Monday, September 22, 2014

Wow! It's Monday Already?

22 September 2014 Sanjo
This is an old picture, but it was so pretty, I wanted to include it

Next week we have transfer calls! WHAT?! Where is time going?

I wore tights almost the entire week. The ocean is close so there is an ever present breeze that is quite chilly. Nitta shimai was pretty bundled up all week. She broke out her winter jacket and has been talking about getting gloves. The nihonjin find us pretty funny. They don't think it is cold at all, because they have winter to compare it too!

This week I'm sure we did lots of great things...but I'm having trouble remembering them. I think this might be a rest of my mission I apologize in advance. The days are just blurring into weeks and the weeks into months. Weeks feel like months and things that happened a day or two ago feel like it was done in prior weeks. What a strange experience!

This week we contacted so many less active members. Wow! Ogura Shimai and oono shimai are really progressing! We had some really awesome lessons with them this week. We were also able to meet a less active who hasn't been visited in a few transfers. She was very excited to see us! 

There were lots of little miracles happening all around. We also found a few less than excited to be found less active members, and one who had passed away years and years ago! But, finding both were miracles in their own way too. We went with a church member, Nakagawa shimai to find them. They lived in an older part of Kamo so the addresses and houses make no sense at all. Their town was at the bottom of a mountain and it was like stepping back into time, and into a jungle. Everything was green and all the shrines and cemeteries were mossy and had little waterfalls from run-off water, the houses were all a little crooked and had these beautiful and very wild gardens and plants growing. And the people spoke their own kind of Japanese! We wondered around for a while until we finally found who we were looking for. If we hadn't had Nakagawa shimai with us I don't know if we would've found either of them though!

Is week has been quite the week! I started the week off planning to find more joy in the work and ended up becoming a little more miserable each day. Funny how that works...but, after a much needed talk we my wonderful companion I can say I am really happy now. I've found a little more joy. And I feel reconnected to my purpose. And we are more united too. We both had gotten pretty caught up in the fact that we don't have a lot of time left as missionaries and we aren't where we want to be at all. So together, we are working on that. I'm so grateful for Nitta shimai. She is a blessing. And together we get to help Heavenly Father get things moving here in Sanjo. And we've been able to watch it happen! In little ways now, big ways are yet to come..

My nihongo has taken off this week! Wow! I feel like i understand soo much more. I kept having these moments all week where I would either walk away from a conversation or be in the middle of one and just be hit with this "wow! I know exactly what is going on! " feeling. It's great! But, don't be too impressed. This morning our gas man stopped by and I had no clue what he was saying...haha little steps. My speaking is also slowly getting better. Nowhere near where I want it. But I'm getting there.

Yesterday in church I shared an experience in Young Womens. I started talking and my nihongo came out faster than I could think! I was so shocked I was silent! And then everyone else was silent cus they thought I had more to say. But I just didn't say anything..the teacher was very kind and finished the thought for me though and me and the young women got a good chuckle out of the whole thing. Well. More than a chuckle; we were all snickering pretty hard about it.

The other day Nitta shimai and I were talking about how our mothers eating things that have gone bad. I told Nitta shimai that my mom drinks milk after the expiration date! Gross! Well, the next morning I grabbed my milk out of the fridge and noticed it was expired. Darn! I opened it, sniffed it and decided it was ok and drank it. I found the irony in that moment too funny not to share.

Sorry, another short letter. I love you all! 

Here is a video to make up for it. It's the newest one. And a much needed message for a lot of people out there! You never know how much good you really do. I love it. Can't wait for it to be translated into Japanese!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Getting Cold!

15 September 2014 Sanjo

Well, this week, it changed from summer to fall over night. The air is chilly now and while the sky is as blue as can be, it is far from warm! But I am grateful for the change. The air feels so fresh and crisp. When it changes from fall to winter over night...that is when I will start to complain haha. Winters up here in Niigata are quite the experience too! Snow isn't measured in inches or feet (not that it would be anyways..since it is Japan) but in METERS!!!

This week we taught Yasuko San about repentance and the atonement of Jesus Christ. During personal study that morning I really wanted to find a better way, for me personally, to teach the atonement and repentance. Well, after reading quite a few Christmas ensign articles and talks I noticed that Christ's birth is quite often coupled with hope. The anticipation of His birth and His birth brought hope to the world. And his atonement gives each of us hope to. And so does repentance! Richard G. Scott said this about repentance; "remember, repentance is not punishment.” It is the hope filled path to a more glorious future." This is true! When I was younger the word repentance used to scare me. It had such an ominous sound. But, repentance is a blessing and it is wonderful. It means we can change and become the person we want to be! While at times it may be hard, it is not scary at all!

At eikaiwa we played Simon says. I was Simon for the last round. I said "Simon says jump on one foot." Everyone jumps and continues jumping except for our district leader, he just jumped once. I told him keep jumping. That's when it started getting confusing. While debating whether or not that meant everyone should stop jumping the nihonjin continued to jump. And jump, and jump. Poor Tamura San was getting tired and could barely jump! When I realized what was happening I started laughing. And couldn't stop long enough to say Simon says stop jumping so everyone jumped for way to long. And they were all laughing too. Oh it was pretty funny. Finally I got them to stop. And we ended there because they were too tired to continue hahaha.

During weekly planning we created a giant plan for the Sanjo members. We dubbed it “project feel the joy!” We want to help the members feel the joy. And through that, I know that the work here will hasten. It won't just be the missionaries doing missionary work; it will be the members also. Their families will notice the difference and there will be changes in the part member families too. And I am also going to work to make sure I feel the joy. Can't help others feel the joy if I'm not. It's gonna be big!

Other highlights of the week; I got to go see fireworks again this week. And I made a new member friend; Hattori shimai. She lived in Utah for a long time, and came back to Japan recently. I love her! We have a lot in common and soon we will be making crafts together!

We also had zone conference. It was really good. We talked about Christmas and President and Sister Budge kissed in front of us! My face turned bright red. I think it's a sign that I've been out on my mission for a while now. Also, we've started meeting regularly with the Relief Society (ed. note: women’s service organization) president. We are visiting those she feels we need to visit and helping her be a Relief Society president! Right now I think she feels a little useless. It's already been amazing watching her bloom!

Ok sorry this is short. I have no time today. But I love you all!

Sister Molinari

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Merry Christmas!

08 September 2014, Sanjo

Hello everyone! This week flew by, but it also felt like multiple weeks all piled into one. It's one of the weird phenomena of being a missionary I guess.. It is officially cold here! But I am not complaining. Bring on the tights and scarves and sweaters..oh how I have missed them. And goodbye to the sweating...I will NOT be missing that!

Ok here were the highlights of the week:

We had a talent show this week and it was a SUCCESS! We had 27 people all together. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot to all of you, but let me tell you, that is a lot for a Sanjo activity! It was a lot of fun. One member did very cheesey magic tricks, another told a story in a traditional Japanese way, there was lots of singing and a few poems in between to mix things up. The missionaries sang “Arise.” If you haven't heard it here is the link: 

It was pretty decent.

We didn't have nearly enough time to practice so there were a few rough spots, but I think everyone enjoyed it. Nitta Shimai and I had planned to do something as well, but we ended up running out of time (something we did not expect to happen) and so it, along with Elder Sugawada's talent got cut. Oh well.

We all had a lot of fun! And everyone there did as well. And the elders now have a new investigator too! One of our eikaiwa students came and started talking to one of the members. Turns out he knew a Christian when he was younger and really admired them. He took a Book of Mormon and I think the elders are meeting with him this week! Very exciting!

So every Friday we have ping-pong night. Is Friday instead of playing ping pong we got to sing! It was a very special night. A while back, some missionaries met this lady who loves the gospel but, due to learning disabilities can't really study. Because of this she has designated herself as a missionary for the cause! She loves church music and so she orders hymn books and CDs and gives them away! Well, we as a district sound pretty good when we sing so for over half an hour we sang song after song for her. We were all exhausted afterwards but she was so happy, it was so worth it. And everyone could feel the spirit. It was fantastic.

Once a week we do service at an old folks home..well, two actually. This week we got to do taecho (ed. note: “tai chi”, I think) with old people! Taecho..if I'm spelling it right, is a national exercise here. Everyone knows it and everyone does it. Even the old folks! Well, the much younger women who were leading it would take brakes in between to talk and make little jokes.
Everyone was dying to know of we had boyfriends/girlfriends and what our favorite foods were haha. At one point I got asked what I was looking for in a man, or what kind of character I wanted...I had no idea how to answer that in Japanese so instead I said, motioning to one of the old men sitting by me, "someone like Michi San" . Everyone’s reaction was priceless! Especially his! He didn't know how to take that! Oh it as so funny! The whole time we were there was pretty great. To my right was sitting one of the elders and a very old lady.

Well, that lady did not let age get in her way! She was pretty frisky!

When she would talk she would put her hand on the elder's leg!! He looked soooo uncomfortable. It was sooo funny! This week we also had exchanges. I was with Sister Hanashiro who is nihonjin! I was a little nervous! But it ended up being ok! And according to her, my Japanese it pretty good. I don't sound like a foreigner trying to speak Japanese either! But she did say I need to have more confidence when I speak. Something I completely agree with.

The highlight of exchanges had to have been when we were heading to Nagaoka to switch back to our regular companions. While waiting at the station we struck up a conversation with a lady waiting for the same train and after talking to Hanashiro shimai for a few minutes tells her her nihongo is amazing! I busted out laughing. Of course it's good! She is nihonjin! The lady realized her mistake and became very embarrassed and apologetic. And I couldn't stop laughing. We all laughed together about it actually.

During our district meeting this week we talked a little bit about Christmas. We are talking about it in our zone conference this week, so it was in preparation for that. Nitta shimai said something I really liked. It was in response to what I had said. We were asked why we like Christmas. I said I liked the atmosphere; everyone is happy, they are kinder and more willing to help and serve. And the happiness and joy is everywhere and it is contagious. She added that it is because, even if we don't realize it, we are centering our lives around Christ. That is, after all, what the holiday is all about. We are celebrating Christ's birth. Top she continued to say imagine if we really had Christ in our hearts all year round. That's how it would feel all the time. Heaven like. I really like d that. So, I am sharing it with all of you. Merry early Christmas!

We visited so many members and less active members this week. It is amazing and such a blessing to get to be in the front row seat of watching Heavenly Father change lives. I'm lucky! This week is going to be even better. I'm excited to see the miracle that we will have.

I read the following story this week. I liked it so much, that I wanted to share it with you. 

"A few weeks ago on a day when this area was experiencing one of its worst snowstorms, and that is saying quite a bit because we had plenty of severe weather this past winter, a handsome young serviceman and his beautiful bride-to-be encountered extreme difficulty in getting to
the Salt Lake Temple for their marriage appointment. She was in one location in the Salt Lake Valley and he was to come from another nearby town. Heavy snows and winds had closed the highways during the night and early morning hours. After many hours of anxious waiting,
some of us were able to help them get to the temple and complete their marriage plans before the day was over.

"How grateful they, their families, and friends were for the assistance and concern in their keeping this most important appointment. My friend, we will call him Bill, expressed his deep
gratitude with, "Thank you very much for all you did to make our wedding possible. I don't understand why you went to all this trouble to help me. Really, I'm nobody."

"I am sure Bill meant his comment to be a most sincere compliment, but I responded to it firmly, but I hope kindly, with, "Bill, I have never helped a "nobody" in my life. In the kingdom of our Heavenly Father, no man is a "nobody" "(in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 20; or Ensign, July 1973, p. 24).

I love this gospel and I love you all!

Sister Molinari

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Rice Harvest Time!

1 September 2014 Sanjo

Nitta Shimai and I (uh, me)
 Wow what a week! And can you believe it is already September???? Where is time going? I hope everyone's first days of school were or will be awesome! All the kids here in Japan are back in school-they went back a week or two ago.

With September starting the weather has already cooled down. I broke out my tights last night! During the day it is still pretty warm, but as soon as the sun goes down it gets chilly! It's a welcome chilly...for now. Probably after a week or two of cold I'll be longing for summer again though haha. If I stay up here in the winter it is gonna be cold! Very, very cold!

I loveeeee my companion. She's an inspiration! She works hard and loves it. And I love working with her. We've already seen so many miracles this week. It's great!

This week we were chatting it up with some ladies and I accidentally told the lady I had been in Japan for almost 8 years...instead of 8 months. She was very impressed and proceeded to talk to me in VERY fancy Japanese. I couldn't understand why she was doing that...until she referenced me being here for so long...we had a good laugh about that after we walked away.

Fujita San gave us gold to drink! Because we don't drink tea she gave us hot water with gold flecks in it. What a deal! Too bad gold doesn't have any flavor... Because Nitta shimai is from Hawaii, Fujita San wanted to show us her trip to Hawaii picture albums. My favorite moment had to have been when, while on a page of her on a tennis court, she said "I don't actually play tennis, I just wear tennis clothes."

Skabelund shimai gave Fujita San a Book of Mormon as a goodbye present. And miracle of miracles she is reading it! We are very excited for our next lesson with her!

We've been doing a lot of work with less active members. There are QUITE a few of them. It is crazy how easy it is to just stop going to church but how ridiculously difficult it is to come back. We've been having lots of fun with them though. Tosaka shimai has to be one of my favorites. She is great! And she loves crafts! Match made in heaven!

We are currently making really cool paper crafts with her. They are stenciled flowers...mahh I don't know how to explain it...I'll send a picture. Anyways, you cut them out with an x-acto blade. I made mine very, very will probably take a long time to, we will be spending lots of time with her! Ogura shimai was able to come to church again this Sunday. That is two weeks in a row! What a miracle!

We also got to meet with her and we made a new goal we her to work towards: go to the temple! It's great. Being up here in Niigata we don't get to have temple p-day. I never realized how much I could miss going to the temple. It is such a special place. When I go I'm always reminded how much God really loves each of us. Its great. We are actually planning on inviting quite a few less actives to make the temple there goal. I'm excited for them.

This week biked to Kamo! It's probably around an hour bike ride. We missed our train so decided we might as well bike instead. We had a top secret mission to complete. Our entire mission (so every missionary in Tokyo) heart attacked our church leaders doors. We were in charge of heart attacking Nakagawa kaicho's door. It was really fun. Their two boys, Yusuke kun(pronounced koon) and Tatsuhiro kun caught us though but we told them it was a secret and it was all good. They ended up being very good helpers.  

Yasuko San rode her bicycle to church on Sunday! It's probably a twenty-ish minute ride. What a champ! Next week we are going to try and pick her up though. I think it was a little harder and longer than she expected. But, she loved church! Before church we sat and I tried to tell her about temples...I ran out of things to say in Japanese pretty quickly. The background on my iPad is the dc temple and she asked me of it was a church. I told her it was a temple. And that my parents had been married in that temple. And that, when we get married in the temple it is not just for this life, but for eternity. And through temple marriages we are an eternal family. Who doesn't want that? After that I ran out of nihongo so I started showing her pictures of temples around the world. It was really fun.

We have a brand new missionary in our district this transfer. Fryzel choro. After church we had the nihonjin equivalent of a pot luck and he was talking to a member..or trying some point he turns to me and asks me to translate something for him. I turn and look at the member, Tanabe shimai, and she bursts into laughter...because yup you guessed it.She is peda peda in English! What a goof! It was pretty funny.

After church we got to meet one of the members daughters, who has been less active for a while. It was totally. Miracle and It was love at first sight. She is the cutest thing ever! I can't wait to get to know her better. She reminds me a lot of myself. We had been trying to figure out when we could meet her and hadn't been successful all week. And then she ends up coming to us!

This week has been really awesome! I've gotten to see Heavenly Father's hand in the work. He is preparing people and helping us every step of the way. I am so lucky to be a missionary and to get to serve a mission in Japan. I love this gospel. And I love how it has changed my life. I am so lucky!

Love you all,

Sister Molinari