Sister Jena Anderson

Sister Jena Anderson
Entered the MTC December 28th, 2011 and left for Kobe, Japan March 12th!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Sister Jen has a new niece! Brenna Eve Soulier was born to Rob and Lolly Soulier May 25th. She is 21 inches long and weighed in at exactly eight pounds. She is the fifth child - welcomed by her siblings Ellie, Ryan, Trevor, and Sterling. We are thrilled with our beautiful twenty-sixth grand child. :)

Sister Jena's weekly letter:

Dear Fam, I love you!

So fun to see pictures of baby Brenna. What a cutie! She looks perfect and so new! So precious! Thanks for the pics and the updates you wonderful people. I love you all. I love you so much. Thank you for your sweet support and love. This week truly has been a week of miracles, but probably not all of the ways I thought. It is amazing to me how good the Lord is to us. He truly is fulfilling things in my life He has always promised. I feel keenly blessed and aware of my blessings. I love Him. He is so good to me. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement. I love you!

Sometimes so much happens it is hard to tell you all everything in a letter! We've been meeting with Asuka San a lot... when I was looking at the week I realized that we've met with her every other day this week. Thank you so much for your faith and your prayers. She is amazing. The Lord is helping us so much. I know we have help that we cannot see. She is coming right along. She accepted a baptismal date this week, but her mom is really against it... which is sad. She is under 20, and so she can't get baptized unless she gets her approval. But then I look in the scriptures and I read of mountains moving through faith, I look and see the woman with the issue of blood healed in an instant after years of searching, trying deperately to find a cure, I read of bread that when coming from the Savior fed 5000, and I know that He will provide a way for our sweet investigator. She is so sweet, and so willing to try. I am so impressed by her example. I don't know how to explain in words the miracles that are happening in the field now. I don't know how to describe what is going on with our investigators.  I know that Jesus Christ is personally involved with every one of our investigators. I know that He cares about my heart, about their hearts. I know this is His work. I know that He entered Gethsemane for every one of us, and that the Atonement was an individual event for each of us.  He is the solution to every problem, He has felt our weaknesses and our pains, and as we trust Him we can move mountains in our own lives or in the lives of those we love.

Asuka San asked me what my favorite scripture is this week before Eikaiwa (English conversation school). We looked at 3 Nephi 17:7, and talked about it a little bit. (great!) Towards the end of Eikaiwa, I asked she and her neighbor if there was anything else they wanted to learn about (meaning English). She looked at the Book of Mormon and worked to form her English response, and said: "I want to study about Jesus Christ!" I said, "Me too!!" and we just laughed. She is super spiritually in tune. It's amazing, but I look at her and see a spiritual giant. She is still trying to figure things out and prays earnestly for help and her answer, but I look at her and I just think she is so prepared. She has been praying and committed to read daily this week. She lives far, so she has to travel quite a bit from her university to get out here... and yet she does! We'd talked after Church for around 40 minutes, teaching her a little about what she was asking and what was covered in Church, and decided we'd better not teach her a lesson because it had been so long a day already. I asked her if she had time to meet this week, and she said, "I'm good till 5!" ha ha. It's amazing that the Lord is preparing such amazing people. I love this work. I love testifying of Jesus Christ. She is picking up things so fast, it's amazing how different things are and how she is working to come unto Christ. I feel our lessons being carried in a way that is beyond what is normal. This is probably way too long, but I just know we are not alone.

So!!! Our other investigators aren't progressing quite as speedily or in the exact same way. They are so great. No other dates yet, and transfers are next week! It's crazy how fast the time goes. It's getting HOT in my corner of the world! (but not as hot as it will get if we don't repent! didn't President Hinckley say that? ha ha.)

Bikes in Japan sometimes have funny names written on them. My favorites (or maybe just the most recent two I noticed ha ha) were... "Herb" and "Today" (but no Neil Diamond songs on the mission! I know how much my siblings love "Comin' to America...Today!" because it was the only tape they had to listen to on long trips to California!) Love on the rocks...ain't no big surprise...

The Lord is working more and more miracles in my own life. Even on a mission, getting to be along on other's journeys to Him, I am getting personally tutored. I love Jesus Christ. I love this work. This week the Spirit told me that I would look back on this time forever, and that this time is meant to be FUN!!! It truly is - I am livin' the dream!!!

YEAH JAPAN!!!!!!! Sorry this letter had a lot of personal things. They just kind of flow out! I love you though and know that the Lord will provide for you. He is so in the details of our lives in ways we can't even comprehend. Never forget that He is with us.

I LOVE YOU! And I love Him. The work is true!

You are wonderful!
Sister Anderson

The number of people we are going to baptize in Japan! woooo!

mister donuts! arent they cute...

 I see you!!!

relief society flower arranging activity...ii ne!

 Here is the pic you have been waiting for...raw squid and eel and other interesting items...  Yummy!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

And they thought everything was smaller here!

Dearest Family in America!

Wow! That's weird. I'm sitting in Japan right now and you are sitting in America, on a Sunday night I've already lived on my hemisphere. Ha ha! How I loved talking with you all on Mother's Day!! What a treat! All my nieces and nephews sound so grown-up. :)
Happy Mother's day to all you moms...thanks for your example to me and to so many others.  I am so grateful that you love being mothers. Thanks again to everyone for all your support and love!

My beautiful Japan...

We have some great miracles to tell you about. This week, I just felt at the beginning of the week that this would be a week of miracles. Last week, before we called, three of our investigators came to Church on Sunday. Three! We were so stoked. I love seeing Heavenly Father's children progressing.

The first person I want to tell you about is Noguchi Asuka San. Probably two or three weeks ago, I started talking to a girl on a bridge (she was the one that said "I'm interested in Christian churches!"). This past week she came to church, and we gave her a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet, and scheduled a meeting for Tuesday. On Tuesday when she came, she apologetically pulled out the Book of Mormon and said she hadn't finished it. I said was that was fine, of course. When my companion asked her where she'd read to, neither of us quite understood what she said, and we would have missed it if a member hadn't stopped and said, 300 pages?? Ha ha. It turns out, she'd read 300 PAGES! She came again to Church this week. She really is incredible. We had a lesson and it was a lot for her to take in (mostly just answering some questions she had). We are actually teaching her today, soon after I write! It was so neat though. At one point, she asked us what it would be like if people chose not to follow Christianity (or something like that?). I just cried as I got to testify of Jesus Christ to this sweet girl who is coming to know Him. He is everything. He is the reason we can go home, the reason we have peace and can overcome. He is "the light and the life of the world." It's so amazing to be a missionary. The Lord is helping us so much. Even today in front of the Hyaku Yen shop, a girl just started talking to me and in the midst of our conversation, we told her why we were in Japan. It's so incredible to wear Jesus Christ's name, where people can see us and ask us about Him  so that we can invite people to come closer to Him. So! Noguchi San is super great. We are also teaching a girl named Sarah that we met, who is a member of a Baptist church. She is so great!! I love these two girls. She is 24 and has wonderful faith in Jesus Christ. We talked a little bit about baptism this week, but our next lesson (tomorrow) will be on the Priesthood and proper authority. Both of them are "ii kanji," like... good feelings?  ha ha, they both are doing so well and we have a great feeling about them. It was so exciting when we were talking about the Plan of Salvation with Sarah. We have a few other investigators we are working with, but these are the ones we were able to meet with this week. I love Japan! Sometimes, I think like Nephi in 2 Nephi 4... and my soul feels all the stress of life. Things can be hard. But I do know that "Nephi's lament" turned around with the words, "I know in whom I have trusted." I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Heavenly Father loves us. You are so great fam!

This week, I guess another miracle is... I ate raw squid and raw eel! (This can be a follow up question for Ellie and Hyrum who asked about the food!) I had my first sushi shop experience. It is so fun, there is a conveyer belt and you just grab whichever plate looks appealing and pay at the end... they are about 100 yen a plate. I lived! They are actually not that bad... I also realized I like beans more than I like cake, and that was a weird experience. Ha ha!

I love you sweet fam. It's such a weird place to be in, sometimes I look around and I am surprised at what kind of life I'm living. Every once in a while something will catch me off guard, but I'm amazed at how at home I feel. Thank you for your prayers, they help so much. I know that Heavenly Father answers the prayers of little girls (President Monson's story from conference), and of everyone else. I know He hears us. I know that He is just waiting. This week in one of our lessons, I realized anew that this work is ONLY possible through Jesus Christ. This work HAS to be done with the Spirit. When you step back and look at someone changing their life, in ways we can't understand or comprehend, it is amazing that it happens at all. And yet it is happening everywhere. I know that Heavenly Father knows His children. Oh, the work is so good. I studied patience on Sunday and realized I was a little afraid to pray for patience from the many stories I've heard of seemingly bad experiences that come from asking for a virtue! ha ha. I realized in Church yesterday that Heavenly Father can tutor us with good things. I realized anew my dependence on Him this week. Without the Spirit, we cannot do this work.

Our investigators have some big decisions to make this week. Tomorrow, Sarah will have a big decision to make about baptism. Would you pray for her and for our other investigators? Both of the investigators I've mentioned are making big steps. I'm so excited. I can only imagine what Heavenly Father feels for us, even as we begin to progress. How He loves us!

Well my sweet Fam, I wish I had 3 hours to plop you in Japan and walk you around, to put you on my bike over the red cobbled streets, to have you nod and say "konichiwa" to the sweet old ladies bicycling and walking by, to stop by Hozawa's shoe stop on the corner of two lights, and say hi to the shopkeeper who must be in her fifties or sixties but dances and feeds the birds as she sells shoes. I wish you could come with me to visit the members, how you would love them and how you would cry over their humility and love. Someday we will be eating Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and talking about these stories that are happening now. (but don't worry! I'm not thinking about it!  ha ha)... but for now these letters will have to do. :) Oh how I love you sweet people. How the Lord loves us. How He loves His children.

Ice cream tag line... and they thought everything was smaller in Japan!  hahahahahah!

This week I got asked if bike helmets are part of our religion. (For how often we wear them... they might as well be ha ha.) I got asked if we were ok doing blood transfusions and the other day I got asked if I was Amish, or if I eat meat. I am livin the dream! wooo!

Things are so great. I can't believe my first twelve weeks are almost over in the field! Transfers are in two weeks, how crazy is that?
So... everyone has a dog in Japan, but we aren't allowed to have pets... but I think we finally found one President could approve of! ha ha. 

Another pic of I loved seeing my brother!!!
Who would have thought???

 Eating at the member's homes:

 Treats i made the other day (pie looking with raspberries) - yum!
  This is to show Ryan the green hills! 
 Today is supposed to be a solar eclipse! This is the beginnings. It's pretty cloudy but the pic is still cool. Can you see it? 

 I love you Fam! The work is true.  Thank you for your prayers and faith. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are so great, plus 50 bonus points.

Sister Anderson in Japan

Monday, May 14, 2012

Miracles happen!

So...many of you know that our son, Nate, is in Asia.
We could almost hear the ecstatic scream half way around the world as he set foot on beloved Japanese soil!

He has been looking forward to returning to his ol' stompin' grounds for over six years! About that long ago, he played drums in a jazz band that performed at Universal Studios Japan. He was living in the boundaries of Jen's mission for a year. She even visited him when he was there! 
This trip, Nate will also visit Korea - the land of his mission.

And yes...the nice people at the airport allowed him to check his garbage can drum set! 

He worked for weeks to build a portable set that he could carry, pull, store extra items in, set up anywhere, and still be within airline luggage checking limits...not to mention one from which  he could make music! We nicknamed him "Maurice" (from Disney's Beauty and the Beast - haha, and only because Nate kept calling himself crazy! What an invention - complete with attached plastic buckets, a cymbal, bass pedal, foot tambourine, etc.!  He sits on a bucket to play the set, which is also stored inside the Rubbermaid garbage can/drum. You can see from the pic that his garbage can set is labeled with his name (right side up to transport, and upside down for when it is a drum). Amazing, right? Nate said he is glad he put padlocks on the lid to keep it shut (and protect the innards) - because people keep trying to put trash in it! :) You can see  more pics of his adventures on Face Book.

On May 9, Nate and his friend Yuri rented a car and took a morning road trip from Osaka to Tokushima. 

...and look who they found there!!!

Nate had contacted Sister Jen's mission president who gave him permission to see her!!! 

His report:
She is doing great and her Japanese speaking skills are fantastic - really doing well speaking this complicated language!  We are so grateful all this worked out, and these two kids of ours got to see each other half-way around the world from their home in Bluffdale!  

Miracles do happen...

On Mother's day (Monday in Japan)
we Skyped (sound only) our sweet missionary and had a glorious conversation - clear as a bell - another miracle!

The conversation included:

Souliers in California
Andersons in Colorado
Andersons in Georgia
Nate in Korea
And her Utah Sibs and Family

From our conversation we learned:

Sister Jen sleeps on a futon and hangs her clothes on a clothesline to dry.  
Her apartment has a washer and a shower.
She studies for about four hours each day.
Her legs are really strong from biking two or more hours every day.
She can not see the ocean from where she lives, but there is a beautiful river nearby.
The rainstorms in Japan can be fierce - the windows of her apartment rattle!
The strangest food she has eaten is octopus.
There are wonderful people who take good care of the missionaries.
That the Japanese language is hard for her to speak but she is getting better at it!  The   
         nieces and nephews told her that the "Madgab Game" she challenged them to do (see 
         letter on May 1st) is hard to figure out - so they know she is doing amazingly well  
         learning Japanese!
She was on TV the other day answering a question about Japanese food.
She prays a lot!
Sister Jen loves her mission and is so grateful for all the love and support!!!

When we were trying to make the call and were having some difficulty, I emailed the mission president's wife, Sister Zinke. When the call went through to Sister Jen, I let her know that we worked it out. Here is her reply:

Dear Andersons,
I am so glad that you were able to figure it out!  She is such a sweetheart...we love her so much!  We are grateful for her cheerful service!  Hope your day was wonderful.
Sister Zinke

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Livin' the dream!!!

To the Best Family in the World!

Wow! I get to call you this week! Thank you SO MUCH for the sweet letters, prayers, and love. I definitely feel it and your wonderful faith. What amazing people you are! I know that I came to a family of giants. Thank you for your examples and your love. 

Another week livin' the dream!!! It's been a big week. We had a lot of finding time this week. We had special training from our Zone Leaders this week (they are in Tokushima with us), and it was awesome... we hadn't been finding a ton and we went out that day and found 5 potential investigators, getting numbers and all. It really is amazing. So often I remember how little I know, and then I realize again how perfectly the Lord knows everything... and it is a beautiful package. He is so good to us! I can't tell you the power of having a calling like this, I feel it. When I truly realize the calling to represent Jesus Christ in helping others come unto Him through the path He has ordained, that truly is a sacred privilege. 

Fun things from this week: As I was writing on the board what I thought I was describing as Eikaiwa (English conversation), happy for the two or three kanji I knew, one of the new Elders looked up to read the board. He  said, "Welcome to Eikaigo?" ha ha ha. It definitely wasn't the right kanji and I've definitely been writing it FOR WEEKS! I got a good laugh out of that. At least the people who came to class probably recognized we were there to teach them English, and likely not Japanese. ha ha.

The sweet couple that buys us food each week also asked us out for dinner this week. They take such good care of us. The husband finished (I think his degree?) at BYU the last semester I was there! They are SO SWEET! One of the Elders' investigators came and it was so fun. It was a sort of viking (what they call "all you can eat"), in that you could keep ordering these little pizzas. Sister Zinke remarked (when we were at a conference) that usually the viking restaurants are great for the Elders but a little expensive for the sisters ha ha. It's so great though! Anyway, for dessert, I ordered this tiny little... chocolate melting cake - our favorite cruise delectable, Mom, Dad, Nate!!! :) It brought back great memories so I just had to tell you!

Ok, funny story. We had SO MUCH RAIN one of these days. It was my first encounter with that much rain, and it was squeezing out of my little shoes when I stepped. I had my waterproof coat on but no poncho, and the hood of my beautiful coat (thanks brothers!), was on over my large white bicycle helmet. I looked in a shiny surface and just started laughing, because my helmet was so big with the hood over it... I looked like an alien. My skirt was drenched, my tights were dripping, and we pulled up by the Yubinkyoku (post office)... this man walked out and slowed down by me and said almost involuntarily, "Dai jo bu?" which translates to like... "are you ok??" I just had to start laughing. Yeah!!!! The dream!! ha ha.

I ATE THE WORLD'S BIGGEST CREPE THIS WEEK. ha ha. They have these cute little displays and it looked small, so I was like... yeah, that one! I got it and it was like 2 pounds. So funny!

So! The work!!! That training the zone leaders did for us was awesome. It is amazing! We have about 5 investigators, and the progress is here and there. We started meeting with a woman from the Phillipines this week and have a lesson with her again tonight. I think it will be a big week for getting their expectations for us, so we can help them come to receive the sweet rest of the Gospel. On Saturday, it was crazy; it felt like the Lord was just leading us from person to person with a few people in between. One girl I met on the bridge, when we handed her our chirashi, said: "I'm really interested in Christian churches!!" (that is not a common response). We had two or three more people who wanted to know more. It really was amazing, and such a testament to me of the sacredness of our calling. We ARE here to find, teach, and baptize. It is such a privilege. I love Jesus Christ. I've been thinking a lot about my working relationship with Him this week, and had some incredible personal realizations about the Atonement, grace, and agency. When we use our agency to choose Him, and through His name ask for help from Heavenly Father, I think that power comes in and supports that agency, those good choices, to help us truly to have even more freedom with our agency. The power of choice matters so much, and when we are bound to Him through covenants, what safety and blessings we have through His grace in helping us. The more people I meet, the more amazed I am at the Atonement. Just the sheer number, the individual love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for every individual is astounding. I know that that power is real!

The work is great. Time flies. I feel your prayers! Our prayer is for our investigators to progress and for us to find and teach those waiting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a privilege. This life is sweet. I love Jesus Christ!

Love always through email, and NEXT WEEK THROUGH THE PHONE!!!!
Sister Anderson

One of our new friends, Asuka San, with the biggest crepe in the world. ha ha. I look crazy in this pic but I didn't have another one!

This building was puckering at me!

Maybe I just have a keen eye for pictures of elderly people, but this suteki [fancy/stylish] grandma picture was advertising for some cream or something at Lawson's. Yeah!

I found these funny guys by this warehouse.  So funny! Singing. We crept up and snatched a picture. PS...They are not alive. :)

The one with a couple and a guy is the Matsumura family. They treat the missionaries to FHE, we switch off and usually take an investigator... they are SO GREAT! I love them! 

My inspirational kit kat. Look at that guy run to the finish line!!!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm probably speaking Japanese...madgab anyone?

To the Best Family in the World, no matter which side of the continent!

How I love you. I just love you. I love you so so much. This has been a really big week...I really feel the privilege of being a missionary. This is such a sacred time, and I feel so grateful that the Lord trusts me to come to talk to His children about Him. It is hard when they don't listen a lot, and I've had some soul-searching times as well, the result being an even greater commitment to His work. I love Jesus Christ. I love Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. I love being a missionary!!! This is hand's down the hardest thing I've ever done in my life; I thought I knew how to do this disciple thing before I left. I thought I knew how to love, I thought I knew I was committed, I thought I knew how to be unselfish, I thought I knew the value of work... but I didn't! I only tasted those things! ha ha. What did I do with my time before I came on a mission? :)

Do you remember when I got my call, and I was like... "JAPAN!?!??! And not thinking before I spoke, I said, "I'm probably speaking Japanese?" hahaha! I was so surprised I couldn't even wrap my life around it. But! I have had so many tiny realizations this whole journey that I don't want to be anywhere else (even Arkansas, the place I thought I was going for some reason... ha ha). I am talking an extreme (but probably not unnormal ha ha) amount about myself, sorry! It has been a big week of realizations for me, and I just want to be in Japan more than ever. I want to do hard things. I want to do anything to find those of God's children who are prepared to hear the plan. Hard things are worth it.

Last night we taught a girl from Mongolia who speaks English and no Japanese. She was wandering around the park and is a medical student. I just love testifying to people of their divine identity, and suddenly the Plan of Salvation started popping out of my lips. I happened (or not just happened...the Lord is so aware of His children and blessing them!) to have an English "Plan of Salvation" pamphlet with me. Can you believe it??? I have been studying the plan a little bit this week, and even that tiny bit of studying has just flooded my capacity of understanding. Heavenly Father loves us so much! I am amazed at the depth and the simple principles of the Plan. I love this Gospel. I love you. I love that Heavenly Father would provide us a way to come to this earth in families and be together forever.  

This week we had a Sports Taikai where I played sports again... I'm so sore ha ha! It was really fun and two of our investigators were there. We started teaching a new investigator this week, she is 18 and follows us pretty closely. We taught her about faith and asked her to pray and... it was like 20 minutes before she did. She was nervous and sweating - I wasn't sure if she was going to make it but she did! So good...
We had dinner with a less-active woman this week and her girls are so cute. The Zone leaders here in Tokushima helped us some this week with a little training. The work is good, and hard, but the BEST. This really is the best work. I feel it so deep in my bones.
I am excited for Nate's big adventures - wow...just wow! So he is coming to Japan and then heading for Korea. Awesome.  A month in Asia and getting to see his friends - especially those in Korea from his mission.  And I can't believe its been so long since he worked at universal Studios Japan. He will love being in his old stompin' grounds and meeting up with everyone. I can just picture him playing his garbage cans on the streets with his drum sticks just flying! haha...Lucky guy!

From the pictures I've received, I am having to look twice - all of the kids look so big and grown-up.  Keep those pictures coming or I won't recognize my nieces and nephews when I get home! And graduation! Tell everyone congrats from me!!! [Bran, Chelsea B, Ben's Chelsea, Cammy, Dora, Vilate, Mary Ann Stewart (Anderson),Melissa A, Jake Garner]. How proud our corner of the neighborhood must have been this week. :) 

Funny thing from the weekly announcement to the missionaries from the President (true story): "Now we are not going to name any names, but we wanted to remind everyone that for the sacred ordiance of baptism, you must first fill the font. Water is needed." haha!

I love you! The work is true. I promise that the Lord is intent on making each of us a masterpiece, and is not content with us just sliding by in regard to discipleship. He is so amazing, and will help us as we turn to Him. How I love my Eternal King! Sometimes I get so overflowing that poetry just runs out of me. (gospel poetry, don't worry!) This is the best work in the world. I don't want to be anywhere else. I want to be here, in Tokushima, where the Lord wants me. I want to give anything He wants me to give. This week at Church a paper was passed out in mostly Kanji, and I was actually picking up a little bit! I am amazed. I know that it is Him helping me, and that prayers are answered. I switched up my Japanese study a little bit and it is helping SO much more! I love that the Lord has equipped us so well on our mortal journey!

Lastly, if there is anyone who is reading this who does not feel loved by Heavenly Father on high: You are loved. He loves you completely and perfectly, and is proud of every small, noble sacrifice you make.Thank you for making those sacrifices! He knows those and numbers them. You are more accompanied that you can ever realize. We are spiritual beings having a mortal exerience. He is so good! He is so good. I love Heavenly Father. I know that the way to return to Him is simple but incredibly remarkable, and that the gate is open to all. As we serve, it is amazing what happens. I love you sweet fam, and I love the God who has given us all breath. How amazing He is!

The work is true, so true. "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?"

With love, love, love,
Sister Anderson 

PS  And! I thought of a game that the nieces and nephews can play like madgab. So, katakana words are usually English (this is probably for the older ones who want to play) I'll occasionally send pictures and all you do is look at a katakana chart on english, and try to figure out the word like you do when you play madgab... it's japanese and I can be close to you! ha ha.

Here are this week's! (the longer one is bonus! it's harder!)Here is a game for the kids - and anyone else!