Monday, July 27, 2009

Photo update

Yesterday I wrote a bullet point update - today you can see the corresponding photos
starting with the most recent.

The Ura family hosted the Okonomiyaki party this evening.
Kazue (mom) and Sayaka(daughter) did a homestay with my parents in 2006.


Here I am sing with the "Flower Baskets"
Lisa gave a thumbs up to their the English pronunciation.
Costco (in Kobe)
-What an adventure! -
The drive there was smooth but a closed road on the way home
had us searching for a new route home.
It took twice as long to get through Osaka but eventually
we made it back home
Lisa showing her favorites - peanut butter and 3.5 pound bag of choc. chips!
My favorites finds were: cheddar cheese, animal crackers and jelly belly jelly beans!
Saidaiji Baptist Church
Ibaraki family - came to my house for a waffle brunch before church (2pm service)

Ibaraki family and Lisa chatted with Bob & Nancy Sorley via Skype - video phone.
The kids were amazed - "Is that really them?" they kept asking.
The kids are teaching me some Japanese
Takai no hontai kotoba wa naani?

Heguri Water Park

Thanks to Lisa for letting me borrow some of her photos for this post!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Couple of Bullet Points

Highlights of the week that was and a peek at the week that will be -
(to see photos click here.)

  • CULTURE! Went to a ballet Monday with one of my former 2nd grade students and his mother/my friend - enjoyed watching a Kansai Christian School student (Miyu) dance in Don Quixote and then we stayed to watch Swan Lake!
  • COOLer! Went to Heguri Water Park - with families (students/teachers/parents/friends) connected to KCS and enjoyed a sunny afternoon in a cool place.
  • CONDITIONers - Now that it's almost AUGUST! I've finally ordered an Air Conditioner (they're called Air Con's in Japanese and have cooling and heating functions -making it a mulitpurpose machine) the company representative is a friend of a friend's, who came to the my house to discuss the purchase and then gave me a huge discount on the price. I'm hoping it will be installed on Wednesday!
  • CONNECTIONS - My friend, Lisa, arrived Saturday from Okinawa and is spending the week with me. She and I have known each other since college - share the same job (educational ministry) and were once roommates - we just inconveniently live on different islands of Japan. We see each other about 2x a year and we have lots planned this week including a trip to IKEA and hopefully Universal Studios Japan.
  • COOKING - Made lots of waffles today - and enjoyed hosting a brunch with a Japanese family with children age 5 and 3! We had lots of fun toppings (including SPRINKLES!) and the kids loved it! The father said he'd buy a waffle maker for his wife for her birthday so she could make him waffles every morning! =-) Funny guy!
  • COSTCO - that's the plan for tomorrow - a visit to a huge warehouse selling foreign and local foods - Should be another fun adventure! (especially since it's my first time to drive there!)
  • "COULD have danced all night" the song we'll be practicing with the singing group I'm in - after an Okonomiyaki dinner tomorrow night.
  • COOKIE - - the dog I am taking care of for the year - is such a blessing to me - and was so well behaved with guests in the housed today. Just thought I'd add that since Cookie starts with "C"

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Flavors

New flavors are out this summer . . .

Lemon vinegar (I like this one!) (They had Apple vinegar earlier this spring, not bad.)

Ramune - - the blue green bottle on the right is a type of sugar candy with a lemon flavor that kids adore in this country. The kitkat is using this flavor for the candy bar. (I haven't tasted it yet) I enjoy the fact that they even put the candy bottle image on the packaging.
Ice Cream -
Haagen Dazs has a White Peach flavor this summer - which is AMAZING!
Peaches (Momo モモ) are in season right now, so this ice cream topped with fresh peaches is - well、I better stop so you don't start drooling on the computer.

For those of you living in Japan - have you found other candies/beverages with new flavors out there?

Monday, July 20, 2009

the Simple Woman's daybook

I saw this on another blog I read: the Simple woman's daybook so I thought I'd give it a try for inspiration on today's blog post.

FOR TODAY Tuesday July 21 ...

Outside my window...
rain is pouring down on a rice paddie

I am thinking...
I've had one too many bad hair days and I need to overcome my dread of getting a hair cut for the first time in a new town where I can't communicate fully.

I am thankful for...
a friend who called to invite me to a ballet yesterday afternoon, for time spent chatting at a coffee shop with her and her son, and rain today that is keeping temps cool, the relaxed schedule of summer break

From the learning rooms...
I'm studying & attempting to memorize Matthew 5

From the kitchen...
sweet and sour pork - except substituted mango for pineapple and chicken for pork, Korean nori (seaweed), lots of fruit smoothies and green smoothies (Yummy way to eat spinach!), and chocolate chip cookie dough

I am wearing...
black Montbell pants, and raspberry colored t-shirt

I am creating...
an IKEA bookshelf (ok, assembling is a better word for it - and its a 2 person job so I'm stuck for now)

I am going...
to drink a cup of coffee

I am reading...
"Teaching Redemptive" by Donovan L. Graham, "I am NOT, but I Know I AM" by Louie Giglio, and whatever English novel I can get my hands on

I am praying...
for the meeting my fellow missionaries in Tokyo are having as they discuss what could be some complex issues, that more people will answer the call to missions in Japan, for my friend to experience God's love as she struggles to find a job, for energy to invest in friendships in this culture

I am hearing...

the swish of the fan, the splash of the cars on a road filled with puddles, the gurgle of the coffee pot

Around the house...
plants that need some TLC, recycling that needs recycling day to come soon, a dog that loves to sleep

One of my favorite things...
spending time friends who come to visit, playing together and praying together

A few plans for the rest of the week:
reading, pool outing, cleaning, checking out a total solar eclipse, volleyball, singing and enjoying time with a friend who is visiting from a far,

Here is a picture I am sharing...
Lilies in my backyard with a rice paddies in the background
- photo taken May 31 -
the lilies are gone now and the rice is about knee high

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Prayer Update


Moving from one place to another is not easy, at times it feels I’m living between worlds with friendships stretching across the globe. Please pray for wisdom and timeliness about making, maintaining, and growing relationships in Japan and overseas.

Language Learning

Praise for the completion of 15 months of Japanese study! Pray for time & diligence to continue studying alongside my new ministry focus.

Educational Ministry

Pray for stamina and discernment in my role as teacher and for opportunities to pour out Jesus’ love to the students and staff.

Building Project

Pray for the provision of funds for remodeling buildings and constructing a playground.

Church Home

Pray I’ll find a find a sense of belonging and press on with joy through language challenges.

July 2009 Newsletter

I've Finished

After completing 15 months of full-time language study, I’ve learned that studying Japanese is a lifelong journey! Through the dedication of teachers and encouragement from classmates, linguistic mistakes became stepping stones for learning. Extemporaneous three-minute speeches, memorized fifteen-minute speeches, along with kanji study and listening drills were carried out alongside classmates who have become dear friends. I was blessed to have one class a week focused on Japanese for missionaries—learning the vocabulary and grammar necessary for praying and participating in a worship service. Although I’ve finished formal study the journey of language learning will continue as I interact with language helpers in my community.

I've Moved

In March, I made the 10-hour road trip west from Tokyo to my new mission owned home located in Nara. Other than the croaking of frogs, my home is in a quiet area. The property boarders two rice paddies, yet is conveniently located near a train station, less than an hour ride from Kyoto and Osaka, and just a 25-minute drive from the school where I teach. This spacious home has provided me the opportunity to host guests and rediscover the joys of hospitality. (Pictured: inside the house day 1 and outside with friends from Tokyo)

Bob and Nancy Sorley, Converge Worldwide missionaries who retired in 2008, lived in this home before me. The relationships they made in this community have been a huge blessing to me as their friends are reaching out to me as I adjust to a new location. I have joined a singing group, The Flower Baskets, and a women’s volleyball team, Mama-san Volley. These groups are providing opportunities for relationships with Japanese women, not to mention language learning and exercise!

Weekends have included visiting various Japanese Baptist churches to introduce myself and my

educational ministry. I have not yet found a place to call my "home church" and would appreciate your prayers for a sense of belonging and relationship development within the church despite the language challenges.

I've Started

In April, I began teaching 1st and 2nd grade at Kansai Christian School (KCS). It feels like a mini-United Nations with the variety of nationalities represented among the staff and students. It was a steep learning curve for me adjusting to the location, curriculum, and my new role but educating Third Culture Kids (TCKs) is my ‘sweet spot’. Its been worth the work and preparation to get here. Besides teaching 1st and 2nd grade, I am also responsible for teaching 1-4 grade music, directing the 1-6 grade drama, supervising the high school and junior high worship team and assisting the basketball team when needed. It seems there is always more to be done than energy and resources to do it, but God is faithful and though various challenges the community is growing stronger spiritually and relationally.

Moving Again

This time it’s the school that is moving not me. Due to termite damage to the former school building, KCS purchased new property this spring and remodeling began this summer. Generous donations have helped to purchase land and fund phase 1 of the remodeling project. (pictured above) However, funds are still needed to help finish classroom construction and build a playground.

Prayerfully consider taking part in building a school for Third Culture Kids in Japan. If you want to learn more about this building project contact me at: japanlori (at symbol)

To contribute: send in a gift to

Converge Worldwide BGC. Please clearly mark all gifts: Japan-Kansai Christian School Building, Project #640699

I've DONE it! - news about the newsletter

Well - I'm finally done it

I've written a newsletter to send out to supporters. I used to love doing this! Trying to be creative with the wording and layout to express how God's been at work in my life and ministry. I used to do this quarterly and prayer emails monthly! But due to living in the chaos of transition and beginning a new ministry focus (education verse language study) I have been putting off this newsletter.

Actually, I have about 5 different drafts of the newsletter written at various times over the last 5 months. So it's not that I didn't try - I just didn't finish. - --

Now that I'm on summer break I decided NO MORE EXCUSES! Just do it! So I went off to Starbucks (enjoying the free air conditioning in this 90 + degree weather)) and typed and typed until my battery power ran out.

Well, I'm done - I have a pdf version of my newsletter typed and ready to send out (FINALLY!)

and yet I haven't sent it out because . . .

I've spent the last 4 hours on my computer trying to update email addresses. YUCK! And I'm not done yet!

There are joys and a challenges with sending newsletters out via email.

  • knowledge that you've communicated with hundreds of prayer warriors at once
  • the reply emails of encouraging words
  • the uplift in prayer support as people know more specifically how to pray
  • its free! (no trying to figure out the cost of a stamp! no printing costs! no envelops)
The cHaLlEnGeS
  • that pesky "delivery failure" message as a reply
  • churches and individuals who change their email addresses without updating the missionary that is trying to stay in touch
  • trying to stay up to date with over 500 email addresses and 30+ churches
  • trying to organized the list so that each person receives a prayer letter once (not multiple times!)
  • How to ask people "if you're not getting this email, raise your hand" when you don't have their email address or street address and can't figure out which of the 30 churches they connect with
Perhaps that's why I prefer blogging to the process of sending out prayer newsletters.
I can put one short message on the web and thousands of people can view it, pray, respond, etc. - without me having to sort, delete, organize group lists or update addresses.

  • If any of my readers out there have advice on a better way to organize/keep track of the list by all means clue me in! Is there widget or something I could add to the blog for people to sign up?
  • If you are reading this and thinking - Lori - I used to get your newsletters but I haven't received anything for a LOOONG time (last mass email Feb. 4, 09 last newsletter Nov. 2008 ) please send me an updated email address.
  • If you've NOT signed up for my mailing list and would like to receive it in PDF format send me a message with your email address
After I conquer this emailing list and hit send - I promise to work on fixing the disconnect between my camera and computer so that you can see some photos of how I've been spending my summer break. =0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Feeding Deer in Nara

While in Nara feeding the deer we discovered that the paper wrapper for the deer crackers was edible for the deer. We found a gentle deer and Boeun-chan was brave enough to feed it.

Tokyo-ites visit Nara

Me, Watanabe Sensei, Mihwa-san, Boeun-chan (front)

Last weekend some friends from Tokyo visited and we needed a couple photos to prove they were actually at my house. So above is the group shot by the front door and below all of us in the living room. For breakfast we enjoyed some Flinsin (German crepes) and had a relaxing morning before heading out to see the sites.

Nara - The city where I live is known as the first permanent capital of Japan. Its main attraction is Nara Koen (Park) with no fewer than 8 Unesco World Heritage sites.

Nara Park is home to about 1200 deer, which in old times were considered to be messengers of the gods and today enjoy the status of national treasure. (Hunters while it may look like fun place to find some easy targets- hunting is illegal.) For 150 yen a person can buy shika-sembei (deer crackers) and feed the deer. Some of the deer just sit there and eat out of your hand. Others will chase you across the park and put their nose in your pocket searching for the food. While the gentle deer eventually got a hand out from Boeun-chan, the aggressive deer, as might be expected, scared this 4 year old.This was the 1st visit to Nara for my friends from Tokyo.
It was fun to play the role of tour guide.
Despite the fact that it is rainy season, we were blessed with a sunny (and hot!) day. The umbrella Mihwa-san has is to protect her from the sun - not the rain. (This is a very common thing among Japanese women. White skin = beauty, not tan skin or sun spots.)In front of Kofuku-ji.
A five-storey pagoda dating from 1426, the 2nd tallest pagoda in Japan.

Shiroi Kao - White Face

Gion is a location famous for its geisha. At dusk many visitors come to this area to catch a glimpse of these rare beauties dressed in gorgeous kimonos and shuffling quickly down the street on their way to an appointment. In this area an empty taxi parked on the street is a good indication that geisha will soon be appearing (the crowd of camera carrying tourists is another big hint).

"白い顔を見つけました!”  -ボウンちゃん

"I found a white face!" - Boeun chan.

While visiting Gion in Kyoto on Saturday, Boeun-chan - my 4 year old friend, was quick to spot geisha in a taxi at the end of the evening. She pointed them out to us and then was rewarded with a rare smile from the geisha in the taxi.

Facts about Geisha
Their Kimonos are worth thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is reported that a patron may pay more than US$1,000 to spend an evening in the company of a geiko (Kyoto term for a fully fledged geisha). A geika or maiko (apprentice geisha) is a kimono-clad woman versed in an array of visual and performing arts (playing a three-stringed shamisen, singing, dancing, flower arranging, tea ceremony, etc.). According to my Kyoto guide book they estimate that there are perhaps 80 maiko and just over 100 geiko in Kyoto. It is thought that there are fewer than 1000 geisha and maiko remaining in all Japan.