Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Instead of a word for the day, today we have a thought for the day:

“Many of us get so involved in our day-to-day tasks and worldly pursuits that we do not notice the many

small miracles that constantly occur around us. This is one reason we may lose contact with the Holy

Spirit and lose awareness of His promptings.” Ronald T. Halverson, Ensign, August 2007, pp. 56-58.

We hope you are all watching for small miracles in your lives.

We had a busy weekend. Saturday morning we were here at the honbu—Jim working in the yard, and I was in the office vacuuming and dusting. Because of this new rule, I no longer have hives, so that is good. Afterwards we went home, cleaned our apartment, cleaned ourselves, had lunch, and headed out for a fun afternoon.

We went with a fellow in our Ward, Brother Saito, and also with Elders Lee and Murase, to two Japanese parks. The first one was one we went to back in June, only this time we had a guide who told us many interesting things about the park and the plants and the design. Elder Lee did the translating for us, as he often does. The guide had mosquito repellant to spray and we were very glad as they were plentiful!

The second park was really nice but we didn’t have a guide for it, so we just wandered wherever. It also had tons of mosquitoes and we had no repellant with us so we were bit a lot. I tried to do what I called the “Japanese Mosquito Dance” so that they would not land on me, which had Elders Murase and Lee laughing, but did no good at keeping the mosquitoes off me—so lots of bites to itch and scratch.

We took the subway to and from the parks, but when we went from one park to the other, Brother Saito paid for two cabs to ride in. They were very nice, new cars, clean and well-kept. And the biggest plus was they had air-conditioning!! The day was so hot and muggy we were dying (at least I was!). The subway cars are also air-conditioned—the newer ones are better than the older ones.

At the end of the second park, we split up as the missionaries had an appointment. Brother Saito took us to his house, which was a condo on the 10th floor of a nice building. He paid $400,000.00 for it and it has three bedrooms, one bathroom, a small kitchen, a living room and an eating area, and laundry which we didn’t see. It had a great view of the city and tons of other buildings, many as high or higher. He speaks good English, but his wife does not. She fixed us an awesome sushi and fresh fruit and vegetables dinner (her family owns a huge farm and they have given us cherries, peaches, and plums from their farm. Fruit is expensive here so these are very generous gifts. We were looking at some family picture albums and saw a picture of a sweet potato that they grew that was probably 3-4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Brother Saito said that was the only one they have ever had that large and hadn’t done anything special to grow it. The rest of their tubers are normal size). They sold their car as the apartment building charged them $50/month just for parking. So they take trains and buses everywhere. We know of other apartments that charge $70 per month for parking and an annual contract fee on top of that. We are going to rent a new apartment this week in Shibuya and the initial cost is going to be 1,187,410 yen. That is about $11,000 just to get in. It does include the prorated portion of the August rent and the September rent. Monthly rent will be 174,000 yen or about $1,700. I have not seen this apartment, but it is supposed to be fairly nice. It will house 4 elders. That usually means 2 bedroom areas, a kitchen and eating area, bathroom and utility area.

Elders Olson and Daniels joined us for dinner, after which we went outside to watch the fireworks. They were pretty far away, and the low ones were blocked by other buildings, but the high ones were wonderful. The first Saturday of August is a big fireworks day all over Tokyo, and maybe even Japan. The ones we were watching had about 450,000 people in attendance (hence our NOT going). Most of the women wore their pretty summer flower kimonos—it was so fun to see them on the subway all over the place when we were riding to and from the parks!!’

It was a great day, but we went home exhausted and worn out from the heat and humidity, and the parks were lovely but not a flower in sight, just lush green everywhere. We think we will not do any more parks until the fall!!!

Sunday we had all 4 missionaries to dinner which was lots of fun. Elder Olson goes home the next transfer—August 20th. Elder Daniels will get a new companion to be an Assistant to the President with him. Elder Murase will stay here as Commissary, but Elder Lee (who has been here since JANUARY!!) will be leaving for a new missionary assignment. His replacement as Recorder is Elder LeSueur who just came in yesterday (Monday) and is now being trained. We will miss Elders Olson and Lee but know that change is inevitable. The missionaries have a baptism scheduled for next Sunday for an awesome young man from Myanmar so they are very excited.

Well, long letter with nothing real exciting, just our life as we know it. Thanks to those of you who are keeping us up on what is happening in your lives, too. We love you and miss you all, Jim & Pat

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