Sunday, March 29, 2015

Closing Apartments. Odate, Hirosaki, Furukawa

We are happy to report that spring is on its way to Sendai!  We have seen one tree in blossom, but most are not yet.  We hear that the trees have blossomed south of here.

On Monday, we traveled to Odate and Hirosaki to close down the apartments and deliver some bikes to Aomori.  It was like going back in time....

to Winter!  Around Sendai, the farmers are getting their fields ready for planting, but up north, the fields are still covered in snow.

This was the Sister's apartment in Odate.  We had a storage place to put the furniture, etc so it was a fairly easy job.  (Only 6 trips back and forth.)

The elders had prepared well for the move and helped put everything away well.  The best things ended up going into their apartment!

We had to cross a train track going to the other apartment.  There is also a crossing guard rail for the pedestrians.  It made us stop even before the train got into the station.

There is the little train depot.  Just a little open air stop here.

Only two cars on this train.  

Then we went on to Hirosaki.  First, we decided to have lunch at "Pepe's Kitchen."  We had heard it was the best hamburger you can get in Japan.

Do I look happy or what?  They even played oldies (US) on the radio.  Kind of reminded me of the Hukilau Cafe in Laie.

The Hirosaki elder's apartment had been used for a long time.  Mostly by elders.  It was a big apartment and it was full of old clothes, old bedding and other stuff.  It took probably 10 van loads to get everything moved out.  Some of it went to the "trash incinerator" place (dump).  Alan said the dump was really neat.  He'll take me there sometime to take photos to share!

Looked pretty good when we got it emptied out.  This one wore us out.  Lots of the stuff ended up in the parking garage at the church.  The ward members will take care of it from there.  The elders moved into the sister's apartment since there are no sisters there now.

Then we drove up to Aomori to give the sisters a bike, and then back to Hirosaki for the night.  Good thing we were tired!

It had snowed in the night, so it slowed us down a little, but we were on our way again.  We had planned to stop in Hachinohe, but decided to skip that due to the snow storm.  So, we went on to Morioka to check on the Sister's apartment there.

This apartment is in really good shape.  We didn't feel like we could handle moving all this stuff because it is all worth keeping.  Here's hoping we get some more sisters (or a couple) soon!  In the mean time, there are some conferences coming up, so it can be used for that.

The next place that needed an apartment closed was in Furukawa.

The senior couple that was here has gone home.  The elders that live nearby had moved most everything to the storage at the church by the time we got there.  We were able to get everything put away and ready to close this one.  We brought the washer and dryer back to Sendai to take to another apartment (Elder A and Elder T took it to Yonezawa on Friday).

We made it back to the office late Tuesday afternoon.  The missionaries from Nagamachi were getting started on their ipad training.  One of the elders asked me if we were sick.  Well,,, no, but we've been working kind of hard.  Nice of you to ask though!  We did look pretty beat up!

We had missed the family home evening on Monday.  They were able to show "Meet the Mormons".  But we did make it to Eikaiwa on Wednesday.

We played "Do You Love Your Neighbor?"  It was fun.  We only have two (young) native English speakers now.

At church today, we had an emergency drill.  We all practiced evacuation routes.  And learned how to use a fire extinguisher.

Coming up in the next few weeks, the Smith's are delivering the ipads to all the different areas and getting started on the training for that.  Exciting times!

And here are our three girls (and two of our little angels) with three of my sister's girls at a bridal shower this weekend.  How fun that they were able to get together!

And a special shout out to my sister Portia and her husband Rob on their calling to the Argentina Cordoba Temple Mission!  ¡Felicidades!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

WOW! What a Week! Transfer Week; Mission Conference

Wednesday was Sister A's last time at Eikaiwa.  The children had a karate class to go to, but they came by first to tell her goodbye!

We had several new people come this week.

Since we had so many missionaries going home this week, President Smith started with some of the interviews on Wednesday.  The rest came in on Thursday.

And we sent another senior couple home also.

Friday morning, we started the runs to the airport and the train eki.  All I could think is "Wow!" when I looked at this group!

We got to take this group to the airport.

Then Alan drove these missionaries to the eki.

In this group, we sent missionaries home to Utah, Australia, Colorado, California and Japan.  23 counting our senior couple!

And we had three that were picked up by their parents.

It was such a sweet experience.  These missionaries will be missed!

But we did get some treats from Costco!

One of our elders and his father went out to do some missionary work.  He called us shortly after he left to give us a phone number.  They found a woman who wanted to come to church on Sunday!

During the day, training was going on for the new trainers and leaders because later that evening, we were headed back to the airport to meet our new missionaries!

They were tired from their long travel, but happy to be here.  We love them already!  Eleven new elders and one new sister.

Normally, we have orientation for the incoming missionaries the morning after they arrive.  This time, we had a special mission conference at the Kamisugi Stake Center.  So everyone went there instead.  There was a big group of elders waiting at the bus stop when we left the mission home.

The Japan Sendai Missionaries

The new missionaries met their trainers just before the meeting.  Those being transferred were going to their new areas at the end of the meeting.

We were asked to help drive Elder Evans and his party from their hotel to the stake center.  We had Elder and Sister Aoyagi with us and the Evans' and their translator and Brother and Sister Randall rode with President and Sister Smith.

We had figured out that Alan and Elder Evans were serving in the Japan Mission around the same time, so we asked Heather to look in his mission book and figure out if there was an Elder Evans with her dad.  She found out that they were together in Kofu.  Elder Evans was the district leader with Elder Cheketts and Alan and Elder Clark were together.

We met at the hotel and Alan introduced himself, drove to the church and the meeting started.  The first thing Elder Evans did is show this photo.  This was taken prior to the baptism of two Japanese people in Kofu.  The missionaries are E. Checketts, Evans, Clark and Anderson.

Elder Evans has lived and served in Japan for many years.  He knew where all the other elders in this picture were except Alan.  That he was able to pull this photo out so quickly to share was amazing!

Then he talked about how the sons of Mosiah met each other after 14 years.  And now 44 years had passed without these two missionaries seeing each other!  It was a tender mercy indeed.

Our so called "Ipad Training" meeting was really misnamed.  We were taught by Elder Aoyagi (by assignment from Elder Nelson) and by Elder Evans about spiritual preparation.  Brother Randall from the missionary department spoke about how the distribution will be handled.

Notes from Elder Aoyagi:  The digital devices are just another tool.  The 3 reasons / purposes are 1 - To find and gather the family of Israel; 2 - Seal families in the temples; 3 - Prepare for the 2nd Coming.  Do not focus on the device, focus on the Purposes.

To be prepared and to be protected from the evils that can be accessed with devices. (Immunized against evil).  Not totally quarantined, because the devices can be useful tools.

To develop good habits concerning use of devices.  To follow Christ and avoid temptation as returned missionaries.  A comparison was made between an automobile and how it can be dangerous if you have an accident, but if you use safety precautions, the damage is less severe.

The best "filter" is the Spirit of Christ.

Notes from Elder Evans:  30 missions have been testing the use of devices.  28 missions in the US and the two Tokyo missions.

It is not a matter of "Missionary Work in the Digital Age" it is a matter of "Saving A Generation" from the evils so prevalent in the world.

The Sons of Mosiah were all injured, but none were killed.  Almost all of our young people will encounter pornography at some time.

Elder Evans said that he does not like the term "addiction".  It is really all about choices and using the enabling and redemptive power of the atonement to overcome any issue.

Use technology worthily.  Obey the rules.  Choose to feel the Spirit of the Lord and have joy.

There will be three phases to implement:  1 - Learning & Teaching; 2 - Planning; 3 - On Line Proselyting

Notes from Brother Randall:  The most effective teaching is done person to person.  Fulfill the purposes of the Work of Salvation; Develop righteous habits; Improve learning and teaching

Filters:  1 - Personal Testimony and Righteousness; 2 - Holy Ghost; 3 - Mission Rules; 4 - Technology; 5 - Auditing and Reporting  (ipads are specially configured)

Summary:  It is about consecration and discipleship;  The Family is the most important thing.  Promise to be faithful.  When you meet your old companion in 44 years, you will be thankful to know that you are both still faithful.

We're thankful we were able to participate in this event.  And that all the missionaries made it to their destinations safely!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ipads, Sendai Castle Site, Farewell

We received a shipment of ipads for the missionaries on Monday.  There's about 125 of them!  These ipads will be owned by the church, so the missionaries will use them while on their missions, but will not take them home with them.  We will have more information next week about all this.

Wednesday was the fourth anniversary of the Sendai Tsunami back in 2011.  We happened to be at the driver's license place that afternoon.  They asked everyone to stop what they were doing (waiting) and stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives that day.

BTW, Elder B. failed the driver's test for some odd reason, but we did meet some nice people from Mexico and Nigeria and Alabama!  Maybe next time!

We have been trying to find a good time to get our hair cut in between lots of other things, and we finally decided to go on Wednesday before Eikaiwa.  This is what we found when we got there:

With a little bit of peer pressure:

Anyway, we got our hair cut without an audience and then on to Eikaiwa.

Transfers is next week, so we have been planning for that.  It will be extra complicated this time because there will be a mission conference on Saturday (ipad training), so everyone needs to be in Sendai and have a place to sleep and transportation!  It's going to be fun!

It is always great to participate in the planning for transfers and to recognize the Lord's hand in these decisions.  One of our elders was having problems and almost ready to quit and go home, but with his new assignment, for the first time he said he's excited!

On Saturday morning, we drove out to Ishinomaki and Tagajo to switch out some bikes.  Then we went to the Sendai Castle Site.  (The castle was destroyed during WWII).  We thought there was supposed to be a festival there, but the big celebration must have been on Sunday.

This is what it used to look like.

A little bit breezy!

And we met some nice people here too:

One of these ladies spoke pretty good English.  Her daughter lives in NYC!

After church on Sunday, we had a little farewell party for these two who are going home.

Complete with musical numbers

And tako yaki!  We brought some chili and corn chips.  Our Japanese (and American) friends liked that.  Another of our elders is being transferred, so we will have three new missionaries next week.

Sunday night, we went to the stake center for a fireside broadcast from Tokyo.  Elders Nelson and Evans and their wives spoke.  It was very nice.  Sister Nelson spoke about being "Covenant People" and Elder Nelson said we should be prepared with a short response when people ask us questions about different topics such as:

Heavenly Beings
The Godhead
"If you will obey His commandments, He will pay for your sins"
The Church
The Scriptures
Marriage and Family
Religion in our Lives
Plan of Salvation
Women in the Church
Humanitarian Work
"Going hungry to help the hungry is sharing the burden in the Lord's way"
Unpaid clergy

He left an apostolic blessing for Japan to feast on the scriptures, have love at home, healing for the sick and afflicted, to be an example of believers and focus on the temple.

One more thing:

All our Arizona kiddos got together for an outing at the zoo this week.  Like Seth says "nobody look at the camera!"