Sunday, March 20, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Our Kagoshima Home Sweet Home by the Volcano

We were very thankful to live in a house, instead of an apartment.  Most couples live in apartments.  This house is a little old and rugged in places, but was quite comfortable.   Here are some photos.  A couple of shots are panorama.

A pan of the front.

Front Door Genkan. 

Looking down the main hall, on the left the first door knob is the toilet, second doorknob is the sink and shower area.  On the right are the two tatami mat rooms.  At the end of the hallway is the kitchen/office area.

Toilet Room
A panorama of the sink, shower area, with shower door open.
The first tatami room opens up to the second room.  The doors slide and can be removed to accommodate visitors.
Kitchen area.   Curtain to the left hides small washer/dryer all-in-one unit.  Two burner stove, good sized fridge, to the right is rice cooker and microwave.  We ate at the round table.  Printer is on rectangle table, which is the office space.  When we had groups for dinner, we put a table cloth on the big table (and stored the printer in the other room, or upstairs.) With folding chairs, we fit 12 people around table.
This is what it looked when we first arrived.  We decided to move the storage rack upstairs for non perishables.  This allowed us to use the big table better.

This is looking the opposite direction to the backyard.  The pictures of Christ on  the right wall are in frames from the dollar store.  The little covers on the chair feet are also from the Daiso dollar store.  The heater/air conditioner is up on the wall behind the light.

This is the washer-dryer unit.  It is small, but we were so thankful for it.  For large comforter cover and pillows, we went to the new coin laundry by the new 7-11.
Head upstairs for a few more rooms.
The first room was the closet, and drying rack room.  There are four closet doors.  The first two were just shelves where we stored Christmas decorations and other things.  The two doors near the window had clothes rods, that we shared.  There was also a clothes line and drying rack.  We looked out the window each day to see our wonderful Sakurjima volcano.
The middle room was a great place to store luggage.  This is where we moved the big rack,  and the nonperishables.
The last room is the sleeping room.  We washed the two Costco pillows at the coin laundry.  We put clean sheets on, and the brown blankets are over the pillow area to protect them from dust, until the new senior couple arrives.

We are so thankful to have been called to serve in the Japan Fukuoka Mission, Kagoshima City and Branch.  The church members are awesome.  They are the BEST.  It is not easy to leave children, grandchildren, comforts of home, but the gospel of Christ is true.  ITS TRUE!  So it is all worth it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Here Today—Gone Tomorrow: Snowmen and Transfers

So last week we shared the surprise snowfall and all that came with it, like snowmen on the streets and shoveling with dust pans, frozen hot water heaters and such things.  This kind of snow only comes every 5 to 10 years.  Even the Amamioshima island even got snow, which only comes every 100 years.  Oh, what a difference a week can make.  It warmed up for a few days and then has gotten cold again, but it is nothing like what it was a week ago.  We were so grateful that the snow cleared up and it was fairly nice for our big transfer day last Thursday too.  Hauling missionary luggage to apartments in the rain is sometimes hard, but was better than in snow.  We said goodbye to almost half of our zone.  It is hard to say goodbye to these young missionaries who we grow to love and respect.  But then we are so excited to also meet new missionaries who come with great new ideas and enthusiasm for this area. 
As it melted the snowman lost his nose!


Our Aloe plant before and after the snow.  Can you tell which is which?
We put bubble wrap on our louvered windows to keep the wind from blowing in, and it helped.

The neighborhood cats loved sitting on our warm car engine hood, until we came out.
Missionary transfer day with all of the luggage at the bus station.
Sometimes we have to fit four large pieces of luggage in our small car. 
Missionaries coming and going on the buses.

Two sister missionaries meeting for the first time on transfers.  They both happened to be wearing the same colors.  It was an inspired companionship!

More luggage. 

And more and more luggage.

Still more luggage!

The goodbyes and hellos, visiting in the terminals. 

A few get to come and go on the bullet trains (Shinkansen).
Most go by regular trains or buses--they love the one hour Shinkansen instead of the four hour bus ride!
Another view of our wonderful volcano.
(We usually take sunrise pictures, but here is a great sunset view)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Palm Trees, Snow Storms, and Peace and Warmth Inside

This southern end of Japan has a great climate, with palm trees, fruit trees, and plants that grow all year long.  They have changes of seasons, with beautiful cherry blossom springs, warm humid summers, mild autumns, and chilly winters.
Last winter, we had 3 or 4 days of snow flurries, but it didn’t stick to the roads or sidewalks.  It was a really nice winter.  It was cold, we wore coats, but there was no snow to shovel. 

Last week, we heard weather predictions of snow, but thought it would just be snow flurries like last year.  We waited and watched as the temperatures continued to drop over several days.  It went from (Fahrenheit) the 50s, to the 40s, to the 30s.  Then the bottom dropped out, into the 20s.  It started snowing Saturday night, and by early Sunday morning we had several inches.  As we watched the snow for several hours, we saw small flakes, sometimes big flakes, and occasionally the sun would peek out for a few minutes.  The LDS chapel is up on top of a very steep hill with narrow winding roads.  The branch leader, President Furue, counseled with other leaders, and decided to cancel church meetings.  Most people here have “summer tires” on their cars, and are not accustomed to driving in snow and ice.  This community does not have snow removal equipment, or road deicers.  President Furue sent out an email to let the members know of the cancellation.  The President, the two of us, four Elders missionaries, two Sister missionaries, and four members walked to the church, so we held a small Sacrament Meeting (we usually have about 60 people).  We missed all of the other members, but it was a really special time to be together in a warm and spiritual setting partaking of the sacrament.  We all took part in the small meeting playing the hymns, leading the songs, saying prayers, giving talks or testimonies.  It was the last Sunday for one of our young elders, Elder Wilcox, before going home and he was scheduled to speak and give a sort of farewell, so we were all blessed by his testimony, and experiences.  I also was asked to give my testimony, which I did—a simple one without a translator.  After the meeting Elder Rowe showed them the Japanese broadcast of the Elder Nelson Worldwide Young Adult meeting in place of Sunday School lessons.  Elder Rowe and I brought some food from home to feed anyone who came to church.  It was supposed to be the Sunday with the linger-longer to wish happy birthday to all who had birthdays for the month.  We had a special time visiting and eating, while a blizzard raged outside.  After eating we then watched this past week’s Face to Face worldwide broadcast with Elder Rasband, Sister Oscarson, and Brother Owen. Eventually the snow was lighter, so all 13 of us went home.
It continued to snow until just after midnight.  Things really seemed to freeze up.  When we awoke this morning, it was 12º in our home, the same temperature as outdoors.  Our hot water wouldn’t work, our wall heater didn’t seem to work, and frost came out of our mouths when we talked or breathed, and there was frost on the inside of the windows.  Luckily, our gas stove worked, so we boiled hot water for warm drinks.  Our microwave worked, so we made hot cereal.  We dressed in several layers of warm clothes. 

Later we talked to Sister Tuchida and her son Chiune about our hot water problem.  They prayed to know how to help us.  Their prayers and advice helped us.  Our hot water started working.  By 2:00 pm, the temperature rose to 34º, and roads started thawing a little. In spite of this cold adventure, we still count our blessings.  We are thankful for a sweet home here, wonderful neighbors and community, but especially for the awesome church friends.  They are like family.  We also know that while we cannot control the weather or various trials, we can control our attitude, faith, and how we help and serve others.     
By the way the two broadcasts were amazing, and it wasn’t just because we were sitting in a warm, comfortable place.  Please take the time to watch them—in Japanese or English.

Here are Elder and Sister Nelson’s talks:

This is the beautiful theme song for the youth this year “Press Forward”:

Here is the entire Face-to Face broadcast:

Here are some pictures of our warm memories: 
Before the snow came, we had some rainy days, with an amazing rainbow.  We guess you could call this "the warm, before the storm".
The neighbor is walking along side the car, while his wife sees if she can turn the corner and go down the hill, without getting stuck or sliding on black ice.  We saw some cars with chains on the tires, but most don't have chains, so they stayed home.

Our small little group at church.  It was a special time.

A view out one of the church windows.

Another view out the side chapel window.
Notice the palm trees covered in snow.  Our great missionary, Sister Nohagi, took this photo of the missionaries in front of the church. 

An amazing photo by Sister-Mami Sasaki, by her home.

 Another wonderful photo by Sister-Mami Sasaki.  Thank you for sharing these with us.

 Walking to church in our Sunday clothes.  Luckily, the snow shook off pretty well, before entering the building.  

Our Monday morning view, with the 12 degree weather.  Brrrrr.
Glenn scraped a little snow away with a broom dust pan, because we don't have a snow shovel.  It helped to thaw the layer of ice on the porch from Sunday. 

Monday morning, walking through our neighborhood to go to the church, we saw only footprints, no tire tracks.  None of us wanted to get our cars stuck in the snow and ice.
An interesting view of our volcano, Monday morning.

Notice the steam clouds coming up from the water.  The water was cold, and yet it was warmer than the air.  And, another great view of the volcano.

We saved the best for last.  We love a good volcano sunrise photo.

Monday, January 11, 2016

To Everything There Is A Season

We just finished Christmas and New Year’s.  The middle and end of December showed many of the leaves changing colors to red and yellow.  That seemed late to us, whose leaves in Utah change in October.  Many trees here don’t lose their leaves, and flowers are still growing.  Last year, we had green lemons growing on our tree all winter.  In spring, the lemons finally turned a beautiful yellow.  We picked them, cut them, finding that their skins were super thick, to survive the winter.  Pretty amazing.  We sure enjoy getting to see the beautiful countryside.  It is nice to see trees and flowers mingled with town, the beautiful rice and fruit farms, the rolling hills, and the majestic mountains.  No matter where you live, you can enjoy nature.  “To everything, there is a season”.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) The changing of the seasons and leaves turning remind us that life also has its seasons.  We watch our children with their children now from afar here in Japan and are reminded we may be finishing a season of our lives too.  Whatever season we are in brings its joys and its challenges.  How we face those challenges makes all the difference in the world to ourselves and those around us.  Here is a great article about seasons in nature and in our lives:

And if you have a minute enjoy this beautiful song and video "Sunrise, Sunset" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 
Here is a glimpse at some of our colored leaves of this season of our lives:

The brush was turning orange.  Love the view of the Sakurajima Volcano.

Some of the trees have lost their leaves, and some of them stay green all year.

A chilly winter look, with snow on the hills.

Some of the changing leaves were so red or orange.

Some more trees that just lost their leaves.

Such beautiful colors.

We just finished that calendar.  Time to get a new one.  Luckily Brother Imafuku gave us a new one from his sister's store, "Fukumoto".

The elders took this shot of the New Year's sunrise, while looking at the volcano.
Elder Garrett Parry took this time laps video of the amazing New Year's sunrise, coming up beside Sakurajuma volcano.