Monday, July 29, 2013

I passed my 1 month anniversary of being in Japan!

Hey Hey Hey! Another fabulous week has happened here in Kitami. And another fabulous week has happened in the work of the gospel! Most importantly I have had curry about 4 times this week, all substantial helpings. Just kidding that's not the most important thing that`s happened but I thought you all should know. It`s a good thing it's delicious haha. I think people here think we starve ourselves because they always give us so much food when we eat with them. But I'm grateful for it:) In other food related news...We went to this lady`s house that we met housing last week and we made an appointment to come back on friday to visit some more. Well she had forgotten about us haha but she was really nice and invited us inside. Everytime you go into someones house they want to feed you and give you drinks and what not especially because it`s so warm outside. So after we talked for a little bit she got up and went to the kitchen to get us something to drink and she asked us something and then Nanjo shimai asked me if I can drink soymilk. I said yes and then the lady brought us two full glasses of what looked like chocolate milk. It smelled really good and Nanjo shimai and I both took a drink right away and we're like, wo that`s good. It tasted like something smelled. Like the taste of it was a familiar smell, if that makes sense but I couldn`t figure out why. And then Nanjo shimai saw the carton and was like, coffee! The lady was like no, no coffee. So Nanjo shimai looked at the ingredients and sure enough there was coffee in it haha. We felt so bad because we had some big cups full of it and we`d drank out of them but we explained that we don`t drink coffee and the lady was really nice about it and said it`s okay. So that was an exciting experience. 

This past week we met a couple new investigators! Hopefully they will be open to the lessons and have a desire to learn more. Yesterday we were housing in an area that was having no positive response. That's pretty regular but it just felt like we weren't accomplishing anything. Then out of nowhere (spirit obviously) I remembered that Nanjo shimai had mentioned sometime ago that she wanted to go housing around where one of our Potential investigators lives. She agreed that we should go there so we rode our bikes there and started housing down a street. We still weren`t getting any positive feedback and then finally we came to this green house. We buzzed the intercom and a lady responded and I introduced who we are and the message we're sharing with people. We asked her if she's talked with missionaries like us before and she said she had but only about movies haha (elders). After a little bit she went off the intercom and came to the front door and invited us into the shoe area inside the doorway. We talked with her there for 30 or 40 minutes about the gospel and some other stuff. She was so nice and it felt so comfortable talking to her and I was able to speak more than I usually do. She said that right now she doesn't really think about whether or not God exists (very normal here) and that she`s not really interested in our message. But she said that if she becomes interested in it, then she will be in it 100%. She was so nice and funny and we want to teach her so bad. I know we were led to her by the spirit and that we were meant to talk with her for a reason. Whether she accepts the gospel now or not we were able to introduce her to it and maybe start her thinking about God and if he does exist. 

Sometimes when we meet people who are really nice and like talking to us but they don't accept the gospel it`s really hard and I think that they've missed their opportunity. But the great thing about God`s plan is that it includes everyone. He has a plan for everyone and if people don't accept the gospel from us, we've planted that seed and touched their life even if for only a moment, so that sometime in the future when they're ready they will accept it. I love talking about the gospel with people! I'm a little nervous everytime we go out to go housing or streeting or go to a lesson, but without fail as soon as I start talking about the gospel or bearing my testimony I feel calm and I can't stop smiling. It`s such an amazing feeling! 

Yesterday I met the area 70 for Hokkaido. He lives in Sapporo in Nanjo Shimai's old area so he recognized her and came and talked to us before church and then he talked to us afterwards for a while. He's super cool and funny. But I have to go so I'll have to tell you more next week!
Love you all!
Murray Shimai

Monday, July 22, 2013

Zone Conference was AWESOME!

So we had Zone Conference in Obihiro this last week, for which we had to ride on a city bus for 5 hours! haha it was fun ;) So we actually ended up going on Tuesday instead of Wednesday so that we could do splits in Obihiro before and after zone conference. At first I was really nervous to do splits because I`m comfortable with my companion etc, but it was so much fun! Also 2 of my MTC sisters are in Obihiro and it was so much fun to spend time with them. But the highlight was most definitely zone conference. The workshops were all so amazing and I feel like every one was given just for me. One of the workshops was about being bold and I was thinking about how I`ve been really afraid to speak because I don't know a lot of words and what I do know doesn't usually come out in correct sentences and what not but during the workshop I was sitting there and I just got this feeling that I can do this! I'm sharing the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and sure, people might not be able to completely understand what I say but they will understand that they feel something new and different. In one of our lessons on Saturday we were teaching the Plan of Salvation to this really cute lady and at certain points I said what we practiced but then at other times I felt that I should ask a question and later I felt like I should share a personal experience. And at first I was like, no, that's just me.... the lesson is going fine I don't need to ask that. And I was afraid that she wouldn't understand me. But as the lesson went on I kept thinking about it and how this message is so important and how Heavenly Father knows her and her needs and so I need to listen to the Spirit. So after that I spoke when I felt like I should and my personal experience definitely was a jumble of broken sentences and long pauses but I felt the spirit so strong. In one of the devotionals at the MTC the speaker said to speak even when it's not correct, even when we're not sure how to make it work, because the Spirit will make it work. And I know that's what happened in that lesson. 
So it`s been a really good week full of learning and growing experiences. I know Heavenly Father is mindful of us and he knows when we're struggling and when we're discouraged. He knows when and how to send us help and comfort. I love this gospel so much and I know that it's true!

Saturday night the branch had a single adult activity night which was really fun. There were like 8 people there haha. We played ping-pong! and they asked me how good I was and I'm like, oh I'm a master, you know just joking around like I do. Because in my mind I'm thinking all Japanese people are awesome at ping-pong. Well they were good but somehow I beat everyone I played. I don't know. Missionary power I guess. It was really fun though just to be able to relax and have some fun. 

Today we have a district activity and we're going hiking! I don't remember where but I'm excited and it feels great to wear shorts and a t-shirt outside haha. 

P.S. Everyone, the bike accident really wasn't that bad. I could play ultimate frisbee right after it happened so it was all good. I was just being dramatic in my last email haha. 

Oh I forgot to mention something about zone conference. So after lunch we went back up into a room and Sister Evans rolled out this white board with 5 names on it and mine was on it and there were gift bags under each name and a big happy birthday banner so I got to celebrate my birthday again haha. And then all the beans (beanchan, greenie) had to sit in a row in the middle of the room and everyone else was staring at us and we're like, what is happening, is this some kind of initiation thing that's going to be wierd? But we just had to introduce ourselves and then everyone came and gave us presents. Like candy or little things. So much stuff. It was pretty awesome. Oh and something else exciting, we missed our bus Friday morning to come back to Kitami and the next one wasn't for an hour and a half! So we were at the bus station early and then we had like 10 minutes before it came and Nanjo shimai is like, oh we're going to be on the bus for 5 hours, I think I want some food! So we booked it around the corner to the Seico Mart and bought some snacks and then booked it back and the Elders are like, "ya we missed the bus" haha. So we went back and did personal study and then came back to the bus station. It was great fun! 

Anyways it was an awesome week! Love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers, I always feel them when I need a boost!
Murray Shimai

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week 3

Hello America! 
This past week has been Fabulous! I crashed on, or I should say off, my bike for the first time on Wednesday. We were on the way to the park to play frisbee with our district so luckily I was wearing shorts. I find it kind of funny that the time I crash on my bike is the only time I`m not wearing a skirt. Anyways the curbs here are really intense and my bike tires are like road tires and so I was trying to go up onto the sidewalk but the front tire got stuck on the curb and my body was leaning to the side anticipating going up and over the curb. So you can guess what happened. Right as a car was going by...that was great haha. I got a gnarly bruise on my left hip so sleeping the past several nights has been fun:) Oh so I`ve seen the inside of a Japanese police station. I was only locked up for a couple of days. Just kidding. It was the Elders of course. We were doing dkk on thursday morning and Nielson choro called and was like, "Hey so we`re on our way to the police station, so can you come?" haha and we`re like, are they serious. And then one of the Police officers talked to Nanjo Shimai on the phone and to make a long story short, the elders got stopped by the police for some biking regulation and Fepuleai`i choro didn`t have his gaijin card which is really bad. His card was in Sapporo at the honbu (mission home) along with his passport. So he and Nielson choro had to stay at the police station until elders from Sapporo got there. So from like 3 to 9. The workers at the police station were all super friendly and I guess the cop who brought them to the police station wanted to talk to them about the church but he had to leave. Exciting stuff. 

The other day we were housing near an elementary school right when school got out and we saw one of the girls from church so we went over to say hi and she was with a couple friends who kept staring at me and could say hello but that was it. then pretty soon there were more girls and some of them ran up to more girls and was like `come on! there`s a foreigner!` haha so within like 5 minutes I was standing in front of a bunch of ten year old girls all staring at me and saying `hello`  so ya I don`t think I will ever be self-concious again. People who like attention should move here because every single person you pass will stare at you. Little kids especially.

Some exciting news is we have several new investigators! One of them was a referral that we went to visit and she`s this really cute older lady and when we said we were missionaries for the church she was really nice and talked with us for a while but then said she wasn`t interested in hearing more. But we kept talking to her and she told us that her sister had recently passed away and she said that she remembered learning something about resurrection before. So we taught her about the plan of salvation briefly in her doorstep and after we finished she invited us in and talked to us for a while longer. We asked her if we could come back and teach her more and she said yes! Super exciting. The Lord has people he has and is preparing to hear the gospel and he will lead them to us or us to them. It`s really special and exciting to be a part of this work. Every time I get frustrated or stressed about language or whatever, something really great will happen and I`ll feel okay about everything. I know that we`re never alone and that we are meant to go through challenges and trials so that we can learn and grow. I love the gospel so much and I love that it`s the same every where we go and the spirit is the same! 

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!
Murray Shimai

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 2 in Kitami: transfer 1

So humidity is taking a little getting used to. I`m pretty sure the Lord is really helping me out here though because before my mission I`m pretty sure I would have shriveled up and died in this weather. But it`s all new and fun to experience. So this week, hmmm. Well, for one, riding a bike with a skirt is always an adventure. Especially when you have almost Rexburg level winds some days. This past week we biked all over Kitami because it`s really hard to find people`s houses here. I mean it`s impossible for me but Nanjo shimai tells me it`s hard and we usually end up retracing our steps several times and sometimes we just go housing and hope we`ll find the people we`re looking for. Housing is also interesting. So many people are buddhist. I learned the word for that real fast haha. Everyone else says they're busy. I think every person in Japan is in a hurry somewhere. This one house we went to we rang the doorbell and knocked and this man came out. We said Konnichiwa and he just turned around and walked inside without saying anything haha. I guess our smiles aren`t as nice as we think haha. And there are so many dogs here. A lot of them are tied up outside and bark like crazy when we bike past. 

Let`s see...I`ve had tuna or maguri (I think) which is raw tuna, raw salmon and something else that Nanjo shimai didn`t know what it is called in english so I just tried it and it was pretty good. The raw tuna will take a little getting used to. It`s not gross-- the texture is just interesting. So at the beginning of the week we met this lady who we thought is an inactive member but she`s actually not a member at all. She was really friendly to us because her son and his family are really active in the church I guess. Anyways she invited us to this Japanese instrument concert on Saturday and so we got permission to go and we met her there. It was really cool. I kept almost falling asleep but it was way cool. I don`t know what they`re called but it`s like a flat box thing that sits on the table and they play it sitting down. So we had to leave early to get to a teaching appointment but it was fun. Okay I forgot to say that that morning I had tried Nato for the first time. Nato is like fermented beans that are a nasty sticky mess and are so not yummy. There aren`t many things that I can`t stomach and I think this might be one of those things. So I`m really full and sort of sick from eating Nato for breakfast still by the time we are biking to our teaching appointment. So we get to the lady`s house and she gives us these dough balls that had like strawberry shortcake inside. It sounds weird but it was delicious. So I was like okay I can handle this...I`m good for a few days, but I can handle eating this. Well after we were done with the lesson the lady fixes us dinner. Haha I think my eyeballs must have been popping out of my head by the time we left her house. And the dinner was a rice mixture with some nice thick slices of raw tuna on top :D I manage to finish this large bowl of food and then I go to eat this little side salad she made. I think okay it`s just some vegetables I can do this. Well I take one bite and I don`t know what kind of sauce was on it but I literally thought my mouth was on fire. It was so hot and I`m trying to just look natural as my face feels like it`s 1000 degrees. She also gave us cans of a vegetable juice so I thought that would help disperse the flames so I open that and sort of half chug it and it did not taste good at all but I still have more salad to finish so I keep drinking it while taking a drink of water intermittently. And then she asked us if we wanted dessert and we said we were full so she just dishes us up a small dish of dessert haha. I don`t know how I got back on my bike after that. Oh and just as were about to leave she brings out this entire case of juice boxes of that vegetable juice haha. Good stuff. 

So that was my fun adventure for this week. The work is going. We`re really trying to build our relationship with the ward members and get them excited to share the gospel with friends because we don`t ever really get anywhere with housing or streeting. So hopefully we will have more people to teach soon! 

Hope everyone is doing fabulous! Love you all!
Murray Shimai

Monday, July 1, 2013

first week in Japan!

I`m in Japan...what? Haha it`s really great here. Kitami is awesome! It was a five hour bus ride from Sapporo! Ya crazy. But it was such a beautiful drive. Basically the whole drive was through green countryside, so pretty. We`ve been housing and streeting a lot because we just got here and don`t have many investigators. The elders transferred some of their investigators to us so hopefully we will be able to make progress with those. One of the sisters already has a baptismal date so that`s exciting. Oh and on Saturday there was a baptism so that was an awesome way to start the area. Church yesterday was fun. I can`t really understand what anyone says except for some words and phrases I can pick out here and there. Nanjo Shimai and I introduced ourselves in Sacrament meeting and bore our testimonies. I think I did okay. The members told me my Japanese is good but they're also just really nice so I`m not sure haha. It`s hard because in the MTC we only learn gospel terms and how to teach gospel things so I`m working on learning casual conversation language. But the members are all super nice and very excited about having sister missionaries. 

So what else. I got my bike the other day. It`s so nice having the bike now because we can go to more places and it`s just plain funner riding a bike than walking haha. Um, our apartment is nice. There is only the two of us so it`s pretty spacious. The church building is like a 5 minute bike ride so that`s really nice, too. 

So housing and streeting. It`s interesting because like, I`m not really nervous at all even though I have a very, very limited vocabulary. Most people say they`re busy or don`t have time or whatever. All the houses and apartments have doorbells that you push and some have speakers so the people will answer through that and we start explaining who we are and our message and they will either open the door or say they don`t need it or something like that. But some people will listen to us and accept our pamphlet about church. A lot of the doors we go to no one is home so we ring the doorbell twice, then knock and say `Konnichiwa` and then knock and say `gomen kudasai` and then we put the pamphlet in the mail slot in the door. It`s great fun. You don`t have to speak a language to know when you`re being rejected haha. Someone closing the door while you`re still talking is a pretty clear sign. 

We start teaching eikaiwa (english class) this week. YAY! English. That will be fun. Yesterday after church there was a potluck that was delicious. And the other night we went to dinner with the elders and the ward mission leader at a sushi place across the street from our apartment. So you sit at your table and running all through the room along the tables is a conveyor belt. At your table there is a computer screen where you click and order the sushis or whatever you want and when they are coming past your table the screen flashes and shows which one is coming. I don't know if that makes any sense but it was really cool. 

But ya so Japan is great so far. People drive cars and there are 7-elevens everywhere and it looks sort of like America except that there are only Japanese people everywhere and little kids stare at me when I walk by them. So ya the gospel is the same even across the ocean! Love you all!
Murray shimai

**Below is a post that Lynell sent on June 26, 2013 when she first arrived in Japan:

Hey so I got to Japan! It's pretty awesome. Kind of like the first day of the MTC except with jetlag so it's been fun. I got my trainer! Her name is Nanjo shimai and she is Japanese! I'm so excited! Oh and more awesome news, we are opening a new area for sisters. So my first area, where I get to be trained for two transfers is an area where sisters have never been before! How awesome is that! I think it's pretty great. Well sorry this is just an "I'm alive" email so it's short. I'll tell all in my p-day email. We get to go out an talk to people in the street until dinner. Yipeee! I'll talk to you all next week! Love you:)