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 gone...so 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