Monday, September 29, 2008

September 29, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

O genki des ka? (how are you?) daijobu des!! (I am hunky dory)

Everything here is subarashi!!! (wonderful!!!)

Friday night we had the 4 office missionaries and 2 of their investigators over for dinner. We had a nice time, even though our apartment is very small. We have found out that that is what the Japanese are used to. They would be overwhelmed by the house we lived in in Glendale, and even the one we live in in Payson.

Well, Saturday we treated ourselves to another round of great food at Don Tei’s, which is the shabu shabu restaurant we ate at when we first got here. It was positively delicious, and we ate ourselves full, even uncomfortable, but it was worth it!!! We only ate a light dinner that night, so it lasted us for 8 hours! They would keep bringing us platters of thinly sliced meat and we would keep putting it in the boiling water and eating it as soon as it is cooked, plus adding assorted vegetables and tofu. Sure is delicious!!!!

We were honoring Elder Daniels as he is leaving this transfer. He has been a great missionary to work with in the office, very caring and dependable. On Sept. 11th, it was the 1-year anniversary of his father’s passing. It was hard for him, but he has felt the Lord so strongly in doing His work that it has given him much comfort and peace. He said he felt that same peace when he heard the news of his father’s passing last year. Now he will go home and spend time with his family before he starts school in January. He is from Bothell, Washington (Seattle area). We also have missionaries going home to Kumamoto, Japan; Fukuoka, Japan; Heber City, Utah; Carlsbad, New Mexico; and our only Russian missionary, Sister Kovalenko, returning to Novosibirsk, Russia. So we have 6 leaving and 6 arriving on Wednesday.

Cost of things here is quite different than in the United States. Gasoline here is 160 yen per liter or about $6.40/ gal. All the “freeways” are toll roads and cost around $600 per month for the mission president’s vehicle. A nice large apple, $1.00 each, and we have seen melons for up to $30-40 each, given as wedding gifts. Three cucumbers for $1.00 and three carrots for $1.00, but they taste better than any vegetable you buy in the US, so it must be the soil. Their grapes are huge (the size of small apricots) and very juicy and sweet and cost about $4.00 a bunch. We love the popcorn here that they sell pre-popped in bags for $1.00 a bag. That is one of the things I wish I could take home with me.

Our thought for the day is: “Pray in your families . . . that your wives and your children may be blessed.” 3 Nephi 18:21. “It is within families that truth is best learned, integrity is cultivated, self-discipline is instilled, and love is nurtured.” Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley.

We are so grateful for our family, and all their love and support. And for all you dear friends!! We are truly blessed!!!

Love, Jim & Pat

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Sorry this is late this week, but I will explain:

Last week was pretty normal until Friday. We left work at 3:00 that afternoon to go to the temple, where we did 2 sessions, eating dinner in between, and not getting home until 10:30 (it takes about an hour to get there on the subway).

Saturday we did office cleaning and yard work, apartment cleaning and laundry. I spent the afternoon at a Stake Relief Society Enrichment activity where I learned about two things: organizing storage of food and how to do good stretching. Then Jim & I went to Shinjuku to the Tokyo City Government building. There we met our friend, Harold Carey, from Payson, Utah. Because he is here visiting his son at Yakota Air Force Base, he has been on a great sight-seeing tour of Tokyo and has seen more things than we have. It was through his encouragement that we went to see Ueno Park and some of the museums there last week (our photos are now on our blog and we hope you enjoy them. Go to ). Now he wanted us to go up in the building to the 45th floor where we had an awesome view of Tokyo, almost 360 degrees!! Then he took us to a great shopping mall where he treated us to dinner at a good Japanese restaurant. We spent some time walking around, then headed home.

Sunday I taught the Sunday School lesson about preparing for the Second Coming of Christ. After church we were invited to Yuichi’s house (he is in our English class) where we visited with 5 Japanese English speakers and one fellow from China. The subject was “Communication with Your Father”. Apparently this is quite a problem here in Japan and other places because of the long hours that the father works and the children have no relationship with him. Each person had completely different experiences and it was very interesting the share ideas. They were quite impressed with the emphasis our church puts on family togetherness—family dinners, Family Home Evening, family prayer and scripture study, and involvement of the parents in the activities of the children.

Monday we visited with some of our children on Skype, then had Staff Meeting, then worked the rest of the afternoon in the office until about 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday we worked in the office in the morning, then I went with Sis. Hill to Costco. It takes over an hour to get there in good traffic, 1 ½ hours in bad. It was a holiday (Fall Equinox) and the store was packed. It was so hard to get around but we managed!!! After arriving home, we had our friends, the Josens, a young couple we double-dated with before to the movies, and Brother Hamilton and his date, over for dinner (they taught me how to make Okonomiyaki which is like a pancake batter only with vegetables in it including a sticky potato that, when grated, looks like paste!!) and we went to the movie theater to see “The Dark Knight.” It was a really dark movie, but well done. However, we did not realize that what we have in America is unique. Apparently the rest of the world does not have G, PG, and PG13 movie ratings and it shows in the previews they were showing. We heard more bad language in the previews than we have heard for years!! And when we asked our friends, they said that the Japanese don’t have many swear words so it doesn’t matter to them. So I guess we can only go to G or PG movies and hopefully not hear movie previews that are so bad.

Wednesday we had a more normal day and Eikaiwa (English class) that night. Yuichi was there and told us how much everyone had enjoyed talking to us on Sunday and that he had even felt the Spirit a little. It made us feel so good that we can be doing God’s work and helping people feel how much God loves them through us!!

So, that has been our busy 6 days!!!

Our new word is: daijobu (dye joe boo). It means “hunky dory” which is what I say most days when I am asked how I’m doing.

We love you all—

Jim & Pat

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tokyo National Museum

Jim standing in front of the Tokyo National Museum at Ueno Park.

Tokyo National Museum

Most of the things in the museum we could not photograph, but we were able to photograph these few things. We found them very interesting. Hope you enjoy looking at them, too.

My Good Fortune

The is a copper relief map of Ueno Park as it would have appeared in about 1600 as part of a Shogunate home and land.

This was the good fortune I described in our
Sept. 14th email. It ends with the saying,
Virtue triumphs over vice. How true!!

The Shitamachi Museum Part 2

Cute rocking horse on wheels

Dolls and a paper doll book

The Shitamachi Museum at Ueno Park

This is a store/home. The Sweet Shop is in the
foreground, and the living room/bedroom/home
is in the background.

This is the outdoor community kitchen. You can see the water pump, clothes washer, wood for the stove behind the pump.

This is the coppersmith's workshop/store with the home next to it.

Samurai statue

Jim is standing by a Samurai statue at Ueno Park. The name of the warrior is Saigo Takamori. He is one of the heroes of the Japanese revolution @ 150 years ago. Taking his dog for a walk shows the tender side of the Samurai.

The Lotus Plant

This is a lotus flower.
It is near the end of the season.
It only blooms in the sun.
This is one of the last ones
we saw that day.

Pat is standing by a lake filled
with Lotus plants. Look how tall
they are and how huge the leaves are.

After the lotus flower blooms,
it looks like these, which have
turned hard and are
releasing their seeds.

New & Improved--Building Renovation/Painting

This is how the building looked as
they first put up the scaffolding to
prepare to paint it.

This is the building all covered up while they work on it. Keeps debris and paint from falling on people below.
(This is a real street--it is very narrow)

This is the building after it is
all cleaned up and painted.
Looks nice.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sept 14, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,Kon ban wa (good evening)We have had a good week with our every-6-week interview with Pres. Hill on Monday, plus a great weekly Staff Meeting, a Zone Conference Training on Wed., and just trying to keep up with the regular office work the rest of the week.
Saturday we had a dai bo-oken to Ueno Park. It is a huge park that has a large lake, one half of it filled with the huge leaves of the lotus flower. It has some statues—one we thought was neat was of a Samurai warrior taking his dog for a walk, showing the daily life of such a warrior. It has some neat temples and pagodas, a zoo, a small amusement park, a big baseball field with two separate diamonds, and a number of museums.
On this day we went into three of the museums.The first one is the Shitamachi Museum: It has several displays that show what buildings and residences were like in the Edo era (@1868) and the Taisho and Meiji period (@ 1926). It was very fascinating seeing such authentic portrayal of how they used to live in Tokyo during those times.
One of the displays was a fortune-telling stand. You take a long stick out of a box with a small hole. On the stick is some Kanji. You go to the big box with lots of little drawers that have Kanji letters on them and find the one that has your Kanji on it. You take a paper out of the drawer and read what your fortune is. Thank heavens, they have a translation for it. Mine said, “Good Fortune. You are just on the way of improving your fortune. Don’t be impatient and take your sufficient time in doing work. Lost articles can be found. It’s good all for starting trip, moving house, and others. Keep in mind that ‘Virtue triumphs over vice’.”
The second floor of the museum was a special display of children’s toys, a lot of which we recognized. I don’t know who originated a lot of them, Japan or America, but it was so fun to see their versions of things. There were paper dolls that were smaller and with much more detail, balsam wood airplanes that were painted really nice, various wood toys and games, Chinese Checkers, dolls of all sizes and shapes, different kinds of cards, a pogo stick, stilts, a tricycle, a rocking horse on wheels, a model of a ship, and much, much more. It was so fun to see!The second one is the Tokyo National Museum, which includes 5 buildings, of which we saw three:
The main building was built in 1937. It is call Honkan, and is the display of Japanese history, art, and archaeology. The two main floors were filled with displays of such things as: sculpture, metal art, ceramics, lacquerware (did you know that the name for lacquerware used to be “Japan” just like the name for porcelain is “China”?), swords, Buddhism, Zen & Ink paintings, attire of the military elite, folding screen paintings, Noh and Kabuki costumes and art, etc. We had such fun looking at all the stuff they had!!
The second building was adjoining the first one and was called Heiseikan. Built in 1999, it has Japanese Archaeology, including stuff it says dates back to 4,000 BC and even a few things to10,000 BC. It was all amazing stuff.
The third building was the Toyokan Asian Gallery. It had stuff from every country that you would consider Middle East Asia and Far East Asia. This included such countries as Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Thailand, all over China, and Korea, and Japan. It was laid out so you traveled in a circle, going from floor to floor, always going up. Pretty neat stuff. The Egyptian stuff was like what they have in the Cairo Museum, only there were just a few things. By the time we were done, we were sooooo tired, but we felt it was a great day.
Hope you can enjoy the photos on our blog when we finally get them posted!!Our thought for the day is: “Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11Love,Jim & Pat

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New & Improved--Various Things

Dear Family & Friends,

We decided to do another Improved Upon email. We have seen some really interesting things here in Japan, some of which are “How do they do that?” and others are “Why didn’t we think of that?”

So look at these and see what you think:

We do not know—1) how did they get the car in the garage, and 2) how do they get out of the car?????

And they are excellent backers—they back up into anything and everything, as shown below.

We have been impressed by the driveways they use.

The streets usually have a curb and gutter, but don’t cut out a place for a driveway. So they have these portable ones that they can put wherever they are needed:

They are made out of concrete—the one on the right, and metal—the one on the left

Nikko July 08 009.jpg

You can piece them together to make them what-ever length you need them to be.

Nikko July 08 007.jpg

They can be made of rubber--

Some are really old, like the concrete ones for wheelchair use in front of our chapel—

And some are much newer, like these nice metal ones, also used for wheelchairs or bikes or the motorcycle you can see parked just inside the gate.

Then there are the bikes!! Everyone rides them here, and you will often see moms and dads with a child in the back seat, a smaller child in the front seat, and even a child in a backpack or frontpack. This is a closeup of a bike rack by an apartment building. We did a close up of the bike so you could see the two child seats plus a basket up front for the groceries and stuff you need when you have children

We will include some more Improved Upon examples in a future email.

We haven’t written a lot about some of the very neat experiences that the missionaries have daily in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the 97% non-Christian population of Japan, but on Friday evening two of the missionaries in our office had a meeting with a young fellow they met just a week or so ago. They met with him at the Church and taught him a lesson. They felt the Holy Spirit during the lesson and asked how he felt. They said he thought about that for a while and then said, “my heart is quietly rejoicing.” What a beautiful way to describe the feeling one has when they receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that the things they are hearing are true and from God.

Also, at Eikaiwa last Wed. night we had a good conversation with one of our students named Yuichi. He is about our age, and is a retired university professor. He knew the office couple before us and they gave him a Tabernacle Choir Christmas CD last Christmas. While he was away from home for a month, he had a time when he felt down. He put in the CD to listen to and felt so much better. He said he comes to Eikaiwa at our church because he loves the feelings he feels when he is there.

We love the feelings, too—Jim & Pat