Sunday, May 31, 2015

Family Home Evening, Tsuruoka, Stake Conference

Monday was Family Home Evening again.  We had a smaller turn out this time, but it was nice.

Our Nagamachi sisters sang the musical number.  It is a beautiful song that was written after the tsunami.

We divided up the puzzles and the people and let them go at it.

We tried to discuss the fact that it helps to know your goal and to see the "big picture" and relate that to making decisions in our lives.  It was challenging because they were really enjoying doing the puzzles!  (Locked on target!)

It has been a pretty busy week with bike repairs, and some changes at the office.

Good bye old printer!

The delivery men brought in some floor protection for the moving in and out.

The new printer is quite a bit smaller.

Happily, the control screen is in English!

The children at Eikaiwa enjoyed the puzzles too!

On our way to English on Thursday, we spotted this egret wading in the rice fields.

The real fun came on Friday when the Tsuruoka elders moved into a new apartment.

It is good that this van is big.  We made a few trips back and forth, but it would have been more trips with the old van.  

I think they'll be very comfortable here!

This rice field is near the elder's new apartment.

We found these starts for the rice plants.  It is started in a green house and then it is like a big sheet of sod.  They have a planting machine that breaks it up into smaller pieces to plant the field.

A closer look revealed hundreds of tadpoles (or pollywogs if you're from Spanish Fork).  Now we know why the egrets like to hang out in the rice paddies!

Then, on Saturday morning, there was a huge service project in Sendai.  I have borrowed this photo from President Smith.

Many of our missionaries attended to help plant trees in the tsunami zone.  About 5000 people came from all over Japan to help.  We missed out on this one, but we saw lots of sunburned faces at Stake Conference this weekend!  It's always so nice to see those yellow shirts at work!

At the Saturday session, the theme was about ward councils.  Sunday's messages focused on keeping the Sabbath day holy.

We recently discovered that Elder Hamilton is a grandson of my mother's friend Carol Sorensen from when we lived in Glendale and Tempe.  Elder B and Elder H have been assigned to the Nagamachi area, so we get to see quite a lot of them.  Elder H's mother posted a photo of her mother for Mother's Day and it kept nagging at me to ask what her name was!  I remember Sister Sorensen being involved with Primary all the years I was growing up.  What a fun thing to make connections over the miles and over the years!

Our Bryan made a new friend this week too!  They were at a Comic Convention in Phoenix.  When I showed Elder H, he said he worked at the convention every year!

We were sorry to hear of Elder Perry's passing.

We lived in Logan 9th Ward with the Perrys when I was a child.  We have always enjoyed his messages.  My brother was able to meet Elder Perry a few years ago at a stake conference.  He reminded him that we had been in the same ward back in the 1950s.  Elder Perry said "Oh yes, I remember Foster Allen.  I was Foster's counselor when he was the Ward Young Men's President"!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zone Conference, Yamadera

We had our Zone Conferences this week.  We attended with the Sendai Zone at the Kamisugi Chapel.  There were two other conferences this week, in Koriyama and Yamagata.  Next week will be conferences in Morioka and Aomori.

This is our new mission banner.  The scripture is 2 Nephi 16:8  "Here am I, send me!"

President and Sister Smith's messages were based on a talk by Bishop Causse at the Mission President Seminar last year, "The Consecrated Missionary."

We discussed the differences between being a good and honorable missionary and being a consecrated missionary.  It's fun to see the notes in both languages.

After lunch, we sang "Happy Birthday" to the April, May, and June birthday elders and sister.

On our way out to Kakuda on Thursday, we could tell that the rice is really growing.  The field is turning green!

We have been having beautiful weather.  But, we can tell that it's warming up.  So, on Saturday, we decided to go to Yamadera before it gets too warm.  This is an amazing place that dates way way back to 860 AD.  The main temple is said to date back to 1356!  It is built on a steep hillside.  There are several different shrines.  And to get there, they have 1000 stone steps!

You have to start somewhere!  We rode the train from Sendai.  It took about an hour (not a bullet train).  It was a five minute walk from the train station before you start climbing stairs.

This is a wood carving buddah.  You can see where everyone has rubbed him for good luck.

Some art along the path

There are several little shops selling hats and walking sticks, etc.

Quite a few children made it too.  Nothing to it!

More steps!  I was starting to wonder if this was such a great idea.

Lots of carvings on the way too

Almost half way!

The cedar trees are amazing

Coins have been left in the rocks here.  Mostly 1 and 5 yen pieces.

The guards at the gateway

At about 800 steps, there is a mail box??

Finally!  The highest place.

The bell tower

The valley below is beautiful!

Wait!  There's more!  I think a family lives here.

There's another place if you go the other direction.  And take a crazy ladder bridge.

And just a few more steps up to the viewpoint.

The little town and the train station.

It was worth it!

On our way down, the Black Cat delivery guy was on his way up to the shop or house with a package in his back pack!

We also saw a little bent over woman making her way up the steps.  The man with her said to us (in English!)  "My Grandmother is very strong!"  No kidding!

A view from the bottom looking back up.

When we got back to Sendai, we stopped at a Ramen Shop the elders had told us about.  This is how you order.  You put some money in and push the button for what you want.  You get little coupon tickets which you take inside and they ask you what kind of noodles you want, and hand you your bowl of ramen.  Only catch is, you have to be able to read the konjis.  Alan knew meat and vegetable.  So he got meat and I got vegetable, thinking that would be the healthier choice.

My vegetables were all fried up into a birds nest

No chairs here, you stand up and slurp away!

The kitchen door was propped open because it was warm inside.

We needed to find some puzzles for an activity.  We found the Toys R Us store.  Here's the Transformer section:

But we couldn't find any coloring books!

Meanwhile, some of the fun we're missing back at home:

Our Michael finished middle school.  Going into high school!  Plus a Happy Birthday!

Little Brother Daniel had his first piano recital!

Our Perry finished Kindergarten!  Ready for First Grade!

Abigail is also finished with Kindergarten and going into First Grade.

And her baby sister, Paisley, is getting into trouble!