Japan, Sendai Mission

Japan, Sendai Mission

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

About the pictures: These are pictures from last week when we went to see sakura with the genki old woman, Goto San! I left my camera at a soba restaurant, and have just recently gotten it back so I don't have any pictures from this week really.

On Monday, April 28, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

So, this was a pretty weird week. Last P-Day, we went to the beach with the Elders to play frisbee, and it was terrible weather! It was cold and raining like crazy, and the wind was blowing super hard, but it was really fun! Unfortunately, as a result of being out in the rain, both Alcazar Shimai and I got very sick! We have been sick all week with colds, and so that hasn't been fun! But, we are on the tail-end. I'm still pretty stuffed up, and Alcazar Shimai doesn't really have a voice, but we are feeling genki.

Despite being sick, this was a very good week! We have the most adorable little friend, Yuka Chan. She is 16 and we are doing the Family English Program with her. This week we were able to have two lessons with her, and she came to the big Easter Festival that we had at the Church! Recently, we have been talking a lot about prayer with her. This past lesson, she gave her first prayer! She didn't really know what to say, so she simply said "Heavenly Father, I am grateful that I have a lot of food to eat. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." It was so cute, and so simple, and so perfect! She was very happy afterward. I have had such a wonderful time becoming Yuka Chan's friend. I love Yuka Chan because she is so full of light. You can see the big light that is in her soul whenever you look into her eyes. She is so happy, and has such a zest for life. I really believe that as she comes to realize that she is a divine daughter of loving Heavenly Parents that the light that is in her countenence will grow even bigger. I can feel so much love from her. And I am so glad to have met her.

This week, we had a big Easter festival at the Church! It was like an open house type thing, and a lot of non-members came! It was really great, and we had a wonderful time introducing people to Christ.

That is about it with this week; because we were sick, we didn't have anything super interesting happen. But! We are looking forward to another great week! I absolutely LOVE Sister Alcazar. She is very quickly becoming one of my greatest friends. I am so happy to be serving with her here in this incredible place that is Ishinomaki. I never want to leave.

I love my Savior. I love how I have His authority to cast out darkness and sadness and shed His light on all those with whom I come in contact. My authority is real. It is His authority. I am His hands here in Ishinomaki.

I love you Momma!! I cannot wait to talk to you soon! I will have specifics for the call next week! Have a happy week!

Love, Shak

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

On Monday, April 21, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

I LOVE SISTER ALCAZAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really really REALLY do. This week has been FANTASTIC! We have had a lot of firsts happen to us this week! First of all, we went to visit one of my favorite less-active members, Kimura Shimai. She is a riot. I love her so much; she is so genki (which I finally figured out a good English translation for: chipper!) and loves to talk. While we were there, she told us a funny story that after the tsunami, some random person gave her three big bags all full of bras! So she ran upstairs and grabbed one of the bags and gave them to us! So now, we have a giant bag full of bras (there's about 50 of them, I think) and nothing to do with them. They are all TINY. Well, they're probably normal-sized, but you know me. Haha. So we are going to try and find a women's shelter to donate them to. It was hilarious.

Then, we were biking alongside the Kitakami river that runs through town, and there was a BEAUTIFUL Sakura tree that was in full bloom, so we stopped to take a picture, and we started talking to these little old ladies that were standing by us. We told them that Alcazar Shimai just got here, and one of them asked if we had been to Hiyoriyama yet, which is a big sakura park in Ishinomaki. Alcazar Shimai said no, and the little old lady said "Let's go!" So we were super excited and asked her when would be good, and she said "Let's go right now!" So, that is just what we did! We got to learn all about this little old lady. Her name is Goto Chieko San, she is 83 years old, and she had a super hard time in the earthquake and tsunami. As she drove us to Hiyoriyama, she was telling us all about her life, her children and her grandchildren, and about how they all live far away and that she misses them. She seemed very lonely. But when we got to Hiyoriyama, it was about 6:00 in the evening, and so the sun was just getting ready to set. That day, the paper factory in Ishinomaki had made the town super smoky because it wasn't very windy, and as a result, the sun turned blood red and was a HUGE and PERFECT sphere in the sky. Everything was glowing red, and the light reflected off the sakura blossoms. It was absolutely incredible. I have some pictures, but there is no way to capture the beauty of that in a picture. I have never seen something so beautiful in my life. I was overwhelmed with the love of Heavenly Father, with His love for Japan, and with His love for Goto San. It was a wonderfully beautiful experience. After that, Goto San took us out to soba because I had mentioned that I like soba, and it was so fun. That night, we exchanged contact information, and we are going to visit her again soon!!! She was really appreciative of the fact that we are Christian volunteers, and so we want to go back and share the Gospel with her. There is no way that us biking down the side of that river was an accident. I had just simply thought that I would take Alcazar Shimai the scenic route to where we had planned on going, and we were able to meet one of Heavenly Father's beloved daughters. It was definitely divine guidance, and I am thankful for the experience.

Then, later on in the week, we were going with a member and a friend to a park outside of Ishinomaki that is famous for sakura. Before we stopped there, Usui Shimai wanted to stop at a flower shop to buy some flowers for a less-active member for her birthday. So, she took us to this giant greenhouse, and when we got inside, it was a gerbera daisy farm! There were MILLIONS of daisies, rows upon rows, of all different colors! It was so beautiful! Then, the woman that owned the greenhouse had about three huge buckets full of daisies that she had cut because they "were not perfect daisies" and she told us that she wanted to give us ALL OF THEM! It was about 300 flowers, I'm guessing. At this point, we had been talking a lot, and she could probably see the look of pure bliss that was on my face, so she told me that I could go out into the flowers and pick two that I wanted to take home with me, as a present! She had already given us all of these flowers, but she was so nice, and so I went and picked a bright sunshine yellow one that was PERFECTLY round and absolutely gorgeous, and all a hot pink one that was the same. She then cut them for me, and added two more perfect ones. There are no words to describe the feeling I had that day. It is amazing the joy that comes from gerbera daisies. I am pretty convinced that Heavenly Father created them JUST for ME! So now Alcazar Shimai and I have a big arrangement of daisies on our table, and we were able to give a bunch away to investigators and members for Easter presents yesterday! It was wonderful.

Then, this last Saturday, all of the new missionaries in Ishinomaki, the assistants, President and Sister Rasmussen and their family that was visiting from Arizona, and Elder Palmer and his Mom, and us had a really unique service opportunity! We went to a port right next to the ocean, and harvested seaweed that they turn into wakame for miso soup! It was smelly, dirty, and absolutely FANTASTIC work! It was so much fun! We spent all day cutting seaweed. By the end of the day, my rubber apron was covered with slimy baby shrimps, and it was super gross! But also really cool. After that experience, I think that aliens actually come out of the ocean, and not from outerspace.

Now for this week's miracle! We have one investigator named Sugiyama San! We have been meeting with him since last December and this time, we went with Elder Whittle and Elder Aono to teach him, and to pass him to the Elders. We have been inviting Sugiyama San to pray for about four months now, and he never has. But! Yesterday in the lesson, Sugiyama San made such a natural connection with Elder Aono, who is a brand-new green-bean missionary! The Spirit was so strong as we talked about how the Plan of Salvation helps us to understand our purpose in life, and that Sugiyama San can experience all of those blessings for himself through prayer! And so when we invited him to pray, he did! And it was perfect! It was full of thanks for his blessings, for his life, and for his family. He was also thankful for us coming to help him be closer to God. He laughed a little bit in the middle and was super embarrassed when he finished, but it was so sincere and so wonderful. The Spirit was very strong, and Sugiyama San definitely felt something different. I have been waiting for the right person to pass Sugiyama San to, and I am so happy that Aono Choro is finally here! It was a joy-filled lesson, and I am so grateful.

What a week! I love Ishinomaki! I love my companion! I love Japan! And, I love my Savior! He lived, died, and lives again just for me! There is pure light, pure joy, and pure hope in His atonement. I know that though Him, we can discover what it means to be truly happy. I am so grateful!

Well Momma, I love you! So much! I hope that you have a good week and a very happy birthday! Oh, and yes, we can Skype for Mother's Day! It will all be the same as last time! The time might be different though. I'll work it out with the Elders and let you know! I LOVE YOU!
Love, Shak

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Monday, April 14 Sister Johnson wrote:

No cherry blossoms yet in Ishinomaki! It is still a little bit too cold. But! Come next week, they will be popping out all over the place! Speaking of Ishinomaki, I will be here for at least another 6 weeks! Luk Shimai is transferring to Akita (way up north) and will be companions with my bean chan, Robertson Shimai! My new companion will be a girl from Utah named Alcazar Shimai, who is in her 6th transfer! Three of the Elders are transferring, so that means this district in Ishinomaki is going to be WAY different. But, it will be good! The new district leader is a good friend of mine, Elder Whittle. He knows the way that I like to do things, so I'm hoping that it will be a pretty smooth transition. Yay, Ishinomaki! I really do love this place. The end of this next six weeks will mark my 6 months being here! Woohoo!

This was a really good week! We finally were able to find a new investigator! Her name is Yuka Chan, and she is ADORABLE! She is 16, and is the daughter of a less-active member, Brother Motomura. We are doing the family English program with Yuka Chan, and we are hoping that through her, her Dad will want to come back to Church and that we can see lots of miracles within the Motomura family! I have lots of hope! Our other investigators are doing well; everyone is sad that Luk Shimai is transferring. Me, too. We have become very good friends. But! I know that there are people waiting for her in Akita.

Well, another General Conference has come and gone! I feel at peace about most of the messages that were presented. I especially loved President Monson's talk. All you need is love! I also loved Elder Scott's talk. All you need is love! And simplicity! And I also loved Elder Christofferson's talk. Christ is real! Elder Bednar's talk was also wonderful, all about the Atonement. I also loved President Utchdorf's talks from both the Priesthood session and the General Session. Don't sleep through the Restoration! And the Revolution! Be grateful! Even when you are suffering! Such great messages about the love and peace of the Savior. I am excited for the Liahona to come in the mail so that I can read them again.

I am so grateful that we have leaders in this Church, particularly the First Presidency, that really understand who the Savior is. They understand His perfect love, His perfect empathy, His perfect grace. They understand His Atonement. They understand that ALL who come unto Him will receive the gift of Life and Light. It is reassuring to know that our leaders know the pure simple doctrine of Christ, and that they teach accordingly. This is my goal as a missionary: to teach according to the knowledge I have that Jesus is my Savior. His love is perfect. His love is for EVERYONE. This is my mission, to love as He would love.

Last P-Day, we went as a district to a museum here in Ishinomaki called the Sant Juan Bautista museum. It is an old Japanese/Spanish Pirate ship! It was so COOL! And so much fun!!!! I am convinced that I am a pirate and that I was born into the incorrect time. Piracy is in my genes though, so I guess that is why I felt right at home on that ship. It was very fun.

Well, that is about it for this week! I am excited to stay here in Ishinomaki! I hope that the Lord will assist me and lead me to those whom He has prepared to receive the Gospel.

Please give everyone my love!

Love, Shak

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

About that last picture: "I LOVE this owl that Iver made! I accidently ripped her leg when I opened the package, so I had to patch her up. But she is so cute!

On Monday, April 8, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

This week was good! We had lots of effective appointments and got to love lots of people! With the celebration of less-active members' birthdays, talking to crazy old Japanese men who have lots of questions about Christianity, baking cookies with four super-genki 11-year-old girls who are potential investigators, heart attacking people, cleaning up tsunami damage that was still around, teaching English, and finding new potential investigators! Something that I have learned throughout my mission is that it is NOT about the numbers that I write down at the end of the day, but it is about whether or not I showed love to every person with whom I came in contact. This has been a week full to bursting with love, my own love, and the love of my Savior. I have felt it a lot this week.

This week was pretty intense, as far as the elements go. The wind has been blowing at a solid blow-you-off-your-bicycle-into-a-fence rate since last Monday. Ouch. But! I'm okay. Only some bruises. There has also been some crazy earthquakes this week. First, there was the HUGE earthquake in Chile (what is the latest news on that, by the way?), and it caused a tsunami to come all the way up here! There were sirens going off all night long and speaker announcements telling people to stay away from the coast and from the rivers in town. The rivers got CRAZY FULL! It was insane! None of them overflowed, but it was scary to see that much water moving that fast. I was watching the river (we were driving by it in a bus to Sendai), and in my head, I could picture perfectly the day of the disaster three years ago, and it was utterly terrifying. I am so glad that the tsunami that came this week was just a mini one. We have had lots of little earthquakes this week, and two big ones. It's been pretty crazy. But! We are all safe and sound, so don't worry.

So this last week was April Fools Day! Here in Ishinomaki among the missionaries, there were A LOT of jokes played, and it was super fun! Every Tuesday night, we have Institute with the branch, and it is taught by our branch president, President Onuma! Well, I decided that I was going to play a joke on him and the rest of the branch, so after Institute ended, I told him that I was being emergency transferred to another area, and that I was leaving at 7:00 the next morning. Everyone was so sad! It was so nice! (haha). They were giving me all sorts of compliments and thanking me for my service, and we all took pictures together. It was so funny and SO hard to keep a straight face! So then we left, and all said goodbye! The next day, I decided that I should probably call President Onuma and let him know that it was a joke, and when I called, he laughed so hard! It was wonderful. Then, as the week went on, I saw more and more of the members that were at Institute and all of them were super surprised to see me! It was hilarious, and super fun. It was a really great way to bond with the members of the branch! I think it is a good thing that they all know I like to have fun and be a missionary at the same time.

Well, that is about it for this week, really. It was a great week, but really uneventful at the same time, as far as investigators go. We didn't really teach this week, sadly. Everyone is busy. But! We did lots of other good things.

Please keep me in your prayers! I could use some extra boosting-blessings this week.

I'm grateful for my Savior. He is real. He is Truth. He is Light. He is MY Light.

I love you! Have a happy week!

Love, Shak