Monday, September 28, 2015

no subject (September 28, 2015)

I'm alive and well, but don't feel like sending a mass email today, so I won't unless there's extra time later. I am happy and well, we got a new investigator yesterday!!! I love Nagamachi ward, everyone is so sweet and nice. Here's some pictures:) Also an elder I was at the MTC with is on my email list 'cause he asked me to add him (which is funny, I only talked to the kid like once but I figured whatever), and he loves drawing anime-ish characters, he's serving in Tokyo, but he found out it was my birthday from my email and drew me a picture. I like it so I will send it to you, too:)

I wish I was as adorable as his drawing, but we can't all be anime characters. Our new investigator also drew me an anime picture, but she is actually a legit illustrator, which is way cool. Referred by the elders in my district, bless them.

What is this? The yard of some member or friend, apparently, but I'm not sure why she sent it. Other than, holy bonsai, Batman, that's a really impressive collection.


Bonus photos:



Split to Aizuwakamatsu:)

It was a most excellent split with Ibata S.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Twenty Things this Twenty-year-old is Grateful For (September 21, 2015)

1. My mother, who literally carried me into this life and then continued to carry me in other ways throughout my childhood and now adulthood in both America and Japan:)

2. My father, because I, like Nephi, was born to a man of faith, obedience, and love

3. My sister, who taught me what it means to be a woman of grace

4. My older brother, whose valiant example and humble courage inspires me to be better (also his puns that pretty much kill me). 

5. My kid brother, who was always my listening ear and sympathizer, who taught me what compassion is despite his undeniable masculinity

6. Other members of my family, brother-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, who have supported me in all my crazy, impulsive hobbies and performances 

7. I'm grateful for good friends who have not only supported my standards but pushed me to become better than I was.

8. My biracial background and bilingual upbringing and the fun and adventure I have of swinging between two cultures practically seamlessly

9. Music and the joy it brings me, the calmness I feel inside brought by simple familiar melodies

10. Going on a split this week with Sister Y, one of the above mentioned wonderful friends of mine:)

11. All the birthday emails and letters and cards and packages to remind me of the fact that we each forget at times, that no matter how small we may be, the ripples extend beyond our vision. (Shoutout to those who sent me love, thank you!!! Literally my best birthday thus far, probably.)

12. My wonderful companion Sister A, who hates pictures but is probably the coolest person I've ever met. She also spoils me rotten while simultaneously having me in stitches with her sarcastic humor that fits with mine:)

13. My beautiful district, who, despite an incredible lack of musical background, has agreed to sing a musical number with my companion and I while I play violin.

14. The Book of Mormon, with its inspired truths because I literally learn from this book each and every day. (And the Bible, and Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price...;)

15. My apartment has two jars of peanut butter in it right now. [heaven!]

16. My maple syrup mix that my father gave me the night before I left on my mission, because 

17. I love pancakes.

18. The Japan Sendai Mission, because that's where I am today and the people here have changed my life forever.

19. The fact that the Lord is watching over me. There were at least two times this week that I should've broken an ankle or at least sprained it, and somehow I walked away both times fully functional (and laughing, though embarrassed).

20. I am grateful to be alive at this time, with all the relationships I have with the people in my life. I know that no matter where I go, the Lord lives and is aware of me, and I also know that he has placed these people in my life for a reason, and my life of hope and light and joy and yes, sometimes rain, is all because of Him. I am so, so, blessed, and I will praise His Holy name all the days of my life and beyond. He has given me the past two decades of joy and I will forever be grateful for this.

It's been a good week.

Pictures: Nagamachi from an apartment we were housing

Thanks to the Moms and Pops! 

My bestie and I, in Japan, eating pancakes and octopus-shaped sausages for dinner.

PS, both Obaachan's package and the one from you and Mom arrived on the 15th, so I waited a day and opened them on my birthday:) We had District Meeting that day, so afterwards my companion and I gave everyone ice cream and ends up the elders bought me chocolate and made me a Luke Skywalker birthday card. And then Annett Shimai and I went out for lunch, it was really fun:) Oh, we also had music practice that day for our district musical number in sacrament meeting next Sunday, so I also got to spend an hour doing music, which was also fun. We also placed two Book of Mormons street contacting, and taught kids' Eikaiwa. That's all:) Thank you for everything! :)

Bonus photos:

Mission Leader Conference, August 5, 2015

Mission Leader Conference, September 9, 2015

New leader training, July 23, 2015

New sisters and companions, July 23, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Light in the Rain (September 14, 2015)

Well, this week was crazy. Guess that's getting prett typical;)

The biggest news is that all is safe now, which is good. Quick filler: there was a typhoon in this area, lots of flooding, and a lot of government-issued evacuation advisory texts in the middle of the night, most of which I chose not to read because it was two o'clock in the morning and I lacked the motivation to decipher the kanji (Chinese characters) in my sleepy stop-waking-me-up state. (Evidence that God is protecting his missionaries: our area ended up being just fine, and I learned a good lesson called, "read all government issued texts, even if it's the seventh one and four o'clock in the morning".)

We were supposed to have Zone Training Meeting on the worst day, but due to landslide warnings and public transportation being down, we stayed in Nagamachi along with the Aizuwakamatsu sisters who were stranded in Nagamachi. It was actually quite fun, we ended up Skyping in to ZTM, along with a bunch of elders stranded in Kamisugi, so it was an adventurous multi-Skype call ZTM:) (I had to give a training over Skype, and we had some tech issues so I gave the first half of my training to my own face. God be willing, I will never do that again, holy awkward.)

One of the Book of Mormons we placed this week was also in the rain--we had some time, but it was raining enough that we couldn't ride our bicycles (we probably could've, but the sister that was working here before me broke her arm biking on a rainy day and had to go home [before returning to finish her mission], so we agreed to play it safe). I had on my cheap hand-me-down plastic raincoat and had a Book of Mormon and some flyers clutched to myself underneath it. There was a lady walking down the street that we were housing, so we stopped and talked to her. I slid my cheap hand-me-down plastic raincoat open like the sketchiest person ever and stood there in the rain discussing the Book of Mormon like some sort of missionary version of a drug deal. The good news is, we made the sale, and scored a name and phone number as well as a "yeah we can talk about it sometime," so we were pretty happy.

We're always pretty happy:) Even when we're nasty as heck, even when we've had a ridiculous number of bike problems, even when it's raining, even when it's still kind of hard sometimes. That's the best part of it all for me is that we are happy, and the reason why is because we are sharing something that is important not only to make us happy now but to make us happy forever. And when we speak from our hearts, when we truly care for the people we're trying so hard to reach, and we see them pick up on a little spark, a little tiny piece of the light we're holding out to them, it makes us happy.

Also ice cream. Ice cream makes us happy;)

They gave us a ten minute break during ZTM and Sister A and I determined that we could make it to the convenience store and back in time, so we took of running in rain boots and flip-flops and treated the Aizu sisters to some ice cream. And yes ma'am, we made it back before the break was over;)

P.S. Lisa also answered a few questions about her area, companion, etc.:

Nagamachi is not Ishinomaki, but I'm growing to love it:) We have a Q who comes to church every week and one who was almost has a baptismal date, which is quite exciting:) 

Nagamachi is hilly as heck, if heck is hilly, and so sometimes I die on the hills a little but I'm getting stronger. My companion is Sister J..... Annett, she's from Tennessee and a hoot and a half. She's gluten intolerant but is a really good cook and says exactly what's on her mind all the time, it's hilarious:) We have a lot of fun together, she's competing with my second transfer Takahashi Shimai for favorite companion thus far, which says a lot. She's very patient with my cluelessness, haha:)

Yes, lots of rain, but our apartment was fine and so were we. A few times showing up to play looking like wet cats, but other than that, the work rolls on:) This week was MLC, which is a long meeting, and ZTM, which is a long meeting, and interviews with Preaident Smith, which is more travelling, so this week was really not a lot of time in our area, unfortunately. 

(Tedhnically the honbu's in our area so MlC and interviews were, but I don't really count that.)


Monday, September 7, 2015

STL (September 7, 2015)

Note: We didn't get a "regular" e-mail from Lisa this week -- I don't know why. But she did write a really long answer to a question about what it means to be a "Sister Training Leader," so I'll post that.

Mom, I got your letter asking about being an STL, so I'll describe my responsibilities real quick.

You're basically right, STL is kind of like being the girl version of a Zone Leader. The most frequent responsibility is that I check every night to make sure that all the sisters in my zone are safe. I usually text them right after daily planning, at about 9:35, and if they haven't texted back safe by about 10:00, I call them. This new zone I'm in has sisters who respond really early, which is nice. Last transfer I had a few companionships who always forgot, so there was one time I had to call the Zone Leaders who then got in touch with their District Leader, and if they hadn't responded after that, the District Leader would have had to go over to their apartment to make sure that they were safe. Usually District Leaders check on sisters in their District, but this mission is really strict on elder/sister relations, so that's my job.

The next most frequent responsibility is that I conduct companion exchanges. We call them splits here. I call before each split to ask each sister what she wants to work on or learning during the split. An exchange lasts 24 hours, is planned in advance, and basically, we either Dendo (do missionary work) in my area or their area while our companions work in the other area. It's regular dendo, but at the end of the split we do something called a split review. It takes about an hour. My tradition (because it's me, I need my own traditions;) is to buy the sister ice cream before we start the review, and then we eat it while we talk. We go over what we did that day, and I spend a fair amount of time doing a 良かった〜探し ("looking for things that were good"), where we find every little thing that was good about the day and list them up. We also talk about what we learned from each other, and then we set goals and plans for things we want to get better at. Also my own tradition, but the following week, I call that sister and follow up on her goals, and I ask her to follow up on mine. It's really fun, I get to know the sisters really well and learn tons. Usually two STLs are companions, so one split per companionship is sufficiently but because there aren't that many old sisters in this mission, we only have one STL companionships right now, so I conduct twice as many splits as most STLs (as do the other STLs in this mission). Hopefully in the future we'll go back, but right now, we're needed to serve as trainers and whatnot at the same time.

Oh, I also check up and make sure that everyone's doing okay stress-wise and emotionally, and I give them any advice I have and if anything is too crazy, I report problems to the President. I write a report on each split in my weekly email to the President as well, and basically I'm the go-to if any sisters have problems or questions. If I don't know, I find out and then get back to them. My last responsibility is to attend MLC, or Missionary Leadership Council. It's once a month and takes approximately forever. Preaident Smith gives a few trainings about things that are relevant to the mission right now, and we take notes. Then, we each give a five minute training about an assigned topic. This month, I'll be teaching about the Role of the Holy Ghost in receiving Revelation. Last month I taught about Harmony and Unity. Then, after MLC, we all break into groups by zone, so I meet with my Zone Leaders, and then we plan for Zone Training meeting, which always happens about three days after MLC. Usually we pick topics that were discussed in MLC as a base for ZTM, and we choose missionaries to give trainings at ZTM. I usually give a training, the ZLs usually give a training, and some District Leaders and sometimes other random missionaries give trainings. My last ZTM training was on trusting in the Lord. Basically, we pick the flow of the meeting together, and then the blessed ZLs make assignments and take care of the rest for me. At Zone 大会 (conference), I give manner or etiquette or whatever training the President feels should come from the STL, it's a little stressful but also a really good learning opportunity, I suppose. :)

I think that's about it. The good news is, I got called to be STL pretty early, so I might get released before the end of my mission. I'd never seen that before, but a STL with one transfer left got released, so she's serving as a normal trainer right now. That seems pretty nice, haha:) We've got something like twelve beans and twelve trainers right now out of maybe twenty five or seven missionaries, so we're pretty bottom heavy right now.

Yep. That was a lot, but that's what I do right now:) Love you!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bonus photos (September 5, 2015)

Some bonus photos from Lisa:


We matched last week:)

Guardian angels...? lol


Lost during a split, turned a corner and BAM! 田舎! (countryside)

Cake Day Tatiana

Rain pants for the win 

The hospital miracle LA. Went to lunch my last day in 石巻 (Ishinomaki) :)

 There were purple roses.