Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear Family, 

Wellllllll it has been another AWESOME week! Thanks for all of the birthday wishes and love:) I can`t believe that if the mission age wouldn`t have changed; I would JUST be leaving on my mission. I am so grateful that I didn`t have to wait because I love my mission so much. 

Well, it is starting to get super-hot, there are four sisters trying to cram our futons into one tiny little room (like sleeping in a cocoon and it gets soooo hot nobody can sleep. Anyway, me and my companion are now sleeping outside on the balcony so there is more space and it isn`t so hot. Hahaha. Last night, was honestly one of the best night’s sleeps of my mission. We had the cute little frogs chirping, a breeze, absolute bliss. Also! I made my first apple pie last week for one of our investigators and can I just tell you it was absolutely delicious?  She was SO happy and just said "EHH?!?!  You came all the way out here to bring me a pie?!"  I hope she felt lots of love because she is awesome. 

We were on a kokan and of course it starts POURING rain. I didn`t have a kappa or anything so I pushed through with a cheap little poncho and borrowed one of the other sisters boots. We arrived at a member’s house and I realized that the bag with my favorite missionary shoes had fallen out of the basket amidst our travel to her house. It was about an hour by bike and it honestly could have been anywhere because the rain was pouring and it was hard to see. So we decided to go to the member’s house and just check it out on the way back. We said a prayer before we left and we talked to everyone on the way back. We had gotten halfway there when I saw this bush that we had passed forever ago in my head and felt like I should go look there.  We turned around, checked the bush, but it wasn`t there. So I was like what?! But then this woman came riding out on her bike and I realized. Oh. We need to talk to her. So we started talking to her and she just stared at us completely in shock that we were here in Japan helping other people. We were riding our bikes next to her for a while and she was just speechless and said that she saw light in our faces. So the sisters are going to meet her again and teach her children 30 minutes of English then 30 minutes about God and our church!! (That is a program we do a lot in Japan right now) Anyway it was way cool how touched she was. 

Over the course of talking to people, streeting and what not... We bumped into these 2 girls who were sitting along the side of the road in down town Yokkaichi. We asked them if they were students and they said "he he.. no.. We are working right now."  They were both 19, super pretty, lots of makeup, skimpy clothing.. (you think it would have sunk in by that point) But then we started talking about the purpose of this life and why we are living. One had a lot of interest and really wanted to know why she was living, she thought it was so we could die. Then right as we were about to set up a time to meet, this guy comes over and says "hey you`ve got one." So then she walked off, and of course there was this older man who was waiting for her... OH NOOOO. They were prostitutes. So then the other girl who didn`t really have interest just kind of laughed and shrugged her shoulders.  I guess you could say we were in the wrong part of town because after that we realized that they were everywhere. They need the gospel too, it is just a little hard when they are on duty. 

This cute woman we met on the street has now come to church two times with her 2 year old daughter. Yesterday we were able to teach her about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in the nursery. After we taught the first vision, she just said "woahhh" and looked down at her arms covered in goosebumps. She knows a lot about Christianity, but she said over and over again "I want to read this book!" She is way awesome. 

Well it has been a good week, and to be honest, it is hard to go all day long talking to people and sharing what is important to you with people and them having no interest or rejecting you. But when you find people who will listen, it is that much more special. I am SO LUCKY to be here. Every day is a test of faith and I talk to everyone and do my best because I want God to know that He can trust me. 


Birthday wise- I was feeling lots of love! We had a softball/tennis activity (also can I just add that it was hilarious that the members thought that I was super amazing at softball and tennis..? I am sooo bad) The bishop brought donuts for everyone for my birthday and they sang! One of the elders in a different area made a SUPER yummy cheesecake for me and I was super surprised about that, and then me and Sister Kawai went and ate some yummy waffles. My only birthday in Japan, but it was amazing!

Our apple pie

My cheesecake

This is Mi Chan. She is the cutest dang thing.

We had a tim tam slam activity. Waddell Chourou spilled his hot chocolate on his pants in this picture. So funny.

Got a little sunburn. Bring on the farmer's tan.

Sleeping outside

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 19, 2014

It was so awesome to talk/Skype to everyone last week on Mother’s Day. It is super crazy that it was my last!  This week, I hit my ONE YEAR MARK.  I actually only have 5 months left in my mission. Also, I am officially 21 as of this week too.  Whoa.  It is so crazy to think how much my life has changed because President Monson changed the missionary age.  SERIOUSLY a miracle. :)  There are good things going in our area, but this last week was actually really hard for us.  Two of the people we are teaching committed to start preparing for baptism two weeks ago, but now we haven`t been able to meet with them. NOOOOO!   We taught one of them about the Word of Wisdom and she totally understood the logic and everything about it, but she has absolutely not even an ounce of a desire to quit smoking and coffee.  So we are really praying for a miracle.

 So last week we were doing TONS of finding.  We were talking to every single person we saw about God and about our message. On Saturday, we talked to over 60 people within just 2 hours, but we weren`t able to find one person who would listen or who had interest. But, I guess the miracle is that we gave 1 cute girl a Book of Mormon, talked to 60 people about God and Jesus Christ, and did the very best that we could.  It was a little bit discouraging when last week we were just working our hearts out and weren`t able to see the difference it was making.  But we have no regrets and all that God can ask of us it to try!  

Also my skin is absolutely wigging out... I have like this giant rash that is covering my entire body.  It started small in March, and I thought it would just go away and was no big deal but now it is seriously everywhere.  I called the mission doctor and he sent the images to a dermatologist in Utah. Pending... My body is literally dying. Hahaha.  

It was absolutely pouring rain, but we went out to visit some people away from our apartment. We started housing and found this cute lady who we thought was Japanese, but she was actually Brazilian. She wanted nothing to do with religion. She felt like all religions were not teaching what Jesus Christ taught.  At first, she didn`t want to listen, but we kept talking to her and then talked about Joseph Smith.  We pulled out a lesson 1 pamphlet. It was absolutely pouring rain. We could barely see, the pamphlet was totally kawai sooo..... But the spirit was SO STRONG! She was speechless. She couldn`t read kanji, but she wants Portuguese and we are going to go back.  It was cool to see how much she changed from the beginning of our conversation to the end. 

Well, we are working hard, no regrets, doing the best that we know how to do.  Also, it is fun to be a Sister Training Leader because we get to go do comp exchanges/training with other girls in our area and help them get STOKED about missionary work and opening our mouths. Last week, I went with a sister who hadn`t been able to find anyone to teach for weeks and weeks, then we went on our kokan, had an awesome time, found some new people to teach and then she found a bunch of new people the rest of the week! She was sooooo excited!  It is easy to get discouraged, but I know that God is helping us every single day, we just have to keep pushing through and showing our faith. We had a crazy experience last week where we visited lots of members that aren`t coming to church, nobody was home of course. So later that night as we were returning to the apartment, we ran into a lady who was a less active member for over 30 years. But, she had been feeling super depressed that day and thinking about why she was here, and of course.. SHE MET US.  She hasn`t had contact with the missionaries because she moved, but she wants to learn more. Yayyy. Anyway, I love being a missionary. I will tell you straight up. It. is so hard. It makes me appreciate so much more that Jesus Christ knows what it is like. I love you, always praying for you! 

Sister Crofts

Trying to teach the Brazilian lady in pouring rain
Our pamphlet didn't survive the pouring rain
Japanese rice fields
An arukokai with our ward. We went hiking and one of our friends came
This is called an onzen. They are the rage in Japan. Usually, it is a giant bath that everyone goes naked.  We took the beginners level and just had to put up with people's "naked feet"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Yes we are eating Krispy Kreme Donuts. Insanely Expensive!
Sister Kawai & Sister Crofts somehow became "wingmen" for a crazy investigator
4 Sisters in our apartment. Cunha Shimai & Omine Shimai are from Brazil
So sorry to leave Aso Shimai
Mayumi. I love her and will miss her like crazy

Loved the members in Kariya

Sister Crofts & Yuchan
They decorated my desk
We met this girl riding our bikes and became immediate friends

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 5, 2014


HAPPY MAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is it not unbelievable how fast this year is going by?  After about 7 months (5 transfers) of being in Kariya, I am being transferred.  I am, to say the least, SO SAD. I don`t think that words could properly express how much I have loved this area, my companion, the people we are teaching. Saturday morning,  I got a call from President Yamashita before transfer calls even started (so I was super surprised) letting me know that I would be transferring to Yokkaichi to be the Sister Training Leader with Sister Kawai.  She is so sweet, such an awesome missionary and I am really stoked to work together with her!  President Yamashita is trying to get 2 sister training leaders in every zone with the zone leaders, so we will be in an area of 6 missionaries again.  The Sister Training Leader is responsible for training in zone meetings and doing companion exchanges and calling all the sisters every night.  It is the only sister calling in our mission, so I am super humbled to be able to serve these sisters.  I was really sad on Saturday, but I don`t think it felt real. Then I walked in to the Kariya ward, saw one of my favorite members, handed her this card with some of my favorite pictures we had together and memories and what not and I just started bawling.  I was absolutely not expecting it to hit me that hard, but I honestly don`t remember the last time that I have cried that hard.  I went up to bare my testimony and I honestly just couldn`t even speak because I was so sad to say goodbye to everyone.  I gave almost all of the members little picture cards that I made for them.  I seriously loved this area so much. Sister Nomura was crying so bad when we said goodbye.  I was really surprised that other people cried that I was leaving.  Gahhh... That was honestly the hardest day. But I will come back to Kariya for sure!

These last few weeks have been super busy!  We have been visiting the cutest less active girl (Madoka chan) for the past few transfers and she is learning the missionary lessons because she really doesn`t know anything about the church.  So last week when we visited, she was honestly glowing and just said how excited she was to see us because she wanted to tell us something.  So she said that in the morning as she had been studying the scriptures before we came she found herself having so much fun and she couldn’t stop to read and study!  She said that she knew that we are supposed to read the scriptures, but she never knew that it could ever be fun and she could enjoy herself. Ah she is so cute and it is unbelievable how much she is changing.

Saturday we went to a fireside with President Yamashita with one of our investigators!  We were so stoked to go, and I played the piano and Aso Shimai, Ishida Shimai, and Takahashi Shimai sang this beautiful song. The spirit was so strong and it was awesome to hear many people`s testimonies.  Brother Nomura also came and he bore his testimony.  It was the very first time that I had been able to hear things from his perspective, and wow... I was just blown away.  He talked about how after he went to church he felt the spirit so strong and later that night after we had taught him he just started to cry because he realized how he needed to be a better father and he wanted to change.  The gospel completed the hole he felt inside his heart.  Since he has been baptized, he has felt so much closer to his family and he has felt even more so how much God loves him.  He had never really thought about God before that... WOW.  That was such a blessing to hear before getting transferred. On the way home, we were driving in the car with our investigator and she talked about how amazing the testimonies she heard were and how she felt like it was directly for her. But then she started to talk about this meditation training she had done that morning and how it was exactly the same as what President Yamashita said about just praying from the bottom of your heart.  She said the whole time she just felt "okay God, I get it!!" but then she said at her meditation training that they had been learning to tune into the inner black hole in your heart so that you can experience/control your feelings of happiness... sadness... comfort.... and you just have to connect with the black hole. She said that "your Jesus/Holy Ghost is like the same as what I do! And when President Yamashita said to pray from the bottom of your heart like Enos, well! It is the same!" Oh boy.................. anyway.  Me and Sister Aso honestly were at a loss for words.  Hahaha we always try to receive the guidance of the Spirit as we teach, but I was so shocked that it was truly one of those "I have nothing to say" moments.  I think it will take a while for her to understand... She is going to India in June.

There was a super crazy storm last Tuesday and me and Sister Aso just pushed through and rode our bikes out super far to visit some people. We went about an hour and a half out, and then returned back to Kariya and then rode our bikes out another 30 minutes so that we could go somewhere else. By this point, even though we had rain coats we were 100 percent soaked and it was so cold. But whatever, it was fun. I took my raincoat/pants off and was just drenched. We went into a restaurant with one of our recent converts and members and we were quite the sight for sore eyes. I love my mission.

I am super sad to leave Kariya, but I am excited for a new part of my mission!  I did my very best, made lots of forever friendships, gained a solid 15 pounds, and grew so much to love my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am seriously so grateful to be here.

I love the members in Kariya so much
So sad to say goodbye to Kariya

Ishida Shimai, Aso Shimai, Takahashi Shimai & Crofts Shimai
Tsuda Shimai and Yakushiji Shimai