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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 82 August 25 - 31, 2014

It has been a slow photo week here in Japan, but on Friday we were invited over to an investigators house for dinner and a message.  She always serves sushi.

Here is our dinner fare:

Here I am eating eel, there you go Weston, I did it, as well as many of the others.

Since the death of two missionaries in Taiwan of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, we have been getting a lot of scrutiny in our mission, and I assume all others.  We were required along with all the young missionaries to submit pictures of the detector we have with its location.  Having one of these detectors is one of the items we inspect for at the apartments.

The information we got is the detector needs to be mounted high on the wall, but the information I have researched says that the CO density is so close to air that it diffuses evenly thorough the room very quickly.  I guess being right above the gas stove would be ideal for first detection.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 81 August 18 - 24, 2014

It has been a great week, but not nearly as active as the week before when our son, Weston was here.

It is an honor to wear the missionary badge in our work here.  A little scratched and worn but it's been 19 months.  Under my name in English is my last name in Katagana followed by elder in Konji.  Below the line the name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".

We are having an amazing experience learning about a culture so very foreign to the American and yet so much the same, as we are all Heavenly Father's children and have similar needs, wishes, and wants.

The language is certainly very different in the spoken format and especially in the written format.  We have learned more Japanese that I would have ever expected, but there is so much to learn.  I liken this experience to hiking over a mountain range.  You first see a hill (hiragana and katagana and basic language letters and sounds) and climb to the top, happy to have made it, and what do you see, the next higher hill (understanding a strange sentence syntax), so you go forward to the summit and what do you see, a small mountain (your first view at trying to memorize 1000's of new words), so you go to the top and what do you see a bigger mountain (the rest of the dictionary of vocabulary, particle usage, yoda like sentence structure, and then there is Konji, wow).  You get the idea,  a small mountain in the foreground obscures the bigger ones further away.  At each peak you think your a step away from significant progress and then the next peak makes you wonder where the end could be.

In any case, the wonderful people we meet in the church here and those non-members that we teach English to and take Japanese classes from, has developed a great love for them and the special Japanese culture.  I will always be so happy for all I am learning.

A mission experience is a treasure, and one to be hoped for,  I hope that all my grandsons, and many if not all my granddaughters will choose to have this experience.  The love you develop for a different area or country will always be with you and is the best recipe for world understanding, love, and peace.  You also come to value in a very deep, special way the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and what a treasure it is.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week 80 August 11 - 17, 2014

Once upon a time a son named Weston came to a far far away place to visit his parents.  We tried our best to show him many special places in Japan that we have come to love and some new ones.  The first day was Sunday and we expressed our thanks for his visit as we attended worship services at church.  We are so grateful to God for our good life and wonderful family and friends we have.  It is such a blessing, one I could never have imagined in my youth, would be possible for me.

We started our week out on Monday by running 5K at a nearby cushioned track.  No personal best for me this day.

Then we drove to Beppu and stopped along the way.

The tall Sugi trees (Cedar) are amazing.

The small terraced rice fields are amazing and nearing full growth.

First stop in Beppu was a visit to Takasakiyama in the Setonaikai National Park, "Monkey Mountain".  Met some new young ones.

Weston enjoyed taking pictures at our next stop, the Beppu Aquarium, with his "sweet" camera.

Here is one I took, but Weston's pictures are awesome.

Tuesday we visited what is known as the large stone Budda in Oita, where our hotel was.  It is apparently under restoration.  First the shrine near it.

The white plaster marks the restoration spots.

We then visited a Buddist shrine atop a small mountain in Beppu, very similar to the one in Kumamoto.  It was donated to Japan from India.

Next we started with the idea of going up the Beppu rope way but the fog was very heavy and the top of the mountain would have been completely obscured.  We were trying to find a waterfall sign we had seen on this road on the way to Yufuin but no luck, so we set sights on another one.  We accidental entered to Garmen to a waterfall that we had not seen before.  It was well worth it.  It had a very narrow foot bridge.

 Here are the two larger waterfall visible from the bridge.

And a close up of the larger one (right above) from an observation location we hiked to.

After we got back to Kumamoto we had fun at our Hospital English Class, we let everyone ask Weston a question and then tell him what they did for Obon this year.  The subject was family, we were excited to have one of our family members to show off.

Wednesday we ran 5K again, thanks to Weston doing a fast run, he drug me along and I got a personal best, that was exciting.

Then a hike up Mt. Kinbo.

I took a shot at photographing the red dragonflies that are everywhere during this season.  In Fukuoka a Japanese teacher of mine gave me two souviners of Japan in the form of two wonderful Japanese folk songs.  One was about Red Dragonflies.  Here is a link:

and the music

Hint, Hint, I really like this, calling all grandchildren.

Weston at the top with the ubiquitous sign of technology at the top.

And here we all are with with the shrine in the background.

The rest of the day was Japanese and English classes, which keep us very busy.  Everyone enjoyed hearing from Weston, his third English class of the week.  However, the Japanese class was to boring so he read, no problem.

Thursday was our trip to the Aso volcano.  This is our third time and everytime it is different, this time the smoke being belched out was voluminous.

Luckily a strong wind was blowing it away from the viewing area (unlike when Lynn came).

We also noted a sign to the headwaters of the Shirakawa river that goes through Kumamoto.  It has beautifully clear water from artesian (underground) upwelling's.  I'm told the water sinks into the ground in Aso and comes out here and many other locations.

Next we visited the Tsujun bridge, we missed the water spouts since it wasn't Saturday, but on second thought if we had got there at noon, we would have seen them since it is a holiday, oh well.

Then on to Gorogataki waterfalls, first from above (this water fall is into a collapsed lava tube).

then, below,

but the most amazing thing is the hanging wall bridge over the river that Lynn saw was finished.  Photo entering the bridge that hangs on the side of the steep cliff of the lava tube.

the look back out,

and finally at the exit a beautiful meadow with a gazebo that would be perfect for a picnic.

The rest of this hike we won't talk about since it was very wet and very long because of a poor decision.

Friday we had a very special day that started with visiting a shop in downtown Kumamoto to get fitted for a light summer Yukatta (a light kimono) for all four of us, including our special guest Akemi.  She set us this special experience and knew what to do.

First Lunch,

Then to the castle.

Akemi made this wonderful card for us from photos here.

Dad and son!

The gals,

Weston and Akemi, a cute couple!

After this we had desert first ice cream, the dinner at a MK (Shabu-shabu), it was delicious.

Saturday was another fantastic day, first visiting Kichuchi valley water falls (cascades really).

Then on to Yamaga where the Toro Matsuri (festival) is held.  Here is the Toro (lantern that the dancers wear on their head) museum.

A beautiful painting of a dancer with toro.

Weston and Akemi got a mini onzen experience (hot water bath typical in volcanic Japan), but for the feet only.

Then to the festival, which is about an event that happened 1900 years ago when the emperor visited their small village and they used lanterns on the villagers heads to light his way.  It was a spectacular event.

One of our English students was dancing in the event.

Another student was helping family at a nearby restaurant and we were able to look her up and say hi.  Wish we had gone there for dinner, it looked wonderful.  It is the Sakura restaurant in Onzen plaza.

The festival lasted till about 10:30 p.m. and we had to get up early the next day to get Weston to the airport.

Here he is on his way, it was a wonderful visit.  Thanks.

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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