Sunday, April 8, 2012


So another week has gone by and our lives become more and more eventful.  I thought I'd give you the play-by-play of our last week.  It seems like only yesterday (it was actually a month ago) that I was complaining that our lives were sometimes boring but not anymore.

Monday:  Preparation day.  We spent the day doing wash, cleaning the apartment, doing some major grocery shopping and skyping the family.  If you have never done that, it's quite a good way to keep in touch with others that don't live nearby (your grandkids and kids especially!).  We hook up with them on the computer and they can see us and we can see them and we can talk to each other.  Just like being there and talking to them!  Anyway, the rest of the day was spent cooking in preparation for Tuesday's district meeting and English class.  (See Tuesday to see what I made.)

Tuesday:  Headed off to district meeting at 8:30 a.m. (hour and a half away).  When we were at Costco last month I picked up a couple of large bags of tortilla chips and promised our district (there are ten of us) that I would make "macho nachos."  So today was the day!  I made this HUGE amount of taco meat, lettuce, salsa (whole bowlful), refried beans (got some canned pinto beans and mashed them up), green onions, sliced olives and made some cheese sauce.  I thought there was no way they could eat it all but I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Hopefully their stomachs have recovered by this week!  We got back around 3:00 p.m.
At 6:00 we headed to English class.  There were only three there which is kind of unusual but we had a great time talking about Easter and spring (Easter,  Easter eggs, the Easter bunny, hunting for eggs and eating ham (their hams are seriously the size of your fist and when you cut it, it looks like bacon it has that much fat--no kidding), they couldn't believe such craziness could happen.  I made them easter "nests" (cocoa krispie treats) with jelly beans and they loved that:

The egg above was one of twelve sent to a member here.  They were real eggs (blown out) and beautifully colored (I don't know how) and were a great visual for our class.  I'm not sure how they made it to Japan from America without getting broken.  We played playdoh pictionary which for some reason is always a hit!
Wednesday:  We were able to talk and give a lesson to an investigator.  It was an amazing experience for several reasons.  We found out he already has had all of the lessons and that his wife died in the tsunami.  I plan on talking about him more in a future blog but I guess I could whet your appetite by saying he has read the Book of Mormon three times since Janauary and has given up coffee, tea and alcohol.  Suffice it to say it was a great discussion! 
That evening we went to Institute (gospel study class) and I took some more "nests" and they were a hit.  Next week we begin our study of the Old Testament.  I am looking forward to that because I loved my high school seminary Old Testament class.  Plus I have begun reading the Old Testament (we have reading assignments) and I have to admit I am already hooked!

This picture was taken before everyone came.  Usually we have around ten or twelve in the class.

Thursday:  Our mission president asked us if we would spend the day with him and his wife and another couple who are missionaries here.  We began in Shichigahama which is about an hour away in a fishing village that was badly hit by the tsunami.  First we saw a bunch of boats dashed up against a rock wall:

And then we attended a dedication ceremony for a refrigeration unit/ice maker for the fisherman's cooperative nearby:

The refrigerators and ice maker (in the background) were donated by the Church to help the tsunami relief effort.  Our mission president is the tall man in the middle.  There were several talks and dignitaries and lasted about an hour.  Afterwards Calvin and I were among some that were given gift bags which contained nori (seaweed sheets used to make sushi).  Each bag had ten packages of ten sheets each--yes we now have 200 sheets of nori!  Our kids will love that!

After the ceremony we continued up the coast towards our place but stopped at a lady's house that the Church met through some service projects.  The missionaries ended up shoveling the muck from her yard (4 inches deep) and she has become friends with the Grames (the missionary couple we were with).  Anyway, we had lunch with her at JoyFull which is kind of like Denny's.  The food was decent and reasonably priced.

After that we continued to a school in Kitakami which is another fishing village that was hit hard by the tsunami.  The elementary school that we went to was the only elementary school left of three.  But the sad thing was that one of the other elementary schools lost 70 percent of their children to the
tsunami because after the earthquake the power went out and so they didn't know about the tsunami and sent most of the kids home.  The ones left at school made it.  Plus there was another school that I'm not sure how many were lost but now there is only one elementary school and a lot less kids.  The Church had donated some sports bags and some storage sheds to this school.

On our way to our next and final stop we saw:

The top building was totally ruined but the clock (top center) was still there with it's haunting face at 2:46 p.m.--the time the tsunami hit.  The bottom building is atually larger (taller) than it appears.  The story behind that was that it was the city building and many people went to that building because they felt they would be safe there, especially on the top floor--they weren't.

Finally we visited a Mr. Sato who is the head of the fisherman's co-op.  The Church has furnished several things to his co-op.  He told us that most of the people in the town will probably never come back.  Only the fishermen who depend on the fishing industry will remain.  He told us that they are in the middle of  "wakame" harvest.  Wakame is the stalk of the Japanese seaweed.  Mr. Sato lost his wife and grandson who happened to be visiting to the tsunami.  He was a wonderful man but said he still can't sleep at night:

We arrived home around 6:30, tired from a full day!

Friday:  Finally a day to get caught up on some things!  We went for a LONG walk from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. (not a stroll mind you!).  Anyway, the weather was nice and it was great to get out.  Later in the day we had time to get caught up on some studying and I have been wanting to have some time to perfect some cakes made in a rice cooker.  And guess what?!  It works!  So far I have made a banana cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake and brownies in my rice cooker which have turned out really good.  They are moist and I just turn on my rice cooker and it does the rest!
Saturday:  Went for another long walk early in the morning.  At noon we went to the Church to hear the first session of general conference (our church conference held in Salt Lake City, twice a year).  We had a one hour break and then at 3:00 p.m. we watched the second session.  Calvin stayed for the priesthood session in the evening.  I took some of my cakes to sample and they were a hit.  I am having to find guinea pigs because we could NEVER eat all of the experiments!  Everyone loves the fact that I made them in rice cookers.

Sunday:  Listened to the last two sessions of General Conference (10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. with a one hour break).  Conference was great!!!!  We listened to the sessions last weekend at 5:00 a.m. and on the internet but it was great to hear them again and this time we had headphones which were in English and the others listened in Japanese. 

After conference a member brought around baggies of something for everyone:  it was wakame!  So tonight we had wakame (remember, the Japanese seaweed stem?):

It was really salty and didn't have much else of a taste but was kind of hard and chewy.  I guess you eat it with rice.  I have seen it in stores but never felt the urge to buy it!

So that is the week in review.  It made me tired just writing about it . . .


Last week I wrote about the 40 day commitment.  Some people wrote and said they were going to try it.  I just wanted you to be aware of two things that the article mentioned:

     *You may not see real results until the 30th day or later

     *You may actually feel a strong temptation not to begin or continue your commitment


Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter.  It is so foreign around here that no one even mentioned at Church that today is Easter which is kind of sad.  I always love the fact that people really want to go to Church on Easter (all Christian churches) and that we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And of course the fun festivities with the children and just celebrating the beginning of spring make the Easter season special.  I read on KSL about making Peeps sushi--fruit by the foot for the seaweed, rice krispie treats for the rice and a peeps sticking out the middle--and I really want to do that next year!


  1. fascinating - thanks for taking the time to share so much.

  2. I was able to read Elder Kim's Story and I am that Elder Howells. Thank you. I hope contact you or Elder Kim and figure out who she was and how it is going. I loved Ishinomaki and one of my personal goals is to make it to Ishinomaki for Sacrement meeting one day.

  3. I was able to read Elder Kim's Story and I am that Elder Howells. Thank you. I hope contact you or Elder Kim and figure out who she was and how it is going. I loved Ishinomaki and one of my personal goals is to make it to Ishinomaki for Sacrement meeting one day.