Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ishinomaki / Nebuta / Aomori Zone Conference / Misawa / Tagajo

Another busy week has come and gone!  On Tuesday, we made another run to Ishinomaki to take care of some bicycle issues.  It's only an hour or so from Sendai.

We saw some kids playing soccer after school.  We are beginning to see a few signs that spring is coming our way.  We'll see.

The big road trip was on Wednesday.  None of the assistants have a driver's license at this time, so President Smith asked Elder A to drive.  (I think he hit a bump when we took this photo!)  We also had a couple of bike issues to take care of, so we crammed a couple of bikes in the back of the van and took off for Aomori.  It's about 4 or 5 hours north of Sendai.

This is the Aomori chapel.  No one was there yet, so we took a few minutes to look around town.  One of our elders had served in Aomori for a couple of transfers, so he knew what to look for.

One thing we found without looking very hard is snow!  It is piled up all over the place!

This man was taking some of his snow and spreading it around in the street to get rid of it.  It looks like he's done a good job of it because most of his snow is gone, but most people still have mounds of it.  I asked one of the elders if the city tries to get rid of some of the snow and he said they are hauling it off all the time, but they just can't keep up to it.  

It was difficult to see around corners and to exit a parking lot.  And, some of the roads were only one lane wide in places!  Plus, they told us it is about half what it was a month ago!

This is a bridge out at the harbor.  Aomori is right on the northern coast in a bay.

We went into this museum right by the ocean.  It is called Nebuta.

Here we are!

Every summer they have this huge festival.  They have about 20 floats like this.  They are made of paper and wire with lights inside.  (There is a generator underneath somehow to power the lights.)  The paper is held on to the wires with wax and then it is hand painted.  By obviously talented artists!  They work on the floats for many months in preparation for the festival.  The floats are on wheels and it takes 20 men to pull and push them through the town.  The red and white board at the bottom is where they walk and push the float.  Ten men in the front and ten in the back.

They are 9 meters wide, 7 meters long and 5 meters high and weigh 4 tons.

Some big drums that are part of the festival.

This is a huge foot showing the wire and paper construction.

All of these will be burned and destroyed before the next year's parade.  Then the best five of the new ones will be on display here for a year.  There were photos of the parade going back many years.

The museum lady wanted to take our photos, so we returned the favor and took hers too!

These were really fabulous!

This is the parking garage at the hotel where we stayed.  The circle on the ground rotated the car since there's very little room to make a turn.  Then it went up in an elevator somewhere.  The next morning when it came down, it had been turned around so it was facing forward.

The view from our hotel room (13th floor - no superstitions here).  The white patch on the mountain is a ski resort.  At night, it was lit up for night skiing.

The shore line is just beyond the buildings.

We left in the morning and drove to Misawa to trade out some bikes.  The weather was a little bit worse than predicted, so our, three-hour tour turned out to take a little longer than that.

But it was very beautiful country.  If a person had time and some camera skillls, some beautiful sights could be captured.

We made it back in time for the last half of zone conference.  This is the missionaries from Hachinohe District doing a musical number.

And a lesson on bicycle safety.

And, we got to watch "Meet the Mormons"!  It was great.  And we were so happy to see some of our missionaries who have been transferred up north!

At the end of the meeting, President Smith asked those who will be going home in the next two transfers to bear their testimonies.  There was over 10 missionaries.  What fine young people!  They will do much good as they return home and start the next phase of their lives.

Since we were on the road, we missed the Tagajo and the Kakuda English groups this week.  And we had to do a little catching up when we were back at the office.

Sunday was Sister Shitami's last time to go to church at Tagajo.  They held a "Linger Longer" potluck after church.  We invited the Smith's to come if they could.  They did come and the bishop was so glad to see them, he let them speak in Sacrament Meeting!

And a Happy Birthday to our family's February Birthdays:

Sunny and Chelsea Grace both are February babies

And our William (the day he was born, everyone in the hospital was excited to watch the USA beat USSR in hockey at the Olympics!)

Here's Perry, between his cousins Zackary and Zyon

And, President Smith had a birthday this month too!

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