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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 2 in Japan Monday August 24

First, still figuring out the picture situation...so sad! I have lots
I promise and you'll see them eventually!!

Anyways, so last Monday was my first rainy day- I don't have a kappa (full body rain cover thing) so thank goodness the rain hasn't been so bad, just a few days and not consistently pouring! After emailing at the church, we went grocery shopping- that was pretty exciting becauseit's the same minus almost everything is in Japanese and I don't understand, but I thought it was really fun (remember it's the littlethings!).

That night we went to Kaori Shimai's house for FHE with her and her less-active mother. I can't understand very much of what people say, but since she was older and speaks quietly with I think no teeth or something, I really didn't understand what she said and turns out Sands Shimai has a hard time with her too (yo katta!), thank goodness Kaori Shimai is there to help, though I think we did pretty well! Nicest thing ever though- so you know how I have my freaky looking mosquito or "ka" bites all over my arms? Her mother was very worried about it and grabbed some itch stuff and took my arm and started applying and Kaori Shimai took the other arm and got to work- I felt a little pampered! :) seriously though it was so nice of them.

Tuesday was a great day because we were pretty busy! After study and lunch ( oh ps a little daily schedule: we get up, exercise, blah blah blah, study time is from 8-12, an extra hour since I'm new, then we have lunch and go out.) So after lunch we went to SGG - I don't even know what it stands for, but it's this group of 6 Japanese who get
together at a community center place and practice their English, which they're quite good at. Somehow the missionaries got involved a while ago and that's just what we do now. They were the nicest people! Since
I was new they had me introduce and talk about myself in English-JAPANESE PEOPLE SAY MY FIRST NAME BETTER THAN AMERICANS. They were very interested in my name for a while and there was this confusion
that I'm Russian for a while! Then they heard I like theatre, so they wanted to talk about theatre for a while- so much fun! Anyways so in their meeting they read a few current articles in English, we don't really say anything unless they ask questions, then at the end we get to teach them for 15 minutes, in English woohoo!! We have to go really slow with these lessons. One of the men is a serious former investigator, his only problem is that he doesn't want to stop praying to the guardian God who watches over his fields. The others will keep the commitments given (usually scriptures to read) but their progression is very minimal. So basically SGG is more service than teaching oriented. But really though the nicest people- they had a lot of snacks and they're taking us to lunch to welcome me.

So after that we had a lesson with a 15 year old, not sure if I can give names because investigator privacy is reallllly strict here. Anyways so his mom is less-active and he's interested now. And he complimented my pronunciation, he said I sound really natural -woohoo!! That meant more than everyone else telling me "jouzu desu
ne!" Because he's 15 and isn't saying it to just be nice.

Lesson with recent convert Uguchi Kyodai that night with the talk "Is it Wonderful to You?" And to top of the night- we had mashed potatoes with peaches for dessert!!! We found the peaches on sale at the store-though the sale was still a little expensive, but that was our fun this week! In Japan since people are so clean and healthy, if the food is even slightly close to expiring, they put it on a sale rack for a lot cheaper- yay for us because we don't really care! Everyone says fruit is better here, but I still think Brigham City peaches are better :)

Wednesday a member took us and Elder/Sister Watabe out for sushi! It was a conveyor belt place where you order from a screen and it comes out for you. I figured I better just go for it and try stuff, so I had squid (ika), octopus (taco) and duck for the first time! I least I didn't think I'd had duck before, not sure. Anyways the fish was fine,
I really really really don't like wasabi! ("Eat the wasabi!") it's still really hot and on every piece of sushi and somehow I survived!That was a fun experience, then after we went with the Watabes to this popular snow cone place- honestly it's a fancy snow cone shop that normally has a long line, but it was raining so no one! You
sit down and order and we tried a 100% blueberry with milk and real blueberries - I thought it was almost worth the ridiculous $7 we paid for it! Oh well, good experience, promise I don't/won't always splurge
like that :)

Ekaiwa that night!!! That's the English class we teach - we teach intermediate and 4 people came. It's the end of Obon, the family celebration thing, so some people are still out of town. I loved it! The theme was traveling and we work on pronunciation, grammar, conversation and reading. Really we try and have fun!

Thursday - I have never sweated so much in my entire life. Ever. This humidity is horrendous for my skin, but I'm trying! Great day because we taught 7 lessons (that's a big deal here!) some of the planned ones fell through, but we met random people and they talked to us and it was wonderful! The one I want to mention is the end of the night, we stopped by a lady's house who had previously been dropped just to check in. She was dropped because she was too busy, but tonight she answers and turns out she really likes the missionaries, but her daughter just had twins plus has another kid and husband is really busy working, so she helps out a lot. She was so kind and we talked about prayer and she was so touched! This was all just out on her tiny porch (tiny is basically the word to describe a lot of things here!) and she started crying and really wants lessons again and she wants her daughter to hear them too! That was really special, and on a side note- there were like a billion cats/kittens around her place and this kitten decided halfway through our conversation that it was going to lick my ankles and since the lesson was going so well I didn't want to distract so I just tried to ignore it, then after we left we laughed about it a little because they ignored Sands Shimai and just went to me...weird. Why.

Friday we drove with the Watabes to Niihama for district meeting! There's us and the STLS and 1 set of elders in our district. We start with J-Kaiwa (Japanese) and since I'm the only new one, district leader and Sis Watabe took me to another room. Murakomi Choro (not sure about my spelling) is Japanese. We practiced chopsticks at first
by trying to pick up ping pong balls- everyone try it!! It's practically impossible! Anyways, meeting was great, it's nice to remember were not alone at all! Then we went with the Watabes to an appointment to one of the little islands- our area includes 3 other little islands that we really just can't get to on bike, so the Watabes usually take care of those more. So we went to this lady's house- ps streets are impossibly narrow! So she has a cute little 2
year old who played with Watabe Choro the whole time while we taught- she's really interested, most people don't have her level of interest,or at least don't show it, so we're really hopeful about her! We taught Plan of Salvation and I talked more than I have before, so I felt really good about it!

Saturday was very different than planned but still wonderful,especially because we found 2 new investigators! We were out riding and these girls- 2 friends that are 14 are learning English in school and talked to us- they are so sweet! We explained that were missionaries and they hadn't really heard much about Jesus Christ, but then we mentioned Christmas and They knew what that was and were very excited. We showed them "Because of Him" - ps the greatest video ever. And they were really interested, so we have an apt with them this week- one of the girls even texted us after we left and told us in broken English thank you in advance and she couldn't wait- WOW. Now I'm really excited! This branch neeeeeds youth- 2 girls. No YM, a 21 yr old RM and an 19 yr old putting in papers.

Also we went to La S cake shop- the owners son is investigating and she's slightly curious, so we dropped by and bought a little something for us, and for a less-active we were visiting. French pastries -yummy! Plus she gave us free ice cream cones- Japanese ice cream tastes a different than ours but still great. Basically I've been in love with all the food- Sands Shimai knows how to cook pretty basic fast stuff but it's all been great and easy to learn -yay! Maybe I'll be shopping at the Oriental Market when I get home, who knows!

Sunday I was feeling a little down and homesick in the morning- it's hard to go to church in Japanese, but after we had "uta renshu" song practice, for the upcoming stake conference! Yay for music- they love me :) were singing the primary song, "I Know that My Savior Loves Me" I don't remember the translation, but it went really well- I love
these members. After church when we were biking to someone's house, my chain popped off and we stopped and got it fixed and even though that was such a little moment, for some reason I just felt like God loves us so much
and he knows what's going on and he's in control. All it took was a broken bike. Lots of people not home, but we talked to everyone we saw and it lifted my mood so much! Plus dinner was "yakiniku" basically beef bacon with rice. And anmochi ice cream - weird but good!

I love you all! I'm still transitioning here, but I like it!
Love, Wagstaff Shimai
Sent from my iPad

Hopefully I answer all the questions! First, apartment...eventually pictures! It's really nice - small but actually more normal sized than I thought. We have one of the crazy toilets with lots of buttons, they're a little weird so I usually
don't use them. Though their toilet paper is pretty weak because everyone has the water cleaner button. Potentially more than you wanted to know...:) we have a genkon, then walk up the stairs and there's a main room with tiny kitchen, table and our desks for studying. Then the bedroom, and  another room which currently is storage for all of the stuff from the elders apartment (they were taken out of Imabari a couple transfers ago, but will likely be put back, so we just have all of their stuff. Toilet is separate from bathroom, and the shower is kind of a room- I'll send a picture but it's bath and shower, but you don't shower in the bath. Also apparently dryers are really rare here, no one has one, you just see clothes hanging on balconies everywhere.

I love the food! Dad asked about mugi cha- yes I've had it and hate it, strong word, I'll just have to get used to it because it seriously tastes like garbage water to me. Japanese desserts aren't very sweet at all- if we eat something sweet, it's probably/most likely foreign. Lots of rice, and basically I'm not very good at descriptions but it
just all tastes Asian to me, nothing too weird. I mean besides taco.

The members are so nice and have a basket here that people put food in for us- so basically the norm is not feeding us, but giving us food. They are very generous! One old lady has always gotten he missionaries
a carton of milk and loaf of bread- both pretty expensive products here! Besides water we drink lots of Aquarius- it's just a plain sportsdrink- everyone is worried about heat stroke.

Oh that reminds me! Everyone is very concerned about my skin and keeping it white- I carry 70 spf sunscreen everywhere and it's a good conversation piece! Apparently the highest here is 50 spf. Everyone carries umbrellas in the sun. The women, particularly older usually wear these arm covers- so long sleeves. Yes I did have freakish mosquito bites last week- the miracle was that they didn't itch too much. Maybe because I was more focused on my sweat, not sure! Supposedly the heat will be going down soon, that'll be nice!

Also, I can read emails anytime during the week ps, not that I have much time, but usually 5 or so minutes in the morning and at night. I love you guys so much! Working to find he joy in missionary work -this week in the morning I'm a little more discouraged, sad, but once we get out and talk to people, I've come back really happy every night! I didn't think adjusting would be hard at all,but it really is different, but I'm taken care of and doing really well! Actually we just barely went to Setsura's place (15 yr old) and gave a short lesson and committed him to baptism!!! Okay the first commitment with" once you find out his message is true, will you be baptized?" But still, I thought it was a big deal! Woohoo!

I loved hearing about your week,good and bad. Yay Mexican food! Dancing all day exhausting. ACT bleh, but good. Good luck with school! Classes sound good, library assistants maybe not so much :)
Love, Katya

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Email from Katya's trainer Sister Sands

It was so kind of Sands Shimai to include us in her weekly email this week.

Trainee has been received. Her name is Wagstaff shimai. She's an inch taller than I am with red hair, majoring in music and theater at the U. Her Japanese is probably the level of a late-2nd, early-3rd transfer, although she claims to have never studied it before her mission. She's very diligent, and very outspoken with her opinions. I would say she's pretty much perfect missionary material. There's not too much I have to do with this one, but I'm trying to find ways to push her out of her comfort zone.

So, haha, I've been biking faster than I have in a long time. She's holding up pretty well--I've only lost her twice.

On the way back, we went to the bus station (MUCH cheaper than trains) and after circling between three bus lines for two and a half hours, we found out that the next open bus to Imabari was at 6 P.M. on Friday.

Forget that. We're going to Okayama.

So the sisters changed their number. They didn't know we were coming until we were at their step saying howdy. It was really crazy. Okayama has changed so much. I, of course, nosed in and interrogated them about the faces I knew and loved. There was plenty of sweet and plenty of bitter. 

Well, Friday and Saturday were largely inside days, but for fun, I took my new trainee housing. It's hard to just let them go at it. I feel for Donnelly shimai--she must have trusted God a lot. We planted a few seeds and came up with a few good ideas for housing contacts.

Sunday, my trainee had a great time and got to know a lot of the members. :) We also got to visit a couple who is uninterested, but likes socializing and listens to our lessons so long as they don't know that they're lessons. (Don't get me wrong--we don't water down the doctrine or give them weak commitments, but...it's interesting.) Last time we saw her, we committed Y-shimai to pray every day for that week and she agreed. Today, we dropped by and she said, "Sorry, we're just leaving, but thank you for teaching me the prayer thing. I had a really bad headache the other day, and then I remembered what you said about prayer. So I prayed and it just went away!"

BOOM BABY. That was very exciting. I actually couldn't believe that she had 1.) followed up on herself, 2.) remembered the event and remembered to tell us and 3.) understood its direct correlation to prayer.

Maybe we'll work a little longer with this couple.

Well, that's it for today. Our lessons, thank heavens, haven't been down, but they have largely not been with our normal investigators. I think it's time to start cleaning up our investigator pool to make room for ones with whom my trainee can gain some solid experience with--that's really all she needs. She's got everything else down pretty well. Now we just got to get her talking and me trusting in the Lord.

But, if we learned anything this week, it's that prayer works.

Love you all and I'd like to challenge you to put a little special effort into your prayers this week. God hears them. He is the Creator of the universe and our beloved Father. He wants to speak to us. He wants to give us blessings. The bible dictionary says that "prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." (Italics added)

I love the Bible Dictionary and I love all of you. Prayer works. The Gospel is true. God loves his children.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sanzu shimai

Welcome to Japan!

This has probably been the craziest week of my life! MTC was great- I loved the MTC so much it was actually hard to leave, mainly my district! We've already been making plans to get together when we're home!  I was pretty productive on the plane, didn't really sleep over to Tokyo, got off the plane and the first thing I noticed: HUMIDITY. It's real. Very very real.

I also loved staying at the mission home- it's just had such a nice, safe, comfortable feeling. Plus leaving my MTC district was like leaving you guys all over again. I'm hoping to be companions with one of them sometime! In my interview with Welch Kaicho one of the things he asked was if I prefer city/country. I said city, though I'll go
wherever, I got country. Except country is by Japanese standards, so the houses are still pretty close together and is more like Utah county size? It's kind of hard to compare.

Getting back to Imabari was an adventure! It's Obon right now, which is a remember-your-ancestors festival thing and everyone goes home, so transportation was busy. There was a group of us: 4 sisters 2 elders headed for Shikoku (island) together, we walked around the bus area in Kobe for 2 hours- each bus counter would tell us to go somewhere else, then finally one told us the next available bus would be the next day at 6 pm! That wasn't going to work, so the group split up with different plans. Sands Shimai and I took the train to Okoyama (not sure about any of this spelling!) and stayed the night with sisters there, then took a train then a bus on to Imabari, getting there at 2
pm- much better than the first bus from Kobe would've been!

We were picked up by Ochi Shimai, really called Kaori Shimai because apparently there are a ton of Ochi's here. She's wonderful! We did service for her Saturday.  Anyways, so I was feeling really lost and distant here, but it's
gotten better as I've gotten to know some of the members and there's a senior couple here! Elder and Sister Watabe who are Japanese but speak perfect English- hallelujah! I guess one of the main things I need to
learn here is relying on the Lord. I think of D&C 6:36 a lot.

Saturday was normal hot, hot hot! Rode a bike here for the first time! We don't look as out of place riding around as I thought because lots of people ride bikes. But riding in a skirt isn't the easiest thing. But it's all good! Unfortunately not a single person we were supposed to teach was home- Saturday or Sunday! So I still haven't met any of the investigators. They have a few here, but mostly inactive. I guess that's a huge problem all over Japan. But the members that are active are very strong and good!

Saturday night we weeded in Kaori Shimai's garden. She has a huge garden! Also I forgot to mention, it's the countryside here because there are rice fields everywhere. Anyways, so weeded, then went in for a treat and gave her a spiritual message that I was in charge of- we read 1 Ne 1:20 and talked about the Lord's tender mercies: Shu no fukai awaremi. She's so nice and speaks a tiny bit of English, but I loved that evening because I could understand the conversation! Not every word, but I knew what they were talking about and could make
little comments sometimes. She's an older single lady who loves the missionaries!

Sunday was great! The branch made me think of Grandma and Grandpa's branch in Butterworth. They had me introduce myself and give a testimony in seisankai. Because they're so little, they only have 2 hours of church! I really couldn't understand much, but the Spirit is the same.

We had dinner at the Scotts- husband is American, though he's in America right now, so I haven't met him yet. It was Sis Scott, her son, us and the Watabe couple. Sadly our investigator who was supposed to come, bailed. Ah well, I liked getting to know them. She made American hamburgers, but not really. They don't have buns here, so we used rolls, and the patty was a little different, but it was all good!

I've loved the food so far, except for wheat tea. It's something that we can drink, and everyone has it, though I've only had it once, hopefully I acquire a taste for it because seriously it looks and tastes like dirty garbage water, maybe like the stuff in the carpet cleaner when you're done.

I'm learning that any companionship takes work, but for the most part we get along really well and have fun! My goal is to keep up a positive attitude, because there's plenty to complain about, but that won't help anyone.

Also I've got a lot of pictures on my camera- everyone said iPads just don't have the memory to keep a lot of pictures. Sadly haven't figured out how to get from camera to iPad because it doesn't have USB. iPads
are pretty new in the mission and Sands Shimai hasn't figured it out either.

Aishiteimasu minasan!
Wagstaff Shimai

Sent from my iPad

As you can read in the other email, it took a long time to get here! Technically were about 6-8 hours from Kobe by bus/train. I guess more missionaries on Shukoku try to take bus because it's a lot cheaper.

No problems with the keyboard because I can switch language settings and mine is on American English, probably going to stay that way for a while!

Thank you for all the pictures, I loved them! I got to live a little vicariously. Language is still pretty daunting, but I'm really trying, or should be trying to open my mouth- I've been reading a lot about that in D&C for personal study. Currently I just can't even tell what's going on so I don't even have the slightest clue as to what to say. Need to be better about that. The funny thing is all the Japanese, especially members say, "jouzu desu ne!" Which basically
means, you're talented! Basically their expectations for white people are very low.

I like working with Sands Shimai, it's going to be good! I was really disappointed to be sent so far away from Kobe because I really liked it there and being close to the mission home felt safe, but it's getting better, I can't wait to see other missionaries!

I love you, can't believe school is starting again and it's weird that I'm not starting, but so far so good here! An interesting thing I discovered: the schools in Japan is on a different schedule- the big break is around March/April and is 6 weeks, so they're more of a year-round schedule with more holidays.

This is what I look like all over my arms right now, kind of freaky,
but Sands Shimai has some great anti-itch stuff!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 14--First Assignment

Dear Brother and Sister Wagstaff,
 We are happy to have your wonderful missionary here to serve with us in the Japan Kobe Mission.
                        Love President and Sister Welch
Sister Wagstaff’s trainer/companion is Sister Sands and they are serving in the Imabari Area.

Map of Kobe Mission

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Arrival in Japan August 11

I'm here! I'm alive! The flight was just fine- I actually had an exit row from SLC to Portland, where we transferred to a bigger plane, where I was actually pretty productive, woohoo!

Tokyo Narita airport was a big overwhelming, big shock (duh), but dijobu! We were a big group and figured out what we were doing!
I passed out on the flight from Tokyo to Osaka, so sadly didn't see anything even though I had a window seat.

I'm at the mission office right now- seeing Pres and Sis Welch at the airport was the most comforting thing! I"m staying at the mission home, we find out our comps and areas tomorrow, lots of training today and tomorrow

ITS SO HUMID AND HOT. That was the first thing I noticed gettting off the plane, but it's okay! I'm going to be a sweaty mess and I'm just going to have to accept that.

PS tried the crazy Japanese toilets at the airport with all the buttons, and took a picture to send later... it feels really nice- they have music and a butt cleaner and potentially more than you wanted to know, but I'm still telling you. Love you all so very much! I'm really happy here :)

Love, Katya

Last Week at the MTC

Katya sent this on Thursday August 6.  She left for Japan on Monday August 10.  Even though we were in Germany we were able to talk to her Monday when she was at the SLC airport.

Like I told you, flight plans changed, that was crazy! We were planning on leaving Tuesday, but then found out we're leaving Monday with a direct flight to Tokyo then on to Osaka - can't believe the time is actually coming!

Leave SLC - 11:33AM
Arrive Tokyo - 4:00 PM (Their time)
Leave Tokyo - 6:30 PM
Arrive Osaka - 7:50 PM

Saturday morning we have service in 4M, one of the classroom buildings and Fonua Shimai and I were dusting the ceiling. Yes, someone let me dust the ceiling again and NO, I didn't poke any holes in it! BUT GUESS WHAT?!?? I FOUND A BAT. why why why why why why why Me? I'm just doing my thing and suddenly see a little bat about 4 inches long just hanging out, sleeping at the top of the wall. Thankfully didn't yell - figured we should keep it as quiet as possible because of the freak-out last time in 17M (remember how I was evacuated from the greatest residence hall ever? Yeah.) Anyways, turned out to be not a big deal, they only found that one and I haven't heard any news since I reported it to the janitor/ supervisor guy. 

Sunday is always good and it was the best Fast Sunday ever! Even though my stomach was a loud as always, I really wasn't hungry and it was such a spiritual day! In the morning I read Pres Eyring's recent talk "Is This Not the Fast I Have Given You?", or something like that, anyways point is it was really good! Plus we had mission conference and what stuck out to me was Sis Burtosso who spoke about how sacred it is to say "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I think I haven't really been thinking about how significant that is and how we shouldn't just rush through that.

District meeting was great  - talked about sacrament and how to improve our worship.  Then in Sacrament Meeting even though it was Fast Sunday we have musical numbers and I sang "Abide With Me; Tis Eventide" with Rees Shimai playing the piano - she is so good though she gets nervous and is pretty humble about it. To end the night we had my favorite time of the week, movie night! We watched Joseph Smith in Nihongo - without subtitles...uh oh. But dijobu! We know what's going on the whole time- it was the original version with the British girl on the steamboat/ boat with the big wheel-thing narrating, I like that version better! Really similar, I'm just particular I guess! Anyways, doesn't matter what language, the Spirit was still present, I still cried, that movie's just my favorite.

This week has flown, scary that we're leaving but good! I'll send pictures and more later this afternoon, we have to go right now- everyone seems to have a million things to do before we leave! I'm so excited to be there! I was especially getting excited reading missionary emails this week from Cassie and Catherine- thank you! Even if there are CREEPY houses and CRAZY food! 

Love, Wagstaff Shimai


On Tuesday rumor was for devo we'd have someone cool since it's August and the general authorities are off break. Rumor came true!! President Russell M Nelson and his wife came! This was his first official speaking assignment since being president of the 12. They broadcast the devo to every MTC worldwide! I had a great seat since I was singing in the choir...which was actually about 1/2 the MTC with 1100 people! There's about 2700 total right now.

He said lotsof good things, but honestly the greatest part was the feeling in that room. We were singing prelude hymns when he walked in, so we all stood but kept singing and the Spirit was instantly probably 10x stronger, so powerful! 
Big points 
- Trust in the Lord. That's what the armies of Helaman did, and we're compared to them so often, so that's what we need to do too!
- He talked about the lowering of the age from his perspective- it was amazing to hear how much thought went into this decision, they really care about all the details and were concerned, but because they knew it was the right thing to do, they just went ahead and made the change without putting every detail into place, such as the inflation at the MTC, in the mission field, how it would effect mission presidents, financially the families of missionaries, etc etc. The point was their step of faith and how the Lord takes care of the details because this is His work. 

So wonderful! So blessed! Love you all!

Here's my district minus 2 girls! The other 2 don't really hang out with us as much - they like to be with one of the other districts in our zone, so these are the people I've spent 24/7 with the last 2 months!
Jesperson and Welte Shimai (other redhead, and brunette on the right) are going to Fukuoka, so sad I won't see them until we get back, but they're both going to BYU so I'll get to see them eventually. We've decided that the saddest/ hardest part about leaving the MTC will be leaving each other! 

Just another temple pic! Feels like we're been at the MTC forever, but not...!