Monday, September 5, 2011

From one comes many(and Happy 23rd Birthday!)

Its my Birthday tomorrow! Hip hip hooray!
Kamo shimai and Taira Kyodai doing the thumbs up for Lucy's Birthday
I know I say this every week, but this past week was saiko (which, ironically. means `the best`)!!!!
Woh, does Sister Yamada have full suspension on her bike? What kind of biking are you doing!? Lucy's looks more like a cruiser bike and I love it because it's pink:)
First off, my Birthday is this week, and anyone who knows me knows that I always make a big deal out of my Birthday and plan a big shabang, so why would being on a mission change that, right? More opportunities to meet with our investigators and dendo! Hehe. Anyway, this past week there was a lot of talk about a `Banana Party` that we are throwing after Eikaiwa (English class) on Wednesday. It is a well known fact here in Naha that Im a big lover of bananas, and actually three of our investigators also have Birthdays this week, so we are having a big combined Birthday party for the four of us. I also already received two packages from Annie and Justin and Dad and Teri, that have been sitting next to my futon for the past week waiting to be opened. :) Ok, enough about Birthdays.
Sister Yamada and Tingey making some very important calls on their cell phone
Now for the really important stuff. I have another amazing story, almost to the caliber (SP) of last week`s miracle referral. This story is about a family named the Kubas.
A few months ago we received a call at the church from Kuba-san who asked us if we were currenly holding a childrens Eikaiwa class. We told her we were not but that we could come to her house and teach her kids English any time as long as we could share a spiritual message as well (Yes, we will basically do anything to teach people, haha). We ended up going a few weeks later and they are this incredibly adorable family with the two parents, 13 year old Aoi, and 5 year old Alisa. She told us that she had actually spent some time in Utah before and stayed with an LDS host family there, so she had a lot of knowlege about the church. We invited them to a takyu taikai (ping pong tournament) at the church the day that Ohama shimai was baptized, and they came! They had a lot of fun and they promised to have us back for dinner sometime. This past Saturday we were able to go back. I prepared this little English lesson to each to Aoi, but when we arrived he wasn`t even home. We thought it was interesting, so we just sat down and started chatting with Kuba-san (the mom). After a couple of minutes I started to get the feeling that she didn`t want us to teach English that day at all, but actually just wanted to have a gospel discussion! We were thrilled so we started in talking about temples and eternal families just as Aoi returned home and listened in. Then, big surprise, Kuba-san suddenly tells us, `Yeah, actually I got baptized when I was 19, but ....`. Wait, what? My companion and I turned to each other with a , `wait, did she just say she got baptized?` look on our faces, and then turned back to her. She went on to tell us about her conversion story and that she had been active in the church for two years until due to some family situations she stopped attending church. Wow! Naruhodo. So then, if that`s not enough of a shocker for us, she asks us if we could actually start teaching her husband the gospel, and that she really thinks that returning to church would strengthen her family! Hellooooo Kuba-san! Pureeee Joy.
Mio Chan.  So darling. 
Yamada shimai and I have yet to see a day this transfer where some amazing miracle hasn`t occurred. I`m not sure what Heavenly Father is thinking up there pouring out all of these blessings on us, because I sure don`t feel like we deserve half of them. I guess the best explanatio is that Heavenly Father`s motive isn`t to bless us necessarily, but to bless His children that He loves through us. I feel very humbled to be a tool in His hands!
Lucy's never lost her coolness, even on the mish.  Happy Birthday!
In other news, I just have to say  that I LOVE Naha, LOVE Okinawa, and especially LOVVVEEE the members in our two wards. This being my FOURTH transfter here in Naha, I have really grown to love the people here so much! I felt it especially yesterday during Sacrament meeting in both wards. Yamada Shimai and I were looking through our Member Book at our apartment the other day when we realized a lot of info was missing, like phone numbers and addresses and such, so we made a resolve to re-compile the correct info. We sat in the back of the chapel for both meetings, and with notebook and pen wrote down each of the members` names and each family attending that day. It was a really good chance for Yamada Shimai to ask questions and learn some of the members` names, and I was shocked when I was able to name 62 out of the 74 families/individuals seated in the chapel! I guess that`s what time does, but as I wrote down each name I really felt a love for each of the members and thought about the fun/spiritual/uplifting moments I had had with each of them. And as far as the 12 I wasn`t able to name, we met each of them after Sacrament meeting, collected their info, and plan on visiting them in the coming weeks to get to know them better.
YSAs at the Yozas house
I feel an incredible amount of gratitude that I have been able to stay in this area of Naha for as long as I have and develop such amazing life-long friendships with these members. I especially felt that last night as the missionaries, along with the YSAs from both wards, gathered at the Yoza family`s house and ate, talked, and laughed together. I sat next to one of the most amazing women I have ever met, Sister Kinjo, and she related to me the story of one woman some 50 years ago who, as a single mom raising 8 boys on her own, joined the church due to two young missionaries who climbed a steep hill to share the gospel with her. Because of her incredible testimony and determination to share it with everyone she knew, she contributed to the conversion of almost half of the now members in the Naha area, including Sister Kinjo who was relating the story of this woman. I have heard different variations of this story from other members, but as she told the story to me last night I have never ever felt the spirit so strong in my life, and we both cried. I couldn`t help but think of Ohama shimai, who was baptized last month, and her little 4 year old son Kotaro kun. I thought of the scripture in DC 18:15-16 about how much joy bringing just one person to the gospel brings. I have a testimony of that! However, the scripture goes on to state, `how much more will be your joy if you bring many!?` Kinjo shimai`s story gave me a new motivation to declare the gospel to everyone I can in this short time I have to serve a full-time mission, as well as after.
Kamo shimai and Taira Kyodai hugging
What an amazing week. I love Heavenly Father so much and I know that He looks after each and every one of us. I have witnessed that in the last 4 months more powerfully than ever before. Look for the good in each day and always strive to do what the Lord would have you do. I promise you that he will lead you to someone he has prepared to hear the gospel! Alma 13:24.
I love you all so much!

Love, Tingey Shimai

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