Sunday, October 25, 2015

Zone Conferences and a Wedding!

How cute is this?  A little girl helping her mother with the shopping!

Tuesday, we made a quick trip up to Akita to deliver some bikes.  It was raining when we got there, so we dropped them off, waved to our missionaries and headed home.  It was a little bit tiring!

We had a pretty good sized group at Eikaiwa this week.

We went to the Sendai South Zone Conference on Thursday.  The Yamagata sisters did a beautiful job on their musical number.

We sang "Happy Birthday" to the missionaries with birthdays in October through December.

This is a game to say the English phrase in Japanese.  The districts competed against each other.

We were taught by the missionaries and by President and Sister Smith.  Our last zone conference focused on The Plan of Salvation, This time was focused on The Atonement.  I enjoy hearing the messages from our young missionaries.  One of them talked about the enabling power of the atonement.  "We can make excuses, or make results.  If you think you can, or you cannot, you are correct."  Another of our new elders talked about perspective.  He acknowledged that he was just a young man new to Japan, but beyond that, he is an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and is entitled to His guidance.

We had the opportunity to share our testimonies since we will be home when the next zone conferences come around.  As I looked out at them, I realized only two of these missionaries were here in Sendai before we came.  We picked up all the rest at the airport.  Including President and Sister Smith. We sure love them!

On Saturday, we attended the reception for our friend Sister Kaneko and her new husband.  They were married a couple of months ago and her former ward threw this great party for them.

The youth from their ward were busy serving.

And singing.

It was great to see them so happy and having fun!  They're dancing to a music video (in Japanese).  Everyone seemed to know it!  Except us!

At church today, the Relief Society sisters sang in Sacrament Meeting.  Alan would have taken a picture, but I was using the tablet for my cheater song book.  (Easy to read version.)

Happy 2nd Birthday to our little Dylan Lamar Innes!  How about those baby blues?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Transfer Week ! Tsuruoka, and Sendai Aquarium. Plus, Tucson Temple Groundbreaking!

This is too good, but more about this later.  "Let's Do This!"

This past Monday was a national holiday.  It was Health-Sports Day.  It was started to commemorate the first Olympics in Asia, the Tokyo games in 1964.  Many of the wards and branches held a celebration.  At Tagajo, we had a lunch with a soup that is native to this area of Japan.

And it gave us another chance to say goodbye to one of our sisters who was transferred and to Elder Hill who returned home this week.

We picked up another big group at the airport on Tuesday evening.  These missionaries are from Hawaii, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and of course, Utah and Japan.

We gathered up all the luggage, put it on the bus, then took them back to the honbu.

Sister Smith fed them some soup and sent them to bed.

Their training was Wednesday at Kamisugi chapel, then they're off to their areas.

We have some connections with two of these missionaries.  One elder was on the football team and  our son in law was the trainer at Kahuku High School in Hawaii.  His mother worked with Chelsea at the Hair Cut Store.

And, one of our new sisters' family is close friends with some families in our ward in Vail!

We did not make it out to Tagajo that night for Eikaiwa because we had to wait for the baggage to be picked up for delivery to their areas.

But Thursday was another training.  This time for new zone, district and sister leaders.

After we took the group photo, we noticed some children walking up the street.  So I waited for them to say "Konnichiwa!"  Adorable!

Then, Thursday afternoon, the returning missionaries come to the mission home to have their final interviews before returning home.

When the interviews were completed, we gathered for a testimony meeting.  Since this is the last group we will be sending home, we were invited to participate in the testimony meeting and sukiyaki dinner.

After dinner, three of the missionaries' moms came.

Is there anything sweeter than a missionary / mom reunion?

As sweet as it is for the parents, it is hard for us to say "good bye!"  This was a special group for us.  Two of these elders had to leave the mission for surgeries, then were able to return.

This group returns to California, New Mexico, North Carolina, Indiana, Arkansas, Utah and Japan.

After we got the missionaries off to the airport, we went to Tsuruoka to look at an apartment for a new couple that's arriving in December.

The color is changing.  Quite different from just a week ago.  I tried to capture a few views as we drove by.  Alan said he actually saw one of those monkeys they warned us about.  He said it was crossing the freeway.  I was in the back, so I can't vouch for him, but Bro. Nasukawa saw it too.

We did get to pop in on our Tsuruoka elders for a few minutes.

This apartment is under construction, but should be ready by December.  It's small, but close to the church, and brand new!

On Saturday, we met our friends, Elder and Sister Mower and visited the new aquarium in Sendai.

They had a 20 minute show for sea lions and dolphins.

It was fun to watch the school of sardines swim together.  I might have heard someone say "oishi!" (Delicious!)

This TV screen put funny hats and faces on us.  You can see Elder Mowers' red Utah ipad cover.  Then we took them to a hamburger place in Sendai so they could have a taste of home (ish).  Then we gave them directions and they drove to Costco to get more tastes of home.  They said they brought home a lot of good stuff!  Should last them for a while.

After church Sunday, we drove to Kamisugi to drop some stuff off, and got invited to lunch!  It was their ward conference, so they had a linger longer.  It was fun to see some of our other friends.

Our dear Sister Arashiyama who was just released was there too!

We were able to see some photos from the groundbreaking for the Tucson Temple.  Our own President Rasmussen was the chairman for this event.  We also saw photos of many friends including our Bishop Wazenegger, Stake President Thies, the temple presidents from Mesa and Phoenix temples that we worked with in the Mesa Temple.  What a happy day for Tucson!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Conference, MLC

We were able to watch some of conference on Sunday after church and the rest after we finished at the office on Monday and Tuesday.

We were happy to hear of the new apostles called.  We were able to meet Elder Rasband and Elder Stevenson when we were in Moscow at the beginning of our first mission.

This photo is from 2012 at a conference in Moscow.  Sister and Elder Christofferson, Elder and Sister Rasband and Elder and Sister Stevenson.

There were actually several ties to Japan during this conference.  As noted by Sister Rasmussen, two of the prayers were given by members of the Asia North Area Presidency (Elder Yamashita and President Whiting.)  Elder Aoyagi gave his final talk as a member of the Seventy.  He spoke about the great Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.  And Elder Stevenson was formerly the Asia North Area President.  Shortly after we arrived in Sendai, there was an area wide conference.  Bishop Stevenson spoke in Japanese for that conference.

Last March, Alan and I had the opportunity to drive Elder Aoyagi and his wife to our mission conference.  They spoke very kindly of the people in Tagajo and asked us to give their regards.  He told us that some of our Tagajo members were found and baptized when he was president of the Sendai Mission.  You will never meet a sweeter couple.

I "borrowed" this from one of our former missionaries.  It was a time that Elder and Sister Aoyagi visited Tagajo about two years ago.

We also had some connections from our first mission.  Elder Lawrence was the Europe East Area President while we were in Kazakhstan and he and his wife visited Astana and Almaty.  Also, Elder Bennett from the Europe East Area presidency spoke and Elder Klebingat gave a prayer.  He was a mission president in Kiev when we were on visa trips and we met him several times.  We even were invited to his wife's birthday party!

Anyway, we've enjoyed some wonderful opportunities meeting some of our leaders.  Everyone should go on a mission!  You meet the nicest people.

And, wasn't conference amazing.  Two talks in particular were very meaningful to me.  And now we have a new word "Ponderize"!

Tuesday, Alan and the Tagajo missionaries went to help Sister Sakomoto harvest her sweet potatoes.

The missionary leaders came to Sendai for MLC on Tuesday and Wednesday.  That is always a joy for us.

Transfers will be next week, so we have had some preparations to do, including arranging for baggage to be shipped to the new locations, or to the airport for those returning home.  We received word that one of our elders that was supposed to come next week has a broken foot from playing basketball at the MTC, so, he will not be coming this week after all.

On Saturday, we drove to Yamagata to take some bedding and a bike for a new sister arriving next week.

Our sweet three-some is having some changes this next week.  Aren't they cute?  They were on their way to the church to watch Saturday conference.  We also dropped by the Izumi and Kamisugi chapels and caught up to some missionaries and members who were also watching conference in those locations.

On Sunday we watched the Sunday sessions with the Tagajo members and missionaries.  In between, we had a lunch break.

My cute watermelon popsicle got photo bombed by the elders!