Saturday, January 31, 2009

Awesome Possum

Without being asked:

Nathan sorted and washed laundry
Alex washed dishes and put them away
Danny has asked me if I needed anything, repeatedly

With an offhand suggestion:

Steve and the boys folded and put away laundry
Nathan made dinner (calzone)

I could get used to this...

Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals


Percocet Rocks!

If I ever have to go through having my wrist "set" again, I'm going to request some percocet about an hour before...I think it would have worked way better than whatever fast acting stuff they gave me. I'm not fond of the hung over after-effects enough to take it often, but for fairly excruciating pain mixed with a strong desire to sleep, it's great.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pride Goeth Before the Fall

Rollerskating is not my forte.
Where to start, where to start...Sherri warned me. I knew it could be dangerous - did I listen? No. Obviously no.

I fractured my wrist pretty thoroughly - I ended up at the hospital with an orthopedic surgeon pulling my wrist back into place - yes, it was moderately painful. Not quite as painful as the first set of x-rays (sans splint) and only slightly more painful than having my wedding ring cut off.

Guess what I'll be posting about for the next week or two...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Freezer Burn

A couple of weeks ago I made a large vat o' soup. Zuppa Toscana - Alex and I love it. Steve at least likes it, as does Nathan. Danny doesn't, but 4 out of 5 surveyed do....

ANYWAY, I was chatting with Suzanne this afternoon and asking her what she was having for dinner - she mentioned soup -and I said "I have 3 bags of frozen soup in my freezer - that's what we'll have". A couple of hours later I open up my freezer...there's the soup...but wait! I put it in unfrozen - and the liquid all settled into one mass. I can't get the darn stuff out. I'll wait for Steve to give it a go before I resort to that old family standby. The hairdryer.

Too bad my favorite hairdryer is kaput. I could have had those babies out of there in minutes.

Bubble G.U.M.

Finals, day 4.

I wish I could say that today will be a breeze, after 5 1/2 hours of history yesterday, I really wish I could. But it won't be. Today is all about Language Arts, especially G.U.M. (grammar, usage and mechanics). Yes, it's referred to as G.U.M. in our curriculum.

A whole semesters worth of participles, pronouns, nouns, proper and im. As if that wasn't enough, we still have the essay questions for Literature and the entire Vocab final to go...but then, we're done. So done.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

World History for $1000

Suleiman the Lawgiver (or Suleiman the Magnificent as he was known in Europe). Danny remembers him as the guy with the giant marshmallow hat. He ruled the Ottoman Empire (or "footstool empire" as Danny calls it). Hey, whatever helps you remember.

21/2 finals down, 3 1/2 to go.

Yesterday we did 3 hours of Science, then 2 hours of Literature...which was enough to finish Science and get through a recitation and the on-line portion of Literature. Today is the big kahuna - World History. I'm sure we'll get through it today - but that may be the only thing...I predict about 3 to 4 hours of review then 1 hour (at least) for the test - plus I'm pretty sure there will be at least one or two essay questions. Yikes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Man in Japan

A sweet potato vendor?

Dear Family and Friends,

Thanks for the recipes that you all sent. We like to try different foods when we have the chance. Yesterday we rode past a member`s restaurant and she waved us over and then gave us a bunch of frozen meats. So in the near future we`re probably going to be eating a lot of meat and mashed potatoes.

So the past week in review since last Tuesday. Last Tuesday an English class student took us out to eat at a small restaurant, he payed for us. Afterwards on the way back to our apartment he asked if it would be alright for him to stop at a store and pick up something. We said sure. Well we went inside with him. He acted a little confused about where the bread section was and then grabbed a couple of grocery baskets and gave us each one and told us to grab whatever we wanted. We eached grabbed a drink and small treat. He then led us around the store pointing at stuff and saying `Do you like this?` `This is good` `Have you ever had this before?` and put one of the thing in each of our baskets he did this with mochi, sushi, milk, juice, chicken, eel, sashimi, and a few other things. Afterwards he had us wait at the front while he paid. He was a very tricky old man and knows how to get us to accept things we normally wouldn`t. That night we saw a baked sweet potato truck driving around with a gas stove fire in the back. It looked cooler than it sounds.

Friday evening the power in the apartment went out for a little bit for no known reason. While we were riding our bikes to the train station we saw two power trucks with sirens zooming towards our apartment. I think they went faster and got more respect from the other drivers than the ambulances seem to. I went on an exchange from Friday night to Saturday night. We started the exchange at 8:40 PM. Elder Ito and I were in the Okamachi apartment when I reached in my pocket and realized my bike key was in there. 1 minute later the phone rang, the other Elders had just realized the same thing. We rode our bikes back to the train station to meet the elders and give them the keys.

On Sunday there was a potluck to celebrate Maria`s baptism and a couple who just moved into the ward. The food was pretty delicious.Transfer calls are in one week and transfers are a couple days after that. I have no idea if I`ll stay or not.

Where do I do emails? There`s a small library/community center that has 2 old computers that can do email. It costs about $2 an hour.I still have 20 minutes for time about...

Here`s a random journal entry. My journal entries could definitely be better by I do have a journal entry for every day so far. I`ll see if I can manage that my whole mission. Better a little too short than none at all.

Thursday July 17, 2008
We met our teachers today. They both served missions in Japan about a year or two ago. They both seem like great teachers. We were taught how to pray in Japanese today so I`ll be striving to do that. There are 12 Elders in my district and I look forward to working with them.

Saturday August 9, 2008
Not much happened today. Though everyone is speaking a lot more Japanese. I managed to speak in Japanese for most of the day this time.

Wednesday September 17, 2008
Today was really good. The TEC went great today. We started off by singing `I am a Child of God`. We focused the entire lesson on God`s love. It was the best lesson yet.

Sunday January 11, 2009
Today was good and cold. Maria was confirmed in the Hanayashiki ward today. Maruyama was confirmed in the Okamachi ward. A random eternal investigator came to church today. He lives in a different area and I guess a member there said get baptized or stop coming :(. Well, he`s attending other wards at the moment. Dendo today went well. I was pretty genki and talked to everyone and it rubbed off on Elder Ashdown. We talked to one guy for a whole hour while my toes were freezing. I made apple pie tonight. It`s interesting how we ended up talking to the good contact. After making an appointment with the previous person we needed to write the appointment down but both of us had surprisingly forgot pens. We contacted the person by asking him if he had a pen we could borrow.

Monday January 19, 2009
Today was good. This morning we ate lunch with Eugene at Oto Shimai`s house. It was good. She made lasagna, salad, and soup. Afterwards we corrected a few pages of English for her. We biked around Kawanishi for a while and set up an appointment with someone for tomorrow. In the evening we streeted Ikeda. We talked to the baked sweet potato vendor for a while. He`s there every night until 7 PM and we talk to him relatively often. He gave us a free baked sweet potato. On the way home we bought 10 takoyaki for 200 Yen ($2) they were good.I resisted the urge to expound upon or change anything. That`s pretty much straight out of my journal. Until next time.


Elder West.

Finals Week

I'm not sure if the work crew is here to do more work - or to patch up after the last work?!?

Today was Danny's math review and final. He did just fine....90%. After that we had a brief run-in with pronoun antecedents, a section on buoyancy, a science experiment involving forces, and to round off the day, some science review (tomorrow is his science final).

I was going to go grocery shopping this afternoon. I guess I still could, but it would be a bit of a squeeze to get past the work crew in my driveway. I think I'll just finish up the laundry and hope that the work crew will be done in a couple of hours.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Potty Humor

While waiting for dinner to cook, most of the gang sat down with a good book. Each one had a different edition of "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader." I came in to take some pictures and Laura pipes up,

"Are you taking a picture of us all reading toilet books?"

Yup Laura, that about sums it up.

Ski Bums

A good time was had by all.
After a rough start to the day, Danny did cheer up and have a good time. Really. He even told me that he likes skiing....quite a bit. It was much better than the ice skating he tried last month.

For a skiing newby Alex didn't do half bad - he always got back up after a fall. Of course, when Grandpa takes you up the ski lift to the top of the run, you pretty much have to keep going to get down. It helped that Grandpa led the way - since Alex couldn't see very well out of his glasses.
Note to self, next time send goggles.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No Search Party Needed

Keira and I sent a van load of menfolk (and Tia) up the mountain this morning. I talked to Steve at about 4pm (when they were supposed to be done) - at that point he and Danny were lost. Evidently they found their way back to the lodge - an hour later the whole gang had gotten together,, returned their rentals and rendezvoused at the van.

They all seemed to have survived a day of skiing and supposedly are on their way home. We promised hot pizza when they get here...

Kevin and I just popped the first Papa Murphy's pizza in, we'll keep cranking the out until the skiers get here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Road Trip!

In 3 hours and 55 minutes Steve, Danny and I will be leaving the driveway. At least, we'd better be. Alex gets out of his last class at 12:55 - and we live about 20 minutes away from the college.

I haven't packed yet - but since it's only for two days we won't need too much - except that Steve and the boys are going skiing tomorrow (if there's enough snow), then we have church on Sunday - least two pairs of shoes per person - snow clothes - church clothes - pajamas - toothbrushes....hmm....maybe I'd better move it...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I've decided to call our old blow dryer WALL-E. An old "appliance" that lived way past its design parameters.

The new one shall be called EVA. It is clean, white and looks more up to date.

I'd rather have WALL-E back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Sad Farewell...

A beloved member of our family passed away today. Steve and I have been the proud owners of our "Conair Pro Style Mini Dryer 1250 Watts" for nearly 30 years. Lots of people talk about planned obsolescence in appliances - but here's one small appliance that bucked the odds. It was the brave little blow dryer that could. It's not like we kept it wrapped up in cotton and gingerly used it occasionally. This blow dryer had been dropped on the floor countless times and dropped in the toilet at least once or twice. I sort of wish that we had given it a name.

Is it too late to name a dead blow dryer?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

Things are going well over here in Japan still. This past week hasn`t been too eventful as far as I can remember though.

A couple weeks ago Maruyama was baptized. I started teaching him with Elder Ito, I probably already mentioned that before but this email has a picture. The other picture is after Maria`s baptism. I plan on copying all my pictures onto one of those 2 gigabyte memory cards and mailing it home. You could post some online if you wanted. I`ve taken about 300 pictures so far. Over half are since Christmas, when I bought the new camera. People are often curious about what missionaries eat so I`ve been taking pictures of the different foods I eat, at the apartment and outside.

This past week I went to the Instant Ramen Museum. Apparently Ikeda (An area I go streeting often) is the birthplace of Instant Ramen. I took some pictures and it was a little interesting. They had a Make Your Own Cup of Noodles area for $3, but there were too many people so I didn`t bother. They also had an area for groups of people (mostly school children) to make their own instant ramen noodles from scratch. That requires a reservation but I watched through the glass walls. I took some pictures and grabbed a pamphlet that I`ll probably send sometime.

We had a 3 letter spelling bee for the few young kids in English class. They had fun. They got Toys R Us gift cards as prizes.

Last Sunday two people came to church by themselves. One of them was a Korean lady who recently moved into the area. She saw us a few times and figured that we were Christians and asked us where our church was and stuff. She said she`d bring her kids for Primary next week. The other person was someone I gave an English Class flyer to and talked with for just a couple minutes. I didn`t expect either one to be there that week.

Also I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting about setting goals. It went well. I think some of the members were surprised I can actually speak understandable Japanese. Most of them didn`t think I could speak much because I don`t talk to most of them a lot. To be honest it`s really hard to remember everyone`s names. I sort of feel bad about that but not too bad. Sometimes when at a members house they`ll look at my name badge during the prayer because they don`t remember my name.

Nishi (Japanese for west) is a fairly common name, or part of a name here. I`ve known Nishi, Kawanishi (West River), Nakanishi (Middle West), and a few other variations. I haven`t seen so many Kita, Minami, or Higashi`s (North, South, and East)

No one anwered my question about how to make good Tomato Soup from scratch, so the flour doesn`t clump. I`d rather have too many replies than none. :P Also a recipe for Hiroshima Okonomiyaki would be nice if you could find one.

As far as my birthday goes some CDs of General conference talks in English and Japanese would be nice. MP3 files are fine. Also if you could find a set of Kanji flash cards it would be handy I think. A good set should have several hundred to a thousand probably, ON and KUN readings, stroke order, and example words. I don`t know how much they cost though and they`re not a necessity. I`ve finally really gotten my Kanji study going well. I`m up to about 170 kanji I think and am learning about 2-3 a day. 170 is more than it sounds, even though they have over 1600 standard kanji. My comprehension when reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese is really increasing.

Well, that`s it for today. An English Class student is taking us out to lunch in 20 minutes and we still need to finish shopping.


Elder West.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Word of the Day


syn⋅co⋅pe   [sing-kuh-pee, sin-] –noun

1. Grammar. the contraction of a word by omitting one or more sounds from the middle, as in the reduction of never to ne'er.

2. Pathology. brief loss of consciousness associated with transient cerebral anemia, as in heart block, sudden lowering of the blood pressure, etc.; fainting.


When Alex was called to dinner he arose in an abrupt manner and suffered an episode of syncope.

Yeah. That was fun. It lasted only a few seconds and he went on to eat a hearty dinner. I suppose he's fine....but I'll be watching.

Heads Up

In case anyone out there wants to know, or needs a reminder, Andrew's birthday is coming up. February 4th.

It takes about a week to a week and a half for mail to get to him, so if you'd like to send him a card or letter, now's the time to be thinking about it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Begin as you mean to go on.

Today is Steve's first official campout with the Scouts in a long while. He's gone plenty of times in the past few years as a dad, but not as a scout leader.

I asked him this morning if he would like me to help him with food for tonight. I offered to make some calzone that he could reheat at camp. I suggested stew or perhaps a foil dinner. I was willing to help out this morning. He decided to take some canned food. Okay, if that's what he wants, fine by me.

He and Danny have to be over at the meeting place at 5pm. At about 3:45pm he asked me if I wanted to go get Alex and I some dinner. I said maybe....he then suggested that I swing by Little Caesar's and pick up a couple of pizza's so that he and Danny could eat right before they left.

No way Jose'. Not when I had nicely offered to help early in the day. Uh uh. I told him it was for his own good - otherwise he wouldn't learn anything from it. No pizza.

I did however, make him some French toast.

Cooties and Coffee Cake

Friday is usually game day in seminary. Today's game: Scripture Cootie. Students had to find a scripture mastery reference to get a chance to put parts on their Cootie. Since they gave each other the clues I pretty much was free to observe and reign in the most blatant cheating (cheating? in seminary? - in our class we euphemistically refer to it as "using your resources").

Here is my favorite example of "cheating" today. The scripture that was supposed to be found was in 2 Thessalonians.

Halden: "Have you met my sister "Thessy"?" She's a really great girl, that "Thessy".

That they were "using their resources" didn't bother me too much. The game wasn't that competitive, and I figure that at least they were getting better acquainted with their scriptures. A few months ago these same students would have had a hard time identifying Thessalonians as a book in the New Testament.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Accelerometers R Us

Our homemade accelerometer.

We went from accelerometers in science to Salons of the Enlightenment in history today.

"...during the Enlightnment, many philosophers, artists, writers and other educated people would gather at salons in the homes of wealthy patrons (mostly women) and engage in intellectual conversations about the philosophy of the day...."

Daniel's assignment was to describe the salon that he would have had if he had lived in the 1700's..what it would look like, who he would invite and why, and what would some of the topics of discussion be?

Who would you invite? What would you talk about?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Big Hairy Deal

How much hair can you trim off an 18 year old boy who has shortish hair, but has procrastinated the day of his repentance?

This much.

Alex's hair was getting too long. It was getting too long about two months ago, but now it was way too long. Using the #6 (we started with the #8) attachment we ended up with this much.

Maybe if I got paid to cut my family's hair I would be more aggressive at seeking out business. Then it wouldn't get so long.

Any idea what the going rate for boys haircuts are?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Yes, it's only Tuesday. But it sort of feels like Friday. Tomorrow morning I have seminary inservice at 6am. But I won't be teaching - so I'm not putting together my lesson this evening. That's why it feels like Friday. But if this is Tuesday/Friday, that means that in a couple of days it will be Monday/Thursday...

I'm not sure two "Fridays" make up for two "Mondays." And since it is the 13th, does that make today unlucky?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope everyone is doing well over there in America. It`s been pretty cold here recently but there hasn`t been much snow.

Alright, last week in review. My back bire tire was giving me trouble last week and it looked like it might be bent. I took it into Asahi (A bike store chain where most missionaries in Japan buy their bikes). I`m really not sure what exactly was wrong but they ended up replacing my back tire and gears for free. That was nice of them I thought.

Last Friday I went to the baptism of someone Elder Ito and I found and taught back in Okamachi. It took Elder Lytle 4 tries to baptize him. :)

On Saturday I was on an exchange with another Elder. Exchanges are always fun and good. At the end of the exchange the other Elder almost took off on the train with my companion`s bike key. Fortunately we now have cell phones so we were able to stop them before they left. Without cell phones we would`ve probably ended up walking home.

On Sunday Maria was confirmed. The evening was pretty cold. I made a couple small apple pies, but still haven`t gotten around to eating any.

I`ve taken a lot of pictures, but emailing them is a hassle. I`ll probably copy them all onto a spare SD card next week and mail them home. You put any you feel like up for people to look at.

I guess I`ll ask some questions for people to answer. What`s changed with computers since mid-July last year. Any fun new games? (Don`t lie and say there`s been none :P) Anyone taking any Japanese classes? Do you have questions for me? How do you make good Tomato soup? I figure the key is in the rue but I`ve forgotten how to make rue that doesn`t clump. Last time I used a strainer to get rid of any big clumps of flour. Anyone want to look up a recipe for Hiroshima Okonomiyaki (It`s different than the regular Okonomiyaki because there`s noodles or something in it).


Elder West

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bridges of Faith

This week I had one of my favorite lessons in seminary so far. I printed up part of a talk by Elder Charles Didier entitled "Bridge of Faith". I had edited the talk down to the bare bones, then I had teams of 3 students study the talk and then draw their own bridge.
2 of my students are also former Webelos of mine - and they remembered in flattering detail the lessons I had given them in building bridges. It's nice to know that sometimes something sticks.
The students (mostly the boys) wanted their artwork judged, so I offered to go get an impartial judge, Brother Sorenson, our seminary principal. He came in 5 minutes before the end of class and the kids had to explain their pictures to him. I had told him (in private) that I didn't want there to be an actual "winner" - I don't need weeks of boasting.
Well, he didn't exactly declare a winner, but this last entry did catch his eye. Evidently I have some politically savvy students who decided to name their bridge after the judge. I have a feeling that this bridge will live in infamy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Brand New Year

I sometimes use my ipod for seminary. I especially like to use it for prelude music. I do have all the hymns downloaded from the website - but I don't use them that often for the opening song. First of all, they play them a little (or a lot) slower than I like to have them sung, and second of all, it's 6am and my voice really doesn't want to go above an A or possibly B flat - and since I'm often singing a solo, it sounds a little better if I do it a little lower than it is written. ANYHOW, I am always looking for free music to play for seminary, and I found some today. I installed a widget for the music in my sidebar - so if anyone else wants to download - there it is.

The site I got it from is called "A Brand New Year" and basically it's a site that the church put together for youth. The resources send the user to places that are already in, but sometimes a little bit of a bother to find. This makes it easy. I think I may make up a little take home handout for my seminary kids so that they can find it. I will definitely be introducing Daniel and Alex to it so that when they want to get on the computer on Sunday we have one more acceptable resource.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Psyched up for HDTV

The DISH guys were at our house this morning installing a new dish and receiver. I knew we were getting a new receiver but I didn't know that we'd be getting a new dish too. I was very grateful that Steve was working from home and could answer all their tech questions AND that he could bring up our VHL (very heavy ladder) so that they could climb up by the roof to do said installation.

I'm not sure what all the hype for HDTV is about...but I do know that the new seasons of Psych and Monk start tonight - so I'm willing to give it a go.

Mama Bear and Baby Bear

Danny got a "netbook" a couple of weeks ago - it's cute and lightweight. He has been using it to do his schoolwork on this week - which is nice. He had been borrowing Steve's laptop to bring out to the kitchen table - since his desktop computer was not very mobile. Today was the first time I brought my laptop out to the table to work on while Danny was working on his.

Danny's computer reminds me of those cool glasses that cool people wear. You know, the small skinny ones.....

...that would make my computer the equivalent of Jackie O's sunglasses. I'm okay with that, at least the screen size is large enough to let my 49 year old eyes read my email.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's Raining, it's pouring...

Actually, I think the rain has taken a brief break.

The boys took our wheelbarrow into the back yard on December 22nd - so that they could build a bigger snow ramp for the grandkids. It hasn't moved since. It looks fairly full of water - a combination of melted snow and steady rain.

That same combination of melting snow and heavy rain is playing havoc with Western Washington right now. All the passes are closed. I-5 south is closed. Many school districts around the state are closed. This on top of snow closures. The required make-up days are sure adding up fast.

I wonder if this is Mother Nature's way of voting for year-round school? At this rate the kids who attend brick and mortar schools won't be out of school until July. Not us. Yet another advantage of going to a virtual school.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Object Lesson...

My seminary lesson today included the account of the miracle of the water changed to wine.

John 2
1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

We didn't make wine, but we did make purple water. I was not willing to invest in potable beverages...I purchased my "stone waterpot" at Goodwill and while I love shopping there, I won't buy plastic food containers.

"Ah, but your "waterpot" is made of glass," you say...

To that I answer: "yes, but not the spout."

It all goes back to a regrettable incident many years ago involving a Colman beverage thermos (1 or 2 gallon) and a lost kitten.

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Taking it to 11.

We planned to work on goals for our first FHE of the new year. I decided to grab the bull by the horns and get mine ready. First, a look back at last year's goals. How did I do? Of the 10 that I had, I completed 4, made good progress on 4 and totally bombed on 2. I'll give myself a B- (I'm an easy grader - it's a good thing that I don't have to grade very much of Daniel's schoolwork).

Not only did I type up 10 (new and recycled) goals, but I made up a weekly tracking page (yes, I like quantifiable goals - none of those "be a better person" goals for me), printed them up 4 to a page, cut them, and bound them in a book. It may only be a pathetic attempt to fool myself into thinking that they are more official...but hey, I'll take any advantage I can get.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our Man in Japan

(Spiritual Strength)

Dear Family and Friends,

I already typed this email but right as I was finishing the computer restarted so this will be the shorter version...

This past Sunday Maria was finally baptized. Things went well with that. She should be confirmed next week. If anyone is ever asked to schedule a baptismal service for a convert make sure that you communicate with the missionaries. If the missionaries say `The baptismal service should be at 2 PM` make sure to schedule it then and not at 1:20 PM. It might not seem like a big difference but when people such as the mission president, other missionaries, the person receiving baptism, and investigators were told it was at 2 PM then it causes difficulties. Anyways... It worked out and I`m happy about the baptism but I`m also happy it`s over.

Monday was pretty good. We had a good zone conference. That`s where about half the mission gets together and receives training. Every area/companionship received cell phones. It should be cheaper and more effective. Cheaper because Japan has never heard of free or even cheap local calling but with cell phones we`re all in the same family plan so calling each other should be free. More effective because we`re not in our apartment most of the day.

Thank you everyone for your letters, and the pictures. Any suggestions for a missionary giving a talk on setting goals? Or does anyone know what the sacrament meeting topic is for January 18th, I`m not sure whether it`s the same everywhere or not though. I`d just like to read what the theme and sub-theme are in English rather than Kanji. Alrighty, that`s it I guess. Feel free to ask questions if you ever are curious about things.


Elder West.

All The World's A Stage...

The whole world may not be a stage, but I have one on my dining room table.

We had a little spare time left when Danny had finished his regular classes this afternoon, so he worked on a model of the Globe Theatre . We haven't had the lesson on it yet - that will be in a day or two, but in the meantime we've got a head start on it.

If you'd like to make your own fancier model check out the one on

Our Man in Japan

For anyone interested, head on over to the McIntyre's blog (see sidebar) - there is a picture of Elder Andrew down at the bottom of the January 5th post - be patient scrolling down, there are a lot of McIntyre family pictures above him. Andrew is second from the right.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snow, Snow, Go Away

I looked out the window and what did I see? More white stuff coming down. I am not a happy camper. We missed 4 days of seminary before the Christmas break - I'd really like to get back down to business. I've been prepared to give the same lesson 4 times now...enough is enough!

The snow is supposed to turn to rain sometime during the night - but if it doesn't do it soon enough the schools will decide to have a late start. Late start for school means no seminary.

At least Danny will have his regularly scheduled school day - that's one of the advantages of attending a virtual academy. No snow days. Very few sick days either. We just plow on through.

Time for Change

We are fortunate to only have 2 wards that meet in our building. Not only that, but our building is a former stake center, so no problems parking two wards at once. It's an older building with some weird design choices (there are no inside halls connecting one side to the other - it's either the gym, the stage or outside). For the first few years that we only had 2 wards (after the NEW stake center was completed), our two wards took turns with 9am and 11am. Yes, we overlapped, but the only real downside was hearing Priesthood opening song from one ward during the sacrament in the other ward. Not really a deal breaker in my book - I liked hearing the guys singing.

The other ward got new leadership about 3 years ago and all that started to change - they decided that they didn't like overlapping, so when January came around we didn't move to 11am that year...we moved to 1pm. I spent most of the year being disgruntled about that. The next January came around....happy day...we were back at 9am. Yea!! Was the other ward at 1pm?? No. They were at 11am. Hmmm...

That brings us up to today. It's our wards turn to be at the later time. Will it be 1pm? (I've spent two years lobbying against that-but there are a lot of strange people who like to sleep in really late), will it be 11am???

Our new time is 11:30am. I'm okay with that - it could be worse.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy Happy Birthday!

Alex is 18. ALEX is 18. Alex IS 18. If I say it enough times I might start to believe it.

What is it with Alex and bundt cakes? I asked him a day or two ago what kind of cake he wanted...and after a little research he came up with this Lemon-Cheese Cake. The main cake is made with a yellow cake mix base (slight alterations), then I made a lemon and cream cheese filling to go in it and a lemon glaze on top. It turned out fairly yummy (definitely not as rich as last year's Tunnel O' Fudge). I made it yesterday so that it could chill in the refrigerator over night.

It's always nice to add to my repertoire of bundt cake recipes. Thank you, Alex.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Ghost of Christmas Past....

I think we are officially done with Christmas. We got our last two packages this evening. At 8:10pm. Yeah. You heard me. 8:10pm. UPS has come later - we've had them dropping off stuff as late as 9pm. Yes, 9pm.

Danny kept checking the tracking online. Nothing. We started keeping an eye out the windows after dark. I had just about given up when they finally showed up. Steve and Danny went out to the truck - it took the guy a few minutes to find our packages - we didn't just have his new netbook computer, we also got our Christmas package from David.

Among other things, David sent us a photo calendar with multiple pictures for each month. I forced him to divulge his source - he finally admitted that he gave the pictures to Xuehui (his girlfriend) and she put it together. So...thank you David AND Xuehui! It's awesome.

Steve and Danny are having a great time installing more memory in Danny's new netbook, charging the battery, installing programs, reading the instructions...not necessarily in that order.

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

I was getting ready to check my email on Yahoo, when I saw this article - it was about a poll taken to see which celebrity people would like to have as their neighbor. Sarah Palin was the surprise front runner - she beat out Oprah.

She would be a cool neighbor - the kind that has plenty of kids - so she would understand when little Piper comes home needing stitches from a little roughhousing/snowball fighting...She also strikes me as someone who could handle the paparazzi. A shotgun resting thoughtfully on one's shoulder would perhaps make annoying photographers think twice about crawling around in the bushes to get a picture.

Who would be your choice for celebrity neighbor? (no fair picking church leaders, or family members).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and friends,

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and are having a Happy New Years. It`s been a while since I last got a chance to do email, so I`ll have to use my journal to remember what happened.

Umm... On December 20 I bought a baked sweet potato from a street vendor and ate it plain. It was pretty good and filling. There was also a ward Christmas party that day. It was pretty good. Though every family in the ward took pictures with Santa and the missionaries so we had to just stand behind Santa for about 45 minutes while everyone was doing the cake decorating and stuff.

The ward gave us a bunch of presents for Christmas. All of it was food. Mostly candy and a bunch of curry packets. One of the members runs a small restaurant, we stopped by there on Christmas Eve and she made us some delicious food.

Things are going well with Maria. She had her baptismal interview yesterday and it went well. She should be baptized this coming Sunday after church.

I haven`t been taking many pictures because my camera while being a perfectly good camera wasn`t very convenient. So on Christmas I went out and bought a fairly inexpensive smaller camera. (IXY Digital 2015). Since getting the camera I`ve taken a lot of pictures, too many to email. We also went out and ate Tonkatsu with a couple members. Besides that Christmas was a fairly normal day.

I got assigned a 10-15 minute talk in Sacrament meeting on January 18. I think it has something to do with making goals for the New Year.

The weather is pretty cold here. I`ve been doing a fair amount of bike riding I guess. It`s hard to judge how much, and I don`t want to buy a speedometer for my bike because I think it would get stolen. I am used to the food. I have made chocolate no bake cookies. I don`t know what I want for my birthday yet. I have been to some places I`ve found interesting but I really don`t have much time for email today.

Next week I`ll write more. Thanks everyone for your letters. :)


Elder West.