Monday, August 25, 2014

This week was crazy!

24 August 2014 Sanjo
Good-bye Skabelund shimai
I think transfer week always is crazy actually. We spent the first half of the week scrambling around trying to see everyone Sister Skabelund wanted to see. Then on Thursday we took the train to Niigata and she got on a bus and left me! I was really sad to see her go. I miss her a lot!

While I waited for my new companion, Nitta Shimai, to get to Niigata I got to dendō with Dunn Shimai. I'd never worked with her before she is amazing! She only has a few transfers left. We had a lot of fun in the few hours we spent together. We had a fun time handing out chirashi at the train station and then we ran off to an appointment. Back story: a lady received a eikaiwa chirashi somehow and called the elder missionaries to see if some missionaries could come to the Eikaiwa class SHE teaches. She wanted native speakers there. So we went! The lady ended up being really young and she spent a few years in America. In Utah. at Snow College. Chance? I think not! We had a really fun eikaiwa class. She teaches six or so kids. Usually they aren't very well behaved but for us they were haha. As a thank you we got McDonald’s gift cards. Everyone here thinks we love McDonald’s...

After a fun day with Dunn Shimai we headed back to the bus station to wait for the bus with all our new companions to get there. It came early! Nitta shimai and I had to run to catch a train so we could make the hour ride back to Sanjo.

The rest of the week has been really great. It took us a couple days to get into 'our' own groove. It made me really nervous! But it's all good now. We both want the same things for Sanjo and Sanjo group and I am really looking forward to doing it with Nitta Shimai. She is an amazing missionary! And her nihongo is soo good. I'm really excited to improve mine. I understand so much and I can write and read a little. Speaking is my biggest challenge and so this transfer that is what we are going to work on. I can't wait. I know I just said this, but she is seriously such a good missionary.

Sunday at church: 
Ogura Shimai, Yasuko San and Momoka Chan! Yasuko San loved church! It made me so happy! And she fit right in! She made comments and talked to everyone. And when she left she said she'd be back next week!
Me, Yasuko san and Skabelund
I love her. She has this light in her eyes and every time we visit I leave feeling happy. She emanates light. She learns things so quickly. It just clicks for her. It's so amazing watching her develop a relationship with Heavenly Father and feel the spirit. It's so special. I feel so lucky.
After sacrament meeting Momoka Chan and Ren Kun (elder's investigator) left. Then later, as Nitta Shimai and I were about to leave, they came back to church! They didn't have any plans so I suggested we watch a movie. We fed them pancakes (we had had a pancake breakfast that morning) and then Momoka Chan, Nitta Shimai and I watched the restoration video. After it ended Momoka Cham was just silent. And she wouldn't look at us. I'm thinking "oh nooo, what did we just do?!"

Finally we started talking. We asked her how it was, she couldn't answer. It looked like she was going to cry. More silence, then we asked what she felt. She didn't know it, but she felt the spirit! And when we asked, she told us she had interest in learning in learning more! She answered very quickly too! Ah! I'm so excited.

Also, I loveee the restoration video. It was in Japanese so I didn't catch everything but, I absolutely love it. I love Joseph Smith and I'm so grateful that through him the gospel was restored. I love the Book of Mormon and I love studying it and the Bible every morning. It's just a blessing. I feel like my knowledge has exponentially increased since I came on a mission. I don't know where I'd be without the church in my life!

Funny story of the week: Ren Kun and Momoka Chan have crushes on each other...I think...typical high school romance. But, on Friday Momoka Chan came to ping pong night. Ren came running into the church saying
I brought a pretty girl, I brought a pretty girl! Yuji Kyodaii, thinking it was a girl for HIM, came running out of the church and upon seeing a high school girl became very disappointed. He said his heart was racing hahaha.

Sanjo is still beautiful. It is finally cooling down...I think and I am looking forward to wearing fall clothes again! And not sweating all day, every day! I don't think I've sweat so much in my life!! But, it is totally worth it! Being a missionary is so good. It's hard. Really hard. But really good. So worth it.

I love you all!

Sister Molinari

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cows and kaus

11 August 2014 Sanjo

This is our last full week of the transfer. Transfer calls are next week! Ah! It has flown by. On Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat. Again. We will see how long this one lasts...

Tuesday went to an old folks home for service. Its name translated is frog house. Haha. They are a bit surreal here. Everything is so clean and everyone is so smiley and a little robotic. And they lock everything! I was a little put off by that. I understand it's for the old peoples' safety..but still. We would walk through one door and it would lock behind us, go through a hall, unlock next door, walk brought then it’d be locked behind us. What if the people working there hadn't wanted to let us out????

We sat with a bunch of old ladies who were very sweet but a little senile. They just told us over and over how beautiful we were, how kind it was for us to come, and after a few questions about church the
conversation would loop again.

The climax of the visit was probably when I started coughing. I couldn't stop! I just kept coughing and coughing. My eyes were watering and everyone was staring. And I just couldn't stop coughing. I felt soooo bad! All the workers were probably wondering why the heck I was there. All the old people were gonna catch a cold from me!

Wednesday was a super day. During district meeting Sugawada choro and I both got to do trainings. I really liked Sugawada choro's. I felt like mine was a little scrambled. It's amazing what being sick does to
your ability to think. I talked about how God has a plan for each of us. We each came to earth to accomplish certain things.  He gives us trials as a way to prepare us to accomplish those things.

We had another amazing lesson with Yosuko San. And guess what!? She is getting baptized in September!!! She is just so prepared. On Thursday we had taught her how to pray and then invited her to do so. She told us Wednesday that after she prayed she felt calm. And then she told us she had been thinking about church and decided this was the best church for her and she wanted to become a member. Ahhhh!

She wants to learn everything from the beginning. And so that's what we did. We talked about how God is our Heavenly Father, that he has made a plan so that each of us can return back to Him one day. That Jesus Christ is essential to that plan, and how when he was on earth he taught the gospel. We told her about the great apostasy and the need for a restoration of the gospel. It made perfect sense to her.

One of my favorite moments in the lesson was when we were talking about prophets and why we need them. As missionaries we use this object lesson to show the need. We hold our fist out and say it represents God. Then we have someone else hold their fist out. It represents them/ other people. You ask them to follow your fist with theirs. Usually they can do it. Then you tell them, "we can't see God. Close your eyes!" And they need to try and follow again. It's much harder to do it this time. Then we take a pen and say it represents a prophet. Then we stick the pen in each fist. They are connected! And It is easy to move and follow "God" even though your eyes are closed.

Well, we didn't make it that far with Yasuko San. We told her to close her eyes and asked her if she could still follow God. She answered with so much confidence "yes." She didn't get it. So we explained it to her again and then asked her the question again: can you follow God? Once again she answered with a confident "yes." By the third time (with a reminder that her eyes were closed) and another yes we had all
started giggling. It was pretty funny.

The whole lesson was pretty surreal. She wants to be baptized! And she is so excited and ready to learn. She even invited herself to church before we could. And told us she would read and pray every day. We
didn't need to invite her to do much!

One of the funny moments of the week: I had done something..I can't remember and Skabelund shimai looks at me and says "mischievous cow." I was sooooooooo surprised and taken aback that she had called me a cow! "Cow????" As I said it I realized it wasn't cow it was kau; which is Japanese for face. She was commenting on my mischievous face. We got a really good laugh out of that one.

Today we went to Yahiko mountain. At the base there is a shrine. It was a beautiful place!! I adore Japanese culture. It's so rich and spiritual. And beautiful. I'll send some pictures!

This week has been wonderful. I love Sanjo! I love the miracles we are seeing. And my companion is pretty great too.

Love you all!

Sister Molinari

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wow, What a Week!

4 August 2014 Sanjo

I love the sky in Sanjo!
I feel so blessed and incredibly lucky to be here in Sanjo! I haven't gotten over how beautiful it is up here, miracles continue to happen and despite the hot weather and inevitable sweating that comes from it sister Skabelund and I are having tons of fun. I've gotten in the bad habit of riding my bicycle with my mouth open. In part because it's hot and I'm often panting and in part because I can't help but smile/ my jaw drops open because of the beauty here. I've had one too many bugs fly into my mouth this week lesson learned.

My favorite miracle this week was a lesson with one of our investigators, Kobayashi San. She suffers from depression and has known the missionaries for a very long time. We met with her, and this lesson was going to determine if we should keep meeting with her or not. Well, after the lesson, I'm excited to say we will keep meeting with her. We started the lesson by singing I am a child of god. She really liked it. We were planning on re teaching her that we are all children of God. He loves us and he wants us to succeed in this life. In order to do that he has made a plan for us! So I am a child of god is a perfect song to lead into that.

But, what Kobayashi San likes from it was the chorus :
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

She said she really wants that help and guidance and direction in her life. She wants courage and she wants to stop being a burden on others. We told she could; through Christ and his atonement. Our lesson plan was quickly derailed and we talked about Christ instead. But it was perfect. During the lesson both Skabelund shimai and I had a strong impression to invite Kobayashi San to baptism. So we did. She didn't say yes, but she didn't so no either. I'm excited; I think we are on the right path. The gospel could bless her life in sooo many ways, and I think she understands that. She also understands baptism is a big deal. And that is more than ok with me. At the end of our lesson she told us she felt so much better and happier than when she had come. She walked out of ready to face the world.

After the lesson was over, sister Skabelund and I decided Kobayashi San should be a priority. The next day during district meeting we got a call from Kobayashi San. She was headed to work and was really nervous. She called us because she knew we could make her feel better.

This week we had exchanges. I got to go with sister Clark to Nagaoka. Sister Clark was companions with Dopp shimai a few transfers ago! We had a lot of fun. Sister Clark knows the perfect balance of work and fun, and understands that having fun isn't a bad thing. I love her Japanese too! It's very simple, nothing fancy, but she uses it well.

It was inspiring. It was a good reminder that I don't need have fancy Japanese to have an
effect on others. Sister Skabelund has fancy nihongo and i realized I've become very self conscious of mine. But, I don't need to be! I made a goal to speak more. And so I've been trying.

Right after we split for exchanges we hopped on the train and found what we proudly refer to as a kinjin; someone who is excited and ready to hear our message. She was college aged girl who was soooo excited to go to church. She was even willing to pay to get in! I'm excited to hear what happens with her. The nagaoka sisters have an appointment with her this Friday!

Last Sunday we found Yokoyama shimai (An inactive member who hasn't been to church in 60 years). She told us who she remembered from church there were two names. One was a Takizawa shimai. On Saturday we found her!  She doesn't want to go to church because there is no one her age. I'm really hoping we can get her and Yokoyama shimai together and then they can come back to church together. Each of their husbands have passed away, and they are living all by themselves. They'd be great for one another, and the gospel would be great for them again.

After visiting Takizawa shimai we left ready to go to the fireworks in Nagaoka. It was a ward activity and we were catching a train with them to go. Well, sister Skabelund hops on her bike, ready to go and looks back at me, who is rifling around in my bag looking form the key to my bike. It wasn't there. And there was no way my bike lock was coming off. Sister Skabelund didn't know what to do. I picked up my bike, lifted it over my shoulder and said let's go. My bike is a beast of a bike, it's huge! And I carried it for about a mile, from where we were to the station. It's what we call the walk of shame. It was a very, very long walk. I have bruises all over now, but, I did it! We had told the members and other missionaries to just leave without us, we would meet them there, but when we go to the station they were all waiting for us! I love my district and church members. They are the best. I was a very grateful but sweaty mess. On our way to the station sister Skabelund and I joked about how I just needed to one up her bicycle story. It was funny. Hopefully the one-upping in done though...I don't know what could happen next....

Fireworks were amazing!!

The show in Nagaoka is one of the largest in the world and five hundred thousand people come to the festival! It was packed! It as fun looking around  to everyone gathered. A lot of the girls were all dressed up in their yukatas and all the old women and men were in traditional ones as well. There were quite a few couples who went dressed in traditional festival wear as well. I loved it. Sadly, It was the most drinking I'd seen in Japan and there were some characters there too.

We watched the fireworks from the bridge. They were HUGE; so big and so colorful. It was one of the best ward activities I'd been too. It was fun. I'm really grateful that we got to watch them.

Sunday we had another miracle lesson. We surprise visited an investigator of ours and ended up teaching one of the most unique lessons I've ever had. We sat outside, she was on a Chair and sister Skabelund and I were on the ground on little rugs. The wind was blowing a storm in, and we were surrounded by rice fields and the sounds of cicadas. We were also accompanied by her very large cat. It was picturesque and we felt the spirit so strongly too. She is the sweetest little old lady. She has a pure heart. She believes in god and when we asked what she wanted to learn on Wednesday she said the commandments so she could be more obedient! We talked about soo much and she believes it all.

I still love my companion. I just feel so lucky to have her. I'm so grateful to be here and work with her. And I love the miracles Heavenly Father is blessing us with and allowing us to be a part of. It's fantastic.

I love Sanjo!

I love being a missionary!

And I love you all.

Sister Molinari