Saturday, December 31, 2011

After Christmas Dec 26- Jan 1, 2012

With Christmas in Japan over it was time for phone calls home for the missionaries. We had missionaries come from several different areas to Skype with the families. Skype worked good for the first two calls then the internet died. Iino Choro called the company for us and found out that the phone and internet had been turned off. We have been trying to get rid of the phone in our apartment for 7 months. We did not know that they were "bundled together". The two bills are separate with one going to the Church and other to us. We asked them to turn the internet back on. The company said it would take three weeks. We took Iino and Bagley Choro to Yamada Denki (electrical store), we had internet in 3 hours and at half the price we were paying. We are so sorry that this problem stopped the families from seeing each other as they had their Christmas visit..
Tom fixed Christmas dinner for us all. Bess wanted Watanabi-don again so she could taste it this time. After lunch we played a game that Dad and Mom Christensen have always played with our families on Christmas Day. Pass the spoon. To play we pass the spoon to music. When the music stops, whoever has the spoon picks a wrapped present and opens it. Then the spoon is passed again. This time the person with the spoon gets to pick an opened present or one that is still wrapped. If they pick an opened present then the person that loses their present picks and opens one from the wrapped pile. Before the person with the spoon picked their present they told their favorite missionary experience. It was a fun day!

Oh, those wonderful Shimai!

Not enough food? Yamada and Christensen Choro, Itohara Shimai, Clements, Watanabe, Unice and Bagley Choro.

Choro: Unice, Yamada, Villalobos, Iino, Bagley, Clements, Watanabe and Oba. Shimai: Uchida, Carroll and Itohara.

On Tuesday Tom tried to pass the drivers test again. Itohara Shimai went with us to translate. He did not make it, so he will try again next week.

Second time out of the barn.

Wednesday we had a District meeting. We sang happy birthday to Shino Choro and gave goodby presents to Itohara Shimai. She leaves tomorrow to go to the MTC and then to the Temple Square Mission.

Itohara Shimai. She is missed already but we will find her again when we get home.

Shino Choro, 20 years old and a Branch President.

The whole Gang minus the Zone Leaders at "little door big house" restuarant.

Thursday we took Itohara Shimai to the bus station. It was exciting for her, but sad for us. We hate to see any missionary leave.

Tom, Itohara Shimai and Bess.

Carroll, Itohara, and Uchida Shimai.

Thursday afternoon we took Blau Shimai's bike to Omuta. Takaku Choro's bike is on its last leg and this is his last transfer. They were glad to get the bike and get back on the Dendo Road again.

Shino, Takaku and Stirland Choro. Three amigos!

Friday and Saturday were spent in personal and companion studying and then planning with the young missionaries for the new Eikaiwa year.

Tonight, Sunday, we ate at the Takahashi home. Oishii food! (delicious)
We shared this message with their family before we left.

D&C 16: 6 And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.

May we all have a year of sharing the good news of the Gospel with new friends and those we love!

Happy New Year!

Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom
Tom and Bess

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011 Dec. 19 - 25, 2011

What a great experience being away from home for Christmas! We looked for service to do for others and did not worry about all the little things that we thought were important when we were home. We were blessed to give service to several families for Christmas.

Wednesday and Saturday we taught the "Story of the Candy Cane" in Eikaiwa. Here is a copy of that story in Japanese and English. We passed out candy canes and this story.




A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness,
so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols
for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of
pure white, hard candy: white to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless
nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the Foundation of the
Church and firmness of the promises of God.

The candy maker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the precious
name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the
staff of the Good Shepherd with which He reaches down into the ditches of the
world to lift out the fallen lambs who like all sheep have gone astray. Thinking
that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes.
He used three small stripes for the blood shed by Christ on the cross. So that
we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, the candy became known as the Candy Cane. It became a
meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But meaning is still there for
all those who "Have eyes to see and ears to hear." We pray that this symbol will
again be used to witness to the wonder of Jesus and His great love that came down at Christmas.


Jyunichi, Mark-san, Kaoru-san, Maiko-san and Sueyoshi-san. First experience with candy cane!

The stress was relieved somewhat on Thursday when Tom, Bess, Clements and Watanabi Choro went to the Driver License center so Tom could take the driver test and get his Japanese License. It was fun to see the big building. The center serves all the people in Kumamoto. It has a twenty acre parking lot. A twenty acre driving range and the building it self is at least 700 feet long and 200 feet deep. It has three stories. There is a giant TV that the written scores of the people taking the new license test are posted on and one hears cheers and groans as the scores are posted.

When one has a license from another country the written test is ten true or false questions. It is so easy that even Tom passed it on the first try. He even passed the eye test without his glasses! Now that is scarey. The driving test is another matter. The driving course is typical Japanese roads. One major mistake and you are through. Two people ahead of Tom missed stopping at a stop sign and did not get to finish the course, but failed right there. Tom got to finish the course, but made too many mistakes to pass. Maybe next week.

Tom's first time out of the barn.

Drivers License building.

We went to the Temple Friday with our Stake and the missionaries. Also attended the Kumamoto Ward Christmas program that night. The program was very good and the food was delicious!

Christmas Eve was spent taking out gifts and receiving them. We also visited with four of our children and their families on Skype. It was so much fun to see and visit them. We found out we have a new granddaughter, Sarah. Jace and Sarah announced their marriage to us during the call. The little scamps were married in May before his last deployment and didn't tell anyone until last week. We are excited for them.

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve at home, We Skyped with Mom, Randy and Sue, Janese, Mitzi, and Chani. We have not seen them for 10 months and it was good to visit with them. We attended two Sacrament Meetings. During the Nagamini Ward, a beautiful shimai sang the song "O Holy Night" finishing in English. What a beautiful Christmas for all of the English speakers in the congregation. Bess couldn't stop the tears. Two choro and two shimai used our computer to visit with their families. That night we took time to open our presents to each other.

Our presents.

All the companionships were asked to send pictures to Honbu so they could make a Christmas video for President and Sister Margetts. This is the picture that Itohara, Carroll, and Uchida Shimai sent in.

The new construction across the street has a helipad on top.

May we all keep this wonderful feeling of Charity and Love in our hearts all through the year.

Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom
Tom and Bess
Christensen Choro & Shimai

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One more Transfer, Dec 12 - 18, 2011

Another transfer. Saying goodby to old friends and hello to new friends, again. But, this time the new friends are old friends! How do you make sense of that? We knew all of the new missionaries already. Does that mean we have been here a while. Anyway back to the week. Now that Bess is feeling better we are trying to do what we were sent here to do.
Tom has an appointment to take the driver license test next Thursday. On average foreigners usually take the test 4 times. We know one person that took it 7 times before passing. Stay tuned, it all starts next Thursday.

We received some Christmas cards from friends and family this week. Thank you so much for them!

Tuesday was a joint District Meeting. It was good training and we came away from it wanting to be better missionaries.

The two Districts from our seventh Transfer.
Front row: Shichijo, Matsuhashi, Christensen, Blau, Carroll, Tagawa and Itohara Shimai.
Back row: Christensen, Fontenet, Abe, Stirland, Iino, Clements, Takaku, Shino, Ichikawa and Villalobos Choro, Oyama Kyodai and Shimai.

Abe and Stirland Choro goofing off, Iino, Villalobos and Takaku Choro.

Matsuhashi and Blau Shimai.

After District meeting we all ate Shabushabu at a restaurant. The meal is thin meat and vegetables the you swish through boiling water, dip in sauce and eat with rice. It was very good!

We thought we had this saved the right way!!

After lunch we took the Omuta missionaries home and did an apartment check. The apartment was the cleanest we had seen it. Good job!

Omuta Celestial Choro, Fontanet, Shino, and Abe.

Nagamini Ward had another baptism Tuesday this week! Itohara Shimai gets her first baptism before she goes to the Mission Training Center January 2.

Tagawa Shimai, Kamada and Furuta Kyodai and Itohara Shimai.

Thursday was Transfer Day. Because of a clash in schedules, we did not take Blau Shimai, who went home, and Tagawa Shimai,who transferred to Fukuoka, to the bus stop, Okamoto Shimai, a member helped. It was so good to get the help, but we missed saying goodby at the bus stop.
We lost both Matsuhashi and Shichijo Shimai from Yatsushiro, they were replaced by Yamada and Unice Choro. Abe and Fontenet Choro both left Omuta, Takaku transferred from Shimizu to Omuta to join Stirland and Shino Choro. Itchikawa Choro left Tsuboi. Oba Choro replaced Takaku Choro and Bagley Choro replaced Ichikawa Choro.

Carroll, Itohara, and Uchida Shimai, who came from Fukuoka.

Watanabe Choro, came from Honbu, and Clements Choro.
We actually jumped for joy when we heard who was coming to Kumamoto, Yippee!!!!

After we got the missionaries moved we went to the Mission Home in Fukuoka and had dinner and a temple session with the returning missionaries. It was so good to see Ito Shimai again. She was with us for 3 transfers and we love her so very much. We also got to see Massen Choro, who was with us for one transfer, and to say good by to Blau Shimai who was with us for two transfers. They are all so special. We got a special treat when Obayashi Choro heard we were there and came to see us. He is now Zone Leader in the Fukuoka Zone and was our Zone Leader in Kumamoto for 4 transfers! Wow, do we ever miss these wonderful missionaries when they leave.

Returning missionaries, left: Cambell, Freeman, Frazier, Masson and Tsukamoto Choro, Blau and Ito Shimai, R.Stratford, Honbu recorder, (not pictured) Neki Choro, MSN at Honbu, and Buckner Choro.

Sister Margetts loves her diet food.

Elder and Sister Rogers and President Margetts.

Cambell and Christensen Choro, Ito and Blau Shimai, Massen, Buckner and Frazier Choro in front of the Fukuoka Temple.

The classic broom at work.

We received a wonderful Christmas present this week, written testimonies from 4 of Jeff and Mandy Peterson's children. Thank You!!

We thought we would close this weeks blog with our testimonies.

I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that His Son, our brother, Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins if we but repent. I know that they appeared to Joseph Smith and restored the gospel on the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is another Testimony of Jesus Christ and it has come forth in the latter days to help us return to our Heavenly Father through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that living their commandments not only brings us joy in this life, but in the hereafter. I love my Savior and want to help other people feel the joy the Gospel will bring into their lives. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder Christensen

I know that my Father in Heaven lives and loves me. I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ, His Son, lives and loves me. I know that He loves each of us enough that he suffered and died upon the cross for us. He atoned for for our sins making it possible for each one of us, who choose to repent and follow his teachings, to live with Him in Celestial Glory. I know the love and peace that is possible by asking for and recieving help from God. This comes through the power of the Atonement of which I am so grateful.
I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ and hope to show my love by serving others.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Sister Bess Christensen

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Bess, 5 - 11 Dec 2011

Monday was Bess's Birthday! She had a great birthday receiving calls and emails from family and friends. We had a dinner/party with the young missionaries. Tom make her favorite Japanese meal, "Watanabe don," named after the choro who shared the recipe with Kim Choro who shared it with us. Thank you Kim Choro!! The Shimai made her fresh fruit salad! Everyone really enjoyed and said how good lunch was....Bess couldn't taste it or smell it until she ate the small bowl of leftover on Thursday. It was still good!

"Watanabe-don", prepared by Chef Christensen Choro.

Birthday cards from missionaries.

Bess, Carroll Shimai, Junichi-san, Clements and Stirland Choro, Blau, Tagawa, and Itohara Shimai.

Homemade cards!!

They even do dishes! Blau Shimai, she goes home to Utah this week, and Clements Choro.

Bess was still sick most of the week and only left the apartment for a few hours most days. We went to Yatsushiro on Wednesday to check Matsuhashi and Shichijo Shimai's apartment. It took us some time to find them, since they moved in October and we didn't get the word. Their new apartment is alot closer to the Church and is new and very nice.

Yatsushiro Shimai Matsuhashi and Shichijo.

Thursday, Bess slept most of the day after a very bad night. Friday we drove to Nobeoka and checked the choro's apartment. When we finished, it was time for lunch so we took the missionaries to a barbeque for lunch for their treat.

Nobeoka Choro, McKinney and Burton.

We drove on into Oita Friday evening and Saturday morning we went to the Oita Choro's apartment and were met with homemade cookies and a message from the Choro for Bess. It is so nice to have so many thoughtful people around us.

Oita Choro, Wada and Amor and Chocolate, chocolate chip, peanut butter cookies. Tom loved them. The Choro gave us some to take back to Carroll Shimai for her birthday also.

We returned to Kumamoto on the back roads. It was a very pretty drive. We saw our first snow in Japan on some of the mountain passes. Never can tell where "Millie" is going to take us!

Yes, the roads are narrow.

Snow on Mt. Aso

Fall colors in December

Art on tunnel entrance.

We have no idea, but they are cute.

Even Bess thinks the bridges over here are beautiful!

While we were gone the shimai baked a birthday cake at our apartment, so everything was all ready for Carroll Shimai's party as soon as we got home and Eikaiwa was over.

Blau and Carroll Shimai.

Carroll and birthday cake. She is a sweetheart, but then we never get anything but the best in Kumamoto.

Shichijo, Itohara, Carroll, and Blau Shimai, Junichi-san, Stirland and Clements Choro.

In the valley the weather seems like Halloween weather

Tom's breakfast of soup, natto, and bread. Bess says "yuk" to nattos.

Christmas tree at Church.

Elder and Sister Grames, they are here in Tokyo on a mission doing "Public Relations"?
We met them in the Tsuboi Ward this morning. They were here for the English speaking contest that several of our young members participated in this weekend. Wonderful examples!!

Oh, how the Lord needs more missionaries!! Couple missionaries are so needed! We have been blessed far beyond our wildest dreams! The Spirit is so strong as we ask for help and are guided every day. We have been protected from harm several times and strengthened much.
We've wondered at times what we are supposed to be doing and then we look back and see the wonder of it all.

They do not celebrate Christmas here as we are used to. There is very little "hype" to buy, buy, buy. Very little decoration and almost no Christmas music in stores. This has been good for us. We have taken the time at last to study the life of Christ. Tom in reading the New Testament and Bess in reading Jesus The Christ. We are grateful for our Saviors life and we are so thankful for this mission!!

Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom
Tom and Bess