Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ohara Matsuri Time!

Monday was our preparation day and was also a national holiday and the day of the big local Fall festival with parades of folk dancers and booths with traditional foods.  The smells were wonderful.  We walked down the mountain to the downtown area instead of driving, in case we couldn’t find parking, and watched the parades.  Many people were very kind and came up and greeted us.  So many different groups join in the matsuri parade dancing to traditional music and march up and down the street for hours.  There was even a wheelchair group and some "foreigners and their friends" who formed a group and participated.  Such a wonderful historical and cultural heritage can be found here.  They are very proud of their southern Kyushu contribution to the ancient history of Japan.  Our church members here are amazing too with all that they do for each other and the community.  This congregation has been here for about forty years. 

Even the pizza delivery people are traditional folk dancers.

Traditional dancers

The elderly and handicapped join the parade.

Traditional folk dancers. 

Taiko drummers were amazing.

Ahh the smell of yaki tori. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Volcano's Ashy Shadow

The past three days have been really bad ash days.  It puts a film of dusty ash all over the streets and everything and when cars drive by it swirls and blows like light snow.  We thought we had it cleaned up yesterday, and then today it all came back again.  We have been told that if you wash the ash off your car it just turns to mud, and that is true.  So we brush it off, and sweep the driveway, at least once in the morning on bad days.  They bag it up in yellow bags and put them out for the garbage pickup, on any day.  Here is what it looks like: 


What A Month!

We have been here a month and a half.  Whew! What a busy month.  We were required by Japanese law to get a foreigner registration card and photo, sign up and pay for Japanese National Health Insurance and Long Term Care Insurance (at a machine that is only in Japanese Kanji, no English), open a Japanese Post Office Bank Account (and learn how to use the machines), and figure out how to use a 7-11 Handy Bank (luckily in English) to withdraw money from America.  We had to assess the house to see what was needed.  The previous mission couple left some wonderful supplies, but we still needed to figure out how to go grocery shopping.  There is a nice little market a block down the hill, with fruits, vegetables, milk, and misc.  They are our neighbors and we are getting to know them.  The bigger grocery stores are in the basements of the multi-level department stores, and are several miles away from us.  We have found some American products such as small Skippy peanut butter, which helps when we need to take sandwiches with us.   We try to eat local food: chicken and vegetables, yakisoba, curried rice and chicken.  We eat a lot of bananas, mikans (clementine’s) , and Asian pears.  We are very lucky.
We recently drove four hours, on toll roads, to go to Costco.  We packed our peanut butter sandwiches and headed out about 7:00am, Monday.  We got there about 11:00am.  The parking lot was full.  It was crowded inside, with people standing around the sample tables (just like in America).  We filled two carts full of things.  We stocked up on p-butter, jam, oatmeal, walnuts, almonds, TP, and misc.  They accepted my American Exp/ card (I was grateful).  We stopped at the Fukuoka Mission Home for some items, then headed home, arriving about 7:30pm.  We definitely don’t want to do that very often, but it was definitely worth it. 

It’s not easy being far from family, friends, home, and familiar conveniences.  People have been very helpful at the government offices, post offices, 7-11, church, and everywhere.  The people are so nice, and so very kind.  We really like them and appreciate them.  All our family and friends at home can take comfort knowing that the people are helping us here, and that Heavenly Father is helping us here.   Sometimes when we get overwhelmed and think we can’t do it, Heavenly Father gives us a peace of mind and heart, and the courage to go forward and do things.