Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Miracles

Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Japan.  It is an American holiday to remember the Pilgrims and Native Americans working together and sharing a feast.  It causes us to stop and think of all the things we are thankful for.

One year ago we invited English class friends, church friends, and missionaries to the church for a Thanksgiving dinner and Family Home Evening/ Katei No Yube.  I prepared a huge pot of cooked chicken in gravy, rice, cut fruit, with people bringing other misc. food.  We had about 20 people.  We went around the tables and had everyone say something they were thankful for.  It was a great night and a good memory.

This year we had a couple of miracles.  Last July, Chie sent us Reynolds Oven Turkey Cooking Bags, and a few other American products.  We are friends with her parents in Tokyo.  I didn't think I would ever use the cooking bags but held on to them.  Her mother likes to send us a surprise box every few months, and sent us a 14 lbs. turkey.  It miraculously fit into our small microwave/convection oven!  She bought it at Costco in Tokyo.  It was like $36.  She also sent a Costco package of instant potatoes. The week before Thanksgiving I cooked the turkey, deboned it, and stuck it in my little freezer.  Someone gave us a pumpkin-like squash.  I cooked it, scraped it out, and mashed it with spices, eggs, and milk, to make a pumpkin (pie) cake.  I made wassail with apple juice, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.  We invited the missionaries, 4 elders and 2 sisters, and had turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cut apples, cut pineapples, wassail, and pumpkin cake, with a dollop of ice cream.  It was a lot of work, but we all enjoyed it.  We watched a short a short video on giving thanks, about three minutes long.  We are thankful for so many things:  family, extended family, friends, coworkers, a safe community to live in, good water and food, a house to live in, and knowing why we’re here in this life and where we are going after this life.  We are thankful for all of you and your good examples in our lives.  Thank you, thank you.  We love you all. 

 The 14 lb.turkey cost about $36

 The Reynolds Oven Bag was very helpful.  It keeps splatters off the oven.

After cooking the turkey, I deboned it.  We even saved the wishbone.   

 From left to right:  wassail, mashed potatoes, turkey in gravy. 

 Chocolate chip cookie, pumpkin cake, ice cream.  Yum.
 Our thankful group.
Our grandchildren helped to make the (hand) turkey decoration last year.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.  We will enjoy it many more years. 

And yet another amazing view of our volcano.  We never grow tired of it. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Planting Winter Flowers and Heavy Rains

 Our landlord also showed up at our house unexpectedly again with her husband this week.  We had never met her husband previously.  They were very kind.  They came with a trunk full of plants to plant around the house.  There were odd things like garlic and onions, celery and parsley, lettuce and cabbage, morning glory and lots of tulips.  Our first thought was “more things to weed around!” and the weeds grow fast.   It seems like a never-ending job keeping the jungle under control.  Then two days later we had an amazingly heavy rain.  We think we heard someone say that more rain fell in the matter of a few hours than has fallen in ten years.  We had water in our genkan / front door area and pools of water a few inches deep all around our yard and driveway.  One news report said it was, “The heaviest rainfall on record pounded the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu. Rainfall of 10.1 centimeters (about 4 inches) per hour was recorded in the southern region of Kagoshima.”  It was great for the new plants and cleared up very quickly the next day.  We are blessed to be safe in a house that doesn’t leak, in such a beautiful green area, and have good people around us.    

Some of the plants our landlord brought to plant around our house.

Our landlord planting on the side of the house.

A moment with our landlord's husband.

Swimming in our genkan anyone? 

This doesn't do it justice, but the rain was like a wall of water with very little wind.

Yet another view of the volcano.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Halloween in Japan

While Halloween is really a popular activity in the U.S. it is growing in popularity in Japan and other countries.  They don’t go trick or treating in neighborhoods, but people can take their children and go from store to store in the shopping areas.  When they see a sign or symbol on the store window here they know they can go in and receive a treat. 
We began planning some kind of a Halloween Family Home Evening activity nearly a month before Halloween.  We were pleased to have quite a few people come have fun with us at our church the day before Halloween.  Most of them dressed in really interesting and cute costumes.  The children loved it!  Missionaries helped plan the games:  Eating donuts on a string; black mystery boxes (with textured things to feel like brains, bones, eyeballs); relays where they had to wrap up in toilet paper like mummies; the limbo; and lots and lots of fun food!  In keeping with the theme of a Family Home Evening we had a short spiritual message at the end using a clip from Brother Randall Ridd’s basketball analogy video, staying focused on the right things in life.  Watch it.  You’ll love it!    (See if you can count how many times the ball is passed)
To see his talk and hear the point he was making you can watch the entire talk here: 

We only go to Costco (4 hours away) about every three months.  On our last visit we picked up these microwave popcorn, to make party treats. 

We made about 80 of these, to give people at the end of our party.  They were all very surprised, and seemed to love it.

We put Hershey's Kisses in the tips of some of them to use as decorations.

We didn't have any decorations, and had a large room with a tall ceiling, but picked up a few things at the Daiso dollar store.

Even though we didn't have a lot of decorations, it looked great.

I'm standing with two of my favorite buddies.

Children and adults seem to like doing the limbo.  Even people with disabilities did it with the bar high.  All laughed and had fun.

Eating a donut off a string was a hit.  Who doesn't like donuts?

Glenn and I went as Hawaiian tourists (although, I've never been to Hawaii), here with one of our friends.

A wide view of the activities.


The toilet paper mummy wrap was a lot of fun.  We had some cute mummies.
  We enjoy pictures of our Sakurajima volcano.  Yet another view from the large ferry port.  We haven't had a lot of ash the last few months.  It's been great.