Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas in Chile

This will be Travis' first Christmas away from home. He is over 5700 miles away serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile. . .where it is summer.
The holiday season began for Travis with a baptism.
and a companionship change to a trio.
There's been Christmas kittens and lots of good food.
There's been gatherings and singing and mission partying.
Travis and one of his companions bought a small Christmas tree at the street market in Boca Sur complete with decorations and lights for their apartment.
For a short time they had a full apartment again when Elder I. joined them, but transfers followed a week later.
Now Travis has a brand new companion whom he will serve with for at least six weeks if not longer--Elder C. from Brazil.
On Monday Travis sent us this picture of another sunny and bright baptism day.
Boy, do we miss having our missionary around during the holidays, but he is happy and doing so well. I'm looking forward to my most favorite present of all--a 40-minute Skype call from him at noon on Christmas day!

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy this short video from my family to yours:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Nara, Japan

It's about time I get back to blogging about our trip to Japan. With Osaka as "home base" we took the Shinkansen to Kyoto then loaded a tour bus and traveled an hour or so to get to Nara. Our half-day tour began at Todai-ji (Eastern Great Temple Complex). This area (Nara Koen) is known for it's 1,200 or so tame deer that roam the area freely.
It's pretty crazy and fascinating at the same time. Our tour guide showed us how the deer have been taught to bow before receiving any food from visitors.
Eventually we pulled ourselves away from the deer and ventured further into the temple complex.
This 16-petal flower is a symbol of the Emperor.
This structure houses a 53-foot bronze statue of Buddha.
A gold-leafed wooden disciple sits beside him
while four menacing guardians stand in each corner of the temple.
A curious activity within the great hall is for tourists to crawl through a hole in a pillar that is the exact size of one of the Buddha's nostrils. It definitely gives perspective to the size of the great statue. (Blurry photo, but you get the idea.)
As we exited the temple these school children approached us and asked if we had the time. I proceeded to pull out my phone and tell them the time, but they seemed confused and repeated the question. Eventually, we figured out that they were asking if I had time--time to answer a few questions. Of course I obliged. They asked me where I was from, what food I liked best in Japan, etc. It was a sweet interaction. They then asked if they could take my picture, and of course, I took one of them.
Our next stop of the morning was Kasuga Taisha (a Shinto Shrine).
This shrine is famous for the more than 2,000 stone lanterns that line its pathways. They were gorgeous.
I'm extremely grateful to be able to travel with Brian every once in a while and explore such places in the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Birthday in Chile

Travis (Elder Woodfield) is 19 years old today and for the first time in his life, he isn't celebrating with his family. Instead he is serving and teaching the people in Boca Sur, Chile as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's been in Chile for six weeks now. I love seeing his smiling face in the photos he sends home.
Travis and his companion, Elder L, with President and Sister Bluth
A P-day (Preparation Day) barbecue
Travis' Zone taken before transfers last Monday
Happy Birthday, Elder Woodfield! We love you!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Osaka, Japan

Brian's conferences were in Osaka so after two nights in Tokyo we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Osaka. These high-speed trains are actually really cool--such a smooth ride and so fast!
While Brian was working I was brave and adventurous. Map in hand I took off to find Osaka-Jo or the Osaka Castle which was an hour walk from our hotel.
(Inui Turret)
The view of Osaka from the top of the castle was impressive. Notice the gold fish. Fish were placed on the roofs of wooden structures because they symbolize living water. It was believed that the fish would work as a good luck charm to stave off fire.
After my tour of the castle and museum I bought a steamed pork bun and ate it in the shade.
While I was savoring my pork bun, Brian had bought a Bento Box during his conference lunch break. Ooh, these are fun--all kinds of interesting Japanese delicacies to try.
Eating at restaurants was tricky. Most establishments we went to did not have English menus. The best way to choose our meal was to point to the plastic replicas of each menu item inside the restaurant's display case. This "fake food" was everywhere. I couldn't resist taking a photo of this case of desserts outside a bakery. It's all plastic!
The food in Japan was delicious--lots of seafood of course. Brian was more daring that I was, but I did branch out a little. I wish I had photos of all our meals. The tempura was fantastic and I always love rice and noodles. By the end of our trip I even had chopsticks figured out.
I grabbed a bag of rice crackers as a snack one day. All of them were fish-flavored, but that was OK. However, I couldn't handle the whole dried fish I found at the bottom of the bag. Brian enjoyed it though!
The presentation of this fish dish at the conference banquet made quite an impact.
Osaka was home base for a few more nights as we took day trips to Nara and Kyoto. Those posts are up next.
(Osaka Sunrise)