Sunday, March 16, 2014

Update from Oda Shimai (she's 9 months in, 9 months to go!)

Hello family and friends!

The sun is out and shining and it's really warm.  I like the weather here.  It's really nice.

As a follow up to my birthday, it was nice.  Obviously I'm a missionary, so the day was like any other day, but I did go out to eat for dinner and ate some meat and an awesome strawberry parfait.  Birthday cards have also been trickling in through our mail, but another sister currently has four of my cards because the mission home is sending MY cards to her because our last names are similar.  I'd really like those letters soon, but it's probably not that sister's priority like it is for me.  Patience.  Oh, and the elders gave me one of those head massage things that looks like a big whisk.  Best birthday present ever.  Sometimes I just leave it on my head.  And then take pictures.  I swear I'm not as fat as I look in the picture I attached.  That's what happens when you wear a flannel with a skirt...did I mention that sometimes I really don't like dressing up as a missionary?  Also, the fact that I'm sitting at my desk in that picture is amazing. I'm not very good at studying at desks either.  

I've mentioned this before, but there are quite a few old people in the Fukuroi Branch.  But even though there are a lot of old people, they come in all sorts of shapes and personalities.  One in particular is Totsuka Shimai.  I don't know how old she is, but her daughter is probably around 50 and unmarried, so she lives with her.  Anyway, last week we met with them to teach them about how to bring up our religion in everyday conversation.  (We're also teaching from Everyday Missionaries or whatever it's called, but we haven't actually read it.  Yamashita Kaicho just made thirteen different lessons we can teach from it and then members choose what they want to learn.)  Anyway, we had them role play a situation where they could talk about the Word of Wisdom.  The daughter was the cashier and Totsuka Shimai The Older (that's what we call her) was playing the part of herself.  This is how it went down:

Totsuka Shimai as Cashier: "Oh, you bought a lot of herbal tea.  Why?"
Totsuka Shimai The Older: "Because I like it."

Then Hodson Shimai said that was good, but the point of the mogi (role play) was to tie in the church or the Word of Wisdom.  And then she asked if they could try again.

Cashier: "Why did you buy herbal tea instead of green tea?"  (fyi no one would ask that, but it was a role play after all.)
Totsuka Shimai The Older:  "Because I like it." 

Yeah.  Maybe the saying "you can't teach old dogs new tricks" is kind of true.  She's funny.  She also told us multiple times at church yesterday that we looked like we gained weight.  She might need some help with missionary work, but she's got honesty down!

This past week has been great.  And filled with miracles.  Not huge miracles, but lots of small ones that any missionary would be happy to receive.  First of all, we got a referral last week from a Filipina who recently got baptized, and she wanted us to teach her sister.  We've taught Erica three times and it's going really well.  Last week while Hodson Shimai was on kokans (companion exchanges) with another sister she talked to a girl on the train and got her number.  I then sent her a text and invited her to the game night we put on that week.  And she actually came and brought her sister!  Then we asked if we could meet with them again and they were all for it.  So we met and had dinner with them on Friday night.  But that was after having first dinner with members, and then biking 21km in 40 minutes back to Fukuroi to meet them in time for second dinner.  Sometimes missionaries eat like hobbits.  Then the next day we were housing and met a Brazilian family that said they wanted to hear our message and gave us their number.  A new student at Eikaiwa turned into an investigator and has a lot of potential, and a lady that we met on the road and exchanged numbers with finally called us back and set up a lesson with her an her friend for later this week.  There's a good story for all these situations, but I don't have time to tell them all.  Some are super spiritual and some are mostly just entertaining.  I wish I could just dump my memories into this email and you could watch them.  Actually that totally exists.  In Harry Potter.  

I am continually learning a lot by serving in a different area and with a different companion.  And I actually get to work with a lot of different sisters and areas because we go on kokans so much.  It's really fun.  Right now we have three Filipina investigators, three Japanese, and one Brazilian investigator (and dropped a handful of Filipinos).  Obviously we're working on finding more, but it's really interesting to be teaching people of all different nationalities.  It's absolutely ridiculous how different it is to talk to a Filipino or Brazilian at their doorstep than a Nihonjin.  Actually, Nihonjin just don't talk to us.  But even though I'm serving in Japan and I'm teaching so many different types of people, it's the same message.  We teach very differently to meet their needs and previous knowledge, but it's still the same message about the same gospel.  Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and He wants us to become like Him.  He gave us our bodies and families to progress in this life and hopefully return to live with Him.  This life may be like a test; it may have it's trials and burdens, but through Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can overcome these things.  And we really can be happy in this life.  I'm happy and I hope you are happy!  Kiki (our new Brazilian investigator) said that when she prays she doesn't really ask for things, she mostly just thanks the Lord for all her blessings.  And she's not the first investigator I've heard say that.  I'm so grateful that I can teach people, but that they can teach me as well.

Love you all!!

Oda Shimai