Sunday, December 9, 2012


It's true, this week has flown by.  And probably it is a sign of things to come.  We find ourselves involved in so much here in Japan.

With the Rasmussens

Monday we were lucky enough to get another sister here in Ishinomaki.  The threesome sisters are having a wonderful time now that we have added Sister Chikamori to our group.  President and Sister Rasmussen brought the threesome together on Monday and then Elder Sakamoto and I were able to enjoy some time with them over dinner.

We led them to the mall (they were so impressed!) and restaurant row inside the mall.  We looked at every display (plastic food menu in the windows) and finally decided on a yaki-niku place.  Translation:  you cook your own meat in front of you.  Actually it ended up meaning we had an all-you-can-eat shabu shabu which, if you remember, is veggies and meat you cook in front of you in a broth and then dip it in a sauce:

It was really great and we can add this to our growing list of places we like to eat!  And then, of course, we had to wander the mall for a bit:

And even found jolly ole Colonel Sanders waiting for us to pose next to him:

Birthday Party

I wouldn't normally tell you about every birthday party we go to but this one was really fun.  It was Brother Oyama's b-day and so the young singles and missionaries wanted to celebrate.  Brother Oyama was completely overwhelmed.  He is an active member of our branch,  lives with his family in one of the temporary housing units,  is pretty much the sole support of his family, and celebrated his 44th birthday.  This was his FIRST birthday cake since he said usually his family just bought a cake for Christmas (it's a big thing here to have cake for Christmas) and that was his birthday/Christmas cake.  (His birthday is December 4!)

You might take a look at the cake which is very typical of a Christmas cake.  It is generally a white cake with whipped cream frosting and strawberries on it.  Sometimes there are MOUNDS of whipped cream.  And this is the typical size.

And I thought this was a fun picture.  It is a photo of the bachelors in our branch.  Oddly enough, there are not really any single sisters so the guys get together often to have fun:

Christmas Concert

Yesterday we were lucky enough to go to a Christmas concert.  One of our members has a son who lives in Tokyo and is an opera singer.  He came here to give a free concert.  There were about 50 in attendance.  Most of his concert (2 hours) was singing of short opera pieces which was really enjoyable and then towards the end he sang some Christmas songs.  It was nice to hear White Christmas sung in English (albeit with a Japanese accent!) and parts of the Messiah:

And speaking of a white Christmas, I have been saying that we hardly ever get snow but this is what we woke up to this morning:

Primary Program

It was getting a little late in the year for a Primary program but today was ours.  The thing is is that there are FIVE kids in our Primary--ages 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12.  And they are ALL BOYS!  And they are a lively group:

But today they were on their best behavior and all by themselves they took up 30 minutes singing and talking their way into our hearts.  Luckily their mothers (2 brothers from one family, and 3 brothers from another family) are some of the best singers in the branch.  These boys had nice, clear, loud voices both in speaking and singing.  Much of what they said was memorized and ALL of it was wonderful.  Which just goes to show what I have said all along:  The Primary Program always seems to go without a hitch!  It was delightful and spiritual.


For those of you who have not heard, on Friday just past 5:00 p.m. we had an earthquake centered just off the coast of us which had a magnitude of 7.3!  Most people were home (including us) which was good.  We felt the shaking for about 90 seconds.  And it was fairly violent.  But nothing really fell down in our apartment.  Japan is amazing since the same magnitude earthquake in SLC would probably have caused major damage.  But here nothing was damaged.  The real concern was the threat of a tsunami.  Every TV and/or radio was on PLUS there are huge intercom systems outside for this sort of thing announcing that there might be a tsunami threat.  Luckily after about two hours it was announced that there was no danger. 

Our neighbors from downstairs came up to our apartment for a while in case there was some danger and many people left soon after the earthquakes in their cars (although we heard later that the roads were jammed so it was probably really good there was no tsunami). 

That night almost everyone we knew called us to see if we were okay (probably more mentally and emotionally than physically).  Also our branch president stopped by to check on us. 

It was a HUGE reminder of the past for all the residents here.  We are so glad things turned out allright.


Today in Church I received an unexpected reminder of the blessings of missionary work.  Our lesson in Sunday School had to do with faith and how you receive blessings after exercising faith.

Marie (our 21 year old soon-to-be bride who we have befriended) is the gospel doctrine teacher asked if we had any examples of how we had shown faith and then received blessings.  I hardly ever answer questions since my Japanese isn't so great but I raised my hand and said, "Before, we had faith and decided to serve a mission; now we can see we have great blessings."  I was pretty proud of myself that I could say that much and not break down crying!

Anyway, when I finished, the unexpected happened.  Marie broke down crying and went on for three minutes talking about the blessings that had come to her and the branch because we were missionaries here!  I was so overwhelmed that I am still crying.  It never once entered my mind when I gave my answer that the blessings we had were blessings to the others as well.

Well till next week.   We hope this time of year brings that special spirit of love and giving that we should probably feel the year round!

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