Japan, Sendai Mission

Japan, Sendai Mission

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 22, 2013

On June 22, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:

So, today is the last P-Day in the MTC! WOO-HOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I seriously am so excited! We leave for Japan in less than 48 hours! :D Japan or bust!

This week has been a very strange whirlwind, but a good one, nonetheless. The best part of this week was that I got to see my very, VERY close friend, Rachel Townsend! Sister Townsend reported to the MTC this week, and she will be serving in the Phoenix Arizona mission! She is speaking english, so she will only be here for 12 total days, but it was so fantastic to see such a familiar face here, and to receive her hugs and kisses that I needed so much. She also brought me some Diet Coke and a Rockstar! That girl must love me to death! Haha! But all kidding aside, I am so grateful for loving friends and for the support that I feel from you all. Really, you have no idea the difference it makes, and has made as I've been here in the MTC. :)

This week, my district all got our Japanese missionary tags... except for me!!! :( Mine didn't come in the package, and I'm really sad. I hope that they will be waiting in Japan for me when I get there. So for now, I have to just stick to my English one. :( I'm trying not to let it stress me out too much. Hopefully all will be well with that!

I am very much looking forward to tomorrow here at the MTC. There is going to be a world-wide broadcast from here in Provo that will be all about missionary work! The Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, the rest of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church will be speaking to us and I have the great privilege of singing in the choir for the broadcast! I have never been in the same room has a Prophet of God, and I can't wait to stand with my fellow missionaries and sing, "We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days!" President Monson is a fellow representative of Jesus Christ, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to stand with him and worship our lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As I have been reflecting on my time here in the Missionary Training Center, lots of things come to mind. I think about how these last nine weeks have been the longest and hardest weeks of my existance. With the loss of two very dear and precious people in my life, my faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, has never been tried and tested so vehemently. However, through the trials and hardships I've had here, and despite my faith being tested, I have never felt closer to Jesus Christ in my life. I have never so fully relied on His light to guide me in the darkness. I have never so fully placed my life in His hands, and my trust in His care. What a blessing this experience has been. Even though this place has been so difficult for me to bear, I know that I needed to come here for a reason. I know that the Lord has refined me and is continuing to shape me into the missionary that He needs me to be in Japan. I know that I was placed with Tuikolovatu Shimai here, so that we could serve each other and grow together in our faith in Christ. I am so thankful for her and her support, and I know that our companionship was divinely inspired. I know that the adventure I'm about to embark on will be one of the most dificult things I will ever have to do, but as a dear friend this week told me, "everything worth doing is hard, and if this isn't hard, it's not going to be worth it in the end." This will be difficult, but I know my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives and that He loves me. I know that He will guide me in His paths if I allow Him to, and I know that He knows what is best for me, both in Japan, and when I return. I love Christ. For Him, I am so thankful.

Well, mina san! It's off to Japan I go! My next post will be from the land of the Rising Sun! I cannot wait.
Johnson Shimai

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 15, 2013

On June 15, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:

Konnichiwa, all!

ONLY NINE MORE DAYS UNTIL JAPAN! :D I seriously cannot describe with words how excited I am! I am just beside myself giddy! We received our travel plans yesterday, and it made me so excited! From Salt Lake, we fly to Los Angeles (LAX), and then from LAX, we fly to Tokyo, then from Tokyo, we fly to Sendai! WOW! Talk about a long day! But! The best day. I absolutely love flying, and since I've never traveled outside the United States, what an exciting adventure this will be! :D

Yesterday, I had the best day I have had since being here. Given the things that have happened with my family recently, I didn't really feel like it would be possible for me to feel joy here again, but yesterday, I proved myself wrong! It started off with a really wonderful discussion we had in class about women in the Church. Usually this is a touchy subject for me, and I was really worried about the things that would be said. My teacher led the discussion, and he said some of the most wonderful things. We were talking about the authority of our callings as missionaries, and about the increase of Sisters has been incredible. We have been called to be disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we have authority to act in His name. What an amazing, incredible thing. (Mom, you don't have to include this part in my blog, I just thought it was amazing. You can word it differently too, if you would like. I won't be offended. We talked a lot more about the Priesthood and temples and how women basically already have it. It was fantastic. Some people were uncomfortable, but it was amazing.) After the great discussion, we got our travel plans which was the best. I was jumping-up-and-down, screaming-crazily excited. I still am feeling that way. :D Then after that, Tui Shimai and I went outside and played kickball with some of the other Japan-bound missionaries, and it was the most fun gym time I've had here! The weather was perfect and the people were so much fun, and it was just great. The best part was this sprinkler that the grounds crew had going over this little patch of grass. It was half way covering the sidewalk too. After we had finished playing kickball, everyone was walking back, and I said to myself, "I really, REALLY want to run through that sprinkler." So, of couse I did! With one big loud "YOLO!!!!!!" I ran through, and gracefully slipped and fell and biffed it super hard. I landed and slid all the way down the hill. I wa covered in mud from head to toe, and was laughing my head off. Everyone around me was worried if I was hurt, but I was fine, and I could not stop laughing. It was so much fun. Pretty sure everyone thought I was out of my mind, but that's only because that is very true; my marbles have been missing for a very long time. So yeah, I acted like an idiot, and that was most certainly NOT "quietly dignified," but I don't care because it was crazy fun. I may or may not be a little sore now. :) So yeah, it was a great day.

Earlier this week, Tui Shimai and I got to teach a woman in Japan via Skype named Mariko-San. She was so cute and I love her so much. She currently has a son who is serving a mission in Tokyo. Mariko-San is a member of the Church and has a big family. She has a very cute dog, too. Tui Shimai and I had the opportunity to teach her about prayer, and why prayer is so important. We had a great discussion about how God wants us to pray, and that He wants us to listen and receive His guidance in our lives. We talked about how God loves us so much, that He wants us to turn to Him so that He can help us in our most hard times. After we finished, Mariko-San looked at us, and through sobs and tears, she said, "I am so glad that you sisters are going to be serving in Japan. Japan is so blessed to have missionaries like you. I love you both so much." That was the sweetest experience I have ever had. My heart has never been flooded with so much love, and in that moment, I realized the love that I already have for the Japanese people. What an incredible blessing. I cannot wait to be there soon, serving and loving and teaching the Japanese people about their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for all the love that you have sent me, mina san. This week was better than last week, but still hard. For those of you who don't know already, my very best friend and brother, Fisher Gould, passed away about a week and a half ago. I don't think I have ever been as sad as I was when I found out. It's incredible the grief that can come when something so unexpected happens, and you don't know how you will react until it does happen. I had never experienced death before my mission, and in the last month, I've lost two of the most precious people in the entire world. It has been so hard. I don't understand why it had to happen. I don't understand why bad things have to happen to good people, but I do know this: Jesus Christ is real, and in the loving embrace of His arms, all can find peace and healing. I know this to be true, and I know that whomever turns to Christ can be made whole. He is the reason I am getting through all of these hardships. I am so grateful for prayer, and for the guidance and peace I can receive when I pray. I hope that my family and all my friends can feel my love. Life is hard, but God is good. Christ is good. We can find peace and healing. Through prayer, we can draw closer to God and to our Savior. They are just waiting for us to turn to them.

This blog post is dedicated to my sweet Fisher, whom I will always love and who will always be a part of me, my heart, and my life. I am so grateful for him, and for his incredible family, all of whom have had such a positive influence on my life, and for that I am grateful.

I love you all! Ai shite imasu! I hope that you have a wonderful week. :)
Love, Sister Johnson.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 8, 2013

On June 8, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:

Konnichiwa, mina san.

So, this has been one of the longest and most difficult weeks of my entire life. I don't really know where to start. I'm not sure what to write, so this post might be short, but I will try my best.

I am so grateful to have the knowledge that Jesus Christ lives and that He is the Savior of the world. When tragedy happens, it's nice that people around you are concerned, but there is no comfort so sweet as the loving embrace and soft Spirit of the Savior. This week, I have experienced pain that I honestly didn't think a human being was capable of feeling. I really didn't think it was possible to be as sad as I was, but that is what happens when someone you love so dearly is taken away from you unexpectedly. Life is hard, but God is good.

I know that Jesus Christ is real. I know that His Atonement is real. I know that He knows exactly what I am going through. He knows exactly and perfectly the pain I feel. I also know that He is aware of the pains of my family, and especially of those friends of ours that are hurting so much right now. I don't understand why bad things have to happen to wonderful incredible people, I really don't. However, I do understand that we have loving and all-knowing Heavenly Parents that have a plan for each and every single one of us. Sometimes, we don't understand that plan and it seems impossible to perform the tasks in which we are entrusted, but I testify to you that nothing is impossible with the Lord, Jesus Christ. There is nothing you will experience or go through that you cannot handle and overcome triumphantly. Have faith in Jesus Christ, always pressing forward with a perfect brightness of hope. All these things shall be for your good and shall give you experience.

I know that we are surrounded by angels. In our darkest moments, the Savior sends angels to lift us, and carry us forward. They support us and cheer us on. They pray for us and give us comfort when all seems so dark. To all who are saddened or going through a hard time, be aware of your ministering angels. I promise you that they are there. You will be able to feel them if you take the time to look.

This Wednesday was especially hard, and my Dad gave me some advice. "Go to a high place, and offer up your heart in supplication. Pour out your whole soul. Go to a high place, and expect healing." I was able to go to the Temple that afternoon (which is the best high place, in my opinion.), and feel the Spirit there. For those of you who don't know, the temple is a sacred place where we can go and feel very close to our Heavenly Parents and to our Savior, Jesus Christ. When I got there, I decided to sit on a couch that was facing a very large painting of the Savior. I sat there and studied that painting for a hour and a half, and I poured out my soul. I shed many tears for my friends and my family, and I pleaded with my Heavenly Father that they might be comforted in this very challenging trial. As I studied this painting, a very distinct voice came into my head:

"Shakira, lift up thy head, and look to me. I will by thy guiding light. I will carry thee through. Find in me thy strength and beacon. Be strong, and of a good courage, for I will lead thee on. Come, follow me."

That was my Savior, Jesus Christ, speaking directly to me and answering my fervent prayers.

I may not know why tragedy happens, but I know that all will be well, because the Lord has promised me. All is well. Jesus Christ lives, and He is the Light and Life of the world. He will carry us through, and we will find joy and love and peace in this life, and in the life to come! I know this with all of my heart.

"I feel my Savior's love, and know that He will bless me. I offer Him my heart. My shepard He will be. He knows I will follow Him, give all my life to Him. I feel my Savior's love, the love He freely gives me."

Press forward, in the ways of Christ, and ye shall have eternal life. I know this to be true. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Ai shite imasu, mina san.

-Johnson Shimai

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1, 2013

Konnichiwa, mina san!

Wow, it is June 1st today! That is so wonderful and crazy! I can hardly believe how fast time is going by here, but at the same time, it is taking FOREVER! Haha, that is the time-warp of the MTC, I guess. I hope that you all are doing well and are in good health. :)

Well, this week was an especially hard one for me, but I have made it to Saturday. It's incredible how blessed I am, and how much the Lord is aware of me. I don't think I could adequately express my love for the Savior, Jesus Christ. He has carried me through, and I know that He will continue to do so for the rest of eternity. For this knowledge, I am eternally grateful.

Earlier this week, I decided to go see the crazy doctor here! That was one of the best desicions I have made thus far at the MTC! Haha, that sounds weird, but it's totally true! The "Mormon Culture" here is really hard to cope with sometimes, so I decided to go and see the counsellor, and talk about the things that were stressing me out. We talked a lot about how hard it is to be, quite literally, one in three thousand. I think pretty differently than most of my LDS peers; but, that does not mean I am any less loved by my Heavenly Parents. In fact, I am supposed to be exactly me because Heavenly Father has a very special mission for me here, one that only I can do, because I am ME! I am so grateful to have the knowledge that I have that I am loved because I am 100 percent, completely and totally Sister Johnson.

So here at the MTC, we have this thing called the Teacher Resource Center. I don't really know why it's called that because we go there and teach, not to be taught, and we aren't actual "teachers" in the true sense of the word... So yeah, I don't get it. But anyways, we go and we teach volunteers from the community who come in! More often than not, they are members who speak Japanese, and we get to teach them. It's really fun, and this last Wednesday evening, Tui Shimai and I got to teach a member girl via Skype who was actually in Tokyo!! How awesome is that?! She was so cute! I can't remember what her name was, but we talked about the importance of going to church and she was so cute and happy. She also liked to laugh at our poor Japanese skills, but it was a great experience. I seriously cannot wait to go to Japan and meet other people just like her! :D

Also this week, we were priviliged to hear from President Mills, the president of all the International MTCs! He came to see us because he served his mission in Japan, and has also been a mission president there. It was such a wonderful meeting. We discussed the power of expectations, and self-fulfilling prophesy. That means that if you go to Japan expecting the work to be hard and unsuccessful, it will be hard and you will be unsuccessful! However, if you go to Japan expecting to find joy and meet incredible people and have wonderful success, that that will be true! He encouraged us to really think about going to Japan and the kind of missionaries that we are going to be. I am going to be a "happy fire" missionary. I am going to have joy. I am going to teach people the Good News of Jesus Christ and I will find joy! But, it won't be my work, or my glory. It will be the Lord's joy, and His harvest. I will just be the instrument in His hands. One of my special unique missions is to share my very personal and intimate testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, so that is what I am going to do. To all who will lend an ear, let them hear the joy and feel the light of Jesus Christ! What a happy thing.

You may be wondering why this week was so hard for me. For those of you who don't know, one of my very favorite people passed away yesterday, and so it is with great love and graitude that I dedicate this blog post to Fred Harold Gilmore, my incredible uncle.
There are so many things I love about Fred. He is so happy. He is so optimistic. He is so full of love. He is so full of light and is an advocate for peace. Fred has always been a huge part of my life, from the time that I was born, all the way up to where I am now. He has ALWAYS, without fail, supported me in all of my endeavors through life. When I was little, Fred and I would lay in the grass and look at all the beautiful stars in the sky. He would tell me all about space and time and the infinity of the universe. One day, he said, "You know, little Shakira, you can go there! You can go into space and see all those stars! You could go into space and be the first woman to land on Mars!" It was from that day forth that I wanted to be an astronaut! Fred was the one who first planted a seed in me that said I could be whomever I wanted to be and that I could do whatever I wanted to do. He taught me that nothing is impossible, if you only believe. Even though I no longer am pursuing a course in aeronautical engineering, like I had planned, Fred still is a constant fire of encouragement and love. He loves to hear and see me play my cello and he rejoices in my love for the arts and for music. He wants me to be the absolute best I can be, and so that is exactly what I am going to do. Fred isn't gone. I can feel him, right here beside me. He is lifting me up, and he will always be a ministering angel, helping me to become who my Heavenly Father wants me to be.
I love you, Fred. Peace, hope, love, and light be to you, my dear, sweet friend.

Love and peace and light to you all. You are in my thoughts and prayers. 2 Nephi 1:15. Ai shitte imasu! :)
-Sister Johnson