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, December 28, 2015

Mon. Dec. 28, 2015 Christmas.....it happened

Merry Christmas everyone!

Our week was pretty good, Monday evening we went over to Miki Chan's- SHE'S GOLDEN. We had a good lesson and as we were leaving, I just casually invited her to church (she already had other commitments, so I didn't want to overwhelm her) but then she was like, when is it? Can I come? WHAT. So that was really cool- there really are people being prepared and people who have real interest.

Tuesday we taught some really good short lessons on the train to visit a LA. After the visit, we got on a train and started talking to a girl who had interest !!! and then realized after she left that we were on the wrong train in the opposite direction. Obviously not the wrong train! Then I realized I gave her an Imabari card instead of Sakai...hopefully she somehow still meets missionaries again!

Wednesday was my birthday! We went to Abeno (downtown Osaka) for missionary Christmas Taikai (conference). So much fun! I love Pres and Sis Welch, they really know and care about each of us. Also got to see Fonua Shimai and other missionaries I love! We got back to Sakai in the evening and went to get cake, then taught Eikaiwa. Honestly I miss my Eikaiwa students in Imabari...but just new people to learn to love. Family- I loved the Frozen picture! It's hanging in our apartment :)

                                   Comp unity! Also Welch Shimai said that she wants to be in our companionship- YES!
This was Christmas Taikai! 

 Here were the friends from my MTC district that were in Abeno! 

Happy birthday to me!

This was at the cake shop

First time Katya was able to see Fonua Shimai since the MTC.

Cake for the December birthdays! Gomen, not the greatest picture...

Christmas eve- went caroling as a district and no one wanted to listen to us...awkward, but we had fun! Then we took banana bread to our neighbors- we didn't teach them lessons, but they all seemed really happy and if we spread love and they have a good image of us, then I feel good about what I did. 

Christmas! We opened presents from the ward as a district- we probably don't have to buy groceries for like 2 weeks! 
This was our Christmas food from the ward, mostly treats, which we're trying to give away to other people or else we're gonna get FAT

District Meeting was fun, then we went caroling to a rest home with the RS. This was a lot more successful than our other attempt! CHRISTMAS MIRACLE: so we went to visit a less-active and she wasn't there and as we left, her dog was still barking like crazy so we thought maybe there was a problem (we both kind of think of the extremes so we thought maybe she had passed out or something, I don't know) so anyways we go back to the part net, wait a little bit and then she came up the stairs! So we got to share a Christmas message and hear about her goal to go to the temple! 

After that we tried to visit another less-active who lived far away and we decided to take our bikes because we're trying to be healthier and save money by not taking the train...so an hour later we get there and she tells us it's too late (it was 7) so we biked back another hour. Also it was raining. So not the greatest and we were exhausted, but we've laughed about it since then...better planning and sometimes it's okay to take the train! So Merry Christmas- it's not big here, hear a couple songs in the mall, everyone buys a Christmas cake and that's about it. 

But New Years, well let's just say New Years will be big and we're got a couple invitations from members, plus there's this Ward activity where we're going to make mochi- what I hear is that we're smashing rice with a big hammer, so that should be fun! 

This is my District on Saturday at our game night. There's this recent convert, Edison who is from the Phillipines and really funny and kept yelling out different reactions and then he'd take a picture. This one was "you're really mad because you got another kekko (rejection)". Anyways, it's a fun group!

This is "look! There's an angel!"

Sunday Miki Chan came to church!! The YW and leaders just took her right under their wing and basically became friends really fast, so we're excited! This is the first time one of my investigators has come to church, it felt so good! Then in the evening this family invited us to their curry party, kind of homecoming for their daughter and basically almost the whole ward was at their apartment and it was just so fun. They are all friends and SO nice to us!

God answers prayers. We had lots of time and wanted more people to visit, activities, etc and at church we received 2 LA referrals to visit and 2 other referrals plus dinner invitations. God is very aware of us! I read Mark 11:21-24 this morning and felt like Peter- oh my goodness a miracle happened! But when we really develop our faith in God, we know that miracles happen. Prayers are answered. 

I love you all and love hearing from you! God is in all the details of all of our lives, even when and especially when it's not going according to our plan. 

Love you all!
Wagstaff Shimai

It was SOO good to see you, talk to you for Christmas! Yeah the companion being there is a little weird, I was there for her's too. Funny thing is we both cried during both of our calls- prepared with a box of tissues! I love you so much, and tender mercy after was that I wasn't homesick at all, I wanted to get out and go work. You don't hold me back at all, you push me forward. I don't get homesick, I'm motivated! 

Also, yeah not every moments great, but I just overall feel happier, and we just have lots of fun but we're dendo-ing (missionary work/proselyte) and riding bikes in the rain and it shouldn't be as much fun as it is. So it's not that we're wanpaku (trouble-makers) just having fun, but we're having fun doing what we should. 

I love you! Katya

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Dec. 21

Transfer to Sakai!

Last Monday was transfer announcements and found out I was becoming a 2nd transfer trainer! Scary. Then after we went with the Watabe's to the Aoba's Christmas Party. They live in this little valley and it's probably the most perfect place- can't describe, just really pretty. We were there with the Niihama missionaries and a coulee friends the Aoba's invited including one that's interested in the church! We had lunch, then a musical program (they asked all of us to prepare something), then the Aoba's put on this shadow puppet-show kind of thing. They are potters, so really artistic and Aoba Shimai is really good at voices and storytelling. It was some traditional Japanese
story and really cute!

Aoba Shimai is in the brown wearing glasses next to me, Aoba Choro's standing in the back. So they were asking us about transfers and I found out that Aoba Choro was coming to Sakai Ward the next Sunday!

Anyways, so then we went back and the Murakami's (RS Pres and Mission leader) took us out to dinner at this really fancy place and there was SO MUCH FOOD. 

Watabe's were there too, just not in the picture. So fancy!

Tuesday we did goodbye visits and it was rainy. It's hard to leave, I didn't realize how hard it would be to leave! Ended the night with dinner plus Eguchi Kyodai (Recent convert!)'s lesson at the Watabe's. SO SAD to leave! 

Wednesday we did a lot of finish packing, cleaning and a member was so nice to take us to the station! Then a 5 hour bus ride to Kobe...it was weird getting to Kobe becuase it's a big city! So different! Wasn't feeling super great, probably getting sick. Slept over with Kobe sisters. 

Woke up Thursday definitely sick! Thankfully medicine in the apartment. Not a fun day to be sick. We went to the station and I had to leave Fujiki Shimai.

I loved being with her, we had so much fun!! Thankfully I'll see her around eventually! Fun thing about transfers is seeing other missionaries especially from my MTC district. In the afternoon met up with new companion, Salisbury Shimai (small world,she's from Mapleton) and went back to Sakai.  Turns out it's not super city, just right outside. Though I haven't seen too much yet. Still not feeling great, but God is good and powered through! We had dinner with a LA, and a few English investigator's (more interested in English than gospel, but cute girls!). They had a little Christmas party which was fun!
Then went to the church to help set up for the Christmas party. They have a real, probably full-sized church building, that was weird! Fun to meet people so soon! 

Friday, our district planned to do Christmas Dendo at an Eki- somehow we all just mixed up at different places and then didn't have time so we went back to the church to help set up again for the party on Saturday. We made Christmas jello! 

Saturday, Christmas party! This was a big, super planned thing! We also made Rice Krispie treats- one batch went horribly wrong. Don't know what happened, but some turned out! 
Here are the Rice Krispies we made that were really proud of!

Party was really good- members brought friends, upstairs they showed Bible clips and explained a little about real meaning of Christmas and we got to testify. Food was great and we sat on the floor.

At first we wondered what those circle things were, and then we realized we're in Japan and those are tables...

Sunday, again weird in a big Ward- about 120 people come. Sacrament Meeting was powerful- Aoba Choro spoke! Cool thing was that I could understand a lot of what people said. Also we sang with the YW and there was a girl coming home from her mission in Hawaii. 

Then we taught YW's (found out the day before, but to be fair we almost asked for it because we asked to come in and share a short message, so they just asked us to give the lesson). The theme was inviting others to come unto Christ and we gave them this year's Christmas video cards to share with a friend or somebody.
Taught an LA in the afternoon and heard that she had strong Osaka Ben and we were a little worried and it turned out pretty well- I understood most of what she said. Honestly God really does love everyone and wants us to help them and that means we need to understand them. 

So far so good in a new place and having fun with Salisbury Shimai, we laugh a lot and have big goals. We want to see a baptism this transfer! Not sure who, but that's what we're working towards. 

Merry Christmas! If you haven't go watch World Without a Savior video. We do have a Savior, and get to rely on Him. I NEED His strength, we all need His strength. I love you all, but obviously He loves you more than I understand!

Love, Wagstaff Shimai

I was sick,and I think it was food, because I was stomach sick. Yay for Pepto Bismal!

It's really different switching from Fujiki Shimai to Salisbury Shimai. I didn't realize how much I learned from her until I realizedas I was talking to members that it's not that hard anymore. So far I haven't run into Osaka -Ben.
We're doing pretty good, her language definitely isn't great, but it'll improve! She didn't get along very well with her last companion, that's sad. I'm realizing how selfless and patient Fujiki Shimai was because not everybody's like that.

I think the thing about "training" that scares me the most is correcting. I don't want to hurt her at all, but we have to be obedient...not sure why it scares me so bad. Not a huge problem, just sometimes...Being in Japan really makes being away for Christmas a lot easier because it's not a big thing. I can tell Salisbury Shimai gets pretty homesick, trying to help with that. In some ways it's nice that I get to serve more!

Also random: in Imabari earlier this week we rode by the library mom! it looked newer/nicer with statues/garden area outside. I was impressed, since it's a little city.

Love, Katya

See you this week!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Dec. 14

Not very much time because we're going to a Christmas party at the Aoba's today!! Also we just got transfer announcements and we're both transferring! Didn't expect that. So I'm going to Sakai (Osaka) and here's the scary part...IM A TRAINER. WHAT. But Fujiki Shimai and I will be in the same zone- YAYYY!!!

K so this last week- Tuesday SGG had their end of year party. I finally asked what SGG stood for, and the first word was System, and I don't remember the rest- it didn't make sense. I sang and they're always nicer, more
responsive when I sing..hmm. We had our regular lesson with Eguchi Kyodai and it was officially his last AB (after baptism) lesson. He's amazing- actually Sunday he was made 2nd counselor in the branch presidency!! Also the Watabe's took us with them to their investigator's lesson. He's 8 yrs old, Kai-kun and his mom was really less-active and they were a miracle find and he's getting baptized next Sunday! We went to practice "I Am a Child of God" to sing with him on Sunday (but then he got sick so we didn't).

Wednesday- not our best day...actually It started off really good- it was Watabe Choro's birthday so we surprised him in the morning at the church by playing ping pong (his favorite) and Fujiki Shimai made the cutest cookies! Then we met a less active and investigator we haven't seen for a long time. But then we didn't find anybody else we were looking for that day, did some housing. Honestly housing is just hard sometimes.

BUT Thursday was pretty good! We started with Yano San from the cakeshop in the morning and taught about Christmas, and actually I taught most of the lesson. Then in the evening it was raining, but we still went out- delivered notes to the Watanabe's (other cake shop that's too busy to meet but lots of potential!) then met LA Takebo Shimai who I just love a lot! (She was our really good lots of Spirit, Gift of Tongues lesson a couple weeks ago).

Friday District Meeting. Lots of change- basically our whole district just needed to step it up, but we're excited to be better, especially in teaching more lessons.

Saturday was SO MUCH FUN! We helped the YW in the morning with their fundraiser. We made Christmas cards that they are selling at the Christmas party. Also Yamamoto Shimai (YW leader brought us the skirts
she made us!) After we had a little time and taught a lesson on the street! That hasn't happened in a long time- we've talked to people, but not official lessons. Then we met an investigator from Niihama who just moved here- we've heard really good things about them! Then we went to Niihama for their branch Christmas party (they asked us to sing). Party was so much fun! Aoba Shimai put together a Nativity play mostly with the Niihama missionaries and it was pretty funny+ good, kids liked it I think. Lots of kids there- mostly from their Eikaiwa.
I sang O Holy Night and Falute Choro played the guitar,that was fun! I got to talk to lots of people and felt like I could communicate pretty well with them- definitely not perfect, but it was fun! We slept over with Niihama sisters- WE LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

Sunday was interesting...so we got up early to catch the train back to Imabari and I had to speak in Sacrament and hadn't finished my talk and of course Fujiki Shimai was helping me with that and we were too focused I guess because we thought we missed our stop. Actually we got on the wrong train in the first place...so about 3 hours later we got to Imabari. The blessing was that because we got up early, even though we missed DCS (meeting with branch leaders about missionary work) we got to Sacrament Meeting a few minutes before it started. And the District President was there. THAT was scary! So Kai kun was sick and they told us just before it started and that they still needed a musical number so I just needed to pick one. !! Anyways, so I spoke about "becoming a better home/visiting teacher"- thought that was kind of a strange topic for a missionary, but it worked! Connected it a lot to Dendo. Then a high counselor spoke, then I sang "First Noel"- thank goodness Scott Shimai can play anything, because I had to ask her to play right before...then the District President spoke and it was SO GOOD. Leaders are called of God and I think he said exactly what Imabari Branch needed to hear. Talked about strengthening the church and it's all of our duty. Told us that Imabari could become a ward,
stake, 10 stakes! I get really motivated when people talk about the future of the church like that! Really good and I received a lot of ideas on how to improve as a missionary and working with members. It was Watabe Shimai's birthday so we made a little cake, card (plus at ZTM we had the whole zone write cards for the Watabe's). Celebrated her birthday with them- I LOVE being with the Watabe's! SO SAD to leave them.

So this next transfer will be an adventure! I'll see how much Japanese I really have learned. But people are just so nice here, so we'll be okay! Also I get the chance to rely on God more than I probably ever have before- that's a good way to spend Christmas- using the enabling power of Atonement.

Transfers. Scary! I'm going to Osaka (area is Sakai) and I'm training, thankfully she's 2nd transfer and has been in that area. Fujiki Shimai has been a BIG blessing in my life. The prophesy for Japan is that there will be all Japanese missionaries here, then once there is a surplus, they will go to China. That will be an exciting day. Pray for Fujiki Shimai- she's going back to her old area and an old companion and they had a pretty rough relationship.

Because Imabari is getting a fresh start (new missionaries), we've got a lot of prep to do for them. Being busy is when I have the most fun. So it's a little sad that Chrsitmas and birthday are in a new area, BUT our missionary Christmas party is on the 23rd!! Our mission is so big there are 3 parties that Welch Kaicho and Shimai go to on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th. So Sakai, Osaka and Kyoto zone are going to the same party. I'll probably see friends from the MTC. Also Fujiki Shimai and I are in the same zone!!

I love you- so happy to see pictures this week plus thank you for the short email and temple pictures! I'll figure out Christmas call- tell me when the best time is for you! I love you so much! Also mom I used the bit where you talked about visiting teaching in your email last week in my talk Sunday, thank you!

I love you! Katya

- Also pass on my sorry to anyone (family) who I don't reply to- I want to, and I don't really have time and if something isn't sent on Monday, I forget to reply because I've already read it and pretty much replied in my head...

Watabe's birthday plan. We've loved using this big whiteboard!

Our matching skirts from Yamamoto Shimai

Watabe Shimai's birthday 

Potential investigator we met at Niihama's party

Niihama party

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dec. 7, 2015

Merry Christmas Time!

I forgot, but someone else mentioned- this week is 6 months for me!

I think I already told you about last Monday at Nihon Shokken- food factory that looks like a European palace...interesting. 

Tuesday we went to SGG and during gospel time EVERYBODY SPOKE! Big deal- normally they're pretty silent. We went around and shared something we were grateful for this year and why. Everyone shared and my favorite was Mori San who's this cute grandma who said nothing big has happened to her this year, but she is grateful for little things every day like talking with friends and beautiful flowers. That's exactly what we should be grateful for! Then Thanksgiving was over and we started celebrating Christmas in kodomo Eikaiwa- Scott Shimai (member, teacher) asked me to teach a Christmas song and she had a bunch on karaoke. I taught them "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" because well, it's got the easiest words! At the end, we always give them candy with a spiritual message to read- this time we asked them to go to Christmas.mormon.org and watch the video- hopefully some of them do!

Recent convert - Eguchi Kyodai's lesson was on the Priesthood. First, I wrote part of the lesson on the board, with kanji! Copied from Fujiki Shimai, but hey, it's something!  K, but really this lesson went really really well. We (members of the church) are so blessed because the Priesthood is restored. Eguchi Kyodai is engaged and can't wait to have a family and we shared how the Priesthood was a blessing in our homes. 

Wednesday we picked mikans for Eguchi Kyodai with the Watabe's and Murakami Kyodai (branch  mission leader). We were there for hours, lots of spiders (who all received names: Satan, Akuma (devil), and Lucifer) and Watabe Choro kept hitting me in the head with mikans, and we had such a good time! Watabe Choro climbed up in the tree (not actually very high) and cut the ones higher and threw them down to us- somehow no one else got hit in the head, only me...it's all good! Mikans are light and he technically apologized every time, while laughing. I LOVE serving with the Watabe's!

In the evening we had Eikaiwa and not very many people came, maybe because it was raining? But it was kind of nice to have a small group and get to answer questions better, or at least I tried!

Thursday was cake day. Fujiki Shimai and I think we might be getting fatter here with not very many hills to bike and too much food given. (DONT WORRY MOM! I'm not fat, my clothes fit) In the morning we taught a cake shop investigator who gave us cake at the end, yay! It's from our favorite cake shop and its so good. Then Yamamoto Shimai called us and we met her to take our measurements (did I mention she's the best and is making skirts for us?) and after gave us Mikan pan- Mikan sweet bread! Then we got some good exercise in because we rode out to an investigator who's really in the boonies and it was windy the whole time, like really really windy where it's hard to bike in a straight line- maybe God was trying to help us stay fit! Then for lunch we went to this bakery another member has been almost begging us to go because she said it's really good plus cheap on Thursday.
In the evening we had our other cake shop investigators. The wife always insists we each had a piece with hot milk. It was only her, her husband was sick. She is wonderful! Checked on her BOM reading and she apologized that she hadn't read very much, she was only in 2nd Nephi. !!!! She's had, I think 2 weeks, and we haven't even reminded very much about reading. Wow. We introduced the Plan of Salvation. At the end she prayed and honestly applied about everything she had learned into her prayer. Then after, she said they can't meet again until January because their shop is so busy for Christmas. Heartbreaking! We don't want her to stop progressing! But. It should be okay, they have a lot of desire and even understand that it might be different missionaries. 

Friday we went to Matsuyama for ZTM- our goals have been raised and we have lots of new ideas, especially for Christmas and it's just so fun to be together!

Saturday morning Watabe Shimai took us to a towel fair. Towels are really popular and famous in Imabari. One of Watabe Shimai's English students owns a towel company with her husband, so we went to her sale and showroom. She is the nicest person! She was excited to show us around and explain things in English. Now she just needs to get interested in the church, because we've already decided she'd be a great RS Pres.

Sunday we really thought an investigator was going to come to church...and she didn't. She lives close and Fujiki Shimai found her on a koukon (exchange) and she's come to Kodomo Eikaiwa with her son and is really interested in Christianity. Ah well, we'll keep trying. A LA girl came, though we didn't see her when Seisankai was starting, so we went out to bring her in. She's a bit moody and we tried really hard to be friends, convince, talk normally, bear testimony and she wasn't very responsive and just wanted to sit in the hall on her device, so we went back in the meeting. So it was just overall a little disappointing, but I had the thought- No one ever said this was easy. No kidding! With Christmas, and thinking about the Savior, I really like the scripture in Isaiah "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows". He knows. I was talking to our Phillipino member about transfers and said "who knows" (talking about whether I'm here for Christmas or not) and she said "He knows." That hit me. He knows- He knows that we worked really hard this week even though our lesson numbers are pretty low. He knows how it hurts when people don't progress, don't come to church, or don't want to talk to us. He knows every hurt and disappointment. And He also knows every joy- even the little ones like seeing Christmas lights on a house in Japan (really really rare)!

So please don't forget that He knows!

Wagstaff Shimai

Replies really fast from what I remember - I know a few more people read my letters, at least they told me they did...Kotters, and some random emails from friends like Stacy Aragon. Not that it really matters too much to me, but I get little random emails sometimes and that's fun. I got one this week from the Giles, and a couple weeks ago
from Sis Clark.

This week I was wondering why good things weren't happening to us when we had good plans, intentions and we're trying to work hard. Why did we have 0 lesson days? But then I need to be better at applying lessons I teach to myself. We shared Mosiah 24:15 with a LA and talked about how God sometimes strengthens us instead of changing our circumstances. So much easier to say than do. I received your package Tuesday- we like the decorations! Elsa is hanging in our bedroom and Fujiki Shimai commented that now it looks like we sleep in a kid's room. :)

Sunday I received a package from the Kotters, then today Fujiki Shimai received one from her family, so those were nice boosts this week.

Sunday, I felt like I needed to bear my testimony- and I didn't really know what to say but I got up there, and I still didn't know exactly what to say, didn't have complete thoughts in English, so my Japanese wasn't that great, plus it's hard to think like that when you're crying, which naturally I started doing. So I think it was just that I needed to get up there and feel the Spirit strongly. Unfortunately, they don't have tissues by the podium! And then I thought I put some in my bad that morning, but didn't so I had to use my sleeves, which is gross and I'm not sure why I'm telling you, but anyways, really good meeting. No one carries tissues- everyone has their personal handkerchief/towel with them, I need to be better about bringing one too!

I'm really not a fan of housing and am not that great at streeting either- neither is Fujiki Shimai. It's hard to talk to people and share the gospel quickly just on the street or wherever, so our goal is 3 people a day. Slowly progressing...I talked to 3 people, but then didn't have time to connect to the gospel. Then the next day we talked
and gave them a flyer, but not a commitment, so it wasn't a lesson. Working on getting up to lesson level! It's hard. Talking to Welch Kaicho and other missionaries, I've learned that most of the responsibility for that is on me. Not that people can't change, but Nihonjin are very reserved and very much society-oriented. If it's not polite, you don't do it. Not that talking to people is rude, but it's different and no one wants to be different. But as a foreigner, those
things don't apply to me because I'm already really different, therefore I'm the one that's supposed to talk to everyone. Kind of weird because I don't speak the language nearly as well, but if I start Fujiki Shimai always helps, but it's definitely scary to start. Working on overcoming that.

I'm sending a package off hopefully today and hopefully it's there for Christmas! I love you guys!!

Also just checking if Drew and T are alive...haven't heard :)

Love, Katya

Branch's tree! We were here at the church last night submitting numbers and had the tree on- I love Christmas tree lights in the dark!

Love you all so very much!