Sunday, July 21, 2013


So I have to admit this week has been so eventful that it was basically a blur.  I am glad that we have photos to remind me what we did.  And if there are any of you out there that DON'T want to see pictures of us eating food, you can just stop reading right now because much of what we did seems to revolve around eating!

First, I wanted to show you a photo actually from last week.  In Japan the people celebrate food.  Right now it is cherry season.  And even though they are expensive, the Yamagata cherries are the favorite.  Here are some branch members savoring their cherries:

Happy Birthday Souta!

Last Sunday we were invited to Souta Kawatsuna's sixth birthday party.  Really he looks to be about four but he is six and is so cute.  He has two older brothers and there was another family from the branch with two other boys so it was quite lively.  The kids love to make an agenda for their parties:

So I think we had an introduction, opening song, prayer, dinner and I am not sure what else but the kids were very organized.  They even planned a game and a closing prayer.  Dinner was do-it-yourself sushi which seems to be the choice of this family's kids since we have done that before.  Everyone seems to LOVE the food.  Notice that it is FINGER-LICKING good!

Then there was the traditional cake and candles.  There were SEVEN candles but who's counting?!

And, of course, the birthday photo:


I told you this was a food blog and so on Monday the Kikuchis called and asked us if we wanted to go out to lunch at a ramen place:

Actually I was excited since I really do love Japanese ramen and they have a spicy Chinese version that is so good!  Calvin had a COLD version of the spicy ramen which was totally different:  it had fresh veggies on top!

Lunch with the Stake President and Stake Patriarch

On Tuesday we were invited to lunch with the stake patriarch, Bro. Hayasaka and his wife.  Also there was the stake president and his wife, President and Sister Sugawara there.  Pretty impressive, huh?!  Brother Hayasaka was in the same mission as Calvin eons ago and so they talked prior mission talk.  The food was amazing!  And we took tons home!

District Meeting

Wednesday we had district meeting and afterwards we went to lunch (of course) at our favorite all-you-can-eat place:

Someone should alert some of these restaurants that we are keeping them in business!  It was good to be with the whole district plus the zone leaders.  So sad to see them for the last time.

Norie Palmer Comes!

For almost six months before we came to Japan, we had Japanese lessons from Sister Norie Palmer at the MTC.  Sister Palmer came to Japan this past week (she is from Japan) and came to visit all of the missionaries she had taught.  She spent a week meeting with everyone!  That included mission presidents, temple workers, and other missionaries.  It was quite amazing that she did that since she traveled a great distance to do so.  Then she is spending the next three weeks with her mother in Japan.

We picked up Norie at the station after our English class on Wednesday and she stayed with us overnight.  In the morning we visited some of the tsunami sites even though it was raining like CRAZY!

It was probably the MOST rain we have seen here and many of the streets were pretty flooded but it didn't seem to be stopping anyone from driving.

Afterwards we headed to Matsushima and had lunch:

I had to take this photo because I have been wanting to order this for a long time even though it was mostly Calvin that ate it!  It is basically raw whatever and fish eggs on top of rice.  It was good but it is Calvin that is the raw fish connoisseur.  Here we are at in Matsushima:

It was actually not that bad of weather the rest of the day when we were in Matsushima considering the prior downpour.  It was raining a little but not bad.  Norie loved the Japanese gardens and we even fed the seagulls some shrimp chips on the bridge!  After Matsushima we headed to the mission home.

It was just in time for dinner!   The office staff, President and Sister Rasmussen and Norie and we went to dinner around the corner at an Okomiyake place.  Basically it is a pancake looking thing with eggs and veggies in it.  It was really good but we were stuffed, having eaten lunch not that long ago!  We didn't get a photo, sorry.

Friday:  More Food

On Friday, Takie and Sister Date invited us to Taikanso overlooking Matsushima once again! 

It is a French restaurant and I counted TWELVE utensils in front of me.  There are several courses and I felt like rolling home!  The view is always spectacular:
Saturday:  No Food!
Just to show you we can go ONE DAY without food, here it is.  We began by doing some service (hand massages) at a temporary housing unit:
However, it was short lived because the mission home called Calvin and asked him to come and set up their computers into their newly redecorated office!  So he headed off and I went to the Church and prepared for our Relief Society activity that night which was making eco-bags.  It actually turned out to be a good project.  I always worry about these things because I don't really know if I am going to be able to communicate instructions and don't know who is really going to show up.  But all turned out well:
Goodbye Ishinomaki Branch!
Today was our last day of Church here.  Sad.  We spoke in sacrament meeting which went okay.  Afterwards we had linger longer:
The food is always amazing.  But the biggest surprise was that Sister Chikamori who was a missionary here last winter came!  She finished her mission in March but came literally hundreds of miles to be with us!
And we are excited because she has plans to visit us in Utah soon!  Calvin got EXTREMELY camera happy so here are a couple of other photos of the day.  Brother Abe (our convert) who is so wonderful:
And the guys in the branch who wanted their picture taken:
One interesting thing is that we have had several small earthquakes lately.  When Melissa and her friends were here we were awakened two of the three nights she was here around 3:00 a.m. with earthquakes!  One was about 5.3 and the other was 4.6.  And we seem to have them daily though most are small.

Everyone asks how it feels to be going home.  I have to admit it hasn't really hit me yet.  Mostly this past week has been so busy (we also took our suitcases to the mission home to be sent to the airport in Tokyo) that it seems like it was all we could do to get through each day.  Sometimes all I can think of is being able to SLEEP on the plane!  But my plan is that I can only sleep the first little while or jet lag will be awful. 
And thankfully, our next two days are quite busy.  We will be taking care of loose ends tomorrow and then heading to the mission home on Tuesday.  I do plan on posting one last blog next week so it will seem like we really did end our mission!
Looking back, it has been a remarkable journey.  What more can I say?  Maybe it will hit me this week . . . .

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