Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Mission Continues

In a former post regarding the friends we made in Japan, one of those friends was Yuichi Uchida, a retired French professor who came weekly to our English classes.  His English was perfect, but he came because he enjoyed speaking English with others and because he was curious about the Mormon church.  He even attended our Sunday School classes, which Elder G and I also taught in English.

Over the nine months we spent in Nakano, we developed a great friendship with Yuichi.  He invited us to his home numerous times to discuss various topics, oftentimes Mormonism.  Many times we were accompanied by the Assistants; other times we were part of a crowd of "foreigners":  Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, etc. These discussions were always enjoyable as Yuichi seemed to ask 
just the right questions to encourage a lively discussion.

During our time there and upon our return home, we continued to invite Yuichi to come to Utah to spend time with us.  He always said he was too old to do so, so we were very surprised to receive an email that notified us of his coming October 18-October 28!  We were excited to share the beauties of our state. including the red-rock country down south and even Yellowstone up north.  However, upon his arrival we soon learned that he did not want to sightsee.  Instead, he was here to "study Mormonism."

Yuichi spent he weekend with us, three days in Salt Lake in a hostel, two days in a motel in Provo, and then back with us for the weekend before flying home Monday morning.  We had consistently prepared ourselves to accept the fact that his quest was totally intellectual.  He was interested in the Church on an intellectual basis just as he was interested in studying people of various other countries and religions.  We were hoping for more but not really expecting more.  However, by day nine, we were given a real surprise--a miracle!  Overall, his visit with us produced many blessings as well as miracles!

1.   The miracle of God's creation of Cascade Springs as well the creation of some seemingly almost-prehistoric great dane-massif!

2.   The blessing of experiencing friendly "ward community" as we came together for food, conversation, and laughter.
3.   The miracle of his arrival coinciding with that of Elder Olson's arrival so that he was able to attend his Homecoming.
4.   The blessing of attending the Primary Program, where he witnessed the children bear strong testimonies in word and song.
5.   The blessing of reuniting with former Nakano missionaries right here in our home.
6.   The blessing of experiencing the Church's miraculously vast collection of genealogical data, the largest in the world.
7.   The blessing of connecting with Elder Olson and touring Temple Square with him.  Likewise, the miraculous meeting of him and Elder Hogue's father in the middle of Temple Square!
8.   The blessing of being taught at Temple Square by two sweet, young LDS Sisters, one from Thailand and the other from Brazil.
9.   The miracle of being connected to Professor Watabe through his sister-in-law in Tokyo (unknown to us) and the blessing of being able to attend his and other Japanese classes at BYU.
10.  The blessing of being able to tour BYU campus and comprehend the meaning behind what he called "shiny faces."
11.  The blessing of being invited to Professor Watabe's home and the miracle that perhaps Yuichi, his wife, and the professor will be able to participate together in some type of Mormon study center in rural Japan.

12.  The blessing of reuniting with Elder Hogue's parents for a wonderful visit after the football game in Provo.
13.  The blessing of experience another miracle of God's creation, beautiful Sundance resort at the base of Mount Timpanogos.

14.  The blessing of being able to attend the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir after being cordially escorted and seated in prime seats.  There, his heart was dearly touched as he witnessed the choir and orchestra's farewell song presented specifically to us in attendance.
15.  The blessing of reuniting with the two sisters on Temple Square so that he could tell them good bye.

16.  The blessing of again being cordially guided through the beautifully impressive LDS Conference Center.
17.  The blessing of being invited to share a very pleasant dinner with another wonderful Midway family, Dick and Judy Sanders and their children.

I have set Miracle #18 apart from the others as that was a miracle for Jim and me.

18.   The miracle of Yuichi offering to give a prayer, not once but twice--the most humble and sincere prayers Jim and I have ever witnessed.  

After knowing him for almost two years and knowing that he did not want to pray to a God he didn't know existed, we thought it would be a long time--if ever--that he would want to pray.  He will never know how surprised and THRILLED we were to hear him offer such sincere and beautiful prayers as he  did. We will never forget those two beautiful experiences!

His visit with us was truly such a memorable one!  To see him progress in his feelings towards the Church and its programs was so rewarding.  We are so grateful to have been a part
of his "Mormon quest" here in Utah.  

Enclosed is a picture of him, the Mizoguchis, and the High Priest Leader from the Nakano Ward.

Although we pray for Yuichi's eventual conversion, we will always be the dearest of friends whether or not he chooses to join the Church.  Our friendship with him has been a very, very special event in our lives.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


As a closing entry to this blog, we would like to post our testimonies.  Included are the two talks we prepared when we reported to our home ward in Midway in February of 2013.  I have to admit, however, that although my entire talk was given, I didn't leave any time for Jim to give his!  I got so caught up in the "missionary spirit" of things, that I never paid any attention to the time.  After my lengthy talk, there was still a musical solo by Sherry Omans, and then Jim gave just a small pittance of what he had prepared.  This is one event I will have a hard time "living down."  Hopefully, Jim will have future opportunities
to share what all he wanted to say.

My talk:

Konnichiwa!  When we lived in Hawaii, the people giving talks in Church started out by saying “Aloha, and the audience would respond likewise. When we got to Japan, we found that the speakers started out with “Ohaio gozaimasu” or “konnichiwa,” and the audience replied back with the same. I'm thinking maybe we need to start something here in Midway. Maybe we could start our talks with something like, “Howdy!

When my mother passed away 2 years ago this May, we began to talk about the possibility of our serving a Senior Couples Mission. However, I was the more reticent of the two of us as I just wasn't sure this was for me. By August of that year we drove to Maryland (and beyond) to visit our daughter and new grandson. We tried to take in many of the Church historical sites—Winter Quarters, Nauvoo, Palmyra, and Kirtland. At every stop, we heard nothing but praises and excitement from every senior couple serving at these sites. We were then convinced that this was what we both wanted to do, so we submitted our “electronic papers” in October, got our call the first week in November, and reported to the MTC on December 5.

Sure, we were prepared to miss our kids, our grand kids, and our friends; but with the modern inventions of Skype and Vonage, we were able to see and talk to everyone just as if we were next door. You will find that you can remain close with your family and friends despite however far away you may be sent.

First of all, I would like to comment about the MTC. I am ever so grateful that we decided to spend the 11 days there and not commute back and forth despite the proximity of Midway to the MTC. By staying there 24/7, we were totally immersed into the missionary spirit, which overwhelmed us beginning on day one! It's just amazing to be daily surrounded by over 2,000 young missionaries and hundreds of workers, all there on the Lord's errand! The young missionaries constantly were opening doors for us old folks, and the spiritual atmosphere was present in whatever we were doing. We found out that those of us who were on our first mission were in the minority; more couples were there, preparing to serve their second, third, fourth, etc., mission. One couple, the Clarks, who were in our district, “won the prize” for being there for their eighth mission! Now that we have completed our first, we can easily understand how people will choose to go and go again. It is truly the best thing Jim and I have done together during our 46 years of marriage.

Once we arrived in the mission field, we were initially struck by the profound LOVE that President and Sister Albrecht had for us. They loved us from the get-go and never lessened that despite any challenges we may have given them. I quickly noted, too, how strong their love was for each and every other missionary in the field. The missionaries felt this love from them, and it was contagious. It always tickled me to hear the elders end a telephone conversation with “I love you, man” or to see them give the typical missionary hug and again say “I love you.” These were big, strong, male missionaries, but not too big or to tough to be able to express their sincere love for one another. We felt the same love for us and all the missionaries when President and Sister Budge arrived. They, too, displayed such unconditional love, that it was really a great example for us to follow.

Thus, we were blessed to serve under two sets of presidents and wives, and both sets TAUGHT us greatly. They taught by their wonderful examples of love, patience, endurance, and commitment; and they taught literally when they conducted conferences--whether they were mini-zone conferences, zone conferences, or all-mission conferences. We gained a deeper understanding of the gospel as we listened to them teach us various precepts. We were very blessed, too, to be in the Japan Tokyo mission as it seemed to be a crossroads for general authorities coming to visit other missions in the Far East. We were so very blessed to sit just a few feet away from Elder Oaks, Bishop Stevenson (former North Asia President and now Presiding Bishop of the Church), Elder Clarke, Elder Ringwood, and other leaders of the North Asia Area. All of these men blessed our lives and those of the missionaries present at these conferences when they expounded upon gospel doctrine. We noted in particular that each of these these general authorities took the time after the meetings to shake hands and say a personal word or two to every single one of the 180+ missionaries present! I'm sure many of these young missionaries will remember this personal handshake for a lifetime! I might add that it was a very special experience to have Elder Oaks' wife address the missionaries, because she did so in Japanese, having served her mission in Sendai, Japan, years ago! I'm sure this meant a great deal to those sisters in the audience!

One thing we had not anticipated prior to accepting a call was the FRIENDSHIPS that would be made and treasured for a lifetime. I guess I had tunnel vision as I just thought it would be just us and the mission president and wife as the only senior couples. However, we were very blessed to have six senior couples serving along with us. Two of these were military relations couples, two were proselyting couples, one couple served as member & leadership services, and the sixth couple served in the temple.

The two couples serving the military wards and branches worked with the American families stationed in Japan with the Air Force, Navy, and Army. In addition to that, they served the military community by volunteering at the post office, the Thrift Shop, and the Red Cross. One couple serving in member/leadership assistance had the advantage of the the husband having served his mission in Tokyo. Consequently, in addition to their assisting the American military ward, they also assisted the Japanese ward, which met in the same building. Furthermore, they made great strides in making friends with the Japanese community by inviting families in their apartment complex or the Japanese who attended English classes to come to their Halloween and Christmas open houses. They have also been giving lectures at retirement homes on life in America or Idaho or whatever! These couples were truly serving the Lord, His faraway wards and branches, and His Japanese sons and daughters who have yet to learn of Him.

We developed very deep and lasting friendships with these couples. We not only got together at each of the conferences, but we also went on outings together, exploring the beautiful and historical sites Japan had to offer us. Since the mission attended the temple every six weeks, we would all go as couples, sometimes spending the night prior at a nearby hotel. We all had so much in common—age, for one—and grand kids to brag about, testimonies, love of the gospel, love for the Japanese people, and the latest “miracles” occurring in the mission, etc.. We truly developed the most wonderful bonds between us.

We also met on the first Monday evening of the month at the PBO, Presiding Bishops Office in Tokyo for FHE. There we were joined by those other senior missionaries or full-time employees who worked for the Church in Japan at the PBO. Those, too, are friendships we will cherish forever. The wonderful thing about the Church is that so many of the people are either FROM Utah—and we will see them again—or they have ties to Utah and we will see them again!

Another thing I found as a pleasant surprise was the deep FRIENDSHIPS we forged with the YOUNG MISSIONARIES. Not having served a mission before, nor having had any idea of how a mission office operates, I had not expected to get so close to so many young missionaries. Although both presidents worked from their home office most of the time, we continually had five elders working in the mission office—a commissarian (who did purchasing and apartment rentals), a recorder (who handled all the baptism data and other reports), and three assistants to the President. So daily, we interacted with these strong, handsome, yet spiritual--and very often humorous--young men! What a delight it was to be in their presence daily! Oh, how we came to love them all! And how we felt a void when one would return home or be transferred!

Serving in the office also put us in the “missionary crossroads,” so to speak, as elders and sisters were always coming through there—either during transfers, or for conferences, or to pick up packages, etc. We came to know and love so many of them and can only hope that they will ALL choose to go to BYU after their missions! Working in the office by itself also brought us true joy as we knew we were serving the Lord by assisting His work in His mission. We were pretty much in the office daily from 9 until 5 – or later – and enjoyed every minute of it. We had no official P-day, as it were, but were free to come and go and/or take time off at our own discretion. Jim will go into a little bit more detail about what we actually did.

Our circle of FRIENDSHIPS also grew as this time while living in Japan we made numerous friends among the JAPANESE. When we lived in Japan 40 years ago as a young military couple, almost all of our acquaintances were just like us: Americans! But this time was wonderfully different! First of all, we attended the Japanese ward right next to the mission home. The ward members were so kind and gracious to us “gaijins,” stangers, and greeted us warmly, even if they didn't speak English. Many did speak English, and that was a blessing! Many of the YSA had gone on English speaking missions or had attended BYUH. So it was these young adults who did the translating for us so that we could understand Sacrament meeting. As for Sunday School, since there were a number of Philippino members in the ward, the ward also offered an English Gospel Doctrine class. Jim and I were two of the three teachers, and a fellow from Sri Lanka, who was married to a Japanese sister, was the third teacher. In RS I wore the ear piece again while one of the YSA sisters translated; and in Priesthood, Jim sat next to one of the High Priests, translating directly for him.

A number of the Japanese members had us to their homes for dinner, and others even took us out to dinner. With a little knowledge of Japanese, their little knowledge of English, and a dictionary, 
we managed to get along pretty well!

A very enjoyable and worthwhile assignment we had was to TEACH Eikaiwa, or English Conversation, classes on Wednesday nights. Most of the 30 or so people who attended were nonmembers—Japanese, Korean, Philippino, Chinese. This program sponsored by the mission is a great contributor to eventual baptisms. I believe for the year 2012 that over 20 percent of the mission's baptisms came from such people who had started out in these Eikaiwa classes. The elders and sisters would teach the beginning and intermediate classes, while Jim and I taught the advanced class, which was mostly just conversation. We really formed some deep friendships with a number of the older people (a retired French professor, a banker, and a businessman) who hope to come to Utah and see if everything here is as wonderful as we painted it to be! What an experience it was to discuss each other's culture every Wednesday night.

Another set of surprising FRIENDSHIPS that I made was with the early morning “taiso” (or exercise) group. For most of the year, they meet in the park at 6:30 a.m. and do a series of NO IMPACT exercises for 30 minutes. Although they didn't speak English and I spoke just a little Japanese, I think they came to appreciate my attendance to their morning regimen. A couple of funny sidelights, however, occurred. First of all, the one dear Japanese friend I became very close to gifted me a new tee shirt when she noted I wore the same one over and over again. Shortly after that, the women in the group collected a bunch of 2nd-hand tee shirts for me to add to my wardrobe that was lacking in exercise wear.

And then, another time when the Albrechts were leaving and were given a bushel of potatoes, Sis A passed them on to me to distribute to whomever. Anyway, long story short, after passing out 8-10 potatoes to everyone at taiso one morning, the next morning I was bestowed with all kinds of gifts: a backpack, a fanny pack, hand towels, a purse, candies, you name it! Warning: Be careful when giving gifts to the Japanese as they will repay you doubly!!!

Seriously, the friendships formed this time will be ones we will cherish for a lifetime. How grateful I am that we were able to get to know these wonderful, friendly, gracious people so well this time around!

They say that when Japanese tee shirts with English writing begin to make sense, you've been in Japan too long. Well, if that's true, then we should still be living there. They also say that if you bite into a sweet roll and it's filled with red beans—and you don't mind it!--that you've definitely been there too long. Well, I guess it must have been time for me to return as I was beginning to think anko – or red bean filling - 
 wasn't all that bad after all!

We are so blessed to have the gospel in our lives. God and his Son, Jesus Christ, have given us a wonderful Plan of Happiness—a plan, which followed now, will give us happiness in both this life as well as in the life afterward. It is our responsibility as members to share this plan with others. That is why we have missions throughout the world—to share God's wonderful plan and to bring happiness to the lives of others.

It is so exciting to hear of the young people in our ward being called to serve missions. We are so excited for them as we know what they are in for: the best time of their lives so far, a time of growth, and a time of service to others. But this wonderful “secret formula” for a good time, growth, and service need not be kept for just the youth alone. The same wonderful experiences are out there for senior couples and senior sisters as well.

When we reported to the High Council a week ago, Sister Dance asked me this question, “What would you say if a couple asked you if they should go on a mission?” I told her I would respond unequivocally, “Go! It's the best thing you could ever do at this point in your lives!” So, I say the same to all of you who have yet to consider this opportunity: “Go! Serve the Lord, serve his children wherever they may be, further the Work, and grow your testimony even further in the process!

You will never regret having done so! I promise you that!

JIM's talk that he didn't get to give thanks to my going overtime!!!

I, too, would say Konnichiwa to commence my talk but, having served my first mission in Germany for 2 and ½ years, I found learning Japanese extremely difficult; as a matter of fact, when I would hear Japanese spoken, I'd think in German...and I haven't spoken German for about fifty years now!!!

Both Dixie and I would like to thank not only our ward for coming today, but also members of our family, friends from other wards and work places, a few young missionaries with whom we served in Tokyo, and especially President and Sister Albrecht for being here.

Though our planned eighteen month mission was cut to only fourteen months, we loved every day we served. As many of you already know, the mission was cut short because Dixie's breast cancer returned as a form of invasive cancer. Tomorrow morning her treatments commence, and we know she'll be blessed with health and recovery. (Discuss the blessings of the persistent radiologist.)

By the way, don't let any potential medical issue ever deter you from serving a senior mission.

We loved our mission so much as a matter of fact that, after the October General Conference which lowered the missionary age requirements, we told President Budge that we would extend for as long as necessary until the “bubble” of new missionaries had slowed down; our mission of approximately 175 elders and sisters will be increasing to about 250 missionaries soon.

Although we were called as the office couple of the Japan Tokyo Mission, we spent our first three months at Yokota AFB in the Tokyo area as the military relations couple serving the American branch there. We worked with some of the less active service members there at Yokota and supported the branch and the two young elders there as best we could. It was a truly rewarding experience for both of us. We worked with so many truly dedicated members of the church there. Those members were a credit not only to our church but also to our nation as well.

Three months later, when the office couple who trained us returned home to Salmon, Idaho, we moved into our spacious 400 square foot apartment...exactly (according to my wife) 150 steps to the mission office. Though our apartment was small, it had all the necessities. President and Sister Albrecht had even made sure all the senior missionary apartments had king size beds instead of the futons on which the young missionaries (and most of the Japanese population) sleep on. Dixie and I enjoyed the king size bed so much we are now in the process of replacing our queen size bed with a new king size one.

In her talk Dixie mentioned that I would briefly discuss what at least some of our responsibilities were: She was the mission secretary and, as such, really handled most of the mission's paperwork. She sent out welcome letters to the newly called missionaries, maintained lists of both departing and arriving missionaries, typed and mailed release letters to the missionaries' home stake presidents, bishops, and parents, requested flights from SLC for the returning missionaries, and basically did anything the mission president asked of her. She worked harder and was much busier than I.

However, I maintained a petty cash account of about $5,000 from which I paid missionaries who had lost their Missionary Support Funds credit card (It might be interesting to mention here that the cost to maintain one young missionary in the Tokyo Mission is approximately $1179 monthly.),paid utility bills which were not on auto-pay, recorded and managed the automatic utility payments for the 85 or so apartments, prepared and printed the weekly and monthly financial reports for the PBO, and talked with the missionaries when they called with questions of any kind; one elder called to ask me how much money (in yen) it would cost to send a letter to the mission home...some were more difficult than that, however.

Assuming the financial responsibilities for the mission was quite daunting for me. (For one, President Albrecht is an accountant!!!) I wasn't sure I would remember everything I had been taught by the senior missionary I replaced. It was at this point that I truly felt the first mini-miracle of my mission. I want you to know that I was truly blessed and that the things I had been taught I actually remembered.

Other blessing and miracles were to follow, too. About forty years ago Dixie and I, together with our two small boys, lived in Iwakuni, Japan, for two and ½ years where I was a Marine Corps search and rescue pilot. The mission president at that time was President Kan Watanabe; we had even had President and Sister Watanabe for lunch in our home. One of our first thoughts after receiving our call to Tokyo was: Do you think President and Sister Watanabe are still alive, and where might they live? That question was quickly answered. They were alive and at 80 and 85 were serving as missionaries in our mission in Tokyo, primarily assisting the elders and sisters in teaching older investigators. It's difficult to express the joy and love we felt for them after so many years.

Yet another miracle we experienced actually involved proselyting. One of our Eikaiwa students (the retired French professor Dixie mentioned) invited us to his home for an evening of discussion with several other younger people, among whom was a young student from Cambodia (Seylene Duong) who was earning her master's degree from a Japanese university in Tokyo; her Japanese was flawed, but her English was perfect. Dixie and I both had the same feeling: Give her the one Book of Mormon we had brought. We gave her the BofM and asked her if she would like the missionaries to visit and explain the gospel to her. She accepted the invitation, and the missionaries commenced teaching her in Tokorozawa, the city in which she lived. Dixie was in email contact with her constantly during her lessons. After she decided to be baptized and was being interviewed by one of the zone leaders, the ZL asked her who she would like to baptize her; she responded immediately: Sister Galbraith Another “quick lesson” was given about the Priesthood, and I subsequently baptized and conferred the Gift of the Holy Ghost on her. Though she is now experiencing some difficulties with her testimony, Dixie still emails her, and we both hope and pray that Seylene will return to activity in the church one day.

Although not assigned as proselyting missionaries, we never-the-less let no opportunities to discuss the gospel escape us. Three of our best Japanese friends whom we met at the Wednesday night English class were Yuichi, the retired French professor I just mentioned, Imanishi, a retired business professional, Okomoto-san, a retired banker. These three gentlemen had a profound effect on Dixie and me. We also had a very positive effect on them as well. Yuichi and Okomoto-san are now attending our English gospel doctrine classes regularly, and Imanishi is planning to visit us here in Midway, possibly later this year. Although all three are Buddhists, they recognized something special in our church. Yuichi especially had a genuine respect for the young missionaries ; he was simply unable to understand how talented and poised they are. Of course we all know why: It's simply how we are raised in the gospel.


Our own blessings have been life-long as well. Many years ago I crashed a helicopter, was severely burned, and nearly died. At 17, our oldest son was killed in a traffic crash in Virginia where we lived at the time. And now Dixie is facing yet another bout with cancer. Some who don't understand would ask where are the blessings in these circumstances. It's simple: I survived, we know without a doubt that we'll be reunited again with Brian, and we know that Dixie will be blessed; when President Nelson set her apart as a missionary he promised her health and strength while serving. Don't let petty things cloud your testimony or dim your belief. Ours is a gospel of blessings.

BFF - Best Friends Forever

I never thought I'd think in terms of youthful acronyms, but what follows is exactly that:  Best Friends Forever!  Headed to Japan what seems ages ago, Elder G and I had no idea of the vast number of friends we would make:  from young missionaries to senior couple missionaries, from ward members (Japanese and Philippino) to Japanese nonmembers attending our Eikaiwa (English conversation class) and the ladies of the  taiso (exercise) classes I attended in the park.  If friendships were to be weighed, we would not have been allowed home on the plane!  We truly carried with us a lifetime's supply of
friendships and treasured memories.

We began by making friends with five wonderful couples at the MTC.  We thoroughly enjoyed our learning experiences with them. Some of them were there on their 2nd--or 7th--mission!!!

Our very first Tokyo mission friends and role models were
Mission President Steve Albrecht and wife, LeAnn.

And our second Mission President and wife were Todd and Lori Budge--
also equally wonderful people who replaced the Albrechts on July 1st.

We replaced Elder Woody and Sister Shirley Arnell
as Military Relations Couple in Fussa.

And  we replaced Elder Clint and Sister Jean Hobbs
 at the mission office in March.

Our first set of elders who introduced us to mission life were 
Elders Christensen and Graham

Elder Christensen and his new companion, Elder Nemoto, and we visited a referral, 
Chizuko Yabe, a nonmember with Utah connections.

We treated President and Sister Albrecht to our favorite restaurant,
 Bubba Gump Shrimp House, before they left for home.

Our wonderful, ever-knowledgeable guides, Elder Alan and Sister Eileen Bridge,
were temple missionaries from North Carolina (with ties to Utah).

What a pleasant surprise it was when we ran into our former Fukuoka Mission president,
Elder Kan and Sister Yaeko Watanabe.  We met them when we lived  in Iwakuni 40 years ago,
and they are now Japan Tokyo missionaries serving right from their home in Tokyo!

Elder Dick and Sister Gayle Powell from Idaho Falls were our
replacements when we left Fussa for Tokyo.

Elder Mike and Sister JoLynn Johnsen from Stansbury Park served at Yokosuka.

 Here are Elder Dick and Sister Gayle Powell again at our favorite stop!

Elder Scott and Sister Tanya Harrison from Sandy first served at Camp Zama.
Later, when we left for home, they replaced us in the office.

Somebody else!

 All of us senior sisters together had a great time looking at the Christmas lights.

Senior couples Johnsens, Arnells, and us attending one of many conferences

Sister Powell (of Mrs. Powell's Bakery fame) shared her cinnamon roll secrets
 with a few of us before the Albrechts left for home.

Before the Hobbs returned home, we served lunch in our tiny apartment.

Senior couples said goodbye to the Albrechts at Chili's before their return home.

President and Sister Albrecht's last day

The Albrechts had just one day in which to "turn over the reins" to President Budge
before returning home.  Sister Budge & Danny were still enroute due to Danny's lost passport.

Our last Kunitachi district meeting before heading to Tokyo

Our last Eikaiwa meeting in Fussa

We were treated to a fantastic yakiniku meal by one of the military families at the base.

Branch President Skabelund and family, Maki and Hikari,
treated us to our first "rotating" sushi meal before we left Fussa.

Elders Willard and Merrell cooked an awesome okonomiyaki meal
at a restaurant near Mt. Fuji.

Two helpful brethren from PBO treated us to shabu-shabu
after a training session in the mission office.

The first mission office group we worked with:  Elders Willard, Nakamura,
Cooper,  Eguchi, and Cook, and Sisters Nishigaki and Tsuchida

Three office elders downing sushi--Nakamura, Willard, and Cooper

And here are Elders Cook and Nakamura doing the same!

Our second set of office elders--Cooper, Nakamura, Eguchi, Andrus, and Brown

And a third set of office elders--Fujinaka, Hansen, Hamada, Willard, & Mori--
and Sister Stevenson

Elder Hamada was always clowning around!

And so were the rest of the guys!

And even the gals!!!

We fixed Taco Rice one night in our tiny apartment for the office elders.

And another night we fed the Sisters roast beef!

Here we are, admiring the cherry blossoms with SENIOR couples as well as the PBO
 couples (me, Sisters Donahoe, Johnsen, Grames, Rich, Bridge, and Meisman)

The "other halves":  Elders G, Donohoe, Johnsen, Grames, Rich, and Bridge

 One of our outings was to Asakusa with the Harrisons, Johnsens, Powells, and Bridges. 

President and Sister Yamashita taught us the Obon dance at PBO's FHE,
which we attended monthly.

President and Sister Yamashita's beautiful daughter was there on Spring Break.

One of our favorite outings was the Sankei-en Gardens tour with
Bridges, Harrisons, and Johnsens.

We also toured the origami factory with Johnsens and Bridges.

Brother & Sister Jousenn of the NAKANO Ward
fixed us and the Nakano Sisters an entertaining meal of takoyaki (fried octopus)!

A fantastic dinner was provided to all the office and sister missionaries by the Kaneko family.
Brother Kaneko formerly owned a restaurant, which was evidenced
by the wonderful meal he served!

Numerous times we were invited to "Dinner and Discussion" at Yuichi Uchida's home.
Guests this time were Shigemi (Nakano ward member) and Hiroshi (Eikaiwa student).

We learned how to make various forms of mochi at the home of a very sweet nonmember
whom the sisters were teaching.  Interestingly enough, she had attended
Wasatch High School as an exchange student many years ago!

  The Kodamas treated all nine of us missionaries to a fantastic shabu-shabu dinner.

The Hoopes family had us and the Powells over for Thanksgiving dinner.
This  amazingly-always-happy family truly impressed us with their loving, congenial spirit!
We enjoyed many a wonderful meal in their sweet home.

 We had a super wonderful dinner at Bishop Kanda's house with Sisters Vail, Barbour, and Stankowsky. 

Mayumi and her sister, Hiroki, were dear friends from Eikaiwa.  Mayumi had us for dinner in her home, and we were totally surprised to find out she and her husband had been to Branson, MO, a number of times.
They are country music fans and spoke pretty good English, so we had a great evening.

My very best Japanese girlfriend, Junko Takeda, gave me this kimono of hers.
The Hobbs brought us together, and our friendship flourished over the next eleven months.
She spoke some English, and I, some Japanese; so together we had lots of laughs--
and many tears upon parting!

We attended her concert in which she played the shamisen.

This picture was taken the day she came to pick up a 30-lb watermelon on her bike!

And this was taken when Junko treated Jim and me to dinner before we left.

Here she is standing out front of her home.

Here are Elders Willard and Hansen with our Eikaiwa student, Jiyu, 
who played Beethoven and other classical numbers beautifully

Favorites, Sisters Stevenson and Vail, with Yumi, a Nakano Ward member

Our Advanced English Eikaiwa class with "regulars" Okamoto-san, Hiroshi, and Yuichi
was held every Wednesday night.

After class we played games with all three classes.  It was always so much fun!!!

At the Eikaiwa Halloween party a student "mummified" Elder Fujinaka.

Here are Yuki, Jiyu, and Kiyomi at our Eikaiwa Christmas party.

Yuki & Kiyomi were darling newlyweds in our Nakano Ward.

Our "photo booth" was a great hit at the Eikaiwa Christmas party.  Here are Ken and office elders Hamada, Fujinaka, Mori, as well as Sisters Vail, Stankosky, and Barbour.

Eikaiwa students, Hara and Sakaguchi

Merry Christmas!

Dear, dear Baby Shimai continuously fed the missionaries meals
and always brought us treats when she came to church!

Tiny Vega, Grace, Baby Shimai, Mila, and Stephanly
were wonderful Philippino sisters in the Nakano Ward.

Santa Budge greeted me and awesome Sister Kuwahara at our Christmas party.
She is an Olympic-quality javelin thrower!

Three Japanese Sisters brought awesome stockings!  Sis Mano on the right is from Utah.

Sisters Wylie and Soderborg

Sisters Lundy, Long, and Wylie

Sister Vail and Elders Hansen, Kowalski, Nitta, and ...

Sister Julander said she'd never forget my taiso demonstration at the Sisters Conference!

A bevy of beautiful Sisters!

We met darling Seylene Duong from Cambodia at one of Yuichi's Discussion Dinners.
I felt impressed to send her home with a Book of Mormon.

I corresponded with her via email, and Elders Holden & Kinjo
 continued to give her the lessons.

Jim both baptized and confirmed her despite her request that I do so!

In addition to Seylene's baptism, we also witnessed the baptisms of others whom
our Elders  were teaching:  Komiyama was taught by the Fussa Elders.

They also baptized Danny, the 15-year-old son of a family recently reactivated.

Mitsuo was a pleasant surprise:
His attending church only to speak English turned into his conversion!

We signed our names on the Mission Quilt which Sis Budge made.

This is church member and painter, Allan West, and the two paintings of plum blossoms
I acquired before returning home; the second one was a gift from the mission!
His studio was filled with the most beautiful paintings!

Allan and Sister Budge

SAYONARA DINNER PARTY with our favorite senior couples

Lovely dinner--with a surprise guest, Imanishi-san!

Sisters Stankowsky, Lundy, and Vail

Elders Crowther, Nakamura, Kowalski, Howard, Mori , and Imanishi-san

Two dear friends from taiso
("Origami friend" and "Bird-feeder friend")

Sis Kodama, Sis Harrison, Junko, and three taiso friends

Everyone singing the mission song

Even Imanishi-san gave it a try!

The Kodamas were stalwart leaders in the ward and stake
 who recently served a mission and continued to dote on the missionaries.

Awesome couple!

The Budges with their 13-year-old son, Danny

Handsome elders!!!

Asala and Yuka Wickamaarachige were in our English Gospel Doctrine class.
Asala shared teaching responsibilities with us.  Yuka is a translator for the Church.

 Elder G and Sis Stankowsky

Sisters Vail and Stankowsky, the current Nakano Sisters

 Elder Hamada, Assistant to the President

 Elder Kowalski, Assistant to the President

 Elder Crowther, Assistant to the President

 Elder Nakamura, Commissarian

Elder Mori, Recorder

 Dear-to-our-hearts Elder Howard, who just arrived yesterday

On January 29, 2013, the Harrisons became the new office couple.
We are certain that they will do a totally fantastic job!

This is everyone at the All-mission conference June 2012 with the Albrechts.