Wednesday, January 29, 2014

`Tres Pratos De Trigo Para Tres Tigres Tristes.`

`Tres pratos de trigo para tres tigres tristes.`  Three plates of flour for three sad tigers.
It doesn`t look thaaat hard until you realize it`s Portugues and not Spanish, and saying any word in Portuguese is almost a tongue twister of itself.  And that it sounds more like `tres pratus je trigo para tres chigris trischis` with those crazy Portuguese R`s and then it`s almost impossible to say at a decent pace and not sound like a gringo. But I think I`ve got it!  Well, almost.
We were teaching the advanced students tongue twisters for Eikaiwa, and they taught us some back.  (They gave up at Peter Piper.)
One in Japanese is `Namamugi, namagome, namatamago`  Raw flour, raw sesame, raw egg.  (That one`s not that hard, in my opinion.  Unless you try to do it 7 times.  Then it gets kind of hard.)
So that`s what I`ve been saying to myself all week.  I intend to go back on Wednesday and blow those Brazilian kids` MINDS, make them wonder whether or not I`m one of them. :)  (However, the Japanese people would never be fooled.)
And that`s about the most exciting thing that happened this week.
Tuesday we had companion exchanges with the Sister training Leaders, Allred Shimai and Uryu Shimai (who actually trained Watkins Shimai, and then exchanged with her).  It was really fun!  I learned a lot of valuable things from Allred Shimai about missionary work, especially a handy little pyramid on how to determine what investigators need to be taught next.
Wednesday we had a lesson with H****** with Nakao Shimai!  We`re teaching the Plan of Salvation, and she believes Christ is her Savior, and really wants to believe everything we`re teaching her. We`re really excited about where she`s going.  :) 
We had Mission President Interviews on Thursday, and some training about teaching that I`m really excited to try out.
On Friday, we had a lesson with H******* again.    We had the wonderful Shimauchi Shimai doseki-ing for us. We`re in the middle of the restoration, so we intended to teach about prophets & dispensations, and then Jesus Christ.  Whenever we shared a scripture, she wouldn`t stop at just the one we shared, but would just keep going on reading, and then have a billion more questions. 
Saturday we taught Y**********, our new investigator from last week!  She LOVES prayer and is excited to pray every day!  We will probably extend a baptismal commitment next lesson.  The problem is, she`s really busy and doesn`t know when she can meet again.
Speaking of being busy, C****** and her family dropped us due to a new part time job and no time to meet any more.  So that was kind of discouraging.  But what do you do but keep working and look forward to the day when finally everything works out?  That`s it.
Anyway, I love you all!  Sorry, this was more of just an informative letter home than anything else.
The church is true!
The Book is blue!
Love, Sister Whitney

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We Had One Exhausting Week!

Hey, hey, hey!

We had one exhausting week!

On Monday, we housed into a lady with LOTS of interest in Eikaiwa (English class) named O****.  She`s so friendly and genki!  We also saw her again while riding our bikes today. I`ll write a little bit more about her later.

Tuesday, we biked up to Hikone to one of the colleges to try to get a little publicity for Eikaiwa, only to be turned away, because they wouldn`t have anything to do with anything related with religion.  Kind of disappointing.  But alas.

Wednesday, we went to help with A******* Shimai`s friend`s Eikwaia again, and then had our own.  Last week, we only had on nonmember come, but this week, our whole class from before came, as well as O****!  (She`s bringing her friend this week.)  All of the Brazillians and everyone are back from their busy winter breaks!  Huzzah!

Thursday, we had a lesson with H*********.  I was afraid that we were going to see a little testimony backsliding since it`s been a few weeks since we`ve been able to meet with her, but just the opposite!  When Watkins Shimai asked if she believed God was her Heavenly Father, she automatically responded, `Hai!`  Like, `Of COURSE I believe that.`  Before, she had to take a minute and think, and would say something like, 心の中で kamisama ga hontou ni iru kanaa. (In my heart, I thiiiiink God exists.) Im not quite sure why that stopped going into Japanese.  Oh well.  Anyways, she has a firm belief in God now, which is the greatest!  And when we asked, she said she thinks it`s because of prayer.  Darn right it is!  We taught a Book of Mormon lesson using the 7 steps, and she committed to read the homework we gave her following the steps.  It was great. :)  We also found out on Saturday night that it was her birthday the next day, so we last minute made her a batch of cookies.  She`s the greatest.  Now that she`s finally starting to progress a little faster, I have high hopes for her! 

Friday, we also had district meeting, and another lesson with a new investigator named Y*********** that the Elders found and passed to us.  And I don`t want to jinx it, but she seems like a senmin!  She has a Jehovah`s Witness friend who gave her a bible, so she`s been reading a few verses every day, and she believes in God!  She responded really favorably to Setting the Table, and when we asked if there was anything she was particularly interested in learning about, she excitedly said that she wants to learn how to pray!  Yeah, I guess we can do that. :)  I`m really excited to start teaching her.  She`s so willing and anxious to learn and open minded about everything!

Saturday, we went finding up in the next city,  where we found a couple of PI`s!  It was the first time I`ve ever done a contact that led to a future appointment!  (It was always Sister Walker before.)  That was really nice.  We set up an appointment for today, and while it didn`t work out (I`ll explain later), it was still really good.

And that was all of our lessons.  Even though we had a slow week last week, we have a pretty busy one set up for this week!  We have 6 or 7 appointments set up and a few PI`s to visit.  We had a lesson this morning with a really sweet PI named Y*********** who was really interested and responded so well to setting the table.  She said she really wanted to know if theses things were true, because they would bring a lot of hope and were wonderful things, but try as we might to reason with her, she said she was just too busy and couldn`t set up another appointment.  One day, though, one day.  It`s just so frustrating sometimes.  There is NOTHING more important that learning these things for themselves, and there is NO ONE too busy to squeeze in a little time!  We let her know just how important this message is to us, that we`re here volunteering for a year in a half.  Yep, this is all we do.  Yep, we did ride our bikes all the way out here. Yes, in the snow.  And she didn`t even know it was on our preparation day, and that the night before, I got a flat tire, and that this morning, my bike key broke in the lock, and we had to switch bikes with the elders to make it to her house on time! (Thank goodness we have such great elders.) But still, it was worth it.

I think we planted some really good seeds this morning, and she really did seem interested.  She seemed so excited by the possibility of these ideas, that there is no way that one day she won`t be guided to learn about it again.  And that`s what we`re here to do, to teach the ones that are sheep, and start the goats on the path to becoming sheep one day.  Even though the first one seems more satisfying and is what we`re really here for, and I haven`t gotten anyone through the gate yet, I know I will.  I think I`ve done plenty of the second one already, though, and that`s important too.
I`m starting to love the people even more, especially the people we`ve been meeting who talk to us.  That lady that we taught this morning I loooved.  I love our new investigator!  I love the sweet lady who we housed into who just LOVES English, came to Eikaiwa last week, is bringing her friend next week, and wants to invite us over to eat at her house next preparation day.  But even though everyone isn`t this friendly or sweet on the outside, I`m coming to realize that there is something really special inside each one of them.  I mean, I knew that before.  Everyone`s a child of God, after all, but I`m starting to be able to see it better. 

Like last week, we were housing, and a lady came out and before we could even say a word, looked at our nametags and said in `Engrish,`  `No sank you!` trying to swat us away like flys, as people here often do.  Then Watkins Shimai, with her boundless charity, optimism, and sweetness said, `Whoa!  Your English is SO GOOD!`  The old woman`s entire countenance changed, and she chatted with us for a few minutes after, excitedly recognizing Utah for having had the Olympics, and Idaho for its yummy potatoes.  She didn`t become a new investigator or anything, but we were able to see another side to my wonderful Japanese sister besides the short `Kekko` or `Ii desu wa` we normally hear behind the pinpon boxes or at doors.  And there is that side to all of them.   That beautiful wonderful side that is just aching to hear what we have to share.  They just don`t know it.  But we know it.  And the Lord knows it.  So we just keep on ploughing on, praying that we planted a seed, and that one day, they will hear this message that will change everything for them.

Because nothing is more important.

Anyways.  Those are my thoughts for the week.  I think good things are starting to happen here again.  I just have to keep relying on the Lord and wait for the day when things all work out.  I think they will soon.
I love you all!

The church is true!  The book is blue!

Working on true discipleship,
Sister Whitney

Not many pictures again this week.  My bad.  I promise I`ll take more this week!

The first picture is my new planner for this transfer!  The picture of Jesus came from Sister Watkins.  The 4 means I`m on transfer 4. The 7 is the number of senmin (elect who are ready to hear and accept the message in the area right now) left.  It was 9 when I got here, but the Elders found 2 of them. :)

The last one is of a CROC display in the mall here.  It`s the most wonderful, horrible thing ever, basically. :)  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Not Much Really Happened This Week. A Lot of Finding. A Lot of Finding.

Sorry, this is kind of a short email this week.  We had to take a big survey that cut out a lot of email time. My bad.

Anyways, not much really happened this week.  A lot of finding.  (A lot of finding.)  We just have to trust in the Lord`s timing, and that His work will get accomplished how and when He sees fit. 

On Tuesday we biked all the way out to Hikone to visit a former investigator.  That was an adventure!  It was my first time without Walker Shimai`s amazing sense of direction to lead the way.  Luckily, we made our way in the end, and had a lot of little miracles helping us out. While I was searching for the phone at one point, my keys (apartment, church, etc) fell out of my pocket.  And I was standing above a big sewer grate thing.  But the keys happened to land in just about the only position they could have without falling through. A lady noticed we were lost when we couldn`t find the right house.  She went inside, got her phone book, found the house for us, and even rang the doorbell for us!  The former investigator didn`t have any interest, but God was still letting us know that he`s looking out for us.  But when we went home, we went to go visit K****** who said that she was interested in meeting again and coming back to church!  She didn`t end up coming, but it looks like we might be able to start teaching her again. :)

It snowed and stuck all day this week.  It`s so cold!  Apparently, this is the way it`s going to stay until about the middle of March.  But what am I complaining about?  When I hear about Utah and Idaho right now, I feel a whole lot warmer in comparison.  :)  Probably all of you freezing out there should just be in Japan right now--that`s where it`s at!

On Thursday, we had a special taikai (big conference) with 4 zones from the mission.  It was really, really good.  We got there at 8:30 for some missionary DODGEBALL, and all of the Shimai from my district at the MTC except for Sister Tenney were there.  We missed her, but it was awesome to see them all again.  The real conference was fantastic.  It was all about relying on the Lord, something I`ve been trying to do but struggling with my whole mission.  It just seems like such an abstract concept, you know?  Just rely on the Lord!  It`s that simple! (`It`s that simple` has become my LEAST favorite sentence whilst being on my mission by the way.  Because it never is.)  But really though, what does relying on the Lord even mean? But that`s what the conference was about, and Zinke Kaicho released a new training plan on how to do that. So I intend to study that like crazy and finally figure out how!  The best part though was the promise: by the end of March, every companionship will see a baptism.  It`s going to happen. :) It gave me a lot of hope.

Anyway, we went to Hikone on Friday to taught H****** afterwards, and she brought a friend! Both of them are really interested, and her friend became a new investigator!

And that`s about it.  

The church is true.
The book is blue!
I love you all, and this is where I`m supposed to be!
Sister Whitney

Philippians 4:13
      I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Monday, January 6, 2014

BARA BARA....That Means Scattered. All Over the Place. That`s How This Week Was.

 Bara Bara.

That means scattered.  All over the place.  That`s how this week was.

It was a pretty good week.    On Monday, after Sister Scheffler and I killed off Walker and Koizumi Shimai, we headed back to the apartment.  Then we went housing for the day, and went to the ruins Sister Walker and I tried for so long to visit!  We were looking for one site when a nice older guy, who spoke a little English, came to help us and led us back behind some ropes that we were definitely not supposed to go behind.  It was really fun.  But when we said we were missionaries and tried to invite him to Eikaiwa, he disappeared into the jungle.

We then headed back up to Fushimi the next day so Sister Scheffler could pack and get things wrapped up before heading to her new location. Fushimi was a different experience. We had one lesson with her favorite investigator and with Allred and Daniels Shimai as dosekis. (Daniels Shimai and Allred Shimai are super fun by the way.  It was a party at that apartment.  A missionary party of course, but a great deal of fun.) It was really cool to watch Allred Shimai.  She did a great job.  She was able to reason with the investigator and testify really powerfully.  I hope I can become that good of a teacher someday.  

Watkins Shimai is a sweetheart.  I`m better at speaking than her, but she`s better at understanding than me.  Hopefully, I can learn from her.

Except for C****** and her family, our area is struggling.   H***** has just baaarely started to believe in God.  Her baptismal date is on the 19th, though, and she can`t meet until the 13th, so that can`t happen.   However, I`m so glad that she IS progressing, and IS starting to believe in God!  Hopefully, it will be a little bit easier for her to progress now. 

The C*******`s family is doing pretty well.  We`re still struggling on getting them to church though!  If we can get them to come to church (we`re teaching the sacrament lesson next) and get them to meet a little more often, we could see them baptized this transfer!  That would make my life.

Other than that, it`s just housing here.  Which is...kind of scary, since I have no sense of direction.  I suppose I always took Walker Shimai`s innate sense of direction for granted. The fact that we ever make it home is a miracle!  Haha.

This week, I also got a TRUCKLOAD of Christmas cards!  Thank you so much to everyone who sent me one!  I loved the beautiful cards, seeing your gorgeous families, and hearing the updates about what`s going on in your lives!  You all made my week!

I don`t remember if I said this last week, but it`s been my theme throughout this week too: gratitude.  It`s so easy when things aren`t going perfectly to not be grateful for the things around you.  God is really involved in every detail in our lives, and it`s our responsibility to find what he has given us!  When we recognize his many blessings, then not only are we able to thank the Lord for the blessings we have received, we become happier regardless of our circumstances, and the Lord is more willing to bless us.  

President Eyring quoted this poem in a talk in 1989: 
`Some murmur when the sky is clear
And wholly bright to view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue:
And some with thankful love are filled,
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God’s good mercy, gild
The darkness of their night.`

If we can remember this, if we can be the second sort of people, then, as comes from obedience to all commandments, we will be blessed.

“And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.” (Mosiah 4:11–12.)

The most wonderful thing to be grateful for, of course, is our Savior Jesus Christ! President Eyring also said, `To the Lord Jesus we owe an undying debt of gratitude, for he bought us with a great price. It is impossible for us, weak mortals as we are, to fully comprehend and appreciate the sufferings he endured on the cross that he might gain for us the victory over death.`
It`s true!  And it`s my goal to remember that always, especially during this week.  So my goal is to say at least one prayer of straight up gratitude every day this week.

I love you all!

The church is true!
The book is blue!
The work is great. :)
Love, Sister Whitney
Me and Sister Walker with the Japanese style aprons the ward gave us!
 Me and Sister Scheffler at the Ruins.

 Me infront of Biwako, the biggest lake in Japan!
 Me and my new companion, Sister Watkins, on the train.