Sunday, May 29, 2011

Transfer Two

Sister Tingey and Sister McIntyre in some sort of bat cave
My second transfer in the mission field has just begun! This week was really eventful and exciting. Last Pday we visited the Okinawa Peace Park. It was really fun learning all about he history of this Island. Now I understand better a lot of the weird cultural things I have noticed here. For example, everyone here is obsessed with spam. So random, right? Well the reason is that after WWII the U.S. occupied Okinawa for about 20 years and so now a lot of American foods that were really cheap back then are a huge part of their culture. So interesting!!! If you have time you should read up about it.
Eating Spam.  I wonder how the Okinawans live so long after adding this to their diet.
We had a really cool experience earlier this week. Sister McIntyre and I planned this long bike ride to go visit an area we hadnt really been to. We were planning on visiting some members that lived there and do some finding, but we got totally lost and took a wrong turn and ended up accidentally leaving our area. When we realized we were in Shuri, we called our zone leaders and asked them for permission to leave our area..haha. But when we stopped to call them we looked up and saw a sign that said Shur-Jo which means Shur Castle. We have been trying to contact a referral since I got here who works at Shuri Castle, but she always dodges our calls and doesnt seem very interested. So when we saw that we were close to the Castle we took it as a sign from Heavenly Father that we should go there and look for her. We prayed and asked to find her and thanked Heavenly Father for leading us there. So we went to the castle and looked all around and it was later at night so it was already closed. We asked around and found out it was actually her day off so she hadnt even come to work that day. At first we were really bummed but we didn:t let it get us down too much. We decided just to head back home because it was getting late, but as we were walking out of the entrance the guard at the gate stopped us and asked us if we wanted him to take a picture of us in front of hte castle. I thought it was kind of weird because Japanese people usually dont just talk to you. 
Cool pic of Shuri Castle
He took our picture and then proceeded to tell us this amazing story..... Thirty years ago he was studying the Bible a lot and he came accross the verse that said that Adam knew his wife. He was so confused and didn:t understand what that meant. He said he went to every Christian church he could find and nobody could answer his question. Then one day he saw the missionaries and knew they were Christian, so he stopped them and asked them and these two 19 year olds were able to answer his question right away. He was so blown away by them and their maturity that he took them out to lunch. But unfortunately both of those Elders were transferred out of Okinawa the next day and he was never in contact with the missionaries again....until we walked by him in Shuri Castle! He agreed to let us meet with him next week and bring the Elders along to teach him. I know that Heavenly Father guided us there that day, at that time, so that we could talk to that man and he could have another opportunity after thirty years to hear the restored gospel!
Lucy in front of the Shuri Castle
Lucy holding a giant python.  And what is that paper doll on her lap? haha.
Last week I gave my first talk in the mission field in one of my wards. It was 10 min long and about missionary work. McIntyre shimai also gave one on Mothers day. Then yesterday in church the little man who assigns everyone the talks and prayers in sacrament meetting approached us and gave us both another talk assignment for in a couple of weeks. Giving a talk in sacrament meeting used to be the scariest thing I could ever imagine before my mission, but now I love it! It just goes to show that Heavenly Father really will make our weak points our strong points (Not that im really skilled at giving talks, but Im just not terrified anymore ;) ). But the funny part was that both of our topics are missionary work again and McIntyre shimais talk is 10 minutes and mine is 15! What!? Haha. She got a good laugh out of that.
Don't know what Lucy is eating, but looks kind of like a dare.  Slimy beans perhaps?
Hmm... what else. We found the most giant snail of all time the other day. I was so excited because I love snails so I took a lot of pictures. It was feasting on a huge peace of moss or something in the middle of the sidewalk and I just heard this blood curtling scream from Sister McIntyre because she almost ran over it with our bike. We also found a cute turtle crawling around in the trash by the church the other day. People always ask what the hardest thing about being on a mission is for me...and I think I would only have two. The first is the rule that we cant hold babies, and the other is that we can:t have pets. Haha. I always want to bring home all of the creatures we see while were tracting but I have to resist.
Ok last story. I know I said that we went out finding in a typhoon a few weeks ago...but that typhoon was NOTHING compared to what happened on Saturday. We got a call from the senior missionary couple here telling us to fill our washing machine on our deck with water and go to the store immediately to get some non perishable food because there was a giant typhoon coming. I kind of snickered because the last time there was a `typhoon` it was just a little wind and rain and people were freaking out about it. Earlier that day we went housing and every single door we knocked the person said, `Typhoon nanode...isogashiidesu!` which roughly translates as `There:s a typhoon coming so Im busy!` I thougth it was so dumb! I was getting so mad and thought it was so silly that people wouldnt just open their door so that we could just share our message. It wasnt even raining hard or anything at that point. So anyway, we kept going and then suddeenly it picked up and our umbrellas starting getting out of control. Luckily we were meeting some members at the church to head to this Karate charity event so we headed to the church. The karate event was so awesome!!! It was put on by our ward mission leader Brother Kina. He is the #1 Karate master in all of Japan! And his son is #2 or something. It was a cool show. They fought each other and chopped some wood in half, and then there was a variety show afterward. Some of the musical numbers were one Brother in our ward and his wife...I recorded a video so maybe someday youll see it. Anyway, on the way home the wind was so strong I thought the car was going to blow off the road. There were giant tree branches flying through the air. All night we just heard banging noises and giant wind gusts. It was so loud. It sounded like we were in a tornado or hurricane. Yesterday morning we woke up and went outside to go to church, and there was mass destruction! the streets were covered in trash, shoes, tree branches, and all sorts of stuff. We spent about an hour and a half before church in our Sunday best cleaning up the church yard becaues it looked awful. The bishop was so cute. He was there with a little broom sweeping up the walkway when we got there.
Hello Jim Tingey
Alrighty, I think that is enough for this email. Bahhh I have so many stories I want to tell. I know I say that every week but I do! I love you all so much and Im so grateful for everything you do for me! Thank you for supporting me! I am so grateful to be in Japan at this time. Im having the time of my life and my testimony is growing more than ever. I love you!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Month Mark!

Hello everyone! I can't believe it, but I've only been here for about one month. It feels like way longer! I feel like I have known the people in my ward and been with my companions for way longer than just a month.
This week was really awesome. It didn't rain very much and wasn't too humid, so it kind of felt like I was back in good ol' Provo. I got a nice little sun tan, too, which I'm really excited about.  So last Pday I said we were going to the Okinawa peace park, but it was raining so hard we didn't end up going. We're going today instead and we're leaving in about ten minutes. Instead of going to the peace park last sunday we just hung out in the church all day with the Elders. A bunch of other missionaries from the island migrated to our area on pday because the next day we were having a mini-zone conference (my first zone conference in the field!). It was really fun. We practiced our musical number, "This is the Christ." Both of my companions have amazing voices, and our district leader Elder Jordan and his companion Elder Angell also sang with us so it was really pretty. Sister Hooker has a beautiful voice but she played the piano for us becuase she knew how to play the song. We spent the day playing raquetball in the gym, I passed off some of my lesson masteries to Sister McIntyre, wrote letters, and baked some it was a nice, relaxing Pday.
The next day we had our mini zone conference. I got to meet a lot of new people and learned a lot from the zone leaders and district leader. We all went out to eat at this restaurant called Bambosh afterward. It's an all you can eat cooked meat restaurant or "yakiniku". Sooo delicious. Everyone got sick because we all ate too much. Japanese food is so delicious!
Saturday night we made dinner and had a lesson with our investigator Gopeipei and a member. She has this tiny little apartment next to the huge shopping district called Kokusaidori. She didn't have enough chairs for all of us so we all camped out on the floor and cooked "takoyaki," which is roughly translated as Octopus balls. It's so delicious!! I have only eaten it probably two times before when i was living in Tokyo and on my study abroad, so I was way excited. When we went to the store to buy the octopus it was too expensive to buy the tentacles like you normally eat, so we bought the head instead...haha. Sister McIntyre was so mortified. Sister Hoooker and I had a fun time slicing up the head into little chunks to put into our takoyaki. I have some awesome pictures of it but I don't have time to send any today. I promise I will next week!
We have some really awesome investigators right now. It has been a little difficult building up this area since I got here. When I first arrived we didn't really have any investigators, but we have 7 or 8 now! And a few of them are progressing really well. I love teaching!!! Sister Hooker just got her transfer call to head back to Tokyo yesterday so she is leaving on Thursday. We're getting transfer calls this week so I might be leaving Naha but hopefully not. I really hope sister McIntyre doesnt get transfered for her last transfer because then I would be the "area senpai" or the only one who knows the area if I got a new companion. I'm almost done being a bean!!! I'm so sad. But I'm really starting to get used to being a missionary in the field and loving everyday!
We're heading out to the Peace Park. I love you all and thank you for your DearElders! I received one from Annie and Dad this week. Thank you!!!
Love, Sister Tingey

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slimy Beans

Hello Everyone!
Today was a spectacular week! I had a lot of fun firsts in the mission field this week. Well, first off, last Pday I chopped my hair off! Its up to my shoulders now and I love it. I was so hot everyday with my giant head of hair so I decided to get rid of it and I have not regretted it for one second since. The humidity is so killer here. Im actually considering chopping it even shorter into a pixie cut because I have always wanted to do that, but Im a little scared Ill look like a pin head or something. My hair grows super slow, too so it might end up looking like a mullet when I try to grow it out. Ill keep you updated on that.
This week I had my first companion exchange. We did exchanges or Junkai with the sisters in Urasoe. They are Japanese so I was really excited because thus far all of my companions have been American. I need to learn japanese! Anyway, my companions shipped me off to Urasoe to serve with sister Uno for the day. It was so much fun! That area is reallly hilly so I got a really great workout. One fun thing was we met this old grandma kneeling in her entryway as we rode by in the rain. We stopped and knelt down next to her sliding screen door thing and she fed us some delicious treats and talked to us for a while. She was about 70-something and she was telling us how her mom is 98 years old and still working at the shop down the road. what!? Haha. So apparently Okinawa has the longest living people in the world. I:m not sure if  that is a myth or not so someonee should look it up for me. But seriously we have met at least 10 little old Obaasans here just walking down the street with their groceries and they tell us theyre 95 years old and up. Shinjirarenai! I can:t believe it! They attribute it to this Okinawan vegetable called a Goya. It tastes like soap. Okinawan food is a little bit different than anything Ive had. Im usually not very picky but I have had a hard time eating some of the food the members give us here. Mostly just beans soaking in something that looks like a horse sneeze. My companion sister Hooker will eat literally anything and she laughs at me because Im always gagging trying to slurp down these weird beans and noodles. Sister McIntyre is my ally in the gross food category.
Another fun first this week was dendo-ing (missionary work) in a typhoon! It was raining and the wind was blowing like crazy, but we still went out that day and we actually ended up finding a lot of cool new people. I had so much fun wearing my Kappa (rain suit) and getting all soaking wet with water and sweat.
I am loving my area more and more here in Naha. The ward members are so incredibly awesome and strong. They help us so much by being willing to joint and drive to pick up less active members and investigators. Yesterday we were able to attend a baptism in Okinawa for one of Sister Hookers old investigators. We brough along our two Taiwanese investigators named Gopeipei and Rinseika. They are so cute! They spent the whole day with us seeing the baptism and then we went to a mini concert that night in the Urasoe ward that the YSAs there put on. We all had a reallly good time. It was a great chance to get to know them better and build their trust. We also got a new investigator this week named Oohama-san. She is a single mother. We found her randomly while we were standing in this apartment complex a few weeeks ago. We shared a little message and asked her if we could teach her again, and she agreed. She came to FHE the next week, and then later that week we were looking through the record book and all of a sudden sister McIntyre went, `wait a minute, this cant!` and low and behold Oohama-san already had an ancient record in the book from 2007. She used to be an investigator!  It was a miracle that we found her record in there because we were looking for someone completely different at the time. The Lord works in mysterious ways!
Today for Pday were going to the Okinawa Peace Park. Im not really sure what it is but I guess Ill find out. Its a long car ride there so Im excited to be able to sit and relax and write some letters. Were always on the go! Man im so sad. I wrote down all of these awesome things I wanted to write in my email this week on a piece of paper and I forgot to bring it with me to the church today! So many amazing things happen to us during the week that i want to share. One of the most spiritual experiences I have had thus far in my mission is with a Less active member named sister Uehara. Her husband is really active and asked us to teach her. She got into some kind of an accident a while back, and now she has brain damage and has the comprehension in reading and writing of a third grader. She also has a really hard time speaking and expressing her thoughts. The first time we met with her she seemed really angry/bitter/confused/depressed. Basically the saddest human being I have ever met. During and after that first meeing I was sick to my stomach. I couldn:t believe that something so awful could happen to someone. Because of her accident and resultant damage she has gone inactive, has a really rocky relationship with her husband, and can:t even communicate normally with anyone. She stays in her house all week and tends her garden. She is seriously the sweetest little old lady. We have met with her now about four times and it has been seriously amazing to see the progress she has made since I first met her. I still cry during every lesson we teach her as she struggles to express her thoughts and understand what were trying to teach her, but she has basically become active again! She comes to church every week now, and each time I see her she is more genki and more alive. She usually runs out of church after sacrament meeting because she is terrified of going to sunday school and relief society because she cant read or participate, but this week we got her to come!!! I haven:t been so excited about anything so far on my mission! Haha. Shes so cute. She always grabs us by the arm and leads us around the church. The sweetest thing is that she told us that her greatest desire is to be able to stand up in front of the ward and bare testimony or give a talk. We promised to help her be able to do that sometime in the future. I love her!
Anyway, its raining super hard right now and we have to go shopping and whatnot before we head to the peace park. I love you all and hope youre doing well! I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of his children. Look for opportunities at church to sit next to someone who doesn:t have friends or looks sad. Being here now Im looking back on my life and all of the chances I passed up to help someone who didnt have anyone else. That is my job now as a missionary, but I hope afterward I will have this same desire and sense of urgency. Love you!
Love, Sister Tingey

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Haha no hi

 First of all, this is where Lucy is serving!! She's on a tiny little island in the middle of the ocean!  Here is a link so you can see where she is.... Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Happy mothers day! I will be talking to some of you on the phone in a few short minutes, but I thought I would shoot out an email anyway. This week has been so busy! One of my companions, sister Lynch, left last Monday. She was a missionary from Tokyo who had been transferred to Okinawa because of the earthquake, but now that things are settled down they're finally letting the Tokyo missionaries back in so they sent her back! She was really excited but I was sad because I loved her. We were only comps for about 2 weeks but it felt like forever, haha. Our new companion is Sister Hooker and she is equally as awesome. I'm still with Sister McIntyre, and she thinks that i will "kill her," which means we'll be companions when she goes home. She only has 1 transfer left :(. She is an amazing trainer, though. I love her so much. She is such a good example and such a hard worker. She really connects with people and is way fluent at japanese. I'm learning a lot from her.
We met a lot of really cool people this week housing and streeting. We were riding our bikes under a bridge and I saw this homeless woman shuffling around, and I asked my companions if we could stop because I am kind of fascinated with homeless people, haha. Her name is Higa-san. She lives under the bridge all by herself and she is about 80 years old I think. The cool thing was that we were crouched there teaching her about Jesus and showing her a pamphlet, and little by little other people started crowding around. At one point there were about 7 people sitting there talking to her, when before nobody had even stopped to talk to her. It was a really sweet moment for me. I was glad we were able to bring people together for this little old lady. I think it brightened her day a little. Now she's our friend and she says hi to us when we ride by :).
We also found a family named the Yamakawa family housing and we were able to turn them into investigators this week, which was really exciting. She is a single mom with three little kids. They are so cute. We have another investigator named Gopeipei who is from Taiwan. She's 25 and I love spending time with her. She is really open to religions, and she came to FHE, eikaiwa, and church! Yatta!!! 
The interesting thing about Japan is that people do not let you into their houses here. Even if you have a return appointment with them they just make us stand outside and share our lesson standing in the doorway. It's very interesting. I'm always nudging my companions asking them if I can say, "is it ok if we come in??" But they say its rude here to do that so we just stand there, haha. Its ok though. I love being a missionary here, but oh man it is soooo humid! I take a freezing cold shower every morning and night because I am just drenched in sweat as soon as I step out of the door. It's pretty nasty but it sort of makes me happy because that's the image I always had of hardworking missionaries growing up. You just do what you gotta do and don't complain about it! I love riding my bike. Its hard, though, because we stop people on the street and they get really scared because there are three of us and we jump off our bikes to talk to them, haha. I love the ward members. I admire them sooo much! It is seriously so hard to be a member of the church in Japan. People work and go to school every single day of the week, including Sunday. That's one of the reasons why its difficult to keep people active. they have to go to work! It's all about consistency and contact here. When people feel the spirit when you teach them, they eventually come back to church because they realize what they're missing. Being a missionary is hard but I love it!! I'm trying my best to learn Japanese. They speak so fast here!
Ok I think I'm going to get a call soon. I love you all!! Write me some DearElders or letters please!!!
Love, Sister Tingey

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Lucy with her companions with a potential investigator

I have seen so many amazing miracles this week. I love the two wards I serve in and I have been having fun getting to know all of the members. It seems like more than half ofthe ward is inactive, so we teach a lot of less active and recent converts. Recent convert retention is also very difficult here so we spend a lot of our time trying to get the ward members to fellowship them and help get people back to church. We also found a lot of really great potential investigators this week. One of them is named Chiya san and she is an 18 year old high school student. We knocked on her door and taught her the first lesson. The spirit was incredibly strong and I'll never forget her face as she listened intently to her message. We were prompted very strongly by the spirit to ask her to be baptized on her doorstep during that first meeting with her...and she said yes! She wouldn't commit to a specific day but she said that if she knew the church was true for herself then yes, of course she would be baptized! That was such an amazing miracle that I saw this week. It goes to show that the Lord is really preparing people!!!
Enjoying some gelato with some darling Japanese girls
Another miracle I saw was from a little girl named Mio chan. She is this adorable 9 year old who got baptized all on her own. Her mom was hearing the discussions for a while until she said she wasn't interested anymore, but she said Mio chan could keep hearing them if she wanted. She ended up getting baptized! That was a few weeks before I came, so now we're just concentrating on teaching her the lessons she needs to hear for after baptism. This week when we went over we sat with her in her living room and taught her how to bare her testimony. She is seriously so cute and strong. It is hearbreaking, though, to see how much she wants her mom to accept the gospel. As we were teachign her, we asked her what her favorite scripture was and she pulled out her little Book of Mormon, and read 3 Neph 12:14. She jumped up before she started reading it and grabbed a spare BOM and put it on the table for her mom. Her mom just looked at it and turned back to the TV, and wouldn't even listen as Mio Chan read her favorite scripture. I almost started crying because it was so sad. We helped her write out her testimony on a little piece of paper and on Sunday she showed up to sacrament all by herself. She even brought a non-member friend! She got up and bore her testimony, and had even added some things from when we helped her write it out. I can't believe this little girl. She is going to do great things one day. I have faith that because of her testimony her mother and little brother will one day accept the gospel as well.
I have a million more stories I want to tell but no time. I love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week! I love this gospel and the people in my little area of Naha. I can see more and more everyday how much people need the gospel. I see and hear and experience so many sad things everyday with ward members, less active members, and investigators, but those things help me to recognize the miracles that Heavenly Father works in the lives of these people as well. He uses strong tools like Mio chan to build up families and strengthen the faith of weak missionaries like me. I'll talk to you next sunday!!
Love, Tingey Shimai