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