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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week 73 June 23 - 29, 2014

Monday we had a great time calling our children on Skype.  Thanks for calling us, it is a real boost to us, believe it or not some day we get a little lonesome to see our family including our grandchildren.
Tuesday we didn't have Hospital English Class so we went to Lake Ezu and contacted including giving our English class fliers.  It was a beautiful night as witnessed by our classic pictures of rowing shells in the sunset.  People are willing to talk to us with our broken Japanese on such days.  It was fun.

This is my best shot so far for a rowing shell in the sunset reflection.  I love it.

One of the Sister's apartments was changed this transfer and we helped move them.  They now live near this gate (Tori), which is right in the middle of the road, with cars going on all sides.

The holiday of Tannabata is coming on July 7th.

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.

At Japanese class at the international center on Wednesday we were asked to participate in the festival by writing a wish on brightly colored slips of paper, they are then hung on a bamboo stalk (it was put in the entryway of the International Center last year).  I wrote my on yellow paper in child's hiragana and Luetta wrote on pink paper in Kanji.  Can you tell what we wished for????????  Both are awesome.

A picture of the tree will follow next week, hopefully.

I can't get a good view of the Milky Way or even the stars so I had to pull this one off the web.  Hope you call all look up and see this beautiful view.  Vega (Lyra the Lyre constellation, the brightest star) and Altair (Aquila the Eagle constellation, the second brightest star) are part of the famous, taught in every Scout summer camp Astronomy Merit badge, summer triangle along with Deneb in (Cygnus the Swan constellation).

As we drive through Kumamoto, we often see stickers typical of what use to be in the U.S. of baby in the car but this "takes the cake".  None of our children need this one, our grandchildren are the best and one more of the best is coming very soon, we are so excited.

This week we had a little time and Luetta showed off here Japanese cooking skills she has learned from our special friend, Akemi, here in Japan.  At top is Miso soup, going clockwise, you see fried tofu, and then Chicken Katsu.  They all tasted very good.

Saturday we had our temple assignment which is always a wonderful assignment.  However it was also very special to have Akemi's friend who is learning about our church with us.  Between our session and the on Akemi was on the Sister Missionaries taught her a lesson.  She is a wonderful person and we are so glad to know her, and have her attend our English class at the church on Wednesdays.

This week we continued our 5K running every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Wednesday we had to run in the rain for the second time now.  Not surprising since it is the rainy season.

As a scientist I have to graph everything, so her is my pace in minutes per mile since I got up to a full 5K.  I am making progress.

The slow spike near the end is due to a left knee pain that has started, I went slow that day to help is recover.  It turns out I have no pain when walking or running, but any high stepping with strain like my exercise stepping up and down on a chair still has pain.  Any ideas on how to help it??????

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week 72 June 16 - 22, 2014

This week was clearly the rainy season, lots of rain.

Tuesday we went to the YMCA Japanese class.  It was so rainy we decided to drive and walk over from the church.

Wednesday morning was very rainy but we decided to run drive over to the track and run in the rain, it was fun but we got quite wet.

This is the drainage stream that goes by our apartment and the running track, it is very full due to the rain.

This is the track and were we parked the car.

That afternoon we went to our Japanese class we take and English class we teach at the international center.  It was not as rainy and we took a chance on biking but still got very wet.

Thursday was transfers again and we got to move missionaries to and from the local bus stop with their luggage.  As always a very busy day, we had two elders and one sister transferred in our local wards with their replacements coming in the afternoon.  This transfer there were two new Japanese couples in Ishigaki and Naha islands near Okinawa.  They will be such a blessing to the missionary work there.

Friday we went to the local Red Cross hospital to measure  our blood pressures and saw our first tannabata tree for that upcoming holiday.

Saturday we were notified that the the downtown sisters apartment was closed and they were moved into a new one.  We helped for 6 hours along with local members to get everything moved.  You wouldn't think a  missionary apartment would have so much stuff, but it does.

Saturday Evening and Sunday were Stake Conference which was a satellite broadcast from Utah to all units in all of Japan.  It was very inspiring to receive the council and teaching from Elder D. Todd Christofferson among others.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 71 June 9 - 15, 2014

This has been a fairly standard week, with all the normal Japanese classes and English classes.  However, in one of our English classes a student has indicated she would like to know more about the church and will be able to be taught in English.  We hope we will be able to do a good job.

On Thursday we drove to Beppu.

The rice fields are growing well at this point, although some areas are still planting.  We understand that some fields grow wheat first and then have to be burn and prepared for rice, which may account for some plantings being later, in addition to climate variation between coast and mountains.

We inspected the apartment there.  After a reward dinner at, you guessed it, a YakiNiku place, we had a little time yet in the day and went to the top of Beppu's "Global Tower.  Here is a picture of it.

Here are photos from the top.  First here we are with the city of Beppu in the background.

A view of the city with Mount Takasakiyama in the background.  This is "Monkey Mountain" with monkey's you can walk among.  Oita is the city is the distance.

Near the base of "Global Tower" is the institute for Geothermal Studies of Kyoto University.  Certainly, Japan is an ideal place for this type of research, the whole island seems to be alive with geothermal activity.

Now a view of downtown Beppu alone.

Over in the mountains which crowd Beppu into a narrow area on the coast is the Kijima amusement park.  Haven't been there but I understand there is one unusual attraction that shows you what it’s like to be a hamster rolling around in a plastic ball.  Maybe we will try it one day.

We then look up in the mountains and saw there was a rope way to one of the tall mountains nearby and decided to try that.  The gondola.

The mountain.


We are off.

Looking back towards Beppu.

But the top of the mountain is in a cloud, and quite cool.

At the top was a little shrine.

Here is another view looking toward Beppu.

We walked to the peak at 1375 meters (4495 feet), taller than Mt. Diablo.

In the background you see the modern day shrine in high places.

We then went to Oita for their inspection on Friday.  Friday morning we got up and went to a beautiful stretch of running/biking path between Beppu and Oita and ran 5K.  Here are some pictures of the path and surrounding ocean areas.  This is not far from the aquarium and entrance to "Monkey Mountain".  Here is the path on the right of the fence with Oita in the background.

There is a jetty, where a number of people were fishing despite the no fishing signs.

This is a combination running (left of the center line with the yellow line in it) and biking (right of the center line.

A very beautiful view of the trail.

The entrance into the apparent swimming area.

They are grooming the swimming area with sand.  Oddly, we see very few people swimming anywhere we have been in Japan.

Saturday was capped the week off with a trip to the temple in Fukuoka.  A great week.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Week 70 June 2 - 8, 2014

Not many pictures this week.  On preparation day two sisters from the Shimizu ward came over and taught Luetta how to make a couple of Japanese foods.  We had taken them to the temple and Costco the week before and they wanted to do something nice for us in return.

Here is the Onigi before

the seaweed wrap.  You can put what ever you want inside, these have a tuna mixture.  They are great for picnic's and hiking we are told.

She also learned how to make Yaku Soba and Hiroshima style okonomoyaki.

On Wednesday we went to the International Center for Japanese class and to teach English.  It was raining hard.  We wore our rain gear to and from.  I think I was only slightly drying inside the gear, even with the expensive gortex that we got.  I think rainy season may have started.

Wednesday we inspected the Kumamoto/Nagamine Elders and Sisters.  Both got Celestial ratings so we took the Sisters to Gull Grey on Thursday and we got Chicken Katsu.

Friday we inspected Yatsushiro and with their Celestial rating, they chose Okonomoyaki.  I had Hiroshima style (which has a layer of Yaku Sobu noodles in it).

You should have seen the fish flakes on top of the hot okonomoyaki, they wiggled like they were alive.

We found it interesting to pass a bus that was tsubame, meaning swallow (the bird).

We took the Kumamoto/Nagamine Elders to Yaku Niku on Saturday since the Zone leaders were out on Junkai, Thursday.  The restaurant is called sutamina (すたみな in hirogana) can you see the name on this picture of the building?  It is all you can eat for 90 minutes, so you can understand it takes a lot of stamina to eat at sutamina.

Well obviously I am looking forward to Monday to start running, after all this.

It is interesting they have started the final sixth building on the very small lot outside our balcony.

On Sunday we had an Investigator over with the Sister missionaries and a ward member.  We had lots of food, we provided burritos and all other brought more food.  More weight loss opportunities.  Here is the burrito bar.

Good thing tomorrow morning is 5K time.

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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