Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! (Happy New Year!)
Me in front of the Marugame church in perhaps the cheesiest picture I`ve ever taken.
We`re in an internet cafe just for today (normally at the branch president`s English school but he`s in America) and I can`t find how to switch this thing to Japanese. Anyway.
I didn`t feel an earthquake at all yesterday.
It`s been a pretty eventful week. We`ve made two trips to this tiny little corner of town. A dirt road leads off to it and it`s like leaving the country. Only Filipino and Peruvian welders and their wives live there and apparently it`s been a gold mine in the past. We found two new investigators and got invited in by two other women and said we would come back another time when their husbands were home. It was really interesting.
It was difficult to get anyone to church yesterday. Impossible pretty much, but it is understandable because of the big New Year holiday. I-san continues to progess and I talk to investigator Y-san every night on the phone. I wish you could meet her.
There`s a family here named K: four children 18, 15, 13, and 10, orphaned and being taken care of by their grandmother who was baptized with them about 5 years ago but they don't come to the church. We visited them and will hopefully figure out someway to get them to church. They all still read the Book of Mormon.
I showed the Another Testament video to all of the recent converts at Family Home Evening and I think they really liked it. There were some tears.
We also had the holiday taikai (conference) this week. Since Christmas and New Year`s are both Sundays, we can`t really do the sports taikai like last year. It was great. We played sports, watched the year end DVD. The DVD had pictures from the disaster and it was just devastating to watch. I`ve seen plenty of stuff here and there, but seeing it all together just really put it into perspective. The pictures of people praying to pictures or remains just killed me. There was also a very short devotional afterwards, President and Sister Zinke and the Assistants gave talks and they asked me to translate. That was a shock. President McIntyre had a very small, elite group of translators that he trusted, but President Zinke is much more tekito (random) about it so they had no problem asking me. (Editor's note: The parents disagree. We think Elder Low really qualifies as an elite translator.) I really am getting old here. I wonder if this is a chore they`re going to have me do into the future. I probably slaughtered it. I do want to get better at it though.
At the holiday Taikai it was our last chance to meet the Priddis` who go home this month. They are the office couple and I will miss them a ton. They were absolutely a blast when I worked in Kobe. Sister Priddis loved when I would pick up some of her busy work and she said "someday I`ll give you a hug" when we took this picture. They are amazing. They have ten kids, five boys, five girls, all ten served missions. This couple left at the same time as their youngest son and Elder Priddis was the bishop at the time. They`re amazing.
Me, Sister and Elder Priddis
The Akiyama daughter was at church yesterday. We were having dendo chosei shukai (Mission Planning Meeting) and I saw her head pop up in the little window in the door. She looks EXACTLY the same as she does in that picture (from 23 years ago), if not younger.
From 23 years ago: Elder Low's father, Jacob Low (age 6 months), Sister Tachibana, and Sister Akiyama, the daughter, in the Sakaide Branch.
I couldn`t get a picture with her because everyone went in a million directions after church, but she`ll be here all week so I`ll go drop by and maybe take her some doughnuts or something.
We spent nearly all of yesterday with the Takashima`s and they are an awesome family. 6 kids. The second son just got back from the Sapporo mission three months ago and was called last week to be our Dendo Shunin (Ward Mission Leader). He told us stories from his mission and we laughed until our faces were purple. It reminded me a lot of Thanksgiving at home. That family is huge, messy, loud, roudy, imperfect, simple, and perfectly happy. It was beautiful being in their home, I thought. They didn`t treat us like royalty either, we were just part of the family for the night. They fed us Yakisoba and Takoyaki.
The Seto Ohashi bridge in the distance.
Thank you so much for the names to contact. I`ll see what I can do. N Kyodai actually wasn`t an English teacher, I learned, but he was in one of the board of education meetings with you. He still works at the city hall and I`ll see if he recognizes the names and can help me find the places. Also, I`m sure I`ve passed your apartment. Is it still there though? I think it might have been buldozed and turned into something else. I`ll try it though. Oh and the picture below...is that the same place as the one you sent last week? It looked familiar...
Elder Low in Sakaide
Elder Low's dad, in nearly the same place, 23 years ago.
And yes, I would like copies of those pictures you sent.
Hope everyone`s having a good holiday break. Have a great 2012. I come home this year...yorishikuonegaishimasu!