Saturday, November 5, 2011

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....

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