Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm Trying to be like Jesus - January 27, 2014

The missionaries all got a chance to help make mochi ! My turn!

Bishop started things out...

Long line of kids ready to help make mochi and Bishop Abe helping.

Bishop is a professional...and so is the one that's in the crouched position (he turns the mochi over in the bowl every time it gets pounded.

William giving it a go. He was pretty good at it. The mallet is quite heavy.
On Sunday, Urrichkie Shimai received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Although she understands and can speak Japanese, she understands English better, so the blessing was given in English. Her son, William, only understands Japanese, so I translated for William. It was a very spiritual experience to hear him gasp as I said, "receive the Holy Ghost" in Japanese (which, if anyone is curious...[seirei (w)o ukenasai]. He is excited to feel the Holy Ghost more in his life. After the blessing, Urrichkie Shimai was weeping. She felt so much peace. Real peace...a kind of peace she hadn't felt in a long time. I am so thankful to Heavenly Father for allowing me to have these wonderful experiences. I feel so blessed to be able to witness His mighty hand in the lives of others. Urrichkie Shimai has changed so much. Watching her in church today, I couldn't help but think of this scripture: "And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God." She has truly become a new creature. She knows who she is and she knows what life is truly about.

William had his interview today and we are looking forward to his baptismal service next week. He is such a wonderful boy. We challenged him to try fasting on the day of his baptism (not for the full 24 hours, but for about 15 hours). Then, when he came to church and saw me, one of the first things he told me is that he was fasting today...he hadn't eaten breakfast! Wow!! He has changed a lot in the past month. He didn't really know if God existed before, but now he does! I am so excited for him and the decision he has made to be baptized. As we thought about what songs would be appropriate for the baptismal service, we discussed "I'm trying to be like Jesus." I LOVE THIS SONG SO MUCH. Isn't that what life is all about. Sometimes people make the gospel too complicated, member or nonmember. Sometimes I think we focus too much on the small, insignificant details than what really matters. When it all comes down to it, all we've got to do is follow Christ. That's it.
I love my Savior. I know that He understands each and every one of us individually. He is our ever-living friend. Our BEST friend. May we all try a little harder to follow Him. To do as He would do. To say what he would say. To be who He wants us to be.

Thank you for all your hard work and prayers. I know that the Lord has been answering your prayers. I love you and pray for you as well.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Urrichkie Muranaka Alvaran‏ - January 20, 2013

  Kitahara Yuki, Urrichkie Muranaka Alvaran, Sister Yamauchi, Sister Miyaki

I wish I could put it into words...but that's the point of pictures, right? One picture is worth 1,000 words. But then even 1,000 words couldn't describe this. Urrichkie's baptism was absolutely incredible! What a blessing for her! She is on the road to her own salvation. After she was baptized, she shared her testimony with the ward. In her testimony, she said that she knew that it was important that she keeps her promise that she made with God at baptism.That made my day-that is such an incredibly important concept for our investigators to understand. We will continue to strengthen her. I love the quote in PMG by President Hinckley. There is no point in doing missionary work if we don't hold on to the fruits of our efforts.

We asked William (her son) if he would say the closing prayer for his Mom and he said yes. The ward members were astonished! He offered such a sincere, heart-felt prayer. We set a baptismal date with him today-Feburary 2! I love him so much. He is progressing at a very rapid rate. Please pray for William's safety and to be baptized on Febrary 2. P.S. He loves soccer! Maybe we will play with him sometime soon.

There are no coincidences in the Lord's work. This is His work and we are just lucky enough to get to participate in it!

 Kitahara Yuki, Urrichkie Muranaka Alvaran, William Muranaka, Sister Yamauchi

Happy Monday afternoon from here in Kasukabe, Japan. This morning we got transfer calls!! Guess what? I'm staying in Kasukabe! I think I've officially decided that I'm going to be Kasukabe's missionary forever. :) I have also been called as Sister Training Leader. I feel very blessed for the opportunities the Lord is constantly offering me to give my life to the service of others.
Today I studied about courage.I love to focus on the Christ-like attributes found in PMG. Our mission actually added one attribute. That attribute is courage. The world's definition of courage is "the ability to do something dangerous, or to face pain or opposition, without showing fear." As I have studied the scriptures to learn more about courage, I think God has a little different definition. Here's what I came up with: Courage is knowing that you can do anything if you have God's help. I know that is true. So, with that in mind, it's time for the coolest part of this email...keep reading.
If you haven't seen it yet, go watch the video the church has put out for the 2014 youth theme-it is so incredible. This week I have thought a lot about what it means to come unto Christ. Have you read Lehi's vision lately? You have to go read it again. I now look at that chapter completely different than I used to. I want you to think about all the different things that consisted of Lehi's vision and what they stand for. Now think about just a few things, namely, the tree of life (and fruits), the iron rod, and the mist of darkness. When we think of the Iron Rod, we tend to think the Word of God, or the scriptures. Now go to St. John 1 (chapter heading). It tells us in the very first line that "Christ is the Word of God." Wow, way cool. So the people

in Lehi's vision were clinging to the iron rod...or in other words, clinging to Christ. Christ isn't the light at the end of the tunnel (waiting for us at His tree of love), He's with us every step of the way through the tunnel! His path is so simple...just follow Christ's example. It's that simple!
I know that as we decide to come unto Christ (not just walk along the side of him, or kind of hold on to him with one hand), but truly cling to Him with all our might, we will go together to partake of that fruit, which is most precious above all else. He's calling your name. He's waiting for you. With arms open wide. Come unto Christ and you will find eternal life.
Here's to another week full of miracles! I'm Ready! Are you?


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

He can do Anything! - January 14, 2014

 One of our cute Kasukabe ward families: The Takagi family. Children have such a light about them. What a wonderful service for our ward and for our investigators!
"Wherefore, my beloved bretheren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men? For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith iin him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens. And because he hath done this, my beloved bretheren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men." -Moroni 7:27-29
I want to start off this email with a big thanks for all who prayed for Sister Muranaka from my letter last week. Muranaka is her married name, so we call her Sister Urrichikie from now on. I cannot even begin to tell you the many miracles that came about because of your faith and prayers. Some of the miracles are so sacred that I only tell my journal. Ever since we set the baptismal date with Urrichikie Shimai, I have prayed so hard that she would be ready by that date. We have put her on the prayer list for the missionaries in the Saitama East Zone to pray for her every night to be baptized on that date. I asked anyone who read my letter to pray specifically for her to be baptized on that date. My testimony of prayer exploded this week. It works...I know prayer works!" I can't get it out in words or in this email...but I wish I could tell you what's inside my heart right now. I know that God loves all his children so much, but He has a particularly tender part of his heart saved just for Sister Urrichikie. She is so excited for baptism and we are more than excited for her!
Also, William-kun came to church with his Mom (thank you for praying for that too)!! He met so many new friends and had such a wonderful time. He told me he wants to get baptized. His mother's example has been a huge blessing in his life. He has been praying and reading the Book of Mormon. He is one of the brightest/cutest/sweetest 10 year olds ever!
Here's another huge miracle story this week. Last Sunday, Sister Miyaki and I were in the church working on the computer and someone rang the church doorbell. We went down to see who it was and a man was standing there. At first I thought he was a business man that needed to get in the church to check electricity or something. However, come to find out, he said that he has interest in church. We had our first lesson with him last Wednesday.  When he came for his first lesson, he was all dressed up in his suit (which, I guess thinking about it now, isn't rare in Japan. Almost everyone is always in nice dress-up clothes). We talked about the small and simple things that will help him know that there is a God (prayer, scripture study, and church). The Lord has prepared Suzuki-san sooo much!! I felt the Spirit so strong! We extended the baptismal commitment to him and he accepted. He had some good/jaw-dropping questions. They were questions that showed just how much the Lord had prepared him. He told us he was worried because he doesn't drink sake (alcohol), so he was worried that we use wine instead of water at our church. He was also worried because what about people who can't swim-how do they get baptized? Then, to surprise us even more, he brought up money. We taught him the law of tithing and he agreed and understood everything that we told him. He is now looking forward to baptism.
The Lord has blessed the Kasukabe area so much. Again, thanks to your prayers. I hope and pray for God's choicest blessings to be with you as well. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true!! It changes lives.
This week, could you please pray that:
  1. Urrichikie Shimai (a.k.a. last weeks Muranaka Shimai) that she will get baptized on January 19.
  2. William-kun (Urrichikie's son), that he will be able to come to church next week and able to get baptized soon.
  3. That Suzuki-san will continue to progress towards his baptismal date on February 9.
I don't know why, but the last couple of days, I have really been thinking about the word "start." What are we going to start with? The end in mind. Why are we going to start with the end in mind? Because we want to see baptisms. Why do we want to see baptisms? Because we want to see these people in heaven! I love the quote in PMG that says, "We do not preach and teach in order to 'bring people into the Church' or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives....We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God." How great is our calling and how privileged we are to take part in this work-how lucky we are that God gives us the chance! I know that He loves us so much, and I love Him! God can do anything...absolutely anything. And...without him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He is all-powerful, all-knowing, almighty. I love Him with all my heart, might, mind, strength...and whatever else I have to give.
Have a wonderful week everyone!!
They've been talking about it ever since I came to this mission, but finally...the big moment has almost arrived!! We are officially getting iPad's around the start of February. It is going to be such an incredible tool in hastening the work of the Lord. We will be able to show people and other things while finding those who God has prepared. The work will continue to move forward! What an incredible time of our lives it is!
Love ya!!
-Yamauchi Shimai

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

akemashite/oshogatsu omedetou gozaimasu (Happy New Year) - January 7, 2014



Sister Muranaka and us at church

New Year's dinner at Miura Shimai
"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord: yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." -Alma 26:16
Like Ammon says, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel. This email, when read, will probably never do justice for the things that I feel in my heart. This week, along with a new year, has come much change along with many miracles. As a result, I have seen the change and the miracle in myself. There is no way to describe this week in words, nor in speech, nor in thought, but I hope that it gives you strength as you read.

I was so greatful to start of the week cleaning our apartment and then reading the Book of Mormon. Like we are asked to do in PMG, I took action in Moroni's promise to fan the flame of my testimony. It was such an incredible experience for me.

Yesterdays sacrament meeting was probably the greatest sacrament meeting ever. I love testimony meeting. I do not think I have ever felt any feeling so strong as when I got up to share my testimony in sacrament meeting-I know that I felt God's pure love for those around me. It was a truly spiritual experience. Many of my seemingly unanswered prayers were answered in that meeting. What a truly incredibly amazing opportunity we have EVERY WEEK to renew our testimonies. Sacrament meeting is the best!

I have come to love our investigators so much this week. Many of them are going through hard times and need a spiritual doctor. They are so amazing and are a huge influence in my life. Muranaka Shimai is doing well. I want you to meet her so bad! She now has a baptismal date for January 19 and we are so thrilled for her. She is going through a very difficult time in her life right now, but she is fighting so hard and has complete trust that Christ will help her through anything. Please, please pray for her in every prayer that you offer. Also, Sayaka-chan is doing super well. Everyone in the ward has been a huge help in her progression towards her baptismal date.

The Spirit only teaches truth, and he taught me once again this week that this church is, without a question, the only true church of Jesus Christ.
There were 31 baptisms in our mission in December!! Wow!!! THAT. IS. ABSOLUTELY. INCREDIBLE. It wouldn't have happened without your prayers, so thank you so much. You know how little children aren't afraid to sit on Santa's lap and tell them what they want for Christmas? Well, we should be afaid to kneel in prayer and offer up the desire of our hearts to our Heavenly Father. I have learned how important it is to be very specific in our prayers. I know that when we unite in prayer and fasting, the Lord will help us! After all that talk, I have two very special requests this week. 1. Please pray for Sister Muranaka to be able to be baptized on January 19. Also pray that she will be able to come to church next Sunday along with her son, William. 2. Pray for Sayaka-chan to be able to strengthen her testimony of the gospel.

I love you all soooooo much. This year I know we will see a huge increase in convert baptisms as we unite as one!