Here are some pictures:
The first picture is of all of the missionaries in our mission (the visiting authorities sitting in the front). The second picture is a closer view with us standing on the second row (!). And the third we had to insert since it shows Calvin shaking hands with Elder Oaks. Our mission president, President Rasmussen is standing to the left of Elder Oaks. (Actually to Elder Oaks' right but to our left!)
The meeting actually began at 10:00 a.m. but we were there VERY early (by 8:00 a.m.) to practice singing a hymn that our zone sang during the meeting. Also the pictures were actually taken before the conference meeting.
The meeting (2 hours) went by rapidly and was really great. One of the things that almost all of the speakers touched on was that our Heavenly Father loves us and knows us each personally. The Lord loves His children in every nation and brings a message of hope and love.
One of the messages that I enjoyed most was begun when President Rasmussen said he had received a letter from one of missonaries recently that told of his week: they had shoveled snow around the church, attended an early morning seminary class, mailed postcards to members with their favorite scripture, made an appearance at a young mens/young womens dance to show support of their youth program, gone to church early to help set up chairs, and done other service-oriented things. The letter concluded that although their stats sheets (how many people they contacted, how many lessons they taught, etc) may not show it, they felt that they had a very successful week.
When Elder Oaks began his talk he said in response to President Rasmussen's comments: " The things we can't count are usually more important than those we can." He then gave some examples such as: We can count how many people go to church; but we can't count those who truly partake of the sacrament with a sincere heart. We can count the number of missionaries we have; but we can't count how many of those missionaries have the real spirit of commitment and desire to do the work. We can count that there are 14 million members of our Church; but we can't count how many have been truly converted to live the way Christ would have them live.
I thought of this and realized how true this is. This week I got letters from two of my grandchildren. It was report card time. They both reported they got straight A's (stat). But then they said that their teachers at parent-teacher conferences had said things like: he adds a lot of personality to the class; he makes friends with everyone and everyone likes him, she is always helpful, she is respectful, she is a good student (things not on the stat sheet but probably count more).
How often do we look at the stats and not really see what is behind those numbers? It seems like when we really get involved we see what is really important.
I do have to tell you that these missionaries we deal with are still mostly only 19-21 years old and sometimes I feel really old around them (like I could be their GRANDmother!) With a visiting authority everyone was trying to be on their best behavior and sometimes we were reminded how youthful they are like:
Before the conference one of the district leaders (a missionary) got up and strongly suggested that this would be a good time to go the restroom and said maybe you should try even if you don't think you have to (can you hear his mother saying this to him?!)
When we were posing for our group picture before Elder Oaks came in, some of the missionaries were standing on chairs. They were reminded: when you get down, please DON'T jump!
And Elder Oaks said, "I just pray that you elders will go home and get married so you can have the adult supervision that you need!"
We went to our first 100 yen sushi restaurant. You go in and there are these conveyor belts that bring your sushi to you. You can order what you want (usually 2 on a plate) or take ones that are going around on the conveyor belt. Each plate is 100 yen (about $1.25) which is pretty cheap around here. When you order you use a touch screen with pictures and they also have soups, noodles and desserts. Some cost a little more but most are 100 yen. In Japan the sushi is mostly some rice with raw fish on top that you eat by dipping it into soysauce/wasabi/ginger whatever mix you want. There are all kinds of fish. And there some that don't have raw fish. I think I saw some with tempura shrimp on it. At the end you press a buzzer (like a doorbell) and the waitress comes and counts up your dishes and writes out your bill. Calvin and I got through almost $20 worth of sushi but I ate way too much. These places are all over so now we will have to try different ones!
The buzzer thing is at all restaurants. When you want to order you press the buzzer. If you need something you press the buzzer.
Sorry if I'm ending with a bad taste in your mouth (raw fish). But that's all for now!