Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,
So sorry that this is late—we were gone most of the weekend and have been trying to catch up with office stuff.
Well, we are in March! On Monday, March 2nd, we had our monthly Family Home Evening potluck with lots of great food. And this time, for the activity, we made origami Emporers and Empresses because Tuesday, the 3rd, is National Doll Day. Now they gave us instructions on how to do this, but if they hadn’t helped us every step of the way, we could never have done it. Even after they would show us the next step, we would look at the instructions and still not see what they were telling us. So, we do have the finished origami dolls, but I don’t think we could ever make them again without someone helping us!!!!!!!
And Tuesday, March 3rd , was an anniversary date for us—one year ago we entered the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center to start our mission!! Sure brought back lots of great memories of one year ago, the wonderful experience we had, and the great friends we made.
Our word for the week is: Kairaku-en which means “the garden for sharing pleasures with people.”
Saturday, the whole office went on a dai bo-oken and rode the trains way up north to Mito (it took 2.5 hours) where we enjoyed the Kairaku-en or Kairaku Park. It is one of the three most beautiful parks in all of Japan. It has several areas, the most important of which is the over 3,000 plum trees of all varieties which are blooming now. WOW—so many different shades of white, pink, and dark pink (almost purple). We had a beautiful sunny day to enjoy it. We will try to download some of those photos to our blog this next weekend. Also at the park was a bamboo forest and a cedar tree forest, plus lots of open areas where people were picnicking and playing. There were tons of people enjoying the park because this month and next are favorites because of all the blossoms.
To quote the brochure: “Nariaki Tokugawa, the ninth Lord of Mito, constructed a garden, planted ume (plum) trees, and built two houses in the most beautiful place of Mito district to provide a facility of education, intellectual amusement and entertainment to all people of his vassalage.” They had a tour that we took through a house that is a replica (built in 1958) of the original (built in 1850). Though the house was not furnished, the silk screens in each room were restored paintings and were very beautiful.
One of the unique things about the house was that there were screens all around each room that could be opened or closed so that you could have good ventilation throughout the house. Also, it had 3 floors with wonderful views from the top one. Here the Lord Tokugawa would sit in meditation and contemplation upon the world.
After walking all over the park, we took the trains home for another 2.5 hours. When we got back to Higashi-Nagasaki eki, we found a new little restaurant of Mexican food!!! And it tasted authentic!!!! One big difference—small portions, no rice, no beans. But other than that—great!!
The next day, Sunday, after church, we went to the International House of Japan in Azabu-Joban. We were invited to speak to a Unitarian Universalist group that we had visited back in December. There were 9 people there in addition to the two of us. We told them all about our church, giving them the basic First Discussion, then told them about the 13 Articles of Faith, after which Jim told his conversion story and I told mine. All this took about an hour. Then we answered many different questions for another hour and a half. We had a wonderful time and were treated with interest and respect. It was fun to do and we hope we made some friends for the church.
Our quote for the week is: “And now I say unto you that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” Mosiah 15:28. “The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power to bring deep and abiding happiness to the human soul—something that will be valued and cherished for the rest of time and for all eternity. We are not just trying to get people to join our Church; we are sharing with them the fullness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Elder M. Russell Ballard, April 2003 General Conference.
Well, that’s our report and I’m sticking to it!!!
Love you all—
Jim & Pat

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