My True Followers

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 60 March 24 - 30, 2014

Because if is transfer week, preparation day moved to Tuesday, but we still skyped with our children on Monday.  The sister missionaries had a lady invite them to visit, but she is quite far away, so we gave them a ride.  We were surprised with a multi course dinner, part of which is shown here.  It is very traditional Japanese food.

On Tuesday we planned a bike ride but cut it short due to routing issues, but we did see our first cherry blossom photo of this season.

When we crossed one of the river bridge this picture shows the method to redo the rock work on the side, they literally  block the river out while it is in progress.

Here I am on the bridge with more Cherry trees in the distance.

A beautiful flower planting in the city.

Wednesday was Japanese class and English class.  In addition we had been invited to a Hanamirutaikai.  Here we are by the poster they made for the party.

It was on the 5th floor, and took this picture of the cherry trees.

On Thursday it was transfer day and we did a lot of transportation including finding one lost elder who got off the bus to soon.  The road to the local bus stop is lined with cherry trees and beautiful.

Friday was a red letter day, first we went to a local outdoor track and continued our Couch to 5K training program.  Another runner, asked if wanted to have our picture taken together in front of the Cherry Trees, and here it is.

And here we are getting ready to start to run.

, our son from California visited us.  Here he is at the airport with me.

Saturday was our visit to the Kumamoto Castle with Lynn, sadly it rained all day but us and a zillion others still braved it to see the Sakara Festival.  I love this close up shot of the blossoms.

And Lynn by with the main and secondary tower of the castle in the background.

Lynn with Harry Poppins.

Look at all the people out in the rain.

I had to take this picture fast before they saw me outside.

These two won't let us out.

In the main palace there was traditional music.

We finished out day by going out to eat ShabuShabu at MK resturant.  Here is the meat.

Then the veggies,

Put them in the broth pot,

Boil and eat.

All in all a fun day even though it rained a lot.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 59 March 17 - 23, 2014

This week we returned to visiting missionary apartments that are farther away.  We visited Beppu and Oita, it was enjoyable and interesting.
First of all I came across this interesting poem (by Rose Milligan) that talks about what we do in life and choosing the most valuable.  Now I don't have anything against house work and it is very enjoyable and healthy to have a clean environment to work in, and that is what our cleaning inspections try to inspire the missionaries to do, but in the end one must choose priorities in the right order.

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

I love the twist ending, just think someday the dust you are dusting may be me!  I am gaining more intimacy with that idea from year to year.  But, I think me and my wife are trying to look beyond the mundane to the more valuable like being on a mission to serve the people we meet in Japan.  May the Lord help us to be of value, is our prayer.

I was astounded by the discovery of B mode polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

"The Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) experiment at the South Pole found a pattern called primordial B-mode polarization in the light left over from just after the big bang, known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This pattern, basically a curling in the polarization, or orientation, of the light, can be created only by gravitational waves produced by inflation. “It looks like a swirly pattern on the sky,” says Chao-Lin Kuo, a physicist at Stanford University, who designed the BICEP2 detector. “We’ve found the smoking gun evidence for inflation and we’ve also produced the first image of gravitational waves across the sky.”" quoted from Scientific American magazine 

This finding is key evidence for inflation after the creation moment (aka the big bang).  It is also a step closer to the idea of a multiverse, where cosmos are created in great numbers.  The concept of a multiverse allows God to be the one and only God of this cosmos while allowing for others, a very intriguing idea.

We visited Beppu on Thursday and after doing our work we treated the Beppu Elders to lunch, it was very yummy.  Each table had it's own grill and you cooked your meat and put it on rice to eat.

Then on the way to Oita, we stopped by the Beppu Aquarium,  It is near the bridge, shown here, over to monkey mountain that we had visited before and since it was raining an indoor activity was better.  Monkey mountain like so many mountains in Japan is very steep, it would be amazing to walk up them, O wait we have on Mt. Kinpu, and it was steep.

Lots of interesting movies of the aquarium.  Watch this guys eye!

This fish has very unusual fins.

We also watched an outside show of walrus.

Here I am communing with my wiskered animal friend, the star of the outside show.

Our conversation is confidential, but he told me the fish was excellent that they served at the show.

Friday morning we had a traditional Japanese breakfast at the hotel before going to the missionaries appartment for inspection.

On the way home to Kumamoto we passed through Aso and took a photo of the rim of the ancient volcano caldera that this town is in showing lingering snow on them.

Saturday we got to serve in the Fukuoka Temple which was very enjoyable.  All in all a very good week.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 58 March 10 - 16, 2014

Last preparation day we took a fun bike ride to the Hanaoka Yama shrine.  Yama means hill our mountain and it is on a small hill that was a fun climb and gave some great views.  We didn't have a location on a map, we just knew it was visible as a bright white structure on the hill's behind the Kumamoto Castle so we just set off to find it thinking it would be very easy to spot.  It is easy from far a way but in the urban canyons it quickly disappears from view.  I had to use a bit of dead reckoning navigation to find it.  We first went to Kumamoto Castle grounds and couldn't see it so we continued the direction we thought it would be and a person weeding the rock walls, typical of the castle structure.  It was interesting to see how he inserted a steel rod into the cracks and worked his way up and down the wall while working.

So if your ever storming a Japanese castle remember this method.  He was dressed in white and I wondered if he was associated with a shire and sure enough about 20 meters further we came across it.  We were not sure if we would find our main goal so we stopped and got a shrine signature.

Painted Konji is a work of art and very interesting.

Here I am at the gate.

It must have something to do with a horse, however it is the Chinese Lunar year of the horse.

Our search continued for the Hanaoka Yama shrine.  After some twists and turns we finally saw it off in the distance.  The dome topped structure.

A little closer.

A little walking.

Through bamboo groves.

The road is beautiful.

A few more twists and turns and a few switch back roads up the hill

Great vistas even before the top.

More switch backs

and we got to the meeting hall and ........

We got there.

Here is the view of Kumamoto from the top, with the cherry tree buds full ready to burst.

Here you can see the Kumamoto castle just lower left of center.

A close of the train station where we often take missionaries to and from during transfers.  It also is the Kumamoto stop for the bullet train.

Here is the sign describing this location.

Here are photos of and around the Stupa.

 This is probably Kato Kiyomasa.

There is a sitting Buddha on East and the West sides.

Guarded by golden lions.

With reliefs from the life of Buddha all around the perimeter.

Here is a photo of a large wardrobe we bought for the Kumamoto/Nagamine Sister Missionaries.  There are four is a small apartment and closet space is very lacking.  We found this at a 2nd hand store and with the help of a members truck was able to move it in.

All for the low price of 3900 yen (or about 40$).

I was very excited this week when it was clear enough that I was able to photograph for the first time a full constellation from our apartment balcony.  The huge gradient of blue demonstrates the huge bright light dome over Kumamoto.

You can clearly see the belt of Orion and the sword, visually I could even make out the nebulosity of the Orion nebula.  You can see Orions shield in the front (right) and his faithful dog sirius in the back (left).

On Saturday we were asked to help with transportation almost to Oso to visit a wonderful lady who takes care of the flowers at our church.  She is wonderful friend to ward members, she showed us her wonderful flower garden

and served us a what appears to be a variation of grapefruit call Pomelo (Citrus Grandis).  It was wonderful, not as sour as white grapefruit but not sweet like an orange either.

It was delicious and I plan on buying more when we find them in the stores.

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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