Thursday, August 4, 2011
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 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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.