Is this real life? I apologize in advance if this email jumps around a lot so much has happened in such short of a time!!! Ok so the last week of the MTC was a blast and quite the emotional roller coaster…we concluded class with our sensaitachi, I have loved my teachers and have learned a ton from them, they really helped to set the tone for our missions and how to be effective missionaries! MTC was such an incredible experience for me, I learned how to be a better disciple of Christ, I am so grateful for this unique experience, on our last night before we left our district got together and we had a mini devotional and talked about what we learned and how our testimony has been strengthened. It was cool to end our MTC experience where it all essentially began. We took the train to the airport and boy was it a mess, but we eventually made it. Ok so we made it on the plane and I was trying to scope out who I was gonna be sitting next to for the next 13 hours or so and I got to sit next to this sweet Korean woman named Ooyong(Eunice in English) I was nervous at first thinking she was nihonjin and that I would have to start dendoing in nihongo already, but was relieved when she /spoke great English. We talked so much about our families, I got to show her the awesome journal/ picture book of the family that Justin and the family had made me and she told me about her two daughters and how she was Christian. It was great, we talked about God and how we both felt new generations were relying more on the world than God. I asked her how she gained such great faith in God and she told me about how she worked hard for a job position and when she finally got it she realized she was not happy. She said she had a lot of questions and was not satisfied with life. She went back to the Christian church she went to when she was younger and felt better about life. She then asked me how I became so involved in church and I told her how my family has been blessed and strengthened from the gospel and the direction I have felt from it and the undeniable peace and happiness I feel. The spirit with her was great. I then asked her about the questions she had about life and told her about a man named Joseph smith. She said she had never heard of him and then I told her about how he had questions about religion and told her about the first vision she found it interesting. I really loved talking with her and gave her a pass along card with the church website, I forgot to give her my email, but I pray one of the Korean missionaries cross paths with her.
At last, we made it to Nihon (Japan)!!!! We were greeted by pres Wada and the APs (assistant to the Presidents) and feeling the humidity made me feel like I was back in Hawaii, except not. Hawaii has got nothing on Japan’s humidity, but I like it. We stayed in the Honbu floor the first 2 nights, while the chorotachi stayed in the chapel next door with the aps. The first few nights adjusting to the time change was a struggle but now I feel a lot more acclimated. We did a bunch of orientation stuff, learned a lot of really great tips and knowledge from President and Sister Wada. They are wonderful and have such a strong passion for the gospel, our mission motto is: “OBEDIENCE IS THE PRICE, FAITH IS THE POWER, LOVE IS THE MOTIVE, THE SPIRIT IS THE KEY AND CHRIST IS THE REASON!” I love it already! Japan is so interesting, I went through a great culture shock. I literally can’t read anything, have absolutely nowhere to go, can’t understand anyone and I can honestly say, I Love It!! Crazy right?! For morning workouts we ran to a park in the middle of the city and did something called radio taiso where Nihonjin do stretches and stuff, it was cool, we got to talk to some Nihonjin there, they’re so kawaii (cute)! We also had our first experience of streeting, I went with Sis. Hathaway who just left on Friday, she was very helpful and super enthusiastic. While being at the Honbu it has been great eating actual food, and so delicious!!! Ok so moment of truth, we met our trainers on Thursday and my new companion is Nakamura Shimai, she is a sweet Nihonjin from Hokkaido! (Emi was another trainer there too, it was great to see her).
So after, we got our trainers and received our iPads then they pretty much shipped us off after that, it was crazy quick! I was pretty sad to leave my district, but as we all left I remembered Alma 17:12-13 and was so excited for all of my doki to share the beautiful testimonies that I have witnessed being with them. So I am serving in the Yamate area, fun fact, so the church, when Heber J. Grant came he came here, he prayed in a park (I still have yet to get there) and this is where the church first started. Is that not awesome?! I think it’s great to start my mission where the Church first started! So cool, anyway I have just been settling in. I got my bike the day after I got here so we can get to work, Yamate has a lot of hills!! On Friday, we had a cookie party with 3 eikaiwa students and 2 members, it was great. I also met the rest of our district, Elders Lundberg, Connell, Young, and Takahashi. Ok so there has been a festival going on here and it has been a great way to get to know the community here and to familiarize with them, and as we talked with them I learned a lot about Japanese culture and how they have a strong sense of community, and culture, it was really great to experience! We also met Bishop Shimada, he is crazy about missionary work and so so dedicated, he reminded me of Bishop Stowell, just in a smaller Japanese form. Mini miracle: Ok, so my first Sunday here was great. It was Fast Sunday and I had already planned to give my testimony cause Ellsworth Kyodai had challenged us to do so, but the bishopric asked me to introduce myself anyway. The morning of, I was slightly nervous, my Nihongo is so limited so I prayed that if my words could not be understand by their minds, that their hearts would be able to understand my testimony. I stood up and tried and gave my testimony to the best of my ability and sat down. Honestly I wasn’t sure if it even made sense, I just tried to say what I felt and knew to be true. My companion had to translate for the English speakers in the ward. We have a new family, the Sorensen family in the ward from Texas, so she translated for them so I cheated my first Sunday and pretty much heard the entire meeting in English. Well, Bishop Shimada was the last to give his testimony and as my trainer translated, I was able to understand him. He said that as I talked it was very hard to understand me. But, as he listened with the spirit, he could see my frustrations with Nihongo and my strong desire to serve, even though I struggle with the language. He then said how as a ward we need to band together and help me through mogi lessons and help me with lessons as members. I felt like my prayer was answered. The spirit is an amazing asset in missionary work. I was also so humbled because I came here to serve these people, and here they are trying to help me. My heart was so full. I, of course, was crying. We also met so many ward members, we have a ward of maybe 30 or 40 members, but their strength in such small numbers is incredible! I feel so blessed to serve here with such faithful saints!! (Ok funny, this ward kind of reminds me of the ward back home. We have a bit of diversity like the good ol’ 1st ward). We have been contacting less actives and trying to find more people to teach, one of the first things I asked my trainer what to say was: “Donna deki gotomo, aishinasai” which means “Come What May, and Love it”! (Reference is from this talk – https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/come-what-may-and-love-it?lang=eng&cid=email-shared ) So when I look around me and have no idea where I am and what is being said around me I repeat in my mind: “Donna deki gotomo, aishinasai,” and when I can’t even understand the kids speaking, I repeat: “Donna deki gotomo, aishinasai,” and when I have to bike up hills and hills and look like a crazy out of shape gaijin I repeat: “Donna deki gotomo, aishinasai!” I am so humbled and grateful for this experience, I know that through Christ I will be able to carry out my purpose! I thank you so much for all of the support and prayers! I love you all!!!
Ai shite imasu, Wilson Shimai