Snow day!

Aloha family,
Today and this week were so awesome!
Early this morning our ward had a mochitsuki, where they take all this rice and pound it in a big tree stump thing.  Every one takes turns pounding until the rice turns into mochi.  After that they split it up and dip the mochi in all different soups and dip in many different  things and then every one takes what they like and they just keep pounding the morning away with this big wooden mallot.  It was heavier then I thought and was actually quite an upper body work out.  I love our ward so much!!  They feel like such a family to me now.
Our good friend Maedason came today too.  I love her. She has been learning about the church for about four months now and finally yesterday came to all three hours of church, and then even afterwards could not stop chatting with the members.   I just love her so much! During sacrament she leaned over to me asking me it would be alright if she could bring her daughter and granddaughter to church next. I told her ofcourse! I love Nakano ward so much. They were all super helful in answering Norikoson's questions and befriending her. I feel so greatful!  When I come home I always want to be helpful to the missionaries like the people in this ward are, it makes such a big difference!  Its so interesting.  Most people in japan are not necessarily always converted instatly by the Book of Mormon, but Im finding more often then not they are touched by the kindness of the members, and by what they feel. 

Yesterday one of my favorite little girls in our ward, Kotomichan was baptized.  We have been helping her with the baptism lessons with her dad, and she is so sweet and so strong.  Her mom is such a strong member but we have been in their home alot teaching her simple lessons to prepare her.  During her baptism I felt so proud of her and was watching her be baptized and I thought about how humble and meek little children are.  They are so beleving and pure in heart without any hidden motivations.  I want to be like her!
So today was so awesome, it unexpectedly snowed a ton!!  All the trainstations shut down, so since it was Pday all the missionaries just had a huge snowball fight.  I felt like I was in Elementary school again playing capture the flag. I still think Im dethawing. 
The mission really is the best.  Today I was thinking about my first transfer, I remember there was a day that was SO HARD.  I felt like no one could understand me, and I felt so alone because I didnt have any good friends yet and my Japanese trainer I felt like was hard to communicate with.  I felt frustrated because I didnt know if I was helping the people we were teaching, and wanted to do so much more.   My heart just ached for something, ANYTHING familiar, a friend, someone who could understand me.  I remember crying to myself after my trainer went to bed and thinking--where am I? and will I ever feel okay here?  I remember laying in bed and wishing Heavenly Father could scoop me up, or atleast help me go to sleep.  Then the next thing I remember is waking up and the sun shining directly on me, as if to say "Hello!  Youve made it through the dark night and Im here with you, lets go together day!"  And the Lord gently taking my hand and steadying me step by step. This has been such a journey, but if theres anything Ive learned so far, its that the sun ALWAYS comes out.  Even when its so hard, you just never know what is behind the corner, so you have got to hang in there! 
Okay anyway I LOVE YOU ALL! So glad I am here!

Vail Shimai

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