Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas week!:

This week was literally so crazy that I can`t remember where I left off on my last blog! But thank goodness for journal writing. Really I am so grateful that I have kept a journal up until this point. Such a blessing that I got into the habit of journal writing before I came on my mission. 
But this week was Christmas week! It was so fun and exciting. On Tuesday night we had district meeting and then we sang at Honbu for another open house. And something that I have realized is that there is no reason for me to be scared of not being able to speak Japanese. Because Japanese people are usually so patient and nice. So I went up to a girl who was kind of standing off in the corner, and it was in all sense of the work awkward. But I trusted in the Lord that it would just go well. And we just chatted about her hobbies and stuff. I just threw out any question I knew how to say, and she answered and sounded like she was having a good time. Turns out she wasn`t a member but a members friend who came to the open house with her. So it was exciting to talk with her. She was so nice!
Then it was Christmas eve. We just rode our bikes around for three hours delivering cookies to some investigators and members who lived alone. It was so fun! I love riding my bike around, even if it is really awkward to stop and talk to people that way. But people usually stop because we have our bikes, so that`s awesome. We met with one of our investigators and her daughter for a little while before they were getting ready to go to a Christmas party. And her daughter gave me so many sticker! She is the cutest, though. And as we were riding away she watched us go until she couldn`t see us anymore! It was so cute! But we were able to set up another appointment with her Mom, and we were thinking of asking her to eat out with us so that she won`t be able to cancel this time. Hopefully she will feel genki enough to come and meet with us.
Another small miracle is we were looking for this members house. And we couldn`t find it. Because:
1. Japanese addresses are impossible to find, half the houses don`t even have addresses on them.
2. He apartment number wasn`t even written so even if we did find the building, we wouldn`t know which apartment to give the cookies to.
But right as we were thinking about what to do. We turned and she was coming up the street, which was so cool! So we gave her the cookies and she seemed so happy!
Then the next day I called my family which was awesome! Then we went and ate out with the missionaries and then watched frozen. Ya, like the Disney movie. It was so weird, But fun. Then we went and looked at the lights and met a lot of crazy people. But it was fun. And we found a place that had a snow machine! So there was all this fake snow around and we had a snowball fight! It was super fun!
So Christmas was basically just awesome. We also met a new investigator and set up an appointment, but she didn`t show up so that was sad. But then we met another girl who said she would meet us again on the street that we met her on her way to work. So hopefully we can meet with her again. 
It`s pretty hard to meet with people now because of new years. Which is the biggest holiday in Japan. But we will continue to look for those people who aren't busy and can meet with us and continue to work on the people we have already found. 
I`ve also just finished Helamen in the BoM and am going to try and finish it before the year is up. 3 day reading dash! Wish me luck! And Have a Happy new year everyone! 
Love from japan,
Fancy restaurant we ate at with a less active and his girlfriend.

us on the Ferris wheel

Us on Christmas in our matching pajamas, haha! That`s about sums up our companionship!

Us walking around looking at the lights. And photo bombed by some elders.

Looking at more lights

Blog:Pre-Christmas 2014

Okay this week we got a call from someone in another area saying that someone in their ward wanted us to make Christmas wreaths with her for our investigators. So we were trying to find the place and got lost of course :)! And obviously we had to climb to the highest mountain in order to get lost. But it was beautiful so no regrets. But the actual place was like this neighborhood of model homes. They were really nice, but the whole block was like abandoned so it was a bit creepy. So that was fun! 
And I`m never telling anyone I have ever glanced at an instrument ever again. I have already played for a sister in our ward for a Christmas program, on stage, at a mall. Lead the music for a fireside. And been asked to play the organ for sacrament meeting and piano for relief society. For some reason when I tell them I barely play they think that means I can play any song in the hymn book. Ya, lesson learned. But even though our ward is crazy they are way awesome. 
This week we also had our first meeting with someone. He is a less active and he lives with his non-member girlfriend. We just went and visited, but then it turned into a lesson after we showed them the Christmas movie. She was asking so many questions! And the less active started bearing his testimony, the spirit was so strong. She told us that she could feel the power coming from us, which was awesome to hear because sometimes I feel very powerless. Especially when people run away from me on the street. I really can`t help but laugh at that though. 
Then the next day we decided to visit a kind of investigator. Right when we pulled up though she was going to go somewhere with her daughter and she told us she thought about calling us because she wasn't busy, but then she thought maybe we were busy. And we were, visiting her. We ended up going inside her apartment and talking for like an hour. I was mostly entertaining her daughter since it was hard for me to understand what they were saying, but it was fun! She kept giving me little gifts, like stickers, and pages out of her books. She was so cute!
Then we sang at a mall type thing with all the missionaries in our zone. It was so cold and fun. I also think I found the next Josh Groban. He is a missionary from Brazil. Time stopped when he started singing, it was very unexpected. I am still amazed.
Then yesterday we had church again and I got to know the ward better. And we have this really hilarious chorister who gets super into the music. I wasn't singing half the time because I was watching her. Then we had kodomo eikaiwa (children`s  English class) They were hyper as usual, but it was fun. The family whose house we have English class at kept giving us mugicha (herbal tea?) which I don`t like that much. So I ate my companions mochi, because she doesn`t like that, while she drank my mugicha. We thought we were being sneaky then we looked over and saw that one of our students had totally witnessed the whole thing. But he didn`t tell, so I guess he`s playing for team senkyoushi (missionary). Then on our way back we met a woman who said she respects Christians and wanted to come to our Christmas party. She had a lot of kyoumi (interest) so that was good.
It was an awesome week, and Christmas time is busy, but I am so excited. We have our ward Christmas party this week! And we are meeting with a few people again. I am so excited! Hope you are all doing well and having a great holiday season!

Johnson 姉妹

I coincidentally met one of my Mom`s friends at the train station! Crazy!

The ocean!

Our investigator and her daughter

Us at the wreath making model home

Me and my bike, Chuck.

My companion and I at kodomo eikaiwa (English Class). The baby on my lap can`t talk. He was just the families youngest son. Mhmm, we got along well. Neither one of us knew what was going on. We`re not supposed to have kids on our lap, but his brother placed him on my lap. I couldn`t just push him off... so I didn`t :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Week 1 of Japan:

This keyboard is different than American ones. The space bar is very small. So it is taking me a lot longer to type. So bear with me, haha!
Anyways! Japan desu, ne?! (right?!) I wish I could remember what happened! But I didn`t even remember my camera or address book, so I really feel like I am losing my mind! But things have been really crazy since I left the U.S. which feels like forever ago now, but was actually exactly a week ago. So I arrived on Tuesday night, even though I left Monday early morning. So there was a bit of a time warp. But basically I was sick on the whole plane ride, it was awful. But when we got to the mission home, we were all just zombies at that point, and it was literally like walking into heaven. The mission home is underneath a temple. That`s right, you heard me, under a temple. There was a christmas tree, american style classic home with some Japanese touches. And she had food laid out for us. Real food! We all just ate and passed out. It was the most beautiful dream ever. The next day was basically orientation, it was good, I don`t remember what it was about really, except they showed this really graphic video on bike safety. It was interesting. Then the next day I was brought to the station and shipped 15 minutes away by train to my area. I am like one city south of the honbu (mission home) in a place called Fujisaki. My companions name is Southward shimai. This is her last transfer, and this is my first. She is really an awesome trainer, though. It`s four sister in our apartment. And we actually have no elders in our are at all. It`s just the four of us sisters, which is weird from going from a district of all elders to just sisters. But it is still awesome and fun.
All we really did that day was weekly planning, and then we went to bed. The next day was so cool, though. Although missionary work is like exactly what I thought it was, but it is so different experiencing it vs. like actually being out and doing it. It is kind of dejecting when people don:t want to listen to your awesome message. And Japan really needs this message. I can tell that even in just the week I have been here. But anyways, we had one of our investigators volunteer to come to the church so we could teach her, because she thought it was going to rain. So that was a miracle, apparently she had never volunteered to do that before. But it was an awesome lesson. Basically all I did was stare at her, and shut my companions fingers in the baptismal font doors. Whoops. She is the nicest lady, though. She made us bookmarks for our BoM and she gave me a big hug the first time she saw me. I was surprised, but it was awesome! Then we taught kodomo eikawa (childrens english class), ya they were off the wall. But they were so cute! It was so funny, though, one of them was doing a puzzle and he dumped the pieces everywhere and he couldnt find the last piece. I saw it was behind me and handed it to him, and he basically said along the lines of, ``Ah, so you were hiding it from me.`` I just laughed, like really hard. But Japanese kids really talk fast, I can:t understand anything they are saying, but still awesome.
Then the next day was sunday, the members were nice and I had an interview with the bishop which was... good. It gave me a lot to think about. But while I was bearing my testimony (because it was fast sunday so they asked me to do an intro) I told them I like to each Japanese people, not Japanese food. Haha! Luckily I caught myself and the members laughed with me. The members are nice, but I still haven:t met most of them yet. Then on monday brother Heaten, who is the person who runs the MTC, came and did a training meeting with all the missionaries in Fukuoka mission except Okinawa. Apparently it was a big deal, but it just seemed like another day at the MTC to me. So I got to see everyone that I said goodbye to on Thursday, so that was nice to see people I actually knew :).
I really do love it here, and am learning a lot. I have come to realize that this mission is very much not about me at all. Although sometimes I like to make it out to be. But I am here to invite, which is my success. But it isn:t about my success it is about the people of Japans success which is them choosing to come closer to their savior. And that:s all that I can really do. And it`s frustrating at times, but still so humbling and cool! 
Also a small miracle (there are lots of small miracles, but) so I was riding my bike to like the other side of our mission in the rain, and it was uphill. I was so tired I just wanted to stop peddling and lay on the ground and cry. So I said a little prayer in my heart. And I kid you not, I look up and on the side of the building in huge letters it said, ``You can do it, don:t give up!`` I have no idea if it was an advertisement for something, or I was delusional at that point. But it was really a sign from God. And I did make just fine.
I will continue to do my best. I`ll never have the opportunity to do something like this again! So gambarimasu (I will do my best)!! Have a great week everyone. I don:t think my emails will be as long as this one from now on, but it:s week one so kamaimasen (I don`t care). Love you lots!

(johnson shimai)
 P.S. Something interesting I`ve noticed about Japan. Is that they get surprised easily. Like on the streets it makes sense, because it`s weird for someone to just come up and talk to them. But I`ve also noticed something else that is strange. When I knock on doors. They answer, jump, and say, ``oh! Bikuri shita!`` Which means, Oh, you surprised me. So I don`t know what they usually expect when people ring their doorbell or knock on their door. But ya, just thought that was pretty funny.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 9: The Final Frontier

This past week has been a blur really. I have pretty much forgotten anything that happened before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was just SO awesome. We sang come thou fount. It sounded so beautiful and powerful I got chills, the whole shabang. And we sang that song for whom you might ask? David A. Bednar of course! He was our Thanksgiving morning devotional. It was so cool! He handed out phones to the audience and we got to text questions straight to his ipad and he answered them during the devotional. Out of the things he talked about, the one I liked the most was when he was answering the question, "How do we overcome trials without losing faith." Where Elder Bednar answered, "We receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. Be careful when you pray for faith, because in order to receive it we must overcome adversities. As long as we are living worthily, then God will give His will with His timing. It is not a lack of faith, it is a trial of faith." It's a simple concept really, but sometimes I need to be reminded of the simple things. Then we had a service project for Utah Food Bank to make some food sacks for children who don't know where their next meal will come from. And did we dominate. They had to move our bags to other tables because we were going so fast! Then we FINALLY were able to watch Meet the Mormons. If you haven't seen that video, go watch it. It is so good, and the people on that movie are so interesting. I am a very boring mormon in comparison. Maybe I'll try being an astronaut or something and be in the sequel. They even gave us popcorn. Then at the very end of the day we went out and they had turned on the Christmas lights! I love Christmas so much. And I am going to let all the Nihon-jin (Japanese) know about how much I love Christmas. Really just a perfect time to head into the field! Which, by the way, is tomorrow night!!! I can't believe that the time is already here! I am so grateful to be apart of this gospel and to know about God's plan of happiness for us. I don't think I realize sometimes how much the knowledge I have affects my life. It seems normal to me, but to some people this information is life changing and life saving. I hope to find these people in Japan. The Lord has prepared them, I hope I am the right tool to turn them towards their salvation.
We also had our in field orientation yesterday. It was 8 hours long! It was good, but I was about to fall asleep like nobodies business, but they kept moving us to different rooms and having us stand up so I couldn't fall asleep. Which is probably why they did that. But I also learned a lot of good stuff too. Baptism. Oh how the word seems so scary when mentioned. I think I have ever realized that people CANNOT be saved without it. How could I brush it off as something so small? But... I think it's the name tag that makes me so bold. There is really a lot of power in my name tag. I am so glad that I can be recognized as a disciple of Christ. I hope that after my mission even without my name tag I can also be realized as a disciple of Christ through my countenance, or like a gleam in my eye or something.
Anyways, I don't have a lot of time, but I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving at the MTC is just awesome. I love my district, teachers, family, friends, neighbors and everyone. I hope you have a good week. Next time I email it will be in Japan!

Johnson Shimai
This is a picture of all the Half-misisonaries that are leaving on Monday. (left to right) Cannon-choro, Yamada-choro, Nicholson-choro, Yeakey-shimai, me, Wilkinson-shimai)             
Our last pictures with our sensei's and our district

Good funny picture of our district

District selfie with our sensei's

Cook-kyoudai, me, my doryo (sister packard), and Fowers-kyoudai

Me after service. The hairnet was definitely necessary for my salt scooping duty.
Me in the creepy therapy room attached to the girls bathroom.                         

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Week 8:   Nacho Libre

The MTC is very much like Nacho Libre. There is spiritual madness, and a lot of weirdness mixed in the middle. Then some singing and some awkward romances here and there. But altogether it's just awesome. I think one of the greatest blessings in the MTC is having hardly any access to technology, because then we are forced to talk to people, and really people are the greatest. The stories they have and the experiences they've learned from are just like reading those awesome links on the yahoo homepage. I have met all sorts of people here at the MTC from all walks of life. So I challenge you all to go meet someone new, someone random, just look at small indications of something they are carrying or something they have. It seems awkward at first, believe me it was but something that seems bold today will become habit tomorrow (I didn't come up with that, but it would've been cool if I had. I got that from a devotional, who I think they got from a talk).
This week was uneventful for the most part, but I think it's the small things that make the MTC. Well, actually it's a mixture of both. This week I went to the temple and did initiatories for the first time, other than for myself. The ladies that work there are just the sweetest and while they were reciting the words they would put feeling into it. So it didn't just seem like a normal speech, I could tell from the way that they said it that it was important and that it was for me. I could see their grandma wisdom shining through their eyes and it made me feel loved even though I can't remember a single one of their names. But really, it was just fantastic, get to know them a little bit if you can. 
Speaking of names, we hosted for like the 6th and final time. Our zone really loves to host where we can, and get out of studying when we can. Anyways, I learned a very important lesson while hosting. So I was hosting like my 5th or 6th girl (700 people came into the MTC that day, it was a bit crazy) and we were talking, and she asked if I remembered her name. And I looked at her and thought, "You are like the 12th girl I have hosted just today, do you think I can remember everyone's name?!" So I threw out a guess, and of course I was wrong, but I could see the bit of disappointment in her face so I immediately apologized. I had been studying about Christ-like attributes in PMG this week, so the next thought that popped into my head was, "Christ would've remembered her name, because He loves her and she is important to Him so she is important to me too." And even though I don't love her as much as He does, because of my imperfection of not knowing her that well and being able to love her on the spot, I can develop that love for her step by step. And remembering names is one of the most important ways to show someone you care. Plus in Japan their names are going to be a lot more difficult, so if I can't even remember these 'merican names, how will I be able to remember Nihon-jin's (Japanese people's) names. 
Also another thing that happened this week was that we did skype TRC. Which is a lot like regular TRC, but you skype with real nihon-jin in Japan. And this week we talked to an awesome member named Miura-kyoudai (He took a picture of us and put in on his facebook, tell me if you see it!). He was this cute little old man who loved talking to us. Even if our Japanese wasn't that good he was very patient and loving. And it got me excited to go to Japan. Like if I had met that man in person, how cool of an experience would that have been. So I need to work even harder on my Japanese so that I can communicate with these people and listen to their experiences so that I can build off of them, because the Lord has prepared these people to hear the gospel. Anyways, we talked to him about being grateful, with Thanksgiving coming up and everything. And something that I have been trying to do in my prayers is thank the Lord often and much for all the blessings I receive. And as I have been doing this I have noticed that my days are getting brighter, even if the weather is getting colder. I think i will have to start up a gratitude journal, because as I have gone back and read my regular journal I have really been able to reflect on the things that I have learned. If we don't reflect every so often, then I truly believe we have not learned anything, because it's those experiences that we learned from that help us grow. And one of my greatest blessings that I have noticed substantially this week is Patriarchal blessings. Really whenever we have questions for the Lord, we should read our blessing first, because I can almost guarantee that there will be some part of the answer in that. It is our personal michi (path) through life, and it was given to us from the Lord. I have read a part of it everyday this week and as I the day that I read it I notice that (almost subconsciously) I am trying to act in such a way that these blessings of life can be given to me. The Lord pours blessings upon us freely and abundantly. As I have noticed these blessings I have come closer to my savior, because the atonement is the greatest blessing he could've ever given me. I know that he lives and continues to watch over us milli-secondly. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and praise God openly and sincerely just like all the blessed people in the Book of Mormon. I love you and and wish you the best this week!

Johnson Shimai

Left to right: Johnson Shimai, Tolen Chourou, Jennings Chourou, Phillips Chourou, Dunn Chourou, Packard Shimai, Reed Chourou, Jackson Chourou, Smith Chourou, Gorski Chourou
This is one of our Sempai who didn't get her visa in time, but left this week (Barbosa Shimai and I)
Small district selfie, Gorski chourou, Jennings Chourou, My companion and I
Lin Chourou, Chang Chourou, Me, and Pasi Shimai taking a picture
Mustache Bleaching

week 7: 

Again, nothing out of the ordinary really happened. The MTC is pretty straightforward, like the gospel. But, last P-day they did shut off our water for the afternoon and when they turned it back on Satan had control over it. Our drinking fountain water was all chalky, but the other side of the hall had thick lemonade coming out of theirs, so I consider us lucky. And when I tried to flush the toilet, it became more of a waterfall than a toilet. It was pretty chaotic to say the least, but then we called the front office and got it all figured out. But ya, that was pretty exciting. 
I really did learn a lot this week, though. It's really the small things that you pick up from just observing others and working daily to study the gospel and the language. I know why the Lord calls elders at such a young age, it's because they teach so humbly. That was awesome to see as we did a mogi (role play) with two other elders in our district. Another thing that I have learned through just being here at the MTC and plenty of stories from the emails our sempai (the district above us that just left for Japan) and from our sensei's (teachers) is that if you put in the work, you will see more results. The harder you work, the more miracles you will see. To be honest, they usually say the percentage is the same of success and not so much success, but because the numbers of greater, you bring more souls to Christ. Which is our goal as a mission, is to bring as many souls as possible. So I have to trust in the Lord and work my hardest and have faith that he will bring ready souls in my path. 
Another thing that happened, is that we committed one of our "investigators" to a baptismal date and we have asked the other to start preparing for baptism. It kind of felt a bit like pulling teeth at times, but I know that the Lord will bless people who follow his plan. And one of the principles they taught is to promise blessings, because the Lord is always wanting to bless us. He is constantly waiting for us to turn to Him so that he can pour out His blessings upon us. And that is always something that gets investigators excited about sticking to their commitments. 
Also a goal that I have recently been doing is trying to get used to meeting people and starting conversations. So at every meal or anytime I go out of the classroom for an extended period of time I try to meet somebody new or sit by someone I don't know. And I have noticed that my confidence has been increasing. I haven't been doing it in Japanese, however, but it's a work in progress. And I know that when the time comes, if I open my mouth the Lord will bless me with the words he needs me to say, which they need to hear. But currently I am just meeting other missionaries, so I don't really preach to them, but I am going to try and start doing that from now on, maybe like try and sum up some principles in a minute or so. It is also very evident that the Lord is preparing me for awkward conversations, because even in the MTC not all my conversations go super smoothly but I was talking to my sensei, and he said that that does happen in the mission field all the time, but just because that conversation didn't go according to plan that does't mean that the next one will, too. So I guess I just have to always open my mouth. 
This week we also got a new district, I have only seen them once so I don't know much about them, but they seem very nice and I will probably get to know them better this week or something.
Anyways, I love you all and love the MTC. But I am also super excited about leaving for Japan and I think we get our flight plans this week!!!!! I'll keep you posted!
Johnson Shimai
I only took one picture this week, and for some reason it was a picture of these elders. Half of them are not even in my district, but enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 5: Love Actually

This week was a long one to say the least. But I learned so much in such a short amount of time. 
First off, we taught a lesson to one of our investigators named Toshii-kyoudai (he is actually our teacher playing an investigator he had). The first lesson this week went really well. We gaged his faith, and he said he believed in Christ and his atonement. He still had a long way to go, but it was nice to see he was progressing. However, the very next lesson he started off with saying, that he had never felt the spirit once since we started teaching. The awkward silence probably went on for 5 minutes or so. We just didn't know what to say. So the lesson continued on rough to say the least. It felt like he wasn't putting in any effort, so we pretty much chastised him, which apparently he didn't like. So afterwards our teacher (who pretends to be Toshii-kyoudai) came up and told us basically that we don't understand Toshii at all. So I went home and cried myself to sleep that night. However, the next day we mogied (role played) and as I was pretending to be Toshii-kyoudai I started feeling his own frustration and that maybe I wasn't trying to understand what he was expecting as far as feeling the spirit. So the next lesson we taught I just told Toshii what a great person he was, and that we could see his desire to want to feel the spirit. At one of our devotionals, someone said something that applied to my week so much it wasn't even funny. They said, "Teach with boldness, but not overbearance. Overbearance is teaching with boldness, but without love." And almost every hour this week that quote was running through my mind. Although, the investigators at the MTC aren't real, the ones in Japan are. So I need to start loving those people right now. With the light of Christ, whose love for all his children is unconditional and everlasting. I don't think I'll ever get to that point, but if I can just let his love flow through me, I think that would be enough. So, yes, I learned a hard lesson, but I feel like I have grown the most this week.
Another thing that happened was that our Sempai (district above us) left. So now we are top dogs. We will be the next ones heading out on a plane to Japan. So that is an exciting though, because I am starting to get a bit stir crazy and I am getting a bit sick of BYU ice cream. But do I still eat ten bowls, yes I do. But this week we were able to go to BYU campus to watch the devotional given by David F. Evans. He was a missionary in Japan, too. Woot! Represent. And we saw one of our teachers in regular clothes and his wife, too. So, that was a bit odd. Sometimes I forget there is a real world beyond the MTC gates. However, it is really nice just being able to focus on the gospel. So, in a way, I am very grateful for the seclusion of the MTC. It helps me focus on my growth towards God, so that I have the tenacity to be able to love the gospel enough that I want to shout it from the rooftops. I am getting excited to go teach the Japanese now that we're on the downhill slope of our MTC central mission (that's the are name of our MTC mission, because now we are starting to be recognized by staff because we have been here so long). 
Now for some fun stuff. I don't know what is wrong with our Choro-tachi (our elders), because for some reason they keep stealing things from other buildings and bringing them to our room. Like yesterday after we hosted the new missionaries (this new batch of missionaries I think is the largest group to ever enter the MTC at one time, so that's pretty historic) they brought in some nicer desks from the Tongan building. However, I did sit in one, and if I wasn't so tired from lifting bags of the new sister missionaries, I might've stolen one myself (Just kidding, but am I?). And they also told us a story about how they had a chemical warfare at their residence hall by poking holes in spray deodorant and rolling them into other rooms. To say the least, it didn't work and they mostly just ended up spraying their own rooms. They also threw soda cans at one of our elders while he was in the shower. Sometimes, I wonder if there is caffeine slipped into their drinks or something, because sometimes all I can do is roll my eyes. But I really do love them. We had a moment of bonding this week when we said our first impressions of one another. Oh, they were pretty bad. But then we summed up what we think of each person now in one sentence. And I just wanted to do a big group hug, but it is against the rules so we did a group handshake instead. 
Anyways, I love it here at the MTC, can't wait to go and serve in Japan, though! Thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes in my behalf. I love you all and wish you the best this week. 
Until we meet again!
Johnson Shimai
one of our sempai loved stealing spoons from the cafeteria so he gave us all one before they left.

These are them in their stolen desks

pictures with the sempais before they left.

more sempais 

more sempai selfies

more sempai selfies

sempais dressed up for halloween

some district selfies

some district selfies

elders came and trick-or-treated to our residence hall (don't worry they stayed outside)

all the sisters who were in our zone before the sempai left

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week 4: KungFu Panda
To be honest, this week I was looking through my journal and I'm pretty sure I started almost every entry off with "Today was fairly uneventful." We're pretty much used to the pattern right now, and we've made it half way! Woohoo!!! Most days we just study and teach here at the MTC, and the only way I can keep track of time are Sundays and Thursdays. Even though it doesn't seem like the most exciting, I still love it here, but also can't wait to get out into the field. 
Something that has become very apparent to me in these last couple weeks, is that the Choro-tachi (elders) have more drama than the Shimai-tachi (sisters). I won't go into specifics, but man it must be something in the air, but they get sassier as the days go on. And I feel like I've got to step up my game on having drama in the residency halls or something. Just kidding. But it is sometimes weird to watch their inner drama queens come out and fight for the spotlight. But they're still awesome, and just like a bunch of little brothers running around.
This week during one of our classes, we had a Shimai and a Choro from another zone come and visit our class. They are both from Japan getting ready to serve their mission. Neither one of them spoke very much English. It was a struggle for our class, but it was so cool to have them there. One of the reasons was, that the Shimai (Hoshi Shimai is her name) was able to be a "member" in one of our lessons. And she bore her testimony on the BoM, and he was asking questions and it seemed like she was answering in a way that he understood and I could see that his faith was growing like crazy. Which brings me to another point. Toshii-Kyoudai is one of our "investigators". And to be honest, he every time we went and taught a lesson, he didn't really seem like he wanted to put in the effort to come unto Christ. Like, I'm not even sure why he wanted to receive the lessons from the missionaries. However, in this last lessons we tried teaching him with love. Because during one of our classes our teachers asked us if we told our investigator that we loved them, were we being sincere? And that really hit me. Was I just thinking about how I could get him baptized as quickly as possible, or was I really trying to love him as a person and tailor to his needs? So during the next lesson we explained that Christ and God wanted him to come unto them because they love him. And we were there to teach him because we love him and we want him to feel God's love for him. Then we asked him questions about his faith. And he gave us more sincere answers and said that he actually did know that through Christ he could be forgiven, and that he would try and be more sincere in his prayers and reading from now on. It was really just amazing. And that showed me, that sometimes I try and put limits on our investigators. But that was not how Christ taught. He taught with love, and bluntness that brought so many souls unto him in understanding and desire. So I'm trying to work on my Christ like attributes basically. 
We also hosted for the second time. Which was fun, but man do sisters bring a lot of luggage. I was so dead afterwards, but it was great to see how excited they were, which made me excited as well. We also watched the John Tanner video, which I love because I'm related to him. And it really taught me about unshaken faith. He followed the promptings of Christ and was blessed in a way that he couldn't have obtained except through following Christ. Ummm, let's see. We did some salsa dancing lessons in our residence hall from some of the sisters from Brazil. So that was exciting, and very challenging. I think I'll just stick to the kind of salsa I can eat with chips instead. But we had fun regardless. Also last night we were talking on the floor below us with some of the Shimai-tachi, because that floor is abandoned. And then we heard someone open the door into the building (it was security checking the floors) and we just scattered. It was every Shimai for herself! It was so funny! Like ninja's in the night, we said goodnight and ran back to our rooms.
Also, something that I keep forgetting to mention is the temple. We go every P-day and Sunday (for temple walks). And oh, how I love the temple. Especially sessions. Every time I go I feel so much peace, sometimes so much that I fall asleep. But most of the time, I feel like I just can't get enough. I want to go to more sessions and learn more from them. And when I go into the celestial room I find myself just staring at the picture of Christ, I really have been getting to know my savior on a whole different level since I've been to the MTC. Mostly because I have to rely on Him almost every minute of the day. But when I am at my weakest, I then am at my strongest. And I can just testify of the truthfulness of this scripture. So many times when I felt like I didn't know what I should do or where to go, the spirit came to me the clearest in those times, and I have had my strongest conversions. It's weird going to the temple, because it is the thing that feels closest to home because it is the only thing in the MTC that is familiar to me as far as not being new, but it also brings me closer to my spiritual home. I feel God's love and peace for me the strongest there, and I love watching all different kinds of videos they show there. I'm so excited to go again this week, and hope I have more opportunities in the mission field to go to the temple since there is one in my mission.
Cool experience time, this week we had a devotional on the importance of relief society. And I just wasn't feeling it. I was like, "why should I focus on relief society when I'm going on a mission". And of course, the Lord humbled immediately. I was talking about it with another Shimai in our zone, and she told me she was thinking the same thing. Then she realized that it wasn't for her, she would have to teach the investigators of the importance of relief society. And now I admire that sister more than I ever have before. It was exactly what I needed to hear to apply that devotional to my own life. 
But ya, sorry this week wasn't more exciting, but it's always a good time :)
Love you lots. Have a Happy Halloween!!!
-Johnson Shimai
our dai-sempai sisters and our other district sisters taking a picture on their last sunday
sisters in our zone picture

my final bow to one of our dai-sempai before they left

my roommate on her bed plastered with sticky notes from the other sisters.
district selfie

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week 3: The Haunting

This week was fairly uneventful, days are passing by crazy fast now. By the next p-day we'll be almost half way done with our MTC stay. 

However, this week we got new Kouhai (a new district) and our dai-sempai (oldest district) was sent out to Japan. There was lots of crying, and hugging and giving away free stuff and eating. It was sad and I can't believe they are already gone. Plus our sempai (district that came right before us) will be leaving next week. They arrived a week early just like our Kouhai and we arrived on time. So I guess we will be top dogs here for about a month. This week our district also got a bit of a scolding for being behind on our Japanese. And it seems now we have more of a vigor to try hard to speak the language which is good. And to be honest it is exactly what I needed to hear. Also while we were in choir our director was telling a story about Joseph Smith and he went into medium detail about the operation he had to go through when he was 8 years old. And it might've been because we had to hold some pretty longs notes while singing accompanied by the story, but a girl passed out. And I have never seen an elderly woman run up stairs so fast in my life. We also had a devotional from Elder Godoy, the man who spoke in Portuguese at conference. He is seriously just the most hilarious guy ever. The devotionals at the MTC are just so spiritual and great, they pick awesome speakers we also heard from the pro football player Chad Lewis who was just so funny and real with us about being a missionary and missionary work. We also taught a great lesson on prayer and was FINALLY able to get someone to commit to praying if the Book of Mormon is true or not. We've only gotten to this point with two "investigators" but the first time we taught it we challenged him three times to pray about the book of mormon, but he was confused every time we asked if he had done it. I don't think he really understood the concept of prayer all that much. But this time we just focused on prayer only, and it seems he understood pretty well and said he would pray about it, but I guess we won't know officially until next week.

Also I know with a surety that service is the best way to feel Christ's love. Last week my doryo (companion) found out that her dad had cancerous lesions on his skin and, of course, she was feeling really sad and scared. I tried to comfort her best I could. Then we had interviews with our teacher and he talked to me about how she was doing. And I told him I wasn't sure how involved I should get, because I didn't understand what she was going through even if I wanted to comfort her. However, my teacher challenged me to go out of my way to do something for her. Didn't have to be a big thing, but any little thing would've done. So, of course, I decided to do something big. My companion knows that I love sticky notes, so I went around to each of the sisters rooms in our zone and asked them to write something nice on all these sticky notes. Then I asked one of the sisters to go into our room after we left for class and stick them all over her dresser, bed, and stuff. One even made her a flower out of balloons. Then later that day I did personal study in a different room, and she was feeling a bit irritated about that and then I tried to brush it off like it was no big deal and she was even more irritated. However, I knew what was going on behind the scenes so I thought it was a bit funny. And when we got home she just cried. I knew she had been having hard time and was trying to keep her mind off of it the best she could, but it was still hard for her. And we hugged and took pictures and such. And during the whole day I could just not stop smiling. That's because true happiness comes from bringing happiness to others. And that is the pure love of Christ in action. During the whole experience I felt like I was the one who was being served because Christ was giving me a big hug for helping one of his children in need.

On a whole other note our room is haunted. This week we were sitting on the bunk bed and we saw a sticky note sticking out of the top mattress. It was upside down, but when I ready it I could make out "Please help..." So I was freaking out and when I grabbed and read it, it actually said, "Please help me with my Japanese." Then it had it written in Japanese. So I don't know what the troubled spirit wanted from us, or how it wanted us to help it with Japanese, but I will be finding a way from now on. Another thing that had happened was on p-day eve my doryo and I were staying up late having a bit of a party and we were on the top bunks, which isn't where we sleep because they are high and have railings only on one side. And while we were sitting there we looked up and faintly written on the ceiling (in blood, jk it was lip gloss) were the words, "100% obedience". So, now it's the legend of room 309. There once was a missionary who didn't try her best at the MTC she wasn't 100% obedient or tried her best to learn Japanese.... so, she died. And now she warns missionaries to try their best or end up like her. Trapped in the MTC for all eternity. There is also a tiny bedroom attached to a bathroom where they put a missionary who went crazy and she died there, now if you use her bathroom she attaches to you and can follow you outside of your bathroom. We know because my doryo went to the bathroom in there, and while we were doing language learning on the computer, it was going haywire. And that's how we know. 

Anyways, having a super great time. Love receiving letters from you people, sorry if it takes me long to write back. But don't worry, it's worth the wait.
Love you lots!

Johnson Shimai

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week 2:  Rise of the Jedi

My companion and I decided to name our weeks after movies so that we can remember what week we're on, because the days pass by slow here, but the weeks go by really fast. So we had our first real Sunday this week. My companion and an elder in our district sang and she is just so talented. Really, she is an amazing singer. We also just had the best devotional on Sunday. Quick side note: when you are in the MTC you must join the MTC choir. It doesn't matter if you can't sing, the director is awesome and it just brightens your day to be there. Also, the devotionals are the best. Keep a devotional journal, with only notes on devotionals on it. Write down your feelings so that you can understand them when you read them later.
Anyways, we had a devotional where the guy who came and spoke was in charge of media for missionaries on the website. And he showed us some really awesome stats, and told us what the church is planning on doing for Christmas. (We got a bit of a sneak peek) He told us about all the tools that are available to us as missionaries and how much the church is trying to help us find those searching souls. He said, "The purpose of the lds website is to direct people to you, so that you may lead their soul to Him." And I was just hanging on the edge of my chair dwelling on every word he said. But ya, shows you how important devotionals are in the MTC. 
Also on Sunday morning our district broke the cereal eating record. It was 34, but now it's 53. I wasn't able to participate because I was fasting, and so were two other elders in our district, but we are re-doing the challenge on Thanksgiving, so we'll see how high we can get.
The next day was pretty normal, studying, class, and teaching. However, there was one thing that was really cool that happened that day. That morning I was trying to plan out a lesson for TRC where we teach volunteer members of the church, and we had to teach it on chapter 3 in PMG. I remember praying before to be led to what Heavenly Father wanted me to teach, but as I was flipping through the pages, nothing was speaking to me. And I hadn't felt any strong desire to teach anything earlier either. So I picked the restoration, because I had already taught that in a previous lesson and as I was writing, I just didn't know where I was going with my lesson. I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally study time had ended and I just kind of looked at my completed yet directionless lesson and shrugged my shoulders saying at least I had a lesson. But later that day when we were preparing for our lesson with Brother Murukami (our teacher pretending to be an investigator, not a real investigator) I had accidentally translated the wrong lesson. I had translated a lesson we were going to teach later that evening to the members. So when we walked into the room to start teaching, I also realized that I had forgotten my ninja (it's a dictionary/lesson translator) so I couldn't look up any words either. I just looking at my companion in panic and we carried on best we could. She mainly carried us through the whole lesson. I didn't want to talk afterwards, because I knew she felt overwhelmed, and I knew it was my fault for not being completely prepared. So I silently dwelled upon my disappointment. I went through class as usual, getting a bit nervous about the lessons I would have to teach later that evening because my afternoon lesson had gone so terribly. I at least knew I had a lesson plan, and now it had been translated because of the mix up earlier that day, even if I wasn't feeling super stoked on the topic and clarity. But I at least knew I was prepared, and I was taking great comfort in that. However, 10 minutes before we were about to go teach the volunteers I get a feeling that I should change my lesson to the Book of Mormon. I remember looking up and thinking, "Really? I just went into my last lesson blind, and you want me to do it again?" I remember pulling at my hair as I hesitantly flipped the page of my notebook from my completed lesson to a blank page. I had just enough time to write one line, "I love the Book of Mormon." We were being rushed out the door to go and teach TRC. I was so nervous I just wanted to pace around the campus. And as we were walking I was trying to think about as many BoM things I knew. I had recently been re-reading the book of Mormon with a new method approach. I try to notice the attributes and try and insert myself in the story and visual what is happening and what people are thinking as I read. And I am enjoying the Book of Mormon like never before. But I was still as nervous as ever then when I walked into our first lesson, the investigator was so nice. He was native Japanese and was studying English here in the states. I felt an overwhelming peace as we got to know him, no worry even passed through my mind. We then asked if he was having any struggles in his life as far as the gospel, which is a question we had learned during our class time on how to start a lesson. I remember him thinking about it and thinking about it then he said something that was an answer to my prayers. He told us he was having trouble pondering about the book of Mormon and if we had any methods that could help him. I almost stood up. But I calmly clasped my hands together and gave him a smile that communicated oh, do I have a method for you. The lesson went to smoothly, we spoke in broken English and Japanese, but he understood. And afterwards I was probably shaking his hand so hard that I broke it. I just couldn't thank Heavenly Father enough and I remember a distinct feeling saying, "I will always come through for you, if you but follow me." And then I laughed, anyone who says God doesn't have a sense of humor doesn't know God like I do. So glad I followed the spirit to say the least.
The next days were pretty ordinary. The MTC put up pictures in all the classroom on campus. And our elders, being elders, went and stole pictures from different buildings to hang up in our room. But our teacher told us we had to return them. But our teacher also has a bad back. And anyone who is anyone knows that the European and Tongan buildings have really nice leathers rolly chairs and big desks in their buildings. The building is named after some with the last name "Rich". It is literally the Rich building. We have desk-chairs from a junior high school from the 70's. Our things dont' even stay on our desk because they are all slanted downwards. My lunch tray is bigger than my desk. So we returned one of their paintings and stole one of their chairs instead. Our teacher doesn't really complain because he likes the chair, so that was pretty fun.
In conclusion, I am loving it here in the MTC. It's hard, but I have learned more about myself here than I have anywhere else. I like to think of the MTC as a self conversion/reflection because in the field all you will have time for is to study and think and pray about your investigator. Which is fine by me, because I think I'm getting to know myself too well out here. But all is well here, my roommate and I had a party last night and we stayed up until 11:30 because I'm the best senior companion ever. Just kidding, but it's hard and just great. I know that this church is true. I know that anyone can be converted to the gospel through prayer, love, and the scriptures. We are currently sending off our dai-sempai (the district in our zone that arrived 7 weeks before us) and I can see their excitement to serve. We also just got in some greenies (we're not at the bottom of the food chain anymore!) so we are super excited for that. I love getting letters and hearing how everyone is doing! I appreciate all your prayers and hope that all is well on the other side. I have learned service like never before and am truly basking in the light of Christs love. I know this gospel is true and that this is the work he needs from me right now. I love you all!!

PS. Sorrry if my stories don't flow nicely. I only have so much time to write and so much journal to summarize. Also prayers would be appreciated for my companion Sister Packard. Her family is going through an ordeal and I would appreciate any prayers for her strength and comfort.

Johnson Shimai
Stolen Pictures

Cereal Record

Ghostbusting in the MTC

Pre P-Day feast

Thursday, October 9, 2014

So It Begins

Week 1

So much happened this week. Feels like it's been FOREVER. It's been a roller coaster of emotions and craziness. When I first arrived it felt like I was a car going through an assembly line being put together. It was fairly organized, but at the same time like I never knew what we were doing. I was just being handed stuff and everyone knew I was a greenie because I was wearing my dork dot. But I met my companion and we clicked pretty well right off the bat. Then we went through a couple orientations, met our teacher, met our district. My companion and I are the only sisters in our district. With eight other elders. We are also the only ones in our room, which is nice. But at the same time is kind of lonely, but I get along with the other sisters pretty well, though. But that night all the other missionaries that arrived the same time as me went into a room and we taught a real investigator. At first I thought they were actors, but as it went along i could definitely tell that wasn't the case. One awesome moment in particular was with a female investigator. I'm not sure if I should say her name. Anyways, we were raising our hand to try and teach her and she was having none of our gospel nonsense. She had been abused as a child by her Father who also attended church. Then she had an abusive husband and her son died from health problems as a baby. I think we as missionaries were trying to understand her situation and make her promises and she didn't trust us yet. Then she saw one missionary shaking his head. She picked on him probably thinking he was going to lash out at her for being difficult, but what he did instead was amazing. He cried and said that he hoped he would never have to experience the things she went through. He told her how much admired her for her strength to still believe in God despite all she had been through. I just lost it and cried all over my cardigan, because I had no tissues. That is currently in the wash.
The next day I had a really hard time sleeping and class and study time just went by so slowly. We had some more orientation, some pep talks, and such. But tomorrow we had to teach a lesson in Japanese to an "investigator" and my companion and I kept clashing on what we should teach. Then we broke off into personal study. I was feeling a bit frustrated, but I said a prayer an asked to be humbled. Then the topic just came to me. I started writing down all my ideas. When I compared notes afterwards with my companion we had written down almost the exact same thing. The lesson planning was just smooth sailing after that. The next day we did mostly translation and class. The lesson went well, I am blessed with a trained ear from my Mom. Very grateful for that. 
The missionary schedule is basically study in the morning, different kinds of studying. Then class in the afternoon. Then teaching in the evening along with study time. I am really trying to enjoy this p-day. 
The next day was conference. We woke up at 6:30 not knowing that we had service at 6:15, so we ran to our building in shorts. When we were supposed to wear long pants. I felt like there were only other elders cleaning as well, so I was very self conscience of my shorts. Then it was time for conference. We were placed in a freezing cold gym in some very uncomfortable chairs, but I felt the spirit. I loved listening to the talks and the music especially. This is the first time I have listened to all 4 session without sleeping. I really loved elder Oaks talk and elder Hollands as well. Then the sisters went and watched the general YW conference. We had a great district devotional afterwards. On Sunday we watched conference again I just loved Godoy's talk and of course President Monson's. My favorite quote I took away from conference was "Walking where he walked isn't as important as walking how he walked." I can just feel his love so strongly, and when he speaks I am overwhelmed with a feeling of peace. Also Elder Bednar's talk. It was just the perfect talk to end with. I felt like he was talking specifically to the missionaries in the MTC, specifically to me. Everything he said was relevant to my mission and I'm so grateful I was there for that. Then I watched a movie about President Monson, which I loved. And I met Maddie Giles and Julia Bunting. I don't have pictures because apparently cords don't work so I need to get something from the bookstore, but they will be coming.
Then the next day we were finally on our regular schedule. Studying, class, teaching. That's basically how it was for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I'm struggling but keeping up with the schedule, language, and gospel principles. Then on Wednesday we saw one of the elders in our district acting down. He had been struggling with the language. So, as the only sisters in our district, we went and talked with him. All three of us cried a lot. He was feeling homesick and inadequate as a missionary. We assured him that we have all felt this way, I bore my testimony several times over. I was crying in front our whole district, and I was embarrassed, but I felt like it was what he needed to hear and see from me. And today he looked a lot better. I am so proud of our district, they are a bunch of incredible young men. They have strong testimonies and a desire to serve, even if in the very next moment they remind me that they're 18 again. But I love our zone, and our district. At first I struggled a bit, but they I prayed for opportunities to serve and to be blessed with the spirit of God's love for all His children. And what a difference I have seen in my own life as I focus on others rather than myself. I'm liking the MTC so far, even with the ups and downs. I know it's a lot this week, but with being new, then conference, it just all had to be said. 

With lots of love,
Johnson Shimai

MTC Companion
Old Friends

Zone Sisters