Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jan 09 Wakayama Tour with Assistants

After the holidays and zone conferences, Sister McIntyre and I spent most of our time making the regular transfer interview visits. Our last zone was Wakayama. We travelled to Iwade with the assistants on the 28th and interviewed part of the zone there. After lunch, Sister McIntyre returned to Kobe by train and the assistants, Elders Bohman and Rasmussen, accompanied me by car to the farther locations of the zone. Periodically I like to visit these areas personally rather than have the missionaries come to me. We cannot do this all the time in all areas, but we try to balance our visits. We drove to Gobo from Iwade on Thursday afternoon and I interviewed Elders Harris and Neider there.Here are the elders in front of the Gobo church building. This is actually the back of the building. The church is on the second floor. Gobo is a smaller branch in the Sakai Stake.
Above is Elder Neider and I standing in front of the Gobo apartment. After interviews and an apartment inspection, we drove to Tanabe which is further down the coast of Wakayama. That evening I interviewed elders Christensen and Drake and the assistants helped teach their weekly English class at the church.
The next morning we took a picture in front of the Church. Tanabe has a nice little building chapel. It is also a smaller branch in the Sakai Stake. Thursday morning we had study and morning schedule with the elders and then departed to Shingu.
Here are the assistants and elders Drake and Christensen in front of the Tanabe apartment building. They live on the 7th floor with a great view of the ocean. The drive to Shingu is several hours from Tanabe. There are two routes, the coast or the mountains. We took the coastal route down and returned via the mountains. At one of the rest stops we found a governmental experimental breeding laboratory. They are breeding wild bore with domestic pigs. We took a picture or two and actually saw some inobuta (a cross between a Inoshii/bore and a Buta/pig). This was just something you do not see everyday!

Above is the mom and dad and here are the inobuta children. They do use them for meat. They were very friendly and cute though.
About half way down the coast is the Hashiguiiwa rocks in the ocean. The assistants took advantage of this famous photo spot.
Once in Shingu I had the chance to interview elders Fell and Schmidt and the assistants spent some time with their English class and on splits proselyting. Friday the 30th, in the morning we spent our study time together in the Shingu apartment then started our journey home. The drive back to Kobe can take anywhere from 5-6 hours.
Took a quick picture in front of the Shingu church before leaving.
On the way home on the mountain route, about lunch time we found and stopped at a little restaurant on the side of the road. It specialized in unique "local" cuisine. (picture above) The elders were brave and wanted to try some so we had a quick lunch consisting of wild bore meat (inoshishi donburi) over rice, wild bore meat curry, deer meat fried rice and to top it off some raw deer meat sashimi. A nice family owned and managed the place and we visited with them for a few minutes and were able to leave some information about the church. The food was good!
Sister McIntyre and I also attended the Sakai Stake Conference this month. Elder Stevenson of the seventy presided and Elder Bin Kikuchi, an area seventy, accompanied him. I spoke in the priesthood leadership session Saturday and the main session on Sunday and Sister McIntyre spoke in the Saturday evening session. It was a great conference. We also held a new member meeting with Elder and Sister Stevenson, Elder Kikuchi and President Sugimoto of the Sakai Stake after the meetings on Sunday. We saw several new converts we know that have joined the church since we arrived. It was great to see the work moving forward and the fruits of everyone's efforts. Time is moving so fast. January is gone and February begins. Some areas in the mission are quite cold. Toyooka has lots of snow. Spring will be here soon!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January is Mochitsuki Time

Pounding rice into mochi is a very popular Japanese tradition. We have found that most wards have a mochi party sometime in the month of January. Here is Sister McIntyre taking her turn at the Kobe Ward Mochitsuki Party.
Wet rice is pounded with the mallet, and everyone takes a turn, until it turns into a sticky stretchy ball. It is then divided up into several smaller balls or pieces. You can then eat it in many ways or it can be dried to extend its shelf life for future consumption.
Mochi balls are good in homemade Japanese soup, stuffed with strawberries or Japanese red bean paste, both sweet treats, or baked/microwaved or fried with soy sauce and/or cheese. The Kobe ward had a big turn out and the missionaries had several investigators and friends attend. Everyone enjoyed the food and it was a beautiful January day for the activity.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A New Year Begins - January 2009

This a picture of Sister Yamada who was taught and baptized by Elders Badger and Stufflebeam in the Kita Rokko ward in the Kobe Stake. We travelled to the ward on Monday, January 12th, which is a Japanese holiday, and enjoyed making mochi with the members and then attended the baptismal service. These two elders knew each other before their missions and were actually very good if not best friends. I am not sure if they ever thought they would be companions, but what a special experience it was for them to teach and baptize this sister together. They will have a great story to tell to the ward back home. There is much more to this story, but I will just say it is really one of the great little miracles we see everyday in the mission. Above, the assistants, Elders Bohman and Rasmussen doing one of those acts of service for the president. Washing the president's van is something the missionaries never complain about doing, even when it is pretty cold out!
The first of the month, right after zone conferences, we had the chance to travel to Tokyo for two days to attend several of Ricky's basketball games.
Here he is with us at St. Mary's Int'l School in Tokyo after a game. Ricky attended this school for 2 years when he was in grade school. He never converted to Catholicism though!We tried to get a shot of Mt. Fuji from the car. Here you can see the volcano cone peaking through the clouds on the left side. The summit of Mt. Fuji is nearly 14,000 feet. It is the highest point in Japan.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Holiday Pictures and Wrap Up

We had a wonderful few weeks over the holidays filled with family time as well as a lot of mission business.
The Sunday after Christmas we travelled to the Sakai stake center (below) for the baptism of Sister Kohigashi.
Below is Sister Kohigashi with us and Sisters Webb and Inoue.
Between Christmas and New Years we took a day to play in Osaka. This (below) is the Dotonbori area.Rika and Julie are doing their Glico Man impression (He is the big guy on the wall behind them)
Mom loves crab, but Julie was not smiling in this shot? Everyone loved the shabu shabu though. Here is a shot of the kids getting ready for the feast.
Mom and Dad enjoyed the meal too.
We had some fun on the street playing the drums. Ricky was the champ!
Julie found a new boy friend while we were shopping. He was quite buff.
She wanted to take him home, but he wouldn't fit in the car. He didn't talk much either.
On New Year's Day we had a sports day at the Ibaraki stake center in Osaka. Since the 2nd was Zone Conference for many of the missionaries from the outer areas, we had a big group in town for the activity.
It was a fun day for everyone. We had basketball, soccer, volleyball and a mean game of dodge ball. They don't quite look the same without their suits and name tags though.
On the 4th, we attended the baptism of Maria Kawakami in the Hanayashiki Ward. She was taught by many missionaries over several months. In this picture are Elders Reading, West and Ashdown, and Sisters Meyers and Kurashita.
We had Zone conferences on the 2nd and 5th of January. We are now through the holidays and back to normal. Julie returned to BYU in Provo on Sunday. We already miss her.
We are off to a great start in 2009 and look forward to a great year.