Hello, this is a call from the past. Remember me? I lived in America once. A year ago. Happy one year mark to me! My name is Kira Smiley. Also known as スマイリー姉妹 (Sumairii Shimai) by the good people of Japan.
Recently I received a letter. Basically the only one I got, because apparently a year is all it takes to be forgotten 😉 (p.s. This is a call to everyone reading this to send any form of correspondence. Email, letter, postcard, carrier pigeon, emoji message, you name it – firstname.lastname@example.org). This letter was special though. It’s called, in mission culture, ominously, the “death letter.” Basically I’ll have six months left to “live.” That’s all.
But suddenly life became a time bomb, ticking down, and I feel like I’ve changed and grown so much, and yet I have so much left to change to be the type of person I want to be. So here goes.
Last Monday we jumped on bikes and took a grand tour of the area. We’re on the very border of the mission boundaries, so just across the river is the Tokyo North mission. I can see Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree lit up every night. The weather’s been fluctuating between vey vey hot and cold and rainy and worse, warm and rainy, throughout the week. On Wednesday I had my last interview ever with the Mission President before he finishes and a new Mission President starts. It was bittersweet. We laughed a lot.
The next day we had our last mission Leadership Conference with Wada Kaichou presiding, and he gave a summary of how much the mission has grown and progressed and been refined in his time here. He also cried. There’s something really moving about seeing a big business man cry because he loves you and will miss you. That same Saturday I once again headed over to Kichijoji to help give a training for all the New Sister Training Leaders. Some of those going home shortly were able to share their own wisdom from experience. Some of the advice I appreciated the most was “never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved,” “live in the moment and love those immediately around you,” “never let stats get in the way of dropping everything to help someone in need. You need never regret it.”
I also showed them a video on leadership, and the quote that stuck out to me and applies in the workplace as well was from Elder Bednar: “One of your primary responsibilities is to raise up people to be better leaders than you ever were… What you do is necessary but not sufficient. The most important thing is what you leave when you’re not there.”
The people I came to Japan with, one year later.
So that’s what I’ll try to do for the next six months. Make sure I leave behind a place better than I left it, with leaders better than I ever was. And if I can do that, it will have been enough.
Other fun news: we went to a home for dinner where the mother used to work for a restaurant so she cooked amazing food. Unfortunately, we also came straight from another home where we learned how to make Chinese suigyouza from a good man who reminds me a lot of a friend from Stanford. He loves hiking and cycling and mountain climbing, and he’s friendly to anyone and everyone and always down for a good adventure. He and his girlfriend even came to church and he received a Chinese Book of Mormon and has been reading it nightly. They have a rice cooker that plays Christmas music whenever it finishes the cooking cycle, so that was pretty amusing.
We got a watermelon in the mail from western Japan
We’re working hard here, excited for the coming weeks!
P.s. There’s a message hidden in this letter for my family. They don’t know this yet, can you figure it out?