Monday, July 28, 2014

From the Land of the Rising Sun

To my FAMILY! I love you! 

Here is the latest and greatest:

Last Tuesday me and Isogai Shimai went to visit a less active brother for his birthday. It turned out he wasn:t home, but we got to talk to his mom, who is also less active, for a little bit. 

Then we decided to do some housing on that street. I actually really loved it! I held a Book of Mormon and just felt more happy and enjoyed trying to talk with people. The last house we visited, the lady told us right off the bat that she wasn:t interested, but instead of just accepting that and moving on like usual, I just asked her if she was Buddhist, and from there had a good 15 minute conversation with her. She was actually really friendly! 

She talked about how Buddhists really focus on their ancestors, and I felt like I should invite her to do family history, but I didn:t....I wish I would have been more brave! Sometimes though its still a little hard to know quite what my companion and what people are saying exactly. But I guess I shouldn:t let that stop me. As we were saying goodbye, she shook our hands and thought they felt too warm, so she invited us into her genkan and gave us mogi cha to drink to cool down, even though it was night and really cool outside. 

After leaving and we were walking back to our bikes I was like "I LIKE DENDO!" And I really meant it! Which, I guess I:m just telling you dear family this story, not because its some amazing "last house" missionary story, but to share my real life with you....  Feelings of both happy and content and liking being a missionary and also still having feelings of fear and disappointment. 

This week I got to have my first real interview with President Smith! It was amazing! I love Pres. Smith already! His big thing is this: "If you want more faith, be more obedient." Right now he is really focusing on and feels that the people in the Sendai mission, need to know that God loves them. It is so sad, to see just how many sad and unconfident faces there are here. Every ONE needs to know that they are loved; that there is a God, and He loves them. I really think President Smith is right, because that is exactly what President Monson:s last talk was about: loving God and loving our fellow brothers and sisters. President Smith challenged me and my companion to tell 100 people that God loves them, and he promised us that if we did, probably 99 of them will not be interested, but promised us that at least 1 person will want to hear more! I believe that and want to act on that promise! 

I told President Smith how that very morning during companionship study, I had practiced in Japanese that very thing...telling people that God loves them. So right then, he asked me to show him what I:d practiced. He gave me 10 seconds to get the message out that God loves him, but by the time he:d "closed the door" I was still trying to get out that we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   Then he showed me how he would do it. He "knocked" on my my door and then his very first words were that God loves me.  He said that people may forget the name of the church, if that is all they hear before closing the door; but if all they hear before closing the door is that God loves them, then they will always remember that. And later down the road, when their time is right to let the missionaries in, they will remember that. 

This week all 8 of us missionaries and a few of our investigators/recent converts went to the house of a man that the elders have been working with. The man:s house has been really dirty, so they:ve been cleaning it up and teaching him a little about the Gospel I think. They made the goal that once it was cleaned up, they would have an party! So Friday night was the day that they could finally have a party! We all went to the man:s house (he lives all alone with his cat) and made dinner and sang hymns and filled his house with talking and music and good food. Thats been one of the most surprising and sad things for me to see here on my mission, is how many people live all alone, even young college kids. I:m grateful though that we could go and bring some happiness to this man and help him not feel so alone. 

Yesterday on Sunday, our investigator Miyuki san came to church! Oh, how much I love Miyuki san! She is a good soul! She has been an investigator for a really long time, but still hasn:t been baptized yet. Her husband is really against her getting baptized and though she loves the church and God, she still isn:t quite 100% committed. Anyways, I love her still. She speaks English well and even though she:s a lot older than me, we can still just laugh together and love each other. This coming weekend is the biggest Festival here in Morioka!!! I:m SO excited! Miyuki san will be playing a big drum in the parade, so I hope we can see her in it! 

After church Rio Shimai got her recommend to go to the Temple to do baptisms in a couple of weeks! And then also did family history and is taking a family name to the Temple! Whoo-hoo!!! 
It was so good to see the light in her eyes and how excited she was about it all! Us missionaries also just got permission that we can do our own family history now during companionship study if we want! I love family history! Mama, I remember just a week or so before leaving on my mission, when we were driving in the car and telling you how I want to do family history so much, and I remember you turned to me and said, "Dont forget." I loved that. I haven:t forgotten! 

I really love a sister in our branch here. Her husband isn:t a member, but she is so faithful and drives a long way to come to church everyweek with her two little kids. She can also speak english really well, and whenever I call her she answers in english for me! She is the sister that we did service for when I first came to Morioka (we pulled her weeds a couple of times). I feel like that really started our trust and friendship, because now she is coming to us and asking us to do cooking activities with her to invite her non-member friend to, or to invite less-active/sisters who are struggling right now, to come to. I:m so grateful for this sister and I love her! 

Me and my companion Isogai Shimai are getting along great! She is my favorite Japanese companion I:ve had! I feel like I can be more myself around her and we have been having more fun and laughing this week! Its such a good thing to be able to become a friend with someone on the other side of the world, who:s life and family is different from me. Learning from her is giving me so much perspective and gratitude. Oh, family, we would do good if we never, ever complained again in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for.

Last night while me and Isogai Shimai ate dinner I started asking her more about her running. I think I told you before, but she was like a WAY legit runner! Her team was #1 in Japan. She got paid to run, like it was her job! But she was telling me how boring and absolutely exhausting it was to run and train for hours and hours day after day after day. She ran 1500 meters (1 mile?) in 4 min 39 sec! Its so interesting, because as she is telling me this, I:m thinking its amazing and SO fast and I:m trying to tell her that, but she is just like, "no, no, its so slow." 

Butler Shimai is also in our apartment and I just love her too! We have so much fun together and dance and listen to our favorite EFY songs over and over together and sometimes exercise out on the porch together in the mornings. 

I love you my family!! OH, how much I love you! 

Keep praying for me, especially that I can be brave! I am always praying for you! I LOVE YOU!

Kingu Shimai

Monday, July 21, 2014

Japan is so Japanesey

Hi Mama! I can:t wait to hear all about your Nauvoo experience! I love having my Nauvoo pageant t-shirt here with me on my mission and to remember that experience we had together! I love the quote on the back of the t-shirt "And giving of ourselves there was so much to give!" 

My new companion is good! The first week was a little stressful and hard, just trying to be with a new person, but we are becoming better friends now and laughing more, which is good! We went running one morning around the lake with the other sisters this last week. It was so fun and guess what? I saw a real life turtle swimming in the lake!!! 

My gear is holding up good! But, I guess I could use some more thick skin colored nylons. I know you sent a bunch in your Christmas package, but I wear them basically everyday, so I could use some more if thats okay. 

Exactly ONE YEAR later! Mataoa Shimai was at our apartment because we had Zone Training meeting the next day, so we got to celebrate our 1 year mark together!

Morioka is sweet and kind of quaint.
Japan is so Japanesey sometimes! Maybe that sounds weird, like well, of course...but sometimes I just look around me and soak in how wonderfully Japanesey Japan the city, lots of buses and lights and people riding their bikes, women walking down the side walk with sun umbrellas; and out in the country, lots of beautiful rice fields and cool Japanese yards.

Do you know about the amazing Christ video? Probably. But I just saw it for the first time this last week and I LOVE IT. Its on called "Find out what is possible because of Jesus Christ".  It made me cry when I saw it for the first time. I love the perspective it gives, that really, everything about life, absolutely EVERYTHING is affected because of Christ. He really is in and through all aspects of our everyday life. I love that. And I love HIM! 

We went and did service at the old folks home this week and an old grandpa gave me a lil` spank-er-roo on the bottom! Whoo! 

This week we had zone training meeting; we taught Rio Shimai about Patriarchal blessings; we had a talent show and us 4 missionary sisters did the upsidedown chin faces thing; we visited a couple of less active sisters and invited them to church, but sadly neither of them came; we got to teach a couple of our investigators, Haruka chan is slowly learning more about Christ and the Plan of Salvation, and she wants to believe it! 


Grandma and Grandpa Kerr! Thank you for the wonderful package! I love the skirts!!!!! 
Mom lets be twinners! 

Love Kingu Shimai

Monday, July 14, 2014

Portions of a handwritten letter from Courtney to her mom

Here are a couple of really good moments from my week:

Singing the closing hymn “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” with everyone at the end of Pres and Sis. Rasmussen’s last talk/meeting here in Morioka.  They go home in just a few days.  That was such a good mission-y moment.  Just looking up at this President and Sister Rasmussen who have loved me so much and who I love so much and singing the hymn.  Then later, standing outside and waving goodbye as they left.  Pres. Rasmussen rolled his window down and said, “Hoorah for Israel!”

On Saturday I walked into the chapel before the Saturday sessions of the Morioka District Conference.  Sister Rasmussen was standing in there and next to her was a lady I’d never seen before.  They were talking but as soon as I walked in I went over and greeted them.  The lady standing next to Rasmussen Shimai is a member in a different area, but was there for the District Conference.  She is from Indonesia!  

I didn’t know any of that though, ‘cause I’d never met or seen here before.  But it was so funny and amazing meeting her though.  She was a complete stranger, but the second we met…literally the second we met, she made me feel like we were dear friends being reunited after a long time!  It’s hard to explain it!  But she was so excited and loved me so much right from the get-go!  It was so sweet to feel that much love from my Indonesian sister, who I’d never met before!  

We took a picture together, so I’ll send that to you!  The cool thing is it wasn’t even weird.  It didn’t matter to her that I was a stranger, that I was a lot younger than her, that I am from a different country…none of that mattered!  It’s always good to love people, no matter what.  

Something that I like thinking about and that I want to do is this:  Treat everyone like it’s their birthday!  Make ‘em feel like a million bucks and tell them how much they are loved!

I want to be really kinder to everyone!  I want to be able to show love more freely.  Being kind and real love is the most powerful thing in the world- and it’s the only thing that really matters.  Everyone needs to be loved and feel more mercy.  

This morning I read in Moroni 7 about charity.  In verse 45 it talks about how charity is being kind, not envying, not being prideful- which I love that description and when I think of charity that’s usually the kind of things I associate with charity.  But later in the verse, something new stood out to me- “Charity…believeth all things…”  I’ve never really thought of being believing as having charity!  But isn’t that cool? It makes sense though.  

When we really, really believe in Christ,
·         believe we are loved,
·         believe in goodness,
·         believe that life is beautiful,
·         believe we can love others- even if we are different ages, from different countries, speaking different languages.

when we cultivate believing,
·         we can love Christ because we believe Him,
·         we can receive being loved because we believe we’re worth it,
·         we can love the goodness in the world and in people because we believe in it,
·         we can love this beautiful life, and we can love others! 

When we believe all things, we can have charity!
I love you Mama!  I will try and be kind and love!  Thank you for always loving me!
You are Loved.
Love Courtney Elise