Sunday, December 22, 2013

Week 26--Sendai, Japan

What is happening my people of America and....everywhere else!

Sooo....this week... I turned 20. It was ironically the MOST INSANE day of perhaps my entire mission (but the bar is kind of high at this point soo...not sure.) But it was Tuesday. And I woke up forgetting it was my birthday (because let's be real, when you're on a mission you just don't matter much- which is a good thing!) And then the other 4 shimai came in singing "Happy birthday", holding two yakiimo (yes I like sweet potatoes WAY more than cake). And that was nice! 
Yes, baked sweet potatoes
And got a little out of hand. We got a call from the chorotachi elders being grumps about random things and then Thompson choro yelled from the background, Happy birthday Orgill Shimai!! And then the rest of them realized that they had completely forgotten.
The apology onion, apparently a new method to say you're sorry!

 But THEN. We went down by the eki station to sing Christmas carols as a district and chirashi kubari hand out flyers, and we were standing up against a building singing when a blind man starts yelling at us for being in his way and not even speaking Japanese and being idiots, and we apologized. But apparently that was not enough for the bitter Scrooge. He called the police on us, and they took the choro's gaijin alien registration cards and we got in trouble (the policemen didn’t care; but the blind man did) so that was great. AND THEN when we headed into the church that night for a meeting (we were early), we found a homeless white man on the phone talking in rapid English- who spoke NO JAPANESE and is convinced he's possessed by the devil and wouldn't leave until he was given money. SO that was my birthday. Memorable!

At dinner at the Furukawa's, K-choro randomly turned to me and informed me that I have "exotic eyes", because when you first look at them they're blue, but then they're also gray and they're also green and they're also hazel...and then I told him there's actually a freckle in my right eye as well and completely blew his mind. He said me and this girl he had met in the MTC (she had legit silver eyes) had the most exotic eyes of anyone he'd met on his I guess I got that title..awk.

So, my favorite part of this week: A-san <3 He's an Eikaiwa English conversation student. He's 64. He whips out little snacks for me out of NOWHERE. And he reminds me exactly of my Grandpa Orgill. And what does he love? Celtic Woman and high soprano voices. So I guess you could say we get along well. Every week he comes to me with new songs he wants me to sing for him and as I sing them he just closes his eyes and smiles and sings along. He is very stereotypical Nihonjin in that religion is "dame" and it's scary to him. But then he always says after mentioning (again) that he's not interested in Mormon kei, he'll ask, so what do missionaries do anyway?? I told him that there is beautiful music at church and that he should come and sit by me and sing. He said, "No, no way, religion is just bad for me. So....when does it start?" He stayed all three hours. And then came caroling with us after. And he's now the chorotachi's elders investigator. And he is so wonderful!! I've never wanted other people's happiness as much as I do on my mission.

So as per usual, there were tricky things about this week (aside from being nearly arrested.)  After a mogi lesson with one of the members, she lectured me for 40 minutes on how we need to drop one of our investigators because she had met our investigator 2 years ago (not possible, she wasn't an investigator 2 years ago) and that she has no testimony and we're wasting our time and we should be more sympathetic to what we should be doing. I know my mission has changed me because there is NO WAY I would have been able to take that in silence before my mission. But you know what? I'll follow what Heavenly Father wants for His children through following the Spirit instead of hearkening to a woman who does not have the authority from Heavenly Father to see which of our investigators will accept the gospel. There are some people in this ward that are tricky people, but we deal with them with patience and humility. 

Aside: Did I ever tell you I was offered a job playing ukulele/violin at a bar by a woman in a kimono we randomly met when she flagged us down and jumped out of her car? Well, I was. Unfortunately it kind of conflicted with the whole being in the service of the Lord thing but who knows, I could have gone places! 

We sang at an old folk's home which was actually really hard for me because it just reminded me of my grandmother who passed away 2 weeks before I left on my mission. But it really brightened a lot of deadened eyes and the sweet little old people (one grandma was 101 and looking good!) thanked us sincerely for coming, and it was a great experience to partake of.

I love this Christmas season, and although my Christmas will be far from traditional, the sweet peace the gospel brings is year round, and that's good enough for me. I love the Savior and I love you all!! Merry Christmas!!!

Orgill Shimai

Week 25--Sendai, Japan

    What a great week! Training is so fun. We are so obedient! Training is just having a normal companion and then you have the 12 weeks program and they watch and mimic everything you do! B-shimai is a great missionary. Her faith is strong. She's a hard worker. She doesn't complain when we're freezing and hungry and tired and are still dendoing contacting. And I love her! This week we biked through the snow 90 minutes to some members' houses in the snow; then we biked 90 minutes back in the freezing rain. And then we went to go visit Spencer kyodai to give him a paper I had written for him to help his prayers sound more like a Japanese person. Right before we knocked we got a call from our strong investigator, the one I had fasted and prayed to find. She said she cannot meet with us anymore and hung up on us. I felt so discouraged. But then we knocked on Spencer's door and he talked with us for a few minutes (even though it was freezing and snowing and he was barefoot) and he could tell that we were a little downhearted. He offered to say a prayer for us. He prayed fervently that Heavenly Father would soften someone's heart enough to let us in. We thanked him for the prayer and began housing. We were trying to sing a Christmas carol for people to invite the Spirit, and everyone up until then had just flatly refused. I just wanted someone to listen to us. I turned to B-shimai.
        "I know you've only been here for 2 days, but is there any place or any direction you feel strongly that we should go? Right, left, north or south?" She thought for a moment. 
        "That light is on over there, let's try that apt." she replied. 
So we rung the bell and we met a kind 19 year old girl who let us sing and had interest in Eikaiwa English class. We had a great conversation with her. I already considered that an answer to my prayer, but the Lord had more blessings in store. A few doors later a woman answered from inside. I explained that we're missionaries and that we're singing Christmas hymns. She immediately said, "Mormon?" To which we replied, "Yes!" She immediately opened the door and said, "It is SO COLD out here!! Come in!" and ushered us into her genkan entryway. She is a wonderful woman who met with the missionaries 10 years ago and has been to church twice. She loves Mormons, is VERY interested in Eikaiwa for all of her extended family, and wants to come to the Christmas party! She is a great woman and we have high hopes for her. I have never, EVER been let into a genkan while housing on my entire mission to date. I know that when we work together with the faithful members of the church, that we will see success. They are faithful and strong and amazing and together we can build Zion as the Lord would have it built.
    SO you know what I realized? Tomorrow is my birthday. And this will be the FIRST TIME that I'll be celebrating my birthday in Japan since I was actually born here! Does it matter? Not at all; but I thought it was cool! 

Igen no tamamono- The gift of tongues. It is real. Like way real. We were visiting with M-shimai and we had a great totsuzen lesson about the Spirit and what members can do to help less-active members. She's hard of hearing and has a bit of a speech impediment AND is an obaachan grandma, so I had little expectation of knowing what she was saying; but it made perfect sense. I was about at a solid 98% understanding rate; and I'm gonna be real- I am NOT THAT good at Japanese. The Spirit guided that discussion in a way I never could, and my goodness we were grateful. The members here have such strong Spirits; and we're so lucky to have them.

The time when I was like "yikes, I'm too hard on this bean!"- In the mornings after personal study time, we have companion study during which we share what we learned from our own scripture study. B-shimai (on her first real day with me) shared from D&C where the Lord talks about how he calls upon the weak and powerless and strengthens them and makes their arm his arm. She then goes silent. I look up and she is silently crying. Like, a lot. And I think "oh dear what have I done?! I've blown it already as a trainer!!" But I just stayed silent. And after about 3 minutes she wipes her face and says, "I know that's true". Man she has such a powerful Spirit!! I think the language has come as a bit of a shock to her (I don't talk to her much in English and her MTC senseis teachers only taught her district how to pray and testify in the 9 weeks they were there), but she is a strong one! I feel a healthy amount of pressure now that I'm in charge of absolutely everything, but I'm grateful for an obedient, hard-working trainee to make my sekinin training easier!

The thank you's!! Allison- THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE!! Is that your new address?? Is that the one I write letters to??
Larsens- THANK YOU for the card!! It was so kind of you to remember me:) Your family looks lovely as always!

SNOW!!!! Holy momma of drifting mountain bikes; THERE IS SNOW. I actually nearly died biffing it this morning heading over to the church to email all y'all! Oh, and SPEAKING OF BIKES. For some reason, the hombu mission secretary didn't feel it requisite to order my bean a bike and so they haven't sent her one. Fortunately (and unfortunately), T-shimai left her little monkey mountain bike that SHE used her whole mission, and her COUSIN used HIS whole mission before her! And it is junk!! It's stuck in first gear and every time you put any pressure on the pedals (standing up and riding, going up hills/mtns, etc.) it panics and tries to change gears, nearly causing my falling down hills and ultimate demise!! Am I being dramatic about the bike? Maybe slightly. But I despise it. And that seat wouldn't fit the booty of a 5 YEAR OLD. Why am I not riding my bike and my bean is riding T-shimai's bike? Because I am nice, that's why. 

The epic F-shimai day. You should applaud me for biking that hill in the snow! So she's a great lady! She's 81. She lives in this giant house by herself, and when we visited she said "I’m so sorry you biked all the way here! I'm preparing for my son to get here right now, so I only have time for a prayer!" SO she lets us in, sits us down, talks our ear off for a half an hour (obaachan, remember) makes us drink hot rotten umeboshi plum vinegar (I gagged whilst attempting to down it) and then the most memorable part- we asked if we could sing a Christmas song for her (B- shimai has a rockin voice and we pull some sweet harmonies) and she said "Oh I love singing!!" I had forgotten about that. I made the mistake of choosing Angels We Have Heard on High. And boy does she love singing. Her "singing voice" sounds like a mix between a bellowing opera singer and someone being exorcised- I am so serious. And it was so. funny. As she went into the kitchen to prepare us the deadly umeboshi drink, she asked us to continue singing. And we just...couldn't. We were crying in silent laughter so after a while of silence, she decides to bust into her own solo of her favorite part: "GLOOOOoOOOooooooOOOooOOOooOOOOOOoooooOOoooOOoOoooriaaaaaaa" It took us a while to regain composure, but we managed before she came back into the room- the only evidence was our tear-streaked faces. And then we asked what we could do to help out to prep for her son to get there. She has one of those tiny vacuums that all the Nihonjins have and although it has wheels, she assigned B-shimai to vacuum and me to....hold the vacuum. The whole time. For all three floors of her house. And she supervised it. So all in all it was a 3-person vacuuming job. It was definitely one of my favorite member visits of all time.

SO Allison told me my letters weren't detailed enough; so here was my attempt at a beefier letter:) Have a great week, remember your dear friend turning twenty in Japan tomorrow, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I look forward to being able to Skype with you, and I'll bring the uke and show you I've learned more than just Japanese out here serving the Lord:)

Love you much!

Orgill Shimai

Week 24--Sendai, Japan

Yes, the inevitable. I, 4th transfer gaijin foreigner Orgill Shimai, am training a new bean- 99% sure that she's gaijin. But I'm way stoked! And if I learned anything from J-Shimai (and trust me; I did.) it was that I'm capable of being a trainer! Well, as far as the language goes at least. Buuut T-shimai and my phone is only in Japanese (no dual language setting) sooo....I'm learning kanji fast. I'm actually most worried about being bike leader every day (no joke, the map is legitimately the only thing that worries me.) But if I have learned anything thus far; it is that Heavenly Father ALWAYS answers my prayers and that He trusts me! (I've also learned He has a sense of humor, but that's another story.)
My selfish concern is that without a Nihonjin doryo Japanese companionship, I'm not learning Japanese as fast as I want. But heck; Whittle choro is 12th transfer and he's only ever had 2 nihojin Japanese and he's the most fluent guy out here other than Kim choro! But selfishly I don't want that to happen to me. I'm just like, "Noooooo! GIVE ME ALL THE NIHONJIN!!!" But, with the Lord's help, I'll learn either way. Now I translate one way or the other every single day and it's great practice.
Not much to say about this week- our investigators have been busy and we've done lots of housing. I've been giving a lot of thought to what kind of trainer I want to be. We had a lot of dinners with members saying goodbye to T-shimai and I've had a lot of chances to bear my testimony. In a mogi lesson with N-shimai, she told us about on her mission where her and her comp fasted for 4 DAYS STRAIGHT. Which is insane and now against the rules. BUT. Miracles came from it for them; including 3 or 4 immediate baptisms. No worries; I'm not about to get crazy. But what I've honestly learned is that the more we sacrifice, the greater the blessings. No wonder not one soul from the Martin and Willie handcart company fell away after they reached the Salt Lake Valley. Heavenly Father sees ALL of our sacrifices and ALL of our obedience, and He blesses us for it.
I love you all mucho!! Have a great week, and wish me luck as a trainer<3
Orgill Shimai

New coat

Week 23--Sendai, Japan

Happy December! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving; we ate delicious IndoCurry with the chorotachi elders and some of their investigators to "celebrate".

So I was talking to Kirby Shimai and I asked, "why is it that I've gained NO WEIGHT in Japan and yet my face looks so fat??" She turned to me and said, "Uh, you have rice cheeks." Ahem I have WHAT. So apparently when gaijin switch their diet to their main carb being just straight white rice, the fat cells particularly in the cheeks start getting used. Soooo I'm not gaining any weight and yet I'm the newest recruited member for Alvin and the chipmunks?!!! Someone PLEASE snopes this for me right quick. But either way; I have given up rice. I DON'T EVEN LIKE IT ANYWAY. So slightly bitter that I hadn't known about that. ANYWAY.

So aside from my vanity ranting, this week was really great. I learned that when a door shuts, the Lord opens a window of opportunity! My bestie the less-active K-shimai forgot about our appointment, so we had an open hour and decided to visit M-shimai. She had a friend over and we sang Christmas hymns for them and were able to have a lesson with her friend Miura-san about Christ! It was such a blessing! Member joint lessons are so much more powerful. It's just like having a normal person who's like "Hey, I'm your friend and I'm normal and I know these things are true as well!" There is a power in members that missionaries cannot have just relying on ourselves.

SO on the dramatic side, we had a missionary in our district just kind of "had a lot on their mind" and just slipped out during language study and ran to the eki train station and was gone all day...their companion found them that night just sitting on a bench. SO not only a day that we searched for them, but also it was a really natural finding opportunity! "Have you seen a missionary with this badge just by themselves?" But anyway they're safe and sound now. It was just...strange. You don't just leave...odd.

This week I really discovered the power of fasting and prayer. I truly want to find a new kyudosha investigator every week. This transfer we haven't found one. So I fasted and prayed fervently that through our faith and hard work, that someone would be put in our path that would receive our message. On Sunday as I was still fasting, we were housing. It was time to head back and eat dinner, and Takatsuka shimai turned to me and said "Should we head back or house another half an hour?" I thought for a moment. If the Lord was going to bless us with someone who would listen, I knew were gonna have to show our faith. "Let's just finish this row," I said. Two doors later we met Chieko san. She has cancer and is currently doing chemo and subsequently has no hair. She's prayed to God before when her cancer was really bad to spare her life; and He did. She wonders about where we go after this life and what role God has in it. We asked if we could visit next week. She immediately said, "Sure! I'm kind of busy with chemotherapy but anytime I'm not at the hospital should be fine!" She readily gave us her number and we're meeting her this week. I know the Lord answered my prayers and that through faith, that we can find those who will receive us.

We've had a lot of fun recently using our talents and singing Christmas songs for members! They love it and Y-shimai is having me teach her how to play the ukulele! After I played it for her, she asked me if I would teach her and then went out and bought one! So fun. What an amazing ward to be in.

I love life, I'm a third of the way done with my mission, and next email I'll know who my new companion is! Keep it classy, keep it real.

Love you!

Orgill Shimai