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.
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.
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!