Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm leaving on a jet… train (Week 33)

I hope the title just got that song stuck in your head.  You're welcome.

But yes, I am transferring to Fukuroi in Shizuoka prefecture.  Which probably means nothing to you, but it really means that I'm transferring from the most northern zone to the farthest south I can get.  Which also means it will be warmer!!  I'm pretty excited about that.  Also, my companion is super old and is on transfer 10!!  Out of like 50 shimai, there like 5 that are above transfer 8.  I never thought I'd get a companion more than two transfers ahead of me.  And, we're opening our area. Apparently there are only like 20 members in our branch, so I'm fairly certain they've never had sister missionaries before. Which also means they'll be really excited for us to come ;)  I'm excited, but I'm also pretty nervous.  My new companion is pretty different from me, but I think I'll be fine with that.  Opening is really the scary part because we both don't know anything about the area or the branch, and we'll start off with zero investigators.  But I'm ready for the challenge!  

And even though I will be leaving Kanazawa's dismal weather, I'm really going to miss it.  I had to say goodbye to everyone at church yesterday and I didn't like it one bit.  Sometimes we get really jealous of state side missionaries because they can go visit their mission so much easier than we can.  Who knows if I'll ever see these people I've grown to love so much again.  I haven't had a break down yet, but I've teared up multiple times a day since transfer calls.  I never realized how hard it is for missionaries to transfer, but it totally is!  You put your whole heart and soul into your area, and then you just have to leave.  My heart.  It hurts.

So now that I got all my transfer blues out of the way, I can talk about 姉妹大会!  That means Sisters Conference.  I just thought I'd throw in some kanji to let you know I can actually read some things.  Anyway it was so awesome to meet together with all the other shimai and finally get to talk to everyone.  I've said it before, but I'm kind of banished up here in Kanazawa, and I haven't been able to see many of the other shimai in the mission.  And we NEED to talk to each other.  If you didn't know, missionaries' form of entertainment is eating, and talking about other missionaries and areas.  So yeah, I got to do a lot of talking and it was awesome.  We also learned how to give hand massages to our companion to relieve stress.  Yeah, that's what we do at Sisters Conference. 

Ha, but we also had training and learned a lot of good stuff.  I really did learn a lot, but mostly what I learned was not from the training, but from what I observed.  First, I'm gonna have to preface this with an explanation of how freaking hard Japanese is.  The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know, and how ridiculously complex this language is.  It's super hard.  And no missionary leaves Japan speaking like a native, or even close to that.  I could go on and on, but all you need to know is that it's a really difficult language, spoken and written.  So as a missionary, I am extremely aware of this.  And sometimes I get mad/envious of the missionaries in South America where they actually learn to speak the language well, and actually get baptisms.  I was just overwhelmed with how hard those two things are in Japan.  

But while I was at the conference, I watched a shimai (that's only one transfer ahead of me) translate to her Japanese bean.  It might sound pathetic that I was so impressed that she was translating in Japanese, but that's kind of really hard.  I was talking to Kawai Shimai about it afterward, and she said that she was actually translating the English into super super simple Japanese, but she did it confidently.  That's when I started to do a lot of reflecting.  Yes, Japanese is really hard, and yes, I'll probably never speak like a native, or understand everything I hear from a native, but that's ok.  My purpose is to bring others to Christ, and I don't have to be a master of the language to do so.  I just have to study hard, prepare hard, and then when the time comes to speak, I should do so confidently.  The Spirit can work with my weak Japanese, but it can't work with me if I'm apologetic and focused on how bad my Japanese is.  Since my time in the MTC my favorite scripture has been Ether 12:27 

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I  give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.  

I've read this verse countless times.  I've shared it countless times, but I didn't really grasp the full meaning of humility.  I thought my weakness was Japanese, and I thought I was humble because I was very aware of how bad it was.  But that's not humility.  I was talking about this scripture with Kawai Shimai during companionship study and she said that being humble is actually being confident in the right person, and that person is God.  My weakness wasn't Japanese, my weakness was the fact that I didn't have enough confidence or faith in my Heavenly Father.  Since then I've tried my best to speak confidently.  And I've been surprised to find that I can speak much more smoothly and comfortably because I'm not focusing on how hard it is to formulate sentences or ideas in Japanese.  It's been a great lesson for me, and I'm very grateful I had that little experience at Sisters Conference to finally realize that.

I do believe that I can speak Japanese and I do believe that we can have baptisms in Japan.  I know that Heavenly Father loves all His children, and that's why we're serving in a non-Christian country.  They might not know Christ right now, but everyone was Christian before this life.  We lived with God and Jesus Christ and we all wanted to come to this earth to gain bodies and return to live with Heavenly Father.  I'm so grateful that I was born into a family that knows of this plan.  I don't know why I was so lucky to have this knowledge my whole life, but I think the people of Japan deserve to know just as much as anyone else.  

 Pictures:  It snowed a lot this week, so we took a lot of snow pictures.  I also attached a picture with Yamaguchi Shimai, our dendo coach.  I think she's 30, but she totally looks like she could be another missionary.  Love that woman!  She is also really good at singing, so we sang "How Great Thou Art" a capella in Sacrament Meeting.  Yamaguchi Shimai sang the tenor part an octave higher and it sounded so awesome.  Music really does bring the Spirit and I think everyone felt it there. 

Love you all!

Oda Shimai