Monday, October 26, 2009

remain awake

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the Presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. An the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.
- C.S. Lewis

Had a conversation with student's parent today where I was talking about tomorrow's schedule. Only I was thinking tomorrow is Thursday. Umm, yeah - tomorrow is Tuesday. I think I need to pay more attention in class when my 1st grader does "calendar time"!

God has been showing up in many of the nooks and crannies of life where I often don't notice him. It's been a growing time were in one moment I'm smiling with joy, another I'm gritting my teeth with perseverance, then come tears of pain, followed by a sense of peace at His presence and love. There really is no such thing as a wasted experience I just pray I can attend and remain awake to what He's doing here.

Due to some things I need to attend to here, offline, I'm going to step away from the computer for a little while. I look forward to seeing you all again on the other side of this break.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

to be continued . . .

Life has been a whirlwind of activity since the typhoon.
was a chapel day in school - I helped with the worship team and then led chapel for 1-4 graders

Saturday -
Volleyball practice with the Saikita -Women's volleyball team. Day was filled with many errands, some phone calls and cleaning.

Sunday -"Sports Ministry" day
I participated in a Volleyball tournament, I played right side hitter and had fun slamming the ball. My team won one match and lost one. It was a fun time hanging out all day with Japanese women who have never been to church.

Beginning of Spirit week at Kansai Christian School.
Each day of the week has a theme

Tuesday - Prom Bomb Day (Students dressed in formal attire)
Wednesday - "Who R U? Day" (students dressed as a famous person) I went as Mary Poppins. (see photo) Two mothers observed in the classroom for the morning - I enjoyed their visit!
Thursday - ZZZZ Day (students wore PJs to school)

Friday - Sports Day - we'll have a sports festival at a local park.
(I'll be helping with Chapel and sharing my testimony in 5-8 grade chapel.

Then the weekend begins-
I'm heading up to Tokyo to attend Zach and Esther's Wedding. I was in language school with Zach last year and heard the behind the scenes stories of Zach's journey to get to know Esther (a Japanese MK from Jamaica)and the proposal. They have a sweet love story! Saturday will be a fun reunion with language school friends and teachers as we celebrate with Zach and Esther.

I'll also be taking care of some business with my mission and visiting with other colleagues in Tokyo before heading back to Nara on Sunday. I'll be traveling by Shinkansen (bullet train) which from Tokyo to Kyoto takes 2 1/2 hours but traveling from home to the bullet train takes about an hour on each end making it about a 5 hour trip.

Monday I'll be teaching again and welcoming a new student to the class.
Too bad I can't travel through the air like Mary Poppins nor can I snap my fingers to clean a room. Ahhhh, to be human without storybook powers.

Photo: from a friend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Typhoon day is the new Snow day

Coming from Minnesota I grew up like many children wishing and dreaming for snow storms to come on school days. It always seemed like a waste of good snow if the storm came on a weekend. We always hoped they would come early enough in the morning to cause the school bus routes to be drifted over and stay long enough that school was canceled not delayed. But we also hoped that it would clear up enough mid morning that we could go out and play in the snow.

Now that I live in Japan I'm experiencing a new type of 'snow day'. It is tropical storm season in Japan and we've just been hit by Typhoon Melor which brought heavy rain and winds as fast as 198 kilometres (123 miles) an hour. Schools in Japan follow the guidance of the Japan Meteorological Agency and when they put a warning in your district the schools in that area close. This morning at 6am my area of Kinki was colored RED meaning - we had a warning. My school and any other schools in our region were canceled. Later in the morning we moved to yellow meaning weather was downgraded to advisories. Currently(Thursday 4pm) my area is one of the few green areas on the map meaning there are no advisories.

Yesterday after school the winds started to pick up and the rains increased. Before I went to bed I had shut the shutters on all the windows in my house and had cleared the yard of anything that might be blown away. Between midnight and 1 pm the storm winds sounded to be the strongest here. Cookie didn't like the sound of the winds and was whining, barking and growling at the storm. By the time I got the phone call at 6am that school was canceled, the winds had reduced significantly but it was still raining. Train lines had delays and debris was seen in the streets. Flash flood warnings were out but from what I can see my neighborhood didn't have much damage or standing water. By this afternoon the sun is shining, the birds are singing and people are out in their yards sweeping up the branches and clearing debris.

The storm has moved northwest and is causing other challenges for various parts of Japan, tornado force winds, flooding, electricity outages, etc. But overall it seems
that this storm is not as severe as was expected. Praise the Lord!

How did I spend my 'Typhoon day'?
I've spent the day catching up on sleep, trying to fight off this cold that has lingered, reading a book, cleaning the house, correcting papers and preparing for tomorrow's chapel message. I'm enjoying a slower paced day away from school but it is not quite the carefree feeling of the 'snow days' of my childhood.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Singing in the Rain?

We are at present awaiting the arrival of Melor, or as my Japanese friends call him Typhoon #18. Right now he's scheduled to visit on Wednesday (Oct. 7) but he's been hanging out over some water catching the waves and building in strength. His delay has moved him into what Americans would call a category 5 equivalent super typhoon with winds up to 205km/h.

Japanese buildings and structures are typically built to withstand the strong winds and rains. Houses have shutters built on them to cover the windows. I'm not worried about the intensity of the storm. But depending on the levels of rain there could be landslides and flash floods which can cause some major damage.

Typhoon Day
Students are wondering if there will be a "typhoon day", where the government closes schools due to the weather.

This evening, I had singing practice with the Japanese vocal ensemble group I'm part. One of the ladies in the group is a teacher and so we were discussing typhoons and school closures. For her school if they declare a "typhoon day" students do not go to school but teachers are expected to report to school.
"Why?" I asked.
"To protect the school," she answered.
"Really?!" -
"No, but we are expected to be working and take care of things if there are problems."

In my case, I'm assuming students as well as teachers stay home from school.

How does a storm get named?
We also talked about how typhoons get their names/number. So I did a little research here and learned that typhoons in Japan are referred to with a number, so I'll hear the weather report talking about typhoon #18, but in Western North Pacific tropical storms have a name. 13 countries in the pacific submit 10 names which are used alphabetically according to the English Name of the country that submitted the storm names. (Are you following this?) The name Melor was submitted by Malaysia. So when I look online to see more information about the typhoon #18 it is also called "Melor".

Do you know how hurricanes get named?
Do you know what is the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?

Learn Japanese

台風 たいふう  "taifuu" is the Japanese word which in English is pronounced typhoon.
the first kanji 台 means standing
and the next kanji 風  means wind so "standing wind"

Around here
Things are pretty normal around the house - well, except that Cookie (the dog) is behaving the same as when there is a thunderstorm - whiny and clingy. (Only right now there is no thunder or lightning). I anticipate that we will have school tomorrow and the students will request our rainy day song, a silly version of "Singing in the Rain", with actions of course! Its a great song to get the wiggles out when stuck inside for recess.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Teach Us

My class: Teaching 1st & 2nd grade
The numbers:
5 second graders
1 first grader

2 boys
4 girls


Japanese, Japanese-American, Malaysian-American, and New Zealander

I also teach music for grades 1-4, for total of 12 students. Once a week after school I work with the high school worship team and am enjoying the mentorship position this allows me with the older students. When Drama club starts I will work with the 1-6 grade students one afternoon a week to put together a performance in April.

Spiritual background:

Some students come from Christian families, some are non-Christian families but all allow their children to study about God and read the Bible every day, with Chapel once a week. I love our Bible times together, and delight in hearing students learn to pray for the first time!

I'm thoroughly enjoying my class. They make me smile and keep me on my toes. The opportunity to watch them learn and grow is huge! In fact, I'm realizing I - as the teacher- probably spend more time with the students during their waking hours than their parents do! What a privilege and responsibility.

Here is a prayer I found from another friend who is teaching overseas.

Prayer for school

God bless our little school.
Teach us first to love God and one another in word and deed.
Holy Spirit, guide both teacher and students into all truth.
Strengthen us with your grace when lessons are hard to understand.
Humble us in our successes.
Be glorified by our growth in knowledge and character.
In Jesus' name, amen.

A Right Time

Japan Team Prayer Letter

Looking at the rice fields around Japan right now you can see them beginning to yellow and bend under the weight of the grain, showing that the time for harvest is quickly approaching. Just as the rice farming has different seasons so too does our work in Japan. There are times of preparing the field, times of planting seeds, times of weeding, times of waiting, times of protecting the crop from predators, and times of harvesting. Sometimes ‘preparing the field’ seems to take all our time and energy with seemingly few opportunities to plant the seeds and a rare blessing of seeing a harvest.

Ecclesiastes 3 says there is . . .
A right time to plant and another to reap,
We are looking forward to opportunities in our ministries to plant seeds in the lives of students, friends and neighbors. We rejoice in the news of baptisms and steps of faith among our Christian brothers and sisters.

A right time to destroy and another to construct,
We saw the destruction of the Kansai Christian School building due to termite damage and rejoice as the first phase of construction of the new location in Heguri comes to completion. Doors opening to 31 students, September 24.

A right time to embrace and another to part,
This spring we embraced Chris Chapman and Erick Ellison as they completed their High school education and sent them off to begin the next chapter of life in America. Chris is at Northwestern College and Erick is at Vermillion Community College both in Minnesota.

A right time to hold on and another to let go,
This summer our teammates Gil and Norene Zinke resigned and we are praying for God’s blessings as they transition into their next ministry.

Our Japan mission has lost 13 members in the last 6 years, only 6 to retirement. The Rengo has 62 churches, over 70 pastors, 2,400 members and 1,800 attending churches. Many churches are searching for a pastor and yet the numbers of students in seminaries are very low. We have 8 people in our mission, with the prospect of new staff many years away at best. Especially during these economically challenging times, we find ourselves looking with compassion at the crowds of Japanese as they search for meaning in life and turn to false gods. We are crying out "What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.”

Though the daily tasks of each of our ministries are very different, we are all working towards the vision of . . . Faithfully using our God-given gifts and opportunities, and by His power, in partnership with the Rengo and others, we will multiply, equip and enable disciples, leaders and churches, which will glorify God and contribute to His Kingdom in Japan and the world.

Please join us in praying for His Kingdom to expand in Japan and the world.