Friday, February 5, 2010

We Will Re-Open Sumoto Branch on Awaji Island!

This week we travelled to Awaji Island which lies between Honshu (the main biggest island of Japan) and Shikoku (one of the 4 main islands of Japan and part of the Hiroshima Mission) via the Akashi Ohashi bridge. Awaji Island is home to the Sumoto Branch of the Kobe Stake. Missionaries have not served there for several years. We have decided to reopen the area to missionary work and visited the island to secure an apartment for the missionaries. Here is a shot from the car as we crossed the bridge and approach Awaji Island.
This is a picture from last September when we visited the area on our preparation day. The map in the background is of the island. Sumoto is about in the middle on the east coast. To the north you can see a small piece of honshu where the bridge crosses and to the south there is another bridge that crosses to Shikoku. The southern end between Awaji and Shikoku are home to the famous Naruto Whirlpools in the ocean.
The branch meets in a rented building in downtown Sumoto. The white sign on the brick wall says the name of the church.
The bridge is 4 kilometers long and the longest of its kind in the world. In ancient times the island had a rather good size castle and was a bridge between the two big islands. The castle ruins are on top of Mikuma Mountain right in the town of Sumoto. The apartment we are making an offer on looks right out at the mountain and you can see the tower in the back of us from the window. The castle was first erected about 500 years ago.
Hard to see but some pictures of the ruins.
400 year old wall. Sounds old, but in Japan's history a few hundred years is not that long ago. We have been to temples and sites 1500 years old.
A view of the beach and ocean from the castle ruins.
Getting on the bridge on the way home. We found an apartment we think will work and we officially started proselyting by visiting with a woman on the mountain and giving her some literature and letting her know the missionaries would visit her when they arrive. The branch is excited to have missionaries and working on a plan to work with them. There are about 80 members on the island and most are not attending church. The branch activity consists of a few faithful families. They have been requesting missionaries for some time.


Toshi said...

Finally, SUMOTO opens!!! Congratulations! They should see good success in AWAJI-SHIMA:) I am so jealous to the missionaries first go and serve there!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your updates. We returned from serving as the office couple 2 years ago and it is so wonderful to be able to read your blog and keep up with "our mission". How we miss Japan and serving. So glad to hear about opening Awaji Island. The Cullimores

Jeff said...

Wonderful news! I served in the Sumoto Branch for six months in the summer of 2003 (Karlsson Choro) when it was part of the Hiroshima mission. It is a wonderful place with faithful members.

When I was serving there in 2003 the branch had not seen any baptisms for many years but the members stepped up their efforts and they were the reason we were able to see a sweet sister accept baptism while I was serving there, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life!

Please tell the new missionaries to not be afraid to travel long distances if they feel impressed to do so! I saw many miracles when my companinon and I traveled to remote areas of Awaji island, it might take 2-3 hours to bike to an area, but if the Lord wants you to go there, you do it! May the Lord bless the wonderful branch there and the missionaries who have the privledge to serve the wonderful people of Awaji! I know the elect are there waiting for the message of the restoration of the gospel! I hope the area book is still intact with some of the contacts I taught! Please tell the missionaries to look up those sweet people in the area book!

Gospel Love,
Jeff Karlsson