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