Japan, Sendai Mission

Japan, Sendai Mission

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Monday, August 25, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

Hey Momma!

This week was a pretty normal transfer week, I guess. Sister Ishikawa left for Yamagata on Tuesday. It was pretty sad. I miss her a lot! But now I have Sister George, and we are doing well together. We had a lesson right after she came into town; we left as soon as she got there. The zone leaders took us to visit a woman named that they had found the day before. She called the church and said that she wanted to learn about the Bible together with them! When they got to her address, they discovered that it was a mental hospital, unfortunately. But, as they taught her, they learned that she has lots of knowledge about in faith in Christ, and she seemed capable of learning and keeping commitments, and so they took us to meet her the next day. We had a good lesson and she asked good questions. We also felt like she had a lot of knowledge that could help her grow her faith, and it didn't seem like she had that much of a mental problem, maybe just some depression. So, we decided to make another appointment with her for the next day. We went to teach her on Friday, and we took a member with us to help. When we got there, she was a little disoriented and couldn't hold a solid conversation. She mentioned in passing that she thinks she is not saved and that Christ didn't die for her. The look of sadness and dispair in her eyes was so saddening, and it brought me to tears. But, in that moment, I was able to testify to her of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and that He loves her and has saved her. After we left, we decided that she is not in a right mindset to be a real investigator and that the Atonement of Christ already has her covered. She is saved. I felt much love for her that day. So in the future, if we go to visit with her, it will just be as friends, and not as missionaries teaching her. It was a good experience for me to meet and get the opportunity to love her. As we were sitting with her, I had such an overwhelming feeling of love for her and peace fill my heart. I knew right then that she is okay. She doesn't need to worry. She is wrapped about in the arms of her loving Savior. Her life is hard right now and it will be until the end, but she is guaranteed rest in the presence of the Savior. This I know.

On Saturday, we had a great day! In the morning, we had a church activity that was so much fun! A bunch of the YSA in the ward came, and also our friend Mitsuru San was able to come (he is the guy that surprised me with a cello)! We did a game called "Minute To Win It," which is just a bunch of really ridiculously fun and silly games with a one-minute time limit. One of the games involved pulling all of the tissues from a tissue box in less than a minute. Just little funny games like that. It was way fun. Then, when that was over, we had a wanko soba contest! That was SO MUCH fun. Basically, it is little amounts of soba (buckwheat noodles, my favorite thing EVER) and you have to eat as many as you can in three minutes. I did so badly, and it was super sad, but it was way fun! Elder Iida won; he ate 25 bowls-full. Wow! I want to do that again someday for real. I have un-American noodle-slurping abilities now that I can't let go to waste! After the soba activity, we had sports like we always do, but the weather was BEAUTIFUL this week! So we had about 20 people there other than us missionaries, and they were all FRIENDS! Only three of them were members, and they are all recent converts! It was a great activity and we got to build lots of really great relationships with people. The majority of our new investigators as a district come from this sports activity and Eikaiwa, and we are seeing lots of success as a district. It will be good to see the miracles that come from here on out!

Well, that is about it on my end. It was a very normal week with nothing too spectacular. But I still know that Jesus loves me and I know from the bottom of my heart that He loves you too! I hope you have an awesome day!

Love Shak

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Monday, August 18, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

Hi!! Oh my goodness, thank you so much for all of the pictures! I want to see more! I am so filled with joy for Olive! She looks RADIANT! Wow. I am a little sad I missed it, but it is nowhere near as bad as last year. The reason I was so sad about Iver's wedding was because I was just super depressed anyways, so this time around, it's a lot better! I am so thrilled for Olive and Jared. How wonderful.

I am so happy that you got to see Ashleen! Oh my gosh, I miss her! How is she? I haven't heard from her AT ALL on my mission. But I hope that we can reconnect when I come home. I am so happy that you got to spend your week and weekend with so many lovely people! That makes me so happy. We are so truly blessed by the people we have in our lives.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE BIRTHDAY LOVE!! That skirt from Olive was so awesome! I wore it all day! I also read that entire book on my birthday, and that swatch watch is SO CUTE! I love it so much! THANK YOU! It was the best birthday! I was 100 percent completely overwhelmed with love from EVERYONE. So awesome.

My birthday was so good. Probably the best birthday I have had in a LONG time, to be entirely honest. I woke up and all the sisters in the apartment had decorated my desk with hearts and streamers and they sang to me. Then, Sister Smith made me crepes. LOVE. Then, in the afternoon, all of the sisters went with me to take a puri, those hilariously awesome Japanese photobooths. So we went, and we handed out a lot of flyers for English class and called it "puri proslyting," haha. Then, we went out to dinner as a district to shabu shabu, which is dipping raw meat and veggies in boiling sauces. SO DELICIOUS. Oh man. The Elders gave me some earrings and lots of cards and messages and stuff. It was super nice. Then, we went to the ping pong tournament that we have every Friday night. Lots of our friends come to that. When I got there, I had people showering me with gifts! It was crazy! But, the best part of my birthday was actually Sunday at church. The members were so nice and wrote me a bunch of messages and love and gave me hugs and presents and food. Then, I have a friend, Mitsuru Saito. He is a violin player and is super good. He showed up after church WITH A CELLO!!!! He said that his friend let him borrow it until I leave Japan, and that he took it to the shop to get it all fixed up for me! It was the BEST birthday present ever! AH! SO MUCH HAPPY. I can't even tell you. SO awesome. So many people, so much love. It was crazy, and I have only been here for one transfer! I felt the love. Let me tell you that much!

Transfers are crazy. AGAIN. President Smith is transferring HALF THE MISSION. AGAIN. I can't believe it. It is so sad and weird. Sister Ishikawa is transferring to Yamagata to be Tui Shimai's companion! Sister Smith is going to Iwaki. Sister Clark is going to Tagajo. Elder Law is the new AP! And Elder Fidler, who came to Kamisugi WITH ME is transferring to Furukawa! He was only in his last area for one transfer too. I feel so bad for him. My new companion is Sister George, from my MTC district.

In other news, this was a great week for us here in Kamisugi! We had so many fun things and so many miracles happen this week! We had splits with the sister training leaders this week, so I got to go back to Izumi again. It was weird, but very good. Sister Orr and I spent the whole time talking and de-stressing. It was much needed. On the night of the split, we were walking back to the apartment in Izumi and a woman was biking through the same crosswalk that we were walking through, and all of a sudden, a million cherry tomatoes jumped out of her basket and scattered all over the road! We frantically ran to help her pick them up, and all the cars stopped for us so we could see the tomatoes in their headlights. I seriously can't believe how nice Japanese people are. It's insane. But yeah, so we helped her gather her tomatoes, and it was a great opportunity to serve someone in need. And it was really funny.

We had another precious miracle happen on Thursday! Ishikawa Shimai and I were hanging out in a park in the middle of downtown Sendai eating some soft-serve cones, when we saw this adorable little Japanese girl and what we thought was her family. We said konnichiwa to the little girl, and all of a sudden, the mother said, "OH!! I know who you are! You are the Mormon missionaries!!" She proceeded to tell us that she received all the lessons about seven years ago, and wanted to join the church so badly, but her husband was scary opposed to her getting baptized, so she was forced to cut off all contact with the church (probably for her own safety, by the sound of it). She said that she stopped drinking coffee and alcohol and that she was still living all of the commandments and praying regularly. She was holding my hands and looking in my eyes when she told me, "I never thought I would be able to see you again. I never thought it was possible. But God listens to my prayers. You are a blessing." It was so sweet, and in that moment, I felt God's love for this woman so strongly, it flowed through my whole being. It was amazing. I am so glad that our Heavenly Parents trusted Sister Ishikawa and I enough to follow Their guidance and be the answer to this woman's prayers. Wow. What a cool experience.

On Saturday, we got together with a bunch of our musical friends and put on a concert at the church! It was so much fun! We sang a lot and there was lots of violin playing, and there were lots of people that came and listened to us. It was so nice, and it was a great way to invite our friends into the chapel to feel the Spirit.

This week was just so great. There was so much love. I finally feel at home here in Kamisugi, and I am so grateful for the time that I have left to be here and serve with all of my heart and more! I am so sad because my companion is transferring. I am going to miss Ishikawa Shimai so much, I can't even tell you. AH! SAD! But she will do incredible things on her mission! Exciting.

Well, that is about it for me. I am happy. I am healthy (Smith Shimai got Insanity, the workout program, from her family in the mail recently. Too bad she's transferring!). I am doing my best with the help of my Savior and my Heavenly Parents.

Love Shak

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

On Monday, August 11, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:

So this was a good week! We went to the tanabata festival on Tuesday night, and that was a blast! Natsuki and her momma came down from Izumi and dressed us all up in yugatas! That was so fun. I felt like a princess again. We went to the festival with a less-active friend of ours, Mai Chan! We also went with some of the YSA girls in our ward, and with Brother Miura and Sister Aizawa! It was so much fun, and we got to talk with a lot of people and see some awesome Japanese fireworks. To be honest, we probably should have spent more time talking to people, passing out flyers, you know, doing "missionary work," but we had a wonderful opportunity to really bond with the YSA girls in our ward that came with us. To me, that was way more important than trying to talk to the millions of people that were at the festival, and it was time very well spent.

Also this week, we had another baptism in Kamisugi! WOW! This area is on fire. One of the Elder's friends Brother Sato was baptized on Thursday night! What a beautiful service it was too! He was so prepared. He was found by the sister missionaries about five months ago, but he got passed to the Elders because it's a (really stupid annoying) rule in this mission that we can't teach people of the opposite sex. Well, it really isn't a rule, but if you don't pass your opposite-sex investigator, people start to get upset. It's dumb, and it's caused a lot of drama, but that's besides the point. Brother Sato is so great! At his baptism, he bore his testimony and just like Sister Oyama's a few weeks ago, he just stated simple, beautiful truth about the Savior. It was wonderful and the Spirit was so strong. I am grateful for his example and I am excited to work with him from here on out.

Yesterday was a good day for us! We were able to have two (yes, count 'em, TWO) lessons yesterday!!! That never happens! Haha. But yeah. The first lesson was with Itosaka San! Boy, do I love that woman, but does she TALK! She loves talking. I have noticed that she has a lot of really interesting knowledge, and most of it are things she has learned from her friends. Ishikawa Shimai and I got the impression yesterday that Itosaka San has never really prayed to know what the truth is. She just takes what she hears as truth. She has conviction that there is a God who knows and loves her, and she believes that Jesus is her Savior, but we don't think she has ever asked to know for herself what else is truth. So, from now on, we are going to focus on teaching her the Gospel of Christ, about how faith in Him changes you, leads you to repent, and allows you to make and keep sacred covenants and ordinances. I really believe that as she learns more about how the Savior can help her and her family personally, that she will realize the worth of meeting with us, that it is more than just fun friends to share her knowledge with. We are her friends that want to grow in knowledge and love and the Light of Christ TOGETHER. As we grow together, we will change together, for the better. Oh, I love Itosaka San. She is so passionate.

Our other lesson was with a new investigator (!!!!!!!!)! Well, at least new to us. She was passed to us from another pair of sisters. But anyway, her name is Diep (pronounced Jep), and she is from Vietnam! SHE IS SO CUTE! She is about 30 years old, and is amazingly smart! We are doing a program with her that is Japanese study and Gospel study! So, we studied kanji for about an hour, and then we talked about the Book of Mormon and about prayer. She already believes in God, and when we asked her to pray in the lesson, she very happily agreed! Right now, she is on her summer break, and so she has some free time to spend with us this week, and we are looking forward to it. She is great! Yay, Diep San!

This week was weird weather; suuuuuuuuuper hot, but the last few days have been typhoon weather: cold, wet, windy, awful rain. Gross. But, it's supposed to end tomorrow, so that's good.

Well, that's all from this end! I think. This is week six of the transfer, so that means it's a new one next week! I don't think I will be getting transferred, but Ishikawa Shimai might. That makes me so sad. I love her so much. But, whatever the Big People want is what I want too!

I love you all. I hope you have a happy week! And congratulations to my very best friend Olive!!!!! She is marrying Jared this week on my birthday! YAY! Good for them.

Love you all! Remember the Savior!
Love: Shak

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

On Monday, August 4 Sister Johnson wrote:

Hello friends and family!

Well, the rainy season is officially over here in Sendai and it is HOT HOT HOT! Wow. This week has been full of long sweaty days, red faces, and lots of cursing. Haha, not actually cursing, but things along the lines of "Holy CRAP! It's gotta be at least 200% humidity today, this is INSANE!" Yep, back to being constantly wet and sticky and sunburned. But, the funny part is that I am starting to tan for the first time since I was a little girl! I have a watch tan line, and a neck tan line. Also, the backs of my hands are super tan, but my fingers are white because of biking. Hilariousness. But I am enjoying it!

This coming week is a big one in Sendai; it's the Tanabata Festival! The festival is a celebration of shooting stars that happen in the summer, and the legend is that there is a male star and a female star, and that only once a year, during Tanabata, they can be united in the sky! So, there are giant tissue paper balls with streamers hanging from them ALL OVER the city, which represent the stars!! And the cool part is that they are all hanging from giant stocks of bamboo that people have hauled in and propped up. The festival starts tomorrow, and so there are thousands of people putting up decorations right now. I am excited because we are going to go to the firework show tomorrow with some members and we are going to be dressed up in yugata, which is kind of like a kimono but not as fancy!!! But I am so excited, and we will take lots of pictures.

This week was not very interesting, to be honest. Nothing really all that exciting happened. But! We did get to meet with my beloved Itosaka San again, which was so wonderful. We talked a lot about Adam and Eve. She has some pretty interesting beliefs about the Fall. We also talked a lot about Christ and about our Heavenly Parents. That was an awesome AWESOME discussion. I love when I can be open with people about that kind of thing. So it was so nice and refreshing to talk to someone about that. We also talked about love and how important it is to love EVERYONE. We talked a lot about how love affects the way you go about life. We also talked a lot about prayer, and she shared with us her first experience of getting an answer to her prayer. Itosaka San has so much faith in God and in the Savior. It has been so much fun to get to know her and talk to her about these things. We invited her to come to church this week, but she was busy. Someday, we will go with her.

One thing I absolutely love about being in Kamisugi is that there is more diversity here than anywhere else I have been in Japan! For the past few weeks at our English class, we have had people from Bangladesh, the Congo, Canada, Vietnam, and Nepal! It was so wonderful to be sitting and talking to these people, to listen to their stories and their backgrounds, to be getting to know them. I have realized in the past few weeks that I LOVE DIVERSITY more than I can ever say. I have decided that yes, I want to be a professor of music theory, but I also want to do something where I can be involved with people from all over the world on a regular basis. I LOVE PEOPLE so much, I can't even describe it, and I want to bring peace to the world. I really do believe it is possible. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!

I am going to be honest, the past couple of weeks for me here in Kamisugi have been a little bit rough. I feel like I have kind of lost sight of my purpose and I am feeling a little bit lost. It is a weird feeling, and I am not quite sure why it's here. But I am trying my best to rely on The Big People. They know how to help me, so I just need to trust in Them. But in the meantime, I could use some extra prayers from all of you on the home front. Thank you so much!

Well, I love you all so much. I want you to know that I know that my Savior is real. I know that He lives and that He loves every single one of us more than we will ever know. I also know that it is only through His power, the enabling power of His perfect Atonement, that we can overcome any sort of obstacle that comes our way. I really do believe that. I also hope that you can find strength in the Savior in your own way, too.

Love you!
Love: Shak