Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Andersons! FHE, Santa! #Sharethegift

Our Christmas Greetings from the Andersons far and wide!  Most of our children were able to get together in Tucson the Saturday before Christmas.  Only our son in Idaho and his family and we were missing.  Maybe next year we can all be together!  Here's a few of our favorites to share:

Sunny and Sam's family

Danno's missing his two front teeth!

Will's wife Sandy and two of their little angels.  Thanks for throwing such a fun party!  We got to skype to see some of the fun.  Love you all!

Heather and Nate without their girls

Chelsea and Lamar and the boys

Sunny and Chelsea

Nolan and Keree and our Idaho kiddos

Our youngest son, Seth with our oldest grandson, Jacob

Sunny with Heather's baby Paisley Grace

Sam is sharing some love with Michael

Sunny and Sam's little princess Amber

Chelsea and Lamar and the boys spent a little time in Utah and got to visit with Grandma Anderson.  They also got to run into Nolan and his family.  They hadn't seen each other since Damon was born 3 and a half years ago.

Meanwhile, back in Japan....We had Family Home Evening on Monday night.  We had some amazing music.

Sister Odate had been working with the missionaries to prepare a special treat for us.

Plus another special musical number.

President and Sister Smith's daughter has come for a visit too!

Then we got to watch the mission Christmas video.  It's so fun to see all of our missionaries.  We had a great time.  (Someone even called the police because we were a little noisy!)

It's always fun to see how many shoes are here.

Tuesday was another special day.  It was the Emperor's birthday, so there was limited mail delivery and lots of people had the day off.  Several of the wards had their Christmas party on this day.  Tagajo's party was Tuesday evening.  There were more people there than we've ever seen at a ward activity.

We watched a video of "The Gift"

The Relief Society sang a couple of songs.

The missionaries put on a skit

And Santa-san came!

I told Santal-san that I was surprised that he could speak Japanese.  He said "Of course I speak Japanese!  When I'm in China, I speak Chinese".  He asked us where we're from.  Then he said he gets over to Arizona about once a year.  But of course, he goes everywhere every year!

And of course, in Tagajo, there's going to be lots of food!

We had to get Sister S. back so she could have her phone call from her missionary daughter who is serving in the Tokyo South mission.

Later that night, she called us and had bumped her head, so we had a trip to the hospital with her.  And the next day, some follow up visits.

Kind of wore us out!

That afternoon we had our Christmas Eve District Meeting/Party with the Tagajo missionaries.

It's always fun to spend time with them.  The best part was sharing our favorite scriptures and love for the Savior.

Then, it was time for Eikaiwa.  It was a small crowd, but very good.  We watched "The Gift" and the elders taught the 12 Days of Christmas Song.  Try explaining that in a foreign language!  I was able to find some French Hens and Turtle Doves on Google.

We had one lady that came for the first time.  She seemed to really enjoy herself.

And the sisters fixed a beautiful Christmas Cake.

And of course, fried chicken!  And hot chocolate!

On Christmas Day, we went to the movies with the Taylors.  We saw the Hobbit.  It was in English (and Elvish) with Japanese subtitles.  Not a whole lot of dialogue in the movie anyway.  The most fun part was watching the theater empty from the previous show.  Everyone brought their own trash out with them.

And sorted it in the trash bins.

And the kids bring their booster seats out

And stack them on the shelves.  Then the attendants go in and sweep up the few crumbs of popcorn that are on the floor and they're all set for the next showing.

When we got back to the office, we found lots of surprises for us.  Several of our friends had come by to give us some gifts.  So very thoughtful!  Plus lots of treats from our Tagajo ward members.

Friday brought even more fun.  Another trip to the driver's license place.  And, a different driver's test guy.  He was even more picky that the other guy.  So, just when you think you know what they're looking for, there's a whole other set of requirements to watch for.  The next try will be in February.  They said they have so many people in their schedule.  Well, duh!  (They only test five people a day.)  If they'd pass someone once in a while, they wouldn't be so busy!  Anyway.....

But we went to a grocery store over by the DMV and found a big hunk of meat!  Roast beef for dinner tomorrow!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Transfer Week! Etc! Etc!

We knew that this was going to be a busy week, and it was!

At the staff meeting Monday, President Smith told us about a sister who was baptized over the weekend.  She had known friends through the years who were members of the church and she had even met the missionaries before.  But she had no interest.  Then, she lost her mother and then her husband within six months of each other.  When the elders called to check on former investigators, she was ready to listen.  The seeds planted years ago finally have borne fruit.  Now she wants her family to listen to the missionaries and join the church as well.

After our staff meeting on Monday, a new refrigerator was delivered to the mission home.  The delivery guys said it was too big to fit in the door, but Sister Smith was not willing to give up so easily.  In the end President Smith, Brother Seza and Alan were able to install it, after removing the outside door and the kitchen door.

Sister Smith had another try at the driving test on Tuesday.  And, she failed too.  (For no good reason.)  But our friend from Sandy, Sister C. who lives in Sendai with her family passed (on the first try!)

Tuesday afternoon was also the training session for the companions of the new missionaries.  Then in the evening, we had 12 new missionaries to pick up.  They leave SLC on Monday morning and by the time they arrive in Sendai, it is Tuesday evening.  There was a delay on the last part of the trip.  There were high winds in Tokyo which delayed the arrival in Sendai.  They were very tired when they arrived.

We didn't have room to bring the trainers to the airport this time.  We have new missionaries from Arizona (4), Utah (3), Minnesota (1) and Japan (4).

Normally the new missionaries are trained at the mission home, but this time, the number was too large, so we met at the Nagamachi Chapel for training.

This is the group photo of the new missionaries with their trainers.  (Oops, should have moved that table out of the way!)  It was fun to see some of the missionaries we don't get to see very often too.  These new missionaries have no clue what great trainers they have!  They are in good hands!

Just to keep things interesting, we also had a storm come through.  In fact, someone suggested to President Smith that we postpone the transfers because of the weather.  Well, that's pretty difficult to do.  So, he said all we can do is pray.  And thankfully, everyone was able to make their destinations safely.

We usually have an extra day in between arriving and returning missionaries travel, but due to the holiday travel, the returning missionaries were traveling home on Thursday instead of on Friday.  So, in the afternoon after the new missionaries were sent on their way, the returning missionaries had their final interviews and going home dinner that evening.

We had missionaries and luggage and stuff all over the place.

We were heading off to Tagajo for English Wednesday evening, but the traffic was very slow.  Everyone was driving very carefully due to the snow.  It got late enough that we knew we wouldn't make it on time, so we went back home.

The next morning we woke up early, dressed up like Ninjas, and went around the corner to tell the missionaries good bye.  President and Sister Smith took the airport travelers.  They had to leave early because it had been snowing and they didn't want them to miss their flights.  Then they headed back to the Nagamachi Chapel to have the training for the new district, zone and sister training leaders.

This time we had missionaries traveling to Oregon, Utah, West Virginia, Arizona, California, Indiana, and Japan.  We also have one sister returning to Tahiti, but her plane was on Saturday because there are direct flights from Tokyo to Papeete only twice a week.

When it started to get light, this is how our parking lot looked.

We got to take the later run and deliver some sisters to the train station.

This is how the road looked over the mountain from the Honbu to the Eki.

How cute is this??

Then that afternoon, the sun came out and melted much of the snow.  That's good because we had to head out to Kakuda for our English group.  We will be off for a couple of weeks, so we decided to combine our classes and have a little fun.

We played a little Pictionary with them.  It was kind of a challenge for them because they are unfamiliar with some of our Christmas and winter terms, especially in English.

We stumped them on this one.  They called it a candy stick, which is close.  And we brought some carrot cake which they had never had before, but enjoyed!  We told them we'd see them next year!

So, like I said, this was quite a week.  On Friday, we decided to go out for lunch to celebrate "Surviving Transfer Week".

Some of our favorite missionaries!

The tables have grills in the center.  You get your meat and cook it yourself.  It was pretty good.

Saturday night was our neighborhood Christmas Party.  They told us we were welcome to come, but they didn't want to talk about church.  They were all very friendly to us and they enjoyed practicing their English.  It was surprising how many of the guests knew some English.

Out at the Walbro factory the other day I asked about the Christmas traditions.  I was surprised that many of them talked about eating KFC for Christmas!  Someone has done a great marketing job here.

And so we were not too surprised when they passed the KFC around!  We also had sashimi and salads and bread and pancakes (yes, really), and when we thought we were done, they brought out big trays of beautiful sushi!

There was a fairly good earthquake while we were eating.  We all kind of looked at each other and said, "Yup, it's an earthquake"  then passed the food around again!

We thought we were done and since it was raining outside, we got up to leave.  But wait!  We haven't had the Christmas Cake yet!

One of the men at our table knew the song "Silent Night" so we joined with him to sing that.  Then they had all of us (12 of us altogether) sing "Angels We have Heard on High".  One of the hostesses sang right along with us too!

And ... In our continuing series of "Interesting Things in Sendai" ...
Saturday morning we survived our shopping experience.  We saw a couple of interesting things:

Has anyone seen this before?  It looks like a cauliflower on steroids!  We did not try it, but it's neat to look at.

The market had an old pay phone (pink, no less).  It cost 10 yen to make a call.  Not sure if it is in working order.

This is a car wash at the gas station.  The car stays stationary and the car wash (red frame) moves back and forth on the tracks on the floor.

We saw this elevated parking spot at an apartment building the other day.  Don't know what you do if your car is up and there's one below it, so you can't put it down?  Maybe both spots belong to one person.

This is how we bundle up in the evenings to stay warm.  Our little kerosene heater does a pretty good job, but when it's off, burrrr!