Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week of April Fools 2011

Monday we cleaned our apartment windows and screens, fans in the bath room, and organized books shelves. The young missionaries were in and out all day until about 9:15 pm. Tuesday, March 29th, we had quite a ride. We finished the apartment inspection in Omuta and set the "Navi" for the Toyoko Inn in Nagasaki where we have reservations to stay the night. Navi had a mind of her own and we ended up on a ferry boat ride across the bay. A first, and Tom quite enjoyed the drive in the rain and it also shortened our trip by more than half the time.

Entrance to the Ferry

We found our Hotel after going around the block, parking in handicapped parking, and then going around the block again to find some parking. By the time we reached our room I was about done except that we hadn't eaten much since breakfast so we had prayer, walked to a building, rode up two floors to a Media cafe, thought all cafes meant food, the man at the desk gave us a funny look and said "no food." We then went into the elevator to get to the 10th floor Cafeteria. The elevator would not go up when we pushed the #10 button, we tried several times, even riding down to the 1st floor and trying again. We finally got the message not to go there and walked down an alley until we saw a food sign. Bingo! Good food we cooked on our own grill and the gas didn't give out. I only spilled on myself twice. The napkins here, if you get any,are less than half the size of the small ones we have at home.

This is our large hotel room. The sign on the bed says there is room to put large luggage under the bed. Notice how much room there is.

Also check out the bathroom sink handles, they also control the shower. I scalded Tom when I tried to wash my face while he was showering.

We came back to our room and the Internet hooked up without Tom having to get someone to come and decipher for him. Small blessings to someone that can read Hiragana, Katakana and Conji, large ones to we English speakers. Tom is so strong and patient!! I am a very blessed woman!

Elder McGlinchy from Isahaya waving us in and wearing a bowl on his head. He is at least 6ft 6 inches tall.

Wednesday we drove back to Isahaya, about 12 miles away with at least 4 miles of tunnels and 700yen for tolls, to inspect the Elders apartment and then back here to do the Nagasaki Elders in the afternoon. Then up to Sasebo before bedtime. Our typical day? We don't know what a typical day is because every day is different. Wednesday, March 30, we were in Isahaya, Nagasaki (where the United States dropped a big nuclear bomb many years ago to stop the Japanese people from attacking our Military troops) and then that night in Sasebo. We have been in these cities inspecting the different apartments that the Missionaries live in. We do this to make sure they are safe and clean. Thursday we inspected the apartment in Sasebo and then took two Elders with us and met the other two that we didn't know were there to the Naval Base. We found some American things there that we needed. Things like molasses and powered sugar, blankets (the Japanese don't have big enough blankets,) peanut butter, honeynut cheerios, cheese and some other things we either can't find or they don't have here.

Battleship in the Sasebo harbor New bridge into Sasebo

After the Naval Base visit we drove about three and a half hours back home to Kumamoto as Friday, President Margetts (our Mission President) was in Kumamoto for a mini Zone Conference.We parked our car Wednesday night in one of those tricky places that we described on our Blog.

The Sasebo Elders (4) were very kind. They needed new futons and a rod in their closest to hang their cloths. After we purched the items we went to the Naval Base to shop for some things and get some American fast food. The first person was the gate guard, who checked us and let us in and introduced himself as Brother Curtis, a member of the Military Branch. We also met some other members of the church on the base. Sister Small and Brother and Sister Santag. It was very fun going to the Base.

New bedding from PX at FLTACT (Sasebo)

We managed to miss all but one of the toll roads on the way home. That added a hour to the three hour trip, but we saw a lot of new country.

Toll Gate for toll roads

Some of the scenery along the way

Friday, we attended our mini Zone Conference. President and Sister Margetts and the three Assistants to the President were there. We were taught to not just commit to baptism, but to commit the investigator to being a member of the church. We were also taught of look for the good in our companions. It was fun to realize that we had many more good things to write about each other than the 5 we were asked to write! That is a good thing to do as we do not plan on changing companions.

Johnson Shimai, Sister Margetts and Bess

No, I was not polishing those shoes, Sister Margetts does that.

Saturday, we collapsed and cleaned and shopped. We went to a members home for a delicious dinner. Raw salmon and salmon eggs along with other things. These were all very good.

Kurukawa Choro, Takuya Miyazaki, Nishio Johnson and Barraclough Shimai, Takuya

and Inamori Choro. Inamori, Kurukawa and Nishio Choro

We then went to the baptism of a 10 year old young man. I think the whole Ward turned out in support of him! Sunday, we fasted for the fourth Sunday since we have been here. Four Sundays! Church was great and next Sunday we listen to conference, It is nice to have the internet and be able to listen to it in English a week before the Japanese wards get the translation. I sure hope they have a English translation for us or it will be a long two days. We are also set to pick up our new drapes and order new sheers next Saturday before we start Conference at 12 noon.

We found two new grocery stores this week, one has a few Great Value brand items and the other one is alot cheaper than the other stores we've shopped at. We will have to take pictures of these stores so that you all will understand why they are so hard for us to find. We also found another Do-it-yourself hardware store that has plants ready to plant. I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy a pot, plant flowers in it and put it on our 8th floor balcony. Tom tells me that I have flowers out there already. Plastic ones!

The Gospel is true!! Japanese people are wonderful and the members are so humble. We love them and still wonder how we can serve them.

We miss and love you a bunch!! Thanks for the emails.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 21 - 27, 2011

First convert baptism in our ward building since we got here. Matsunaga-san 63 years years old. Kurakawa Choro baptized him and was a little worried about getting him back up after putting him under as he is quite big and not so mobile. The young woman in the picture is newly returned from a California mission.

I met a visitor from Tokoyo today in Relief Society who had been supported on her mission many years ago by a couple in Utah. This couple was too old to serve and they had been praying for someone to serve in their place. This woman was living with them on a "home stay", she had recieved a proposal of marriage from a good Japanese man and had gone to the Temple to ponder over it. While in the Temple she recieved the answer that she was to go on a mission. Having not thought about a mission she was quite surprised but decided to go. As she told the couple (named Christensen) They assured her that they would finance her mission which they did. On her mission she had a companion with the name of Christensen. She had a plastic bag with a beautiful crocheted table topper in it. As Johnson and Barraclough Shimai and I admired it she handed it to me and said she wanted me to have it. I made sure that we translated that correctly as I was so surprised.

First meal that I have cooked and eaten completely with chopsticks. ( They didn't offer a fork and I was hungry) Tom is a pro with those chopsticks but his quit working halfway through the cooking and eating. We finally resorted to stabbing and using a chopstick in each hand. We had to eat fast as our little burner under the skillet gave out about the time our chopsticks did.

Lunch out with our two favorite Australian Choro and the four Shimai and an investigator just before we took Harada and Yamada Shimai to Yatsushiro to their new apartment. Tom and I are wishing we were in Yatsushiro, (not really President Margitts) it is beautiful down there and the Shimai have a field of garden space just outside of their apartment. The roads are even wider and not quite so crowded.

Yea, garden space in Yatsushiro.

Harada and Yamada Shimai. We are going to miss them. But we will see them every Kayobi (Tuesday) morning for District Meetings.

Tom and all but two Choro after District Meetings. Our new from Tokoyo,Inamori Choro is sitting next to Tom. We now have three Zone Leaders in the Kumamoto Ward. That makes 5 missionaries at house every Monday morning to email home.

Large road in Kumamoto

Small road, or normal two way road in Kumamota.

Spring in Japan---walking through the Mall after getting our Gaijin (alein person card) at the City Hall.

Typical height of door leading into a Japanese restuarant about 5 feet.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kurakawa and Nishio Choros, first to try the new recliners.
This has been a very busy week (13 -20 Mar 2011). Monday we had the missionaries come over and email their homes. The chairs we had ordered for the apartment were delivered while the Shimais and Choros were here.

Sister and Brother Ikegami
We shopped to get other items for the apartments and we went to family home evening at the ward. Tuesday we went to our district meeting in the Tsuboi Ward, had lunch with the 1o missionaries, took Johnson Shimai to get her hair cut at the Beauty Shop of a less active member, who gives free cuts to missionaries, (Tom survived sitting in a beauty shop waiting for 2 hours) and barely made it back in time to eat with the Ikegami Family that night at 6pm. The food was so good! Brother Ikegami is a councilor in the Kumamoto Ward.

LiGang, Wang Ying, Barraclough and Johnson Shimais
Wednesday we received a call from President Margetts, who told us that the Mission was receiving 43 missionaries from theTokyo and Sendai Missions. He said the Church was closing those missions until a future time when the missionaries would be safe. We invited Li Gang to come to the house and help fix some computer problems. He worked about 2.5 hours on them and got some fixed. He had a hard time reading the English in the programs. We were also able to meet Li Gangs wife Monday night.

Thursday we waited to receive a call on what Missionary changes were being made. We had a member, Maiko Fukumori, help us order drapes. That was quite a process. We had to measure twice and go back to the store. It took about an hour to fill out the order form after we decided what we wanted. Good thing Maiko was with us, the order form was not English and neither was our saleswoman!
Friday morning about 6:30am we got the call to pick up three new missionaries at noon at the Jietaimae bus stop. We were taught an hour of Japanese lessons before we left to pick up the two sister missionaries, a member helped our Choros pick up the new Choro. TheShimais are assigned to the Yatsushiro area, about 40 kilimeters South of here, but no one knows where the key to the apartment is. We took them to the Shimais apartment here in Kumamota where they will stay until a new key is made. March 25th is the guess as to when. We took them shopping for what they needed. One sister did not have sheets and they both needed food. We then went to Sports night at the Middle School and watched a great soccer game staged by our District Missionaries. Tom went on splits with Kurakawa Choro to teach a 10 year boy who's mother is a member and father is not. They made it back in time for the young boy and Kurakawa Choro to play. Bess was the cheerleader and wallet holder for the two teams. There were 6 or 8 investigators there to play.

Saturday we went to the Shimais apartment for Japanese lessons and lunch. Both were good. The bathroom light does not work, so we spent the afternoon looking for apartment repair items. One can not get anywhere fast in Japan. There is unimaginable amount of traffic and most of the roads are less than one lane wide and are used by traffic both ways. That evening we took the two Choros from Omuta to the International Center to use the computers. The parking was amazing. We pulled into a very small area and the car was rotated, the outside mirrors were collapsed, the garage attendant closed the metal door and we walked away wondering where our car would be. It returned when we came back! They lower the cars into an underground parking, it takes them less than a minute to retrieve it when you want it back.
We then took the missionaries to the the very large and newly expanded to recieve the "Shinkansen" (bullet train) Train Depot for their return trip to Omuta.
Sunday we attended church for 5 hours and then a baptism. Church is always interesting depending which of the missionaries are interpreting for us. Each Sunday the Sacrament meeting is made up of at least 5 if not more speakers. We had 9 missionaries at both the Kumamota and Nagamini wards. Because LiGang does not speak any more Japanese than we do they have called Brother Rogers, who is from the States, to teach an English Gospel Doctrine Sunday School class.
Koide Bishoppu (our Nagamini Bishop) read a letter from the Asian Area Authorities today asking us to fast next Sunday for the Japanese people affected by the volcanoe and tsunami disasters. They need to be able to find peace, also many have lost loved ones, are injured, have no home, food or clothing. There is no gas, because of broken lines, to keep them warm and it is still very cold up north. We have been asked to give what we can to the Church Humanitarian fund or Fast Offerings. The Spirit is so strong and the members are so loving that is an honor to be among them.. We know the Lord has sent us here to learn to be more humble, kind, patient and loving. Now to find out why else and who else we are to serve!!

New picture for Aikaiwa (English Class)Flyers

Nishio and Kurakawa Choros
Tom and Bess
Barraclough and Johnson Shimais

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One week in the apartment

Setting sun from apartment
View of church from apartment
It has been three weeks since we updated the blog. We will do better. The second week at the MTC was Office Specialist Training. Computer, we love computers! It was a tough week, after the spiritual high of the first week. Working in computer programs all day was not fun. We did attend the Tuesday night devotional which was great. Sister and Elder Patrick Kearon of the First Quorum of the Seventies spoke. They were very positive and uplifting. At the end we missionaries sang "Called to Serve". On the weekend we got hair cuts, shopped for last minute items, and attended a family dinner at the Poulson's house. It was so good to see everyone!
On Monday 28 Feb, we took the bus to the airport to fly to Japan. We were able to fly with the 7 new missionaries coming here and some going to the Sendai and Tokyo missions. They were such good Elders. They studied their scriptures and lessons all the way to Japan. The flight took two hours to Portland, 11 hours to Tokyo, and two hours to Fukuoka. We met President Albrecht, Tokyo Mission President, in the Tokyo airport. He directed us to where we needed to go, but we still got lost. Two missionaries were not able to get on the bus between terminals and we were separated, but they made it to the ticket counter before we did!
When we got to Fukuoka, President Margetts and Sister Margetts and the APs were waiting for us. It was so-o-o good to get there! We had a snack and went to our General Authority bedroom. We were introduced to Japanese Toilets. Oh, they are very nice, a warm seat, and a wash and dry!!

Fukuoka Temple and Bess (freezing)

New Choros in Fukuoka plus President Margetts and Tom.

Walter and Patricia Lowe.
We visited with the President the next morning and he said plans had changed and we would need to stay at a hotel for five nights while the Lowes were teaching us the area. So we got on the bus and headed for Kumamoto. When the bus let us off, no one was in sight to pick us up. We tried to talk to some soldiers to see if we were at the right bus stop. We had to call the Mission Office and have someone that could speak the language to find out if we were where we were supposed to be. We were, and about that time the Lowes came to get us!
Not a bad Room!
They took us to the Richmond Hotel and we unpacked and went on a tour of some of the City
We went to English Classes that night and met some on the ward members and investigators. Tom played ping pong with some of the best players we've ever seen. Went to dinner and got back to the hotel after 10 pm. We are not sure how the bed was since we did not move. The next day we tried to get a bank account, but could not since we didn't have a Gensin, (not sure how to spell this,) card. We tried to get a card, but have to wait two weeks. We went back to the room early, since the Lowes were going to Fukuoka to the temple with the missions that were going home. Getting food that Bess can eat has been a challenge, but we are learning. Bess tried her first Sushi too. We have two sister missionaries and two native elders. They have been so much help! The Shimais (Sisters) are Johnson from the state of Washington, Barraclough is from the Washington D.C. area. In fact we are wondering if Sean Peterson isn't serving in her home Stake?

Friday we continued learning and Saturday we went to the Relief Society's birthday party. This had to have been one of the funnest party's we've been to. There were two large tables full of beautiful food we could not recognize, dancing, skits and games. Everyone treated us like long lost friends giving us a large bouquet of flowers. Sunday we had the privilege to speak in both the Kumamoto and Nagamini Wards. (Scary for Bess, Tom enjoyed it.) Thank Heaven for the Shimais who translated for us. Monday we ran around all morning and half the afternoon getting the Lowes ready to leave. We took them to Fukuoka that evening and went to eat out with them and President and Sister Margetts. We then started home with the help with the GPS. We only got lost twice before we got out of Fukuoka, but we made it home!
This week has been busy learning to shop for food, household cleaning supplies, new cook tops for apartments, new chairs for our apartment, glutenfree flour, a camera for our computer (so we can call home see our family as we talk) and new drapes to replace our waterstained and shredded old ones. Try doing that not speaking Japanese!!!

We know that Our Heavenly Father is inspiring our mission President. There have not been Shimais here in Kumamoto for over a year and this week we have two who speak and read the Kanji and Hirigana that is needed to buy anything and to read street signs and store signs. They have been invaluable to us. Johnson Shimai is half Japanese. The two Choros (Elders) are native Japanese, they like to teach us language lessons but we think they are learning English faster than we are learning Japanese. Kurakawa Choro and Nishio Choro are our Zone Leaders and wonderful men. It is amazing how fast you learn to love others when you are serving God.

Johnson and Barraclough Shimai.

 Kurukawa and Nishio Choro are on the right of the picture of Choros. The other Choros are in our District. This picture was taken in a restuarant after District Meeting last Tuesday.

Elder Buckingham from Australia coming through the small door of the restaurant. Inside the restaurant

We had LiGang, a Chinese man from Mongolia here yesterday and an investigator, here yesterday with the Shimais. What a nice time, we fed them all ice cream (very expensive here) and Li helped Christensen Choro fix the computer so we could call home.
The people here are very gracious and loving. Everyone wants to help us in some way or another, and we are here to serve them!
We have a dinner engagement with Kumamoto Ward's first counselor in the Bishopric Tuesday evening. He was smart enough to invite the Shimais too so we could understand each other!!