Thursday, September 26, 2013
September 23, 2013
On Monday, September 23, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
SO MANY HAPPY THINGS!!!!!
Holy cow, do I have a lot to tell you!! Boy, oh boy do I love this little mountain town called Aizuwakamatsu! But first, I will tell you about my new companions!
I have two fantastic super-wonderful adorable little companions! My new bean chan is named Sister Robertson, and she is just the greatest! Her and I actually met on Facebook before we both came out on our missions and now I'm training her! What a great thing. Her and I have become great friends already, and I love her because she wants to work hard, and she loves the Lord. But also, she is very fun, and knows how to be a good, fun missionary. Yay! My ADORABLE Nihonjin companion is Morita Shimai, and she is probably one of my favorite people in the entire world. She is 21 and is so fun! She knows how to be relaxed and still be effective, so we work really well together. She likes to play jokes, like locking me in the toilet and turning off the lights, and she likes to be goofy on the streets and talk to people in a very caring genuine manner, and I love that! This is going to be a wonderfully fun transfer, especially since I will be training, and I have two incredible companions. I am so happy, and so blessed. Heavenly Father really does answer our most fervent prayers. (and the ones that aren't so fervent, but I am so grateful for this change.)
So, let me tell you about this amazing little place I'm in right now called Aizu. Aizu is a little city of about 100,000 people, and it is nestled right in the heart of the mountains. It is SO BEAUTIFUL here, and the sunsets are absolutely glorious. They rival Colorado sunsets, which is saying quite a lot. My favorite part about Aizu is the people. I have never met kinder, more genuinely caring people in my entire life. EVERY SINGLE PERSON you greet on the street says hello back with a warm smile, and a "domo," which is the warmest of Japanese greetings. They then ask you why you're in Aizu of all places, and then you can have a wonderful conversation about life and love, and Eikaiwa and the Gospel! Our very first day here in Aizu, we met a man on the street named Arahari San. He was so nice, and eventually the conversation led to our name tags. So we explained who we are and we were on our way to the church at the time, and so we invited him to accompany us there to hear a little bit more about our Church! He happily agreed! We were able to teach him right then and there about God and His true nature. He asked us about families and we were able to testify that families torn by discord could be healed through the teachings of Jesus Christ. He asked us about what happens after we die, and we read with him Alma 40:11. All souls, whether they be good or otherwise, are taken home to that God that gave them life. It was a great lesson, and we all felt the Spirit so strongly. We asked Arahari San for a return appointment, but it turns out that he was visiting from Tokyo for work and was headed home the next day! But, we were able to get his phone number and address, and so I think we are going to send a referral, so someone can contact him in Tokyo. It was such a great experience, and we were able to see many miracles that day, one of which was when we were knocking on doors. We decided to take Robertson Shimai on her first real tracting adventure, housing! She was fantastic, by the way. Her Nihongo is so good. Anyways, we found a small apartment building that was across the intersection from ours, and we prayed that Heavenly Father would lead us to someone whom He was preparing to hear the Good Word. Afterwards, we walked to the top story, to the farthest door, and knocked. There, we met a woman named Inagaki San. We were able to have a great conversation with her in her genkan, and she said that it would be fine to contact her again! The very first door we knocked on turned out to be a great potential investigator!! There have been many miracles this week, and I am incredibly grateful.
Let me tell you a little bit about the Church in Aizu! I am serving in a Branch (shibu), that has about 30 members. And they are all SO wonderful! I love them more than words can say! I have never met more Christlike people in my life! They are all so full of love, and they all have a wonderful zest for life and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I love them all so much. Our branch president's name is Takegawa Kaicho, and he is so genki and has the greatest smile. His wife teaches Relief Society, and her lesson was so beautiful. It was 100 percent focused on the Savior, and it was also very fun! They way she talks is different than other Japanese women; she speaks robustly and full of power. I can tell that I am going to like her a lot. Then there is the Saito family! Saito Kyodai is President Rasmussen's first counselor, and he is the happiest person I have ever met in my life. He also speaks very good English. Him and his wife have ten children, all of which are grown and are doing their own things, but their family is so happy. Then, there is one family, the Takahashi family, that I love! They invited us over for dinner on Sunday night, and it was so fun! They knew that Sister Robertson was brand-new, and so they played a joke on her. They placed in front of her the most disgusting looking fish thing in the entire world, and just as she was about to take a bite, we all laughed, and there was lots of great love and fun in the room. It was wonderful. The Takahashi family have a daughter named Miruka, who is 18, a son named Kento who is 26 and a son named Seiito who is 17. Right now, all three of them are preparing to go on missions!!! I love them all, they are so great and they want to dendo with us, which is so fun! Miruka Shimai is adorable, and I can't wait until she's a missionary. She has a bright light, and a great smile. She will be a great messenger of the Truth. :) So yeah, long story short, I LOVE IT HERE!
I asked Heavenly Father to send me a confirmation that I am to be serving here at this time, in this place, with these companions, and among these people. Long story short, Sunday was the greatest day of my entire mission. I was overcome by the Spirit as I stood in Sacrament to bear my testimony to the Aizu branch, and the peace that I felt in that moment was peace I had never before felt in my life. Heavenly Father has a plan for me here in Aizu. I have eternal friends in this place, and as I pay attention and lose myself, I will be able to find them, and there will be much rejoicing in the kingdom. I am grateful for the love and the peace that I feel here in this little town. I am grateful for the deep spirituality that I can feel in the trees and in the wind. There is something deeply spiritual about the mountains in Japan, and I love that I can breathe in the peace that I feel here. This place is great. You would love it.
Something else that's fun is that yesterday, instead of having P-Day, we were able to attend the Aizuwaka-matsuri (which is a play on words, Aizuwakamatsu and matsuri, which is festival, but that's besides the point.) with President and Sister Rasmussen! Aizu is a town that has a very rich history, especially from the Samarai period (yes, that's right. They have Samarais here, and it's basically the coolest thing ever). In the center of Aizu lies one of the biggest castles in all of Japan, and boy, is it cool!!!! It is a renovation of the original one because the original was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1600-something, but since then, it's been demolished and rebuilt several times. But what's really cool is that the original stone wall and moat are all still there! So that's where we went for the festival! There was a beautiful parade and cool martial arts demonstrations and amazing food and such cool history. We used it as a dendo day, and we were able to talk to a lot of people about the Gospel and Eikaiwa, and I even was able to introduce the Book of Mormon to a woman I was sitting next to during the parade! It was a wonderful day, and it was a great thing to experience some real history. This place is great. (Momma, you should Google a woman named Yae and Aizuwakamatsu and read about her. She is a fiercely powerful warrior who saved the whole city from being taken, and I LOVE HER.)
So yeah. We don't have any investigators yet, but we are working, and we have already seen miracles. This is a blessed place, and I am so grateful to be here.
So yeah, there was an earthquake! It happened in the middle of the night and it woke us up, but nothing bad happened. It was funny actually, but yes, we are fine. Also, we don't have a fridge yet because it hasn't arrived... so I think I ate something that was bad because it had been sitting out too long, and now all of us are a little tummy sick! But, that's okay. We will survive. Lots of spaghetti the next few days.
All is well. The Lord is aware. The Savior lives, and He is guiding me. I love being a missionary here. :)
From Michelle: Including a little note that Shakira's mission president wrote on some of the pictures he forwarded to her, which she forwarded to me:
We had a great time in Aizu yesterday with you Sister Missionaries and the Saitos. Thank you for your good example of always smiling and opening your mouth to everyone!
Love, Pres Rasmussen"