Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25, 2015

We had a small group at Eikaiwa again this week.  We have had a couple of very windy days.  We have a little bit of snow showers every few days, but nothing too nasty.

They enjoyed a game of "Red Light; Green Light"

On Thursday, we went to the Walbro factory for our English group.  They are scheduled to have an exam next week to see how well they're progressing.  We prepared some sample tests for them.  We'd read a short paragraph and then have them choose the best response.  It was a little bit challenging for them!

Best of all, Thursday evening we were able to go to the airport to pick up a returning elder.  His flight was delayed a day due to bad weather.  We're glad he made it safely!

Some news from back home:

Our grandson, Jacob, has his driver's permit!  I wonder how he'd do on a Japanese driving test?

Will & Sandy's kids had fun practicing with their chopsticks!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aloha Sendai!

We've been looking forward to this week for quite a while.  President and Sister Smith's friend Lono Ikuwa and his mother have been planning a trip to Japan and offered to make a stop in Sendai and share their talents.  We put out the word to the local wards and dance studios to invite people to come for a hula class.

We had about 50 people who had registered to attend.  The missionaries put up a few decorations for some atmosphere.  People started coming in their slacks and boots.  Then when it was time to start, all of a sudden everyone had hula skirts that they pulled on then wiggled out of their slacks and were ready to dance!  Several of them had a set of rocks to hold and click the beats of the dance.  (Hawaiian castanets?)

I even wore my Hawaii dress (gotta represent for my Hawaiian grandbabies!)  We loved these cute little hula girls that came up front and center.

And look at little "Auntie" loving it!

Lono served his mission in Sapporo, so he talked about how important the gospel is to him and how much he has come to love the Japanese people.  And invited everyone to come to English and to listen to the missionaries.

Some of our missionaries had fun too!

Sister Furukawa lived in Hawaii for a few years so she was loving it.

It was great.  We should have hula every week!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 11, 2015

Not a lot of news this week.  Either we're getting used to Japan or it was just a more "normalna" week (as our Russian speaking friends would say).

We did have Mission Leadership Council this week.  The sun came out and the wind stopped long enough to get a pretty good photo.

But I really like this one when they were getting ready to pose.  Trying to look like they're not freezing!  President Smith is ready though!

We love our missionaries!

I spent some time with Shitami Shimai who had an appointment at the hospital for a consultation.  Her appointment was at 10:30.  After we waited for a while, she went and asked how long it would be.  "Two hours!"  What?  Why didn't they just tell us to come at 12:30?  Finally they called her name and she went to the nurse's counter.  They gave her a print out of her test results --- and we were done!  So, I was glad I had brought some reading material along.

We went out to Tagajo for Eikaiwa.  It was such a windy night that only three people came for English practice.  I don't blame them, I would have stayed home too!  So, we went to the store and got some treats for the missionaries and then went home.  (Slowly, so the wind didn't blow us off the road!)

Thursday was our first time back to Kakuda since the first of the year.  It was nice to see our friends again.  They have to have a proficiency test in a couple of weeks to see if they're making enough progress to warrant the time away from their regular work.  They're supposed to show an improvement of at least 10%.  We'll see.  My group talked about weather terms.  Like being "snowed under"  or "under the weather"  "raining cats and dogs".  I'm not sure if any of that's going to be on their test though!

This is the New Year's flower arrangement at the factory.

One of the students explained that there are "good luck" symbols on it for the coming year.  He said cranes and turtle are good luck.  There are three cranes among the flowers.  It has pine boughs to symbolize growth and good luck.

We're going to have refreshments for the next Family Home Evening.  When we were at the market the other day, we saw this big bag of 8 carrots for only 300 Y.  So we thought we could make carrot cake.  Did I mention that these are BIG carrots?

We put one by a good size apple and a Book of Mormon to give you an idea.  We may be eating carrots for a while.  We used one for dinner and still had half of it left for the cake.

At church today, we had a short sacrament meeting, then a "fireside" before Sunday School.  They introduced the stake and ward goals for 2015.  They are asking us to become more Self-Reliant.  We are supposed to set spiritual, financial, physical health, service, talent, and emergency preparedness goals.  We have a calendar for January to set and check off our progress.

One of our elders spoke in sacrament meeting.  He told about when he was young, he relied on his parent's testimony, but now that he's served his mission, he has his own testimony and can be self-reliant in that aspect.  His parents have sent him some money, but he has tried to not spend that so he can use it when he goes home and needs it then.

There was a "coming of age" celebration held today in Sendai.  It is for the young people who turned 20 last year.  We thought it was going to be on Monday, but we did have one sister who is close enough to go.  We will have to get a photo from her to share next time.  We did see a young lady on the street dressed in her winter kimono and heading to the celebration.  Sorry we didn't get a photo of her.

President Smith has asked us all to read the Book of Mormon starting with 3rd Nephi and mark all the references to the Savior.

And, for good measure, a photo shared from home.

Our Chelsea and Lamar starting the year right at the Gila Valley Temple.  Love you!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

For New Year's Eve, the missionaries were asked to deep clean their apartments.  New Years is a bigger holiday here than Christmas and is spent with families.  This gives the missionaries a great opportunity to spend more time cleaning than they usually have time for.

So, first we headed south to Yamagata to pick up some extra bedding from the sisters down there.  Now that we're losing so many sisters, there are extra supplies in some places that could be used elsewhere.

In the fall, these mountains were so beautifully colored.  Now they're blanketed in white snow.

It was pretty slippery hauling stuff to the van.

Happy New Year! from the Yamagata Sisters.

Next stop was Ichinoseki, then Furukawa, Izumi, and Kitakami.

They can't believe that Elder Anderson made it all fit!  And check out that Aggie sweatshirt!  When we dropped off the bedding, one of the elders says "It's white!!!"  Yeah!

We made one more stop in Tagajo.  English was cancelled for NYE, but we swapped out some desks there.

For New Years' Day, we went with the Tagajo missionaries to Shiogama Jinja.  It is the oldest one in Northern Japan (Tohoku).

Here's the place to wash before going up to the jinja.

It is a common tradition for Japanese people to go and visit a shrine on New Year's and make their wishes for the coming year.  The traffic was heavy and some roads were blocked off.

Lots of stairs

You can see the dragon up by the bells

And you can see the ocean from up here!

A Japanese gardens looks lovely in the snow too.

We love these missionaries!

Down on the street, it's like a carnival atmosphere.

Some people called out "Happy New Year" to us.  Also "Bon Jour"

Our next stop was at the Sakamoto's.  They were throwing one of their famous barbeques.  

The fire is getting the pizza oven ready.

And the grill was getting ready for the scallops, and oysters,

And soup, and shrimp (jumbos)

Elder H was not too crazy about his oyster!

But the pizza was awesome.  And the chicken and the hot dogs, etc, etc!

Can you see the palm tree covered with snow?  Great times!

Meanwhile, back in Tucson, it snowed on New Year's Eve!!

Who gets more excited about a couple inches of snow than desert kids!  They had a blast!

And then, my son sends this photo in an email called "Lion in a Tree"

I was thinking  "Are you kidding me?  What were you thinking??"  So the next day, he tells the rest of the story (in 3 words or less).   "My backups".  Will uses as few words as possible!

So I guess that was why he didn't look a bit worried!

On Friday, we went up to the Sendai Castle site.  It is close by here and we pass it all the time.  But, since it was a holiday, entrance was free.  Hard to pass that up.

This is a model of the mountain we drive over & around all the time.  It has a great vantage point for protection of the castle.  Except, in 1945 during the war, it was hit and burned down.  

Date's armor.  He was the head warrior here in the 1600s.

A replica of the main hall.

The famous statue of Date.

A great view of Sendai

You can see the ocean from up here too.