Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy Late Valentines Day to Everyone!  Some sweet person
gave these things to Maryandra for her Valentines Day!

 An Elder in the mission drew quick images of Maryandra (above) and her
companion(below) while teaching English Conversation class, and they are a silly! 
 We didn't have a good selfie of her to use this week until just barely, and it is at the
end of this blog.  The drawing above looks a little happier than Maryandra's selfie!

The artist!

 Maryandra resent her temple photo from last week, and we like it so much we'll repost it!
Lovely Hibarigaoka!  I think this is the view from an apartment building
 where they were housing!
Here are some excerpts from Maryandra's e-mail this week!

We had a good time yesterday! We went out and did some housing, and
the weather, compared to the day before, was PERFECT!!!!! Oh, it felt
so good, like the end of March, or something, and I took some cool
pictures of a view from the top floor of one apartment building. It
was way cool!
After that, we had to hurry home and do weekly planning. We actually
managed to finish all of it, miraculously! Hooray! Now, it won't
bother us until next Thursday... Which is transfer dayFace screaming in fear! Oh no! Am I
gonna transfer? I sure hope not! I don't want to! Aaaaah! And as of
yesterday, I only have 19 weeks left as a missionary!
Man, today was AAAAAAWESOOOOOOME!!!!! Smith Shimai, choi Shimai and I
all went by train to the Kawasaki area to see a music recital put on
by the missionaries and some members. It was soooo cool!
On the way to and from the concert, we had to pass for a bit into the
north mission's boundaries, so I got a taste of Tokyo Tokyo, the real
thing, or so very close to it, when we stopped at shibuya station to
transfer. It was sooooo huuuuuge, soooooo colorful, and soooooo......
I don't know. I loved it, but it scared me to death at the same time.
I really didn't know what to think, but it made me realize just how
inaka(countrified) the Tokyo south mission really is. It's crazy! I
feel like we're babies now. Sheesh! Oh well.
We went to the special combined mission
conference in the Tokyo mission's area. Elder Ballard, president Rasband and Bishop Stevenson were all there. I learned soooo much! But I'll tell you about it in a minute. One thing that hit me was when elder Ballard told us to buck up and get out there, and work. He said "no amount of disinterest in the church, walking in the rain, or slammed doors can ever compare in anyway to gethsemane. Don't you forget that!" And I realized "oh! He's right!" To all my friends and family currently serving missions, just know this: we've got it easy. Our job right now is just to go the direction we are pointed and to be the mouthpiece. The people we talk to aren't monsters. They aren't scary. They're our brothers and sisters. It's particularly poignant for me to be here in Japan, because more than ninety percent of the people who live here don't even know who they are, or why they're here. There is a 99% proclaimed but inactive Buddhist population in this country. In our two missions combined, there are more than 30 million people, 30 million of our Heavenly Father's children. They have no idea why they are here, or who they are. Most of them have never read any kind of scripture, or know more than the name of Jesus Christ. That's it. About 1% are Christians, approximately. And only 10% of the remaining them are active Latter-day Saints. Can you imagine how sad that has to be? We need to tell the people of this world, our brothers and sisters, who they really are.
This isn't something just for Japan, just for me. This is for
everybody to know. We know who we are. How happy does it make you when
you help someone to understand that as well, who they are? Don't you
want to go out and shout it to everyone you see? Do it!
That's one thing I learned from the conference today. I'm so glad I
got to go there! It was amazing! Also, I'm not gonna lie, it's always
cool to shake hands with a member of the quorum of the twelve, right?
All in all, it was a great, great day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Maryandra's week included a surprise birthday pancake supper for Sister Funakura!  They had balloons for the party, and comically enough, the ones situated behind Maryandra made her look like some kind of "weird angel" as quoted by Sister Horrocks! 
Maryandra and Sister Smith also enjoyed Temple P-day this week!  

There are Subway subs in Hibarigaoka!

 Maryandra is enjoying the T-shirt that Liam and Hyrum sent her. 
The boys came home from a merit badge round up with several of these shirts, and we knew Maryandra likes T-shirts to wear as jammy shirts! She enjoyed the package of stuff we sent her,
and we enjoyed a box of wonderful treats and things that she sent to us! 
Can you find Maryandra in this photo?  (slight left of very middle, wearing lavender)
 Here is what Maryandra said about the mission wide Sisters' Conference this past week:

We went to kichijoji today for a sister missionaries' training
conference for the whole mission. It was THE BEST THING EVER!!!!!! I learned about so many amazing things, and I got to see all of my friends, including wilde Shimai and Tachibana Shimai. The conference itself, of course, was pretty amazing. The theme was "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." A slight hint of valentines theme thrown in there, if you caught it;) It all gave me exactly what I needed, and I felt healed from all the hard things that have happened to me so far. I'm so glad I get to be a missionary! It's the best ever! We learned about opening our hearts, lifting the hearts of others, etc. There was a paper of cool quotes that I want to send some of in this email. It's really cool! I needed today! I wish I could remember every last detail, but honestly, I don't remember most of it. I just remember how good I felt and how it helped me to get over myself. I am so glad that Heavenly Father knows the hearts of His children, and what they need, when they need it. It was a real privilege to be there today.

It also looks like Maryandra had a chance to practice her drawing skills this week too!
It looks a lot like how her daddy used to hold Maryandra when she was a baby!
We love it!!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Here is Maryandra with a roll of sushi before it is cut into bite size pieces!  It's nice to know that she likes things rolled in dried seaweed now, like her mom and dad!  It was nice to find out that the reason we'd not gotten any photos from Maryandra last week might have been because of my Hotmail account having issues.  She also wonders if it might be her iPad having problems as well.  She made up for it with a vengeance!  She re-sent a lot of photos to my gmail account!  We can see that dear Sister Smith got her hair cut since being in the MTC, just like Maryandra did, though Maryandra's haircut is not so dramatic! 
 Maryandra likes to takes photos of a lot of fun things!
 All the cat lovers at our house are loving this one! 
You know it is still very cold (in fact Maryandra mentioned that February is the coldest month in Japan), by all the bundling up and layering that these sisters have to do!  It must have been Sister Smith's birthday very recently!
 Here are some fun excerpts from Maryandra's e-mail this week:

We shared a message about talents with  Sister A____, and she said that one of my talents was smiling. It makes others happy when I smile, apparently. It made me think "wow! That's something I never even thought of!" And of course, I've been smiling ever since:)
Wow! My.Mind.Is.BLOOOOOWN!!!!! Who knew this Sister T_____could be such
an interesting person? I thought she was just another one of those
sweet, elderly relief society sisters, of which she is one as well,
but when all of us sisters went to her house to eat dinner, (a
beautifully decorated meal, I must say, followed by a delicious
dessert of bananas topped with caramel cookies and cream flavored ice
cream! Only in Japan! Love it!) and after sharing a simple message of
how sacrificing yourself for others makes you happier than being
selfish ever would, and sharing personal experiences about it and
stuff, we just started talking. And somehow, the topic changed to
rules of the mission. And this sister started talking about how
loose it was back when she served a mission, and how the elders would
do stupid things and pull the dumbest pranks. For example, they toilet
papered the sisters' bikes. They stole them and hung them on the
clothes line, and took all the air out of the tires. They would also
keep pets, such as birds and once, a horse. (Don't ask me how that was
possible. I don't know either. A HORSE?!?!) Crazy! That makes today
look like everyone is well behaved and no one ever steps out of line.
BUT(and this is my favorite), she also told us that she would get them
back on a regular basis. Once she did so by putting jelly, of all
things, into their suit coat pockets and shoes when they weren't
wearing them, so they would discover them unpleasantly at a later
time. Oooooh, it was a time for laughs! I love this sister! I so
enjoy this ward!!!...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Again, Maryandra failed to send home any photos, so we include a photo of Maryandra from 15 years ago, and also some from the MTC, since her current companion was in her MTC district, 13 months ago!!!  This is Sister Hana Smith!  And they have a great companionship!

Disregard the date on the photo, for Maryandra never made the time to adjust it.  It is actually from December 2013!  Maryandra and Sister Smith enjoyed their times in the MTC, and now they are making memories and miracles together in Hibarigaoka!
The good old MTC days!

From Maryandra's e-mail:


Well, a lot of interesting things happened yesterday, which I would like to explain, and use up the time so I can not think about how thirsty I am, as I am fasting right now. Okay...

So, we went and delivered a daily message to a member family, and it took much faster than I thought it would, so in between that, and stopping for a few minutes to pet a cute kittie cat for the first time in who knows how long (I made a video just for you, Curtis!;)), we wandered around, looking for a good place to house. And we came all the way to this random Lawson's convenience store, and crossed started housing the big apartment that is pretty much next door to it. On the second floor from the top, I randomly piped up "we are going to see a miracle here!" And smith Shimai thought I was kind of just joking, because I said it in an overly enthusiastic way, in which I don't normally talk, but then I thought "you know? I really want to actually see one!" And then I prayed in my mind that we actually would. And would you believe it? We did! Not more than five minutes later! Wow!

So, after we rang this one lady's doorbell box, and put a flier in her post because no one answered at first and motion, she answered and I rushed back to talk into the doorbell box. And she came out! Whoa! And then she proceeded to talk to us for about ten minutes, and we gave her a pamphlet and a BOOK OF MORMON!!!!!! We wanted to give her a plan of salvation pamphlet because she told us her daughter had just passed away during shogatsu(New Years) and we felt sad for her, but we had given away the one we thought we had the day before to another lady and forgotten to get more, so we asked if we could bring it later, and she said yes, and to please come again, because she's lonely, and she's not against church, she just won't join, and she doesn't hate us, so she likes us, and isn't against taking our free stuff. Well, it wasn't much, but we'll take it! We will take whatever we can get!

We finished the rest of the apartment later, after stopping for a short break to warm up at Lawson's. And would you believe it? The second to last door provided us with another, albeit a really weird, miracle. So, it was a young person, or sounded like one through the doorbell box, and whatever question we asked, she would just say "yes." "Yes" "yes" in a kind of robotic voice. I can't remember the whole conversation, but he gust of it was something like this:


"We're church volunteer missionaries. Can we talk about our message?"


"Have you ever been to church?" 


"Do you believe that God and Jesus Christ live?"


At this point I piped in, because smith Shimai was getting really weirded out by this emotionless voice.

"In our church, we believe in eternal families, because families are important to us. Do you think families are important?"


"Ummm..... Can you come to the door?"


So, that whole robotic conversation was said through the doorbell box, and we weren't sure what to think, or if she would actually come to the door, but she did. She turned out to be only 11 years old. Kind of weird. But she continued to say yes to everything, with this interesting little smile on her face. So, we gave away our second Book of Mormon, and Asked if we could come again and teach her some more about our church. She said yes. Again. And.... So we will. It was interesting, and it would have been like a golden investigator child type of a thing, save for her strange lack of opposition, or to smith Shimai, emotion. But hey, we will take whatever we can get in this country of people who are scared to say yes. We are definitely coming back! So, yeah, yesterday had a lot of interesting miracles in it. The moral of his story is to do what you can, and you get what you ask for. Also, Heavenly Father is really great at answering prayers, especially ones that aren't self-centered. So, give it a shot! Yeah!