Monday, May 30, 2016

9th Week in Japan -- 1st Area; Overcoming fear

As a missionary, I'm trying my best to overcome my weaknesses and putting everything on the altar (fears, or anything slowing me down from being an instrument in the Lord's hands).  I'm striving daily to be obedient and work hard, but not overwork.  Obedience is about saying, Not my will Lord, but Yours, be done.  I'm running everyday and working out for the full half hour.  I start personal study exactly at 8:00am, so I get the full time allotted for study.  At night, I end prayers by or before 10:30pm so I'm in bed and get the full 8 hours of sleep.  A tired missionary will be less productive and optimistic.  Every thought that I have I'm trying to turn to Jesus Christ and praying always.  I want to be completely clean and pure so that I can see more and more miracles working in myself and in the Japanese people.  

This mission is special.  The people here are special.  I believe by the time I leave my mission or toward the end, baptisms will be more common and the congregational wards will be multiplying and multiplying.  God's work only continues to move forward. (I call it Baptism Boomers. Tokyo mission is the mission of the baptism boomers [like baby boomers in the 1950's... ])   There are many family members here in Japan who need saving. One day Japan will be like Utah (lots of church members).  There are many people in Japan who are sad and hopeless and have no joy in their souls.  It's quite often for people here to not keep in touch with their family.  I'm glad I can email my family every week!   Time goes by so fast for me that it feels almost like I'm writing every other day! 

I can't wait to tell you all the wonderful experiences I have learning from Jesus Christ after my mission!  It's kind of hard to write it all out in one email, haha! 
I know it's a big sacrifice, but everything will be okay, if it doesn't feel like it is now.  God constantly watches over his children and he doesn't forget the faithful ones.  Always look to Heavenly Father, in every action, thought, and deed. When your whole heart sacrifices willingly, whatever the loss is, Heavenly Father gives back 100 fold blessings.   I am grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord.  

One thing I've learned, and am continuing to learn on my mission is that when you put the Lord first, He puts you first.  You find the fastest and most happiest joy in Jesus Christ, in His ways.  You can truly change into a brand new person: Into the potential being that God wants for you.  Small changes of mind, can cause great changes of heart. 

Alma 37:
6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

..These things confound the wise.  Miracles confound the wise.  The simpleness and boldness of what true disciples of Jesus Christ preach and teach confound the wise.  See also Acts 4:10-13

Thank you for sharing your new wisdom of the references between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Is it okay if I send you a talk by President Uchtdorf? It's really good, there's a story in there of two Elders.  I read the talk today.  It also mentioned about Peter and his fear and him overcoming it and becoming one of the most faithful disciples to Jesus Christ.  It's really amazing and very insightful. 

[ This talk, given by President Uchtdorf (2nd Counselor in the church Presidency) in June 2014, to the new mission presidents (so you won't find it in the Ensign archives), is called, "Fear Not, I am With Thee."   If you wish to have a transcript of this talk, please email a request to ].

So, Sister Riggs as I mentioned earlier got a sudden change in assignment and now is in a different location than I.   I have a new companion, Sister B______ who is great-- She's a really good organizer (this is not my forte, so this is helpful to me).

When Sister Riggs left, we wanted to have a district lunch (district of 4 people だけ) so we got ramen and it was SOOOO GOOD!! It has meat and thick noodles and spices and veggies and other delicious Japan goodies.

Here's a picture: 
Ramen lunch with the District

That's it for now.  Sincerely,  Parker, Shimai

Monday, May 23, 2016

8th Week in Japan, 1st Area. The Spirit can fill in the gaps.

When faith, work and endurance is the message,...
James 2: 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

When work is done, the message from Christ is:  Matthew 11: 

28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Hello Everybody!

A New investigator and new potential investigator this week!! WOOOHOOOOOOO!!!! Obedience to the Lord is paying off :D

It is true what you mentioned about Japan.  Often Japanese people may say "Ah Bukyō."  Which means I'm Buddhist.  I could ask them what their favorite teaching is and they wouldn't know, they just claim the religion because their parents were that.  Sister Riggs got that often.  I felt impressed to go back and stop this mom that we biked past and she wasn't interested.  I had a thought pop in my head that was something like, "Sometimes you follow the Spirit and get rejected to get the right timing to meet the right person."  The next lady we stopped was interested in our message. We exchanged numbers and have talked on the phone! :)
That's a good idea about the index card with a scripture or positive thought written on it!  I do hand out chirashi [flyers] to people that aren't interested if they'll take it. I don't have as much email time today. We had other stuff to do like with an investigator and grocery shopping.  My comp is waiting for me.  I'll try to email more next week I'm so sorry!!!

This week has been great, but a bit different.   Since I've become area Senpai [Senior, a position of more responsibility], my Japanese is already noticeably improving and I can understand a bit better.  I was worried before about doing things right, but Sister Nagano [The Mission President's wife] called at the beginning of the week and comforted me.  Sometimes, I feel like I have the memory of a goldfish [probably due to having to remember so much right now, brain overload].  I give about 80% credit of my memory to the Spirit.  The Spirit has really lead Sister B______ [new companion] and me where we needed to go.

Even though I got lost sometimes [the Japanese address system can be a challenge], the timing of finding people was perfect. We were going to a member's house to give a gift to a young woman and I couldn't remember what apartment it was they lived in.  We walked a little further by the doors and there was the member we needed to talk to outside!  She just got home and her daughter was home.

We also were going to visit our investigator, and again, I couldn't remember the apartment number.  I was checking doors and double-checking and I couldn't remember where she lived.  But then we saw her on her bike.  She just arrived home and we were able to talk to her and invite her to read her scriptures!

We have a list of less-actives that we want to visit.  None of them were home this week.  We dropped a birthday card off at a less-active's house, I___ Shimai [Sister I____].   After we left, there was a lady I felt we needed to talk to that we passed.  She wasn't interested in our message. I remember thinking as we were turning around on our bikes to go speak to that lady, "sometimes the Spirit tells us to speak to people, even when they aren't interested in our message, so we can have the right timing to meet the next person who God has prepared."  The next lady we talked to spoke English. Her name is S______! She goes to a Japanese Christian church and was interested in our message. We exchanged phone numbers and will be meeting soon!! 

Take care,   Parker Shimai

Sent from my iPad

A thank you to Google translate:   It's a handy tool when you need it!

Here's a webpage with some typical gospel vocabulary words in Japanese:    It also has audio.

The most important gospel word in Japanese, is, Jesus Christ  [ Iesu Kirisuto ], because he is our Savior [ Sukuinushi ]

Cultural note:  Parking lots in Japan, filled with bicycles too, not just cars

Mt. Fuji, image from a Google search

Monday, May 16, 2016

7th week in Japan -- 1st area; Earthquake status

From Kirsten's mom:  For those of you who might be wondering, Kirsten is fine, as are all the other missionaries.  I was so busy today, I didn't read the news, and didn't even know about the earthquake until I got the email from the Japan Tokyo mission office (gosh, I love those people for keeping the parents informed!)

There was a 5.6 earthquake last night (Japan local time), felt in the southern Ibaraki Prefecture, and the Tokyo, and Saitama Prefectures (Kirsten is in the Prefecture [county] of Saitama).   From what I understand, there was a lot of swaying going on; some people reported things coming off shelves, furniture moving, some elevators stopped, and the Metro stopped; some nuclear plants were shut down or checked as a precaution.  There continue to be smaller aftershocks in the 4 range.   In the picture below, the bigger earthquake (5.6 mag) is the orange ring (and Okegawa is in the orange ring)  The yellow and light green circles are more recent quakes (smaller magnitude also) and Okegawa is possibly *not* in those rings, or maybe on the very outer edge.

HOWEVER, one detail I forgot about momentarily:  I don't know where Kirsten was at the time.   There was an emergency transfer yesterday, in the evening, and Kirsten traveled into Tokyo I believe, probably on the Metro, because her companion Sister Riggs, got transferred in order to accomodate a sick missionary sister that had to be moved to a location closer to medical help. Sister Riggs also got a change of assignment along with her new location, in that she is now a Sister Trainer over several areas of the mission.   Kirsten returned to Okegawa and will be a senior type companion while her new companion Sister B_____ gets familiar with the Okegawa area. 

The earthquake occurred at 5/16/2016  9:23pm local time.   I am trying to imagine Kirsten's response.  I don't know if she has ever really felt an earthquake before, unless it was a very very slight rolling.
She probably felt some panic at first.  When the earth first starts shaking, one wonders for a moment how strong the shaking will get as the seconds tick.   I hope she isn't in a big earthquake like the one that happened in Southern Japan last month.   I guess we'll hear next week a lot more about the transfer and the ground moving.

We are studying Japanese earthquakes a bit, and have found out that Japan uses an early earthquake warning system (gives a few seconds, maybe a minute warning, depending on how close a person is to the epicenter.  Japan has lots of seismic monitoring stations.   Casualties have gone down with the warning system in place.   Also most of the earthquakes are on the coast, or off-coast, or at islands.   Being inland will possibly lessen some of the risk.   

If you want to hear the warning chime (for the earthquake warning system), go to:    
The site is in Japanese, but look on the page *currently in the lower right side of the page* for the thick bright green bar with the audio symbol on it.  Click that, and it will play the earthquake warning chime.

Signing off, K-Mom

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

6th Week in Japan -- 1st Area; Pondering Honor

Sister Kirsten Parker with Sister Riggs, visiting an elderly beautiful Japanese woman

This part is written by Kirsten's Mom:   Sorry readers for my delay in getting this next post out.  I was really exhausted and I didn't think I had much subject matter from her this week (it was mostly personal communication, along with 3 pictures).   In re-reading the personal letter, I found some inspiration with which to write:  Honor.  In May and June in the United States, we have several holidays which honor our foundations in life:  Our parents (Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day) and also Memorial Day, which used to be called Decoration Day (decorating the graves)--1st time was in May 1868 to commemorate the fallen dead from the US Civil War, which now we have as a day to remember all our dead, both from family, friends, and military dead.

Kirsten gave me several sentences of thanks for being her mother.   Then she shared this quote:  As Jeffrey R Holland said in October 2015 General Conference, "No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child...
This kind of resolute love “suffereth long, and is kind, … seeketh not her own, … but … beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Most encouraging of all, such fidelity “never faileth.” “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,” Jehovah said, “but my kindness shall not depart from thee.” So too say our mothers."

Similarly, fathers are very important to the well-being of families.   I would reiterate that righteous fathers are very important too.   Studies have been done about the effect of having both mother and father in the home, and that each parent contributes something which the other parent cannot do equally.   It is unfortunate that in many societies, the role of good parents, male and female, is being torn to shreds.  Anything else is not the exact replacement of a good mother and good father in the home.  

Now, some people may argue, "but my mother or father was..." gone, or mean, or distant (emotionally unavailable or unconcerned).  I recognize that not everybody grew up with this ideal model in their home.  However, there is still room to be grateful.  Our mothers and fathers gave us life.  Life is an opportunity to learn from experience to choose good over evil.  It is the opportunity to gain wisdom and develop our talents, and then assist others in their walk through life.   Our parents minimally, probably changed our diapers, fed us, clothed us, or had us go to school.  They taught us to not touch fire, or reminded us to be home by dark.  If nothing else, maybe we got good genes from them:  strong legs, hard-working hands, a quick intellect, witty humor, some other talent, or if lucky, a nice-looking face.  Sometimes, parental words of warning and restraint, came from their experiences, as they have become judges of character, and could and can sniff trouble coming a mile away.   Young people should not be defiant, but grateful for instruction.   Young adults should not be defiant either, thinking, "I'm over 18 I can do what I want!"  This is a teaching of the devil, because such a rebellious attitude leads to a spirit that cannot discern or does not care when they are falling into sin.  [Wicked] Adults are the perpetrators of the worst things in this world, not children {okay, there are some wicked children now, but you know what I mean by this}.  
Our ancestors may have given us a great legacy, or they may have simply endured a difficult life so that we could be here at this time.  We can take inspiration from their ability to endure, when we pass through our own trials.

Just as we honor our parents and ancestors for what they contributed to us, we should also honor our Heavenly Father, and our Lord:

Hebrews 12: 
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 

The apostle Paul from the New Testament had knowledge that in the last days before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, that society would fall apart and people would fail to care about true law, would hate being told what to do, and would discard and destroy good values.

2 Timothy 3:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [boy, isn't this prevalent right now, labeling good people with proper values as "hateful"]
 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: 
from such turn away   [do not embrace their ways].
The apostle Paul then goes on in chapter 3 to explain that lust would drive people to do bad things, and that in spite of their smartness they still would be clueless about what is really true, and that deception of the issues would abound, and that one day, the folly (in colloquial language = foolishness or stupidity) of their choices that they thrust onto society would be known by everybody.
The following passage is similar to 2 Timothy 3 about what would be the predicament [in these last days]:
2 Corinthians 6:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Another observance in the May - June time frame, is honoring the laws given by God, called Shavuot by the Jews.  49-50 days after the first Passover in the Spring, the Hebrews received the 10 Commandments (etc). at Mount Sinai. This was the Old Covenant. Originally, all were invited to go up the Mount to see God [Too scared of dying in God's presence, they just sent Moses to the mountain top.  Moses later lamented that he wanted everybody to be prophets with the Spirit.  Numbers 11:29].      The New Covenantal promise of Christ that he would send the Comforter (the gift of the Holy Spirit) was given to the ancient Saints on Pentecost (Acts 2), which coincided with Shavuot.   The Holy Ghost fell upon many people, and about 3000 were converted to the Lord on that day, and baptized.  Easter is actually supposed to coincide with Passover week.  If it did, Pentecost would always be on the same date as Shavuot.   
Please take this time to remember gratefulness for that which your parents and ancestors have done for you.   Remember your Heavenly Father everyday, and every Sabbath Day, remember to keep it holy.

Kirsten also sent this picture.  I am not sure if this was food served at a home.   It looks yummy, but trust me, it's got a list of ingredients which for a American (or at least me) could be an acquired taste.

She also mentioned that she finally got to visit the home of the bishop, by appointment {for those of you who don't know what this means, it is the leader of the local church congregation}.   The Japanese people can be exceptionally busy due to long work or school schedules.   Working with the church leadership and membership is crucial to doing effective missionary work, because fellowship is the glue that brings people together.

Signing off, K-Mom

Monday, May 2, 2016

5th Week in Japan -- 1st Area. Recap on Shibuya, and this week's mission work

This picture was taken at Shibuya when I was in Tokyo last week. 

 [For those of you who haven't heard of Shibuya before, it is a special {geographical} ward of Tokyo, like a suburb.  Some of the things which Shibuya is known for are its very large and busy railway station, a fashion district, nightlife scene, and also it has Information Technology businesses.].

Just a thought:  In this picture, we are surrounded by very busy people, in a hurry to get somewhere.   Many of them look not-so-happy, worried, or maybe tired.  One of the beauties of the Sabbath is that people slow down for one day and rest, and contemplate the things that are most important in our eternal destiny.

Enough of Shibuya.   

Now, sometimes it's hard to remember everything that happened, but this past week, we have 3 progressing investigators, and 4 other investigators.  Every Thursday evening, we do weekly planning (as the manual Preach My Gospel  says on pages 147-150).  Last night we ate at a member's house with an additional member family.  I keep practicing my Japanese with them.  We have a lot of appointments with members, especially meal appointments compared to most.  This week I think we have 4 or 5 planned.  They like to feed us!  Some know English too, so it makes it a bit easier to communicate.  Everyone knows about Ghibli Films.  In the South Tokyo mission, there's a Ghibli museum.  A member gave me a Kiki toy (from Kiki's Delivery Service) and a little Totoro spirit toy (the yellow one).  I remember when I was really young, I watched Kiki's Delivery Service a bunch of times, I believe I was like 6?  And of course, since then, I have seen other Ghibli family films [For those of you not familiar, Studio Ghibli in Japan, via director Hayao Miyazaki, made some family-friendly animated films].  Heavenly Father has been preparing me for Japan all my life, in so many ways.   These films were just one way in which my preparation began, and they were my first introduction to the beauty of Japanese culture.  I've been drawing more recently too, for teaching purposes or on like birthday cards.  It makes me want to become better.

Someone told me, I think an apostle said this, but the first thing the members think about you (first impression) is not how well you can speak the language or how well you get along with your companion, but how happy you are.  So I try to smile all the time.  I think it helps a lot!  

Until later,  Parker Shimai