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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 34: September 23-29, 2013 Serving in Kumamoto Japan

Preparation Day, a day to prepare for the rest of the week.  We loving talking to our children and grandchildren on Skype.  This week we had a call with four of our sons in Newark, California.  The previous week-end they had completed an Ultra Ragnar, from San Francisco to Calistoga.
An  Ultra Ragnar has a relay team of 6 (compared to a normal Ragnar of 12), which consisted of four son's and two nephews.  They finished in above average time.  This was a fantastic accomplishment.

Here they are at the finish line box.

After the phone calls and letting the missionaries use our computers to email home and friends, we took a 20 mile ride to try again to visit a less active church member who was not home again.  Monday was the holiday in Japan for the start of Autumn, so many people we off work.  Here are some sites on this ride.

A beautiful Zinnia blossom,

and Sunflowers,

A set of rapids on the Shirakawa river,

The sun peeking through some clouds, no rain today.

The rice is now ready to harvest.  See these stalks heavy with rice.

In this field the rice has been cut down apparently by hand and awaits drying in the sun before thrashing and winnowing.

On Saturday we drove to Nobeoka to inspect the missionaries apartment and pick up the zone leaders and bring them back the same day.  It turned out we had perfect timing to stop at the Tsujunkyo Stone bridge.

Tsujunkyo Bridge is the Japan’s largest stone-arch aqueduct bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1854 by Yasunosuke Futa, a local official in Yabe, in order to supply water to the Shiraito Plateau where people were suffering from a shortage of water. The water is supplied from the upper stream of the Sasahara River roughly 6 km away, and the total length of the water passage is approximately 30 km, and the irrigated area is an extensive 100 hectares. The bridge has the capacity to supply 15,000 m2 of water in 24 hours, in order to irrigate the paddy fields. It was designated as a national cultural property in 1960. The bridge is well known for its water release during the Hassaku Festival. The length of the water passage is 126 m. The bridge itself is 75.6 m in length with a width of 6.3 m and a height of bridge of 20.2 m. The radius of its arch is 27.6 m.

Here are some of pictures starting with a shot near the parking lot.

Now more up close.

With Luetta in it to prove we were really there.

People on the other side of the river getting ready for the show.

look how small the people look on the top of the bridge, there are no guard rails to protect people from a misstep, thus I didn't go up there.

Notice the two holes in the bridge one above the other. 

The man in the Red cap has a sledge hammer that you can't see.

The top one goes first, then

the bottom.


More proof we were there.

Luetta was brave and went to the top and got this shot of water gushing out on both sides and no guard railings.

How you enjoyed your electronic trip to the Tsujunkyo Bridge.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 33: September 16-22, 2013 Serving in Kumamoto Japan

I have recently included a number of our Japanese friends in our face book and blogs.  We typically don't include photos of people or missionaries here in Japanese for privacy reasons.  We don't usually cover details of our missionary activities for the same reason.  We love to post pictures of what we do and the wonderful places we are blessed to see.

Monday was preparation day as normal.  We managed to use our bikes today.  A Sister in the new sister's apartment called and said the building owner had been by, due to water coming out of the bottom of the building under the wash area.  They felt it might be due to a poorly installed washer.  We biked there to inspect and determine how we could solve this problem.  We observed that the shower area was the probable source of the leak and not the washer.  The sisters will talk to the owner and let them know our findings.  Later they did this, after not using the washer for a week and having water under the house every morning they showered.  Such is part of our life, not much different than owning a duplex in Orem.

Here is a photo of the area under the shower.  It shows water damage on the iron beam, due to it's depth it is clear there has been water damage for a long time.  Notice the silicone caulking.  Under the bathroom floor boards.  This is very similar to the proverbial "locking the gate after the horses get out".  It will only serve to trap the water in the floor area a bit longer.

Here I am inspecting for water damage.  Oh, a day in the life of a senior missionary with assignments  over housing.

While were there we took a few photos of the kitchen area we had furnished to show the Mission President his wife.  I think it is quite nice.

On the way back to our apartment we passed by the gate where a huge festival parade was to start.

In September, Kumamoto hosts the Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine Festival, also known as the Drunken Horse Festival because of the horses that are colorfully decorated, given alcohol and then paraded around the city.  Here is a link to a prior year of this:

We were told that not only does it involve drunken horses but the same beverage is used by the human participants very liberally, so we decided it would be best to avoid this one.  We did bike through the gate and the road to the Shrine.  There were many food booths and children games and it seemed quite family oriented, at least during mid-day.

It had been a wonderful, very clear day and for the first time since I came here.  The evening sky had fair visibility of the stars in the sky.  Here is a shot with my small electronic camera.

Can you determine what constellation it is?  Bloggers, compression algorithms really make this shot look poor, you will have to believe me they are much better in full resolution.

Tuesday we had a birthday party for one of the Elders.  My wife my Indo Curry, a very popular dish here in Japan.  She used recipe's she got from a Japanese Sister.  It turned out real good, and was enjoyed by all.  My wife is developing a repertoire of Japanese recipe's for use when we get home.

It is served over rice and spices can be added to adjust the heat level to your taste.  It does seem odd to have potatoes served over rice.

Wednesday was our normal day of teaching English and taking Japanese classes at the International center.  We are now working on reading Konji in our Japanese class.  One we studied was the Konji for exit.

Almost always when you see an exit sign it will have the English along with the Konji, helping us foreigner's to know where to go to get out in case of a problem like fire etc.

On the way back Luetta took this photos of some beautiful flowers:

I took these photos of the name of the stream near our apartment and a small bridge.  I am not sure if all bridges have names like this one.

The third Konji is kawa meaning stream or river.  Anyone know the other two?

These are in Hirogana letters and is read wa-ze-ya-ma-gu-chi-ha-shi.  Hashi means bridge.

Here I am looking at the bridge marker.

Notice the typical stop sign, the red triangle.  I don't know the first Konji (but is obviously meaning to stop), and the last two are hirogana ma-re.

Thursday we went to Omuta to inspect the apartment there.  Along the expressway we took this photo of an exit sign,  here is your Konji lesson.

If we ever need to exit and the sign doesn't have the English with it, it will be real useful to know them.

Today was also our 44th wedding anniversary and we continued on to Fukuoka to attend the temple.  Our married life started in the Logan Temple and it seemed only fitting to celebrate our 44th here in Japan at the Fukuoka temple.  Our life has been blessed by the effects of that decision and is evident in our wonderful family and grandchildren.  We love them all and miss them.

A beautiful day indeed.  We were planning on attending the 4 p.m. session but found out there was only a 7 p.m. session contrary to our memory.  So since we were there early we enjoyed our favorite American store here Fukuoka.

We enjoyed a meal of an all-American style hot dog ala Costco complete with American style sauerkraut.

It was fun.

On Friday we had another beautiful sunset. 

We also enjoyed following the ragnar race of four of our son's and two nephews.  It was grant to be able to send messages via text and endomondo live coaching (while Weston was running).  Here is a map of the relay race route starting in San Francisco.  Who would have ever thought we would have such a running family.

Saturday we checked the Shimizu/Tsuboi elders apartment.  They got a Celestial rating and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with them.  We them were able to catch part of the English Language speech contest that is help in Kumamoto (and through out Japan).  The winner will get a scholarship to BYU-Hawaii.  The speeches we heard were excellent, and the judges had a hard time, but I really enjoyed their analysis which gave all participants pointers on how to improve there English speech abilities.

Sunday was also a wonderful day of Japanese language immersion and opportunity to grow our language and worship the Lord.  In the evening we had our third "Why I believe" fireside.  Our mission president came all the way from Fukuoka to be our key speaker and we had two wonderful conversion stories by converts with a touching musical number by the elders in Shimizu and Tsuboi.  My wife had prepared light refreshments which we enjoyed afterwards and had to talk to all those members and investigators in attendance.  It was a spiritual highlight to our week.

In October, the Kumamoto Castle festival is held on the castle grounds with cultural performances, concerts and archery exhibitions.  We hope we will get to see these and let you know what they are like.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 32: September 9 - 15, 2013 Serving in Kumamoto Japan

Monday, Preparation day again.  We did the normal cleaning work and sharing our computers with the missionaries for e-mailing and talking to our children on Skype, what a blessing modern communication technologies are.  We also gave a new sister in Shimizu a car ride to the Supotu Depo to buy a bike.  This store is a Japanese R.E.I.  I can walk around for hours and drool over all the exciting equipment and cloths.  It was a long ride for her two companions and then they bought the bike and all three returned to Shimizu.

Because we have been soaked twice in the rain we took this opportunity to buy us some rain gear and better rear view mirrors.  This bike jacket and pants are made from gore-tex and are very expensive.  We hope they are worth it.  Here is Luetta's colors.

The mirrors are the type that mount to the ends of the handle bars and seem to be effective.  When we ride to the International center in the morning we are traveling with the high school students who ride like crazy.  With the mirror's we can see them coming.  It also helps me stay with Luetta.

After this, for our exercise, we started a bike ride to the new Shimizu Sisters apartment to get tools we left with them last week to assemble their new desk chairs.  On the way to the Shimizu/Tsuboi church we crossed the Shirakawa (kawa means river).  We note from this picture they are adding an additional lane(s) to this already very busy road.  See the steel piles, they are driving to bed rock.

We decided to continue our ride to lake Ezu (a place we have been to before that we enjoy).  Here is a kayak on the lake, sure made me wishing I could join him.

We got there at sunset just like last time we took this ride.  This time I managed to get one of the rowing shells that ply these waters in the sunset reflection on the water.

Here is Luetta on a bike path that we found this time that allows us to stay on the lake instead of going around the zoo, and take a lot longer to get back to where we want to be.

We passed a interesting Japanese grave yard and ended up with a wonderful view of the moon when we got to our home away from home.

On Wednesday we went to the International Center to teach English conversation and take our Japanese class. Our Japanese teach is a retired High School teacher and is teaching us in the Japanese style, to read and write.  We reviewed Hiragana and then Katagana with their respective romanized equivalents then went right on to Kanji.

Here is the word for emergency exit above a door at the International Center.

That afternoon the Nagamine sisters wanted to give them a car ride to an investigator that plans on moving into their area, but is now in the Yatsushiro branch area.  We took them and we had a wonderful lesson, during which Luetta and I added our thoughts on the principle of Faith and bore testimonies of the importance of baptism.

In Yatsushiro, we saw a rice field with the rice heads on them finally.  It is very cool to see how it grows.

One in a long while we have to stop at one of the many 7-11 stores and buy a corn dog (exactly like the ones in the U.S.).  They have a very creative package to dispense both ketchup and mustard at the same time.

Our son, Daniel, had a school project where he proposed a side by side bottle that would do a very similar dispensing of the two condiments.

Our week ended on Sunday with 8 hours of Japanese Language deep immersion.  We are starting to hear more and more words every week.  This is exciting and at the same time painfully slow.

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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