Monday, March 30, 2015

Here in Sakado...

30 March 2015 Sakado

Hello! Guess what!? It's finally Spring!

I'm loving it! I've already got a watch tan going and I am honestly just so happy right now. It's warm and sunny and the Sakura are about to blossom/ some have blossomed. It's great. You can't help but smile when the sun it out...and it is actually warm!

Well, this week was a pretty slow week. Not much to report on. We had a few lessons here and there but we sure weren't as busy as we usually are. That's ok. This week will be better.

Oh wait! I lied. We had a very, VERY exciting Thursday morning. So, we headed out on our bikes to go visit a less active. That was actually a pretty funny lesson. But, back to before that. So I turn out of our apartment’s parking lot and I pass this girl, I'm pretty sure she was texting and the thought popped into my head "she's gonna crash into my companion." And before I could turn or look or do anything I hear BAM!!!! And I turn around and see bikes and girls sprawled all over the road. Both my companion and the girl looked shocked, or dazed; maybe both.

I hopped off my bike and ran over. Sister Warren seemed ok, and I was a little more concerned about the girl. What if she made a big thing about it and we had to call the police?! Well, I think she had the wind knocked out of her so I told her she should sit. She plops herself down in the middle of the street. That wasn't quite what I I got her moved to the side. We moved bikes and checked to see if everything and everyone was ok. Sister Warren’s tire was mangled! It is no longer shaped like a circle. Haha. Luckily we have a spare bike at the church so she is using that until we get a new tire. Everything turned out fine. Sister Warren seemed a little dazed for the rest of the day though. Poor girl.

Our lesson was just as exciting, well, not really. But it was really good. Nakesone shimai really felt the spirit. Her eyes kept tearing up as we talked about the Book of Mormon and why we have it and need it. I loveee the Book of Mormon. I never understood why people said that before my mission. I thought it was good, but I sure didn't love it. But how, I love it! I love reading it. It seriously has the answers to everything in it. I took Sister Nelsons challenge and have been searching for an answer in it each day. And I find one every day. It's been a lot of fun. And really helpful too. And because I am doing it, I can promise our investigator who is trying to do it that it really works. It's just great.

But, back to Nakesone shimai's lesson. At the end we challenged her to read the Book of Mormon every day before she turns the TV on. She loves TV. And we are quite sure it's what keeps her from reading. Then we gave her a chart to mark her progress. She looked a little peeved. Hahaha now she really has to do it!

Thursday evening to Friday I got to go on exchanges with Sister Ellis. We had a lot of fun. We gave four or five people Books of Mormon the next day! Super fun. She is a boss. And I learned so much from her. She learned the coolest approach from an elder. And I'm working on making my own version. But this is what he says to people he just meets:

"If God were really there, and he had a plan just for you, wouldn't you want to hear it?"

Most people say yes. "What if this is your only chance to hear it? Do you think you will get another chance?" 
Crazy right! And so so so true. Sister Ellis does it a little different. And I will too. But it is so true. God has a plan for each of us. We are each here on this earth to accomplish something only we can do. And what if we only get one chance to learn about it? Wouldn't you want to take it?

Ok, I thought of something else. This was soooo funny. We had a lesson with one of our investigators and we were talking about Buddhist beliefs and her beliefs. They were interesting. But, we were asking about what she believes she would be reincarnated as and Sister Warren wanted to know what would happen when the world ended. She was a little stumped, then said I guess I'll go to Mars! And become an alien? Yes. Do you believe in aliens? No. Hahaha. Then it got better.

I wanted to know if they could be reincarnated in the past. It sounds like a silly question as I'm typing it but I really was curious. I guess that's really time travel though... But anyways the result was a very, very funny conversation where we were given quite the insight on what they teach in Japanese schools. Cavemen used big heavy rock money with a whole in the center of it. It kind of looks like the first wheel. They used it to buy mammoth meat. And yes mammoths and dinosaurs were around at the same time. The five cent yen coin is probably based on the giant rock money they used back then. We were all laughing so hard.

The lesson ended up being really good at the end. Really good. She asked if there had always been bad people and bad things. We opened our Books of Mormon and both went to the same place. Answers are in that book! I don't have time to go into it but it was sooo good! Then when she prayed she told Heavenly Father that she wants to learn more.

That made me so happy!

Ok I'm running out of time. 

Love you!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's About to Rain!

23 March 2015 Sakado

Hello! It's almost spring here. Technically, it is spring, but it's still a little it doesn't count yet. But, there are flowers everywhere and the trees are all covered in flowers too.  It's supposed to get chilly again this week. Poop. I'm loving the flowers and the green. Winter is so grey and dismal. I am not a fan. I think I become a little happier when spring gets here, and I'm not as inclined to be too grumpy. How can you be sad when it is warm, sunny and beautiful out?

In other news: I MISS SISTER BETTRIDGE. I probably won't get to see her before I go, that's a bummer. Everyone loved her here. She is missed by all.

We had an awesome few last days together though. We were able to teach quite a few lessons. They were the fun lessons too, where you pull the "I’m leaving" card. We heard people pray who never do! And now I get to pull the "well you prayed last week" card. It's great. Especially since prayer is important. You can't develop much of a relationship with our Heavenly Father if you won't talk to him. We got to teach one of the less actives, who told us she never got the gift of the Holy Ghost because every day is normal. We were quite certain she had. We talked about it and read scriptures about it and by the end I think she was almost convinced. So we did an experiment, and sister Bettridge and I sang. We asked her to pay attention to what she felt. At the end of the song she told us she felt peace, and love. Would you look at that! She had the Holy Ghost all along! Oh I almost forgot. At the beginning of the lesson we had a good laugh. Sister Bettridge was trying to ask her what the spirit was, if she'd felt it..some question like that.

Well, Nakesone Shimai had no idea what she was saying. So Sister Bettridge just kept repeating Holy Ghost. She was just getting a blank stare. Haha finally I said it in Spanish. "Oooooooooooh" and then she says Holy Ghost in Japanese just as Bettridge Shimai was saying it! Hahaha it was a great moment.

We had a miracle lesson with an investigator who had a baptismal date. It was great. Bishop helped out. And we set up a return appointment. But, due to a recent event in the news, where Christians are targeted, she won't leave her house, and it was cancelled. Please pray for her that She can receive help overcoming her fears. It's tough.

We got to hear from elder Nelson again. I loved what he said. Loved it. He talked about and asked us to become disciples of Christ. It seems to be a common theme lately. I think we all have unlimited potential to make an impact, b people are just too lazy to put in the work. Or are putting off repentance. Or don't feel worthy. But, in all honesty, anything can be overcome through the atonement. Anything! So the only ones who are holding us back from reaching our true potential is ourselves. We also talked about the new stuff that is coming for missionaries and technology. It was good. I think once it's all in action it will be better. It is really exciting for upcoming missionaries. But, I'm glad I don't have to be here for all of it.

At the conference I got to say goodbye to all my sister missionary friends. Basically everyone I knew went home last Friday. It's weird. I'm an oldie in the mission now. I don't know anyone! I also said goodbye to Sister Bettidge and hello to my new companion. Her name is sister Warren. She is from California and over six feet tall! She is pretty cool. She has been out for almost a year..or something like that. She's served in quite a few areas and might have had more companions than me. She is really good at drawing. And loves sports.
We are gonna have fun this transfer.

Funny story: we visited Nakesone Shimai again. This time it was Sister Warren and I. After our lesson we asked her over cookies, do you like dogs or cats? She made this face and said neither. Then we asked if she liked other animals. She hates animals. Do you like zoos? Zoos were ok. Are there zoos in Peru? She didn't hear that question right..she says of course there are animals in Peru! And then continues to say that they are much stronger than the animals here haha. Cats don't get walked on leashes and dogs are bigger and run wild in the streets. She also talked about how cats eat mice in Peru.

She thought the whole thing was pretty funny. And laughed particularly hard at the thought of cats on leashes (something nihonjin do) and when I said "poor mice." She is something else!

Sunday we had two miracles. First, our less active Nishibori Shimai let us into her house! Wow! I've been here for 7 months and that has never happened. We were the first ones! It was a crazy miracle. Also, her son, who is completely innactive came to church! He missed church...but he came despite how late it was. Then after we were plugging things into our iPads (ed. note: "things"= weekly statistics report) and I realized we hadn't done quite as well as the week before. That was a bummer. But, just as I was thinking that one of our investigators texted and asked if we were at church and we ended up having a surprise lesson. Miracle!

Ok,gotta go!

Love you all!

Sister Molinari

Monday, March 16, 2015

I'm Staying!

16 March 2015 Sakado

We got transfers this morning!!! I'm staying in Sakado! What?!? I know. I'm surprised too. But sooo happy. Sadly, Sister Bettridge is leaving! To Niigata, Joetsu! I'm super excited for her. It’s gonna be cold though, I'm giving her my winter coat. Here in Sakado it's basically spring. Flowers are coming out and the sun is shining. Sister Bettridge even got sunburn on her nose! 

Ok, so I don't have much time... But.... Here are some of my favorite moments of the week:

On Monday, we still had a bit of time to dendō. All our plans had fallen through. I really felt like we should go hand out flyers at the eki for Eikaiwa, but it was dark and cold and rainy. Well, we went anyways. I felt so silly. No one was taking a flyer. Everyone was too busy opening umbrellas and preparing themselves for the rain. After about half an hour I said a little prayer. I told Heavenly Father I felt like we needed to be here. Please show us why. And within minutes an investigator who we can never get a hold of walks down the train station stairs. We set up an appointment with her for the next day! Wow! Miracle. 

Tuesday we had 5 lessons planned. We were exhausted by the end of the day. Exhausted! No time to write about them sorry...our last appointment for the day didn't end up being much of a lesson, and we biked about 9 miles there and back. I was not thrilled, to say the least. But, everyone else we saw that day was great! 

Friday we had the most awesome zone meeting ever. I wish every zone meeting was like that. Everyone was asked to participate in some way. There were really spiritual parts and then fun parts. At the end all the missionaries returning home were able to share their testimonies. It was super powerful. Afterwards, we all went and ate at a Brazilian restaurant. I love that place. 

There were so many missionaries there and orders got confusing. I ended up with too large steaks. It wasn't what I ordered but I figured that was my fault so I took them and ate them. At the end there was an elder who still hadn't gotten his order. Hahaha turns out I’d taken his order. What made it even better is that we have a running joke in our district that I’m always mean to him. I'm not really, but he gets teased every once in a while, so it was just perfect at I was he one who stole his steak. I was laughing about it until I had to pay for it... But, when I told the guy at the register which steak I'd eaten his eyes got huge and he looked at the two elders standing next to me for confirmation. "You ate the whole thing?" Yup. I did. It made us all laugh. Also, he recognized Bettridge shimai and I from Facebook. We were on another restaurant’s fb page. I felt a little famous. Haha. That's been happening a lot. 

This weekend we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Nelson, one of the apostles, twice. It was really good. What made it even better was that one of our investigators was able to sneak out and come with us! And it was exactly what she needed. Sister Nelson challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon for 30 days, each day with a question in mind and read until you find the answer. Our investigator decided she would do it! We didn't even need to ask her! 

Also, the day before, we had been able to meet with that investigator and we overcame a lot of the things that are stopping her from progressing. I'm soooo grateful. It was such a miracle! 

Ok and finally; The funniest story of the week. Sunday morning we made cookies and decorated cookies. Our second batch we just didn't have time to do and I was a little annoyed. We wanted to give them to members at church. Well. After church we came home and I took one of our in decorated cookies and bit into it. It tasted kind of funny. Then it started tasting really funny! Sister Bettridge had put in a cup of salt instead of sugar! I gave sister Bettridge a cookie and she popped the whole thing in her mouth, and then quickly spat it out. We were laughing pretty hard. Not having enough time ended up being a miracle in disguise! The members would not have been happy if they had received salty cookies!

I love you all! 

Sister Molinari

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Live, From Rainy Japan!

9 March 2015 Sakado

This week flew by!

 I'm afraid of how fast next week it going to go. I don't want transfers to come! I love sister Bettridge and I love Sakado. I could stay here for the rest of my mission. I'd be more than happy.

The week was full of miracles. Wow! Heavenly Father just knows us each so well.

There were a few times this week where I just really didn't want to go finding. I just wanted to teach and we had investigators call us or we called them and they would ask if we could come over right then! I feel like I read a lot too. I was reminded of forgotten things and was able to really re enter my focus as a missionary. Back to the miracles! 

On Thursday we were finally able to meet with an investigator who previously had a baptism date. We hadn't seen her in almost two transfers. But, we've been praying for her. And finally we were able to get together with a member, have lunch and have a really good lesson. She is amazing!! At the end of the lesson she said the prayer and it was just so neat to listen to. She knew who she was praying to. She knew someone was listening. I think listening to investigators prayers are my favorite. I love when someone prays and they know they are talking to God. 

Well, after the lesson we had scheduled finding time. But like I said earlier I didn't want to find. And I'd told Heavenly Father that that morning. Well, we got a call from Takahashi San. Yutaka San, who we had sung for a few p-days ago was visiting and wanted to see us! She wanted to know if we could come over, did we have time? Oh course we did! Yutaka San had some crazy (but good) questions about God, so after clearing those up we sang. We were at a hotel. The manager of the hotel came over and they all loved our singing. Are voices are "crystal clear." I totally goofed at one point though! Gah! But I don't think they noticed because after we finished they started saying how we would just sound soooo good in the hotel's chapel.

After a little talking they decided we just had to sing there. And so we did! It did sound pretty cool! I felt like we were famous! And after singing the hotel manager announced he wants to have a gospel concert. Yutaka San also said something interesting. He wasn't saying it to us, but I caught it. He said "when they sing it makes me want to believe." It was a really cool experience. And I'm so grateful for our ability to sing. It's softening hearts left and right. Takahashi San was so happy. It was really great. We got to see her two times this week. That's a miracle too. 

The next day was our scheduled interviews with the mission president. Our interviews went over time and we were running late for our lunch appointment after! Oh no! It was ok though. We got to the restaurant and the bishop and Keiko were there talking.

After eating the bishop got her talking about her dreams. She just wants to help children. And sincerely help them, not like the way where people say oh I want to help and then do nothing. She is doing what she can already. Well, bishop took that and ran with it. He told her that as Bishop, he looks at someone like her and wants to harness that potential and passion. But, he can't do that until she knows more about church. So he said I want to make a deal with you. You take 6 lessons about church and then, after you know more, we will reassess and see what you think, find where you fit in.

Challenge accepted. He's a genius. And Keiko could make a huge difference at church and find a place where she belongs, and makes her happy. I guess she just needed bishop’s help realizing that. Our bishop is a genius. I've learned so much from him recently. There are so many blessings that come from working closely with your bishop! 

After that lesson we came home, did 12 week (a study program for the new missionaries) and then made some phone calls. I honestly did not want to do finding. No desire. And Heavenly Father worked with that. I’m so grateful. So we called Ri San. We hadn't heard from her in a while. Well, turns out just because we hadn't seen her didn't mean she wasn't thinking about us. She says she prays for our success always. And after talking for a little bit, asked us where we were. Then she told us to stay where we were she was gonna come to Tsurugashima.

We met by the train station, she bought us a bunch of pastries and we had a mini restoration lesson! There was a miracle in that too. I've never been too confident in my restoration teaching abilities, in Japanese. After the Elder Ballard conference I took the challenge to study the first lesson. And it paid off!

Everything came out perfectly. I didn't even need to think about it. It was amazing; Seriously the coolest thing ever. It just came out so smoothly. Aha! So great!  Bettridge shimai commented after too. It was just crazy! The gift of tongues is so real. After we had ping pong. We dropped off our pastries at home and then after a quick dinner we headed to Sakado. On the train we met someone who had gone to a Christian preschool. We invited her to church. Then as we headed out of the station we saw a member's friend, who she had brought to church. We chased after her and got to talk to her! She was tickled that we remembered her name and recognized her. We invited her to church, and while she couldn't come this week I think we will be seeing her again. It was so cool! 

On our way home from ping pong we ran into someone we had talked to earlier in the week on the train. She was so shocked she was speechless. It was hilarious. We asked where she was going. She said to see her boyfriend and she showed us a picture so I showed her some pictures and we bonded some more. I bet Heavenly Father has plans for her. Hopefully next time we see her she will agree to come to church or something! 

The next day was full of miracles too! We had district meeting that morning. It was fun. We and the zone leaders brought donuts for everyone. Yummy! After the district meeting we went and visited Ushimaru shimai. It was actually a good visit. She made lunch and we shared a short message about prayer and invited her to church. She said the whole family was coming! Yay! And the next day she came! The lunch was delicious and soooo filling. While she was cooking Takayoshi was supposed to entertain us, he was so bashful though! He is ten and just so cute.

After, we headed back to Sakado.

The zone leaders put together this list of things to do for dendō adventure. Honestly, at first I thought it was dumb but then decided I need to support my leaders. So we did it. And it was actually super fun. I just had fire! And I could feel the sprit. We went to the church said a prayer and then walked out on the streets. During planning the night before I said tomorrow we will see Helen. Helen is a lady from Africa we keep running in to. Sister Bettridge thinks it's funny. I like to "order miracles" as she says.

Well, that next day, after a super cool district meeting, an awesome lesson with a less active, an awesome Book of Mormon placing and a prayer before we went “streeting,” we walked out of the church and who is walking down the road? The one and only Helen. I wish I could have recorded  Sister Bettridge's gasp. Helen was a little busy at the moment, she had to go home and make dinner for her husband. But, we planned to meet another day for a church tour. 

The week was literally packed with miracles. It was so fun. I love in the bible dictionary it says "miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as a manifestation of divine or spiritual power." I think miracles happen no matter what. Our faith does not determine if they happen or not. Our faith is what determines if we get to be part of the miracle, if we get to bring it about or witness it. And this weekend we got to witness and bring about many. It was so great. 

This week Sister Bettridge realized she had been saying something wrong in our prayers. She'd been praying that our effectiveness would be safe. I remember the first time she said that I thought that can't be right, I think that word means something else. But, Sister Bettridge knows her vocab. So I just figured I was the one who had it wrong and didn't say anything. Hahaha, oops. But all is well. she realized what it meant this week! 

During one of our meetings on Sunday I was making a face at one of the elders and accidently made a noise. Sooo embarrassing! Everyone laughed. Except for our ward mission leader. He hadn't heard it. In Japanese he asks what happened and I just shrugged then he says in English "what??" And everyone just laughed more. Leave it to Sister Molinari to make odd noises in serious meetings.

Ok well, that's all for this week. I love you all! 

Sister Molinari

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wow! It's March!

2 March 2015 Sakado

Time is just flying by. I'm not quite sure where February went. And I'm a little sad about that. Transfers are in two weeks, and I'm pretty sure I will be leaving. I don't want to go! I love Sakado. And I love sister Bettridge! She is the best companion ever. 

Today we made soba! A member introduced us to her friends who own a soba shop. They taught us how to make soba, and we're so impressed. They didn't believe it was our first time making it! Pictures to come later. I really hope we get the opportunity to get to know the family better. They have a really special feeling about them. As We told them about being missionaries and the mother asked if we were sad being separated from our parents. As she asked she started to tear up because she thought it was so sad! She and her husband both were so sweet. 

Masaki San got baptized this week! The ward is soooo happy. And he was soooo happy to. He was glowing! It was really fun to be part of that. He was so prepared and so happy to be baptized. It was a really wonderful experience. 

For Masaki san’s baptism we made cookies with Ro and Fukunaga shimai. That was an affair. The stove would not work. Something with the gas was wrong. They tried over and over and they called a bunch of members to try and get it to work. No luck. Fukunaga shimai said she would just make them at home and bring them the next day to church. I didn't like settling. So I prayed. Turned on the stove, then got nervous that I was gonna make it explode or leak gas so I stopped it, asked roe if what I'd done was right and then turned it in again. It worked! Everyone was a amazed. They asked what I did. I said I prayed. Everyone laughed. And the stove makes it buh-bum noise and stopped working. Then I had an idea to call Hattori kyodai, and he knew how to make it work! My pray was answered! 

We went on exchanges this week too. I got to dendō with Sister Nash who is my doki! But we weren't in the same district in the MTC and we realized we knew very little about one another. She is awesome. She is one of the most peaceful people I've ever met; which was just what I needed! Exchanges ended with a bang. Sister Nash's companion became quite ill while her and sister Bettridge were in Kawagoe area. The poor sister! It was her last exchange ever. She goes home in two weeks. We had to go all the way back to their apartment to change back. The poor sister was tucked in bed and looked like she was ready to die. Sister Bettridge and I left and after we were a few feet from the apartment exclaimed how happy we were to be reunited. I just love sister Bettridge so much. We work so well together. I don't like being apart from her! And luckily, since we are missionaries that doesn't happen too often. 

This week we got the chance to go to a Japanese sign language class win one of our investigators. It was such a cool experience. And I learned so much. I want to study sign language when I get home. Everything is sooo easy compared to Japanese! By the end I could introduce myself and say what I liked and didn't like and tell how old I was. My favorite part of the class was when I was talking to, or rather trying to sign to one of the deaf members of the class. I was with someone who knew sign language so she translated for me. The man told me that I had a light, and an amazing smile, that I glowed. I wish I could have signed to him "it's the gospel!" I'll have to learn that for later.  Also, while talking to someone else, she was blown away by my Japanese. She had been studying English for years and couldn't even begin to speak like me. She asked how I did it and I said it was because of God. She was a little confused by that answer. I don't think that was what she was expecting. Then she asked how she could become good at English. I told her if she prayed and asked for help she would probably be able to speak better English. Once again she was shocked by my answer. But, we should be seeing her at eikaiwa soon! 

We had a special conference with elder Ballard. I said I would write about it today. But I forgot my notes. Well, he and the other two speakers really emphasized the importance of the restoration. I loveee the restoration! And I love talking about it. And it was such a good reminder to go back to the basics. I've been studying it all this week, and I feel so much more confident to talk and teach about it now. I am so grateful for Joseph smith. And I love the Book of Mormon. I love reading it with investigators and watching it change their lives. This week I really want to focus on how I can bring it into conversations quicker. On the train, it is easy to talk bout the Book of Mormon. But, not so easy to talk about the message of the restoration. So, I've got to work on that. 

If you don't now what the restoration is you can learn about it here...
Or you can wait until I get home and I'd be more than happy to tell you about it! 

Sister Bettridge and I laughed lots this week. Of course. 

While talking to someone on the phone sister Bettridge told the lady that she was from the Book of Mormon, instead of the Mormon Church. We laughed about that for a while. 

While teaching a lesson we brought rocks to use as a visual aid, except we forgot about them. And at the end Sister Bettridge asks what she should do with them. I wasn't quite sure so she just puts them on the table. I felt like a five year old, showing off the rocks I'd found while playing out side. We all laughed about the rocks on the table until we finally found a new way to connect them to the lesson. It ended up being really good. But it was a little awkward for a bit. 

One of the elders here, his name is elder Tuttle. Our bishop calls him elder turtle. 

While talking to bishop the other night, I told him he needed to request for us to stay in Sakado. His reply was "ok I'll ask that all four of you stay here." There're six missionaries...wonder who the two left out are....
One more bishop story, he was telling us about his mission president who was from France. He had to learn English and Tahitian. During his first talk, as mission president, he was talking about the restoration and said that two watermelons appeared to Joseph smith. The congregation couldn't stop laughing. The bishop at the time did not stop laughing either. So, the mission president just sat down. Didn't even finish his talk. 

We've gotten a lot of opportunities to work with our bishop this week. And last night we were able to meet with him and discuss what his vision for the ward is. I am very excited. He is trying new things and I think they will make all the difference! 

Love you all! 

Sister Molinari