Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween in Japan?

Hello everyone!!!
   It been another great week in Obihiro and it might be my last since we have transfers this week. I'll find out whether or not I will be staying when they call us tomorrow morning. I'm excited to find out what will happen! I mean I love Obihiro, but I would really like a chance to see more of Hokkaido! You'll just have to wait in anticipation till next week!
   This week we had the STLs (Sister Training Leaders) come to our apartment on Friday and we went on splits (we switched companions). Anyway the STLs are Budge Shimai, she's American but she's been living in Tokyo with her family for the past couple years and her dad is the Mission President of the Tokyo Mission, and Furue Shimai!!! It was so great getting to see Furue Shimai! I really missed her! Anyway I was companions with Budge Shimai and Bastow Shimai. It was a super crazy day. Since Budge Shimai was in Obihiro last year she had some specific people that she wanted to see so she called and set up a bunch of appointments. We were just going from one house to the next, but everyone remembered her and they were all so excited to see her. Her Japanese is really good and you can just tell how much she loved the people here in Obihiro. We did have one appointment towards the end of the night that we had set up a week earlier. It was the Kawamura family. We found them when we were housing last week. Anyway we went to see them on Friday and we met with the mom. It was only for about 10 minutes but we talked about how we believe that families are so important and that our families are a gift from God. It was a really great little conversation and she said she wants to learn more!!!!! Ahhhh! It was so exciting! We got a new investigator this week and it's a family!! :)
   Also we had our ward Halloween party on Saturday!  It was so much fun!! There were so many little kids and our church building is pretty small, I thought I was going to step on the little kids everywhere I went!! Ahh! But they were so cute! All of us missionaries dressed up and I was dressed as a "thug". I know what you're thinking- you're thinking I can't pull off being a thug and I would say you're right, but it was pretty funny! :) I'll send pictures next week!
   One last thing we met a Hungarian family and the mom speaks English and they are so nice and they came to the Halloween party and she has 3 cute little kids and they are adorable!! I'll tell you more about them next week becuase we'll porbably start teaching them some lessons and I'm just so excited!!
   Exciting week! Hope you are all doing well! And Happy Halloween!!!!!
Morrison Shimai

Monday, October 21, 2013

The First Snow!

   So on Wednesday, it snowed!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!!! It was a really crazy beginning of our week! On Tuesday Morning we had Zone Conference. And since our Zone is one of the biggest in the mission, some of the missionaries came on Monday and then stayed the night. We have the Shimai from Kitami come and stay with us. It was Nanjo Shimai, Kappeliela Shimai and Gibbs Shimai! In order to get here from Kitami they have to take 2 busses and so it usually takes them about 4 1/2 hours to get to Obihiro. So we had 6 shimai in our apartment on Monday night. It's really fun getting to catch up with everyone since we don't see them very often.
   Zone Conference was the next morning from 8:30 am to 5 pm. It was a really long day! But it was good! President Evans (my Mission President) spoke to us about the importance of having the spirit when we teach. Then the Sister Training Leaders (Budge Shimai and Furue Shimai!!!) talked to us about this new program that we are going to try implement. It's called Family English Class, or something like that, basically we really want to focus more on teaching families. So it's a 6 week program where we can teach families English, but also teach them about the gospel. We haven't found anyone who's interested yet, but it's a cool idea. Then we had a Language workshop, where we talked about how we can better learn the language. Basically what I learned is that I need to be working harder and make sure I'm always learning more and not "standing still" in my learning Japanese. Last we had a workshop by the Zone leaders, Jones and Watanabe Choro. It was about finding people and getting used to talking to people where ever we go. It was really good. At the end of Zone Conference we have a testimony meeting, where we can get up and bear testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel. President Evans picks people to share their testimonies. And can you guess who's name he said first?? Yep! Me! I was totally not expecting it! The good part is that we can bear our testimony in our native language so I got to speak English. :)
   Anyway I was so nervous and I had no idea what to say, but I just got up and starting speaking. I don't get to teach or bear my testimony in English here so it was nice being able to express my real and deep feelings for once! I know my Japanese will be good enough to where eventually I can still give a heart-felt testimony in Japanese, but on Tuesday it was nice to do it in English. I really learned a lot and I have a lot of things I can work on to becoming a better missionary. I learned that I need to stay more focused and always remember that my purpose of being here in Japan is ultimately to help people come closer to Chirst.
   Tuesday night I got to go on splits with Nanjo Shimai. She's from Tokyo and this is her last transfer of her mission. She'll be going home at the end of October. It was cool to be her companion for a night and just talk to her about all the great experiences that she has had with being a missionary.
   The Sister's from Kitami left on Wednesday morning, but remember how I said that was the day it snowed, well here's the funny story. So their bus was at 9:50 am. And so they left around 9 and by about 11 am the snow was coming down pretty hard. It just came out of nowhere!!! So we put on all our winter gear and headed out. We had planned to meet a couple people and the snow was not going to stop us. It was cold and it made me nervous to ride my bike in the snow. But we persevered!! Then around 6 pm we get a call saying that it was snowing so much that the Kitami missionaries couldn't go back to Kitami. So they had taken 1 bus (2 hours) but once they reached that bus stop they were informed that all the other buses going into Kitami were cancelled. So they all had to come back to Obihiro (2 hours) and spend the night with us. Then on Thursday morning they finally were able to get on another bus (4 1/2 hours) and they finally made it back to Kitami! Pretty crazy start to the week. By Thursday morning all of the snow had melted. It was so weird and I am definitely not excited about the next 5 months of snow, but I'm going to try to make the best of it!!
Love you all!! Hope you are doing well!!
Morrison Shimai

Bowling with the Obihiro Elders

Taking a rest after a long ride up a hill.  When we biked to Memuro took us about 1 hour and 15 min. to get there and this pic is after we went up the huge hill right at the end.

Scenery of Hokkaido

When the Kitami Shimai came to stay with us before Zone Conference (one bedroom, one bath apartment!)

Monday, October 14, 2013

First Book of Mormon - I did it!

   The weather in Hokkaido is SO random!!! 1 day it's cold and raining with winds at super crazy speed and strength and then the next day is clear skies and bright, warm sunshine. This has been the weather all week. Seriously every other day is completely opposite!
   I don't know why, but for some reason this has been one of the toughest weeks here in Obihiro. And not just for me and my companions, but for the other 6 elders in my district as well. On Monday, it looked like it would be a really great week! We (me, Lundstom Shimai, and Bastow Shimai) had about 6 appointments and we had plans to meet with all of our investigators! But by Tuesday 5 of our 6 appointments cancelled on us. We also had a hard time even just talking to people, it seemed like no one wanted to listen to us. Our Zone had a goal this past week to spend 5 extra minutes of our dinner break and use it for dendo (tracting - trying to find investigators) time. Normally we have an hour for dinner each day, but this week we all committed to take 5 extra minutes and just talk to one more person every day. It was hard at first, especially when we were feeling disscouraged, but we did it!
   Even though we didn't see a ton of success this week. There was one exciting part that I know was a huge blessing because of our commitment to stick to our goal. Story time: On Thursday we had planned to visit a non active member of the ward. We got to her house right before she was about to leave, and I belive she was going to the hospital. Side note* for some reason people in Japan go to the hospital all the time. Like if they have a cold, they go to the hospital. If they feel a little bit of pain in their stomach, they go to the hospital. Japanese people go to the hospital a lot. Anyway back to the story, we couldn't talk to her for as long as we wanted to so we had extra time to do housing (where we knock on people's doors and ask if they're interested in learning more about our message). And we didn't have much success.
   It was time to go back home and I was leading the way back to our apartment. We rode past a girl, probably in her late 20's, and I started to talk to her and I asked her if she had ever thought about God before. And she said "no" (pretty common answer). And I don't normally do this when I just talk to people on the street, but for some reason I started to tell her what I know about God. I told her that God is our Heavenly Father and that we are His children. I told her that becuase he loves us he wants to help us becuase we have problems and challenges in our lives. I said that becuase he wants to help us he gave us a book called the Book of Mormon. And I asked her if she had heard of it before, she said "no" (also common answer). At that point I turned to Lundstrom Shimai hoping she would take over because I didn't know what to say, but being the good trainer she is, she simply said, "keep going, tell her about the book." And so I did!!! And she listened!!! I told her how much I love this book and how it has helped me in my life. I told her that my questions about life were answered through this book and that it has brought me so much happiness in my life. Then I looked to Lundstrom Shimai again, but she didn't say anything except, "give her the book". So I did!!!! And she took it and said she would try to read it!!! It was the most incredible experience. I gave away my first Book of Mormon all by myself! It was really scary becuase I felt like my Japanese was so limited, but also so amazing because she actually understood me! We gave her our phone number so that she could call us if she had any questions. I don't know what will happen with her, but I know that her life will be better if she reads the Book of Mormon. It is an important book and I know that it is true. God knows each of us and he really does want to help us. He knows me and He knows that girl. Never forget that you are a child of God and that he wants to hear from you daily so that he can help you!
Hope you are all doing well!!
Ai shite imasu!!!
Morrison Shimai

Monday, October 7, 2013

Love One Another

   I think I said this the last couple weeks but this week was SO crazy!!! It's a busy place out here in the mission field!! The past 3 weeks (since we had transfers) me and my companions have been going through the area book (a book where we keep track of all the people that we've taught and what we have taught them) and going through all of our investigators and other people who said they might have interest in learning more about Christ to figure out who really has interest in hearing our mesage. We've been calling people (and finding that we were given wrong numbers) and going to people's houses (and finding that they don't  live there anymore). So it's been a little discouraging the past few weeks, but we have one investigator right now who is really interested in learning more about the gospel.
   Her name is Sotokawa San. She's an older lady who comes to Eikaiwa every week. (As a service "project" we teach a free English class every week). She is the sweetest lady and her English is actually pretty good. I think her English is better than my Japanese... :) Anyway she used to meet with the Missionaries a while ago, but then stopped because she was very busy with her job. But now she is interested in the church again. She has read the Book of Mormon twice and is reading it through a third time. She believes that the Book of Mormon is true and so now we are focusing on trying to get her to come to church. She works a lot and doesn't feel like she has time so we're really trying to help her see the importance of church and what a good experience it is every week. To go to a place where we can teach and learn from each other more about the Savior and his gospel.
   One quick thing that I learned in my gospel study that I thought I would share with you. This morning I was reading in John 13 and I came to verses 34 and 35. We quote 34 a lot about "a new commmandment I give unto you that ye love one another". But I never really pay attention to verse 35 "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have alove one to another."  It talks about how Christ's disciples loved one another. So in order to be a disciple or a representative of Christ, one of the most important things we can do is to show love towards one another. So I'm challenging myself to show my love for people this week more - by writing notes, doing small acts of service. Something like that. So if you want to take the challenge with me you are more than welcome. :)
Hope you are all doing well!!
Much love from Japan!!!
Morrison Shimai