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.