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, October 27, 2016

Monday October 24, 2016

  • Last Monday  we had an FHE Birthday party for Fujii Shimai's mom, she was so cute! She turned 85 and during dinner was telling us all about the old American movies she's seen and then after we taught Plan of Salvation very simply and gave her a visual to help remember, as a birthday present :) Then right as we were starting to commit her she stood up went to the bathroom then said she was too tired and going to bed...:( 残念 BUT came out at the end when we were leaving after talking with her daughter (Recent Convert), got to talk a little more- asked her what she thought about baptism, extended commitment and she said no but she's still learning and really warming up to this message! Then after met finding and found a big apartment complex that we felt really good about- did a whole building and 1 lady talked to us but wasn't that interest but 4th Floor Last Door! And sometimes it takes a little more, like a few buildings but there has to be someone there waiting. 
  • Tuesday biked out to an area, met some less actives and intended to be really short but they both like to talk...hopefully listening was what they needed! Then finding in that area and met a cute high school student who had learned a little about Jesus Christ in school, willing to hear more plus she's in a drama club so she was fun to talk with! In the evening backs o same apartment complex from before (we probably went like every other night this week, 1 building a night) and this time a lot more people talked to us. 1 experience I liked was a lady who at first said that she has no religious affiliation and isn't interested but we just told her why we decided to come here- yes we volunteered to be here, we don't do anything else right now and it's because this makes us so happy. We basically just got to watch her heart soften and she talked to us longer. She still didn't say she wants to learn more but interested in Eikaiwa and looks like there's a lot more potential for the Spirit to open her heart! Truly the Spirit converts, we just open our mouths. 
  • Wednesday was recent convert day and it was sooo good. One guy was being pretty quiet in his lesson but looked like he wanted to speak so finally just asked him, what questions do you have and he was able to truly express a trial right now with his family being opposed. Then later we have a weekly appt with a less active and recent convert and a member who comes to help and we read the BOM. They are just the cutest ladies, especially recent convert, she's 80ish and is hilarious! The less active expressed that she wanted to go to the temple and Yamanaka Shimai (RC) who just went for baptisms this month yells out「行ってください!"Please go!" then as we were committing them to choose something to stop doing and something to continue doing and she says, "Wait so I should stop reading the BOM?" Also sometimes we can't tell when she's joking or not, but love her so much- she makes life so much more interesting. We were busy from appt to appt, plus Eikaiwa coordinator bought us Subway for dinner- my first time having subway in Japan, mine was salmon! Also foot-longs don't exist. Then lesson with a former shigansha (used to have a baptismal date investigator) but various problems popped up and she's not ready but still met with us and member came and connected with her really well, then kind of took over and decided to do her own thing and that was, interesting...but trust that God is in charge and can work through all of our weaknesses and flaws. 
  • Thursday was weekly planning, then visited Yamanaka Shimai who worked way hard this week in reading the BOM and read like 5 chapters in a few days! (Huge deal for her, reading is hard). We shared Elder Stevenson's talk with her from last conference and honestly what he said is so true- everyone can gain a testimony of the BOM and also if you don't understand, just keep going, maybe skip ahead a little bit- understanding will come slowly but more important than that is the feeling, the confirmation that's it's true will come. Evening met with Bishops wife and a daughter (everyone else was busy) but talked about BOM with them and cool to see how an experience Stoneman a Shimai shared about her mom always texting a scripture when she didn't live at home and Kiyotani Shimai loved that idea and immediately had us choose a scripture to put on their family group message!
  • Friday District Meeting in Fushimi and then went for ramen- it was ginormous and really good!image1.JPG Then back in Joyo we dropped by an investigator who hasn't met for a long time- kind of the final, do you have interest type of visit and we started talking then an earthquake happened- that was cool. Definitely saw and felt it but wasn't very strong. Evening was Game Night and some members showed up this week! So grateful for member support. 
  • Saturday DCS (missionary coordination meeting) and seriously it was potentially the best of my mission- it was focused on people and Katayama Kyoudai gave us clear direction and advice and were able to align with the Ward and his vision. Then Takara  Shimai took us to lunch, visit a member in the hospital and then another member for her birthday- amazing people. I could probably talk about her forever- she and her husband have served 3 missions together also found out her husband baptized the amazing dendo shunin back in Sakai who then turned into a mission President, etc and it's just incredible to see the influence even just 1 person has. 
  • Sunday we sang together in church, then after had Ward Council and again best of my mission- focused on people and no wasted time. After church helped set up Halloween decorations for party next week. Went back to the apartment to eat lunch and just both ended up crashing and taking a nap almost the whole time anyways. Very needed! Then got up and had the best evening- a lady Stoneman Shimai found before from Peru didn't have a ton of interest before but totally changed this time and we'll bring her a Spanish BOM this week. Thankfully she speaks enough Japanese because about the only things I could say were hello and Libro de Mormon. Housed some other apartments and felt prompted to stop at a building and met a guy who went to a Christian college and gave him a BOM, then miracles don't stop there! Next was Cambodians! K- stop here for a quick update on Joyo- at the beginning of the year elder's found a Cambodian girl here for work and invited her to Eikaiwa, she came and from there was introduced to the gospel and started teaching and inviting all her friends. Because the area was getting so successful they emergency transferred in sister missionaries as well. A few friends were baptized but then original girl went back to Cambodia (work arrangement is only a year at a time) but now her family's getting baptized and she's preparing for a mission! Back in Joyo the Cambodian phase died a little but Stoneman Shimai stills knows where they live and that there are a few people left that probably know the one girl- a lot of people live in one apartment complex but they are super busy with work and hard to meet. Tonight we kept ringing the doorbell and waiting and a girl came out and talked to us- kind of spoke English but not enough to really communicate so we used a church language app on our iPad (very grateful for technology) and tried to teach about God and at the end asked if we could come again and she said yes! She was so sweet. Then next apartment and a girl immediately invited us in, had talked to missionaries before. She could speak basic Japanese so taught her and she said from before this message is still confusing to her and she's busy, but then she really softened up when we talked about family- communicationwas hard but I just showed a picture of my family and said I love them and she showed her family picture and we have the same family arrangement (? Is that the right word? Same number of people, etc). The Spirit overcomes any language barrier and it was really special to experience that. 

For P-day today we went to the Monkey Park in Kyoto and besides that it was just a really pretty area with shops and bamboo forest and lots of stuff!image2.JPG
This is such a special place to be and such a special time to get to share the gospel- a message of joy that can be understood by everyone. EVERYONE will find greater peace and happiness by coming closer unto Christ. He extends the simple invitation to come follow Him and walk with Him. 

Love, Wagstaff 姉妹
Sent from my iPad

Monkey Park!  Baby monkey- adorable, my heart was softened ❤️

Look at this cute couple taking wedding/announcement pictures!

Love you guys- good luck back at school and work after the break! Excited to see the basement, sounds cool- is it fully underground?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Monday Oct. 17, 2016

Week 2 in Joyo and it's truly a special little place! Last Monday we went into the city (Kyoto) over to Kiyomizudera for fun with Fushimi sisters and then there were wifi issues and sending emails was a disaster BUT had a great day

This is the "kiyo mizu", pure water. You rinse your hands and mouth- and baptism is definitely better :)

That night, like always God was in charge of our plans and though it wasn't our plan or backup plan we visited some PIs who we've tried a lot lately but this time both were home! One college student who has a BOM and we gave another place to read, then our next door neighbor who's just the sweetest and sadly very busy but wants to talk more later.

Tuesday we biked out to a far area but with lots of people to visit- some nice LA's then saw a bike shop and my bikes been in pretty bad shape, back wheel hasn't been straight for a while and so stopped to see about fixing it- turns out big problems and would take a few days, so we adjusted our schedule and had to walk back from there...that took a while and then an investigator cancelled but ate good food and then visited a member family close and one girl just recently got back from her mission so tons of dendo fire and working so hard! We felt so loved with them.

Wednesday used an extra bike the elders had and visited a ton of recent converts (during the summer Joyo saw a baptism a week so there's a looooot of recent converts!) They are some o the cutest members- a lot of grandma's. Also a new investigator forgot about our appt and was super late with really no time but at least still came to the church to see us, say sorry and hopefully we can meet her for real again.

Thursday the nicest member drove us over to the bike shop and I got my bike back! Poor thing has been doing pretty good, now I just need it to keep enduring! Our dendo shunin took us to lunch with the elders and had a mini DCS (missionary coordination meeting) and seriously I feel like every time I talk to Katayama Kyoudai I just receive pure wisdom. He's really cool. Later taught a RC's mom...I love her so much, she says the funniest things and if I can get a video, I'll show you, if not I'll just explain when I get home! Lessons are very short because she gets tired but using pictures and then singing a Primary song we were able to teach her about Jesus Christ.

Friday we went to District Meeting in Fushimi and got hopelessly lost but eventually found our way to the church and then had a great Conference review together. Indo Curry (never gets old) and then back to Joyo and met up with an Eikaiwa student who insisted we meet her daughter plus family and we were able to teach a bit of the Plan of Salvation- not entirely sure how interested they were, but a nice opportunity. Then at night our cute neighbor came over and brought dinner randomly! That was sweet.

Saturday we went to Ibaraki (back to Osaka!) with a member for Dendo Go- a mission prep activity, Pokemon ago theme. Coolest thing ever, so all of my favorite YSA/youth in Osaka were there, plus Welch Kaicho and Shimai and all the missionaries in the Kansai area (Osaka and Kyoto). We received a bunch of training in the morning then split in companionships- missionaries and members, then lunch and headed out to go find and teach together! I was with a girl Aiko Chan who's 20 and considering a mission. We had a cool experience- she was way shy and scared about talking to people so most of the time I talked but halfway through stopped and prayed for direction and talked to a high school girl nearby and she had legitimate interest and the member was able to bear testimony and invite her to learn more! The worth of 1 soul is great- plus we were able to talk to quite a few people after that as well. Came back, had a testimony meeting, picture and headed home. I was overwhelmed with how much I just love these people and missionary work- this is one great big miracle! All of our little efforts may seem small but in about 1 hour ish, as a group we talk over 500 lessons, gave away 50 BOMs. All of the little efforts do add up, so it's incredible to think that this is happening all over the world.

Some Sakai friends at Dendo Go!

Sunday met a lot of Joyo members and was super happy to see converts bringing family members who aren't members yet. I sat next to a convert and her granddaughter, just like home we played the dot game together in Sacrament. She's 10. Also she already loves primary! After church we had a lunch otgheyer- they do this every month to celebrate birthdays. It's fun to be part of a smaller Ward again- about 30-50 active members. They are very inclusive. After church miracles housing an apartment building we've been wanting to try for a while. Then in the evening watched Elder Bednar devotional for Japan- lots spoken about Joy and the Holy Ghost.

Today was a slow day lounging around the apartment and going over to a member's tonight for her mom's birthday (the investigator) for an FHE party, should be pretty fun.

Gospel's true and it's so joyful, love you all!

Sister Wagstaff

Sent from my iPad

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Oct. 10, 2016

Surprised to transfer! So it was crazy and no time for any of those apple recipes but thanks and now I'm not an STL anymore so I actually have time at night to maybe make something!! 
Last Monday with Shuu- so grateful I've met her. Sad lesson having to let her know about transfers- honestly I cried and my wish was that I could speak Chinese so that I could teach her better, I would've done anything- I realized any sacrifice is worth it if someone can come unto Christ. 
With that experience so hard, Tuesday was a miracle, she is taken care of and the work is moving on. 

I was a little sad when I first got to Joyo because I loved Osaka and the city so much and honestly a little sad to be done being an STL but then got more comfortable with Stoneman Shimai and we're going to have a lot of fun! Also General Conference, of course,was just the most uplifting boost. 
Starting to feel like an old missionary especially because Stoneman Shimai is a 3rd transfer who's a year younger as a missionary. But she's also very dedicated and there are good things in store for the last 2 months (wasn't counting before but literally every missionary and member has asked now). 

Love you no time bye!

So I was a little surprised but I'm out of Abeno and now in Joyo! It's a town in Kyoto and inaka (country) but not as inaka as Imabari where I started. New companion is Stoneman Shimai- it's been almost a year since I've been with an American and she's from Spanish Fork haha small world. Also she's a theater major :)

So last Monday, I think I wrote about part of this last week but we found out that our miracle investigator who has a baptism date, Shuu San, actually lives in the next Ward, Sekime and so Monday night we went over to her apartment with our Ward mission leader, the amazing Nagano Kyoudai who lives close and had to break the news that Zhou Shimai was transferring (didn't know about me yet) and that she didn't live in Abeno. That was a little hard for her to take- she seemed worried. But Nagano Kyoudai was also amazing and helped a lot, especially by sharing his conversion. 

Tuesday morning got a call from Shuu and she had made time and wanted to meet that day around lunch time at Seishi Shimai's house (member that we've usually visited her with). Also we brought the Sekime elders to be able to pass off. The Seishi's are the most amazing couple and it really is an honor to know them, also thankfully today Shuu felt better than yesterday- the Spirit was very present in our lesson, also to help with the Chinese, Zhou Shimai will Skype into the lessons probably and we really tried to help her focus on being converted to Jesus Christ and His gospel. Truly she is amazing and can't wait for her to get baptized, she's on fire! Also visited other investigators that day, one passed really smoothly to the elders- again another miracle. Then Tuesday night before planning I got the call to transfer to Kyoto. 

Wednesday sent off bikes and suitcases quickly then went out to visit a LA (for health reasons) and is very close to the Spirit and we had a beautiful lesson. Then visited Chin Shimai, cute recent convert from Taiwan who wasn't happy we are transferring but she just has the strongest testimony and nothing's going to shake her. In the evening Nanaka Chan (member) joined us for a church tour/lesson with an investigator- so this investigator was found a while ago on the street, then found again by different sisters and were able to get contact info and we've been mailing her all transfer and just haven't been able to meet so miraculously had an appt, she's really cute! Did the church tour ending with the font and Nanaka shared her conversion and though this investigator says she's not very interested in joining she really wants to learn and was very impressed and at the end exchanged info with the member and turns out they live very close and she's going to be very well taken care of! God is very carefully guiding this girls life :):)

Thursday transfer day- out of downtown Osaka (I've been in Osaka for almost a year!) and off to Kyoto with a little church and rice fields and nice people that say hi back to us! Joyo has a really good rep- the members are on fire and they've seen quite a few baptisms this year AND have retained those people. 

Friday started after study with a RC lesson and had the greatest doseki Takara Shimai who has served 3 missions with her husband! She helped a lot in addressing some concerns of this 20something yr old convert who's family isn't very supportive of his choice. Then did some visits and along the way even though there aren't very many people to talk to on the streets the first girl we talked to was interested and exchanged info (very rare situation!), then I met a lot of the recent converts with all sorts of interesting stories! Ended the night with Game Night...not the best turnout but well work on it!

Then big highlight of the week...GENERAL CONFERENCE ❤❤
Did anybody notice all the talks about missionary work?? Very helpful, through all of Conference I received so many answers- truly God is aware of each one of His children. Then with that fire did some finding and talk to wonderful people, no new investigators. Sunday more General Conference! Quite a few talks stuck out to me but one that was really special was Elder Yamashita- I was just overwhelmed by how much I love my mission, how much I love these Japanese people. I don't remember a lot of what he said but I'll never forget the Spirit I felt. I hope each of you was able to have similar experiences listening to the words of our loving prophet President Monson and other leaders of the church! After conference, we needed to put my bike together (it comes apart to ship by box when we transfer) and as we pulled it out to start, a neighbor saw us and immediately came over to help. Seriously he came over put it all together then grabbed a rag and cleaned up off, pumped up my tires and replaced a missing bolt- wow. Like wow. So we're going to bring a cake and BOM and thank him this week.
Then we met a young investigator who home stayed in Idaho with a member family and is so prepared and has some concerns but accepted a baptismal goal for November 13th

Monday in Kyoto, I'm writing at Kiyomizudera right now, here with Fushimi STLs, love them! Love you all! Now get out and DENDO! 

Love, Wagstaff Shimai

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Oct. 3 Miracle Week!

Last Monday evening after p-day we visited a member couple in a beautiful traditional Japanese house- that was cool, but better than that was talking with them and hearing the sister's strong hope about less-active kids. She knows they will come back and has really strong faith. PS if you want to read a cool talk with really good promises, "A Child and a Disciple" by Elder Eyring in April 2003- also he talks a little about Japan! 

Tuesday was MLC in Kobe and things are changing up- first we met at President Welch's house instead of the church and got to sit on comfy chairs- that's a bonus! But the real cool part as that we have a new challenge/promise: Every companionship will see a baptism before the end of this year! The Spirit was really strong in that room and it was so exciting to talk abut how we are all going to reach that goal and something that touched me was how much Welch Kaicho cares about the individual- he asked all of the Zone Leaders and STLs to get their baptisms quick so that we can focus our efforts on uplifting and doing all we can to help all the other missionaries around. Us so that everyone can succeed together- this really is a group effort. At MLC Zhou Shimai and I had he prompting that to help us get our baptism, receive more direction we needed to fast, so we fasted the next day and on Wednesday had a great day...

Wednesday started with lunch at a member's and she made us a really good traditional Japanese lunch- mostly sushi and it was sooo good. We talked about being prepared and found out she's already getting excited and prepped for Christmas dendo, because so many barriers that people have to Christianity disappear at Christmas-time, it's true! So that was exciting to hear. Then we had an appt with Shuu at Seishi Shimai's house. Short version is, it was probably the most amazing lesson experience of my mission- the Spirit was very present, Shuu San bore part of her testimony and is definitely coming to know that this church is true and we set a date for her to be baptized on October 30th! She is a miracle. 

Thursday we got SKK (weekly planning) done in exactly 2 hours! At MLC, Welch Kaicho said it should only take 2 hours and we realized we needed to repent, and we did it and it felt so good having it all done without taking forever. Then we were able to go out, visit a recent convert Chin Shimai, then a less active with the RS Pres and we had a nice quick lesson about the First Vision and then raced back to the church because a member set up an appointment with an investigator we haven't seen in a while, got there and waited and waited and waited and no show :( that was too bad (but it's okay because there was a miscommunication and she came Friday and Zhou Shimai got to meet her). 

Friday ZTM in Yamatokoriyama and announced the baptism goal and got all excited again! Then the Yamatokoriyama sisters came back with us for a koukan, I went with a 1st transfer and first we had an investigator lesson with fruit stand guy, plus a member was able to come and talked about the Atonement and Sacrament- trying to help this investigator build desire to come to church. Moving very slowly but he's so nice! It started raining pretty hard and we weren't prepared, but more miracles! I was a little stressed because we didn't really have solid evening plans, so while I stopped and checked he map for a bit, Polatis Shimai talked to a grandma and it looked like she just was excited to meet an American, so I didn't go over but then they kept talking so maybe she did have interest? Yeah, she insisted on taking us to a cafe nearby to buy us juice, then we were able to talk, give her a BOM and she said basically felt different and it was a new feeling but good and grateful she met us, so we exchanged numbers, later able to call her and set an appt to meet again! So that pumped us up a lot and even though it was still raining we just tried to talk to everyone on the way home and there were some definite fails and people that thought we were weird but there was able 1 guy that walked up and talked to us first and truly when we really work hard and show our faith, miracles happen- this is Heavenly Father's work and I loved seeing how God strengthens our weaknesses and it didn't matter how much she didn't understand the language, Polatis Shimai was able to talk to people and share the gospel. Really good night. 

Saturday morning studied and sisters left, then most of our plans for the day cancelled on us and we had a long day ahead of us, which is pretty scary and took a second to plan- again definitely God's work because the Spirit guided us to who we needed to visit, where it might be a good idea to go. Did some finding, visited a cute grandma in a lodging home, then stopped by a member's appt and cool story here- she joined the church as a teenager then went LA and married a nonmember and was less-active for many years but thanks to her active sister, was brought back years ago and found out that she really wants to go on a couple mission, but husband doesn't even like the church. That doesn't stop her, she has faith and still does all she can spiritually in addition to secretly saving up money for that mission. Isn't that incredible?!?!?? Seriously so touched by that, there are for sure going to be some pretty amazing things happening with faith like that. Reminds me of Pres Uchtdorf's talk in the Women's Session of General Conference "4th Floor Last Door" - such an inspiring story! Sister Welch shared it with us at MLC on Tuesday and its really noticing, go watch it! We have to persevere and work until the last door of the last floor. 

Sunday morning we had DCS (missionary coordination meeting) and found out that Shuu- new shigansha (person with baptismal date) this week doesn't live in Abeno, she lives right on the border and should technically be going to Sekime Ward. So that was a huge bummer, but the members are really helpful and are going to coordinate really well so we can help her smoothly transition because she's developed relationships with us and members in Abeno. Thankfully she is truly in the process of being converted to the gospel, so there might be some bumps but not big problems. After church we visited Beatrice- investigator with broken arm and experienced the power of the BOM together. First got there and the kids were a little crazy but kept moving forward and she was really touched by Ether 12:27, we were able to set a new baptismal date for 10/30 and she still has so much desire and faith despite the obstacles that have been in the way, so grateful to see her example. 

So overall this has been a powerful week. This mission is directed by God through leaders who hold the rights and authority of the Priesthood and we are seeing miracles. This church, this restored gospel of Jesus Christ- its all true and seeing people discover that is so rewarding. 

Love you all!

Wagstaff 姉妹

(Weakley Choro in the middle is dying)

(But it's all good, we're nice happy people!)

Story from Pres. Uchtdorf's talk "4th Floor Last Door"

Got a call this morning and found out Zhou Shimai is transferring :( :( We were really really hoping to stay
together another transfer especially with the baptisms coming up but for her last transfer she's off to Shikoku opening a new sister area and training! We've had a great transfer together, so grateful for my companions. Don't know who's coming to Abeno, also that is assuming I'm staying (probably). Also can't believe I'm still STL, definitely thought I'd be training this transfer or something, but anything is good! I really like it here in Abeno and there's so much work to do.

Very excited for conference weekend! We had some Americans visit this week and they told us to get excited for Elder Oaks talk- talking about member missionary work? VERY excited for that! I translated in Relief Society and they were just the nicest couple from Nevada- husband had served in Japan a while ago (probably your guys age-ish).