Sunday, April 29, 2012


Test your knowledge to see if you can figure out what these pictures are and why they are all lumped together!:

After the earthquake and tsunami a year ago, many members of the Church donated literally millions of dollars to the Humanitarian Fund of the Church and asked that the money go specifically to Japan and its relief effort.

The top pictures are some of the things donated by the Church using the money that was given by the members:  2 forklifts:  boxes with plexiglass that are used by fishermen who hold on to the box and put them into the water and look through the glass to look for fish or abalone before they hook or spear them; oars;  tubs;  spears to spear the fish; fish finder;  2 hoists to help bring in the fish from the boats; three trucks; and the building behind the ribbon cutting.

This week we were privileged to go to three "ceremonies" thanking the Church for their donations.  Although the ceremonies are quite unnecessary, it is the Japanese custom to say thank you in this way.  Each ceremony had about 50 people in attendance including the heads of the fishing associations, city diplomats, and the fishermen themselves.  The ceremonies lasted about 30-45 minutes and included thank you talks and plaque presentations to Church authorities.

Basically, I didn't understand much but a few things stood out in my mind:  the man from the fisherman's association that gave an impassioned talk thanking the Church and saying that they were so indebted to the Church for helping them make a living and basically saving their livelihood; a man who came up afterwards and expressed very sincere appreciation to the Church; the fishermen who, after the ceremony, quickly went up to the fishing equipment, happily loaded them into their trucks with smiles on their faces; the man who took time out of his schedule to take us to his salmon hatchery and proudly showed us his thousands of fingerling salmon which he will grow until they are about four pounds and then release them back into the river; and the man who describes his everyday fishing adventure of spearing swordfish when he sees the nostrils come to the water surface around his boat!

One of the highlights was that at one of the ceremonies they wanted to have a toast.  Knowing that we did not drink alcohol, they passed around bottles of orange juice and everyone opened their bottle and made a toast to the occasion!  It was really so thoughtful of them.

The last picture is the lunch one of associations took us to!  It was really an amazing lunch probably featuring some of the fish they had caught.  At home the sashimi (raw fish) is okay but in Japan it is wonderful.  (I know some of you don't believe me!)  But there was also other cooked fish, tempura shrimp, beef, and several other things.  When we first found out there was a luncheon Calvin and I weren't too excited to go because the other Church authorities could not attend the luncheon because they had to get back to Tokyo to catch a plane that afternoon.  Anyway, our Japanese is so bad that it is sometimes very hard to communicate and going to lunch looked to be somewhat awkward.  However, we learned a great lesson.  When we sat down, these men were the same as anyone else.  They talked about their families, where they lived, how they made their living, and how the tsunami had come over the top of the newly rebuilt restaurant.  The amazing thing was that the shoreline was probably 50 feet BELOW us and the tsunami had come over the top of the restaurant!

We are told that there will be three other ceremonies in May closer to the Ishinomaki area.  We now look forward to them.  The Church receives so many of the plaques that the Church leaders asked that we take the plaques and give them to our branch to display in our Church.  We wondered if they would even want them but again we learned a great lesson.  When we took them to Church this morning and told them about the ceremonies and showed them pictures of what had been donated, the members were so excited and proud to be members of the Church.  I take for granted so much.


I have always heard about sakura (cherry blossoms) in Japan (and in Washington DC) but I really didn't know what it was.  In Japan the flowering cherry trees (not fruit bearing) grow wild on the hillsides and are planted in parks and other places.  So for a few days each year, the hills and parks are pink and beautiful.  Sakura this year I guess is unusually late but here are some pictures:

And this one, not sakura, but equally beautiful:


One of the sisters in the branch gave us a dozen (oops, ten eggs in Japan) onsen boiled eggs.  An onsen is a mineral hot springs (like Lava Hot Springs in Idaho).  These eggs were apparently boiled in a mineral springs--they are NOT hard boiled--they are SOFT BOILED!  Luckily we do eat soft boiled eggs (we warmed them up a bit in hot water and put them on toast--they taste just like soft-boiled eggs!).


We received two "fruit baskets" this week, both of which were donated anonymously.  One bag of food had veggies and fruits in it.  Another, however, is a total mystery.  There were:  dark chocolate bars (Calvin loves dark chocolate), 10 vitamin balance bars (I really like these and have been sad that I ate the last of the ones I brought), and about 500 tablets of glucosamine chondrointin (which Calvin loves!).  No one would know that we like these things.  Or at least, we don't know of anyone who would know we would like these things!  So strange.

A FEW MORE RANDOM PHOTOS (and then I'll quit!)

Calvin next to a tsunami barricade.  It is huge but I guess it didn't work too well--this is where the tsunami went 50 feet higher!

Calvin next to an island covered with seagulls:

Okay, till next week!

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