Sunday, January 1, 2012

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

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