Monday, August 25, 2014

Another week in paradise a.k.a Okinawa / Week #13

Ohayo gozaimasu!
Well it's morning for me. I have no idea what time it is for you guys. So this week was really long and really short at the same time. I feel like we did so much and at the same time I feel like we could have done so much more. This is the life of a missionary I guess.

So we had interviews this week. Kaicho and the APs came from honbu to interview and give us training. Basically President just asked me how I was doing and asked if I was keeping all the rules. He did say one interesting thing though. He told me not to worry about my Japanese and just to practice and use it as much as I can. Then he told me one of the reasons he sent me to Okinawa was so that I could learn to be a good teacher. He's really focusing on preparing effectively and teaching good lessons. In Okinawa there are lots of opportunities to teach, more than in other areas. I just found it interesting because I like teaching. And usually Heavenly Father makes me do things I'm uncomfortable with which would be the contacting and finding part. So it's interesting that President felt like he was supposed to send me here to help me improve my teaching when he could have sent me to an area where I would have had to do a lot of finding and contacting. It was just interesting. 

So we taught Karla again this week. We taught her Lesson 3 and really tried to emphasize baptism and what it means. But we also tried to emphasize that baptism is only the first step. There are many blessings and steps that come after it. I really think it went well. So hopefully this coming week when we teach her we can set up a concrete baptismal date that isn't in a year and a half. 

We also taught Emi again this week. She's trying. She has work on Sunday so she can never come to church. But she has good support. There are lots of members who know her and fellowship her. We just might need to review some things with her because it sounds like she hasn't been reading and praying as much lately. 

This week we had a lot of dinner appointments with members because we're teaching families about making their own family missionary plans. We want them to make specific goals to share the gospel. And of course whenever we want to come over to do this they include dinner. It's great!  

One of the times we went over to a member's house and taught her friend about the gospel. She's not really investigating but the member just offered to share what she believes with her friends and invited them over for dinner and a discussion. It's a really great idea! I don't know if anything will come of it but it was fun to teach her friend about our beliefs.

We had another baptism on Saturday! The Japanese ward is doing really well. We are really trying to work with the members and fellowship those who may not be as strong. Nothing helps people's testimonies like sharing the gospel with somebody else! 

We also visited one of my favorite less active members. He's just so awesome. I'm pretty sure he was in the Yakuza before. We taught him the first vision again because he hadn't heard it in a long time. But it was cool to see him remember. And I shared the first vision in my broken Japanese but Pinzon Shimai helped me and he didn't judge at all. He's one of the funniest Nihonjin I've met. If only he would come back to church!

There are so many things that happen each week and I can never remember them all. It's so great to be here! The work really is hastening! It's not always easy and sometimes I focus too much on what I lack but when we meet with investigators and I have the chance to share my testimony it's the best feeling in the world! 

I hope everyone is doing well! Please write or email me! I don't care who you are!

Malone Shimai

                                   Satomi san, Me & Pinzon Shimai - At the festival weeks ago

Our room - the corner of the futon is mine!              

Our kitchen                                                             

    The Dining Room - Nagamine Shimai, Wells Shimai & The Crosby's
(Right after cleaning checks...we totally passed!

                                          Outside our bedroom window

Monday, August 18, 2014

This week went by so fast! / Week #12

Konnichiwa minasan!

Does anybody else feel like this week went by super fast? Or was that just me? Probably because it was my birthday. And Sister Nagamine's birthday on Thursday. So basically we partied the whole week...in a missionary style. That means that we go out to dinner to celebrate, and bring an investigator along! So Tuesday was really fun. For district meeting we had a pancake breakfast to celebrate me and Nagamine Shimai's birthday. Pancakes are so good! Who knew? Tuesday night Sister Wedekind, the best member missionary in the world, took us out to eat with one our investigators Emi. It was my first time having actual ramen. It's super good. But so filling. Then she pulled out ice cream cake and Emi pulled out Japanese cheese cake. Needless to say I was so full after that. After dinner we had a lesson with Emi. Pinzon Shimai has been teaching Emi for a few months now before I was here. She's come a long way though. She went from reading a few verses of the Book of Mormon each day, and now she's made it to 1 Nephi 11. That's big progress for her. The best part was she told us she feels like she's Nephi. She's applying the scriptures to herself! The biggest thing for her right now is she needs a new job where she doesn't have to work on Sundays. Because she can't come to church with the job she has. So we are praying that she can find a new job.

On Wednesday we went on base and fixed up these two new rooms in one of the storage buildings. They are now the new seminary rooms for the high school kids. Before this point they just met in one of the chapels on base. But now they have a place where they can put up pictures and make it more LDS. The rooms were packed full of stuff but luckily we had four elders and four sisters working on it. The rooms look awesome now. I hope those seminary kids appreciate what we did for them! Just kidding.

Thursday we did lots of studying and weekly planning. Then we had Eikaiwa. I really like Eikaiwa! I teach the advanced class with Nagamine Shimai so they understand a lot of what we say. We practice new words and phrases and then just talk at the end. One of the students brought me and Nagamine Shimai a cake. She's so nice and it was really good. It was grape flavored. I never would have thought a grape flavored cake would be good but it is. We also went out to dinner with the Crosby's and went to this fried rice place. They give you huge sizzling pans of fried rice and I couldn't manage to eat all of it unfortunately. That's one of my goals. To be able to eat everything I'm given. It's polite in Japan to eat all your food okay? 

Friday we took Sister Wedekind's daughter, Meadow, with us to teach a lesson to some investigators and to do some tracting. She doesn't really speak any Japanese but she's preparing to serve a mission in the Baltic mission so it's good experience. We taught our first investigator Tamiko san about the Plan of Salvation. Her English is pretty good so Meadow could participate with us. Our second investigator didn't answer so we had more tracting time. We just went housing and handed out flyers to people. I'm trying to be better at talking to people. It's getting there I promise. I just usually have no idea what they're saying back to me and that's when Pinzon Shimai swoops in and starts talking. 

On Saturday there was a baptism! One of the elder's investigators got baptized. It was so cool to see. It's over so fast though! But all of the elders and sisters sang a musical number for the baptism and they put a picture of it in the program on Sunday. Haha Japanese people are so funny.

On Sunday we had our usual 7 hours of church. It's exhausting but it's a really good time to get to know members and set things up with them. And unfortunately none of our investigators showed up to church. After church we had a dinner appointment with some members. The missionaries are supposed to go around to each house in one of the wards and talk about making a family mission plan. It's a good chance to encourage members and help them form specific goals for missionary work. And it's a good chance for us to see if they have any referrals:) But the best part was the food! (Sorry that's all I talk about). The sister who fed us is from the Philippines and she made really delicious food! I think it's the best meal I've had yet. 

Anyways, this week was really great. There's the usual ups and downs of missionary work. We're always striving to do more and it's exhausting sometimes. But there's really good times too. Thanks to Heavenly Father we have little miracles every day. I just need to remember to look for them and be grateful for them. Love you all! Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Malone Shimai

Me & Pinzon Shimai

 Blowing out candles - Me & Nagamine Shimai

Me & Nagamine Shimai & Sis. Wells

The cake minami brought for us at eikaiwa

Me & Sis. Wedekind & Emi


Another dinner we had together

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So much to say, so little time / Week #11


Oh my goodness I never have enough time anymore. I try to read everyone's emails and then write back and write everyone. I think I'm just going to have to start writing one email and hopefully everyone reads that. Sorry!

Ok so to start off. This week was really good. I am constantly learning new things. And we are really busy all the time. We meet with investigators, less actives, we try to go finding, we do service and every once in while we eat. Just kidding we eat all of our meals. Really mom don't get concerned. Here in Little America we still get to eat things like peanut butter and Honey Bunches of Oats. It's great. 

So as far as language goes I speak probably 70% English and 30% Japanese. It's hard. I'm really afraid my Japanese won't improve but I am working on speaking Japanese with Pinzon Shimai as much as possible. And apparently my Japanese isn't too bad for a bean/new missionary because everyone tells me my Japanese is good. The elders were pretty surprised when I bore my testimony last Sunday. And they heard me teaching a little bit of a lesson with a less active which we hadn't prepared for at all and they said it was good. So there's hope after all! I just have to keep studying and trying out new phrases.

So somebody asked about my living conditions. So to fill in I love in an apartment with 3 other sisters. There are 2 sister companionships for the Okinawa area. Us and the sister training leaders. Our apartment is actually really nice. It's not too old so everything is in good condition. There are 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen/eating area. It's nice and cozy and I really like it. We have a washer but we just hang our clothes to dry which sometimes takes a while because obviously the humidity here is crazy. I'm already kind of used to it though. You're just always wet. Whether it's from rain or sweat or both just depends on the day. Also you have to separate your trash here into like 3 different groups. I still don't understand it fully. Also they don't have garbage disposals. They just have nets that catch all the food in the sink and then you have to dump it. It's nasty.  We sleep on futons. It's pretty comfortable, plus me and Pinzon Shimai have like 4 futon mattresses which is more than normal. Basically our apartment is the coolest. 

We ride our bikes everywhere, except when we can convince a senior couple or a member to give us a ride to places. We are so lucky, we have 2 senior couples in our area. The Crosby's and the Lee's. The Crosby's are the best! They're from Florida and they are just the nicest couple! They are always willing to take us places and take us out to lunch sometimes. And Elder Lee put a basket on my bike this week! Yay! Now I can carry my own bag! I feel like my legs are getting stronger. Although here in Okinawa there aren't any major hills we have to go up so it's not like I'm dying. And can I just say the single most useful thing you bought me mom was those biking shorts. I wear them everyday under my skirt so that when my skirt blows up I don't really care because I have shorts on. Unfortunately, my first four days when I didn't have my big suitcase yet so I didn't have my biking shorts meant lots of people in Okinawa saw my "white biking shorts.'' Sorry about that.

So this week we had a lot of appointments fall through. So I'm learning even more about patience. I have to be patient with others and remember they have their agency. I just want to teach them and want them to understand why this is important but I can't do that. They have to want it. But it's okay. This week we will have lots of appointments and everyone will be able to meet with us! 

But we still find things to do. We went to a less actives house and cleaned her house. She was sick for a long time so she wasn't able to do it. But she came to church last week and this week! It's really all thanks to her friend who is a member. She is the one who has been driving her to church and arranging for us to come clean her house. When ward members get involved it really does make a huge difference.

So yesterday we taught Karla again. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. She still has a lot of questions but that's a good thing. She is so open to hearing everything we have to say and says it sounds right. She's basically golden. We basically invited her to be baptized again and this time we gave her a calendar for this month and next month and asked her to pray and ask when she should be baptized. She said she would do it so hopefully we can set a baptismal date with her! The mission goal for this month is to have 2 investigators with baptismal dates. So we're praying that we can reach that goal! 

As far as food goes I've tried a few things. I've tried Japanese curry. It's pretty good. I've also tried a lot of stir fry type things. They have a lot of little restaurant/shack places you can go to eat at for cheap. And it's usually really good. Although at one of those places is where I saw my first spider. It was pretty big. And I may have freaked out a little. But so did Pinzon Shimai. Luckily one of the elders was willing to kill it. Although they also said they weren't going to tell us it was there in the first place if we didn't notice. Never do that! If there is a spider please tell me! 

On Saturday I also got to see my first Matsuri or festival. This week is Obon. I think that's how you spell it. It's about your dead ancestors coming back to visit. So one of our investigators took us to see a parade and dance with all these dancers and drummers. It's loud but it was really cool. I'll send pictures. Our investigator was also all dressed up in a kimono. Well a casual kimono which is called something else. Anyways she looked beautiful. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of her. But she took one so maybe I'll ask her for it. It was my first experience with Japanese culture and it was so fun! And it was all okay because we were there with an investigator. Two birds with one stone.

So I brought my camera this week so I'm going to send a lot of pictures that are from the MTC and some that are newer. And one of Pinzon Shimai and me so you can see what she looks like!

Thanks so much for my birthday packages! They came on Friday so I made a compromise with myself. I opened two of the presents and read some of the cards but not all of them. The rest I will do tomorrow. But I couldn't help it! I had to read some of it. Packages are important! Also Jill you are the best! Thank you so much for the candy and the nail polish. And that card was the best thing I've ever seen. Also the worst. I hid it so nobody else could see. They don't exactly know about my obsession with you know who.

Well that's all I have time for this week! Sorry if I didn't answer everyone's questions! I love you all and thanks for the birthday wishes! I can't believe I will be 23 tomorrow. Well technically it's 2 days for all of you. Anyways, the church is true! Read the Book of Mormon! It will answer all your problems I promise! 

Malone Shimai

Me & Pinzon Shimai

Me & Pinzon Shimai - Our apartment

Drummers & Dancers - Matsuri (Festival)


Traditional Fan Dance

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Okinawa: Tropical Storms, Humidity, and so much English! / Week #10

Konnichiwa minisan! Or ohayo gozaimasu! I don't know what time it is there. Also it's Monday here. Is it still Sunday there? So many things I don't know. So I'm in Japan. It's for real. But it still feels unreal sometimes. Also from now on I won't have much time so sorry if I don't answer your emails individually. I'm going to try and answer everyone's questions in this email. 

So just a quick recap. I flew from Salt Lake to Portland *shout out to Jill!* and from Portland to Tokyo which was about a 10 hour flight. I sat next to a girl who was on her way home to Tokyo to see her family. I totally gave her a pass along card and a Book of Mormon. Woohoo! I was so nervous but we had 10 hours next to each other so taking like 30 minutes to talk wasn't that bad. Then the 10 sisters who were going to Fukuoka had a 2 hour layover and that's when jet lag hit. I have never been so tired. I was trying not to fall asleep until the plane got there and I succeeded. But as soon as I sat in my seat next to Peterson Shimai and Ketch Shimai I was out. I didn't even get to see the safety video. So we landed in Fukuoka at 9:15 and President and Sister Gustafson were there to pick us up along with the APs. So we piled into two vans and drove to the mission home which is under the temple. We didn't get to go inside the temple but we slept right underneath it. 

The next morning we had orientation about our mission for about 3 hours. It made me feel better and at the same time it didn't. I'm somebody who gets nervous before I do things but once I can act I feel better. So I guess just hearing about everything kind of overwhelmed me because I hadn't experienced it yet. But it's all good. Then we interviewed with President and each of us paired up with a Sister serving in the Fukuoka area and went out. Me and Magalogo Shimai were actually with two sisters who were companions so we all went to the church and it took a long time because we were on foot. We practiced the first lesson at the church and then we were going out to dendo (missionary work) when it started raining. Me and Magalogo Shimai didn't have umbrellas so they bought us some and then it started pouring. So even though we had umbrellas my shoes were soaked and the bottom of my skirt. But somehow it was still fun. I was in Japan in a downpour. How cool is that? Then the new sisters who were all soaked went out to dinner with President and I had some Japanese food that I don't know the name of. It was good though. Then we went back to the mission home and watched videos on bicycle safety while I tried not to fall asleep because of jet lag. Then finally we went into the office to find out where we were going. It's on this large board and they pulled up the cover and we all got to see. And I found out I was going to Okinawa. So just know right now that I love where I'm at right now. But when I first saw that I was surprised and a little disappointed. But this is how Heavenly Father works with me. I had said I didn't want to go to Okinawa in the summer because it's so hot there. So of course Heavenly Father sends me there. The hardest part was I had to pack two of my suitcases and leave a third one behind because they only let you check one bag for the flight. And I had to be ready at six in the morning to go. So I was a little stressed out. But I got my two bags packed and stuffed all the extra in my big suitcase which would be sent in a few days. I found out me and Cox Shimai were both going to Okinawa but in different zones so it was a relief to have her with me on the flight. 

On the flight I fell asleep again and woke up to realize I couldn't see out of the window because of the clouds. The ocean was not very happy. But there wasn't too much turbulence and we landed in Okinawa. Yay for my last plane flight for hopefully quite some time! My companion and a senior couple were there to pick me up at the airport. My companion is Sister Pinzon. She is from Tennesee although originally from Colombia. She speaks Spanish and her English is perfect. She is the nicest person ever. She is so patient with me and all my mistakes. She's a great trainer. She has been out for about 9 months so she's halfway.

This first week was kind of hectic. But I was able to buy a bike. Yay! And it was on sale so I got it for like $400! Yay! Now I just need a basket put on. For now Pinzon Shimai is nice enough to stick my bag in her basket. My first day there we went and taught a lesson to a new investigator. This was on the military base so it was in English. She had a lot of questions and actually the members were really good at answering her questions so we didn't say too much. But Pinzon Shimai told me I should extend the baptismal invitation to her...so I did. It was weird to ask a real investigator to be baptized but I did. And she said yes! She felt like this Church was the right answer for her and we just need to teach her the rest of the lessons. And hopefully set a baptismal date next time. 

So here in Okinawa we serve 3 branches. Two military branches and a Japanese branch. So I've been speaking a lot of English. I'm not going to lie I'm nervous about my Japanese. I know I'll use it enough that I won't lose it, but I really want to improve it so that when I go to my next area in however many months I'm not behind. So I'm trying to speak a lot with Pinzon Shimai.

On Friday we had a tropical storm so we had to stay inside most of the day but luckily we had to finish up weekly planning which takes way longer when you don't know who any of your investigators are. But I'm learning. 

Saturday we played soccer on base and I'm still sore. The missionaries play with people who are actually good at soccer so I did a lot of running and tried to act like I knew what I was doing. But it was still fun. Saturday night the Japanese ward had a karaoke activity. They love karaoke! And they're pretty good at it. It was fun to meet people and practice my Japanese. 

Sunday we went to all three wards. Luckily its in one building which is nice. I bore my testimony in all three branches. Including in Japanese. It was the simplest testimony ever but everybody said I did a good job after. 

This place is different from what I expected. A mission is different from what I expected. It's hard and yet not hard at the same time. My main goal right now is to practice talking to people on the street. I'm so nervous to do it because I probably won't understand what they're saying back to me but I just need to get over it!

Well I am completely out of time! Sorry! I will send pictures next week and try to be faster about emailing everyone! Love you!

Malone Shimai