Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Photos of Japan

Alexander finally sent me just a few photos of Japan. I really hope to get more next week. His letters are very short and without many details. Honestly, it drives me crazy. I want some stories. I want to know how he's feeling. So many things. His current companion apparently writes his mother a bit more than Alexander does and she told me that Alexander is fearless and talks with everyone and that he was a really good sport in a blizzard. It's so good to hear a little about him from somebody.

Random pic he sent. It apparently says "I love Australia" so it is probably one of his roommate's who is from Australia.
Food from a market in Japan
Japan in December

Here's his latest letter to everyone:

Well, I can't say that I have anything specific that I want to say in this, besides that I've been having a fun time here.

Japan is awesome, and fun, and wonderfully cold. I love the snow and the people (not necessarily in that order). 

Missionary work basically shuts down for new years eve and day, because it is so important to be with family for new years, that if you try to visit people during this time, then you get very angry looks. So we get to deep clean our apartments instead. Yay! :D Shouldn't be too hard. :)

At any rate, things are doing well here, and wish I had more to say, but I don't have a clue what to say and I'm bad at the who talking thing when I want to be :P So, until next week. May it be full of fun and questions that I can answer so that I actually have stuff to talk about! ;)

With my deepest love,
 Elder ---------

And here is part of his letter to me:
I am warm enough when I'm outside, but it's always nice when we get to go inside to a house, especially if they have mugicha (a type of tea that is a-okay for members to drink). The food budget is perfectly fine! I haven't spent all of my money for this month yet (still about $20 left, more or less), and that's more than I'll need.
As for the baptisms, I don't really care about what other people have to say about how "effective" an area is for baptisms, because "the field is white and ready to harvest," and I know that I'll find those that the Lord wants me to find in every area I go to-- regardless of whether or not others are successful in an area! :D The investigator said that he isn't quite sure yet, that he still has his concerns, but that if those concerns work out that he'd definitely like to get baptized. I know that he'll be able to clear up those concerns, and I'll do all I can to help him get to the point where he feels comfortable with it!

Monday, December 22, 2014

He's in Japan

Alexander made it to Japan last week and I got my first email from him from there on Sunday, which is Monday there. His debit card hasn't worked since he got there so we've had fun trying to figure out all that stuff long distance and just writing once a week. He says there is about 7 1/2 feet of snow and that it has been snowing non-stop since he got there. He is serving in one of the coldest parts of Japan. I've been so worried about him keeping cold, but he says he loves the snow.

He said he talked to people on the streets of Sendai before heading off to his new home in Yonezawa. Ever heard of it before? I hadn't.

But he didn't send any photos of Japan yet. Since he didn't send any while in the MTC, he sent me some of his old ones first so hopefully I'll get some next week. Fingers crossed! I did really enjoy getting some photos from him!

Can you find Japan on a world map?

Outside of the Provo temple, Alex bumped into a friend of his from our ward who was also sent to Japan also, but a different mission. (But he didn't send me a pic of him with his companion at the MTC yet)

One of our dear former stake presidents is a branch president of a Japanese branch (he went to Japan on his mission too) in Provo and saw Alex every Sunday while he was at the MTC.

Alex sent us pics of his MTC teachers. They all look so very young to me!

We sent Alex his Christmas gifts while he was in the MTC since it was so much cheaper than mailing them to Japan.

We were able to get a few photos of him in Japan from other people. The one above is the new group along with the mission president and his wife.
And this is Alex with his brand new companion in Japan and with his mission president and his wife after a very, very long trip from Provo to Sendai with a layover in Portland and then another in Tokyo.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

I pinned this recipe a while ago from House of Yumm and my daughter Elisa really wanted it for dinner tonight. I gotta say, it was easy and really good. We used ham from the deli instead of Canadian Bacon.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
2 slices of bread
3 slices of pineapple, fresh or canned
3 slices canadian bacon
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Oregano and parsley
Butter one side of each slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley and oregano to taste
On non buttered side of bread place the shredded cheese, then the canadian bacon, pineapple, and top with the other slice of bread, buttered side facing up.
Cook sandwich on stove top on a griddle or frying pan. Once bread is toasted on one side flip the sandwich to toast the other side. Cook on a low heat to allow the cheese to melt while the bread is toasting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Usually December is cold and snowy in Utah, making it good weather for warm soup, but this year we've had it really warm, and totally, in my opinion great. But I still made some warm soup with homemade breadsticks today and enjoyed it.

This is an Olive Garden copycat recipe of a soup that I only tried one spoonful of one time so I can't really compare it very well. I like it a lot, but will put a little less thyme in it next time. I didn't actually measure it out today. I found the recipe at CopyKat Recipes.

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

4 T. butter
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. finely diced onion
1/2 c. finely diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. flour
1 quart half-and-half
2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried parsley flakes
1/4 t. ground nutmeg (optional)
1 c. finely shredded carrots
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 c. diced cooked chicken breast (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
1 (16-oz./500 g.) package ready-to-use gnocchi
Melt the butter into the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the half-and-half. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in the chicken broth. Simmer until thickened again. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, the thyme, parsley, nutmeg (if using), carrots, spinach, chicken, and gnocchi. Simmer until the soup is heated through. Before serving, season with additional salt, if necessary.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...