I am not doing a good job of keeping you updated on what we are doing. It has been busy with the start of a new semesterâ€¦preparing lessons and baking and more baking. I would welcome any treat ideas you have sweet, savory or gluten free.Â
During the summer we taught a class in the south stake and Elder and Sister Bailey taught a class in the OKC stake. We are not teaching the class in the south stake this semester, Brother Valletta our S&I coordinator (CES employee) is teaching that class (29 students), but we will visit often and will sub for him sometimes.Â
The Baileyâ€™s are teaching the Wednesday night Book of Mormon class here in Edmond and they had 23 students. They also take lunch on Tuesdays to the class at the OU health Science Center. We plan to trade off with them in the future so we can visit this class. We teach a Tuesday night New Testament class in Edmond and we have 20 students registered for that class. We also teach a Book of Mormon class in Shawnee with 4 students. We visited that ward today and met some more potential students. We will work on praying them there. Shawnee is about 50 miles from here, each way. One of the interesting things we learned was that two of our students work for â€œThe Tribe.â€ Thatâ€™s exactly how they said it. The tribe is the Pottawatamie Indian tribe. There are many different Indian tribes here in Oklahoma and from what our students tell us they are very wealthy. The casinos are always run by the tribes. One girl works at the preschool and one of the young men works as a bagger at the tribeâ€™s grocery store.Â
Tuesday, we will be teaching for Brother Valletta at the Stillwater institute next to the Oklahoma State University campus. He is going to court to finalize the adoption of his youngest son. So we are definitely staying busy. We also go to the temple once a week. Itâ€™s only a 30 minute drive from here.
This week besides our missionary activities and attending the temple we finally made it to POPâ€™s on Historic Route 66. Itâ€™s an interesting place, itâ€™s a gas station, convenience store, burger joint. They have a huge bottle of pop out front and we hear that at night itâ€™s lit up with neon. Weâ€™ll have to check it out.
Hereâ€™s the 66 foot tall pop bottle and the front of the convenience store/burger place:
They are famous for stocking 600 hundred different kinds of soda from all over the world. (EXCEPT, the one I was looking for, Shikuwasa, from Okinawa). Although, I did see a few Japanese sodas, none that I recognized. Andrew and Leigh…They did have Cheerwine. Every bottle is $2.19. Here are our selections, both root beer: We also had burgers with fries and onion rings followed by this dessert, an apple pie-ish thing topped with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce and cherries. It was huge and yummy: Â They have cartons to fill with your favorites, which we did not do. At $2.19 each, thatâ€™s a pricey 6 pack. However, 6 packs were flying out the door. All the windows across the front and back of the shop are lined with bottles of pop.
Then yesterday after our visit to the temple we drove to Choctaw to this: Yes, we know itâ€™s still August, obviously those who live in Choctaw know something about when to hold Octoberfest that the rest of the world has missed. We went mainly to eat and itâ€™s a good thing since the main attraction seemed to be drinking beer. We had water!
Our meal, bratwurst on a pretzel bun and smoked pork chops smothered in sauerkraut with red cabbage. We also had potato pancakes with applesauce:
We listened to two bands, the first played polka type music and the second played Cajun??? There were even a few people dancing.
Today on our way back from Shawnee took Route 66 again and got to see the Round Barn in Arcadia, itâ€™s just a little east of Popâ€™s. It was built in 1898.
Okay, so there you have our week. We love you all and miss you!
Today is the first day of spring in Japan. The celebration is called Setsubun. The famous ritual of the celebration is called mamemaki. People throw soybeans out the door or at a person dressed like the devil while shouting, “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” (demons out, good luck in). Â Rick was invited to Kofu to participate in the celebration there. He came home with several gifts. I am grateful to be able to experience the unique culture here in Japan.
Today was a Kingwood reunion in Tokyo. Since I moved here in July of 2006 Jo Scoffield moved here and most recently Carolann Naugle arrived last May. On Saturday Dee Jones arrived to spend the week. Today we all got together and went to the Setagaya Borichi, the oldest and largest flea market held in Japan. It was a cold day, but we really had a good day and definitely made some memories. I am grateful for good friends.
Today we went to the Setagaya Boroichi. It is a huge flea market that has been going on since 1578. It is held only four days a year (January 15 -16 and December 15-16). It is considered one of the largest flea markets in Japan. They have vintage clothing, kimonos and obis, new clothing, antiques, food, housewares and tons of miscellaneous junk for sale. It is usually very crowded when the 15th and 16th fall on weekdays, but on a Saturday it was really packed and we were there early. We tried some of the food from the stalls and just wandered around looking at everything. I bought a hat to wear in a week and a half in freezing North Carolina. Here are some photos:
The year of the rabbit
It appears that almost every Saturday there is a festival at Yoyogi Park. Today it was the Sri Lankan festival. We have some friends from Sri Lanka and since he is a chef we thought they might have a food booth. We found them and they told us to come back in about ten minutes for the tandoori chicken. We walked around a bit, got a samosa at another booth and went back for dinner. Chandrani filled a container with chicken, meat, shrimp and some balls that reminded me of hushpuppies. It would have been plenty for us but she filled another container with exactly the same amount, then she refused to let us pay. We were not expecting a free meal! It was delicious.
The vendors of Japanese food didn’t have many customers during the festival. Everyone was eating the Sri Lankan food.
Since I saw the Hina Matsuri dolls my first year in Japan, I have wanted a set. If you know anything about me you will know that I would not want the huge seven tired set that can be seen this time of year in Japan.Â Hina Matsuri takes place on March 3 and celebrates Girl’s Day. This is the day that families pray for the health and prosperity of their girls. It helps to ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful.Â A girl’s first Hina Matsuri is called her hatsu-zekku. On her first Girl’s Day it is very popular for her grandparents to buy her a set of dolls to display:
The display can have up to seven tiers arranged with dolls and furniture. The top tier always has the emperor and empress displayed with a gilded screen behind them. Most families display their dolls beginning in mid-February and put them away immediately after Hina Matsuri is over. They believe that families who are slow to put away their dolls will have a hard time marrying off their daughters.
There is a new little shop near my house that sells traditional Japanese gifts and crafts from all over Japan. This is what I found:
It’s the small set I have been looking for.Â They are made of wood and I love the hand painted detail.Â The tiny emperor is just 4 inches tall and the empress is just 3 inches.Â I also felt good helping this new little shop.
Last Monday, when I returned from the US I had a beautiful gift waiting for me.Â My French friends Frederic, Karine, Zoe and Aimie gave me this set as a thank you gift for keeping Zoe while Karine was in the hospital giving birth to Aimie.
It was totally unexpected, but very much appreciated.Â It is so beautiful and unique.Â I have never seen a set like this.Â It’s such a wonderful gift and it will always remind me of wonderful friends and the fun that I had with my little friend Zoe.
There are special treats on Girl’s Day.Â Shops stock feminine looking sweets in pastel colors.Â Yesterday, I decided to try some traditional Japanese sweets.Â They are delicate pink pancakes filled with red bean paste, rolled and wrapped in a leaf that has bean soaked in something slightly salty.Â The salty taste was a nice contrast to the sweet red bean paste.
Happy Hina Matsuri!
Last weekend we flew to Sapporo for the annual snow festival. Sapporo is an interesting city, much quieter than Tokyo. It reminds me of Salt Lake City because it is laid out in a grid with large blocks. The main venue for the matsuri is a park that is one block wide and 13 or 14 blocks long. The festival started when some students made snow sculptures one year and it has grown. There is one block where international teams compete. Most of the sculptures were amazing. The one that I like the best was created to promote enviromental awareness.
We arrived Thursday afternoon and set out from the hotel immediately. We ran into some of senior missionaries from Tokyo who live in our ward. It was a beautiful, sunny day. We began at block one and were working our way to block six where the food stalls were set up. By the time we got to block six it was a mini blizzard and we were freezing and all the seating in this area was outdoors. I got some noodles and Rick being wiser got a ramen. My hands were frozen by the time I finished and the noodles were cold. I kept looking for a Starbucks so I could get hot chocolate. I only saw one in the entire city and it had been set up for the matsuri in a tent that was packed with customers. So, none of my favorite hot chocolate to warm me up. later that night we went back to look at the ice sculptures. Friday we wandered around a shopping area near our hotel and rode the trolley. When we got on the trolley we noticed two missionaries at the back we visited with them for quite awhile. They said it was really unusual for them to see gaijin (foreign) members on public transportation. Sapporo only has Japanese wards where we have 4 English wards here in Tokyo. We also walked around the fish market, definitely not as big or busy as Tsukiji in Tokyo. That night we ate Hokkaido Barbeque and went back to see how the snow sculptures looked at night. I like them better at night they are more magical with the lights on them.
This one was amazing. It was designed to draw attention to the issues of global warming and how we are not caring for our earth.
There was also a small ice skating rink which appeared to be free except for the skate rental of 220 yen. It was mostly children with a few parents skating to help out. I liked the zambone Hokkaido style.