My True Followers

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week 28: August 12 - 18, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

This week's preparation day found us in the hospital to get a routine test.  It is interesting that all doctors in Japan have their offices in a hospital, no private offices, so you have to always go to the hospital to see a doctor.

We also had a fun, longer bike ride for us.  We went north this time to just north of Kikuyo.  It is just short of half way to the center of the ancient Aso volcano caldera where the city of Aso is now located.  It would be a steep climb the rest of the way up to the currently active caldera.

http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/230983982/4791542

We are on our way there:


We passed a rice field.  The rice plants are getting big, but no rice heads are developing yet.


However, here is harvested corn field with one lone stalk left.


We passed our favorite raman noodle place with a side view of the dragon head on the roof.


We also passed over the Shirakawa river (a different part of the one that goes through downtown Kumamoto).


Here is a photo of a typical watering ditch here in Japan.  They even have them on the very edge of roads, uncovered.  I always am fearful of driving a wheel into them and then I would be stuck really bad.


We also passed very beautify flower called a Cockscomb (or Kato in Japanese).


We went to visit a less active member who is from the United States, teaching English in Japan.  We have tried several times in the past by car but never found him home and the same thing happened today.  However while we were there a huge storm appeared to the west with lightening and thunder, none had been predicted.  Here is a picture of the Family Mart across from where we visited and the storm clouds in the background.  I bought some water and asked a big plastic bag to cover my electronics.


We were unsuccessful in trying to out run it and got fully soaked.  However by the time we made it back to our area (machi of Obiyama) we met the missionaries.  The area had not rained and the roads were dry, but we were soaked.  They were very surprised.  What bad luck we are having with rain.
We were glad this adventure was over.

Wednesday we rode to the International Center and taught English for one hour and had our two hour Japanese class.  That night we taught English class.  Here what it looks like with Luetta teaching.


Thursday we tried another bike ride, but would you believe it, it rained on us again, totally soaked.
Here are some flowers we saw along the way and pictures at the lake we visited.



Japan has many gates, some with an arch and some without, here is one half of one without.


A fun slide for children playing in the water.


Luetta in front of the boats that can be rented.


Me in front of the snack shop.


A Japanese dinner Cruise getting to go out on the lake.  Notice all the shoes at the end of the red carpet.  Inside are many short tables for sitting around.


On Friday we had apartment inspection at Yatsushiro and since they had kept it clean to a "Celestial" standard we took them to lunch.  Here I am with my spicy noodles that came out with a hot coal underneath keeping the boiling for quite a while.  They were delicious.

 
The people next to us got quite a good laugh at us as I wondered how eat this boiling bowl of noodles.

Saturday was a very special day, Kumamoto Ward had it's first baptism since we came here.  The Elders found and taught him.  When we first came here the Elders had three baptism almost in a row and we wondered if that was typical, it wasn't.  A lot of spiritual blood, sweat, and tears are paid for finding the elect of God.

Sunday was, as always a great day of language immersion.  We attend seven hours of meetings that are conducted in Japanese (with only a little translation in one of them).  We do have an English Sunday School class in the Nagamine ward which we enjoy a lot.  It is taught by a brother from Tonga who is here pursuing a doctorate degree and knows English perfectly.

In addition to this, we had our second, "Why I Believe" fireside.  We had the local area seventy speak last, with two members who related their conversion stories all separated by two musical numbers.  It was very enjoyable.  Refreshments afterwards were made by Luetta, Banana Bread and Pumpkin Bread and to drink Mitsuya Cider (a carbonated drink) as well as Calpis soda (a favorite of ours).  Our mission is to big to have this kind of fireside mission wide, so we asked if we could do it for our area only.  The Mission President had been thinking already of doing it in the Fukuoka zone, so he is real interested in how it will go for us.  In fact, we invited him to been our key speaker next month and he accepted.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Week 27: August 5 -11, 2013 Japan Fukuoka Mission

Monday was a rainy preparation day.  It rained out our expected P-day activity of hiking on the ridge line at Aso Volcano with the elders and investigators.  However Luetta and I decided to try a bike ride to lake Ezu instead.  It started out great:


Got a few pictures similar to last time we went:




Luetta got this recording of the amazingly loud cicada (Japanese semi) bugs that populate all trees in Kumamoto.


However on the return trip it started raining harder and harder.  Here I am taking temporary shelter.


We ended up soaked by the time we got home.


We keep a good attitude and enjoyed it despite the rain.  (Good attitude learned from Louis and Lynn in Washington State)

Wednesday was 2 zone conference in the Kumamoto Stake Center.  It is fun to get together will all the elders, sisters, and the two other senior couple missionaries.  However, I have a lot of driving picking up and taking to the local bus stop.  During conference among other things we reviewed the Doctrine of Christ as taught in the second Book of Nephi chapter 31.  We received a visual aid showing the progress of a follower of Christ including Faith then Repentance, then through the gate of Baptism and reception of the Spirit by confirmation then on through the other saving ordinances till we come to Eternal Life.


and in Japanese,


It is a great comfort to know that life is a short part of Eternity and all our ancestors are awaiting us.  This location is unknown to modern science but it's existence has been revealed by ancient and modern prophets.  Furthermore anyone can appeal to God by sincere prayer for a personal spiritual witness.  I have done so, and testify that the communication is open, if done so in "faith nothing wavering."  We have an investigator here in Japan, who says, when told about this, that it isn't logical.  His response is understandable and quite common.  But to me it is actually logical.  In this vast cosmos that is so old, with planets everywhere we look, it is only logical that life exists in great abundance,  some one is sure to have attained the intelligence to be God and became knowledgeable  of the full range of existence, which includes immortality and wants us to know about it also.

Here is an astrophotograph that I took some time ago, most people when thinking about this vast cosmos are in awe of it and can easily envision the vast possibilities.  Our modern science, as wonderful as it is, and I love it all, is a bit arrogant to think they know so much that they can rule out possibilities tendered by prophets and other visionaries.



Wednesday evening we watched fireworks for Obon.  Obon (お盆?) or just Bon (?) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.  The festival of Obon lasts for three days; however its starting date varies within different regions of Japan.

Here are the fireworks we saw from our balcony.  Not as spectacular as being close but much easier.




I am hoping my mother visits us during Obon, oh well maybe I'll just have to be happy to see her in the here after.

On Thursday we were scheduled to inspect the missionary apartment in Oita, so we saved the mission a little by taking the elders who were here for the conference, home.  We were able to inspect the apartment including a reward lunch and get done early.  Since  we had to take a missionary who had a broken hand in a cast to the hospital tomorrow we dropped our hotel reservation and returned the same day.  It was a lot of driving, but we were able to stop by a small creek that we had seen in the past and enjoy it a little.  Here I am by a foot bridge.





We got back to Kumamoto in time to get a most unusual signal from our phone, looking at it we saw that it was an earthquake alert.  They have this on the phone system here in Japan, to give a few seconds alert, to get to a safer location (i.e. not in an elevator etc.).  It turned out to be far north of here and relatively weak.

What a wondrous place is the earth and the whole cosmos.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 26: July 29 - August 4, 2013 - Japan Fukuoka Mission

We have now officially completed 6 months of our 23 month mission.  It is hard to believe, time flies when you are on a mission.

On preparation day, Monday July 29th we had a great day Skype'ing our children/grandchildren and hosting 8 missionaries for emailing home/friends and for one making application essays for BYU admission.  We so enjoyed following the Pioneer day, July 24th, Marathon run's of Louis and Weston.  It was great fun as we were able to follow mile by mile on Endomundo, and to send audio cheers to them, staying up till 12:30 a.m. our time for their finish.  Louis even called to share in the achievement.  We also enjoyed seeing so many wonderful pictures of Cierra in Nauvoo, wow such great fun and excitement.

Here is the marathon link:

http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/220674157/5211783

Tuesday, we had an English class to help a young lady who will be going to BYU Hawaii this fall  for ESL for 9 months before entering the University as regular Student.  She also invited two friends (on a nonmember who goes to English Class at the Tsuboi church).  They learned English associated with making peanut butter cookies and playing Yatzee.  Did you know name from Yatzee is from the favorite play to play this game of it's inventor, on a Yacht.

Wednesday is our normal classes at the International Center,  Here is a picture of me teaching English class there, with the Students not shown for privacy reasons.


While walking along the long castle wall we noticed this:


It is a lantern display that is being set up in preparation for a festival the coming Saturday, called the "Hi no Kuni" or Country of Fire, using the ancient name for Kumamoto area of "Higo".

We also helped a missionary who had to visit a hospital to recast his broken hand from a car/bicycle accident.  Here is the parking garage.  It is another one of the elevator type, this one had the door open so you could seen the cars rotate on a huge ferris wheel type of arrangement.  It is very interesting.  Our Toyota is shown coming into place.  We had to go on to another hospital as the doctor here was not in.  The other hospital we were referred to was a specialty hospital for orthopedics, which turned out to be better anyway.


Thursday for our third visit to Nagasaki.  We inpected the Elders and Sisters apartment there.  This Sisters needed a new stove as only one burner was working on the old one.

As both apartments got "Celestial" rating we treated them to lunch at a place of their choice.  They choose, a Sushi restaurant.  Here are some photos of the restaurant and food.






As our normal hotel was full, we stayed at a new one way up on the mountain side.  Here are some photos of the fantastic view of Nagasaki.




The next day we continued on to Isahaya, apartment inspection then returned home for the third time by Ferry, always a pleasant break from driving.

On Saturday we did attend the Festival mentioned earlier.  Here are some photos.


They had these buckets of water all over the streets, which we wondered what they were for.


We found out they were used to douse the streets with water before the parade/dance began.  It must have been to cool the pavement, it certainly could not have increased the humidity in the air any more.  Luetta and I rode our bikes to the Tsuboi church and walked over to the festival route.  When we finally got home it takes a while to dry out from the humidity and light sprinkles we received.






I found this information on this festival:

火の国まつり Hi-no-kuni-matsuri Hinokuni Festival     

 
Hinokuni (Land of Fire) Festival is held in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture from August 11 to 13 every year. Being nicknamed “Land of Fire,” Kumamoto Prefecture has a lot of history and folklore pertaining to “fire” including the Shiranui (Unknown Fire) legend concerning Emperor Keiko, the legendary hero Hinokimi (King of Fire Country) in the Kofun period (3rd to 6th centuries) and the fire mountain Mt, Aso. Hinokuni Festival was first held in 1978 as an event to cerebrate this land of fire.

On the first day of the festival, the fire ignition ceremony is held at Kinpo-zan Youth Outdoor Learning Center. The fire is then brought to the torch at the symbol tower placed in the Kumamoto Castle ruins site. It is called “Fire of Hope” and keeps on burning during the festival.

The main event is the colorful rhythmic Otemoyan Grand Dance, in which as many as 6,000 citizens wind through the streets of the downtown area, dancing to a famous and happy folksong “Otemoyan (Did you get married?)” and the lilt music of “Samba Otemoyan.”
 
It WAS fun!!!
 

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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