Friday, July 20, 2012

Welcome Home

Missed You little Sista!

Help me! I'm getting squished!

Can't wait to hold Vivi Lu after she's released!

Good times with the family

The whole crew

Lucy's new companion

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Not Over Yet!

My dear family and friends,
It is hard to believe that this will be the last email I ever write home from the mission field. The past week has been incredibly emotional as I`ve been going through serious denials about leaving this amazing country and the life of a full-time missionary. I have loved it sooooo much and had the most fulfilling and rewarding experience that anyone could have ever asked for. Yes, there were some pretty rough times and some might say a few downsides to having served; I`m pretty sure I`ll have skin cancer someday from the six months I spent in Okinawa; I weigh probably about 15 pounds more than I did when I entered the MTC; The only people I`ll know at BYU when I get home are the Elders I served with... most of whom are about 4 years younger than me....creepy...; I`ve gone completely out of style (my companion has informed me that wearing socks on your head is a thing now...?); after using candy flavored toothpaste and toothbrushes made out of pig hair I`m not sure how much longer my teeth will stay in my head....
HOWEVER, all of those downsides DON`T EVEN BEGIN to compare to what I`ve gained on this amazing journey! I have come to know my Savior, and seen his loving hand guiding me and allowing me to do His work. I wouldn`t trade the past 11/2 years for anything.
This email is short, but I`m not sure what else to say. Through this blog I have been able to record just a few of my most memorable experiences, and my hope for these past 18 months has been that you who are reading felt excitement of this work, caught the fire, and blessed those around you through serving and sharing the gospel. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven who have allowed me to see so many miracles and witness the gospel changing the lives of those around me. Out of all of the people I taught and saw baptized, I know from the bottom of my heart that through it all I was really the one being converted and strengthened. Once again, thank you all for your amazing emails and support. It has meant the world to me.
I still have three wonderful days left to work as hard as I possibly can and find new people to teach! How cool is that?! You never know what might happen in three days. Oh yeah, there`s the airport, too! Yipeeee. I`ll see you soon!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yamakasa Matsuri


can you tell how excited we were to get a picture with this guy?

We had the greatest week ever! Probably the best so far this
transfer!! We found three new investigators, one being a woman named
Tomoko san who is sooo prepared to receive the gospel! We stopped to
talk to her on the street last Tuesday, she came to Eikaiwa the next
day, came to the church on Friday for her English Class interview,
accepted hearing the lessons, camed again on Saturday so we could
teach her, and then we had another lesson with her yesterday! She's on
fire! She seems like she's had a really hard life so far and said that
until now she has always just believed only in herself and her ability
to make herself happy, but she finally recognizes that it's not enough
and she's ready to rely on Heavenly Father. It was so cool to hear
because I feel likee almost everyday we talk to people who say that
exact thing; "We experience success through our own efforts right? So
I just believe in and rely on myself. I don't need God. Only weak
people join Christianity, etc." It was so nice to meet one of those
people, AFTER having realized she was actually wrong and she does need
the healing power of the atonement of Christ.
Yamakasa Matsuri!
We also taught this 20 year old boy named Taguchi san, who is a
referral from a member. After Takabori Shimai told him the first
vision we paused for a second and asked him, "So how did you feel
hearing that?" and he said, "To be completely honest, the first thing
I thought was 'I want to ask, too!'" he then went on to say, "This is
really embarrassing, and I've never told anyone else this before...
but when I was little I went to a Christian church with my friend a
few times and the missionaries there taught me how to pray. It always
really stuck with me and every single night since then I always say a
prayer of thanks in my heart before I go to sleep..." We were so
amazed to see how Heavenly Father has been working with him for all
this time, and to see the spirit working in his member friend to
invite him to hear the lessons even though he had NO idea about that
secret he had! Isn't that awesome!?

Here's a fun story: When Takabori Shimai and I woke up on Tuesday
morning last week we didn't imagine we would be teaching the Plan of
Salvation to a bunch of people at a Buddhist funeral....haha! A
member's mom passed away suddenly on Monday night due to heart
problems. She was a woman who we had received as a referral a few
times from him in the past 6 months or so, so it was cool to see how
he had been prompted several times to reach out to her before her
death. Anyway, he called and asked us to attend the funeral and of
course we volunteered to come sing a hymn or do something to help. He
accepted our offer and we thought it was going to be just a small
gathering of his family for the service, but it ended up being a
full-on Buddhist ceremony with the chanting monk and everything! It
was suuuuper interesting. When it was our turn to get up at the end
they asked us to introduce ourselves. We were expecting the member who
sang with us to do it but she looked over at me and then suddenly I
was talking about how families can be together forever after death and
whatnot, haha. Also, there are special times and ways to bow during
the ceremony and Sister Takabori and I had no idea what was going on
so we kept messing up...haha. I hope we didn't offend anyone.

Japanese bums!
Yesterday we spent Pday being dressed up in Yukatas (summer kimonos)
by a ward member named Matsuura Shimai and taking a stroll in downtown
Fukuoka to see the decorations for a festival called Yamakasa! I still
haven't quite figured out what the festival is celebrating but I do
know that a bunch of men wearing sumo wrestler-type diaper bottoms and
not much else run around holding a giant wooden float looking thing.
The actual festival is on the 15th, which is a Sunday so we can"t
go...which is a real bummer because Sister Mueller was hear last
summer for it and said it was hilarious.

Sarah- is your sister Nikki secretly a model in Japan!?

Other things...
1. Recently during finding and lessons when someone mentions anything
about cats Sister Takabori has been saying, "Oh really!? Sister Tingey
loves cats!!!" The problem is that they usually get really excited and
happy and I don't have the heart to tell them its actually a lie. I'm
not sure what the deal is but apparently she gets a kick out of it.
2. Had an unfortunate incident during ward council meeting this Sunday
when it slipped that I won't be around next transfer. Apparently
everyone, including the bishop, was under the impression I had another
transfer left, so they were all saying things like, "Oh, but we don't
have to worry because I don't think either of the sisters will
transfer, right? What do you think?" ...and then I started to cry,
haha. The bad news is that my secret is out and I won't be able to
duck out quietly like I had hoped. The worse news is that I thought I
had gotten away with giving a musical number my last Sunday but now I
have to give a talk! Haha. I guess that's fair.

Well, this next week is looking to be promising and we're hoping to
have several baptism dates what with Tomoko and Taguchi San
progressing so well. Can't wait to see what lies ahead! Love you all
so much!

Love, Tingey Shimai

P.S. Remember how it was the 4th of July last week? Yeah, well we didn't, haha.

Monday, July 2, 2012


I`m gonna miss this amazing Shimai


Earlier today we had a special conference with our new Mission
President and his wife, the Gustafsons, and I am feeling so overcome
with gratitude and love for them already, even though I met them for
the first time just a few hours ago. In his first testimony to the
missionaries he talked a lot about "Real Growth," which is something I
have actually been thinking about a lot lately. I read the conference
talk Elder Scott, I think, gave at this past conference and he also
discussed the ways we can see real growth in the wards and branches
we're in. Sister Takabori and I have been working a lot with less
active members, helping them regain and strengthen their testimonies
of the Book of Mormon, and also fasting for them to be able to come to
church. Bringing new members into the church is important but real
growth happens from the inside out, and I've come to realize that if
we want new converts to stay active we really need to strengthen the
ward first and foremost. I was so grateful to hear President Gustafson
bear his testimony of that today.

I also felt that these lessons will, of course, carry on after my
service as a full-time missionary as well. Just like the members here,
I'll have the duty and responsibility to fulfill my callings and help
build up the ward in whatever area I end up. This is just the
Me and Takabori Shimai

I want to tell you about this woman we recently met named Yasunaga
san!! We were searching for the address of a lady we met on the street
and we rode past this shop we've seen dozens of times but out of the
corner of my eye I saw a lady arranging stuff in the store window. She
kind of stuck in my mind but we kept riding, didn`t find the address,
so we decided to go into the shop and ask that lady for directions.
Her shop was full of a lot of weird stuff and we tried REALLY hard to
find something we wanted to buy...haha. Eventually we found some
necklaces and it ended up she is Catholic but not really going to
church and wants to come to church next week!!! It was so cool!

That same day we brought nine Book of Mormons with us to give away and
gave them ALL away in a matter of a few hours! We were kind of
wondering what to do because we still had an appointment to go to and
no Book of Mormon to give them, but then by a slightly unfortunate
incident we randomly ran into this girl we had given one of them to in
a completely different part of town, and she said her mom was making
her give it back to us. So when we went to our next appointment, even
though they didn;t answer the door the person living next door to them
ended up being amazingly awesome and we just happened to have that
extra Book of Mormon to give to him! The Lord works in mysterious

Her Dad

Another cool happening was running into a man on the street whose
cousin is the bishop in my last area! He told us he would tell him he
ran into us the next time he calls him up, so hopefully that will open
up some kind of gospel discussion. Also, we had companion exchanges
yesterday with the Sisters serving in Fukuoka and the member Sister
Takabori Shimai visited is a woman her Dad taught and baptized when he
served here in Fukuoka 27 years ago! They had no idea until she
introduced herself and the sister pulled out her photo album with all
of the missionary pictures in it and said, `Is this your Dad?!` It was
really amazing for Takabori Shimai.

Alrighty, gotta run! Love this work and I`m having more fun than ever!

Love, Tingey Shimai

Me and Takabori Shimai
Her Dad
I`m gonna miss this amazing Shimai

Kiseki bakari (Nothing but miracles)!

My dearest family and friends,
The amazing kidlets!
The weeks are flying by so quickly, but at the same time every single day seems pretty lenghty with a lot going on. Working with my little bean, Takabori Shimai is so much fun. She is definitely way more prepared, wise, amazing and spiritual than I was as a new missionary, and even now, so it is a huge blessing to be working with her. She is always challenging us to find new ways to find and teach and mixing things up, which is very refreshing and fun. I love her to death!
Too many hilarious and awesome things happened this week to be able to tell you in this email so I`ll just tell you about a few.
Holding a gigantic butterfly. Its wings weren`t dry yet from coming out of the cacoon so it couldn`t fly away!
I think it was Friday when we visitited a less active member and were able to meet her son for the first time who hasn`t been to church since he was really young. We were first just helping him with his English homework but then he brought up how he has recently been learning about Moses and the Ten Commandments in school. From that we were able to teach an unexpected lesson about that and prayer, and then he prayed for the first time with us and his mom kneeling on the living room floor! It was so cool to witness that! I think it made the member really happy because she told us she would attend a cookie-making class at the church next week and also asked if after the class she could take us in her car back to her house so we could help her son again with English!
Fukuoka zone!
Right after that lesson we left their apartment and stopped in this playground to hand out English flyers to a bunch of 9-12 year old girls and we ended up standing there for an hour or so talking to them about Christ, the Restoration, etc. They were all begging us for pamphlets and Book of Mormons and event though we had about five with us that we handed out we needed about twice that many! I`ll say it again....I love Japanese children! They`re so humble and pure and seriously craving the goodness that comes from religion and talking about Jesus Christ. I can`t really imagine how it might have  been to grow up in a country where Christianity isn`t really imbedded into everyday life but from what I`ve experienced as a missionary there is a natural yearning for that, and it is especially evident in the young people here. Its so sad to see how the older people get the more callous and uninterested they are in our message, but even when we`re bluntly and harshly rejected we always try to sneak in a testimony and tell them as much as we can about how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them. Someday when they have a hard trial or are searching for the truth, I know they will remember that testimony and be given another chance to accept the gospel!
 Me and Takabori Shimai
On Sunday we had Stake Conference which was AMAZING because since I`m serving in Fujisaki, right next to Fukuoka, I got to see tons of Fukuoka members who I haven`t seen since I transfered out of there in February! It was such a joyous reunion! We stood in the doorway with a bunch of other missionaries and greeted everyone coming in, and I couldn`t have been happier with life. I love seeing all of these faithful Japanese Latter-day Saints gather together! They are all sacrificing so much to be so dedicated to the gospel despite their time-consuming jobs, school schedules, etc. I honestly don`t know how people survive here sometimes. At Stake Conference we watched a broadcast from Salt Lake City where President Uchtdorf spoke exclusively to the Japanese saints for the first time! Afterward President and Sister Margetts gave their farewell talks and I could feel so strongly how much they have grown to love the members here and how much they`re going to miss them. Other highlights were finding out a boy who attended my English class way back when is planning on being baptized soon, and also being told that my two favorite OYAMA boys, Shintaro and Yuto attended scout camp last week! I hope they, like their Dad, accept the gospel soon and are baptized!
With Sis. Takabori at zone conference
  After the conference Bishop Miyake took us all over the place in his car, visiting all sorts of people who needed some upfliting. He even took us to meet his neighbor, Hara San, who is an old woman running a buddhist temple. We talked to her a lot about family history and told her about how we have the largest database in the world for researching her ancestors. Hopefully it caught her interest and she`ll want to come to church! She is a professional Shamisen and Koto player (traditional Japanese instruments) so she took out her Koto, played a song for us and let us fiddle around on it for a while! That was something I`ve been wanting to do ever since I wrote a report on traditional Japanese instruments a few years ago when i was on Study abroad with BYU!
Eating a quick lunch on the riverside with my bean
President and Sister Margetts will be making the flight back to Utah this Saturday so please pray that they can return home safely. It will be weird writing my last two weekly president letters to President Gufstoffson who is replacing the Margetts this week.
 making gyoza
Well, that is my week in a nutshell. We are teaching a lot of amazing people as well but don`t have anyone who is progressing very well so please pray that the people we meet with this week will follow their commitments and progress towards making covenants with their Father in Heaven. I want you all to know that I know that Jesus Christ is my older brother and advocate, and that when we exercise faith in him we can feel his atonement in our lives each day. I love the gospel, and love being a missionary! Until next week!
Love, Tingey Shimai

Last Zone Conference

Back in the days of the threesome
Happy late Father's Day!

Because I forgot my planner last week emailing I didn't tell you about
one of the most awesome parts of our week! We ended up running into
this couple from Nepal (the husband was actually Japanese but lived in
Nepal forever) and they eneded up being Jehovas Witness missionaries!
I was suuuuuper excited because I have been DYING my whole mission to
listen to what their lessons are. We always see them tracting and I'm
pretty sure my companion and I were potential investigators for them
when I was in Naha and Fukuoka because they always came knocking on
our door....but we just never seemed to have time to really talk to
them (...or more like my companion wouldn't allow it, haha).

In front of the church with some of the little girls we're teaching!

Anyway, I have been so incredibly curious about what their beliefs are, and how
their teaching styles are diff/the same as ours. We stood there and
talked for about an hour with them and got to hear all about what they
believe about the afterlife, etc. It was SO interesting. Pretty
similar to what we know but it actually really strengthened my
testimony of living prophets and the Book of Mormon. We had the
opportunity to share with them about Joseph Smith and the Restoration
of the gospel of Jesus Christ and they listened very nicely and
intently. We exchanged cars and whatnot. It was such an awesome
The sisters and Sis. Margetts at Shimai taikai
Watanabe family's house

This week I had my LAST ZONE CONFERENCE as a full-time missionary! It
hadn't really hit me yet during the conference, or even when I got up
to bear my testimony like everyone always does during their last
transfer. It felt like just a normal ZC. However, what did feel weird
was that it was also President and Sister Margett's last conference,
too! Their mission is also ending and they are heading home to Utah in
just a couple of weeks! The most exciting part of the day was getting
a forbidden hug with President Margetts! I feel so incredibly blessed
that I had President Margetts as my mission president. I couldn't have
asked for a better Mission President or Mission Mom! They were so
amazing and we all learned a lot from them.

During the conference we had a lot of interesting new
announcements/changes that will happen in the near future in the
mission. One of them being that all missionaries are required to
create a profile on, with a picture from everyday life, not
wearing our nametags! Isn't that awesome! We're also supposed to use
the site regularly in proselying by referring people to look at our
profiles as well as use videos to teach important principles. They
also talked about us encouraging members to use facebook to spread the
gospel, etc. Everyting is going online! Its crazy! I feel like such an
oldie.  Needleess to say, Sister Takabori's mission is going to be a
lot different than mine, haha.
Battling Sister Takabori in Tango Bang bang at Eikaiwa

OK, so you know how I said earlier that it hadn't really hit me during
zone conference that I was going home soon? Well yesterday we were
teaching this new friend we have named Murakami san. She has two super
adorable, roudy kids so while Takabori Shimai was teaching her about
the Restoration (the lesson she has been so diligently practicing all
week! She's so awesome!) I was trying to keep her kids busy with
stickers and anything I could find in my bag. I stood back up after a
while and Sister Takabori whispered to me, "lets ask her to get
baptized! do it!" Haha. So I asked her, "when you find out for
herself that everything Takabori told you today is true, will you be
baptized in August?" She said yes!! I was super happy, and then I felt
this ultra shockwave go through my body when I realized, "Hey, wait a
minute...I'm not even going to be here in August!...Nooooooo!" I can't
believe it.

Anyway, enough of that. This week we got screamed at by a really mean
old man, which costed us a contact when the lady we were talking to
ran away from us because of him. However, that was probably the 2nd or
3rd unpleasant encounter I've had in the past year and a half. Not bad
eh? Also found out that this Chinese lady named Horibe san who I
taught in Fukuoka was baptized last Sunday! And also that this
suuuuper sketchy lady Sister Uchida and I found housing way back in
October in Fukuoka is actually a legitimate investigator right now!
Hip hip, Hooray! Every effort counts! We've also been finding a lot of
 new, interested people from Eikaiwa lately and have a lot of
appointments lined up in the next couple of weeks.

We're always working!

Tsuyu or Rainy season has officially started and there is supposed to
be a typhoo coming in this week, but Sister Takabori and I both love
working in the rain so I'm sure we'll be out and about. Can't wait!
with our friend Kuroki san

Love you so much! Have a great week!

Love, Tingey Shimai

Pics: Last night we were out all day riding around in the rain, we
didn't get a chance to eat dinner in between appointments and as we
were parking our bikes at 9PM I said to Takabori Shimai, "Wouldn't it
just be the best thing ever if someone made a delicious dinner for us
and delivered it to our door?" And then...wouldn't you know it, there
it was!!! Not even making that one up! A member who lives a couple of
apartment complexes down from us received revelation and brought it to
us! Love her!

Today during district meeting we had this object lesson where two
Elders had to draw a super hard kanji ten times in one minute while
all of us hit them with toys and stuff. I don't remember what the
object lesson was but it was really funny! Haha