Friday, August 26, 2011


Dear Loved Ones,
I am happy to announce today that I was not transfered out of my beloved area of Naha!!! Can you believe it?? This is my fourth transfer serving in the same area. That is pretty rare. I feel very lucky to have been able to stay here in Okinawa for this long. By the end of this transfer Ill have been serving in Naha for almost half a year (Hence this emails subject, `Hantoshi`). I have been able to develop some amazing relationships with ward members, investigators, neighbors, etc. Unfortunately, my time with Uchida shimai was very short-lived, as she was transfered to another area after just one transfer with me here in Naha! She is now serving in Fukuoka at the Mission Home with Mueller Shimai, who was with me in the MTC. We were SO shocked when we got the transfer phone call. I was almost positive that either we were both staying, or I was getting transfered, but never did I imagine that I would have another transfer here and she would leave after such a short time. Wow. I have come to the conclusion that there is someone here in Naha that I have yet to find, who desperately needs to hear the gospel from me. Im working hard to find that person!! 
My new companion is Yamada Shimai! (Fun Fact; Uchida means `in the field` and Yamada means `mountain field`). I guess I am destined to work with a lot of sisters who work in fields. She is so so so cute! Absolutely love her. She is from Aomori, which is actually a place that I have a special love for. When I was on my study abroad with BYU a few years ago, I was traveling around Japan with a group of other Japanese students when I accidentally lost my very expensive rail pass. In order to buy a new, temporary pass, I had to go to Aomori and wait for the place to open. The rest of the group went on ahead while I stayed in Aomori for a whole day with the Teachers Assistant Tsuchiya sensei. We spent the whole day exploring Aomori, which is famous for its delicious apples (no wonder I liked it :) ). We went to the beach, and were even able to hand out a Book of Mormon to a boy we met by the beach. It was such a memorable and spontaneous day, and that memory of sharing the gospel with that boy is something that also fueled my desire to serve a mission! That was probably my first `dendo` experience in Japan. Never would have thought that a year and a half later I would be serving a mission there. I have always remembered Aomori and wanted to go back because of that experience, so I was excited when I found out that that is where Yamada shimai is from! She is in her third transfer, so younger than me! I am having a ball teaching her all about this amazing area. In her first few days here we already found two new investigators! So awesome.  
This past week before Uchida shimai left we had a lot of fun. Our Zone all gathered for one last hoorah and did an early morning, 6:30 AM jog to the beach, which is about 2 miles away. There we had personal study and then we all sat together and shared our favorite scriptures about Christ. It was definitely a memorable experience. I attached some pictures of us having fun in the sand. That day we received transfer calls, so all of us were kind of on edge. The mission is so fun and unexpected!
This week we also reconnected with the Kinjo couple, a couple whom I found in my bean transfer with McIntyre shimai but last transfer we kind of dropped them because we didnt think they were progressing. This past week, however, they showed up for Stake Conference, and I found out that the husband has read all the way through 1 Nephi 2! This is what he said when I asked him about it, `The Book of Mormon has a special kind of power. When I read this book, I understand more about Salvation that I do when I read the Bible. I dont think that Joseph Smith could have written this book on his own...` Haha!!! You can imagine my reaction upon hearing that. We encouraged him to keep reading and scheduled an appointment to start teaching them again this next week. Were planning on asking them to be baptized on Tuesday, so keep that in your prayers!
When i was in the MTC I made the very ambitious goal of reading the entire Book of Mormon in Japanese before the next General Conference, which was about 6 months away. In order to accomplish that goal, I had to read 4 or 5 pages a day. I did really well my first two transfers, reading every single day, and I got all the way to the beginning of Mosiah, but last transfer when my trainer left and Uchida shimai came, I got SO busy trying to take the lead in the area. I literally had no down time before bed or in the morning because I was freaking out trying to keep track of calling people, filling out the area book, etc. Haha. I was a little stress case last transfer, but thats OK because I learned a lot and realized that I am capable of a lot of things that I never thought I would be able to do (For example, reading a Japanese map and memorizing where all of our investigators, members and Potential investigators lived). Anyway, now that I have calmed down a bit, I have started up my BOM reading again. Unfortunately, that six weeks that I slacked off has cost me about 7 pages a day...haha. So now in order to accomplish my goal I have to read 12 pages a day. I am super extremely determined to accomplish it, so wish me luck!
I really hope Lucy's arm isn't the pasty white one. lol.
Missionary work has been really interesting and gratifying with Yamada shimai so far. We are trying a lot of new things with our teaching skills and lessons. For example, yesterday during companion study we practiced switching off talking every two sentences during a lesson, instead of each of us taking a whole section. We also decided that we want to try stopping every lesson at the peak of when we feel the spirit, and leave immedately so that whoever were teachign will really have that feeling linger with them after were gone. Im excited to try out these new ideas. Well, I love you all and I wish you all the best! This gospel is SO true, and like 1Nephi 31:21 says, it is the only way whereby we can gain salvation and live with our Father in Heaven again!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Sunday, August 14, 2011

EFY in Japan

Hello Hello!
Its a beautiful, breezy morning here in Okinawa. I think youll be glad to hear that the weather is finally cooling down. No more scorching hot afternoons, collapsing after a long, hot day of dendo. No more three-showers-a-day days. No sir. Goodbye miserable heat and humidity! Yayyy.
This week was awesome, like most weeks. Three of our investigators recently returned to China and Taiwan for summer vacation. They will be coming back in a few weeks, but this week is transfers so I might not be here when they get back. We were able to take Gopeipei to the airport and see her off. I am going to miss her so much! She is one of the first people I contacted and taught in the mission field, and I have seen her multiple times a week for the last 4 months or so, so she has a really special place in my heart! So cheesy, but true.
We had a really amazing experience this week with being led by the spirit. On Tuesday morning we were thinking and praying about what we should do that day, when I suddenly had the idea that we should go visit a member who lives pretty far away. Last transfer she surprised Sister McIntyre and I by luring us to the church and having a little dessert picnic, just because she wanted to do something nice for us. Ever since that day I have really wanted to do something nice for her, so I felt like we should go to her house that day. We whipped up a little pineapple cake and that night we headed in that direction. We searched and searched for the address we had for where she lived but we really could not find it. Luckily we have had past experiences where we were led in a certain direction, or gotten lost, and ended up meeting some amazing new person, so we figured there had to be some reason that Heavenly Father wanted us to go in that direction that day. We were sitting there thinking when I suddenly realized we were just one block away from an old referrals house we had received when Sis. McIntyre was here. We had gone to visit that referral numerous times and called her countless times, but with no luck. The times we had visited it seemed like nobody was living in that apartment, so we dropped the referral because she lived pretty far away and it was taihen to go all the way out there. Suddenly I KNEW that she was the reason we were supposed to go there that night. I had a feeling that she would be home this time. Sure enough, we knocked on the door, and her mom answered the door! She wasnt home, but she told us to come back at a different time when her daughter would be home.We were also able to give her the little cake we made. I am SO incredibly grateful for Heavenly Fathers guidance!! We would have never contacted her or thought to go back there without him leading us in that direction that day! Now we may have the chance to share the gospel with her and this time around maybe she will accept our message.
We visited a lot of members this week, and the ward mission leader and his wife gave us a bunch of Dragonfruits, which are Chyo incredibly delicious. A new bishop was called in Higashi ward, so this week we had dinner with him and his family. It was really fun to discuss the needs of the ward with him and create a new dendo plan!
This past Sunday was one of the most memorable sacrament meeting experiences I have ever had. This week Japan held its first EFY. All summer long the youth and counselors in our wards have been preparing for it. As you can imagine, it takes a ton of planning and coordination. This Sunday they all returned and each of the youth bore their testimonies about their experiences. It felt the spirit SO strongly as I saw how the spirit had worked in the youth here. I remembered back to my own experiences attending EFY, and how the feelings I felt there really set a foundation for the testimony that I now have. I feel so much gratitude that I had the opportunity to attend every year, and I am so excited for the youth here that they now have the same opportunity. One young mans testimony in particular really touched me. I have been observing him and watching him this summer through various activities and at church. He is getting close to the time when he should fill out his mission papers, but it didn:t seem like he really had the desire or motivation. The Elders have been meeting with him every so often, and we have all been encouraging him to get ready to go, but we have all been a little worried. However, he attended EFY this past week, and hearing his testimony in sacrament meeting was so powerful. He now knows that he needs to prepare to serve a mission, and he said that he gained a much needed testimony that week. I know its a little silly to have a testimony of EFY, but I really do! I felt the spirit so strongly when I attended as a youth and I have never forgotten the four weeks that I spent there. I am just so happy that they had that same experience that I did. I know that they will be able to think back on that experience always and gain motivation to make good choices because of how they felt there.
Another highlight from this week was having Natsumi shimai joint for our lesson with Nariko san. She bore her testimony of the Word of Widsom and of how the gospel has changed her life. She just makes me so happy! Nariko san said that Oohama shimai has `atatakai shinko` or burning faith. I just feel so much gratitude that I have had the amazing chance to come to Japan and witness the miracle of the gospel working in peoples lives. Its so amazing!!
Can anyone read this?
I am also so grateful for my AMAZING family who always supports me in everything I do. Thank you for your wonderful letters of encouragement and for sharing your spiritual experiences with me. Nothing makes me happier. I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with opportunities to share the gospel! Recently I read a quote in Preach My Gospel that says, `Surely taking the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and peole is the single greatest responsiblity we have in mortality...We have been privelaged to be born in these last days, as opposed to some earlier dispensation, to help take the gospel to all the earth.` We are so blessed to have the tools and resources that we have to share the gospel. Dont be afraid to share your faith in any way that you feel comfortable, even if its by sharing your testimony on Fbook, your blog, creating a profile or sending a letter to a friend. There are so many different ways to dendo! Ganbatte! I cant wait to hear about it!
I love you!!!!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shimai Taiki and Typhoo

*NOTE* Lucy asked me to take the "n" off of Typhoon because the real Japanese way to say it is with no "n"
Dear Aisuru friends and Kazoku,
Well, this week was probably the most eventful/unproductive week of my entire mission (and no I didn't accidentally forget the "un"). Let me explain.
We started out the week traveling to Fukuoka by plane to attend the Fukuoka Mission Sisters Conference!!! We arrived at the Mission Home on Monday night, had a delicious dinner of ramen at a nearby ramen shop, and then had a blast hanging out with President and Sister Margetts and about fifteen other sisters who also arrived that night. We slept in this huge room of bunkbeds. I felt a little out of my element, being one of two foreigners in the room, and relatively new in the field. I didn't know any of the sisters besides my companion and the other three sisters serving in Okinawa but I made a ton of new friends and had a blast talking to all of the Japanese sisters.
For the next two days we had training from President Margetts, the Assistants to the President (Elders Bingham and Watanabe) and a bunch of Sisters who have been out for a year or longer. There are 26 sisters in the Fukuoka mission, and 5 who aren't Japanese. in the Next two transfers, three of those sisters will go home, and more Japanese will come with no foreigners, which means that in two transfters Sister Mueller and I will be the only non-Japanese sisters in the mission. That is pretty crazy!!! That probably means from now on I will probably have a lot of Japanese companions, and hopefully my Japanese will improve a lot. Recently a lot of ward members have been telling me that my Japanese improved a lot this transfer, which was really good to hear because I really cannot tell at all, haha. The training we received was so amazing! We did a lot of "keiji renshyu" or "revelation practice." We paired off with different sisters and practiced teaching, really emphasizing looking to heaven for good questions to ask and pausing more to receive direction from the spirit. It was a really great experience and we all learned a ton! It was also especially fun to meet a lot of new sisters, hopefully some of whom I might become companions with someday. I love all of the sisters so much! 
Some of the other activites during Sisters conference included eating DELICIOUS breakfasts prepared by Sisteer and President Margetts, getting to see their wedding album from the 70's, having a wrestling tournament with all of the sisters, staying up a little after curfew with Sister Mueller and Fluckiger to paint lipstick on ALL of the sisters' faces while they were sleeping (so hilarious), and just being able to feel the spirit with all of the sisters in the mission. It was such an uplifting few days. I feel so blessed to have been able to experience a sisters conference, because they don't happen very often. If I'm lucky I'll get to attend another one next year.
Dakara...this week was very eventful. 
So why was it unproductive? In a few words... MASSIVE TYPHOON!!!! 
 We got a warning from the Senior missionaries on Tuesday that a typhoon was supposed to hit late Wednesday night. Fortunately we returned from Fukuoka on Wednesday night right before the typhoon hit. Thursday morning we were able to run to the store and grab some food and water in case we were stuck in our apartment for a while..
Love those silly shirts!
The typhoon started Thursday morning. The last time we had a massive typhoon it lasted for about half a day, and pretty much destroyed everything in its path because of the strong winds. I was sort of expecting the same thing this time but it was completely different. It rained...and rained...and stormed...and rained...and rained....FOR THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. I'm not talking just some light rain. It was insane, like someone had a high-power firefighter hose just spraying our windows on full blast for 36 hours. I can't even comprehend where all of that water and wind came from! Can anyone enlighten me on the subject? I'm guessing it came from the ocean somehow, but I really have no idea. So Thursday night we had weekly planning, so it was Ok that we had to stay inside all day, but we had to cancel our lessons we had that night and do them by phone instead. Then Friday I was expecting it to clear up by morning, but we woke up to the same sound of blasting wind and rain. It kept going full blast all day, so we called pretty much all of the ward members in both wards and sang them hymns, called all of our investigators and taught them over the phone, called all of our potential investigators, old investigators we found in the area book. The best part of those three days might have been finding loads of old records from 1997 in an old dusty folder in a cupboard. We're planning on calling those people at some point :).
Anyway, we were finally able to go outside Saturday at about 5:00 PM. There wasn't much devastation, but a full sized trash can we had on our deck from before the typhoon started was completely filled to the top with water, so that gives you an idea of about how much rain fell. So crazy!!!!
I guess I feel like we were really unproductive this week because we didn't do any finding, which is probably my favorite part about being a missionary. I cant wait to go crazy this next week and talk to everyone I see!!!
Well, that was what my week was like. I love this gospel and I'm so so so grateful for the amazing gift of the Holy Ghost. I don't know what I would do without it! I have such a strong testimony that when we follow the promptings of the spirit we are blessed so much! On the other hand, if we ignore those promptings, even if its something little, the spirit withdraws itself from us and we can't feel it as strongly. I experienced that this week and have made a new resolve to follow EVERY little prompting I receive.
Love, Tingey Shimai