I am thinking that this week's blog is going to be a bit of this and that so here goes:
Goodbye Sister Fukuda
One of our sisters here in Ishinomaki finished her mission this past week so we had some good times saying goodbye and wishing her well. We had them over to our apartment and had do-it-yourself hamburgers (actually sliders) and homemade french fries. (For some reason the Japanese when they pose for a photo HAVE to hold up their food.):
She was so sad to leave. When she first came on her mission she was extremely homesick. But last week she was crying as we left Ishinomaki and said, "I am not homesick. I am Ishinomaki sick. I don't want to leave Ishinomaki."
For forever I have thought about talking about the mail delivery in Japan. I have said before how efficient and fast it is and the fact that people mail CASH. You may even remember that we got a reimbursement in the mail for close to $1000 and it came in CASH! But it did require a signature on that one! Mostly they send without requiring a signiture but I have a hard time sending $150 in cash for our car payment each month to the mission home so we usually try to pay the office people when we see them in person!
Anyway, we read fairly often about the mail in the U.S. and how it is in such trouble. Here in Japan there doesn't seem to be any trouble and maybe the U.S. could take some tips from the Japanese. Like:
1. There is NO junk mail delivered. All advertisements are hand delivered and can be placed in mail boxes (or slots in your door) but are not sent through the mail. For this reason, we don't get mail that often.
2. The mailmen ride scooters with bins on the backs and zip around quickly. (I want you to know it was NOT easy to get photos of these guys because I didn't want to look obvious that I was taking their pictures and they do move quickly!):
3. Mailing a letter is not so cheap. It is 80 yen to send a letter (85 cents to $1 depending on how the dollar is going).
4. Mail seems to come at all hours of the day and sometimes even more than once a day.
5. Packages are generally not sent through the mail. Separate companies (like UPS) deal with packages of all sizes and are very efficient and reasonably priced.
All in all, the mail system is very good.
We went to Omotehama twice this past week and did wakame service. One of the places we went to was a pretty big operation and it is right on the bay. A forklift dumping a net full of wakame onto a big table:
Plenty of work to keep us busy:
Men trying to get the wakame under control!:
Clean-up after we finished (seven hours later):
Looking out over the bay (beautiful):
When the tsunami came in it came roaring through this bay. There is also another bay in back of us maybe a quarter of a mile away. When the the tsunami hit, it came up both bays and crashed together in the middle of the land. The entire area was destroyed and there was probably 30 feet or more of water in some places. About 25 people were killed in the area which housed a few hundred people. They escaped up to the main road which sits atop the bay.
We were able to sit in on a discussion that the sisters were giving this past week. It was so fun to see this man's house! Really quite unlike most people's houses I think! First the area of his house (the whole area was one room) where his bed was:
Yes, he had tin foil on the ceiling and these stuffed animal fish and porpoise hanging with fishing line from the ceiling! And the rest of his house had plants and other eclectic things all over:
And here he is, Hatsutaro san who is in his 70's:
He had fans in pointing in all directions for air circulation and, of course, at least four calendars on the walls. It was kind of like being in what I would think Robinson Crusoe's house would be like!! At least he has a good imagination!
Interesting Hymn Choice
One of the interesting things around here is that whenever there is an activity that brings our less active members, the members try to accommodate by singing a hymn that would sound familiar to those less actives. The hymn they choose is always "Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing." This is sung as an OPENING hymn!
Funny I always thought that hymn sounded like "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."
Our little friend Marie will be married in less than two weeks! We will be going to Tokyo for the sealing in the temple. Tonight our branch president and his wife came over to discuss having a reception here the week after the wedding. They wanted our input. Who would have thought having five daughters and helping with tons of weddings would come in so handy!
AND this week when we were skyping with Laura she asked what was new and we said we were going to Tokyo for the wedding. She said, "oh, I forgot about that when is it?" When we told her she said, "I think I might want to go. I'll call you back." Only FIVE MINUTES later she called back and said, "Eric and the kids want to come too. We're coming!"
So it looks like we will be spending a few days with them in Tokyo! We are very excited!
More Wakame Ahead
This week we are scheduled to do more wakame service with our mission. On Thursday we are going to Omotehama with the other senior missionaries and then on Friday our zone is going. Both days, the Helping Hands from Tokyo will also be there. Last week on Tuesday it was rather cool and drizzly but on Friday it was sunny and very nice. We'll hope for the latter this week!
So-- hopefully wakame is really GOOD for you because we have eaten wakame EVERY DAY for the past two weeks!
So we learned some new words this week in Japanese. Ame is the word for rain. Kaze is the word for wind. But when you put the "O" in front of them you get a really big rainstorm or windstorm. I think it is just short of a typhoon. So that is what we had last night. Actually it wasn't as bad as predicted where we are but we heard there were some other places where it was pretty intense.
We haven't had much rain lately and I had forgotten about the spring and the rainy season. The rain does get pretty intense sometimes and last year we did have one typhoon. . . . The wind, on the other hand, has made its presence known this year. Another interesting fact here in Ishinomaki: when the air smells bad, it will rain the next day. For real!