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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Week 24 - July 15 - 21, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

This was transfer week and everything gets mixed up.  On Monday we helped with transportation of two of the sisters to the mission home to get training to become sister trainers.  They were way excited.  Our preparation day was moved to Tuesday, but that worked out fine, with relaxed senior missionary rules, we got to talk to our children on Monday, which is Sunday in the States.  With Tuesday being the temporary preparation day, several missionary companionship's ended up at our apartment on the eighth floor to use our two computers to email home and friends.  This is always fun, and we like to help the missionaries.  It was rather odd as the day moved on eventually all four of the companionship's ended up at our apartment.  I got a belated surprise birthday, complete with cake and special meal.  One of the sisters had made rice ball on egg and spam base.  The use of Spam as a meat appears to be fairly common in Japan, especially among missionaries. 

Before I know what was going on and it being lunch time and I was hungry I ordered pizza for the whole group.

They gave me a most creative birthday card aka Mobile aka spiral cutting project that I hung from our light.  Their greeting were written along the spiral arms the this model of the collision of two spiral galaxies.

I even got a second birthday cake made by this sisters.  Making cakes in the very small japanese ovens is a real trick.  Their microwave ovens double as a regular convection oven.

My wife had already got me a special birthday gift, complete with appropriate filling material.

In Kumamoto, the Kumamon bear represents this area and you see his image everywhere.

The day ended with a wonderful sunset.  This is the day the missionaries get their phone call wheather they will be transfered or not.  The sad but also good news is that two of the eight will be transfered on Thursday.

The next day we continued to dine on spam, egg, rice ball that had been left with us.  Here is a close up of how it looks.  The need for sticky rice is apparent to keep this these things together.

Here is a random thought, it may seem odd to have this blog about our mission but not see any pictures of missionaries, at least recently. We have been asked to not include such pictures in publically viewed sites or use names of them or their investigators. Oddly some people have been known to use this and other information to cause problems. If you would like to be on our mailing list with more details about the missionary aspect of our work, let me know.  Not everyone follows this policy but we have decided to be protective of these wonderful missionaries who work so hard to find and teach many wonderful people who are investigating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On thursday, actual tranfer day, we helped get the missionaries to bus stops as needed here is one pulling out, with on elder being tranfered and also two other from a nearby area that will be going home at the conclusion of their full time mission.  Now they get to be member missionaries.

On the week-end we had two fun ward activities.  Kumamoto on Friday had a summer fesitval.  We had been asked to provide one game.  We set up watermellon seed spiting contest.  Japanese love watermellon.  Here is the playing field.

The winner got his projectile way back onto the driveway beyond the red sidewalk.  The winner in the 18 and over was a Japanese missionary.  We also had other age catagories and gave away prizes. 

On Saturday the Nagamine Ward had an inteteresting Ward Party called a Nagashi Somen party. They set up this bamboo trough arrangement with flowing water, and let cold somen noodles (thin less thatn 1.5 mm dia.) flow down them. You then catch them with your chopsticks and put in your bowl with a special sauce and other ingredients and eat. Very fun.

Here is the trough.  They got and split the bamboo for this.

Putting the noodles in the trough.

Here are the precooked and cooled  noodles (ice on the noddles) with a bamboo bowl that some got to eat out of.

Here is my wife enjoying some.

They had another activity, that when I heard about it I wondered what a mess.  Apparently they like watermellon so much that they enjoy putting in the air then hitting it with bamboo sticks and when it breaks everyone eats part of it.  Well I was relieved that when it finally came if was a paper ball painted like a watermellon with candy inside.

The front of the Kumamoto Stake Center was recently greatly improved.  Here is an old picture on the Google street view:

And here is how it is now.

Both parties were held on this front lawn, which is directly across from a major university and just down the street from a large hospita.  All the traffic got to see us having great fun and be attracted to the the church.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week 23 - July 8 - 14, Japan Fukuoka Mission

Monday was preparation day once more.  We took the longest bike ride (about 7 miles each way) since Luetta's knee injury.  Rideing down to the Kumamoto Train Station to confirm the bridge is now open after constrution.  It was and allowed us to take a shorter route to take the zone leaders to take a train to Fukuoka for training on Tuesday.

Despite being late at night it was very hot, as evidenced by my picture.

Here is Luetta at the new bridge across the Shirakawa river looking away from the train station.

We passed a 7-11 and a Family Mart convenient stores, which are all over in Japan.

Tuesday was my birthday.  This is the first birthday since the first year of marriage that we had a birthday all alone.  It was very nice.

On the way to the International Center for English teaching and Japanese classes we hear a loud buzzing in the trees.  On the Castle walk we found evidence of my suspicion of Cicada bugs on the side walk.  Their Japanese name is semi (せめ).

At our Japanese class our teacher noticed my wife's attraction to childrends books and bought us classic Japanese tale, sometimes know as the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, or the name of the princess (かぐやひめ).

It is fun to read, but a little difficult since it is written in old Japanese.  Our teachers english knowledge makes it hard to learn some of the words.  It is written in the old style from back to front ond vertically top to bottom.  Since it is a childs book the words have spaces in between which helps a lot.

Thursday we continue to catch a new member of the ward from Nebraska that teaches English her, but not luck. Will continue to try different times of the day.  Here is some scenery on the way since it is about 15 km. out of town.
We enjoying watching the rice grow.
 I suspect these are rice silos.
A closer look at a Bamboo stand.
We are not sure what these large leaved plants are.
And they do grow corn here as well.
Bye for now.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 22 - July 1-7, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

Monday, July 1st - Preparation Day:
We took a short bike ride today, the first after Luetta's knee injury.  Her is knee is doing great, what a great blessing this has been that it has healed so well.  We came across a new flower at our local stream.  I learned they are 4'oclocks.

We were told that we can plant the seeds when develop, so I looked them up on the web and here is what the seeds look like.  Can't wait to try them.

Here is another color mixed with what look like daisy's:

As proof that we actually rode our bikes here is a picture by a new store, where we got dessicant cup to help remove the moisture from our apartment air.  It is so humid here that the minute you step out of air conditioning your skin feels wet and your cloths feel damp.  It doesn't take much walking till things are actually wet.

Our Japanese Instructor at the International Center used his own money to buy us a gift of a classic Japanese tale about a princess.  We are in the process of reading it.  The Japanese characters are in rows from top to bottom and you read the book from our normal back to front.


We are learning to read it and it has been fun, maybe we are reading at an early grade school level.

We are so impressed with the wonderful improvement in the landscaping of the front of the Kumamoto Stake Center, it is so attractive now.  This will clearly help with the announcement that all church buildings will be used for tours by the missionaries.  The number of visitor center's have increased by thousands in one decision.  Now we need people that want to come.

On Tuesday we walked to the post office and I had to have my picture taken in front this this Japan size BMW vehicle.

We have just started a holiday called Tanabata.  Wishes are placed on very colorful paper streamers on bamboo trees.  Here is one on the way down to the International Center.

And here is one in the International Center.

They are very beautiful and colorful.  Tanabata (七夕?, meaning "Evening of the seventh") is a Japanese star festival, originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival.[1] It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The celebration is held at various days between July and August.

July 4th was celebrated by inspecting the two apartments closest to us.  Both got Celestial rating so we took them to lunch at the Gull Gray resturant.  It was fun.  While inspecting the apartments we played the Star Spangled Banner on my ipod touch for them.  Most had not noticed that it was the 4th of July.

On Friday we inspected the apartmetn in Omuta.  Here are the rice fields on the way.  We continue to notice how they are progressing.  It varies with region.

For their Celestial work at keeping the apartment clean we went to a soba noodle place.  Here is picture of what the food looks like.

The Soba noodles are rather large in diameter and made from buckwheat.  The side dish was various seafood and vegetable tempura.
On Saturday after English class we took the zone leaders to Nobeoka.  This area has been closed since before we came due dwindling number of missionaries.  but now with the wonderful increase in new missionaries it will be opened at next transfer (July 18th).  We were to visit the branch and several less active members to give the branch some attenti on and get them ready for the new missionaries that will help them grow the branch.  We went on the visits to several members and attended church on Sunday (Fast Sunday)  All four of us missionaries were asked to bear our testimonies which we enjoyed doing.  It is a small branch, about 20 people in attendance, but they have a very nice smaller building.

On the way to and from we went substantially south of Oso (the volcano of previous posts) and saw much wonderful scenery.  The mountain areas away from the large cities is so green and lush with many stand of lighter green bamboo groves in the midst of other evergreen trees.  There was a logging operation on this trip.

Japan has more tunnels bored through it's mountains than I have every seen anywhere else.  Here is one with a very interesting decoration on it's front.

In Nobeoka, they were also celebrating Tanabata.

The entry into Nobeoka is a dramatic gorge.  Taking pictures in the car it was impossible to avoid the guard railings, which I was very happy were there.  The river have many places with excellent white water rapids that I would love to run down.

At Nobeoka the gouge widens out and the river settles down into a beautiful wide river with several still fun looking rapids here and there.

All in all a real fun week.

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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