Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Year Mission Anniversary and Brother Oyama Kunio

The Oyama fam and the missionaries who taught him.

After the baptism

Brother Oyama, Yuto and Shintaro

Hello everyone!!! 

First off, Happy one year on the mission Anniversary to me!!!! January 26th of last year I entered the MTC! I can't believe how fast time has flown. Elder Stratford, who is my district leader and also entered the MTC with me last year called me on the night of the 26th and we had a little jubilee over the phone, haha. 

 a Chinese lady we taught
Ok, this is going to be short and sweet because we have a lot to do today to get ready for transfers this week. 

Cleaning the font!
Yep, we have transfer calls on Wednesday morning! I have been here in Fukuoka for three transfers now so there is a pretty good chance I will go to a new area, but I'm definitely crossing my fingers that I don't for a few reasons...

This Saturday Brother Oyama Kunio was baptized!!! Out of all of the baptism services I have attended on my mission, the spirit was the strongest during his. The whole day was stressful with teaching Eikaiwa twice, teaching a lesson, filling up the font (the first time we filled it up we didn't realize but the water was freezing cold!haha!), actually getting the Oyama family to the church on time, etc. However, once it started the spirit was there and TONS of members showed up to support him. He looked very spiffy in his suit and bore powerful testimony that he was led to the true church through various events in his life. He talked about his strong belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and his love for the Book of Mormon. I think most in attendance probably couldn't believe that he had only been learning about the church for a few months. He spoke with more conviction, power, and love than definitely I can muster. I feel so incredibly blessed and humbled that I was able to be a part of guiding him towards baptism and watching him go through that process. Like I've said before, I feel more than anything that nothing I, Uchida Shimai, Tagawa Shimai, Elder Neki, or Elder Stratford did helped him secure that sure testimony. It was his determination, his willingness to listen to the spirit, and his humility that allowed him to feel Heavenly Father's love. He started reading the Book of Mormon all on his own, before we even challenged him, and gained a testimony of Joseph Smith one day while at church listening to the Priesthood Meeting lesson. It has really been an amazing experience watching him and his family grow in the gospel. 
With all of that said....I am looking forward to continuing to teach their family and see them follow Brother Oyama's example by being baptized. I don't want to transfer!! :(

Making gyoza for the first time!
Wish me luck this week with transfer calls and what-not. If I happen to stay in Fukuoka and have the experience of becoming a trainer, I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot about it next week...haha. 

Your prayers in behalf of the Oyama family are DEFINITELY being heard. Please keep praying that they'll progress and grow closer as a family. I love you so much! 

Love, Tingey Shimai

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ringwood Taikai

At the conference with my doki Elders (in the MTC together)

Hello everyone!!

This Saturday Oyama Kunio san is getting baptized!!!!!!! Wahoooo. His wife and two sons will be baptized a little later on but he decided to make the first jump and be an example for his family. His last lesson is tonight, and then he'll have his baptism interview on Wednesday. If all goes well with that he'll be set to be baptized on Saturday, January 28th at 4:00! He is so excited to make life-changing covenants with his Heavenly Father and start his way on the road to eternal joy. As a missionary there really isn't anything more exciting and fulfilling than having someone you teach and pray so hard for everyday decide to devote their lives to following Christ and growing closer to him through baptism...however, I ALWAYS have the same feeling the week leading up to and the day of the baptism. My happiness and excitement for that day kind of fades as I think about more crucial and eternal covenants that will be made in the temple a year from now. That was the way I felt when Ohama Natsumi shimai was baptized. I couldn't help but imagine her and Kotaro kun being sealed as a family in the Fukuoka or Tokyo temple the next July (which just so happens to be the month that I'm headed home...maybe I'll be able to go through the temple with her!). I am feeling the same way about the Oyama family. I'm excited for Oyama san but at the same time my knowledge of the eternal nature of families and the joy that comes through that makes me anxious to see the next step. I always have this problem....just be happy with the NOW! Haha, sheesh.  
Oyama pug shrines. I'll never understand what the appeal of a pug is. Look at those bulgy eyes! Poor Kaede chan...
The Oyama couple's wedding picture I found in the bathroom, haha.

Anyway, this week started out slow, what with being sick and such but the second half of the week picked up and we worked like crazy to make up for the lessons we missed out on. We received a real treat when Elder Ringwood from the Quorum of the Seventy came for a special training conference on Thursday. I was lucky enough to be one of the few missionaries who attended to have a one-on-one interview with Elder Ringwood early that morning (probably because he doesn't speak Japanese and I'm the only American sister who attended). It was a very short interview. He asked me about my family and home town (which is always a tricky question, haha). Then he asked if I had any questions for him. I told him of my growing fear of becoming a trainer soon. I said I felt so inadequate with the language, teaching skills, and just missionary work in general and didn't know if I could do it..but surprisingly he told me that he was enthused that I felt that way, because that is the exact way a trainer should feel! Who would have known, eh? I always thought missionary work was about being confident and knowing your stuff, which it party is, but I'm learning more and more as time goes on that its really about humility and relying on the Lord. He did tell me, however, that the chance to train a new missionary is a sacred calling from the Lord and a very serious matter, because I'll be setting the stage for the rest of someone else's mission...which didn't really give me very much comfort, haha. We all felt the spirit so strongly during the conference and it was especially fun to hear Elder Ringwood's wife, Sister Ringwood talk about stories from her childhood growing up the daughter of Elder Nelson from the Quorem of the Twelve
My desk, if you were wondering (speaking of which, I don't really have any nice pictures of Dad and Teri to put if you send a package soon be sure to include that!

I don't think any of you will believe this but lately I have been completely obsessed with cooking; looking through recipe books and finding delicious Japanese recipes I can whip up. This is the first time in my life that I have any interest at all in learning how to cook so pray that this sudden urge doesn't go away, haha. My companion Sister Tagawa has been teaching me a lot, too and we have been having fun salivating over a variety of dishes. Today we'll go grocery shopping again and I'm planning on making two fish dishes, a tofu dish, omrice (omlette with rice inside) and canned kinkan (little tiny orange looking thing). We are teaching a woman named Suetsugu san who is studying a type of cooking called "Yakuzen," and she teaches us new little dishes everytime we go over. I am loving it! 

Well I am out of time but pray for Oyama san this week that everything works out and also that his family will feel the spirit at his baptismal service. I love you!!!! I can't wait for Saturday!!! 

Love, Tingey Shimai

P.S. This guy walked into kids Eikaiwa the other day named David Haglund and apparently he is best friends with Toni and his brother Roger was best friends with Dad growing up??? Soooo random! I think he is a flight attendant or something and was just staying in Fukuoka for a few days. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Hey Hey.....

Sickly Fukuoka District

I am feeling super not genki right now so sorry if this email isn't very inspiring. On Saturday night I started to feel a little sick to my stomach, then Sunday morning it was worse but I thought it was just something I ate so I went to church. At church I had a massive migraine and there were about 5 members that I needed to talk to and make appointments with but I could barely even stand up. When we got home I fell asleep for a few hours hoping to be better by 5:00 when we had a big dinner party with some people in the ward and the Oyama family. I had been looking forward to that day for SO long because it is super rare for something like that to happen, where we're teaching an entire family, and a few other families in the ward invite them over for dinner.

Comp exchanges with Sister Matsuhashi
We always watch these DVDs called "Preach my Gospel" where it shows missionaries in America teaching people and working with the ward. Whenever I saw clips of them having big dinner parties with those they were teaching and members I always thought, "wouldn't that just be the best! I wish something like that would happen here!" And then finally when it actually did happen I caught some sort of gross virus (nodobairisu) and ended staying home, watching that same "Preach my Gospel" DVD, feeling so sad, haha. So ironic. On the bright side the Elders were able to go in our place and we heard nothing but good things. The Oyama family seems to be making a lot of friends in the ward and seemed to have a lot of fun. I'm extremely happy about that.

Making mochi pizza.
Elder Stratford, Obayashi and I all have the same sickness so today we took the van to the doctor and got some medicine to take. My stomach hurts super bad and don't have much of an appetite. :( :( :(. I have been very lucky, however, and this is the first time I have ever been sickly on my mission. Hopefully I won't be out of commission for too long.

My sick bath with a bath bomb the Elders gave us
This week was actually extremely fun because we had companion exchanges and  Matsuhashi Shimai came to Fukuoka to dendo with me for a day and a half! We started out the day by meeting with some members who she used to know when working in Fukuoka last year, and then did a lot of streeting. We met this one woman who as soon as we introduced ourselves she started talking about how she watched a program the night before on TV about the Mormons and then started telling us about living prophets and temples. "WHOAH!" Is the first thing that came to my mind. That is definitely a first. She said it had to do with Romney-san and the new President, which was really confusing because I haven't watched or heard ANYTHING concerning the news in the U.S. or the Presidential election. Right after we were both talking about how amazing that was, we visited a member who pulled our her newspaper and pointed at the program that was on the night before and said she was so sad she had missed it but apparently there was some special on about Mitt Romney explaining his religious beliefs. That was the second time we heard something about that in about half an hour. Later that night when we called a woman who comes to Eikaiwa to make an appointment to teach her she said, "Hey, you won't believe this but I NEVER watch TV but last night I decided to flip it on and suddenly I was watching a program about "The Latter-day Saints"!" She also said that she is totally rooting for Romney and that "The Mormon religion is great!" Haha! I couldn't believe how much we had heard about that program in one day, from random people on the street, a less active member, and an Eikaiwa lady! With Mitt Romney running the Church seems to be getting a lot of coverage and its reaching all the way here in Japan! What an amazing opportunity! Go Romney! If it isn't too much of a hassle could someone possibly shoot some info my way about that? I literally know nothing. Is it just Romney and Obama in the running?

Speaking of shooting things my way, if anyone is planning on sending me a package anytime soon feel free to throw in some REAL toothpaste, like Crest or Colgate. I ran out of the tube Teri sent me and I've been using the Japanese candy-flavored toothpaste that makes your teeth rot out. Thank you! :)

Other news.....this week we have a big meeting with a lot of the zone's on Kyushu where Elder Ringwood is coming and giving some sort of training. We're all pretty excited except for the fact that we might possibly all be dying of nodobairisu.

I love you and hope you're all healthy and happy. Thanks for your emails and love!

Love, Tingey Shimai

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too much mochi, not enough finding

Dear loved ones,
Isn't this the most gorgeous girl you've ever seen?
Its been a great week! ! ! It finally feels like we are back in normal working mode with all of the Holiday stuff over. Phew. We were able to do LOTS of finding this week and had a really cool experience with streeting.
That mallet was SUPER heavy. I was exhausted after about 30 seconds of poundage!
We were on our way to a far away area to visit a referral we recieved a little bit ago and stopped at a red light. Earlier that day during companion study we had talked about how sometimes when we decide to ride to a far away area, even if we don't have an appointment, we're so set on getting there as fast and efficiently as possible that we don't take the time to follow the spirit and talk to those that Heavenly Father places in our path. Plus its really cold outside and lately it has been hard to stop in the middle of a long bike ride. We talked about how this has been a weakness in our companionship and we commited that we would take our time from now on, especially when we don't have an appointment, to open our eyes to those we meet on the street. Anyway, we were stopped at a red light next to a lady on a bike and I routinely handed her an Eikaiwa flyer and told he we're missionaries teaching about Jesus Christ. We talked for a second and told her if she's interested to please call us. When the light turned green sister Tagawa and I were both on our bikes pedaling already when we heard from behind us, "Do you always ride mountain bikes?" It was the lady I had just been talking to. Because of the bad habit we have formed, as soon as the light turned green we were off, even though we didn't have an appointment or immediate need to go anywhere!!! What in the world??? We immediately stopped and ended up talking to Hashino san for about 20 minutes, getting her phone number, and made an appointment to teach her a lesson the following week! When we rode away we were both very humbled and felt like horrible missionaries, haha. In order for Hashino san to receive the blessings of this gospel she was the one who had to call out to us and stop us from riding away. Can you say guilt, or what?  Anyway, HUGE learning experience and we're working hard to break our bad habits. My transfer one self would be shocked if she saw that behavior from me! 
The Mochi being pounded to smitherines
More Mochi making
Last Monday as a New Years celebration we made mochi, which is rice pounded into smitherines and made into a gooey little ball of 100000 calories, covered with all sorts of toppings and flavors including sea weed, soy sauce, sugar-like stuff, cheese, etc. Before my mission I actually really like Mochi, but lately everytime I eat it I feel like as soon as it enters my stomach it expands 10X and I just feel super sick. Anyway, we went to the Ogata family's house with our investigators Anjana, Mineoi san, and Yokotsuko san and had a blast making Mochi. I did force myself to eat several balls but immediately regretted it afterward, haha. To make mochi you first have to cook the rice, which they did in this cool little wooden oven thing over a fire in their backyard. Then you put that rice into a big granite-like bowl and pound the bageebees out of it until its sticky and moldable. Then we took it inside and made millions of little balls, stuffing it with sweet beans and all other sorts of Japanesy things. It was a really fun experience. 
More Mochi making
I was kind of happy thinking I would never have to each mochi again, until the next day we had three appointments, lunch at Brother Okafuji's house, where he served us Nabe (big pan of boiled fish, vegetables, and MOCHI). We knew we might possibly be fed at our other appointments so we ate as little as possible while still being polite. Right after that we visited a member named sister Honsho who also, unfortunately, prepared a giant feast of tamago yaki (omlette-type thing) and three different desserts, that we of course ate. Luckily there was no mochi involved but she did give us a giant bag of it to take home with us. 
Warming my hands with Anjana
Then right after that we visited a woman named Suetsugu san who also made this giant Japanese gourmet meal of the most delicious foods I have ever seen, and I was just so sad that I wasn't hungry AT ALL, and also because we knew that we were going to have to eat every bit of what she fed us, haha. Oh, the woes of being a missionary. I didn't really anticipate these types of trials. Anyway, that was last Tuesday and since then I have literally been eating nothing. I am literally still not hungry, hahah.
the incredibly delicious Japanese gourmet meal that rounded out our day of being force-fed...
...and the aftermath of that....(throw-up looking gunk we found on the street)
 We also received a ton of referrals, which is the best feeling ever. This week we have three appointment to meet with referrals from members and also investigators! Wahooo.
Sister Tagawa and my transfer theme: Unity through perfect obedience
The Oyama family is doing awesome and progressing toward baptism on the 28th. We met with just the Father yesterday and he told us how dedicated he is to this gospel and he knows that he was led to this point in his life. He also shared how lately he's been realizing that it is his duty to be a good example to his other family members during this critical time. His two sons and wife have really been noticing that example because lately whenever we talk to them on the phone they say, "My husband was reading the Book of Mormon today!" and so forth. Because of that example, the biggest miracle of all time occurred on Sunday when the Oyama couple walked into church to attend sacrament meeting. It was the first time that the mom has ever come and totally out of nowhere! The kids were staying at their cousins house and couldn't come, so we honestly weren't expecting anyone to show up, but in they walked! It was the best! I was translating for the English speakers during sacrament meeting so I wasn't able to sit with them but afterward we were able to talk and she said, "This morning was so hectic and I've been staying at my parent's house helping them out and didn't have any of my clothes even at our place, or even shoes or socks to wear, but I just felt like I HAD to come today!" Usually she gets all primped up if leaving the house for anything but she came just wearing sweats, no make-up and her husband's socks!  I know that Heavenly Father is hearing all of the prayers in behalf of the Oyama family. We feel that so strongly and they are feeling it as well. So...thank you for all of your prayers!
The Fukuoka missionaries gathering at the ward mission leader's house
Well, another week has passed and another exciting week ahead~! Can't wait to see whats in store with all of our referrals and with Hashino san who we met on the street. I know that Heavenly Father fulfills all his promises and answers our prayers. When we commit to putting forth just a little more effort, whatever it may be, the Lord gives us a lift and helps us accomplish what we need to. I love this gospel! I know that Joseph Smith really did restore the gospel to the earth and because of that these amazing Japanese people can receive all of the blessings that come with that...most of all true joy and eternal life!
More Mochi!!
I hope you all have a wonderful week and remember how incredibly blessed you are to have a Father in Heaven who loves you!
I love you, too! :)
Love, Tingey Shimai



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kotoshi mo Yoroshiku onegaishimasu

Happy New Year!!!
Dinner at the Fukuyama house

For the first time since I can remember I did not stay awake until midnight on New Year's Eve. Weird feeling. However, we did have a fun time having dinner with the Izumi couple eating traditional New Year's Eve soba or "toshikoshi soba" and ringing in the new year on Sunday morning with a million "Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu" (This year also, lets....have a good year) I literally cannot translate the word yoroshiku into English, haha. Anyway, it was fun.
Found Totoro in a park
 This week I also had my testimony really strengthened concerning fasting. In Japan bringing in the New year is a HUGE deal. First, starting about December 29th everyone starts going insane cleaning their houses, getting ready for guests to come, throwing away the year's accumulated junk, etc. Seriously nothing but cleaning for about 3 days. Everytime we were finding people said they couldn't talk because they were busy cleaning. After that, everyone returnes to their hometowns or gathers with family, pretty much like we celebrate Christmas in the U.S. The Holiday lasts until January 4th until school starts again.
District jog at Ohori park

When we were doing weekly planning for this past week my companion said, "It is going to be REALLY hard to go finding at this time of year because literally nobody is home, and if they are they'll be busy cleaning." However, we were determined to find a new investigator, so on Sunday we fasted that we could find someone interested in hearing our message even during this busy season. It was FREEZING cold yesterday but we rode our bikes to a nearby college, hoping to knock on the door of a sad, lonely college student who was too poor to return home for the New Year (the Elders' brilliant idea, haha). We only had about an hour to house and we knocked on every door of this apartment and not a single person answered. Literally deserted. So we went to a different complex and began knocking. One guy answered and then shut immediately. By that point sister Tagawa's feet were frozen and we said, "alright, lets go back" but then we thought, "Just one last door, and then we'll go." We knocked on the last door, and ended up talking to the man for about 45 minutes, teaching a full lesson about the Book of Mormon and prayer, and we commited him to read from the Book of Mormon and pray to know that it is true. It was seriously a miracle! What if we had decided to go home, or not to go finding. We would have never met him! He told us to come back and if he turns out to actually be interested we will refer him to the Elders. That night all I could do was just thank Heavenly Father for answering our prayers and I KNEW that fasting is real and works. Not only that prayer was answered, but we also fasted to help the Oyama family that they can all be baptized together on the 28th, and that day at church for the first time we were approached by a member who said, "Hey, we were thinking of inviting the Oyama family over for dinner, and also inviting the stake Young men's President and Primary teacher for the boys..." I can't even tell you how happy I was! We've been waiting for something like this to happen!!
Big, comfy chair

We also met a lot of funny people this week including an 85 year old lady who was sitting in a park being swarmed by disgusting stray cats. She told us she has been going to that park every other day for 20 years feeding those cats. I cannot believe what people spend their money on!! Haha. gross. But because we talked to her, we ended up meeting these three adorable little girls in the park. They were 3 sisters and when they found out we were missionaries teachign about Jesus Christ they got really excited and said they had actually recently been reading a comic book about that togther and they knew all about how we died and was resurrected after 3 days, etc. It was so cute! They have 6 people in their family....and I want to teach them so bad! We gave them our number and invited them to Eikaiwa so I hope we hear from them again! 
New years eve, 10 PM, kampai
 Our Zone theme for this transfer is "CREATE SUCCESS," which I think is very original. We were all asked to find a way to create success this transfer, and then share our ideas and experiences at the end. I decided I am going to try strengthening my relationship with my Heavenly Father through more sincere prayer and putting in real effort to receive the guidance of the spirit and personal revelation in order to create success. I'll report at the end of the transfer on how that goes!
Toshikoshi Soba
 One more story....this is kind of sad, kind of hilarious. The Oyama family's beloved 17 year old dog, Kaede chan, decided to die the night right before they were leaving for the New Year to go home, and in Japan you can't just go in yoru backyard and bury a dog. They didn't have time to take it to be creamated so they had to just buy dry ice and freeze her for a couple of days while they were gone. They put her in a little bed surrounded by blankets, flowers and pictures, and left the lights on and some music playing. They called us that night and asked us for a small favor....if we could spend some time in their house everyday for Kaede chan, so she won't be lonely and sad just laying there by herself, hahaha. So sad...but so funny. So everyday we've been just going and doing study time at the Oyama family's house, spending time with poor old Kaede chan, who is probably enjoying life in Heaven right now where he can actually walk and feed himself.
Poor Kaede chan :(
Tagawa Shimai and I are having a lot of fun together, laughing a lot, working hard and seeing a lot of miracles. She is probably a complete polar opposite of Uchida Shimai, which has been an interesting transition but change is always good and she is really just what this area and our investigators need right now. The Lord knows what hes doing :).
Love you lots and always pray for you!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Merry Christmas and Happy Bday Joseph Smith!(Dec 27)

It was so fun to talk to everyone yesterday!!! Thank you so much for calling and telling me all about home. It was nice to hear your voices :)

Me and my beautiful companion (Who also happens to be an amazing singer). Why do I get so lucky with companions?
With all the craziness I didn`t really get a chance to tell you about this past week, so Ill tell you a little about it in this email.

We hung our stockings by the heater with care, and even had matching pajamas!
Christmas season has felt a little weird lately because instead of finding and riding our bikes a million miles everyday to teach lessons we`ve been so busy with all sorts of Christmas events (which also, luckily, qualify as missionary work) where we met lots of new people and helped people feel the real spirit of Christmas singing hymns and such. Thus, in the earlier part of the week we spent most of our time organizing a 30 minute caroling program (that we found out about one week ago because the APs forgot to tell us...haha). We didn`t worry about it too much until we found out they had reserved a stage in this busy part of town called Tenjin, where the missionaries were basically the main event. They had prepared costumes (red scarfs and corsages) for everyone and the ward choir had been practicing every week after church. All of a sudden on Pday sister Tagawa and I realized it would probably be a good idea to run through some hymns with the Elders to see what we were working with...and its a good thing we got at least a few days head start because it was pretty much a disaster, haha. Actually, the Elders in Fukuoka right now (APs, Recorder and MSM(Elders who handle mail and funds), and the Fukuoka Elders) are all amazing singers so I thought it would be Ok. We thought, we`ll just sing like 6 hymns and everything will work out, but then we realized each hymn lasts like 2 minutes...which means we would have to sing at least 12 or so to make it last 30 minutes. Ahhhhhh. Haha, anyway, so we spent most of Monday and Tuesday getting that together while also visiting members and doing our normal work.

Rin kun's bird Toni
On Wednesday morning we had our big Oyako Eikaiwa (baby English Class) Christmas event at the church. It was a big hit and surprisingly more than half of the moms who showed up were friends of members. About 2 months ago the sisters in the ward started organizing this thing and they initially wanted Elder Stratford to be Santa Clause. He`s the mission home recorder and a big burly Elder from Brazil who is way flamboyant and hilarious so it was going to be perfect...until the night before he realized that the new missionaries were flying in that same morning and he had to give a presentation at the exact time as the Christmas party. So we were left with no Santa Clause...until it just so happened that the Fukuoka Elders (who are both Japanese) were doing companion exchanges that same day and Elder Buckingham from Australia was available to play the part. When he showed up I almost burst out laughing because he is the skinniest, scrawniest, most quiet little Australian boy in the world and I felt so bad for him that he had to be Santa. We were all cracking up stuffing his costume with all sorts of pillows. During class when he busted through the doors and did his little shpeel I was just dying because of his accent. Luckily nobody else noticed that anything was weird. It was way fun. We met a lot of new people who showed interest in our message and said we could teach them. Yayyy! That night we also had our normal English class with the adults so by the time we went to bed I was all Englished out.

Pictures from caroling: Us with the ward, the Elders rocking out, carrying the ward piano to the stage
On Thursday we literally sang ALL DAY LONG. Started off with taking a train far away to the old people`s home with the Elders where we did a portion of our caroling concert for 20 minutes. After that we visited some less active members who live in that area and did the concert again. By the time we took the train back to the church it was time to head to practice with the ward for caroling. It was FREEEZING cold and they wouldn`t even let us wear our coats on the stage! The Elders had to bring the church piano in their van and carry it all the way through town to the stage, which was quite the spectical. Tons of Eikaiwa students showed up for the concert, and a lot of people shopping around stopped to listen and mingle with ward members. After the concert all of the missionaries were talking and we all agreed it was one of the most fun times we have ever had our missions so far.  We practiced A LOT and were able to make all of the hyms sound exciting. My favorite was a remix we did of `Far Far Away on Judeas Plains`. First verse we sang all formal while Elder Triffitt was being the chorister, and then when verse 2 started in he jumped on the stage and started beat boxing into the mic and we sang like a jamaican jazz version of verse 2 and 3. We called it the Pday theme verse, haha. It was so awesome! The crowd was loving it and we probably got the biggest applause for that one. We ended with O Holy Night, and I just have to say I think I broke my vocal chords singing that last high note. I thought I was going to pass out. That night it definitely felt like Christmas and we all couldn`t have been happier. We also got the number of a lady who seemed really interested in learning about Jesus Christ!

Most delicious thing I've ever eaten
On the 23rd in Japan it was a holiday because it was the Emporer`s Bday, which also happens to be Joseph Smith`s Birthday. When we visited the Oyama family that night we had a Birthday party for Joseph Smith and played that game that he loved where you sit on the ground and do tug of war with a stick. They loved it, and half way through the night the mission home elders (Neki and Stratford) randomly showed up to give them Christmas presents so we all challenged each other. I beat Tagawa and 14 year old Yuto kun! Yatta! But the best was the Oyama Dad and Elder Stratford. The stick literally didn`t move for about 5 minutes and then we just called it a tie. After that we talked about how Joseph Smith read James 1:5 and received an answer to his prayer. It was really awesome to have the Elders there for Yuto kun because he still hasn`t commited to be baptized with the rest of his family. Its so awesome, though that he is putting so much thought into this decision. In the closing prayer he said, `I understand now that its really important for me to pray and ask about being baptized.` I was so grateful for Joseph Smith at that time and that through celebrating his Bday and playing his favorite game we were able to make progress with Yuto kun.

2. Frost-bitten feet. We were out finding and visiting people all day on our bikes and when we got home I literally couldn't walk so I took my tights off and my feet were deathly white. I was a little worried I had frostbite so I unwisely put them under scorching hot water until they started to literally turn blue and purple. I called Tagawa shimai in with a look of horror on her face ordered me to turn the water off and put my feet in front of the heater. Within about 15 minutes they were back to normal. Thank goodness they didn't have to be amputated! I wasn't lying when I said its freezing here.
Ok, lastly Sunday was awesome because the Oyama family (besides the mom) came to Church on time, got to take the sacrament, and afterward made lots of friends with the ward members!! It was the best Christmas present I got (no offense ;) ).

A giant fruit
Ok sorry this email is super long. So many awesome things happened this week I just had to tell you about it! I`m really sad Christmas is over but grateful that it doesn`t have to be Christmas to to tell people about Christ, his birth, and everything he did for us. I love this gospel and am so happy being on a mission. I love you!

Love, Tingey Shimai

Thank you for the gifts!

Teaching Saturday Eikaiwa with a guest Japanese Santa

yay for new shoes! Hahah. .........however my first day wearing my new shoes....

Oyama family

stick pull game

I co-erced Rinkun into prematurely yanking out his loose tooth

With our Nepalese investigator Anjana