Monday the 31st was new year's eve day and the banks were closed, we had done all we could to be ready financially so I took a walk around the Fukuoka Botanical Park which is adjacent to the temple. It was a beautiful walk. The Park itself was closed, we will have to go inside someday.
This path is directly behind the temple (compared to the main access roads) which is actually the front door of the temple.
I will translate this sign: in romanji it is "abu nai !! sori asobi wa yame mashoū". The literal translation is "Danger !! sleigh playing let's stop", but I think it means that due to danger of the many curves and drop offs to not skateboard. Oh, just like home, but in this case I didn't see any evidence of violation.
This is looking into the park where there are a number of different types of bamboo groves.
This beautiful tree is in bloom.
An interesting foot bridge over one part of the circumnavigational walk.
The last of a persimmon tree with fruit still hanging is see through the trees.
An interesting tree with ivy growing up the trunk.
As as you end the walk and round the last bend, the Angel, Moroni comes into view.
It was a very enjoyable walk on a relatively warm walk, on a beautifully clear winter's day. Seeing the temple at the end of the walk with the symbolic Moroni statue blowing his trumpet towards the east with all the symbolic meaning, while on a mission warmed my heart.
The 16 noble new missionaries arrived late that night. I drove our car to help pick them up at the Fukuoka Domestic Airport. I prefer "noble new" over the often used term of "green beans", it is so much more appropriate to their mission.
The next day (New Years Day) I helped with financial orientation of the new missionaries and took care of financial needs and retention of passports in the safe for safety. We took many of them to the local Hakata bus and train station. Since Fukuoka is a hub for missionary transfers many missionaries come here meet their new companions and then leave for their area. It is a very busy day and I'm sure all the clean cut young people with loads of suitcases and name tags make quite a sight.
The next day I helped with the returning missionaries by driving a rental van loaded with lots of suitcases. They carry all their earthly possession at the end of the mission, but along with them, the missionaries take other treasures of a mission honorably fulfilled, service given to so many, trials of tears that brought growth of their hearts. What an awesome blessing to them, to their future families, to converts they saw join the church, to the whole church, indeed to the whole of mankind.
It doesn't look it in the picture but this is a very large, long van and it was fun driving it through the streets of Fukuoka. Not a single dent or scrape.
We were also invited to a special New Years Lunch by one of our English class students who is also a member of the church. It was fascinating to learn about the cultural traditions behind all of the foods.
Here the first course: Starting from the glass cup and going clockwise I will try to identify them. In the cup was a white radish salad, behind the cup see see a sweet black bean (representing fertility), The orange item I don't remember, next in order is lotus root followed by a seaweed roll (a gelatin like material), next fish roe, the star shaped items are also a gelatin material, then sliced chicken, and lastly dried tiny fish with a sweet sauce over them. The center item is a sweet potato. An interesting side note on the fish, is that many Asians are lactose intolerant and need other sources of Calcium. The whole dried fish, including bones provides a good source of Calcium. Also a dark seaweed also provides Calcium in the diet. The dish above this was provided for other foods that we took from a serving plate. One special one was gathered by our host from the mountains in the spring, they are the stems, which are pickled and taste wonderful.
The main dish was a soup of a delicious chicken based broth. The whole meal was cooked by our hosts mother in law is a special traditional way where they start with the light colored items and end with the darker items collecting the broth as they go to get the final broth in the soup. Floating in the soup is a green vegetable like spinach, the two white items to the right are fish and a mushroom. The while mass sticking to the bottom is Mochi. Mochi is a traditional food made by hand for the New Years holiday. It is made by serveral men using large wooden mallets to pound a special cooked rice and develop the unique thick gooey consistency.
Here is a picture of Luetta's workstation as the receptionist and office secretary. She is keep very busy sending letters to missionaries, parents, and church leaders about the various needs and activities of the missionaries.
During transfers mail including packages are held till the missionaries are in their new areas. This makes quite a collections in the entry way to the mission office.
Well Christmas was over and we took down our Christmas tree. Our dear daughter Gwen and her family, who were our gift exchange family this year sent it to us. It cheers our apartment and warmed our heart. She know her dad well and sent lots of chocolate and her Mom's heart was so gladdened by the nativity set she send. All the gifts were so special and made our days joyful. It brought to our hearts the times we send Christmas gifts to our children on missions and made realize the sacrifice they made (really a wonderful investment). We love so much all our children and grandchildren they are so special in their own way and the Gospel gives everlasting meaning to our Eternal relationships.
Well after so many good meals (at transfer times were are often invited to the mission home to enjoy special meals with the missionaries, we realized we needed to do a little more biking on preparation day. So on Saturday after so cleaning and lunch we took off to see the ocean and beach (actually the Fukuoka Bay)
We were hoping to have a Costco Hot Dog or Pizza for dinner. Here is the route we planned.
Here are some photos along the the way. Along one of the rivers we crossed here is Luetta doing what she loves to do, take pictures of birds, in this case ducks.
And here they are, Common Pochard (Aythya ferina, eurasian species). I have realized how much we are alike in love of the natural world animate or inanimate.
Finally we made it to the beach on the bay, one day we hope to ride all the way to the beach on the other side of the bay on the Sea of Japan (actually the Korean Straits).
We rode out onto one of the jetties and got a look back at the huge Fukuoka dome where sports and entertainments events occur.
Another view of the dome.
And me sporting my warm, hat made by Cheryl. I love it!!
We passed a diving shop. I am pretty sure the diving suit is antique and not what is currently used.
Here is a shine we came across with the statues in their New Years Red robes.
Our trip was cut short. We wanted to arrive back to the apartment before dark.
The ride ended up being about 20 miles, not real long but good for us in our preparation day time.
On the way back we had to cross a road on overpasses. They have a incline in the middle to allow you to push your bike up and down.
A very fun day. It is always best to reward yourself with activity, not food.