Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 95 - November 24-30, 2014

Fall beauty is everywhere.  This picture looks at the college down the street from our apartment building.  Our car is the gray Toyota on the left hand side of the picture.
Fall brings beautiful blossoms on the Camilla bushes at the jogging park.  Japan has beautiful flowers year around. 
My pansies like the cool weather and the two plants grown from seeds of last winters pansies are just starting to blossom.   
I think this is the biggest Kumamon in Kumamoto.  The picture is taken from our car in the street looking away from the Kumamoto castle. 

Elder Koberstein and I with help from Akemi enjoyed cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for the Elders and Sister in the Kumamoto and Nagamine Wards.  We bought a 14 pound turkey at Costco and was able to cook it in the oven in the church.  The church is next to our apartment building.  It was a little bit heavy to pack hot to the apartment though.  I was successful in making candied sweet potatoes and dressing.  The Internet is so helpful in finding spices needed, recipes etc.
I found pine cones while walking in Beppu.  Akemi and I made turkey table decorations out of them.
Akemi made a pilgrim hat and Indian head bands.  I showed her how to cut feathers out of color paper.  Everyone enjoyed taking pictures as Indians and pilgrims.  We all took the opportunity to share something we were thankful for this years.  I am thankful for my two families.  The first family is my family which includes my children, their spouses and their children and my extended family.  The second family I am part of is my Heavenly Father's eternal family, which includes everyone on earth.  There are so many wonderful people everywhere.  We feel so blessed to have been able to get to know those in the Kumamoto, Japan area.  We were brothers and sister in the spirit world before we came to earth.  On earth we are working together to once again return to our loving Heavenly Father when our time here is done.  It is a wonderful time of years to think about all we have to be thankful for.  I like these quote by Presdient Thomas S. Monson and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
"A grateful heart...comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives."  President Thomas S. Monson
"No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will Exceed our grandest expectations."  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Scripture of the Week
1 Chronicles 16:34
O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is God; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week 94 - November 17-23, 2014

Monday some of our Eikaiwa students from the International center took us to the Katsuhiko Ohno Art Museum in Aso.  This museum is ran by the brother of Shomei Yoh who is the author and illustrator of the book "On That Summer Day" and many others. 
This place has been used for inspiration for some of his artwork.  His books are unique in that they contain both English and Japanese text and that he is both the author and artist.  He also is from Kumamoto area and well known here.  We had previously read and translated his book "On That Summer Day" about the bombing of Nagasaki with our teacher at the International Center. 
We learned about the blue orchard bees, Osmia lignaris at the museum.  They are particularly good pollinators of early spring orchard crops.  This bee is native to America and found through out most of the United States.  These bees prefer to nest close to each other.  All females construct their nests independently.  They do not produce honey or wax.  They have little to defend and only sting in self defense.  Female bees collect pollen while constructing their nest to provide food for their larva.  In Kumamoto the blue bee has became a character in children's books. 
We then enjoyed a delicious lunch of very large flat noodles and rice.  I forgot what it was called.
The restaurant's ceiling was decorated with all kinds of different bells.  
It has a pirate and a Kumamon watching the cash register.
We then visited Daikanbo Lookout Area.  This point overlooks the old Aso volcanic cone.  From this vantage point one can see the five different newer cones made by Aso inside the old caldera.  Only one of the cones is active today.
This is a picture from the International Center of the ginkgo tree outside the second story window.  They are a beautiful yellow color this time of year in Kumamoto.  We had our Japanese class and taught one of our Eikaiwa classes here Wednesday afternoon.
Elder Koberstein and I have enjoyed watching the work being done on the riverbank and bridge as we bike to the International Center each week.  It is interesting how they made a road in the river bottom to help with the work on the river bank.
Pictured above are bales of rice straw we saw in Aso as we drove to Beppu on Thursday.  I asked our Eikaiwa students what the straw is used for as it is neatly wrapped in plastic.  They said shoes.  It is a valuable by product of growing rice.  My search on line made it clear why it is bailed so neatly as its uses are many.  Shoes, hats, tatami mats and ropes are a few uses for the straw. 
 Thursday we checked the Beppu Elder's apartment and Friday the Beppu Sister's apartment.  We enjoyed lunch with the Beppu Elders at yakuniku on Thursday.  The Beppu Sisters chose to eat at the YouMe food court on Friday.  We enjoyed Hiroshima okonomiyaki with them.  Pictured is a the big Christmas tree at the YouMe mall.
Saturday was our day to work at the Fukuoka Temple with the Kumamoto Stake.  It is always a fun day to work at the temple.  Akemi went with us and then the three of us went to Joltie for non curry before heading back to Kumamoto.
Scripture of the Week 
Ezekiel 37:16-17
Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 93 - November 10-16, 2014

Tuesday we went Christmas book shopping.  As we walked by the side of Kumamoto Jo I took this picture of these beautiful fall leaves.  I believe this is a picture of the only original tower of the castle from the mott side.
Fall has come to Kumamoto for sure.  These yellow fall leaves welcomed us to the park for a jog early Wednesday morning. 
We checked the Beppu Elder's apartment on Thursday and had the opportunity to enjoy nonbon chicken with them before we headed to Oita for the night.
Friday morning found us jogging on the ocean between Beppu and Oita.  It was a cloudy day but we did not get wet.
The Oita Elders surprised us with this delicious chocolate filled chocolate cake.  We are not often treated by the Elders when we do apartment checks.
Christmas is officially in Japan.  Santa has arrived.  We saw him as we drove back from Oita on Friday.  It seems he is a little early this year as it is not yet Thanksgiving in the USA.
But, maybe it is not to early as Santa's reindeer are also out in downtown Kumamoto.  The lights of Christmas made the long nights worth while. 
We are now riding home from the International Center of Wednesday in the twilight/dark.  It is starting to get dark by 5pm.  I am very grateful for the good headlights and red blinking tail lights we purchased for our bicycles this time of year.  A jacket/coat is also coming in handy these days.
Scripture of the Week
Acts 1:110-11
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Week 92 - November 3-9, 2014

Monday was the 29th Cosmos Marathon 5K race we had prepared to run.  Pictured are Elder Koberstein, Akemi and myself standing by a Samurai Warrior, with our race numbers on before the race began.  To my surprise, I did not come in last in the 40+ women's age group.  I finished 23 out of 27 racers.  My time was a personal best.  There were 4 men over 80 years old participating in the races.  They were recognized before the races began.
We each received an included bento lunch after the race to enjoy eating before the prize drawing. 
We also received a pink athletic sweat towel.  The Japanese often hang it around their necks while exercising and use it to wipe the sweat off.  Elder Koberstein was disappointed they were all pink, so now I have two.  We will buy him a Roasso (Kumamoto soccer team) towel.
29th Cosmos Marathon race was a fun preparation day activity.  Thank you Akemi for making it possible and so enjoyable. 
Thursday was Zone Conference for the Kumamoto 1 and 2 Zones.  Sister Gustafson spoke on the  fourth principle of the Mission Mott "Love is the motive".
Mission Motto
Obedience is the price
Faith is the power
The Spirit is the key
Love is the motive
Christ is the reason.
She told us that the memories of her father that had lasted over the years are the good memories and teachings he gave his family.  She said "everything our father loved is eternal." That made me feel good because in life everyone makes mistakes but there is hope that the legacy we leave our family will be the good things, times and teachings.  She quoted Elder Jeffrey R. Holland "I love you...I love seeing you" to the missionaries in our zones.  It is very special when we can get together and are taught by President and Sister Gustafson.
The Kumamoto Stake Relief Societies cooked a wonderful luncheon for all the missionaries at Zone Conference.  The served curry and/or pizza as well as a table full of deserts.  It was wonderful!  I enjoyed the scrimp salad, pizza and dessert table.
Friday found Elder Koberstein and I doubling up on apartment inspection in Omuta.  We inspected the Omuta Sisters apartment as scheduled and followed with the Omuta Elders apartment that had been scheduled for Thursday.  We enjoyed a Stamina yakuniku lunch with the Sisters.  The Elders were happy with a Costco run for things from America:  chocolate Costco muffins, corn chips and picante sauce, sharp cheddar cheese,  and microwave popcorn.  It was fun to shop for them and then drop the items off at their apartment as we returned from working in the Fukuoka Temple on Saturday. 

Scripture of the Week
1 Peter 4:6
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 91 - October 27 - November 2, 2014

One of the bridges we bike across on the way to our YMCA class is being reconstructed.  It has been fun to watch the process.  They built a temporary bridge before starting on the new one.  This picture was taken from the bridge a few streets down the river.
This is another beautifully decorated bus in down town Kumamoto that I saw as we were biking to the International Center.  It has a picture of Kumamoto Jo and Kinpo on the side.  I wonder if it stops at these sites in Kumamoto.
After our Japanese and Eikaiwa class at the International Center as we were biking home we came upon these bushes all cover with Christmas lights.  It makes me wonder if they were ready for Christmas or if it was finally dark early enough for us to see it.
This weekend was Kumamota Stake Conference.  We had the opportunity to give President and Sister Gustafson rides from the Eki (train station) to the chapel and back to the hotel.  It is always fun to have a few minutes to visit with them.  The hotel, Monohana, was right on Kamiesu Ko and all Japanese including futons.  The usual place they stayed at was booked up so they had a real treat. 
Kamiesu Ko (looking across the street from Monohana) had lots of ducks and other birds on it.  They were fun to watch while we waited for President and Sister Gustafson in the morning..  It would be a beautiful place for a morning/evening jog, walk or bike ride.  Elder Koberstein and I would like to run it sometime.
We had a pancake breakfast Sunday morning for all 18 Elders in the Kumamoto Elders apartment.  This is what our genkan (entrance way) looks like with all those shoes.  It was a fun breakfast.
Parking is hard to find in Japan.  This is the parking lot at Stake Conference today.  We parked at our apartment building next door.  It made it possible to come and go when we wanted to. 
The missionaries in the Kumamoto and Kumamoto 2 Zone sang "We Are All Enlisted" at Stake Conference.  There are 38 missionaries in the two zones and one couple which is us.  
The Kumamoto Ward Relief Society also sang "Baptism".  It is a beautiful song that Sister Campbell had brought the music to and sang in the Kumamoto Ward when she was serving here.  Here is a link to hear the Kumamoto Ward Relief Society sing "Baptism" at a Relief Society Stake activity on September 23 .  I am not singing in it because we had a Zone Training that day with President Gustafson.  I was glad to be able to sing at Stake Conference with the ward.
I enjoyed Sister Gustafson's talk.  She told a story from Harriet R. Uchtdorf's book The Light We Share. The gospel brought Sister Uchtdorf's family light after World War II.  Her mother was a widow with small children.  After her husband died she was very discouraged.  American missionaries knocked on her door.  Her mother could see light in their faces.  She says baptism was a gate from the darkness to light for them.  The family realized they would see their father again.  Her mother was happy again.    
Once when President and Sister Uchtdorf  where touring Europe with President and Sister Hinkley Sister Uchtdorf ask Sister Hinkley how she handled her busy life.  Sister Hinkley said "I put on my shoes and go."   We all can put on our shoes and go.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and brings lasting happiness into our lives as we live it and serve.
Scripture of the Week
Matthew 18:20
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.