First of all, we were so very happy to hear that they have officially organized a branch in Astana. Now there are two branches in the huge country of Kazakhstan. We can't wait to see how these little groups grow over the next several years.
This week was MLC (Mission Leadership Council). These are the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders plus the Assistants to the President with Pres & Sis Smith. It's so fun to have them around for a little while. And, they needed someone to take their photo!
This week was also a festival called Tanabata. It is a Japanese tradition that goes way back. It is based on a legend of two young sweethearts who are forced to be separated by a river (represented by the Milky Way). One time each year they are able to meet. They send notes to each other attached to bamboo poles.
Anyway, now it's kind of a marketing trick to get everyone downtown to the mall. We stopped by on our way out to Tagajo for English.
But the people do come and many of them dress in traditional clothing and the decorations are beautiful. Here's some of our favorites:
This is our dear little (teeny tiny) friend, Sister Shitami. She is now working with us in the office to help us read and understand the Japanese mail, etc.
These girls were happy to pose for a photo!
It was a very warm, humid day. Lots of places were handing out fans to help us keep cool.
This one is in memory of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima 69 years ago.
Thousands of origami paper cranes.
And traditional Japanese art
Cute family. Is taking a photo when they're posing for someone else like photo bombing?
Some people were wearing the klunky wooden sandals too.
And this dog was also decorated!
At English, the theme was about holidays. And they surprised me with a birthday cake!
Sister Taylor and Sister Smith also surprised me with cake. And nice notes from some missionaries. I had a great birthday! Many nice wishes from friends all over the world!
My DH invited Sister Shitami to help him prepare for his talk in church. Somehow it turned into a Japanese lesson for me! Sister S is as determined to teach me Japanese as she is to learn English. I, on the other hand.... well, I'm starting to think that Russian wasn't so hard after all!
While we were driving around town, we noticed that they have covered this rice field up with a net. Probably to keep the birds away because the rice is beginning to ripen.
And, for our special food item of the week: I got a salad at the market the other day and when I opened it, there was this little pack inside. I was thinking that it was some ramen noodles or something. Then I noticed that these noodle things have eyes! Yikes! I'm glad I noticed before I tossed them into my salad. Sister S told us that they are tiny sardines. She didn't want them either.
Anyone want me to bring some home for you?