Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 17 -- Aomori, Japan


So obaachan means grandma, or old lady. And they LOVE me. But this week it got a LITTLE uncomfy. They think that J and I are WAY PRETTY because we're both super tall (to them at least) blondes. And their accent (we call it obaachan-ben) is REALLY difficult to understand. So we were talking to these two cute old ladies (72 and 80) and one starts complimenting me, gesturing wildly at me while the other grandma just laughed. I asked for clarification and she made hand motions at my chest and continued to speak in emphatic, rapid obaachan-ben. Ummm thanks lady. We left REAL quick. And then we were chatting with these 4 really sweet 10-year old girls who just LOVED us and their neighborhood obaachan, who gave me a love tap on the booty before we left...WHAT ON EARTH?! THIS IS NOT USUAL. But you know what? It's okay. Winter is soon upon us and I'll be bundled up like a marshmallow ALL THE TIME and there will be nothing to tap but layers of coats!
  So now on to the good stuff. We visited a less-active member this week who has not been to the church in many, many years. Apparently it's impossible to get a lesson with her. Well no one told J shimai and I this (and we often just pretend we don’t know things about the language, culture, etc. to get more teaching opportunities;) so we went anyway and visited her totsuzen subtly. We chatted with her and I asked her why she didn’t go to church. She said it was complicated and that she didn’t want a divorce (her husband is a Melchizedek priesthood holder and has apparently turned kind of hantai against the church). We asked her to pray after we had taught about the importance of prayer. She said "I...forgot how. Can you say it first and then I'll repeat it?" So I did. It was just like little kids when the mom whispers in their ear what to say. It was so simple, but the spirit was so strong. As Gordon B. Hinckley said, there is no point in missionary work if we do not retain the fruit of our effort. I know that bringing sheep back into the fold is as important as those that are newly introduced into the gospel. J Shimai and I are working hard to try and strengthen the members in their testimonies so that they can become truly converted unto the Lord. From my own life I've learned that it is then that we obtain true happiness and direction.
  Japanese maps are impossible; and Aomori's "map" is the most difficult that Y Shimai has EVER encountered- so it's hard getting used to. Goodness knows I still struggle with it. Admittedly it's hard to find a specific house when they're not in any order and when THEY HAVE NO NUMBER on them. Tricky stuff. Once we were coming back from a house and it was POURING rain (shocking, I know.) and we really, really needed to get back for Eikaiwa English Conversation Class. So I eventually offered to take us the "other way" back, which was difficult because we were fairly in the middle of who knows where and it was pouring so hard it was difficult to see where we were. I started praying really, really hard that we would be guided back to the church. We got there without a misstep- a pretty rare feat for me. Heavenly Father is certainly watching out for us, and certainly listening to our prayers.
    And Heavenly Father has certainly answered my prayers this week. J Shimai and I have been praying HARD to find someone to teach. Our formerly strong kyudosha investigator Abe-san has near dropped off the face of the Earth and we were left investigator-less. So we prayed and sacrificed things for this 4th quarter, and EXPECTED to see miracles because the Lord promises them to those that have kept themselves worthy. And then the Lord sent us Kamada san. And the Ohta family. And Shiba san. And perhaps Kamada san's wife. And it is a MIRACLE. Once when we were lost (typical...) we stopped off on a random street. There was a house at the end that we felt we needed to go to. We parked our bikes and walked up to the house. The man who answered asked about prophets and invited us in, but we couldn't go in because there was no woman home. We gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and he told us to come back. When we went back on Sunday, he had read the whole pamphlet and gone to the homepage and learned about Joseph Smith, God, the gold plates, and the Kingdoms of Glory. This guy's a stud! And then on Sunday since his wife was home, we were allowed to go inside and talk to them! And then she brought us coffee, which gave us an awesome opportunity to teach about the Word of Wisdom! The wife is "Bukkyo" Buddist and initially had no interest. She wasn't paying attention and was making food or something. Then she said she was listening from the kitchen. And then she finally just came in and joined the discussion, asking as many questions as her husband!  They agreed that the Word of Wisdom was way difficult (he likes sake, tobacco, coffee, tea...) but that it was sure healthy. I bore testimony to them of the blessings that have come to my life from living it, and they told us we could come again. We have such high hopes for those that we are teaching right now. The Lord is blessing and prospering us and absolutely protecting us in all that we do.
   SO I think a certain trend in my weekly emails is my fail of the week (it's embarrassing that there is always CERTAINLY at least one every week). So this one was the incident of the natto fermented beans. If you don’t know what natto is, count your many blessings, name them one by one. It is foul. And I ate a container of it...5 days after I had opened it (because I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it). And it made me straight-up ILL. Gross.

But I love you all, I usually eat normal food, and Heavenly Father blesses us.
Love you all.

Orgill Shimai

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 16 -- Aomori, Japan

Hello hello!
Another week in paradise- if paradise is typhoons, stares, delicious apples and dendo prospecting!
This week has been...interesting. I wrote everything out that I wanted to say and then I left it at the Well, a lot of it was pretty dang memorable so you'll get most of it.
First and foremost: Brother H-- THANK YOU for your referral. It was the first referral I've had my entire time here, and O-san is the BOMB. He wants all your info so he can drop you a note! He's a brilliant man (and his English is WAY GOOD!) We asked him about what he remembered about what "Rick" had taught him 20 years ago (and by the way he is SUCH a tattletale!! Brother H you were CRAZY wanpaku naughty, mischievous!!:) And so he went inside and brought out his Morumon Sho Book of Mormon!! The best thing he said in the whole hour and a half that we talked to him was this: "If I didn't think this book was important, if I didn't think it had value, I would have thrown it away all those years ago. But I didn't. I think this book is important. I turn to it every so often for advice." DING DING. Sir, are you aware that that is a perfect answer? Because it absolutely is. We're following up this week and we're well on our way to being good friends with him!
Something that really strengthened my testimony this week is using EVERY MINUTE of the very short time we are given to be missionaries. Sister J and I sped-walked to the church, and so we were there 7 minutes early. It's not close to any super populous areas, and we've housed knocked doors everywhere around it, but we took off walking. Out of the 4 people we met in those seven minutes, 3 were open to the message, 2 are potential investigators, and one now has a Book of Mormon. I hope you understand that by Japan's standards, THAT IS NOT NORMAL. The Lord was blessing us insanely for using His time to the best of our ability. This is something I'm learning with J Shimai- we KILL ourselves working and we waste NO time. She's hardcore in a very, very different way from Y Shimai. She's way bomb at streeting, which is probably my weakest point. The language is hard for her, so I’m learning how to speak as fast as I can to set up appointments with people and get their info without creeping them out or insulting them, etc... But we're all just trying our best and relying on the Lord.
   The really strange thing that happened was on Saturday when we went to visit a less-active member. He wasn't home, but his sister was. She's 47 and very, very mentally sick as we later learned from her (also crazy) mother. She was incredibly anorexic and cold, and then she like put out her hands towards me and collapsed on me, holding me like a child holds their mother...she is grabbing onto me, resting her head on my chest and is about to faint. Oh My Awkward!  That's when the mom came out and said "She's insane. She is depressed. She's anorexic. Look how skinny and cold she is. She's gonna die soon, but we don't know when, so we all just joke about it."  It left us feeling terrible! After that incident, we went back to our apartment and prayed for comfort. Then we got a call from President Rasmussen. He was calling for J Shimai, who left Morioka 4 days before her investigator was baptized. She picked up the phone. It was Hi-chan, her newly-baptized friend. She cried she was so happy! It just reminded me that there is always a light at the end of our dark tunnels, no matter how brief my tunnel was. The Lord cares about us so individually, and He will always answer our prayers if we but ask Him! 
Also it's a new rule about music that I can’t practice my ukulele except on P Day Preparation Day (even though I bought it for the work) which is pretty heartbreaking to me. But perfect obedience brings miracles and we CERTAINLY need miracles right now. Whitewashing again finding people in a new area... Dad, there’s no opportunity that we've found to help pick apples, but they’re DELICIOUS. Ah I’m dying!
            So the work keeps on keeping on, I’m KILLING myself working so hard, my new companion is VERY DIFFERENT from my last companions and we have a lot we need to work on, and when we are obedient and worthy, God truly gives us miracles.
Peace and love y'all
Orgill Shimai

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 2013 - More pictures from Aomori

Sister Orgill in front of a beautiful sunset over Aomori

Sisters Kirby, Butler, Morgan, and Orgill (all in the same MTC group) out for sushi in Akita

Sisters Nakamima, Morgan, and Orgill enjoying some fresh strawberry shaved ice after stopping to help an elderly woman pull weeds in her yard
Sister Orgill rockin' the bowling shoes during a little recreation break on their P-day (preparation day)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 15 -- Aomori, Japan

This week is transfers. I thought I wouldn’t be affected. I was WRONG. Aomori will now have 4 sisters, us 3 and my new trainer the 6'2 Johnson shimai who has been out exactly ONE TRANSFER ahead of me-- Reaadyyy...set....PRAY FOR US.  I’m pretty terrified. This is my 2nd transfer and her 3rd- so we have no native Japanese speaking ability between us.

I thought the monsoon was bad last time? INCORRECT. Today the streets are SO FLOODED you can’t even walk, let alone bike anywhere!!! And I have to go at 3 today to catch a ride to the store so this is gonna be short!! Sorry!!

So I don’t know why I keep being surprised at the humbling experiences the Lord gives me; it’s not like I can ask for the ones I think I can handle and He'll act accordingly...This next transfer is going to be really difficult. And incredibly humbling for both of us, I think. Also this week, the culture clash has really humbled me. There are very proud people who take pride in the Japanese way of things, and I received a public lecture on how if we American missionaries want to become good missionaries, it is through acting Japanese. There have been several occurrences with this same member. But what I’ve learned is just submit to their criticism meekly and do my best to improve. And that has truly diffused the tension between the member and us. Things are still difficult when they do things that for missionaries is completely dame inappropriate, but I’m working hard to respect her pride while respecting the conduct we must maintain. Sorry that all sounds so vague, but I really just don’t have time to explain today. Just know that accidentally insulting people without knowing it has left me quite humbled.

This computer hates me. To end on a light note- THE GRASSHOPPER INCIDENT.
This past week we were doing dendo and then we were at the koen (park) and I had to tinkle. So I walked into the bathroom. Floor-squatty toilets only. Joy. So I’m doing my whole skillful toilet thing and then I reach for paper and I tell you, had I not peed already I would have peed my pants!!! This ENORMOUS GRASSHOPPER emerges, jumping MIGHTILY CLOSE to where I would prefer him NOT to be. My scream just about scared him as bad as he had scared me!! Oh, the panic!! Morgan Shimai didn’t believe it was me, because she’s never EVER heard me scream. And to be honest- I have NEVER screamed like that (and hopefully will never have the same sort of occurrence where that kind of sound will emit again!!) My goodness I’m so proud of the skill that while squatting and screaming that I didn’t just completely fail. SPEAKING of fails and biffing it- Morgan Shimai’s had some hardcore fails on her bike this week (bruises to prove it!) Just ask her family about them! Pretty great.
But life is great, I love being a missionary, and the Lord is blessing me more than I have room to receive!
Love you all mucho, keep it real, keep it classy, and watch out when there are grasshoppers about.
Peace, love, and a bug-free world.

Orgill Shimai

Thanks to Facebook, Sister Morgan's mother has posted some of her daughter's letter home.  She is Natalie's companion, so what one does, the other does also.  Here is her excerpt:
"Today is a started yesterday and from the rain then I was like: `Oh this isn`t so bad...we can work in this` and now it is pouring so hard and the wind blows the rain every direction so you aren`t safe no matter where you are. There has been so much rain that the streets are literally rivers you could swim in, the water is up to the houses in some places. But because of the wonderful souls of the members here in 青森(Aomori) they drove us to the eki (train station) to do our emailing. And another volunteered to drive us to do our shopping so she will pick us up from the eki and take us to the super.
The people here are so strong and I am incredibly grateful for the faith and willingness of the members.

Zone Conference was really good! Most of the conference was done in English but for the parts in Japanese we had translators so we could understand everything. We learned a lot about planning ahead so we can have an idea of when we are going to teach what to an investigator and when we are going to challenge them to come to church and baptism. We also have received a challenge from Rasmussen Kaicho and that is, have something that we don`t need as a missionary and give it up for the last quarter of the year and also (this is the more important one) find one new investigator a week. It will be tough, we don`t find investigators very fast but we are working on our faith and will work hard to accomplish the goal."

Week 14 -- Aomori, Japan

Hello hello!!!! Just another wonderful day in the suzushii cool weather Aomori! My goodness I love it here.

So you know what I've realized?? Missions go by too too fast. Yoneda Choro (my Nihonjin Zone Leader bestie) goes home next week. We're all pretty bummed about it; I think he could stay on a mission forever. SO I wanna tell you about my split to Morioka this week!
Every month, the 3 STLs in the mission have to go to Sendai for training, so Morgan Shimai and I got dropped off in Morioka with the other STL's 2 bean chans: Gass Shimai (Nihonjin haffu half-Japanese) and Johnson Shimai (6'2 blonde). So it was basically A PARTY. We did chirashi kubari leaflet distribution all together with Gass Shimai (Music major at BYU-violin) on ukulele and her and me on vocals making up some sweet harmonies. And boy did we JAM. Best thing? We would make up songs about the people around us with them having absolutely no clue of it. "Ma’am I really like your dress, its super cute but there’s no way I could wear that on my missioooooooon". And the greatest part? It was SO EFFECTIVE. Everyone's all like, oh English, what? Or That’s soo cool!!! And so they actually want to come to Eikaiwa English class and talk to us!! Great missionary opportunities. Which is why I’m bringing ONGAKU CHIRASHI KUBARI musical leaflet distribution to Aomori!!! Wooohooo! Buying a ukulele TODAY and learning to play it TODAY.  So excited for the opportunities this holds!! Okay so on with the Morioka experience. We decided I would be doryos companions with Johnson Shimai (6'2, mind you..). Can you say GAIJIN Foreigner POWER?! People would literally stop their cars in the middle of the street to stare at us. And moreover, one of the creepiest things that has happened to me YET happened. We were doing dendo street contacting and I hear someone running behind me. Then this man comes up, out of breath and says "Please...mail me? OK?" I panicked and said "Come to Eikaiwa! English class" And handed him a pamphlet before he ran away. I looked down at the business card. He had written "Please mail me?" and highlighted his email address. Johnson Shimai DIED laughing. Yep, better believe that that sir will NOT be getting mailed by a certain Orgill Shimai. But, his meishi business card is taped in my journal to recall the creepers of Morioka! With our gaijin power we also had some serious miracles.
So as bean chans new missionaries it was kind of scary doing dendo street contacting, but the Lord was certainly on our side. We only had about an hour and a half to do housing dendo. In that time we found 2 strong Potential Investigators. With no Nihonjin native Japanese, with no help but the Lord's. At one point one of the PIs and ojiichan grandpa (of course, always the ojiichans) gets all close in my face and says "Why are you laughing??" And I replied, "Because I have no clue what you just said!!" But it was a great time and I’ll get a chance to go back to Morioka next month and hopefully visit both of them. For both of the PIs I was able to do all of the talking and setting up of appointments and everything (with the help of the Lord, my goodness!!) and it made me feel much less nervous if I do end up having to become a trainer at the end of my training. With the Lord's help, we can do anything because 'all things are possible to them that believe'.  And Allison, I LOVED Johnson shimai!! Why?? Because she reminded me SO MUCH OF YOU!! We got along smashingly and she was just so cute and funny!! Which reminds me- will you watch August Rush for me? Morgan Shimai has that music and we listen to it almost every day and it reminds me of you because I remember you teaching me about the motif throughout the movie from when you were taking AP Music Theory! Little things remind me every day of my beloved friends and family!
So I mentioned I loved serving here. I DO! But we volunteered to clean out the chorotachis elders apartment after they moved somewhere else this week, and HOLY MAMA OF MESSY. I legitimately discovered a cockroach. NOT a fan. But that apt has been a choro apt for a long time so can’t blame our senkyoshi brothers entirely I guess!

So some questions! Jonathan, how are classes??? Study hard for Japanese;) But seriously hahaha! John Shumway- how were your first exams?? Mom- did you get the bear situation figured out??

OK, a couple of QUICK THINGS before anyone falls asleep!!
Do you know our famous oatmeal cookie recipe by heart?? Please send me the amounts of ingredients so I’m sure I’m doing it right!!
I’m buying a ukulele for passing out English flyers and I would love to get some easy chord music (for the ukulele) but I can’t look them up as a missionary! If by next week you can send me some easy, 4 or 5 chord popular current music songs that would be great! I’ll find SOME WAY to print them. I’ll send ideas for the songs later! Thank you much!
And Mom, I’m so glad your ride went so well, I was praying hard for your safety!!!

And we have 3 PIs I wanted to tell you about! Well, "PIs" They’re 3 guys, 20, 20 and 18 and we think they’re a bit more interested in shimaitachi sister missionaries than in the gospel. But the really nice 18 year old tried to HUG me. I about died and panicked haha. But we hope they’ll have some more interest in the gospel and that my 18 yr old friend Yuuki’s parents will be less hantai opposed because he actually has interest in our message! I don’t have time for the Makino Shimai death scare story or the SUPER awkward massage mogi practice lesson, but I’ll write to the parents this week and hopefully they can add it in once they get the letter!!

And finally, something I’ve realized is so great is NATural finding (see what I did there?) Missionary work isn’t about running up to people and getting in their face saying "I have a message about Jesus Christ"; rather it is loving people and showing them through our own lives the fruits of living the gospel. And how do we share the gospel? We invite. Whether it be to a temple open house or seminary or an ice blacking ward activity. We share it with our friends and family because it is precious to us and we love them and want them to have that selfsame happiness. Sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be hard or scary- show people through your kindness and your actions how the knowledge that a Heavenly Father loves you and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world has impacted your life. As a missionary, I’m clearly much more straightforward about the message, but still just showing your kindness and happiness to people and offering to help is the ideal way to become like the Savior and better preach his gospel.  It’s sure a good thing that I love the people here so much then!

Peace and blessings until next week,
The pantsless wonder,

Orgill Shimai

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 2013 - Pictures from Japan

We received some more pictures from Japan today!!  Unfortunately, the SD-card that Natalie included in the envelope with pictures and videos from the first 3 months of her mission was missing -- and an suspicious large hole cut out of the front of the envelope she sent. :-(
Sister Orgill, her companions, and some of the members of the Aomori Branch

Sister Orgill and companions enjoying Japanese "okonomiyaki" on a very hot summer day.

Sister Orgill and companion, Sister Morgan after a very long, hot, and sweaty bicycle ride to meet with their dinner host, Sister Fukushi

Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 13 -- Aomori, Japan

Hello hello!! First off- MOTHER I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU POSTED THE UNDIES INCIDENT. Now I’M going to be known as one of the pantsless wonders as well....fantastic. I’m sorry I’m emailing so late! (For you, at least) We went bowling!! Sending pictures your way! (Be sure to send back my card!)

You know what I realized? I’ve already been on my mission for 3 months, and I’ve already been here in Japan for a month. That’s CRAZY. I LOVE my district!! The chorotachi elders are like big brothers to us. They’re always watching out for us. I’m so sad- Yoneda choro has to go home this upcoming transfer in 2 weeks. He’s pretty torn up about it; he cried giving his testimony yesterday! He is the cutest and well miss him terribly. But Hunt choro will be training the new ZL and we’ll add a new choro to our ranks!! Every day is a party in Aomori! Although we are like never here....let me explain!

As an STLs doryo, we travel EVERY WEEK as far as Akita to go on splits with sisters. This last week because Akita is so far, we were gone for 3 days, we're back from Saturday to today, then we have to go to Sendai tomorrow (6 hour bus ride) for Y's training conference! I’ll get to do some dendo contacting in Nagamachi. Fun!! Speaking of splits, Akita was AMAZING. LOVED it. I so hope I get sent there on some later transfer!!! (But chances are I’ll be here in Aomori through the entire winter...better believe I’ll get tough).
 So there’s this beautiful park in Akita, Senshuu Koen!! (Please include pictures padre!) So we went there to do more 'natural' dendo contacting so we don’t just freak people out. While we were walking up through the park (Oh, and it was Morgan, Nakaima who speaks NOOOO English and myself), we pass by what appears to be a house in the middle of the park. There was an old woman out front pulling weeds. Turns out she lives there and so we were chatting her up and out of the blue I asked, Can we help you pull weeds?? To which she embarrassedly replied that she was completely fine and no way and so on. Did that stop me? Hmmm NO WAY. I squatted down (in a lovely ladylike manner) and began plucking weeds. My doryos followed suit. She eventually gave up on trying to dissuade us and squatted down and joined us. We got to know her and had a great time. Then she randomly got up and just left. Ummm.....awkward. Then in a few minutes she came back with soap and a towel. How nice! We thought, and then she left again! What is with this awkward lady?? This time she didn’t come back. We kimazuini awkwardly wandered back to the front of the house, where we saw her doing something inside. She beckoned to us. We went inside and she had MADE US KAKIGORI!! It’s like a pile of snow with strawberry sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. It is SCRUMPTIOUS!! We were just trying to service and we got some delicious treat out of it!! It kind of reminded me of missionary work.
I went out ready to serve and work hard and bike A LOT, but there’s just these little spots of sunshine of delicious fun things along the way! Like finding a kyudosha investigator or someone just coming up and talking to me on the street. Yes; missions are hard, but they’re also incredible.
Another great thing from Akita!! So were always trying to do more natural finding, right? Well, in the Koen park, I invented a new (and incredibly effective!) way of finding: INU (DOG) FINDING!!!! YES. I didn’t know that loving animals could come as a skill on a mission, but it certainly can!! So here’s the thing: I see someone with a dog- I already want to talk to them because I want to pet their dog!!! I start petting the dog!! I like their dog; so THEY like me because I like their dog that THEY like! They’re animal lovers so they’re already nice people and they’re open to talk to you because you’ve broken the ice through means of their French bulldog!! And then the best part: they can’t get away until YOU’RE DONE TALKING TO THEM; because you’re petting their dog!!!! Muahaha it was seriously the best!! We found some great PIs that way! I am now in the process of locating ALL the parks in Aomori to continue my inu dendo!! Ah such the best.
Oh! and in Akita we found a great girl Ayu-chan who was really interested in meeting with us!! You know what else she was interested in?? MY HAIR. For the very first time in Japan, instead of doing the petting I, I was the one being petted. But at least she asked first!! Sometimes people in Akita think I’m pretty so they would just stop and talk to me!! Gaijin powaaaaa! Foreigner power

So my favorite miracle of the week: Abe-san. Our new kyudosha investigator. This wonderful 30ish woman with two ADORABLE kids (3 and 2!) who is just so amazing. She has such a good heart and wants to be a good person. So, SO excited to work with her!! I sincerely thank everyone at home for their prayers; they work miracles for us missionaries. You know what else causes miracles? Perfect obedience and humility. The Lord can only work with us if we're willing to be worked with. He will never force us to be something that we don’t want to become. It is because of this, I think, that we are judged at the last day according to our works in this life AND the desires of our hearts. Growing our faith is a choice, as well as letting it dwindle and die. I think it’s actually such a thing of mercy that we are judged according to the desires of our hearts; because at least for me I make mistakes and mess up just so much; but I’m always trying hard to be more like how our Savior would be! We are so flawed; but through His perfection we too may become perfect. That gives me hope and patience for my own follies. It doesn’t matter where we are with our faith or our righteousness, said Jeffrey Holland. If we have so much as a desire to believe and we will act on that desire, that will develop into an unshakable faith and abiding trust in the Lord if we but nurture it by small and simple acts. As we act on our faith we are blessed. I have seen it in my life so much here especially. When I follow the promptings of the Spirit to share something in a lesson or talk to someone on the street, Heavenly Father shows me his love even more abundantly.

I love you all and thank you for your prayers. I love the mission field, I love the people, and I love the gospel!

Orgill Shimai

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August 2013 - Pictures from Japan

So Natalie doesn't appear to have the ability to upload photographs from where she is at, so she sent us some photos by snail-mail recently.

Sister Orgill in front of Hirosaki Castle

Sister Orgill snacking on one of her favorite foods ... squid jerky

Sister Orgill and companion sampling some VERY fresh local food.

Sister Orgill and companions sampling some local ice cream ... not her favorite.  She vowed to visit the Baskin-Robbins the following week.