Sunday, July 31, 2011


Natsumi Oohama and Lucy at her baptism
My dear family and friends,
I think any of you may be able to guess what the highlight of my week was this past week. Our amazing friend Natsumi Oohama was baptized on Saturday, the 23rd and confirmed in church yesterday! Looking back and reflecting on the past few months, I have learned a lot from teaching and learning with Natsumi shimai. I vividly remember the first time meeting her, it being one of my first few weeks in the field, and not really knowing if she would continue listening to the lessons. I was reading my journal the other day and I have an entry that says something like, "a woman we met housing the other day came to FHE tonight with her cute son! Tonight we also found her old record in the area book, which was a total coincidence because we had no idea that she had investigate the church before! I just know she is going to accept the gospel!" Haha. It made me so happy to read that entry and remember how excited I was meeting her and teaching her. We really put all of our hearts and souls into teaching her. She never made it easy, as she is very inquisitive and loves "benkyo" or studying the scriptures.
scrubbing the baptismal font

I remember as a "bean" or new missionary, I was terrified to go into lessons with her because I couldn't understand her fast Japanese and didn't really have any experience teaching, but she was always so kind to me and listened to me (even if she was snickering at my many mistakes, hehe). She is honestly one of the strongest, kindest, most genuine people I have met. She was truly prepared by the Lord to receieve the gospel. All we did was teach the best that we could, and the spirit really did the rest. Natsumi shimai was so willing to try anything we threw at her, including the Word of Wisdom, which she gained a testimony of quickly, as well as keeping the sabbath day holy and fasting. Teaching her has really opened my eyes to the way that this all really works. The most important thing is for others to go home, and try LIVING the gospel in order to gain a testimony for themselves. All that we as missionaries can do is prepare as best we can with the spirit, and extend commitments that the person we are teaching either will or won't accept. But I have a firm testimony that if they do truly try living the gospel, keeping the commandments, and taking Moroni's challenge (Moroni 10:3-5), they WILL gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I feel so blessed to have been able to witness the gospel change another person's life.
Natsumi and her son

As you can see from the pictures, Natsumi shimai was just GLOWING at her baptism. She was a little nervous, but she was a trooper putting on the giant baptism dress (the only one we had at the church), and tromping up onto the stand. She is a really funny shimai and is always giggling at everything (so naturally we get along really well). I did her introduction, we had a spiritual message from a ward member, Sister Uchida and I sang a song called ,"the Olive Tree," and then we all gathered around the baptismal font. Ever since we scheduled a baptism date with Oohama, and I have thought about that day, I always just imagined myself sobbing my eyes out with happiness seeing her baptism, but when the moment actually came I didn't cry at all. I was just way too happy to cry I  guess, haha.  We told Natsumi shimai that she needed to prepare something to say after she was baptized, and right before she was supposed to go up and do it she got this panicked look on her face and turned to me and said, "Wait, what is it that I say at the end? I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen??" and then we both cracked up. It was really funny. She got up and bore just a very simple testimony about God's love that lasted about 15 seconds and then sat down. It was very powerful. Then Sister Uchida, Elder Maeda and Triffitt, and I sang "Shinji susuman" which I don't know the title of in English but it is a really beautiful song and a lot of the congregation was a little weepy, hehe. Anyway, I am glad to announce that everything went very smoothly and we couldn't have asked for a better or more special day for Natsumi shimai!

Getting a nice little gift
Oh, I almost forgot one of the best parts about that day! Sister Uchia and I had about 10 investigators/potential investigators come to the church that day! Before the baptism we had a ping pong tournament and spaghetti party (the Elder's brilliant idea to get nonmembers to attend the baptism). It actually worked! Most importantly, Nariko-san, who is scheduled to be baptized on August 13th came to the church for the first time and after the baptism she said she was very moved by the ceremony. She even went up to talk to Natsumi shimai and Natsumi bore her testimony to Nariko about how much the gospel has changed her life! What an amazing opportunity for our cute little grandma investigator. I love her so much. We also had about 7 other investigators attend the baptism. It was literally a miracle because most of them said they couldn't come and then ended up showing up. So happy!!

On the books!
Yorokobi- True joy
I love all of you and I am so grateful every week for the opportunity to write this email home about all of my experiences.
"Happiness is only real when shared" -Alexander Supertramp, "Into the Wild"
Have a great week! I know I will!
Love, Tingey shimai

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