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 be...no...what?!` 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