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