Sunday, January 29, 2012


We have heard from several of you this week which makes us happy.  We hope you continue to read our blog.  If  you have any questions or suggestions for future blogs, please let us know!

Yes, this is our laundry!  Like everyone else in Japan, we are now porch laundry people.  It wouldn't be so bad but it began to snow soon after I put it out!  Luckily that was short-lived. 

I thought I would tell you our schedule which is mostly not so rigid but we try to stick to it:

6:30:  Get up and get dressed
7:00  Study scriptures and missionary handbook "Preach My Gospel" together
8:00  Breakfast
8:30  Individual study of your choice
9:30-10:30  Language Study
During the day:  Visiting, volunteer work, more studying, and anything else we need to do (like go to the 7-11 and make copies, call people with questions, etc.).  Have lunch in there someplace.
5:00  Dinner
After dinner:  more visiting, meetings, etc.

Of course this schedule changes daily since we have district meetings on Tuesday which take up most of the day because they are 2 hours away, Wednesday night English classes we teach, other meetings, etc.  But for the most part this is how we spend our days.

This past week we were able to visit some of the members of the branch.  Every person here in Ishinomaki has been affected GREATLY by the earthquake and tsunami.  Pretty much everyone we have talked to has had water in their house a few feet high.  Some had huge amounts of debris and rubble in their yards as well.  Many are displaced into temporary shelters (kind of like small relocatables) which the government will allow them to stay in for 2 years but after that they will have to pay rent or move out.  These places are so small I doubt anyone would want to stay in them much longer.  Plus apparently they are cold and look like army barracks.  Everyone we visited was so nice to us.  We may be getting fat because they always offer us refreshments and make us sit down.  At one house I got a Haagan Daz ice cream bar (yum!) and on Sunday we ate at a member's house--curry rice (rice and curry) and chocolate cake and strawberries and sweetened condensed milk for dessert!  The people are always so nice but the talk aways turns to the tsunami.  I am trying not to say too much about the tsunami until the one year anniversary (March 11) because we think there may be a big commemoration then.  Most of the members have very strong beliefs of the Church and Jesus Christ.  They are constantly talking about acting like real Christians.

We ate at our first restaurant here this week.  It was a Cafe something or another.  It was kind of an American-Japanese family restaurant.  The French fries were served with ketchup and some mayo squirted on top of the ketchup--fry sauce--for those of you Utahns that know what I am talking about!  The food was okay.  Kind of like eating at IHOP or Denny's I guess. But we are hoping to go to the big department store soon (maybe tonight) where there is supposed to be a big cafeteria with lots of Japanese food.  I'll let you know next week!

The weather has taken a turn for the worse around here.  It is now pretty cold and windy most of the time with some snow in-between!  But all in all, our apartment is good so we feel really blessed.  As time goes on, I can see that we will become much more busy.  We do have more and more to do each day!  Ja matta (until next time).

Monday, January 23, 2012


Whoa!  So it seems like we've been here forever but it's only been two weeks!  That is actually not a bad thing because I think I'm actually pretty used to the routine (or lack or one) that we find ourselves in.  (Sorry English majors for ending that last sentence in a preposition.)
We really don't have much of a routine since we find ourselves in the position of being new missionaries in this area.  There haven't been any missionaries here since the tsunami nine months ago.  And so we have been setting up the apartment and trying to figure out what we can do.  Of course, the culture shock and the fact that we have no idea where we are going most of the time doesn't help.

But little by little we are setting up shop and finding out things that we should and want to do like:  (1) we are teaching an English class to whoever wants to come on Wednesday evenings; (2) we are getting to know the members of the branch and are planning on visiting several of them soon; (3) we are trying to find someplace where we can volunteer -- in March the Church's Helping Hands program will resume to help the tsunami victims but we want to do something before then, and (4) our apartment is pretty much in working order (and that is saying a lot!)

Last week I mentioned some things about Japan but I left out one that I think is noteworthy.  The Japanese people are so honest!  You may have heard of the millions of dollars turned in by ordinary people after the tsunami that they found.  Well, get this: We pay $150 per month for the use of our car.  The missionary couple at the mission home told us, "Just put the cash in one of these envelopes and send it to us!"  Yes, you can send cash in the mail.  PLUS  there are a few coins when the $150 is converted into yen so we are tape them to a piece of paper and put that in the envelope as well!  AND these envelopes are quite thin and see through (we were told that we could put the money in the envelope with a piece of paper around the money).  Wow these people are so honest!  You can even tell when you go into a store or business.  They make sure you are getting what you pay for.

Last week my post was a little long so I am going to cut this a little shorter.  May I just mention:  WE HAVE INTERNET ACCESS NOW!  And I was reminded of earthquakes while I was writing this since we just felt one.  They are actually not that unsettling, no pun intended,  but one day I counted 5 in a 24 hour span!  Have a great week.  We are.

Monday, January 16, 2012



So we are here in Japan and I finally able to post a blog.  Sorry to any of you wondering if we were still alive.  We have had a few weeks of internet problems.  First, our internet in Utah was turned off a week early so I was not able to tell you about our experiences at the MTC (mission training center) Jan. 2-6.  I can tell you we had a great time learning about what we are going to be doing. 

For those of you not so familiar with our church terms I thought I'd explain a bit.  We will be on our mission for 18 months.  Our mission area is the Japan Sendai Mission which takes in the northern part of Honshu and is basically where the earthquake and tsunami were.  The mission is headed by a mission president (President and Sister Rasmussen shown above).  There are  about 76 missionaries in our mission.  We did learn that some of the areas near the nuclear plant that was affected by the earthquake still do not  have missionaries.  Our specific calling as missionaries is with a small congregation (branch) of our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  We help them in any way we can including helping them find more members.  We also do service in the area and are anxious to help especially in the tsunami relief effort.

We left Salt Lake City for Japan on January 9.  After a long flight and two layovers, we arrived in Sendai and were met by the mission president, his wife and some other office staff.  We spent the night at their home (mission home) and on Wednesday had some orientation and were off to Ishinomaki where we will be.  It is about an hour away from Sendai.  Luckily, we were taken to our apartment and did not have to drive ourselves. 

We have spent most of the past week getting our apartment organized, getting to know the area (mostly the stores, post office, and city hall) and figuring out what we are doing!  We went to Church on Sunday and met our members (about 35) and it was really nice.  Speaking Japanese is a definite problem for me but Calvin's Japanese is coming back nicely.  When all else fails, I simply say, "I am an American.  I don't speak Japanese."

I thought I'd tell you what Japan has that the US doesn't have much of:

--Daily earthquakes!  It's true, I had heard that before but we have felt five earthquakes so far.  Only one was noteworthy.  We were at a cell phone shop and it lasted for about 10 seconds.  One of the cell phones fell from it's display, the clerk looked a little worried, and afterwards asked if we were okay.

--Heated toilet seats.  This is particularly nice when you know that there is no central heating and our bathroom is generally about 50 degrees!

--Face masks.  About half of the people wear masks on their faces.  I am not really sure but there seems to be more than one reason(?): not to catch something, because they are sick, to protect them from the cold weather (?)  Let me know if you have any more ideas.

--Dryers that don't dry.  Seriously.  I washed clothes yesterday with a nice washer and dryer we have but the dryers don't dry.  I actually put some things in the dryer for HOURS and a nylon slip I have still wasn't dry.  Finally we hung everything up on hangers like everyone else and hung them on our balcony.

--Mushrooms.  There are tons of mushrooms at the grocery store.  All kinds.  And they are fairly inexpensive.  I love mushrooms so this has been great!

--Liquor store with American food.  Our mission president's wife first told me to go to the liquor store because they had some great food items you couldn't find anywhere else!  Yesterday we were walking past the liquor store and went in.  Sure enough, we found all kinds of goodies:  cereal, Mexican food, popcorn, peanut butter, Pringles, macaroni, etc. etc. that we haven't seen anywhere else.

--Driving on the left side of the road.  Probably enough said.  It can be pretty unnerving!  We do have a car and GPS thank goodness!

Well, I think I'll quit this blog for this week.  It may be after the 25th of Janauary before I can get back to a computer since we don't get internet until then and today we just so happened to have a meeting at a church where there was internet.  We tried the library in Ishinomaki and McDonalds but couldn't get on either place.  Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time!