Sunday, November 13, 2011

Transfer 2 in Fukuoka

Lucy teaching English class. She kind of looks Jewish in this photo.

Well, this past week was very eventful. We had transfers, but I didn't get transferred, which is not really a surprise. Uchida Shimai didn't transfer, either so we have another 5 weeks of Fukuoka bliss! Yes, I said five weeks. This transfer is shorter than usual so that transfers don't fall on the week of Christmas or something like that. Because we had transfers I was able to take out the new sister missionaries to do some dendo! We did some streeting, housing, and visited an 80 year old lady who has 7 cats. I think it gave them a pretty good idea of what their next 15 months will look like, haha. Our whole district stayed the same except for our district leader, Elder Anderson, who got transferred to Hiroshima. Our new district leader is Elder Stratford who was in the MTC with me, Sister Uchida and Elder Ushiro, so basically our whole district is our doki (our group who left the MTC at the same time)!

New Beans

Playing at the beach

The most exciting news this week happened last night when we were finally able to teach the Oyama family again. We taught them the Plan of Salvation a few weeks ago but they got busy and we weren't able to teach them lately. However, we taught them about the Restoration of the gospel last night and I wish you all could have been there! The spirit was so strong, and it was especially really cool to tell 14 year old Yuto-kun about how Joseph Smith, at his same age, prayed to Heavenly Father with faith and received an answer to his question. The parents were SO into the lesson and when we were talking about how the Holy Ghost testifies the truth to us the mom got so excited and said, "I've felt that before!!! I know what that is!" It was so cool!! They especially loved the explanation of why so many different churches emerged after the death of Christ and his apostles, and how using the Bible they all translated the teachings of Christ differently. It really hit home with them about the importance of the Book Of Mormon and the role that it plays in helping us understand the fullness of the gospel. It was just such a cool lesson. My favorite part was how 9 year old Shintaro kept saying things like, "ohhh, ok, I get it," "Ahh, that makes total sense!" Haha. It was so awesome! They are progressing SO well and this week they committed to reading and praying everyday as a family to know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's restored church on the earth today. I KNOW that if they're sincere they will receive an answer! They are so special! I don't ask very often for you guys to pray for our investigators, but PLEASE pray that the Oyama family will be able to feel the things we're teaching them blessing their lives. I love them so much.
Hikaru-Kun. He's ADORABLE!
Last Pday we went to a place called Aburayama, which was probably the most fun Pday I've had so far on my mission. We drove up the canyon and at the top there was this huge ranch called "Momo land" where there are these two super long slides that take you down to the playground/field area. You can also buy fresh milk and soft cream from the dairy, and pet all of the animals like cows, goats, horses, etc. We sat on the hill overlooking Fukuoka and ate lunch. It was just a dream come true! We also randomly ran into a friend of the member we were with and were able to invite her to Eikaiwa. Hopefully she comes and we'll be able to teach her!
Awesome companion

Soft serve ice cream that the Japanese call soft cream

Having a blast, but looks like Lucy's freezing cold!
Fukuoka is seriously amazing. We get SO many referrals from the members and tons of the students who we teach English to end up wanting to hear our lessons because of the way they feel when they're in the church and talking to the missionaries and members. From that alone we are teaching more people than we can handle! I've been a little sad in Fukuoka this transfer because we haven't been able to do a lot of finding, which is probably my biggest strength as a missionary. We are teaching so many people and a lot of times they live super far away so a lot of our time is spent riding bikes to appointments and only being able to hand out a pass-along card or two when stopped at a red light. I'm not the most talented public speaker or teacher, either and about 4 times a week I'm standing in front of a crowd teaching English or giving a spiritual message, which makes we just want to die from my public speaking fear, haha. However, I have noticed that my public speaking and teaching skills are slowly improving, so I'm guessing that serving in Fukuoka is just a blessing/challenge that has been given to me from Heavenly Father to help me improve!
At the beach.  I hope you got some shells.

Goofy missionary pose.  haha.  Taking a photo of the exact same smile gets old on a mission, doesn't it:)?

Well, everything is wonderful here and I'm learning and growing a ton everyday. Last transfer was definitely a tough transition, and I still miss Naha like CRAZY but I know that the Lord has called me to Fukuoka to teach and find those he has prepared to accept the gospel!

I love you all sooooo much. Today I read John 3:3-11, which is about bearing testimony. Read it if you get the time and tell me what you think!

Love, Tingey Shimai

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Glad Tidings from Naha!

Rin Kun before his baptism!
Hellooo! I have very little time to email today because we are taking a bus with the zone leaders, their investigator shouhei, and a member and her son up the Fukuoka mountain! I'm not sure what the mountain is actually called but I'm so excited! This is going to be the first real Pday we've had this transfer! Most of our Pdays this transfer we have sacrificed in order to teach lessons, which has its ups and downs. I haven't written a single letter this transfer or gone to any of the cultural attractions in Fukuoka, but this transfer I definitely taught more lessons than any other.
In front of the temple with the Shimai
First off, this Saturday we were able to go inside the Fukuoka temple for the first time and do an endowment session! It was so amazing and felt so good after not being able to go to the temple for 6 months. I definitely felt the spirit testify to me that it is the house of the Lord. The temple is such an amazing place! Uchida Shimai and I were also talking the other day about how its so funny that every Pday we both have this huge desire to do morning study on the temple grounds. Its always freezing cold and not comfortable to sit on the concrete, but for some reason we keep going back. I guess it just makes us feel closer to the Lord.
Cleaning the font

Rin kun checking out the triple combination we gave him :)
The big news this week is that Rin-kun was baptized! His mother was so grateful and shed some tears during the actual ordinance. He was really shy but he got up and said, "I'm glad I got baptized" and then sat down. Haha. It was cute. We also got a call from my beloved bean area of Naha because Mueller Shimai who is serving there now used to be in this area and was the one who started teaching Rin-kun. She was SO happy to hear that he was baptized. She said when she first started teaching him a couple of transfers ago he had never really been to church and didn't even know who God was or anything! She said it was a miracle.
Sister fujimoto's french cooking class, taught in English. Pahaha. It was awesome.
Because she called I was able to get the down-low on all of my favorite people in Naha and I was basially floating on a cloud for the rest of the day. She told me that all three of the Sisters that i saw baptized there are coming to church and doing awesome. I was especially excited to hear that Ohama Shimai, who was baptized in July, finally received a calling as a primary teacher!!!! Which is the best news ever because after she got baptized she had a lot of concerns about spending her only day off on Sunday at church instead of spending time with her son, kotaro like she usually did. Mueller Shimai told me that she's so happy to be working in the primary now because she gets to spend her whole time at church with Kotaro! She couldn't have told me anything better! Mariko and Shuko are also doing amazing and I'm planning on sending them a package soon.
Playing games in the church with our zone after attending the temple
The other AMAZING news is.....Shimomura san is getting baptized on November 19th!!!!! She's the woman who my third week or so in the field we found ont he street, she rejected us, but then had this HUGE prompting from the spirit to go back and ask one more time if she would give us her contact information. We went back and...she did! And guess what? Now she's getting bapztized!!!! I could seriously just die right now with happiness. Even though I won't be able to see it I feel so grateful to have had that amazing faith building experience with following the promptings of the spirit.
ahhhh. So happy.
Alrighty, we're heading to the mountain now. I love you so much and pray for you often! Thank you for all of the pictures, letters and love. You have no idea how much it means to me after a long week to hear that my family is so genki. You're the best!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Temple Trip(From Oct 30th)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! To celebrate Halloween this Pday we are....(drum roll) NOT having Pday! Haha. Kind of ironic. My favorite Holiday falls on a Pday but we happen to not be having Pday that day. Its for a good reason, though. We are going to do a session at the temple on Saturday!!!!!! So our Pday has been changed to Saturday. So so happy. Going to the temple on Saturday will be the first time Uchida Shimai and I have been since leaving Provo in April! We're so so so excited! Even though we see the temple everyday missionaries are only allowed to enter once every two transfers. Yayyy.

Today we are just emailing but the rest of the day is chalk full of lessons. This transfer Uchida Shimai and I made a goal of teaching 30 lessons every week. We have yet to accomplish that goal, or even get near to it, but because our goals were super high this transfer we have accomplished teaching upwards of 20 lessons every week, which is insane! The Lord has really been guiding and helping us plan well to meet with those we need to.

My other exciting announcement is that we have a baptism this week!!!! We have been teaching the nine year old son of a slightly inactive Phillippino woman and a few weeks ago he told us that he wanted to be baptized. We are so excited for him! He's such an adorable kid. He's a really amazing artist and loves playing with anime action figures called Donbarusenki. He's just such a good kid. There have been some unfortunate complications with the date he was scheduled to be baptized conflicting with a BYU Hawaii presentation, and some other things, but we're praying that everything works out and the baptism will happen. When he first said he wanted to be baptized he said he didn't want to bear his testimony in front of everyone because he's too shy, but yesterday when we talked to him he said he would do it after all! He's so cute and has a testimony that the gospel is true.  I love these amazing Japanese children who I get to work with!

This past week was also fun because we did companion exchanges with the Sisters serving in Ube. It was only the second time I have done exchanges my entire mission because in Okinawa the sisters were pretty far away and we didn't really get the chance. It was a really fun experience, but mostly made me realize how much I love Uchida Shimai and how when we're called to be companions with someone, that really is the Lord's will. We also had something called "Prep mission" (Those silly Japanese switching words around) where we were able to visit a less active member and do some finding with some YSAs. It was so fun!

Uchida Shimai and I have seen some amazing miracles this transfer in Fukuoka and learned so much! Still learning everyday and becoming more humble. I think that would probably define transfer five for me thus far. This transfer I have really been receiving a lot of help and strength from the Conference notes I took. Lately, I have especially been pondering about and re-reading my notes on Elder Eyring's talk about pushing past our limits. Being a missionary has really made me more aware of my comfort zone and energy limitations, and how when I push past that I always just become more humble and reliant on the Lord. A lot of times we're running, running, running all day,and then when I just want to collapse and take a 3 minute power nap I have to teach Eikaiwa or teach a lesson, or do something that at that moment I just really can't get the energy to do. I can remember specific times when this feeling was SO overwhelming that I literally didn't think I could do it, but I just pleaded with the Lord to give me the energy and help me be genki, and I received what I needed to fulfill His work!!! Because of those small experiences I had in earlier transfers I am able to draw strength through prayer now. I know that what Elder Eyring said was true! When we push past our "limits" in order to fulfill the Lord's work, he always provides us a way to accomplish that work, and in turn we grow stronger and our faith grows.

I love this gospel!

I'm afraid my time is up, but I'll hopefully be able to check my email again on Saturday for a minute to miss any emails that I didn't get to read today. I love you sooo much!!!

Love, Tingey Shimaiiiii

Natto Challenge(From Oct 23rd)

My dear family,
I have a big announcement! You know those slimy, disgusting beans called natto that I'm always talking about? Ever since the first time I tried natto for the first time at age 11 or so I have despised them more than anything else. They were the only thing I couldn't eat. Back in high school I swallowed a live goldfish without blinking, and during my mission I have also eaten some other things that would scare off a lot of people, but for some reason I seriously could not choke down this stuff. Definitely my only food weakness. Being extremely determined to conquer all of my weaknesses during this life, I decided that if I didn't act now I would never overcome my fear of natto. Therefore, last Monday I started a 7 day natto breakfast routine. Every morning for a week I have been gagging down the stuff. The first morning I ate about two bites while dry heaving and couldn't eat anymore. Each day it got a little easier to swallow, and by day five I actually exclaimed, "Uchida Shimai, the bite I just ate tasted kind of good!" Haha. The miracle of today, day 7, was that I ate a whole serving of natto, without rice or anything to wash it down, and it actually tasted delicious! Thus, Ether 12:27 is true ;). I included  a picture of the stuff just so you can get an idea of how repulsive it is/was.
Ugh. Poor Baby.
 Ok, now for the important stuff. My favorite part of this week might have been sitting in the little antique shop of a recent convert named Funakoshi Shimai, on a rainy day drinking herbal tea and eating biscuits. We had a nice chat about the gospel and I just felt so warm and fuzzy and happy. I love the chilly feeling of October. It's my favorite month of the year for sure.

Just being happy with Uchida Shimai (this picture is from 2 transfers ago in Naha). I love it.

We also threw a Halloween party on Friday for the parents/kids Eikaiwa class we teach. It was super fun! I dressed up as a gypsie/pirate and Uchida Shimai was Indiana Jones. She used the old jump rope that Dad lent me as a whip. It was pretty hilarious. A lot of members brought their friends and kids and it was so fun explaining about Halloween to them! The kids loved trick-or-treating and we even made paper mache pumpkin pinatas for them to destroy.

Today we had a really amazing lesson with these two women who have been coming to Eikaiwa. They invited the Elders and us to their house for lunch and we shared a really simple message about Jesus Christ's love. We shared a story that Uchida Shimai's sister sent her about the earthquake in China. It was a story about a mother they found who was crouched in kneeling position shielding her 3 month son from the collapsed roof. When they found her she had been killed from the collapse but her baby was quietly sleeping under her body. They also found her cell phone tucked in her jacket, and a message from the mother to her son was written on it. It said, "if you live, you must know that I love you." That child will never know his mother, but he can know and appreciate the sacrifice she made for him by the testimonies of those who saw, and the message she left. Just like that, we may not have met Christ face to face, but from the testimonies of the prophet and apostles, as well as the messages he has left us in the scriptures, we can know of his love and sacrifice.
Uchida shimai deathly afraid of our investigator's deathly spicy curry
I know that Christ is my Redeemer and that He sacrificed and took on everything just for me! That is the message I'm here to share in Fukuoka, and when I am able to share that message I literally feel a peace in my heart that Heavenly Father is so happy with me and that I'm fulfilling my purpose. Everybody needs the gospel, especially those who don't know anything about what Christ did for them. They need to know so that they can feel his love, repent, and be baptized so that they can live with their families, Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father forever!  
Elder Anderson in a scary horse mask. He's been sneaking around the mission home wearing that and scaring the life out of Sister and President Margetts. Haha!

Thank you for your love and all that you do! I'm so amazed with the ward members here and my own family and friends who work so hard to fulfill their callings and serve Heavenly Father. As a missionary I have grown to appreciate that so much. Thank youuuu!!!! I love you all!

Love, Tingey Shimai

A GIGANTIC butterfly bug thing we found. Dad, can you tell me what this is? It looked like a bird, but it was definitely a bug. It had like hair on its body and I picked it up and it was so giant! Dad, do you know what this is?

1. Uchida Shimai and I laughed for about an hour on our beds reading the children's version of the Book of Mormon stories. She told me, "Kind Lamoni is so handsome." Hahahahahaha. Look at it if you get a chance

Dream Come True(From Oct 16th)

Hello everybody!!! I'm so genki right now! Uchida Shimai just spent the morning of our Pday going to seminary, shopping at the nearby mall for clothes we couldn't buy and eating delicious ramen. :)

I can't believe Its almost Halloween. We're having our first Halloween party this Friday morning with our Oyako Eikaiwa (parents and kids English class). Uchida Shimai have yet to decide on our costumes, though and its getting down to the wire! I was thinking of being Uchida Shimai but I don't think I have enough money for a nasty black witch wig, haha.

Ok, this week I only have one thing I want to write about. This week, for the first time, Uchida Shimai and I taught a WHOLE FAMILY! Dad, Mom, and two sons. I can't even tell you how happy we are! On my mission so far I have taught a lot of single women, single moms, and kids, and a married couple, but never a whole family. So so so amazing! They are the Oyama family and the mom has brought her two sons, 14 year old Yuto and 11 year old Shintaro to Eikaiwa for the past three weeks. A couple of weeks ago she asked us if we could possibly come to her house and teach Eikaiwa because she also brings her two nieces and nephews as well as two of her friend's kids. We told her that would be alright as long as we could use half of the time to share a message about the gospel. She agreed and actually told us she has a lot of interest in hearing what we're teaching. Two weeks ago on Saturday morning we taught English and then taught about eternal families, and I was completely shocked by the reaction and behavior of these 6 kids. They all really loved the English lesson, but when we started talking about how we can live with our families forever, and telling them about the temple, they listened intently to the whole thing and then bombarded us with all sorts of questions. The next week we taught about the meaning of true joy and asked them if they had ever been so happy they cried. This week on Saturday when we taught them one little girl said, "I went home and asked my mom if she had ever been so happy she cried, and she said yes! When she got married and when I was born!" With this huge grin on her face. We were so excited that these cute kids are going home and having gospel discussions with their families! Oyama san as been so impressed with how the kids are responding to the lessons that she agreed to let us teach her family separately, so last night (Sunday) we went to their house and taught them about the Plan of Salvation. It felt so cool extending the invitation to read the Book of Mormon and pray as a family to the Father, who accepted and then said the closing prayer! They seem really prepared to receive the gospel. They also agreed to come to church next week! We made them a little calendar for scriptures to read everyday, so we're praying that they will read and pray everyday as a family.

One more exciting thing this week was that our Chinese investigator Saifu, who has this random hate for living prophets, watched President Monson's talk from General Conference about the five dollar bill and decided that she likes President Monson after all! She doesn't know if he's truly the Lord's prophet on the Earth today, but hopefully her heart has opened a crack and she will know soon. She really wants to be baptized, but prophets are her only hangup. We're working hard to help her overcome that obstacle!

Another great week! Time is just flying so fast I can't believe it. In other news, this week almost all I could think about was my adorable new niece Violette and how I can't wait to meet her!

Oh, one more thing. I had a really cool experience this week having to do with journal writing. on Saturday I was having kind of a hard time with something, and Uchida Shimai suggested that I review my journal entries from the MTC. When I was doing that I came upon this one entry where I was sitting in the Celestial room of the temple and this one random Elder came up to me and told me he didn't know why, but he felt like he should share this scripture with me. I read the scripture, and didn't really feel like it had any application to me at all, and was kind of weirded out honestly, haha. I thought maybe he just had a creepy crush on me or something. Anyway, luckily I wrote the scripture down in my journal because when I stumbled upon that entry on Saturday I got curious about what the scripture was, and when I flipped to it in my scriptures it was just what I needed to read! A random scripture given to me in the temple by an Elder was a direct answer to prayer six months later! So crazy!

I know that the scriptures were written for us, and that if we read them every day our prayers will be answered! I also have learned recently a lot about patience and how Heavenly Father works with me in my life. I have often read how most answers to our prayers don't come from some giant miracle basket dropped to us from heaven, but mostly through other people being worthy of, and responding to the spirit to answer our prayers through service. I have also learned that I just need to be patient in my afflictions because kanarazu the blessings afterward ALWAYS outweigh the trouble I had, and I always come out stronger and more resilient. I love my life!

But mostly, I love my family so much!

Holding our 9 year old investigator, Rin Kun's bird. It sits on your finger and if you start singing it sings with you.So cute!

The beautiful Fukuoka temple

Kids we teach Eikaiwa to and on the right is the Oyama family that I told you about last week. They are still doing really well and read the Book of Mormon and prayed every day last week! They didn't come to church but hopefully next week!

Me and Elder De Freitas in Funakoshi Shimai's antique shop.

Love, Sister Tingey

Did I tell you about the Oyama family's dog yet? Its 15 years old and about on its death bed and can't eat on its own, so they sit it on a little high chair during family meals and feed it with a spoon. Probaly the ugliest, most hilarious dog I've ever seen. I was cracking up watching her spoon feed it dog food. They're the same family with the creepy salamander.

Little Child(From Oct 9th)

"Oh, wow! I've never seen blond hair like this before! If you would put a big red bow right right here (poking the top of my head with her finger) it would be just so cute!"
This cute family who comes to kids Eikaiwa on Saturdays asked us to come to their house to teach them this week along with some other cute little kids. When we walked into their house right before my eyes I saw this creature sitting in a glass tank full of water, so naturally I immediately asked if I could hold it. I have no earthly idea what that animal is, but the first thing I'm doing when I get home is buying one! It was so slimey and awesome! I'm sure Dad knows what it is. Their own family said that hadn't held it in years because it grossed them out so much, so all of the Eikaiwa students were pretty horrified when I took it out.
Those are the words I heard from the cutest little girl ever while Sister Uchida and I were studying on the temple grounds this morning. I always seem to be writing about cute little kids I meet, and this week I realized what the reason is. The next story I'm going to tell will explain.
Last Pday eating at the most famous/most delicious ramen shop in Japan apparently. Its called Ichiran. There is only one thing on the menu, but you can change the degree of spiciness and oils and stuff in the ramen. It was soooooooooo good!
We were able to watch Conference this weekend, which was sooo amazing!!! I feel like my batteries just got recharged. I especially loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk on Saturday evening about living by example and being a true disciple of Christ. I don't think I have ever been so touched by a story before like the one he told about the couple who didn't have any standing or status as to the things of the world, and they were often ridiculed by others for studying the scriptures in their spare time and what not, but their quiet examples had a deep impact and influence on those same people who persecuted them years later. I felt the spirit SO strongly when I heard that story. In a lot of ways, I feel that same dilemma everyday as a missionary. Everyday we talk to dozens of people who reject our message, and sometimes it becomes discouraging, but from the get-go I have always tried to picture that someday the smallest act of kindness or short testimony given may have some kind of impact on that person in later years. I feel that has been a big theme of my mission so far that has kept me Genki and motivated, so when I heard that talk I felt that Heavenly Father was reaffirming to me that principle. I'm not going to lie- being in the same area my entire mission and then recently coming to Fukuoka has been challenging. I have to pray everyday that Heavenly Father will grant me the ability to love those we're teaching and the members, even though I don't know them at all. I was so lucky to have had General Conference early in this new transfer, in a new area to give me that boost I needed to do my best and continue working in faith that every effort I make is helping to further the kingdom of God on the Earth in these last days.
Elder Anderson had an ear infection so we enjoyed watching him suck all of the poisonous ear wax out with one of those candle things. When he took the candle out and unwrapped it it was full of all of this orange goop! Oh, the joys of working near the mission home.

Anyway, getting back to my story about little kids, Uchida Shimai shared this story with me after Conference yesterday. Because I was watching Conference in English, and Uchida Shimai was watching in Japanese we had to separate. She was sitting in the chapel with one of our investigators named Mineoi san and her 2 year old Grandson Hikaru kun who she brings to Eikaiwa every week. We hadn't expected them to show up for Conference, so we were shocked when they walked in before the first session started on Sunday. During the afternoon session Hikaru-kun was getting a little restless so in order for Mineoi san to properly hear conference Uchida Shimai took him out to the nursery so he could play. Fortunately, there was a TV in the nursery, too so she was able to keep watching. She said all during the Sunday afternoon session he was busy building things and playing, and then about half way through Elder Cornish's talk about prayer he suddenly stopped what he was doing, bowed his head down, closed his eyes, and sat silently. Uchida Shimai thought his tummy might be hurting or something and she was about to go ask him, but then she suddenly realized that he seemed to be focusing very intently. Then, when Elder Cornish finished his talk, saying, "I say these things in the name of Jesus Chris, amen," Hikaru kun reverently said, "amen" and then opened his eyes and continued playing. Uchdia Shimai was so moved she said she almost started crying and just went over and gave him a huge hug. She said at that moment she felt so strongly how close little children are to Christ, and how receptive they are to the spirit. Just from coming to Eikaiwa and praying before and after the lessons, Hikaru kun had learned the importance of prayer and how to say "amen." Again, just like I learned from Shuko chan in Okinawa, I learned how much more humble, reverent, and receptive to he spirit little children are than I am, and that I need to strive to become more like that.

In other news, I am very extremely happy to announce that after many long months, I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese yesterday. My MTC teacher Sister Wettlaufer had emphasized how helpful reading the Book of Mormon out loud in Japanese can be for improving language ability, and to say the least I was pretty determined to test out her challenge. I made the goal to read the whole thing out loud before the next General Conference, and I was certain that if I did that I would be fluent in 6 months. From my first day in Naha as a bean I started to read everyday out loud either during language study, breakfast, getting ready for bed time, dinner, etc. It was definitely a sacrifice, and took a lot of patience, especially from my companions who I'm sure I drove crazy everyday with my reading. As a bean I started out by reading 4 pages a day, which seemed to take an eternity. Then, I was able to increase that to 6 pages as my ability to pronounce the words and smoothly read improved. During transfer 3 when I became in charge of the area when Uchida Shimai came, I felt like I really needed to focus on the area so I stopped reading that transfer. However, when transfer 4 started I started back up again. Because of the six week break I took I determined that I had to read 12 pages a day in order to accomplish my goal. Amazingly, I was able to read that many pages now in the same amount of time it took me to read 4 pages as a bean. Thus, I started to realize that Sister Wettlaufers promise was real!  However, as sometimes happens, some days we were just way too busy, had to fill out the area book, etc. and I literally couldn't find the time to read. Missing a day, however, meant that the next day I had to read 24 pages. If I missed two days, I had to make up 36 pages, and so on. You get the picture, haha. It was so crazy! Missing a day of reading was awful, but sometimes I had no choice. With the craziness of transfers, I missed a little chunk and my first day in Fukuoka I counted up and determined that If I wanted to finish by the last day of Conference I had to read 20 pages a day. Pahaha. But guess, what? I had made a goal, and I was going to accomplish that goal!! It took some strategic planning to read during times that wouldn't affect proselyting and normal work. It took sacrifices like taking 5 minutes to get ready instead of 30, and not writing letters on Pday, etc, and also prayer. This goal was important to me, and even though it might seem silly to some, I knew that Heavenly Father cared about what I cared about and thought was important, so through prayer I was able to read the 20 pages a day that I needed to to finish! As far becoming fluent in 6 months, it depends on who you ask. My definition of "fluent" leaving the MTC was that I would be able to understand pretty much anything said to me, and be able to express freely whatever I wanted to say. If I stick to that definition, then I would say yes. However, I know in reality that I haven't even scratched the surface of this language. I'm still fascinated by studying kanji, picking up the little nuances and conversational things that my companion says, and I still have a hard time sometimes picking up on what my companion says if its completely out of context. However, however silly this my be, I have a serious testimony of the Book of Mormon and the power it had to improve my language ability, as well as my testimony. I definitely didn't understand everything I read duirng the past six months, but when I did understand I felt the value and wisdom that the Book of Mormon holds and that it really has the ability to change lives. Today I read Alma 24:27. The Lord is mysterious, and the ways that he brings his children unto Christ are endless.
Uchida Shimai teaching a short spiritual message from the Book of Mormon about eternal families to the kids after we taught English
Well, I'm afraid my time has once again run out! I hope you are doing fabulous! I loveeee youuuu all soooo much!

Love, Tingey Shimai

WARNING: Some pictures attached to this email may disturb you....

FUKUOKA!! (From Oct 2nd)

Dear family

This morning we attended early morning seminary, then rode our bikes and had personal, companion and language study on the balcony of the Fukuoka Temple.

Yep, you read right. I have been transferred to Fukuoka! And guess who my companion is?? Oh...just my favorite person in the whole world, Uchida Shimai!! I can't believe it. We have been reunited after just one transfer apart and we couldn't be more thrilled. She is literally my other half. Saying goodbye to my beloved Naha and Yamada Shimai was hard, but when I received the transfer call I felt peace and knew it was ready to move on to a new adventure. I can't begin to list the many things that I learned from serving for half a year on the lovely island of Okinawa. My last days in Naha were just amazing. My district, which included six Elders, and me and Yamada Shimai, put on a concert my last night there after Eikaiwa.There couldn't have been a better way to spend my last night in Naha. The spirit was so strong as we told the story of the Restoration through different scriptures and hymns. I was also able to sing two duets with my best friend Nami Shimai. So many ward members and other friends showed up, including our recent converts Kinjo Mariko and Shuko chan. It was just unreal the love I felt for and from them. I will definitely return there someday.

I arrived in Fukuoka and my first day here we were able to help clean the temple grounds! I have also been informed that this transfer Uchida Shimai and I will be able to attend the temple once!!! We're so excited! Fukuoka is where the Mission Home is located, so were are able to see President and Sister Margetts daily, do lessons with investigators on the temple grounds, and many other amazing things! I feel so incredibly lucky to be serving in this area! Remember the first Email I sent home after arriving in Japan in April, and raving about how incredibly fun the Fukuoka Eikaiwa was?? Well that's where I am serving!!! One of our investigators is a Chinese woman that I actually talked to a lot my first night in Japan, and always remembered and thought about. Her name is Saifu, and she just got married to a Chinese man named Kin-san. They are both investigating the church and I was SO excited when Uchida Shimai told me that we would be teaching them! Its so funny how the Lord works. I never imagined six months ago as I talked to her that I would be the missionary teaching her in this area.  Fukuoka is also the area where my trainer Sister McIntyre served before we served together in Naha, so I have heard so much about how much fun serving in Fukuoka is. The ward is gigantic, so I am going to have a fun time trying to learn the names of all the members. One of the biggest blessings for me about this area is that there are millions of little kids in the ward, and I also teach Oyako Eikaiwa (which is English class for little kids and their moms) two times a week, as well as the regular Eikaiwa on Wednesday nights. Phew. Eikaiwa three times a week seems like a challenge, but there weren't very many little kids in Naha so I'm so excited to be able to play with them and talk to them this transfer!!! Gahhh. I seriously am just so happy. Oh, I forgot to mention that my BFF Australian Elder who I served with in Naha forever just became the AP (assistant to the President), so he is also serving here!! So me, Uchida, and Elder Triffitt, who all served in Naha together have been reunited here in Fukuoka! So so so fun.

Uchida Shimai and I have already had a ball talking to everyone we can, and telling everyone we can about Jesus Christ and the Restoration of his gospel. We just love working together. PLUS, the weather is really cold in Fukuoka right now, so you can imagine how incredibly good it feels riding my bike in a chilly breeze after living on the surface of the sun for the past 6 months. Aaaaah. So good.

How was Conference??? We will be watching Conference next weekend as it comes a week later here in Japan. We can't wait!

Well, I couldn't be happier and am just loving every second of serving in Japan. I'm sure there are many challenges awaiting me in Fukuoka but from my experiences as a young missionary not knowing the language and being forced to teach millions of lessons, FHE, speak in church, talking to everyone I saw on the street and communicating with the ward members, I really learned to rely and trust on the Lord, and because of that I was brave and generally pushed cheerfully through the trials that I had. If I could do that as a new overwhelmed missionary not knowing Japanese or how to even do missionary work, I'm confident that with the Lord's help I can accomplish and overcome pretty much anything that the mission throws at me at this point. Knock on wood.

I hope you felt the spirit at Conference confirm to you that President Monson is the Lord's prophet on the earth today and that this is the Lord's true church on the earth! This week I'll be preparing my mind and heart to be opened for the messages that the Lord wants me specifically to hear.

I love you all so much! Ganbattene!

Love, Tingey Shimai

Presents from little 11 year old Shuko chan who was baptized last week.

Celebrating Campbell choro's bday

Singing with Nami Shimai at the concert

Meeting Mueller Shimai and Uchida at the airport

Tingey Shimai, Welcome to Fukuoka!

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Posing next to the Naha church with my luggage saying a last goodbye :(

Me and Uchida Shimai next to the Fukuoka temple sign after cleaning the temple grounds

The Fukuoka temple

With the Eikaiwa students I teach on Saturday mornings. They're sooooo cute!!!!!

Reunited with Elder Triffitt, Uchida Shimai, and Nami shimai actually came to Fukuoka this weekend because she had an audition  She is trying to become a professional singer and she is in the semi-finals or something. If she wins this round she has a really good change of going pro apparently. I basically knocked her over with a hug when I saw her standing in the Fukuoka church this Sunday.
Nami and I

Nami and I

Wearing some giant shoes.

Dinner with the Ishikawa family

Celebrating Campbell Choro's birthday using all of the amazing Bday materials I received from home (including delicious cake mixes, frosting, candles (which luckily said 22 since Dad and Teri accidentally mistook my age. Good thing those came in handy! haha), reeses, and a birthday hat from mom with "Happy Bday" embroidered on it, hehe.

Dinner with the Murayama family

More of the shoes

doing some finding in a giant park we found

Doing study at the temple!

Dinner at the Relief society president's house

Uchida Shimai looking creepy wearing a weird sick mast she was wearing last night. So Japanese.