Sunrise from our apartment

Monday, November 22, 2010

November Update

Picture #1: Mt. Fuji at dusk from our apartment window
Picture #2: On Veterans Day we took a drive to Mt. Fuji--about two hours away. This sign shows that we were there on 22-11-11. 22 is how many years the current ruler has been in place. In local and government issues they use this year but when dealing with anything outside Japan they use the traditional 2010 year. It was 0 celsius at station 5 (middle of the mountain) and -11 Celsius at the summit. You can't go past station 5 except in July and August.
Picture #3: The autumn colors at Lake Yamanaka which one of the five lakes at the base of Mt. Fuji. If you Google Mapped it you would see it looks like a whale.
It has been way too long since I updated this blog. Sorry, my friends. I try to keep my Facebook spot updated with pictures, but I know that many of you are not into the Social Network thing.
We have been busy here in Japan spreading ourselves between the three military branches which serve these bases: Yokota Branch which is affiliated withYokota Air Base (our apartment is about five minutes outside the main gate); Zama Branch which serves Zama Army Base and Atsugi Naval Air Station which is a little over an hour drive from our apartment; Yokosuka Branch which serves Yokosuka Navy Base which is about a two hour drive from our apartment and an hour drive between it and the Zama area. It is sometimes difficult to meet the needs of the three different branches because they are so varied.
Yokosuka was the only one who had a semblance of a Young Single Adult gathering with a Family Home Evening Group meeting weekly. When the aircraft carrier, George Washington, is out to sea six months out of the year it does take a toll on the attendance. When the ship is in they have 7-10 people out to Family Home Evening. When it is out to sea they have three dependents and one seaman on shore duty. They know of 18 other Young Single Adult members of the church who are choosing to stay away.
Zama Branch is the smallest of the three and there are only two active Young Single Adults and we just heard that both of them will be leaving at the first of the year. So far there has been no active searching for the lost sheep. It is very difficult for Zama because Camp Zama (Army) and Atsugi (Navy) are about 30 minutes apart from each other and the church building is somewhere in between. There is no central place for anyone to meet and no way anyone can just walk somewhere if such a meeting was being held.
We were able to start a Young Single Adult Family Home Evening group at Yokota in October with 5-6 people attending. We plan to start an institue class for Yokota and another for Yokosuka at the beginning of the year. We have requested that the branches call instructors for these insitute classes because it would be difficult for us to travel between the two places each week to teach. When we go to Yokosuka or Zama we often just get a room at the Navy Lodge or other military lodging there--especially if we are there for a function in the evening. We are very blessed to be able to buy gas on the base which is at $2.78/gallon versus the 128 yen for a liter which equates about $6 a gallon. We can also buy all our food and anything else we need from any of the base. We are helping with the mission Christmas party by getting the 550 hot dogs and buns and such from the commissary.
This week I have been coordinating Thanksgiving dinner for 60+ missionaries with the various families at the bases. Yokota and Yokosuka and hosting individual family dinners and Zama is having a large gathering at Atsugi. It has proven an interesting task but it has also helped us to know where all the missionaries live. One of our recent assignments is to visit the apartments in five of the nine zones of the mission to report on what needs to be repaired as well as to check on cleanliness. More on the road time for us, but for you who know us well know that Elder Arnell loves to drive and Sister Arnell needs to be kept very, very busy.
We hope all is well with every one of you and look forward to hearing from you about your families, missions, etc.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Missionary Update

I have been posting on the blog quite a few pictures and descriptions of our accomodations and our travels and thought I should take the opportunity to actually tell you what we are doing here as missionaries. We are assigned to serve as Military Relations missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to the military members stationed at the Yokota Air Base, Yokosuka Naval Base and Camp Zamp which is a Army Post with a Navy Air contigent. We are specifically assigned to work with the young single adult military members of the Church and also meet the needs of other military members assigned to these bases.

Our apartment is located in the town of Fussa near one of the main train stations. The tourist books describe Fussa as being "typical small town USA" because of the stores catering to the US Servicemen. Obviously they have not been to many small towns in the USA!! Yokosuka is about 73 km (45 miles) from Fussa but we understand it takes about 3 hours to drive there due to traffic. We went to Zama Branch the first Sunday after we arrived. It took us just over an hour to drive the 25 km. We understand it can take over 2 1/2 hours when the traffic is heavy.

Elder Arnell was called to the Honshu Military District High Council last Sunday. A Military District is like a Stake Unit of the church in its structure. The District serves only American Military Branches within its boundaries. The island of Honshu is the main island of Japan and covers over 1,000 miles. The area of our mission covers just the middle portion of the island but Elder Arnell may be traveling throughout the entire District boundaries. We figure it will take us the rest of 2010 just getting to know where things are and not getting lost along the way. Driving on the left side of the road can be a challenge. Since we lived in England 30 years ago we got used to it and it didn't take Elder Arnell very long to become accustomed to it as well as the winding, narrow roads.

The people in Japan are very courteous, both on and off the road. The road construction flaggers have lightsaber-like wands it indicate slower or stopped traffic. They are very humble and bow as you go by. The streets are amazingly clean and even though there are quite a few people coming and going there is not a lot of noise. As I mentioned, we live right next to a major train station and can barely hear the trains coming and going.

The LDS Church helds it's semi-annual conference in Salt Lake City the 1st weekend in October. Since we are 15 hours ahead in time from the Mountain Standard Time it was already Monday here where it was Sunday there. Therefore, we will be going to the church this Saturday and Sunday to listen to the conference sessions. Of course we know we can get them online anytime and have listened to a few sessions already. It is nice to be able to be with other members of the church though instead of just being in our apartment.

We plan to start an institute class here at Yokota soon as well as at the other two military locations. We just need to figure out the logistics. We will probably travel to the furthest base and stay for a couple of days each week. As I mentioned--it will probably take us the rest of this year just to get things figured out.

I hope you are all enjoying our little adventure in Japan as much as we are.

Our First Visit to a Shinto Shrine-Oct 6, 2010

There are numerous Shinto Shrines and Bhuddist Temples in Fussa as well as throughout Japan. The Fussa missionaries showed us the closest Shinto Shrine and Elder Arnell and I went to check it out. There is a major river just a 15 minute walk west from our apartment. There is a 50 km path (about 30 miles) along that river. Maybe we'll be in good enough shape next spring to walk the whole path--but that would mean that we would also have to walk back as well. We may have to rethink that. The Minami-Inari Jinjya Shrine is located just off the river path by one of the main bridges. We got quite a few pictures--mostly so we could show them to the Japanese members so they could explain some of the things we saw. Like for instance the 4th and 5th pictures show narrow boards of various heights with different Japanese characters printed on them. There is a large basket of them at the entrance to the cemetery part of the shrine and people take one and place it in a container at the top of the headstone. I will let you know when i find out what they mean.
The first picture shows the Shinto Shrine. It was closed but the doors were open about six inches so Woody was able to get a shot of the interior--2nd picture. They had a very large bell with a wooden clapper that was attached to a rope--picture #6. It took a lot of will power not to ring the bell. There was a lot of very pretty vegetation and well groomed trees on the premises as well as numerous stone statues.

Trip into the mountains

On Saturday, October 2nd we took a little drive West of Fussa to an area called Okatuma and Ome. After driving about 20 minutes we were out of the city and in a marvelous wooded and mountainous area. The roads were very winding and narrow with many tunnels through the mountain. We passed numerous Bhuddist shrines and other tourist attractions but didnt' stop at any of them on this trip. We just wanted to see what was up the road and also needed to make sure we could find our way back to Fussa.
When I got out to take the second picture of a fishing bridge that spans the lake I saw a monkey in the bushes next to the road. I didn't know there were monkeys running wild here in Japan. Of course, I didn't know there were jungles just outside of the city limits either.
The picture of the toilet facilities at one of the rest stops along the way tells its own story. In the cities they have Westernized toilets, but this is the typical Japanese accomodation. You bring your own toilet paper and soap along. The last picture is a map of the lake. We drove about 3/4 of a mile on the bottom portion. At the end of the lake and much higer up the mountainside there is a tram that will take you up to the mountain top. We will take that trip at a later date. We understand that in about two weeks the leaves will turn and it will be an even prettier drive. But along with that will be many more cars, bicyclists and hikers on the narrow roads. We won't be taking that trip on a weekend.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Trip to Okutama Lake--about an hour drive west of Fussa

We took drive Saturday west of our town, Fussa, to Okutama Lake. It is about an hour drive up through very winding, narrow roads through tunnels blasted through the mountains and forests filled with very tall trees. When I took the first picture I actually saw a monkey in the bushes next to the road. I couldn't believe that there were actual wild monkeys just roaming around. Since this was our first road trip we just drove up and back and didn't stop at any of the Buddhist shrines or other tourist stops along the way. We will be making this trip many times during the next 17 months and will keep you posted.

Eating Out in Tokyo

Our first meal in Tokyo was in a little restaurant called Kazuki about a block away from the Tokyo Temple. It features Raman bowls. You choose your item from a menu on a vending machine at the entrance and then select the appropriate button on the vending machine and pay. Then you take your seat at the bar and they bring you your food. Instead of water they serve a weak drink called Mugicha. It tastes a bit like Postum or maybe Cheerio tasting water. I did fairly well with the chopsticks. The meat wrapped pot stickers in the 3rd picture are called Gyouzan .

First Trip to Tokyo Temple

On Friday, October 1st we drove into Tokyo with the Honshu Military District President, Thad Chamberlain. Military District Presidents are like Stake Presidents in the church structure. The district has a temple night the first Friday of each month. It took us just over an hour to drive from Yokota Air Base to the temple in downtown Tokyo. I understand it can take up to 2 1/2 hours if the traffic is bad. We also made it home in about the same amount of time. Woody and I will be driving by ourselves next time we go to Tokyo the end of October for a mission meeting. we will probably stay the whole weekend and see more of the city.
I wonder how real photographers photoshop out the electrical wires when they take pictures of the temple from this location. the sign in the fourth picture says "Tokyo Japan Temple - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kitchen and Living Room

This is the living room area. The first picture is taken standing in front of the closet in the second picture. The kitchen is just off from the living room. We have a very nice large regrigerator but only a two burner stove--no oven. We do have a convection/microwave oven but like the washer/dryer unit all the buttons are in Japanese Kanji characters. Soon we should have an interpretation of these so we can figure out how to use the convection part of the unit instead of just heating up frozen entree's. Woody measured the place and it is about 400 square feet.

Bathroom and Laundry

This is the shower/bath area. Actually the shower is the entire room. We heard if you fill the large tub with very hot water it turns the room into a sauna

This is the size of the bathroom/laundry room. We are blessed to have a stackable washer/dryer unit--except all of the buttons are in Kanji characters. The District President took photographs of the buttons and is having his Japanese dental assistant transcribe them for us. Meanwhile, I just select one and hope everything works.

It could be worse--I could be hanging out my clothes on our balcony like this neighbor just outside our kitchen window.

Unique toilet facilities

There is a faucet on the top of the tank of the toilet. When you flush then water comes out of the faucet so you can wash your hands and then that water fills to tank for the next use.

Entryway and bedroom of apartment

Apartment Entryway Bedroom--Just wide There is a bit of room
Everyone takes their enough for the bed and at the foot of the bed
Shoes off in Japan end table for a large dresser.

Where We Live.

We haven't been here for a whole week which seems so strange since we have done so much. I posted quite a few pictures on my Facebook page but I know many of you are not on Facebook so I will try to post some here as well. I haven't figured out how to put captions on them yet so bear with me. The first picture is of Elder Arnell at our apartment door (picture of apartment on the immediate left). We live on the second floor just past the red brick building on the right. And yes, they do build that close to each other. We have a mission car (Toyota Carolla) and as you can see the steering wheel is on the right. We drove on the left side of the road 30 years ago in England and so far Elder Arnell has done a very good job. Of course, we have only driven the few miles between our apartment and Yakota Air Force Base. In case you were wondering--our landlord put a aqua-green tarp down on the ground to mark our parking spot. We assume it is to keep the ground clean and free from potential oil leaks. He sweeps the road around the complex every day and fills in our tire treads with the extra dirt. All of the roads here are very well kept. The last picture on the left was taken when I turned to the East right outside our apartment complex. This is the Fussa train station, one of the major ones in the area, and the large five-story building in the background is the SEIYU which is owned by Walmart. It has everything in it, except for food. There is also another store just around the corner called the DAISO which is a 100 Yen store, similar to a Dollar General in the states. Right now the exchange rate is about 83 Yen for each dollar. It is about as low as it has ever been. Hopefully it will start going up. Saturday we went shopping for the first time out in the Japanese economy. We didn't buy anything at the SEIYU but did pick up some curtains and kitchen stuff at the 1000 Yen store. We are very blessed to be able to do most of our shopping on base as well as buy gas at $2.47/gallon opposed to $1.78 per liter in town.
We are in the unique position of being able to serve a Military Relations Mission which means our job is retention and reactivation of the Young Single Adult military over here on three bases. Yokata Air Force base located in Fussa about 20 kilometers (km) from the mission home in downtown Tokyo. Our apartment is located about five minutes from the main gate. Camp Zama is an Army Base with a Naval Air Force installation nearby and is about 20 km from Yakota. Yokuska Naval Base is 73 km (45 miles) from Yakota. I understand it takes about three hours or longer to get there. Yesterday we rode with a member of the Military District Presidency (like the Stake Presidency in the States) to chuch in Zama. It took us just over an hour to get there early in the morning and an our and a half to get back because of the traffic. We hear that it can take as long as 2 1/2 hours sometime to make that drive. The train system is very good here, from what I hear. We haven't tried it yet. If we were to take the train to Zama it would be a guaranteed 45 minute ride but we would have to walk two miles from the train station to the chapel. We may find that we will go to Yokosuka and stay for a few days at a time either at the military visitors quarters or with members to cut down on the travel time. Since we are the first Military Relations couple in this area everything is new to us as well to the people we are working with.

Friday, September 24, 2010

First Days In Japan

Wednesday, September 22nd: The mission president and his wife drove us to our area which is Fussa, Japan, about an hour and a half drive from downtown Tokyo. As far as I am concerned we will be taking the train or riding with others if we ever have to go back into Tokyo. The traffic isn't any worse than in New York City, but that isn't saying much.

We are in a three room apartment. It is comfortable and has enough space for the stuff we have. As soon as I get the internet hooked up at our apartment I will be posting pictures. We were able to go onto the base on Thursday and shop at the commissary and base exchange. I sometimes feel a bit guilty about all the advantages we have over other senior missionaries we got to know at the MTC.

Today we had to go down to City Hall to register. All foreigners have to register in the district within one week of arriving in the area. We fed the two local missionaries lunch of waffles and pancakes so they would go down there with us to help with the language. They didn't hesitate with that invitation. They have been living off Japanese food for the past few months and really enjoyed abit of American food for a change.

We are going to dinner this evening at the home of the Military District President. He is the equivalant of a Stake President out in the real LDS world. He is over all of the Military Bases in the area. We will be going to church with his counselor in a branch about an hour away this coming Sunday. The nearest church building to our apartment is only a five minute drive. We'll be going there next week I guess. So far we haven't been able to do anything with actual young military people but will eventually be setting up so programs for them. I'm sure it will be quite a few months before we really get anything up and going. At least we are getting familiar with the lead people who will in turn introduce us to the chaplains on the various bases and then things will start to happen. I should probably enjoy the slower pace right now, but if any of you know me well you know that isn't my way.

I am posting this from the Community Center on Yakota Air Force Base. We have the internet at our apartment as of lunch time today but I haven't been back there to use it. Hopefully tonight I will be able to post some pictures. Meanwhile, I just wanted to keep you all posted on what was going on in our lives.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flight from Salt Lake City to Tokyo - September 20-21

Picture taken outside the Salt Lake Airport at about 12:00 PM on Monday, September 20th. We had to downsize one large suitcase just this morning when we discovered that the dimensions were too large. Woody did his packing magic and made everything fit. Once again he came to our rescue!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First week of training

We just finished our first week of training at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. We arrived on Monday, September 6th with 38 other missionary couples. It was pretty amazing to hear about all the different places they were going--Fiji Islands, Mongolia, Ukraine, Africe/Congo, Philipines, Germany, Sandwich Islands, Brazil, New York City!! just to name a few. The different things all of us are going to do was also impressive--3 military relations couples, Humanitarian, Church Education System, Family History, Public Relations, Perpetual Education Fund and even a dentist.

There are over 2,300 missionaries at the MTC this week--450 new young missionaries arrived on Wednesday. The cafeteria is an interesting experience. There is so much food and many different choices. Three full meals a day would take a toll on the waistline if we were going to be here for longer than 10 days.

During the week we studied a lot from the Preach My Gospel manual. We won't be proselyting missionaries and will be working mainly with military members but we will always be representing the Church and helping those young people to stay close to the Lord. Next week we will be learning the essentials to teach church Institute classes.

This weekend we will try to post some pictures of the magnificent Rocky Mountains right next to the MTC buildings. My friends from the East will be amazed at the height of the mountains.

Until Later--Elder and Sister Arnell

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

1st Day as Missionaries

We arrived at the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah on Monday, September 6th, 2010. There are about 35 other missionary couples in our group. They are going to missions all over the world in various capacities. We are grateful to be serving in Japan rather than the Congo, Ukraine, Micronesia, etc. I am sure many of them are happy to to where they are going instead of Tokyo Japan.

We are in a dorm room which is just big enough to be comfortable. After spending the last two months living out of suitcases it was nice to be able to hang our clothes up on a closet and put things in drawers--even if it is only for ten days.

There are currently over 2,100 missionares atthe training center at various stages of their training. Of course most of them are young people. They let us oldsters go to the front of the line in the cafeteria and also carried all of our luggage up the three flights of stairs to our room. It is fun listening to them practice their language skills with each other and also with anyone they can stop along the way.

We will be flying out to Tokyo on Monday, Sept 20th. I hope you all will enjoy our adventure through this blog. Feel free to e-mail us with your updates: or

Until later--
Elder and Sister Arnell

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Update from the West - August 2010

It has been a year since I started this blog with only the original post. I will attempt to keep this updated with our adventures on a LDS Military Relations mission to Tokyo Japan starting in September. More Later.