Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Linger Longer"

On the Smith's first day in Sendai, we were blessed to have a baptism.  We rode out to Tagajo for the occasion.  I'm sure they were very tired, but it was nice to spend some time with them.

Miyou with her sister missionaries.

After church, the ward presented Elder and Sister Noonchester with some tokens of remembrance for their service to the ward.  And then, we had a pot luck.  It was quite the spread!

And the missionaries and young adults sang "As Sisters in Zion / Army of Helaman" in English!

On the way home, we drove by the Sendai Port where the water came inland.  It was rainy today, so we didn't get out too much.  But we finally saw the Pacific Ocean!

Welcoming President and Sister Smith; Syonnara to the Rasmussens

The time finally came to go to the airport to greet the new mission president and his wife.  The Rasmussens had been busy all week preparing the home and mission so everything would be in order.

While we were waiting, we took a few shots of the airport showing how high the water was in March 2011 when the tsunami hit.

The blue line on the pole is 3.02 meters.  That's how high the water line was.  Here's a few photos from their display in the airport showing the damage and recovery.  We have not seen very much evidence of the damage in our travels thus far.

When the Rasmussens arrived three years ago, the airport was still closed.  They arrived on the train.

There was quite a good turn out to green President and Sister Smith.

There's a clown in every group!

The next morning, we bade the Rasmussens farewell.  This photo is from the train station, headed to Tokyo.

Well Done President and Sister Rasmussen!  Even though we were only here for the final two weeks of your time here, we have come to love and respect you, and know that you are well loved by your missionaries and the people of Sendai.  Best wishes to you and your family.

June 2014 - Family Home Evening

The mission has been holding an open door Family Home Evening once a month.  Since this was the Rasmussen's last time being here, the turn out was terrific.  I think they counted 79 pairs of shoes in the entry!  The Rasmussens are loved very much here!

They showed a video, had some musical numbers and the elders acted out a scene about King Lamoni and Ammon.  Sister Rollins prepared banana splits.  It was quite amazing.  Like feeding the 5000, there was enough and to spare!

This young lady is attending BYU - H studying music.

These little cuties found a place to play at the mission home.

On Tuesday, Elder Yamata, who is a local member and part-time service missionary, took us shopping to get some items for the apartment.  We went to the biggest electronics store you ever want to see.  Talk about sensory overload!  And there are several little DVD players going constantly with infomercials about the various products. 

And we didn't even go onto the side with the entertainment section!
The staff at the store are all very helpful and friendly.  We watched by the entrance to the store.  There were usually two persons greeting and bowing as shoppers came in.  If they happened to get called away, another greeter would appear out of nowhere to take the position.
We were able to get several things ordered.  Like a stove, oven/microwave, ceiling lights, air conditioner, and (ahem) a heated toilet seat.  Seems kind of a silly thing this time of the year, but they assure me that it will be a necessity come winter time!

That evening was the English Class.  In the entire Asia North Area, Wednesday night is the English class time.  It is given as a public service to the community.  Since the Noonchesters were gone to visit their new grandbaby in Tokyo, we braved the trip ourselves.  It is about a 40 minute drive from the mission home.  We left in plenty of time "just in case".  So, we had time to grab a bite to eat at ..... McDonald's!

Our first week of English, we had one little boy.  This time, we had a few more kiddos!

We talked about foods.  We asked who had eaten rice today?  Everyone!  Then we talked about favorites and where do different kinds of food come from.  It took them a while to understand I was teasing when I asked if fish comes from a tree??!!

We went to eat at a little sushi restaurant that Pres. Rasmussen likes.  It has these conveyer belts going around with a variety of sushis and you just take the ones you want.  You can also special order something that you don't see going by at the moment.  The special orders come out on an express delivery.

When you're finished, you ring a bell and the server comes and counts your plates to determine your price.  Good thing the Japanese are very honest.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 2014 - Moving in

We have been staying in the "GA" room at the mission home.  President and Sister Rasmussen have been away most of the week with zone conferences.

The entrance for the mission home is on the right.  The office is to the left.  Our apartment is the building behind the courtyard, just a short walk around the corner.  We are on the second floor.

We were able to get the key to the apartment and we had to do some shopping.  We got some curtains and rugs to cover the tatami mats.  The rooms are measured by how many tatami mats fit in it.  Our rooms are the six-tatami mat size. (A mat is about 3' x 6')

Alan is tacking down the rugs.

We also had to do some grocery shopping.  The Noonchesters went down to Tokyo for a few days to visit their daughter and her family and to see their new granddaughter.  So, we went by ourselves to the store.  (They had taken us once before, so we knew where to go.)  Still, it takes more concentration to remember to drive on the left side and to turn on the blinkers on the right hand side of the steering wheel, instead of turning on the window wipers!

This is the parking lot of the grocery store.

Facing the opposite direction, you can see some of the hills around here.

Facing out to the road, you can see a rice paddy.  These are all over the place wherever there's a spot of land to plant them.

And, similar to Kazakhstan, backing into the parking places is the preferred way.

It is a very clean, modern store.  They have a huge Asian section!  And it's harder than shopping with Russian labels because we only know one or two of the alphabets that they use.  The Chinese characters are way over our head.  Plus, there is so much more variety of foods than in Kazakhstan.

But we managed pretty well and everything we bought turned out to be what we expected it to be when we opened it!

So we were able to sleep here on Saturday night.  We borrowed futons from the mission home.  We will get a bed after all the moving in and out that's happening around here.

Saturday and Sunday was our stake conference.  On Saturday they had several young people, including Primary age tell some of their experiences sharing the gospel.  Also, some returned missionaries and some currently serving.

On Sunday, part of the conference was a broadcast from SLC.  The speakers were Elder William Walker, Sister Oscarson, Bishop Stevenson and Elder Christofferson.  Elder Walker and Bishop Stevenson both spoke in Japanese.  The talks were very good and it was fun to see many of the people that we've already met since we got here.  

We were especially surprised when we met some people in the English room and they asked us if we knew Becki Wright.  Well, yes, I do!  She's my sister!  It turns out that the Chapmans had grown up in the same neighborhood with the Wrights in Sandy, Utah.  You just never know when you're going to meet someone who knows someone you know!

Jared and Camille Chapman who are living in Sendai now.

Here is the view from our apartment the other direction.

There are some nice hills nearby.  We can walk up to a park.  The Rasmussens call it their Sacred Grove.

This is a new laundry that has been under construction.  It has large machines so you can wash blankets, etc.  Their grand opening is noted by the flower displays.