Japan, Sendai Mission

Japan, Sendai Mission

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014

Two weeks worth of letters this time.

About the pictures: This bike was so awesome!!! This girl was too! I loved her. I hope to meet her again someday. Her name was Yukimi.
We made takoyaki with Hikari Chan and Sayaka Chan! It was gross!
This is Hamano Shimai, she is the Sister Training leader that I went on splits with this week. Egg Stand-Up Day was a wild success in the Johnson/Luk Shimai apartment!

On Monday, March 24 Sister Johnson wrote:

I knew that it was Fisher's birthday this week. I was only sad for half a day though. I wrote him a birthday love letter during personal study in the morning and shed some tears. I was also remembering his love. He has SO MUCH LOVE! I can still feel it! I can feel it and see it in his eyes. The Fisher in my memory is always smiling, his eyes twinkling bright, with his arms wrapped around me in the tightest hug! It's the best memory. So, I was sad, but I got a blessing, and then lots of comfort from a very supportive district, so it ended up being okay. I am a lot more at peace now about Fisher than I was when I first got to Japan. I have grown in my knowledge of the divine mercy and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and have found incredible healing in His Atonement. I am certain that Fisher is wrapped tight and safe in the Savior's embrace.

I got your Spring package this week, Momma! Thank you! It brightened up my day so much! I haven't gotten any mail for about three weeks, and was starting to feel pretty sad, but that was right when your package came! Yay! Thank you. I love the chouchou scarf.

This week, spring finally came to Ishinomaki! It is a balmy 15 degrees today (Celsius)! Sooo nice. The sun is shining bright, and it's a beautiful day! Luk Shimai and I had great fun standing up eggs on the 21st! I had one standing on my desk that morning during study, and then we had to go to Sendai for the day, but when we got home that night around 9, it was still standing!!! Coolest thing ever. We had about six up at one point, but we couldn't get a picture fast enough before they started falling down. But it was great fun. A great way to remember my wonderful family on one of our favorite days of the year!

I am sad to hear about Luna. I was not expecting that at all. I always thought that Stella would go first (cross your fingers knock on wood that that she does NOT go. That would kill me, I think.), so it was a bit of a shock to read that this morning. I will miss him. Are you and Dad going to get another cat? How is Stella coping? I bet she misses him a lot. I'm glad that I have all of your cute Instagram photos of Luna. That is a good thing. Thank you for sending them to me.

This week was pretty ordinary. Luk Shimai has not been feeling too good this week (she hurt her back somehow, and then crashed her bike), so we spent a lot of time in the apartment, me taking care of her. She is feeling a lot better now, and this week should be a lot better for both of us! This week it was our investigator Hikari Chan's birthday, and so we celebrated with her! We also taught her about the Book of Mormon, and prophets this week! Every Friday night, we have a ping pong tournament at the church. Hikari Chan was the captain of her high school ping pong team, so she is SUUUUPER good! She always comes to the tournament, and ALWAYS wins. It's awesome. Later that night, Elder Olsen said that he had been talking with Hikari Chan, and he asked her what she thought about what she had learned about the Church so far. She told him that she thinks it's all really interesting and that she gets a good feeling inside when she listens to us speak, and while she is at church interacting with members. She also said that what she has heard from us about Joseph Smith so far is awesome, and that she thinks it's true! That is so awesome! We haven't taught her the Restoration yet, but we have talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and prophets, and apparently she thinks it's all true! I was overjoyed when I heard. So, next time, we will be teaching the Restoration, and the importance of prayer. We want to help her gain a real testimony and feel the Holy Ghost. I love Hikari Chan! She is progressing well! But, she is starting work this week on a big ferry, so she will not be around nearly as much. She will be working on the ferry for 20 days, and then has 10 days off. The ferry travels all up and down the east side of Japan, so she will be gone for a long time. We won't get to teach her nearly as often. But! It's okay because we will still have contact with her.

In other news, we have an American girl that lives in our branch! Her name is Tatiana Taylor, and she is from Wisconsin. She served a mission in Washington, and is now 28! She is absolutely WONDERFUL. I love her so much. We eat lunch with her every week. But this week, she brought her nonmember boyfriend, Matt, to church!! He is awesome! He is from England, and is super cool! Tatiana has been slowly introducing him to the church, and she told us yesterday that he is super open now, so he might start meeting with us soon! I hope so! I will be so weird to teach in English, but super fun, I think! Woohoo!

That's about all for this week. Nothing ridiculously awesome or weird has happened, so I suppose that's a good thing... No news is good news, right? As they say.

Well, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true! It always has been and it always will be! I am blessed to have a knowledge of it, and of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I know He loves perfectly. I know He knows me, and all His Japanese brothers and sisters inside and out! I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be here scattering His sunshine all along the way.

I love you Momma! I hope you have a good week!
Love, me.

And some excerpts from her letter Monday, March 31, 2014:

During conference, let us focus on the messages of President Monson, President Ucthdorf, and President Eyring. They always testify of the love, peace, and pure doctrine of Christ. Let us find joy in the Savior! It is there! He is and will always be The Answer. I know this is true, and of this truth I bear witness by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I started reading "Daughters in My Kingdom" this week. The very first chapter is BEAUTIFUL. It describes the women of the New Testament age, women who left everything behind to become disciples of Christ. They were a huge advocate for the growth of the Savior's Church in ancient times, and that driving force is still in place today. The women that established the Relief Society in the 1800's reestablished the women's organization that was in place in the time of the Savior. They were blessed by the power of the Priesthood to heal others, offer relief, teach the Gospel of Christ, and stand as authorized witnesses of Him. We too, like them, are part of that same organization. Through the love and the authority we possess, we will stand as witness of the Savior at all times, and in all places. This is my divine mission. This is the divine mission of women, to testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of humankind. Together with men of the faith, we will advance this work. Alongside our faithful brothers, we are a progressive force for good, and our Heavenly Parents will lead and direct us, because this is Their work. We cannot do it alone. Our divine commission is to work together as one for the good of all humankind. Peace, love, happiness. Charity. Faith. Perseverance. Understanding. Humility. Trust. These are the attributes of Christ that will unite us.

This last week, we had an opportunity to participate in a youth conference up in the mountains. It was a two hour drive there, and the shizen was absolutely breathtaking. My heart is in those Japanese mountains.

I was gazing off into the distance when on top of the rolling green mountains, I saw a glorious ball of pure white light. After a few moments, the light faded a little, and I saw the most beautiful temple, high on a mountain top, off in the distance. The Spirit then spoke to me, teaching me that the work is about to really roll forth in Japan, especially in my personal mission. There will one day be a beautiful temple deep in those mountains. The Savior is moving His work.

It was a great experience.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday March 17, 2014

On Monday, March 17, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

It is a bright and sunny day here in Ishinomaki! It's still cold, and the wind never stops blowing here, but the sunshine is absolutely wonderful. I want to soak in as much as I can in the next two months before the rainy season gets here. I'm not looking forward to that again... but, now I know what to expect, and I can be better prepared!
Cherry blossoms don't happen in this part of Japan until the second half of April, I believe... that's what they say! But I cannot wait for that either! It will be absolutely beautiful and amazing! I will most definitely take pictures for you, don't you worry.

This week was the three-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami disaster that devastated the northern part of Japan. Ishinomaki was one of the hardest-hit places. The town was in ruins, and over 3000 people died. The morning of the 11th dawned cloudy and cold. From the very minute I woke up, I could feel the sadness settling on the city. It was almost tangible in the air. Luk Shimai and I had plans that day to go to some temporary housing units and give hand massages to the victims of the disaster that were still living there. As I sat across a small table from a 60 year old woman just talking with her and massaging her hands, I could see the sadness and the pain in her eyes. I asked her about the disaster and what happened to her. She said that her house was completely wiped away and that both her husband and her only son were killed. She watched her house be swept away by the tsunami, with her loved ones inside, from the safe place on the top of the nearest mountain. I was so penetrated by sadness that I didn't know what to say. I just tried to love and listen. She then asked me about my name tag, and said, "Why do you believe in God? If there really was a God, horrible things like the disaster would not happen." I did not know what to say. Here was this woman whose life was completely destroyed in the course of about an hour. She has not been the same since. Her soul was full of anger and sadness, and I had no idea what I could say to help her. I responded that Yes, I do believe in God, and that I don't know the meaning of all things. I don't understand the purpose of the disaster. I don't understand why so many people's lives were taken that day. I don't understand. But I do know one thing, and that thing is love. I told her that I love her. I told her that I was so sorry for her losses. I just held her hand and we cried together.

Then, at 2:46 p.m. (that was when the first earthquake hit), the disaster alert sirens started going off all over town, and there was a minute of silence and prayer. The sirens were so... eerie. I prayed with all my might that Heavenly Father would send His peace upon this town, that I would be able to love people unconditionally that day. That afternoon, we went to city hall with a member in the branch named Umeko Shimai. She is in her 80's, and she also lost everything in the tsunami. Her house was destroyed, and she had 10 people, family and friends, that were killed. We went to city hall with her to place flowers at the memorial and to pray, and then we sat and listened to a high school girl tell her experience of the tsunami. She said that she was walking home from school at 2:46, and was on the street near her home. When she ran home, her house had been mostly destroyed. She somehow managed to get inside, and when she did, she found her mother trapped under a wooden beam that had fallen out of the ceiling. Her legs were broken, and she was in extreme pain. The girl was trying to pull her out when she heard a big cracking sound, so she started running away. She looked back just in time to she her mother be buried underneath their house, and she saw a piece of wood with nails drag across her mother's face. She said that at that point a voice came over the loud speakers all over town announcing that the tsunami was coming, and so she ran to the nearest mountain to seek safety. She got there just in time to watch her entire neighborhood be swept away. Upon hearing this story, I was weeping with her. This poor girl watched her mother die a horrific death. And she is not the only one. People here in Ishinomaki watched as thousands of people were swept away by black water. It was also incredibly cold that day; snow was falling, and there was no electricity. Lots of people also died from exposure.

It is incredible how sad I felt that day. I don't think I've ever experienced sadness like that before, except when my dear Fisher took his own life. My heart was swelling with love and sympathy that day. After the ceremony, Luk Shimai and I went to the train station with the Elders, and we sang hymns of hope to passersby. We didn't have anyone really stop and listen, but I felt some peace while doing that. I felt that one of the best ways to declare my love for these people was to use my music to reach their hearts. We found out later that there had been one man listening intently from afar, and went to talk to the elders after we left. The man had been a member of the Church when he was younger, but was now attending a Catholic church. He said that us singing hymns of hope and love helped him feel the Spirit again in his life, and that he was very grateful for the experience. I'm glad that we reached the one.

After that, we went with Sister Usui to the Ishinomaki candlelight prayer memorial ceremony. It was taking place in that neighborhood where that high school girl lived. There is nothing there when you look from the mountain above, but when we got to the bottom, you can see the foundations of hundreds of houses. Pipes coming out of the ground. Grass growing where there used to be hundreds of homes. There were some ruins of old roads and sidewalks. There was a lot of cinder block crumbles. There, among all the rubble, there was a beautiful ceremony taking place. Hundreds of candles were lit, and hundreds of people were gathered to pray for Ishinomaki. I prayed with them. We stood in a huge circle, and prayed for a solid minute. The energy in that circle was absolutely breathtaking. Here were hundreds of people pleading with God for peace and the ability to make it though another day. I looked to the outside of the circle and saw a signpost that was really high up into the air. As I walked over to the sign, I saw that it was a measure of how deep the tsunami was at that point. 6.9 meters. 6.9 meters of huge devastating wave. Wow. I can't even imagine.

There are just no words to describe that day. I am so thankful to have been a part of this experience. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to continue working in Ishinomaki just so that I can LOVE people. Just so that I can maybe bring some hope into their lives. Just so that I can smile to a woman or a man on the street, and uplift them with love from God and from the Savior. I am so blessed, and I am so grateful for the people of Ishinomaki. What a blessed hallowed place this is.

In other news, we had a great thing happen yesterday! The story starts a few weeks ago; we were handing out flyers for Eikaiwa a few weeks ago at the train station, and we met a man named Atsushi San! We handed him a flyer and he asked us if we were from a Church, and it turns out that he was way more interested in coming to church than to Eikaiwa! So we exchanged phone numbers with him, and told him where and when church was and he went on his way. Well that was a few weeks ago, and yesterday he came to church! The members immediately started talking to him and welcoming him, and after Sacrament meeting (which is last here), he even stayed to eat food and talk to people! He had a great time at church, and set an appointment with the Elders this Thursday! I will be honest, I am sad that we don't get to teach him because we found him, but President Rasmussen has asked that we have Elders teach men and Sisters teach women, and that we need to pass when it is someone of the opposite sex. It makes me sad. But! Atsushi San is someone who has been prepared for the Lord, and I am just thankful that we were able to find and invite him! Woohoo!

This week, we also were able to communicate with Yuki San! She made us gyoza, and wanted to meet to talk about things. She said that she was feeling a lot of pressure from the Church to get baptized, and that she wasn't ready. She said that she just wants to take things slowly and that she will commit when she wants to commit. It was an eye-opening experience for me because I realized that I haven't been loving her as much as I should. So, from now on, we will just LOVE! Love, it really is all you need.

I have been so blessed this week to be really in tune with the Spirit, and to really expect to be guided by my Heavenly Father and Savior. We have seen some great miracles this week, and I am so grateful for the love that I can feel for the people around me through the Savior.

I was reading this morning a book written by M. Russell Ballard called Our Search For Happiness, and I found something I really believe to be true:
"The best thing about living a Christ-centered life is how it makes you feel. It's hard to have a negative attitude about things if and when your life is focused on the Prince of Peace. There will still be problems. Everyone has them. But faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a power to be reckoned with in the universe and in individual lives. It can be a causative force through which miracles are wrought. It can also be a source of inner strength through which we find self-esteem, peace of mind, contentment, and the courage to cope."

I know the Savior lives. I know that any sort of wrong can be made right in and through His Atonement. I have faith in Jesus Christ, and I have hope for a bright future! He lives! He is my Joy and my Song! He is my Light! He is my Life! I have felt to sing the sing of His redeeming love. What a beautiful message.

Love: Shak Shimai

Monday 3/17/14

On Monday, 3/17/14 Sister Johnson sent pictures:

The Elders gave us cookies for White Day, which is like Valentines day. They also made us a cake.

It was the anniversary of the Relief Society this week too! So we had a party and did a skit, and I dressed up as Emma Smith! I even (temporary) dyed my hair brown! It was crazy, and super fun! YAY, Relief Society!

Nagahama Kyoudai was Joseph Smith! Haha.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

About the pictures: It was really cold in Ishinomaki this week. The wind was INSANE. We were standing and waiting for a light to turn green, and we got blown over. It was ridiculous.

On Monday, March 10, 2014 Sister Johnson Wrote:

This was a very discouraging week for Luk Shimai and I. Our investigator, Kato San (the lady that I found who gave me the umbrella) told us to stop coming to her home, that she feels like we are forcing her to meet with us, and that she is no longer interested in being associated with us. We have no idea what happened... We haven't been able to meet with her for about a month and a half now because she has been in and out of the hospital doing all sorts of tests, so we actually hadn't made contact with her at all in a long time! After transfers, we went over to tell her that we were both still around and that if she needs help of any kind she can always ask. She was really warm to us and was glad to hear we didn't leave. She also asked to meet with us again to talk about the Book of Mormon because she wanted to study it more! We happily agreed and set an appointment for next week. About two hours later, we got a text from her that said she was worried we were just trying to convert her, and we assured her that that wasn't the case. We truly just want to study with her and learn together. The next day, she told us that she doesn't want to see us anymore. It was really sad, and really confusing. Like I said, we have no idea what happened. So, Kato San is no longer our investigator.

In other news, Yuki San will not be getting baptized this week. We were not able to contact her all week until Friday, when she answered the phone to tell us that she wants to take a break from the Church for a while. It was really disappointing. Luk Shimai and I think that she is feeling a lot of pressure from us and from members of the Church about getting baptized. We have been trying SO HARD to help her not feel pressure, but we can't do everything perfectly. So, Yuki San won't be coming to church for a while, I guess. All we really can do is wait and pray to know what to do.

There is a part in the first chapter of Preach My Gospel that says "Even when you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." Boy, have I clung to that quote this week!!! I really do think it's true though. We try our best to work hard and follow the Spirit, and that alone brings the Lord joy. People have their freedom to choose whether or not to keep the invitations that we extend to them, and sometimes, they will not choose to follow them! But, it's alright. I have faith in the Lord and His timing. Right now is not the right time for Kato San, but I believe with all of my heart and soul that she is one being prepared by the Lord to receive His Gospel. It may be in a month, a year, or ten years from now, or who knows when! But, all will work out for her good in the Lord's timing. The same is true for Yuki San. Right now, she needs this time to think and to ask God if joining this Church really is the right path for her. Her faith is so strong, that I know as she seeks inspiration from Heavenly Father that she will be led and guided to make the right decision. I have learned a lot about agency (freedom of choice) this week, and how important it is in the grand scheme of things. In the Parable of the Laborers in the New Testament, this principle is demonstrated EXACTLY. Some are hired to work at the beginning, some in the middle of the day, and some are hired at the 11th hour. All laborers receive the same wage. Why? Because the timing doesn't matter. What matters is that the people made the choice to work. It doesn't matter when we become converted to the Savior Jesus Christ. Is doesn't matter when we gain the knowledge that He is our Savior and Redeemer. What matters is that we make the choice the follow Him and act on the knowledge we receive of His Divinity. It's incredible to me the mercy that the Savior has for each and every single person. He loves with a perfect love, and knows exactly the right timing. I have faith in His timing, and I will do my best to be in tune to His will.

In better news, we had a really great lesson with our two high -school-aged investigators, Hikari Chan and Sayaka Chan, this week! We have been focusing on prayer a lot with them lately. Last week, they went to Tokyo for a class trip, and in our lesson, they told us about a wonderful experience they had. In Tokyo, there's this really big tower thing that is really cool (I guess...I've never been there! Haha), but when Hikari Chan and Sayaka Chan went, it was super cloudy so they couldn't see the cool tower! They were both really sad, but Hikari Chan turned to Sayaka Chan and said "Lets pray and ask God to make the clouds go away!" So that is exactly what they did, and within an hour, the clouds were completely gone and the sun was shining nice and bright!! They were so excited!! Hikari Chan then told us they said a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for being so nice to them.

HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! That was a big moment for Hikari Chan especially! She told us that it really helped her believe that there really is a God who loves her so much!
So in the lesson, we invited Hikari Chan to pray, but she said that she was way too shy to do it in front of us. So we asked Sayaka and she said "Sure! But I don't really know how!" Before Luk Shimai and I could say anything at all, Hikari Chan explained to her PERFECTLY how to pray. It was incredible. I was astonished! So, Sayaka and Hikari both, at the end of the lesson, prayed together. Yes, the same prayer, they took turns saying things. It was super cute, and the Spirit filled the room. The only thought in my head was "These are two of my precious daughters, and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!" Those were Heavenly Father's thoughts. It was a great lesson.

So yes, there is definitely good that comes with the bad. I am so grateful for the tender mercies of the Savior and of loving Heavenly Parents. They are really what makes it all worth it in the end.

I know my Savior lives, and that we have a Heavenly Father and Mother that are aware of all we do. They want to help us face the trials of life, and They are waiting with open arms for us to ask, seek, and knock. As we do those things, they will shower us with more blessings that we will ever be able to comprehend.

I love you Momma! I miss you so much this week. I really do. But wanna hear something cool? A year ago yesterday (March 9th), I went to the temple for the first time! The temple has been in my thoughts recently. How thankful I am for the covenants I have made. I really do love the temple.

Love you Momma!
Love, me.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

About the pictures: Zone conference! We found cheddar brats! THEY WERE DELICIOUS! Elder Nation and I! I met him before my mission in Fort Collins! He came up from Texas to baptize Stephanie Martinez, who Olive and I helped join the Church! We had the chance to serve together and now he goes home this week! I will miss him!
Us with Yuki San! She is in the middle!

On Monday, March 3, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT OLIVE AND JARED!!!!!!!! WOO-HOO!!!! Except they are getting married in August. I am very, very sad about that. That is two of the most important people in my life that will have gotten married without me there! So very sad. But, I will not ask them to wait. That is probably the most selfish thing ever to do, so I will just love and support them. I AM SO HAPPY! Look at me, I'm Cupid! haha.

Well, transfers! No one in Ishinomaki will be transferring! Luk Shimai and I are still companions! Ishinomaki is now my longest area, and Luk Shimai is my longest companion! We are all so happy to be staying. I am now in my 7th transfer, which means my time in Japan is over half-way done! That makes me so sad! I want to stay here! I love this place. So! I will just have to make the best of these last 8ish months that I have in this beautiful country!

This has been a great week for me, for many reasons. It has been a week of great rebirth, better resolve, and more humility than I have yet experienced on my mission. This week, we had the wonderful privilege of hearing from a member of the Quorum of the 70 and Area Presidency, Elder Koichi Aoyagi. He came and did a mission tour last week, so he spoke in our zone conference on Friday. I also had the special opportunity to be interviewed by him! I was selected to speak with him before the conference, and it was a very interesting experience! There were about four others that were interviewed also, and they were all speaking with him for about 20 minutes! But my interview was only 10 (it felt like three! I definitely thought it was only three until Luk Shimai corrected me)! But it was a great interview. He asked me about myself, where I'm from and how long I've been on my mission. I then expected him to ask me questions about the mission, Preach My Gospel, the scriptures, things like that. To my surprise, he asked me "Do you have any questions for me? Can I give you any advice? Do you have any problems in your mission right now?" I was very taken aback! Those are completely different than what I thought he would ask me! So, I thought for a minute, and to my surprise, there was nothing that came to my mind. I told him that I love being a missionary. I said that I don't have any problems that I cannot face because I have the Savior by my side. I was prompted to bear a simple testimony about the Atonement to Elder Aoyagi about how I could not have made it through without the Savior. He thanked me and said that he would be speaking on the Atonement in the conference. He thanked me for my love and testimony, and said he enjoyed our meeting, and then he dismissed me. I will be honest, I was a little bit disappointed afterwards because I was expecting to get some kind of crazy awesome earth-shaking advice that would make me be Super-Shimai (which is really dumb, I don't know why I thought that), but in retrospect, the interview was exactly what it needed to be. During the Conference, I listened intently to the words that Elder Aoyagi and Sister Aoyagi prepared. I don't remember what they said, but I very clearly remember the promptings and guidance of the Spirit that I received as they were speaking. I had prayed that the Conference would be an uplifting experience for me and that I would come away with things to work on. The Spirit very clearly identified four areas in which I can improve:

1. I need to be more humble.
2. I need to be more repentant.
3. I need to have greater trust in the Lord and His direction.
4. I need to express greater love for ALL those with whom I come in contact.

From this revelation that I received, I have been able to identify specific areas within myself that I need to work on, and I have set goals accordingly. Last night (when I couldn't sleep) and this morning in my personal study, the Spirit told me that the main purpose for these four areas of improvement is so that I can learn and develop the Christlike attribute of integrity. As I work on being more humble and trusting, more repentant and loving, my integrity will increase, and as I am accountable to my leaders and to the Lord, He will bless me, and help me achieve the desires of my heart. I also learned that this pattern of setting goals and accountability will have HUGE impact on my life after my mission, and that as I humbly trust in the Lord and follow His will, that He will open the windows of Heaven and pour the blessings down upon me! What a wonderful promise to receive from the Lord. How grateful I am that I have the opportunity to be in constant companionship with the Holy Ghost! I am grateful for Heavenly Father's guidance, and the guidance of the Savior. Through Their strength, I can so all things.

So, this was a good week on the self-improvement front. I have never been this excited to serve the Lord, and this motivated to be the best missionary that I can be! I want to take this fire that I feel and help Yuki San ignite her fire!! We had a lesson with her this week, and she is feeling a bit wishy-washy about baptism. She said that right now she is half-and-half. It was a hard lesson, and it turned into us basically begging her to get baptized. The Spirit wasn't there, and I didn't know what to do. We had a member there, a friend of Yuki San, and she exactly what needed to be said to comfort Yuki San and to comfort us. I am so grateful for that member because I am SO IMPERFECT. I cannot speak Japanese well enough to convey my thoughts and feelings completely, and it got to the point where I was frustrated and I couldn't feel the Spirit. But, the Spirit was guiding this member, and said exactly what needed to be said, and for that I am grateful. It was a much needed humbling experience. I love Yuki San so much! She is progressing so well! Satan is working his hardest on her right now, and so we all fasted together yesterday that she would be able to find strength in prayer to overcome her weaknesses. Right now, she is trying to stop drinking coffee and going to the pachinko (Japanese slots!). Please keep her in your prayers so that she can receive baptism soon! :)

In kind of sad news, I got a really bad haircut last week. It sucks. I got it in preparation for my interview with Elder Aoyagi, and it just did not turn out good. The bottom layer is long and the back is suuuuuuuper short. The lady did not listen to what I said at all and did exactly the OPPOSITE of what I told her to do. So, after shedding some tears, I said "Shoganai!" (cest la vie), and moved on! Maybe I'll go get it fixed today so it looks less like a mullet in the back. Gross. Japanese style does not look good on this American girl!

Well, that's about it. It was a good week. Thank you for your continuing support and for always sending your love. Your letters and emails always make my day, and I am so blessed to have the friends and family that I do. I know my Savior lives. This is His work. I am ready to make this the best time of my mission, and like the Nephites, "live after the manner of happiness."

I love you!

Love, Shakira Shimai