Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A whole month!

Hey tomodachi (friends)!!!

So this week has been pretty awesome! We got new kohai (underclassmen, aka the Japan missionaries who've been here less than 3 weeks) and they're very cute. Grover Shimai and I have also been consistently teaching our lessons to our kyuudousha (investigators) without any Japanese notes with us, and it's been super liberating. We've been able to see a real difference in our teaching ability because of it. We're better able to teach by the Spirit and as a result, our kyuudousha have been making so much awesome progress! Higashimuki-san told us he has a desire to know who God is and how to pray and we got so excited! Ishikawa-san told us she feels the Spirit when we teach and that when she prays she wants to pray more!! She even prayed at the end of our lesson on Monday!!! We committed her to coming to church this Sunday and we're hoping that she is able to make it!

I love our kyuudousha so much. They're not "real" kyuudousha in the sense that our sensei (teachers) are acting as them, but they're all based on real people that our sensei taught in the field. Richardson Kyoudai was telling us about Higashimuki-san yesterday and I was about ready to cry. That sweet man's life is so sad! He's 60 years old and his job is walking 20+ miles every day putting junk fliers in people's mailboxes, even though he studied to be an anatomist, he was never able to find a job in that field. To make matters worse, he used to be married, but his wife was Chinese and there was a problem with her visa so she got deported back to China and he hasn't been able to see or talk to her since. But according to Richardson Kyoudai, he would always come to church with the biggest smile on his face because the gospel gave him so much hope. He's so sweet I wanna cry. It's these kind of stories that make me love the Nihonjin (Japanese people) so much. I can't wait to get out in the field and help more people like Higashimuki-san. 

In other news, our district has grown ever closer. We're like a bunch of weird siblings; it's awesome. I've been slowly drawing them all as practice for my art, but the drawings quickly got ridiculous. The other day, Komiya Chourou was making a really gross triple-chin face and I was like "I should draw that" and he was just like "do it" so I did. Then we were arguing over whether or not he looks like a cat, so I drew him as a cat to prove my point and we all watched him have a mini identity crisis over it and how similar they looked. So now I have a bunch of nonsense in my journals.

Oh also, on Sunday we watched an old MTC devotional by President Uchtdorf and Sister Uchtdorf and I've decided that Sister Uchtdorf is the cutest person on the face of the planet and I want to be just like her. Like wow. Life goals. 

Recently I've also been studying lots of Conference talks and such in my personal study time, so I'm gonna give you all a list of some awesome talks I've come across this week for y'all to check out!

I hope you all are doing awesome things! You remain in my prayers constantly. See you all next week!

Ai shiteimasu!
Sherwood Shimai​​

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week 3 in the Provo MTC


Okay I'm like 99% sure that the MTC is a liminal space because it's only been a week but it feels like it's been 2 years already. It's totemo weird. 

Friday was the dedication of the new MTC buildings and I got to be in the dedicatory choir!!! We sang "Hark All Ye Nations" and I was literally less than 2 feet away from President Eyring and Elder Oaks. It was sooooooo coooool!!!!!! That day we also attempted an Eigo Fast (English language fast - i.e. no speaking English), demo it tanked by like noon and we gave up trying to speak completely in Nihongo (Japanese). It was a lil sad. 

Saturday all the shimai (sisters) decided it would be hilarious to make vampire teeth with candy corn so now we have an excessive amount of pictures of us with candy corn fangs, laughing hysterically. It was awesome.

On Sunday Grover Shimai and I taught a lesson about the priesthood in Relief Society and it was super fun. We based our content off of Elder Ballard's article, "Men and Women and the Priesthood" in the September 2014 Ensign. ( Go and read it yourself. It's super awesome and sheds a lot of light on the nature of the priesthood. 

All our dai senpai (missionaries who have been in the MTC for 2 months already) left for Japan early Monday morning and while I'm super excited for them, I'm also chotto sad because the dai senpai were super great. Especially Roemer Chourou, Bayless Chourou, Hanson Shimai, and Valentine Shimai. They're gonna do awesome on their missions. Also on Monday we got to escort the senior missionaries and it was super fun! One of the chourou was actual Nihonjin and he spoke to us in Nihongo!!!!! 

Today we went to the temple as a district and did sealings!! (proxy sealing for deceased families or couples - ordinance supporting the doctrine of eternal families) It was super cool and the sealer talked to us a lot and said some really cool things about missionary work. Low key I wanna go every day but alas,,,,,

Anyway that's about all I have to report today!! Please email me if you ever want to tell me anything!

Ai shiteimasu!
Sherwood Shimai

P.S. send wholesome memes

Temple Pictures

The Candy Corn Fangs!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Week Two!

Ohayo everyone!

Week 2 at the MTC is complete!!! I've been learning so much. It's been super awesome. We got a new sensei! His name is Richardson Kyoudai (Brother Richardson) and he's like the coolest person. Imagine a really intense reporter from the 1950s except super spiritual and that's him. I swear like 80% of what he says at any given moment in time is general conference levels of testimony. We've all learned so much from him, Raines Shimai, and Hoggan Shimai. 

On Friday we all got to attend Elder Hales' funeral service (through broadcast) and it was a super cool experience. I loved getting to know who Elder Hales was as a person rather than just a general authority. I could tell that all the twelve apostles are really close friends and it was super cool to see that dynamic.

Also, the entire Japanese zone at the MTC is obsessed with volleyball so we play every single time we have exercise time. Sand volleyball is the best because the chourou are all way too intense in gym volleyball. Anyway, on Saturday we played sand volleyball, and it was the actual best thing. Totemo sugoi! The sand was cold, but it was super fun anyway. At one point, Nelson Shimai received the ball with her foot and miraculously kicked it over the net and scored a point for her team. Stewart Chourou and Roemer Chourou have been waxing poetic about it all week.

Teaching investigators has been both awesome and difficult. I've been fairly able to understand the Japanese when it's spoken (sorta), but responding effectively has been a real struggle. I had a miniature panic attack the other day when teaching Ishikawa-san and she got confused and thought Jesus was a zombie but it's fine. It's daijoubu. We're moving forward and pressing on with our lessons, but it's taking a bit to adjust to teaching people who have zero Christian background whatsover. Demo (but) that's how real life Nihonjin (Japanese people) are so it's important. We're becoming very familiar with condensing things into simple terms, and it's a lot more difficult than expected. Nevertheless, we persist, and I'm looking forward to learning more about the language and how to teach more effectively.​​

Have some more fun pictures of my district!!

Ai shitemasu!
Sherwood Shimai

Sister Sherwood's Farewell Talk

For those of you who weren't able to attend the church service where Sister Sherwood spoke prior to departing for her mission, here is her talk:

Brothers and sisters, it is a pleasure to be able to speak with you this morning before I go to serve in the Japan Kobe Mission. There is much I still do not know or understand, but there is much I believe in and hope for, and it is these things that I wish to share with you today.

I'm sure many of you can recall a moment when you sat down to listen to General Conference, notebook and phone in hand, ready to jot down any insights and be the first to tweet or post the pithy one-liners we all love and slap a satisfying #ldsconf on them. The anticipation bubbling beneath your skin as the iconic narrator’s voice is heard, introducing the session.  Conference is nice. Conference is wonderful. Conference is comfortable.

Until that one talk.

You know the one. The one that shakes your core. The one that drains the color from your face as it rocks you. The one where Conference stops being comfortable. Where you look into the eyes of the speaker and realize that you specifically are being called out. And you hate it. It twists at the pit of your stomach and you hate it; you hate it a lot.

Until you stop. And you realize that this is true. And you change.

Or perhaps you're in the other camp of us. Those of you who can recall a moment when you sat down to listen to General Conference, exhausted, weary, and really quite sick of this whole Mormon thing and life in general, dreading seeing your Facebook feed covered in shallow sound bites that feel like faceless echoes rattling in your brain. The feeling of ostracization crawling up your throat and settling there like a wad of tar as the plastic voice of the narrator is heard, introducing the session. Conference is hard. Conference hurts. Conference is exhausting.

Until that one talk.

You know the one. The one that shakes your core. The one that turns the greying world into a burst of color. The one that makes you sob and gasp in relief because finally, finally, after all this time, the agonized prayer in your heart is being answered. The one where Conference stops being a burden. Where you look into the eyes of the speaker and realize that maybe you do belong here after all. And you cry and you cry because you love it. It fills your spirit to overflowing and you love it; you love it a lot.

And you stop. And you realize that this is true. And you change.

Chances are, the talk you're thinking of is the same one as the one that someone from the opposite group is thinking of. It's also likely that the talk is by Elder Holland.

This pattern of comfort and chastisement has been around since the beginning, and the reason is that this is how our testimonies are built. Consider the words of the Savior himself in John 8:7-11, in the story of the woman taken in adultery:

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

There we see the pattern. Chastisement of those who think themselves better, and comfort of those who think themselves worthless. In doing so, a change is wrought in both. The lowly find the strength to move on, and the haughty find the humility to improve.

For the woman taken in adultery and her accusers, the words of Jesus were That One Talk. For King Lamoni and his people, the words of Ammon were That One Talk. For Alma, the words of Abinadi were That One Talk. For me, President Uchtdorf’s talk from the April 2016 Sunday morning session was That One Talk. I could go on and on.

The thing is, though, every talk has the potential to be That One Talk for someone. Sure some talks are more likely to be so than others for a multitude of reasons, but every talk can be. This is because it is not the speaker who is shaking your core, but rather the Holy Spirit.

Words alone can do nothing to move someone. In Preach My Gospel, missionaries are taught that we do not teach people, but rather we are vessels that the Lord uses to teach people through the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness of all truth. With that knowledge, we then realize that every talk given in General Conference can be That One Talk to us, provided that the Spirit testifies of its truth.

Why then, you may wonder, are there so many talks easily forgotten in the slurry pile of the words of our prophets, seers, and revelators? The answer is simple. We do not listen to the Spirit. In both camps of people I described earlier, it is easy for us to deafen our ears to the Spirit’s quiet whisperings, even when the prophets speak with power and authority.

For the camp of the comfortable, it can be all too tempting to always associate ourselves with the saints and the 5 wise virgins and the Good Samaritan; the righteous spoken of in every talk. We are good people. We obey the commandments and read the scriptures and go to church. We love our prophets. Surely we are Celestial bound. And while this may be the case, it is foolish to think that we cannot benefit from correction.

For the camp of the weary and downtrodden, it can be far too easy to just stop. To stop listening. To stop trying. To give up. This we cannot do. Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it feels like everyone is against you, even when you doubt and question and don’t understand, you must continue to press on and listen ever harder for the Spirit.  

The words of the prophets by nature carry the power of the Lord and the Spirit with them. However, this is not to mean that we should simply absorb their words through osmosis and throw all critical thought to the wind. We do not gain testimony without effort on our part. So in order to make every talk That One Talk, we must treat them as we treat That One Talk.

What do we all do when we hear “Our concluding speaker will be Elder Jeffrey R. Holland” or “After the choir, we will hear from our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.”? Our ears perk up, we rise from our slouchy positions in our comfy jammies, we shush our noisy family members, and we focus.

But let’s be real. It can be really hard to sit and focus for hours on end. People just aren’t meant to focus that long on one thing. It makes your brain hurt and you cry a little inside if you aren’t getting any new stimulation. However, Conference can be wonderfully stimulating, and if you go into each talk with the mindset that it could be That One Talk, focusing will be easier.

Nevertheless, focusing is not all we need to build our testimonies next week as we listen to our leaders. The key is humility. Our testimonies are never built when we think we know it all, when we refuse to let go of preconceived notions, or when we let our stubbornness blind and deafen us.

Consider the words of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson in the September 2017 First Presidency Message:

“The Savior sends prophets because He loves us. During general conference this October, the General Authorities of the Church will again have the privilege of sharing His word. We approach this responsibility with great solemnity and humility...
Continuous revelation is the very lifeblood of the gospel of Jesus Christ. May we prepare to receive the personal revelation that comes in abundance during general conference. May our hearts be filled with deep determination as we raise our hands to sustain living prophets and apostles. May we be enlightened, uplifted, comforted, and strengthened as we listen to their messages. And may we be ready to recommit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ—His gospel and His work—and to live with renewed resolve in keeping His commandments and carrying out His will.”

As the prophets approach their talks with solemnity and humility, so too must we. We must bow our knee and ask the Lord for confirmation with His Spirit to know for ourselves that what the General Authorities say is true and from Him. Moroni’s promise in Moroni 10:4-5 is valid, not only for the Book of Mormon, but for the words of all the Lord’s prophets.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

Brothers and sisters, dear friends, I exhort you to approach General Conference next week with a sincere desire to learn, even if the things you may hear are hard, even if they’re uncomfortable and hurt your feelings a little. Even if life is hard and uncomfortable and hurting. Regardless of who you are and where you are in your path back to the Lord, regardless of what life has thrown at you or how strong your faith is, the prophets are here to bring you closer to Christ and testify of God’s neverending love. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are men of God, and I sustain them as prophets, seers, and revelators. They, along with all other General Authorities, are called of God, and I testify that through them, the Spirit can build us stronger than we could ever hope to be alone.

Our Heavenly Parents love us perfectly and absolutely. Jesus Christ is forever on our side. The Gospel is true and real and the greatest, most joyful of news to ever be proclaimed on this Earth. Of these things I testify and leave with you humbly, in the name of our Lord and Savior, the great Redeemer of Israel, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sister Sherwood's First Email

​​Hello everyone!

My first week at the MTC has simultaneously felt like the blink of an eye and like three months squashed into one day. My companion is Grover
​ Shimai (Sister Grover)
. She's from Portland, Oregon and she is absolutely amazing! (Not gonna lie, she reminds me of Lindsey Stirling.) My whole district is super awesome. We've 
​all ​
become​ ​
​fast friends ​and we've even started calling ourselves the Kobe-Fukuoka Kazoku (The Kobe and Fukuoka Family). All the shimai and chourou (elders) are so much fun to be around and we have such a good time together. We go from laughing at puns and Valdivia Chourou getting an orange creamsicle stuck to his tongue for five minutes to discussing insights and feeling the Spirit in what feels like the blink of an eye! I love them all very much and I can tell I will be very sad when we part ways in the field. 

Some cool things about my district members so you all can get a good idea of why they're so awesome:
Adams Chourou - our District Leader from Las Vegas. Loves food and kinda silly, but always has amazing things to say after devotionals. If he were an animal, he'd be a mouse.
Komiya Chourou - used to do theater in school and makes ties!! Looks like a cat and also kinda reminds me of Tom Ellis. Also low key very sassy.
Valdivia Chourou - has the exact same sense of humor as me and once we told each other bad dad jokes for like 10 minutes straight. Played bassoon in high school. Is like an excited puppy.
Bodily Chourou - the quietest of the 12 of us. Doesn't say too much, but when he does you always feel the Spirit. Really likes computers. Reminds me of a teddy bear.
Stewart Chourou - a great composer and a wonderful conversationalist. Likes to build computers and study Japanese grammar. His patronus would probably be a turtle.
Hoki Chourou - quiet but very funny. He's got a chill aura and makes really cool mocktails out of the MTC cafeteria sodas. He's a peacock.
Grover Shimai - super cute and brilliant! A total foodie and has 3 years of Japanese classes in school under her belt so her pronunciation is awesome. She reminds me of an otter.
Nelson Shimai - a total bunny rabbit. But she's a second degree brown belt in karate! She lets me braid her hair and it's awesome.
Griswold Shimai - she got here a little late because she was sick but she's such a wonderful addition to the team! She always has wonderful insights and is so smiley and gentle. She's basically Bambi.
Denley Shimai - from Sydney, Australia!! She's hilarious and taught us about vegemite and other fun Aussie things. Amazingly articulate. She'd be a dignified, beautiful show dog.
Koutsoukos Shimai - from the other side of Australia. She's so pretty and we have matching shoes!! I love listening to her jokes and stories. She's definitely an elegant swan.

Nihongo is a tricky language, but I can definitely see the gift of tongues working in my life. We've already taught three lessons completely in Japanese to our investigator, Asai-san, and we have another one this evening! I love learning the complexities of the language, and though it's frustrating not being able to say everything I want to all the time, it's all daijoubu (okay). The Lord is on our side!

​As most of you know, General Conference was this past weekend, and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts from the talks that were given. I absolutely loved Holland Chourou's talk and anyone who heard my farewell talk will know that I TOTALLY CALLED THAT HIS TALK WOULD BE ONE OF THOSE COMFORT/CALLOUT TALKS! I really loved his message that as children of God we should not demean and vilify ourselves, and that here in mortality, perfection is still pending. We may not be able to demonstrate yet the perfect 10,000 talent perfection that God and Christ have achieved, but it is not too much to ask for us to be a little more godlike and forgive and love and improve. It's all daijoubu. Keep pressing forward.

Man, I'm at a loss for what else to tell you all! We've mostly just been learning and studying and teaching, with a little bit of 6am workout and weekly Nihon missionary sand volleyball thrown in there. I hope all of you are doing well. I'm going to attach a lot of photos to my emails so you can see all the shenanigans we get up to. 

Note: I can read your emails any time so if you ever miss me or want to talk to me, just email me whenever! I promise I'll read it and respond on P-Day. I miss you all and love you very much.

Ai shiteimasu! (I love you!)
Sherwood Shimai​

Sherwood Chourou - Week 38 in Japan

Konnichiwa! We are back to the slowish days once more. We've been dendoing and teaching plenty, but nothing outstanding has arisen ...