Saturday, December 28, 2013

White Christmas!

We are finally getting snow here. Well it is more like hail. It comes down in these small white balls and sometimes they can be pretty big. I am glad that we wear helmets! It definitely slows us down on the bikes, but we are going to ride until we can't anymore. Apparently it is much much worse here in February! That is after the next transfer, so I don't know if I will still be here then, but at least for the next 3 weeks I will be bundling up good!
I got a great thing that doesn't have an equivalent in the US, as far as I know. It is a Coat Skirt. It is thick like a coat, but shaped like a skirt and you wear it over your skirt to keep you warm while biking! It is great! 
I sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" at church last Sunday. It was special. I did not do as good as I have in the past, I am really out of practice, but an Elder on the violin made it sound good!
All 9 missionaries serving in Niigata branch spent Christmas Eve with the Oseki family along with some friends of theirs. They are so good to us! 
Oseki family with friends and missionaries

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We just watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional yesterday! So good. I loved it. 
The members here are treating us so kind. They are the best!
The members filled a big box for each set of missionaries.
Tortilla chips and salsa from Costco and all kinds of wonderful things!
We had a special event at the church with music. It was nice. 

The branch members and missionaries sang at a nursing home.
Something great that President Budge introduced to us is a consecration box. It can help us put away things that we don't need on the mission. I started it on paper, but I kind of want to make one physically so I can put things down on paper and in the box and not see them again. Really give up my distractions. It is a great way to think about repentance. It could be adapted to many different circumstances, not just missions.
I love my mission. I cant say I love every minute of it, but I love being a missionary. I was born for this. I love this tag I get to wear over my heart! 
A special happy birthday to my dear sister Chloe on the 19th!
Gambatte imasu!
Orton Shimai
Kamito tomoni ne!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Satoh sensei

I experienced 2 distinct miracles this week. 
One of them is Satoh sensei. 
She was my brother's elementary school teacher for 2 years when we lived in Yokohama. She was a close family friend. We had a special relationship with her. She investigated the church while we lived there, receiving lessons from Sister Missionaries in our home. She did not get baptized though. We moved back to the States and lost contact. Fast forward 8 years and I got my call to the Japan Tokyo Mission. We as a family started to think about and pray about those people that we still knew in that area that maybe would be ready to learn more about the gospel. Satoh sensei came to mind. I went to the MTC and left it early because I already spoke Japanese. That put me on a plane to Japan with Sister Miyagi. At the same time Satoh sensei found out that a janitor at the school she teaches at is a member of the church. She talked to her about it and asked her to invite her to something because she wanted to attend and participate. Satoh sensei attended the Tokyo 2nd ward Christmas party. She talked about this family she knew, loved and missed called the Ortons. Sister Miyagi was the missionary to hear this and remembered my name. I received a wonderful phone call that evening. Satoh sensei wants to take lessons from the missionaries. I plan on emailing her tomorrow, reestablishing contact and testifying of the truthfulness of this Gospel. I love her so much. I can not put it in words. I came to the Japan Tokyo Mission thinking that I might get the chance to finish the work my father started. Now I get to finish work my mother started by being a special friend to Satoh sensei. 
What a marvelous work and a wonder. 
How humbled, honored and privileged I feel to be called to participate in so great a cause!

Dinner with the Oseki family. Yum!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Crane shimai and Orton shimai outside the church building
the writing says "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 
We received a package from Crane shimais mom that had packets to make lots of food. It basically had everything but the turkey. We had karaage (like chicken nuggets) instead. haha. We got to eat mashed potatoes with stuffing and gravy. There were cans for green bean casserole and pumpkin. 
I was so proud to have been able to make a pie crust with margarine, flower, salt and water. I had to roll out the dough on the table with a bottle that we had in the apartment. Quite difficult and makeshift, but it was a decent pumpkin pie! So delicious. We made 2 small ones (we had pie tins in the apartment!) so we shared with the Elders. It was a Thanksgiving miracle. 
We made all our prayers that day only in thanks.  That was a special way to celebrate the holiday. We told everyone we knew that it was a day of thanks in America so we wanted to express our thanks to them. Everyone was interested to hear about America and it felt good to focus on thanking and praising people all day. 
An investigator taught us that kanshashite imasu (thank you) means a lot more than arigatou gozaimasu (thank you). Like I appreciate you or I am thankful for you verses thanks or even thank you. We taught the investigator that she can show her love to God by giving grateful prayers and by offering her heart to him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trust God

We had a 2 mission conferences last week. We all traveled to the Tokyo South Mission where we met with Elder Evans of the Quorum of the Seventy. It was awesome. I'll have time to write about that later.
I ran into President and Sister Welch. He was my Stake President when I was in grade school living in Yokohama.
Me with Sister and President Welch
Here are a couple of things I have learned/been thinking about lately:
When you don't give up,
you just stubbornly go on in the cause of right,
no matter what you come up against,
God can refine you and mold you into what he knows you can be.
We can trust God because He has the end in mind. He knows how we need to be prepared for what is ahead.
Its about what is ahead of you not about what is going on right now. 
Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are easy to trust.
They have the power to change hearts, if only the owner will give it up to them.
Crane Shimai and Orton Shimai

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Here is a picture of me with my trainee, Sister Crane.
She is from Vernal, Utah and is 19.
She was in the first District I was part of for about a week at the MTC, so I already know her a little. 
I had no idea back then that I would be her trainer when she arrived in Japan!

Before my trainer, Sister Jensen transferred, she gave me a haircut (she has been to beauty school). You can see our apartment in the background.
I have some great pictures and stories of the people we are teaching, however, I am reluctant to post them because they may not want photos and things about their lives on the internet. I will ask for permission and hopefully in the future I will be able to share some inspirational stories with you from the lives of those we are teaching.
We have found many people who what to learn about the gospel. Many are referrals from members of the Niigata Branch. We feel so honored when members bring their precious friends to us so we can teach them about this most wonderful gift that is available to them! The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives for the better!

Monday, October 28, 2013

1st Transfer Call

I have super big news. This week is transfer week and we got the nerve-racking transfer call this morning! Because it was my first one I didn't really get too nervous. I just figured what will happen will happen. But my 2 comps were really doki doki (nervous). 
The call came right in the middle of us reciting the mission theme scripture at 9:00 this morning. My trainer (Sister Jensen) picked up and it was the Assistants! (That means someone is transferring. If you are all staying then you get a call from the Zone Leaders.) So she puts it on speaker phone and the camera recorders are rolling :) He commends her for all the work she has done in Niigata and tells her she is transferring to Saitama.  So exciting, yet so sad for me :( 
Then he asks for Sister Hubner. She is also transferring to Saitama! And she will have a Nihonjin (Japanese) companion! She is worried that her Japanese is too bad for that, but we assured her it is good enough and that she will get so pera pera (fluent)! :) 
Then he asks for me. I figure at this point I am going to be the area sempai (the longest one in the area). So he also commends me for my work and my Japanese. Then he tells me about my new companion. 
She is straight from the MTC!!! I AM TRAINING!!!! THIS IS MY 1st TRANSFER! I CANT BELIEVE THIS!!! Also, I know a lot of these sisters! This is my first MTC district that is coming to the Hombu (mission home) tomorrow. I am so excited about this it is nuts. I am super worried though that I don't know enough to train... That I don't know the area enough and about being a missionary. I don't know if I can wake up in the morning without my trainer babying me!! haha. No, I will. This is just a ton of responsibility. I can do it. I am so excited to love and teach my new trainee. Cant wait to meet her!

 Oh, the Ward Mission Leader and his wife went to Tokyo last week to the temple and Costco and brought us back rolls! And muffins!! Even though we were just in Tokyo ourselves, those were things we couldn't get.  I love them so much (the people, not the food...well I do love the food as well : ) 

We had a Halloween party at the church that was pretty fun. I forgot how organized Japanese people are. It has to all go so perfectly. Maybe thats where my perfectionist side came from (that and Dad :) A mom and her 13 year old daughter who are investigating the church attended. It was good.
My comps are so sad to leave the area and all the investigators. And our investigators are sad to see them leave as well. I am so happy to be able to keep working with all of them! I love them all so much. 
Oh, and I love the rice here!
Orton Shimai

Sunday, October 20, 2013


President Budge (my mission president) trained us to expect miracles. Well I am really learning to do that and we are seeing so many! It is getting to the point where we make a goal not knowing how it will be accomplished and then we just pray and get to work. Then guess what? It happens! 
Miracles are so real. They are usually simple too. It is getting to the point where I feel like we are almost scheduling in a miracle. It is amazing to see.
We invited 4 investigators to come to the church for General Conference and they did! For 3 of them it was the first time at church and they all loved it. One even told us that "If you didn't recognize that this is true you are pitiful." (かわいそう) !!! Crazy right? It is great to see many people recognize the truth and power that we have to give them. True a lot of people tell us politely no on the streets and on the phone, but some of them are really getting it!
Riding to an appointment (Shimai: Hubner, Orton, Jensen)
Rural portion of our area (Niigata)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Things are great here in Niigata!
We have found some great people to teach.
Here are some pictures, finally!
sunset out our apartment window
Jensen Shimai (from Utah), Hubner Shimai (from Hawaii), Orton Shimai
in our apartment
My bicycle!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Birds at church

I am having a hard time getting my photos uploaded, but hopefully I will be able to get things working soon.

It is really amazing here! Niigata itself reminds me a bit of Yokohama where we lived. I thought I was going to the inaka rice fields and such, but it is a big city. There are quite a few community colleges and a university so it really is kind of like Kalamazoo MI area. There is a big beautiful river that we cross over to get to the Eki (train station) too! This area is famous for the best rice in Japan (Koshihikari) and fish. We are pretty close to the ocean. I got to see a glimpse of it on the way to an appointment about 30 min from the church.  

I heard that the winter here is bad because it is so humid and snowy that it is hard to keep things dry. But for now it is still really nice. We are getting a kerosine heater for the apartment (we are the only zone that gets them because they are a little dangerous). We are also the only apartment in the whole mission that has a clothes drier, though it takes its sweet time getting things dry. :)
My bike is treating me well. It is perfect. I heard that because of the sea winds everything rusts really easily. :( 

The members really take care of us here. They buy groceries for us every week and leave it in a big basket for us at the church. We split it with the Elders, but there is always plenty. It makes shopping on Mondays easier. Especially because we have to transport whatever we buy on our bikes. Though thankfully it is very flat here!

Anyway, funny story. On Sunday we had an inactive member come who we had never met before. She randomly pulled out 2 parakeets in the middle of Gospel Principles class! They were squawking and walking around on the floor and everyone just ignored it! Japanese people are good at ignoring social abnormalities like that. Anyway we took her and the birds out and talked with her one on one for the rest of church.  The Elders had to explain to their investigator (who had never been to church before) that in all the years they had been going to church that had never happened before. :) Birds are not normally part of our Sabbath day observance.

Also we had a wonderful surprise lesson with a member who brought her close friend to us because she wanted to learn about how to pray. It was amazing to get to listen in on her first spoken, heartfelt prayer. I really felt how much God loved her as His daughter. 

I am loving the food, of course! We are experimenting with cooking at the apartment, but I really enjoy getting store-bought food, too. I am recognizing a lot of things I ate before. :) Curry of course, katsu, udon, ramen, and all the really yummy bakery goods :) 
My trainer is nuts about Mr. Donuts.

Monday, September 23, 2013


So I have super big news!!! My first area is Niigata!!! This is the farthest North in the whole mission. I was not expecting this at all. I am SO far away and over the mountains from Tokyo. We are not far from the Sea of Japan. I love it here!
This area was just added to our mission in July when the boundary change happened. Before that it was part of the Sendai Mission.
I have to tell you about the famous person in the Branch here! Yoshida Kyodai. He translated the Book of Mormon into Japanese! Yeah, it's a big deal!
I have 2 companions; Sister Jensen from Richfield Utah is my trainer. She has been out for 6 months and is the sweetest girl! Sister Hubner from Hawaii is our other companion and she is great, too!
My first 2 days in Niigata were kind of hard. We did a lot of work, but all the appointments we had cancelled or rescheduled. It seemed that no one wanted to talk to us. I found myself asking "If they knew it was Jesus Christ, would they turn Him away?" I was feeling bad about not doing much good work, but we were keeping a good attitude.
The miracle was that after all of that, on Sunday we had an appointment to meet with Aida-san who had met with the missionaries in January. We didn't know why she had stopped seeing them, but we saw that her neighbor, Suzuki-san was in the same boat. We went to the appointment with a member and were planning on housing (knocking on doors) afterwards to find Suzuki-san. The funny thing is that Suzuki-san came to us! We had just been seated in Aida-san's home when Suzuki-san knocked on the door! She said that she liked the "good feeling" she had when she met with the missionaries before and that she felt that same feeling when she entered the home just then!
It is really rare for Japanese people to be so open. We taught them that God is their Heavenly Father and I was able to testify that he loves them personally. Then I felt prompted to ask them how that made them feel. Suzuki-san said "it makes me want to cry!" (I felt the same way) The spirit was so strong and I am excited to teach them again on Wednesday. We left the home with hugs from both of them, which is also very rare in Japanese culture. It was great!
The Lord is really helping us here and I know that Heavenly Father loves in children in Japan!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

In Japan!

I made it to Japan! Over 30 of us flew together.
A few went to other missions, but 29 of us are in the Japan Tokyo Mission!
I was able to call my mom from LAX during our layover.
It was good to hear her voice and be able to talk for a few minutes.
We spent 2 days in the mission home training and having some quality time with President and Sister Budge. I just love them!

Here is a photo of my arrival group in the Japan Tokyo Mission.
I am on the far right

Here I am with President and Sister Budge

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 2 in the MTC

After a week in the MTC, I was moved to a new district. I am now in the Advanced Language Branch for missionaries going to a foreign country whose language they already speak. 
I was already very close to my companion and district, so I was sad to leave them, but I have 2 great companions now (pictured below). They are both going to France. Most of my new district is from outside the US. We have missionaries from Poland, American Samoa, Ivory Coast and the Philippines  We do everything in English since that is the common language we all understand. I do have personal time every day to study Japanese.
I can tell my Japanese is much better than just a couple of weeks ago. The books they give us and the online tools we use have been great for teaching me "Missionary Japanese" as opposed to the "little kid Japanese" that I grew up speaking.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

First week in the MTC

Well, I made it to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah.
I am wearing my missionary badge and am officially Orton Shimai.
I was assigned to a district that will be here 9 weeks learning Japanese. Since I already know the language, I will be switched to a different district next week and stay a total of 3 weeks.
The spirit is so strong here and everyone is very helpful and friendly.
Here is a picture of me with the other sisters in my current district (we are all going to the Japan Tokyo Mission).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Decision and The Call!

I thought it only appropriate that I begin this mission blog with all that has made my mission possible...

My family has been a great support for me as I recently thought more seriously about this whole mission thing. They can attest that I have said my whole life "one day I will probably go on a mission." Now It's really happening in large part because of them. My parents both served when they were young and I know that they really wanted me to do the same. (Mom served in The Netherlands Amsterdam Mission and Dad served in the Japan Tokyo North Mission, both a long time ago. ;) I am so excited to further their legacy in teaching people about the Gospel. I know I am only the first of us kids to go. Joe, you are next! And you too, Chloe!
My friends and all their support was vital last winter semester at BYU as I prepared to submit my papers to ask for a call. My roommate and best friend Marina was such a good example of following personal revelation to go on a mission when she had never thought of it as even a possibility in her life. She got her call a few months before me to the Bangkok Thailand Mission and just reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo last week! (To follow her adventures visit:
My dear boyfriend Kenny actually gave me the final nudge that I needed to really jump on my papers. It was very sweet of him to get me excited with mission stories of his own! You better write me.
I got to work on my papers at the same time as 2 of my other best friends too. Rachel and Katie got their calls right after me and we are so excited that we are all going together! Rachel is going to the Paraguay Asuncion Mission and also just reported to the Mexico MTC. (She is the most experienced blogger of us all: Katie is going to the Honduras San Pedro Sula West Mission reporting in October also to Mexico. (Katiemarie's blog:  It's amazing to think that we have each other when we are out there even though we will be worlds apart. Literally!

 So my call came right at the end of last winter semester. Right before Finals. Yah that was rough! I got all the friends together and my visiting teacher was nice enough to hold my tiny laptop up to eye level so my skyping family could see me open the biggest white envelope you ever saw.
(Also please notice "The Field Is White..." shirt I am wearing. Appropriate right?)

I was so incredibly nervous and excited. I also almost started crying, which made things even more complicated. It was hard for me to get the words out!

"Dear Sister Emily Suzanne Orton, 
You are hereby called to serve in the Japan Tokyo Mission."

Not only do I get to go where my dad served, but I also get to go back to close to where I used to live in Elementary School! I am stocked! I am so glad that I already know Japanese pretty well and that I can use that skill to help further God's work in this beautiful country! I will be reporting to the the Provo MTC August 28th, which is in exactly 8 days. Ahhhhh!

Last and most importantly, I am going on a mission because of Jesus Christ. He has paved the way for us to journey back to live with Him and with our Heavenly Father with our families and friends forever. I want nothing more than to make Him proud sharing this testimony with the wonderful people of Japan. I hope that I can help many people also know the hope and joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which means everything to me!