Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Uplift

Dear family and friends,
I don`t have time for an email really today but I just wanted to share some really short experiences I had this week.
On Monday Sister Hattori and I didn`t have any appointments so I asked her, `where you do you want to go?` She pointed to this big apartment complex a few streets away and as we headed over I decided to take a little dirt road for some adventure. It ended up being a dead end amongst these super grungy, beaten down shacks. We both immediately stopped and pointed to this one shack, saying, `There is someone waiting in there!` We parked our bikes and were both surprised that we were about to knock on this door because there were empty beer and whiskey bottles just strewn all around the place, and when we went to knock on the door it was covered in this giant ripped piece of foam or something, haha. But we pressed on and this completely normal looking man,wearing a nice suit opened the door. He had been sitting at a desk in his kitchen studying some kind of book and when we started talking a little he said that he wasn`t surprised at all that we were there. We didn`t talk to him for long because it was freezing outside and he ordered us to go home, but yesterday he showed up to church in a suit and tie, and stayed for our Sunday School lesson! Through the combined inspiration of Sister Hattori and I we were able to find him!
We were able to attend the temple in Fukuoka this past Tuesday with our Branch, which was very uplifting and refreshing. It was my second time doing a session all in Japanese, which is always fun. I`m starting to understand more and really love feeling like I`m always studying the language, even when attending the temple!
Hattori Shimai stopped us to talk to this old lady gardening the other day. At first she said she had absolutely no interest in hearing what we had to say, but we kept talking to her about gardening, her family, etc and then it came out that her husband had recently passed away. We both naturally starting testifying about the Plan of Salvation and told her that without a doubt she would see her husband again, and tears started to stream down her face. She was even surprised that she was crying, and invited us to visit her any time. I`m so glad her heart was softened, and that we were able to follow the spirit to say what she needed to hear. Hopefully we`ll have another chance to teach her.
One last story: Yesterday we had a couple of hours to kill so we housed a big danchi(apt complex). At the second to last door this super haggard-looking woman in her 50s, with all sorts of bandages on her hands, hair all matted, etc. answered and for about 15 minutes we said nothing as she told us how horrible her life has been, how sick she is that she couldn`t even attend her best friend`s (who commited suiside) funeral recently, and that she KNOWS that there is no God because if there was she wouldn`t have had such a horrible life. She said, `If God existed wouldn`t he save all of the suffering people?` All we got out were a few sentences of something about how through her trials she can come closer to God and become a kinder person, and then her son came out from a back door, told us to go home and shut the door. By that time I was just about to bawl my eyes out, so dissatisfied with what I had told her. I wish I had testified quickly about how Heavenly Father HAS saved us by sending his son Jesus Christ. I wish I had testified of the atonement and how she can be healed. We wrote on a pamphlet and inserted it into her mail slot so hopefully she`ll read that. Since that time Sister Hattori and I both cannot stop thinking about that poor woman. I feel that as a missionary we`re hear sent by the Lord to help people like that, to tell them of the atonement and promise them that they can be happy and healed. But what happens to those who, even when given the chance, don`t listen? The door gets shut, and the suffering continues. I know that Heavenly Father is helping her in other ways, maybe through her Son or others. I just learned from that experience that I always need to be ready to testify of Christ, to not hesitate or wait, because that could make all the difference for that person.
My time is up but I hope something from one of these stories uplifted you in some way. I have felt the Savor`s love so strongly this week and know that I will continue to feel it as I testify of Him. Someone told me recently in an email that this was the time on their mission that they thrived the most. They felt no fear, and it was the most productive and satisfying time of their mission. I am definitly feeling that at this time and everyday am just overwhelmed with gratitude for this chance I have to live and serve among the people of Japan.
I love you all!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Monday, March 19, 2012

First Week of Transfer Nine

Us teaching Komeda san in the park the day before Ito shimai left
Hello everyone!!
This week was amazing! Although we had transfers and my beloved companion, Ito Shimai, was transfered to Hiroshima to an area called Yasufuruichi, we saw SO many miracles the week before she left!
4. Singing Ito Shimai a farewell love song at Eikaiwa. (Can you see my horrendous drawing on the whiteboard?)
Remember Komeda san? Well we met with her on Wednesday, the day before transfers and she had read all the way to 1 Nephi 13 in the Book of Mormon and said, `It is very interesting!`. Even though we taught her about the Ten Commandments (as well as the Law of Chastity and Sabbath Day) and were planning on commiting her to follow those commandments, she told us that she had seen something about something called The Word of Wisdom in the Gospel Principles book we gave her on Sunday, and had a lot of questions about that. Without us saying anything she told us she had already commited to stop smoking and drinking coffee after reading that because she has a strong desire to follow Jesus Christ and become Christian by being baptized!! Helloooo. Hahahaha. We talked with her and decided together that she would work toward being baptized on April 14th. I have never met someone during my mission so prepared to receive the gospel. She has incredible faith and humility. She has a super strong desire to repent and change her life so that she can have the Spirit with her. We have been contacting her every night and she hasn`t used tobacco since that day! Keep in mind that we haven`t even properly taught her aboutu the Word of Wisdom yet! We are so excited to see what is in store for her! Ito Shimai was so happy spending her last day in Ube seeing Komeda san progress and learn in the gospel. I will miss her so much!!
Last district meeting of the transfer! From Left to Right: Ito, Me, Shima, Lyon(District Leader), Thomas, Peterson
My new companion is Hattori Shimai from Nara! She is without a doubt the most adorable person I have ever met! I know you`re probably sick of me telling you how amazing my companions are but I seriously feel like the luckiest missionary in the world having been able to meet and work with these incredible Japanese Sisters. Hattori Shimai was pretty shy and reserved at first but once she opened up I found out she has a super funny sense of humor and is just a very enjoyable person to be around. She is also a very dedicated missionary and hard worker, and we are already planning our attack on Ube this transfer ;) . The second day of this new transfer we met with Yamamoto san, a 70-year-old-ish man we recently started teaching and he also expressed a strong desire to continue learning and grow in his understanding of Jesus Christ`s teachings. Through that we scheduled a tentative baptism date with him for April 28th! Hopefully with that goal in mind he will have a desire to read from the Book of Mormon and attend church.
A delicious  looking chicken
Sister Hattori and I have been literally working to the point that I literally have about 10 minutes before bed to just sit and relax. What with planning, calling and following up with our friends, writing in the area book, etc. by the time everything is done its about 10:20 and I finally collapse on my futon and feel like I`m going to die of exhaustion, haha. Luckily we`re forced to get eight hours of sleep every night no matter what, or else I would probably stay up writing in my journal or reading, which would make me even more tired. The amazing thing is that even though I feel so exhausted at times I am feeling just an outpouring of the spirit and blessings from the Lord, and a very strong desire to work as hard as I can to find and teach those in Ube ready to receive the gospel. I feel like the Lord has just been leading and guiding us constantly here. Even though we seemingly have NO time to find, what with having a lot of appointments and people to visit, we somehow keep finding new people to teach. For instance, yesterday we decided to visit a referral we received from the ward mission leader. The address was really confusing and there were about three buildings that could have been the place where this person was living. We decided to just knock on each door and eventually would find him. The first door ended up being a 20 year old guy who was really excited to talk to us and even ran back into his apt to grab the Bible he had. We taught a full lesson, prayed, he commited to reading from the Book of Mormon, and also told us to come back again! He was not the referral. The next door was an older woman who we ended up talking to for an hour and even made a return appointment for the next lesson. She was also not the referral. After all of that time had run out and we had to get back to the church. We hadn`t even met the guy our ward mission leader told us about but had found two new investigators! Miracles like that are happening every day here!
 The 98 year old man we`re teaching. He ALWAYS says during our lessons, `I went to war THREE times!!!` and then he does a jabbing motion showing us how he used to stab the enemy with the skewer on the end of his gun if they got too close. His daughter, who is a member, always yells at him when he does that. Its so hilarious. He also has some wicked funny stories. One of them is about how he once was held up at gunpoint by a man on the street who asked him, `If it would be alright, could you please give me some money?` Hahah. He has the exact phrase the man said to him written in calligraphy hanging on the living room wall. He said he gave him enough money to buy three onigiris (rice balls) and ever since that day has felt guilty for not giving him more. Haha, what a nice guy. I love him SO much!
I know that Heavenly Father blesses us when we keep his commandments and do our best to live righteously. This week I felt such an outpouring of the spirit on this area and those we are teaching. Even though it could have been a very stressful and hard week, what with getting a new companion and leading the area, I felt Heavenly Father answer my prayers as I sincerely asked him to help me know where to go and what to do. I`m so grateful to have a knowledge of the true Gosepl of Jesus Christ and to have a strong relationship with my Heavenly Father. Thank you for all of your prayers and support!
Until next week!
Love, Tingey Shimai
P.S. I totally had no idea it was St. Patricks Day yesterday....haha


Sunday, March 11, 2012


A random toy we found in a park and goofed around on for a while. I promise we`re working hard....
This week was unbelievable!! Our prayers on Mt. Shimofuri were definitely answered!
A mother of three we met about five weeks ago housing became an investigator! We went to her house several times but every time she asked us to come back at a different time because she was busy. We were starting to think she just didn`t want to meet with us until on Monday night she finally answered the door and let us teach her! We talked about how families can live together past the grave, taught her how to pray, and gave her a church parenting book. She listened super intently and seemed really enthusiastic about our message. Her husband is a professor at Yamaguchi medical school and is never home, so she told us she is pretty lonely. We`re so excited to teach her!
Mine sans English class. Hes the one with the beard and his adorable wife is in red
Ok, one bit of bad news is that ever since last week when we challenge the Nishimura family to follow the Word of Wisdom we haven`t been able to contact them. We are thinking either something happened that we don`t know about (like their grandma died), they weren`t able to follow it so they`re embarrassed to meet us, or they just decided to stop studying with us. We`re not sure, BUT because of that the biggest miracle happened! We went to their house at a random time of day to see if they might be home and as we were writing them a note I saw this woman walking slowly towards us down the street from far away. While Ito shimai finished writing the note I went over to talk to her and we ended up standing there for an hour and a half! She is a TOTAL KINJIN (`golden`)!!! Her name is Komeda san. We shared about the restoration standing there on the street and I wish you could have seen how excited she got. She kept saying, `I have just been searching and searching, but its so hard to know which religion is right! I`m so happy I met you!` I almost started crying I was so happy. When we offered her a Book of Mormon her eyes got super wide and she said, `Really?! I can have this??` and she took everything we gave her. We prayed with her and then she said, `Is it OK if I come to church on Sunday?` Ummmmm, YES!? Pahahaah. You can probably tell that this sort of thing happens like, um, once on my entire mission probably!! Sorry Im using so many exclamation marks but seriously, we are so happy. She called us on Saturday and said, `Im going to attend your church meeting tomorrow. Is it possible for me to become Christian?` The answer to that was definitely a big huge `YES` and we explained a little about baptism. She came to church on Sunday an HOUR EARLY and had page markers in her BOM of parts she had read and questions she had. Sister Ito and I taught the gospel principles class yesterday so we decided to teach the Plan of Salvation with an emphasis on baptism and she was just loving it. Afterward she exclaimed, `This place is just so wonderful! Everyone is so kind and I think each person here came over and shook my hand and welcomed me before church even started!` The speakers in sacrament meeting were also perfect because they talked about how this gospel is truly the way to become like Christ, how their lives have changed since being baptized, etc. I just seriously could not believe what was happening yesterday, haha. Definitely a first. We made an appointment to teach her on Friday, so please pray that all goes well!
A picture we took after our Kinjin called us asking to come to church. We had to document the moment.
Once again, my testimony of finding has be re-affirmed. Though there are many struggles being a missionary, I do know that there ARE people prepared to receive the gospel and if we just TALK TO EVERYONE we can find them, even if its 1/100000 its worth it to feel this feeling. Wahoooo!
This is our apt elevator. Ever other week or so SOMEBODY wipes a disgusting giant piece of snot on the wall in the same EXACT spot. We removed it once but then the other day a new one was there!!! Ito Shimai is so horrified about it, its hilarious.
My last piece of news is that we met the most awesome man in the entire world. His name is Mine (mee-nay) san. He is 80 years old but looks about 60 and he called out to us in a parking lot with a perfect English accent. He said, `Hello, are you from America?` I was so shocked but started to talk to him. Apparently he moved to Pittsburgh in the 1950`s and learned English there. He speaks with kind of a weird british-like accent so Im guessing there was some kind of British influence there around then? He said he had called out to me because I reminded him of the conservative women in America in the 1950`s with the way I dressed and did my hair. How cool is that!? He attended Lincoln University (the famous all-black University?) and got his masters degree in Theology. He was an acquaintance of Martin Luther King Jr. (I`m not kidding) and was there for either the `I have a dream` speach or one of his other famous speaches. He has the most charming stories about the time he spent in America, including entering a cafe and having a brawny-tatooed WWII Vet slap him on the back and say, `Its on the house for this man!` after hearing he was Japanese. He had people in a all-black diner (where he decided to enter because he decided he was more colored than white) hand around their hats, putting money in for him so he could survive. He also talked about a time his son was very sick in the hospital and he couldn`t pay the bill. When he went to pay it the lady said, `Mr. Its already been paid! Someone came in this morning and paid in full...` He never knew who did that. At the end of each story he said....`THAT`S America..` and then would continue on. It was seriously one of the best times I`ve had just listening to him. I don`t know what it is but I love old Japanese people SO much! He told us about ten other stories that were equally as amazing but I`ll save those for another time. His English is so perfect that he teaches free English classes in his home thre times a week so this past Thursday we were invited to take up the entire hour and a half giving a presentation about our beliefs to one of his classes! They loved it and one woman took a BOM. Its so crazy how there are so many fun and interesting ways to do missionary work. Unfortunately, this man has studied up like crazy about `Mormonism` and decided its not for him...but maybe we can crack him ;). I love things like this!
Komeda San!!!
Alright, my time is up! I love you all so much and pray for you everyday. I love this work and I`m having an absolute blast with Ito Shimai ripping it up in Ube. Have a great week!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Looking at Ube from Heaven's Eyes

Hello my dear friends and family!!

Samuel the Lamanite pose on the top of Mt. Shimofuri

This Email is going to be short and sweet so pay attention!
For about two weeks we have been telling everyone about and giving everyone flyers about our `Mochi Tsuki` or Mochi-making ward activity that happened this past Saturday. Unfortunately absolutely nobody but branch members showed up(haha) BUT a Sister in the branch brought her sister, mom, and sister`s mother-in-law to the activity!! She also asked us to come by and try making friends with her Father who she wants us to start teaching. He wasn`t able to come to the activity but she invited us over to their house this week. Apparently he is a huge animal lover and wildlife enthusiast, so she feels like we`ll be able to hit it off ;). The Mochi making was insanely fun (besides the whole gagging it down thing) and then after that Brother Fujitake and Furuya, two older members in the branch surprised Sister Ito and I by volunteering to drive us around to visit a bunch of less active members who live super far away from the church. We were SO happy because the member we intented on visiting (piglet grandma) lives more than an hour away by bike and Sister Ito hasn`t been feeling very well this week, so we kind of thought about canceling the whole trip. However, those two brothers saved the day and we visited not only her, but three other members! Not only that, but they surprised us by driving to the top of a mountain called Shimofuri yama, where Brother Fujitake says he goes to sometimes to pray and study the scriptures. We all knelt and said a prayer together on the dirt that we could find those in need of the gospel in Ube... and it was just the best. But the adventure isn`t over yet! After that they treated us with some special soy milk soft cream made in a little shop on the mountain, and we also stopped at a little station where you can drink the amazingly delicous water running in the mountain streams. Can you ask for a better day?
My two favorite members ever: Brothers Furuya and Fujitake
Apart from all of that we visited three of our investigators, including the Nishimura family (Vietnemese) who are currently following the Word of Wisdom for ten days, just like Daniel from the Old Testament. The Father, Kenchu, loves loves loves the Bible, so we used that a lot during our lesson to show him that even in Biblical times the Word of Wisdom was given by the Lord to help us be healthier and more in tune with the spirit. After a few scriptures and a slight spiritual wrestling match he and his wife agreet to cut out tea, coffee and beer from their daily diets and see if, just like Daniel, they would see a difference in their health and spiritual condition after the ten days. We fasted for them yesterday and have been following up everyday to see how they`re doing, and have a really good feeling about it all. When we visited them on Saruday Kenchu opened the door and I swear his skin was glowing, haha! He said he hadn`t noticed a difference or anything, but Sister Ito and I definitely noticed a difference. I hope that as they prayerfully follow this commandment that they`ll see and feel a difference in their home and know that it is from the Lord.
Best Day Ever!
This week another really exciting occurrence was for the first time on my mission I learned how to make sushi! We have an Eikaiwa student named `Cathy` or Uchihira san who went to Japanese culinary school and also has the most giant, beautiful garden I have ever seen. She gives us radishes, cabbage, carrots, and all sorts of delicious veggies all the time and this week she invited us over to learn how to make sushi! She is a super sweet lady and has been investigating the church for a while, so we`re hoping to get her moving in a good direction.
making Mochi
Other than that life is just swell and Ube is the best! We`re working hard everyday, finding new people to teach but we have so many investigators that its hard to find the time (not that I`m complaining!). Please pray for Ito Shimai and I that we can always make prayerful decisions in planning lessons for those we teach, and to be guided to those in Ube waiting to receive the gospel. I love this work and I`m so grateful for all that Heavenly Father has blessed me with. Have a great week! I love you!
Making Sushi at in investigators house

Oaks and Hiroshima

Dear family and friends,
Im sorry I wasnt able to write last week!! I think that is the only week I have missed so far emailing on my mission!
First off, Happy Valentines Day! I received a packages from Dad and Teri, the Los Alamos Relief Society, Mom and Chris, and Annie. Thank you so much!! I think I have enough toothpaste to rid the whole country of Japan of gingivitis!! Also happy Birthday to little Henry!! Im sorry I couldnt send anything or wish you a happy Bday little buddy. Love you!
Last week after I emailed on Monday Sister Ito and I took the bus to Fukuoka for a special conference with Elder Oaks. We gathered with all of the missionaries in the Fukuoka mission discluding Okinawa, which was fun. I saw my buddy Elder Beckstrand from my MTC district for the first time since I was a bean!! Elder Oaks talked to us for about an hour, and I wanted to just quickly share a few things that I thought were interesting that he said. He talked a lot about desire, and that the key to repentance and change is having that desire. Its our job as missionaries to find that spark in those we teach and then fan that spark. He also told us that the best speakers/teachers that he has ever come accross werent necessarily those who were elequent speakers but those who took a subject, and presented it to the audience in a way that made them change their way of thinking on that topic. He emphasized how that is also the role of a missionary. Lastly, the most interesting thing that he said was, `You`re probably all expecting me to tell you how you should be doing missionary work in Fukuoka. I`m going to tell you the truth; I have no idea. My role as an apostle of Christ is to testify of his divinity and teach fundamental principles of the gospel. Your mission President and the area Seventy who is called to this area will direct you in specifics, but I`m here to tell you that Christ lives, and to direct you to teach the fundamental principles of the gospel such as faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the End`.
When he said that at first I was surprised because I was half expecting him to prophesy of something we needed to be doing in Fukuoka, but after thinking about it I thouhgt, `uh, yeah, duh.` His words made me even more excited to follow the counsel of President Margets and the area Seventy Elder Ringwood. While Elder Oaks spoke the spirit was strong and when he left the chapel to go to another conference I wish you could have seen the chapel with most of the missionaries from our mission standing there. It was completely silent and I think we all felt grateful to have heard from an Apostle of the Lord, but also sad that he was leaving :( Haha. Some of us missionaries also toyed with the idea of asking Elder Oaks for a picture but decided we didn`t want to tarnish Fukuoka Mission`s new title of `Best Looking Mission` that Elder Oaks has seen all year. Thats right! A few days after the Conference President Margetts told us that Elder Oaks told him that. Wahoooo!
After the conference I had the BEST TIME EVER doing companion exchanges with Sisters Uchida and Mueller, both of whom served in Fukuka like I did. As a threesome we bounded all over Fukuoka visiting our old investigators, members and people we saw baptized. Among those included little Rin kun who was baptized in Novemember, Funakoshi Shimai who Uchida and Mueller Shimai saw baptized in September, our Nepalese friend Anjana and the Oyama family!!! Just like old times Sister Uchida and I went to their house and talked to them for a few hours. Many tears were shed and we all felt the spirit there as we discussed difficulties they`re having and testified that the Restored Gspel of Jesus Christ will help them overcome anything. We were also able to teach Eikaiwa one last time at the Oyama family`s house to all of my favorite kidlets. While we were there a GIANT snow storm came in and we said our last goodbyes after having an intense snowball fight and hugging in the storm. I will never forget that!
The reason I couldn`t email last week was because we took a train at 7AM on Monday to Miyajima for a Zone Pday! Remember on my study abroad when i went to that island with all of the deer and had my banana stolen right out of my hand? That`s where we went! As always, it was insanely gorgeous and we had fun with the Elders checking out all of the shops, eating weird foods, and gazing at the tori gate in the ocean. I decided before entering the island that I wouldn`t let those deer trick me again into giving them my food, so we tried sharing a Resoration pamphlet with them instead. Fortunately they found that to be delicious as well! Haha. On our way to and from Miyajima we met a few people on the train who we were able to talk to about the gospel, and one woman took and Book of Mormon and said she would return it to us after reading it :).
For the next four days we stayed in Hiroshima for a two-day Zone Conference where we received special training. Unfortunately, I was in pain most of the time we were there because I got something called `Shimoyake` on my feet, which most people call Frostbite here but I think its something more like `chilblain` ....I tried looking it up on my dictionary and thats all I came up with. I went to bed one night and my feet were kind of itchy, and when i woke up in the morning the ring finger toes on both of my feet were swelled up and red. As the days went on it got worse and worse until I could barely walk and all five of my toes on both feet were swollen and sore. The good news is that for most of that time we were riding the train, sitting in a room for zone conference, and riding bikes on companion exchanges with the Sisters in Hiroshima, so I didn`t really need to use my feet too much(tender mercies from the Lord)....but oh, was it painful, haha. By the time we returned to Ube on Friday it was I`m not sure were caused it but I think it has something to do with having bad circulation in my hands and feet. Anyone ever had that??? Let me know so I can prevent getting it again in the future.
We also celebrated Ito Shimai`s Bday on Friday by eating Hiroshima`s famous Okonomiyaki and friend ice cream. I have so much I want to say but my time is running out so just a few more things. Some super excited and heart warming news is that an Elder who was in my MTC district who ended up going home after being with us for only two weeks is back and will be a bean next transfer! None of us had any idea until we saw his picture in the mission home last week! We`re so happy he made it out. Also, just a funny story from last week: we are teaching a 17 year old girl named Hitomi chan and the Sisters have never been inside her house before, but when we visited last week her mom, who is from the Philippines came out of the house, took one look at me and ordered us in the house. We were all pretty confused as she disappeared into a back room and then came out holding some little figurines of the Virgin Mary. She said, pointing at the figure, `You look exactly like her!` and because of that interesting little miracle we were able to share a little message with Hitomi in her house while her two younger siblings also listened!! Haha....
Alrighty, I have to get going but I hope this email filled you in on my last two weeks. It has been very hectic and we`re both happy to be back in Ube sharing the gospel with the wonderful people here! I love you all so much!!!
Love, Tingey Shimai
Pictures: Snowstorm after President Oaks Conference
              My poor feetsies
              thanks for the toothpaste!
              Housing in the forest
              Deer eating my Restoration pamphlet