Sunday, January 4, 2015

Week 100 - December 29-January 5, 2015

Monday morning started with a wonderful breakfast at the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel in Fukuoka. 
President Gustafson and the AP's picked us up and drove us to the Shinkansen (bullet train).  The AP's helped us with our luggage to the gate.  It was so nice to have some one with experience there to start us on our way to Tokyo.
Picture out the Shinkansen window about an hour into our five hour trip to Tokyo.
Tuesday morning we were picked up by friends from Chiba at the Toyoka Inn in Narita.  We all went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tokyo temple.  It was a special day of temple service.
After finishing in the temple we road the subway to the large shopping area of downtown Tokyo.
This store had all kinds of wonderful Japanese things in it.  I love the dishes and dolls.  Elder Koberstein liked the swords and Japanese antiques.  Unfortunately our luggage was stuffed full already so we mostly just window shopped.
We walked past the Tokyo Union Church.  It had a manger scene still displayed in their church window.  This is a rare find in Japan.
We went for a walk in the evening and to see at the beautiful Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tokyo temple with night lights on it.  I love the gold Angel Moroni on the top and the stained glass windows below. 
Wednesday morning we spent in the Tokyo temple and then enjoyed a sushi lunch.
We then went to tour the Tokyo Tower.  This picture was taken from the Main Observation (150 m) deck.  We went on up to the Special Observation (250 m) deck as well.  
It is quite the view of the Tokyo landscape on every side from both decks.
Our final activity in Tokyo was a walk in Arisugawa Park which is across the street from the Tokyo Temple.  The temple was beautiful through the leaves of the trees.
This is a picture of Tokyo Towers taken as we drove out of Tokyo on the way to Fujisawa for our New Years celebration.
On New Year's Day we got up early and walked to a nearby shrine.  It was beautiful with a almost cloudless sky but very cold.  We were able to see Mt. Fuji covered with snow between the homes.
This is the tori (gate) of the shrine we walked to.  Notice the white color and straight lines of the gate.  These or both signs that the gate is Japanese not Chinese.  Chinese gates are usually red in color with curved lines.
Elder Koberstein and I took the opportunity to ring the big bell at the shrine.  I rang first and I was quite surprised at the loud sound the big bell made when you are standing very close to it.
We enjoyed a traditional New Year's breakfast before heading to Hokone to see Mt. Fuji up close.
A snow storm was coming fast.  By the time we got to the lookout points clouds covered most of the Mt. Fuji sadly.  We did get to see snowflakes on the way down the mountain.  We were glad we took the walk earlier and were able to see Mt. Fuji in the distance.
We started our departure day in Japan by running a 5K around our hotel block before breakfast.  My time was not very good but it felt good to get out and jog.  I got all sweaty so guess the workout was good for me physically. 

 We took the 10:30 Toyoka Inn Narita express bus to the Narita Airport.  We were very fortunate that it was not a busy time as we checked our luggage for the trip to Los Angeles International Airport and then home to the San Francisco International Airport.  This is a picture of Elder Koberstein waiting for our flight to America at 5:20 p.m.
It was so exciting to see the Dumbarton Bridge as we came into San Francisco through the plane window.
We are on the road home.  Fun to see the sign for the Bay Bridge and Oakland as we drove from the San Francisco International Airport to our home. 
We had a very special welcoming crew awaiting our arrival. 
Sunday we met with President Westover before Sacrament Meeting.  We were released from our missionary service in the Japan Fukuoka Mission.  What an amazing adventure it has been.  The message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  It will bring lasting happiness to all who embrace it.  We have a loving Heavenly Father who wants all of his children to enjoy the blessings the gospel brings.  May God Bless You!