Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's been a gooood week!

Last Saturday we had a mission 5k. Yep. 200 girls in matching shirts running uphill and downhill in Salt Lake City. It was quite the sight. You will all be proud to know that I ran the entire thing (okaymaybestumbledthroughismoreaccurate)! The people who used to serve in Temple Square and now live nearby covered the square for us that morning. Only on Temple Square can you get missionary substitutes... We were fed Einstein's Bagels afterwards, so all in all, it was a pretty good day. 

It's been pretty quiet lately at the square. There is a Congress of Families thing happening nearby, so we've had a couple of visitors from that, and the tours go really smoothly because they're all really friendly. Sister Burgoyne and I were assigned to be in the Assembly Hall for an hour one night and not a single soul came in until the last 5 minutes. 

Although we didn't meet a lot of new people this week, we've seen so many miracles with the people we had been teaching for a while. Yesterday, we called a couple of our investigators to check up and to teach; the first one we called in the UK said, "the missionaries are coming over in five minutes, so I don't have much time to talk!" We couldn't get in touch with her for a while, so we were worried that she lost interest. She said that she was meeting with the missionaries because she really wanted to get baptised and wanted to learn everything there was to learn! 

The second person we called in Texas had just met with the local missionaries the night before, and had another appointment for the next night. (!!!!) We read the Book of Mormon with her and explained how to read the Book of Mormon so that it could be meaningful to her life. She is so sweet and open hearted and open minded and truly has the desire to see for herself if this is true!

The last person we called that night was in the middle of meeting with the missionaries. (oops!) We said goodbye immediately, but we were ecstatic that she was progressing and learning.

When we call our investigators, most of them don't pick up, or are unwilling to do anything. They don't have time to go to church on Sunday. They don't have the patience to read the Book of Mormon. They feel nervous about getting in contact with the local missionaries. But this week,something is happening. Sister Burgoyne and I are doing something right. One night she said, "...Do you realize that we have seven people to follow up with for meeting with local missionaries/going to church?" Last week we had two people saying they would go to church is their work schedule permitted. This week we have eight (another new one from today!) that have committed to doing things. Aghhh!!!! 

I am just in awe of all the things that went right this week. I am so so so extremely thankful for these people and their prepared hearts. At Temple Square, I realized that missionary work has very little to do with your competence. Of course, we need to do everything that we can as missionaries; we need to study, plan, prepare, pray, and use all the brain power that we can each day. But the success that we've seen so far has everything to do with the experiences of our investigators, the preparation of their local missionaries, and the hand of God in placing the right people in the right places at the right times. I am so so so so so so (so) grateful for everyone involved in the process of helping investigators come closer to Christ. 

And the bonus: we saw David Archuleta in a car driving past when we were waiting for a stop light last Saturday. Last weekend we had Luz de las Naciones: Promesa de la Juventud (which is Spanish for Large Latino Gathering in the Conference Center) and David Archuleta was the guest star for the entire event. I was pretty bummed about not being able to attend, but it's a-okay because David Archuleta and I were about two meters and a metal car door away from each other. 

Spanish sentence of the week: ?Puede ofrecer la oracion? 

Chinese language meeting!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Week ???: To The People Who Said "Sorry you got called to Temple Square

The Parliament of World Religions had their conference this week in SLC. We had all sorts of people from around the world, and they all looked really important. While we were giving a Chinese tour, a lady asks, so do all the women in your religion have to wear that white headdress? My companion and I were both very confused, and we realized that she was looking at another group of guests who were wearing their own religious clothing. There were tons of people on square this week in robes, shawls, headdresses, yamikas (sp?)... hats and clothes of all sorts and colors. It was really interesting! 

When we first heard that this conference was happening, we were all excited. We anticipated learning tons about different cultures, understanding different religions, deep conversations about God. Which we did. I was really appreciative of the people who came with genuine curiosity and willingness to find the commonalities in ways we worship and serve. We had a lot of respectful discussions about what we do and believe. It really was awesome. What wasn't so awesome was the occasional passive aggressive comment. One such example: "In my missionary work, we make sure that we spend a lot of time trying to understand the cultures of the places we serve in. For example, when I went to India, I lived with the people for a couple months in their homes. I studied with them. I worshiped with them. We don't have the missionaries just go out to preach straightaway." And then he looked at my name tag. Ouch. But then we had a good conversation about how everything we do is centered on Christ, and I shared Helaman 5:12 with him and we ended on a good note so all is well. 

After I had a long long discussion with another woman about why Prophets are always men, she says, "well, I'm glad that you've thought about this issue, and that you're not like... following blindly. You kind seemed like one of those in the beginning." Another ouch. 

It was a rough week, to be quite honest. One morning, Sister Burgoyne and I were walking and talking about how difficult hard it's been, and trying our best to still smile and talk to the angry pedestrians. As we walked through the gates of Temple Square, a elderly lady came up to us and said, "SISTERS! I HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOU... A hug! From your mother!" She gave us each a long needed hug, and we immediately started tearing up. God is looking out for us, and the lady was an angel. 

Also, Elder Holland came and spoke to us for Relief Society. ELDER HOLLAND, EVERYONE'S FAVOURITE APOSTLE, CAME TO OUR RELIEF SOCIETY. To all you people that laughed at me for getting called to Temple Square, now is your time to feel embarrassed, because you probably didn't have an apostle come to give your Relief Society lesson.

He spoke to us about how why the Book of Mormon is so important. I feel like I finally truly understand the phrase, "The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion". It only took an apostle to speak to us in the real life for me to understand it. Most of the organization of the church didn't take place until the Book of Mormon was found, translated and published. The Book of Mormon takes precedence over any ordinance that we have, any establishing of auxiliary, any... anything. Even before the temple or even baptism... reading and knowing that the Book of Mormon is the word of God is essential in being a Latter-day Saint. It's important because it's about Christ, who He is, and His atoning sacrifice. 

Understanding Christ's love is the best thing that has happened in my life. I don't completely understand it; I know that because I learn something new about Christ and our Heavenly Father every single day. But the Book of Mormon and the Bible are the richest sources of understanding that love, and I just wish every single person just got around to even just opening the scriptures. 

Picture #1: A cool series of illustrations in the Conference Center called "Women Who Chose God". Everybody should go to the Conference Center to look at the art there. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Week 6: All Of Our Investigators Are From The American East Coast And Taiwanese People Are So Organized And Efficient

I probably saw more Japanese people this week than I will ever see again for the rest of my mission. NuSkin had a conference in Salt Lake, so there were huge groups of different kinds of Asians flowing into Temple Square for a couple of days. When I saw the first group of Japanese people, I thought, "Nah, why the heck would there be Japanese people here? They're probably Taiwanese." But they were nice enough to come up to me and start talking, and then they started coming by the hundreds. It felt weird giving so many Japanese tours. I'm not even officially passed off for giving English tours. The Japanese people I talked to my first week were all members, so I was completely caught off guard in trying to introduce and explain the LDS church this week. Good news though, is that some of them were still kind and patient enough to refer! I'll be meeting with the other Japanese sisters every week or so to practice, so hopefully I'll be proficient enough in Japanese church words by the next NuSkin gathering!

It's also hard having to shift gears from teaching Americans who have Christian backgrounds, to Japanese people who know close to nothing about Jesus Christ. Both groups have their own merits though: Americans are easy to connect to because we have a common love for Jesus Christ, but sometimes are hard because without prompting, they say things like "I was born a Methodist, was raised Methodist, and will die a Methodist" because they think that we're trying to seduce them to turn on their own religion. And then they get nervous and run away if we say something like "the Book of Mormon also talks about Jesus Christ!" 

Japanese people are nice to talk to because everything is so new. They're accepting and curious about it all. The hard part of it is "I don't really know how religion will fit into my life..." BUT MY FRIEND. IT IS GOOD FOR YOUR SOUUUULLL

Since the NuSkin conference ended, the square has been pretty dead. At one point during the week I looked around the North Visitor's Center and realized that literally every patron was with a pair of sister missionaries. There was no spare guest for us to talk to. It's a hard knock life. 

However, the miracles still don't cease! We met a man from New York who had just finished a tour from another set of missionaries, and he says to us "I came to Utah to learn about retirement investment and maybe a little bit about Mormon history. But no! I've learned all about Jesus Christ. I've been enlightened and uplifted. And I know that the reason you're all happy isn't because of what's in the waters in Utah. It's because you have the true gospel of Jesus Christ!" He's going to church next Sunday and told us in his New York accent, "I'm quitting cwoffee tomorrow! Idontknowhowiwillgetmydailyboostofenergy BUT I WILL FIGURE IT OUT." 

Miracle #2: Yesterday we took an online chat and this guy wanted us to find the local missionaries for him. This magnificent boy knew that this was the truth and said that he loved the feeling he got when he read the Book of Mormon (does it get any more golden than this?) When he sent us his address, Sister Burgoyne almost flew out of her seat; this guy lives TEN MINUTES from her home in Pennsylvania. What a miracle that we just happened to be the missionaries that took this chat! Sister Burgoyne was so excited from all the cool things that happened (this was but one of many miracles that night) that she ran all the way home (I had to run with her). "I HAVE TO BURN OFF THIS ENERGY SO I CAN GO TO SLEEP TONIGHT!" 

Temple Square sisters have Relief Society on Thursday mornings since we don't have a proper ward to go to. Sister Burgoyne and I taught the lesson yesterday. You Provo ward friends are probably laughing right now. I literally. never. escape. this calling. But you know what? That's okay; our lesson was awesome. It was about the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and I learned a lot. From the Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith:

"Joseph Smith … was alone in the first vision, alone when Moroni brought the message to him, alone when he received the plates; but after that he was not alone. The Lord called other witnesses. Grandmother Smith [Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith] in her history says that the Prophet came home weeping for joy after the witnesses had beheld the plates under the direction of an angel of God, because, he said, “The load has been lifted and I am no longer alone.”

God never expects us to carry any burden alone. I think we especially forget that when it has to do with spiritual/church things. We work so hard to fulfill our callings. We sacrifice time and energy to make sure that everyone in church gets visited. We make ourselves martyrs when we chastise people around us that aren't as obedient as they should be. Sometimes we forget that we can share that burden with others. God has given us friends, families, church congregations, leaders... Who the heck are we to think that we can take all these challenges alone, and reap in its rewards alone? If we feel like we are the only ones lifting the weight of fulfilling God's commandments, we're probably doing something wrong. That's something that's helped me understand why missionaries are in pairs, but more importantly its something I hope I remember in the future when I'm in a church calling and feel like I'm the only one doing the work. I've never been responsible enough of a person to know what that's like, but regardless I pray that I will never become as self righteous as that.

Thanks to all you lovely people who are writing me. I love you still even if I don't respond. 

Here is a picture of the most organized group picture I've ever seen. 57 Taiwanese NuSkin people took around 2 minutes to line up, snap a pic, and then disperse again. 

Friday, October 9, 2015


I don't have much time for an update this week, but all I have to say is: Temple Square is beautiful. I love living in a city again, and conference was insane and I am glad it's over. Here is a picture of us looking super happy at conference: 


But actually though, it was amazing seeing so many people wanting to listen to the words of the apostles and prophets. People from ALL AROUND THE WORLD. Venezuela, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Tonga... I'm so extremely blessed. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Greetings From the Princess Mission


It was quite an adventure getting here on Wednesday. We took the frontrunner from Provo to Salt Lake. Nine ladies in skirts and nametags, pulling ~20ish suitcases at 6 am, most of us having never travelled alone in America -- was quite a sight.

We had all woken up at 4 am to finish packing and cleaning our rooms in the MTC, so by the time we arrived at Temple Square to meet the APs, the mission president, and all the other sisters, we were quite deadbeat. We received so many hugs from so many sisters when we arrived. I was so sleep deprived and overwhelmed, I'm pretty sure I had a look of death on my face as I received all those hugs.
First thoughts: this place is like that scene from Princess Diaries 2 where Mia has a princess sleepover. Everyone here is a graceful princess, confident in their own selves and coming from all the different corners of the earth. There are 50 countries represented here by sister missionaries. There is also a lot of giggling and singing. Unfortunately, Julie Andrews has yet to make an appearance on a mattress surfboard.
The mission president, President Polsen, is so gentle and kind. I couldn't think of a man better fitted to run a mission of 200 sisters from 50 different cultures and countries. So many things could go wrong when you're dealing with so many different backgrounds, but he is graceful and considerate.
My trainer/companion is Sister Burgoyne, from Pennsylvania (!!! DANIELLE GO SAY HI TO HER FAMILY!!!) and I am SO HAPPY TO HAVE HER. She's really kind. As my trainer she will be telling me all the ins and outs of Temple Square, letting me know when I'm doing something wrong, when I'm doing something good. She's wise and kind, and does a great Miranda voice. She'll be going home after she trains me, so she's really got a lot of wisdom to pass down to me.
Although it's only my third day here, we've already had so many great teaching experiences. We've taught so many kind and intelligent people who are mostly on vacation in Utah. On my first day (Wednesday) I was able to talk to a lady from Beijing who really believes in God and Jesus Christ (!!!) and is genuinely curious about finding more about Mormonism. SHE WAS SO LOVING AND BEAUTIFUL. I was a little frustrated that I didn't know how to say "prophets" in Chinese at the time, but I know that she'll be able to learn everything in time. I'm mostly amazed that I'm able to be here in Temple Square to talk to people like her, who wouldn't have had the opportunity to hear the gospel in China (, AND to awesome local members who live right here in Utah! Heavenly Father is too kind to me.
In the course of three days (two and a half really), we've talked to people about the gospel in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish (S. Burgoyne is certified in Spanish tours). Everyone is so loving and humble and kind, members and nonmembers alike. I love love love love love love love it here.
To finally answer everyone's question about which flag I wear under my nametag: they only gave me a Japanese one, since they usually only give flags of the country you have citizenship for. The Chinese tourists I talk to are usually very taken aback when the girl with the big red dot starts speaking to them in Chinese. There are people here who have multiple flags; apparently, they don't wear them all at once. They just wear one flag at a time, and switch according to which nationality of people they think they're talking to that day.
Here is a selfie. I love my nametag.
Conference ( is happening tomorrow, and I'm a little terrified. General Conference at Temple Square on my first week here! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE. I can't even imagine. I hope that you all prepared to receive revelation. I learned from talking to members about conference this week, that finding the questions you want answers to are half the battle of getting good answers. Any worries or questions we need to receive from conference are only helpful if we know what our questions are! I hope that we're all able to really take time to introspect and understand where we are before we watch conference this weekend.
I love you all.
Sister Takeshige