Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 10/11 Letter

My dearest family!  I hope you’re all doing quite well!  In this letter I hope to include more detail on my mission up until now and hopefully some pictures!  Aomori is excellent.  Rasmussen Kaicho President is a man called of God and he is very inspired when he assigns our calls.  He’s really great.  So I’m doryos companions with Morgan and Yoshikawa Shimai.  So excellent.  Both of our Japanese is pretty good, and she can speak English as a last resort.  We all get along well and we always have so much fun together.  We have no investigators, so we do a lot of finding.  It’s getting less terrifying, but I still try hard to never get discouraged.  What helps me the most is utter faith that this is God’s work because these are His children, so I can do the best I can and let Him set the expectations.  But man, I love being on a mission.   This is a super super excellent district. 
I’m trying to learn as fast and as much as I can.  I’m so tired every night that I am out the second I lay down.  I don’t remember trying to fall asleep a single time.  I adjusted magnificently to the time change and the flights were bomb!  Lots of sleeping and noms food!  Speaking of noms, I eat ikka dried squid almost every single day!  Today we went “Viking” = all you can eat!  Haha!  We went with K-kun, a less active who loves the senkyoshi missionaries but doesn’t really love the commandments.  But he’s so sweet and we’re friends already!  The kyokaiin members are truly amazing in our branch.  There’s a lot of mental sickness up here in the north.  Yoshikawa Shimai theorizes it’s because of how much snow is here.  It actually snows here so much that we can’t ride our bikes at all in the furu winter, we walk everywhere!  Kind of stoked!  Aomori’s certainly changed a bit since Dad was here.  But man, some people’s accent is hopeless to understand!  There’s this family in our branch and the father came up and started talking to Morgan Shimai and I, half eigo English and half Japanese.  I kid you not, he dropped the “S” bomb 5 times!  Like yelling it!  I didn’t know golf was permitted in churches!!! (When golfing one day years ago, Natalie let slip a swear word on the putting green.  Swearing has been “golf language” at our home ever since.) But I’m loving life and learning a lot and working my butt off.  Gaijin foreigner power for the win!  If this letter doesn’t have pictures, then I’m sorry and you’ll get them a week from when you receive this! 
I love you tons!  I loved your emails and pictures.  I’m loving being out here.  (I’m so used to seeing Asians that when I saw a white lady today, I semi-panicked!)  I’m glad you’re doing well.  Tell Grandpa he’s in my prayers.
Heian to shukufuku  Peace and Blessings
Orgill Shimai

So I clearly didn’t send this last week!  I wanted to send pictures with it.  This week was hard, straight up tracting all day with no investigators feels kind of unproductive at times.  But life is good!  Dad, I didn’t have many expectations coming in, it’s much as I thought it would be!  I understand more than I thought I would, but I still have a long way to go!  The Lord has blessed me so richly while I’ve been here.  I just got back from biking through an enormous rainstorm.  We’re talking mini-monsoon.  So cool!  Soaked to the bone and feeling like a bad booty!  I didn’t have much coinage for pictures, but I’m sending a few (also from the MTC’s end) that I thought you’d enjoy (particularly the castle and noms!)  Anyway, life is good and our companionship is great.  We are so obedient and so dependable, I feel honored Rasmussen Kaicho was inspired to put me in such a difficult area.  I’ve met some really kind people here (some even had pants!)  I love serving the Lord and I love the gospel.  Stay strong and keep doing good.
Love ya much!


Week 12-- Aomori, Japan

Woohoo! Week 3 in Japan. I can’t believe I’m almost 3 months into my mission. The days drag, the weeks fly. trippy!! So I’m writing at lightning speed because we have like NO TIME to email, but guess who left a note on my bike today?!!!?!? MICHAEL JUCHAU!! And we’re meeting them after email time Yoshikawa shimai knows him too!! Wooo. (Michael is an old friend from San Jose who served in the same mission last year and is there with his family on vacation).
So this week we went to Hirosaki again, and this next week we’re going to Akita for 3 days where my bestie King choro is! Way excited!
Thank you Hailey for your letter, I really needed it and it lifted my spirits!!
We found 2 great college students this week, but unfortunately we can’t meet with them because both of their parents are hantai opposed. So sad. One guy even chased us down to give his daughters BoM back. I just hope they cross paths with the gospel later in life. Speaking of which- This week I saw a real, live miracle. We were on the train to Hirosaki. A lady smiled at us, we smiled back. She came over and said- You’re missionaries, aren’t you? Thank you for your service, and thank you for coming to my country to serve my people- in flawless English! Her name is Carol, she’s from Aomori but lives in NYC. She’s a piano teacher and has performed in Carnegie 9 TIMES. And she’s an amazing Christian woman. We talked the whole 40 minutes and gave her a BoM. That woman is getting baptized, I’m callin’ it now! She was so uplifting. Love her! She hopes to see us again next summer:)
I don’t know if I’ve told you about our 1 investigator, but she’s the CUTEST (Al, you would LOVE her) She’s at least one million years old (like 80 or 90) and she is hyaku pacento (100 %) toothless! Whenever she wants to make an emphasis (which is a lot) she looks at me and says in her toothless way; DESU NE??!  Am I right/Isn’t it so?!  And then she laughs at her own joke haha! She’s sweet and very, very bright. Love our sweet Sano san, even if she’s an hour bike ride away!

Oh so funny fails!! After emailing last week, we rode a looong way to the store. And it started to rain. No; not rain, pour. And then not pour but MONSOON. As Morgan Shimai is my witness, I looked like Voldemort on a BAD DAY. I thought I got stared at a lot BEFORE!
Additionally, the most embarrassing moment of my ENTIRE LIFE occurred. We were at church and had all come out of the bathroom and were just chatting with people. Suddenly the super awkward ward clerk came up behind me, muttering in rapid Japanese and appearing to try to promenade me like a bull with his suit coat. I was so confused as to what he was doing until Morgan Shimai shouted, OH!! And yanked my skirt OUT OF THE TOP OF MY UNDIES.  I ABOUT DIED. I wanted to cry hahaha. So so so terrible. Now the poor man can’t look me in the eyes!

Mom I was so embarrassed I seriously wanted to bawl!! And you keep kicking bad guy's booties!! (I chased off some would-be thieves trying my car doors at 4am in front of the house).  I’m so proud of you for losing 12 pounds!!

So we had a 'Primary Activity' on Saturday; which was maybe 5 children and then the rest of the ward! So much fun!! I just love the sweet branch members. Pictures to come (in the mail in a million years!) So a big problem of mine is sometimes people talk so fast I don’t know when they’re complimenting me or something! At the activity, this beautiful lady in our branch told me, 'Moderu mitai' at which I just smiled and said 'Hai!' Yes.  And then I thought about it. Oh no, iie iie!! No, no!  She'd told me I looked like a model, and I agreed bahaha. FAIL! People think I’m so pretty here!  It’s actually kind of a bummer, they tell me my white skin is beautiful and I’m all like DANG IT, I thought I was tan!!

Yeah, so apparently Rasmussen Kaicho doesn’t like to transfer a lot so I’ll be here well into the winter!! OH ALSO, there’s a fair chance I’m training once I’m done being trained. A goooood chance. Terrified haha! But really, everyone is so shocked with how good my Nihongo Japanese is and I’m just trying my best to talk with EVERYONE and get out of my comfort zone. Best way to learn is through making mistakes; as long as they don’t include skirts getting tucked into undies, that is.
So on Thursday while we were housing I got 'Come Follow Me' stuck in my head (sasuga missionaries, I know) and I started thinking about how all the Savior has asked us to do is simply follow Him. He has paved the way, lighted the path, AND offers His hand to guide us. 'Many will fall away because of the easiness of the way'. The path of righteousness is so simple. I promise as the Savior promised that if we but follow Him in every way, trying to become like Him and being baptized by someone holding God's priesthood authority as John the Baptist did, that we will be blessed in this life and in the life to come more than we currently have the capacity to comprehend. He knows us, and He will shoulder our burdens with us if we but ask him. We don’t have to become perfect or entirely worthy before we ask His help; He will ALWAYS be there to help us with EVERY trial. I know from my own life and from the testimonies of the amazing members here. This work is hard; but as Allison reminded me, that's why it is missionary 'work'.

I love you all!!

Orgill Shimai

So sometimes when we get Natalie’s letter, we immediately write back and have a little chat.  Here are the rest of the random tidbits from those quick emails back and forth:
And I just got my glasses fixed!! The mission funds cover rent and food and nothing else. The 2 purchases were for my jishou electronic translation dictionary and its case. I have some extra money for postage stamps and stuff!
And I am SOO buying Baskin Robbins ice cream today:) the rest of the aisu (aisu is short for aisu kurimu, or ice cream) here is straight NASTY. I think I’ve lost a couple pounds already haha!
The best thing here: The apple juice (BUT NOT THE APPLE VINEGAR) and the okonomiyaki omlet at Fukushi Shimais house that we made!! Mmm yummy!! Oh and we did the somen noodle slide thing!! Look it up if you’ve never seen it!! Sooo fun!
In response to a question about who does the cooking in the apartment: All of us, but mostly Y shimai! Yep I’m learning! She’s not very patient in anything, so I learn fast!
PS. The chocolate here is ATROCIOUS.

I only have a minute left, but I love you tons!! Love ya millions, I think I’ll write y’all another letter today with PICTURES!!  Alrighty ‘til next week!! Write me!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week 11 -- Aomori, Japan

Well hello family and friends!!! Just another day living the life in Aomori!! Whitewashing is way hard (a LOTTTT of dendo door knocking) and we get a lot of doors shut in our face, but at least they’re polite about it!! (Whitewashing means starting fresh; no investigators, no nothing.) Legitly the other day this woman said 'chotto kekko.' Choto kekko??? How can you KIND OF no thank you??  No idea. Somehow, she managed it. So I’ll try to give a general background about what’s going on and try to answer everyone’s questions. The biking is CRAZY (literally the sketchiest roads of my LIFE) and the roads are tiny!! We went to make okonomiyaki Japanese omlet and teach a mogi new member lesson to a sweet member the other day, and her home is a 50 minute bike ride away...through the hills....both ways. My booty still hasn’t recovered!! But yea SO MUCH BIKING. Like Al said, I don’t look like I came back from biking; I look like I’m coming back from swimming. But the weather’s lightening up, it’s nice!!! People keep warning us BIG TIME about the snow here in Aomori. SO excited!!!  So I think I mentioned that Yoshikawa shimai is Sister Training Leader, so we go on exchanges weekly. LOTS of travel. We went to Hirosaki and I got to go to the castle!! Way sweet. Pictures to come!! 

As far as the language, my understanding is definitely improving!! At least now when were dendoing contacting I know when I’ve been shut down! Speaking of which, there’s this terrible phenomena that literally the only people that are interested in our message are what I have named PANTSLESS WONDERS. Once a shirtless wonder, but typically pants is the department they’re lacking in. It is legitimately SO AWKWARD haha. Like how is that acceptable?! No idea. Speaking of kind of socially unacceptable, THE FOOD. Today we and the chorotachi elders and a kyudosha investigator went to this place where you have a rice bowl and then you choose the sashimi (raw fish) that you want. What I ate: Raw- Squid, fish eggs, Tako octopus, a whole crawfish, salmon, live urchin, and WHALE. Yes, WHALE. Dripping, bloodied whale meat. Again, pictures to come. So gross, I wouldn’t recommend it. But you only mission once! The language is getting much better. I love the people and LOVE the members. (They feed us maybe once every two or three weeks!) I've been eating lots of dried squid (yum!) and partying it up!!
Speaking of which, we should be getting AC this week!!! And no we go to the mall next to the eki train station, to use the computers!
I’m sorry I don’t have time for much, these computers have time limits as well!!  I actually don’t know when we’ll email every week, probably around this time though. But GUESS WHAT my great idea is?!?! I have 2 SD cards with ALOT of memory (the computers here CANNOT send pictures....boooo) So I’m going to send you the one full of pictures in a letter!!! And then you can wipe it, record a little video, and send it back!!! WOOO!!
But I love you all and I thank you for your prayers. The language is coming along and I’m starting to make the switch where I can understand more than I can say. The work is hard; but all things that are valuable have to be worked for. Love you all!

Orgill Shimai

Oh one more thing for the email!!! I was using my gaijin foreigner power and these girls like bowed to me as they passed and one of them said, Mecchya kirei!! Which means like super pretty. BOOYAH!

Week 10-- Aomori, Japan

Hey family!!!
I don’t have much time to email today, but know I love you all tons and I’m so grateful for yoursupport!! I’ll just give to the basics and write a more detailed letter home today.
I’m in Aomori, the furthest north place in my mission. Pretty hot, but we get AC next week!! Woohoo!!

We’re the first shimai tachi group of sisters in Aomori in a LONG time, so we have NO investigators. The members are so excited to have us!!! Love ‘em already. We’ve got lots of new friends, and we’ve met lots of crazzzyyy people. We do a lot of dendo street contacting because we have to find kyudosha investigators, and it can be disheartening at times because we get kekkoed no thank you’ed hundreds and hundreds of times. The one guy who expressed interest in our eikaiwa English language class wasn’t wearing pants bahaha!! Soo Kimazui Awkward!! Yeah, I often feel a lot like John Bonney (friend from BYU)  in the fact that legitimately the language I’ve studied and learned is NOT Aomori ben local dialect. But I love it and the Lord is blessing me so richly. Love my Genki excellent trainer!! We Paati haado!!! (party hard!!)
And yes, I’m still eating Ikka dried squid and I’ve made lots of new friends!! Japanese continues to come slowly but surely!!

In response to my question: Is your lovely melon protected with a helmet?  You know how much I care!!
Mom we’re missionaries OF COURSE we have helmets!! We can’t ride without them!

Yeah pictures don’t work on these computers. Boo. I’ve been told I have to print them off and send them home old school style. Next week we’ll try to find a library or something!

Man, but finding new kyudosha investigators is way difficult. I  have what they call gaijin power foreigner power. Basically to anyone in the younger generation I’m the kakoiest coolest person ever! So when they see me, I call out to them in English and they all just STOP. Like DEAD IN THEIR TRACKS.  Then while they’re still stunned you can slap them with a quick one minute testimony before they know what’s going on. All the nihonjin native Japanese wish they had gaijin power hahaha. I also have tall white chick blonde power, I’ve decided. I get stared at like no OTHA. But it’s all good, anything to have them listen!!
Love you all!!

Orgill Shimai
Natalie with President and Sister Rasmussen, plus her trainer (in the middle) and Sister Morgan, another new missionary.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 9 - Leaving the MTC for Japan

The Final Count Down~ Hello hello!

It's been a great final week at the MTC. I don't have much to say this week! Just making a lot of preparations for leaving on Monday morning (at 2:30 am!) Woohooo. Way excited! Love me some plane rides and layovers! If my Dad hasn't posted already, I fly out of Salt Lake at 6 to Dallas, have an hour 20 mins in between that and my 12.5 hour plane ride to Narita, Tokyo. Then a 5 hour layover then I'll be flying to Sendai! It's gonna be a long, fun-packed day!! Way excited! More nervous than is typical for me. But so ready.

Okay so easily the biggest highlight this week for me was hosting on Wednesday! I've heard internationals are lots of fun, so I did it. As the director is reading off the different internationals, he mentions that if anyone wants some extra language practice, they should volunteer if there's someone that speaks their MTC language. I knew there wouldn't be any Japanese because this isn't the week when they typically enter the MTC. Then he said, "We have one Japanese sister." My hand shot up like a Shinkansen Japanese bullet train. He led me out to where she stood timidly with her translator. I was SO EXCITED!!! You KNOW how much I love Nihonjin native Japanese!!! I went up to her and started babbling excitedly in Japanese. We started chatting and having a good old time. The translator looked at us, looked at the director, and said, "Yeah, she doesn't need me." and just walked away!! Party party for no awkward 3rd wheel translator!! So usually Japanese speak a decent amount of English, but not this Shimai!! So guess who was chatting in rapid Japanese?? US. I actually looked up at one point when we were outside the bookstore and a solid 25 senkyoshi missionaries were staring at me like, "Who is this white chick chatting away in Japanese?" Ahh such a party.

Another funny thing of this week! We were walking to devotional and these EFYers passed us and were like, "MISSIONARIES!!!" And so they started high fiving us 4 shimaitachi sisters, but then this one guy like straight up grabbed my arm instead! I fairly well panicked. Way uncomfortable. So we walk to the temple on Sundays, and there are always protesters outside yelling at us and saying some unkind things. I was called a "Joseph Smith robot"...that's a new one. But it was a terrible feeling so on the way back we sang "Nearer My God to Thee" and "I Need Thee Every Hour" The spirit was so strong and their jeers couldn't reach us. Heavenly Father will always bless his little ones as long as we are faithful!

Oh, and by the way, from here on out I will NOT and CANNOT receive ANY DearElders and no letters addressed to the MTC!! So if you want to write me, email me or write me a letter to the Sendai Mission!:)

Thank you Grandpa for the sweet letter!! And shoutout to Stratmandoo (Chris Stratford, former missionary companion of Dave)  for the great tips on Sendai! "Gomi Kusai" (literally, “stinky garbage” a Japanese play on words where a common greeting of “gomen kudasai” roughly “Hello, anybody home?” becomes shortened in a funny way) to you as well!

As I committed to myself, I finished the book of Mormon! It is so fantastic. I love it in Moroni 10 where he challenges us to ask God with real intent if it is true. I testify that I did that again and I know that it is a book written by ancient prophets of God. It teaches of Christ and aids us with the Bible in how to know how to become more like Him.  Also, I got my Japanese nametags. Yeah, and even though I told them IN JAPANESE how to spell it, they spelled it wrong! (hence the sad face in the picture! But it'll all get sorted out.

I ran into Carina and Cody on this their first week, it's lots of fun seeing them! Anyway sorry I'm super short on time today, I have to go pack and clean! It was an amazing week preparing me for an even crazier one to come!! Love you all, and next time you hear from me, I'll be in JAPAN!!!!!!

Orgill Shimai

P.S.- Mom- I'm sorry Dad's making you cry! (It doesn’t take much, he just mentions her travel plans and I puddle up).  Don't be worried about me- I'm just excited!! I'll be safe and be smart, and be the missionary the Lord wants me to be. Only 16 months left of waiting for ya;)
District 10 just about to ship out to Japan
Natalie with her companion, and a photobomber 
Her new nametag was almost right... it will be redone soon!
Natalie's English hymnal, and her dad's Japanese hymnal
Clark Shimai and Orgill Shimai