What a blessing it is to be writing home this week. I am so grateful for all the letters, and please know that each one brightens my day! I'm sorry if I'm not able to respond right away, but know that my thoughts are with you all!
I think first I will say that everyone in my district gets a kick out of the fact that I am an Idaho farm girl. When I tell them that I am really city for an Idahoan, they laugh even harder! But the thing is, I love talking about the pumpkin patch and how i wish we had our own reality show. Because let's be honest, growing up in a small farm town in Idaho is most def the best way to grow up. I found a scripture in 2 Nephi 5:11 that really made me miss pumpkin season, but also think of home. The Lord loves his farmers!!
I feel like I'm changing a lot here, but there are obviously some things that never change. Going cold turkey on Netflix has been taking it's toll on me. Luckily an elder in my district watched all the same shows as me so we have a good time quoting. We also like finding drama in the cafeteria. One time, we saw our old zone leader talking to a cafeteria worker for an extended period of time. It was quite scandalous. Of course, she was probs his cousins or a casual friend, but I naturally have to think it's something much more interesting. Our district is also starting to write a musical about our 9 week experience here called: MTC the musical. It's a work in progress, but the numbers we have are simply fabulous.
Now instead of TV, my new guilty pleasures are reading the Book of Mormon during personal time or watching conference talks when we are supposed to be doing grammar. Whenever the Sensei tells us to get our Book of Mormons out, I get shamelessly excited. Not only that, but I am now color coding my Book of Mormon. I can't really express how much more it makes me want to study. Interested in learning about the Sukui no Keikaku? An orange scripture. What about the gospel of Jesus Christ is restored upon the Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Yeah you'll find that in the blue. I love it more than I can really express.
Our investigators this week have just been great. We've felt the spirit, and also laughed hysterically. It's the best time ever. We taught Tominaga San and asked him if he had any kids. When he said no there was just a really long awkward silence, mostly because the Japanese is still rough and we were thinking of what to say next. So our Sensai is worried that he completely ruined our lesson plan and proceeds to change his character! He then becomes a loving father of a nine year old and an eleven year old. Which confused us but we were also totes cool with it. We then proceeded to ask him to pray and he said he didn't really feel comfortable with it. We weren't quite sure how to ease his concerns so we just looked at him with puppy dog eyes and said "Kudasai" which means pleases. After saying it like 3 times he just kind of gave up complaining and gave a really great prayer. After that lesson, my doryo and I know that Shimai wiles are very effective when getting an investigator to feel the spirit.
We've also been teaching Shuma San who doesn't really take us seriously as missionaries. But he keeps his commitments and is interested in learning more about the church. Our first lesson I gave him the wrong scripture to read and instead of telling him our purpose was to bring others to Christ, I accidentally told him that our purpose was to be continuously at war. We laughed for a whole minute, and it was pure comedy.
I had a really tender experience the other day while I was waiting for my companion in the student health clinic. A girl came up to me and just started chatting me up. It turns out she converted just a year ago in Italy when she met the missionaries there. She now lives in Provo and is working on her Masters and BYU. She shared her experiences with me and how after she got the gospel, her life became more focused and the questions of her heart were answered. She then asked me if I could share with her a scripture I had studied this morning. I shared 2 Nephi9:47-49. It had really struck me personally and I was sure the spirit had been trying to teach me about myself this morning. But when I shared it with her she said it was exactly what she had needed and that she was really grateful to be able to talk with the missionaries. This was an answer to my prayers!! I was able to bring another person closer to Christ, and share his love with her! She taught me a lot and helped me to put what I'm teaching to a real person. She loves the missionaries who changed her life, and I pray that when I am in Nihon that there will be a Francesca there for me.
In closing I want to thank the men who are worthy Priesthood holders in my life. To have the power of God upon the Earth once again is such a blessing, and I am grateful for men who righteously strive to live worthy of it. Through the Priesthood we can covenants with Kamisama (God) and we can return to him again. What joy that brings my heart! God loves all of his children, and I love that I have to opportunity to teach the Nihonnjin about that love!
I can't believe that it's already been 3 weeks, and even though I still feel very limited in my language abilities, the Lord is blessing me when I work hard. I am finding that as I study different ways and really work with the missionary purpose in mind, everything becomes a whole lot easier. The Lord knows me, and has blessed me for my obedience to his commandments. I'm finding a love for Nihongo and I can't wait until I'm really able to use it as a tool to bring others to come unto Christ.
I testify that I know without a doubt in my mind that this church is true. I know that Jesus Christ is my savior, and I promise that if you read the Book of Mormon with a real desire to know, the Holy Ghost will testify the truth of it to you.
After writing home last Tuesday I was definitely filled with homesickness. You don't really notice how much you miss someone until you write home to them. I was also realizing that I don't know Japanese, and that it's actually something that is super important. So needless to say, I was feeling a little down and praying really hard for some kind of comfort.That comfort came in the form of Tuesday night devotional in the Marriott center. Richard G. Scott came and right when I saw his name, I literally just started crying. I know I shouldn't have favorite apostles, but if I did he would be my fave. In his talk he talked about how his wife Janeen served a mission and how much he loved her. I really look up to her, and I just started crying even more! He continued to say that he felt he needed to comfort missionaries who were struggling with feelings of inadequacy, or who were struggling with the language. Those were literally the 2 things I prayed about the night before. I know it seems silly, and that there are probably lots of missionaries who needed that, but I know that was an answer to my prayers. The words he spake were such a comfort to my heart and were so specific that I felt as though God talked to Elder Scott before the meeting and said: Sister Feist is struggling with these things. If you could comfort her for me, that would be great. I was a mess of tears, and it was again confirmed to me that this is where I need to be right now.
Now that I started with a spiritual message, I think it's time you found out that your beloved Feist Shimai is probably the village idiot of her district. In all honesty, I am probs the worst at Japanese, and they probably only keep me around for comic relief. But here's the kicker, I'm not even the funniest! I just laugh at everyone else's jokes so I just keep everyone's self esteems high. In all honesty, I am progressing in the language, even if it's hard to see. I can now read Hiragana, even if it is excruciatingly slowly. We only sing hymns in Hiragana, and I don't need to hum the whole time anymore! I know how to pray in Japanese and how to testify of Christ in it. I feel like I know absolutely nothing, but as I reflect I realize how much the Lord has helped me with.
Though my Japanese is progressing, my doryo and I still make some hilarious mistakes. Instead of saying that Hayashi San was a son of God, we said that he was the Beloved Son of God. Soooo we accidentally told him that he is the Savior of world. No pressure. But please redeem us of our sins.
Speaking of Hayashi San, he's now our teacher! His name is really Horne Sensai and it probs wouldn't be a big deal if we hadn't told him we loved him about a thousand times. Also, I accidentally told him that he is a menace to society. So not only can I not speak Japanese, but I consistently put my foot in my mouth in English!!
Being at the MTC right now is an incredible experience, and is made even better since I get to see so many friends! I saw Sister Hagee, Sister Rose, Sister Tait, Elder Berg, and Elder Durrant! My district thinks I'm really popular/ they think I'm pretending to know these people. But it really is a comfort to see familiar faces and talk to them.
Our speaker at the Sunday night devotional was Vai Sikahema. He was a big deal on the BYU football team during the Miracle Bowl, and is now a newcaster in Boston. Not only that, but he served in the South Dakota Rapids City mission! He had some great stories about how a mission can change your life, and it was nice to have a change in pace for speakers. You guys should google him to see if he's actually a big deal, because here on the mission we just have to trust those bios.
I really just love being here in the MTC. I feel so blessed to be serving the Lord and to share with the Nihongin the thing that makes me happiest. I can feel God's love for them, and I know that through this message, they can feel God's love. I am so happy, and I am being exceedingly humbled by my time here. I know that is we put our trust in the Lord, he will strengthen us and guide us. I love you all, and hope that everything is going well on the homefront!
Pictures from the MTC
This week has been amazing!! I love the MTC and it is unreal that I've been here less than a week! I guess I'll just go day by day, but I hope you'll forgive me for leaving out any details :)
Wed: Tammi found me at the airport luckily and I took a 2 hour nap at her house... I guess I was tired! She then took me to Cafe Rio for lunch for my last meal outside of the MTC. There was probably 5 other families there with their missionaries so I guess that's the thing to do. She dropped me off at the MTC and Sister Johnson was my host. It was such a relief to have a familiar face!! She showed me to my room and helped me find my classroom. Once I got to class, the Sensei was only speaking Nihongo!! I almost started crying I was so overwhelmed. I was introduced to my doryo Lopez Ruano Shimai, who is actually the girl who I met on facebook!!! Honestly, she is amazing. I love her so much, and she is so patient with me! It occurred to me that having a companion is kind of like having a spouse. And it's hard!! But it really is so rewarding. To quote Enchanted: She is my one coquette, the answer to my heart's duet! We met our district and they are just so amazing! We are all gonig to the Tokyo South mission, and I really love them all already!
Our investigator: We have taught 3 lessons to Hayashi San! He is so amazing, and every time we teach him the spirit is so strong and we can really feel Kamisama's love for him. We can hardly understand what he's saying, but we just continue to testify what we know is true, and the spirit does the rest of the work. Our Sunday speaker was saying that most converts say that being taught by the missionaries is the most bizarre experience of their lives. Young kids talking about gold bibles, heavenly figures, and they can hardly even speak the language! However, the converts continue to invite us back because of the spirit that we bring with us. Hayashi San told us that when we are with him, he feels different, and he wants that to continue to have that peaceful feeling in his heart 100% of the time. He already has a testimony of the gospel, and his faith is so encouraging!
Nihongo: Learning the language is so hard!!! I regret not working on the alphabet more this summer, because now I feel like the village idiot who can't read anything! The Lord is definitely punishing me a little for my laziness, but I know that if I put the effort into learning it, he will reciprocate the blessings ten-fold. Tell Mr. Horning that my French is coming back, which is both exciting, and the worst thing ever. I can think of the word in French but not Nihongo! Sunday night, I dreamt in Nihongo! It wasn't like I could understand anything, but I'm really glad the language is stuck in my head. Also, our investigator in that dream was Golumn from LOTR, and my whole struggle was that I couldn't feel the Lord's love for him so I wasn't teaching effectively :)
MTC lifestyle: I have never worked so hard in my entire life. We are on the Lord's time, and so my doryo and I strive to not waste it. We plan our days by the minutes, and even have plans within our plans!! It is so hard, but I know that by working hard, I will be blessed! The food here is great but I usually eat 1/2 servings because there is just so much food! I am the worst at remember that my name is now Feist Shimai and I am now conscious of how often I refer to myself in the third person! Exercise is fun, and it really helps me fall right asleep at night. The other day we played sand volleyball with the elders and our team totes won, even though technically we didn't keep score because things aren't supposed to get too competitive.
I crazy miss you guys, but I have to go and do laundry and get some breakfast, but I will be back in a few minutes with more funny stories and information (and requests for stuff, I love stuff)
PPS: I love you all so freaking much!!
To the Family continued:
So I have a few more things that I would like to tell you but forgot earlier,
1) I can pray in Japanese now!!! And bear my testimony :)
2) W. Sensei is our teacher and he is pure comedy! He met his wife 6 months ago, got married 3 months ago, and his wife is now pregnant!! I was #dying when he told us that!!
3) Our district is literally the best. The only time that I remember that they are all like 18 year old boys, is when they slurp jello and talk about bowel movements at lunch. The rest of the time they astound me with their spirituality.
4) We watched a video called Character of Christ by Elder Bednar. I really reccommend watching it, it changed how I viewed conversion to the church. Also, Bednar's sense of humor remeinded me of Dad and really made me homesick.
5) We are working on being 100% obedient which is seriously the hardest thing in the world. It includes being exactly on time, using every minute wisely, and NO TOUCHING!!
6) Speaking of NO TOUCHING (10 points to whoever gets that reference), Elder Calley and I have had the same meal times so we really enjoy seeing each other. I insisted upon getting a pic with him and he accidentally put his arm around me. Our companions practically died.
7) Our district leader Elder R. is 6'8" and seeing his long legs sticking out of the desk never ceases to make me giggle. Seriously, he's so tall and skinny it kills me!
8) Sister Cobb had the 4th ward mia maids put together a care package for me and it seriously just made my life! It had cookies and letters and a scripture marker! Letters and packages kind of define how popular you are, so ;)
9) I got your Dear Elder letter!! You should post on my Facebook that people can write me through that! :) (Mom note: go to DearElder.com
I miss you guys so much. I got really homesick on Sunday, but having a P day is the best thing ever. Pray for me! I pray for you, my kazoku, every night.
I love you guys! I'm sorry this morning was so chaotic but I'm glad we didn't have too much time to get sentimental.
I made my flight and my luggage made it on time. I slept the whole flight then took a 2 hour nap at Tammi's house! We shared a Cafe Rio salad, drove around Provo, then she dropped me off!
Sister Johnson, from my BYU ward, got to be my host!!! (Mom note- Sister Johnson's mom sent me this photo of her daughter with Renae.) My teacher only will speak in Japanese!!! Everyone from my district is from Utah except for me and an Elder from Oregon. My companion is Sister Lopez. We had already met on Facebook so it's really cool. She is funny, beautiful, and incredibly spiritual! She's 22 and I know the Lord has so much for me to learn from her. Being here is an incredible blessing and the spirit is so strong. Sister L and I have the same purse!!!! Just another confirmation that we're meant to be be!!!!! I saw Elder Durrant and an Elder who knows Elder Feist. We took a pic to send to Elder Feist. I love you guys! Things are hard but they are worth it! God knows and loves each of his children! I know the Church is true. :) Love, Sister Feist