Monday, December 31, 2018

If You Give a Pionita 長老 a Snowflake ❄️

Konnichiwa minasan! 

It's sure been quite the week! I'm alive thanks to the superb efforts of my district, especially Stein 姉妹's massages of death and suffering and the Book of Hatchett 長老. Being an STL is harder than previously expected but it's fine. Also we're gonna get pants relatively soon so it'll all be okay. 

But even though there has been a significant amount of stress this week, including various items of missionary business, Ooyama-san deciding to not come to church until the 20th of January because of New Year's (still salty about that), and my tiny Canadian daughter getting lost in the catacombs of Amagasaki with Stein 姉妹's daughter, the mini, sassy family that is Nishinomiya District has opened a wide path for miracles and blessings to flow through. Not the least of which is the blessed opportunity of getting to hear Pionita 長老 experience snow for the first time in his life over speakerphone held out for us by our fabulous district leader. (it's a sound more pure than a chorus of baby angels) Pionita 長老 wanted to build a snowman really badly and it's the actual cutest thing on the face of the planet. My heart exploded. He's my tiny baby son. #blessed

Just yesterday, we had a disappointing no investigators at church, but I always like to see times like this as a message from God that one of the members needs my help. And we found the member that needed us. We sat next to her in sacrament meeting, and during second hour we ended up just kind of having a discussion with her about the work right now in the mission and in the area. We told her about how despite the stressors of the mission, our district unity is making it easier to bear and we're able to be more effective because of it. In talking about this, I told her something Hatchett 長老 had told me and Stein 姉妹 when we were stressing out about MLC and low-key feeling like we were failing as STLs. He told us, "Imagine Jesus Christ came to you right now and just gave you a hug. And imagine he just said 'Thank you. Thank you for working so hard and trying your best, for sacrificing every day and giving me everything you have. Thank you for loving these people. Thank you so much. I'm so proud of you.'" Now when Hatchett 長老 had said this to us, I just started crying (as l do) and it helped me a lot, so I shared this with this member. And her response was essentially just "wow what a wonderful district leader" and the conversation moved on to our goals and hopes for the area. We expressed our desire to work more with family history and less-actives, and during that part of the conversation, we asked her the Smoot Kaichou Super Shitsumon of "who do you want most to sit next to you in sacrament meeting" (which by the way is a miracle question that always results in amazing things) and she told us about her less-active little sister. We asked her if her sister knows why she goes to church, and she said probably not. So I asked her to tell us why she comes, and she gave us fluffy primary answers. So then I shared my testimony of church and the power of the sacrament and the support that comes from fellowship in the ward and she got really quiet. Now I, being a Little Miss Chatterbox, decided I needed to take a page out of the listening chapter of the Book of Hatchett 長老 and Stein 姉妹 and just said nothing and let it be quiet. And then miracles happened. She said "this is kind of a question I'm scared to ask but how do I make the sacrament more meaningful? Everyone says they come for the sacrament but I don't think I really understand." and I shared my experiences from that day in sacrament meeting asking Heavenly Father to help me turn my stress and worries about the zone over to Him instead of storing them in my shoulder muscles. And then Pilling 姉妹 shared her experiences and it got really quiet again, and then the member just said "I think I'll try that next week." But it doesn't stop there. It gets better. She followed up that with the question of "if Jesus Christ came down and said you could onegai him for anything, what would you ask?" Pilling 姉妹 talked about asking how to have faith like the Brother of Jared, and I talked about asking how to know Christ more fully and what to do to make my calling and election sure. Then I asked her what she would ask and she basically just told us her entire tragic backstory about how before she probably would have just asked Him to take away all of her bad feelings and struggles and fix her weaknesses, but now she wants to ask Him to teach her what He wants her to do to become better. And then it was quiet again and I felt impressed to tell her that the Lord is proud of her. And then she started to cry and said that when I had told her about what Hatchett 長老 had said to me and Stein 姉妹 about Jesus coming and giving us a hug, she wondered if Jesus would say the same to her. So I just put on my figurative Friendly Neighborhood Missionary hat that Hatchett 長老 taught me how to make and told her essentially everything that Hatchett 長老 had just told us in district meeting a couple days before, and it was such a special experience, and it made the whole day worth it.

If that was the only thing that happened this week, I would have been satisfied, but the Lord is kind and there were lots of other tender mercies too. The ward council is really hyped up about family history and we have a lunch meeting with the new Family History Shunin on oshogatsu about how to get the cool new bingo chart circulating through the ward. And even better, we were given two new less active members to start working with with the Fukuchis, and a former investigator wants to plan a musical number to perform in sacrament meeting hopefully soon because she found out I like to sing and she's been working on a big music project.

And that was just Sunday! Earlier this week for Christmas we were able to spend the evening with the Bishop and his family and we had an awesome conversation about family history and the new mission goals for the year, and he's really excited to start drafting a ward plan to help contribute to the goals. Also we had a Christmas party in eikaiwa that straight up felt like a real American ward activity and ended in a really awesome spiritual message by the assistant dendo shunin. It was great. I'm really optimistic about the work in Kitarokko going forward, despite the fact that the place where our investigators are at doesn't show up in a way that we can report in the form of numbers. But it's okay because as Hatchett 長老 so eloquently put it at district meeting, we're the heroes in every celestial storybook, and the angels are counting our efforts in the records of heaven. I'm confident that miracles are close to blossoming in ways we've never before seen, and I'm ready for the upcoming year. 

Sherwood 姉妹

Pictures are few gomen
1.) the mtc shimai are backkkk
2.) for Christmas the cute little pink alien friend on the area phone became Christmas themed and it made me happy

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

🎶Remember Meeeeeeeee Cmon Guys Do Family Historyyyy🎶

Konnichiwa minasan! 

This week has been very very busy for several reasons. We had Christmas Taikai on Tuesday and Wednesday and it was brilliant. I was very pleased with everything that happened, especially that we were able to watch Coco! I love that movie so much I'm so happy I cried like five times. My greatest hope is that maybe finally missionaries will gain some family history fire because of it. We've been considering different ways to boost family history as a district because we basically have a mini MLC (missionary leadership council) in our district because we have the head tech, head family history specialist, both STLs, and the zone family history specialist all in our district. Also Hatchett 長老 is the actual most stressed out person about it ever which is impressive because usually I'm the most stressed person in the district. Poor guy. We all wanna do more family history but figuring out how to get other people on board is a whole other can of worms. I'm very tired of hearing the phrase "日本人だから" because it's always followed by a thousand excuses for why they can't do family history or dendo or any myriad of other things that they should do but don't want to do. I'm frustrated but it's fine. Hatchett 長老, Stein 姉妹, and I also got to perform at the taikai before testimony meeting and it was really awesome, especially considering the fact that we threw three part harmony together in just two practice sessions. I was very pleased. Harmony makes me happy. Also a couple of the districts in the Okayama Zone put together a really funny Christmas video of nonsense that I will attach because it makes me laugh to no end. 

In other news, we got a new investigator this week!!! Her name is Hara San and she lives 0.03 seconds away from one of the members and she came to the ward Christmas party, where we met her and she invited us over to play the ever entertaining game of "wow gaijin let's treat them like dolls for an hour" and pulled out her thousands of dollars worth of kimonos out. It was pretty fun actually. And turns out she's a real religious person, not a fake religious person that just tells us they're religious to get us to go away and she told us we could come back and talk about God and let us set up an appointment so we're very very excited about that. Also her house was so cold I can't even describe to you how cold it was. Like I could barely move my hands levels of cold and I was wearing three layers of kimono. Goodness.

Also 3 whole people came to church this week and it was brilliant because I was already hardcore stressed about the special sacrament meeting because a lot of things were going up a creek without a paddle and I was about 4 seconds away from being unable to keep my screaming internal but it's fine. Ooyama san came and loved it and so did Kurose san and Natsuki chan. Kurose san even cried because of the Spirit. It was awesome. We ended up having to move back Ooyama san's baptismal date, but she says she's pretty sure she's going to get baptized, it's just a matter of when, which confuses me because if you already know you're going to get baptized, you should just get baptized and I even told her Hatchett 長老's brilliant pizza tatoe about how just like you only need one bite of a pizza to know it's a good pizza, you don't have to know everything ever about the entire gospel to know its true. But alas no dice. She's still concerned about a bunch of little things. We're working on it. Hopefully she'll be able to get baptized when her daughter and soon-to-be son in law are in town because that would be great.

Sherwood 姉妹

1-5.) we made a gingerbread house with the Tokunous. They're adorable. 
6.) we got to stay at a hotel at the Christmas taikai
7-11.) fun times in kimonos today
12.) Christmas taikai with Okayama, Kobe, and Shikoku Zones

Monday, December 17, 2018

In Which Sherwood Shimai Forgot to Hit Send Last Week So Now it's a 2 in 1

Konnichiwa minasan!

The days are long (except not in terms of daylight) and the weeks are short (except on Tuesday) and it's hard to believe it's already the end of another transfer and the beginning of a new one. 🎉 I'm still here in Kitarokko with Pilling Shimai, and now I'm an STL too with Stein Shimai so there's probably gonna be many more shenanigans to come. 

Last week we went to Costco as a district for P-day and then had a fun koukan with the Amagasaki shimaitachi. I was with Stein 姉妹, who is me but cooler and better at on the spot puns. We learned a lot about understanding and recognizing the Spirit and receiving revelation. She's a boss STL. 💕

The main event of the week was Thursday and Friday. You see, as a district we decided to do caroling dendo and pass out gift wrapped Books of Mormon and pamphlets with bags of cookies. Because I have the greatest knowledge of baking things in tiny toaster ovens in the district, we were assigned the responsibility of making about 100 cookies. So we, having no appointments Thursday evening, decided to make them then. But alas, you see, we overestimated the ingredients required for 100 cookies and what ended up happening was we made a grand total of 333 cookies. We were about ready to defenstrate all flour in our house. Thus, several shenanigans and querious phone calls to the district leader later, we ended up with Far Too Many Cookies, wrapped in cute little Christmas bags ready to pass out the next day after district meeting. Amazingly enough, we ran out of cookies and Books of Mormon in less than 15 minutes. It was wild. We all sang our little hearts out in front of the eki about Christmas things and Hatchett 長老 almost killed his voice by trying to sing bass rip #tenorlife. But it was fine because it ended up being way effective and we still had extra ingredients so we did it AGAIN this past week on Friday. Except this time it was 300 cookies and we were more careful about the Books of Mormon we handed out, making sure the people we gave them to knew what it was, so we gave out four that time. Still way fun. 

Saturday was very eventful as well. We went to Kyoto with Kurose san to visit her father's grave and we got to talk about temples and stuff because Japanese people keep their graves at Buddhist temples. It was wild. I also ate lots of mochi. 

Last Monday was fun, we ate Brazilian food and Turkish ice cream (yes Jones Shimai Turkish man was there and he remembered me) and went to a Studio Ghibli store with the district. But the coolest thing was we ran into Miyazaki 兄弟 from Matuyama on the train there! He was on his way to the honbu to go get set apart cos he's going on a mission and we just randomly met him! #kiseki only. It was super great and happy. He's gonna be an awesome missionary.

But that's about all I can remember rn haha see you all again next week! 

Sherwood 姉妹

1.) it's soon to be Miyazaki 長老!
2.) I made pretzels with the famous recipe of Hatchett 長老
3.) eki caroling! 
4.) too many cookies 
5-9.) district Costco adventures
10.) Turkish ice cream

Monday, December 3, 2018

Japanese Meatloaf

Konnichiwa minasan!
The week has had its ups and downs, but so does any good roller-coaster I guess.
Tuesday was TTTM (trainer trainee training meeting) was a blast, lots of good things were learned and reviewed, and it was nice to see old friends after millennia of transfers. Pilling Shimai seems to have been very happy with her notes. We had a lesson with Suenaga-san that night as well, and it's starting to look like he doesn't really have interest beyond gathering information, which is very zannen. But we're gonna try one more lesson on some hard-core faith and if that doesn't work, we may have to drop him.
Wednesday we had a koukan with the Kobe shimaitachi and that was way fun. I with with Mauldin Shimai and turns out we have a mutual friend back home so that was cool. We were way busy that day and had several appointments, which was very good. One of which being dropping off a cake we had made for Chi-chan's birthday. Her mom was super grateful because she got super sick that day and was too exhausted to make a cake, so I'm very happy we were able to help. Then Mauldin Shimai came up with a brilliant lesson for our dinner appointment with the Makenzies and long story short we got to all draw together and it was very fun. I have officially won the love of the small 2 year old child that I've been attempting to earn for four transfers now. I feel accomplished.
Thursday, a great many inconsequential things occurred, but only one very consequential thing came to pass. I tried to make okonomiyaki. You see, okonomiyaki is basically a cabbage pancake with various other veggies and things thrown in. But I, in my attempt, decided that throwing a bunch of ground beef in there would be a great idea. It was not a great idea. The result was a vaguely okonomiyaki shaped meatloaf. It wasn't nasty or anything, but it certainly was not okonomiyaki. But you see this is not the worst part. The worst is that my companion INSISTS on telling everyone and their dogs this story and now my entire district (and by entire district I meant Hatchett Chourou mostly) REFUSE to let me forget it. (Notwithstanding the DELICIOUS space brownies I made you, Hatchett 長老!) I'm going to be very cross if this is how I go down in history. 
In other news, a great inconvenience has occurred in the life of Sherwood Shimai. My tablet is now toast. I was trying to Google map myself to interviews on Friday, and my tablet decide it would be a great idea to take a flying leap from my hands and land smack on the pavement. Now it flashes black and fancy colors when you press the home button. Nevertheless, though the great tragedy of my tablet screen becoming straight up toast in 0.03 seconds was both stressful and inconvenient, the Lord has been merciful and there was miraculously a tablet that I'm now able to borrow for the time being. LINE is still impossible though so that's kinda annoying. Pilling Shimai's getting real good at kanji now cos she has to message everything lol. That same day, we had a dinner appointment with the Fukuchis, and we had an awesome discussion about family history and dendo and ways we can more effectively work in Kitarokko. It was very happy. I got to eat taco rice twice in one week. Yatta!
Saturday was way awesome because it was the worldwide day of service and we got to do three whole service things! We cleaned up a hatake for an old lady, who was very confused when we told her we wanted to help her more later and give her cookies and also give her a hug. But it's okay. She'll come around to the unstoppable force of Shimai Love eventually. We also helped Kurose-san clean her house and it was also way fun. There was Christmas music and doughnuts and all sorts of happy feelings. And then after that we made a cake for A-chan's birthday and that one was slightly very stressful because it did not turn out as I hoped it would, but at least she seemed mostly happy.
Sunday was probably the best though because Ooyama-San came to church again finally! We got her to tentatively commit to a baptismal date and it was super happy. She really wants to learn about the gospel and it seems that she feels like she is going to come to the point where she'll get baptized. We're way stoked. Also we had an awesome dinner appointment with the Bishop's family where we taught about commandments and obedience. It was way fun because we used a present tatoe and it seemed like the little girls are really starting to understand the point of and blessings from the commandments. I'm also very proud of Pilling Shimai for eating salad with a bunch of little tiny fish in it. 🎉
Hopefully this next week is only going to go up from here!
Sherwood 姉妹
1-2) okonomeatloaf
3.) the cake we made for chi-chan
4-5) in Japan they give you dry ice to keep your ice cream cold when you buy it from the grocery store. 

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 ...