Branch Conferences

30 Jul

We had the privilege of visiting a wonderful little branch in Niihama a couple of weeks ago.  We were welcomed with open arms.  The members were so sweet and happy that we were there with them.   I was brought to tears as a darling 9 year old lead the singing in Sacrament Meeting.  (She is standing directly behind me in this picture.)  Later she was called upon to offer the blessing on the food for the pot luck luncheon.  I couldn’t help but see my grandchildren doing the very same thing.  I was grateful that she has a mother who is teaching her the importance of serving.

The sister to the left of me is the one who was baptized after Sacrament meeting.

This bathtub font was just outside the branch building.  A tiny Primary room chair was placed outside next to the font and just inside the font for steps.  In spite of this make-shift font the spirit was as strong as I have ever felt.  This picture was taken through the window from inside the branch building where the branch members watched with so much gladness.   They opened their arms to this sister who had been working towards this day for many years.  I was overcome with emotion.

This little box was given to me by the Branch President and his family.  He is a renowned potter here in Japan.  Made by him,  I felt so honored.   It was so beautifully wrapped.   Inside the box was a pretty green paper telling where the clay for this piece came from.  A Japanese sister told me it came from Kyoto, from a mountain where many rabbits used to live and that many elements go into the making of these pieces.  Dirt, trees, rocks etc.  I was told that many of the serving dishes that were used at the luncheon were his work.   A beautiful ceramic piece of the tree of life in the Tokyo Temple celestial room was made by him.  I look forward to seeing it someday!

Last Sunday we headed to Toyooka for their Branch Conference.  We left early for the 3 hour drive.  What a beautiful part of the country and what a sweet gathering of members.   About four years ago the entire town was flooded after much rain.  Their branch building was destroyed.  The members feel so blessed to have been given a beautiful new building.

The two young women on the left in front conducted the music and played the organ for Sacrament meeting.  They were sustained that day.  Both just twelve years old but so happy to have received that calling.  You aren’t able to see but they both are wearing their young women necklaces.  I attended Sunday School with them,  just the two of them in their class.  They met in the District President’s office with him being their teacher.  He taught them about the church in other parts of the world…that there are many more young women like them.   He taught about our pre-earth life and this life.  He asked them what kinds of things are important to them.  They talked about what kinds of things are not really so important.  The young girl in the white blouse then asked if she could say something.  She stood, went around behind his desk (the room was so very tiny with hardly any room to move), and began to testify that she knows that Heavenly Father will help us when we need help.  She said that after she had received the call to play the organ she was worried.   She just didn’t have any time to practice because of her studies and her chores at home.   She said she asked Heavenly Father to help her find time to practice.  He did.  Sunday came and she said that she was so nervous.  She said a little prayer just before the song and said that a very calm feeling came over her.  She testified that Heavenly Father loves each one of us.  A powerful testimony by such a young girl.

These darling children just clung to me the whole day.  I was so fine with that…I could feel my little granddaughters near.   Heavenly Father must have known what I was needing that day!

Many of the branches here do not have a three hour block.  They have Sacrament meeting and a Sunday School and then once a month they have Relief Society.  (This is because all the the sisters are serving in Primary or with Young Women).   This little branch manages to have all of the meetings.  I was privileged to attend Relief Society where 11 sisters were in attendance.  What a beautiful meeting.  How grateful I was to have that opportunity.  Here is a picture of some of those women.

These branches treat us like celebrities.  They prepared a beautiful “feast” and we were grateful.

When it was time to leave these sweet members stood and waved and waved and waved until we were out of sight.  I still get emotional when I remember that.  What a special day for us.  We love the Toyooka Branch.

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4 Responses to “Branch Conferences”

  1. Bill July 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Rich and Jana sounds like your really enjoying your work in Japan. The picture of the meal you had at the branch was amazing, Is Rich still wearing a bandaid on his head or was that a shadow ? I’m in Phoenix working in the misnamed ” The Valley of the Sun” it should be ” The Surface of the Sun” average temp this coming week 106′ Take care, Bill

  2. vanessa July 31, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    Janna,

    What an incredible post! I love these stories you’re sharing! The pictures are wonderful too. I just teared up and cried as I read about the YW and valiant members in that little branch. What a special group of people and what a great opportunity to have the mission president and his wife visit their branch! I could just feel the love these members have you for and you for them. Thank you for sharing!!

    xoxo,

    V

  3. Sandra Munro August 1, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    A beautiful post, Sister Zinke. I have really enjoyed reading about your experiences. Thank you for sharing them!

  4. Dana August 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    My favorite post so far, Mama! I LOVED reading about your visit to these branches. I know how hard it must be, but when I see these pictures I know you are where the Lord needs and wants you! To see how the small branches of members long for your leadership and love makes sharing you with them completely worth it. We are very blessed to have many members here, I can’t imagine the joy the Japanese members have when you are able to visit. The young girls are so sweet. My favorite picture is the one of you with them. I cry every time I look at it! The kids miss you so much but are happy to know that you are helping the beautiful children in Japan. I love you!
    Love, Dana

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