Sunday, June 30, 2013


So I have help today writing this blog.  Guess who?!!

Yup!  It's Kenji!  And here we are at the Indian restaurant.  And Saturdays are "all-you-can-eat" days!  We had curry, nan, pork rinds, curry potato balls, salad, pork, and drinks!  So wonderful.  Kenji said he liked the pork rinds and the chicken curry and of course the nan.  I liked it all!  Here we are with the owner:

Calvin was there too.  He was the photographer.

One of the highlights of the week was going to Matsushima.  First we bought some shrimp chips at 7-11 and we took them to the bridge in Matsushima because we wanted to see if we could get the seagulls to eat out of our hands.  Look for yourselves:

There were tons of seagulls wanting to grab our shrimp chips.  They look kind of like plain Cheetos.

Next we went to the island and went down the rope path to the beach:

Hey!  We are good!  And this is Miriana collecting shells at the beach:

Later we went to the Pokémon Center in Sendai.  Hideki is a real Pokémon lover and thought it was awesome.

Miriana liked posing for the pictures:

Finally we ate ramen at the food court and you can tell we had a long day because Miriana could hardly keep her eyes open.  Kenji said he never wants to go back to eating American ramen again.  It was so good!

On Friday we went to Hiyoriyama park to see the overview of Ishinomaki and see how the tsunami hit the homes.  We decided to walk down to the area where the damage was pretty bad and found that the descent wasn't that easy going down:

And going up was pretty intense too.  But you can tell who the young 'uns are:  The kids led the way!

We also visited a shrine and of course we had to wash our sins away with the purified water:

And we had to wake up the gods and ring the bell:

And after all of that we went to an all-you-can-eat place where you could cook your own meat and choose from a wide variety of food:

And eat as much sushi as you wanted:

And the best part:  They had a COTTON CANDY machine!

Personally, I liked the choices of ice cream:

Who can resist, brown, pink, green, orange, white, yellow and blue?  Just kidding, they were mango, vanilla, chocolate, melon, strawberry, lemon, and blueberry(?).  They were good!

And we did LOTS of shopping, shopping, shopping.  Not only did Sayuri want to buy but the kids had been saving their money and wanted to go to the dollar stores and to the recycle shops.  They had a great time but really they were a little reluctant to part with their money.

And Saturday we took Sayuri, Hideki and Miriana to Sendai to go to Nagoya and we got to keep Kenji for a few extra days.  That night the Young Men in the branch (there are three deacons) were learning to make fried shrimp and potato salad so Kenji and Calvin went over to participate:

And Sunday they finished their project and presented it to one of our members who is 93 years old and blind:

ALWAYS you have to have a group photo:

AND you have to eat the leftovers:

It has been great to have Kenji here and he found himself immersed in the branch as well.  He helped pass the sacrament today (Sunday), sang a solo in sacrament meeting, and helped with our single adult family home evening tonight.  He also took charge of the Book of Mormon bingo game.  Too bad we will be leaving on Tuesday.  He was even invited to a birthday party in two weeks!


One of our members gave us a gift this past week:

It was two ears of corn!  It was warm and she said her nephew got it on the internet so it should be really good.  It was good--even rivaled the Walker's corn (yup we should be back in time so save some for us!) but I still haven't figured out how you buy corn on the internet . . . .

Small World

Last week we also went with the sisters visiting.  We went about 45 minutes away to Wakuya to visit Luisa Kimura who is a less active sister.  When we got there she seemed overjoyed to see us.  She is from the Philippines and married a Japanese man.  Their home was destroyed in the tsunami so they are now living further inland in an apartment.  When she found out we were from America she quickly changed from speaking Japanese to English which she was glad to do.  She teaches English here in Japan.

She talked and talked and talked . . . probably for an hour and a half.  It was really fun to learn all about her.  I told her that Eric and Laura had served missions in Manila where she is from and we figured out if they were there the same time as she was.  And they were.  When I said "Watson" she said, "I remember that name.  I think I knew him!"  It was another of those moments that I knew things aren't just coincidences.  God does have a plan. 

Anyway, Luisa said she would come to Church on Sunday . . . and she did!  Here she is with her daughter and the sister missionaries:

Everyone was so glad to see her again and she started crying the second she entered the building and said it felt like she had "come home."  It was a great missionary moment.  A time to see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace and happiness to us all.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Yes, so this week's "topic" (a Japanese word pronounced "toe-peek-coo") is climbing.  We spent a great week with Emily and Kelly and began our week climbing Yamadera.   It is a temple on top of a mountain and to get there you must climb 1,000 stairs!--and actually there are MORE than 1,000 stairs because once you get to the temple there are about 50 more stairs to see the sights at the top!  Here is what we saw when we got off the train station at Yamadera:

Yes, that mountain was the climb.  It was us four and our friends the Saitos:

We rubbed Buddha's belly for good luck:

And then began the climb:

There were even signs to tell us how far we had gone (270 stairs--only 730 left!):

More stairs:

And finally 1,000 stairs:

And the temple at the top:

See I told you:  more stairs at the top!

But it was not as bad as you might think because it was a great day and there was plenty of beautiful scenery all around.

And then heading back down:

We got back just in time to shower and go out to eat 100 yen sushi with some branch members:


I don't think it would be worth coming here if we didn't make our pilgrimage to Matsushima.  So here is Kelly wading in the water at the beach:

And eating our favorite "fried or raw" choice of food from the menu on the wall at this restaurant:

Off to Tokyo

Thursday we were off to Tokyo!  Our first day we took the bullet train to Tokyo station and then went to the temple to drop off our luggage.  We decided to go to Odaiba, an area of Tokyo which is fun to visit.  We wanted to check out the trick art museum.  They are pictures on the wall that seem to pop out at you and you can take photos of each other which are pretty tricky.  Here are some examples:

More Climbing

Could I just say that in our three days in Tokyo we probably climbed MORE than 1,000 more stairs just in the train stations!  Even with the occasional escalators or elevators, the stairs are definitely the norm!

Tsukiji Fish Market

On Friday morning we headed to Tsukiji Fish Market.  It is just as you would expect:  one of the largest fish markets in the world where fishermen bring their catches of the day and they are shipped all over the world.  There are TONS of fish:

Men cutting fish:

Lots of hustle and bustle (you have to watch out or you will be run over):

And even fish soup bones galore:

Kelly eating squid:

And Calvin showing off his catch of the day:

And if you ever wanted to know what edamame PLANTS look like:

Asakusa Temple/Meiji Temple

Asakusa is the most visited shrine in Tokyo.  Even on this rainy day it was filled with people:

Here we are at the temple:

At the Meiji shrine we saw two wedding parties.  Here is one:

And the family photo:

And our photo with the guard:

Climbing the Easy Way

This is the Tokyo Government Office Building:

And it is definitely the cheapest way to see Tokyo from up high (it's free!):

We got back to Ishinomaki around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night pretty much exhausted, cleaned up, showered and went to bed only to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to head off to Sendai to be missionaries once again!

We spent Sunday picking up the Asia North area doctors (physician and psychologist) and their wives, bringing them to Church with us in Ishinomaki and then showing them the disaster sites around here and then taking them back.  Good to be back again to cooler temperatures and less humidity!

One Last Climb

So one month from today we will be leaving Ishinomaki and going to the mission home one last time.  We will be returning home on the 24th of July!  For those of you non-Utahns, the 24th of July is a state holiday commemorating the pioneers coming to Utah.  It will be a time for celebration for us to be with our family and friends again.  But even as I write this I am sad because we have come to love the people here as well.

Our eighteen months here have flown by.  We have one last month to climb here in Japan.  But I am sure there will be more mountains to climb when we get home.  Every day is an adventure!