Thursday, March 31, 2011

Glimpses: Torchbearers

Field Council for the past many years has been held at 

Here's a glimpse of our day in photos.
(No photos were taken during the meetings as I was the secretary and my fingers were busy typing.)

^"My room" with a view of Mt. Fuji through the window. 

^Lovely flowers -Not sure what kind.

^Breakfast (served with coffee/Tea and a variety of breads).
I adore the quilted covers for the hardboiled eggs.

^The reading nook.

^The people

^Mary Lou can't help but pick up the snow during our walk.

Note the piles of snow out the window.

^"Ok, everyone - put some food in your mouth I'm going to take a picture."

^Family Night.
 We had some skits and stories.
Rachael played flute (Barb accompanied).

^Grace played piano.

^And we celebrated the soon to be high school graduates with some gifts and cake.

Glimpses: Fuji-san

The view from my window this morning - Mt. Fuji.
Our Converge Worldwide Japan team is having our annual Field Council in Yamanaka-ko near Mt. Fuji.  Besides discussing the budget, electing officers, praying for Japan, and enjoying fellowship (with delicious food!).  We are meeting with our Asian Director, David Jahnke, to pray, discuss, and strategize ministry in light of the disaster here. PRAY for wisdom, faith, clarity of purpose in these vital plans.

Not so clear view of Mt. Fuji during our drive here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Glimpses: 7 hour drive

Rode with the Chapman family from Nara to Yamanka-ko where we attended our Converge Worldwide  Field Council.  Along the way we saw many Japanese Self Defense Forces, presumably traveling up  to Tohoku region.

I'm thankful that Jeff and Barb drove as I made the trip by myself last year when they were on home assignment in the states. This time I got to enjoy reading the book, The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. Cookie (Chapman's dog) was interested in the book too, although he slept most of the way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Glimpses: Time for Tea

Spring Break has provided some time to hang out with students in a more relaxed way.
Today I met with a high school student and she introduced me to a new Japanese tea shop,
called Miyake located near Tomio station.

^We sat on tatami mat floors at a table with soothing view of bamboo
 as we talked for a couple hours. 
The menu was filled with modern and traditional Japanese sweets
 - so many that we decided to try a number of them. 
My friend order Sakura (cherry) mochi (click the link to see a photo of it).

Here is the vanilla ice cream and red bean pie that we shared. 
Great combination!
(You thought it was apple pie didn't you!)

I ordered the fruit daifuku (for a better photo click here).  Daifuku mochi is basically pounded rice filled with something. The pink one is Strawberry daifuku mochi with a whole strawberry inside. The green is Kiwi daifuku (Yes, there is part of a real kiwi inside). A wonderful treat!

^This is the view of the rock garden at the entrance. 
If you live near Tomio - I highly recommend this Cafe/tea shop.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Glimpses: Spring Break

^Started my spring break with a lovely breakfast: egg, ham, and cheese bagel sandwich and coffee enjoyed while basking in the morning light.

^Spent the afternoon with 4 talented drama moms (while their 6 kids played outside). We worked on the set and props, putting finishing touches on a duckyard, cornfield, marshland and cat's home. Here Mrs. Matsumura shows off her work turning plastic bottles into a video camera prop for the musical Honk! Jr. We're excited to be getting closer to the April 15 production date!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Glimpses: Naramachi

 Yesterday as I was exploring parts of my city I had not yet visited near Nara JR and Nara Kintetsu train station I snapped the following photos.
White Plum blossoms at a Shinto shrine. 

Pink Plum blossoms at a shinto shrine.

Tiny streets filled with shops.

Many restaurants in old Nara style buildings.

A bike repair shop with a carved wooden sign.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Glimpses: Dear Deer

^Andrea gets her photo taken by one of the many deer of Nara Park. Andrea lives in Kyoto but had never been to see the sights of Nara.  So we spent a few hours on Saturday sight seeing.

^These a little boy in green is intimidated by the deer - although his dad is encouraging him to feed the rice crackers to them.  A construction project is going on in the grey building on the right - set to finish in 2018!

^Kofukuji Five story pagoda built in 725.

^Deer apparently like the taste of the metal chain fence.

^Buddhist monk performing a blessing for the boy.

Todaiji Temple and Ume blossoms.

^This deer only allowed photos of the left side of his face.

^Warning about the biting, kicking, butting, knock-down dear deer of Nara Park.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Glimpses: Bazaar

Friday was Kansai Christian School's annual bazaar, a community event and fundraiser for the PTA.  The Japanese school year ended Thursday for most area schools so today was a holiday for many Japanese neighbors, providing great attendance!

   Food for sale ranged from hot dogs and chili to Tonjiru and onigiri.  At the time I snapped the above photo these 3 friends, Mrs. Mason, Ms. Yamada (3 & 4 grade teacher) and Ms. Zorinpuii (H.S. & M.S. English teacher) were in charge of the table selling games and gadgets.  We also had a Yo-Yo event, a maze to explore and English corner.  My 1 and 2nd graders read books with their middle school "Reading Buddy" for the English corner.  I have a lot of other fun photos from the day - however most involve students so you'll just have to use your imagination.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Glimpses: Fire Trucks

Firefighters and EMS from Nara Fire Station came to Kansai Christian School today.
No there was no fire. It was a scheduled visit as part of the High school health class on fire safety and using emergency equipment like a fire extinguisher and AED.  The 5 firefighters who visited even allowed the high school students to put on some of the gear - including the gas mask. Very educational!

The 1st and 2nd graders were super excited to see the big red trucks at school and it was hard to convince them to go to their Japanese class rather than pile 100 questions on the firefighters.
(Elementary did Fire and Earthquake safety last year. See the post here.)
By the way, the emergency number for Fire is 119.  I found it interesting to see the amount of English on the trucks and jackets.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Glimpses: Jelly Beans

“You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jelly beans.”
Ronald Reagan Quotes

Talking around a bowl of jelly beans - how I spent my evening with my guests.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Glimpses: To Stay or to Go? That is the question

"So besides earthquakes and musicals, what's new for you?" This was the question my 9 year old friend asked me on the phone from Minnesota Sunday.

 My reply: "Not much."

It was another typical Marathon Monday for me.  Teaching followed by Drama practice at school.  But for many in Japan "normal" is a word that is being quite drastically redefined - almost daily.

 The idea of "evacuation" is very sensitive for many in Japan right now. The question of staying or going  is the question many are asking.

Friends and co-workers of mine from Tokyo have relocated to Kansai and are staying with me for a few days until the situation in Tokyo settles down a bit more. I have other friends who are or have hosted those relocating - its a different ministry but at this time very needed.

Another fellow missionary, Wendy, in Tokyo wrote about evacuation here.  I left this comment . . .

  As a missionary in Kansai, I know of many people (missionaries as well as Japanese nationals) who are temporarily leaving Tokyo area for Osaka/Kyoto/Nara for a respite from the stress of life with all the stressors.  It is not an easy decision. I know of kids who won't take naps because of the fear of earthquakes and so the family left Tokyo's to avoid some aftershocks. Some who leave are more effective doing ministry without power outages.  I also know of people who want to leave but due to work don't have that choice.  Some who want to stay but have been ordered out by businesses or their mission.  Each situation is different, they are making decisions with what they believe is best with the information they have.   It's not a situation of coward verses courageous.  It is a community of brothers and sisters that need to honor one another's decision and support them.

Elaine (who is staying here) wrote  "When Smiles Collide" on her blog to tell a little more of her journey. John wrote a post here about relocation.  He talked about the prayer meeting at Saidaiji Church here. His blog has many valuable updates and prayer items I encourage you to check it out!

In the midst all of this is also those making decisions to go north on relief missions. Jeff Chapman (fellow Converge Worldwide missionary)  is driving a truck north tomorrow to bring relief supplies. Here is more on that.  Thank you for continued prayers.
Hyacinth from KCS 1 & 2 Grade class. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Glimpses: Cookie Therapy

Yesterday my co-worker and friend, Elaine, came from Tokyo to Nara for a KCS board meeting. She stayed overnight at my place and today we enjoyed some "cookie therapy" as we made Snickerdoodles.

The stress of not having a "normal" in Tokyo is emotionally and physically challenging: rolling power outages, limited electricity use when it is on, trains that don't run the normal times, long lines for gas,  lines at the grocery store as well as the uncertainty of the nuclear power plant and radiation.  The news we hear/read changes depending on the source and it is hard to turn on the TV or open a newspaper with out the images overwhelming you.  There have been so many earthquakes effecting Tokyo - today a 6.1 magnitude hit in Ibaraki prefecture.

Life in Nara seems very  - well "normal" comparatively. I'm glad Elaine has had time here to relax and breath deeply.   I'm thankful that although Japan is shaken by recent events we know there is a God we can rely on that is our solid ROCK. Firm foundation.  Lover of our souls.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray for peace of mind for people experiencing much stress in Japan and pray for hearts to turn to God, the prince of peace.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Glimpses: Getting Information

Thought you might be interested in seeing my glimpse of Facebook.  When I open my facebook account and look at the "home" page a "Japan Earthquake Information" box appears before all of the news feeds. It gives information on "people finder", shelter information, scheduled outages and train information.    It appears in different languages depending on the Facebook profile's language preference.

Today at school we shared this video (click here) about CRASH. CRASH stands for Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope.  KCS is raising funds to donate to this relief organization that is working with churches, missionaries and volunteers to reach out and help where its most needed.  Today the Drama Club had a Movie-in-the-Hall night watching "The  Music Man" and will be donating all of the proceeds from the bake sale to CRASH. The staff and students have been wanting to "DO SOMETHING" and this is one of those things.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Glimpses: How Many Saved?

Today first and second graders had a very serious time discussing the earthquake and tsunami (also known in our class as "the big waves").  We've been talking in Social Studies class about "needs" and "wants" in a community. How people need shelter, food and clothes.  We decided to add  LOVE to that list (even though the textbook doesn't   - we decided the Bible does).  We looked at pictures from the newspaper showing people in elementary schools for shelter waiting in long lines for food. Pictures of people in the snow getting water bottles filled. We talked about people we know that are working to deliver coats and blankets and food and water to the people in Sendai.

They asked questions and shared stories.
We talked about how the paper said 3,700 people have died.
It said over 9,000 people are missing.

One student asked, "Ms. Harms, How many people are saved?"

Good question!  The paper doesn't really say - but we do know there are 530,000 people in shelters.

"WOW! That's a big number!" she said, "I'm so glad that number is the biggest!"

The students spent about 30 minutes drawing pictures and then journaling about the events.  Many referenced photos and videos they'd seen on TV or websites.  Others wrote prayers. We've been studying about Daniel in Bible class and how he was man who prayed and how God answered his prayers in amazing ways.  It was so touching to see the students compassion for the people in the disaster area pour out into their prayers.

One first grade student even wrote his name on a helicopter in his drawing, "Mr. Y" .  When I asked him to tell me more about that - he said,  "If I was a helicopter maybe I could save some of the people."

Another student wrote a letter to America. "Dear America, Thank you for praying for us and for helping us. Love, M"

It was a pretty amazing time of sharing.  Which is why I was so thankful that today when it was snowing (CRAZY WEATHER!)  and lunch recess was inside - the students had a visit from Mr. Dugan. A middle school teacher who came with a box of Yo-Yo's and some amazing tricks to teach the students.
It was a great distraction and a fun indoor recess time.

Even though the area of Japan where I live (Kansai)  is 550 miles from Sendai - near the epicenter, and 500 miles from the Fukushima nuclear plants, the events of Japan do affect us emotionally.  It's a blessing to see the students take their concerns about the crisis to God and a joy to know he not only hears each prayer and has the power to act!  We are realizing the little things too - that are such a big blessing. Like clean air, running water, and knowing that our friends are close-by and our community is safe.  Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011