Thursday, June 25, 2015

 Maryandra is loving the hydrangeas!!! (sp)

 She is also loving the people she serves with!!!
We are loving the fact that she'll be home next Friday!!!  :-)
Sorry!  Due to time constraints and business travel and reunion travel,
I am only sending photos this blog!!!
Hopefully I'll get one more in next week!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

 Maryandra had a pretty interesting week, but it was all dwarfed by her experience on her P-day of going up to see Mount Fuji!  In her own words:
Monday: So, here are three things I want to say before heading out today. One, were are about to head over to Kofu area and see Fuji-San!!!!! Two, we met a new sister in the ward yesterday who served her mission in salt lake, and she thinks she recognized me,many I feel like she looks familiar too. Crazy, right? And three, there is a brother who served his mission at the exact same time as daddy. He says he can't remember him, but we are going to dinner with his family's house tonight, so he will look through his mission pictures. Also, if dad or you could send me some pictures of dad from his mission, that would be helpful. Okay, so I have to go, because we have to leave super early, but I love you! See you next week! Miller Shimai
Then we actually got an e-mail about her visit to Mount Fuji, and tons of fun photos. 
 Here are just a few!  And some of her e-mail!
 Fuji is the mountain tip behind Maryandra's head!!!
Okay, so I just had the best pday of my entire mission! I can't believe it! Almost our entire district, as well as the other machida sisters, went all the way to MOUNT FUJIIIIII!!!!!!! And we all had the best time of our entire missions! We're gonna be talking about this one for the rest of our lives! Oh my gosh! So, we all woke up between five and six in the morning, left by or before 6:40, and then we gathered at Hachioji station at 7:20 or so. Once we had all gathered, we all went down to the line we were supposed to wait at, to take a three or so hour train ride to our destination. Yeah! One we got on the train, the talking and having fun really got underway. There is never anybody on the trains, so we didn't have anyone to talk to.... EXCEPT EACH OTHERRRR!!!! And boy, was it fun! The elders ran into adjacent cars that were empty, and took pictures of each other doing the craziest things, like hiding in the rafters, and hanging from the handrails and stuff. Haha! That train ride, including perhaps two transfers to new train lines, lasted two or three hours, but it felt like not long at all! So, we took lots of pictures of the beautiful train ride over there, and then once we got there, we all jumped out excitedly, ready to run to Mount Fuji! We then learned that the passes Gappmayer Shimai had kindly obtained for us were basically magic! We could go anywhere! They were all access one day passes! WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh yeah! So, we rode a bus, talking all the
way, up to a bat cave, and even though all the bats were sleeping, we got to walk, stoop, and crawl(yeah, that was a bit hard wearing skirts and dresses) through the stinky wet caves, but we were laughing and having fun the entire time! And while we weren't in the caves, we enjoyed a lovely walk through nature! After that, we rode the bus to a wind cave, again talking and laughing the whole time. And we got to wear white helmets again!
The ice caves were wet and absolutely freezing! We had some fun, though, and did t have to stoop so far for those ones. It was cool to see. Ice caves under Mount Fuji! When we came back up and the warm air and humidity hit us again, it was like trying to breathe in water. Such a weird feeling! But we got some good pictures there as well, which I will send all of as soon as I get them. By the way, I definitely recommend doing this when we come back, maybe even on a Monday, as everyone whose not going home wants to do it again next transfer, haha! Also, we should give the squirrel park a try. I haven't been yet. Anyway, we had some fun there, and then we rode back down to the bottom, and ended up taking an hour long bus ride, half way up Mount Fuji itself! It was incredible! Granted, the air was extremely thin, so everyone felt light headed, but we had a blast, looking around, walking around in the clouds(yes, we were that high up!) and checking out the gift shops. But my favorite part was when we met up with the elders at the lookout point of Mount Fuji, after being temporarily separated, to find Mount Fuji in full view! We'd been told a few times that we wouldn't be able to see it today because of the cloudy and rainy weather, but then elder Crandall told us that he and the other elders had said a quiet prayer, with him as voice, that they would be able to see the mountain, even if only for a few minutes. And he told us that the second he opened his eyes, the mountain was in plain sight! So we hurried and took some group pictures, both from the lookout, and then on the ground where everything was prettier, and we took the perfect group picture. It was one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life! And get this! No sooner did we finish taking pictures and get our fill than clouds swooped over Mount Fuji again, completely hiding it from view! It took less than thirty seconds for it to just vanish! But our hopes and prayers were answered! It was a miracle!

I wish I could write do every single detail of the entire trip! It was the best pday I've ever had!
It was a great experience both individually, and for
us as a group! It was one of the best binding experiences I've ever had on my mission! Yeah!
So, I couldn't write down enough to do it any justice, and I've already forgotten a lot of it, unfortunately, and I'm absolutely exhausted, but I will say something that I learned from this experience, and I will quote one of the elders, using a phrase he used as we were walking towards the wind caves: "Dude, Nature's dope!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

 Maryandra loves the Tama Zoo!!!
And she loves the tigers!

From this photo we learn a few things, and one of them is that Sister Tall is not very tall!!!
We also learn that Maryandra can still smile after being shook up a little by an earthquake!
From her e-mail:
Oh, but before I forget, we had an earthquake while at the zoo, and it was big enough that it cause the alarms on our phones to go off, warning that it was coming, a second too late, I might add. It was so weird. I was standing at a vending machine to buy some water, and then I suddenly feel the very ground beneath my feet start to vibrate, and I saw everything kind of Shake, in this big wave kind of a thing, and all the animals started going crazy. After a few second,a it was done, but I was still shaking!

 Sister Tall is definitely one of Maryandra's funnest companions!
And the other Machida sisters are fun too!!!
We had another, pretty intense earthquake right near the end of companionship inventory on Saturday evening. We weren't sure whether or not we should go outside, but it was pretty scary, and lasted for probably a good two and a half minutes. Aaaaah! What if that big earthquake that everyone keeps talking about happens soon? Scary! 
We were picked up by a wonderful member family, and we went to their house, which, I must say, is one of the coolest houses I've ever seen. It looks like it's still under construction, but that's kind of part of the style. And there's this cool, twisty staircase that leads up to their second floor, but that floor is open in the center, and you can see it all around from the bottom! It's the coolest thing ever! 
They fed us this yummy salad, and asparagus wrapped in thin strips of chicken, which was soooooooooooooo good! Oh boy, was it good!
During dinner, we were privileged to hear the conversion stories of both parents, and both of the, were absolutely amazing!
(Brother F went to Melbourne Australia on his mission and years later baptized his father after years of him being against his son joining the church, and Sister F went to Washington DC on her mission.)

She told us that after she got back, she had a friend who was seriously struggling with activity in the church, and was going to go less active, but before making that decision, she prayed about it first, and said "if this is where you want me to be, I need to know for sure." And right after that, just in the street, she saw the backs of two elders, Just as they were walking while out proselyting. She said that in that moment, she felt the spirit testify to her that he's, she did need to come back to church, and this was her answer. She came back a faithful member, and her whole life was changed by that experience. 

After Sister F told us that story about her friend, she said that she received a powerful testimony of how while we are doing missionary work, we will have times when we don't know why we are walking down this certain street, or why we are doing what we're doing, but that someone, somewhere, will always notice what we do, and they will always be inspired. When we follow the spirit, we will be guided to where someone needs us to be. 

My companion and I received a particularly strong testimony about this, because we had a situation a few weeks ago where we just could not find the spot where the lord needed us to be. We felt so confused, and felt that none of the things we were doing were right. So, we prayed about it, and we just felt the impression to stay there. We waited there for a few minutes, and even though we didn't notice anything at first, we waited until we felt drawn to a building across the street, which we housed. Though we met with meager success there, we still feel let good about what we had done that day. Who knows? Maybe someone saw us as we prayed or drove by while we were waiting to be guided by the spirit, and felt inspired or cheered up by seeing us doing our best to follow the will of the Lord. It was a pretty amazing experience last night, I'm not gonna lie. 

We shared a lesson about love, and about how it is a commandment, and it brings about good in both our loves, and in the loves of others. I bore testimony about how the members in my family who were struggling would one day come back to the church if I just kept showing them love, like Brother F's dad, and their hearts would be softened. It was a wonderful time there. When he prayed at the end, he asked the lord to guide and protect me through the remainder rof my mission, and throughout my life, and he asked that sister Tall would be inspired an that her Japanese would come quickly, and he asked a blessing on each of our families. It made me start crying, so I was swiping tears away when he said amen, and then we had to take pictures. I hope I didn't look too bad. But it was one of the best days ever! 
I loved it! I sincerely hope that this makes up for my lack of a proper weekly this week. It's one of my favorite experiences, and I hope it will stay in my heart forever.