Sunday, August 24, 2014

Transfer Week (again); Ward Activity; Aizu Castle

It was transfer week again.  Those six weeks went by pretty quickly!  We all went to the airport on Tuesday evening to pick up five elders.  They had survived that long trip from Provo to Sendai.

Here they are with their trainers and President and Sister Smith

The next morning, they were all a bit more rested and alert.

This photo includes the assistants.  One is headed to a new assignment, so for this day, there are three.

After these elders completed their training, they were off to their areas. 

On our way to Tagajo for English, we stopped at the train station in Sendai to learn how the "Bullet Train" schedule works.  The Smiths are considering using that as a transportation option.  There was a display at the station of some photos about the areas hit hard by the tsunami in 2011.

The upper photo is before the earthquake and tsunami.  The photo below was taken either in 2013 or 2014 showing that they are making progress with the rebuilding, but there is still much to be done.

By the time we got to Tagajo for English, we had three missionaries that had gone on to new areas, and three newly assigned to Tagajo.  As I met our new elder and found out that he is from Las Vegas, I told him that one of our newest elders is also from Las Vegas.  He said, "Yeah, I know.  He's my best friend and has been living at my house with my parents since I went into the MTC."  They are happy to be in the same mission and look forward to crossing paths one of these days!

We had eight children in our class this time.  They are very quiet, but they like to do "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"!

The next day, there was training for those with new assignments as District or Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.  On Thursday evening, there was a going home dinner for two elders headed home.  One to Sapporo, the other to Boise.

They were happy and a little nervous to be going home!

On Friday, my visiting teacher, Sister Uchida asked if I could help her student.  He is practicing reciting a presentation for a speech contest (in English).  He is 12 years old and working hard on his English.  The prize is a trip to Honolulu!  Sister Uchida has some picture books in English (!!) that she let me borrow for our Wednesday group.  I love her little class room.  ABCs all over the place!

This is her dog.  She's had to have surgery (Sister Uchida's daughter is a veterinarian) and has to use this "wheel chair" for dogs.

I had never seen one of these before.  They take her around the block for exercise on the front legs at least.

On Saturday, we drove south of Sendai to Aizu.  We passed through the Fukushima Valley that has been widely reported regarding nuclear fallout.  It was a lovely big valley.  We do not have missionaries there now, but they do go in to visit on Sundays.

Aizu Wakamatsu is home to the largest castle in this part of Japan.  Its story is told in the film "The Last Samarai".  It rained like crazy on our way down, so we were very happy that it cleared up.  It was warm and humid, but the sky was beautiful.

It has a very impressive moat and surrounding wall.

During a big battle, the castle was under seige for a month by invaders.  Finally, the leaders decided to surrender.  One of the soldiers was actually a young lady who was called a "tom boy".  Her brother had taught her to shoot and fight.  (Kind of like Mulan).  She became a Christian and adopted a western lifestyle.

Alan showed this young lady the proper way to hold a weapon.

They would only allow photography on some of the levels.  So I couldn't get photos of the awesome armor and helmets, but they still had some interesting things to see.

And we got to see some nice views from the upper levels.

On our way through the exit, we were all given bags to carry our shoes in.

These costumes were in the film "The Last Samarai"

Everyone was given the chance to try to shoot the invaders.

This girl gave a dramatic telling of the story.

As she told the story, she pulled the pictures out of the frame to change the scene.

This is the construction of the wall.  They have a bamboo grid inside a frame, wrapped with ropes, then layered with mud and wood.  It makes a thick wall.

This shrine is on the property.

Guarded by rock dogs.  I think they put bonnets on to protect them from the elements.  Or just to look cute.

Then we took the missionaries shopping at a second hand store.  While they were looking at vacuums and irons, I wandered around and found some Star Wars figures.

And an antique baby carriage.

We stopped to eat at Denny's.  I was hoping that maybe it would be kind of like American Denny's, but not so much.  We also have Bob's Big Boy here and Coco's.  They do Japanese food better than American food.  For American, you might as well stick with McDonald's.

This was a neat entrance to a tunnel on our way home.

Can you see the swans now?

We actually did see a dead animal on the side of the road this time.  It looked like a big muskrat or racoon or beaver or something.  So there really are animals out there to watch for.

We barely made it back in time for our Ward Activity.  The game was to be blind folded, and hit the watermelon.  They actually switched out the watermelon for a balloon.

One spin around, and you're lost already.

And everyone gives you lots of advice.

Isn't Miyu san cute!

Cotton Candy

Fishing for water balloons.  There's some water inside the balloons to give them a little bit of weight.  The hooks you get to catch the loop on the rubber band on the balloons is attached to a piece of paper that's been twisted up.  The trick is to catch the loop before your paper disintegrates and cannot hold the weight of the balloon.

And sparklers!

Then the Fire Dancing (without the fire)  The other photo didn't work out so well.

When the missionaries saw these little boys, they asked "Is there a new Disney movie about Airplanes?"  Well, kind of new I guess.

And for our fun food item...... I thought I had finally found brown bread!  It looked like a wheat sub roll.  When I opened it up at home, it had creamy filling like a Twinkie.  It tasted pretty good, but, not quite what we expected.

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