this last week that wanted a Book of Mormon. She is a Phillipean and she wants to join our church! WAY COOL, deshou! She has three little children and her husband, but her husband is Japanese and doesn't believe in God. Her life is really hard right now. She got super emotional when talking to us and said that she was so glad that we came by. I love her so much. She is really excited to continue to meet with us and we hope and pray that her husband will soften his heart.

I am so grateful for this time of year and for the hope it gives to one and all.
Have a very, very Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have the best holiday season ever.

Our Ward Christmas party turned out so wonderful! Fun games, beautiful violin music, wonderful food for everyone, children singing, and one of my favorite parts: a beautifully put together video about Christ and his life that opened everyone's heart a little bit more to the true meaning of Christmas. I think, however, that my favorite thing about the whole event was seeing so many less actives who we've been working with for what seems like forever. That night, I came to recognize to an even greater degree how much the Savior loves each one of us...individually. Every time we serve someone, our love for that person grows so much deeper. This is a picture of some of our less active members (Iwakiri Shimai and her two kids). Since I first came to Kasukabe in August, we been working with her. Her house is about a 13-20 minute bike ride from our church and I can't even begin trying to count how much time we have spent trying to help her. We have shared sooo many messages with her at her house. Most of the time, she doesn't answer her phone, and so sometimes we decide to surprise visit her and to give her support. A lot of times, she isn't home, so we leave her a note with a message and encouragement. When I saw her at the Christmas party, my heart was literally sobbing for joy. These feelings can't be described...I think it could be similar to the feelings our Savior has when one of His children comes back to Him. Eto Shimai is another less active member who works on Sunday's, but-if you remember from one of my earlier letters-she has really been feeling God's love lately. We have been teaching Eto Shimai's daughter, Sayaka-chan, the missionary lessons. Sayaka-chan is on and off with church. Every time she does come, my heart breaks because she doesn't have any family with her (although luckily she does have some really good church friends). Eto Shimai didn't have work on Saturday night (the night of our Christmas party), and so she was able to come. Sayaka-chan sang Christmas songs with the Primary children and she looked so happy. I couldn't help but think about her Mom and how proud of her daughter she must be. I could list a whole lot more, but for the sake of time, I better just talk about one more special less-active experience. Yamamoto Kyoudai went on a mission, but became less active. He has two twin boys who are serving missions right now and an 18 year old daugher. The wife also served a mission. Sister Yamamoto and the daughter come to church ever week, but Brother Yamamoto hasn't-that was the first time that I had ever seen him. I ended up talking to him for about 40 minutes. I asked him questions about his mission and the many miracles that he had seen. He told me about an experience that he had when he went to the temple in the US one time. He saw the prophet and got to shake his hand. Then, outside of the temple, he saw the prophet again. He didn't think that the prophet would recognize him and decided that he wanted to shake his hand again. After the hand shake, the prophet said, you tried again. We laughed about it and then talked about how prophets sure are amazing. I then told Brother Yamamoto about how precious I thought this experience was. Sometimes, when we have experiences, we tend to think about it only that context, but I told him how it applies now. We can always try again...no matter what's happened in the past. The Lord welcomes all with outstretched hands to try again. The Atonement is everything...it truly is!
I am so thankful for the may wonderful experiences that I had that night. Those experiences changed hearts that night...mine included.

Monday, December 16, 2013

CAN YOU FEEL IT? IT'S EVERYWHERE!‏ - December 16, 2013

 My new companion's name is Sister Miyaki! She was born and raised in Hawaii. Both of her parents are Japanese, but they don't speak any Japanese, so she is learning right now. I'm really looking forward to working hard with her this transfer as we bring souls until Christ!


 Package from Yayoi Takogawa, a lady that my dad baptized

  Morimoto Shimai, her daughter, and Yoshioka Shimai. They are both members that come to Kid's Eikaiwa. It has been great for them to mingle with those who are not members.These two are the greatest and some of my best friends.

 A few of the parents who are faithful Kid's Eikaiwa attendees. They are the cutest.

I cannot believe how many miracles we have seen this week! There's no way that I'll be able to tell you all the wonderful things that have happened, but I want to mention a few.

1. Sister Suita and I were able to have some really good less-active members. They really loved our message. As we asked them questions that allowed them to share their testimony with us, they were able to rekindle the fire of faith within them. Less-actives are so important!! I love them so much. We were able to set up another time to meet with them and we're also able to commit them to come to church. Remember what it says in PMG...every member of the church needs three things: 1. A friend in the church whom they can rely on. 2. A calling. 3. They must be nourished by the good word of God. It's a pretty simple reciepe, and we as members are so crucial in fulfilling all three of these points. Most less actives become less active because they didn't have one or more of these three things.

2. On Wedesday after Eikaiwa, we had a lesson with the lady that I found during splits in Okegawa last transfer...Reina-san. I love her so very much. It is so powerful to dendo with those who are the same age as you because you have so much in common. She understands the importance of baptism and we were able to commit her to be baptized in January. We are so excited for her decision and she is really excited too!

3. Japanese class has been an excellent opportunity for us to find those who are prepared to hear the gospel. My Japanese teacher has been with me for about three months now. Her name is Tanabe-san, which (for those of you who haven't read my letters thus far) is the maiden name of my Great-Grandma Okamura. We have done some family history together. When she first became my Japanese teacher, she asked me what I wanted to learn about. I told her my purpose and told her I need to be able to share God's message well in Japanese. On the first Japanese lesson several months ago, I was able to share the Plan of Salvation with her. Over the last couple of months, we have become very close friends. This last week during Japanese class, we read from the Book of Mormon (I told her I needed practice reading in Japanese...I'm telling you, Japanese class is such a fabulous tool to spread the gospel). We read 3 Nephi 11. After we finished reading the chapter, we talked for a little while. She said that when she first met with me, she didn't know whether or not she believed in God. However, this last time, she said that she now believes in God and that she thinks about the Plan of Salvation all the time!! She can't wait to get a copy of my paper with the picture of the Plan of Salvation.

4. We were able to meet with one of the Japanese class students on Saturday. Her name is Blanche. She is the sweetest and has a very strong desire to do what is right. She was so excited to meet with us and to visit the church. She wants to become a missionary like us and is taking us next week to meet her friends so that we can talk to them about our message. We were also able to set a baptismal date for her in January. She has a strong desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ!

5. This week I have gained a strong testimony of the power of a trainer. It has been so much fun to watch Suita Shimai with a new missionary. She does things almost exactly like I did them. Her and I always have pillow talk at night. We miss being companions, but are so thankful that we are still in the same apartment. She still tells me that I'm training her. ;) P.S. The new sister in our apartment is from St. George and her name is Sister Davis. She is 23 and had a job as an engineer before she decided to come on a mission. Four people in our apartment is quite the adjustment, but we love each other and are grateful to get to know each other.

6. President Dorff came to our ward this Sunday. He also attended our ward council meeting. He has a lot of dendo fire and I am so thankful for all his love and support. He loves the missionaries and is so passionate about helping others come to Christ. I think he helped our ward out a lot.

These are only a few of the many miracles this week. It has definitely been a week to remember. It has changed others lives as well as my own.
I hope you are all feeling the Savior's love this season and always. It doesn't matter where we are, what time of day it is, or what season of your life it is. Can you feel it? His love is everywhere!
I love the scripture that says. We know that President Monson has called each and every one of us to the great cause of saving souls. a.k.a. God has called us too! He has been calling for this from the beginning, but He is now calling for it more than ever before. Members...our duty in the church is missionary work...that's what being a member of the church is. That's what this church does...missionary work. That is our calling...how great is our calling! I hope you've all remembered the challenge I gave a couple weeks ago. If you haven't quite done it...don't worry, there's still time before Christmas!
Love you!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Transfer #4 - December 10, 2013

About 1/2 mile away from our apartment, we have a pretty good sized mall. The have this sweet Christmas tree set up. It's so BIG. They had this beauty set up before Thanksgiving!! I love looking at a Christmas tree. It reminds me of my purpose as a missionary-to devote my life to giving special gifts to God.
December 10, 2013
おはいようございます。 Ohaiyou gozaimasu. Good Morning.
I hope you are all enjoying the cheery atmosphere that December brings. We sure have been.
Miracles of the week:
1. I went on splits with Kelson Shimai to Okegawa (which is about an hour train ride away from Kasukabe). While in Okegawa, they had their district meeting. As a result, we had to travel by train (and had quite a few norikais-train transfers). When we first got on the train early in the morning, the train was packed and we didn't really have any space to move. The lady next to me was reading a book and I asked her if she liked reading. She said she did and we talked for quite a while about what type of books we like. I then told her that I came to Japan to share my favorite boook. She was so intrigued by the Book of Mormon and I gave her an introdution to the book. The Book of Mormon in Japanese is a little different from the Book of Mormon in English. The Japanese Book of Mormon uses lots of old words and grammer, so its hard for a lot of people to understand. However, there is a little dictionary at the back of the Book of Mormon that explains what certain words mean in simpler terms. When I testified of the power that it has brought into my life, she asked if she could look at it. She was completely shocked when I said I wanted to give it to her and was so honored to take it. She said she knew that it was an important book. I honestly probably won't ever talk to this lady again until after this life, but I hope and pray that the Book of Mormon will change her life forever. I think that's how it is with a lot of the things we do in life. Sometimes we don't know what our efforts will do, but I testify that our efforts do change people's lives. The Lord uses the small and simple things of the world to bring about HIs greatness. I know that!
2. On the next norikai on our way to Okegawa's district meeting, I talked to a 19 year old girl who is studying Chinese and English in college. The cool thing about it...she is from the Kasukabe area! She has interest in church and in getting help with her English. Last night, we had a lesson with her and some members. The young people of the world are soooo amazing. This Reina-san told us that she has always believed in God. Another testimony to me that God truly does prepare his people. She was willing to pray the very first time we asked her (even though she's never prayed before in her life). I just talked to her a couple hours ago and set up an appointment to meet tonight. She is honestly the most adorable person ever. It's fun to teach someone who is your own age. We are the best of friends and I would do anything for her. I am forever thankful for the people the Lord has allowed me to meet.
3. Our kid's eikaiwa class that we started last transfer is doing well. At first, it was a little slow starting However, as we have gotten the members involved in telling their friends about it, it has turned out to be quite the success.
4. We went to a less-active members house with a member on Saturday. She has said that she has been feeling God's love in a very real way recently. She has had dreams that convince her that God loves her. As we shared with her a message that we thought was fitting with her, tears ran down her cheeks. The Spirit was truly incredible in that lesson. She wants to go to church really bad, but she can't because of her job. However, in the past she hasn't had any desire to go to church. Now that she does, I know that the Lord will provide a way for her!
5. The less-active member (Sister Eto) has an 11 year old daughter who is really hard to. Unlike America (or I should say mainly Idaho and Utah) the wards are so spread out in Japan. The Kasukabe area is quite big. By car, they live about an hour away, so it is really really hard to set up appointments to meet her. In the 4 months that I have been in Kasukabe, we have been able to meet with her twice. This last weekend was one of those times-with her Mom, Eto Shimai. We told her our desires for Sayaka-chan to be baptized. Eto Shimai doesn't really want to set any specific goal for that right now, but she always says that it will happen eventually. We asked Eto Shimai if she would say the closing prayer and she agreed. She prayed for the ability to be able to go to church and also prayed that Sayaka-chan (her 11 year old daughter) would receive baptism once she understood the church a little more. Sister Hosoya (her visiting teacher of about 3 years) told us after the lesson that it was the first time she had ever heard Sister Eto pray before. What a huge miracle!
This morning we received transfer calls from the honbu (mission office). Sister Suita and I will be spending our Christmas season and New Year in............Kasukabe, in the same aparment, but we won't be companions any more. I am going to meet Sister Miaki (I'm not sure if that's spelled right) on Thursday. She is a second transfer missionary, so she I will be her 2nd trainner. Her first area was in the Tokyo 2nd ward (which is an English speaking and English teaching ward, so the mission office has asked that I really help her out with Nihongo (Japanese).
Speaking of Japanese, I got to translate at the Okegawa district meeting for Sister Ono. Despite the fact that we are in Japan, all of our meetings are in English. I wish they were in Japanese, but I guess because most of the missionaries are gaijin (foreigners), they do it in English. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE translating. It is one of the most rewarding jobs/responsibility ever (and good language study time).  :)
One last thought of the week:
Recently, we have been visiting with lots of less-active members of the church. If there's one thing that breaks my heart about missionary work, it's the less actives. It reminds me of the quote in PMG that says there is no point in doing missionary work if we do not hold on to the fruit of our efforts. As we have talked with less-active members, we have asked them if they have been praying lately. Without fail, almost every single less-active has not been praying. I have come to realize that when a member of the church stops praying (either personally, as a family, or both), that is the start of a slippery slope into inactivity. We must do the little things right. It doesn't seem like a big deal. Remember last General Coference when one of the speakers talked about skipping Sacrament Meeting once for a nice drive with the family. Those simple little things allow Satan to put a foot in the door of our spiritual house. Don't let him do this to you! It is by our small efforts that great things our brought to pass. Keep doing the small things and trusting that the Lord will never fail you!
I love Him and I love this great work!! Keep up the great missionary work everyone!
United as ONE,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Faith IN JESUS CHRIST - December 3, 2013

  We went to a Christmas Concert put on by some of the Japan Tokyo Mission missionaries in Matsudo (they have the biggest church in all of Asia...it's seven stories high). Kent Derriott (who is quite famous in Japan), was the narrator of the concert. We brought my Japanese teacher, Tanabe-san. What a great time of the season to help the people of Japan know the true meaning of Christmas.

  Outside of the Japan Tokyo temple at this time of season is this beautiful statue. I LOVE IT!!!
 While I teach Suita Shimai some of the American dishes, she has taught me how to make some Japanese dishes. Japanese food is the BEST!
Ho Ho Ho and a Happy December-can you believe it's already December!!
Thank you everyone for your thoughts, prayers, letters, and support. I love you all so much. I hope you are enjoying this holiday season-what a wonderful time of the year it is.
This week, I have been studying faith in Jesus Christ. I think that faith is one of the most under-studied topics, but yet it is the first principle of our church. Why is it so important? We are told that faith is a principle of power and that God works according to the faith of men. In particular, I have been studying Elder Jeffery R. Holland's talk: Lord, I Believe. I then read the scriptural account of this story. I think when most people read it, they stop once the boy is healed. However, I find great power in the verses that follow it. After the healing, the disciples ask the Lord why they couldn't heal the boy. The Lord said it was because they were lacking in faith. But with much prayer and fasting, all things are possible.
I also love faith tatoebanashis (object lessons). I try to come up with tatoebanashis all the time because it makes it so much easier to understand a gospel principle. Here's a good one for faith. It's called the trust fall. I think everyone knows what the trust fall is. If you don't, go Google it. Personally, I can't do the trust fall, but that's beside the point. For those who can do the trust fall, they do it super fast and completely trust the other person to catch them. However, even for those who are really good at the trust fall, if they think about it for too long or wait and wonder if they person will really catch them, they become scared and have a much more difficult time with this task. So too is this true with our reliance on the Lord. Just rely on Him now. There is no reason to wait.
As Sister Suita and I were doing weekly planning, we came to the conclusion that this week was going to be huge in the making of our White Christmas. We are not only teaching, but we are working on finding those who will receive us. During personal study, I have been studying finding. After much study and prayer, I took what I thought to be an answer to prayer into our companion study. I told Sister Suita that I saw a park on our mission map that I had never been to and asked her what she thought. We prayed together and decided that we ought to go. It was about a 40 minute bike ride (longer than we had expected) and when we got to the park, there weren't a whole lot of people there. Quite a few children playing soccer or playing on the play ground, but really no parents or grandparents. It was about dinner time, so grabbed a quick meal at Makudonarudo (McDonalds). I told Suita Shimai that we ought to try dendoing (proselyting) around the general area. The Lord needed us here for something, we just had to find out what it was. We chose to go housing at an apartment complex. I don't know if you know this or not, but unlike in America, most Japan houses have speakers by the doorbell. So, you have to try to get them interested by just talking to them over an intercom. I prayed like crazy for the faith to find a kinjin (golden investigator). That was the most successful housing experience I have ever had! One of the first doors we tried, a man came and talked to us for about 10 minutes. Although he already had his religion, he allowed us to share the Restoration of the Gospel with him. About half way through the process, I got some children to open the door. A few seconds later, a man came to the door. We shared the entire Plan of Salvation with him. We talked for about 30 minutes and then his wife came home and we talked with both of them for another 15 minutes. I asked him if I could give him our cell phone number and he wrote it down. Then, he asked me if I was ready for his number!! Incredible! We are going to meet with him again this week. He is interested in learning about our religion. This sweet and humbling experience strengthened my personal testimony of faith. Most of the time, the Lord isn't just going to place miracles right in our path. He has to see that we are going to work for the miracle first.
I know that through faith, miracles are wrought. I love Ether 12. It repeats over and over again that first is faith and then second to it is the miracle. This order is so crucial. The Lord expects us to exercises what faith we do have in order to perform the miracles that He wants so badly to give us.
I love the Savior. I know that He lives and He is very aware of us. Let's continue to go on in the greatest cause-the hastening of God's work. Members are so powerful in missionary work. I have a challenge for all those who read this letter (and don't stop reading even though some of you might want to...). Before Christmas is over, invite some of your friends to learn about the true meaning of Christmas through family home evening, a church Christmas party, or some other creative idea. I know that if you will do this, the Lord will bless you.
All you have to do is Be Strong And Do It (BSADI) :)
One Faith, One Prayer, One Heart, One Baptism...before Christmas,
Yamauchi Shimai