Saturday, February 28, 2009

Graduation! (part 1)

Immersion class - graduated on Feb. 12
Back row: Teachers - Nomura-sensei, Takahashi-sensei, Yamamoto-sensei and Watanabe sensei Front row: students - Alan, Ted, Amy Zach, Mihwa.

The above photo includes the guests.

After the each student gave a speech and we had a little graduation ceremony -
we celebrated! Potluck dinner, fun conversation, and silly skits.

Nice chopsticks skills, Zach!
Way to put those Lufthansa skills to work, Oliver!
Our - oh, so serious teachers -- きびしい先生! ひひ!We all became good friends.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Boeun-chan!

Feb 16th was Boeun-chan's 4th birthday. (Boeun chan is the daughter of my Korean friend from Japanese class - Mihwa。 And actually in Korea they count birthdays differently starting at birth with age 1, so when she goes to her passport culture she's considered 5 years old.)

Here are some photos from when we celebrated at my house on Saturday Feb. 14.We had a lovely day together - making pesto pizza, decorating a cake, singing, bouncing on beds, playing school, drawing pictures of friendly monsters, and climbing the stairway (up and down and up and down). Other than my mistake -of not reading the can carefully at the grocery store and buying kuro mame (black beans) instead of olives and not realizing the mistake until I opened the can- (ooops!) it was a lovely day! =0)

Master Chef - Eating tomatoes with one hand and adding cheese topping with the other.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Weather Report

I thought spring had arrived but - after a week of rain we are now experiencing some snow!
Tokyo snow is awesome since -the big flakes look pretty falling but typically melts when it hits the ground. Which means no need to shovel! The photo with the snowman is out my "back yard" and the other is from my front door looking down the street.

Great weather for sipping on a hot chocolate at the kotatsu as I try to write a message for church March 8th.

The hyacinth bulbs blooming in my kitchen give me hope of spring!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Museum of Modern Kid Art

In preparation for my move, I'm putting things into boxes and taking things off the walls. So I thought I'd tell you what has been decorating my walls. . .

I moved last March from one room at my host family's house to the 2 story mission house I'm in now with 4 bedrooms! This caused me to wonder how to cover all the blah white walls until my shipment from the states came. I wanted something that wouldn't put too many holes in the wall and would be affordable.

Well - thankfully I have some amazingly talented nieces. (age 4.5 and almost 3) who where kind enough to send me some of their masterpieces (in mediums of finger paint, crayon, collage). (KG and OJ are pictured below putting their creative skills to work as Master Pizza Makers.) By the time my shipment came from the states - I'd enjoyed the splash of color and thoughts of their smiley faces too much to want to take it down. Yep - I think this Modern Kid Art exhibit will move with me to my next place!

I get so excited whenever mail comes -
and when it's from them -
I wonder what new art they've created for my gallery.

Art work sent at Christmas time
The Supplies

The results - Winter Theme Bathroom

Barbie /Pink themed Bathroom

Kitchen wall
Bedroom wall

For my entryway, I've put a group of my photos and some cards with quotes on them up on a string. It's a simple way to display them and really easy to switch photos when I have a new favorite or want change. Plus, I love seeing pictures of people I love when I walk in the door.

For other ideas on displaying kids artwork click here. I got the rope idea from seeing a magnetic photo rope display - but wanted to use what I had on hand -> clothes pins. Eventually, I also created this fabric art to cover the dining room wall. (oh- and yes, my fridge is covered with kids art - from drawings of Awana game time to friendly monsters =0)

How do you display the fantastic creations produced by the little people in your life?

Monday, February 23, 2009


Reflecting on Psalm 37 , verses 4 & 7 stand out.

4Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give your the desires of your heart.

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

詩篇(しへん)、聖書(せいしょ) の ことばについてをかんがえています。



It's been a long journey to get to the point I'm at right now, preparing to serve God by teach TCKs in Japan. The desire to pursue this ministry started back in 1996 and the preparation process has taken 13 years! Sometimes it has felt like a long cold winter where "cabin fever" has set in and I restlessly await springs arrival.

This week I found a poem a college friend had given me over 10 years ago, which gives words to some of the thoughts/feelings I've had along the way about waiting. And reflects the some of the lessons God has been kind enough to show me.

Wait - Author Unknown

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
and the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait."
"Wait? You say, wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is Your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I can relate
hangs in the balance, and YOU tell me to WAIT?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
And Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!"
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting . . . for what?"
He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want -- but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;
You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there,
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.
you'd never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;
You'd know that I give and I save . . . (for a start)
But You'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite god, who makes what you have LAST.
You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that "My grace is sufficient for Thee."
Yes, your dreams overnight would come true,
But, Oh, the loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!
So be silent, My child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still, "Wait.' "

Photo: taken in Gunma Prefecture on the road to Manza Onsen Hotel

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reflections on a Train free day

It's Monday morning -
Today - there are no trains to ride
No rush to make it to class on time
No Japanese language class to attend

Why - Not because I've mastered Japanese
Not because its a holiday
But because - My semester is over.
The season of full-time language study has come to an end.
15 Months, have come and gone.
Some days went by really fast
Other days I thought would never end.

It was the best of times - it was the worst of times. . .
It was a time of great joys, new friendships, and greater understanding of the Japanese culture. But it was also time of trial, perseverance, and many tears.

Now that I sit at this end of the season of learning -
  • I'm so thankful I had time away from teaching to focus on language learning.
  • Thankful for Kim and Susie - the teachers who God led to teach the elementary classes in Nara while I was in language study in Tokyo.
  • Thankful for a mission agency that saw the value of language acquisition and protected this time for me.
  • Thankful for the many patient Japanese friends who suffer through my poor grammar, limited vocabulary and lack of understanding. They showed love, often without using words.
  • Thankful for the Japanese teachers who guided me along this journey.
  • Thankful for the crowd of witnesses who have gone before me on this journey and those that walk beside me, encouraging me on this path.
  • But most of all I'm thankful for God's faithfulness and presence during this time of learning - inside and outside the classroom. His love is deeper, and more intimate that I could ever imagine. I'm thankful for this "character building time" which has allowed me to see new aspects of Him.
While my language learning has not come to an end (It will take a life-time to grasp this language!)- my time of full-time formal study has ended. I feel this season has allowed me to build a foundation that will allow for further study and growth in the language. However my primary ministry focus is changing - from language learning to teaching in an International Christian School.

As I reflect on and process the past, anticipate the future, and prepare to move to a new location, ministry and group of people my life may look more like a roller coaster of chaos.
I know where I'm going (Nara) and where I'll be teaching (Kansai Christian School - 1st and 2nd grade classroom). But I don't yet have a moving date (probably 3 weeks from today). I don't yet know where I'll live (actually there are 2 "solid" housing options and 1 "maybe"). And I have a lot of work ahead of me to get ready to move (packing, paperwork, message (Mar. 8)- at my home Japanese church, packing, sorting, and good-byes).

I'll try to keep the blog updated in the next month - but no promises. I may just post photo on some days with little comment - other days - scripture of poems that are have touched me. While I don't have the long commute or homework from class to factor in my schedule - the time is not "less busy". So thank you for your patience.

Photos today - Thanks to Mihwa-san. =0)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Extreme Contrasts

At language school, we've had the opportunity to celebrate 4 birthdays in the months of February and January. One teacher, and 3 students celebrated life with a group lunch and then cake. How fun to celebrate with friends! (Yes, it's the same b-day song as in English.)
Celebrating Mihwa-chan!

Celebrating Amy! (o-nabe party!)
And my party
(Things got a bit silly after a trip to Kua Aina - Hawaiian Avocado Hamburgers, YUMMY!)

Now we are going the other extreme - tomorrow we'll have a final test and Friday we give 5-10 minute speeches. It's going to be hard to summarize my 14 months of language study in a 10 minute speech - but somehow . . . our goal is to celebrate the learning that has taken place. The speech I'm attempting to write is something like - "from failure comes blessings" or "lessons learned from failure/mistakes".

After the speeches are done, the plan is to have a "graduation" ceremony of sorts and a potluck lunch and perhaps go sing our lungs out at karaoke!

It's a bit sad to think of all the good-byes with classmates - but I'm hoping we can get together again in Tokyo before I leave for Nara in March. What a blessing is to be friends with my classmates and teachers!

PRAYER - In other news - one of my teachers was in an accident yesterday (her scooter verses a car) and apparently she is in the hospital now with a few minor injuries. I'd appreciate your prayers for her.

-I *Heart* Tokyo - update - I've added words to the previous post so if you only saw a photo when you checked it last you may want to visit it again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

i heart 東京

This photo was taken a while ago in downtown Tokyo of Tokyo tower on a rainy day.
I was in a hurry to get home for another appointment that day but I couldn't resist stopping at this intersection for a photo. I just loved how the clouds covered the top of the tower and the rain puddles reflect the light.

When I first moved to Tokyo this "concrete jungle" was one of the cultural stresses I endured, because it was either study Japanese here or move to Hokkaido (northern island of Japan) and far away from friends. But now that I'm about to move to Nara I see this scene and think -in its own way, its beautiful - I *Heart* Tokyo! The concrete and steel makes the true hearts of Tokyo stand out - the people. I've grown to know and befriend so many in this place that now that I feel at home here.

Recently, I entered this photo in a photo contest called "painted red" at the blog - Coffeegirl Confessions (a blog for those interested in sharing their cross-cultural adventures). I encourage you to check out the blog sometime I think its an insightful look at the life of ministry overseas. You can check out what coffeegirls from around the globe submitted for the contest and vote for your favorite. (Winner gets a $15 iTunes Card)visit Coffeegirl blog here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthday Sushi

Since my last post I . . .
  • road the Shinkansen (bullet train) to and from Nara
  • met my future 1st and 2nd grade students, co-workers, and student's parents & school board
  • went on an Ice Skating field trip
  • celebrated my 33rd Birthday
  • ate くじら すし =Whale sushi
  • enjoyed homemade french silk pie with fellow missionaries
  • searched for a place to live near the school (3 options available right now)
  • was greatly encouraged by people/relationships in Nara
  • reconnected with 5 people in the states by phone/skype
  • watched a CAJ high school boys basketball game
  • started my last 2 weeks of language study in Tokyo
  • celebrated my birthday at Hawaiian Hamburger place with classmates
I have many photos from the week, but for now I'll just post some of the whale sushi eating experience. It tasted a bit like Maguro (tuna) but with a more mild flavor. Yes, I liked it.
And for those of you opposed to the idea of eating whale - Please DON'T leave a comment.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Picture is Worth a 1,000 words

9:10AM5:30 PM


Sunday, February 1, 2009

3rd time not a charm - 4th time?

Dear People kind enough to visit my blog -

Tomorrow (Monday 8:30 am) (5:30pm Sunday Central Time) I am going to attempt to take my Japanese driver's test. This will be my fourth try to pass the behind the wheel test. The testing site is 2 hours from my house by train and takes energy and time away from other responsibilities (like Japanese language study) each time I need to go for the test.
The Japanese rules allow Americans with a valid US drivers license to take the test multiple times until they pass. - However, my American Driver's license expires on Saturday - Feb. 7th. So If I don't pass by the 7th I will need to jump through a few more (expensive and time consuming) "hoops" before I can get a Japanese license.

The testing site personnel are very particular about every detail of the test.
I have been loosing points on the test based on how early/late I put on my blinkers and the position of my car in the lane 30 meters before I turn a corner. (30meters is about the length of a football field!) Each time I try to correct the error I'm told it is not the correct way. I haven't hit a curb or made other major mistakes but the little ones add up and have thus far resulted in failure.

Please Pray:
I would appreciate your prayers for me taking the test Monday morning.
  • that I'd be able to concentrate on the big and little details of the test route.
  • Peace during the process and courage to face a test I've previously failed.
  • for grace from the test givers and that they would be able to see Christ in me.
  • that my attitude would be glorifying to God no matter the outcome.
  • safe and efficient travel to and from the testing site.

If you're in America - and like many, planning to watch the Superbowl - I'll be taking the test (or standing in line to do so) at the same time as kick off!
But If you don't read this until after the game- Pray anyway! I believe God can work around all the time zone details -

Thank you for going to the Throne for me!