Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Best Ever Berry Cobbler

This recipe is on Wicked Good Kitchen and it lives up to the blog's name! The recipe is for blueberry, but I used a mix of blueberries and raspberries and it worked great. This dish just may or may not be almost completely devoured already at my house. I really like that the "biscuit" topping tastes more like a sugar cookie than a biscuit.
Best Ever Berry Cobbler 
For the Blueberry Filling:
6 c. fresh berries, sorted, rinsed and dried
1 c. sugar
2 t. freshly grated lemon zest
3 T. flour

For the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping:
1 c. plus 5 T. flour
6 T. granulated sugar
1½ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
6 T. unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 T. sugar
½ t. ground cinnamon, optional
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg, optional

Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly butter 10-inch round quiche plate, pie plate or 2-quart baking dish.

Prepare the Blueberry Filling: Place blueberries into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest.  Add the flour and whisk until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle mixture evenly over berries in prepared baking dish and toss gently. Make sure the sugar and flour mixture is evenly distributed over the fruit with no mounding in the center or in any one place. This will ensure the sugar will caramelize and the flour will thicken evenly throughout the cobbler with the berry juices. Set aside.

Prepare the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal with small pea-sized pieces of butter. In a small bowl, whisk vanilla into beaten egg using a fork. With a fork, gently toss beaten egg and vanilla into flour mixture until moistened and dough starts to hold together. Continue to toss and blend gently with fingertips until well combined yet taking care not to overwork the dough.

Assemble the Cobbler: Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping evenly over fruit filling. Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping with sugar and, if desired, dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Alternatively, dust with cinnamon-sugar combining sugar and cinnamon before sprinkling over topping. If desired, dust freshly grated nutmeg over cinnamon-sugar.

Bake the Cobbler: Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil after 25 minutes of baking. Remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.

Serve the Cobbler: Serve cobbler warm a la mode or with fresh whipped cream, if desired.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Need Not Have Any Fear

I was pretty disappointed this week to only get one photo from Alex. BooHoo! I'm really glad to read that he's doing well and keeping busy. Unfortunately, they are still having snow storms here and there. In his letter to me he mentioned, "Time really has been flying. I have been fine, and haven't gotten sick since coming out here, but I don't want to jinx it, because the other two elders (Elder P. and Elder S.) got sick this last week." I do hope the two of them are feeling better already.
Alex and his companion Elder F.

Here's his letter:

I decided to title this weeks email as "need not have any fear" because it is something that has come up as of late. Don't worry, I haven't been wanting to go home or depressed or anything like that. I just have come to realize that as I go through the trials that have here, and anywhere else in my life, I won't need to fear anything if I follow Christ and do as he commands. For He has promised that all who follow Him shall be well off in the end.

The Kanji of the week is: 信仰 which means faith.

And here's the overview of the week:

Monday: Monday was really relaxing and we took full advantage of the "preparation" part of our preparation day by really laying back. In the evening we went over our weekly schedule since Elder F. hadn't known any of it, and also didn't know anything about the area.

Tuesday: As usual we had DCS in the morning (I found out is the Japanese abbreviation for Mission coordination meeting), and then after that we went to Brother Seino's. We made a cross by folding a paper four times and then ripping it. It was pretty cool. From there we went to the city hall to find out about some things they have here, and they sent to to YIRA for one of them. Brother Gessell was at YIRA, and we talked to him for a while. We were back on foot again that day because of a random snow storm, so that was all we were really able to get in for the day.

Wednesday: After a usual morning of personal and companion studies, and language study, we went to a local community center. We found out some information out about a sign language circle, and then went to the very far north of town to visit a Mr. Takahashi. He wasn't home, but as we started to leave we got a call. While I was talking to the Zone leaders on the phone, Mr. Takahashi drove by, so we went back and visited him for a bit.
After that we rode to the train station. I took a turn earlier than I meant to (it would have gotten us there either way), but we were able to run into Brother Goto because of it. We talked to him about what time we would go visit them on Saturday and then left on our way. At the Station, we wanted to find an address of a potential investigator, but we accidentally forgot to write it down, so we decided to go visit some less active members. None of them were home though.
We then quickly planned and set up for english class, and had a regular english class.

Thursday: We had a district meeting in the morning, and that was fun and very spiritual. We went over the material we got to prepare us for how to use the iPads when we get them (we will be getting them next week), and it was very spiritually oriented. After that we took a train up to Akayu, a neighboring town. We tried to find a person from our area book that only had the address, name, and the fact that he/she was deaf, but it ended up that that person didn't live there. We then walked for a while until we got to Sisiter Tase's work to try and meet her. She was really busy, and didn't have time to talk to us, but we stayed there for a while just in case she had a few moments to talk. She didn't, and we had a train to catch, so we left and went back home.
Alex in the back left with the other missionaries in Yonezawa and some guys they played basketball with -- thanks to Elder F. for sending it to his mom and to her for posting it!

Friday: We had a lot of planning to do that day, so we spent the majority of the day inside for that. We then went and tried to visit one of our investigators, Brother Ito. He wasn't home, but we happened to bump into him before we actually got to his house, and we had a good talk with him there. We then tried to talk to a different potential investigator family, but the parents weren't there. Two of the kids answered the door (middle school and younger aged), and talked to them for a few minutes. We then went and knocked on doors for the rest of the night. No one accepted a visit, but they were all super nice to us.

Saturday: In the morning we went over to the sign language circle group. We watched a quick video that showed some signs, and we practiced that for a bit. Then a deaf man came and talked for the rest of the time (I don't think it was planned). It was good though.
We then went to the Goto couple's house and talked to them. We talked about sign language for a bit and then shared a quick message with the paper cross thing I mentioned earlier. From there we went to Sister Taira's house. She was really good as always, and we had a good talk with her. We shared a quick message, and then left back to the apartment.
When we got back to the apartment, we quickly changed into clothes to play basketball in, and then went to the activity center to play basketball with the boys we played with earlier. We had a lot of fun, and apparently I did really well. We then went with them to a restaurant called Tonpachi to eat dinner, and then headed to the apartment to close the day off.

Sunday: We had a pretty normal day yesterday. We had one of our investigators, Sister Wagatsuma come to church, and we also had a visitor from America. She is on homestay in Yonezawa right now, and she is also a member. And 14. She came with her uncle who isn't a member, but they both had a fun time. Her uncle speaks pretty good Japanese. After that we went back to the apartment and finished our planning for the week because we didn't get it all in, and then we went and tried to visit some people in the evening. We didn't get to meet anyone, but we had a good bike ride.

I hope, as always, that you're all doing well, and that the upcoming week is a good one! I love you all, and truly mean it. 
Elder ____
Alex with his former companion Elder O. (I got this from another missionary mom!)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

This recipe was on Hun...Whats for Dinner and I wanted to try it because the photos made it look so cheesy and it was loaded with veggies. It's easy and really good. I grated my carrots very finely and they look almost like cheddar cheese in the photos. 
Cheesy Vegetable Chowder
3 T. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 c. broccoli, cut into small florets
1 1/2 c. cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 c. frozen peas
4 c. chicken stock
1 t. salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 c. 35% cream
1 T. corn starch
1 T. water
1 c. Gouda cheese

In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once oil starts to ripple, add in the onion; cooking until onions become translucent. Add in garlic, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and cook for 2-3 minutes; until garlic becomes fragrant.

Pour in chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, add in the thyme springs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until cauliflower is tender. Remove the thyme sprigs (by this time the leaves should have fallen off into the soup) and add the cream and peas; cook 2 minutes to heat through.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water. Remove soup from heat and stir in cornstarch mixture. Return soup pot to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens; about 3-5 minutes. Stir in cheese and cook until melted. Serve with additional Gouda, if desired.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pioneer House Restaurant

UPDATE 8/5/15: Unfortunately, Pioneer House has closed its doors, but I'm not deleting the post since it has fun things to do. Maybe I'll rework it sometime.

I'm so excited to share with my readers and those who stumble on my blog (who are welcome to stick around and become my reader) about Mt. Pleasant, Utah's newest and funnest restaurant! My sister Tiffany and her husband Adam have worked very hard to open Pioneer House right on Highway 89, right in front of the fairgrounds and near a city park (and near a cemetery too, if you like that fact like I do). It's opening Friday, March 26th!

If you're from the area, I'm sure you have seen the historic caboose before right next to a beautiful antique shop (stop inside while you're there and check out the unique finds at great prices).

As a disclaimer, I don't live close enough to Mt. Pleasant to go often. I went down last week and took some of these photos, so the signs weren't up and they weren't finished putting tables and chairs where they would be so these photos aren't what it looks like now. I'll have to update this when I get to go back down with it all finished and up and running.

The cabin is the food truck kitchen where you order and pick up your food. The caboose and a deck have tables and chairs for you to sit and enjoy your food.

Right now they have burgers and fries, but their menu will be expanding to gourmet sandwiches and salads soon. (And my daughter Elisa has been begging them to serve smoothies.) They use only fresh ingredients and are committed to delivering quality food to bring customers back again and again.

They're open Monday - Saturday 11 am - 9 pm.
Look at all these options! There are several different sauces to choose from including Pioneer Sauce, which is their special fry sauce. 

Like them on Facebook!

Inside the caboose, but like I said, before they had it all ready. Don't worry the seats aren't just lined up like this with no tables.

Part of the deck next to the historic caboose

My girls playing at the caboose
So, if you are like me and don't live near Mt. Pleasant, let me give you some great excuses to go down (or up) that way while you're there trying the good food.

On Highway 89 in Mount Pleasant you can visit the Pioneer Historical Preservation Association Museum and Relic Home at 130 S. State Street. The historic home that is the museum has pioneer relics and was the home of William Stewart Seely, built around 1861. They say it's the site where the final peace treaty was signed that ended the Black Hawk War between the Mormon settlers and the Native Americans in the area. Also visit the historic blacksmith shop next to this museum home.

In case you don't know, Mt. Pleasant is near the towns of Fairview and Spring City and along the highway down to Manti. So don't forget to stop here along your way to the Manti pageant, but don't wait until then to stop by!

If you only know me through my blog, you may not know that I love (along with my 2 daughters) exploring rural areas and old towns and taking photos and posting them on Instagram. The small towns in this area are all full of buildings from the 1800's and lots of photo ops!

Mt. Pleasant is close to both Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and Manti-LaSal National Forests. So you can stop at Pioneer House to fill up on delicious food before going out to hike, 4 wheel, go horseback riding, biking, or just on a scenic ride. Did you know you can even go snow kiting? Did you know that was a thing?

Spring City (my sister Tiffany's favorite town in the whole world) is listed on the National Historic Register. Yep, the whole town. Seriously, there are so many historic pioneer homes and barns, and lots of art galleries too.

Fairview is just a couple of minutes north of Mt. Pleasant. There you can visit the Fairview Museum of History and Art.  

You can go rock climbing in Maple Canyon or go fishing in Fairview Canyon.

You can visit Skyline Mountain Resort in Fairview Canyon where they rent cabins and have campgrounds, have a pool with a waterslide, a tennis court, golf course, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
For more than just a day trip, check out all these places to stay in Sanpete.
One of the places that's on my list to go while I'm down there visiting The Pioneer House and eating their juicy burgers, is Palisade State Park. There are cabins and a campground and Palisade Reservoir with lots to do. What I really want to do is rent paddle boats. They rent them for the hour, 1/2 day or full day, but the only prices I could find online was $30 for a full day. They also have kayaks, canoes and more.
Check out this awesome map of Sanpete if you still need help figuring out what to do before and after the awesome experience of eating in a caboose!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lemon Crumb Muffins

I have loved Taste of Home  magazine for a long time. Real recipes made in real homes. This recipe makes a bunch of muffins! The recipe says it yields 40 muffins and I doubled it to make plenty to share and we had LOTS of muffins to share, which made LOTS of people happy. Soft and lemony.

Lemon Crumb Muffins
6 c. flour
4 c. sugar
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
8 eggs
2 c. (16 oz.) sour cream
2 c. butter, melted
3 T. grated lemon peel
2 T. lemon juice
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cold butter, cubed
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, butter, lemon peel and juice. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.                                 
In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm muffins. Serve warm.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Companion

I was happy to get the photo of the four elders in their birthday ties that I mentioned in Alex's last letter. 4 good looking, hard working, happy guys!
In my letter to him, I sent Alex this quote below with some of my thoughts. This is what he had to say about it.
I like that quote, It's been a recurring theme in my studies as of late, and it's a good reminder that God expects us to try to use what he's given us before he gives us more.
Here's Alex's letter from this week:

So many wonderful things have happened this week. The spirit has been really strong, and I have learned so much. I have grown stronger in my testimony and conviction of the sacrifice Christ made for us, and I am so glad that I can be cleansed through him.

This weeks kanji of the week is: 教会 This means Church, and is pronounced kyokai.

And here's this weeks summary!
Monday: We had a normal morning and right after emailing, we went to go get our hair cuts. I barely know how to say what I like for my hair in English, let alone Japanese, but it turned out well. We then went back home and Elder O. packed while I made everyone chocolate banana cake. 

(When Alex first got to Japan, he wrote and said that they only have a microwave and a rice cooker, no oven or stovetop. He asked for recipes he could make. I sent him the recipe for this really good chocolate microwave cake that I've made for years. )

When Elder O. finished, we went and visited a friend who I've now met three times. Her name is Noriko, but I can never remember what her last name is. We spent the evening talking with them, and they gave us pizza. It had some weird toppings (although normal here) like, shrimp, and shell fish. 

Tuesday: We had English lunch at YIRA. This was Debbie's last time going, because they're moving to Malaysia, so she talked about some of her experiences here in Yonezawa. They used to live by us, so we saw her every now and then as we walked/biked around. In the evening we went over to a member family's house and had dinner. At the Endo family's house we also did an activity where we each drew part of someone's face and then passed it to the next person, and wrote things we liked about them on the back. It was a fun activity.

Wednesday: We had DCS this day, and after that we went to say good bye to the Iwai family. They were nice and let us in for a short visit, and they gave us some really good french chocolate. We then went and stopped at Brother Seino's house/work and talked to him for a short bit. After him we went to Sister Taira's house and talked to her for a while. She gave us some food, and drink, which was unexpected. She's really a really nice woman. In the evening we had English class, and there wasn't too much to mention from that.
Great timing for a pic

Thursday: This was the day that Elder O. left Yonezawa with Elder P.  It left Elder E. and I alone in Yonezawa, and we went to visit a 95 year old member here: Sister Ochikochi. After that we went and tried knocking on peoples doors, and although everyone was nice, we didn't get more than a "sorry I don't have any interest." After that, we had a quick dinner and a lesson with the one of the other companionship's investigators: Sister Suzuki. She is a fun person, and she asked some really good questions that we were able to answer and help build her knowledge and testimony of the gospel with.

Friday: We met a man who lives on the far north of town before heading of to Sendai. He used to meet with the missionaries, but had stopped for one reason or another. He said that we could come back anytime and talk, so we will. After that, we got our stuff from the apartment and took a two hour bus ride up to Sendai. Once we got to sendai, we had a quick dinner, and then went to one of the missionaries apartments in Sendai and slept for the night. I got to say hi to some of the people I knew from the from the MTC, and catch up with them. One of them was a Japanese Elder who only speaks Japanese. It was cool to see how much more I could speak to him in just these short three months than I could back then.

Saturday: We had a mission-wide meeting with Elder Evans of the Quorum of the Seventy to get training for the iPads we'll be getting soon. It was fun, and very spiritual. I loved learning so much from Elder Evans and the others who talked. I grew in my testimony of the love Christ has for all of us, and the power His atonement has for each of us if we just do as he asks. I got to sit next to my new companion, Elder F., and he's been great so far. We then got on a bus back to Yonezawa. When we got back we quickly dropped off our stuff and then biked to one of our investigator's houses: Brother Ito. He and his mother are still doing really well, and they read quite a bit from the Book of Mormon. It was really cool to see they did that. We shared a short message about prayer, and then left. 
Elder F., Alex's new companion (Half-American, Half-Japanese) in the goofy glasses I sent in Alex's birthday package
Sunday: We had gotten a call the previous night asking us if we could go to the Fukushima ward, so that we did. We got there and had a great five hours with the members in Fukushima. Surprisingly some of the members recognized me and remembered my name. The members down there are so nice, and I love them all. They are so happy when the Missionaries come on Sundays. We then took a train back to Yonezawa, and since we hadn't done any of our studies for the day yet, we went back to the apartment and did that. 
A crazy schedule for sure, but I love being here. I love the people, and love the chance I have to serve them. I love this gospel, and how much I grow as I learn and live it. I challenge you all to find something about the Gospel, whether it is the atonement, God, the book of Mormon, prophets, etc., and learn more about it. I promise you that you will grow and become a better person if you live what you learn. 
I love you all so much.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Here's a quick, flavorful side dish from Martha Stewart. I added olives to it and really liked it.

Potato and Green Bean Salad

6 oz. green beans
2 lb. peeled small potatoes
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
4 t. lemon juice
4 t. whole-grain mustard
2 t. chopped thyme leaves
1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
Coarse salt

Simmer green beans in salted water until barely tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire-mesh skimmer, and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, and pat dry. Add potatoes to the same pot of salted water, and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes, and halve them. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and thyme in a large bowl. Add potatoes, beans, and red onion. Gently toss. Season with salt.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cinnamon Puff Pastry Twists

These are so great with hot cocoa or milk. I love the combination of chocolate and cinnamon in these pastries that I found at Sugarhero. This uses frozen puff pastry so it is really easy. I doubled the recipe to use all the dough in a package.  
Cinnamon Puff Pastry Twists

1 (8 1/2-oz.) sheet puff pastry dough (half of a standard 17-oz. pack), thawed
3 T. softened butter
1/4 c. sugar, divided use
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. miniature chocolate chips
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 oz. chocolate candy coating
Crushed nuts for decorating, optional

Start with puff pastry dough that is thawed but still cool, so take it out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you’re going to need it.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Dust your work surface with flour, then roll out the sheet of puff pastry until it is about 14 inches long by 10 inches tall. Cut the sheet in half lengthwise, so you’re left with two long rectangles.
Spread the butter on one half of the pastry. Mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon, and sprinkle it generously on the buttered dough. Spread the chocolate chips evenly on top of the cinnamon.

Brush the second pastry half with the beaten egg. Carefully lift the dough and place it, egg side down, on top of the chocolate chips. Press along the edges, then lightly run a rolling pin on top of the dough to seal them together.

Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise into 24 strips that are each about 1/2-inch wide. Gently twist the strips several times, then set them on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Press the ends down so they stay flat on the sheet. Repeat until all of the dough is formed into twists.

Brush the twists with the beaten egg, and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they’re puffed and golden brown throughout.

Let the twists cool completely at room temperature. Melt the chocolate candy coating, then dip each end in the coating. If adding chopped nuts, sprinkle them on top of the coating while it’s still wet.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls

If you've ever been to Picky Palate, then you know that there are tons of super delish recipes there. That is where this quick party food recipe is. It's quick because it uses refrigerated French bread dough and an easy filling that makes these cute mini bread bowls that taste great.

Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls

1 (3.3-oz) roll of refrigerated French bread loaf
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 c. baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. light sour cream
2 T. fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 t. ground ancho chile pepper
1/8 t. garlic Salt
1/8 t. sea salt
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray 10 regular muffin cups with non stick cooking spray.  Unroll package of French bread loaf and slice into 10 equal size slices, about 1 inch thick.  Press each slice into about a 3 inch round with your hand.  Press into the bottom and up sides of the muffin cup.  Set aside.

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook and stir spinach until wilted, about 3 minutes then add garlic, cook and stir for another minute then turn heat off.

Place cream cheese, sour cream, cooked spinach and garlic, Parmesan cheese, ancho chili powder, garlic salt, salt and pepper into a medium bowl.  Mix until well combined.  With a medium cookie scoop, scoop dip into each of the centers of bread bowls.  Top evenly with shredded cheese and bake for 15-17 minutes until just turning brown on edges.  Remove and let cool for 3-5 minutes before removing from pan.

10 mini spinach dip bread bowls

Monday, March 16, 2015

Transfer 3

Bikes are really nice, but we didn't get to use them too much this week, because it was nonstop snow from Tuesday until Saturday. But that's fine. The streets are a bit more narrow, but the drivers are good at driving around you, and the are very skilled at what they do. Getting a license here is way harder here, so the people who do drive are pro basically. Biking also uses different muscles, but I don't know if I was too sore from it. I got tired quite a bit at first when I rode the bike around (especially up hills, and Yonezawa doesn't have too many hills), but I am doing fine.

I'm soooo glad to get a photo of him, but I hope he will take a photo somewhere besides in the office soon.

Time goes by so quickly. I say that every week I bet, but I truly mean it. It seems like yesterday I was just entering into my second transfer.
The Kanji of the week is: 雪灯籠 which means snow lantern. I don't think I've done that one yet.

This week's summary is going to be a bit shorter, because I didn't bring last transfer's/week's planner with me, but here goes nothing.

Monday: Monday was interesting, because we had a district preparation day, which was ping-pong and the movie 17 Miracles. I love that movie so much, it is so inspiring. When 6:00 came around, we waited for an appointment with a member at the church. She goes to BYU Hawaii, but she's back for the break, and so she wanted to read the Book of Mormon with us in English for practice. She didn't end up coming (she was eating dinner with her mother and forgot about the appointment, which is understandable). Since that didn't happen we rode our bikes over to a family that lives a fair distance away, to see if we could start meeting with them. They are really busy right now, so they can't meet right now. We then biked back home. The entire evening was biking in the rain, which I'm sure most people would have hated, but I absolutely loved it. I love rain, and I love the feeling of rain drenched clothes, and I love riding bikes, so it was just a perfect combination.

Tuesday: We had a lot of our plans fall through that day, because it decided to snow a lot that day. Since the snow was bad enough we couldn't use our bikes, we just walked to Mr. Kato's house, who lives on the north side of town. He seems to have a lot of brain damage from a life of alcoholism, but even then, he read 100 pages of the Book of Mormon. In Japanese, that means he got to 2 Nephi 10. He didn't understand much, if anything, but he's a nice guy.
Elder E. and Elder O., who are both leaving, and a cute little boy who made them origami gifts as a farewell

Wednesday: I can't remember too much about what happened on this day, but like every week, we had English class. English class was normal, but at the end we played pictionary with the students. I haven't played that game in a long time, and it was fun.

Thursday: We had a Chinese lunch meeting at YIRA (yonezawa international relationships association), and then went and tried to visit people. Everyone we tried to visit that day however wasn't home, so we just posted some fliers in a nearby apartment complex to follow up on later.

Friday: We had the zone leaders come to our district this day, and I got to go on companion exchanges with him. His name is Elder B. It was the first day since coming to Japan that I hadn't been with someone I had been with on a daily basis, and it was pretty interesting. We went to a family who's name is Ito together. The Ito family is a 95 year old energetic grandma, and a 70 year old son. They believe in personal revelation and in God, and in doing what's right. The son absolutely loves the Mormon church, and says that it's perfect. He says that they have such good rules, and such good standards. The only thing he says that is stopping him from being a Mormon is the fact that he is Japanese and wants to honor his parent's Buddhist beliefs.

Saturday: We (me and Elder B.), then went to Yamagata, and picked up Elder O.. While up there, we got our transfer calls. I am going to be staying in Yonezawa, but I will be getting a new companion. His name is Elder F.. I don't know much about him besides the fact that he is half Japanese and half American. And loves to cook apparently. Elder O. will be going to Yamagata and will become the zone leader there. He won't be becoming my zone leader though, because the Yonezawa district is now going to be part of the Aizuwakamatsu zone (not sure if that's what it's actually called, but that's the city's name). We also had a lesson with our investigator Sister Wagatsuma Keiko (First name is Keiko), and her friend. We had texted her earlier in the week to remind them both to read the Book of Mormon. When we got in the lesson with her, Sister Wagatsuma said that she had read the entire preface to the beginning of the Book of Mormon (the title page to the beginning of 1 Nephi). We had a good discussion about that, and about what we mean when we say "you will be blessed."
A photo of Elder F. that I grabbed from Facebook, posted by his mom

Sunday: Sacrament meeting was so amazing. We had three investigators come to church (including Sister Wagatsuma), and even a recent convert's husband and kid who aren't members. We had a total of 28 people at the meeting (including missionaries), and we ran out of sacramental water that we had prepared. It was so full, and I could feel the spirit so strongly. The members were really friendly to them too! We then went to visit Mr Kato again, and had a nice chat with him. Elder O. wanted to go to say goodbye to him. We also went to a bit south of our apartment to visit a friend there that we hadn't seen in a while. She invited us back for today, so we'll be going there soon. Also, while going from place to place, we got to seen a lot of people we knew on the streets and passing by in cars.

That was my week, hope you've enjoyed it and have a great week!
I truly love you all from the bottom of my heart!
Love,Elder _____

I asked Alex to send a photo of his tag, even though I block his name to share in public

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 ...