Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Made it to Nihon!

27 January 2014 Chiba, Japan

Hello everyone!

I think you are all sound asleep right now. We, however, are about to make dinner. Today marks my one week in Japan! (Editor's Note:This entry was received 3AM EST. That is about 5PM Japan Standard Time)

The plane ride here was pretty uneventful, minus the awful sinus infection I had. Landing was pretty rough for the first flight. But my connecting flight to Japan my face was fine. It was a miracle and a prayer answered. I slept most of the plane ride there. I had had great plans to study and work on my Japanese but...it did not happen. Anyway, as we landed in Japan I felt like I was coming home. It was an odd feeling to have since I've never stepped foot in Japan, but it just confirmed that this is where I am supposed to be right now!

Well, we get out of the plane, go through customs, and then I needed to use the bathroom. I think I am going to come back to the states with a hunch back! Everything is so low to the ground! And I need to bend over so far. The sinks looked like they were child height and the toilets where equally as short! But, the toilet seats are heated so I'm not complaining too much... After our bathroom break we all get our luggage and head out to our bus! Our mission president was waiting for us! Not too many people were thrilled about that. We all looked like a hot mess. But he told us he doesn't judge us based on our first day ha ha. So we put our luggage in a van and then climbed onto our bus. 

The minute I stepped on that bus I started feeling sick. SOOO sick. I rode the half hour from the airport to the mission home with my head in between my legs. We passed Disney Land, but I was too sick to look up. Well, Lammintaus Choro (editor’s note: choro is Elder), out of the kindness of his heart, offers me some Advil. He's convinced it cures everything. So, in a desperate attempt to stop the nausea I took it. Well, I stopped feeling sick. But, by the time we got to the mission home, I was tingly ALL over and the world was dancing around me. Eating was quite the out-of-body experience. You would think I would've learned by now that I should not take medicine. It just has a very strong affect on me. But no, I haven't. I'm sure I made quite the impression on my mission president and his wife.

So, we spent a few days at the mission home being trained. Then on Thursday we were assigned our new companions and our areas. I am in Chiba, our area is Oyumino! We are down in the south of Tokyo. It's much warmer here. And we are so close to the ocean it rarely snows! We are white washing our area! And as sister's we are opening it. They have never had sister missionaries before this transfer, and now they have 2 pairs! Oh, white-washing is when all new missionaries are put in an area.

My area is in the Midori Ward. It is marked just above the title of the map.
On Sunday we got to meet everyone in the ward. They are sooo fun! I couldn't understand much besides the topic of conversation, but they are all really nice to me! The ward members have been going out of their way to help us too! We got a brand new apartment and when we got here Thursday there was nothing in it! Nothing, except our futons. Side note: I LOVE futons. They are sooo comfortable. Members have been dropping of furniture and food for us. They are so great. And they are all soo excited to have sister missionaries in their ward. 

WE sat in on ward council and we all went around and introduced (or in my case tried to introduce) ourselves. The bishop said his favorite thing to do is make people laugh, but he isn’t very funny. The relief society president replied "that isn't true. Once he gave a talk and made two sisters laugh so hard they cried!" That was all in Japanese though...

WE teach English classes multiple times a night. That is probably my favorite thing to do right now. Our students are all ages and they are sooo funny! I was told over and over in the MTC that the Japanese are serious. But really they are so funny. All the ones we have met are so funny!

So here is what I hear every day:
"You are soooooo skeeneee"
"Youw eyez are soooo bigu"
And appearenlty I have a really cute nose too...

It's great! WE all bond over Disney Everyone here LOVES Disney. And we have met multiple people on the streets who have been married at Disney world. Mickey and Minnie were always present too.

Well, I love it here. It feels like home. I love the people, and eventually I'll be able to talk to them.

Love you all!
Sister Molinari

Here is my new address:
Sister Kirstin Molinari
Japan Tokyo Mission
4-25-12 Nishi-Ochiai
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
161-0031 Japan

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

This entry is from the editor, her father.

On Monday, January 20, we spoke with Sister Molinari while she was at the airport ready to begin a very long day's journey. She wasn't feeling very well. Not much sleep and the beginning of a sinus infection made for a very uncomfortable descent into LAX.  

They were all very excited; 25 Missionaries, all on the same flight, all gong to the same mission. There were many Japanese with them on the flight to Japan. It was a small preview of what lies ahead.

Their flight took nearly 11 hours. They left from L.A. at about 12:30 PM on Monday, flew north following the US coastline, then over the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea, crossed the international date line, followed south along the cold coastline of far eastern Russia and the northern islands of Japan. They arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday at about 4:30 PM! 

I followed the flight progress for most of the day and most of the flight except for the final hour and a half. I checked in the middle of the night to see that the flight had ended with a safe landing ahead of schedule. So we assumed they made it safely. And then you wait for a day.

Early this morning, we received an email from the mission office informing us of their safe arrival. The mission president and his wife met them at the airport, fed them, visited briefly and then sent them all to bed for a much needed rest.

President and Sister Budge with "Morinari" Shemai

Today, which has most likely already happened, they received training and meet their new companions. Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of us, eastern standard time. As I write this at about 8:30 AM, it is 10:30 PM in Tokyo. They should all be in bed at their new assignments, in their new apartments, with their new companions, in a new country, with (what seems like) a new language. It is quite overwhelming when you first arrive.

It has been about 50 degrees and sunny in Tokyo this week. Here in Rochester, NY it is minus 16 degrees this morning and, we can see the same sun! It is actually quite pretty here right now. The sky is clear and because it is so cold, the moisture in the air is crystallizing and sparkling in the rays of sun light. It looks kind of magical!

Preparation day (P-day) for Sister Molinari is on Monday. We don't expect to hear anything more from her until then. I believe that will be Sunday for us, since they are a day ahead of us. She will be able to tell us about her new companion and where in Japan she is assigned.

The mission office sent pictures as evidence of a safe arrival. Kirstin will love these when she sees them!

Morinari Shemai in Tokyo after a long day of flying

The office included a note regarding mail and packages and the address. They recommend sending all mail and packages via US Postal Service (USPS) or the local postal service in the country you are from. It is easier to forward them to the missionaries after they are received by the office. 

Sister Molinari
Japan Yokyo Mission
4-25-12 Nishi-Ochiai
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo-to
161-0031 Japan 

Missionaries LOVE to receive mail, but have very little time to respond to letters. They can only write on their P-day, in addition to doing laundry, cleaning their apartments, grocery shopping, emailing (reading and writing) and any sight-seeing they might want to do. Please don't feel bad if you don't hear directly from her. There is a significant feeling of guilt associated with not writing and responding to the letters received, but there simply isn't enough time to write to everyone. Read about her here or in the general email she sends out and know that she is writing to YOU. Thank you.

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tokyo, here I come!

16 January 2014 MTC Provo Utah USA – Last letter from USA

Hello everyone!

This week has been really great. 
It is so exciting getting ready to leave the MTC. Friday we received our travel plans and it made leaving and going to Japan ever so real. My district is all on the same plane too! Everyone got their Visas!! We are super grateful for that. We leave at4:30 Monday morning!! 
So last Thursday we had a really great lesson with our investigator Tominaga San. We taught about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and why we need it in our life. Not only can we access it for healing and forgiveness but also for strength.  It was such an amazing lesson and the spirit was so strong while we were teaching. At the end of our lesson Tominaga San finally really committed to stop drinking. I think he realized that he really could do it! 

All our lessons have been really good lately. Dopp Shimai have finally found a way we love teaching and the spirit is usually present when we teach. I also am not afraid to speak and that makes lessons much better too. 
Last night we got a chance to Skype at TRC again. I can't remember the lady's name..but she was a real spitfire! She was a Nihonjin (ed. Japanese) that lived in Mexico!! I had to try really hard not to snicker through our whole lesson... So for starters her camera connection wouldn’t work. But I'm not really sure she was aware that we couldn't see her. So the entire lesson we spoke to a black screen. So she starts by asking us our names and we tell her and then she continues to question each of us individually.

Half of the time I had no idea what she was asking. But she thought it was really cool Kristoffer is serving a mission in Tahiti. She was really nice and would repeat things for me. And we had a decent "get to know you" conversation. Then it Was Sister Dopp's turn! The longer this Sister spoke to Sister Dopp the slower she spoke, and it was the funniest thing EVER! Out of the two of us Sister Dopp is NOT the one who needs to be spoken slowly too. So this continues, I keep trying not to laugh..Finally she asks us what we have prepared to teach her.

We share this quick message about the atonement. She gives us these great answers to our questions and then...nothing. We had run out of things to say. So she asks if we can share our testimonies. Dopp Shimai goes first. And all through it she gets corrected and told the correct way to say things. Then it is my turn...I was pretty nervous. I didn’t want to be corrected that much!

Well, I started in Nihongo and everything came out perfectly! And quickly too! Usually, I piece together sentences slowly but this time it came out smoothly and quickly and before I knew it I had finished! I was so shocked I was done! And that there had been no corrections either!

After that I told her I was excited to share the gospel and used Waku waku which she told me wasn't the correct term for the sentence and shared the correct one. After that she asked (and i thought it was to both of us) if we had attended seminary. WE said yes. She then asked if we'd slept through it. hahahaha Afterwards Dopp Shimai said that was directed to her and gave me a full translation of that segment of the conversation.. I almost peed my pants from laughing. I always feel like Dopp Shimai does better out of the two of us when speaking/ teaching in Nihongo. Guess our Skype Sister didn't feel that way! 

During one of our lessons this week we practiced "train approaches." Or how to start speaking to someone on a train. Our sensei for the day gave us an example and then asked for a volunteer. No one volunteered so I said I would if we did one in Eigo (ed. English) first.

So Dopp Shimai and I go up and we just sit there. I had no idea what to say! And then...he starts speaking to us in Japanese!!! I was a little annoyed and stayed silent. Dopp Shimai had to do the entire thing.

Afterwards our Sensai said ok what went wrong? And I said "You said it would be in English!" And he starts apologizing cuz he forgot. No big deal. I get a second try to redeem myself - in English. One of the other Shimai in our district became my new companion. So we are sitting and still don't really know what to say but are trying to chat about church stuff to maybe catch his attention. OF COURSE that didn't work. So I smile (or rather smirk) at my companion and say "Smith Shimai...do you remember which station is our stop?" and of course she didn't know...so I asked our sensei who was pretending to be the passenger "excuse me..could you tell me which stop is..." The class burst in the laughter. I think they saw that as a very Sister Molinari thing to do. It was great. And a conversation was started. It didn't go beautifully, but at least we spoke that time!

Don't worry! I won't do that in real life unless I genuinely don't know where I am going. Which will probably going to happen a lot at first. 
Elder Bednar came again on Tuesday. He just continued to answer questions from Christmas. He did tell us something that I am going to extend to all of you. He said ask your family and friends to be praying for you to have the gift of tongues. So, friends and family...please keep me in your prayers so I might be able to speak well and learn Japanese quickly!

Sorry this is kind of a boring letter. And I need to run! Next one will be much more exciting hopefully...It'll be from Japan so it has to be right? I love you all! Thank you for all your support and letters. I got a big pile of letters yesterday and it made my day!

Sister Molinari

Sunday, January 12, 2014

11 Days To Go!!!!!!!

9 January 2014 MTC Provo, Utah USA

Hello everyone!

This week has been great!

Like always it has flown by. And I am so grateful!! I have 11 days left here at the MTC and then I am off to Tokyo! I should be receiving my travel plans this weekend too! That is really exciting. I'll know exactly when I am leaving and if I have my visa. My P-day has changed too. For the last two weeks I'm here it is now on Thursday. Actually, our entire schedule has changed. It's a little confusing now, and I feel like I've been thrown back to my first week - not knowing what time anything is, and showing up late for classes or things I didn't even know were happening. But it's ok...I leave in 11 days!

So this week during one of our classes we started talking about what the Nihonjin (Japanese people) think of us Americans. There were two words...any guesses???


Our teacher told us that going to Japan you don't experience too much culture shock. But when you come back home you experience MAJOR culture shock. You get off the plain and the American airports are overwhelmingly loud. 

Dopp Shimai and I taught an amazing lesson this week! Actually...it has been the only one this week so far! Thanks to the schedule change things have gotten a little crazy with teaching too. But, we made our one lesson count. We taught Katayama San about the atonement, and a little bit about repentance. We taught straight out of the scriptures. It was great! That is probably my new favorite way to teach. We've been doing it a lot recently and it works so well. It really invites the Spirit into our lessons and makes it easy to teach simple truths. We had been having a hard time connecting with Katayama San too. But, during this lesson I felt like we made great leaps in the right direction! My Nihongo was really great too! I said everything I wanted too, minus a sentence or two and the sentences I wanted to say, Dopp Shimai would say! IT was crazy! In a really good way. We were super connected during that lesson, and really in tune with the spirit. I loved it. We are teaching Tominaga San tonight. He wants to learn more about the atonement too. And we will probably use the same scriptures as we did with Katayama San, only some different verses and different emphases. Tominaga San really wants to develop his faith, and learn why faith in Jesus Christ is so important. Oh, we're using Alma 34. It's a pretty great chapter! (perfect for someone's scripture study tonight maybe...)

This morning we got to go to the temple. FINALLY! The temple here in Provo has been closed since we got here. It finally re-opened on the 6th. It was so nice to get to go. Everyone in my district is in a good mood now. It's great.

Since we are in our final weeks here at the MTC, we get to Skype Nihonjin (native Japanese people) during our TRC time (editor’s note: we don’t know what this stands for). I was so nervous! But it ended up being ok! The lady we taught told me I had perfect pronunciation! And she could understand what I said to her! That was a huge confidence booster!

I am so excited to go teach the people of Japan. I just love them!

As I was teaching her, I got a really great confirmation that I'm going where I'm supposed to be going. And that I'm going for the people.

Yesterday Dopp Shimai and I taught at TRC again. This time we had a man from Nagoya. He was amazing! We talked about faith and we read in Ether 12. He had amazing stories! He had to pick between college and a mission and he chose to go on a mission! And he said it was the best choice he had ever made. He is in his 70's now and still hasn’t gone back to school. One of the verses in Ether 12 talks about miracles. I felt like I should ask him if he had experienced any miracles in his life. He had! And it was an amazing story.

When he was 5, he had problems with his kidney (I think kidney failure) and they had been told he couldn't be helped. His mother had been searching for a church. She met Mormon missionaries and she took the lessons. She learned about faith and decided that she had the faith that the Lord could heal her son. So she took him home from the hospital and prayed for him and he was healed!

Such an amazing story! Miracles can happen if you just have the faith.

After our Skype lesson, we were talking to our sensei about how it went. Turns out the man we were speaking to was the Area 70! We were glad we learned that post lesson, not before!

We got our Japanese name tags this week! My last name in Japanese is mo-ri-na-ri. Which, I was told, translates into loud forest? How cool is that!!!

So here are the funny stories for the week...

Last Wednesday I woke up and had hives all over my stomach. By the end of the day they had spread to my arms and legs. The next morning I was covered! Well, I wasn't a fan so I decided I'd try to take some Benedryl  and instead of taking one pill like I usually do I decided to take two. I thought it would make my spots go away quicker. Only my spots stayed. (The next day I used essential oils and they cleared up by the day after). And the medicine had a not-so-positive-affect on me.

During lunch I suddenly became REALLY tired and I couldn't understand why. By the time I got to our classroom, I could barely keep my eyes open. All through personal study I was struggling to stay awake. Reading my scriptures became really challenging. And I may or may not have fallen asleep mid sentence... By the time class started we'd realized what I'd done; Too much medicine! Luckily our sensei found it pretty funny. And by the time I had to teach, later that night, it had worn off. Everyone got a really good laugh though. And I have learned my lesson for sure!

Later that night we got in our new Kohai (new Japan-bound  missionaries). They are a really solid bunch; 9 Elders who all have pretty awesome testimonies. Anyway, as sister training leaders, we get to do orientation for them (along with the Zone leaders). We were talking to them, telling them how to be most successful here, teaching them about the importance of companions, when one of the Elders started to have trouble with his eyes. They hurt so bad that he was tearing up and he couldn't open either one of them! Everyone was super concerned for him and no one knew what had happened. I did! He had first, wiped his glasses with the very fluffy scarf he was wearing and then chose to wipe his eyes with it as well. I'm pretty sure that he got fuzz in his eyes...and although I shouldn't laugh at his pain it was pretty funny. 

Last night during our class the term "mind blown" was used multiple times. I decided I wanted to translate it into Japanese. I want to say it ended up being "nou fukurata" demo (editor’s note: demo means “but”) the last part may be wrong. It is also brain blown not mind blown demo it works!! Anyways, I was really proud of this so I handed it over to Dopp Shimai. She couldn't figure it out and proceeded to look it up in one of our dictionaries. The translations it came up with were hilarious and she could not figure out what in the world I had written. Some of the words the dictionary suggested were puss and discharge. Needless to say we were soon laughing very, very hard – silently, since it was class time. She was so puzzled! So I finally told her. 

Our district has taken up winking at each other. It's pretty funny. What is even funnier though is when someone gets caught in the cross fire...someone who has no idea what is going on. It usually results in a very red face...or in Dopp Shimai's case- some poor elder who spent all of dinner staring at her!

Well, that is all for now!

I love you all! I love your letters and dear elders. They are greatly appreciated!

Molinari Shimai

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Pictures

 Merry Christmas from the MTC

 Not much longer!

Molinari Shimai and Dopp Shimai

Right about here in three weeks

A good mirror!

 Our "towel of Babel" day

 Two lumps of coal?

Teaching aide I made that we used in a lesson.

 Dopp Shimai and "I"

Some Pictures From Our First Weeks at the MTC

The sister in blue is Nita Shimai who got sent to Japan early!
 Our Threesome  

 2/3 of our threesome when it was still warm outside

 Our Threesome all in dots!

And then it snowed. Yuck!

Utah Almost Looks Pretty

 The mountains and sunsets are growing on me. But they still lack color compared to New York's and Florida's.
 Mt. Timpanogos at sunset
Provo Temple at Sunset
To the west at sunset

Week 6 MTC - I have 3 weeks left!

Hello everyone! Happy New Year!

I don't know where the time has gone! But I am not complaining. I officially have less than 3 weeks left!!! I am sooo excited! And then it is off to Japan!

So the longer I am here the less I remember each week...everything just blurs together. But, I'm going to try my hardest to give a pretty good re-cap of this last week. 

Christmas day here was great! (So was Christmas eve). All of the Chorotachi (elders) opened their presents Christmas eve so they had nothing to open on Christmas. The Sisters of course had a little more control. Dopp Shimai and I got creative and made each of them presents/ found odd things in the book store. One of our Elders gets nose bleeds all the time so we bought him a box of tampons and redecorated the box to say "NOSE BLEED STOPPERS", another Elder got a tongue cleaner, then a third got TUMS (he is always complaining about the food here and what it does to his stomach) and our last Elder got a hand mirror, on which we had stuck a mustache (he really misses his facial hair, he doesn't feel as manly without it). Of course they were well received! I had made gifts for the Sister missionaries before I got into the field so I gave each of them those sometime during the day too.

                                           Finally, a good mirror!

For lunch that day we had a big Christmas meal. That way all the MTC workers could go home and spend Christmas with their families after our lunch. Dopp Shimai and my Christmas lunch/dinner was even more special! We were invited to eat with the MTC presidency!! Each year a handful of missionaries are chosen. This year we were two of them! I think it might have been because I remembered the Nally's (president and wife) anniversary! It was really nice. We got to eat off of fancy plates and have real salad! The main meal was pretty good too. But honestly I think I was most excited about the salad. So, after everyone sat down President Nally announced who else was going to be joining us to eat....Elder Bednar!

After we ate Elder Bednar told us we could ask him questions. Everyone who wanted to got to ask a question. At first no one raised their hand. Everyone just stared at Elder Bednar or looked at each other. I finally raised my hand. First one to ask a question! My question was "What was the most important thing you learned on your mission?" His answer was very Elder Bednar-esque. He said "to get over yourself." The sooner you realize this mission isn't about you the quicker you will become successful. You need to realize that it's about the people you serve and when you can get out of the way and let the Spirit do its job then you will have success on your mission. That was his answer in a nut shell. He also asked us a question. He wanted to know what was happening as we were asking and he was answering questions. A couple missionaries answered and I raised my hand too. I said the Spirit was present. He asked why. I told him it was because he was answering us simply and directly and when you do that, instead of trying to sound fancy and eloquent, the spirit can more easily bear witness of the truth. Through Simple truths the spirit can bear witness more easily. He said I was right on! And then talked about speaking simply for a little bit!

After lunch we went to straight to our Christmas Devotional. Elder Bednar spoke there as well. He once again opened the floor to questions. The way he did this though was super cool! Since there are around 1,800 missionaries here there is no possible way he could have answered every ones question, and I think it would have been hard to see to choose as well. And then on top of that we were broadcasting live to multiple other international MTCS! So, there were 200 cell phones brought in and passed around. And then when someone had a question they texted it in! And Elder Bednar would receive it on his iPad! (I have a feeling the questions were being screened before they appeared on his iPad though). After the devotional we went back to our class room for a little bit and then returned 19M to watch a band perform and then we watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choirs Christmas special as well. Oh, there was also a really fun talent show in the morning! That was pretty great. My favorite act was a bottle dancer. It was fantastic.

So, Sunday night Sister Dopp and I traded name tags. Everyone here calls us by each others’ name. We wanted to see if anyone would actually notice if they were different. That day I had been called Sister Dopp FIVE times. No one noticed. Except two people! One of our district presidency members and his wife! IT was pretty funny. 

Last week I told you about George. Dopp Shimai and I got to go on a couple walks with him this week. It was really nice. Not only did we get some fresh air, we also got to know George better. He is a really cool person. And he has been through A LOT. I'll have to tell more about him later. I am running out of time right now.

Dopp Shimai is officially the District Bully. She had a chocolate orange and was trying to share it with people. She figured Elder Lamintous would want a piece. He had his eyes closed and was leaning on one hand on his desk. He claims he is "thinking" when he does this. Anyway, I'm not quite sure what she was thinking, but she decided to throw a piece to him. Instead of landing nicely in front of him it popped him in the nose! His nose turned bright red and he looked a little shocked and bewildered. He wanted to know if she thought he would sniff it as it flew over to him and then he would snatch it out of the air! It was pretty funny. No one was seriously hurt, demo now Sister Dopp has a new nick name. 

I had a couple other funny stories to tell, but I've run out of time. The longer I am here the harder it is to type quickly in English. 

One last story; One of our friends here at the MTC told us a few of his mess ups while trying to speak Figian. He told his investigator that God loves us all and that BATS are his children! He also tried to explain prayer to an investigator. The investigator had said "when you pray you get Manna, when I pray I get nothing." So this dear Elder proceeded to say "there is no difference when I pray. There is no difference when you pray. When we pray Heavenly father see's no difference." Only what he actually said was.... "There are no PANTS when I pray. There are no PANTS when you pray. And when we pray Heavenly Father has NO PANTS." WE got a really good laugh out of that and I hope you all do too!

Happy New Year!

Thank you for all your wonderful cards and packages!

Sister Molinari

Week 5 24 Dec 2013 - Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

I have been here a month!

I think the longer I am here the quicker the weeks start flying by. I don't know where this week went! But I am totally ok with that. I have 4 more weeks to go and then I am finally in Japan. I cannot wait. 
The food is still awful here. And it's freezing cold. But my companion is amazing. And so is my district and zone (the other missionaries who are going to be serving in Japan).

Earlier this week Dopp Shimai and I came bounding out of our apartment, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day. Little did we know what was about to happen. As we rounded the corner we both went flying, as we hit a VERY icy patch of side walk. I thought about grabbing Dopp Shimai but instead grabbed a pole and she fell flat on her stomach on the ice. While I slid in circles around the pole she tried her hardest to get up. It was quiet the scene! And the screams we let out got everyone's attention who was within ear shot! But no worries, we are fine. Dopp Shimai has a bruise on her shin and one on her elbow (which she spent most of the week thinking she'd gotten weight lifting), but that's it.
That entire day was just a hard one for my dear companion. That night in our evening classes she just couldn't stay awake! Well...no she was awake...but coherent...maybe not.. I kept looking over at her and her mouth would be hanging open and her eyes would be glazed over. I started laughing at some point and she turned, looked at me with very sad eyes and said "my bottom lip is just so heavy." After class I had to meet with someone and when I came back to my classroom I saw Dopp Shimai leaning against the wall, talking to someone. As I got closer I realized she wasn't talking to anyone, but sleeping! I grabbed the girl who I had been meeting with so she could see and as I did so, Dopp Shimai slowly slid into the corner, face wedged between two walls. It was perfectly timed and of course I lost it. That woke her up. 

Last Tuesday we had a really fantastic devotional. Ronald A Rasband, from the 70) came. He spoke all about Gifts. And since we, as missionaries, won't get too many he told us about the gifts we should really be concerned about. The gift of gratitude, the gift of faith...spiritual gifts! What made this really great was the fact that Dopp Shimai and I had been studying spiritual gifts that morning! Inspired?? I'd say so! Well, after the fireside we stuck up to the front. It was the President and his wife's anniversary and I REALLY wanted to wish them a happy anniversary. Sister Nally was SO surprised that we knew or even remembered! (She had mentioned it in November during a talk). She brought us over to her husband and he was equally surprised and touched. It was great! We got to thank them for everything they do and we chatted a little as well. They needed to run but before they left they sent us over to Elder Rasband and we got to meet him and shake his hand! And his wife's too! It was pretty great.

I don't remember what day it was this week, but Dopp Shimai and I decided to help the Elders plan their lesson for one of our investigators. Oh my goodness that was quite the experience. Imagine 20 chickens running around with their heads cut off...That is how planning goes. There are so many ideas floating around and occasionally someone would snatch one and then hold on to that idea and try to plan the entire lesson around that one sentence they could say in Nihongo. And then they would get distracted...and we would end up talking about farts, or Finland, or how fast everyone wants to get married when they get back. Chaos!

Finally Dopp Shimai took control and planned a beautiful lesson for them about how faith is like a little seed. It was great. We were excited they were excited and there was no more talk of bad smells. Well, the lesson didn't go quite as planned. Our teacher told them (and everyone else since we were in the classroom) that they had not been using the correct verb for "to grow." They had been using the verb "to level up." You know...like on a video game. We of course found this funny and were laughing about how prayer and church attendance helps you level up, and that we could get a lot of video gamers this way when Smith Shimai asks "So what level do you need o get to to make it to heaven?" WE died. It was hilarious. 

Exciting news!! Dopp Shimai and I were made Sister Training Leaders this Sunday. I am sooooo excited. It's such a great opportunity to serve the other Shimaitachi in our district and it's a good reason to keep Dopp Shimai and I at our best. I can't wait. We have a little less free time now and a lot more responsibilities but I am up for the challenge.

Also on Sunday, we sang a special musical number for our branch. We had originally planned to sing Oh Come, Oh Come Immanuel. Saturday night we went to practice and I couldn't bring myself to sing that song. I hated it! And so did she. We frantically tried to pull something together, run between buildings and searching for English hymn books. Well, we finally decided on something but it still didn't seem right so we asked another sister in our district if she wanted to since with us. Of course she said yes! So on Sunday, after only singing this song together a dozen times and only singing it with the piano twice we performed With Wondering Awe to the tune of Come thou Fount. It was Spectacular. Dopp Shimai sang alto, I got the melody and Trent Shimai did some beautiful harmonies a little higher. We got a lot of compliments and quite a few comparisons to angels’ voices. I had been praying all day that this would work out. And I know we only sounded as good as we did because Heavenly Father helped us. I'm so grateful. 

We didn't do too much teaching this week. The schedule got messed up and we only taught once or twice. Last night we taught Katayama San though and it was great! WE read part of 3 Nephi 11 and just talked about Christ and bore our testimonies about different things the entire time. It was a really spiritual lesson and I could say everything I wanted in Nihongo!! WITHOUT NOTES! I felt sooo good about the lesson. And so did Dopp Shimai.

Today we will be spending some of our day with another investigator names George. He speaks English. It's wonderful. I cannot wait! We are gonna go on a walk with him and just talk. Dopp Shimai had a brilliant idea too that made we should go to the temple and walk! We will see.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas. And don't forget what we are really celebrating!  Jesus Christ's birth! I am so grateful for Christ and this time of year. I know that he is our savior and that he came to this Earth to save each of us. Through the Atonement we can be forgiven of our poor choices and can be healed from all that has hurt us. And that one day we will be able to return to our Heavenly Father, who loves us so much! He just wants us to be happy and to come back to him and he has provided a way! I am soo excited to share what I know with the Japanese people. Being a member of this church has made me so happy and has blessed my life so much. I want others to get to experience that as well.

Well, I love you all! Merry Christmas!

Molinari Shimai