Tuesday, April 26, 2016

4th week in Japan -- 1st area. Tripping along by rail, and teaching new people

Part of the purpose of my blog is about my mission, of course, but being an American in Japan is pretty exciting.   So I like to share the experience of what Japan is like, as through my eyes.

We traveled by rail to Tokyo to go to the LDS temple.

Roof edging Japanese sky

Houses by the train rails

Trip in Fast Motion.  It is less than a minute, but it might loop on you and start again, and seem longer than a minute.  Try not to get dizzy.

Okay, moving right along, I liked the picture of the huge stretched-out limousine that I got in the email.  I sent that one to Sister Riggs too.  She said that it would be super funny if we showed this picture to Japanese people and told them that it was our car.  Hahahah lol!!   Because everything here is much smaller than America, cars too.  It's really funny (and adorable) when Japanese people are surprised and express it.  They go like, "EeeeeEEEEHHHH!!!" And then if we showed that picture and said, "This is my car." They would freak out. Ahaha!   Then we would tell them, "Just kidding." We would just show it to members probably (people that we are friendly with and we know would appreciate the joke).   The church members here are really nice.

So, I have previously commented in other posts about the food here and how I am enjoying it.  Another thing that I like, is the clothing.  It's easier to find modest, nice-looking clothing  here in Japan.  Modesty is what you put on your body but it is about your spirit being modest too, for the right reasons.   As a missionary, it is extra-important to be modest, because immodesty sends the wrong message and can bring about unwanted actions from others.  A person can still be modest and beautiful (or handsome if a young man) at the same time.   

As for missionary work this week,  We found a few new potential investigators--  Two moms that a member brought to kids' English class that we are teaching. We taught them a lesson about the church and what missionaries' purpose are.  And then on Thursday, we decided to go to this free Japanese class with the Elders in our missionary district.  There was a Filipino young woman there. After class, I commented on her cute clothes and we got into a conversation.  We talked about why we were in Japan and that we are missionaries.  She said, "Oh cool!  Can I come and join your church?"  She's golden!  She's Catholic but doesn't like the Catholic people here [I don't know why].  She went to a Jehovah's Witness church here too, but didn't like that either.  We are going to have lunch with her and talk with her about the church.  She's married to a Japanese man and ended up moving here. She's kind of lonely being a foreigner, so it's a great opportunity to become friends and teach her the gospel!

There are so many miracles everyday!!

Love, Parker Shimai

4th Week in Japan -- 1st area; Temple Tuesday P-Day

Sister Parker with Sister Riggs, at the Tokyo Temple grounds

I-Spy game:  Find the golden angel symbolic of Revelation 14:6

Good morning, lovelies!!
Sorry my P-Day is today instead of Monday this week, because we are going to the temple. We go to the temple once every transfer and when we do, our P-Day is on Tuesday.    

~ 11 hours later.... ~

So the Tokyo Temple was really pretty! They had an English session.  Our zone and Tokyo West Zone went together.  I love endowment sessions.  They're so cool.  The Holy Spirit is so peaceful in there.  It relieves stress and clears your mind just being inside.  I learned that it's going to be closed in August for a year for reconstruction.  So I'll only get to go to the Temple like 3 more times I think.  After the Temple, the sisters in our zone went to a Hawaiian restaurant that has all-natural food. It was really good! 

Okay, this part (the rest of this post) is added by Kirsten's mom so people not familiar with an LDS temple and the doctrine behind it, can have some of your questions answered.   There are a bunch of scripture passages mentioned and explained.   Maybe it's a bit much for some of you to read (I like to be thorough).   You can jot down the references listed, and read them from your Bibles at your convenience.  If you wish to reference any LDS (Mormon scriptures) and are good at finding your way around a website, you can go to https://www.lds.org/scriptures/   It also has the Bible online (KJV) along with some study aids.  
I do have a picture at the bottom of this blog which is worth seeing if you wish to skip the paragraphs of scriptures.  Please first read my FYI paragraph immediately below this one, before skipping to the picture art at the the bottom of the post.

[FYI, for those not familiar with Mormon Christianity, the temple endowment service is in a quiet building called a temple, open to faithful members; it is a re-enactment of the Biblical Creation story (movie style), along with ceremonial promises which the attendees make with God to be, in summary, good people.  It is done for oneself, or for the dead (as a proxy attendee) as in Mormonism they believe that all people, living and dead, are entitled to make covenantal promises with God, through the gospel of Christ, to follow Him and live according to his precepts.   Baptism is also provided in temples in a separate area, mainly for the dead who are baptized by a living proxy (often a direct descendant or other living relative).   NO we are not creepy people who dig up the dead and dunk them, according to foul rumors.   That is the stuff made up by demented or paranoid people looking for lies and sensationalism.   I mean, that's just gross!!!  Some others pick on Mormons for their time and money spent doing genealogy to identify the dead, quoting 1 Timothy 1:4.  In a study aid at lds.org/scriptures, it says: 
In 1 Tim. 1:4Timothy is urged to give no heed to “fables and endless 
genealogies.” The reference is probably to exaggerated stories of the heroes and patriarchs of early Hebrew history, such stories being at that time very popular among the Jews. Paul’s denunciation of “endless genealogies” was not of the scriptural and spiritually rewarding study of one’s ancestry (as even the Lord's ancestry was included in the New Testament) but was a criticism of the self-deceptive practice of assuming that one can be saved by virtue of one’s lineage. See Matt. 3:9 and Luke 3:8, wherein John the Baptist rebuked those who put too much emphasis on ancestry and attempted to use lineage as a substitute for righteousness (see also 1 Ne. 17:34–35). See also Adoption. ]

Scriptural backing for ordinances (which are recorded in books and now also, electronic format)  for the dead comes from the New Testament,  Revelation 20:12 ,  1 Peter 4:6 and 3:18, and others,  as well as commentary from modern revelation (especially D&C 128).   While Jesus Christ's body lay in the tomb, He opened the spirit world for missionary work.   This is because He had finished the atonement and thus the dead qualified to have the opportunity to receive the gospel while they await their resurrection.
The account of Jesus' baptism showing that immersion baptism is required, is recounted in the Gospels.
Jesus Christ also told his followers to baptise all nations, in Matthew 28.  Water baptism by complete immersion (which is the ONLY form of baptism symbolic of the promises given to us by Christ-- you just have to think about this to realize why it's true), and then baptism by spiritual fire of the Holy Ghost (another promise given based upon our continued faithfulness when a person is confirmed by the ordinance called, Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost).

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 

1 Peter 4:6
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

1 Peter 3: 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1 Corinthians 15:29:Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

 19 ¶Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus Christ knew that the descendants of Israel had been scattered and would be further scattered throughout the earth.  He knew that many of them had fallen and would fall out of covenant (as prophesied in Hosea 1:9 and other scriptures); they had and would intermingle with the Gentiles and forget their identity.   The gospel, even in the Old Testament, allowed provision for converts from those who were not descendants of Abraham, yes it is a gospel for the world.  The Jews who are of the ancient covenant, need to be brought into the fullness of the covenant through Christ, as do the other non-Jew but still part Israelite descendants.  Many of these souls are deceased, and that is why the gospel word is for them also.  It is inferred that present and past peoples need to be brought into the gospel, as written in Malachi (Old Testament), chapter 4, verses 4-6
¶Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
¶Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Often with scriptures, there is more than one meaning that can be derived from them.  It refers to 1.  the disobedient descendants getting converted to the correct teachings of their ancestors (not the false traditions);  2. The righteous ancestors hearts will guide their children's (descendants') hearts back to them in remembrance of them, as well as to the gospel, and that this will be achieved through genealogical work and gospel ordinances such as baptism in temples, bringing the dead fathers back into covenant with Christ,  3.  In the end times (before the armies of the world are converged upon the Jewish nation, that Elijah would perform a work to turn the heart of the still unconverted Jews to Christ (as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses (etc)  accepted Christ whether they realize it or not).
Mormons believe that Moses and Elijah returned to the Latter Day Saints on April 3, 1836, to reopen the gospel to all peoples, both living and dead, and to the Jews also.  As promised in the scriptures, God said that he would gather His people again.
Moses and Elijah appeared together to a transfigured Christ, also to Peter, James and John in Matthew 17 of the New Testament.   They also heard the voice of Heavenly Father coming out from a bright cloud, introducing Christ as the son of Heavenly Father, that he was well-pleased with him, and that we should listen to him.  Heavenly Father also introduced Jesus Christ as His Son (and that he was well-pleased with him) at the baptism.  Matthew 3.   Two times the Father witnessed that he was well-pleased with Jesus.   There is a scriptural rule in the Bible about two or three witnesses being important to establish truth.  That is why there are two witnesses from the Old World (Bible) and two witnesses from the New World (Book of Mormon, and, Doctrine and Covenants).   {In Deuteronomy 17:6 in fact, a person never received the death penalty by just one witness.}
Some people believe that Moses and Elijah will make other appearances too, in the Last Days (some people think Revelation 11 applies here).   The Jews set an empty seat at the Passover meal dinner table, for Elijah.
D&C 110:11-16  Moses & Elijah appear to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland, Ohio temple, on  Sunday, April 3, 1836.  This was during the Passover season of 1836.
Right now 4/26/2016, it is also during Passover, because the Hebrew calendar is based on the moon and the sun, not just the sun.

Now you know why the LDS church is a missionary church.   We are commanded to spread the gospel among the living, and to facilitate the gospel ordinances (such as covenant-making baptism) for the dead.  As it teaches briefly in the New Testament, they have missionary work going on in the realm of the dead.

Some people may argue that a person was already baptized while they were alive.   Baptism for (not of) the dead is still offered to them, and performed by proxy because a deceased person may not have received all needed teachings associated with their baptism when they were alive (thus making their covenant attached to only a part of needed teachings), OR, they might've fallen away into a life of spiritual laziness or sin, and thus need to renew their covenant with the Lord.

Monday, April 18, 2016

3rd Week In Japan - 1st Area. The Miracle Shower has Begun...

I am actually happy even though the language is challenging and missionary days are a lot of work.   This is a great time of my life!

Yes, there were several bad earthquakes in the southern part of Japan this past week, it's so sad.   Inquiring minds want to know:  Did I feel the earthquakes?  ---No, I was too far away.  We had a zone conference call that talked about earthquake precautions and our zone leaders talked us through our emergency kits.  Some of the food in our kits is expired, so we will buy more.. but we have plenty of water. They asked us regularly to practice earthquake drills. Sister Riggs and I talked about where we would run to safety around the apartment like if we were showering, sleeping, studying.. I haven't experienced an earthquake yet but I guess they are most common during spring and fall.  Thank you and others for your concern! 

In Japan here, the church wards are like family. Everyone takes care of each other.  I've only seen this ward so far, so I can't say for all wards, but they tend to be really involved in missionary work.  All the kids love missionaries and know the mission president.  We work a lot with the members and try to get them to come with us to lessons.  I've been trying to write down names and something about the person I've met.  Those are good ideas, to not just pass time with people, but get to know them, and then help investigators and members get to know each other too.  There are almost 200 members in the Okegawa ward though so I have a lot to memorize, but I'm getting there.  Last night, we ate at the N________ family's house.  They have a wonderful family with several children!   All meals I've had with members (except for one) have been absolutely delicious!  I played some guitar for them, they had a guitar.  Since coming on my mission, I've been using my talents often.  I've been drawing pictures and singing a lot. It's come back to me fast. 

We have visited members and less-actives from the ward.   I show them my mini photo album and they like looking at the pictures.  We've had 8 meal appointments. This is really rare.  Sister Riggs says that they rarely have meal appointments.  I've heard that the more members like you that the more they want to give to you.  We've been getting a lot of food donations and meals. :).  I am saying this to show that kindness begets kindness.  The social part of missionary work can be powerful.   When people feel loved, and when they feel that others are interested in them, they often will rise to the occasion and do great things.   This is also motivating to myself.  I feel like I want to do more because these people and my mission companion show love to me also.

So my other thoughts are --- What have you learned from a child this week
Mosiah 3:19
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

In order to receive entrance into the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children. A child always looks to his or her parent for guidance, help, and strength. They always seek their love. They jump in the arms of their mother or father.  They are willing to do whatever their parents tell them too. We are God's children. He wants us to depend and rely on him and his son Jesus Christ.

My testimony and confidence in the Lord's work has strengthened this week as Sister Riggs and I have followed the direction of the Spirit.  Many miracles have occurred! There are tender mercies everyday.  We've been able to get hold of more potential investigators and less actives.  We've scheduled appointments; They have opened up to us and we are able to see how we can help them progress.  We have one new investigator, as well!  Her name is L______ and she's from Africa.  She has 3 children.  She is such a sweet lady and has desires to go to church and come closer to God.  Life is hard for her, but she is strong.  Sister Riggs and I think she may be a Kinjin (term for golden investigator, one ready to receive the awesomeness of the gospel).  It was amazing talking to her and feeling the Spirit.  We knew exactly what to tell her to help comfort her.

I'm adjusting better to the missionary life. I've realized that I have been more stressed with the language than I thought, but I know I just need to keep enduring and studying as best as I can. This week I'm going to focus on diligence. I don't want to waste any precious time for God's work.
Until next week!! :D

Parker Shimai

p.s. Here's a city scene picture from Omiya.   "Dorothy says:  Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

Monday, April 11, 2016

2nd week in Japan -- 1st area

Hello Again!

I loved General Conference.  We finished it on Saturday.  Elder Uchtdorf's talk and Elder Holland's talks were the best!!!! They are my favorite!  Elder Eyring's was pretty good too. Elder Holland is my most favorite speaker though. 

"The greatest part about the gospel is that you get credit for trying."

How is missionary work going here so far?  

Well, We were talking to a lady on the train today who is in the religion like Takai or something. They believe everyone is the same level and they worship at Fuji.  She was really sweet, we talked about how we too believe everyone is the same in our religion and we are all children of God.  She was kind of like "oh hmm nice, that's cool." Many people aren't interested, but some are. Mostly everyone here is very nice and will talk to you. It's funny getting rejected to hear about the gospel in Japan compared to other places.  They are considerate and will just say "no thank you, I'm not interested."  They'll give funny excuses when we go housing or streeting asking if they would like to hear about a message of Jesus Christ. The responses of rejection we get are pretty reasonable. They'll say something like, 

It's cold, sorry.
I'm holding my dog.
I have a baby.
It's dark outside.
I don't understand.
I'm in a rush.
I'm inside my house.
I'm Japanese.
I'm Buddhist. .. Us: "Oh great! What's your favorite thing about Buddhism?" *person walks away*
Sorry, I live in Japan.
I don't speak English.

This is literally the worst rejection I could get in Japan.. So far.  Being a missionary is great!  I've seen so many things and my love for these people keeps growing.  I know I need to be patient with finding investigators, as the Lord is patient with me and my mistake-full self.

Constantly, my companion and I are looking for people to teach who are looking for truth in their life, those who are ready to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some questions we approach people with are like if they're interested in what we have to say or have any interest in hearing more about Jesus Christ, our religion, etc. 

We are going to reach out to youth more. Our mission is a pilot program and are going to start teaching a tutoring English class.  In order to get into high school, students have to take an English conversation and interactive test (Eiken). Our mission president believes this will really build the church up, it will keep the church alive, since there are many older people here in Japan.

Kodomo eikawa. English class for kids. They're so cute!! Today was my first. It was hard to take a picture with all of them.
Asian people were originally Christian I believe. Japanese and Koreans both incorporate Chinese characters in their writing. The kanji appeared about 4000BC or something?  Many of their characters point to the Laws of Moses and Jesus Christ and prophesies. 禁じる (kinjiru) is the verb to prohibit. If you see these two symbols 木, this means Ki or tree, but can also represent a person ( 2 people). 示す (shimesu) means to show.  Both of these kanji (示 and 木) make this 禁.. This meaning relates to God and Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph Smith in a forest, revealing and showing to him the truth, prohibiting him to join none of the other churches, as a marvelous work was about to come forth.

We had a busy day today. There was some visiting members on Sunday, a family of Americans, who we spent the day with today.  We were riding the train for a while and we tried on kimonos!

We did a lot of sightseeing today! Lots of walking and I tried Japanese ramen today, hand-made noodles.  Still can't believe how delicious the food is here and simple!  So the food isn't too expensive, it's only some fresh foods that are overpriced, we make curry often, and it has apples, eggplants, radish, potato, sweet potato, something green I think, onions, and meat. The fruit is kind of expensive but we just buy the apples in bulk and the bananas aren't too expensive. We ate strawberries and melon at a members house.  I asked my companion if we could ask some people with home gardens to buy food from them and she says we could probably do that.  Maybe we could find a farmers market too! That would be cool. They have really good candy here, too.  Ha,ha, there's this chocolate called Black thunder. It's like a Twix, Kit Kat, and a chocolate biscuit in one.

So they eat a lot of raw eggs here and they are orange. You can actually eat Japanese raw eggs and not get sick. I eat it with Nato (fermented beans). It's super healthy. And these eggs taste soooo good. It's like there's melted cheese inside of them.

Here's another picture of something we saw on our P-Day outing to Kawagoiya.  [I'm not sure what it is, but it looks interesting.]

Love, Parker Shimai

For those who love music - 2nd week in Japan

Kirsten:  "There's this amazing song from the Japanese hymn book that we don't have in English. It's called, 'Waiting for the Reapers.'  During WWII, all missionaries were taken out of Japan, and the members wrote this song I believe."   [Since this song was found previous to WWII, I think what occurred was that the Japanese church members translated the song and adapted it to their hymn book.]

from books.google.com

Latter-Day Saints' Sunday School Hymn Book: The Word Companion of the Deseret Sunday School Song Book,

5th Edition, 1903.

No. 21 (page 30)  
                 VERSE 1
Waiting for the reapers' sickles,
Waves the whitened harvest field;
Harbingers of love and mercy,
Forward go and bind the sheaves.
Go, ye lab'rers, bold with courage,        [laborers]
Reap the golden-headed grain --
Ripened fields all waiting, waiting,
Since the Son of God was slain.

Seize the torch, the torch, and wave it;
Zion's heralds loud proclaim;
Hallelujah! swell the chorus,
Jesus Christ our Lord shall reign.

                  VERSE 2
Waiting for the morrow's dawning,
Work ye while 'tis called today,
Lo, the harvest time now coming,
Jesus calls, make no delay.
Gather in the spacious garner
Seed-time harvest ushers in;
Wake the song, millennial glory
Dawns upon a world of sin.

(Sorry I couldn't get the hymn in any bigger)

(K-Mom here:  I looked for this song on You Tube and couldn't find it.   If anybody hears a "calling" and can find this hymn on You Tube, or even better, perform it in English or Japanese, and upload it, I'd love it!  I can fax it full size /the Japanese version/ since I have a paper copy.   Just email me at the email from which you get your weekly letter from me.)

Monday, April 4, 2016

First Week in Japan -- First Area in Japan

Sister Parker & Sister Riggs in front of a Shinto gate (the red structure) ("torii" in Japanese)

Hello Everybody!

So I am here in my new area, Okegawa, Japan, with my new companion, Sister Riggs!!!   Sister Riggs is from Idaho, She's so humble and has that mission fire.   As you see, I also got a new name tag which is the same as before, except it is 100% in Japanese now.

 Okegawa is about 27 miles northwest of Tokyo.    There are about 75,000 inhabitants occupying about 10 square miles.  It is in the Saitama Prefecture.   A prefecture is a local governmental area and roughly corresponds to what we think of as, a county.   Each one of those prefectures is then in a bigger region.  In the map below, there are 9 regions.  Think of a region as a little bit like a state, but the region is just a geographical area, not a political area.   The prefecture I am in, is in the light green region of the map just below:

A torii (the Shinto gate behind me in the picture at the top) is considered  a passage from the profane, to the sacred.  On a map, it marks the places where there is a Shinto shrine, or sometimes a Buddhist temple, or even a marker for a dedicatory spot of gratitude and offerings for good fortune received (such as a business man saying "thank you" to diety, "Inari Okami").  

There is a meaning though to these gates to those who possess a Christian - Hebrew understanding of very ancient Japanese cultural things:   "All Shinto shrines have a red gate before you enter.   This is the symbol of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.   When the Angel of Destruction came in the night in Egypt to take the life of the firstborn son of each family, it did not enter the homes that had lamb's blood on the door frames.   This is the same symbol.   There are many symbols in temples and traditions that Japanese people follow that resemble Jesus Christ's teachings!"  (Exodus 11 and 12)

For those who are interested, you can read up more on the Japanese - Israelite ancient connection:
http://www2.biglobe.ne.jp/~remnant/isracame.htm      There are probably other articles too.  This is just one.

As for my trip, it was really long, going on very little sleep the night before at the MTC (I went to bed at midnight and got up just before 3am).  Gratefully, they fed me good airplane food! There were snacks, dinner and breakfast,  I liked it.  Complimentary pillows and blanket, earphones, and a sleeping mask.  I couldn't see the ocean though, I was in a middle row far away from the windows. It was a nice flight,  I talked to some people about the church.  However, the last part of the plane ride (the landing) made me feel kind of sick.  For the next few days I felt a little bit nauseous, but I slept really well at night and still do.  I go out like a light.  The futon beds are really comfortable and everyone is so nice!   As we were driving from the airport, everything was like a dream, there's nature everywhere and it's beauuuuuutifuuuuuullllll. So beautiful!  And the buildings are like from a cartoon.  Since I was sleepy and a little nauseous, it felt like a dream kind of, haha.  It didn't feel like I left Utah yet though.  I slept at the Nagano's house with Sister Burke.   The Naganos fed us really yummy food and the next day we got our iPads and our new companion.  We took the train, got off a few trains and walked to Okegawa,  I think this place has the biggest ward in Tokyo mission (over 200 members).  I haven't been on a bus yet.

My companion, Sister Riggs, is so caring and considerate.  She's been slowly introducing Japanese food to me and so far I love it all!  She cooks simply, but it's really tasty. We ate at a members house for the first time yesterday and it was delicious!  We sit on the floor in people's homes.   Some people have said that my Japanese is good.  I don't know... maybe they are just being nice. 

Here's a funny video about my trying Natto for the first time.  

"Nattō (なっとう or 納豆 ?) is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans, fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto.  Some eat it as a breakfast food. It is served with soy sauce, karashi mustard and welsh onion.  Nattō may be an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture."  (from Wikipedia)

I haven't done a lot of proselyting because transfer week is kind of crazy. I got my bike and stuff and it's nice. It was raining a little today. The weather was perfect when I got here. 

Here are a couple more photos: