Monday, September 22, 2014
On Monday, September 22, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:
Well, this week was AWESOME!!!!! It was one of the best weeks I have had in a while, and for that, I am so thankful. On Thursday, we had district meeting at the church and when we walked out, there was a woman standing in the entry looking into the Chapel. I recognized her instantly; I had seen her walking down the street near our apartment a few days before. I ran up to her and introduced myself and we instantly clicked. Her name is ---- and she is originally from Sendai, but she married an Italian man and now lives in Austria. She speaks Japanese (obviously), Italian, and German. ---- said that she had visited an LDS church once when she lived in Italy and she really enjoyed it, so she came to see ours! She was in Sendai for about a month visiting her parents, and she actually is a member of the Protestant church that is just down the street from ours! She is an organist and so she plays in church when she comes back to Japan to visit. Well, we got talking with ---- San, and she opened up to us that she has really been struggling lately and that she is really scared about the future. She is 49 years old and doesn't have any kids. She is also at a point in her life when she has to get a job and help support her husband, and she is just feeling really scared. She told us that she had been feeling suicidal. She told us that the very day we met, she was thinking about jumping from her parents' sixth-floor apartment, but that she didn't have the courage to do it. After we sat and talked with her for a while, she said that she felt something different from us, she felt warmth and love, and that because of meeting us, she was able to feel a little more hope in her heart! So, we made an appointment to meet with her again the next day, and then the next day! We were able to meet with her three times this week! Unfortunately, she left to go back to Austria today. But! We got all of her information and we are going to send it to Austria so that the Church can get in touch with her there! It was a miracle three days! Oh man. I can't even express the joy in my heart that Heavenly Father trusted George Shimai and I enough to be in the right place in the right time so that we could help ----. She is such a beautiful person, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to help her feel love from her Savior and from her Heavenly Parents. She needed me that day, and through following the Spirit, I was able to meet her needs. I am so, SO sad that she had to go back to Austria, but I know that the seeds that were planted in her heart had a BIG effect on her. I will forever love ---- San. I am so grateful for the opportunity that we had to cross paths. What a beautiful blessing. It was so wonderful to have someone to teach and to love and to focus on. It was what George Shimai and I needed.
That was the biggest miracle this week. There were also lots of cool things we did! On Saturday night, we went out with Mitsuru, Ai, and Kosuke (some friends) and we ate cow tongue! Oh my gosh, it was DELICIOUS. You have no idea how good it was. It was super fancy, a kind that is especially famous in Sendai. It was awesome, probably the best food I have had in a long time. We also got to spend time with three of my favorite friends. It was a really good time.
This weekend, I got kind of sick. Well, I got sick. We got home from church and I slept all day and all night and woke up this morning feeling better! Thank goodness. I am doing well now though, so nothing to worry about.
Well, the time is coming down close to the nitty gritty! Only six weeks left in Japan! I got a letter from my dear friend Tatiana (who lives in Ishinomaki!) this week that was full of support and encouragement. She told me that when she was in her last transfer, she set a goal to place a whole box of Books of Mormon. Having a goal to work towards helped her stay focused, and it helped her and her companion work more in unity and have more love. This morning, I reread her letter and was thinking about what kind of goal I could set to help me stay focused this last transfer... I am still in the thinking stages, but I know that as I create a revelatory environment for myself, the Lord will help me set a good goal.
I know my Savior lives and that He loves me and you! I hope that you always remember that.
On Monday, September 15, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:
Thanks for the reassurance, Momma. Lately, I have not felt effective. AT ALL. But I guess that comes when you are companions with someone who does the work in a COMPLETELY different way than you. But that is okay. I am still loving with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. And yes, this is enough. I know that that is what I am here to do. That also includes loving my companion, and so right now, that is what I am working on.
With that being said, it was an interesting week here in Kamisugi. The biggest thing that happened was on Friday; we had a half-mission conference! A member of the North Asia Area Presidency, Elder Whiting, and his awesome wife came to visit us! All of the southern half of the mission gathered here in Kamisugi, so I got to see a lot of people that I wouldn't have gotten to see before I left! So that was good. The conference was good...ish. The morning session was one of those "question and answer" times with Elder Whiting, so it was just a big discussion. No one was brave enough to ask the first question, so of course, I raised my hand. The question I asked was this: as authorized representatives of the Savior Jesus Christ, how can we more fully access the blessings of the Priesthood in our daily work? I decided to ask this question because it is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have been given authority to represent my Savior, and I want to learn how to use that authority to be more effective. I know that the Priesthood is not a power that I can use for my own benefit. I know that it isn't like some sort of super-power like earth-bending or teleporting, but I know that the power of the Priesthood is real and that I have access to it everyday. So, my question was how. How can I access the blessings more fully? Well, Elder Whiting was cool and funny, but he didn't answer my question. What he said was "Your authority is not the Priesthood, and your power comes from the Holy Ghost." It made me sad to hear that. Yes, I agree that we must use the power of the Holy Ghost in this work, but if my authority doesn't come from the Priesthood, than what authority is it? It wouldn't be real authority. I loved Elder Oakes' talk in the last Conference from the Priesthood session. He mentions specifically that full-time sister missionaries have been blessed with the authority of the Priesthood. I know this is true. So, yes I was disappointed with Elder Whiting's answer, but that is okay. I can receive personal revelation for myself about this topic. The afternoon session of the conference was really good though. We talked about the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Spirit immediately entered the room as soon as we began to talk about the Savior. It is so amazing to me how that happens! People could be talking about church-related things all day long and not have the spirit, but as soon as the Savior is mentioned in an uplifting way, the Spirit is there. What a great blessing that is! I learned in the afternoon session of the conference that if I want to access the powers of the Priesthood more fully in my life right now, that I must access the powers of the atoning sacrifice of my Savior. He is the answer. Of course, He is ALWAYS the answer.
So, that was the main thing this week. It was a good experience. But what came after was so much better! I awoke to some revelation yesterday morning. It was a really interesting experience. We talked in the conference about creating a revelatory environment, and so I spent the rest of the day pondering what that means. And lo, and behold, I was blessed with revelation because I had sought in prayer and was studying it out in my mind! I woke up at 6:03 with a thought in my head that was clear as the sunshine on a summer day. The thought was this: "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all that you desire will be added unto you according to your righteousness." Lately, I have been having kind of a hard time focusing and wanting to still be a missionary. My focus has been on other things, like friends and music and home and fun things. I have been very distracted by lots of things, and it has been pretty detrimental to the work. I have been trying with all my might to figure out how to refocus and how to get back on track, and so I asked Heavenly Father to help the zone conference be an uplifting experience for me. So, when I received the revelation it was a good (and very literal) wake-up call for me. This was The Big People's way of telling me where my focus needs to be. As you can see, the wording of the revelation and the words of Christ from the scriptures are a bit different. I did some studying yesterday and as I searched the words of Christ, I was able to realize just how personal this revelation was; it was indeed just for me. So, now comes the part where the refocusing needs to happen. I need to develop the faith to sacrifice the good things I have now for the absolute best things in the future. I need to put off the natural Shakira and be Johnson Shimai for seven more weeks! I know that as I focus on the basics, prayer and scripture study, and focus on the Savior, that I will be able to realign myself and make these last weeks really count. I have faith in my Savior that He will help me do this.
Well, there were some awesomely fun things that happened this week too! Last P-Day, we went to a baseball game with some members and some friends! IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! Oh my gosh! The member that we went with, Sister Date, is an avid Eagles fan, and so she got us seats about 20 rows behind home plate! It was awesome! Unfortunately we had to leave at the bottom of the 6th (the natural Shakira was grumbling about this a LOT), and they were down 4 to 1. But apparently, after we left, they came back and won the game! So awesome. I am sad that we missed it, but I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone! Baseball in Japan is so different than in America, but it is still just as fun. I loved it. I want to go back. We went with Mitsuru (my violin-playing best friend) and Kosuke, a friend of ours from Eikaiwa. It was great to spend more time with them and get to know them even more. There was so much love there! I could feel it really strongly. It was awesome. Then, this weekend, there was a big Jazz Festival in Sendai! It is famous in Japan, and there were SO MANY PEOPLE here in Sendai. There were makeshift stages put up all over the city, and there was jazz going all weekend! It was wonderful to listen to as we rode our bikes to and fro. I miss Jazz. I miss music. So it was good to hear.
Speaking of music, yesterday we had the opportunity to perform a musical number in Sacrament meeting! It was me on cello, Money Shimai on violin, Gass Shimai on the piano, and George Shimai singing! Gass Shimai wrote the arrangement; it was a combination of "I'll go where you want me to go" and "My shepherd will supply my need." It was absolutely beautiful! And there were so many people who were there to hear it! I love performing music as a missionary because it is one of the ways in which I can really bear my testimony in a sincere way. The best part though, was that my friend Mitsuru came! He is the violin-playing one. We have been inviting him to come to church for a long time, and yesterday he finally came! I was so happy. And he said that he was moved by the musical number, that he almost had tears come out! Haha. That is the power of the Spirit in music right there. Yep. It was so great, and I am so happy that I got to share my testimony with him through music.
Another fun thing that happened this week was on Saturday night. So in Japan, there's this thing called Jiro ramen. It means BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG ramen. On Saturday night, we went with some friends and ate jiro ramen! It was INSANE! I thought I was going to die, but it was so much fun. It was one of those things that you can only do in Japan, and so it was a very fun time. I will send pictures of it later.
Well, I think that is about all from me. I finally feel better this week! I love you all. I hope that you can feel my love all the way from Japan. I hope you have a happy week!
Momma! Happy anniversary! I was thinking about you and Dad this morning, and that you have been together for 26 years! WOW ! That is such a long time! I love it. And I love that you and Dad are so in love. It is the best. It gives me hope.
I love you Momma! I hope you have a happy week!
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
On Monday, September 8, 2014 Sister Johnson wrote:
Hey Momma! Sorry it's the middle of the night for you!
Two months, Momma! TWO MONTHS! Wow. Boy, am I excited! What am I going to do with my two months? I am going to try my best to make it out of this alive! Haha. I know I will live. But will I LIVE?? I want to live. I want to love. I want to make peace. I want to feel peace. I want to be happy. I had a discussion with my companion this week about how we could better work in unity. We have been having it rough for a few days; we tend to have differing opinions on a lot of things. But, we sat down and we talked out our differences, and I feel that we are going to be more understanding of each other in the coming weeks. I am so grateful that the Lord has blessed me with the gift of love and empathy. It helps a lot in establishing a firm foundation, especially in companion relationships. I love George Shimai so much, and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to work with her here in Kamisugi. I hope that we will be able to see miracles together.
This week was slow. We don't have anyone to teach right now, but we still have a lot of people to love! I was sitting on the stand in sacrament meeting yesterday because I was leading the music, and so I quizzed myself to see how many people in the chapel I could name. I was able to successfully name ALL the members that were in attendance yesterday! It was about 100 people! My heart was filled with love as I looked at each member's face, thought of their name, and thought about my relationship with them. It was a great time for me, and I felt lots of love! :
Nothing really happened here this week... So, I am sorry that I don't have much to tell you. But know that I am happy and healthy, and trying to not think about coming home TOO much. My head is still in Japan. I'm doing my best.
I love you Momma! SO much. Keep on the sunny side of life! These next two months will be faster than we even know! I love you! And! I love Jesus. :)
Thursday, September 4, 2014
On Monday, September 1, 2014 Sister Johnson Wrote:
Well, I only have an hour today, so I need to write quick! We are going bowling as a district, so we are shortening our email time this week. I am excited, it should be good. Our district really, REALLY needs the bonding time. It doesn't feel like we are working in unity at all here anymore... So, the time to get to know each other and be friends is MUCH needed. I am looking forward to it.
This week was a pretty sad one; we can no longer visit Itosaka San, my beloved friend. Every time we would go to visit her, she would just talk for hours and hours. I loved listening to her, but she really had no interest in our message as missionaries. I am very sad. Itosaka San is my soul sister and I will miss her a lot. But I know that in her, I have found an eternal friend, and I am looking forward to seeing her again someday. She promised me that she would write., so I hope that she does. I cried when we left. It was sad.
Also this week, we attended a funeral. The mother of a less-active brother in our ward suddenly passed away, and so we were asked to attend the funeral to show him support. Sisters Gass, Money, and I were also asked to perform a musical number, so I got to play my cello for people again! It was the first time I have been able to do that since Izumi last year! The Spirit flooded the room as we performed "Come Unto Jesus," and I could feel the love of God in the room. It was a good service and I know that Brother Akiho felt the love. There was also a miracle that came from this funeral! Brother Akiho hadn't been to church in over 20 years, and yesterday he came! He said that he wants to start coming back to church! Yay! From now on, he will be working with the Elders. I am so happy that he felt the love and recognized it.
Last Thursday, Sister George and I with Elders Willey and Slade went to a free Japanese class at the international center here in Sendai. I had heard from Elder Willey that the teacher was super strict, and that he would clean up my Japanese real nice. Little did I know how TRUE that was! Holy cow! The teacher's name is Harada Sensei (teacher), and he kicked my BUTT! Let me tell you. It was hilarious and awesome and my confidence was completely shattered! That makes for a good Japanese class, I think. According to Harada Sensei, my Japanese is wayyyyy too familiar, meaning that I don't use enough polite language when talking with my superiors. I just treat everyone like a friend, what can I say? There was one point when he was showing us the textbook he made for the class from scratch, and I said "O-tsukaresama desu," which is roughly translated to "Wow, you worked hard! Good job!" Apparently you are NEVER EVER supposed to say that to your teacher. He grabbed my head in that moment and said "NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!" Haha. It was hilarious. He really isn't a scary man, even though he sounds scary. He is hilarious and I am looking forward to going to his class again.
On Saturday, we had an activity with the young women in the ward! We made little bow necklaces that are adorable and they all match! The two young women, Ran Chan and Rinako Chan, are so cute and they are hilarious. I love them. It was good to be able to bond with them even more. I love the members in the Kamisugi ward, and I am happy to be here serving and working with them.
Well, there isn't much left to tell! I am still here, and life is still moving. Jesus is still my Savior. I love you all so much and I hope that you have a happy week!