Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 82 - August 25-31, 2014

Monday when we went jogging to our surprise the grass had been cut and the crew was just finishing  gathering the long grass clippings and loading them in a truck.  The park looked great with its cut. 
On Wednesday, August 20th I was given this bitter gourd or gouya, home grown in one of my International Center Eikaiwa students gardens.  I had never eaten gouya but was told it was good for health. English words were lacking to explain that statement farther.  When I looked on line I found that it maybe the secret of the Okinawa Islander longevity.  The bitterness of the gourd might turn some people away from it but I learned the younger the gouya the less bitter it is.  I was given a very young one.  Gouya have may disease preventing and health promoting phyto chemical compounds.  There is a lot of information of its nutritional value on line.  Check it out if you are interested.
Having never cooked or eaten a gouya, my friend instructed me on one of her favorite ways to prepare it.  She likes to eat it for breakfast.  I cut it in half and put half of it back in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.  I sliced the other half length wise and then into thin slices.
I fried it in a frying pan with two slices of bacon cut in small pieces. 
I served it with a fried egg and toast.  It was not as bitter as I expected it to be.   I had been told more than once I would not like it because it was bitter.  Wednesday I than took pictures back to Eikaiwa to share with my students.  I was told you did not eat the cotton (white part in the middle) so I had to try again.
The second half had large seeds in the cotton so I don't think I would have eaten it.  I think I could learn to like gouya fixed this way.
 Wednesday we were able to see the progress of the remodel project at the International Center.  It will soon be completed.
Thursday was Kumamoto Zone I and II Zone Conference and interviews with President Gustafson.  As we walked from our apartment to the church I noticed an empty parking lot, not one car in the parking lot, but knew there were many missionaries inside.  Elder Koberstein had picked up President Gustafson and the AP's at the Eki and given them a ride to the church earlier in the morning.  As you can see a crew is working on the exterior of the church building currently.  The nets and scaffolding that is put up for the workmen in Japan is amazing and prevents paint and other things from damaging things close to the work area.
Friday found us on our way to Omuta where we checked a shimi apartment.  This is the parking lot by their apartment.  Having a bike would make parking much simpler (no car parking available).  They got a celestial rating and decided to go to  the Stamina Yakuniku for lunch.  We met the Omuta Elder's at Stamina having lunch too.  It started raining "cats and dogs" and the Elders had an appointment but no rain gear with them.  Elder Koberstein was able to give them a ride in the car to the appointment.  They will have to pick up their bikes later.  A small miracle or tender mercy that we were able to help them. 
Saturday evening we enjoy sushi at an investigators home.  It was served just the way I like it best, family style.  I could chose my own.  I enjoy ebi (shrimp), toka (octopus), unagi (eel) and tamago (egg) sushi.  Others present at the dinner where more than willing to eat the rest.  Following dinner the Elders gave a spiritual thought which led into a lesson and a baptismal challenge.

Scripture of the Week
John 6:38
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 81 - August 18-24, 2014

It is hard to believe another week has flown by so quickly.  Monday we had the privilege of visiting with our family on Skype which is always a high light of our week.  In the afternoon we had the Kumamoto and Nagamine Ward Missionary Shimi come over to do their e-mails.  When the Nagamine Shimi came they noticed this unusual moth on our front door.  It kind of looks like a small twig.  We had to look more than once to make sure it was actually a moth trying to visit us eight stories up.  Does anyone know what type of moth it is?  
Tuesday was a quiet day.  We did some catch up around the apartment, planning for the week and than prepared for our big day on Wednesday.
Wednesday was our day Japanese Class at the International Center.  We have been reading the book On That Summer Day by Shomei Yoh.  This book is about the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II.  I like the closing words of this book.
I am Nagasaki.
I open my arms and accept with a smile and a prayer.
My wish is a wish for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.
I have taken the pain and grief of the atomic bombing and turned it into love.
Oh people of the world, will you join me in this love? 
Having spent the last 18 months in Japan I have experience the love of this people.  The words printed in this book are real.  I too wish for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.  A place where we have Christ like love for all people and find no need for war.

Thursday found us doing an apartment check for the Shimizu/Tsuboi Elders.  They wanted food from Costco for their celestial rated apartment.  We brought them blueberries, peanut butter, jalapeno peppers, chocolate muffins and mango juice Saturday after working in the Fukuoka temple.  They seemed very happy when we delivered the groceries to them. 
Friday we had an apartment check for the Omuta/Tamana Elders.  For their celestial rating, they wanted lunch at all you can eat Stamina Yakiniku.  It is always fun to eat good food with good company and we love clean apartments.
Saturday was temple day again.  We had the privilege of visiting with three other mission couples that where at the temple.  It was a very busy day that ended up with dinner at Costco with the Smiths who are serving at the office couple for the Japan Fukuoka Mission.  A wonderful day of service.
Sunday in the Gospel Principles class our lessons title was "Developing Our Talents".  We were asked to write down three of our talents on a piece of paper.  They were read to the class and then class members guessed who in the class had those talents.  Tom Holdman was used as and example of developing his talent.  He makes beautiful stain glass windows.  The picture above was taken from his website.  This stained glass mural by Tom Holdman can be found in the Palmyra, New York LDS Temple.  It is of the "First Vision" that took place in the sacred grove near Palmyra.  The story of the First Vision can be found in the Book Of Mormon
Scripture of the Week
Psalms 82:6
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 80 - August 11-17, 2014

Monday started with a 5 K jog with our jinan/second oldest son.  Pictured is our son and Elder Koberstein jogging together.  We Skype some of our family and then headed to Beppu to take curtains to the new shimi apartment.
We enjoyed lunch in the city of Aso on the way to Oita at Hotto Motto which is a Japanese fast food restaurant chain. 
We wanted to show our son the beautiful country side in this part of Kyushu.  The Japanese make cement wall as shown in this picture along cut roadsides.  I wonder if they prevent falling rocks and mud slides. 
When we arrived in Oita we visited Takasakiyama Natural Zoo/monkey mountain and the Aquarium Umitamago.
Tuesday started by finding the Iwayaji Stone Buddas in Oita.  It looked like it was in the process of restoration. 
The next stop was the Kokonoe "yume" Otsurihashi/suspension foot bridge over the Kyushi Ravine.
 The bridge offers pedestrians the beautiful view of two waterfalls (Shindo and Me-daki Falls).
Wednesday found us doing a morning hike up Mt. Kinpo.  Kinpo is the large mountain we see from our patio balcony.  This was a very fast hike to the top and down before we head to the International Center where we have a Japanese class and teach Eikaiwa.  We also taught an evening Eikaiwa at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Obiyama.
Thursday we drove to Aso volcano.  For our third visit to Aso the volcano was giving off lots of white steam and gases which were blowing away from the observation point.
As we drove from Aso to the Tsujunkyo (bridge) we notices a sign for the head waters of the Shirakawa (river).  We decided to take a look.  It is a fascinating place where the ground water from Aso runs out of the rocks in many place in large volume.  The Shirakawa is the big river that runs through down town Kumamoto.  Water in Kyushu is very good as it is from Aso mountains many artesian wells.  We are blessed to be able to enjoy such good water.
The next stop was the Tsujunkyo (bridge/aqueduct).  This picture is of Elder Koberstein and our son on top of the bridge.  Yes, it was raining.
We hike to the Gorogataki Falls which is where the river drops into a hollow lava tube. 
This time the bridge though the narrow lava tube was ready for visitors use.
It opened up into a meadow with a wonder picnic area.  It would have been a dry place for a picnic and on a busy day at the bridge we found ourselves alone to enjoy this spot.
A picture from the backside of the bridge.  The flowers were beautiful as well as the rice patties.
Friday was summer yukata day.  We rented them for the day.  There were four women getting dressed at the same time and we all four met at the Kumamoto Jo (castle) where this picture was taken.  If you are wearing a yukata/kimono the castle visit is free of charge (a pleasant surprise for us).  We had a very enjoyable day all dressed up.  People at the castle enjoyed our dress too.
Our group at the castle with a staff person also in period dress.
Saturday was a hike in Kikuchi Glen.  It was nothing like I expected but very beautiful and many waterfalls to look at. 
There was so much mist in the air my pictures are not clear.
We then visited the Yumaga Tourou Museum/lantern museum.  We had the opportunity to get our picture taken with one of the paper lanterns in the museum like the dancers wore in the preformance. 
Dinner was a choose your own from the street vender's set up for the lantern festival.
This is the closing song at the festival.  What an enjoyable end to a very busy week with our son.
Sunday morning was time for goodbyes which are always hard.  Thank you for a wonderful visit.  We love you.

Scripture of the Week
Psalms 127:3-5
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week 79 - August 4-10, 2014

We had a wonderful surprise this week when Elder Koberstein checked our mail box, he found a package of chocolate chip cookies for our oldest grand daughter there.  What a treat!  Thank you so much!!!
The international center first floor is under going change.  We are told they will be selling food.
This week we had lots of wind from the fringes of Typhoon 11 as it passed over Kumamoto.  It blew one of the panels off our bicycle parking area which was very nosy until it actually flew off.  This picture is taken from our eight floor balcony.
Saturday was temple day.  This picture was taken as we drove to Fukuoka.  We were happy to see the blue sky as one of our son's was flying to Fukuoka from Tokyo for a visit.
When Weston arrived we went to Jote's Non Curry by honbu in Fukuoka.  We then visited a few minute with President Gustafson and office staff at honbu.  He had family visiting from America as well.
The temple is always beautiful!
I made curry for dinner on Sunday and we had the best company to share it with!
Scripture of the Week
Proverbs 3:13
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that geteth understanding

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Week 78 - July 28 - August 3, 2014

Tuesday was transfer calls for missionaries.  We had no changes in the Kumamoto and Nagamine area.  There were some changes in the Shimizu and Tsuboi area.   On Thursday we had the opportunity to pick up luggage in the rain for sisters in Shimizu, Tsuboi and Beppu area.  It is always fun to meet the new missionaries as they arrive in a new area.
Friday we headed to Beppu on a very rainy day.  The storm was the effects of typhoon 12, Rammasun, on Japan.  In the Philippines, where it came on shore, twelve people were killed.  We were very glad to only have lots of rain.
 The rain turned into fog before we arrived in Beppu.  We were exited off the toll way early and sent through the winding mountain road by the city of Yufuin.  We were very glad when we arrived safely in Beppu.
While we were looking in the OFF HOUSE for furniture for the Beppu Sisters apartment I found a bonus.  It is the six inch tall Kokeshi type wooden doll pictured above.  Kokeshi dolls are famous in Japan.  They are very beautifully painted wooden dolls and can be very expensive.  This doll is not signed by the artist but I liked it and the price was right.  We also found a microwave stand, a kitchen unit to hold the toaster oven, rice cooker etc. with storage, a dresser and four chairs for the kitchen table.  The price was in our apartment opening budge from honbu.  We were so happy!
Beppu has a Friday evening Eikaiwa.  They were having an welcoming party for the new shimi.  It was a dinner and social.  We were invited but had a hard time finding parking by the church so decided to go to our Toyoka Inn in Oita where we were staying for the evening.  We got there in time for the 2014 Tanabata Festival which was right outside the hotel.
We walked over in the rain and had to hunt for a place where there were not to many umbrella's to look between, over or under.
There were many groups dancing and pulling big float like objects.  Each group danced to the same music using the same dance step but the costumes and floats were different for each. 
We enjoyed watching for a while and then we bought dinner from a venter on the street and watched some more of the parade.
This is a picture of one of the groups of dancers with their float.
This picture was taking from a bridge near the shimi apartment in Beppu.  I thought it was a beautiful way to use a river bed for water and beauty.  Saturday we picked up some last minute items for the apartment and took the shimi grocery shopping, and to Oita to a bike shop to buy a "Giant" bike for one of them. 
We were glad to heading back to Kumamoto and even happier when we arrive safe.  A busy transfer week for us.
Scripture of the week
Exodus 20:16
Thou shall not bear false witness against they neighbor.