Monday, January 27, 2014

Really. That is what the Kanji for Japan is. Two books. 
Which is ironic because, in Japan, there are two big American imports.
The first is 7-11. It's like their Walmart. And they are EVERYWHERE. On every other street corner. Their sushi is pretty okay, but not as good as fresh. The second is Book-Off. That's right- Book Off. We are not allowed to enter book stores here. I think that rule was meant just for me. The Japanese people are REALLY big readers. They even sell book covers for all of their books. 
The food adventure for the week: last night at an appointment, I was fed raw bacon wrapped around some sort of spicy cabbage. I feel very conflicted about that. But it tasted pretty good! :D And the food hasn't made me sick (yet) so i should be fine.
My companion is super awesome! I love her so much as she inspires me all the time!
The Japanese culture has figured something out that a lot of the world is not sure about-  silence. My companion is silent often, and it frustrates me a lot because I thin something is wrong. But, no- she's fine. She's just thinking. That is very common here. I am trying to get used to that.
So, last week at Eikawia (free English class the missionaries teach at the church building) I had to explain to my students for 10 minutes that Americans usually only shower or only bathe once a day. They do not do both. Apparently that is unfathomable here. Everyone was very shocked at this notion. "Don't you get cold?!" "Um...nooo...?" They are so sweet! I love my class so much!
Here is an inspiring story for everyone. We went to a member's house named Ito Shimai. She looks about 55, which means she is about 70. (That is a fact here. I think it is so awesome! They eat rice, fish, and veggies, and ride their bikes. That is the key) And we shared with her a short message. We planned afterward to dendo (tract) her neighborhood, but during the message she felt the Spirit so strongly that she asked if she could come with us! So,m she put on her jacket and went out and talked to a bunch of people with us! Hvaing her there made such a difference! Her dendo fire inspired me so much! That's missionary work: feeling the Spirit and telling people about it.
All of you are so awesome! Please keep being cool!
Molen Shimai

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 10,2014

今日 わ!
I hope everyone is doing absolutely fabulous today! I think about you all and hope that all of you are doing quite well.

This week was an adventure. Here are some fun facts about Japan to brighten every one's day:

- If you are a foreigner in Japan, people will openly stare at you. Especially children. We were walking by a day care two days ago and all of the kids ran up to the window, pressed their faces against the glass, and stared as we walked by. That is common. Of course, in Japan, everyone has been gaijin on television and even from far away. But if, as a foreigner, you talk to them or stand next to them, they freak out. I love being called "exotic" here- my pasty self.
-On that note, all Japanese students are required to take 6 years of English in middle school and high school. So they all can understand quite a bit of English. They actually know a lot of vocabulary. So, when a gaijin starts to talk to them, often they will want to answer in English- slow English with the most adorable accent ever (seriously, I love Japanese people so much) So learning Japanese is an act of love- because you could probably say messages in English and they could understand the basic idea of it. But when you say it in Japanese, it shows that you respect and love them enough to choose to speak their language-0 to make it more convenient for them.
-Japanese are very action oriented. My companion and I talked about love this week, and she says that the way couples show affection for each other here is not by snuggling or kissing- but by serving one another. Actions and deeds are how love is really communicated here. I think that is very important.

So, how was this week? It was very good.

I am learning a valuable lesson. Missionaries called to Japan find, at the start, that they tend to be good at either one thing or the other: speaking or understanding. They are supposed ot even out at some point. But I have found that I can better understand what people say than I can pronounce the words. That is very humbling. At home, I often figured that if I spewed out enough pretty words or sounded eloquent enough, that would make my opinion right. But here, I am learning that a lot of the beauty and wisdom that God gives us  by listening and caring about other people. When you care enough to listen and are not totally focused on what you want to say, life becomes so much easier and we can learn a lot more. And you can love a lot more.

Funny moment of the week: The ward mission leader (coolest person ever.) called us and asked me what kind of food I wanted from the ward. Frankly, I have no idea what I am eating half of the time here. So I asked for him to surprise me. He didn't like that. Finally, my companion asked if I liked potato chips and said, "Sure."
This is a proof for the Japanese people: they always try their best to help others. So, now, I have about 10 containers of Pringles sitting in my apartment. :-)

I love you all!
Keep being wonderful,
Molen Shimai

Monday, January 13, 2014

 も 一回 お願い します

(I hope that is the right kanji. Japanese keyboards will automatically change what you are writing in hiragana into kanji characters)

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing subarashii!
I am doing great here! It hit on....Wednesday, I think, as I was walking along an older part of Fujisawa, "Hey, I am a missionary in Japan!" 
I love being a missionary SO much! A lot of people who are not members of the 末日 生徒 イエス キリスト の きょかい(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) may think a missionary's job is to shove religion down other people's throats. But for our church that is never the case. Our job is to "Invite". We do a lot of inviting everyday. Sometimes people want to ear it. Sometimes people don't.

The reason I bring this up was because I had an interesting situation on the train yesterday. I sat down next to this older woman and we started a conversation. She was very interested in talking until she saw I was a missionary. Then her whole demeanor changed. She automatically shut off and looked very upset (a thing with most Japanese people- they are very good at poker faces. So when someone looks upset it means they are REALLY upset) I hadn't even said anything about the Gospel yet! But she was so angry...and we still had 15 minutes of riding to go. So we just sat there awkwardly. Then I saw a piece of trash on the floor. Without even thinking, I picked up the piece of trash and put it in my pocket (the Japanese pride themselves in a clean society) The woman looked absolutely shocked. She even looked less angry. When she left and I said goodbye, she actually said it back.

So, after that encounter, I realized some people might have a wrong impression bout missionaries. 

So, here are some fun facts about being here:

-Missionaries teach free, quality English classes every week. I am finding my speech classes as a child are helping out a lot now; I can tell people how to move their mouths to enunciate certain sounds. Eikaiwa is so much fun! And people speak English, so it is a little less stress than Japanese. 

-There is this store called Daiso. Oh.My.Gosh. Daiso. It is what the 99cent store wants to be when it grows up. It has everything you'd ever want and everything you never knew you needed within aisles and aisles of katakana bliss. And it's all 100 yen. I am in deep trouble and am trying to control myself. I think it helps that all apartments here are super tiny, so you don't have room for 200 notebooks with English on them (Example: "Let's play with me" and "I was happy because it looked very nice" with no explanation- just a cute puppy) The Celestial Kingdom has Daiso. 

-My mission in a few weeks is expected to get "Special Mobile devices". I don't know why i am going to be trusted with an Ipad, but I ill pray very hard and try not to break it. 

-All I do is eat here. Seriously. Their food. Is. Amazing.

-My companion is Tsuchida Shimai and she is absolutley wonderful. She (like most other Japanese students) were required to take 6 years of English in middle school and high school. So she understands quite a bit of my English when I cannot speak in Nihongo. An interesting thing is people will always want to try out their English on you if you are a gaijin. Because they are taught British English in school, their accents are adorable!!!! I love hearing them speak!

-The ward in Fujisawa has about 150 members right now (Which is quite large)The members here are so nice to us! They are very focused on their callings in church- even if they are very young. Their faith inspires me everyday, and they are focused on missionary work and helping us out. I cannot wait until I am able to talk to them more to find out about their stories!

-In the ward... okay.... so in the ward there is the absolutely cutest baby in the world. All Japanese children are flat out adorable (they will run up and hug you out of nowhere) But this one baby is so cute it has to be dangerous and/or unhealthy. She has the fattest and reddest cheeks, black eyes, and hair that stands up in a mohawk. And her parents carry her around in a straw basket. She. Kills. Me. And then you make eye contact and..whoa, she is adorable.

We have an investigator who I am in love with! I will call her (since Japanese respect privacy) Allison. She is so so sweet and wants to learn absolutely everything she possibly can. She speaks very quickly, but that is okay. I get the main meaning of what she gets across.

Being a missionary is not easy. The schedule is not easy, and watching people you love say no to the most important thing in the world. Losing pride and being willing to make language mistakes is not easy. But this so rewarding. When you do find people who are ready and when you do make friends, when you feel the Lord's strengthening hand push you onward and see how He helps other people- it is so so wonderful. I think everyone should be a missionary. In a world of sleeping on the floor, toilets with built in sinks, bowing to people on the street, and roads that run backwards, that is one thing that has remained the same. This Gospel is true and God lives. And everywhere should be a missionary anywhere. It is so rewarding!!!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


January 7, 2014


Hello everyone!

I know, I made it. Crazy, right?! I don't even know how to start this post, so I am sorry if it is a little choppy. Because we went to the Tokyo Temple today (coolest place int he world!!!) we are a little short on time.

When we got off our 15 hour plane ride and landed in the Tokyo airport, we apparently landed with some Nickelodeon celebrity. So when we came out of the international gate, we had about 100 screaming Japanese girls with signs cheering. Apparently she was right behind us. Anyway, we walked through this whole fan line with security guards and everything! I have never felt more welcomed by a nation in my life.

President Wada and his wife are so awesome. He absolutely loves the Book of Mormon and, while staying at the mission home, we read it almost the whole time (in English. Thank goodness)

My new companion is Tsuchida Shimai!!!! She is from Fukuoka and I love her so much! She is a lot of fun and is teaching me the art of not freaking out every five minutes. The only problem is that she doesn't really speak English. She does know quite a bit of vocab and has learned quite a bit of phrases. (her favorite is "Are you drunk?") I am trusting the Lord will help us as we try to work through the language barrier.

My sister in law asked me about culture shock. Well... to be honest, I was wondering for the first two days if I was on a strange television show like the "Truman Show", where everyone spoke this made up language and my reactions were being filmed. Then that turned into, "I wonder if these people get confused by their own language?" phase, and now I am comfortably cruising at "this language is not impossible! The Lord will help!" So (for anyone going on a mission) your culture shock might be a little like that. I am still at the point of following my companion around like a lost puppy. 

So, here are some fun facts about being a missionary in Japan for those who don't know:
-The toilet seats in nice buildings are really hot. I don't know why, but they are. Whoever invented that is a genius. I would buy them a soda.
-When meeting with a member here, the first question is " "Where are you from?" The second is: "Do you ever want to get married?" I think it's adorable!
-A lot of Japanese people speak English. Well, some English. Enough for everyone to want to speak English to you.
-Um, I just poured cream instead of milk into my cereal. Would not recommend it
-They have a drink here that everyone at the MTC affectionately named "cigarette water". Because it tastes like cigarettes. And everyone loves it!! I, however, do not love it. I do not even like it. So I bought a bottle and am determined to drink 2 glasses a day until I do. So I do not offend members, I want to love it.
-Another thing about their toilets: when you flush, there is a little sink on top with soap that starts flowing water. I haven't used it yet. I am scared to.
Japanese people are amazing. They are innately polite and very kind. And they all are very short. I would like to be more understanding like they are.
-My third day I was having a little bit of trouble. I felt bad that I didn't understand my companion and was feeling quite overwhelmed. Then all of a sudden, a picture of a strangely drawn elephant on a white board came into my mind, along with one of my MTC teacher's voices: "How do you eat an elephant?" Then the inevitable answer, "One bite at a time." That is how you have to dendo. Actually, that is how we have to live. Things have gotten much better since then.

I am in love with the people and the work here. I love having the opportunity to share with people happiness. A lot of people here think it comes from money or nice suits, but those who know, know. And sometimes people just need to be told. And those who listen, love it. Because the Gospel is awesome. And Heavenly Father is amazing and looks out for each of us. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of Him.

You all rock! I think everyone should become a missionary. It is pretty amazing!

Ai shite imasu!
Molen Shimai

Monday, January 6, 2014

December 21, 2013

So, I suppose I will start off with some of the funniest things that happened this week. 

Sometimes, I feel like the longer we have been here, the funnier our mistakes become.

For example, we were skyping with a Nihonjin Kyookaiin on Wednesday. She was so sweet! Her computer had abslutley horrible connection, though, so it was freezing every couple of seconds. So, when she asked us to tell her about our families, I said, "Watashi wa sanin musuko to hitori musume ga imasu." And then the computer froze, and she hung up. I was feelign all proud of myself until Dansie Shimai looked over ta me and said quietly, "Did you just say you had three sons and one daughter?" I stared at her blankly. "No...wait...dang it..." Then it took a whole five minutes to get her back! I had thought she hung up on us in confusion ("Well, I guess these are not Mormon missionaries. Who have I been talking with for the past 10 minutes?") Thankfully, she came back on and we could joke about it. The Nihonjin I have met (and the ones i have heard about) are very nice and loving people. They will giggle at Gaijin a lot when they make mistakes. Or, in very rural areas, just come up and touch Gaijin. One of my blonde teachers was asked by a child if he was an alien. 
I think I like Nihonjin already. :D

One of the best moments of the week happened after class one night. Dasnei Shimai no kazoku sent us some yoyos. So I was trying to make it work in the hallway when Ashby Shimai (one of the cutest people I have ever met) walks up and says, "Wow, you're pretty good." "Oh, thanks!" I said.
"Do you yoyo?"
 I didn't know "yoyo" was a verb! at that moment I had this strange realization- "Have I ever known the English language?!" 
"Do you yoyo?" 
"Not professionally..." 
"Do you?"
So then  I gave her a yoyo and all of a sudden she started doing tricks! And she whipped it up and down lightening fast! It was one of the coolest things in the world, even though she was trying to be humble about it. 
So, moral of the story: Yoyo is a sport. And a pretty cool one.  Tell your friends.

Three of our teachers have left by now. We will be losing the other two when we leaving for Japan in LESS THAN A WEEK! When we were saying goodbye to some of the dorkiest, coolest, funniest returned missionaries in the world, it was actually very sad. Listening to them speak them language and explain it so easily, listening to stories about spiders and grandmas and kyuudosha, gives me a lot of hope. Knowing that they went thorough what we did and the Lord helped them to thrive. I hope to be a missionary like they were. 
And I won't even think about saying goodbye to the other ones. I feel so blessed to have/had such great teachers! I believe our teachers are inspired to help us- because their teaching style works so perfectly with my learning ability.

Finally, I would like to end on a somewhat serious note: My brother got married yesterday. I saw the pictures! It was disgusting and adorable and beautiful. 

I was a cardboard cutout. What a lot of people (who are members of the LDS church and who are not) don't realize is that missionaries give quite a bit up to become missionaries. It may seem like Mormon kids just go on missions because they are supposed to or to go live in other places. But that is not the case. And I am so glad that it is not. 

My brother got married yesterday, and I would have loved to have been there. However, there is a quote from Elder Jefferey R. Holland I have heard while staying at the MTC: 
"Why is missionary work so hard? Because salvation is not cheap. It cannot be easy. It is worth too much."

So, as we approach Christmas, one of the most dual meaning holidays in the world, I would like everyone to remember how important the Savior is. He means a lot to me. And I know He can mean a lot to you. And to everyone. And I love the people of Nihon (isn't it weird you can love someone you have never met?) and I know He can make them happy. I testify of that.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a missionary. I am not perfect, or even relativity close. But I know that, as I try to follow the Lord, He will glad me to people that need Him. And hopefully He can work through me to help them. That would be the best thing in the whole world.

Ya'll are totally awesome! Keep being so. And Merry Christmas!