Oh my sweet sweet fam fam fam!!!
What an adventure it is here in the land of Japan! I don't even know where to start in telling you about our week. It's been crazy!
I was asked to bear my testimony in Church this week! I love our ward and the people here. Testifying was so fun! I know that the Lord TRULY does answer prayers. Every day I pray for you sweet fam! I know He hears me, even if it's a little prayer when we are biking in the rain. I miss you so much. Sometimes I just see all of your cute faces, or think about what you would love over here and want so much for you to share in my experiences. I love you! Thanks for being the best family ever. :)
Having that said!! Yesterday was crazy. After I got to speak in Church, one of our investigators came and handed my companion a paper talking about a cultural event that was free to showcase talents... that day next door. (She can beat box!) We went over and ended up singing "I Am a Child of God" in English, and she beatboxed it after. Life can be so surprising sometimes! I never thought I'd see a Sunday standing in front of thirty people, many intercultural but all speaking Japanese, announcing that we were missionaries... (I don't know if we are supposed to do that, I'm probably one of those awkward missionaries!) I never thought I'd be dragged into doing the Tokushima dance Awadori... ha ha. Missionary work is a lot different than I thought it would be. Each day, I just pray that I can follow His will and find those people that are ready to recieve.
As far as miracles, I want to tell you about a few amazing days. One day we got out of our apartment and there was the sweetest, happiest Japenese lady walking two little dogs. (In the MTC, I always wondered why they told you what form of language to speak to dogs in... we thought that was weird. Remember that this lady has dogs, and keep reading.) We invited her to our English class and she came this week. We got to go walking with her, and my companion was telling her we have a message, but I don't think it came out . She looked at us and said "Kikitai!" which is like... "I want to hear!", which preceded, "Oshiete kudasai!" which is like... "Please teach me!" We get to meet with her this week and we are so excited. We really felt as if the Lord had prepared people and we are looking for them... and we really feel blessed to have found this sweet woman of God. She told us in our first meeting that she had a bible and was reading it. This is Tani San! She is so great and bursting with happiness, I can't wait to just give her sweet spirit more, and how it seems like maybe she's on a search she doesn't know that she is on.
As for our Yamamoto's! One is a woman and one is a man. We got to meet Yamamoto Shingo San a few times this week. He is a former investigator (of about 10 years), so it will be interesting to see how his story pans out. This week we asked him to start to read the Book of Mormon again from the beginning, he is very smart and I can't tell yet exactly where his interest is. Whenever we send him a passage to read, he reads it and really enjoys it though. Hopefully he can read this book from God and recognize it as such. I think he can if he wants to. It will be wonderful to see how the Lord can work with this man if he chooses to turn more to Him and accept more light!!
Our other Yamamoto (Miyuki) is doing great. Our lesson with her went well, but we haven't been able to meet with her a lot. I think she is starting to feel more of a difference in her life by learning about God. It was like when I was speaking on Sunday, and I looked out to see the Elder's new investigator in the audience, beaming at me. Later he told the Elder's that from the testimonies, he is starting to believe in God. Tehre is like a pre-step in Japan, and for a lot of the sweet Japanese people it is learning to accept that there is a God. And she is coming!!
We have a few other people that are really informal as of now.... oh yeah, back to the miracles! So that day we walk out and found this sweet Japanese woman standing outside of our apartment, and then we go to visit a member who got out of the hospital. She isn't in, but as we are walking, we say hi to this sweet obachan (grandma). She is excited to see my blonde hair and explains that her daughter lives in Canada. She asks us to walk with her (I think that's how it happened), walking arm in arm and she just keeps saying how HAPPY she is, and how lonely she has been. After our walk around the block, we tell her we will come back and walk again. We just keep finding these people who seem very primed, talking to US, etc. We are excited to go visit her and her sweet family again!
We had a nice, what felt like, interfaith conference with a Jehovah Witness missionary this week. We also found this wonderful park right by where we live! Some places just have a good feeling, like you know you will find people there. There is a big daigaku (university) like 20 mins from our house... and then we find out that there is ANOTHER UNIVERSITY so close to our house, by this pleasant little park!
Let me tell you about my evening last night!
We met the sweetest Catholic grandma who speaks wonderful English, and we had a great chat with her; as well as another older woman walking her dogs one day. We decided to chat with the first lady again, and that was last night. As we chatted, we saw the second lady and she invited us all to her house earnestly. She is super funny. She graduated from the university close and worked there, and told us the first meeting that she only speaks Japanese and she is Buddhist, but she is super funny. So we go to this sweet lady's house, end up with orange juice in front of us, kneeling at this table. It is common to heat something where everyone kneels as far as I can tell; this one has a heater underneath it with thick blankets on the outside... and she LOVES DOGS. She is showing us photo albums and probably every three pages is another row of pictures of her dogs. The picture on the wall is of her dogs. Her dog is under the table getting warm (her dogs are both very nice)... Both of these ladies have such big hearts, and are SO SWEET. I wish and hope we can find a way to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them! So we are sitting at this very Buddhist, sweet, kind ladies table drinking orange juice, being giving gorumet treats, being given hand made oragami roses that are very difficult... after which we make our own paper cranes from Japanese oragami paper. They are so wonderful and their hearts are so big. I wish I could tell you all about it. I know that God loves every one of His children. We get to walk with them again this week, I hope we can find a way to share what we do with these sweet ladies. We've talked a little bit! I hope and pray that we can find a way to share with them what they aren't sure they are looking for yet... they are so sweet though, and just like our friends. It is truly an incredible experience, and I feel blessed that the Lord is helping us learna little more about the Japanese people and culture.
It's strange, but I told my ward that this feels like home. It is not my home, but it is like my home. It is so hard to describe, but when you are on a mission... it feels like you came home to a home you didn't know you were away from, a different kind of home. I love the sweet people here. I love their beautiful hearts, I love their wonderful honor for good things, I pray each day for the Lord to help us find those who are prepared to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that they are here!
So! That is more or less the work. It is hard work but so rewarding when you get to feel God's love for others. But I also know that the Lord is preparing wonderful souls to hear the Gospel, who have been primed to learn of all of the wonderful joy ahead of them. I hope this letter makes sense! The work is true! Pray for us like I know you always do. We want to teach so much, I know that the Lord will help us find and teach these wonderfully prepared people.
I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY! I know that the Lord will be with all of us, He always is. Know that the Lord LIVES and loves you!!
With so much more to say and even more love,
Andason Shimai :) (my katakana name)