Sunrise from our apartment

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just a little update on 11-11-11

We celebrated our birthday's (Elder Arnell-Sept 13th and Sister Arnell-Sept 16th) with the missionaries from the Musashino District missionaries.

I realized that it has been over six weeks since I updated our blog. We are a different kind of busy up here in Tokyo than we were in Okinawa. We spend a lot of time on the road since the three branches of the church we work with are far apart. After we returned to Tokyo the 1st part of September we visited Yokosuka and Zama after settling into our apartment near Yokota. It was almost like starting our mission all over again. In the five months we were in Okinawa many of the military members had moved to other assignment and many of the Young Single Adults who were dependents had gone back to the States for school or missions. Institute started up in Yokosuka the end of October and we will start the program here at Yokota in a few days.

There is another Military Relations couple coming to Japan on November 15th, Elder Michael and Sister Jolynn Johnson. They will be working with the Navy down in Yokosuka. This will be great for all involved because we really couldn't be of much help to the members of the Yokosuka Branch with the two hour drive distance.

We were not able to go to the temple for the five months in Okinawa and we really missed attending. The first Friday of each month is the Honshu Military District's temple night. The missionaries also go to the temple the Tuesday before transfers. In October we left our apartment at 8:00 to attend the 10:30 session. We have made the drive between our apartment and the temple in just under an hour. That day, though, we didn't get there until 10:45 due to the traffic. This month (transfers are every six weeks) we went into Tokyo the night before and stayed at Hardy Barracks, a small Army post just north of the temple, to insure we made it on time. It was well worth the $40 it cost for the room.

On November 4th the Honshu Military District held their annual District conference. It included a temple trip for the youth in conjunction with the normal monthly scheduled session. The youth and their families traveled the eight hour drive from Misawa up north and a 12 hour bus ride from Iwakuni to the south. There were sixty youth attending the baptism sessions. While half the youth were in the temple we talked to the other half about Family History and how they could be involved, based on the recent conference talk by Elder David Bednar. There were also two recently returned missionaries who talked to the group about what it was like to be on a mission and how they could prepare themselves for that time in their lives.

We were able to meet up with a group of Japanese friends from Okinawa who came up to the temple the end of October. Yea for the Futenma Ward!!!

When we came back to Tokyo from Okinawa we were looking into the future and considering the options. We decided to take it to the Lord and prayed about extending our mission for three months instead of returning to the States in during the winter months. The next day our daughter Katrina contacted us with news that her husband received orders to Korea for a year on an unaccompanied tour leaving the first part of February. She asked if we could come and live with her in Georgia while her husband, Michael Croy, was away. Our fourth son, Alexander, is in the Navy and lives in Norfolk, Virginia. He and his wife are expecting their third son on February 7th and wanted us to be there to help with the family. We felt this was the answer to our prayers and that we are needed by our family instead of extending our mission. Right now our scheduled departure date is January 26th. We will be going to Dover to get released from our mission and then traveling to Norfolk for the birth of our 16th grandchild. Eventually we will make it down to Georgia to be with Katrina. We plan to go to Alabama and Nashville to see Erick and Angie in mid-March. Angela and Scott Owens introduced our #14 grandchild, Chloe Sue, into the world on September 2nd. We will be coming out to Idaho/Utah at the end of March to see our 15th grandchild who is scheduled to be born on November 13th--the 2nd daughter to Christopher and Tiffany. Lots is happening in the Arnell family all the time.

We hope all is well with our friends out there in cyberspace. Let us know what is going on in your lives.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Update - September 2011

It's been just over a year since we arrived in Japan. So much has happened and we still have months left. Since my last posting we arrived in Japan just before Typhoon Talas was scheduled to hit mainland Japan. We had shipped our car from Okinawa a few days early to avoid the bad weather, but apparently not early enough. The ferry pulled into a port near Nagoya for a week to wait out the storm. We didn't get much bad weather here in Fussa, but there were some deaths reported due to flash floods and mud slides. Then two weeks later Typhoon Roke rolled in (see picture above). It seems kind a funny to us to see how it was headed straight for Okinawa and then stalled, switched directions, and headed straight for mainland Japan. People here are commenting on us being "disaster magnets". We only had about 12 hours of heavy rain here in Fussa, but have read of large trees being toppled on yards at some nearby military bases.

We celebrated our birthdays in September. Elder Arnell turned 63 on Sept 13th and Sister Arnell turned 58 on September 16th. The Musashino District missionaries had a birthday party for us and we all went bowling after sharing rootbeer floats and games at the Kichijoji Ward building.

We have visited the three branches--Zama, Yokota, and Yokusuka--where LDS Military members attend. We were in Okinawa for five months and due to summer PCS (permanent change of station) moves there are a lot of new families as well as many old acquaintances that have moved on to new assignments. It almost feels like we are starting our mission all over again. We hope to get Institute classes started up again, at least in Yokota and Yokosuka. It was nice to visit with our mission President, Steve Albrecht and his wife, LeAnn and also the other Sr. Missionary couple, Elder and Sister Hobbs. We are the last of the missionaries to return that were sent away after the earthquake.

We did get notified that another military relations couple, Elder Michael and Sister Jo Johnson, will be arriving mid-November and will be serving down in the Yokosuka base area. We also know our approximate departure date for our mission--January 26, 2012. That's about four months from tomorrow!! I am sure the time will just fly by.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Super Typhoon Muifa - August 4th

The image on the left was the projected path of super typhoon Muifa on August 1st. By August 3rd it had been downgraded and the path of the typhoon was south of the Island. The picture at the top though tells the real story. We got a lot of wind and rain but did not lose power. The other military relations couple however were not that lucky--they lost power during the night and will probably be out for a couple of days.

On the Road Again-Going Back to Tokyo

On Monday, August 1st we received an e-mail from the Military Relations Department in Salt Lake City informing us that a new couple would be arriving on August 20th to replace the current Military Relations couple, Phil and Janet Savage, who will leave here on August 11th. This caught us by surprise because we had been planning to move into the apartment where the Savages have been living when they went home. The e-mail also asked us to consider going back to Tokyo for the remainder of our mission. Apparently even though they have two slots open for the Tokyo Mission no one seems interested in going there at this time. I guess the constant earthquakes, nuclear issues and other matters aren't for everyone. Even though this message was unexpected, Elder Arnell has always had the feeling that we should be back in the Tokyo mission but that would also leave Okinawa without a Senior Couple. When we found out that a couple was coming to Okinawa he then knew that we needed to go back to Tokyo to finish our mission. We will ship our car by ferry on August 20th and then spend the next 10 days showing the new couple, the Watson's, around the island. We fly up to mainland Japan on August 29th.

Ocean Expo Park: Churaumi Aquarium and Tropical Dream Center

In 1975 Okinawa hosted an Ocean Expo. Since that time the site for the Expo has been expanded and there are a variety of places to go: the Churaumi Aquarium which is the 2nd largest in the world and the only place where there are Whale Sharks in captivity; the Tropical Dream Center where there are amazing flower gardens nestled around a building the spirals up with an amazing stained glass ceiling; an authentic old Okinawa village; a beautiful beach area called Emerald Beach and to top it off an outdoor Dolphin show. It is a must-see for visitors and residents of Okinawa. You can check the internet for better pictures if you so desire.

Revival of the Cottage Meetings and a Luau

In July we moved into the home of Bill and Melene Mierzejewski while they went to the States for the summer and also the marriage of their son, Alex. We stayed with the Mierzejewski's for 10 days when we first arrived on the island. They are here on Okinawa with the Department of Defense School system and have been here for 27 years. They are renting a very modern 4 bedroom home just outside Camp Foster, a Navy base. It is centrally located to most of our mission activities and only two blocks from the East China Sea and Araha Beach--one of Okinawa's main beaches.

On July 3rd, July 16th and July 30th we were able to have Barbeque Night "Cottage" meetings where missionaries could bring members and investigators together to eat and to share the Gospel message. The Japanese people love to come together with the American people--especially when there is a nice place where everyone can gather.

Also on July 23rd we were able to help with a Luau held at the nearby Araha Beach where Young Single Adults from the Military Branches and the Young Single Adults from the two Japanese Branches could get together. There were over 60 people who attended--about a quarter of the Young Single Adults who came were not members of the church. We had a great time with good food, beach volleyball and Hula Dancing!!

Peace Park and finding a relative there

There was a great battle on this island in 1945 called the Battle of Okinawa or "Typhoon of Steel". Soon afterwards the atomic bombs were dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki which ended the Pacific portion of World War II. After we arrived here I remembered that my father's brother, Paul Devier Dredge, was killed in that battle. We were able to find his name on the memorial at the park. This Memorial Park is so peaceful, but the historical museum brings back the reality of the horrors of war.

Baptisms in the Ocean- and finding a GRENADE!!!

There is a place called Toguchi Beach on the West side of the island where most of the baptisms are held. It is also one of the most photographed places on the island. Unfortunately I can not currently locate any good pictures of this site. Maybe I will find them later. Anyway, after a baptism a member was poking around in the rocks on the waters edge and found something interesting--an unexploded grenade from the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. We notified the Military Police from the nearest installation and then left it there for them to dispose of properly. Of course, we had to get some pictures before we turned it over to them.

June 2011 - Half way through our mission

It's hard to believe that we are halfway through with our mission. We arrived at the Mission Training Center in Provo on September 6th. I understand the last half may seem to go by more quickly than the first. There are always adventures to look forward to.

During the month of May and a bit of June we stayed in the apartment with a very nice couple, Alan and Donna Wykle. It was located just outside of Gate #2 of Kadena Air Force Base. We connected up with the manager of the Kadena USO office and offered our services to help in any way that we could. She was excited to have us help with the United Through Reading program which offers deployed servicemen the resources to read a book in front of a camera and then send that recording to their children while they are away.

The rest of the month of June we stayed in a little beach house while the a member, Sister Cherry and her two children went to the states. It was about a half hour drive away from where most of our mission activities occurred but it was quite peaceful. The Pacific Ocean was just a few yards off of the deck of the house.

We were able to spend some time with my cousin's (Janet Holland Hall) daughter, Shalynn Hall, while she visited here to attend a Navy Corpsman Ball with a friend, Casey Mortensen. It was nice to be able to share our island experience with a family member.

We teach the advanced English class (called Eikaiwa) on Thursday evenings. We have enjoyed getting to know many Japanese people during this class time and also have the opportunity to learn more of the Japanese language and customs along the way.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 28 - Super Typhoon Songda

It just seems that natural disasters seem to follow in our wake. After leaving mainland Japan in March in March following the 5th strongest earthquake in recorded history (according to Wikipedia) followed by a tsunami and then nuclear plant meltdown we thought coming to Okinawa would be a nice respite. We should have known typhoon season was just around the corner. Actually typhoon season doesn't even officially start until the 1st week of June. Typhoon Songda was upgraded to Super Typhoon status on May 26th. Elder Arnell and I stayed in all day Saturday awaiting it's arrival but nothing seemed to be happening--not even much rain, just overcast cloudy skies. About 8:00 PM though the wind started picking up but not much rain. By 10:00 PM the windows were rattling and wind was screeching through every opening it could find. We lost electricity soon after that. Almost all of the buildings on Okinawa are built of concrete so they are pretty sturdy. We are currently staying with a military couple on the 4th story of a 7 story apartment building. Other than worrying about the windows blowing out I felt pretty safe. Sunday morning came in bright and cheery. From our apartment window we couldn't see much damage or trees down. When we went to church in the early afternoon though we could see much more damage. At church we found out that more than one military base was still out of electrical power and some had received extensive damage. The Military Branches that were on the 9:00-12:00 time schedule were cancelled and the members were told to go out and try assist with damage control. The afternoon branches (1:00 - 4:00) held Sacrament meeting and then were released to help with the cleanup. As far as I have heard there were no deaths on Okinawa due to this typhoon. All of the missionaries are safe but some are still without electrical power. The phrase that keeps popping up in my head is "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear".