Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The plane has landed

Just wanted to update that I've arrived safely in the states and am enjoying the time with family in this cool weather. (70's and 80's with almost no humidity). Let the Home Assignment begin!
I've taken a few photos which I'll try to post when I can download them - but for now just want to say thank you for your prayers for a safe arrival - I landed in Minnesota during a thunder storm and viewed quite a lightning display from the air. I also caught the 2nd half and over time of the USA vs. Ghana world Cup match. Sorry to see USA out but am now saying GO Ghana! Represent Africa!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This is it!

Me to students: "Tomorrow is the last day of the school
Some Students: "YEAH!!" with fist pumps in the air
Other students: "Ahhh!" in a whinny sad voice.

The end of the school year is met with some sadness and many joys.

It was my first year teaching first grade and second grade and I can now say that I've taught 1st through 8th grade in just 5 and 1/2 years of teaching. (Yes, I've taught in multilevel classrooms). I came to Japan to teach but God has shown me I'm here to learn!

I've grown to love the students and can predict how they will react to things, know what motivates them, and where their struggles are - but one never quite knows what will come out of their mouths next. I'm sad to see them move on to third grade but would be more sad if they needed to stay and repeat the grade. I'm excited to be keeping one student (first grader becoming a second grader) and adding some new first graders in the fall. God has richly blessed us this school year with a new building, new neighbors, new students, and new playground and new school gate. He's been faithful to meet our needs. And I look forward to the future with joyful anticipation!

I asked you to pray for me these last few days and I feel like I've been floating on wings like eagles! Things have fit into place with so many unexpected events and pleasant surprises. Here are some the basics.

Monday - the Spelling Bee. 1-4 grade division was won by a second grader.

Tuesday : Bible Bee: 1-4 grade was won by a first grader.

Wednesday: Sports Day: Swimming at the fitness center
Senior Farewell Dinner - great event to celebrate the graduate!
And I had the joy of hosting Chapman's after their return to Japan. (Cookie's owners and my co-workers and friends). They are now unpacking their house after a year's home assignment.

Today: Dress Rehearsal for Tomorrow (I'm so excited about the 1-4 grade special music performance and the Graduation special music which is a secret - they give me the chills!)

Friday: Spring Program and Graduation
Final day of school, saying good-bye for the summer.
I'm speaking tomorrow as the commencement address and need all the prayer I can get!
Update: Yesterday went really smoothly, the elementary children sang beautifully, the high school worship team rocked it! and the commencement address was met with tears and laughter from the audience (I think thats a good sign.) Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday: Lord willing, I'll be boarding a plane to return to the states for home assignment! I'm ecstatic about being in the same country as my family! This is the longest I've been separated from my twin sister, and I'm so ready to see that record come to an end! Can't wait to hug my nieces and meet my nephew in person for the first time!

Photo: Jennifer, Lisa, Dad (backrow) Mom, me (front row)
(taken Nov. 2007 at my commissioning sevice)

Home Base stateside is in St. Paul, MN. If you need to reach me I'll have email: japanlori - at mark- gmail - dot - com and will be staying (unpacking, and repacking, and unpacking my bags) with my sister Lisa. Feel free to leave a comment if you want more contact information. Praise God, my Sunday's are all scheduled with church visits for the summer months but there are still lots of weekdays that are open. If you'd like to set a time to get together or have me meet with a church mission team please contact me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Refreshing and exciting

Recently I was in the store and found this carton labeled "Lip Tomo campaign" which is basically translated: "lip friend". This is a type of Lipton milk tea described as "Refreshing and exciting Milk Tea beverage." I don't usually think of a beverage as exciting - but it made for a refreshing drink on a hot and humid day during rainy season.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's for lunch?

Japan is known for its obento lunches.
Last week, I asked the students if I could take a picture of their lunch so that others in America could see what they brought. Students can order lunches on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The school orders them from local restaurants - Gusto, Komadoya and MacDonald's. But on the day I took the photo the students each brought their own lunch.

^ Egg salad and ham sandwiches from the convenience store.
^ Homemade tuna sandwich. Students create their own place mat in art class.

^ More traditional Japanese obento= Broccoli, carrots and dumplings.
(The flower shaped carrots is typical of the "cute" food that the students bring.) This day the student's lunch was smaller than normal as the Japanese class was having a Kakigori party that day. (flavored shaved ice - or snow cone)

^Rice ball, sausage, scrambled eggs and some meat wrapped around rice. Seaweed on the side. The box and container for silverware and chopsticks come to school all wrapped in the fabric that eventually is used for a place mat.

Another favorite of students eat cup of noodle or ramen.

Rice Planting by hand

^ v A few days after he used the machine to plant the rice the Mr. Farmer went through the field and planted seedlings by hand in the spots that were missed. I wonder if he had a backache after this.
Now we get to watch it grow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cookie & His blanket

Cookie's owners will soon be returning to Japan. Cookie will be reunited with 'his family' and then I'll be heading on a plane to America. It has been a lot of fun to adopt a dog for the year. One of my favorite things that Cookie does is tug-of-war with his blanket. Usually in the evening after I've eaten supper and am working on the computer Cookie will suddenly appear in the room with his blanket tossing it around and challenging me to tug-of-war. He growls a lot but no one is in real danger of being bitten.

Here's a video of the fun . . .


I've considered getting my own dog when I return but the long hours that I work away from the house would make for one lonely puppy and a quilt-ridden owner. So I'll just enjoy frequent visits to Cookie's house when I'm in need for a dog-fix.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rice Planting Video Part 3


Here is a close up on the machine used to plant rice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adding Seedlings Video


Here is a video on rice planting and adding more seedlings to the planting machine.

Prayer Update

Here is a list of things for you to lift up in prayer.

Just a few more days of school.

  • Finals for Middle and High school students June 16-18.
  • School clean-up day June 18.
  • Staff Year End celebration June 18.
  • Special events next week - Spelling Bee (6/21), Bible Bee (6/22), Sports Fun Day 6/23), Senior Dinner (6/23) Class Parties (6/23), Spring Program(6/25), Graduation(6/25) (I'm overseeing the music for the events 6/25)

  • I've been asked to give the commencment address for the class of 2010 at Kansai Christian school. Pray that I'll know without a doubt what God wants to say through me and that the words will be a blessing to others.

  • End of school years are times of huge transitions for students, teachers and families - some are moving away, some are returning, and new students are coming. -Please pray for healthy good-byes and hellos.

  • As I write this there are 10 days before I board a plane to return to USA for the summer. It's been 2 years and 7 months since I've been in the the states and I'm excited to be reunited with so many people for 2 months.
  • Pray for the efficiency and energy in crossing things off my "to do" list, and grace to accept the things that don't get done.
  • Pray for the many details that still need to be finalized on both sides of the ocean.
  • Pray for re-entry to go smoothly and relationships to be renewed.
  • Pray for safe travel and no problems with lost luggage, air sickness, or customs.

Pray also for my teenage friend, Sayaka, from my singing group. She is struggling with health problems and if there isn't improvement in the next two days she will be admitted the hospital for further tests. She's gone to many years of Sunday school - but she and her family are not Christian. Please pray that God will turn her pain for His glory that she may draw closer to Him.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rice Planting Video


Here is a video of Mr. Farmer planting rice while Mrs. Farmer and I chat. I had tried to explain the size of fields and "machines" (I don't know that much Japanese farming vocabulary) that are used in Minnesota to plant corn and how tiny this machine looks to me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rice Planting

In many areas of Japan any open space that exists is used for a purpose. Gardens, parking lots, parks, and near where I live - rice paddies. I teach at Kansai Christian School which is located outside of Nara in what we call the "inaka" or country side. There are rice paddies on two sides of the school property. The person who owns this property is a very kind man (I'll call him Mr. Farmer).

Maybe its my rural Minnesota upbringing or the fact that I'm so unfamiliar with the process, but I'm fascinated with the rice growing process. While I live surrounded by fields and see many more on my drive to and from school - I've never seen the planting process up close. So when the neighboring farmer started planting right after students were dismissed on Monday I grabbed my camera and asked Mrs. Farmer if I could take some photos. She said yes and we chatted as Mr. Farmer went up and down the field planting rice.

^ Rice Seedlings in the foreground, Mr. Farmer and the rice planting machine in the background.
^ Mrs. Farmer just handed Mr. Farmer some more seedlings to add to the machine. The wall and buildings to the left is part of the school campus.

^The machine looks like a cross between a snowmobile, a lawn mower that plants grass instead of cutting it.

^ Mr. Farmer was careful to walk between the rows of newly planted rice.

^Although Mrs. Farmer told me she grew up in the city and couldn't really tell me how the machine worked or other finer details of planting she didn't hold back the advice from her husband. =0).

^ If you look closely at the picture you can see Mrs. Farmer's motor scooter she drove to another field to get the seedlings and carried them to this field on her scooter. The white mounds on the other side of the road with all the sticks is a chrysanthemum field. The white is a plastic covering the plants. (I'm told this area is well known in Japan for this flower.)

^Across another street from the field another farmer is using some type of tractor to til another field that has been flooded in preparation for planting. More mature chrysanthemum fields on the sides of the flooded field.

^How many of my readers had this scenery on your walk home from school?

Preparing the Soil

Have I mentioned lately how beautiful the area is near the school?
Mountains in the background, then homes in the neighboring community and farmland on 3 sides of the school.

^The road the motorbike is on is a two way street in front of the school. The tractor is preparing the soil for a soon to be flooded then planted rice paddy.

^ The outline of mountains in the background. One dry and one flooded field waiting to be planted. To the left you can see the new net fence that was built to protect the rice paddies from any Frisbees or soccer balls that might go flying out of the playground.
^ This (and the above photo) is the view from the 1 & 2 grade classroom window. In the building to the right is the 3 & 4 grade classroom.

Farmers around the school campus have been preparing the soil for planting season. Looks like he's plowing the flooded field.

Stay tuned for photos of the planting.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where you can't find chicken noodle soup

Health is not valued until illness comes.

This week I experienced a bit of illness. I had a fever which caused me to miss one and a half days of teaching and left me without much of an appetite. I heard from many friends and parents' of students with well wishes for better health. One friend/co-worker/parent of a student asked me about what I was eating. At that point I was sticking to a liquid and Popsicle diet. She encouraged me to try some Japanese noodles. When I was well enough to go back to school Thursday I she gave me some of the following . . .

^I can't read all of the Japanese for you but the Udon - or noodles came in a package like this.

When opened it looked like this. The instructions said to add hot water and then cover for 5 minutes.

^then the tofu and noodles are cooked and after stirring . . .

^ it was ready to eat. It was a soothing flavor and I enjoyed it.
My favorite part was the flower shaped pink ingredient.

^ Besides what person doesn't feel a little healthier just by slurping your noodles!

^ This was another flavor of a udon which I ate for lunch the next day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Limited time offer

Some things are only available for a limited time like . . .

a new flavor of Kit Kat bars - Aloe yoghurt

(Very yummy by the way and no longer on sale at the store when I last checked.)

American cherries were also in stores recently 220 yen per 100 grams.

So yummy and such a nostalgic taste reminding me of American summer vacation! I remember we used to take these as snacks on family road trips.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Camp Update part 2

Some photos of the facilities for the all school Camp Out . . .

^ The tent where meals were served. At the top of the stairs was covered area used as a kitchen with equipment for grilling and sinks. The PTA did a great job of preparing all of the food - hot dogs for dinner and various muffins and fruit for breakfast.

The middle school and high school boys stayed in these tents. This one was called "Sakura" or cherry blossom. The boys brought their own sleeping bags. Joel (in brown), a 2009 KCS graduate was a counselor for this cabin. The boys though surrounded by nature were more interested in Nintendo DS. (No worries though - later they were spotted outside adding to their bug collections.)

^The girls and elementary boys stayed in various cabins. Each cabin had 4 bunkbeds, a sink and bathroom. The bunkbeds were a woven Tatami mat with a futon on top. A pillow, sheet and blanket were provided by the camp.
The bath area - or ofuro was located in the main building.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Camp Update

So, how was Camp? Here's a photo tour . . .

^The spot we ate our Obentos - Picnic lunch
We had great weather, especially after it had rained Monday - Wednesday!
From there we split into 3 groups -
Swimming group - Tennis group - Hiking group

I was on the Hiking group. We hiked 3.5 Km up a mountain and then back down in about 2 hours.

^We saw beautiful scenery.

^ Great views of Osaka

^And enjoyed conversations along the way.

Then we enjoyed some games and free time.

The Middle School and High school students played games on the giant field (the sandy area in the photo) while the Elementary students enjoyed playing on the amazing playground in the shade. (You can see the red roof in the trees by the fence)
Then it was time to settle into the tents and cabins.

^Sign "Kyanpu saito" - Entrance to the Camp Site

^Dinner: Hot Dogs (Thanks to Costco!), edamame, and oranges

^Camp fire - Aahh, the joys of roasting marshmallows!

^KCS teacher Ms. Zorinpuii, from India, eating her first S'more.

Thank you for praying for the camp. It was an awesome time! It's so fun to introduce students to new things. Some children (and adults) got to roast marshmallows and eat s'mores for their very first time. But I think my favorite memory was watching the children soak in the teaching from the camp speaker, Mr. Benedict, an adult missionary kid from Japan. He spoke to the children about God's love and the freedom they can have with God. I heard later that two students from my class asked their camp counselor about the purpose and meaning of baptism. May their hunger for God continue to grow!