Saturday, April 4, 2020

BFTP: Hunting for the Russian Slides

My plan today was to scan in a box labeled "Ben's Russian Slides."  However, there were no Russian slides inside.  They were Japanese slides, which I'll get to.  Later, in the box with the Russian slides, was this delightful slide of Sammie from 1979 when our family visited Bandelier State Park.

We met cousins on this trip.  Ben took little Jeffy on a hike with all the kids.  I could easily recognize Jeff by how he wore hats in those days.
I actually remember this event -- Sammie and Davy had fun climbing in and out of the ruins with their cousins.

This and the next several slides from Ben's mission were in the box labeled "Russian slides."  In this picture, Ben was a brand new missionary in Sannomiya in 1965.

This picture, taken in Fukushima, reminded Ben of a story I had never heard before.  His companion was Elder Kakazu who is second from the right, diagonally across the table from Elder Markham.  This picture was taken several months after this story occurred, perhaps in mid-1966.  The other two elders were the visiting zone leaders.  Elders Markham and Kakazu had been sent by the mission president to open Fukushima for missionary work.  In setting up a new apartment (including buying the heater underneath the table), they had run out of money and did not even have food.  They had earlier used sparse funds to call the mission home, but additional funds did not arrive.  They did not have enough money for both of them to travel to the bank and back to see if funds had been deposited, so they walked.  Suddenly, they realized they had forgotten something at the apartment.  They returned home and to their surprise they found that the mailman had delivered a letter from Elder Kakazu's uncle, who had vehemently opposed his missionary service.  However, the uncle's heart had been softened by Elder Kakazu's letters, and in the envelope was a $10 bill, cash that could be easily exchanged for yen.  Ben knew that he had seen a miracle that day.

I'd never heard this story either.  On a P-day, while serving in Kyushu, they traveled to nearby Asoyama, which was an active volcano.  The helicopter transported Japanese tourists to and from the volcano, and Ben and his companion got a ride.  The next week the volcano erupted.

During the last general conference, I scanned in photos from Ben's missionary photo album.  One of the pictures was of a visit of President Hugh B. Brown to the Japanese Mission.  This picture was taken that day.  Ben and his companion, Elder Floyd Nelson, were the zone leaders who met the President Brown and also the mission president, Elder Komatsu.  This sister is holding a bouquet which she gave to President Brown.  Ben's memory is that they were standing in front of the chapel in Hiroshima before President Brown arrived.

This is Elder Markham in his first area with his companion, Elder Anderson.  They are standing with Brother Kimura, who had just been baptized.

In another area, Elder Markham, on the left, is with new a convert, Brother Hashida.  The missionary who performed the baptism was from Idaho.

I had scanned in many of these pictures during the morning session today.  I put them on my laptop and asked Ben to look at them, and then I began preparing lunch.  I turned around and Ben was crying.  I'm sorry, but I love it when Ben cries when he sees his mission pictures.  He was looking at this picture of the branch members in Asihagawa.  The sister second from left was a seamstress.

That sister made this ninja outfit for Elder Markham.  Later, when Ben came home and had kids, they loved this.

The tradition is that on New Year's Day, a person buys one of these dragon heads and paints one eye when he makes a wish.  When the wish comes true, he paints the other eye.  Hardy har har.

When Ben served in Japan, there was only one mission, so he served throughout all of Japan.  This picture was taken in front of Okayama Castle.

This convert was baptized when Elder Markham served in Sannomiya, his first area.  Ben could remember the new member, but not his name.  His companion was Elder Anderson.

Elder Markham is on the right.  His companion was Elder Hooper Knowlton III.  They were in Fukuoka during a New Year's holiday.

This was New Year's Day 1966 in North Branch.

Not many places in the world are more beautiful than spring in Japan when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, but no matter, Elder Markham loved every day of his mission, all 30 months, which felt like three months to him.

This last picture is of long-time investigators.

Although Ben was behind the camera for the pictures below, I did find this one picture.  Look closely -- Ben is in the lower right hand corner.

I finally found the Russian slides.  Ben took all these pictures, so we don't get to see an 18-year-old kid fresh out of high school in Europe.

This was a day of socializing with Russian students who were studying to be English teachers.  Their English was good enough that the American kids had a great time.  Ben became friends with a student named Freddie, who asked Ben how many slaves his father owned to be able to afford this trip for him.  Well, first of all, the US State Department paid for this trip for select high school Russian language students.  Ben explained that his father was dead, and that he himself worked in a gas station.  Ben then asked Freddie what he really wanted to be before he was forced by the government to be an English teacher.  Freddie said, "I actually wanted to be an English teacher."

The students toured all over the Soviet Union.  This is a monument honoring the dead killed by the Germans in WWII.

The Soviet guide was Rita, the woman in the center of this bathing party in a polka-dot bikini.  She cut her toe while they were swimming in the Black Sea.  Rita had been bragging during their entire trip about how advanced the Soviets were in every aspect of science and technology.  As she left the sea after the accident, the US chaperone, an American woman with a very large purse, met her.  This woman pulled out a Band-Aid and offered to help.  Rita was stunned.  She had never seen anything like a Band-Aid.  This event did not go unnoticed by any student.

In the box with the Russian slides were slides taken by Ben's father.  This picture is of a Navajo family who were friends of Ben's parents.  On occasion, Hope Begay, right, would borrow Ida Mar's sewing machine and make clothing for her family.  Ben was two when this picture was taken, but he knew Hope well when I asked him about his father's label on the slide.  Ben told me several stories; it's worth your time to ask him yourself.

Also in the box was this photo, taken in 1975 in the driveway of our home in Baytown, Texas.  Blitz is the name of the Blazer.  It was about this time that Ben stopped hunting completely.  I can't say why exactly, except maybe his shoes finally wore out.

Thank you, Julie. You're Welcome, Louie.

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