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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Orgill shimai, sing for us!!" "But...we're in a car..."

Busy, BUSY week. We were in Kouriyama for THREE DAYS of the seven! I'll give you the brief rundown:

Picking up trash at the beach - Mormon Helping Hands t-shirt in her hands
Tues- Went up to the beach in Yotsukura and picked up trash and talked to everyone we saw! A car wasn't looking as they tried to make a speedy right turn, and almost hit me as I walked through the crosswalk. My companion jumped as if she had been electrocuted, but I just stood there, looking at the car, waiting for her to notice and pull the emergency brake so she wouldn't hit me. It was so weird. I didn't scream, I didn't jump, and internally I was less than mildly alarmed, even though I was very nearly hit. My companion was shocked at my reaction (the woman did finally notice me and panickedly pulled her emergency brake and stopped feet from me). I don't know why I wasn't scared-maybe I'm not as concerned about dying now that I feel pretty comfortable with where I'll go if I do die and how comfortable I'll be around Heavenly Father.... that or I'm just really weird.
 
   We ran into a man that Mc shimai had met before who seemed grateful to talk to us and will probably come to the Halloween party this week! I also had a great conversation with the man taking tickets at the train station. It was a good day for finding.
 
Companions!!
  We also did chirashi kubari as a district and I got creeped on by a bunch of teenage boys. I seriously wanted to turn around and yell at them, "SIR PLEASE. Do you think even though I just talked to you for TEN MINUTES in unhalting Japanese that the SECOND I turn around I stop understanding what you're saying and you can start talking about me?? NO." Blech. 
 
   We had a mogi (joint lesson) with a member- Sass shimai, and then participated as she taught seminary to the 3 boys- one who is not yet a member and has a baptism date for December! His name is Tom kun, and he reminds me of Wee man (my brother) and he's my favorite.
 
No table? No problem... Ironing board lunch table it is!

Wednesday- we started up the free family English Program- 30 minutes of English, 30 minutes of gospel. A lady called us last week and said she had found out about our program online! We asked where she lived- she said D'Restia (hilarious- I know. I'll take a gangster picture by it sometime.) But more wonderful than the funny name is that that is the apt complex between our apt. and the church! Seriously she couldn't be any closer!! She's going to Italy in a few days, so she wants to amp up her English..? You tell me. But she also brings her friend Akado san, who brings her son Gaku kun! So we're actually being blessed to share our beliefs with 3 new people! So far, so good.
  We also visited our favorite L.A. Mi shimai, and she was too busy to talk for too long, but she said she had read the "His Grace is Sufficient" talk we had given to her! Hooray for L.A.s that keep their commitments!

Friday we went to Kouriyama for interviews. Kaicho and I talked about many important things- what to do with Iwaki (my area), what I should prepare for my final interview in a few weeks, the works. Good stuff, good stuff. He's a good kaicho. He calls me "Alma shimai".
 
We randomly found this sign outside of our door, hung up next to the window we've never touched....#ourlandlordhatesus #we'renotevenallAmerican
  Then we took the bus home, and I struck up a conversation with the man next to me who was totally not interested in talking and then proceeded to half-fall asleep on me. Well played, man on bus, well played. 
 
   Even though we were exhausted from our long day, we changed and biked to the gym where we had rented out the basketball courts to play with our Eikaiwa (English) students! Atsa san came (Holy SNAP that 40-yr-old man is athletic) and he brought his daughter, Ri chan! Yay! We played volleyball, and I shocked everyone with my serving skills haha. Secret talents, secret talents. We went out to dinner and in was nice to get to talk to everyone who came. I'm sure lots of good things will come from our new friends- many have already expressed interest in hearing our message.
   
 Saturday we had our first day of District Conference in- you guessed it- Kouriyama. Wow that car ride is lengthy. Because I'm not accustomed to being in cars (always mtn bike, train, or walking), I get kind of car sick now. But nothing too terrible.
 
There were some great talks and the Spirit was so strong. Pres. Smith called on Inamori choro to come up and bear his testimony- and he gave a wonderful testimony on the power of obedience and the blessings it brings. He shared a scripture I LOVE. D&C 58: 28-30. Check it out. I agree with Inamori choro- The Lord blesses us abundantly as long as we are obedient. He is a God of miracles and a keeper of promises. How comforting it is to know that there is an invariable, omnipotent, and loving Heavenly Father interested in our absolute well-being.
 
Speaking of well-being, Natalie is in her happy place with this new baby goat friend!

Sunday we went back to Kouriyama. A wonderful member Kilo shimai drove us. Her and Isha sat in the front, with the sister missionaries and their investigator (who's getting baptized this weekend!) Rima chan. Randomly, Isha shimai calls from the front, "Orgill shimai, sing for us!!" "But...we're in a car..." I responded. Well, long story short I became the human  iPod for about an hour of the ride. Another great meeting ensued. I was the translator for Sister Smith, the President's wife. It was a great conference!

 The Word of the Week is MASUI. It means Anesthesia! So I kind of despise using my dictionary at times, so I just get creative in explaining what I mean! When talking with Iwa shimai about Lasik eye surgery, she said, "but they knock you out, right??" "No," I responded. "You're awake, but they inject a medicine that...paralyzes the nerve so that you can't feel it." "Ahhhhh, masui," she said. Well there you have it. Masui.

Seriously NONE of our investigators could meet this last week, but that means good this for this week! UPCOMING are: the Halloween party and more dramatically TRANSFER CALLS. Also, a day trip to visit the doctor in Aizuwakamatsu this week. I'll let you know how everything goes next week!
Beautiful vista!!

Love you millions!! Have a great week!!

Orgill shimai

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"You have a very pretty face. But you don't actually look Japanese..." At long last, I have duped a Japanese person that I am indeed Japanese. YES.

This week was INDESCRIBABLY AMAZING. But I'll do my best to describe it to you!
 
Brief summary of the week:
 
Monday- We accidentally killed ourselves as a district by having a naan-eating contest at Indian Curry. Nothing says district bonding like shoving your face with greasy chunks of all-you-can-eat bread. So long story short, Gree choro ate 5.5 (we don't know how he didn't die), and I from sheer willpower managed 3.5. Holy snap I thought I was gonna die. We all suffered stomach pains the entire day. Yes; we are fools.
  Also Mc shimai and I got solicited to look at these craft hand-painted models...of WW2 ships and kamikaze planes. OH BOY YOU BET it was awkward. Well, at least we got to to dendo them (they had yelled us down off our bikes) and get a free donut! Good experience...?
 
Tuesday: BEST DAY EVER. In the morning, we had a wonderful lesson with a member. We were planning on teaching her a practice lesson, but we felt inspired to ask her if there was anything we as missionaries could help her with in regards to her faith, her scripture study, anything. She told us about recent struggles of faith she's had (she's semi-LA) and how she just couldn't get past them. We opened the scriptures together, and shared our own personal experiences and testimonies of the matter (which fortunately; on that topic Mc and I had a wealth of experiences). It turned out to be a wonderful lesson. We were able to address all of her concerns- simply by opening the scriptures and saying "Jesus did this and he commands us to do the same." She said she really was able to reflect on herself and what she had had a problem with, and repent. Then she said that she just felt the Spirit really strong, and began to cry. You have to understand; this is NOT the kind of woman you expect to cry. She's a tough lady. But it was wonderful, and now we're best friends with her!
   Then Naka and Butte shimai came from Aizu from splits. I was with Butte shimai. She's from my doki I think this means original group that went out into the mission at the same time, but I'd never gotten a chance to work with her! She's an INCREDIBLE missionary. We went housing, and were able to teach two first lessons in like an hour!! The second woman we taught was especially miraculous.
  She opened the door (in her PJs), and we introduced ourselves. She was Filipino, but she spoke to us in fluent Japanese. After we had briefly introduced ourselves, she said, "I have a friend that's Mormon." "Oh, really? Is it Julie?" "Yes." And then I got this crazy idea. "What's...your name?" "Eve," she replied.
     Wait, Eve? EVE? Like, The Eve that Julie shimai was about to introduce to us as a referral? Indeed, the same Eve. It was a miracle. We had just accidentally housed into the woman that was already being prepared by her friend (and the Lord) to hear our message. She invited us in, and we taught her. The we knelt on her mattress together and prayed. After the prayer, she smiled. "I have goosebumps," she said, lifting up her sleeve to show us. "This rarely happens to me. Let's meet on Thursday."
    It was THE BOMB.
 
Wed- We fasted as a district so that the other sisters' investigator, Rika chan, could get baptized. And we found this awesome pet store with my new best friend, a super sweet parrot and a baby GOAT! And, at long last, chickens. We got to dendo the store owners and it was a great time.
 
Thursday- Eve's second lesson with Mc shimai there! It went really well. She really wants to read the BoM, and we gave it to her in Tagalog. We also got to do some great work with LAs!
 
Friday- We taught Sach san the Law of Tithing, and she TOTALLY ACCEPTED IT. She understood perfectly how it is an act of faith and a way for Heavenly Father to bless us. We'll be talking about any of the obstacles in between her and baptism this comin week. Pray for us!
 
Then, at night we had FHE- and we did THE MOST INTENSE game of extreme spoons I've ever played. It was AWESOME! Then we played ninja, and Gree choro won (I'm telling you; the only people who can beat me at ninja are the gaijin foreign, ie white choro. That or they accidentally punch me in the face....White choro.)
Then after almost everyone had left, my good friend Ashi san from Eikaiwa came up to me and started talking to me about his family. He told me they'd been having a lot of problems, but he thinks that through him coming to our church from a few weeks back, it's helping him change to be a better husband and father. He's been trying to get his wife and daughter to come to activities with him, he said. He wants them to feel the warm feeling he gets when he's in the church and talking to everyone. He says the more he comes to the church, the more he WANTS to come. Okay okay you kinjin golden investigator, I GUESS you can get baptized. The elders are going to invite him to hear the lessons! Yay!
 
Saturday- A BOMB lesson with Mary!! We might have Mc shimai's mom joint with us (she's fluent in Spanish, and we CANNOT keep teaching this woman in Spapanese.) She agreed to take Moroni's promise!! Yayy! I'm so grateful we get to teach a woman with such a pure desire to serve god!
 
Sunday- Church. Holy smokes remind me to tell you about the music program here in Iwaki after my mission. It's my favorite thing EVER.
 
So that was the not-so-brief summary!!!
 
 
So now here is the Word of the Week! It is: damare kono yaro de gozaimasu! Actually, you should probably never, EVER say this. BUT. It's hilarious. "damare kono yaro" by itself means "Shut up you idiot", BUT. "de gozaimasu" makes phrases IMPOSSIBLY polite. AND SO. Ashi san, thinking I didn't know these words, told me that it is the politest, and highest form of praise, and that I should definitely say it to people older than me. Nice try, de gozaimasu.
 
The Funny Quote of the Week Is actually ALSO from Atsushi san. He was explaining his family problems to us, and then he turns to me suddenly. "Orgill shimai, when you get married, you absolutely MUST NOT WORK." I laugh. "No, I'm serious. Promise me." "Ummm why??"
  "Because you're powerful and you can do anything, so if you have a job then you'll have money so you'll have no need for a husband and you'll just leave him!" Sir, allow me to tell you someting I believe in called ETERNAL families. I'm going in for the long run, job or no job haha.
 
And that was this week!! I'd send pictures, but the computers we have to use this week are a leeeetle janky, so raincheck (you'll see why this is punny NEXT week).
 
Love you!!
 
Orgill shimai

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Sorry, I'm Christian." *click* .....what?

So THIS WEEK was hilarious. Man I love the Iwaki branch. These members are a hoot and a half!  

First off, we had some really cool lessons. Our investigator Sachi san accepted to live the Law of Chastity (I hadn't taught THAT one since like February!) and she is progressing so well! Our joint lesson Ito shimai was wonderful. After we teach her the Law of Tithing, we're planning on inviting her again to baptism! (before she said yes, but that she just wanted to learn more first) She has wonderful faith, believes the Book of Mormon is true, and has a great relationship with God! Now we have to just mount the obstacle of her inability to come to church because of work and we'll be fine!

    We also taught an L.A. less active member, Ma shimai- and the miracle of the lesson was that although she frequently denies it, my companon and I could both see the flickering flame of a testimony long-forgotten in her! We're praying that the Spirit will continue to touch her heart and that she will be brought to a remembrance of the truths she has forgotten! I LOVE working with L.A.s. I think it's probably because in one way or another, I can relate to them with times in my life where I was burdened with doubts, feeling distanced from God and an irrevocable feeling of guilt. I love testifying to them that there are times when all of us have had weaker faith; but that the Lord WILL listen to us and answer our prayers!

The district!!

Here are the quotable quotes this week:
A member mentions to another member that i have a beautiful singing voice. This colorful man has a passion for music, and says, "Ahhh, I could see that! She is shaped like a beautiful instrument!" The other member and I look at each other, slightly confused. "What instrument?" I probed. "If it's not a flute; we might have some problems," I warned. "No no no. You're shaped like..a violin!" And starts making crazy gestures with his hands, trying to explain his viewpoint to the other member. Umm. I'm just gonna walk away now...

  We went to Kouriyama for Zone Training meeting this week, and got to see their BEAUTIFUL church (the radiation is too bad there so missionaries aren't allowed to go). A few days later the president of the Kouriyama branch came to Iwaki for a funeral of one of the members. He came up to me and said, "My prophecy was fulfilled!" "What?" I asked. "Do you remember at the Whiting choro 3 Zone Conferences ago where you translated the English into Japanese for me and I asked you to transfer to Kouriyama?" "Ah yes, I do remember that!" "Well, from that time on I prayed to the Lord that Orgill shimai would come to Kouriyama- and look!! You came yesterday!! My prayers were answered!!" Haha I love that faithful branch president! It really would be great if we could get missionaries into Kouriyama- but it seems a little to late for me;) (if you want to know how many days I have left, I'm sure my father can tell you--down to the minute...) Natalie comes home December 18th, the day after her 21st birthday!

Selfie!!
The funny moment was basically just an amusing realization that Japanese people are HORRIBLY gullible. Like seriously. As we were shaking hands with the Aizu elders at ZTM, Mc shimai says to Ina choro, "Orgill shimai's half, you know." And he goes, "What?! No way! You're half??" and then the bean newbie Suz choro overhears "Woah, you're half?! Awesome!! Is THAT why you can speak Japanese??" We also convinced them that Butler shimai is 38...

   I also accidentally confused a new investigator on the phone the other day. After talking to her for about five minutes, she goes, "Wait...O-giru (this is how you pronounce "Orgill" in Japanese). That's a rare name. Where are you from?" "America." "But...but you're Japanese." "No I'm not.." PHAIL.

A brief summary of the adventures of Mc and Orgill shimai this week-
Surprise birthday party for Mako- who's basically the missionaries' go-to guy. Amazzing member who just celebrated his 25th with a chocolate pudding cake and ice cream:)

We climbed a nearby mountain (it sounds more bad-booty than it was- but the view was GORGEOUS) with the Relief Society, then ate lunch after and they asked me to sing for them on the spot. I sang Ave Maria, Amazing Grace, and a hymn of two. It was fun! Moon shimai is a wonderful accompanist, so they're trying to get us to perform in church sometime. Sounds like it's gonna be Tagajo round two! Ma, iinjanai. But not the same.

On top of the world!!

We passed out Eikaiwa English flyers at the train station and met some nice people! It's a good place to do it becauseeven at night it's well lit so we don't look like creepers! Yay!

And then some lessons and lots of dendo in between! Ah, which reminds me of one more quote this week:
*knock knock knock* "Yes?" "Hi, we're missionaries sharing a message about God and how He loves you-"
"Oh sorry, I'm Christian." *click*
"Ummm... what?"

And that's it! Enjoy the pictures! Love you tons!
Orgill Shimai