Friday, November 28, 2008

Hong Kong

Greetings from Hong Kong -Here is a quick update:

  • Attending a very informative and encouraging conference about teaching Third Culture Kids
  • Have seen some of the the Hong Kong harbor at night and during the early afternoon
  • Have eaten Hong Kong BBQ Pork, Hot Milk Tea, Dim Sum, and Wife Cake Enjoyed it all!
  • This morning I had breakfast (dim sum) in the park while watching the elderly fitness routines in the park.
  • I'm enjoying the ease of transportation on the metro transit system MTR
  • For Thanksgiving dinner I ate with a group of friends at Pizza Hut (wasn't that good)
  • In Japan news: I recieved news that my cargo was picked up from Narita airport, past customs and delivered to my house on the other side of Tokyo.
  • Today is our last day here - Flying back to Tokyo tomorrow where I'll return to a mini Christmas party as I unpack my cargo bins=0P.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fall Colors

While I'm in Hong Kong - You can travel to Karuizawa (in the mountains) and enjoy the fall colors.

I was there the 2nd weekend of November for a Japanese language retreat for missionaries

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dim Sum here I come

So Tuesday - I'm heading to Hong Kong for an International Christian Educators Conference, sponsored by Association Christian Schools International (ACSI).
This will be attended by faculty and staff of English language international schools serving the expatriate community through out Asia. I'm looking forward to learning among others passionate about serving God through educational ministry to Third Culture Kids!

Here's my schedule:
  • I leave straight after Japanese class on Tues. Nov. 25,
  • Wed. - Sat. (Nov. 26-29)attend workshops and seminars
  • return to Tokyo the 30th.
Besides the loads of information available there, and the networking opportunities with others in similar jobs, I'm looking forward to time with friends teaching in other international schools in Asia. It won't all be work related, I will be joining others for a Dinner and Cruise of Hong Kong Harbor. I'm also hoping to get my hands on some famous Dim Sum and Hot Milk Tea - served as only Hong Kong can serve it!

I hope to prepare some posts for you while I'm away - but we'll see what I have time to do today. Anyway - for those of you in USA - Enjoy your Thanksgiving! For those of you in Canada - Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving in October. Those of you in other places around the world where it is not officially celebrated - May God also give you much to be thankful for!

Bin Update -the Eagle has landed

Bin Saga episode 4

Received word that the cargo has arrived at Narita airport.
Current plan is for another missionary to go pick it up Wednesday or Thursday from the airport and deliver it to my home while I'm in Hong Kong. (More about what I'm doing in Hong Kong later.)
Thank you for your prayers that customs will go smoothly for him as my proxy.

If things go as we hope, I'll be opening my cargo first week of December.
25 bins, weighing 1003 pounds (455 kg).
Just in time to put up my Christmas decorations!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bin Update - Lost and Found

Continuing the Bin Saga - as described in parts 1 here and 2 here.

After not hearing from the transporting airline in Tokyo on Friday. I called them. Apparently it is a Korean airline company - We began the conversation in Japanese then due to my language limits switched to English, she said they had no record of this cargo in Chicago, let alone leaving Chicago. (A bit disappointing to hear when I was expecting it to already be in Tokyo!) I asked her to email me more information about customs and the Narita airport cargo policies.

I then called my dad and asked him to call the US shipping people and see if they could explain where it was - and why it was not showing up on records in Chicago.

He learned from the shipping company that the cargo being shipped for me was still at ORD in Chicago…the transporting airline had misplaced it…but now is found…so it was rescheduled to go out the evening of the 21st. They said it will arrive on Sunday 23.

Things are getting interesting as . . .
  • the time it is now scheduled to arrive at the airport I will be hosting a party for my Japanese class and teachers. (First time to have a group dinner at my house!)
  • the Missionary that can drive the van to help me pick up the cargo leaves Monday morning to go to a church association annual meeting in another part of Japan until Wednesday.
  • a second missionary and I leave Tuesday afternoon for an International Christian Educators Conference in Hong Kong until Sunday.
I recently read Romans 8 in the message -
"The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, "What's next, Papa?"

Life has definately been adventure lately! What's next, Papa?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bin City Update

Update: Operation Bin City
11/20 - Received and email saying the shipment is scheduled to arrive evening of Nov. 20 - That's Today! Pray for the schedules of myself and 2 other missionaries to be able to pick it up before the 25th. Trusting that God will make a way!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Missions: Miracle-Gro for Sins

Moving to another culture as a missionary is like pouring miracle-gro on your sins. - Veteran missionary

While the first few months of my adaptation to Japan seemed to go smoothly, these last few months have been filled with many struggles. Moving away from my host family into a new location filled with cultural challenges and language learning obstacles has caused me to realize things about myself which –until now– I had been successfully ignoring. My sins often seem like post-it notes written on my back—everyone else can see them but I cannot. Without the typical coping methods (some healthy, some not) that I relied on in the States, the core of my character is more visible—sins like pride, self-reliance, and fear of failure keep appearing like weeds.

In the States, I was comfortable in the role of dependable friend who offers help to others, yet here I am reduced to the status of an illiterate toddler—dependent on the help of others, unable to read her mail, incapable of expressing her thoughts and feelings in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways, often wishing she had the freedom to throw a temper tantrum as communication breaks down.

Yet, it is in this broken and bruised state, that I’m forced to quit pretending there is nothing wrong with me. This is where I see my sin and my limitations more clearly. It is here the gospel message shines most brilliantly. That Christ died for sinners—including me. He paid the price to get eye level with me and embrace me where I am.

I still have much to learn and stumble constantly in this learning process but am realizing the first step is not having the ability to get things under control but having the humility to admit things are out of control. The more I get to know God and his love the more he is whispering in my ear the things I really need to know, empowering and freeing me to love Him and my neighbor.

I’m thankful for the mentorship and support from fellow Christ followers here in Japan, who are helping me deepen my relationship with Jesus. I’m thankful for the encouragement found in the Bible and the prayers of many ministry partners around the globe.

(Sidenote: This was an piece I wrote in my October newsletter - due to some unfortunate events with my email address lists not all of my prayer partners received it - if you have not received this or are not yet on my mailing list and would like to be send me an email: japanlori (at symbol) gmail(dot)com and write "add me to the prayer letter list". To view the entire October newsletter click here, for my May newsletter click here.)

Photo: September - young rice plant

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Operation Bin City

Monday, Nov. 17, in Minnesota, USA - a mountain of packing bins and boxes (full of stuff I had designated a year ago - "send later") are scheduled to be making their way out of my (very patient) twin sister's living room. The bins will be joined by an oven for another missionary in Japan and then placed in a crate to be shipped by air to Tokyo, Japan.

For those of you into details:
25 Bins + 1 oven = 1003 pounds

Prayer Needed:
  • I'd appreciate your prayers for my family in MN as they make their final maneuvers in Operation Bin City to Japan. Moving the bins via U-haul to the warehouse in MN.
  • Pray that it will all arrive safely and still in tact (or that I'll be content with whatever condition it comes in. After all it's just stuff, right?! Valuable and memory filled, but just stuff! I left US with only 2 suitcases, a laptop & a printer - hard to believe!)
  • Pray for the timing- it is scheduled to arrive when 2 other missionaries and I are unavailable to pick it up (out of town) but needs to come before the missionaries are busy with Community Christmas Events or leaving for home assignment. Pray that the provision of storage until we arrive will be adequate and cost minimal - &/or - that we'll be pleasantly surprised by the timing of it all.
  • For customs documents to be clear and conversations to go smoothly!
  • Pray also for the process of renting a truck in Japan and for transportation of it from the port of entry (3+ hours driving through the city of Tokyo) to my home.
  • And joy in the unpacking of it. =0)
Thank you Mom, Dad, and Lisa for all your dedicated work, detailed customs listing, mathematical calculations, spacial reasoning skills and packing of Bin City! I am so grateful! (by the way Happy Birthday, MOM!)

- 3-> 5 things I'm currently looking forward to receiving most -
  1. My favorite coffee mug
  2. Christmas decorations
  3. My library
  4. Recipe box
  5. Set of pots and pans
11/20 - Received and email saying it's scheduled to arrive evening of Nov. 20 - That's Today!
Pray for the schedules of myself and 2 other missionaries to be able to pick it up before the 25th. Trusting that God will make a way!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You deserve a break today

Kit Kat - has seasonal flavors for their KitKat bars in Japan. I've seen Mango, strawberry, blueberry, caramel pudding, watermelon, and green tea. Click here or here for other photos and flavors.

This KitKat bar seems to be done in combination with McDonalds as it is also the current McFlurry flavor - Caramel Macchiato. It comes in a box with two separately wrapped bars. I thought this flavor was really GOOD! Like white chocolate and Coffee flavor with a crunch! yum!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Got Thirst?

Here is a new product I've found on the shelf at my grocery store. - Pepsi White - Pepsi & Yogurt Flavor. I bought it on sale for about 98 yen (around $1). Vending machines sell pop (or soda) for about 120 to 150 yen. I didn't like the Pepsi White flavor but thought it was ok if I mixed it with grape juice. For information on the other "interesting" Pepsi flavor see this post.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall semester

The end of our Fall Japanese Semester was officially Thursday. So we had a potluck party and enjoyed mingling with students from another class.
when class was over we enjoyed taking some fun photos!
Kent, Zach, Mihwa and Lori (me), - students in the Intermediate level fall term class.

Students in the Advanced Language class -Gabrielle (Senagalese Ambassador to Japan) , Amy (CMA Missionary ), Nomura Sensei (our language teacher), Ted (Missionary doing Wedding ministry)A sample of the food for the potluck - temaki zushi (hand rolled sushi), scones, KFC chicken, Pumpkin Cheesecake. (Sorry I can't rotate the photo).

Here is my class again with Nomura sensei
After eating we were entertained by Zach -
reading his essay on why he no longer drinks coffee. =0)Here are the classes together with Yamamoto Sensei (far left front row).

I thank God for the opportunity to study with these people - and call them my friends as well as classmates. I have one more semester (starts Nov. 11) of studying full time in Tokyo before I move to Kansai area to start teaching. This final semester at this school will be different as Kent and I are continuing with the regular classes 3 hours a day for 4 days a week. Ambassador Gabrielle will join our classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other students began a new Intensive semester Nov. 10. It meets 5 days a week for 7 hours a day.

I'm amazed at the energy the teachers have as they juggle the various classes and language abilities for long hours. (Most of the teachers also teach English and Japanese lessons to other students in the evenings and weekends!) I'm so thankful for many of you out there praying for my language study. Don't forget to pray for wisdom, patience, and energy for the teachers and good group dynamics too.

Celebrating 40 Years

40 years - that is something to celebrate!

It was a glorious day to party as it was a sunny 70 degree day.

November 2nd Kiyose Baptist Church was celebrating it's 40th anniversary and they invited the Skoglunds (currently retired missionaries, who help begin the church) to return to Japan to join the celebration. Herb and Jean came with some of their adult children and grandchildren. Pastor Izuta (pictured in the suit and silver tie) gave the message. (Pastor Izuta met Herb and Jean many years ago when they were coming off the boat arriving as new missionaries in Japan! Talk about history together!) Pastor Sakamoto (pictured in the sweater vest) worked with Skoglunds and Izuta to start the church and is still the pastor at Kiyose now. He is well over 65 years old hoping to retire soon - many are praying that a new pastor can soon be recruited to carry on ministry for this church.

I attended this 40th Anniversary service with fellow missionary Jane (pictured in the cardigan sweater) and about 70 other Japanese people. After Sunday's service, we enjoyed a huge feast provided by the church members. From sashimi (raw fish) , and fresh fruit to yakisoba (grilled Japanese noodles-see outside photo) and yakitori (grilled chicken) no one went away hungry!

The official cake cutting ceremony was a source of joy. At many occasions in Japan - Birthday, new pastor, anniversary - the cake cutting is a big deal - like wedding receptions. -

Some of the Skoglund family attend Ridgewood one of my partner churches in Minnesota, so it was good to reconnect with them and hear how things are going with friends there. Lane is the worship leader there and at Kiyose he sang two beautiful songs (Ann accompanied him on piano).

I'm also thankful for the target bag of goodies that they graciously brought for me chocolate candies, post-it notes, goodies from my parents, and a bear hug!

We went sight seeing together on Monday, Nov. 3. Click here and here for previous posts about that day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's in Bloom?

菊  きく kiku - chrysanthemum

(Is this the same word in Japanese as for mum? anyone know?)

This bush of mums (top photo) are a cheerful greeting for me each day as the yellow flowers are right outside my neighbor's house. I hear that several parks around Tokyo have their Chrysanthemum displays out for the next week or so. I got a chance to see some in Harajuku at Meiji Shrine on Monday.(bottom 5 photos)

(ps. Is it just me or does trying to spell Chrysanthemum bring back memories of Anne of Green Gables for anyone else out there?)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Culture Day - Bunka No Hi

Monday was a holiday in Japan -
文化の日  ぶんかのひ  Bunka = culture, Hi = day ("no" functions like the possessive s)

I spent the day sight seeing with the Skoglund family. Herb and Jean were BGC missionaries to Japan and were in town to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of one of the (4) churches they helped to plant in Japan. Their son , daughter, son-in-law, daughter -in-law and 4 grandkids came along to celebrate with them and do some sight seeing in Japan.

I throughly enjoyed the day visiting Meiji Shrine (there was a ceremony going on and cute kids in Kimonos too) and shopping near Harajuku (including Kiddy Land - a 7 story toy store - which they recalled shopping at when the adults were kids). It was great to hang out with people who speak with a Minnesotan accent - they even wore Gopher and Viking t-shirts! I took a ton of photos so after this crazy busy week is over I'll try to post more.

Here's a peek at my Crazy Week -
Sunday 40th Anniversary celebration of Kiyose church
Monday - Sightseeing in Harajuku with Skoglunds
Tuesday - Language class
Wednesday - Language class (final quiz), Individual Japanese lesson, teach 1 English conversation class
Thursday - Final day of semester celebration potluck(I'm bringing dessert), Field Coordinator, John, and my mentor, Elaine, will be staying overnight at my house after mission meetings Thursday and in preparation for Friday.
Friday - Final day of semester for Missionary Japanese class - followed by BGC mission's Thanksgiving dinner (I'm making sweet potatoes and vegetables).
Saturday - traveling by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Karuizawa (in the mountains) for weekend Japanese Language Seminar sponsored by JEMA - Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association.
Sunday worship in Karuizawa and return by train to Tokyo
Monday - a day off!!! inhale, exhale, then . . .
Tuesday - Begin next semester of Japanese classes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pumpkin sighting

This pumpkin was found at a Sizzler restaurant in Mitaka, outside of Tokyo earlier this month.
Halloween is a commercial holiday here - I saw other smaller pumpkins and Halloween decorations but didn't see any trick-or-treaters.