I'm off to serve an LDS mission in Kobe, Japan from June 2015 to December 2016. My mom will be keeping this blog updated with my latest letters, photos, adventures, etc.! Also I would LOVE to hear from everyone - katya.wagstaff@myldsmail.net

Thursday, June 25, 2015


This morning was the beginning of the Mission President Seminar- SO. COOL. 7 of the apostles were there- Bednar (conducted) Nelson (presided) Holland, Oaks, Anderson, Cook, can't remember the other one. Personally I only saw Elder Holland (wow, what a sentence...). So powerful! We sang a missionary medley, Armies of Helaman makes me cry every time, the others just make me really excited! Also my sad morning - food currently in the gym...always cold and only 1 option. Poor us. Anyways the line was super long and we wouldn't get to choir on time, so we went back to the vending machine. Bought a poptart and it got stuck. SO SAD. But there was junk food in our room, so that was breakfast. So worth it though, to sing in there!

Tomorrow we're singing "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer", Saturday "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" and Sunday "I Know that My Redeemer Lives". BEAUTIFUL arrangements- all of them are a little different than the hymns and for the better!

This week, Fonua Shimai was sick again on Friday, but the day was MUCH better for me- wasn't frustrated, caught a little nap...accidentally. Studied Nihongo! got to go to dinner and after dinner she was awake and we just talked, showed each other pictures we had, it was really great! also guess what - she and her family love Bride and Prejudice too!!!!! We quoted that for a while :)

I love our zone's Saturday nights because the STLs do interviews (love them) and we watch a Mormon Message- so many tears. We also watched MoTab "Come, Come Ye Saints" my goodness I've never cried over the MoTab like that! So many lyrics take on a new meaning, significance here. Speaking of which, thanks for sending the new SinZ lyrics! Plus that was really cool about author from a women's pull- powerful. I'm still overcoming selfishness and frustration (let's be honest, it'll take a while) I had to wait until Monday to pick up the nail polish remover package- my goodness patience. I love getting mail! It's exciting! But don't worry- you don't need to go crazy :) 

I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa Wagstaff will love this- one of my teachers, Sheehan Kyodai is related! He came in and said Wagstaff Shimai? Kazoku (family)! Then explained in Aigo- English that he's related to Samuel Wagstaff and had been working on family history and read his journal at BYU. 

On Sunday, there was Terry Salad at lunch and dinner!! That was a tender mercy- yay food like home, AND on Father's Day! Never been so excited about the food here! (Seriously though it's not that bad except for last time when literally we got a piece of chicken and a roll. Um what? There were bananas and lots of dessert. We'll be excited to have our cafeteria back). Also on Sunday, Fonua Shimai and I taught RS in English! The topic was Enduring to the End and it was SUCH a good lesson- all we did was gather scriptures, quotes, stories, etc and guided a big class discussion. Discussions here are great because everyone participates and has good comments.

On Sunday nights we get to watch a movie- we went to Meet the Mormons, so good but too rough to watch at the MTC! That last segment...everyone's crying/bawling, EVERYONE. Too soon, but really good.

On Monday we taught at the TRC (member volunteers)- so fun! We aren't even supposed to pretend they're investigators, we just talk about the gospel in Nihongo. First we had these 2 sisters who were so encouraging! After, they talked a little in English (not allowed, but such a blessing!) They were comps in Tokyo South and loved it! They said they were both pretty new and didn't know the language and it was okay! People are so nice and Igen no tamamono is real! 

Tuesday MTC devo- sang "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer"- same arrangement we'll be singing tomorrow for MP seminar. So powerful! Elder Nash of the 70 spoke- Plan of Salvation- I loved the way he told it! Broke into 3 parts- Act I, Act II, and Act III. We're in Act II- we need to review/ remember Act I (remember who we are, where we came from, etc) and prepare for Act III! I also loved that he said essentially that "Our divine origin is our true identity". 

Did you know GC has a director and producer?! So does the Mission President Seminar- this thing is a BIG deal. They transformed the cafeteria with fake new walls, doors, stage, etc. really cool to see behind the scenes! Special lounge for 12 apostles- plus a makeup table- did you know they sometimes wear foundation for the lighting? Crazy. 

Last night we taught a lesson that was a little rough, but really good practice for Japan. Our sensai talked to us after and said it's common to Japan: their image of the Christian god is scary- they're taught in history about the crusades and then if you read the OT with that perspective, you can kind of find it- lots of killing. So we have to change their understand, not scary! Loving! Eternally loving! 

I finally have Hiragana down- that's the alphabet in the hymnbook, so we kind of sing hymns in Nihongo now! The fast ones are really hard, we don't read that fast, so everything's slow/ mumbled...kind of funny. Working on Katakana right now. Also started reading the BOM again (just finished a couple days ago, then our district set a goal to finish when we leave MTC). Which August still seems like an eternity away, but ah well! We love our new building- 17M is far away but worth it becuase there's more space and the showers are better. Though this morning I found out that some of the showers are shorter than others. Elf.

Love you all so much! Also I wouldn't mind a DearElder.com or two :) We have time to read those- though I do get to print my emails mom! Yay for that!

Love, Wagstaff Shimai

Fonua, ME, Carr, Rees, Smith, Makin, Jesperson, Welte, Hill Choro and Miles Choro

Me and Fonua Shimai- we have fun! We are closest to Carr and Rees Shimai. PS Rees Shimai is from Ashburn, VA! She didn't know the Kotters though :( but understandable, because she didn't actually live there that long. Her dad works for the state dept and she's lived all over the world. Carr Shimai is from CA and is really great! They really wanted us to wear blazers for the Mission Pres Seminar so I'm borrowing from her- so sweet!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday June 18, 2015

MTC week 1
So much to tell! COOLEST NEWS:

I made it into a special MTC choir (40 of us) that are singing for the General Authorities a couple times during the Mission President Seminar. There's beautiful music! The performance I'm most excited for is a special sacrament meeting with the entire 12 and 1st Presidency. Wow. ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPP!!

1st day- Quick goodbye was hard, but I think the easiest/best way! Like mom said, having Catherine there was a HUUUUGE blessing! I see her all over the place- also, Sis Hall is here!! She works at the front desk, and took me to the music library and now Catherine is playing "Savior Redeemer of my Soul" with me and we'll perform that in a couple weeks! They process us through super fast, there was no time to sit down! Pick up stuff, drop off stuff, go to classroom and BAM! Japanese- actually Nihongo.

I LOVE the branch presidency! They are just like the one at my student ward, all older and so nice- Pres Stevenson, Adamson and Liddiards (cool thing is Bro Liddiard is a retired Hollywood makeup artist, good friends with Robert Redford and lives above Sundance. Like what???) The wives come to our rooms a couple times a week and check on us and give everyone a goodnight hug- it's really sweet. You can tell they're all worried.

The teachers speak Japanese (duh) and there's a lot of charades going on currently or "English"o ! Branch president called this a stress environment- amp the stress in order to grow. Growth zone isn't comfortable as he puts it.

Day 3- taught for the first time in Nihongo. Lesson was only 5 minutes...we were given 30, but I doubt we know 30 minutes worth! Teaching is fine, I'm not a fan of prepping lessons so much- definitely learning to rely more on the Spirit. But still no career in education for me!

Day 4- THANK YOU FOR THE NOTE MOM! So grateful to receive mail. P.S. Check out dearelder.com they send mail for free! Also tonight we watched "Will of God" (currant bush) and that was sooo what I needed! Japanese was getting frustrating but that reminded me WHY I'm doing this- I'm learning in order to teach the Japanese people! They deserve to hear the gospel in their own tongue- about a million scriptures quoted here that go with that!

Day 5- I made it to Sunday!!!! Can you look up new sister missionary lyrics for "Sisters in Zion" by Janice Kapp Perry- BEAUTIFUL. Again love the branch presidency- so caring and trustworthy! We went on a Sunday walk to the temple- FREEDOM! Really it's just a bunch of missionaries taking pictures in front of the temple, but fun! I've seen quite a few kids from Springville and the U- it's always nice to see a familiar face! The big choir is also really fun! It sounds good, but their focus is really to relax us- they tell the background stories of every song, writers, etc. This week was Jesus Once of Humble Birth, so they talked about Parley P Pratt.

LOOK UP "Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar given at the MTC on Christmas years ago- that talk Changed my life- WOW! It was a lot about being selfless, using the Atonement. He calls the natural man "Cookie Monster" - me want cookie now! Me want baptism now!

Tuesday Devo- Elder Evans served in JAPAN!!! He spoke about work and obedience (shocker :) ) His wife spoke about being an ASTONISHING missionary! (Cue Sutton Foster) Sis Evans brought grandsons (10 and 11 yrs old) to see all the missionaries- so cute! I saw little Drew-boo up there (to Drew: sorry, you're not that little, but I'll always think you are, love you!) Grow up to be like Hill Choro (Elder), my district leader. Only 18 but the most wise and mature 18 yr old I've ever met! 

Day 8- Choir met this morning- it'll be so good!! My fav so far is a primary missionary medley- tears when the MTC changes the words to Armies of Helaman: We are NOW the Lord's missionaries! Also reading 2 Ne 31 - there's so much in there! Love it! The rest of the day was really frustrating. Fonua Shimai, my companion (who is so nice and we get along really well!) is sick and so I had to stay in the room with her all day while she slept. The good thing was I had a great, quiet scripture study in the morning. We got to go and eat lunch, but then she threw up (PRAY I DON"T GET SICK) so for the rest of the night we couldn't leave the room, she slept and I tried to study and they brought me dinner - a vegetarian wrap. that was pretty disappointing. Plus I had to miss class, that was really hard. But I have the nicest district ever! They took my camera and just took silly photos of everyone to cheer us up- it was really sweet!


Aishiteimasu!! (I love you!)
Love, Wagstaff Shimai

2nd email
Hopefully this system works! 

They let us print all of your emails, and read them and it doesn't count as our 1 hr! So I did that this morning and read during laundry and now I'll try and reply as much as possible! 

Nihongo does a lot of inferring, so once you say the subject, you never have to use it again. Therefore aishieimasu works for I love you, we love you, etc. Love. The simplicity makes at least that part easier! Pronunciation is easy- each vowel only 1 possible sound.

Random info: TONS of Japanese missionaries! Obviously not as much as English/ Spanish, but still a lot! Still don't know a specific reason why, just that the work's moving forward! My district is 10 people and only 1 set of elders! Catherine told me she heard (and I totally believe it!) that as of last week, there are twice as many sisters and elders at the MTC. It'll even out a little more as the summer goes on, but still! My zone is approx 36 people. There are 6 zones/branches (same thing) going to Japan! We're a little mixed up as far as what missions we're going to- mine is mostly Kobe, one companionship - doryos, going to Fukuoka. 

Lots of love! Feeling really rushed- hopefully I"ll figure out this email thing a little better soon

3rd email
Wasn't sure how much time I'd have, but I think I'm doing pretty good!

Homesickness really isn't too bad- they're constantly checking on us. You can tell they're amped up checking in and letting us know it's normal since more missionaries have been going home. No offense, I just didn't think I'd have homesickness at all since I've never really had it. First day was completely fine- it was so rushed, there was no time! Cried the next 2 nights, but tomorrow's always better! It mostly hits when Japanese seems impossible and lessons aren't coming together, but I'm learning to get over that. 

The day that I had to just sit in the room really sucked. Really bad. IT was really frustrating to miss class and feel like I wasn't doing much. But again, tomorrow's always better! I printed all my emails to read- haven't finished them yet, but love them! The updates and advice especially!

In some ways it kind of feels like college here- dorms (which PS they moved us to a new one today! Didn't like moving but it's a renovated one that's built for 6 sisters not 4- yay!! and new bathrooms YAYYYY!!! More showers!) Cleaning the bathrooms is gross- I don't think I'll ever leave hair in the sink again.

I love all of the study time we have- I'm almost finished with the Mormonsho again (SYL dad, they still love it). We teach almost every day, which really makes studying and understanding different. The Igen no tamamono (gift of tongues) shows itself in many different ways. Not always super miraculous events, but just the fact that Nihongo makes sense and that even though we play charades and give basic words, our "investigator" Koki San understands us! We ask "Wakarimaska" a lot- Do you understand? and Say Wakarimasen- I don't understand, a lot! 

I actually like gym time! There's a couple sisters I work out with from my district who run for a little bit, and do circuit training- arms, core, legs- I've thrown in some ballet! Though one of the gym rules is no dancing. I get it, but also it's a little discriminatory- I mean people who love sports get to play sports! Okay, complaints over. Quickly learning that positive attitude really does make all the difference!

I'm grateful that you prepared me so well to be here- you have to know things before you get here! I think the MTC is more about fine-tuning skills/knowledge/etc than creating them. Like Sam told me, this place is a firehose! And 9 weeks seems like eternity, and sometimes it still doesn't feel real- like when I'm done here I'll go home, but then I remember I'll be going to Japan. Weird. 

Also sadly- I don't think they do culture classes anymore! Not sure though, only week 1, but we need all the language we can get! So many books, so much to learn! Though we learned to pray on our 2nd day! That's really special- I'm trying to say all of my prayers in Nihongo and it's not as scary (the language) as I thought it might be. One day at a time!

Love, Katya

Katya with her district.  I wonder how the Elders feel about being with 8 sisters.

Katya with her companion Fonua Shimei

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12--short update

P-day is on Thursday, but we have to wait til next week...
Everything's good. Japanese is hard and frustrated...c'est la vie.
This is to say I'm alive, well, happy here. We had gym time this morning- yay! Loved it- did circuit training with other sisters
Companion Funoa Shemai (Tongan) and I love her! Getting along pretty well. Sadly I have the top bunk- cry for me
But it's all good, your baby's off and saving China...Japan

LOVE, Katya...Wagstaff Shemai

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Katya's mission begins

On Tuesday night Katya was set apart by President Rapier.  He gave her some great advice.  Life is often about beginnings and endings.  Be so involved in the work that you are not concerned about either.  Be obedient and be known as the hardest working missionary in the mission.  As parents one of our greatest concerns was about the language.  We both know it's hard to learn a new language, and Japanese would be especially difficult.  Her blessing addressed this issue.  Now we keep reminding her to work hard, so that her blessing can be fulfilled!

I wasn't too much of an emotional basket case until President Rapier gave me a hug and told me I'd be OK.  That really turned on the water works!  We said our family goodbyes that night.  I don't think it had really hit Tasha and Drew until that moment.  We all needed some tissues after.

At the stake presidencies' office Tues. June 9

She's packed and ready to go!
We had a nice late breakfast on Wednesday morning and Andy gave Katya a father's blessing. Miraculously Katya got everything packed, but one of her larger bags is probably already overweight. We'll see if she can shift things around before she flies out in August.

We had to drive to American Fork to drop off Drew at band camp.  Then we drove to Provo for the big moment.  As soon as we pulled toward the MTC I started crying.  We knew that this was going to be a busy day; I think we heard about 600 missionaries were going to be dropped off.  A man at the gate asked if we had a sister or elder, then we were directed to cone 19.  As we drove by the main building Katya saw her roommate Catherine from the U.  She was one of the host missionaries that was helping.  Catherine had entered a couple of weeks before to serve a mission in the Philippines.
Katya and Catherine at the MTC

Katya yelled to Catherine and she came running down the line to help Katya.  What a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father!  Katya wasn't really too worried after that.  Andy was getting the luggage out, and we were already reminded to hurry it up. We gave her a quick hug. and it was done. Thankfully it was a short process.  Both of us were crying as we left.

We had been told by a sister in our ward, who used to work at the MTC but is now preparing to serve at the Mormon Battalion Visitor's Center in San Diego, that 9 other sisters from her mission would be entering with Katya and that 40 total would be Japanese speaking.  We'll be anxious to hear from her.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Thank you so much for all of the support and love ya'll gave me this last Sunday at my farewell - seriously I really appreciate every single one of you (even if you couldn't make it). I have such great people in my life, which makes leaving you a little hard, but because you have been so supportive and loving, it makes leaving a little easier. I think that's a paradox? Either way, No one is alone!

Not everyone is pictured - sorry! But LOTS of love!

Also I have my updated MTC address:
Sister Katya Wagstaff
2009 N 900 E Unit 122
Provo UT 84602

Mission pictures thanks to Lauren Pugmire (of course...)! I love how they turned out - rain and all.

Much love! - Katya