Friday, July 30, 2010

Branch Conference in Niihama, Matsuyama District - Shikoku

The end of July we travelled back to Shikoku for two Branch Conferences and a District Priesthood Meeting. The first conference was in Niihama.
This is the Niihama Branch building. We attended a great branch conference there.
Brother Aoba was called as the new Branch President. He is a skilled artist and potter. His son, a recently returned missionary was called as one of his counselors.Sister McIntyre with Fox Shimai and Iwaki ShimaiAs is the tradition, we enjoyed a meal together as a branch after conference. The conference was attended by the District Presidency whom we will be working with going forward in the Matsuyama District. President Nakajima and his counselors, Presidents Kawasaki and Kariya.We were invited to visit President Aoba's home on our way home to Kobe. He lives in a beautiful little valley surrounded by bamboo and rice fields.Here is a shot of his house from across the field on our drive in.He fires all his pottery right here on his property. Much of it is done in these old fashion ovens. His art work and pottery pieces are all around the home and yard.This plate depicting of the Tree of Life is similar to the one in the Tokyo Temple Celestial Room which he also made. Here is picture with his wife and three daughters and President and Sister Iwaki.
It was a great trip and we met so many wonderful members. As mission president we preside over the districts on Shikoku so we will be visiting these wonderful places and people often!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday Ricky and More!

Ricky was in the US on his birthday so we welcomed him back to Japan with a cake and face cookie.
The first version of the cookie did not have whiskers, but since he had not shaved for several days, mom added the final touch after he got home.We had a fun get together at the office and celebrated birthdays for Elders Oshiro and Masui as well.
The three birthday boys. Elder Oshiro and cookie.
Elder Masui and cookie.
Earlier in the month we also celebrated Elder Burton's birthday in the office. We love excuses to make and eat cake and other goodies!We also recently had a visit from the former Elder Harris and he was lucky enough to be here to get a birthday cookie too!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some Recent Baptisms June-July 2010

Here are some updates from the field. Brother Tokunaga in Kobe was baptized. Here he is with several of the Elders who taught him.
Sisters Shou and Ohigashi were baptized and taught by Sisters Patrick and Kaneko in the Kobe Ward. Brother Tanaka in Wakayama was taught and baptized by Elders Starks and Imai.
Kaori Shimai in the Iwade Branch was taught and baptized by Sisters Shields and Yamada.
Imai Atsushi in the Sekime Ward was taught and baptized by Elders Tibbs and Childs.
They also taught and baptized Sister Hashizume in Sekime Ward.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No More McDonalds for President - Just for Fun!

Unless they get rid of that clown, President said he will never eat at McDonalds again! And for a good reason. Sister McIntyre looks a little too happy with that guy! Needless to say the missionaries love this shot. Thanks Sister Kina for sending it to us. This was taken earlier this year.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All Mission Conference July 8, 2010

This month had a wonderful mission conference to bring the new Kobe Mission together. We met at the Kobe stake center. It was not easy getting all 150 of us in one picture! One unique blessing of the mission change was the addition of Sister Matsuoka to the Japan Kobe Mission. Her younger brother, Elder Matsuoka, has already been serving in Kobe and now they are in the same mission! Elder Matsuoka returns home in August, but they will be able to say they both served together in the Japan Kobe Mission.

We have increased in our number of sister missionaries. Here is a picture of the Kobe Sisters at the conference! The all mission conference was a special event to remembered by all in attendance. We were happy to have a couple of our stake presidents attend with us as well.

First Zone Leader Council in Combined Mission

How would you like to wake up in the morning to these missionaries on your porch? What a great bunch of missionary leaders. As part of Zone Leader Council, we took a morning hike. It was a great to spend time together and become more unified in the work.
We took a group shot at the Maya cable car station just before hitting the trail up the mountain.We did not go too far, but high enough to get a good view of Kobe and part of Osaka.At this view point, we read a few scriptures, sang High On A Mountain Top and one verse of our mission song.We took another group shot.Had been raining for several days, but cleared up enough for the hike and to make it pretty humid. Rika found a nice walking stick on the way up. The night before we had a meeting at the mission home. This is what our entry looks like when we have about 30 elders over for meetings. You always remove your shoes! What do you feed these missionaries? Well usually Sister McIntyre cooks for them, but because we have been so busy, one night we decided the World Buffet would be nice. We had no complaints.
They certainly ate their money's worth!
We had all the zone leaders from the former Hiroshima areas with us and had a wonderful training and council meeting. Next day was All Mission Conference!

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Areas, New Missionaries and a New Mission!

Mission Tour to the Shikoku Member Districts and the Okayama Stake
The end of June we set out to meet our new missionaries and explore the new areas of the mission. With the consolidation of the Hiroshima Mission into Kobe and Fukuoka, the Kobe Mission took over two member districts on Shikoku (9 Branches) and the Okayama Stake (10 Wards and Branches). We added 19 units and 32 missionaries. Below is map of just a small piece of Shikoku. We came across the island in the upper right hand corner to Tokushima.
We set out on Sunday morning and visited the small branch of Sumoto on the island of Awaji (part of the Kobe Stake). We enjoyed speaking in sacrament meeting and visiting with the members. After church we headed towards the forth largest island in Japan, Shikoku to see our new area. The following is a travelogue of our week. We travelled over 1500 kilometers (over 1000 miles) in six days, held 4 Zone Conferences and interviewed all 32 new missionaries during the trip. We also saw some beautiful cities, churches and countryside.Tokushima Church - Sunday afternoon we arrived at the church in Tokushima. We found the sisters there teaching a lesson and introduced ourselves to them. They were surprised to see us. We also met District President Korida and the Tokushima Branch President at the church.It was a good chance to take a picture with some of our leaders in the district.Takamatsu Church (District Center) - We then drove to Takamatsu where we would hold our conference and interviews Monday morning. We stayed the night in a hotel here and met up with the assistants and office missionaries who came from Kobe in the other van Monday morning.During our zone conference, the members in Takamatsu made everyone a delicious lunch. Here is picture a of the Takamatsu Zone missionaries. They are now part of the new Kobe Mission!Marugame Church - Conference and interviews lasted until about 4pm. We left Takamatsu sometime around 5pm and headed for Matsuyama clear across Shikoku. On the way, we had the chance to stop in Marugame to see the brand new chapel there.
Marugame is located in Kagawa Prefecture and Kagawa is famous for Udon Noodles. Of course the elders wanted to try some. So dinner on the road was in Kagawa at this noodle shop. Although it was getting dark, between Matsuyama and Marugame lies the Niihama Branch. There has not been missionaries there for about 6 months and we are sending some in next week. So we needed to find the apartment and make sure it was set up for our elders to arrive.We first located the little church and got a picture as best as we could in the dark. Niihama Branch - The apartment was also located and in good condition. So we continued our drive to Matsuyama. We finally arrived and went to our hotel while the elders joined the Matsuyama Missionaries in their apartment. It was a little crowded so they tell me.
Matsuyama Church (District Center) - The next morning, Tuesday, we met at the church and held a great conference and interviews.
Here are the missionaries from the Matsuyama areas. Welcome to the Kobe Mission!More wonderful food prepared by the members. The missionaries do not go hungry out here!Wednesday was our big travel day from Shikoku across the inland sea to Honshu (or the main island of Japan), and across Honshu to Yonago which lies on the coast of the sea of Japan (Okayama Stake). We figured it would be a 6 hour drive and since we had no preparation day that week we took the morning to see some of the sites in our new area before heading out.We visited Matsuyama Castle on Wednesday morning. It is one of the nicest castles I have visited and has a spectacular view of the city and sea. The elders loved the chair lift that takes you up to the castle on the mountain.Here we are inside the castle walls posing for a picture. Here is a view of Matsuyama city from inside the castle. The rumors that Shikoku is the countryside and there are no people to share the gospel with are not true. We found Tokushima, Takamatsu, Marugame and Matsuyama to all be quite large cities. We look forward to sharing the gospel here.
After the morning tour of the castle, we headed towards Imabari, the last branch we planned to visit on Shikoku as we made our way to Yonago.
Imabari Church - Imabari is a smaller city up towards the inland sea of Japan. We had lunch there before catching the freeway over the islands back to Honshu.The drive back to Honshu was quite amazing. Several islands in the inland sea are connected by a series of bridges that connect Shikoku to Honshu. We finally arrived in Yonago just as it was getting dark. Again the elders went to the apartment and we retired to our hotel near the church.Yonago Church - The next morning, Thursday, we again held zone conference and interviewed all the missionaries. Welcome to the new Kobe missionaries from this zone.
After interviews and the conference, we offered to drive the sisters back to their area, Kurayoshi, before travelling back down to Okayama for the night. The drive to Kurayoshi from Yonago takes you along the Sea of Japan. Wind off the sea is common thus this area of Japan has some of these big windmills to generate power.
The Kurayoshi church, a branch, is out in the country. The proud Kurayoshi Sisters. Sisters Matsuda and Fujiwara in front of the church.
Here are the assistants, Elders Monson and Masui at the entrance to the Kurayoshi church. After dropping off the sisters and also inspecting their apartment (which was clean) we headed for Okayama. We stopped for dinner at a family restaurant and finally made it to Okayama around curfew time for the elders. Okayama Stake Center - The Okayama Stake Center is quite large and sits next to the former mission home and offices of the old Okayama Mission. We still use the large missionary apartment there as a place for missionaries to stay when traveling. Parts of the old mission home are also currently used by the stake and for other church offices.We had a wonderful conference in Okayama and interviewed all our new missionaries. Welcome to the Okayama Zone!
Before leaving Okayama, we drove across town to see the Okayama Nishi Ward building.Saturday, after the assistants returned to Kobe, Sister McIntyre and I visited another church in the Okayama Stake (in a big rain storm), Tsuyama, where we attended a very nice baptism with the elders there.
Elders Maxfield and Burhoe baptized Sister Nakagawa. This was the first baptism for us to attend in the new part of the mission. What an amazing week it was. The pictures here really do not do our trip justice. We are so excited to work with these additional missionaries in these wonderful areas of Japan. After arriving home in Kobe, we had little time to rest as we needed to prepare for our Zone Leader Council and our special all Mission Conference - Blog update coming soon!