Thursday, February 16, 2012

Classic Mission Experience

Me and Sister Ito today in front of our apartment. Its pouring rain!
This week was so busy and I`m SO tired! But Sister Ito and I had a lot of fun and talked to a ton of people. I FINALLY had the classic mission experience of being harshly rejected while housing, which I was weirdly happy about, haha. We housed an entire building and had just finished talking to a very nice Buddhist lady when we knocked on the door next to hers. We waited for a couple of minutes but nobody came so we knocked again and while I was standing there smiling, happy as can be, so excited to talk to this person a mean old lady swung the door open and yelled, `Bakayarou!!!!!!!` and then slammed the door in our faces. I`m not even sure what that means but I was so surprised that I literally screamed bloody murder (If anyone has ever watched a scary movie with me you know exactly what I`m talking about) and Ito shimai started laughing her head off. It took me a few minutes to get over the shock, but after that I was so smiley all day because I finally can say I had a door slammed in my face! Japanese people are so polite and nice that I thought I would never have the pleasure of experiencing that. Yayy!
My hilarious companion telling me about her tape collection
A little more about my lovely little are of Ube: I realized this week that Ube is actually an old Hiroshima Mission area. A couple of years ago the Hiroshima Mission closed so the areas around here became part of the Fukuoka Mission. While we were talking to a man the other day he showed me some post cards he had received and apparently Mika Sawada, an old Tokyo friend served here as well as my trainer Sister McIntyre. He also had been taught by a sister missionary who was teaching at the MTC when I was there, so it was cool to be teaching him and know that a lot of my other friends had stood in that same spot teaching him. His name is Fujino san and he has been really good friends with the missionaries for a long time.
YSA party at Nakamura kyodai`s house. We`re showing off the game we played
We received a referral from an Elder the other day who used to serve around here for a man from Yuganda. An English speaking sister hasn`t served in this area for a couple of years so he was excited that I could go talk to this man he met. We tried calling and visiting him but no contact, and then after District Meeting on Tuesday we went shopping for batteries and randomly ran into him in the store! We had never met him before but the chances of meeting more than one tall, black man in Ube are pretty slim, so we figured it was him, haha. His name is Jacob Ssenkuma. He actually approached us first and we stood in the grocery store for a good half hour talking about religion. He is a very devout Catholic but is open to learning about all religions so he told us that if he has any time he`ll call us. It felt really weird talking to a 23 year old man in English for some reason....haha. I haven`t done that in about a year! I was super nervous! Phaha. I`m getting a little worried that I`m giong to be that super awkward RM who can`t talk normally to people my same age. Haha!
Obandoned fairgrounds near a less active member. Looks like where the zoltar machine was found at the end of the movie `Big`
During district meeting our zone leaders told us about how they had received a challenge from their ward mission leader to go finding right around the church and that if they did they would probably find a lot of new investigators. They took his advice and found three the next day, so Ito Shimai and I decided to do the same. We knocked on the door of the person living literally right next door to the church and she was this super nice lady who said she had never met the missionaries before or heard of the Church. Can you believe that! Right next door! She told us she is interested in hearing more so we`re going to visit her again this week!
Cute YSA named Rana playing her guitar for me
I still haven`t met our Vietnemese family, but I did meet a lot of our other investigators this week and everyone is so nice and also progressing in the gospel! I am loving serving in Ube and getting to know Ito Shimai. She is an amazing missionary, so willing to sacrifice her time for others. For instance, there is an older man who calls us here sometimes three times a day because he is lonely and every time she hurredly picks up the phone and talks to him about the weather, work, etc. She is such a great example of a disciple of Christ doing what he would do if he were here. I am learning a lot from her and cracking up all day long.
  Our ninety year old investigator Seyama san showed us all of her photo albums and I found this gem. This is her and her daughter probably about 45 years ago
I love you so much and appreciate your mail and emails. Keep them coming! I know that this gospel is true and was restored to the earth by the prophet Joseph Smith. I also know that through the atonement of Christ our weaknesses can be and are made strong, allowing us to further his work on the earth. Have a great week and be good!
Love, Tingey Shimai
P.S. Matt 10:39 is awesome.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ube and Ito Shimai

Hey everyone!
You guessed it....I transfered! 

Frolicking in the countryside. The house behind us is piglet grandma`s
It was sooo hard to say goodbye to my companion and the members and people I taught in Fukuoka! I practically bawled my eyes out when the Oyama family, with newly baptized Kunio Kyodai, Yuto and Shintaro, and all the cute kids who I taught Eikaiwa every week drove away from the church on Wednesday night after saying our last goodbyes. However, for some reason I do feel strongly that I will return to Fukuoka ward again someday, so it wasn`t my last goodbye there. I boarded a bus on Thursday morning in the middle of a snowstorm and took a four hour busride to the middle of the countryside to an area called....UBE! 
Me and Ito Shimai!
I am now serving in Ube with Sister Ito!! She is definitely the funniest companion that I have had so far. Shes turning 25 at the end of this month and has the spunkiest, cutest personality ever. Before coming on a mission she worked at a daycare center for children with disabilities, and is an amazing cook so we`ve been having fun cooking together.
Snowy countryside of Ube
Ube is an area East of Fukuoka in Yamaguchi prefecture. It is way inaka, or in the countryside. Its my first time serving in a small area! We have a branch of about sixty members and they are all incredibly nice and friendly. The first night that I arrived we had all of these phone calls come in asking me if I was OK and not freezing to death, because apparently a member from Fukuoka who`s best friend is in the Ube branch called and told him that I get very cold at night and have trouble sleeping (which is true, haha). So a member named Fujisaki Shimai brought me over a Yutampo or a jug that you fill with hot water and sleep with. Also, yesterday in the bin that the members fill with food for the missionaries every fast Sunday we received about ten packs of hand and feet warmers, haha! So you can tell just from all of that that these members are super warm and welcoming and willing to help the missionaries with anything. Within that first day I already had a super strong desire to get right to work and find those here in Ube who are waiting for the gospel, so that we can help this little branch grow.
On Thursday Ito Shimai spent all day long telling me about all of the investigators in this area and planning for the next week. We are teaching a Vietnemese family of four who have a baptism date set for March 3rd, but I haven`t met them yet so please pray that when I do things will click and they`ll be able to transition to having a new missionary teach them. :)
On Friday was a special Japanese holiday called Setsubun, which is basically where you throw beans all over your house to cast out oni, or evil spirits that might be living there. We didn`t even realize it was a holiday until we met a woman on the street who told us she had just come from a close by temple where they were holding a festival-type thing. We decided to go check it out and amidst a giant bonfire, a guy standing on a crate with a devil mask on singing old-time karaoke tunes, and taste testing a delicious bean drink called `Daizu-chya` we were able to talk to two grandmas for a good while about the gospel. One of them was practically blind and kept making us take pictures with her cell phone of us together. She said that even though she couldn`t see the pictures it made her feel good to know she had them. So cute.
Me with the oni
Saturday we biked for about an hour until we were literally in the middle of rice fields to visit a ninety year old woman who hasn`t been coming to church for a year or two. She was the cutest old lady ever! Remember in Winnie the Pooh when theres that huge flood and someone`s house gets destroyed, so Eeyore says that they should live in Piglet`s house? And Piglet stands there stuttering and wringing his/her hands saying, `well, I guess its a very nice house. I always liked it...`? Sorry that is so random, but that is exactly what this grandma reminded me of! She looks and acts exactly like piglet. When I mentioned that to Ito Shimai she burst into laughter and said, `Oh my gosh, you`re right!` Haha. She wouldn`t let me take a picture of her this time, though, haha.  
I just found a picture I secretly took of piglet!
Anyway, hopefully from these stories you can get a feel of what my new area is like.  I can`t tell you how happy I felt when we were riding out in the middle of the countryside of Japan! Just pure heaven. Also, every person we pass on the street smiles and says, `konichiwa!!` Such a quaint(sp?) little place. I`m sure I`ll have many stories to come! 
Goodbye Tagawa Shimai :((((
Please pray for me this week as I meet the investigators in this area for the first time that we`ll be able to connect and they`ll be able to feel my testimony and sincerity. 
Last district meeting in Fukuoka at the top of Fukuoka tower!
I love you all so much and hope you have a spledid week! 
Love, Tingey Shimai