Monday, August 31, 2009

Kobe Flower and Bird Park

The boys are back in school so for preparation day we took a few hours and went to a great bird and flower park on Port Island in Kobe. The flowers were beautiful, but we enjoyed taking pictures of all the exotic birds. We start a busy transfer week tomorrow so this was a nice way to relax. Enjoy the pictures!

Now that is a Lily pad. These were really cool. If the weight is evenly distributed, they can support up to 100 kilos. We decided not to try though.

This one kept poking me in the side.

Ever wonder how ducks can walk on water? It is easy when you step on the fish.

The ducks were a little annoying. They followed us around and pulled on our pant legs until we would feed them.
Rika made a lot of friends.
This was her favorite duck.

There were many more kinds of birds and gorgeous tropical flowers hanging from the ceilings. We were surprised it was so nice and that there was such a wide variety of birds. I did not post any pictures, but they had an owl collection that was quite impressive. Owls from all over the world, 30 or 40 different kinds. Enough about the birds. Back to the missionaries!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Special Transfer - 4 Missionaries Return Home With Honor!

This week we had a special transfer for four elders who have completed two years, but needed to get home before the regular transfer date to start school. Elders Steele, Schmidt, Swartz and Throop all departed on the 21st after two years in Kobe. We had a nice meal, testimony meeting and a trip to the park to view the night lights of Kobe the night before they left. In the morning, the four elders went on a morning run with Sister McIntyre and I up the mountain and to the river.
James and Ricky started school this week and look real excited about it in this picture from dinner. James was not happy he had homework on the first day back! Nevertheless, the food was delicious. Two kinds of Gyoza, stir fried meat and veggies, chili shrimp and chicken, salad and mango sticky rice.Elder Throop was given an apron from Sister McIntyre for his service in the mission office after his bike accident. She claims he was her first APW or Assistant to the President's Wife. Elder Throop finished his mission strong after healing and was eventually transferred back to the same area where the accident occurred, Hanayashiki, as his final area. A great group of elders. Regular transfers are the first week of September and we will be welcoming 9 new missionaries and 4 more return home.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recent Shots from the Around the Mission

Here are some picture updates from around the mission. Above- The Miki Branch had a wonderful baptism this past week and most of the members are pictured here. Sister Goto Yukiko was baptized. She was taught by Elders Maua'i and Stennett. They are both from Hawaii and said luau dendo works great in Miki. Elder Reading who is also pictured also taught her when he was in that area.
When we did interviews in Fukuchiyama we all ate lunch at an all-you-can-eat yakiniku. Everyone looks quite satisfied. Pictured are Elders Matsuki, Mizuguchi, Fa'aleilei, Oshiro, Reading, Ritchie, Kurose and Cutler.
Sister McIntyre finally found something to do with all those old ties she gets from the missionaries. Here she models a skirt made from old ties. She now has each returning missionary leave her one of their old ties so she can make things with them.
This sign outside of a convenience store between Hirakata and Nara reads: Let's Stop Annoying Behavior . You can figure what behavior they are talking about.

Elders Monson and Swartz enjoy chocolate on their dry ramen noodles at a recent district lunch at the mission home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mission President Seminar in Korea

The past few days were spent in Seoul Korea for the Asia North Area Mission President Seminar. We were privileged to have Elder Cook of the Twelve preside and train us accompanied by Elder Costa of Presidency of the Seventy. Of course Elders Stevenson, Choi and Aoyagi all of the Seventy and our Area Presidency also attended and trained. All the mission presidents from Japan, Korea and Guam/Micronesia attended.This (below) is the group of Japanese presidents and wives that came out with us last year. Two more years to go and it is going way too fast. From left to right, President and Sister Isa, President and Sister Tateoka and President and Sister Daniels. Here are all the currently serving Japan Mission Presidents and their wives. This was taken at the Seoul Temple after our session.
We had a little time to hit the street market. This was as we left the Nandaemun Market in Seoul.
We visited the National Cultural Museum and took a whole group picture. Our general authority visitors and area presidency are on the front row. We are in the back row next to the Daniels and Tateoka's.
Some of us at the Museum on Saturday afternoon.
At Sunday night dinner, many of the Korean sisters dressed in traditional Korean dresses.

The conference was wonderful as we were instructed by the Spirit through an apostle and the Lord's servants. Elder Cook was one of the lead general authorities on the missionary committee when Preach My Gospel was created and he shared with us many insights about that wonderful guide for missionaries. We will be teaching and following up on the things learned in our missions and especially at zone conferences.

Happy Birthday 2009 Sister McIntyre!

This past weekend we spent a few days in Korea at a mission president's seminar with Elder Cook of the Twelve and Elder Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy as well as our Area Presidency. At dinner Monday night, Everyone sang Happy Birthday to Sister McIntyre and they prepared a birthday cake for her. She was so surprised and happy that she cried. She then had to use this big knife to cut it!
Upon arriving home from Korea Tuesday evening the boys and the elders surprised Sister McIntyre with a cake and other gifts. They sang happy birthday and shared a short video they created for her. Ricky made the cake and mom was pretty happy with all the love shown.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Typhoon and Earthquake Update, Plus Letters from Missionaries

The Kobe Mission was hit by Typhoon Number 9 this weekend. But don't worry! Everyone is safe and dry. Parts of the mission in the mountainous region near the Japan Sea (Toyooka especially) had river flooding and some landslides. Most the serious damage and deaths were in the low populated areas bordering the Hiroshima Mission where we do not have any missionaries serving. The southern part of Wakayama, Shingu and Tanabe, were also brushed by the typhoon's arms as it roared by in the Pacific heading for Tokyo. Just as it passed there was an earthquake in Shizuoka (Nagoya Mission) that was felt in parts of southern Wakayama as well. This may all sound scary, but it was basically business as usually and no one was hurt and no damage to report. Just a lot of rain. I was in Toyooka on Sunday for church and had the opportunity to set apart Elder Takashi Tada as a missionary. He enters the JMTC tomorrow. We also had a missionary fireside in the Toyooka Branch that afternoon. As I drove home the rivers that run through the area looked very full and authorities were starting to issue flood warnings. Later, I was glad to hear everything was OK and happy I made it home safely without any problems with washed out roads or landslides.

Several of the members of Toyooka on Sunday.

On a Brighter Note
One of the greatest privileges I have is to read weekly letters from the missionaries. If you have ever wondered what they say, let me tell you, I get everything and anything. These letters are sacred and I learn so much about the missionaries and mission by reading them. It can be exhausting if I have over 100 letters stacked up to read. And as soon as I am done, I get 100 more. But it is worth it. I certainly cannot share the letters with anyone, but from time to time I would like to share a few lines anonymously that are inspiring and can help you a feel what our great missionaries are experiencing. Here are a couple.

...Zone Conference was amazing. Every time I go to Zone Conference I get chastised by the spirit and it is refreshing! Sometimes when you are told you could be doing something better, you feel bad. But at Zone Conference, it was refreshing to hear and feel that happy need to change.

During our Sunday School class, I saw something amazing. There were 9 people in the room as follows: 1 teacher, 2 missionaries, 2 recent converts of less than 3 months, 1 less active member we invited to come to church and 3 investigators who were experiencing church for the first time. Those investigators, 2 are new who were contacted referrals and one is a progressing investigator. Amazing!

This week was fantastic. We really have raised the bar. I have come to love personal study. I really enjoy that half hour in the Book of Mormon. I really have felt the Savior's love over the past little while. I used to think the atonement would not apply to me. I was so wrong. I have come to learn that true repentance is a change of heart. I am grateful for the atonement.

That is all for now!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Short Update August 5, 2009

This past week we attended a wonderful baptism in Senri, Osaka North Stake. Sister Hirai Ayaka was found through street contacting and taught by Sisters Inoue and Kaneko. Her baptism was performed by Elder Sheffield. Elder Burton is also pictured with us.Last Saturday, the Kansai Branch and Kobe Ward held their annual summer festival, Matsuri. Sister McIntyre and I dressed up in our summer Japanese local wear for the occasion.
Julie is back in Utah and attending BYU, but took some time for a trip to Lake Powell with her friends. I did see a video of her up on one ski as well. Julie and Jeff at Rainbow Arch.
Amanda and Julie on the houseboat.
Julie and Jeff getting ready for some water sports.
Summer is at its peak now in the mission. Most days are very humid and hot. It will be this way into September. The end of September, October and November can be great weather wise here in Japan. We just have to watch out for the typhoons that tend to blow through in the fall. Proselyting in heavy typhoon rains is not very fun or dry. The boys start school on August 21st. They have been taking it pretty easy (sleeping in and playing basketball mostly).