Japan, Sendai Mission

Japan, Sendai Mission

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 26, 2014

On Monday, May 26, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

So, this has been a great week on the revelation front! First of all, I will not be transferring from Ishinomaki!!! I will be here for another 6 weeks at least! WOOHOOOOOOO!!! And yes, Sister Alcazar will be my companion. BEST EVER. So, that is exciting!

Also! We had interviews with President Rasmussen this week. As you know, I have had the whole To-Go-To-BYU-or-To-Not-Go-To-BYU-That-Is-The-Question ping pong battle going on in my head for a while now. I had been praying for a few weeks that my interview with President Rasmussen would be a time of revelation through the Spirit, so that I could make a decision about my future and not look back. So, I went in for my interview, and the room was immediately filled with the Spirit as Rasmussen Kaicho and I talked about how unified Alcazar Shimai and I are, and about how unified we are with the Elders in the district. President Rasmussen told me that he has never seen six missionaries more unified as a district than the six of us here in Ishinomaki. That was so wonderful to hear because it is really true! We are all so close! We all have the same vision and goals for Ishinomaki, and we all have become such good friends that you can feel the love! It is so wonderful! So, that started the interview off on a good foot. Then, we started talking about the future, and I voiced my concerns about transferring to BYU. I talked for a little bit, weighing the pros and cons, and the whole time President Rasmussen just sat and listened intently. I detailed about how this has been a matter of very fervent prayer on my part, and that I was seeking his counsel and direction as my mission president. President Rasmussen paused and listened for a minute, and then said "I feel very prompted to discourage you from transferring to BYU." He proceeded to advise and counsel me to go where I have a name, go where I am known, and that the Lord will provide a way for me to finish my education at Colorado State University. The Spirit at that moment testified to me that the advice I was receiving from President Rasmussen is the will of the Lord, and that this was the answer and the revelation that I was so earnestly seeking. What an amazing thing! So, I will not be transferring to BYU! I will finish my Bachelors degree at CSU, and then we will see about grad school. But! I know that this is the will of Heavenly Father for me in the future. I also have faith that as I remember to serve him first, that He will help me to achieve all of the goals that I have in life. So, I have made my decision, and I will not look back!

I am so grateful that President Rasmussen was in tune with the Spirit to be the vehicle of the Spirit in answering my prayers. I learned a lot about that from this experience; if we live worthy of the Spirit, not only will we receive guidance and direction for our own lives, but the Lord will trust us to be the answer to other people's prayers. I really hope that I can be that way, especially for my investigators. All of the beautiful women that we are teaching are in the very beginning stages of establishing their relationships with deity, and so my role as the missionary is to create an environment in which they can have their own spiritual experiences. We can create this atmosphere as missionaries when we share our love unconditionally and frequently. We share our love, and then bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Love of God and the Love of the Savior. This allows those we meet with to feel the Spirit touch their hearts. What a wonderful and divine process this is! I am so blessed to be a part of it.

This week was really slow on the investigator front. We were not able to teach! But, we did meet with Yuki San. We went to lunch with her. She seemed very down about something. She has been having a lot of issues with her teeth lately, and so she hasn't really been able to eat. She is really low-energy and hasn't been able to do the things she normally does because she is exhausted all the time. We then explained to her that she could get a priesthood blessing. We explained what it is, what it looks like, and why they are so powerful and wonderful. She was concerned because she hasn't been coming to Church lately and she is not a member, so she said that she feels like she is unworthy to get a blessing. But! We assured her otherwise. She still hasn't gotten back to us about it, so we are planning on giving her a call here pretty quick. I really think that that would be a beneficial experience for her.

Other than those things, this week has been a little bit rough on me. I have been having lots of moments of "wow, I am the worst missionary ever," and I have felt Satan sitting on my shoulder telling me that I am worthless. But! I have prevailed! My Savior Jesus Christ has been outpouring His love into my heart, and I have felt great peace in the face of great discouragement. I am so grateful for the Atonement, and for the enabling power it gives me to keep going everyday. I am a witness of my Savior. I know that He lives and that He is aware of all humankind. He is my Light.

So, that is about it for me, Momma! I am glad to hear that you are all safe in the crazy weather!! Dad said that he got nailed with a hailstone. But, I am glad that you are all okay! I am also glad to hear that you are going to Grandby with Meghan and others! How many women will be at the retreat? That will be so wonderful for you, Momma. Let the Spirit speak truth to you.

I love you!

Have a happy day!!!
Love, Shak

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

On Monday, May 19, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

Hey Momma! I am sorry that I am late in emailing; we had zone p-day today in a beautiful place called Matsushima! It is one of the top three must-see most-beautiful-sites in all of Japan! It was very beautiful and so rich in religious history! It was absolutely incredible, and I loved every minute of it, except perhaps the sunburn that I now have. That won't be fun tomorrow. But, Matsushima means something along the lines of "group of many islands," which is exactly what it is! Matsushima is a town right on the beach of a beautiful bay that has hundreds of little islands (and lots of big ones too), and they are all so beautiful! The city also has many shrines that date back as much as 2000 years ago. There were so many statues of different Gods and different people, and there were so many temples! I went to a dera (temple) that was right on the coast and I prayed there. It was a beautiful experience! I needed to do that. We also rode on a ferry that took us on an hour long tour of the islands in Matsushima, and it was beautiful! A lot of the Elders were feeding the seagulls, and it was hilarious. At one point, they were putting peanuts in their mouths and the seagulls would fly up and basically kiss them to get the peanuts. It was pretty hilarious until they got yelled at by the ferry staff, haha. Fun times! But, I am really glad that I got some time to commune. I needed that. This has been a pretty exhausting week, mentally.

This week, we had a great lesson with Yuka Chan! She read the passage in the children's Book of Mormon that we gave her, 3 Nephi 17. She didn't really understand it, so we read it with her again, and talked about Christ and who He is. We talked about how loving He is and that He performed many miracles. We then talked again about prayer. We are really focusing on her building a relationship with God. I felt inspired to ask her if she thought that prayer was scary, and she immediately said yes. When we asked her what was scary about it, she had a hard time expressing her feelings and she couldn't really figure out why it is scary to her. There are lots of reasons for that though; she has never really even thought about God, let alone prayed before. She might be afraid of the result of praying, or she might just be embarrassed. She could even be afraid of God Himself, or maybe she feels like if there really is a God, her life would have to change? Maybe. We are not sure. But! I love her from the very bottom of my heart, and I hope that as I love her, the Lord will help me understand how to help her. She has become such a great friend to me, and I love her so much! I will miss her when she goes to Canada!

We were finally able to contact Yuki San again! She has been pretty AWOL lately, and we haven't had much contact with her. But, we called her this week, and she wants to meet with us next week! So, we have an appointment with her on Wednesday, and we are so excited!

A really wonderful cool Wow-this-is-totally-a-prompting-that-I-am-glad-I-followed moment happened just a little bit ago when we got back from Matsushima! We were biking from the station to the Church to email and I all-of-a-sudden remembered that I had NO money to buy groceries, and the ATM closes at 5 (it was about 4 at this point), and so I asked Alcazar Shimai if she had money, and she said no, so we turned around and headed to the ATM. When we got there, guess who was standing outside the ATM? My old investigator and long-lost friend Kato San! She is the woman that I found in my first transfer here in Ishinomaki when I was on splits with Sister Smith! We were doing some Christmas Caroling and she gave me an umbrella as we left! We ended up teaching her, but she eventually dropped us, which was absolutely heartbreaking because she is SO prepared to hear the Gospel. But! We were able to see her and talk to her for a little bit, which was great! She still likes us, and I can tell that she is a little bit apprehensive still about us and what we are doing, but I was able to tell her that I still love her and care about her, and that I think and pray about her often. I hope that she was able to feel some of Heavenly Father's love through me today. I think that she did because she told me, ONCE AGAIN, that it wasn't a coincidence that we ran in to her today, that Ten no Otosama (Heavenly Father) guided us to make us meet. It was really wonderful to see her though, and I am so glad that the Spirit reminded me to get money to buy food.

So, this transfer has gone by remarkably fast! It has been the most fun transfer of my mission, and I am so loving this district. I am loving Alcazar Shimai. She is my favorite. We have become so close and we are seeing lots of miracles together. One thing that I love about her is that she is so full of love for EVERYONE. She talks with everyone and loves them and helps them know that someone is interested in their lives. It is so inspiring to see her talk with and bond with people. She is so great, and I am so blessed to be her companion.

I am grateful for the guidance of the Spirit. I have been really sensitive to it this week, and the Lord is blessing me with the recognition of so many beautiful tender mercies. Like trees. Have you ever taken the time to feel the soul and wisdom of an old tree? Or the lively energy of a young tree? It is truly amazing, and I have felt my Savior in the trees this last week. What a beautiful thing.

I love you Momma! Please keep me in your prayers. Please pray that I will have the knowledge and the wisdom I need to make the right decision for what I need to do after my mission! Also, please pray for me that I will be able to focus.

I love you and pray for you!!!!! I hope that you can feel the miles shrink!
Love, Shak

Monday, May 12, 2014

On Monday, May 12 Sister Johnson wrote:

Skype was definitely the highlight of my week! I love talking to you all. I can't want to see you in six months.

This week was also good on the work front! We were able to teach a woman named Michiru San this week, and she became a new investigator!!! Michiru San is the girlfriend of a YSA in our branch. She is 23 years old, and doesn't really have a religious background. She hasn't really ever thought about God before, but she is definitely willing to learn. Her and her boyfriend are thinking about marriage, and so her boyfriend wants her to at least understand somewhat about the church, if not become a member! So, we received the referral, and we were able to have our first lesson with her this week. She is super shy, but very cute. She always relaxes into the meeting by the end, so we were able to build a really good relationship with her this time around (we had dinner with them a couple of times before now). We had decided that we wanted to go into the lesson with a "Plan of Salvation" kind of mindset, and focus purely on what she needs. So we began by talking about God and who He is, and what His nature is. She seemed to understand well, and her boyfriend was really great at helping us explain to her the basic attributes of Heavenly Father. We talked about the pre-earth life and what we did there. When we asked her if she could remember it, she laughed and said "not even a little bit!" It was cute. But then we talked about how in this life, we are to walk by faith and not by sight. She then asked us what faith is, which was an awesome question! Her boyfriend gave a really wonderful explanation, and then introduced the Book of Mormon for us! So then we read together in Alma what faith is, and we invited Michiru San to reread the verse later that night and to think about faith and also about God. She said that she would! We invited her to come to church, but she didn't want to come by herself (her boyfriend had to go to Fukushima for the weekend), but she will come with him next time. We were then able to set up a next appointment with them for next Thursday. It was a great appointment, and it was amazing to see the way the Spirit led the discussion. I am so grateful that we decided beforehand to just trust to be guided, because we were in exactly the right ways.

That is about it for this week. It was a good one. I am looking forward to another good one! I love you Momma. And I love my Savior. He is my light and He leads me along.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

On May 5, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

This week in Ishinomaki was a good one!! I am absolutely LOVING this district! The Elders that we are working with have such a great vision for how they want to do missionary work. Our vision as a district is something along the lines of ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE! We are focusing on helping our investigators and all of the members here feel a spirit of love and of unity. We hope that through us, they will be able to feel the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior. So, with this great focus in mind, we are having so many activities that allow us to spend time loving them.

This week, we played ultimate frisbee with a bunch of our investigators and it was so much fun!! I definitely tackled Alcazar Shimai and banged up my shoulder a little bit, but it is 100 percent back to normal now, so that is good. I was a little worried. At the activity, we were able to have a great time with our little friend Yuka Chan. I love her so much! She is so happy, and is so fun. This week, we were able to have two lessons with her! The first one was last Monday night, and her Dad, who is a less-active member of the Church, joined in the lesson with us. We were teaching Yuka Chan about the Fall of Adam and Eve (which is ridiculously hard to teach to people without a Christian background; you have NO idea). She had a really hard time understanding what we were trying to say, but Brother Motomura really helped. He explained it to her very simply, and he also helped answer her questions about science and evolution. It was a really great lesson. Then, at frisbee and Eikaiwa, she asked a lot of questions about Adam and Eve, and why they were so important. Then, in our other lesson with her, we had planned to talk about Christ. She has no idea who He is or why He is important, so we wanted to introduce her to Him. But, in the lesson, Yuka Chan mentioned that she has a hard time believing what we are teaching because she can't see God. She has no idea if He is actually there. So, we ended up teaching again about prayer, and about how she can know if God is really there if she asks Him, and sincerely wants to know. She can really learn for herself if she is His beloved daughter. Which she is!! I feel that love fill my heart every single time I see her! I love her so much.

This weekend in Japan is a very long holiday called Golden Week. Everyone has four days off and gets together with their families and parties! So, we have been spending a lot of time with members and friends this weekend. In fact, we are just about to leave for a BBQ with the branch president and lots of other people! A BBQ at 9:30 in the morning... Weird! But, I like it!

Last P-Day, Alcazar Shimai found out that her Dad had an anurysm, and had to have brain surgery. He is doing better, but is still in a lot of pain. We had an opportunity to fast for him yesterday, and it was a very great bonding moment for us as a companionship. She was feeling a lot of stress, but we were able to pray and fast for her Dad. He is on his way to a speedy recovery! Please keep him in your prayers!

Well, that is about all. We have to head out for the BBQ. But! I love you! I hope that you have a good day!