Sunday, February 10, 2013


Happy Valentine's Day to all!  That actually means more than you think.  Here in Japan, they know what Valentine's Day is -- kind of.  It is equated to women giving valentines and especially chocolate to the men.  And then in March they have White Day where the men give back chocolate to those women who gave to them.  Or something like that.  The funny thing is that I made sugar cookies with PINK icing and sprinkles (and valentines) and gave them out this week wherever we went.  And MANY times I was told, "Thank you for the chocolate."  I honestly don't know why they said that.

And also, while I am thinking about it, last week our blog photos did not show up for some reason and we did not realize it until later.  Actually we do no know if they were up for a while and then disappeared or what but hopefully that has been rectified.  If that happens again, let us know!  It seems like we get these technical glitches happen fairly often.

Valentine's at English Class

This week at our children's English class we did valentine's cookies and they turned out to be quite a hit.  At first, the kids were quite hesitant and some blatantly thought that the frosting was gross (too sweet) but when they began the decorating, they had a lot of fun:

I don't usually put so many pictures but the kids were exceptionally interested in this project this week and had a good time!  I will say though that they are not as "over the top" as American kids when it comes to decorating and using frosting.  They go for the "aesthetic" look I guess.

Miyato Genkan

Saturday we decided to go back to Miyato to take some photos for a slide show we are thinking of making for our last English class in March.  We arrived just in time for lunch at the "genkan" which is a small restaurant next to the main building.  Actually it was our second lunch so we shared a fried oyster meal that was really good:

The director is really personable and is trying to bring the small community together with lots of activities and this small restaurant.  He always tries to talk to us in English and works seven days a week:

Fondue Party

You would be right if you think all we do is eat.  Later that night we were invited to a fondue party at the church.  Usually what happens is that the branch president and other members invite non members and less actives and we get together and have a good time.  This time it was fondue:

Sorry to say I am not that much for fondue (too greasy) but most people seemed to like it.  They even dipped french bread into the oil and fried it!  But that being said, this week I learned some new tricks with balloons so I thought I would try them on the kids that were there and they LOVED them:

Yes, I went to the dollar store and bought balloons and a pump (10 balloons and a pump for $1 or 20 balloons for $1) and learned to make dogs, giraffes, swords, flowers and hats!  I went online to figure out what to do and there are tons of tutorials and it isn't that hard.  The kids were amazed!

Sweet Sabbath

Can I just say that one of the sweetest things that has happened while we have been here in Japan happened today.  And really it didn't have anything to do with our being missionaries.  Our little branch of 35-40 members was visited by a General Authority of the Church.  Elder Yamashita who is a member of the Seventy came (we knew ahead of time that he was going to be in the area and was coming).  He and our stake president came around 9:30 a.m. (church begins at 10:00 a.m.) and stayed the entire three hour block, had a meal with us, and then we had a fireside with him from 2:00-3:00 p.m. 

We had met Elder Yamashita last year at one of the thank you ceremonies and also at a mission conference.  He is so personable and great to be around.  He is from Japan and went to the World's Fair in Osaka in 1970.  From there he joined the Church.  That was especially sweet since Calvin was a missionary at the World's Fair at that time. 

At sacrament meeting he got up and gave a great talk.  He got the kids listening when he began by asking who the current prophet was and what was the prophet's favorite food.  He then talked about President Monson and how his favorite food is chocolate.  And he talked about how President Monson had pulled him up close and told him how much he loved the Japanese people.  He had the entire branch captivated with his talk. 

Then we had our linger longer meal which was nice (Elder Yamashita on the right):

And then at the fireside, some of the sisters singing a musical number:

The "fireside" was one of those informal gatherings where we sat at the same tables that we ate at and Elder Yamashita got up and said he didn't have anything really prepared so he talked about his family (they have six children mostly in their 20's and 30's) and how they had worries and concerns like everyone else but that he had been blessed in many ways.  Then he opened it up to questions from the 30 or so people there.

The questions were things like, "What advice would you give to married people?"  "What advice would you give to us raising children?"  and "How were you able to learn English so well?"   His answers were so down to earth and understandable.  The spirit was so strong as he talked and everyone was captivated by the feeling that God loves us and we just need to keep on. 

I have to say, at one point he was talking about the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City and he turned to me and said, "Do you know where the Humanitarian Center is?"  And I was able to say, "Yes, I was a missionary at the Humanitarian Center!"  What a wonderful memory that was and humbling to know that Elder Yamashita knew who to turn to to ask that question.

Elder Yamashita finished by bearing his testimony and then needed to leave to catch a train back to Tokyo.  Most of the members followed him outside and waved to him as he and the stake president drove off, feeling filled for having been there.

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