Sunday, May 13, 2012


Just thought I would wish all of you women a Happy Mother's Day.  Whether you have children or not, I am sure you are an example to someone who appreciates you.  My own daughters (and daughter-in-law) are all wonderful mothers.  And Happy Mother's Day to my own mother.  I love you all.  Here in Japan they advertise Mother's Day in the stores (trying to get you to buy flowers, candy etc) but they do not really celebrate it.  There was no mention of Mother's Day in Church today.  I hadn't really thought about it before, but all the missionaries call home on Mother's Day but it is pretty much the same as any other day here.  Kind of sad in a country that honors their ancestors and elders so much.


Friday we had what I guess you would call a multi-zone conference.  It wasn't the whole mission but most of the mission.  Elder Yamashita of the Seventy (Church authority) came and spent the whole day (from 10:00-4:00) teaching us how to better missionaries.  Can I just say, he gave the whole thing in English and has only spent 8 months in Utah and his English was remarkable!  Anyway, one of the main themes of the conference was "open your mouth"--meaning you need to open your mouth if anyone is going to know why we are here.  True to the theme and being in Japan, Sister Yamashita taught us how to make origami mouths that open and close!:

It was pretty funny when she taught us how to do it because it is a rather involved origami project and some of those young elders were definitely "origami challenged."  Yes, they can speak Japanese but they can't make an origami mouth!

After the conference a few of us couple missionaries went out to eat at a great restaurant.  It was a buffet (more like the Hotel Utah/Joseph Smith Bldg. version rather than the Chuck-a-Rama version of the word "buffet").  Anyway, we ate SO much and I can't even begin to tell you what we ate.  They even had onsen eggs (remember the soft-boiled eggs?) and sushi.  Plus a soft ice cream dispenser which the Japanese think you have died and gone to heaven when there is one of those!  Here we are at the restaurant:

Before I leave this part of the blog may I just say that one thing I wasn't expecting in Japan was to be in so much contact with General Authorities of the Church.  We were with Elder Yamashita at some of the thank you ceremonies so he knows us and then there was this conference.  Then there is Elder Nishihara who is an area Seventy who has also been to the thank you ceremonies, plus we saw him on Friday at the conference, PLUS he showed up to our branch today!  And he spoke and stayed afterwards to our meal and since it was the men's turn to host the meal, at the end they announced, "all of the brothers, help clean up" AND there was Elder Nishihara wiping down tables!  And of course, we had Elder Oaks and Elder Hallstrom a couple of months ago.  Plus we are in contact with Elder Halvorson, director of Humanitarian Services in this area quite often.  I am so impressed that the Church takes care of its members wherever you are.

Museum in Oku Matsushima

We took a little drive to Oku Matsushima where we will be teaching English in a community center next week.  I am a little apprehensive since we are told we have around 10 students to start with but they think the class will grow.  It is a "family English class" meaning there are children and their parents.  The children are around 10 years old.  So we have NO idea what they know as far as English goes.  Anyway, we visited a museum next to the community center.  It was about the Jomon people who lived many years ago.  It was pretty interesting but we didn't have much in the way of English translation so it left quite a bit to our imagination.

But, we did get this picture because I have a nephew who LOVES antler sheds and fishing.  Yes, Doug, this picture is for you.  I expect you to make a fish hook out of antlers and catch a fish by the time we get back:

Apparently these people made fishhooks out of antlers and did really well with them!  Who would have thought?!  Actually, we really do take things for granted.  These people made clothes out of tree bark and made clay pots of course.  Use what you have!

More Outrageous Prices

I guess I can never get over the price of some items in Japan.  Or maybe I just don't understand the logic of them.  Anyway, I wanted to make chicken salad sandwiches for the meal after Church and I really wanted some celery.  I had been warned that it was going to be expensive and they only sold it by the RIB.  I didn't even remember seeing celery at the store but this is what we bought:

Yes, it was only one rib, although a pretty good-sized one.  I was kind of disappointed because it tasted a little bitter to me (maybe that is why the Japanese don't really eat celery much!) and the cost?:  $2.50.

And I had to have Calvin take a picture of the cantaloupe and honeydew at the store.  I remember coming to Japan 20 years ago and seeing cantaloupe for $40 (not a misprint).  I don't think times have changed that much:

The containers of cantaloupe have two SMALL pieces in them.  They sell for about $3.50.  The honeydew are about $4.50.  I have never seen such small pieces.  And wouldn't you know it?!  Today after Church, a member rushed up to our car as we were leaving and handed us half of a good-sized honeydew melon!

Changes in Leadership

Today in Church they changed some of our branch women's leadership.  Since we only have around 30 people who come each week, the Relief Socity presidency, Young Women's presidency, and Primary presidency were released and basically everyone just switches!  Actually it wasn't quite that drastic because we no longer have any Young Women but it was pretty interesting.  The new Relief Society president has been in the branch for over 35 years.  I asked her how many times she had been Relief Society president.  She said at least 4-5 times!  And yet, she was still nervous about being called again!  Or maybe that is why she is nervous  . . .

Elder Kim, Part 2

If you read last week's blog you may remember Elder Kim who happened on an elderly woman who said she had met with the missionaries 34 years ago.  TWO DAYS after I posted the blog I received an e-mail from Stephen Howells that said, "I read your blog and I am the Elder Howells that you talked about in your blog!"  He remembered the lady without me even telling him her name:  Ishihara san.

Last week, I said you might not know who you are influencing.  Well, I found that out pretty fast.  Todd Oogard who is the webmaster for the Sendai Alumni site, unbeknownst to me, reads my blog faithfully.  When he read about Elder Kim, he e-mailed Stephen Howells and alerted him about what I had said about Elder Kim.

That has brought about several e-mails back and forth and some trips down memory lane for many of us.  Brother Howells sent an old photo of several of the branch members and there are still several active members in that photo.  We took the photo to Church and everyone enjoyed them.  In fact, I think they were humbled to know that the previous missionaries still thought about them and cared about them.

And I guess I'll finish with this one last message for Stephen Howells:  ISHIHARA SAN CAME TO CHURCH TODAY!

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