Monday, September 29, 2014

Every Day is a Spiritual Party!

It was a great week!  Every day`s a party, or as we like to say, a 霊的なぱーてい、a spiritual party!


Nothing special, really.  We emailed, went to go teach O Shimai a quick lesson, grocery shopped at the speed of light, just barely making it home in time to catch a bus to Okayama!  Every time we spend the night there before a big conference, it`s like a big missionary reunion!  I saw Tenney Shimai, Watkins Shimai, Crofts Shimai, Donnelly and Colter Shimai...that was a party too.  Bus ride and then a train ride to Okayama? 3500 yen. Fitting 16 Shimai into on apartment for a night? Priceless.


Conference!  The Area president, President Ringwood and his wife (who is Elder Nelson`s daughter!) came and spoke to us!  One thing that really stood out to me was about us, our responsibility to be the foundation of the testimonies of those around us.  Here, we really are the first idea or impression that many people hear about God or about Jesus Christ.  Even for those who aren`t the first, and even when we aren`t missionaries, we can influence how those around us view Them or think about Them by what we say and how we act, by sharing about why we LOVE them, why we are willing to follow Them, and by deepening our own personal relationships with them ourselves.  I loved something He said about trusting God.  He said that we must trust God so much that we should never envy another person in any other circumstances, because we trust God that we are exactly where we are meant to be.  He said it`s easy to say, `For every door we knock here in Japan, someone gets baptized in Brazil` (which is quite likely true), but that wherever we are, we are here for a reason, and no matter what our circumstances, Heavenly Father has provided us with the opportunity to help those around us and to obtain for ourselves incredible amounts of joy. :)  

After the conference, we rode home with the W's.  They had gotten permission from Welch Kaicho to leave the mission for a little bit to go to COSTCO in Hiroshima, and after asking the Welches if they could take us with them, we too were given the same permission!  So we lived the missionary dream.  We broke ALL the rules!  Haha. But we were given permission. We think.  Basically, we`ve discovered that couple missionaries can just do whatever they want, and if we`re with them, a lot of that goes for us as well.  Which we appreciate. :)  So, in the magical realm of Japanese COSTCO, the parking lot is on top of the store.  In order to solve these problem, there are giant conveyor belts to carry your cart up and down!  We also bought tortillas, oatmeal, and ... wait for it ...  COSTCO MUFFINS!  Because we know delicious when we find it.  The W's were also kind enough to treat us to some delicious classic CostCo pizza and some ice cream, which is actually different than the ice cream in American Costco`s.  Howard Shimai flipped out for it.  I think I like the American ice cream better.  But still!  So much happy America-like deliciousness!  Then, to top it all off, we didn`t get home until 11 that night, but we`re pretty sure that was included in whatever permission was obtained for us to go with the W's.  It was an adventurous day, to say the least.


We taught A Kyodai a lesson, and he`s such a champ!  We used the Book of Mormon to testify of Jesus Christ.  Because A  Kyodai has been inactive for so long, he sometimes feels inadequate or not deserving of God`s love or blessings.  We were able to testify about how none of us need to earn God`s love, but that it is always there for us.  He`s really so cool, and just drinks it in when you bear testimony.  He`s been gone for a while, but he knows it`s true, and he`s on his way coming back!

Then, we had children`s Eikaiwa and normal Eikaiwa.


We went to go have lunch and visit with E and a group of her friends who speak English! They were all sweet and fun, but got kind of awkward when we tried to bring up the Gospel.  They made us lunch and it was really delicious!  We helped put together the onigiri`s, rice balls, and everyone laughed as I struggled to make a simple triangle shape.  But in the end, I got it!  Mostly.  

After that, we went to go visit Y san, the older lady we found last week, and she became a new investigator!  She invited us right back in and proceeded to tell us about a miracle she`d had since last time she`d seen us.  She had really needed the deed to her house for some reason (some of the particulars got lost in the Japanese), but couldn`t find them.  Then she prayed to ask for help and was able to find them!  She said she thought it was a miracle and then immediately thought, `It`s because those two girls came and talked to me!  It`s because of them!`  She was really happy we came back. And she gave us cute little handkerchiefs to show her appreciation.

We taught a lesson to O Shimai about Faith and Works, which went alright, and then got an unexpected call from a member who had moved to Tokyo a few years ago, saying that she was back and wanted to invite all the missionaries to dinner to meet her nonmember parents.  First of all, it was just about the most delicious dinner I`ve had at a member`s house--it was all vegetables and a few meats cooked in delicious ways--and second of all, we ended up getting to share a message!  The mom was so sweet, and when they realized we would get to stay a little bit later if we shared a message, they were all for it!  There`s not a whole lot of interest there right now, but maybe one day.


We did service for member O Shimai, weekly planning, and a few other things


We went to go make Melon Pan with K Shimai at her apartment!  We also got to talk to her about her conversion story, so it was fun and uplifting!  Later that night, we had a branch family home evening at the church and another delicious meal provided for us.  It was so good and the branch seemed to really strengthen their relationships with each other, which they really need!


Church, a few cancelled lessons, and finding!  But still good.  Yeah, still good.

Anyways, I`m about out of time, but I just want to testify to you that I know the Church is true!  There are hard things that happen sometimes.  There are things we don`t understand.  And there are people who don`t understand us.  But there is one person who always does understand us, and it`s our Savior Jesus Christ!  He understands perfectly when no one else does, and I testify that this church is HIS church, and that through it and through Him, not matter what problems or concerns we have in our life, we can be healed.  We can overcome.  We can become who He would have us be.  And that`s pretty incredible. :)

The Church is true!
The Book is blue!

Sister Whitney


MTC District reunion!  Donnelly Shimai and Colter Shimai are companions right now, and Tenney Shimai and I both went there to stay on Monday night before a conference in Okayama.  And we all brought the PJ`s my Mama sent us when we were in the MTC!

 We got to go to COSTCO!  Outside of the mission boundaries!  (with permission)  Is that not every missionary in Japan`s DREAM!!!

 They don`t mess around at Costco in Japan.  Look at these crazy conveyor belt things!  

 We love the W`s!  And we love COSTCO!

 We made Melon pan (bread) with K Shimai from the branch, to bring to branch FHE on Saturday night!  It turns out, you just put cookie dough on top of roll dough and make a checkerboard pattern.  And there‘s no melon in it at all! I`ve been living a lie!

Awww.  Us and K Shimai and more melon pan!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

And We Learned From Above About Soup Below.

We`re tearing it up and the Lord is doing great things here! First off, we found FOUR new investigators this week!  That`s more than I`ve found sometimes in an entire TRANSFER!  We know however that it has absolutely nothing to do with us and that the Lord is just doing as he will, for He will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work. (2 Nephi 27:21)  And that`s true bits right there!

Variousness of all that which is preparation day (emailing, groceries, some letter writing) and partying it up at the Castle!  Then we had FHE at O Shimai`s.   We played a game called Pterodactyl (poo-teh-roh-dah-ku-toh-roo, in Japanese), in which one has to say the word Pterodactyl in a strange manner meant to make other people laugh and show their teeth while simultaneously covering one`s own teeth.  If anyone sees your teeth, you lose.  Ochi Shimai was laughing so hard she almost cried.

We found a little obaachan (grandma) while housing before going to see S san and uncharacteristically got invited in to teach a lesson.  Howard Shimai pulled out the big guns right away, and brought out the chart, starting connecting to eternal life, and worked her Howard Shimai magic!  We had no plan for this instant lesson, but were able to follow the Spirit decently well and teach a good lesson that we know Y san felt the Spirit in.  We`re going to visit her again this week as well.  We think she has good potential.

We were going to heart attack a member`s house...and Howard Shimai was leading...because I have absolutely no idea where I`m going, but she`s still only been here for just over a week.  And so we got lost. :)  We stopped a little older guy on his bike, who called his wife, who came sprinting down from her house a few streets away to guide us!  She didn`t become a new investigator or any other classic missionary miracle or anything; it was just nice to see the goodness of mankind and to experience a little reminder that God is looking out for us.  The member that was heart attacked wasn`t home, but was apparently just delighted by the delivery of cookies and colorful hearts with poorly drawn Japanese covering her door, and she came to play pingpong after Eikaiwa the next night to talk with us and show her appreciation.  She seemed really happy, which was good, because we`d been feeling like she needed some cheering up.

Deserted apartments.  That`s what we found on Wednesday.  Only a couple of weeks before, Eddy Shimai and I had been there and found a PI who seemed to have a relatively decent amount of interest.   But when we got there, not only was there no one home, there was no one in the apartments at all.  No furniture in the rooms.  Complete empty abandoned-ness.  Which was mysterious.  On the bright side, it did give me a chance to learn the word for `deserted` (okizari ni suru), which is probably absolutely useless to know, but worked in this circumstance!

Then we went to go teach A Kyodai about the Plan of Salvation!  We teach him in English, and he`s quite good, but Japanese English is really funny.  It`s so straightforward and blunt.  After Howard Shimai told him how much she loved the city, rather than just asking her why? or What do you like about it, he asked, `I want you to tell me what you like about the city.`  Well okay, then.  That`s actually not a very good story at all, for which I apologize, but Japanese is really messing with our English as well.  We have no idea what we`re trying to say half the time.  But anyways.  A Kyodai. He`s progressing so fast, he`s almost on fire!  He read the Book of Mormon homework not just once, but many times to try to figure out what happens after we die, has been praying regularly, asking God questions about how to deal with his five year old daughter, and is even getting answers (be patient)!  He`s so receptive to testimony, and we never have to wonder what to teach next.  At the end of this lesson, he asked, `How can I learn more about Jesus Christ and what other ways are there to prove him and find out more about him?`  Guess who`s teaching from the Book of Mormon next time!  We love him.

Afterwards, we taught Children`s Eikaiwa, and then Normal Eikaiwa, which had the most people I`ve seen there my entire time here!  It`s a miracle!

A lot fell through, but we still had a great day!  We went and taught our friend S san again, who this time became a new investigator!  She`s super cool!  She has so much potential and really wants to learn.  We were planning on going to teach O Shimai a lesson with a member, but since there are only 3 chairs in her shop, we decided to boldly bring a chair from the church...on our bikes!  so I biked to O Shimai`s house with a chair on my shoulder.  Unfortunately when we got there, O Shimai had just gotten called into her new job.  So we  had to bring the chair right back.  H Shimai had also cancelled her appointment for the day because she got sick.  We messaged her in the morning, asking if we could bring her soup or something, hoping to be able to visit her and also find out where she lived.  Unfortunately, she didn`t message us back until 7:30 or so saying we could.  We had no soup.  She lived relatively far away.  What was to be done?  We said prayers in our hearts and thought of all the options, until I miraculously remembered that we have a trapdoor in our kitchen floor filled with food from the missionary couple who were here forever ago.  And what do we find?  CLAM CHOWDER!  And it`s fast!  And we bike to find H  Shimai!  And got a little lost!  But we made it to her house, with the clam chowder, Howard Shimai got to meet her, and just as we were about to head back to try and make it for the curfew on time, a car pulled in and she said, `Can you wait just a second? It looks like my boyfriend is here. I want you to meet him!`  Oh my goodness.  Could this be?!  THE boyfriend she`s been talking about us too?!  We simply weren`t strong enough to resist.  He was cool.  But the consequences are that we sprinted home far faster than our aged missionary bodies could have possibly carried us by ourselves and we were blessed with more green (they call them blue here in Japan) lights than we could have reasonable expected, giving us just enough time to get home, drop down on the floor, and begin praying before 9:00 curfew.  Howard Shimai prayed for us, starting off in her lovely Japanese, when all of a sudden it broke into some unexpected English, exhausted and tired between some heavy breaths. `Heavenly Father...that was crazy.  We almost died.`  I was trying to keep my cool and be reverent during the prayer, which I managed to do until she said, `Thank you for learning us that there are cans of soup under the floor.`  And then I just about lost it.  See what I mean about Japanese killing our English?  But it was a miracle.  And we were learned from above about soup from below.

District meeting in Niihama!  It was good.  Then we pulled weeds at Active Member O Shimai`s house for a long time.  I got to be in jeans and climb up on walls to get rid of some vines and push Howard Shimai around in a wheelbarrow for a little while too.  The elders were there as well, but we quickly learned that if you want some real work`d better call a Shimai.

We went to go try to visit an investigator, and I had directions from Eddy Shimai, but they were just not working for me.  Nor had they the other two times we`d tried to visit her!  We were just biking around, trying to find T Shimai`s house to bring her cookies and set up an appointment, when I realized I had gone in entirely the wrong direction.  So I was frustrated with myself.  I slowly biked over to Howard Shimai and said with a long face (remember last week`s joke formula?), `If Janky Randall were a person...I would be that person.`  She thought that was pretty hilarious.  But possibly many of the things we say are only funny to us. :)

We went to the farthest island in our area to visit K  Shimai, a referral from F  Kyodai in the branch.  It started out with them taking us out to lunch at a rather fancy Japanese restaurant.  And you know how I feel about Japanese fancy restaurants.  They tend to have unspeakable foods.  This was no exception.  And they just kept bringing out more...and more...and more.  Right after we thought we  had finally conquered the last of the octopus slices and raw fish and wasabi and rice with tentacles in it, they would bring out something else with eyes and fins and slime.  Howard Shimai was down the hall (I could still see her) playing with K Shimai`s 2 year old when they brought in first dish and told me what it was: taco no tamago.  Octopus eggs.  It looked like a furry tongue and had a most unpleasant texture.  Howard Shimai came back and asked hesitantly, `What is that?`  `Scary,` is all I would respond.  And so we tried to do as much eating without swallowing as possible. (I told her afterwards what we had eaten, and she has since expressed gratitude for my silence.)  And we`re pretty sure that the blob in the bottom of the bowl was intestines.  And Howard Shimai`s taken anatomy, so we`re pretty sure we`re right.

After that, we went and taught K`s two year old a little bit of English, then got to teach K  and her friend a little message on God!  K  Shimai then told us that she has a lot of interest in the purpose of life.  And we can help with that.  We think she`s sweet and has a lot of potential!

After we got back that after noon, we went to go visit a man from China that Eddy Shimai and I found housing who had interest, but didn`t really know what to do with him since he mostly spoke Chinese.  But what we learned last week when visiting, is that he has a wife, and her Japanese is pretty good!  When we visited them Saturday, they were in the middle of eating dinner, but immediately set it aside and started listening to us!  They have a lot of interest and are way excited to get the Chinese Book of Mormon we`re bringing for them when we go back next Sunday.  They`re really sweet, and are going to have a baby in January!  Another cool thing about this is that our Zone Leaders asked us to focus on finding, teaching, and baptizing a family this transfer.  And they`re a family!  They were definitely an answer to our heartfelt little prayers.

Church was good. LA  Shimai CAME, and so did H Shimai, another less active we work with who is really sweet.  

We went to go visit E Shimai after that, finding her also in the middle of dinner. She stopped right then and there and made us curry rice and an apple salad.  She`s too sweet.  And we got to teach her a lesson about how we can learn to trust in God, and that was pretty cool too.

So, all and all, things are pretty awesome.  This is the best time of my mission so far!  I love being in my area!  I love Sister Howard!  I love the work!  I love the Lord!  And I love being a missionary!

The Church is true!
The book is blue!

Love you!

Sister Whitney

Me and Howard Shimai.  Look at the beach behind us!

The Castle -- again!

At the Castle....again!

Me and  Howard Shimai!

Our name tags and some really classy plastic slippers about 6 sizes too small for my feet we had to put on when entering the castle.

Our district!  

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Many People Does it Take to Fix Janky Randall?

How many people does it take to fix Janky Randall?  3 Filipinos, 1 Japanese Man, and 2 White Girls' Prayers.

*Special thanks to Sister Howard for the creation of this subject line.

Sister Howard. American. 10th transfer.  Fantastic missionary, rocking Japanese and absolutely hilarious! It`s only been three days, and we are already fearing transfers.  Neither of us are sure we can take it if we only get one transfer together!

But seriously though, this is already a great transfer, full of so much laughing, identical senses of humor, getting lost, but finding our way again, teaching by the Spirit, tender mercies of the Lord, and 7 billion other things that encompass all that is wonderful!   Also, she loves running and we go running every day.  

Nothing too special.  Just transfer emails, and a little bit of distress from both me and Eddy Shimai.  Eddy Shimai was finally leaving this island for the first time her entire mission, which was kind of a sad thing.   We packed. Okay, actually Eddy Shimai packed, and I made her peanut butter cookies!  Of which I gladly partook and ate too many.  Because peanut butter cookies.

We went to go visit the M's, an older couple that the E  san referred to us.  They said they weren`t really all that interested, but then asked a bunch of really good questions, that you could tell were from the heart, things that they were really worried about, including what it`s like to get answers from God, why bad things happen in the world, and how to feel God`s love.  It was about half and half Japanese, and we`re going back again next week!

We also went to go teach O Shimai for the last time before Eddy Shimai transfered, and O Shimai made donuts for us and gave us some special sweet soy sauce which is actually pretty yummy. :)

Then that night, we had a lesson with H, basically our favorite human. We read from the Book of Mormon with her, just a few verses (Moroni 10:3-6) about how to get an answer from the Book of Mormon. We began by praying with a question in mind, reading, writing what we got from it, praying again for increased understanding, reading again, writing more, sharing what we`d written, and praying to know if what we had written was true.  And it was fantastic.  She said that something that stuck out to her is that there it says that we need to pray in the name of Jesus Christ, and she had never understood why before, just that that`s what we said to do, so she did it.  And in the past, every lesson when we ask her to say the ending prayer, she always says, `Nan dake? (What is it?)  Ten no Otousama (Heavenly Father)...Iesu Kirisuto no mina ni yotte, o inori shimasu, amen. (We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen).  Just to make sure she has it right before she prays.  But on Tuesday night at the end of the lesson, there was NO `nan dake`!!!  It seems like a small thing, but Eddy Shimai and I were so happy we just about jumped out of our socks! Besides that, the prayer was the most beautiful and heartfelt one she had offered yet.

She`s making such good progress, and Howard Shimai and I are dead set on Helping her make it into the waters of baptism this transfer!

In order to prep things for the couple missionaries, we studied at their apartment for a few hours to be there for when the appliances all came.  Which was a party. We also had a lesson with LA A Kyoudai and taught him about the spirit. His heart is so open right now, and he wants to return to the things he knew and cherished before.  He wants to grow close to God and to follow him, and he has so many questions from his heart.  He has so much potential, and we love working with him.

Then, O Shimai came by to help Eddy Shimai send off her bags, and we ate Eddy Shimai`s homemade fruit leather (sent by her family from the beach).

F Kyoudai came down all the way from the island that he lives on just to say goodbye and give us Sushi bentos (I ate all the sushi I could, until I got to the ones with wasabi on them.  That I just couldn`t quite handle.)  And O*** Shimai met us at the bus station by surprise with a big bag for each of us with a soda and 3 or 4 apples!  Which was very sweet of her.  And around 5 we set off for Okayama, where we stayed the night with Sister Colter and her companion there and the Shimai from Niihama, the area next to ours in our district.  It was a party.

At the Eki by 7, send off Eddy  Shimai...and wait.  And wait.  But Sister Colter, Stevenson Shimai (who is actually a Nihonjin.  Her Dad is American, but she doesn`t speak any English.  But I love her!), and I had a party as temporary companions waiting out in the sun.  We tried to pass out Eikaiwa flyers at the Eki, but got shooed off by the police.  We still managed to contact a few people about the gospel.  And find an imported good store that sells ROOTBEER.  I bought me some of that stuff. :)  And then finally, all of our new companions got to  the eki around 3 and we headed home, back to our beloved city.

We went to go visit a PI that Eddy Shimai and I found last week named S san, who invited us right in and let us teach her about God!  It was our first lesson together, and it went a little bit off what we`d planned it being, but it still went really well!  She told us to come back any time, and she has a lot of potential.  We also did some finding.  

We did weekly planning, and ending up not eating lunch until after 2.  Only just after we went out to go finding, we got a call from the senior couple telling us that they had just arrived in the city and we were the only ones with a key to their apartment, so we went to go meet them.  Their names are the W's and they are the absolute greatest.  Sister W is from Hawaii. She looks Japanese (and probably is by descent), but didn`t learn Japanese until going on her mission. Elder W is Japanese.  But both are fluent in English and Japanese.  They`re absolutely sweet, and after helping them carry up some of their things to their apartment (they`re on the 2nd floor), they insisted we go out to eat with them. However, this was barely an hour after we had just eaten, and we had eaten quite a bit, having been so ravaged by our morning`s expedition attempting to receive revelation and work out plans to help this area, branch, and the investigators.  

But when a senior couple insists you go out to eat with them at Osaka Osho`s, a Chinese restaurant, you do. And they ordered SO MUCH FOOD.  Friend rice, gyoza dumplings, softer gyoza dumplings in soup, miso soup, a couple of meat dishes, a vegetable dish, and just more than we could possibly get down.  It was a constant silent battle between me and Howard Shimai to get the other person to eat more.  `You can have the last gyoza.`  `No you, I insist!`  `I couldn`t possibly.  I know how much you love gyoza.`  And then grumbling me, I had to take the extra gyoza.  In Japanese, they have a saying called `betsu bara` or, a separate stomach, that always allows you to eat more.  I guess, I must have one, or Saturday would not have gone well. Notwithstanding our stuffed stomachs, the food was delicious and we are so excited to start working together with the W`s! They have so much dendo fire, and we can tell that they are going to be absolutely wonderful and do wonderful things for investigators and especially the branch here.

After that, we went to go visit a new investigator. He's a Chinese man that Eddy Shimai and I housed into a couple of weeks ago but weren`t quite sure what to do with because he`s Chinese and doesn`t speak great Japanese.  But after reading the Potential Investigator section in the area book where we`d written about him, Howard Shimai felt inspired to go back!  We caught him just as he had his wife were going out on a walk and got to talk with them both about the gospel a little bit.  We`re going back to teach his wife (who is the sweetest) on Saturday.  Booya!

Also, we got lost a lot.  I should know where I`m going, but if you know me at all, you`re not surprised that I don`t.  Luckily, Howard Shimai is with it enough that I can give her the Navi on the phone and she`s able to figure things out pretty well.

Church!  Howard Shimai gave a talk.  It was a rather unpleasant surprise, I assume, when she walked into the apartment for the first time to see that special message from Eddy Shimai (it was to be Eddy Shimai`s talk if she didn`t transfer), but at least she left a Black Thunder candy bar as well!  That makes things okay, right? Anyways, her talk was great.

Later that night, we went to go teach E san for the first time in a while.  And it was so, so powerful..  The lesson was about half English, half Japanese, and she was more open with us than she has ever been before. She talked to us about her struggles with being lonely since her husband died, about how she was afraid what other people would think if she became a Christian, and her fears to believe and to take a step of faith.  We came prepared with a lesson, but were able to follow the Spirit to teach according to her needs, to share scriptures she understood that helped answer her concerns, to powerfully testify of a God in Heaven, a Father who knows us, loves us, and wants to talk to us.  And Sister Howard threw in a fantastic Indiana Jones reference as well.  And in the end, she prayed.  It was powerful, and beautiful, and we were so proud of her for taking that first step of faith that we knew was so hard for her.  Sister Howard's testimony is powerful, she speaks with love so the investigator can feel it, she weaves all the thoughts and ideas from the lesson together, and makes it really apply to the investigator.  

And even though it was completely different then what we were planning, we taught almost seamlessly together. The Spirit was sooo strong, and we`re so excited to help E  progress some more.  Also, she may or may not have randomly said as we were talking about faith that she had a wand, and then proceeded to show us, but as she went through all the layers of wrapping (because everything in Japan is wrapped 20 times), and the moment was reaching its climax...THE WAND WAS GONE!  It was hilarious.  She`s also apparently a huge Harry Potter fan.  Kudos to our friend E.

By the time we were done, it was dark (the lesson took a little while), but I was confident I knew the way home! That is, until I found us on a road I didn`t recognize, got thoroughly confused, and then to top it off, Janky Randall broke down.  `Janky Randall` is the name that Howard Shimai has given her bike.  He`s janky because they brought him down from the mission office, he only has three gears, is a little bit trashy, and is kind of prone to breaking down. Yesterday, all we did was go over a big bump, and all of a sudden the chain just popped off.  And we were still a long ways from home.  (Not to mention lost.)  So we began to pray.  All of a sudden, three Filipino men who had just ridden past us on their bicycles came riding back and all starting attacking the bike at once to try and fix it.  Then a Japanese man coming down the road saw, stopped as well, and finished fixing the whole thing up. And all was well.  We even found our way home and made it miraculously on time before the Sunday 8:30 curfew!  Because God is good, and he is a God of miracles.

This ordeal with Janky Randall has also lead to a series of jokes.  See a junky apartment, say, `If Janky Randall were an apartment, he would be that apartment.` Pick up the knife in our kitchen drawer only to have it split in half, say, `If Janky Randall were a knife, he would be that knife.`  Probably that was a really funny story that I should save for parties, but I think you get the picture.  Make a Janky Randall joke of your own if you really want to have fun with it!  

Howard Shimai and I have decided we want to die together.  

That sounds maybe like a concerning line, but really we just want to be companions for the rest of our missions. Which really isn`t that unreasonable, since the transfer after this is the last one. 

I`m loving my life!  These last 3 days have been some of the best days of my entire mission, and I`m so excited for the rest of them!

I know that this is the Lord`s work, and that he knows and loves each one of us individually. I know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes the tunnel was exactly what you needed to lead you to the light.  He is our Savior and Our Redeemer.  He lived for us, He died for us, and He is ever there for us, waiting with outstretched arms to welcome us into his peace.  I love Him, and am so glad I get to be a part of this work inviting others to come unto Him!

The Church is true!
The Book is blue!

Love, Sister Whitney

This clever restaurant looks like it`s falling down, but in actuality, it`s just a clever ruse. :)  The W's were quite shocked when they first saw it. :)

Tofu McNuggets

How one eats at a Chinese restaurant - at a big round circle table that you just spin and pass things around.

Okonomiyaki making, Hiroshima style with noodles.

A mysterious abandoned park by the roadside.

Me on a giant たんぼ or dragonfly, in said abandoned park.

Me in front of the abandoned park!  (all angles of this park must be included).

Saying goodbye to Eddy Shimai at the eki.

Me, Stevenson Shimai, and Colter Shimai were kind of companions for a few hours at the eki (from 8 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon) waiting for our companions.   We tried to pass out Eikaiwa flyers at the Eki, but got shooed off by the police.  We still managed to contact a few people about the gospel.  And find an imported goods store that sells ROOTBEER. 

How Does Sister Harris Feel About the Atonement?

Sister Harris' cousins, who live in Arizona, teach a stake missionary preparation class. They asked Sister Harris to share her feelings on the atonement so they could share her thoughts in a lesson for their class.  Here are her responses:

 - How has the Atonement blessed your life? 

The Atonement has blessed me life because it has helped me see that I can change.  One of the most important things to me is growth, getting better, overcoming weaknesses, and sometimes doing that by myself seems like a daunting and absolutely hopeless task.  But particularly during my mission, and I have turned my challenges over to the Lord and asked for the power of the Atonement to help me, strengthen me, and to change me, I find that there have been miracles worked within myself and through me that I know could not have been done at all by just me alone.  The Atonement has helped me realize that I can change and that I can do good wherever I am.

 - How has the Atonement blessed the lives of those you serve?

The Atonement has done so many things for the people I teach.  Virtually no one in Japan is Christian, and so as we teach, we often give these people their very first image of Jesus Christ, a loving older brother who wants to help us, who has already prepared a way for us to find peace and forgiveness and to live with Him and our families forever.   Even for those who are reluctant to believe (which are many), this message of the Atonement has brought a light and peace into their lives unlike any they have ever experienced.  It helps people who are lonely to know that they are not alone.  It helps people who feel like they are past help to receive guidance.  It helps people that no one has ever paid attention to, who have absolutely nothing, and know very little, become better people, people who are happy and know they are loved.

 - What would you like these young men and women to understand about the Atonement as they prepare for missionary service?

There is no limit to the Atonement, and it is just as much for the missionary (maybe more!) as it is for the investigator.  Learning to rely on it is a process, but the Lord can do his own work, and through the Atonement, He strengthens us, and gives us tools to help us get his work done. The Atonement can help with any problem at all that we have and Christ is always there.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You Need to Have a Solid Foundation of Faith.

We emailed, went to go begin setting up the missionary couple`s apartment, went to McDonalds and ate tofu nuggets (a real thing).  And wrote some letters!  That night, we went to a Chinese restaurant as a bye bye to Elder O******* (who goes to the mission office today, and then home to Sapporo tomorrow), and it was so yummy!  I ate way too much food.

We made okonomiyaki with E**** and her friends!  And I saw that it was delicious.  Did I really learn how to do it?  Not quite, but she gave us the recipe, and I could probably figure something out.  After that, we went to go visit her friend who she referred to us, named M******* san.  She and her husband talked to us for a while (in English), gave us what are apparently the thinnest cookies in Japan, and then set up an appointment for Tuesday.

Then, we had an appointment with H******* Shimai.  And H******* Shimai is wonderful. We`ve been asking her to keep a prayer journal, and since she`s started doing it, she`s begun receiving answers.  She`s been recognizing miracles in her life that she feels like she can`t help but contribute to God.  And it is good. :) And we finished at 9:10 and had to speed back to our apartments to make it by 9:30 so fast that we were both seconds away from spontaneous combustion when we finally got there.  (It was fast.  Also, imagine me spinning away like crazy on that little bike, and you`ll have a better picture.)

We had a lesson with Y*** Shimai, then one with A******* Kyoudai (both less actives).  Then we had a short little lesson with C*** san before he goes back to China for a month or two and went to eat Okonomiyaki before Eikaiwa.

We did service at O*** Shimai`s for a while, had some SKK, and another lesson with H******* Shimai!  But we made the mistake of starting out by asking her how she got so darn good at English, and she ended with, `You just have to speak the language all the time.  You know what, how about we talk from now on tonight in Japanese? Nihongo de hanashimashou!` And then we had to surprise do a lesson in Japanese that we planned on doing in English.  But it was still good!  And we read from Enos 1 and she realized some things she needed to do to make her prayers better.  She is progressing so much, and I literally can almost not stop thinking about her and trying to receive revelation on what else she needs.

Zone training meeting!  I learned good things.  My favorite was our zone leaders talked about the three things that Joseph Smith said in the Joseph Smith papers that you need to have a solid foundation of faith.  

1)  A belief in God
2)  A correct understanding of him 
3)  The knowledge that you`re living your life in harmony with His will. 

I`d heard those before, but they talked about how faith in Number 3 is a choice.  You have to work your best and then choose to believe that you`re following God.  It doesn`t always come easily.  And that was something that helped me a lot.

We had a great lesson with LA O*** Shimai. She`s been having a hard time consistently reading the Book of Mormon, but by the end of the lesson said on her own that we need to make reading the Book of Mormon just as much of a habit as eating or sleeping is.  For the win!  Then we found a cool PI who was so excited to hear we were Christian missionaries that she literally ran to the door (whaaat?  Is this Japan?) and we had a Yakiniku party (grilled meat and vegetables) at O*** Shimai (active member) with D*******san, his mom, and the Elders.

We visited lots of LA`s with O*** Shimai!

It was a good week.

I`m really going to miss Eddy Shimai, but I know she`s going to love her new area!

The church is true! 
The book is blue!

Sister Whitney

Saturday, September 6, 2014

No One Has Ever Seen the Inside of This Bag? Do You Believe Us?

This email`s going to be a little bit short, since we got here late and have to go do some stuff for the incoming senior missionary couple`s apartment, so I do beg your pardon. :)

We emailed, and went to go visit a small little shrine.  Then we went to FHE at O*** Shimai`s house with the Elders and D****** san and at soba noodles!

We taught C***** a lesson, which went surprisingly well.  He has a hard time believing in God because of the lack of scientific proof.  We brought a paper bag and told him, `No one has ever seen what`s inside of this bag.` And then I looked into the bag.  `No one has ever seen the inside of this bag.`  We repeated.  `Do you believe us? C****** actually did believe us, but the Elders were a little bit more faithless.  So we showed C******, and his testimony joined ours.  The Elders would still not believe.  Finally, we showed the Elders.  They saw a peanut, and a piece of paper that read, `the inside of this peanut,` and they were stumped.  We talked about how, like this example, there are things in life that are hard to believe because they don`t seem to make sense or have much proof.  Mainly, spiritual things.  But God does give us proof!  Like prophets, who have seen Christ 
(Ether 12:41 39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language,concerning these things; ) and other proof like prayer and the scriptures.  But in order to know if these things are true, we have to study this proof; we have to read and we have to pray.  It actually went quite well.

Also, some mysterious human dropped off 4 little kittens at the church, with a note saying that we were nice people who would take care of kittens. Two members came by, each took one, and then dropped the rest off at the pound.  But they were taken care of.  We bought cat food for them. :)

We also went to talk to E****`s friends after Hula class!  It`s great, because they have a lot of questions about missionary life and we get to help them have a better view of the church. :)

We did some service at a member`s house, visited some Less Actives and PI`s with her, and then taught Eikaiwa.  I also played some mean ping pong afterwards and put the elders to shame.  Haha.

Our one year in Japan anniversary!  Let`s never have an anniversary again.  Y**** calls just before her lesson (during which we were planning on inviting her to be baptized), saying she can never meet again; we go teach M*********** who we found last week, who says she can`t meet for a couple months, and we were sad.  We had a good lesson with H******* Shimai though!

District meeting!
It was our District Leader O******** Choro`s last district meeting before going home, so the N****** couple brought us lunch and we all ate together. Then we did finding.  

Many much finding!

Church, visiting some members, and we had a good lesson with our less active friend, M***.

And that`s all folks!

The church is true!
The book is blue!

I love you!

Sister Whitney

Us at the shrine and me in front of a giant propeller statue they have here!