Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aug. 22 -28, 2011

This week we had a couple of good experiences. Friday we were able to teach, in English, Gospel Vocabulary words to the Seminary Students. Seminary here starts a 6 am and is held all year round but Hachi-gatsu (August) and the students actually want to be there. It was amazing to see how quick they could turn in their scriptures to Scripture Mastery Scriptures even when given the clues in English. The class is a variety of ages, along with the High School students there are two teachers, two young men who are preparing to serve missions, four older women, a seven year old girl, an eleven year old girl and Fukuhara Bishoppu (bishop) that attend. Bess taught, (Tom is a great support man keeping her on when she loses her place) and did a great job at teaching and helping the students sound out, read and pronounce words like: Stake President, Relief Society, and Melchizedek Priesthood. All these word are foreign to them. They will need them at least at the MTC on the way to serve their missions. It was so fun to work with the youth again!!

Seminary students? Notice the one passed out on the table on right side of picture, he had a hard time staying awake for some of the class. Nariaki, the tall one on right side back leaves for his mission to Nogoya Japan on Ku-gatsu (Sept) 5th. He is working with the Choro to learn his Preach My Gospel lessons before he gets to the MTC. He likes our pineapple cake so we are going to make one for him this week. Good thing we replaced "Wally!"
We have been meeting once a week with a Brother Maesawa for a little over a month. He is a less active brother with a daughter and son on a mission. He is helping use to learn Japanese. We need that. He spends hours preparing for the 1 1/2 hour class he teaches us. He comes to our apartment and says he feels comfortable with us. He does not like crowds, but is now coming to priesthood meeting. His wife is in the Relief Society Presidency and was the person we gave a Priesthood blessing to a couple of months ago.

We also had the privilege to attend and work at the Temple on Saturday. We gave Tobias a ride to the Temple, since he works the English session with us. He is 29, but we learn so much from being around him. This week he taught us about the importance of attending the Temple. Tom met two missionaries at the Temple, one newly returned from a Canadian Mission last week and his brother who is leaving for the Tokyo Mission next week. The family was really nice.

We have been walking along the Canal each morning early before the traffic gets too heavy. It is beautiful and we enjoy greeting others that are walking. Also we finally are lifting weights, it is fun to watch Tom do something besides the pushups and crunches. He found new muscles, at least new spots that hurt. Bess always has spots that hurt, she is sooooo out of shape.

Bess taught the Relief Society Lesson in English again this week. "On the Road to Damascus" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April Conference 2011. Studied, prayed hard for help and studied more and could not get a clue on how to present this lesson before the class started. Thank Heaven for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It was a wonderful experience!!

We love all of you and hope you will strive to attend the Temple regularly wherever you are. We have taken attending the Manti Temple for granted and we thought the hour trip was just about too much for us. Here we travel two hours one way and pay $80 in tolls each time we go. We live closer to the Temple than most people that attend. We met one couple there this week from Okinawa. They flew to Sasebo, rented a car at the Base and drove to the Temple without a "navi." We are so blessed to be as close as we are and get to go to the Temple at least once a month.

The Christensens, Bess and Tom
Mom and Dad
Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Transfer Week Aug 14 - 21, 2011

This was a very emotional week. We lost our Mama, Barraclough Shimai and a three transfer resident, Kim Choro. Kim Choro returned home after teaching us for 18 weeks. He helped us in so many ways! Barraclough Shimai has been with us here in Kumamoto since we came the first of March. She has been invaluable to us! Masson Choro from American Fork, Utah is our new only English speaking missionary here in the Kumamoto/Nagamini Wards. This is going to be a big change for us. We are going to have to work longer and harder on the language! We may not learn it on this mission, but it will give us a start when we get called to Apple Valley, California on our next mission. (Tom is losing it!) We are coming back to Japan. It has rained most of the week, so it is cooler!

District Pictures before we posed and three Choro get cream pie in the face.

Buffet at the Bus Station. Fontenet, Everett and Clements Choro.

Christensen and Sakamoto Shimai and Sakamoto and Christensen Choro. Sakamotos are transferring to Kagoshima as the Adachi Fufu died this transfer. The Savages down in Okinawa also went home. Watsons have replaced them. Elder Kim (who died) in the back.

Baba Choro, who died, his replacement Abe Choro, Oobayashi Choro and Uno Shimai who transferred.

Ito, Ito(Itu)Shimai with the Sakamotos.

One of Barraclough Shimai's other faces, Buckingham and Kim Choro. Buckingham Choro transferred Kitakyushu, he has been in Tsuboi as long as we have been here.

Tuesday we said good by to all the missionary we thought were going and ate lunch with both Districts. It was a festive time! We made some bad guesses on who was staying. We should have asked the Lord.

We were able to see the play, Doctor Korczaks Children on Wednesday. The Stake President's daughter was it it and gave us tickets to it. It was all in Japanese with no English subtitles. Darn! It was very well done and we read about it on the Internet later.
We also finalized the preparation for the Eikaiwa Luau party that night. There were about 90 people there and the food and entertainment was great. There were Hula girls, a Tongan Warrior, a Tongan Princess, and Christensen Choro showing his expertise on the drums.

Food for Luau.

More food and two Eikaiwa students in the Kimonos.

The entrance to the Luau took everyone through an introduction to the Gospel and the missionaries.

Our Family Bulletin and hobbies and a little about us.

The Ito Shimai made lots of Gospel related posts for the Luau.

Tobias and Kim Choro singing.

The Sopus practicing their dance.

The Sopus performing a dance.

Follow the Tongan lead and he will make you look silly. Sueoshi Kaneo in background. He is about our favorite Eikaiwa Student. Sure wish he would join the Church.

Maui family, minus Atou, Tuitu is hiding, Rogers Shimai and Barraclough Shimai.

Itu, Ito Shimai, two students and Masuda Shimai. Tom gave her his shell necklace. She loved it.

Matsuda Shimai and daughter Matsuda Shimai

Adella and Li Gang.

Kumamoto Missionaries before transfer. Oobayashi, and Kim Choro, Yamada, Barraclough Shimai, Bess and Tom. Itu and Ito Shimai in back.

Out with the old. Goodby Kim Choro.

Oobayashi Choro welcoming new companion Masson Choro.

Goodby Barraclough Shimai who transferred to Kurume.

Goodby Harada and Nakano Shimai who died.

Shaner Choro and his new workers pants. Says he is going to wear them for Halloween. Going home to China and then to BYU.

De Freitas and new companion Iino Choro, Tsuboi Ward.

Clements and "new bean" Hill Choro, Shimizu Ward.

On Thursday we said our goodbyes and hellos to the missionaries and the traveled to Honbu. We ate dinner with the returning missionaries and went through a Temple session with them. We are very excited for the opportunities that await them, but are sad to see them leave. It is hard to believe that time has gone by so quickly. We also got an additional assignment from the Mission President. We are now going to inspect the apartments in Kagoshima Zone as well as the five other zones that we are now inspecting. This includes the whole of Kyushu Island. We are excited about this, but are not sure how to juggle our time to be able to accomplish this. Guess we will ask a higher authority for help.

We traveled to the Tsuboi Ward again to meet the two shimai for the English Sunday School class on Sunday. They did not come. They did not come to the Temple Class that night either. Hope they can get enough faith to come back and learn more about the Gospel!

The Bishop of the Nagamini Ward bought headsets for the English speaking people, so only one person can translate for all of us. That will help a lot!

Another Clean Cement truck!

We love you! Remember, Faith without works is Dead. Fast and pray like your life depends on it, it does, and then go to work.

The Christensens,
Bess and Tom
Grandpa and Grandma
Mom and Dad

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dog Days of Aug. 8 - 15, 2011

Yes, the heat is still on!

The good thing is, we are home for a couple of weeks and we can study and read more! We are teaching the two Philippine Shimai from Preach My Gospel, so are working hard to prepare the lessons. It has been a very enjoyable time. We each prepare a lesson and then we give it to the other and then fine tune it. We have been able to be taught by the young missionaries on how the give the lessons. Some of the ideas were taught to us before, but it gives new meaning now that we need to teach the material. So on Monday, instead of just learning from Kim Choro how to cook a meal, he and Oobayshi Choro taught us the lesson on teaching the commandments. This is fun!

The Can Man.... Yep, that is a man on a bike!! We have been trying to catch this picture for months as we see him each Tuesday on our way to District Meeting.

Tuesday we drove to Tsuboi ready to teach. We had our lesson plan, reviewed the Together For Ever, DVD, and had picked up Tobias. We met two other missionaries there and waited for the Shimai to arrive. They got there late. They had worked 11 hours cutting meet in a cooler and were frozen to the bone. Instead of a lesson, we had prayer with them and sent them home to warm up. That was what they needed that night.

Wednesday we studied more and made Banana Bread to take out to people. Thursday we were able to find the home of Adella and left the bread with her daughter Maiko as Adella had gone with friends just before we arrived.
We took cake and presents to Sister Maui and her family. Simoe is 26 and little Josie is 1 year old. Atu is still in Tuvalu. While we were there Atu called on Skype, but the three year old Maui Ron had done something to the computer so the mike did not work. Christensen Choro said a prayer and with the Lords help was able to fix the problem. Atuo and Maua Shimai were able to visit on that special day.

Josie's first birthday cake. Chocolate, yummy!! Thank you Anna for typing up the receipes for us.

Simoe and Josie, Ito (Itu) and sister Ito Shimai. Notice big brothers Maui Ron and Tuitu asleep in the picture.

Mother and Daughter birthdays one day apart.

Love that chocolate cake.

Itu and Ito Shimai.

We were also able to take more chocolate cake, foam swords and balloons to the Sopu family and visit with them. They have a real nice apartment. It was cool.
In the afternoons the coolest we are able to keep our apartment with the AC running full speed is about 88 degrees. We are in a GIANT SAUNA!

That evening we met with our Japanese tutor, Maesawa Kyodai. He has two children on missions and has been inactive until a few weeks ago. He has been tutoring us since he is trying to be active. Christensen, Kim and Oobayashi Choro gave his wife a blessing about the time he started to become active again. He has helped us a lot in starting to learn Japanese and we hope we have helped him to become active.

Friday we set out to find insulation to put over our 6 west facing, sliding glass, single pane doors. They do not appear to have much insulation here. We found shade screens and nothing but some foam board for insulation. We will look again and ask a builder for some help.
Saturday we found out that the Japanese people use bubble wrap to insulate the windows. We put up shade screens on three of the windows to see how that worked.

We worked all day Saturday getting our display for next Wednesday night's Lua u started. We had an enjoyable day putting family pictures in collages for retirement, travel, family, and traditions. Now to put them on a board and add the words. Then the Shimai will rewrite everything in Nehongo so the Japanese can read it.

These two lots were cleared of houses last week. It looks like they are going to build one home that will wrap around the house on the right that is on a corner. We watch the construction every time we walk out to our car. Stay tuned for the final product.

Sunday we went to Tsubio Ward for the Sunday School Class with the two Philippines, but they never showed up. When we called, Kawabe's son had a fever and the she would not be there. We asked about Matsumato Shimai but were told that she was not coming either. They did not want the lesson tonight so we rescheduled for next week. We wonder how strong they are? We have told them that Satan would be working overtime on them, he does not want them active.

When we get a little down, we read 2 Nephi 4:17-20

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great agoodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O bwretched man that I am! Yea, my heart csorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily abeset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have atrusted.

20 My God hath been my asupport; he hath led me through mine bafflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

If Nephi felt like this, there is hope for us in our sins. We just need to give them to Christ and repent of them.


Elder Tom and Sister Bess Christensen

Mom and Dad,

Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birthday Week Aug. 1 - 7, 2011

This was a very fun week. We started Monday with Missionary Coordination meeting. Then Christensen Shimai went to get her massage while Christensen Choro had the car washed. We spent the afternoon with the young missionaries while they emailed. Picked up the Yatsushiro Shimai at the bus stop. We had a Family Home Evening at the Church with some investigators and missionaries. Christensen Shimai made her chocolate cake! We had a lesson, played games and ate treats.

Kim Choro and his girls, Miki and Mai. Hope they stay around when he dies next week.

En and Tsutamori Shimai.

Tuesday started early by taking three Shimai to the bus stop at 7 am. They were traveling to Fukuoka to the Mission Shimai Conference. We then prepared for the Temple Prep lesson we were to give that night. We were at the Tsuboi Church at the appointed time, but we had a no show. Called and there had been a communication problem. They thought we were not having a lesson this week. Whoops! We realized that we were home alone for the first time on our mission. The Choro were in Nobeoka doing a baptismal interview and the Shimai were in Fukuoka. Almost a lonely feeling?

Wednesday we studied, made cookies, took them to our gas station attendants, prepared for Eikaiwa, started to get information on the Japanese drivers test, went to Eikaiwa, and picked up the Shimai from the bus stop. The evening ended with a bang. When we noticed fireworks, about twelve of us climbed to the roof of our apartment building to watch.

Thursday we traveled to Sasabo and inspected Jeffery and Iino Choro's apartment. They thought we would be there on Friday, so they were not ready for us. Luckily the traveling APs, Shaner and Icchu Choro were there and pitched in and got it up to standard in no time.

Ecchu, Jeffery, Iino and Shaner Choro. Celestial! Shaner Choro dies next week.

We went on to the Naval Base and got a years pass for the car and bought supplies and food. We ate lunch and saw an Aircraft Carrier in dock.
Then down the coast to Isahaya to inspect native Japanese Hayase and Kanaida Choro's apartment. They had just moved into it on 1 Aug and needed some items, like drapes for their windows. We were not able to communicate enough to help. We left a note for the traveling APs and called them to see if they could help them the next day as they would be visiting them.

Hayase and Kanaida Choro. Celestial!! Communicated enough to go for ice cream.

We then traveled to Nagasaki to the Toyoko Inn. We decided to eat at the same place we had eaten in March when we were there. As we walked along we heard a noise that sound like a BYU football game. We detoured to see what it was. The street was blocked off and there were about 60 men and boys shouting, drumming and raising a platform up, down and around. They were celebrating the Matsuri Mikosi or Festival Ark. This went on for about 2 hours. We gave up after a few minutes, we were too hungry.

Matsuri Mikosi, Festival Ark.
Good food even if we cooked it ourselves

Ainge and Toda Choro. Celestial! Toda dies next week.
Kobayashi and Hattori Shimai. Celestial!!

Friday were inspected both Ainge and Toda Choro's and Kobayashi and Hattori Shimai's apartments in Nagasaki. Both were clean!
We went to the Peace Park and looked at the statues and fountain. They were very pretty.

The Peace Statue. Sorry about the construction, couldn't quite figure a way to shoot around it.

The Fountain of Peace.

More Peace Park.

We talked to a couple and their daughter from England at the park. The man's father is using the church's Family History Web Site to get family history information. He has traced his family back to the 1600s. The lady has been to Utah and is aware of the Church.

Lunch at a grocery store. Always something pretty.

We traveled up the coast and caught the ferry across to Saga. It was a quiet 40 minute ride. We drove the back roads to Kumamoto and enjoyed the scenery.

Using every inch of space.

Narrow roads with overhead tunnels.

Mirrors on turns to help one see oncoming traffic.

Beautiful lilies everywhere.

We arrived at home in time for Sports night, but did not stay long. We went home and unpacked and "died" on the bed. We missed Tobias and Make` and twins who came after we left. Will catch them in next weeks blog.

We traveled to Yatsoshito on Christensen Choro's birthday to inspect their apartment. He thought is was a little funny when the first words out of the Shimai's month were "Happy Birthday." They were very clean, so we bought them supplies and ice cream and traveled the Expressway home.

Forgot to take the camera so we pulled one from the file.

We arrived in time to attend the Stake Single Adults Summer Festival. There was a lot of food, games, talent show, spook alley, and a kimono contest. A fun time was had by all. Christensen Choro wondered why everyone was wishing him Happy Birthday. He had not told anyone.

Yoshikun and Mayumi wishing Christensen Choro Happy Birthday at the YSA Party.

Fun homemade games of the party.

Sauri Stewart, Christensen Shimai and ? will find the name later.
Sauri received her mission call to the California, San Fernando Mission.

Miki, Ito Shimai and Mai showing off Ito Shimai's makeover.

Kimono contest. Notice the mother holding her daughter. They start early.

We left the party about 7:45 and went home to relax. About 8:30 a knock came at the door and twenty people came in for a surprise birthday party and watermelon. Christensen Shimai outfoxed Christensen Choro again. Fun Party!

First one in the door for the surprise party.

They just kept coming. We think they followed the watermelon. It was the size of a basketball and cost about $20.00.

Sunday we attended the Tsubio Ward in the morning and the Nagamini Ward in the afternoon. Christensen Shimai was asked to teach the fourth Sunday lesson again this month. We met Tobias's wife, Make and two boys that arrived from Tonga on Wednesday.

Look in the August Ensign on page 21, the article is "No Better time to Serve," and is about Doug and Carolyn Thurman from our home ward in Annabella and the blessings they recieved for serving a mission. Their example is one of the reasons we are serving now rather than waiting a while. We have received so many blessings since talking to their son while we were waiting to renew our Temple recommends last August and then making the appointment with Bishop Bishoff to start our Mission papers. No matter how hard we try we can not give enough or work hard enough to catch up with the blessings the Lord has given us.

We love you, Thanks for the emails, cards and calls. Thank you Bear Cub Scouts and Leaders for the letter! You lifted our spirits tremendously!! Bess misses you so much!!!

Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Tom and Bess
Elder and Sister Christensen

So glad to hear of the mission calls. SiSi's marriage, Jill and Baby and Ryan Bennett's return to good health.