Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pioneer Day Weekend

July 27, 2016
From the MTC

Dear Minna (Everyone)

So so so so so sorry for not being able to write last week. Things got uber busy uber fast.

I met a wonderful sister named Allen Shimai. She is from Nagoya I believe and had to come home early because she had to have surgery done. She is in Hawaii to finish out the rest of her mission, and she has been a huge example to me. She's in incredible worker and loves the Lord so much. She could have easily stopped serving, but instead. As soon as she was healed, she decided to stay in the field. From her I have found an even deeper love for my mission, and have become more obedience as a missionary. Long story short, she told me how hard Japan was, and as a missionary, that we need all the blessings we can get. One sure way to get them is through Obedience. While we may not always be meeting, and baptizing; at least we have the blessing of a mind at peace. The clear conscious that we are trying out hardest.

This Sunday was a pretty wonderful Sabbath day. My companion and I were able to teach by the spirit and deliver a powerful lesson on Repentance. Then we had the Sunday temple walk and my favorite, Sunday movie night and devotional. This devotional was a bit different than normal... We watched a movie called the "Character of Christ". It primarily focused on how Christ was constantly "turning out", in situations where the natural man would turn in. For those returned missionaries out there who are familiar with the movie, know how powerful the devotional is. 

After the movie, people started to stand up, and leave for the next art of the devotional. So I stood up, but no one was moving. I looked up at the screen, but no one was on it. I was curious why no one was moving, and... Since I'm a "bit" short, I couldn't see over anyone's head. 

I felt his presence, before I saw him. 

It was Elder Bednar.

The best take we from the devotional (Q&A session) was the fact, that even if someone didn't get picked on. The question they had in their heart was answered. Or through the people he picked, their answer was found. The Spirit was so tangible, so thick and heavy... That through the power of the  Holy Ghost, we could receive our own personal revelation. As missionaries, it's not the message that converts. I mean by gosh, who in there right mind would listen to a pair of 18 or 19 year old kids with a message about golden plates? Haha it was funny, Elder Bednar recounted his experience with asking new members what they experienced from the missionaries. And that they basically said " it was one of the weirdest experiences they had ever felt, and they didn't quiet understand what the missionaries were talking about." 

Except. That the feeling the missionaries brought with them, was real, and unlike anything that they had ever felt before. It was peaceful, comforting, and was sweet to their souls. Similar to how our answers during the devotional was answered, even though we didn't ask a question. So too is the way the Holy Ghost can speak to our investigators. 

The Holy Ghost changes people. Not the missionaries.

The next part I enjoyed immensely was when Bednar gave his witness.
And when he told us that the power of the Holy Ghost, was stronger than any confirmations his 5 senses could offer that God is our Father in Heaven, Christ is the living son of God, that he Atoned for all our sins, that Joseph Smith restored the Church of Jesus Christ, and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet.

I thought that was so cool. And while being in the same building as him, and looking at him. There was no way in my mind that I could deny that he was an apostle of the Lord. No way. 

Fast forward though. And for Pioneer day, which was also a Sunday, the Nashville Tribute band came. It was pretty neat. I don't know who they are, other than that they are from Nashville and sing Mormon Music, but it was good. I guess they are really popular... Well, it was pretty interesting, I never knew that I was going to attend my first ever concert in church dress, at the MTC, on a Sunday, and as part of the back up choir. (Which by the way number well over 1,500, haha). 

I am entering our 6th week here at the MTC and time is flying.
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Here is a picture of my teachers!

On the left, is Chau Shimai! She started teaching us at around our 4 to 5th week here at the MTC. She was doing some work in Africa, for what, I don't exactly recall. Chau Shimai has a lovely spirit, and bares really strong, and simple testimonies. I know that I have already learned a lot from her example. 

Next is Strauss Kyodai, he's a student at BYU and he's really helped my companion and I with our grammar. One of the cool things we do in class, is go over the Book of Mormon, and just study it together as a class. 

Weddell Shimai is next, and she was the first teacher I ever met here at the MTC. She's lovely as well, and really cares about all her students. I've been able to really get to know her, and trust her, it's been wonderful. 

Next is Crandall Kyodai, he's the second teacher I met, and is the only one who is not half Japanese. He's also a great teacher, and tells really good stories and makes us think about the gospel in ways we aren't used to. 

My teachers are the bomb diggity, and I'm truly blessed to have them as my Sensei. They all care so much about us senkyoshi, and each bring very unique attributes, teaching methods, and styles to the class. It's kind of funny too, for instance. There are about 3 other districts in our Zone. And out of those three other districts, they only have 1 Japanese teacher... Haha, but we have 3 just in our district. It's so helpful to hear them speak, since they are native, or at least grew up in Japan. We can learn how to pronounce certain words, and get used to hearing how "real" (haha) Nihonjin speak.

Well, that's pretty much all for now. Our upper classmen are leaving for Japan next week! So things have been pretty crazy, and next week, we are supposed to get new missionaries! So a lot is changing, and I only have a few more weeks here at the MTC before going out into the world! 

Wish me luck, and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Freed Shimai

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Nourish Their Souls and Bring Others to Christ

July 13, 2016
From the MTC

Dear Mina!

Time flies like non other here, we are already on our 4th week and it seems like I just got here. One of the best things here are the devotionals, and movies on Sundays. From one of the movies on Sunday, Holland was the speaker. He told a story about how a group of deer had gotten trapped in a valley because of a terrible snow storm, and could not go back up into the mountains. The people nearby were worried about the deer and wanted to keep them from starving. So they bought piles and piles of hay for the deer so they could eat it. Eventually the deer all died, and everyone (except the hunters reading this e-mail) were surprised. To see what the problem was, they opened the stomachs of the deer and noticed that their bellies were full of hay... They were fed, their stomachs were full. But the deer were not nourished. As missionaries, our duty is to bring other's unto Christ, and to "nourish" their souls, not just feed them...  Missionary work doesn't end at the font. That's only part of it. Like a plant, we all need Constant nourishment. And I can't wait to befriend and care for those in Japan that I have met well after my mission. 

As far as my P-day has gone, it was nice sleeping in till 6:30. The apples here are the best! Considering having well over 2000 missionaries, the cafeteria does a great job!

Thank you for your prayers, and support! All is Well 🐼

Freed Shimai

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Testimony of the Gift of Tongues

July 6, 2016
From the MTC

Testimony of the Gift of Tongues

Hi Everyone
     I would like to take a few minutes  and express my gratitude for the prayers you are saying on my behalf, and the other missionaries. For me at least, I can not help but marvel at the stamina, physical strength, and alertness I have been able to feel here at the MTC. I know one thing is for sure... It's definitely not the food here. Hahaha.

     As you know a missionaries schedule is rigorous here at the MTC. It's not that we are doing a lot physically (yeah I know, that will change when I get to Fukuoka) but mentally and spiritually, this new environment is taxing. It's taken me time to acclimate to my new surroundings, but thanks to Heavenly Father, Christ, the Holy Ghost (especially) and your prayers and letters, I've been able to adjust.

     My normal schedule is to wake up at 5:30, and (hopefully) bed by 10:30. All my meal times are about 45 minutes long, and we have 2 hours of exercise/free time in the day. Although with free time/exercise time , with my foot being out of commission (because of a wonky nerve in my toe) I haven't been able to work out. So I study or write drafts for letters instead. "Class" time is about 9-10 hours each day, depending on the schedule. Within that time you can either have "classroom instruction" where one the teachers helps you with the language (grammar and vocabulary), gospel principles, teaching others, and how to use the resources here at the MTC. These 9-10 hours also
include "personal, companion, or language study" and it is encouraged to do those specific things in that order. This time is also when there is no instructor. I normally read my scriptures for personal time. Than during companion study we make lesson plans, and after that is done, we work on Nihogo (Japanese).

     Another topic I would like to touch base on, is how I am learning. The "Igen no Tamamono" is real. I have witnessed first hand the Gift of Tongues in my companion, in addition to the fact that she is an exceptionally fast learner, and close to the Spirit. Normally it is difficult for me to remember vocabulary, but now, just from writing the word in hiragana or in the air, intense studying and effort. I
have been able to obtain, retain, and proclaim much more than I could have though. As far as grammar goes though, that's really hard for me. Yet Heavenly Father has blessed me with a talent companion who understands the grammar and its structure. I have been given a great
resource, and can learn so much from her.

     Thank you again for your prayers, I have felt their power here at the MTC. I too have been praying for many of you, and thank you for the sacrifices, funds, time, letters, and the act,of simply thinking of me.

     The MTC is not sunshine and rainbows, but thanks to my testimony of prayer, the Spirit, my blessing, Heavenly Father, Christ, and all of you, I'm making it.

This is my district: They are all so wonderful!
Top Left to Right:
Elder Yeakley, Elder Isaac Peter Huage de Servil, Elder Hudson Ferreira, Elder Grant McColm, Elder Joseph Budge (district leader) and Elder Carter Lapine.
Sister Freed and Sister Perkins
This picture was taken on Sunday July 3rd

-Hope all is well
Freed Shimai