My True Followers

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week 16 - May 20-26, 2013 Fukuoka Japan Mission

Monday we had a pre-2 zone conference district dinner at the Gull Gray.  Here is an example of what we ate there.


This was luetta's and mine was more like a stir fry.  It was very good and the atomosphere was eclectic.


Tuesday was the 2 zone conference.  It was fun and we learned a lot about missionary work.  The main emphasis was the value of very short contact lessons of 5 minutes or less and a return appointment.  Staying under 5 minutes is no problem for us with little or no Japanese.

The finale to conference was skits put on by each zone, Kumamoto and Kagoshima.  Kagashima was about star wars aka dendo (missionary work) wars.   It high lighted some of the common problems in sharing the gospel with others.  Our skit was about a day in the life of a missionary from wake up till lights out.  Our part was about using the garmin to get around Kumamoto.  My funny line came when we were misdirected by the Garmin to go down a very narrow residential street and all four of our cars collission avoidance signals go off.  An Elder off stage said in computer like style migi mae desu, hidari mae desu, migi ushiro desu, and hidari ushiro desu (which means right front, left front, right back, and left back), to which I yelled the Garmin lied to us again.

We spent a lot of time transporting elders on Monday before the conference and after the conference to the local bus stop.  We also had one set of elders that needed to go to the big train station in downtown Kumamoto.  Since we had this one last run all the way downtown we took a quick trip to Mt. Kinbo on the other side of town.  It is very beautiful wooded mountain that we see from our balcony, when the clarity is good.  Here are few pictures.

First showing the nearby hills.


Now a view of the typical japanese gate, this one leads to the hike up to the final top, about 2200' high.


Here is a sign map of the area, in Japanese of course.


And a forest covered narrow road as the day comes to an end.


Mom's balcony  garden is becoming quite prolific with blossoms and even tiny cucumbers and watermelons showing.
Peanuts:
Cucumbers:
Tomatos:
Watermellon:
LYT:
BYT:

Wednesday night is always capped off by teaching English class.  We have a real fun class with the intermediate/advanced class.  We combine with the beginner class at 8:00 p.m. for a game related to learning English.  This time we divided into teams and created as many words as we could out of a set of letters.  It was a little unfair as one side was mostly from the Intermediate/advanced class and they whooped the beginners.


Thursday was apartment inspection at Nagasake (Elders and Sisters) and Isahaya (Elders).

Here are pictures on the way through one of the many tunnels in this very mountainous area.


The sisters and elders in Nagasaki area both got celestial rating.  We bought ice cream for the sisters as they had an appointment right away.  We took the elders out to eat at an Indian Curry place (this is very popular in Japan).  This one used bread rather than rice as the starch.  It tasted wonderful, but I should skip many meals before eating it.


We had a very light dinner, bought at a convience mart and ate it by the water front.




 

Friday we inspect Isahaya, which also got a celestial rating and another, very japanese, lunch.  We drove home going south instead of north around Mt. Unzen a volcano that is still active.  We stoped briefly at the Mt Unzen Hot springs and got these shots at this Yellowstone like, sufurous smelling spot.




On these inspections we enjoy the Ferry ride across Shimabara Bay, no small bay that takes 30 minutes to cross.

Saturday was English class and more shopping for apartment needs.  Sunday is always a great day refreshing our spiritual energy and this day there were many investigators in attendance.  After church the Nagamine Ward Mission Leader invited to his home for a wonderful Japanese dinner alsong with a spiritual thought and testimony of the truth of Christ's Gospel.  A wonderful cap to a wonderful week.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week 15 - May 13-19, 2013 Fukuoka Japan Mission

Preparation day last week was a lot of fun with a bicylce ride to Lake Ezu.  Our Local Japanese Instructor told us about this lake and said their were many birds to see.


Oddly crows are hard to get a picture of, but one held still for us.


Here we are at the bridge at the stream entering the lake.


It was getting close to sunset and we got this fantastic shot of the sun going down over Mt. Kimpo with a wonderful yellow hue and a bird (tori in Japanese) to the right.  There is also a rowing shell I was hoping would be a great silhouette but I took the picture when it was is the bright reflection of the sun and it got got lost in the glare.


We got a great shot of a Great Blue Heron on a boat on the shore.  I tried to wait him out to get him in flight, but I finally tryed to find a pebble to create the flight, but he got away before I could get it.


Tuesday we had an appointment to visit Yoshida San and have sushi.  It was great fun and I enjoyed the sushi (yes Weston it was raw).  She had her friends from China with us.  Luetta gave a spiritual thought about Elder Ballards talk that included the story about the tomato plant.  Luetta had given her a tomato plant she had grown from seeds, before we knew about the talk.  The talk was a perfect connection to the gift and the idea of growing to know the truth of the Gospel or wilting as the story talks about (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/this-is-my-work-and-glory?lang=eng or http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/this-is-my-work-and-glory?lang=jpn in japanese).  She gave the chinese couple a tomato plant as well.  We got a return appointment and hope they will all be receptive to the message we have.

Wednesday was very busy with English teaching and Japanese learning classes in the morining at the international center and English teaching class at night.

Thursday and Friday was apartment inspections..  We started over again with Kumamoto Elders and Nagamine Sisters.  We were hoping the frequency of inspections might go down as we got issues resolved, but the President wants inspections on a monthly basis.  Since we have two zone and cover most of kyushu Island this is impossible and we are trying to do them all, about every transfer (6 weeks).  Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands.  As of 2006, Kyushu has a population of 13,231,995 and covers 35,640 square kilometres (13,760 sq mi).  The width of the island is about 150 miles and we have 12 apartments to check, of which they are so spread out that we can only do one a day for 10 of them.  That alone fills all our thursdays and fridays with long car travel and buying things the apartments need, at Japanese stores.  Did I tell you we don't know how speak, read, or talk (except a few words and my ipod touch google translate program).

At the Kumamoto Elders program Elder Morris made this fantastic art piece.  The photo doesn't do it justice as it is 3-D.


It is meant to depict the thoughts of this Book of Mormon scripture (2 Nephi 28:30):

" 30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, aprecept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn bwisdom; for unto him that creceiveth I will give dmore; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."

The Assistants to the President were with them as shown in this photo.


We also inspected the Nagamine Sisters apartment.  They did such a great job of keeping it clean that they received a Celestial Rating and got taken to lunch.

We had inspected the Kurume Sisters last week and were unable to help with their broken toilet seat.  However and e-mail to the previous couple (Christiansens) revealed the place where you can buy such items and we took and installed it on Friday. 

Here is the store:


We also inspected the Omuta Elders apartement.  They had a non functioning burner on their stove and their heater/air conditioner was not working.  We had lots to buy including futons that had been approved earlier.

Saturday we were able to fit in a short bicycle ride and found new flowers blooming along the creek we like to bike at.







Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Week 14 - May 6-12, 2013 Fukuoka Japan Mission

Preparation Day this week was great fun.  We were able to bike down to downtown Kumamoto to see some festivities for Golden Week, a holiday here in Japan.



 We went to the Kotsu Center and saw some wonderful Japanese Drum performances. The intensity of the sound was enough to feel the vibrations throughout my body. The energy of the drummers is amazing.




We also saw a youth singing group at the "long wall of the Castle", their music was really good.


The also offered boat ride on the river in front of the castle, I would have loved to try them out, but we didn't.  Better yet if I could only kayak on the river, Yome!!

 

Tuesday was District meeting a with a great spiritual lesson about how everyones is perceived different.  We put images on our forehead that only others could see then they would try to get you to feel bad about your card.  I felt the meaning of this is that only God knows our true value and we shouldn't listen to others that are giving us the wrong impression. 

We had lunch afterwards at a wonderful kebob place.



On Wednesday we biked again to downtown Kumamoto (third time this week) to the international center.  We are now teaching English there as well as twice a week at the church.  We have three employees who are our students.  We also take a Japanese class there and our teacher once he found out we were teaching English asked if he could join, so that will make 4 students.  What a blessing to get to know so many people here in Japan.  I know great things will come of this.

We stoped by the castle to get a picture of us to send to the mission Presidents wife for Mother's Day.  Guess she is like a mother to all the missionaries and they wanter to honor here with a slide show.  I wanted to use this one with our bikes but Luetta said no.


and we used this one.



Thursday, back to inspecting apartments. We went to Saga and meet Elder Lawson who's apartment in Oita we had already inspected last transfer. Missionary apartments vary a lot in their age of use and upkeep. They often have paper sliding doors between rooms and on the closets that for active young men don't hold up to well. Most apartments that them down and hide them. Here is why.



 
Friday we went to Kurume, sister missionaries.  The toilet seat was broken and not attached anymore.  We tried real hard to find a replacement but was not sucessful.  We will keep on looking, I feel real sad we didn't get this fixed.

Saturday we had the sister missionaries over and an investigator.  They made a variety of dishes (Japanese and Korean) for the investigator to give to her mother on Mothers day.  They had a couple of rolls left over which they gave us as well as the left over ingredients.  Luetta made more with the ingredients and we enjoyed several meals with what I think is called California rolls in California but here is called Makizushi.  Here is a picture of it on our table.


On Sunday, Mothers Day here in Japan we had wonderfull Sunday Meeting, two wards work and two Ward Missionary Coordination meeting.  Mom go wonderfull Mother's Day gifts from both wards and the Missionaries in our District gave her a very thoughful gift with beautiful pictures of birds around the world.



Now Mothers Day in America is tomorrow, Monday, but that's next week blog.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Week 13 April 29 - May 5, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

On Preparation Day, Monday April 29th, we joined a wonderful picnic with the Nagamini Ward.  This had been organized as part of Golden Week holidays here in Japan.


In addition to the wonderful food and company (language learning environment) we meet a young man who is very interested in Astronomy.  Here is his Facebook page with many fantastic pictures he takes some in his backyard here in Kumamoto (which is amazing given the fog/smog conditions here) some on Mt Fuji near Tokyo.

http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/p2k5_net

He would love to have an Astronomy club in this area but unaware of one.  I am trying to look one up and maybe join him at some events.

We rode our bikes here with the sisters then afterwards Luetta and I rode to the river to get in a good bike ride.



On the way back we passed a Christian Church with fantastic stained glass windows, which this picture doesn't show well at all.


To cap off a wonderful day we came across a well know ice cream store and had a cone each.  They were quite expensive but very enjoyable.


Tuesday was busy with many missionary activities. It started with a new Japanese Tutor, Kent Johnson, who had taught us a lot while we are at the MTC language immersion weeks.  We are excited to be able to learn from him more.  Wednesday at the International Center we started our first English class here teaching two (three next week) employee's They seemed to enjoy the class, but are more advanced that the beginning level we started with to see how good their English was.  We will try the intermediate level next week.  The mission gave us permission to use the church manual for these classes.  We also had an interesting Japanese class, with a substitute teacher.  Our normal teacher, who is part of a male chorus here, was in Italy as his chorus is singing at the Vatican.  As far as we can tell this group is not a christian group so it is very interesting.  He sings in Latin and other languages.  Our substitute teach departed from the Katagana alphabet to introduce a large number of new words to us that we are busy trying to memorize this week.

Thursday was Zone Meeting, which was about the reason of missionary work.  It was stated that we all know and every day if full of the means of missionary work, but we should not ever lose sight of the reason, which is LOVE.  One of the activities was to list all those that we loved, Luetta and I felt so blessed as there was not enough time to list all those that we love so much at home and here now.  Truely  it is this love that motivates us to help others discover the joy that we know through the gospel.  Topping that list is our Family.

Here is another picture from our balcony which echos the reason which is the beauty of the world that shows God's love for us.


After Zone meeting we had a picnic on the grass by the river in front of the Kumamoto Castle.  We enjoyed these turtles sunning themselves on a rock.  We have never seen turtles on the river before so we wonder if they are just coming out of hiberation during the winter.



Then the took a long drive to the west side of Kyushu Island (this is the fairly large Island that makes up most of Fukuoka mission) to inspect a missionary apartment in Sasebo.  Here are some photos along the way.




The Elders got a celestial rating on their apartment so we took them out for lunch.  Here we are at Kabob Stand+, serving awesome kabobs.


An interesting feature of the Toyoko Inn where we stayed is the elevator parking garage,  you drive in (pointing forward) and they close the door and it goes up into the tower.  When you return for your car they put in the number of your parking stall and the car is rotated back to the entrance, pointing outwards.  An amazing use of small spaces.



We certainly love being here in Japan.  Our love for the people we meet here and our family back at home and around the world keeps us going.  This blog brings our love you all.


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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