Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family,

I trust you are all still doing well. This past week was good. Though thinking back I can`t remember much. After zone conference last week I accidentally left my grammar book on a bus. The Tanabe Elders went to the bus station for me and reported the missing book. Fortunately it was found the next day so I should be getting it tonight.

It was raining really hard on Thursday morning, fortunately by the time we finished weekly planning the rain had stopped. Elder Cutler and Elder Andrews came down from Wakayama for an exchange. On Thursday evening Elder Andrews and I went out, while we were walking on the road we came across an old man walking towards us. We talked with him and he ended up taking us to a nice house/shack place he had built for fun. He ended up giving us frozen squid and fish to take home and grill.

On Friday afternoon I was with Elder Cutler and pointed out the concealed staircase where the man who gave us hamburger a couple weeks ago was staying. As we were walking away the door slid up and there he was. We talked with him and mentioned we were heading up to the castle ruins right by there. He was pretty excited about that and decided to go with us and show us the real/original entrance and stuff. He was a lot more serious this time without Elder Slater for some reason. (I think he likes teasing Elder Slater with Japanese he doesn`t understand.) We went around the ruins a little with him and ended up teaching a little bit of lesson 1 and inviting him to church on Sunday just to check it out. He did come yesterday for Sacrament meeting.

On Saturday as we were riding around we were stopped at a crosswalk next to a guy who had just bought a big bag of mandarin oranges. Elder Slater said to the guy, `Oranges are delicious aren`t they?`. The next thing he knew the guy held open the bag for him and said to take some and not hold back, as Elder Slater was hesitating the guy said he`d just dump some in his bike basket if he didn`t take some. Elder Slater took a couple and the guy said `You`re holding back` and dumped about 20 in his bike basket. It was pretty funny, and nice of the him. We spread the joy by giving oranges to people we talked to or passed by.

In the evening we had a Branch Family Home Evening. We played a couple games, shared a message, and everyone ate crepes (With fruit and ice cream). It was pretty fun but the preparation and stuff was a little 大変.

Yesterday 2 nonmembers came to church bringing our Sacrament attendance up to 8. Elder Slater and one of the members gave talks yesterday while I taught Gospel Principles. I really hope I can get my hands on an English copy of the new Gospel Principles book soon. I can read the Japanese one for the most part but I can`t just glance at the book and point at a little part for everyone to read that explains what we`re talking about.

After church we met with the members and discussed them attending a Devotional Elder Oaks is giving on February 10th up in Ibaraki. It`s pretty far, a 5-7 hour drive probably and maybe $100 worth of tolls round trip. It looks likes 4 of them might take a day off work and go. I hope that works out, it would be really good.

We`re taking the train over to Tanabe again this evening. We have zone interviews up in Iwade, probably a 5-6 hour trip. So we don`t have to get up really early tomorrow we`re making the 3 hour train ride this evening and will do the rest tomorrow. We should be able to get all the way back by tomorrow night so it won`t take up too much time.

I plan on finishing my college application next week if I can so if there`s anything you can do I`ll let you know then. The weekend of August 5-8 is still my last.

I hope everything goes well for you. Things are going well here and I`m happy to be here, even when I`m hoping the rain outside will stop. I know the Lord guides this work and leads us when we trust in him. I pray for your safety and happiness.

Elder Andrew West

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One Year Anniversary.

January 30th, 2009, 2pm.  Full use of wrist.  January 30th, 2009,3pm.  My wrist will never be the same again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mischief Managed.

Here's my cheese souffle.  Except for the taste, it was "Uncrushable".  So to speak.  Not too bad for a first try.  Not quite a family favorite yet.  Alex did manage to polish off three servings, despite not liking it overly much.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

If I'm lucky, my souffle will look something like this.

I've been doing a lot of experimental cooking lately.  Some has been good (meaning that I might make it again), some a little less impressive.  Tonight I am going for the gold.  Souffle.  Cheese Souffle.  I've never even eaten cheese souffle (I've only ever had dessert souffles).  Wish me luck.  I'm a little nervous - it really doesn't look that hard, but the recipe does say "difficult".  Hopefully "difficult" is a relative term.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Going Postal

I've been needing to go to the post office for about a week.  I don't know why I kept putting it off.  It could have something to do with the fact that I knew I would have to fill out a custom's form for Andrew's package...okay, okay, I was just being lazy.  And saving some money.  I sent 3 packages today...and spent over $50.  Mostly on the package for Andrew.  The flat rate priority mail packages that cost about $10 to send domestic, are over $40 to send to Japan.  The value of the contents of his package came to about $11. 

The postage works out to be about 4 times the value of the contents.  Oh well, it's his birthday...the last one he'll be having on his mission. 

Was it bad of me to pad the inside with the Sunday comics?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you`re still doing well. This past week felt really short. I spent a lot of time traveling again. Tuesday morning we left Shingu and went to Tanabe. We went on exchanges with the Tanabe Elders for a few hours before heading up by bus to Wakayama and spending the night at their apartment. It was good to see Elder Andrews (My MTC companion) again.

Wednesday morning we took the train up to Mikunigaoka (A previous area of mine) where we had zone conference. Zone conference was really good and worth the trip. After zone conference was over we took the train back down to Wakayama. On the train we talked with some 23 year-old guy who had some interest, we offered to call the Sennan Elders for him and he gave us his phone number right before he had to dart of the train. We also talked with a guy from Taiwan who was here on vacation. Afterwards we grabbed some food from McDonalds and hopped on the bus to Tanabe where we spent the night.

The next morning we woke up a little early and got ready to go and catch our 7:53 train. Unfortunately we weren`t paying enough attention to the time and we got distracted by a couple things making sure Elder Slater hadn`t forgotten his wallet and taking the wheels off a bike. We missed the train by a couple minutes. The next train wasn`t until 10:51, which just happened to be about the time the other train would`ve gotten to Shingu. We were a little disappointed. I`ve been used to being in areas where if you miss the train it`s a 10 minute wait. A 3 hour wait is a lot longer. Fortunately I was able to take an old bike from Tanabe back home to Shingu.

I was planning on fixing my bike by just swapping the back wheel with the other bike but then discovered a problem. My back wheel has 7 gears and the other bike`s wheel has 8 gears. I`ll either have to swap the front gear switcher as well or swap the inside axles of the wheels where the broken part is. I haven`t decided which to do yet. Swapping the axles would be easier probably. But if I could do it swapping the wheels and front gear switcher would give my 8 usable gears in the back instead of my current 5. Either way it should work out probably.

On Friday we went out to deliver a Book of Mormon to someone who had ordered one. It turned out to be farther than we thought. It took us over and hour to bike out to the small community where the person lived. The bike ride was on a street that ran along a river. There were mountains/hills on both sides. When we got to the community we had no idea where the person lived so we went to the local police station. We told the police man the name of the person we were looking for and he went to the back to look it up but came back after a minute and said he couldn`t find it. He then looked for the address on a map and couldn`t find it. He then went to the back and pulled out some really old looking city records where he found the name, it had some other information on it that clarified where it was on the map and he was able to point it out to us. The police station/post office maps have the names of the families on the houses. We then went and delivered the Book of Mormon and made the hour long trip back.

Things are going well here in Shingu. The trip to and from Shingu feels shorter everytime I take it, which is good since I`ll probably make it many more times. There`s not that many people in Shingu but we run into a lot of tourists, mostly from other parts of Japan.

Zone conference was good and I really felt the Spirit there. It`s not necessarily that the stuff that we learn at zone conference is new, because for the most part it`s not. But somehow the spirit there really impresses on one the importance of the things being taught.

Well we might go see the dolphins or whales next week, I`m not sure yet. Until then take care.

Elder Andrew West

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's a roadable aircraft.

Reserve your's now for only $10,000.  My husband is drooling.  He showed me pictures of this little prototype...and only asked me two or three times if I would let him reserve one.  Yeah, right.  I have to admit, this baby gets pretty good gas milage - and think of all the new friends you'd make at the gas station. 

I'm pretty sure it will never become a commercial success.  Why?  It looks like the engineers are also in charge of marketing.  The sign reading "It's a roadable aircraft" is such a give away.  Who wants to buy a $200,000 car-plane with a slogan like that? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Why is it that when I run out of yellow ink, my stupid printer won't let me print anything?  Not even if it just uses black ink.  Why? I suspect a capitalistic plot to make me buy more ink.  I shall change my default "highlight" color to cyan or magenta (the two colors I now have WAY more than I need).  There.  I feel better now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World's Greatest Husband

I sort of forgot to make dinner this evening.  Oops.  Danny was making some Pasta Roni (he's on soft food for today - he's sore from the orthodontist) and I was making lardy cakes.  So, technically I was cooking - just not dinner.

I asked Steve how he felt about having grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  "Sounds great!".

See.  World's Greatest Husband.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry I didn`t write last week. There`s convenient free email in this area, but last Monday was a holiday. It feels like Japan has a lot of random holidays so it`s hard to keep track of them unless you look at a calendar.

On Thursday (Jan 7th) we caught a train at 8:08 and headed up to Osaka and met up with most of the other missionaries who were transferring. I temporarily joined up with Elder Cutler and we took the train down to Wakayama (about 90 minutes I think). We met up with Elder Andrews (My MTC companion) and Elder Slater (My new companion) and ate a quick lunch before heading over and catching a bus for Tanabe. The bus only had a few people on it, but it was pretty nice so the 90 minute bus ride wasn`t bad. We had a 90 minute wait in Tanabe before catching the local train to Shingu. That train ride was 3 hours long. We got there in the evening at about 7:30. There`s a much faster train but it`s about twice as expensive.

The church is on the first floor of an apartment. It has 2 decent sized rooms (Maybe half or a third the size of the relief society room back home) and an office. It`s small but nice. Our apartment is on the second floor of the same apartment building so it doesn`t take long to get to church.

Shingu is a really nice small town. It`s at the very South-East corner of our mission, it`s actually right by the border of the Nagoya mission. Some of our branch members actually live across the river in the Nagoya mission. It sort of reminds me of Marysville whereas Osaka reminds me of Seattle. It`s right by the coast and has really nice scenery. There`s a nice view of the coast along with the ocean, and hills covered in trees. The sky is also really beautiful at night. We run into people who come here to go sight seeing.

If you want to see where I live on Google maps:
Japan Wakayama-ken Shingu-shi Shingu 3651-1

The branch has 4 people who come weekly and another 2 or 3 who come occasionally. I`ll probably end up speaking every 2 or 3 weeks, though there`s a fair chance I`ll have to speak sometimes when someone doesn`t show up or is late. Yesterday that happened but I asked Elder Slater to speak, I doubt that`s his first time. (Sacrament meeting tends to be 45 minutes) and teaching Sunday School every third week. After church I hop on the computer for a few minutes and check for updates on MLS, the church network program.

I haven`t finished my BYU application yet. I`m not sure when I`ll be able to get around to finishing it I may change it to the winter semester so don`t worry about it for planning summer vacation. If you are planning a vacation for your anniversary you`re welcome to come here, I just don`t want you to feel like you need to fly all the way to Japan if you want to go on a cheaper vacation in America.

Something on my bike got broken again. I was a little depressed/annoyed by it but I talked with the Tanabe Elders last night and Elder Homer mentioned that someone left their bike behind there when they went home. So on the way home from Zone conference on Thursday or Friday we`ll stop by and grab the bike, put it in a bag and take it back here to Shingu. It should have the piece I need.

If you`re sending a package than maybe a bag or two of pepperoni (They don`t really have that here) and a container of frosting, a bag of pecans, a can of pumpkin would be nice. Make sure not to send Jerkey, you`re not supposed to ship that into Japan. There`s even a little note on the back of some jerkey packages that say that. I checked the back of an American bag of jerkey my companion got, it had that note but it was in Japanese :P.

I feel really blessed to be here in Shingu in such a beautiful area around such wonderful people. I know this is the Lord`s work and will continue to move forward.

Elder Andrew West.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January sun

It's been a fairly wet and gloomy week here in the Pacific Northwest.  Wet enough to cause road and train track blocking mudslides.

Steve had a campout scheduled for last night with his Scouts.  He was pretty upbeat about going, in spite of the waterworks.  The rain mysteriously stopped yesterday - just before he he left.  It was clear and dry overnight and all day today. 

Sunshine on a Saturday in January in Washington?  It could happen.  And it did.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fashion Divas? Maybe not.

Marcy and I must have been considered old enough to dress ourselves - and evidently we did.  My outfit is fairly coordinated - and as long as you don't notice that I'm wearing a shirt that's 2 sizes too small, it's fine.  Marcy.  Wow.  Creative use of color and pattern. Someone else must have helped Sherri.

My question is...why take a picture?  Don't get me wrong, I love the pictures - but why get the camera out just then??  My guess is that Grandma or Grandpa Hanna took the picture while visiting us. As a grandparent myself, I can understand that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Story of the Twelve

I may not be a literary genius, but I've just written this story AND memorized the current 12 order.  Now to pass this on to my seminary students.  Should I have them write their own stories?  It's amazing how fast it was to write this and get it memorized.

Boyd K. Packer had a son named Perry. Perry had a habit of trying out wrestling moves on his dad. When Perry tried putting his dad in a half-Nelson, his dad decided it was time to go for a ride...He took him to see the Oaks down at the Ballard Locks. Great Scott! That man Hales from Holland!’s just Mr. Bednar...he’s the Cook for Mrs. Christofferson and her son , Neil.

Soup's On!

It's 3:15pm and dinner is done.

I have an ongoing love-affair with the "Beanland Mix" from Winco.  It only takes about 5 minutes to throw everything in a pot...then let it simmer for 2 or 3 hours (or longer in the crockpot).  Not only is the soup delicious on a cold rainy day, but as a bonus, I get to clean out my fridge and use up the leftover ham from Sunday.  Sweet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Love Technology

Even though I love technology, I don't often like learning new technology.  During the past couple of weeks I have picked up a couple of new (to me) technological tricks.  Here we go.

  1. Webcam.  Yes, I've used them before - but frankly I never much liked them - and the old technology was so much slower, that it was like watching a slow slideshow.  Not fun.  With Stephanie, Cory and the grandkids living on the opposite side of the continent now seemed a good time to give it another go.  I got a webcam for Christmas...but I didn't use it right away. I figured that I would need a ton of tech support (Steve and at least one of the boys).  Turns out I can do it by myself.  Yes, I needed Danny to walk me through it the first time, but I've done it a time or two on my own since then.  The picture quality is still not perfect, but it is much improved from only a few years ago.  A great way to keep in touch with the grandkids.
  2. Picnik.  Thank you Keira.  Thank you One Pretty Thing.  Thank you A Foothill Home Companion. Thanks to all those sites that helped me have fun with photo editing and to learn how to make my own blog headers.
  3. Google.  I know, I know, Google is not new.  Nevertheless, Google (and the internet) has made it easy for me to do research for my new group blog.  I've been able to find and compare recipes for things that I haven't made before (again, not new...but I still love it).  I made (or bought) the items pictured in the photo collage - the collage that I made on picnik - that took about 5 minutes to do - including uploading the pictures.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

30 rocks.

It was 30 years ago, on the 7th of January, that Steve and I first met.  Inside the hallowed halls of the Wilkinson Center at BYU.  That's where the magic started.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sherri, with her very own....


More Wedding Pictures...

Since Marcy and Wynn weren't able to come to Nathan and Rebekah's wedding, I didn't want them to feel left out.  Here's a picture from Marcy's wedding....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The End of an Era

Steve was busy cleaning out our garage this past week.  Time to get rid of excess junk.  We've had 3 car seats in there for quite a while.  Now that Stephanie has moved to South Carolina we really don't need that many large plastic objects cluttering up the premises.  We're keeping two - the booster seat and the better infant seat.  This one had to go.  We bought it 14+ years ago - it was Danny's second car seat.  Or maybe it was his first.  At any rate, we've had it over 14 years and it has taken a lot of abuse.  And by abuse I mean that I backed into it with the van once (it was empty!), it has been peed in, barfed in, eaten countless french fries in,  juice boxes have spilled in name it. 

Rest in peace, little car seat.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Work it, baby, work it.

The Christmas 2009 Mens Collection
Reversible - flame print on one side, basic black on the other,  black webbing belt with parachute buckle. Optional "tie" applique on cream canvas.

I made a lot of aprons over the last 2 or three months.  During Christmas break I think I made 10.  Yes, 10.  Three of them were for guys - as you can see modeled here.

I didn't post these before, because they were the last pictures that I took with my old Nikon - before handing it down (up?) to Steve.  He had it with him when he went to Idaho (that's why all the pictures he took of Nathan and Rebekah in their new apartment were dark and grainy) - so I sort of forgot about it.  Until now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Our Man in Japan

This is a picture of the Port of Shingu (I found it on Google Image)...I'm not sure it's where Andrew is going...but it might be.

Dear Family,

It sounds like all of you are doing great. That`s wonderful to hear. Things are going well here as well. Yesterday some member`s father came to church for the first time. He stayed for all 3 hours which is pretty cool considering he`s 96 years old. He enjoyed it I think but didn`t understand a lot I think. That`s partly due to his age, inexperience with Christianity and hearing. I think the hearing was a large part of it. His hearing has recently gotten worse so they bought him `Hearing aids`. Unfortunately they`re not very good quality. In fact they look like one of those child spy toys where you attach headphones to a little microphone thing you can hold in your hand. I felt bad for him as he tried to adjust the volume to avoid screeching feedback problems... Anyways he was nice.

We had transfer calls this morning. I`m transferring to Shingu. It`s at the southernmost part of the mission by the ocean. I imagine it`s a very beautiful place, probably. Whenever there`s zone conferences and things the Shingu elders leave the day before and spend the night in a closer apartment. It also consists of the smallest branch in the mission consisting of about 3 active members and 4 semi-active members (I think). My companion is going to be Elder Slater who`s on his 5th transfer, which means I`m going to be branch president. I think I`ll get better at giving Sacrament talks really fast, I think maybe every week. Though I won`t be district leader which means I`ll have a lot more time in the evenings after planning probably. I`ll see how things go.

Take care of yourselves. I`m not sure if Shingu had email or not, but I haven`t heard that it doesn`t.


Elder West


I can't believe I missed yesterday's palindromic date.  Steve mentioned it on the way home from church today...

Speaking of today, it's Alex's birthday.  He will be pretty darn old when his birthday is a palindrome (01/03/3010).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Word of the Day

res⋅o⋅lu⋅tion  [rez-uh-loo-shuhn] –noun

1. a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group. Compare concurrent resolution, joint resolution.
2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
5. the act or process of resolving or separating into constituent or elementary parts.
6. the resulting state.
7. Optics. the act, process, or capability of distinguishing between two separate but adjacent objects or sources of light or between two nearly equal wavelengths. Compare resolving power.
8. a solution, accommodation, or settling of a problem, controversy, etc.
9. Music. a. the progression of a voice part or of the harmony as a whole from a dissonance to a consonance.
b. the tone or chord to which a dissonance is resolved.
10. reduction to a simpler form; conversion.
11. Medicine/Medical. the reduction or disappearance of a swelling or inflammation without suppuration.
12. the degree of sharpness of a computer-generated image as measured by the number of dots per linear inch in a hard-copy printout or the number of pixels across and down on a display screen.

As in:
Last year I made several New Years resolutions.  Four weeks into the new year I broke my wrist.  Many of my resolutions were "broken" at that time too.  I wish I could resolve to not break any bones this year - but I guess I'd better concentrate on the things I have a better chance at controlling.