Monday, July 28, 2014

Miracles Happen

28 July 2014 Sanjo

Hello! I can't believe it’s Monday again already! Wow! This week was full of exciting adventures and a few miracles too.

I'll start with our big adventure. 

Wednesday we had a zone meeting and on our way home had a miracle! We found a college girl who wants to learn more about the gospel! We talked for our entire half hour train ride and at the end we asked if she wanted to learn more. She said yes!

We said "really?" It was shocking. Everyone is always too busy or Buddhist. But she wanted to learn more!! Sadly she lives in another area though, so we handed her over to the sister missionaries in that area.

After lunch and some paper crane making we set out to visit Hoshino shimai. We were already gonna be late but she told us no worries, later was fine. Sister Skabelund almost got hit 3 times and we very quickly became lost. Finally we found the river we needed to cross, and started to cross it. On the bridge Sister Skabelund stopped and said it felt like something was stuck to her tire. She spun her wheel and I gasped in horror! There was some giant chunk of metal jutting out of her wheel!!

She reached to pull it out and I exclaimed "don't touch it!" But it was too late. Pstzzzzzzz....sister Skabelund said we could keep riding and so we keep riding...ptszzzzzz...and the tire became even flatter very quickly...we were so far out we decided to keep going..on foot and pushing our bikes. 

We thought we were close!

We went down the bridge and walked for a few more blocks, took a left and ended up In front of a huge shrine. We took a picture and then continued on our way..we didn't make it too far before an obachan asked us if we were ok. We said we were but she saw Sister Skabelund’s tire and exclaimed daijoibu jinai!

She asked where we were going and we showed her. She didn't think we were going the right way. So she told is to follow her and she brought us over to her across the street neighbors. Out walks another obachan and then an old man in just his underwear. Don't worry they were married. They looked at the map and we figured out that we weren't even on the map! We were wayyy off. It was about 30 minutes away by walking! It was already 8:00. Ah!

We called Hoshino shimai and she ended up talking to the old man in his underwear. They figured out where each of us were BUT her car couldn't fit both our bikes. At some point during all of this the original obachan that found us wandered over to her house then wandered back.

She had called someone for a truck!

A little while later a HUGE white truck shows up and a younger looking boy pops out. She had called her grandson and he was gonna take us to Hoshino shimai's home! He loads in the bikes and tells us to get in. But, as missionaries we can't be in a car alone with a guy so we explained this and the obachan says no big deal and climbs into the back of the van and sits with the bikes!

We sat in the front. It was a little awkward...getting into the van was too! It was pretty high off the ground. So sister Skabelund and I and the grandson sat in the cab while the obachan sat on the bed of the van with the bikes. It was pretty funny.

As we were driving we talked to the boy a little bit. Haha he tried to flirt a little bit. My favorite moment had to have been when he asked how old we were..21 and 22. He was shocked. I asked how old he was..30. Hahaha. We invited him to eikaiwa.

We got to hoshino shimai's house and they took the bikes out. From the back of the van the obachan waved and said goodbye. It was soo funny. She was sitting Indian style and waved both hands at us with this huge smile on her face. I think she was planning on staying back there for the ride back..luckily her grandson didn't let her.

We got to do phone lessons with quite a few less active members. And one of our less active members, Ogura shimai, is really progressing! It's exciting. She wants to come to church but can't because of work so we asked her to pray about what she should do and then fast. We would fast with her too! We called her Saturday night and all prayed together to start our fast. I'm excited to see the outcome and what answers she receives. She is really ready to take a bigger step. It's exciting.

Sunday evening we found another less active member who I think had managed to fall off the map; Yokohama shimai. She hasn't been to church since she got married. Sister Skabelund and Linquist Shimai accidentally found her 2 transfers ago. And when they housed into her she did not hesitate to say she wasn't interested. This time was soooo different. She had had a complete change in heart. We re-invited her to church And testified.

I handed her a map so she could see where the church was, it was one of the ”I'm a Mormon” flyers, and she just kept staring at it and flipping it over and opening it. It was a really sweet moment. We prayed together before we left, the spirit was definitely felt by her. And we will be visiting her again this week! And if we can find a member to give her a ride I think she will come to church too!

We almost didn't even go to her house. But we decided to act on what was possibly a spiritual prompting Skabelund shimai was getting and it turned out just right! And because we went there, we were able to see the last two people we wanted to see as well. Perfect timing!

This weekend I have really felt and seen Heavenly Father's hand in the work. He is preparing people for us to find and helping us lead his lost sheep back. I love it. I love my companion and I love Sanjo.

I love you all too!

Sister Molinari

Monday, July 21, 2014

This Week Went By So Fast!

21 July  2014 Sanjo

Sunset in Sanjo
I don't think I've experienced a week fly by this fast before! Every time I checked my watch, hours had passed by. It's crazy. I guess it's a good thing though, it means I'm having fun.

Sanjo is still as beautiful as ever. It has been super rainy here and on Saturday the sky finally cleared and it was amazing! I knew there were mountains surrounding us, but it didn't know how beautiful they were! I feel so lucky to be here.

We did soooo much this week and had sooo much fun! We probably laughed too much..but, there had been no "peeing of the pants" so I could always be laughing harder. Some of the funny moments this week:

First, I was trimming my eyebrows really quickly in the morning one day and accidentally lopped of the end of my eyebrow! I've been drawing in the end every morning! I guess I wouldn't have had a real Japan experience without having to draw an eyebrow's what all the nihonjin do!

During a lesson this week we were talking about how we have developed relationships with God. I talked about prayer and feeling His love and then I said I've seen god's hand in my life but it more literally translated to "in my life I have seen God's hand." Of course I was talking about how He has a hand in my life, each of our lives, but it didn't translate well, and our investigator’s eyes got really REALLY big. "You've seen God's HAND???"

Looking back, we probably should've just let her think that I'd seen God's actual hand...could've worked in our favor. Haha, just kidding.

Sorry I don't have much time...other highlights of the week..

We had a root beer float party (most of the nihonjin didn't like the root beer), someone on the train told me I looked like Emma Watson, one of our investigators told us that "you are special...not so ordinary girls" and we saw lots of mini miracles! We ran into 4 people..maybe more..who had previously been in contact with the missionaries!

One of our less active members came to church! My favorite mini miracle was, one night, we were looking for a member Yamamoto shimai. We had no idea where she lived. As we were wandering around this old lady starts talking to us and tells us she knows a Yamamoto! Well, we didn't have anywhere else to go so we decided to check where the lady had told us.
Turned out it was the right Yamamoto!!! What are the chances?!

Tonight we have family home evening. It's so fun. Sister Skabelund and I are teaching the lesson. We are talking about how we all create a Plan A for ourselves but sometimes we end up doing Plan B. And Plan B isn't always what we wanted. But, in the end Plan B ends up being better than Plan A ever could've been. It's because Heavenly Father knows what is best for us! And even if Plan B doesn't seem right or like what we want, we end up getting the most out of it.

I'm a perfect example of that. I never EVER planned on going on a mission. But here I am! And I love it! I've seen so many blessings already and I have learned soooo much. It's been hard, but great. And although it wasn't what I planned, I wouldn't change it for anything.

Ahh this is a lame email. Sorry!

And sorry I didn't reply to anyone individually either...I'll try to next week!

Next week I will do better!


Sister Molinari

Monday, July 14, 2014

Live from Sanjo!

14 July 2014 Sanjo
Dear Everyone,

I love Sanjo! It's great. It's a beautiful place. I feel like I'm finally in Japan. If you go an hour one way you hit the ocean and then in every other direction you see mountains and hills and trees. It's gorgeous!

This past week has been crazy. So after transfer calls I began packing. What an affair that was! I'm glad it's over. Then we made phone calls - lots and lots. Everyone was really sad to hear I was leaving. I was sad to be leaving them. We spent the next couple of days visiting everyone. It was a very busy few days. I finally got to see Shimura San again. TWICE. It was such a blessing. I was so grateful for that. She was too!

She dressed Hubner shimai and I up in a yukata and took pictures. It was fun. I visited a lot of members too. I love them so much.

While leaving an area was hard, all the love I felt as I left was wonderful. It really makes you feel like you've done good.

Oh, in case anyone is wondering..I was not affected by the typhoon. I left Oyumino just in time!

Thursday morning it was raining, but one of the wonderful members brought us to the train station and Sister Hubner and I began our journey. Well, Sister Hubner's journey lasted about an hour, then I said goodbye to her and continued on to Tokyo with another sister who was also going up to Niigata.

We got to the mission home and after lunch we went to catch the bus we would be riding for five hours (yup you read that right). 

It was a beautiful bus ride! I felt like I was leaving Tokyo behind and heading into the real Japan. 

Up here in Niigata is how I pictured Japan I love it! We drove through mountains and over rivers. It had been raining so everything had fog hanging over it. I felt like I was driving into a movie!
Skabelund shimai and me

I met my companion, Sister Skabelund, at the train station. She is the cutest thing ever! 

Her mother is nihonjin and her father is American. And so that makes her... adorable. She has been out for 8 transfers..almost a year. She has really great nihongo and is so sweet and kind. I am so excited to be companions with her and I'm so excited to be up in Sanjo!

The rest of my week flew by! I can't believe it's another week already. So, I arrived Thursday, but the day was over by the time we made it back to the apartment (which I also love, wood floors and tatami mats in the bedroom!). 

Friday we had district meeting, I got to meet everyone else in my district. I think Jensen choro ed. note: from my MTC district) is about as excited as I am to be in the same district. It's really nice having a familiar face around. I like my district. There are some really awesome missionaries up here in Sanjo. After district meeting we weekly planned. I'm excited for this transfer. We have big goals and I really feel like Sister Skabelund and I can achieve them together (with help from Heavenly Father of course). 

After planning, we made dinner. Boy, there was not much in the apartment. We finally found some instant soup packets and then a few pieces of vegetable that could be added. I asked if we had anything else. Sister Skabelund said we had some potatoes. That'll work! She hands me the bag and starts laughing...they were baby potatoes!!, three baby potatoes. It was the saddest sight ever. But we got a really good laugh out of our ever-so-pathetic soup.

Saturday was my birthday! I thought transferring was the perfect escape but Jensen choro had made sure everyone knew it was my birthday. The elders had made a cake for me! And one of the members here, Yuki shimai, brought me a present. For lunch/ dinner we cooked with an investigator from Vietnam. We made all sorts of delicious food! It was fun!

That night we went to a neighboring town...I don't remember what it is called...Kamo? We took the train to go visit someone. She wasn't home, but when we returned to the train station there was a girl about our age sitting down waiting for the train. We went and sat down next to her. She stood up and staggered away. I was a little worried about her. She was walking ridiculously close to the edge of the platform. She lit a cigarette, smoked for a few minutes and came and sat back down. I really wanted to talk to her. So I did! 

We all talked for a few awkward moments and then the train came. She walked away and Sister Skabelund and I followed after was a little weird of us haha. I decided to sit down next to her and we continued talking (there were only two or three things I didn't understand!!!!)

We didn't talk about anything super important, but we gave her our number and I really, really, really want her to call. Or, I want to run into her again. Her eyes were so empty. It was so sad. I think she was already drunk, and she was meeting a friend to drink more. I'm pretty sure a boy too. She just seemed so lost; drowning in the world.

It just got me, I don't know how to explain it. But I've been thinking about her ever since. And I'm praying we will find her again. Sorry that isn't really a happy story...yet.

Sunday I got to meet all the members. They are quite a bunch! But I love them already. We got to teach the young women’s class. There are only two young women in our "group"(it isn't even big enough to be a branch!) and they are sisters. They are so nice. We talked about Christ and what He means to us, who He is and we watched a video. We could feel the spirit so strong! It was a really wonderful lesson.
I love it up here! I’m so happy and excited to be here! And excited for this transfer. Things are looking good.

I love you all!

Sister Molinari

Kobayashi family 

Monday, July 7, 2014


7 July 2014 Oyumino
Aoyagi shimai..the seventy's wife! I love her! 
(Me & Hubner shimai)
(ed. note: 70 is a particular group of church leaders)
 Hello everyone!

I have exciting news. I’M TRANSFERRING!!! I’ve been assigned to Sanjo, Niigata. No one wants to go to Niigata. They all think you get stuck up there. But I didn't mind at all! I'll just spend the next third of my mission up there and leave just in time to miss winter. It gets very cold there in the winter. And the snow is measured in meters not centimeters. I'm very grateful I get to go in the summer. And I am sooo excited too!

Sanjo is farm country, rice fields, mountains and a tiny town. The ward...well, the ward isn't a's a group. But that is gonna change! I'm also in the same district as 2 of my "doki" or missionaries from my MTC district. What a treat! The only thing that could make it better would be if Dopp shimai was there.

This week was pretty great. I finally got my voice back! Yay! And boy was I ready to have it back. After almost two weeks....I was over the no voice thing for sure. Especially since you need your voice as a

Tuesday we had a zone conference. It was great. We were taught about being diligent and staying connected to our purpose. There is also a lot of new things being rolled out here in japan. After Elder Cook came here, he and some others have been busily working on new focuses for us as missionaries and ward members alike. One new focus is retention. They are really pushing retention of new members. And second is reactivation. Here in Japan there are 7,000 active members in church and...are you ready for this 17,000 less actives. WOAH!!!!
Elder Cook wants us to be teaching 20 lessons a week. And with that many less actives or not all active members there is no reason we can’t be teaching that many lessons. I'm a fan. I love teaching.  The third focus is changing the mission culture. And being diligent was part of that.

So I left zone conference feeling ready to go. I want to be more diligent. There is a difference between going through the motions of missionary work and actually doing it diligently. I spent a lot of the week trying to do the later. While we didn't find anyone ready to be baptized, we did find quite a few cute girls who will probably come to eikaiwa, I got to tell someone I really believe that Jesus Christ lived and had multiple conversations in Japanese all by myself. It's been great.

There has been a crazy change in my nihongo abilities. While I still am not the best at speaking, I can understand sooo much and reading has gotten easier, remembering kanji (ed. note: Japanese characters) is easy too. It is exciting!

I've been translating one of our pamphlets during language study time..well not really translating. It is written in Japanese and uses kanji. So over the kanji I've been writing how to say it, but not what it means. On another page I have all the kanji I don't know and the English. On the first page it’s a long list...but, each page I go through the kanji list gets shorter. I'm remembering a lot from the page before! And the things I study have come in handy each day throughout the day. I also don't need a word for word translation once I know the kanji I can understand the rest of the sentence usually. It is sooo exciting. The gift of tongues is real. I would not be able to learn this quickly without Heavenly Father's help.

We had a really fun Relief Society (ed. note: the Church’s women’s service organization) activity this week. It was all the Relief Society women in the stake and they invited the sister missionaries to come sing. It was a little hard to hit the high notes but I managed to sing! That was a blessing in and of itself. It was an introduction to Relief Society and a little bit of history of it too. I LOVE Relief Society! How lucky are we to have such an awesome organization?

When a nihonjin doesn't believe what you're saying they will exclaim "oo-soh". It directly translates to “liar” but it doesn't really have that feel. Anyways, one of the members said it to me cuz I said we had a meeting and she couldn't believe it. My reply was "ie, senkyoshi desu." (No I'm a missionary). She just looked at me like I was stupid, but all of the Americans laughed.

This week we had a very exciting eikaiwa. Sister Hubner and I decided in honor of Fourth of July that we would do an America class. We had words like barbecue, parade, fireworks, statue of liberty...we didn't want them to think we were shoving America in their face so for the activity we had everyone make flags. If they had their own country what would their flag look like? While they were creating them I heard a BANG come from the other classroom. I made a comment to Sister Hubner that someone had fallen. I didn't think again about it.

After everyone's flags were created we had a parade! We had talked with the elders before class; they knew we were gonna come parade through their room. So I lead the way, patriot music playing, and 16 kids following behind me and head towards the other room. I quickly popped my head in to see if it was ok to come in. Nope! So we continued on, parading around the community center, waving to all the mothers sitting outside (I don't think anyone really understood what was going on..). Music is playing, confused children are chattering and the community center workers appear and look at us SO confused. Then we head back to the room and take a seat. We gave the kids candy and sent them home. After that we headed into the other classroom.

Turns out that bang I had heard was a lady hitting her head on the floor. While playing a game, the lady had gone to sit and her chair shot out from under her and she hit the floor. Because it was a potential head injury an ambulance had been called and she was taken away. While all this was happening, thanks to perfect timing, there was patriot music and children waving flags amidst it all. We added to the confusion and created the perfect storm. It was really exciting. Except as I reread this it doesn't sound at all exciting. Guess ya had to be there...

Sister Hubner and I were sitting across from each other one night and I was reading a phrase I had taken a picture of. It was out of one of those learn English phrases books for nihonjin...they have weird stuff. Anyways I had found a particularly odd one and taken a picture of it a while ago. I read it out loud: "Your nose hairs are sticking out"

Sister Hubner's response: "What?!"

It was pretty funny.

I've really enjoyed being in Oyumino! I'm gonna miss everyone soo much. And luckily I've been told how much they are all gonna miss me too all week. It makes me feel like I did ok here. One eikaiwa mother, who isn't remotely religious, even told me she would pray that I stayed here! So sweet.

Next week I'll be writing from Sanjo!

Love you all!

Sister Molinari