Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Who is Mormon? Come here!"

Testimony of Diana Kyan, Matsumoto Branch, submitted by Elder and Sister Matsuhashi

About forty years ago, I was attending a Catholic high school in a rural area of the Philippines.  I was 14 when my sister introduced me to the Gospel, and the missionaries taught me the discussions.  They answered many questions I had had since I was a small child, and I decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  From then on, I would visit the homes of less-active members and young investigators with the missionaries.

I knew that my classmates saw me with missionaries, but because I was determined that I would “never change my faith, no matter what,” I did not worry.

Sister Diana
One day, at a morning assembly, the principal, who was a nun, demanded to the whole school, “Who among you is Mormon?”  My classmate whispered to me, “It’s you!  You need to go!”  because she knew I was a Latter-day Saint.  I was very embarrassed.  “Who is Mormon?  Come here!  Tell us if you are doing something good!”  The principal said harshly to the 500 students.

I wondered, “Why is she doing this?”  I felt angry inside, but I had been taught to show respect to those senior to me, so I pushed it away.  In my heart, I exclaimed, “You can say anything, but I’m not going to change my mind!”  I’m sure the principal would have been very surprised I had such strong determination in such a circumstance.

Since that day, word spread to the whole school that I was a Latter-day Saint.  My peers started calling me names.  It was a difficult time for me, but my best friend never called me names.  After a while, my friend asked me if I was still a Mormon.  I said without hesitation, “Yes, and I will be for the rest of my life!”

During that difficult time, I received much encouragement from the Young Women’s Theme, to “stand as a witness of God at all times and in all thinks, and in all places.”  This phrase always came to my mind and sustained me, and I continuously felt God’s hand helping me.

I was only able to go to school three days a week, due to family circumstances, but my grades were at the top of the class.  One day, the principal came to me and said, “Would you like to lead the choir at the graduation ceremony?”  I was flattered that she had extended this offer despite that she knew I was a Mormon.  I decided to accept her offer.  Since then, she never said anything bad about the Church, and we became very close.

Now, anyone of any faith can attend the school.  I have the determination to fear nothing.  I know that God knows how we can grow more and guides us to achieve it.

Diana Shimai with Sister and Elder Matsuhashi,
wonderful missionaries in Matsumoto.

November Transfers, 2012

The last transfer of the year.  But the same emotions accompany it, as with every transfer.  Oh, how we hate to let go of these four wonderful, experienced, mature and amazing missionaries.  And the only consolation is that we are  getting three new missionaries.  They will never be able to replace those who left, but they will be strong and wonderful in their own right.

So, our warm goodbyes to:
Seated from left:  Elder Amussen, Elder Kishi, and Elder Kusume
Standing:  President Baird, Sister Baird, Sister Nishimuro
Elder Ibuki Kishi

Elder Kishi has a talent for singing, cutting paper into wonderful animals and shapes, 
juggling and card tricks.  He is cheerful and positive and makes friends with everyone.  
Children especially love it when he is around.  He is a hard worker and has a strong testimony.

Elder Kaneko and Elder Kishi--
Out standing in their field.

Elder Kishi loves swords.
Elder Matson on the left.

Elder Berrett and Elder Kishi contemplating the universe.
(Or maybe waiting for a train.)
Elder Yuichiro Kusume

From left, Elder Soliai, Elder Kusume, and Elder Kishi
Elder Kusume at Cherry Blossom Time.
Elder Kusume is very open with everyone.  He is a hard worker and 
can easily gain the trust of people.  He is very easy to get along with, according to 
one elder who knows him well.   He is also a good cook.

Elder Cameron Amussen
Elder Amussen, on left, looks solemn, but he's just wishing they'd
quit taking pictures so he could dig into that great lasagna.
Also, Sister Nishimuro, Elder Kishi, Elder Kusume

Elder Amussen on left, with Elder Dunn
They have just told this sister about the Book of Mormon
and she has invited them to dinner.
Elder Amussen became very good with the Japanese language. Before his mission, he had a goal of learning Japanese, and a goal of serving a mission.  He felt the Lord had His eye on him when he found out he would be able to do both at the same time.

Sister Asahi Nishimuro

Sister Eguchi and Sister Nishimuro (on right)

Aren't they beautiful!
Sister Nishimuro (left) and Sister Eguchi.

You've just got to read this book, Pikachu.
You will be forever changed by it.

Sister Nishimuro has been a very obedient missionary. Her companions say that she has lots of energy and works hard.  She loves everyone, and it is easy for her to show her love to others.  She loves to cook and sing, and her voice is exceptionally beautiful and amazing.  She can become friends with anyone and was a very caring companion.

We dropped them off at the airport in the morning, and went back in the evening to give a warm welcome to our new missionaries.  This may be our last dragon photo.  Next year?  The Year of the Snake.  That can't possibly be as pretty as the dragon.

From left, Sister Katsuta, Sister Silva, Sister and President Baird, Elder Shimbashi, and Elder Waddell
Of course, we can't leave the airport without the Hoiza shout.
Next morning in the mission home: writing something
for Sister Baird's special book.

Elder Ellsworth at the piano, and Elder Clark on the cello.
We get to enjoy wonderful music whenever possible.

Elder Dee Waddell

Seto will be blessed to have Elder Waddell (left)
along with his trainer, Elder Dunn.

From Manassas, Virginia, Elder Waddell is the oldest of four children.  His first goal is to be a successful husband and father, but he would also like to be a commercial airline pilot or a musician.  He is a musician, singer, basketball player and an avid longboard skateboarder.  He says he is always happy and smling.  He is respectful, enjoys life and is easily liked.  He has born his testimony many times to his friends who aren't members of the Church. 
Elder Dunn could become an author, filmmaker, English teacher or TV broadcaster.  He is 
energetic and enjoys being humorous.

Sister Yoko Katsuta

Sister Katsuta (left) is pointing to her new area, Takayama,
with Sister Adachi, her trainer.
Hyogo, Japan is home to Sister Yoko Katsuta.  Sister Katsuta has a wonderful mother who was kind and cheerful and who influenced her interest in the Church and testimony.  She passed away when Sister Katsuta was in high school.  Sister Katsuta is the only member of the church in her family.  She loves to read and hopes to become a librarian.  She also loves to sing and has been on a women's chorus team where they perform at various places.  Her strong point is being kind to all around her.

Sister Adachi has a strong testimony of the scriptures.  If food is good, you want to share it 
with others.  Like that, she wants to share the Gospel.  She loves the Book of Mormon 
and gets power from it.  She wants to pray hard, feel the spirit, and work with her companion willingly.

Elder Ashton Shimbashi

On left is Elder Shimbashi, and Elder Sarager is his trainer.
They will be working in Kariya.
Elder Ashton Shimbashi hails from Alberta, Canada.  His mother served a mission in Fukuoka and his father in Colorado.  He loves sports, especially hockey, soccer and football.  He is personable and gets along well with people, is a hard worker, and he says he fears failure.  His testimony of the scriptures gave him a strong desire to serve a mission.  He hopes to learn the language quickly, because even though he didn't grow up speaking Japanese, people will expect him to know it.

Elder Sarager is great with building relationships with members.  Someone said of him, "He's the nicest guy you'll ever meet."  He has a great heart and understands his purpose as a missionary.  On top of that, he's an incredible volleyball player.

Sister Fabiana Silva

Sister Silva, left, and Sister Rogers.
They will be the first sisters in Yokkaichi.
We think Sister Fabiana Silva may be the first sister missionary to serve in the Japan Nagoya Mission from Brazil.  She is from Sao Paulo.  She has studied translation and interpretation in college and wants to continue that when she arrives home.  She loves to read, and enjoys knitting and doing puzzles for relaxation.  She has lots of energy and likes to keep moving, even when she is tired.  She rarely gives up on something.  It is easy for her to put others' needs before her own.  In 2009, she prayed to God for a new opportunity, and met the missionaries, who helped her find a new life.  Her mother was baptized four months later. When she was baptized, she told the missionaries she wanted to be like them--she wanted to become a missionary.  And she has.

Sister Rogers is easy going, gets excited over little  things, and is happy and high on life.  She has had a deep love for the gospel all her life. And it is a highlight whenever we get to hear her play violin.  She inspires us with her music.

What a beautiful group, united in a most important work!
From left:  Sister Adachi, Elder Waddell, Sister Katsuta, Elder Dunn, Sister Rogers,
Elder Sarager, Sister Silva, Elders Shimbashi, Sister Baird, President Baird