My True Followers

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week 12 - April 22 - 28 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

Mom's balcony garden continues to grow. 


We have harvested the last lettuce plant in the second from top pot and eating yummy salads with it and radishes also grown in the top top. Notice the tomato plants started from seed in the bottom four pots, they figure into missionary activity later in this post.  Well Monday night was another fun YSA Family Home Evening,  The sister born strong testimony of the gospel and how the missionaries have helped her feel included and she is now helping a lot in YSA to give back.

Tuesday was a really fun Zone P day.  All the areas except Oita, Its just to far away, joined us at the Kumamoto Castle Picnic area.  We had lunch (including feeding the pigeons) then played ballon capture the flag, water ballon volleyball.  this was all followed up by a visit to the Kumamoto Prefecture (similar to a state)museum of art.

Here is the picnic for the missionaries:


And the pigeons:





Not pictures of the balloon capture the flag as I was playing.  But it involved tying a balloon with along string to your foot and racing to capture the enemy's flag ( a balloon that you stomp on and bust to capture their flag).  If anyone stomps on and breaks your balloon your out.  We lost real quick due to a spy who had prior knowledge of the game and used a very long string so that his balloon was still back at the start line by the time he reached our flag.  Very tricky.

Here is beach towel balloon volleyball:




At the art museum we couldn't take pictures but it was fantastic exhibit of art from Japan, both modern and ancient.  Ancient is really ancient there was a small ceramic figure that was from the eighth century.  My favorite was a long (about 30 feet) painting of various locations around Kumamoto done in a very pleasing style.  The scan does not even come close to doing justice to either the postcard or the original I saw.  You will have to come over to see it, it is fantastic.  I bought a number of postcards with these places and here is my favorite.  It is a waterfall that I hope we can visit someday.


One of the more unusual is shown here.  I thought it is rather biblical in style, and the man has a large western nose (we are known as having large noses here in Japan).  Others disagreed with me.  What do you think.




One of the interesting features of almost all public buildings is the umbrella stands.  The one here took the cake as you could lock your umbrella in for a small fee.



Mom and I biked to and from this activity, about 4 miles each way.  It was a great trip but light rain threatened all day.  Here mom is waking her bike down a steep hill down from the castle leaving early before the group dinner, as we don't have any rain gear yet.  It is a good thing we did as it started to rain pretty good when we got home.

 


We are following the Shigamoto family who live in Tokyo.  You will remember that their son lived in our house as a missionary for the California Oakland/San Francisco Mission for a total of 9 months before we left on our mission to of all places, Japan.  Here is a photo of Mt. Fuji near Tokyo by his father.  They have invited us to come up and see tokyo sometime.  I hope we can.


Wednesday was Japanese class at the international center which is always a lot of fun, we finally finished the Hiragana and are going on to Katagana.  We always enjoy visiting with our teacher Kotsuka Moto and the other advanced student Antonio for Seville Spain.  We had received a call earlier in the week and were able to contact two employees of the International Center who want to take free classes from us at the international center with a third one to join in two weeks.  We are getting to know more non LDS folks here in Japan.  At our English Class this evening we were delighted that a man joined our class.  He had responded to our advertisement at the International Center.  He enjoyed it so much that he emailed that night and said how much fun it was and he plans on continuing.

We had received and email with the transfers we were to help with on Thursday, it was a full day of driving elders to and from train and bus stops to apartments.  It took all day from about 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  We only lost one elder but found him one bus stop before the planned meeting point.  Daniel will be interested to know that the elder we lost is from Sao Paulo, Brazil and speakes excellent english which he says he learned in the MTC, but its hard to believe that he got that good in the MTC.  Our zone increased by two missionaries this transfer.  We are on our way to doubling the mission in one year.

Saturday there was a softball game at a local park, which we biked to and watched.  While there we talked to (via translators) to an elderly lady who could not get over all they americans that were there, three young Elders and us.




Saturday night was Stake Conference Adult session, an especiallly spiritual one for me.  Sunday was State Conference and Priesthood Meetings.  To get all the stake together is a difficult thing with the large distances involved so the concentrate the meeting.  We had the missionaries over for lunch between the two Sunday meeting.  It was easy with sandwiches and wonderful cookies, brownies, potato salad, and macaroni salad made my Mom the night before (just barely).



Another amazing week.






Sunday, April 21, 2013

Week 11 - April 15 - 21, 2012 Japan Fukuoka Mission

Monday was a very fun preparation day.  Luetta and I finally make the big jump and bought bicycles.  Here I am, with both parked outside our apartment.  Luetta's is the white one and mine is in the back, it is blue.


It was dark before we thought to try and get a better picture, but is was marginal.  Here is my bike just outside our front door which goes immediatly into the metal spiral staircase, 99 steps to the bottom.  Of course we take the bikes down the elevator.  It has an all aluminum frame.



Tuesday we were able to help an Elder who needed to get a blood test at a hospital an unbikeable distance from their apartment.  A member in the Nagamine Ward is a doctor who works there and was able to help him.  Here is the hospital entrance and a beautiful orchid that was in the waiting room.



We took them out to eat since it was well after lunch when we were done and the blood test was a fasting test.  They seemed to enjoy it...


... and so did we.


 
Couldn't wait to get back to our apartment to try our bikes out more.



Last week we had walked to a non-members house and invited here to come listen to Conference, which she did to our delight.  We tried to find this members house by bike  on Wednesday to talk about the non-member and other things we could do to encourage her to become an investigator.  She lives next to a stream not far from our apartment.  Here are two pictures in this area.




And here is a link to the endomundo route using my i-pad touch.

http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/178220877/4791542

I have been disappointed in the accuracy of the cycling trackers on the i-pod touch until I researched and found out it used cell tower triangulation to find your location (not true GPS), which is not very accurate.  From now on I will use my iphone which has true GPS.

Here is a repost of Thursday (it is on facebook but printed here for those who don't follow facebook.


"Today, we received a fantastic package of goodies that our children made at our house, on conference week-end. It contained wonderful popcorn balls, complete with pastel miniature marshmallows. This was an invention I came up with when... we send a gift box to our children when away from home. It has come full circle and I love it so much, thank you, thank you, thank you! It also has fudge with walnuts, wow, so good. The fudge is so creamy and good, I will have to think twice before I am willing to share. We keep 72 hour emergency food kits in our home which we eat at conference time and replenish so they won't get to old to eat. Last conference we had home made jerky (done in the scout approved way) which was still good and also fantastic. The picture of them in our kitchen making this was a delight and we so enjoyed the drawings by Dawna and Naomi."


Just before 9:00 p.m. had an interesting service project, which I wrote up as a spiritual thought for our Japanese MTC Skype classs.  "Our Mission President (Gustavson) often teaches that "No effort is wasted".  I believe this means that even though our efforts at any one time may seem insignificant, eventually, in some way, good will come from them.  We have been trying to promode Eikaiwa (English Conversation Class) in many ways.  One way we found was by getting our posters on what is known as "Community Boards".  These are advertising boards with room for 12 posters.  Although they can be used free of charge, you have to be present at a drawing to be selected.  Then travel to 20 locations around Kumamoto to put them up and take them down after the three week exposure time is up, then do it all over again.  This takes a lot of work and is especially hard for us due to the "odd to us" maps they use here, all in Japanese characters.  It has taken a lot of effort to get 40 of the 60 sites programed into our Garmin (GPS device).  So far we only know of one inquiry into Eikaiwa as a result of these posters, and that week the class had been canceled.  Nevertheless, we continue, expecting good results eventually.  However, an unexpected fruit of our labor came the other day when we got an emergency call from two elders who had a broken down bike, a flat tire (by the way they don't carry an extra tube or a way to fix flats) and they were looking at about a one hour walk back to their apartment and arriving much after they should be in.  We were glad we had sufficent knowledge and tools to locate the "Machi" (Japanese for small town within the larger Kumamoto) they were in and could identify the community board nearest to them, so we might be able to locate them with a minimum of driving back and forth and phone calls.  We were so happy when we were able to go directly to them in a direct route, needless to say, they were also very happy.  I believe that our efforts, with little results (in terms of English Class attendance) blessed the elders and gave us a wonderfull feeling of being helpful in the missionaryefforts,  I then bore my testimony that we should continue in our efforts even when we see no results immediatly, realizing that No GOOD efforts are wated, and all efforts in the Lord's Kingdom are GOOD.

Here is a scan of what the poster we use looks like.  The red headed missionary is an eye-catching advertisement for English Class.



On Friday we did some more biking after waling around our neighborhood passing out English Conversation Class flyer's.  Many accepted and many waved us off.  This wave off is a peculiar gesture used in Japan by holding your flat hand in front of your face perpendicular to your face and waving it back and forth.  It means no, or not interested, or maybe go away.

Here are more biking pictures as we explored the stream further south.


an interesting gate to the bike's only part of the trail.


Mom took this picture of a Grey Heron.  When we first came by he flew off before she could get a picture, but he came back for this picture and we got to see him catch and eat a samll fish.


Here is a link to this bike route:

http://www.mapmyride.com/jp/kumamoto-shi-kumamoto-prefecture/4-11mi-road-cycling-on-3-26-13-route-184786612

And they day finishes with a nice sunset.




Thursday, April 18, 2013

Week 10 - April 8 - 15, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

I'm late on this weeks blog.

On Monday we went to the post office, which also has a post bank associated with it.  We have an account in the Post Bank and make payments for our car to the mission through this account and they put reinbursements for expenses such as travel to assist in missionary work and travel for apartment inspections.  Net - Net it stays about the same.


We also pay fast offering donations to the church through our Post Bank account.  Here is an example of the form you have to fill out


Tuesday was district meeting as usual, but we traveled to Omuta, where a Missionary is the branch President.  A huge task for one so young, but the branch has almost doubled in attendance since he started.  He gave all the less actives, in the branch, callings, telling them how much they were needed and loved.  They all responded and accdepted and even better are active in their calliings.  What a miracle of faith.  Here is photo of the wonderful branch buildiing in downtown Omuta.


After meeting, which was great as usual, with wonderful motivating teachings, we went to CoCo and had Curry. You can choose a heat level from one to ten. One elder choose then and he was in obvious pain. I choose four and felt it was very hot but still delicious. Mom choose three and will go with a lower level next time.


Wednesday was another fantastic English Conversation Class (Eikaiwa えいかいわ in Japanese).  We came across an interesting building today, I think it is a school playground but I am not sure.


On thursday I had a picture taken of me by a Japanese family van which is quite small by comparison to American Vans.


But on Friday, I found and even smaller car, which has the benefit of being easy to park.


Can't believe it has been 10 weeks.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Week 9 - April 1-7, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

It has been a fun and busy week.  First here is a picture of our cloths dryer, view and envy.  It appears this is typical of many Asian countries, Sr. DeVictoria say's her's is similar.  I posted this on facebook but did a repeat for non-facebook followers.


Monday was my wonderful wife's birthday.  We had a fantastic time with almost all our children and grandchilden giving here a birthday wish over Google+ hangout.

Today was not Preparation day, since we had district meeting and interviews with the Mission President, Gustafson.  During District meeting she was given a surprise birthday party complete with cake.


Not sure why my name is on it, but it was very nice of them all (actually the sisters made it).  They are so very kind and like to honor us both.

The Elders made a most fantastic fold out card with our favorite transportation.  Our Bike trip from Canada to Mexico has become well known with Mom's Nexus providing pictures to facilitate geting to know members and all.



And to top it all off the created a start of a Japanese Cook book.  Mom has been frustrated with being able to use Japanese ingredients and methods, so they provided this great help and plan on adding to it.


The front of the book is in Katagana, used for foreign words and says, "re tsu pi" and is meant to sound like receipe, but ususally is only faguely close.  By the way there are lots of foreign words as we look at the stores around town.


All in all a very special day for Mom, I plan on adding a bicycle to here birthday gifts as soon as we can decide on which ones are best for our needs.

Here is Mom busy at here work station, with her favorite pictures on the bulletin board.


Tuesday was actual preparation day.  We did normal chores, then had the Missionaries (both zone leaders and both sisters) over to our apartment so they could e-mail and Mom made a fantastic taco lunch with homemade flour tortilla's.  the Missionaries were besides themselves with enjoyment.  We had a great time together.



Wednesday was a very busy day first going to City Hall for our second drawing for Community board advertisement space all around Kumamoto we were awarded 'C' group position 8 which is eye level, which all you marketing guru's out there know is the best position.  After this we went to International Center for our Japanese lession (2 hours long).  It was real fun as we had another person in our class, he is from Seville, Spain but is married to a Japanese girl and working her.  Now we have two people to get to know.  On the way back to the car at the church we walk along the Kumamoto long wall of the castle.  We enjoyed to favorite treats for lunch.  I got chicken grilled on a stick and Mom got takoyaki.  Here are pictures of them.


Luetta, Takoyaki in the making.  It includes Octopus.


My Chicken Sticks, the more exotic sounding name is Yakitori.  I got a pepper flavoring.



Thursday and Friday were also very busy, we got up early and drove to Kumamoto Port where we boarded the Ferry, Acean Arrow, for a trip across Shimbara Bay, to the city of Shimbara and continued car travel to Nagasaki.

Here is the Ferry.


On the Shimbara side of the huge bay (it took 1/2 hour to cross) we saw Mt Unzen, the large mountain in the background.


The Shimabara Peninsula (島原半島, Shimabara Hantō) is a popular hiking destination that lies to the east of Nagasaki. Formed by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Unzen at its center, the peninsula was the site of several deadly volcanic eruptions, including recent eruptions in the 1990's in which several people were killed and some outskirts of Shimbara City were destroyed.  We drove on to Nagasaki.


Here we inspected both the Elders apartment and the Sisters Apartment.  At the Elders apartment we learned more about the woven bamboo, Tatamie mats that are used to sleep on in the bedrooms.  We understand they are very breathable and allow good air flow under you as you sleep which is very nice on hot humid nights.  At least in this apartment the mats (about 2 inches thick) are underlaid with what looks like styrofoam (also about 2 inches thick).  This structure is on cement blocks with spacing of 1-2 feet on centers.  I did not expect this and under rough housing may give way and break which is the problem they have.  We are trying to see if the apartment owner will repair this problem which causing sagging areas in the floor which is their beds.  People generally sleep on the floor on futon's, which are single bed size pads that they fold up into thirds during the day.  They usually sleep under covers also called futon's but are more like what we call a comforter, both of which in sheets on the bottom and a sheet sleeve for the top.  Here is a picture that illustrates what this looks like.


Having a full day of driving, inspections, and buying items needed in the apartments, we finished with just enough light to visit peace park, promoting peace at the site of the Nagasaki Atomic bombing during world war II.  Here is the main peace statue.


 
May God bless mankind that war may be prevented by men choosing rightousness and love as their prefered path.


Friday, we go up had our Skype class and had breakfast the the Toyoko Inn.  Here is what Mom had.



We continued on to Isahaya, which on the way back to the Shimabara Ferry.  Inspections and shopping constituted the work of the day.  We got back with a little time before the ferry left so took a tour of the local Shimabara Castle.  Here is a great shot we got of the massive structure.

 
 

Finally we entered the Ferry for our return trip,


Of course we could not resist taking pictures of the children feeding the seagulls following the ferry.



glad to be back to our home away from home.

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I have worked 30 years at Del Monte Foods in Walnut Creek CA, 5 years at Ralston Purina in San Diego CA, 7 years at Carnation in Oconomowoc WI