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

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