Friday, August 22, 2008

Julie Leaves for BYU Provo!

Our little Julie! Cheerleader at the American School in Japan 2007-8
We were sad to see Julie go back to the US this week. She will be starting her freshman year at BYU next week. She moves into the dorm the same day Erika goes into the MTC. (They flew back together today)We are very proud of her! Here she is above with mom and dad and her prom date Jeff Evans.High School Graduation night with the family

We love you Julie and will see again at Christmas!
So with Erika going to Sapporo on a mission and Julie away at school, it is just us, the boys and over 100 missionaries here in Kobe!

Erika Off to MTC and Then Sapporo, Japan

Little Erika Princess - about age 5In Chuuk Micronesia 2007
Erika left for Utah this week as she reports to the MTC in Provo, Utah on Wednesday the 27th of August. She has been called to serve in the Japan Sapporo Mission. We could not be more excited for her or more proud of her. Here she is with Julie last month.
And with mom.
She will finish her mission before we finish ours. We will be about half way done when she comes home in 18 months. We will miss her, but it will be great to have her serving the same time we are. We look forward to hearing from her and sharing experiences. She spent the last 7 weeks here with us and she spent a couple of those in the mission field with other sisters. She attended all our zone conferences and toured the mission. She is well prepared to serve her own mission now.
It is an added blessing to have her serve under President and Sister Daniels. They know each other well as he served as her Stake President in Tokyo when she was in high school.
Have a great mission Sister McIntyre. We love you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Sister McIntyre!

The office staff made Sister McIntyre a cake, tako yaki and a watermelon birthday card. She loved it all. Above is our whole family and Elder and Sister Painter (office couple), Elder Christie, Kunihiro, Ahmu and Murayama - and Sammy of course.

Thanks to everyone! Sister McIntyre was very happy. What a unique card...
Again, it was great to have the whole family here. Julie and Erika are off to Utah on Friday and then it will just be us, the boys and 100 missionaries! The boys start school this week, the girls leave and we get 11 new missionaries (9 from the US and three from Japan). We are losing 9 that are completing their missions. It is shaping up to be a busy week.

Ricky Ordained Priest By Dad (President McIntyre)

Sunday morning before sacrament meeting in the Kansai Branch, Ricky was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. President McIntyre and Ricky then had the opportunity to bless the sacrament together. Ricky did great his first time as he said the prayer for the bread. Ricky turned 16 on July 4th and waited to come back to Japan to have his final interviews and be ordained by his father. It was great to have the whole family together at church this past week and for this special event.
It was also Sister McIntyre's birthday!!! See the next entry!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stake Presidents Dinner at Mission Home

Tonight we had all the Stake Presidents in our mission and their wives over for dinner. We also had my two counselors, Presidents Iwaki and Yamaji, the district president from Fukuchiyama, President Tada and Elder Ishii, our Area Seventy and their wives. It was a big group. We did this to build unity in the mission and let everyone get to know our family and each other better. We had each of them share their conversion story. It was an amazing thing to hear each of them (and their wives). I believe it helped them remember the the feelings they had about missionary work and the missionaries when they joined the church. It was like a testimony meeting and everyone felt the spirit and left with a renewed fire to lead out in sharing the gospel in the Kobe Mission.

Stake Presidents: Kobe - Pres. Oshima (not pictured) Kyoto - Tamaya, Osaka - Yokou, Osaka North - Kido, and Sakai - Sugimoto.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer Family Mission Tour Tanabe and Shingu

Family at Ogigahama Beach in Tanabe, Wakayama, Japan - August 2008

It is hot and humid here in Japan. It is the middle of summer and Obon time. Oh - bone is how it is pronounced. That is the summer holiday when Japanese traditionally visit the graves of their ancestors. There are various ceremonies and rituals associated with Obon, but for most Japanese today it is simply summer vacation time. Many people go back to their home towns from the city and visit relatives and honor their ancestors by cleaning the grave sites and offering flowers.
As this is the last week we are all together as a family for a while, we decided to take a trip to see the two areas farthest from the mission home, Tanabe and Shingu. They are located in Wakayama prefecture and both are on the coast. Shingu actually borders Mie Prefecture and the Nagoya Mission boundaries. We left Tuesday morning (preparation day for the missionaries) and drove down to Tanabe (about 3 hours by car). We did not schedule to meet the missionaries until 6pm (at the end of their prep. day) so we visited the nearby beach called Ogigahama until late afternoon. We all had a great time. It was a nice beach with white sand, clear warm water, and not too crowded.
All four of our kids in the water! Don't know where Jeff is? Underwater?
President and Sister McIntyre also enjoyed a swim and time with the kids. As we have children with us on the mission we are allowed to participate in normal family activities and are not under all of the same restrictions the missionaries are. "When we are with our kids in a family activity, we can be normal parents." Whatever normal is...
After the beach, we checked into our hotel and went to the church and met the Elders and Brother and Sister Enomoto. Below is picture of our family with Elders Ruesch and Smith currently serving in Tanabe. After meeting with the Elders we ate dinner and visited the beach again where they were having a summer festival (Matsuri) and fireworks show. We took pass along cards and other tracts with us and spent some time "finding" as a family. We talked to several young people and I was able to demonstrate the principle of "talking to everyone" and "opening your mouth."

A view of the village called Minabe from our small (and not so nice) hotel in Tanabe. We had some study time and prayers with the Elders in the morning and then we were off to Shingu. That is another 3 hour drive along the coast the whole way. It was very beautiful country. We stopped a few times for pictures and exploring.

At this stop the boys were excited they found a little squid. They wanted Sister McIntyre to eat it but she was not hungry.
The boys catching sea creatures at Hashigui Iwa. These are beautiful rock formations jutting out of the sea. At low tide you can walk out to them.
Some of the creatures they caught. Hashigui Iwa at low tide. The tide came in on our way home the next day. As in the above picture and below.High Tide coming in.
Also, on the way home all the kids jumped in the water at this pretty little beach between Shingu and Tanabe and James and Erika were stung by jellyfish. Can you see the stings? They decided to catch the small critters and wanted to take them home. They caught two, but we decided that it would not be a good idea to take them home. Erika's knee got stung. They were cute little things, but packed a strong sting.
Above are the Shingu Elders (Elder Melluish and Elder Maeno) with our family in front of the little church.
Here is shot of the whole building. The church is right behind everyone. The missionary apartment is upstairs on the 2nd floor.
While in Shingu, we had a small fireside to which 3 non-members came. There are only 3 active members in the branch so that was an exciting thing for everyone. With our family and the missionaries, we nearly filled the room. The next morning we visited Sister Shimamoto who lost one leg and cannot come to church. The missionaries take her the sacrament each week. We also visited the Iwamoto family, who are less active and invited them back to church. We spent an evening with Brother Tsuboi, the most active member and one of his friends he invited to the fireside, Mrs. Wada. We have heard since she is willing to hear the lessons.
The trip was a lot of fun for our family. The purpose was to visit the missionaries and members in these small areas and learn how we can better grow the church there and support the small groups of members. We felt blessed to meet these faithful few, who despite small numbers, remain faithful and true. We all loved Shingu and Tanabe. Though it may look like we had a lot of fun (which we did), our goal was to bless the lives of the members and we are grateful we were able to accomplish that.

Here are a few more fun pictures!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Toyooka Sunday Visit

Toyooka Branch
Mission Presidents preside over the Districts in their mission. In case you do not know, districts are made up of branches of the church (not wards). While some stakes have branches, districts do not have wards. A District President leads the district under the direction of the Mission President. Each branch has a Branch President (who functions very much like a Bishop in a ward). In the Kobe Mission, in addition to 5 Stakes, we have one District (The Fukuchiyama District) that I preside over. Fukuchiyama is made up of 4 branches (Toyooka, Fukuchiyama, Nishiwaki and Maizuru). The Kobe Mission also has one lone branch (the Shingu Branch) that is not a part of a Stake or a District which reports directly to the mission. One of the missionaries assigned there always serves as Branch President under the direction of the Mission President. Next week we are taking a trip to Shingu. (See my last entry)

Today, Sister McIntyre and I visited the Toyooka Branch and presided at the meetings and were the only two speakers. It is about a three hour drive to Toyooka so we left early in the morning to make the morning block of meetings. There were about 30 members in attendance. A little less than half were primary kids and youth. It is actually a strong little branch with a good core of solid families. We enjoyed the meetings and visiting with members. After the block of meetings, we had a pot luck meal (Shokujikai) with everyone at church. This is one of those great traditions I enjoy in Japan. They are really nice in the smaller units and it really has a family feeling and allows the members to bond and strengthen each other. And the food is usually really good. We did not take a picture of the whole branch as we will be be back in a month or two for a Branch Conference, but Sister McIntyre and I took a picture outside the little church. A "less active" member owns the land and let the church build on it. We hope he becomes "more" active. "Less active" is a kind way of saying "inactive" in Japan.
Some of the families I want to remember there are the Tada's, Fujikawa's, Murata's, Furutani's, Terada Shimai, Hasegawa Kyodai and Nakashima family. The Nakashima's have a handicapped boy who is Aaronic Priesthood age. His older brother is serving a mission in Sapporo. The handicap boy is named Kota. He is a deacon, but he cannot hold the trays or pass. One of our missionaries (today is was Elder Magidman from Brazil) pushes Kota's wheel chair around with him while he passes the sacrament. That way Kota can be a part of passing the sacrament even though he cannot hold the tray. At the end when the deacons take the sacrament, Elder Magidman gentle puts a piece of bread in Kota's mouth (and does the same with the water). It is a tender thing to see.
I challenged the members to all write their testimonies in a couple copies of the Book of Mormon with their family picture. I told them to give it to a friend or relative and that if they did not feel they had the courage to do that right now, to give it to the missionaries so they could give it to someone. I told them we would check back with them when we return for conference.
On the way to Toyooka, we pass this Carp (Koi) farm. They have big fish there! I took a picture of one jumping out of the water. I missed a shot of another in the bushes, but hope to get a picture next time through.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ricky Finally Arrives in Kobe

August 9th, 2008, Ricky arrived in Kobe on the bullet train from Tokyo after landing in Narita from the US. 2 Basketball camps and EFY kept him busy all summer. We are grateful to all our friends who accommodated him this summer. He stayed with the Weeks, Fowers, Millers and Hunsakers. We are glad to have him back in Japan.
Erika met Ricky in Tokyo as she went down to see some old friends for a few days. Julie was working in Tokyo and finished today. Her and Jeff Evans met up with Ricky and Erika and rode back here on the shinkansen. It is about a three hour train ride on the super express. (The picture above shows Julie Erika Ricky and Jeff)
Ricky looks pretty tired! This is the cake James and Elders Kunihiro and Christy made for him to welcome him home. Ricky said he has not shaved since EFY which was three weeks ago. We wish he had!!
OK- He looks a little more "Genki" here! After testing out the basketball court, he was off to bed.

Sister McIntyre and I are off to Toyooka Branch tomorrow morning to speak. It is three hour drive and the meetings start at 10am. The kids will all attend Church here in Kobe. It is just across the driveway! Monday Sister McIntyre and I will meet President and Sister Evans here in Kobe Then Tuesday we are taking a road trip and visiting Tanabe and Shingu in the farthest away part of the mission (Southwestern Wakayama Prefecture). We will take the whole family and Jeff with us. The Shingu Branch is not in a stake and is under the direction on the mission president. Currently one of our missionaries, Elder Melluish, serves as Branch President. He and his companion, Elder Maeno, are excited for us to make it down to their area. We will post some pictures from our trip next week.