Monday July 20 was a day off for most Japanese. That is the day the church branch members charted a bus for the Temple trip. Glenn picked up our four Kagoshima elders at 2:00 am (yes, I said 2:00 am), and dropped them at the church so they could email their families. Monday P-day is when they email families, clean their apartments, do laundry, get groceries, and other tasks. About 3:50 am we packed the six of us into our car and headed to the parking lot next to the bus. It was so fun to greet all the church members. Even though we all looked tired, we looked happy. We six missionaries chose seats towards the back of the bus. Each on the bus brought sandwiches or food to eat “breakfast” on the four hour ride to the Fukuoka Temple. Glenn usually does all our driving (on the left side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right) so it was enjoyable to sit back and let someone else do the driving. The temple was able to handle three branch groups: Satsumasendai, Taniyama, and Kagoshima. It was awesome to meet together. We knew many people from each group. After arriving at the temple, the youth and newer converts went off to do baptisms for the dead (see New Testament, 1Corinthian 15:29). The rest of us split up to do two sessions. The church members all had assignments as, temple workers, babysitting, laundry, and cleaning/maintenance. As a matter of fact, around the world we all do volunteer cleaning and maintenance of our individual chapels. Service makes us happy, and it saves the church a lot of money. About 3:00 pm we all boarded our busses and cars to head home. Our bus ticket covered an evening “bento”=box lunch meal (meat, vegetables, rice). “Oishikatta deshita”=It was delicious. The ride home was enjoyable with talking, laughing, a little singing, and a few testimonies. It was really special.
A few days later on Sunday, the church branch held their monthly shokujikai=pot-luck dinner. Three months in a row I have prepared two large bowls of tortilla salad. People seemed so happy that I brought it, and said they really like it. That makes me so happy. The first few months after we arrived, I was too shy to fix anything, so I brought fruit or Japanese crackers. I am really glad we can contribute something. They had three of us come to the front so they could sing happy birthday to us. People asked when my birthday was. I said “Kyo. Party wo domo arigato gozimasu,” which means “Today. Thank you for the party”. I can’t understand very much and can’t speak very much, but they are so kind and patient. We usually communicate with a mixture of a little Japanese, a little English, hand and face movements, or I grab Glenn to translate.
We are very thankful for these members. It is truly amazing that we can go to any LDS church anywhere in the world: Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, etc. and feel right at home. We had a beautiful British/Jamaican woman attend our Sunday branch meetings. We hugged each other and felt instant love. I often hug the branch sisters and say “aishite imasu”=I love you. Somehow they see the good in us and love us freely, in spite of our limitations.
I am thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for a modern living prophet that speaks prophetic words today. I am thankful for you all, awesome family and friends.
The early bus ride to the temple.
The Fukuoka Japan Temple
Loading the bus to go back to Kagoshima.
The Church Shokujikai Pot Luck Lunch.
My chicken tortilla salad.
Dear branch friends at the Shokujikai wishing me a happy birthday and loving my salad.
On my birthday we were invited to tour this Japan Coast Guard ship docked because of the typhoon.
On board the ship.
Another view of our volcano.