Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22

Dear Family & Friends,

This week has been good. Our Eikaiwa (English) class went well and Jim even gave the Devotional talk at the end when all the classes get together. I have to do mine next week. We have some pretty good English speakers in the class. Some are university students, but one is a retired professor who considered English a hobby. He has toured the world so it’s interesting to talk to him. He even invited us to lunch at his house on Thursday. It is a small but very nice home and he cooked a lovely lunch of vegetable and chicken. We had a good time.

We had a dai bo-oken yesterday: We went to Harajuku to see the Meiji Temple, forest, and iris garden. It was very beautiful. The temple was built in the 1800’s by the Emperor Meiji and his Empress Shonan. It burned down during World War II and was rebuilt in the 1950’s. It is a Shinto shrine, not Buddhist, so no statues, just buildings. They do have a washing place outside the courtyard to cleanse their hands before going into the temple, a prayer wall (like the Western Wailing Wall), and a temple area. There are a few steps between these areas so somewhat of a progression in height as you move towards the temple itself. In the temple from area they have a place where worshippers throw coins and then shout a word or two. We were able to see three brides and bridal parties, all dressed in the old Japanese way. It was really cool!! And they were so beautiful!!!!

The forest is made of trees from all over Japan. It was created in 1920. It is cool and dark inside, the trees are so huge. It felt like 100% humidity—every time we stopped to look at something, Jim’s glasses would fog up! The iris garden contains over 150 different kinds of irises. It was truly beautiful!

Afterwards, we went to see another place in Harajuku—their version of the Champs Elysee (which is what they call it). It was filled with tons of people, and we passed stores such as Gucci, Yves St. Laurant, Chanel, etc. We could have been in Paris, except that all the people looked Japanese!! It is where the Oriental Market is, but we were too tired to go in by this time, so that will have to be another trip.

Today the rain is just pouring down. We are at the honbu (office) doing our emails and are not terribly excited to go outside, but we will need to in order to get home. We have just concluded a wonderful Stake Conference and broadcast to all the Stakes in Japan. Elder L. Tom Perry was the presiding authority and main speaker.

The word for the week is: sodesnei (“so des nay” - I see or I understand or I get it). They use it often in their teaching and conversations. So our hope is that when we write these letters, you will “sodesnei.”

Love, Jim & Pat

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