Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mount Zao

On Monday, my visiting teachers came to visit us (myself and Sister Smith).  We had a very nice discussion about Christ as the Bread of Life.  It's very interesting to hear the perspective of our sisters who were raised as Buddists.  They knew about God, but did not know Jesus Christ.  It made me realize how much we take for granted from growing up in the gospel.  But how sweet to hear the testimonies of those who have come to know the Savior.

Monday afternoon we had to go to the main train station in Sendai to exchange some train tickets for Pres and Sis Smith.  It was quite the place.  They had about 8 windows open helping people with tickets.

The Japanese people are very organized and patient about waiting in lines.  No pushing or shoving here.

They started putting the house together this week.  We've been watching the progress for several months.  This week they really got busy.  They had the first floor finished by Tuesday.

The walls are lifted by the crane into place.  They already have the windows and doors installed.  It took eight pieces for the exterior walls.  They then installed the pre-fab interior pieces and then second story floor was put in place.  The floor had about eight pieces also.  Just had to put them together.

They had to take a day off on Wednesday because it rained all day.  But by Thursday evening, they were starting to put the roof on.

The third floor is slanted.  The black marks are the different sections.  The outside should be done this next week.

No children came to our English group this week.  And we had to leave a bit early to pick up the Smith's from the train station.

On Thursday we made it back out to Kakuda to the Wal-bro factory.  One of my students gave me a Halloween gift.

On Saturday we woke up to a beautiful sunshiny day.  We decided to go visit Mount Zao.  It is an "active" volcano.  Luckily, it was not active the day we showed up.  But it is the highest point in the northern part of Japan.  We were above the clouds.

It was a very windy road coming up, but very beautiful.  This view is looking towards east.

There is a lake inside the crater.  My DH tells me this was in one of the old James Bond movies.  "You Only Live Twice"  This was the volcano lake that had a retractable roof.

There were lots of people out enjoying the beautiful day.

There were some serious hikers prepared for a long hike.

There is a little shrine up on one side of the area.

Gives a different perspective.

This is the view towards west.  I think you can see the Sea of Japan from here.  But it is hard to tell.

And a bear warning.  Just in case.

This is looking back at the little shrine.  We did a little bit of hiking.

Then we took a ride down the hill.

And back up.  There's a parking lot down there and a little gift shop.

After a couple of hours, we started back down the mountain.  We had passed some beautiful fall colors on the trees so I tried to get a few photos from the car.  But it doesn't do it justice.

The hills out this side were beautiful.  We just don't get it like this in Tucson.

We were looking for our friend's famly restaurant and came upon this little farmer's market.  With a real Japanese farmer with overalls and a cowboy hat.  Too cute.

We also found a "Cheese Cabin".  A little place the tour busses stop.  We were hoping to find some cheese.  But they mostly had cream cheese in lots of different flavors to try on saltine crackers.  They did have some pretty good ice cream though.  Not quite like the Cache Valley cheese factories we're used to.

On Sunday we had a big group of YM and YW come from all over the place to meet in Tagajo.  I think it's about triple our usual attendance.  They sang a musical number and several of the youth spoke.  We saw our friends Sis Chapman and her daughter.  The boy that said the closing prayer said he was glad he could come on the bullet train!  And the Tagajo sisters made lunch!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sports Day / Bar B Q / Ishinomaki Concert

Monday October 13 was a holiday here.  Besides being Columbus Day in the US, it was Sports Day in Japan.  We're not exactly sure what that means, other than that the mail was not delivered, but they did have a lunch in Tagajo for the Relief Society.

We had our staff meeting an hour earlier than usual, then we headed off to Tagajo for lunch.

The sisters were busy helping in the kitchen.

And out of the kitchen.

Sister L has great chop stick skills!

We had noodles, salad, yogurt and about 5 kinds of tempura.  Vegetables and chicken and shrimp!  The Tagajo sisters really know how to do lunch!

It started raining in the afternoon.  There were warnings about a huge typhoon heading towards Japan.  It rained all night, but by Tuesday morning, it was clear and beautiful.  We wondered if it was just because we were between storms, but it stayed nice the rest of the week.  We have dodged another storm.

President Smith did interviews of the office staff plus the elders that live upstairs.  Which means, we got cookies from Sister Smith!

On Wednesday, we had our English class at Tagajo.  We had a pretty good turn out again.  Sister I and I had the children's class.  Afterwards, we played a game with Halloween characters as the theme.

Thursday was an interesting day.  We normally go out to the Wal-bro factory in Kakuda for English on Thursday afternoon.  But Sister Sakamoto had asked for help from the missionaries to help her harvest her garden and she wanted to feed us too.  We were afraid it would cause a conflict, but decided to go to her house anyway, even if just for a little while.  But, we received a phone call telling us that they needed to cancel on us!  We were so happy for that little tender mercy.

So we helped Sister Sakamoto harvest the rest of her corn, and her sweet potatoes.

Meanwhile, Sister S started the fire for her outside kitchen.

And she put everyone to work chopping vegetables.

And making pizzas.

And soup.

And dutch oven chicken

And Brother Sakamoto came home with boxes of seafood.  The freshest scallops and oysters you'll ever want.

And roasted sweet potatoes.

I think we worked for about 20 minutes, then we cooked and ate for a couple of hours!

When we got back to the office, everyone said we smelled like we'd been camping.  But it was worth it.

We learned another new trick this week.  Someone sent Sister Shitami a 30 kilo bag of rice.  It needed to be husked so it can be cooked.  We found out that there's a milling machine in the parking lot of the place we like to go for vegetables.  It's kind of a farmer's market outside a restaurant supply store that has some American foods too.

We call this the Green Market because the sign is green and we have no clue what its real name is.  The farmer's market is just outside in the front.

The rice mill is in the parking lot.  You pour the rice in, and it processes it and sends out the polished rice.  We didn't know what the little building was for.  It kind of looks like an little ATM place.  It only cost 300 yen to process the whole bag (about $3.00).

On Saturday, we went to a little town called Ishinomaki.  It is on the coast and was hit hard with the tsunami.  The church helped re-establish the fishing industry here.  They held a concert here on Saturday.  Some women from Tokyo came and performed.  They are all very well trained musicians and members of the church that go around Japan doing performances.

They started out with "Ave Maria"

And did some show tunes (My Fair Lady), some traditional Japanese music and a few children's songs.  The pianist was extraordinary.

Then they brought some of us onto the stage with an old Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66 song that reminds me of "Empanadas".  I made Sister S go up with me.  Then they sang some Japanese song, so I just smiled sweetly until they let us go.

Elder L was very helpful to carry the flowers and pink suitcases for them.

At the end of the concert, our Stake President asked everyone to come up onto the stage for a group photo.  Someone is trying to get photos from missions all over the world with people holding Book of Mormons.  (See The Book of Mormon Project on FB)  If I get a copy of the photo, I'll pass it on.

So, we had some beautiful music and a good time with our member and missionary friends.

And I thought we'd have a boring time just going to the office every day!

Sunday morning, we got word that our Daniel has broken his arm again (!)  He was at his brother Michael's Eagle project and fell on the same one he broke before.  Poor Dano!  And two eagle projects for his two brothers in the same year!

And Heather's little Paisley Grace got a bump on the head this week too.  Be careful out there!