Monday, December 15, 2014

THE FINAL LETTER.

I am absolutely CERTAIN that I will look back on my mission, and be grateful I endured to the end. Although not large, my contribution to the Lord has had significance in His eyes. I can feel it.

Sad news that Iwaki has to be closed for sisters. But it's happy news that the other areas didn't have to close for the sisters! This week was busy, and we got to teach Sach san and Maria. Sach san has agreed to continue to be taught by the elders, and Maria will be taught by SKYPE. Thank goodness for technology!!

I got to sing in sacrament meeting for my final meeting, and it made me happy. I've tried hard to develop the talents the Lord has given me on my mission. By having had the opportunity to serve, I learned how to love. I'm so grateful for having had this opportunity to serve!!

This week was busy, and I'll be busy until I hop on the plane (and have an 8 hour layover in Tokyo--instanly un-busied.)
 
So the general run-down of this week is as follows:
 
Monday- We rode the SHINKANSEN bullet train up North to Yamagata, and climbed Yamadera! It's a famous site with temples in the mountains-it was dusted with snow and we had a blast!
 
Tuesday- We had Christmas Zone Taikai at Yamagata! And for the first time since my 4th transfer; I didn't translate the meeting! Woohoo! I guess they decided to give the old missionary a break;)
 
Wednesday- Appointments and my last time at Eikaiwa English Class! Some of my favorite students looked like they were going to cry...it was super cute!
 
Friday- Last lesson with Maria! She promised to come to church..but then got busy....and didn't. sad. She'll be taught on SKYPE in Spanish from now on!
 
And then just lots more meeting with people, packing, and doing the standard dendo! We were able to meet with a lot of people this week and tell them that the elders will be taking it from here! So our district isgoing from 8 to 4 people- and they're all elders! But they're all great missionaries so I'm sure they'll do fine!
 
I can't believe this is my last letter. It's not that the mission seemed THAT fast; it just seems like I'll be a missionary forever. Well; I WILL be; just not with the tag. Once it actually hits me that I'm going to have to leave Japan and not speak in Japanese and not be able to serve the Japanese people-I'm gonna cry. Big time. It's impossible to put a year and a half of heart into something and then leave it; expecting your heart won't notice the difference. I love Jesus Christ, and I love the Japanese people! They are SO SPECIAL to God, and He's working on them and preparing them to accept their Savior! The Saints here are some of the strongest people I've ever met. I'll tell you about them when I get back. They are spiritual giants!

  I'm looking forward to seeing you this week! I do accept that my time has come and that missions come to an end; but it's really just a springboard into life! People keep telling me I better come back to Japan; I don't think I'd be able to NOT come back!
 
I know that this work is the Lord's work, and I will be eternally grateful for having been able to serve my Savior!
 
Love you! Thank you for your year-and-a-half of love, support, and prayers. It means a lot to me.

See you on the other side;)

Orgill Shimai

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Only had a few minutes...

This week we only got 2 lines from Natalie. Since it was her last preparation day, they got permission to go to Yamadera, which literally means "mountain temple" 

I've only got a few minutes here from the church because today we're going to YAMADERA!!! #shinkansenfordays the shinkansen is the bullet train, or high speed train system that can go about 200 mph!


This is Yamadera in the Fall - When she visited yesterday it would have had snow on the ground
And her quick note to me, her sister: Hey!!! I look forward to reading your letter next week! Love you!!!! I pray for your good grades every day:)

Only 8 more days until Sister Orgill is home!!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

"I'M SAW HER!!!!"

Aizu! In the sunlight, you can see pretty clearly that my hair is blonde! But in the shade or indoors, no one knows!

I gave a talk in church this week on overcoming trials, or bearing our burdens. It translates a little weird, so that's what I'm going with. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to examine the Lord's hand in my own life, and how much I am qualifying for his grace, and how much I rely on Him. I approached this talk prayerfully, because I know that a lot of the members here in Iwaki have very heavy burdens. I gave the talk yesterday, citing one of my favorite conference talks "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence" by Jorg Klemingat from this last conference. His advice #6 really struck me- and also the quote he cited from Glenn L. Pace- "often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into [your life] because of what [you] are doing right". Anyway, I gave the talk, and many members talked to me after, saying that the talk had been "for them".  Also, a member that just moved from Osaka, Izumi Kyoudai, advised me to work in some kind of job where I would be using my Japanese. I'll do my best!:)

   We got to go to Aizu for a split!! It was my LAST SPLIT EVER. With my best friend!! Ko and I taught a lessons to and L.A. and a wonderful family of investigators! It was a spiritually powerful time, and it made me thankful to be in Iwaki, because Aizu is COLD. But, at least there apartment is new....and has more than one sink in the whole apt....I love talking to Ko because she always helps me understand more about myself, because she knows me so well! I guess that's what 3 months together will do to you!

Aizu eki! (Aizu train station)

Instead of the Word of the Week, this time I thought I would throw in some Japanese and English Fails!

Japanese fail: Last night all 8 of us missionaries were invited to dinner by a family of former investigators that LOVE music. The husband was a professional flute player (I'm serious) and so now they have a lovely home. So, he was talking about the need to drink refined coffee (I hope I mentioned, PREVIOUS investigator), and he says, "hoka no ocha mo kouiufuuni nomemasu kedo, kuromamecha toka..." And 2 of the elders who have been out for about a year, go, "Wait, what? Kuromamecha?" Then our beloved bean new missionary who has way-too-fly Japanese pipes up. "Black bean tea." They give her this "how on Earth did you know that" look, and she shrugs innocently. Kuro...black. Mame...bean. Cha...tea. Black bean tea." Their jaws fell open. I laughed. "You just got schooled in Japanese by the bean." But all things considered- her Japanese is inhumanly good for someone that has been in Japan for one month, hehe. She apparently studied Japanese at BYU for a two semesters before her mission.

Thanksgiving with the ladies!!! (no dinner table; but this time we got fancy and used the ironing board AND the suitcase)

English fail- So have I ever mentioned the super weird friendship between Cole shimai and Yama shimai? It's....hilarious. Cole shimai doesn't speak Japanese (yet...but she is WELL on her way.) and Yama shimai doesn't speak English. Sometimes I'll walk into the kitchen, and witness their "conversations" They are absolutely hilarious. I don't know why; but every time I see them talking, it reminds me of two tiny gorillas using sign language to communicate with each other. I don't know. I can just see it. So anyway, they have this weird relationship of trying to feed each other nasty foods, or just creep the other one out. So the other day, Yama shimai and I were about to leave the apt. while the other companionship finished up some studying. I walk out to the main room, and see Yama shimai creeping or watching on Collyer shimai from behind a door. I wait. The creeping continues. I wait some more. Continued creeping. "Let's go," I say. No answer. I put my arm around her and start walking to the door. "We've gotta go, yo." I say. She begins to protest. "I'm....saw...her! I'M SAW HER!!!!" We start laughing, as she realizes that this must make no sense. She changes her angle, and points at Cole shimai. "I'M WATCH YOU! I'M WATCH YOU!!"  We busted up, and I dragged my small friend away from her small minion. Yeah..our apartment is a good time;)

almareal. Because ALMA=REAL. What are the odds?

  We had a takoyaki party at church yesterday, which took a lot of prep, and a lot of cleanup! But our ECC English Conversation Class friends Atsu and Sae san came, hooray!!

Takoyaki with the peeps!

Love you!!!

Orgill Shimai

I made DELICIOUS Pumpkin choco-chip bread with the pumpkin from Maria. Yes, it's important.

Just another week of good-old dendo. You know how it goes!

Just a day in the life...

This week we focused our efforts in particular in teaching mogi lessons to the active members. It was a blessing in many ways- we got to hear the strong testimonies of our members and get to know more about them! I've learned to really love mogi lessons.

Our lessons with the L.A. Maru shimai just keep getting better and better. The more we show her love and listen to her, the more she relates her OWN life to gospel principles as she talks to us in lessons. She has real potential for coming back to church- she just needs to feel loved and accepted first! I feel that work with less-active members has been one of the biggest purposes that I was called to serve here in Sendai. I love the members here-active and less-active.

Eikaiwa is producing wonderful fruits!! People are coming to the church, having fun, losing their frightening images of Christianity, becoming close with the missionaries, and wanting to know why we shine the way that we do! The bonds that nearly ALL of the ECC students are forming are encouraging them to investigate the gospel from their own will! I had a student, Atsu san, tell me this last week that he wished he had heard the gospel earlier in life! Another student, 50 year old Sae san, came to church- just because he wanted to come to church! We were shocked. It feels good to serve the community through teaching English, but it feels doubly wonderful when those learning English feel the light of the Gospel and respond to it!

Our room with the futons out and somebody reading the ensign

We taught a lesson to Maria this week- and we are witnessing a miracle before our very eyes. A woman who has been a die-hard, dendoing-every-day Jehovah's witness for 24 years who declared passionately last week that Jehovah's Witness is Jesus Christ's correct church, and the Bible is the only book of God.....is changing. This week, we asked her if she had prayed about Joseph Smith's experience. She said, "I am praying every day, and asking God to tell me what is right. I'm reading the Book of Mormon, and it supports the Bible, just like you said. These books have the same things written in them. I believe what is written in the Book of Mormon. So now I'm struggling, asking God if he wants me to stay on this path, or to join the Mormon church." Ummm WOW! It bore such a strong witness to my heart that our message IS true, and that the Spirit is working in her and changing her. I don't know how much time it will take, but I know that because Maria shimai's sole desire is to follow God's path for her, she will receive a clear answer from God that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's restored church on the earth today. We're so blessed to be able to teach someone with such strong faith and such pure desires of her heart!

This is a lovely graveyard up north

The Word of the Week? Tensai. It means "Genius". My dear friend President Sai visited from Aizu this week, and started talking about the missionaries in his talk on Sunday. When he got to me, he said, "Orgill shimai...well, I'm sure you all already know, but her Japanese is...Japanese-person Japanese. She's a tensai." Very, very embarrassing. Also not true. But there you have it. Tensai.

Sister missionaries!

The Miracle of the Week (other than Maria's remarkable progress) was that after church, President Sai's son who has Downe Syndrome got lost- in a downtown area next to a large river. Not good. We prayed to find him, and all of the missionaries and a handful of members went out to search for him. I felt prompted that we should go east along the river; apparently so did elder Bo, and that's where we met up with Sister Mo and Cole who apparently felt they needed to go that direction as well. And that's ALSO where we ran into two members- who  had just found him where we had all been prompted to go. It was just starting to get dark and cold, and the Lord protected him and he was unharmed! The Lord DEFINITELY listens to and answers prayers!

That's it for this week! We've got a split this week in Aizu on Thanksgiving, I'll tell you about it next week! Yayy for getting to split with Ko!!

My favorite tractor "Zest-y"...

Have a great week!
Orgill Shimai

"Won't you come to the public bath with us?" Noo thank you, wrinkled old lady.

Hello hello!
No big events this week; just small miracles from Heavenly Father spattered throughout our days as we work to be exactly obedient in every measure and give dendou our alll. I'm glad to be with Yama shimai- we're equally yoked and we teach well together. I learned that as we taught a handful of first lessons at doorways this week! The Lord softened the hearts of many we talked to; and we found many people with interest in learning about God. These are the things that make a missionary the happiest! Hallelujah!

At the church!
  Early in the week, coming off of a blow of not-so-good health and feeling terrible about the miscommunication with someone the week before (see the previous blog post), I was feeling pretty spiritually down. Some times on my mission, I've wondered, "when I'm trying so hard to be good and when I need the Lord's guidance more than ever; why is it not coming? Why can't I feel it?"  There are several reasons. But after a bout of feeling this in a very strong wave, I did turn to Heavenly Father for help, asking me to just give me a witness that He's there and that He loves me. And as I turned away from pitying myself in my pretended-ignored state, I turned to my scriptures. and I received a stronger witness than I probably have in my whole life that the Book of Mormon is true, God is my Heavenly Father, and Jesus is the Christ. I opened up to Ether 3, where the brother of Jared is conversing with the Lord, and because of the strength of his faith, he sees the hand of God. Then the conversation before Christ reveals his body to the brother of Jared was what I read- and the Lord asks Him certain questions before He shows himself that touched my heart, and called me to a recollection that the miracle comes AFTER the trial of our faith. At that moment, I felt in my heart, that I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true. I don't think it's true; I don't hope it's true; I know for a fact that a man with little education could not have written a book that has aided me and brought me closer to God as has no other book has- in under 30 days. I know the prophets that warned the people of ancient America to turn to Christ were speaking to our day as well- and as we heed to the words of ancient and modern-day prophets, we will draw closer to God, and gain happiness and a perfect sense of direction in this love. I love the Book of Mormon.
   The Lord blessed us as we went out to dendo in the cold this week. We met 4 people who wanted to come to church, wanted to know who God was, wanted to read the Book of Mormon, wanted to try praying, wanted us to come back....We felt so blessed. Truly perfect obedience does bring blessings. A line that went through my head many times this week is, "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven", from Praise to the Man. Well...it's true!

Yama and I, in between dendo of course
The Word of the Week is one that my companion used the other day- may I just say that DANG she uses hard Japanese. And Kansai-ben. Like seriously; I thought I knew Japanese before becoming companions with her...now I'm just like, "What??" But ANYWAY! It is:Chokkan!! It means Intuition! Like women's intuition, etc.. I'm probably just teaching you this word because I want you to understand that Arashiyama shimai uses some stinking HIGH-CALIBER JAPANESE.
We had a hilarious, 90% (I'm not exaggerating. Seriously.) Spanish lesson with Maria this week with Pide as a joint on Skype! We think from here on out, we're going to try and teach her without a Spanish speaking joint; because if there is ONE PERSON in the room that understands her Spanish, she just takes off and there's no catching her. But it was a good lesson! We hope that as she continues to read the BoM that she will see that it is truth to be used along the Bible to know what God wants us to do! She's seriously the cutest, though; we love her tons!
If you want a little Spiritual Boost, here's some of mine from the week! In the morning when I study my scriptures, if a scripture really stands out to me or touches my heart, I write it at the top of my planner on that day's page, and kind of try to make it my theme for the day! I really like it, it keeps the spirit in my heart!
D&C 30:42- Fear not, little children...
Mormon 9:27- O then despise not, and wonder not....doubt not, but be believing
Check them out, I love both of them!

My study corner!!
And that's about it for this week! OH! Two kind of crazy happenings:
We went to a faraway place called Nakoso to volunteer at an old folks' lunch, and they all go to the hot bath together during the luncheon. The lady next to me turned to me and said, "won't you join us?" I politely declined. I look across the table, and one of the sassier, heavier ladies is asking Shwartz choro one of the Elders the same question.....his face? PRICELESS.
Last night we went tracting, and the first door we knocked on was a man who let us into his (VERY nice) home, where his wife was sitting with the TV going, staring blankly out the window. After talking to this man for a few minutes we realized that this man's wife is Ono Emiko san- THE Emiko san- a.k.a. the best Hula dancer that Japan has ever had. There's a movie called "Hula girls", which is a true story of her life. The sad thing is? 8 years ago she was diagnosed with dementia, and now she does not talk-and her husband is caring for her by himself (she's 70 and he's 73). It was sad to see. They had me show her the hula I learned from my former Hawaiian companion, her husband was very impressed and she continued her blank stare. He was really nice, and wants to talk to us more (because he's lonely AND because he wants to know who God is and where he goes when he/his wife dies) Well...we were blessed to house into this man (who knew a shockingly large amount about Mormons- thanks to the Polynesian Cultural center in Hawaii).
  
The biggest Sunday you have ever seen - it could have fed 20, but we somehow managed with 9 people (including this Elder, of course)
Love you!
Orgill shimai

Apparently the Gift of Tongues isn't limited to Japanese...

 Hello hello! For some reason, this week kind of felt like the longest week EVER. With a round-trip to Sendai, two companions, and lots of appointments canceled on us, it feels like a million years ago that I last wrote to you and signed up for my BYU classes (she was allowed to sign up during her preparation day). Bah. With that being said....this week was long- but this letter will be fairly short. Yeah, it was THAT kind of long.
     
     I'll start off by saying- MY HEALTH IS IMPROVING. I got a blessing from my dear friend Schultz. He blessed me to be completely healed by the time I go home. Since I got the blessing the other day, my pain has receded and my energy increased. Blessings.

   The highlights of this week:
The Anders family came down from the Honbu and took Mc shimai and i out to lunch- it was good to see them.
   Mc shimai and I took the bus to Sendai...



...met all the sister missionaries that where about to go home (they're all home now!), and Yama shimai and i came back! Man, I make good suggestions;) She is SO FUNNY. All I wanted for my last transfer was a little, funny Japanese person who speaks in really difficult Japanese so I could learn- and that's EXACTLY what I got! AND she's amazing at cooking! We're gonna have a goood 6 weeks together:) Yama shimai is 6th transfer, 24 years old, and spent the last 5 years working in Osaka! She went to Culinary school for a year, and then moved to Osaka and just started working. She is the middle of 6 children, her big sister served a mission also. She stands at about 155cm and she is the cutest. Her hobbies include singing in English, singing in English in the shower, and singing pretend English to Orgill shimai during Companionship Study. Let's just say if I hear the half-English version of Army of Helaman again....I will have heard it 500 times. She's the best! 
    
Yama Shimai, the awesome missionary chef!

     We had a really cool lesson with Maria this week! And this is where the MIRACLE of the Week comes in. Maria is from Costa Rica. She loves speaking Spanish like Paula Dean likes butter. So we finally got a Skype joint- Pide shimai from Colombia who lives in Akita with her family! And let's just say, the MINUTE that Skype call started, BAM. All Spanish. Remember; I have never taken Spanish in my life- just grown up in California with a fair amount of Spanish speakers. But suddenly, I was translating their conversation from rapid Spanish to Japanese for my companion as fluidly as I would have had it been English. Like, what? It was a great joint, and she told us she promises she will read the Book of Mormon to see if she can come to believe as Pide shimai and we believe. We love her tons. And I'm sure if I tried to speak Spanish outside of those lessons, I would fail miserably. BUT. God lives and he helps us in our times of need. Of that I can testify.

    We had some other good lessons with members this week, just showing them we love them, that God loves them, and finding out their spiritually needs through the promptings of the Spirit. Some good progress going on.
    
    The Word of the Week this week is a good one. It is: GOKAI. It means (a) misunderstanding. I had a humbling experience this week! While intending to compliment a close friend of mine, I apparently said it oddly, and she took it badly, and it all just turned into one huge confusion of unwarranted offense. But once we talked about it (I didn't know at the time- she called me the next morning), she was half-convinced that I was seriously not intending anything bad; but rather it was a difference of language and a difference of culture. "But you're so good at Japanese, I didn't think you could mess up what you were saying and what you meant," she told me. Yeah, well, neither did I, but consider me humbled.

MC shimai and I bought matching jammies...before realizing that they're kids sized. #caprijammies


   We did some pretty insane biking to visit members down South towards the ocean this week, and it was a lovely ride! It's finally cold enough that all the giant poisonous spiders that hang over the sidewalks have died off...ohh happy day! The best thing about it getting colder? NO MORE BUGS. Yay!!!

  That's about it for this week! Have a great week- love you MUCHO (see there, there's my Spanish. you're welcome.)
LOVE YOU!!

Orgill Shimai

"Sorry....he's requested a blonde...will you do it?"

Hey y'all!!

Lots of good things happened this week.

We were able to teach two good lessons to investigators- Maria and Sach san.
We taught Sach san about baptism, and had a great lesson where we started working out anything standing in between her and getting baptized. She has very strong faith, and with the help and experiences of the members, we hope she will make the decision to put her trust in God and allow Him to bless her!

   Our lesson with Maria was good- she not only read the Lesson 1 pamphlet; she STUDIED it and looked up every scripture in the back! She believes everything we teach; except that because she is such a stalwart Christian it is hard for her to accept that the Lord has given us anything more than the Bible. But she is an earnest seeker of truth; and we know that once she gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon, she will want to be baptized (she told us so, haha.)
    
     Here's the general run-down on the week-

  Wednesday- The Halloween party was so fun! Pictures!!

Ria chan and her dad


 I embarassingly and accidentally almost won musical chairs against all of the kids playing- awk. Once I realized that I was the only adult in (during the last round), I let the little guy take the chair, and awkwardly walked away... 

Guess you could say that I'm the bomb at musical chairs...

My friend Atsushi san came in in this ridiculous outfit and said, "What am ?" I got really excited. "A Ninja Turtle!" ....I still don't know WHAT he was; but apparently Ninja Turtle was not accurate. We had a Mystery Box, blindfolded donuts on a string (hilarious.), cookie decorating, games, and sweet pinatas that the elders made!Our Halloween party was also a huge success! We're still working on some students, but I was able to explain many principles of the gospel to one of the students.

 It was a good chance to bring the ward together with the Eikaiwa students. We wish more of the members would have come; though. What I realized since coming on my mission- going to activites is not necessarily about whether you want to go or not or whether you think it will be fun or not; it is about SUPPORTING those around you in their callings, fellowshipping the friends the missionaries bring, and showing your appreciation to committees that spent so much effort on activities! 

Halloween costumes for the missionaries!!
   Thursday-   We had a great time doing service pushing otoshiyori (grandmas and grandpas mostly) people in wheelchairs through a grocery store helping them do their shopping. One of the Helpers pushed a man up to me who was beaming. "He said he wanted a blonde to help him. Will you do it?" Goodness man, How did you know I'm a blonde in disguise?? It was fun service.

  Friday we had (another) Zone Training Meeting in Kouriyama and it was wonderful and spiritual. It was also the last time I'll see Kuch, Naga, and my trainer Jay Shimai before they get on a plane this week...and then it's my turn. Weird. Transfers happen every 6 weeks.

   We had a tender mercy on Saturday! We biked 5 or 6 km out to teach Maria. Somewhere along the way, the lock to Mc shimai's bike broke cleanly in half and fell to the road, unnoticed by her until we got to Maria's house. The problem was not just that the lock's key had broken off--the church key and our only apartment key had been attached and lost as well. We went in, taught the lesson, left, prayed to have help to find it on our 6 km trek home. And 2 kms away, by a sheer miracle- we found it- sitting, unharmed, on the sidewalk in plain view. We picked it up, smiled in relief, and went to our appointment with Yo sensei teacher. She's a Japanese teacher (to gaijin foreigners), and the elders were introducing her to us- thorough Okonomiyaki Japanese cabbage pancake - "as you like it", you can put anything and everything on it. It was so tasty! She's apparently pretty wealthy; and she ordered all-you-can-eat for all of us. Too nice. But she was a really nice lady who knows a surprising amount about the church.

    Sunday was amazing because there was a BAPTISM! 15-year-old Ria chan got to get baptized by her LA father! It was so spiritual, everyone was crying. She bore a sweet testimony. We all love her so much!

Ria chan in her new baptism dress, right after her baptism

The Word of the Week is Shikkousha! SO I thought this was hilarious when I first learned it. So Shikkousha means like, "Performer" or "do-er" of ordinances like baptism. BUT. Shikko sounds A LOT like Shiko (welcome to my life of Japanese learning.) And "shiko" means "urine" and "sha", means like "the person who does__" So when I first heard it, I feared they were talking about "the pee-er." Bahaha. Ohh, Japanese;)

Oh! ANNOUNCEMENT! I'm getting YAMA SHIMAI as my companion!! Yes!! Okay so actually funny story- Kaicho President thought I was going to go to Aizu for a medical check-up I needed because another missionary got treated there. But I talked to the doctor in Aizu on the phone, and he told me he thought I should try to go to the Iwaki hospital first. I didn't think to tell Kaicho; and we just went to the hospital and did what we needed to do. When I called that night to tell him how it went, he said,"Oh...this changes things. I just put in a transfer schedule sending you to Aizu to be closer to the hospital...I guess we'll be keeping you in Iwaki then." "yes, please do. And please give me a Nihonjin Japanese companion." "Ah, yes, you'll need them for the hospital trips." "My recommendation is Kah or Yama." "I'll see what I can do." HAHAHA Last transfer and I get what I want!! Booyah!! I love Mc shimai and we're SO EXCITED for her to go to my beloved stomping grounds of Odate! She'll do work!

Have a great week!!
  Love you!
Orgill Shimai