This week I hit my 100 days in Japan! I honestly can't believe I made it this far - I always expect President Nagano to call me and say "just kidding, you didn't make the cut and you are going home", and I have dreams about returning home early again all the time. (There is not a current reason why this would happen, it is just my subconscious) Sister Nagano has a saying that the first 90 days are the hardest part of the mission - but I like to think that the hardest part of my mission was before my mission. I am so grateful for every day I am here though.
This week we saw so many miracles! Coming home from Zone Conference, we had conversations with 5 people on the train, gave out pamplets to all of them and for 3 of them, got their contact information. Unfortunately none of them live in our area, but it was so amazing!!! Even though I was really tired, it was so much fun. I find so much joy in the work when I open my mouth.
We met this girl, Ai, at a Free English Challenge and offered to help her with TOIEC (an English test). After helping her on Saturday, we shared a short spiritual message and then a prayer. After we prayed, she said that she had a question about Christianity (and basically wants to learn more!) We gave her a Book of Mormon and explained that since our number one purpose is to teach about Christ, we would be happy to help her!! We are so excited :)
At Mission School this week we had an English Cafe which was fun. I took carboard boxes and covered them with newspaper I "stole" from Seria, and made tables for people's drinks and stuff. (English Café is just snacks and just English conversation) It was so much fun.
We also went over to Tanisha's house (a member from Canada who moved here a month ago) to bake banana bread. Her house was almost like a hostle and her mom was visiting so we had a party. We gave some of the bread to her neighbors because they had never had it before! That night we had to bike home fast - a normal 25 minute bike ride in less than 10 minutes. Things like that just make you feel like a missionary.
- job finding is a THING. Apparently, all the companies open up their full-time hiring between the months of February to Julyish. If you want a full-time job, you have to go to all these companies between that time and hand in resumes, do interviews, etc. and get dressed up in this very specific way (women = white collared shirt, black v-neck suit jacket and pencil skirt and slicked back hair). The companies may or may not give you an offer, and it is ONLY avaliable between those months. If you don't get something, you can't have a full-time job that year, only part time. It is INTENSE.
- there is no grass here - not even really at parks. They have bushes and trees and flowes but no grass
- you generally don't get napkins with meals or have napkins in general. Most everyone keeps tissues in their bags anyway, and Japanese people are very cleanly most of the time. If there is anything you need to eat with your hands (handburger, nan, etc.) they give you a moist towelette to wipe your hands prior. And with handburgers, they give you a really big wax paper to eat with in order to keep your hands clean.
My language is coming slowly but surely. Kema Shimai says it's going to get way good because I have no fear about trying and opening my mouth (but she is also super nice so I filter all the things she says about me). I learn most of the language from the streets (aka the train) just talking to people. It is not a Japanese thing at all to talk on the train to people you don't know - but I'm not Japanese, I'm a missionary, and it's IMPORTANT. I still don't understand a lot though - but just smile and nod :)
One thing this week we have been learning is wanting to be obedient. Obedience to Heavenly Father's commandments only changes our nature if we want to be obedient, we need to have a willing heart. I think about it like being healthy. There are two ways to be healthy: as a diet or as a lifestyle. They both do the same things, but one hates it and resents it while the other doesn't. They both become healthy, but the one who lives it with their heart is so much more happier. That is how I want to live the gospel! Not by fighting the commandments and doing it because I have to, but because I want to. When I have done that, I have felt so much more joy.
Thank you all so much for your love and prayers! I love hearing from you!- Atkinson Shimai
Pictures- me and Kema Shimai- zone conference- the elders and us eating sushi- me at a fake food shop- Tanisha and her mom- ME AND ELDER ATKINSON that didn't send from last week- me and sister Bede on exchanges- elders and us at district lunch at our favorite curry place- sister kema and I celebrating my 100 days with 100 shaped donuts from our favorite bakery
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