Japan, Sendai Mission

Japan, Sendai Mission

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 7, 2014

About the photos: Leaving my small mark on Ishinomaki. A joy. This is our favorite Indian curry place, with our favorite guys from Nepal, Hari and Katri. I love them so much. They made the Elders special naan for Aono Choro's birthday. Frisbee!!! I am standing next to Elder Whittle, he goes home this week. So sad. This sign says, "GANBAROU ISHINOMAKI!!!" That essentially means, "FIGHT!!!" This big sign was painted a few days after the disaster, and has become the city slogan. This slogan is in the window of every single shop in the city. Love. This is Onodera San. He is an investigator that we have been working with as a district since I transferred to Ishinomaki. I love him so much. He is seriously the Japanese version of dad. They are the same.

On Monday, July 7, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

Big news! I am transferring! I am going to Kamisugi, which is the middle of downtown Sendai! BIG BIG CITY! Woohoo! I am so excited! So sad. But so excited.

My new companion will be a third transfer Japanese girl named Sister Ishikawa! She is way cute. There will be six (yes, SIX) sisters in my apartment including me, and there are four elders! Wow! I will be in a ward again, attending church at the stake center (that actually has pews in the chapel! Crazy!), and I will be readjusting to the city girl in me! Woohoo! Look out world, here she comes!

With all the excitement is a lot, a LOT of sadness. I have so many precious members of my family here in Ishinomaki, and I am so sad to leave them. That will be very hard. There have already been many tears shed, and there will be many more to come, I think.

I am so sad to be leaving Sister Alcazar. So sad I can't even say. She has become one of the most precious people in my life, and we have become very close friends. I am going to miss her. I am so grateful for the support she has given me in times of distress, and for the unconditional love I feel from her every minute of every day. But! The good news is that we are still in the same zone, and so we will get to see each other at least once a month. Oh man, I am crying right now. I am going to miss Alcazar Shimai so much.

Well, this was a great week here in Ishinomaki! We spent a TON of time with the Usui Family this week! Sister Usui's daughter and her husband and newborn kid were in town from southern Japan, and so we hung out with them a lot. We played basketball, softball, ping pong, and frisbee with them! We had crazy amounts of sports time this week, and it was so much fun. This week, I discovered that I am fairly good at softball (I was asked to be the pitcher for the game, and I striked out six of the ten people batting, and I hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 8th), so I am thinking that I might get involved with softball when I get home and get back into school... It seriously would be so much fun. Yay!

At all of our sports activities this week, we had a friend named Ryotaro come! He is 18 and is a really cool kid. We met him at the temporary housing last time, and we hit it off really well! This last week, Sister Alcazar invited him to meet with us and he said yes! He has a great interest in God and what we believe in. And, it turns out that he is family friends with the Usui family! So he has built-in fellowshippers! How awesome is that?! I am so excited to see where things go with him. I won't be able to teach him, but that is okay; I know that he will progress nicely with Sister Alcazar and her two new companions! (She is becoming a tri with Sister Robertson(holy cow! ALL of her companions have been related to me in some way! Crazy.) and Sister Kanno, an adorable nihonjin that I served with in Aizu!

This week, I took Sister Alcazar down to the coast that was hit the hardest with the tsunami. We visited the memorial, and we talked with a man who runs a yakisoba shop right in the middle of all the destruction. Most everything has been cleaned up, but there is a little shed that he built called the Arigato House, and it is where he serves his soba. He is actually a really famous man, well, the tsunami made him famous. He was in his shop with the earthquake happened and the tsunami came. Him and his wife, along with his house and his shop were washed away. He said that as he was running to safety, he looked back just to see his wife get swept away and killed. It was a very sad story, and he was showing us a bunch of news clips about himself and his wife. We cried together and then we talked of hope. Hope in life after death. Hope in God. Hope in those living beside us. Hope in the future. A really cool thing about the Arigato House is that hundreds of volunteers from foreign lands have visited it, and so the man started doing something really cool. He made wooden plaques and had all of the volunteers sign them, and then he nails them to the side of his shed-shop. He asked Sister Alcazar and I to make one, and so we did! And then we nailed it to his shop. We have officially left our mark on Ishinomaki! It was a beautiful experience. Also, while we were there, we met a couple from Tokyo named the Satos. They asked us what we were doing in Japan, and we got to talk about the church a lot and the kind of volunteer work that we go in Ishinomaki. The husband started asking us a lot of questions about the Mormons, and it was really cool to talk to him. It is amazing the way that volunteering in Ishinomaki has led me to meet and talk with so many beautiful and amazing people. Oh man, I don't ever want to leave this place.

My heart is exploding with gratitude for the incredible opportunity I have had to serve the people of Ishinomaki. As I look back on the last seven months, I am filled with humility and awe for the way that the Savior has worked through me to touch the people here. The theme for the Ishinomaki branch this year has been "Become the Savior's Hands." I really feel that I have fulfilled that mission. I have fulfilled MY mission here. The Savior sent me here to love people in the way that He needed them to be loved, and I am confident that He is pleased with the work that I have done. I haven't taught very many lessons. I haven't seen any success numerically. I haven't found very many people to teach. But, I have loved with all the room that my heart could give, and because of that, there are many, MANY people here in Ishinomaki that have felt the presence of God in their lives. This was my mission. This IS my mission. This place has forever changed me, and I have learned how to love with all my heart. The people in this city are the most Christlike people I have ever met, and they don't even know Christ! But, they know the divine, and because of that, they treat others with love and kindness and respect. Wow, what a beautiful place this is. I will never forget it.

Well, that is about it on my end. I know that my Savior is real. I know that He lives and that He loves me. I know that He loves all people unconditionally. I know that He is my Advocate and my Friend. He leads me along. I trust that He will lead me in bright paths in Kamisugi.

I love you all, and I hope that you have a great week filled with the Savior's Sunshine!

Love, Shak

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