Monday, December 29, 2014

"And a Happy New Year!"

Skype on Christmas Eve
Dear Family,

This Christmas has been the best Christmas ever! We had so many "Festavis miracles"! It was amazing. :) I was so happy to talk to all of you and see your beautiful faces! You are a great family. Did you know that? :) Well if you didn't now you do!
Christmas Day we had the special opportunity to go to Yokohama with a Ward member and her daughter, her friend from work, her good friend who loves the missionaries and her daughter (we will call her R-san to make this a shorter explanation.) and R-sans mother and friend. We were able to spend some good time with them. It was amazing and such a good experience for all of us. Christmas time is magical! And it snowed a little! Not much but just a small bit!
Later that night we went caroling as a district. It was an amazing experience. We saw so many miracles. :)

Here is one that my companion wrote down and sent to me:

" We were on the way to an investigator's home to carol to their family when Ashby-shimai spotted a house covered in Christmas lights. She thought they were too beautiful to ignore, so she stopped our group and went to ring the doorbell. The lady who answered through the kekko box was a little confused at first, but then came out to greet us. We were so excited she didn't reject us and that we might get the opportunity to sing. She was surprised to see such a large group of Americans at her doorstep, but wanted to hear us sing. In fact, she and her mom thought it was such a rare opportunity, that they asked if it would be alright to call their neighbors! Of course you can call your neighbors! As they went door to door, housing and bringing their friends to meet the missionaries, our district became more and more excited. We love caroling! Never did we imagine that knocking on the door of one house would allow us to share the true Spirit of Christmas with so many people. We could already feel the Spirit, we could tell the Lord was helping us with our caroling this night. It was the best feeling in the world. Over 10 people came out of their homes that night to hear us sing.
After a moment's decision, we decided to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", then "Away in a Manger", then "Angels we Have Heard on High." Though we sang just fine, I couldn't tell if any of the songs had reached their hearts. So I spoke up and asked if anyone had a favorite Christmas song. To my surprise, an older man standing in front of me asked us to sing "Silent Night". No one had ever suggested a hymn before! The miracles continued to come forth... We were so excited and flipped to it in our hymn books. It turns out this man knew the first verse in English, so he asked us to sing the first verse in English and the rest in Japanese. So we did just that. During this song you could tell the Spirit was beginning to truly touch the hearts of these wonderful Japanese people. One lady was crying by the end of it. Another lady told us that our caroling was the best gift she had received this Christmas. Everyone was so happy & grateful, and many hearts were touched. It was such an incredible experience - especially for Daiya-san, an investigator who sang with us.

The Lord works in small and simple ways, touching the hearts of many.

For us, it was a true Christmas miracle."That story kind of sums up how Christmas was! We saw more miracles but it was that same feeling. Sharing the true feeling of Christmas we those around us. :) A Ward member also brought us a Christmas cake! :)
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful new year! This week is my year mark in Japan. It is so amazing to think back to a year ago New Year's Eve when I landed in Japan. I had no idea what this past year of my life would bring, but it has been the best, hardest, happiest, most rewarding year of my life and I wouldn't trade the testimony I have received for anything in the world. I know God loves us and knows who he wants us to become. Trust him and life will be beautiful. :)

Love you all!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

We wish a merry Christmas

Dear Family,

Did you know I love Christmas Time? I LOVE Christmas and all of the
Happiness that comes with this season! Christ is the reason for the season and doesn't that make it the best? :)

This week has been so wonderful. We have seen a lot of miracles and some changes in Hodogaya. :) Everything started on Monday night. That night we had an amazing dinner with the Saito family, who spoiled all of the missionaries and bought us this amazing traditional Japanese dinner. It was beautiful. The Elders sang a song for them and then they shared their conversion stories with us. The spirit was so strong  
in their home, and I just felt like I was at home. It was one of those times when you just say to yourself, "this is what it is all about." I have learned a lot about how to make a house a home from
that family. I am so grateful for their example. It reminds me a lot of my family and I love the feeling there. Anyway.... Monday night we got a call from the APs at about 9:45pm saying that there was an
emergency transfer happening and we would be getting another sister coming to be in the Hodogaya Ward. And guess who it is?!?! Sister Lambert my last companion that I served with in Fujisawa Ward!!!!! 
いいね。:) So we are now three! and the power of three is a true thing my friends. We are loving it. :)

Tuesday we had the best Zone Conference I have ever been to. The spirit was so strong. I love learning and that Zone Conference I learned so much and recognized a lot of how I have changed. Sister Wada spoke first and talked about what it means to have success and what would make our missions a success. She shared a video of returned missionaries sharing what had made their missions a success. All of the things mentioned in the video related to Jesus Christ. It was so amazing to see how these people had been changed because of Jesus Christ. It made me think about how I have been changed because of Jesus Christ. And because it is Christmas time, how the birth of
Jesus Christ changed my life and influenced me as a missionary specifically. Well it has changed everything and influenced every aspect of my life! But His influence has most effected my life in the
aspect of love. It has been in moments when I have felt love or shown love that I have been changed. Jesus Christ has shown me the perfect example of love and he offers me perfect love. Love has
changed and shaped who I am and everything I do. Like President Monson has said, "Love is the essence of the gospel." And I really understood that this week.

We have had many opportunities to do service for people this week. It has given me an opportunity to show more love for those I am serving. I don't have time to share all of the great experiences we
had, but one that I will remember for the rest of my life happened on Friday. We had the opportunity Friday to Visit a Rest home and sing for the people there. We went with a non-member Lady how loves the church and the missionaries, but is against going to church. She is funny, but we love her. We got there earlier and had the chance to talk to a lot if the residence. Oh how much I miss going every Sunday to sing at the old folks home in AF!!!!!! It was so fun to talk to those people!  They love foreigners! It was so great. :) we sang a few songs and the power of three carried us through. The spirit was so strong and it felt so good to testify to those there through song. After one of the workers there asked us where our church is and we were able to invite her to come to church. She is from the Philippines and was so grateful that we came to sing. It was the best day ever! Those old people are so cute and just like the old people in America, just a little shorter and they speak a different language. But it totally was a tender mercy from God to be able to do that at Christmas time.

Saturday we had the Ward Christmas party and it was so amazing! We had 15 non-members there and 3 less actives. It was a miracle. The Ward was so happy and they did such a great job fellow shipping all those came. Everyone had a great time. At the end we were able to sing a song as missionaries and testify of the savior and the importance of 

Christmas. :) I love Christmas!

I am  so excited to hear all of you and see your faces this week!
Until Christmas....well Christmas eve...

I love you!


Our Christmas tree.

Our apartment and Christmas decorations. :) yeah for Christmas lights!!! :)

The cake a sister in the Ward made for the Ward Christmas party. :)
cool right?!?

Monday, December 15, 2014

The miracle of the Atonement

Dear Family,
So this week has been a little different than other weeks. I got sick.... Bummer
! But it is okay. I am doing a lot better now. But because I was sick I learned a lot about the importance of following the spirit and the power that the spirit has. When we have the spirit with us we can do all things that are required of us.

Thursday we had MLC. It was amazing as always. Filled with the spirit and inspired messages. The theme was the talk from Priesthood session titled, "Lord is it I?
That talk has so many amazing things from it. If you haven't, please go read it. It is a really good self evaluation talk. It helps to you take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Because I have been sick this week we had to stay in for a day or two and I had a lot of time to sleep but also think. I thought a lot about what I have learned on my mission so far and how I have changed. It is amazing to see the progress I have made in this past year and all the things I still would like to see some improvements on. The miracle though is to see the way the atonement of Jesus Christ has influenced and changed me. It is a miracle to see the atonement work in the lives of those around you. I have seen so many people change in small and big ways because of the atonement, but it is almost a bigger miracle to see how it can completely change yourself. It is a miracle because
it has changed me in just the tiniest of ways here and there, which in a year have made a huge difference in how I think or act. I am so grateful for the gift of the atonement and the power that it can have in our lives, to change is in ways we didn't even see were possible. It is beautiful. It is true. Christ made it possible and he is the Gift this Christmas season. If you haven't seen the churches "He is the Gift" Video yet go watch. So amazing!

Oh a funnier note. The spirit guides us in funny ways. The other day we were walking down the street and we see this golden candy wrapper flying in the wind. We had been housing earlier and had no success at all. No one would even open the door. So I thought in my head, "okay let's follow this wrapper and see if the spirit will guide us to someone!" So we were laughing and following this wrapper. It finally stopped in front of an apartment building. We picked up and threw it in the wind to see if it would keep going and it didn't. So we looked at the building. Picked a door and knocked. The lady opened the door and we shared a message about Jesus Christ and Christmas. It was amazing!!!!!! She didn't have too much interest but we invited her to church and the Christmas party and she said she would come if she had time. Maybe she didn't accept our message yet, but the spirit was guiding us to those that would receive even just 5 min of our message.
Happy day! :)

I love you! Have a great week!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Shinkansen and the Disappearing Mountain; Folks it is the little reminders of Gods love that Really matter in life. :)

Dear family,

This week I have been thinking about how wonderful God really is. How wonderful the belief in God is. I Love God. I Love that I have the knowledge that God is there and that he loves all of his children. I really felt that this week. I had a little bit of a missionary present this last week. One of those moments that just smacks you in the face on why you are where you are doing what you are doing. It was a great moment. I will get it it in a second....first about the week. :)

Oh where to begin..... :)
On Monday we went to Yokohama! It was so fun! We went to landmark tower and saw the Ferris wheel again. いいね。
Tuesday we taught two less actives. Those visits were so great!!!! One sister has been having a really hard time applying the gospel to her life. She says she believes it all but she rarely acts on that belief. (Aka reading the Book of Mormon, coming to church, etc.) The bishop asked us to teach her all of the lessons again and with the help of her visiting teachers we had a great lesson on Tuesday. And she has been reading the Book of Mormon this week!!!!!! In Japan there are SO many less active members!!!!! There could be 400 people in a ward but only 100 or so come to church. But it is a great experience working with less actives. I love it!
Our other visit was to help a less active clean out her house a little. She has a lot of stuff!!! Mom...... You would hate and love cleaning her house....haha :) but she got rid of a good pile of stuff which felt so good. She has been coming to church these past couple weeks and I think that is really helping her. It is amazing what the spirit can do for people!

Wednesday while we were street contacting we looked up and there it is..... Mt. Fuji!!!! We have titled it the disappearing mountain. And it always pops up out of now where right when you need to smile. :) But really. I think we have seen it almost everyday this week and it has been a great week! :) God loves us or something? :) haha :)

Thursday while we were searching for a less actives house we were walking along a huge wall with barbed wire fencing. Then we feel the ground start to shake and this thing passes by going a million billion miles an hour. Wow!!!!!!! Guess what?!?!?  We live just down the rode from the bullet train!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shinkansen! It is the coolest thing ever! We just kept laughing everytime it passed us. :) It is so fast!!!! So cool!!! It is the little things sometimes that just make you smile because you didn't think those things were really a real thing, but they are! And they are fast! We finally were able to find the address. Come to find out it was the wrong house, but the lady that lived there was so nice and let us talk to her for a while about
church. :) I love nice people.

Friday we taught this cute lady that loves the church and the missionaries. She makes me so happy. Unfortunately she won't find the time to really learn about the church or come to church. She just loves how our message makes her feel. Why don't people see the
connection..... I don't know!

Saturday and Sunday were the best days ever!!!!! We had Stake Conference. :) It was a my pay day as a missionary. I got to go back to Shonandai and see people from Fujisawa Ward and some of the people I taught there! It was such a good experience. Sunday was amazing. One of my old investigators was singing in the stake choir and it was so good to see her. She has been coming to church every week almost. She has some concerns as far as religion goes but it is okay. We all learn "line upon line" right. While the temple president was speaking I had this very distinct impression that I should talk to one of the elders old investigators after the meeting and ask him if he would be interested in taking lessons again. After all of the meetings I was able to talk to him and ask him what his favorite part of the meeting was. E answered that the temple presidents talk. We talked about the temple presidents conversion story for a little and then the spirit just took over the conversation. It was such a cool experience. In the end I asked if wanted to get baptized and E said he did. It was amazing! I few months ago I had a very similar conversation with him and he said he didn't want to get baptized. He has changed so much. He has read almost all of the scriptures including the D&C and now is reading the gospel principles book. He wants to finish reading all that he can before he gets baptized again. The elders them came over and we were all talking together. At that point my campion looked at me because it was getting time for us to go so I looked at E and told him. "E I know you are going to get baptized. And when you get baptized I want to be there! By the way I leave next May to go back to America, so you better read fast!" He looked at me a laughed, but shock my hand. I know the elders in that area will be able to help him
a lot. It was such a good experience to just hear him say he wanted to get baptized. I wish you knew how much of a miracle this is!!!! Haha :) just a few months ago he has no desire. It is amazing the change that can come over people through reading the Book of Mormon. I love
being a missionary and I love the Book of Mormon! :)

Well I hope you all have a happy week. Share the goodness that this season has to offer. Be kinder, more loving, more ready to serve those in need. :) everyone is in need of something and you can be the one to meet that need this Christmas season. :) open your eyes and serve! 

Thank you for all of your love. I love you so much!


Mtn. Fuji!! :) and the temple.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Happy December :)

Dear Family,

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!!", "Christmas is coming the geese are getting fat!", "it's Christmas! It's Christmas!".

If you cannot tell from the above phrases I am a little excited for Christmas! I am SO excited for this time of year! It is going to be the best Christmas ever! I am so grateful for all the happiness that comes from Christmas time and Christ's birth. :)

We had a great thanksgiving week! I ate 3 thanksgiving dinners. One on Monday with some members and her friends who have both lived in America, one on Wednesday with everyone from Eikaiwa, and the real thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at the Military base. Every dinner we ate amazing food, but we also had some very amazing opportunities to share the gospel with some amazing people. We got to testify often and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I love testifying of the things that I have come to know are true.

This past week has been wonderful and has caused a lot of reflection on who I am and who I am becoming. I was having a rough time on Thursday night because a few things that have gone on this week and I just felt stressed about somethings that I couldn't control. It was
frustrating, disheartening and wasn't how I should be feeling at all. So while my companion was in the shower I knelt down and prayed out loud. I have done this a few time one my mission. I poured out my heart to our Heavenly Father on all that was going on and how I felt
and where I wanted to be. After I was done praying I didn't necessarily feel better. I still had all of those worries and concerns, but it felt good to know that someone had listened. God had
listened to my prayer and I knew he knew who I am, and he sees how I am becoming. He also knows the same for all those around me and every person in this world. He will listen to all of us. I think that is one of the best things about our loving Heavenly Father. He listens. He is the best listener, and as we learn in turn to listen to him our worries and problems start to fade. We then realize that He has been I control this whole time. I am learning more than ever to trust God, turn my heart him, talk to him, and then in turn listen to what he has to tell me. As I do that I know all the things and people around me will be helped in the way God needs them to be. :) Our Heavenly Father Loves his children and he will help us help them and in turn we will be helped. :) Isn't that great!

Funny story. So before thanksgiving dinner on Thursday we were act the park. After having some good conversations with a few people, we were starting back to the Eki and we passed this group of elementary kids. So of course we start saying "hello!" And waving. Usually you can get a lot of them to say "Herro!" Back but no one was. Finally one boy had the courage and said "hello!" But by then we were a little farther away so we turned around and said "bye bye!" The little boys say "goodbye!" Then his eyes got wide and he turns to his friend and says (in Japanese), "She speaks Japansese!" He so was shocked. My companion and I started laughing so hard. Did you know "bye bye" was Japanese?!?!? Learn something new everyday! Haha :) cute kids!

Well I hope you all have a great week! We got transfer calls today and Sister Pugmire and I are staying together in Hodogaya!!!! We are way excited! :) it will be a very Merry Christmas!

Love you all!
Love, アシュビー姉妹