Tuesday, October 29, 2013

OCTOBER 28, 2013

Dear family, 

Everything is going AWESOME in Kariya. I love this place so much. It is a really big city and it is a pretty big area as well. We live in an apartment by the train station. It is nice and clean, but it is kind of small for 4 sisters in the same apartment. We don`t really stop for lunch or dinner because we work all day, so usually we will bring an apple with us or a member or less active ends up giving us food. If we do have time for dinner we just make some basic yummy Japanese food! I love my companion so much and she never ceases to be hilarious. This has been such an awesome transfer. The Portuguese and Spanish every day is still hurting my brain and I can`t remember anything despite my diligent effort... oh well! It works out. Yesterday we went to visit a less active member (Teshima Shimai) who hasn`t been to church in a year. So at first we sat down (she is Brazilian by the way) and then for the next hour she told us her life story in Portuguese. I was truly trying to intently listen, but I only caught the occasional number or whatever, not enough to understand what she was actually saying. I was listening with my heart, doing everything I could but it wasn`t happening. I honestly had no idea what was going on. So then my brain started trying to shut off and I honestly thought I was going to fall asleep. I was pinching myself and bouncing my leg in attempts to wake up. Man it was tough. So she invited us to stay for dinner! I was relieved to be able to just stand up and move. We got to know her and she is honestly the sassiest, most hilarious woman I have ever met. I love her so much. As we were talking,  we just really developed love for one another. I would throw in the occasional Japanese, but we just laughed and had fun. We found out that she had been praying long and hard about whether or not this church is true. So then she gets a call from a member inviting her to come to church. The day after (unplanned) Silva Shimai calls her and schedules an appointment. She said that we came directly from heaven and answered her prayers. She knows it is true now! She is going to come to church. She`s having us over again and making us Brazilian food. She was mortified when she found out that we aren`t eating at members' houses every day. Hahahaha. I love her so much. When we left, she ran out the back of her house just so she could keep waving to us. It truly was a miracle how much of a change of heart she had from the beginning of our visit to the end. She just needed to know she is loved. 

We were super busy yesterday and Yoshida Shimai asked us to visit her daughter because she more than anything just wanted to see the sister missionaries. So we were able to make it to her house right in time last night and she was so excited to see us! It`s cool how much of an impact we have on these people. I love Kariya so much! 

Our investigators are doing SO GREAT. We met with Mayumi 2x  last week and she told us that when she was reading the Book of Mormon she just realized "this is true. I know it is" She knows she needs to be baptized but the problem is the whole chastity thing... She says that now she doesn`t have money to afford her dream wedding, so she doesn`t want to be married. She says "next year I will be baptized." It’s tough. She deserves a beautiful wedding, but she also deserves the blessings of being baptized as a member of the church. I love her so much and we have so much fun with her! She is such an amazing person and we really have all just become awesome friends. 

Suzuki san came to our Halloween party last week with her family. She has the cutest kids. We talked about the plan of salvation last Tuesday and she really just wanted to understand everything. She said if this is true, that makes this life have more meaning. So at the end, I invited her to be baptized. But she said that she doesn`t really know if that is what she wants. She was asking our member, how did you choose to do this? You have to completely change your entire life and I don`t know if I am ready to do that. So she didn`t say yes or no, but now she can think about it. We are going to talk more about it this week. She has the desire and really wants to understand, so I know that God will bless her with the witness she needs because she is so special. 

We had a Halloween party on Wednesday and it was such a hit. So many people that me and Sister Silva invited ACTUALLY CAME. So we have many potential investigators because of it. Our investigator was there, 6 potential investigators who we invited... It was such a blessing. One girl we met on the street and we asked her to bring her friends. So she brought 3 friends! We were able to talk about the church with many of them and they were super interested. I am so excited to see where everything goes. It was so much fun! 

We were finishing up with eikaiwa for Danilla and Thiago, we cleaned up everything from their cute baby. So Silva Shimai showed them the baptismal font and they were so surprised that we don`t baptize our babies, but they loved it. So Silva Shimai said "Oh, Sister Crofts is amazing at the  piano." Of course I went and played. So we were in the sacrament room and we talked about the sacrament and our church. The Spirit was honestly so strong.. I played the piano and they said that they would maybe come to church sometime. They are just so busy that it is really hard. 

I don`t have enough space or time to talk about all of the miracles or incredible things that have happened this week, but I am just super humbled. My heart is so full of gratitude. God truly is guiding this work. He knows us and he has so many blessings he wants to give us.  All he asks of us is our best. How great is His grace. How great is his mercy! I love being a missionary. It is so hard, and I have never been more exhausted in my LIFE. But I have also never been happier. THE CHURCH IS TRUE! 

Sister Crofts
Sister Crofts and her companion, Sister Silva from Sao Paulo Brazil. 
Halloween Party in Kariya. Kaoru chan and her sister. 
Trying to learn the ropes of those Japanese maps. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

OCTOBER 21, 2013

Dear Family,

This week has been so great and we have been working so hard. I love Kariya so much! I also received lots of mail from our family (Alicia, Melissa, Liz, Grandma) so that was the biggest surprise ever. Thank you so much for every letter and package- it was so good to hear from everyone. <3 xoxoxo

Last Monday... Me and Sister Silva spent our p-day cleaning the apartment of one of our recent converts....... Words cannot quite express the horror I witnessed. The sad thing is? None of you will even believe how terrible it was. So this woman and her daughter are so sweet, but their home has been infested by cockroaches and spiders. I cleaned the kitchen. What a TREAT. So every single dish, inch of their counter, had dead cockroaches and live ones crittering around them, and to top it all off- massive spiders with hundreds of little egg sacks in the cupboard full of babies. It was truly one of those "I did NOT sign up for this" moments. It topped it all off when I was moving a bowl and a cockroach that was 4 inches long ran out right under my hand. So it got to the point that there were so many cockroaches and spider babies, that we had to use their VACUUM to suck everything up. Silva Shimai would say "ready 1-2-3. KILL THEM." and then lift up some item of furniture. HUNDREDS of cockroaches would scatter all over the floor as I frantically tried to vacuum (i don`t remember how to spell this) them up and prevent them from climbing all over my body. That place could have an atomic bomb put in it and still have cockroaches everywhere. HOLY COW. It was honestly so so so bad. As I was cleaning, I had to suppress all feelings of complete and utter horror and mortification otherwise I would have thrown up. So I just numbly cleaned, cringing through every moment. Me and Silva Shimai could have been there for 2 weeks cleaning and still been nowhere close to done in the kitchen and living room, but we had to go. They were so grateful for our help, and I know it really made a difference because the mom has so many burdens on her back right now, but ahhhhh. We were both soooooo sick after we left. When we got home everywhere we looked we saw hundreds of cockroaches scattering all over our stuff. When I showered that night I just kind of sat down and rocked back and forth trying to feel again. That was one of those scarring moments of my life. This whole past week I just keep having flashbacks of cockroaches climbing all over my feet, legs, hands. SO NASTY. I will NEVER complain about cleaning anything ever again. There is nothing that can reach the level of that place.

We have 2 investigators right now. One is half Brazilian and One is Japanese. The Brazilian one speaks English, so we teach her in a little bit of Portuguese and English. She has lived in Japan her whole life. Her boyfriend is a member, but they aren`t married and live together. She wants to have a big beautiful wedding and they can`t afford it, so she doesn’t want to get married, which makes it hard for her to be baptized.... We`re trying to help her recognize why she needs the gospel. Thankfully we have a member present for our Japanese investigator to make up for how bad our Japanese is. She has 3 beautiful kids and they love us so much!  Our investigators are doing so awesome and we have been able to meet with them both 2 times this last week. They both are keeping commitments and really progressing so we are excited to see the blessings that come to them through the gospel. I love them so much!!!

This week has been full of many miracles and tender mercies! I am so blessed. We found a Brazilian couple with a little boy who are interested in English, so I have started teaching them English! Danilla learned English from watching Friends. When we bumped into them after the first time we met, they invited us into their home and we talked for a while. They are the sweetest couple ever and we love them! When we met with them, they developed a curiosity in our church. So not only did they go and look up what we believe in, but they looked up BYU because that is where I went and where Silva Shimai wants to go. Danilla loved what we believe about eternal families and the sacredness of the body. Thiago thought that BYU was SO COOL, he couldn`t stop raving about it. We are hoping to invite them to hear more about the gospel soon! :)

It has been POURING rain this week, but we travel to the farthest distances by bike anyway! On average, we are biking for about 3 hours a day. I love the rain, but I absolutely hate biking in it. It is so freezing.

DAD I KNOW RIGHT?!?!?! WHY DID I EVER STOP TAKING SPANISH????!?!?! Stupidest decision of my LIFE. I understand some things, but I can`t remember how to respond to save my life. It`s rough... My mind can`t handle all of the switching! Japanese. Spanish. Portuguese. English. ? WHAT?! WHAT. It is way too much for me to handle. It's kind of overwhelming. Usually Silva Shimai will just translate for me... Which is awesome, I just feel very unuseful when we visit these people, and there are soooo many. God knows what He is doing, and I just have to have more faith in that. I could ask President Yamashita if I could study these languages, but I really feel like I need to focus on my Japanese. So I feel like that is what my focus should be. We make it work!

Yesterday we had a really cool experience! We have this neighbor who is from Nigeria. He is the nicest guy ever and we always love talking to him and his Japanese wife. Yesterday we were coming downstairs to head to stake conference and him and his friend were sitting there smoking. So we talked to them for a little bit. Shortly after, the friend, Tony, asked us what is up with Joseph Smith and why we worship him. He said that he used to go to our church and he brought his daughters, but he felt like we worship Joseph Smith, so he stopped coming. The interesting thing is, he is a less active in our records and nobody knows where he lives or anything so nobody has been able to find him, but we found him! So we ended up teaching him and our neighbor the first lesson in English. It was awesome because they both COMPLETELY understood. Tony wanted proof of the Book of Mormon, that it testified about Jesus Christ. SO we told him about Jesus Christ`s ministry in the Americas, gave him a Book of Mormon, and asked that he would read it. Tony is going to Africa for a week, but he said that he would read it with real intent and ask God if it is true. He is a good Christian man and ultimately just wants to follow God`s will for him. When our neighbor asked why we don`t drink coffee or alcohol, Tony was like "No no no- that`s easy. I will tell you about that later!" Our neighbor was reading the Book of Mormon and he was super interested. It was cool because we all just came to a mutual understanding. We are hoping that Tony will come back to church and receive his own personal witness that he needs to be there. We could even get to teach his daughters. We were SO LATE to stake conference, but I think that God will understand this one.

There is so much gratitude in my heart. God is our loving Heavenly Father and He knows us so personally. His love for us is infinite, and His grace and goodness touch my heart every single day. He has shown us the way to receive complete and perfect eternal happiness. How lucky are we! I love this gospel with all my heart. The church is true!


Sister Crofts
Saying goodbye to Adelita! Her and her husband live in our area and she's moving back to Brazil. 

Dressed up for a Halloween party
Riding the train for P-day.. This park is for children, but we loved it. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 14, 2013

Dear Family, 

I LOVE THIS PLACE. I am in Kariya which is about 30 minutes from Nagoya by train. It is a ward and the people are super awesome. It is the biggest area in our zone and it is sooooo diverse. We have Japanese people, Brazilians, Peruvians, Tongans.... Because this area is so diverse, Japanese is not the only language we are using. We are using Portuguese and Spanish about 40% of the day on minimum. I can HONESTLY say that this is not the language they taught me in the MTC. Unfortunately, I cannot remember any Spanish to save my life, which makes it hard to speak Portuguese. I can throw the good ol` "tudu bem" out there, but that`s all I got. My mind is experiencing all types of confusion. As if learning Japanese wasn`t bad enough, now let`s throw in 2 other languages that you will be using on a daily basis?? Yay, I am not studying Spanish or Portuguese, because I was called to preach the gospel in Japanese. But it sure does make me feel pretty helpless. Thank goodness for a Brazilian companion who can speak to these people! 

My companion is such a hard worker! I love her so much. She is the most fun, bold, hilarious person I have ever met. I cannot stop laughing all day. So just to get the image in your head... Imagine some Gaijin cruising down the streets, completely tone deaf, singing (yelling) "how great thou art" at the top of her lungs. YEAH. THAT is my companion. Boy do I love her. She also meows at anything and everything. Hahahaha. She has two transfers left. We don`t have very good Japanese, but we work so hard. She has the body of an Olympic athlete and I have never seen any human ride a bike faster in my life. I put my bike at full resistance and pedal my little heart out in attempt to keep up with her We also are always running everywhere to make appointments and such. Hahaha my body is so sore. She is from Sao Paulo- in the south - Santo Amaro . She joined the church a few years ago and then her mom joined as a result of that. The rest of her family are not members, but she has dendo fire up the wazoo. She is so bold/blunt. We were in the house of a recent convert giving a lesson and she saw a lighter. So she was like "what is this?" the girl said it was he moms. So  Sister Silva said "why?" and the girl said it was for smoking. And Sister Silva just went forward and talked about how she can`t do that in order to follow the word of wisdom.Japanese people neverrrrr do that. SO she just sees something and goes with it. SO bold, but so powerful. I am super glad that I am working with her because she is showing me how to really work hard and push myself. 

So we went to visit the house of another recent convert several times this week... I have NEVER been to such a sad home in my life. The husband died and so the mom is trying to take care of her and her sick daughter. The walls have been eaten apart by cockroaches(spelling?). So when we go, there are COCKROACHES climbing all over the floors. We have to kneel on these floors and as a result, MYBODY is swarmed in cockroaches. The first time we went I was absolutely mortified and may have considered crying. SO we were visiting and giving a lesson and we were singing a hymn for them. There was a cockroach or something that climbed up Silva Shimai`s leg. She jumped up and just started screaming and doing this hilarious dance.So we are all saying "WHAT? WHAT`S WRONG???" Hahaha so she says " I just love this song.. It`s my favorite." (She didn`t want to offend them) She was laughing so hard that she started crying and I couldn`t stop laughing either. It was the funniest thing I have EVER seen. Hahahahaha. So today we are going to clean their house and hopefully evade it of the millions of cockroaches in her apartment... We have bought so many cleaning supplies and face masks and gloves. So we have a killer p-day planned. 

We have 2 investigators and they are honestly awesome. Mayumi and Suzuki san. They both came through member referrals so we are super blessed to have them. I am so excited to see where they go this transfer. One is reading the book of mormon every single day and just has so many desires to understand the gospel. She is the type of investigator I always dreamed of. 

We got to watch General Conference this weekend! Because our ward is so diverse I got to watch it in English. I am so glad because I would not have gotten anything out of it if it was in Japanese. I still have such a hard time understanding things.  

We are trying to find new investigators. It is really hard, but we are talking to everyone and anyone who will listen. We have found several PIs this week that we will follow up on next week. Last night we were walking to a Less active members house and we ran into this Former Investigator of the Elders. He invited us into his home with his wife. He has met on and off with the missionaries for 6 years. So we talked to him and his wife and we are hoping that we can get to know her better so we can teach her. But we then talked to him about the church and what he believes. He comes almost every single week! He says that the book of mormon is the absolute truth and he loves it and thinks it is beautiful.. He believes in Joseph Smith, but he doesn`t believe in God. I have never been so confused by a person`s train of thought in my life. So I just wanted to share that because I thought it was interesting. The Book of Mormon helps people to understand who God is and develop a relationship with Him, but you have to have the right intent about it. 

This week has been amazing, I am so excited to finally have the opportunity to really work hard! We have faith and we know that there are people ready to hear the gospel. We are going to work ceaselessly all day until we find them! I might not be the best at writing letters this transfer because our Pdays are booked and we don`t even go grocery shopping, but I send lots of love! 


Sister Crofts. 

Covering the backpack. Nothing but class! 
The main dish was amazing, but the soup and side made me gag. 
The pad Silva Shimai made with her clothes while we wait for more futons for our apartment. 
Everyone is crazy about Disney in Japan. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

OCTOBER 7, 2013


This week was TRANSFER CALLS. The long anticipated moment. So I don`t know how I am so blessed, but I am thankfully not a trainer. There was a smaller incoming of missionaries this transfer, so THANK GOODNESS.  However, I am transfering areas. :( Nagano is becoming a two sister two elder area again. Sister Grant is staying here and then a 10th transfer Japanese missionary is coming in. Me, Smith Shimai, and Katsuta Shimai are all leaving.  Me and Sister Smith are going to a place called Kariya. It is completely SOUTH. It is more of a city and I have lots to look forward to. Katsuta Shimai is opening Toyama with a missionary from the kobe mission. So our district is moving everywhere! I am so sad because I love our apartment, Nagano, and especially the people that are here. Me and Smith Shimai are going to a 4 sister area. So she is companions with Avarell Shimai (who was in my district at the MTC) I am companions with Sister Silva from BRAZIL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cool right?!?!?! She is a convert and didn`t know much English when she came out on her mission. SO she had to learn Japanese through English, but she didn`t speak either language so it was really hard for her. She now has really good Japanese and English! And I hear she is hilarious and a really hard worker. SO this girl is stoked. I am soooooooooooo sad to leave Nagano, but I know that the Lord has lots prepared there. It is more city, less country, less hills! We leave tomorrow for Kariya. I am so happy that me and Smith Shimai are still in the same apartment, she is hilarious. I honestly love her so much.

This past week has been insane. We have been everywhere just trying to get me prepared in case I had to stay. It has been super fun and we have been working hard. Amongst these travels I got a flat tire on my bike. OF course, me and Smith Shimai had no idea how to fix it so our elders helped us out. Elder Tsukamoto to the rescue!! Hopefully that doesn`t happen again and my bike is good for a while.

Me and Smith Shimai were on the train and these school children boarded with us. There was probably a good 20 of them and they surrounded us on the chairs. So I was studying flashcards and Smith Shimai was trying to sleep, and we would look up and all 20 eyes were just staring at us. Hahaha Smith Shimai said "it`s kind of hard to sleep when a million munchkins are staring at you." So we`d smile at them and they`d giggle and whisper about us and what not. SO after a while of this I turned to the girl next to me and started talking to her in Japanese. Every single kid was like "EHHHHHHH?!?!?!" Then they were like gesturing at the girl and asking her how I started talking to her. So the girl asks me what country I am from and I say, of course, America. Next thing we know, we are SURROUNDED by every child on the train just trying to ask us questions and talk to us. ALL of them are telling us there names and how old they are. Two of the girls came up and gave a picture of us they had drawn with our name tags and everything. On the name tag it said "Jesus" hahaha. It was the craziest thing EVER. I had no idea how to take it all in. So we had to get off the train and they took a picture with us, isn`t that the greatest picture ever? Classic, SO fun. Then when we all got off the trian we were visiting members and less actives houses and the kids would scream every time they saw us walking around and say hi.

Me and Katsuta Shimai went on comp switches last week since she is a Sister Training Leader. She is honestly the cutest, most beautiful human alive. E HAD to take this bus wayyyyy up into the mountains to visit one of our cute little members who is only 8 years old and was baptized last year. His mom doesn't go to church. It was THE SKETCHIEST bus ride I have ever been on. The road was like 12 feet wide and just went back and forth around these corners. I honestly don`t know how I lived, but it was really beautiful and had the cutest Japanese cottages. 

Our members have been getting a lot of dendo fire, passing out pamphlets and doing everything they can. It`s been awesome to see them help in the work, with referrels and visiting people together. I love this branch from the bottom of my heart and the goodbyes have been really hard. We teach children's eikaiwa every Saturday, and when me and Smith Shimai told one of the kids mom`s that we were leaving she started bawling and just saying how much she is going to miss us. It is really hard because I don`t know if I will ever see these people again, it breaks my heart. Yesterday we told Takemoto san that we were leaving, and she was honestly devastated. She kept saying how deeply sad she is and was just crying and crying. She begged us to let her meet with her one last time today. She was hugging and just wouldn`t let go. I love the heck out of her and am going to miss her so much. It broke my heart and then some. She was so shocked and disappointed... Ahhhh :( I never realized how deeply you would love your investigators.. Wow it has been such an opportunity.

Yesterday we had an FHE with the cutest family ever, they have 4 kids and they just love the missionaries. We were playing fun Japanese games and they were asking all these questions about what it is like to be a missionary. I couldn`t help but reflect on when I was like that, it made me super grateful that I have this opportunity. Ahhh I love these people.

We will watch General Conference this weekend in Japanese. SO STOKED!!! It sounds amazing.
I have so much love in my heart for these people. I never thought I would have such a deep, yearning desire for the happiness of complete strangers. When they don`t accept the gospel, it breaks my heart. Jesus Christ is the same way, except He is more patient. He has grace and He understands God`s timing. He has so many blessings He wants to give us, and he just lovingly waits for us to receive them. I love my Savior so much. Each day I understand more and more how wonderful He is.

My next e-mail is from Kariya! I don`t have the address, so just send everything through the honbu. It only takes a couple extra days.


Sister Crofts

                                       Sister Crofts & Sister Smith with Japanese Children

The Nagano Branch
Those flat tire blues

All the children boarded the bus with us up to the mountains.
It was foggy up in the mountains, but beautiful!

Katsuta Shimai

Tsukamoto and Degeal Chourou tried to complete the Kats cafe challenge. After 3 minutes of downing ice cream they started switching off in the bathroom throwing up whille the other ate the ice cream. On the left is an eikaiwa friend who almost joined the church but heard lots of negative things from his friends, but still comes to English class. Asai Shimai was a super member missionary:) 
Kesako Shimai (the bishops wife) and another member. 
The Takeis are super missionaries. She would always turn to me during church to make sure I understand what they are saying. Their daughter was in the MTC with me.
Our classic pose when things were awkward. This is Hanyu Kiwako San. She has known missionaries for years. She took us to lunch at this really fancy restaurant and made us an amazing meal another time. Even though she stopped investigating the church, she said that she has never been so impressed and moved by young people. The missionaries do so much and it was her one way to repay all the service they do for the people in the community. 
Yuto. The very definition of energy and craziness. Our weekly kodomo eikaiwa student.