Saturday, August 11, 2012


It's true, we have traveled much this week--or so it seems!  August is the month of festivals and vacations and we seem to be in the middle of it all.

Sendai and Tanabata

On Monday we went to District Meeting in Sendai and afterwards we had a good time going to the "Tanabata Festival."  Originally I have heard that this is the Japanese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, a couple who could only see each other once a year.  But I guess now it is a festival of these huge hanging decorations lined up one after another in this indoor mall, which goes on for three blocks and then extends down the street further!  Some of these decorations are amazingly intricate.  There are many with a lot of origami on them or other tedious ornaments.   Here are a couple of pictures of the decorations:

We were with the young missionaries and they NEVER pass up an opportunity to do a little missionary work so as we worked our way through the mall we met some Americans and Japanese who were doing some volunteer work in the area (helping with the tsunami aftermath).  They saw our missionary tags and were impressed because they were also Christians.

The guy in the wheelchair had hurt his leg the day before so was only temporarily disabled.  Then a little further down the mall, we were singled out by the NHK radio station wanting our opinion on the festival.  They were especially excited to see that some of the missionaries were Americans.  So we were on the airwaves:

The funny thing was that the one person they singled out to ask a lot of questions to was an elder who has been here only three weeks (shown on the left of this photo) and his Japanese is not very good. So as the lady was interviewing him and asking him questions, the others were whispering to him the translation and hoping he could answer in Japanese!

But it was fun and a good time was had by all:

Back in Ishinomaki

So Tuesday and Wednesday found us back home in Ishinomaki.  Tuesday was English class and I have been wanting to post something about the shirts that people wear around here that have English words written on them but don't make much sense.  I just haven't figured out how to go up to people and ask them if I can take a picture of their shirt!  But one of our students was wearing a shirt to our English class that I thought was a classic of that genre:

Enough said.  On Wednesday we had our lesson with Abe san, our investigator, and it was exciting to hear that he is going to talk to his daughters about being baptized soon.  They live away from here and he wants to talk to them before he gets baptized.  At first we think this was a convenient excuse but now he really does want to be baptized and thinks that the Church and the gospel are wonderful.  He wants to let them know his feelings especially since they have been Buddhists all their lives and now he is changing.


Our English class in Miyato (about 45 minutes away) was on Thursday.  We were happy to see their latest wall hanging:

It is one of our Helping Hands vests.  These are the vests  that our members wear when they are doing volunteer work.  Several (as in around 200 members) had been there recently and done a lot of volunteer work.  The people in this area have become very receptive to our Church's help and also to our teaching English there.  We are excited to help and also to have our Church's name have a positive image.


Friday and Saturday we were in Tokyo.  First we stopped at Costco (of course) and then went to the Tokyo Temple.  We decided we needed this picture of Marie:

This is a photo of the Usui family at the temple:

It is always good to be at the temple.  But we learned that you never drive to Tokyo in August.  All the people are out vacationing, going to festivals, and also visiting family gravesites.  Our usual 5 hour drive home took 9 hours!

We continue to meet many people with connections to our home in Utah.  One sister is the wife of the area psychologist and grew up in Bennion (where we are from).   Although we didn't know each other in the past, we know almost all of the same people who lived there years ago.  Her father was Calvin Smith, the man that the elementary school in Taylorsville is named after and 4 of our grandchildren are going or have been to.  Another temple worker lived in Bennion and knew my parents.  Another temple worker lives in Walden Glen just below our Church on 13th West and she knows many people we know from Murray.  We seem to run into these people regularly and always feel a sense of connection and peace with them.

Today in Church we were reminded of the importance of the temple and I realized that any sacrifice is pretty much worth it when it comes to going to the temple.  Since work for the dead cannot be done in the temples for at least a year after a death, I hadn't realized that many Church members' thoughts are turned to those who died in the tsunami a little over a year ago.  Temple work has a new meaning for them--a very personal meaning.

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