Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in Japan, November 21 - 27, 2011

District Meeting on Tuesday is a good way to celebrate birthdays and it usually gives the missionaries a mid-morning snack. This day it was pineapple cake.

Stirland Choro 11/27, and Matsuhashi Shimai 11/23. Birthday celebration

We count our many blessings every day. This week with Thanksgiving we had extra blessings, we shared Thanksgiving dinner with some of the best people on earth! There was a lot of preparation for this meal. We asked Bishop Koide a couple of weeks ago if we could use the church oven, since ours was too small for a turkey. We measured the oven dimensions and then bought a turkey to fit at the Base. It turned out that a 14 pound turkey was as large as would fit in the oven. Our freezer was too small to hold the turkey so to the Shimai's freezer until time to defrost. We defrosted it a couple of days before and took the turkey down to the church Wednesday night to put in the fridge until we cooked it the next morning. When we got to the church we realized something startling, Japanese oven controls are in Japanese! We could not read them or understand it when it talked to us. (yes, talked to us) We called Clements and Nagafuchi Choro at 9:20 pm and said HELP!! They hurried to the church and assured us that they could turn it on in the morning. At 8 am we met them at the church and Nagafuchi Choro started the oven. The only problem, it turned itself off after 90 minutes. They assured us that they would be around to restart in when needed. At 10 am Tom ran to the store and Bess went to the church to check on the turkey. The turkey was cold. Bess found a Relief Society Sister that was in the building and had her set the turkey to bake and we postponed the dinner an hour. Nothing we do is fast here in Japan. We wondered if that turkey was going to up and fly!
Most of the Japanese had never tasted Turkey. They loved it...would have loved it more if it was cooked a bit more.

We ended up using Japanese sweet potatoes for yams. They turned out great! Bess cooked a delicious Pork roast . We also had corn, gravy, mashed potatoes, a fresh fruit salad, olives, hot rolls, dressing, and apple cidar to drink. We also caved in and had a rice cooker full of rice in case anyone was still hungry, only Junichi, our investigator was. There were many deserts provided in part by the Shimai. There was apple pie, ice cream, pecan pie, banana cream pie, pumpkin pie, and "darn good desert."

There were 13 of us and no one wanted to leave, but everyone got to take home left overs! We only had one casualty. Bess slowed down enough that a cold caught her Friday evening after making a big pot of Turkey soup. Thank goodness for the power of the Priesthood.

In the kitchen with Nagafuchi Choro

Tom loves hot rolls. 12 at a time.

Takaku, Nagafuchi and Iino Choro trying to decide which to taste first.

Clockwise from bottom left: Ichikawa,Takaku, Iino Choro, Tom, Nagafuchi Choro, Bess, Carroll Shimai, Villalobos and Clements Choro, (both from Utah Valley) Junichi, (investigator) Blau and Itohara Shimai. Itohara Shimai will probably leave for her Temple Square mission in two weeks as she finalized her Visa last Monday.

A room full of satisfied people!

Dessert time.

It was a great week. we were to joint teach two lessons, but one lesson was cancelled when Ichikawa Choro was hit by a car riding home from early morning Seminary Tuesday. He will be OK in a week or two. The bike will need a wheel replaced.

Sports night on Friday nights has really changed since we have been here. From soccer and rough sports to 3 year olds to 80 year olds enjoying a variety of sports.

Our first Christmas in Japan

Christmas tree with nativity set.

Another beautiful Japanese sunset!

The weather has teased just enough that the "long Johns," have come out. Thank goodness we know a bit more of where to buy things this year. So if it looks as though we have put on weight, we have, several layers of it.

We are so grateful for our blessings and the many bounties of life that we enjoy. We are grateful for ancestors that came over on the Mayflower many years ago and the wonderful example they and many others have left for us. We are thankful to have a Savior who loves us and has provided a way for us to come back into Our Heavenly Fathers' and His presence to live if we but repent, do our part and endure to the end. Thank you, all of you, for your friendship and support, without this life would be very lonely.

Please remember how very blessed those of you that live in the United States of America really are. That land is indeed a choice land above all others and will remain so if we live according to the commandments of God!

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov. 13 - 20, 2011, Half Way Mark

We have been on our mission 9 months now. Time goes by so fast. We have learned several things in nine months, here are a few:

Trust in the Lord, with his help we can do anything.
Patience, patience, and more patience.
To love and serve all people.
To be able to lovingly accept service.
Studying the scriptures daily blesses our lives.
Japanese is a very hard language to learn.

Tagawa Shimai and Itohara Shimai enjoying a P-Day rest.

Blau Shimai and Bess wrapping Christmas presents to send home. Thank you Blau Shimai....

New paper on the doors of the Shimizu/Tsuboi apartment and miracle worker, Jouno Kyodai.

Wednesday was a wonderful day, Li called and said he had made up his mind to be baptized in "our Church". So many prayers are being answered. He then passed his Scooter test on Friday after failing it at least 3 times. Prayers are answered, after a test of our faith, in God's time not ours.

Thursday we traveled to Saga, Isahaya, Nagasaki and then Sasebo on Friday for apartment checks. These checks keep getting better as the missionaries learn what is expected to keep their apartments clean to have the Spirit reside with them.

Saga Elders, Tsukamoto (dying this transfer) and Nakamoto (new bean) with their Celestial reward.

Isahaya Elders, Hayase and Ogita wanted Baskin Robbins 31 flavors for a reward.

Friday was a wet and drippy day! Good thing the missionaries are always happy and positive.

Nagasaki Elders, Farb, Anstead, Oba and Pehrson were ready for Baskin Robbins takeout..

Sasebo Elders, Williams, Unice, Clayton and Stennett had the kitchen floor shiny and were ready to go get ice cream!

Japanese shrine

Bess at the Seaside Harbor Park in Nagasaki.

Ship in the Nagasaki harbor.

The building next door that was built around the corner house.

We stayed Friday night with new friends in Sasebo, Chris and Kris Priddis. They are from Orem, Utah. Kris has taught school at the Sasebo Base for four years. Jack and Diane Graham were visiting for the evening and doing their laundry. We all watched two DVDs, 17 Miracles and Matilda. We slept on the softest queen sized bed and we haven't felt so much at home since we left home! Also ordered some Pamela's Baking Mix from Amazon and had it shipped, free shipping, to Missouri where Chris and Kris are spending Thanksgiving with their son. They will bring it home and then "Black Cat" ship it to us. Small blessing?

Saturday morning, wet and drippy also. We picked up the Christmas gifts from the packaging store and mailed them. So our wonderful children and grandchildren, your small gifts are in the mail. Please let us know when you get them.

We picked up candy canes for Eikaiwa students and trinket gifts for the missionaries so we could play the game the family always plays at Christmas at Grandma's house. We bought the perfect size turkey to fit in the tiny Church oven. 21cm high by 29 cm wide and 30 cm deep. Also all the trimmings for Thanksgiving dinner complete with a pork roast. It's a good thing that the Church is so close as we will have to store the pumpkin and cream pies and "darn good dessert" down there as we bake them. We have all ten of the missionaries here in Kumamoto joining us for dinner. We told them that we were not having rice!!!!!! Pilgrims did not eat rice. (or darn good dessert)

When we arrived at the Mission Home to drop off groceries Saturday afternoon we received some very sad news, Elder Jensen, who we had been originally called to replace because he had cancer, died last week. The Jensens had served 7 missions.
Please set your goals to serve a mission. There are so many people that need to receive the Gospel message and the blessings you will receive are too many to count.

Sunday, Atu Maui gave a talk in Church. He chose Elder Tad R. Callister's talk about the Book of Mormon. Since he has only been a member for 4 months, this October Conference was the first one he had experienced. Bishop Koide talked, using President Henry B. Eyring's "A Witness" talk and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk "Forget Me Not". That was the "shot in the arm" that we needed. Do not get discouraged, the Lord is there to help!

Bess gave the Relief Society Lesson today on Temple Work and Family History! Everything went well with the help of those wonderful translators. Too bad she had to admit that other than read what others have compiled, she has done very little Family History herself. There is no easy, in your own home, access to the New Family Search here in Japan, they have to go to the Stake House on Tuesday between 7 and 9 pm and have 2 people help them log into it.

Thirteenth Article of Faith
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We love you all!
the Christensens, Bess and Tom
Grandma and Grandpa,
Mom and Dad

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall transfer week, 7 - 13 Nov 2011

Bess making cookies. Two days of making cookies and taking out to unsuspecting people.
She vows never to whine about how long it takes to bake cookies when she gets home.

Another transfer week, saying goodby to old friends and hello to new ones. Bess is starting to toughen up and only cries for a little with each transfer. What great young missionaries the Church is sending to this mission!

Tuesday after District meeting we had a great buffet dinner with both districts at the Hotel at the downtown bus station.

Bottom left corner: Clements, Ichikawa and Stirland Choro, Itohara and Tagawa Shimai, Takaku, Iino, Fontanet and Hill Choro.

S.Okada, Abe and Oobayashi Choro, Blau, Ito, Matsuhashi and Tsuamori Shimai.

Wednesday we worked on buying apartment supplies for some missionary apartments.

Takaku Choro scrubbing the kitchen wall with companion's toothbrush. Shimizu/Tsuboi apartment.

Thursday we said goodby to Ito Shimai and Oobayashi Choro. They have become such good friends. They have both been here 18 weeks. Clements Choro needed a companion for a few hours so we brought him and fed him a German Pancake breakfast, studied, and picked up new missionaries in the afternoon.

Bess, Oobayashi Choro, (transferred to Mihara,) and Tom.

Clements and Oobayashi Choro, Good Zone Leaders and companions.

Tom, A. Ito Shimai, (transferred to Ube) and Bess.

Companions, Tagawa, Blau, A. Ito and Itohara Shimai. Itohara is still waiting for a visa to go the the Temple Square mission.

All of us clowning around so that we wouldn't cry!! It was a cold and drippy day.

Nagafuchi Choro and Carroll Shimai at Bus Stop. Weather had warmed up by afternoon.

We got two of the best. Carrol Shimai fresh from the MTC and Nagafuchi Choro. We have known Nagafuchi Choro since the first day we arrived! He was in the mission office as the MSM.

Thursday we took Carroll and Blau Shimai shopping for Carrol Shimai's bike. We found a big screen TV at the store and while the Shimai shopped we watched Tom and Jerry cartoons in English. Best TV we have watched in 9 months.

On Saturday Tom went to a Kumamoto Ward High Priest Party. The food, Nabe, was cooked, served and eaten by the High Priests. They visited and each told how they had proposed to their wife and what their most fulfilling calling was in the Church. Tom reported that his was being a missionary in Fukuoka, Japan Mission.
Philippians 2:
Yea, and if I be aoffered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

Tom answered the door last night and was handed these flowers and asked, "Will you marry me?" After a lot of laughter the Shimai admitted that they had bought these at a less active's flower shop planning to give them to another less active who was not home so we were chosen to receive them.

Tagawa and Itohara Shimai smelling the flowers. (no smell)

Thought you all might enjoy the spelling on this sign. It gave us quite the laugh and we had to double back to take this picture.

The flowers are beautiful in the Fall. Wish we had our gardening books to find out the name of these.

We love serving the Lord here in Japan. We hope you all find joy in serving where and how you can.

Thank you so much for the emails and letters. We do so appreciate them!

Tom and Bess
Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom
(Wow there are 6 of us)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"I Have A Dream" Week Oct 31 through Nov 6, 2011

Oobayashi Choro said last week "I Have a Dream" so we made the pinata. We bought some crepe paper at the base last week for the final layer. The pinata turned out good!

Clements and Oobayashi Choro preparing to pop the balloon. Clements Choro got a face full of flour.

Sunset off our balcony.

New house wrapped around the house on the corner.

Monday we did not leave the apartment as we were both exhausted. The missionaries spent most of the day here emailing and hanging out.

Tuesday we enjoyed District Meeting where we were challenged to improve our prayers. Here is the activity from Preach My Gospel that we studied: pgs. 94 & 95

Ponder the following statements concerning sincere prayer:
“The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the
telephone and ordering groceries—we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate,
contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man
speaketh to another” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 469).
“If prayer is only a spasmodic cry at the time of crisis, then it is utterly selfish, and we come to
think of God as a repairman or a service agency to help us only in our emergencies. We should
remember the Most High day and night—always—not only at times when all other assistance
has failed and we desperately need help” (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W.
Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], 39).
Using the following scale, privately evaluate your prayers. In your study journal, write answers
to questions like these: Where would you place yourself on this scale? Where would you like to
be on this scale? How are you going to change?

Poor Fair Good
Weak faith in Christ Strong faith in Christ
Not thankful Full of thanks
Mind not focused on the work Mind focused on the work
No relation to actions Actions fulfill prayers
Repetitious Focus on today’s needs
Dull feelings Edifying, refreshing
Focus on impure thoughts Focus on pure thoughts
Self-centered Mindful of other people
General, not specific Specific, not general
The Spirit is absent The Spirit guides the prayer
Do not recognize answers Confident that God answers prayers

This is quite eye opening to do.

We restarted our Japanese lessons Tuesday evening with Maesawa Kyodai. We think we may be improving a wee bit. Lots more study needed.

Wednesday Bess went to the dentist. The Dentist speaks good English and she was very pleased with the results. The rest of the day was spend decorating for the Eikaiwa Halloween Party. The party was a success, with more than 60 people attending. The pinata was too strong. It took about 20 minutes to break it open. We needed a harder stick!!

Itohara and Tagawa Shimai.

Harry Potter and the Unibrow Policeman.

Oobayashi, Christensen and Clements Choro, Christensen, Ito, Blau, Tagawa and Itohara Shimai.

Doorway to the Church. Halloween Party!

Nakagawa Shimai and daughter Hanna, (Hanchan)

Bishop Koide and Li Gang. Papa and son?

Ito Shimai and little spooks.

Clements Choro and the start of a Pinata making career hanging over his head. Like that Harry Potter broom? That is a normal broom over here, really!

Mummy Wrap. Fukuhara and Koide Bishops plus Mark-san (Eikaiwa student)and didn't pick the other mummy so don't know who.

Started off with the little spooks swinging then brought in the big guns! Pinata still held up.

We checked the Tsuboi/Shimizu apartment on Thursday. They wanted to have a clean apartment. When we showed them the mold behind the screen under the tub, they jumped in and took the tub out and cleaned the under side of the tub. Smelled so much better.

Hill, Ichikawa, Iino and Takaku Choro of Shimizu/Tsuboi.

Thursday evening we, Clements and Oobayashi Choro and Li watched the DVD "The Joseph Smith Story."

Friday was catch up day. Bookwork and expense reports. We visited Handsman, a big home improvement store, to look for material to repair rice paper screen doors. At Sports Night we talked to the Oyamas, they have been remodeling their home. They will meet us Tuesday morning at the Shimizu/Tsuboi apartment to advise us about the doors. We are in way over our heads without the knowledge of where to and how much to buy in materials, let alone actually fix the doors. Maybe after next week we will be expert.

Saturday we put bubble wrap on the windows to prepare for the cold weather.

Bubble wrapping.

Young Toshiro Kyodai and Momoko I.

Momoko asked Bess to help her find the missionaries that had baptized her parents about 20 years ago. All she had were their names and hometowns. Lots of prayers and searching of the internet we found them and called them to make sure, before giving her the information, that we had the right people. We did! Gave her the information at the Talent Show that we thought of not attending but were prompted to attend. It was well worth the effort.

Stake President and counsilor.

Sunday was a wonderful fast Sunday. Li came to church and stayed for Roast Beef dinner with four of missionaries!

Blau and Ito Shimai and Bess.

Clements Choro, Li and Oobayashi Choro.

Finally some Fall color in Kumamoto.

We enjoyed so much hearing from some of our kids and old friends we have not heard from for some time. We love emails and calls. Thank You!!! Now we know what it means to look forward to mail.

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