Thursday, April 28, 2011

Glimpses: Jet Lag Therapy

When friends and family travel to Japan crossing multiple time zones jet lag is always an obstacle.
To combat this I'm developing jet lag therapy - activities that help keep visitors awake during their "black hole" time and try to keep reflexes awake. Baking cookies is a great jet lag therapy.

In Lisa, my twin sister's, case I used "ramune" as jet lag therapy.
"Ramune" is a Japanese soda that has a unique marble ball at the top that needs to be pushed down in order to drink the beverage. I challenged Lisa to figure out how to open it.
 Typically this is a simple and clean process.

But not for Lisa, here is a video  . . .  
(You will need to tilt your head to the left as I haven't figured out how to rotate videos.)
Take notice of how "quick" Lisa's reaction time is on jet lag.


This got our visit off to an explosive start!

Here is a link to a video on how to correctly open the bottle.

Apr. 28

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Glimpses: Guest Room

The guest room is ready for my visitor who arrives tomorrow.
  I can barely sleep. 
I'm so excited.
my twin sister 
will be in the country 
and get to be part of
 "my world".

Apr. 27

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Glimpses: Rocking Worship!

The kids have learned a new song: Jubulani Africa (Rejoice, Africa). 

Awesome worship practice today - BIG THANKS to the South African mission team! 

Maybe we should warn the neighbors so they don't worry tomorrow when the building starts rocking!

Apr. 26

Monday, April 25, 2011

Glimpses: Ministry can be messy

This week mornings are spent with Achievement testing. 
Afternoons are spent with Spiritual Emphasis Week.

A short-term mission team from South Africa is leading our Spiritual Emphasis week at KCS. Kids have a sports ministry emphasis while the teachers are receiving "bright star" training. The KCS worship team is meeting with the SA team members to lead worship. 

Each day teachers are taking turns providing lunch for the short-term team. 
(Adding to my theory that baking is a form of ministry!)
I signed up to bring lunch Tuesday.
 I decided to make an "American lunch" menu consisting of:
 Sloppy Joe's (also known as BBQ sandwiches)
Lettuce Salad
Nachos and Salsa
and Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert.

I got the recipe for the Mrs. Field's cookies here. I find it interesting that an American recipe posted on a my friend's blog in Austria, was read and baked in Japan for a group of short-termers from South Africa! That's how the things roll here.

Here is what my kitchen looked like during the process Monday night.
 Reality - when I cook there is often a big mess. 

But don't fear - I did clean up before going to bed. Here's proof. 

Apr. 25

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Glimpses: Easter

Saidaiji Baptist Church has stopped renting their building and moved all of their belongings (minus the grand piano) to the Ikoma Church.  We've had joint services once a month for a year but Easter was one of the first Sundays we are officially merged as congregations into one church.  It was a joyful celebration as we worshiped God and celebrated a risen Savior together!

Fun conversations were had during the potluck after the service.
Here is a HUGE cookie that someone made for everyone to share. It's the size of of a medium Pizza.

Everyone went home with a decorated cookie, a bookmark with a bible verse on it and a hardboiled egg with Japanese decorations on it. 

April 24

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Glimpses: Taiyaki

Met with the Flower Basket singing group today to begin a new season.  I wasn't able to sing in ANY of the concerts last year due to schedule conflicts and I've missed this community.  Tonight we gathered to talk about the new season and watch video of last years.  One friend brought - Taiyaki - fish shaped treats. The outside is made with pancake/waffle like batter the inside has various types of fillings. Today one was filled with red bean paste and the other with sweet potato.
Click here for a video on how they are made.
April 23

Friday, April 22, 2011

Glimpses: Dogwood

If you haven't notice, I've been finding nature very inspiring lately.  I love all the flowers and new leaves that are seen this time of year.  I was on the balcony and turned around - completely caught off guard - not ready to see this flash of pink bursting from the branches.  Thrilled to see the dogwood blooming, I ran inside to grab a few photos.  Time again to admire God's creation.

April 22

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Glimpses: Green Thumb

My neighbor has a green thumb.
Compared to his field mine's numb.

 Some iris's poking up without fear,
And just beyond the edges of the photo
 - what you can't see - 
are all the lovely green weeds here.

Welcome back, Spring,
Can't wait to see the joys you'll bring!

April 21

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Glimpses: thinking outside the box and in the oven (part 2)

Here is a picture of Beth Johnson (middle) and Mrs. Clark (right) at a nursing home delivering the pumpkin cranberry muffins I made to help with the Tohoku disaster relief. 
 Mrs. Clark said they were so grateful. 

(photo credit to the Clarks)
April 20

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Glimpses: Life A.D.

Life After Drama season means I'm actually able correct all the papers from the day, stop at the bank, and the grocery store and get home before 6pm.  I'm able to make a decent meal and revel in a slower paced evening, drink some appletizer, smell the roses (Thank you drama students!) and enjoy the candle light.

April 19

Monday, April 18, 2011

Glimpses: Thinking outside the box and in the oven

I am surrounded by people who are diligently at work to bring relief supplies to the Tohoku region.
Because of my work schedule I'm not able to go with the caravans of supplies but when I hear of items they need I try to help.

The students at school are collecting toys and fun snack items for children in the disaster relief areas.

On Monday, April 18, the KCS administrative assistant, Mrs. Clark, announced that she'd be going to deliver the next relief supplies on Thursday.  She asked for anyone who could - to bake something that they could deliver to the nursing homes in the area.  They apparently had already established contact and built relationships there. Through those conversations they had learned that due to their age and condition of their teeth they needed soft foods to eat. They had rations of dried goods but had very limited fresh foods or baked goods.

I was excited to donate my baking skills for a good cause.  

I made Pumpkin Cranberry muffins. Recipe found here.

April 18

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Glimpses: Hallelujah

KCS student worship team lead worship at Sakai International Bible Church.  Amazing opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and minister to a local church body that doesn't have as many musical resources in their congregation.

April 17

Friday, April 15, 2011

Glimpses: Lights, Camera, Action

The seats are ready to be filled. 
Honk! Jr. was performed before an audience of 72 people.  It was huge success.
2 months of hard work by actors, dancers, singers, music directors, technical crew and so many parent volunteers that it would probably be easier to name those who weren't involved! 
There were a few hiccups during the dress rehearsal - like having to use a cramped hallway or a 3rd floor changing room and some sound issues. But people stepped in and challenges turned into blessings.
The dress rehearsal wasn't exactly wonderful but bring in the live audience and WOW! It went beyond my expectation!  I can't say enough how much the teamwork of everyone involved was so amazing - It made me proud to be part of this school community! 

Thank you to all those who attended and to those who prayed for this day! It is a memory to savor!

April 15

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glimpses: Momo-chan

Meet Momo chan. 
 Her name means "peach".   She was a dog that was rescued from Tohoku disaster and the dog shelter needed homes to care for the dogs they had.  My friend and co-worker, Mrs. Y. (also owner of 2 other poodles: Latte and Cheddar) volunteered to care for Momo.  
When Mrs. Y brought Momo-chan to school we thought she was adorable!
Her adjustment after the earthquake hasn't been easy (crying through the night if the lights are off, etc.) but things seem to be going well now.  

If you want to see more photos or read more (in Japanese) about these teacup poodles check out their blog lovelovelatte

April 14

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Glimpses: Hot Glue Gun + feathers + vest =

Hot glue gun +  white-painted-brown-feathers + vest = One molting Ugly "Duck" costume

April 13

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Glimpses: Ofuro

After our final run through of the musical, and a very late practice Tuesday, I was so thankful for the patience and dedication of so many students and parents!
I was also very exhausted. 
 With just 3 days until the performance I needed to find a way to relax.

Taking an ofuro - bath is one way to do that.
Oh, so relaxing - just had to be careful not to fall asleep in the tub!
 In Japan you wash away all the dirt in the shower and relax in the bath.  
Each person in the house uses the same (clean) bath water so you don't want soap suds or dirt in there. 
The last person in the tub drains it (or the water is used for other tasks such as washing laundry).

April 12

Monday, April 11, 2011

Glimpses: Webbed feet

I've been busy getting a duck yard ready to tell a poultry tale!  From their little webbed feet to the tip of their beaks we're quacking with excitement.  Today was our final run through before the dress rehearsal and performance on Friday.  (4 more days!) So excited for the audience to get a glimpse of the big talent in this little school!

Shake Your Tail Feathers!

HONK! Jr., a musical based on the story of the Ugly Duckling, will be performed by the Kansai Christian School, Eagle Theater Company April 15.  Helping direct 27 students (grades 1 through 12) along with two teachers and multiple parent volunteers is a stretching experience but also tons of fun!

Please pray for good health and energy in the next week, effective communication, unity among the cast and crew, and for God to use this experience for his glory.

If you live near by and want tickets and/or directions post a comment.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Glimpses:Beautiful detour

During my journeys today I took a wrong turn and came upon a river lined on both sides with cherry blossoms.  It was a beautiful pink archway over the river.  This is the only photo I took today.

April 10

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Glimpses: Sidetracked by Sakura

While taking my typical Saturday trip to run errands at the post office/bank, convenience store (to pay bills)  and bakery I received a phone call from another of the drama directors regarding costumes. 

While we talked I went to a local park and enjoyed the view of the bloomin' sakura
 (cherry blossoms).

When I got home I decided to see what was blooming in my yard.  I saw this yellow bush blooming and took the picture. When I uploaded it to the computer I found a little critter playing hide-and-seek in the petals.

If we're friends on Facebook you can see more photos in my 'Spring 2011' photo album.
April 9

Friday, April 8, 2011

Glimpses: Talking to God about Sin

All-school chapels are some of my favorite times of worship.
High schoolers and middle schoolers lead the singing,
elementary students sing without care for what others think of their voices.
and our chaplain, Mr. Mason, leads the teaching with great skill.

This chapel was "Talking to God about Sin"
We looked at 'Payers of Confession' (after we sin)
and 'Prayers of Prevention' (before we sin)
He also worked in a video clip from Ratatouille
 to help ilustrate one of his points!  He does a great job of teaching in such a way that 1st graders understand what he's saying and 12 graders are also challenged in their thinking. 
Not an easy task. 
Thank you for continuing to pray for the spiritual development of the students. 

(April 17, KCS student worship team will 
visit the church Mr. Mason is a pastor of and lead worship there. 
Exciting opportunity!)

On the Friday's when we have 'split' chapels, we meet together for worship through singing and then divide into class groups, 1-4 grade then 5-8 grade and finally 9-12 grade.  Teachers take turns leading these chapels.

April 8

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Earthquakes and Aftershocks

 The Earthquakes and After shocks continue. 
When I woke up this morning and read my email I had a message from a church in USA wondering if I was ok after the new big earthquake.  I hadn't felt anything last night so I turned to the news to learn that about 11:32pm last night there was an earthquake Magnitude 7.1 the epicenter was off the coast of Miyagi Ken in northeaster Japan. This is very near where the March 11, M9.0 earthquake was also located. I heard that it was felt in Tokyo also but the Kansai area of Japan (where I live) didn't feel it.  I went to the Japan Meteorological Agency's website and learned it was a 6 on the Japanese scale. Here is a map from their site. 

How to pray . . .
*Some experts have said that there could be strong aftershocks of up to magnitude level 8 for six months. Please pray that the earthquakes will cease.
*Pray for salvation and hope for the people of Japan, and pray that Love on Japan can do its utmost to spread hope and the love of Christ in this difficult time.
*Many different areas affected by the disaster have different needs, and needs are constantly changing. This leads to confusion with the delivery of supplies. Pray for accurate communication of needs.
*Pray for stamina for all those working relief; for enough rest, for emotional fortitude, and unshakable faith.
*Pray for relief teams that are on the ground, assessing needs in disaster-struck areas, and providing supplies to evacuees. Pray for their safety and maximum effectiveness in providing relief for the suffering. 
*Pray for willing hearts among the Japanese, and for Christians to have the boldness to pursue witnessing opportunities.
*Pray for children who need comfort and safety, hugs and reassurance – even if they are physically "fine." Schools across Japan are starting the new school year, but for many, they have to plan around exams that students were unable to take, records that have been lost, and school buildings that have been ruined or are being used as evacutation centers. Pray for the educators and students of Japan.

Other websites for prayer lists. CRASH Prayer List (English +7 other languages)
  GOSPEL REST prayer list or subscribe to the new Converge Worldwide google group prayer list here.

Glimpses: Solace

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is
     to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone
     with the heavens, nature and God.

Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and
     that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple
     beauty of nature.  I firmly believe that nature brings solace
     in all troubles. 
                                                                                 - Anne Frank 

Nature is blooming outside while I'm inside working to see the talents of young students bloom.
Since its usually dark when I get home, today I decided to bring some of the flowers from my yard into the classroom. This way I can enjoy them without needing a flashlight. 

Today we had our  4 hour "Technical Run Through" of the musical, Honk! Jr. at the Community Hall.
With one week until performance it gave us all a dose of reality.
 This is the space, these are the challenges, are you ready? 

I've been so focused on drama I'm having dreams about frogs.  I have had nightmares of people (including me) falling off stage and cracking their heads open. 
 So even though it was a challenging practice trying to put the pieces together,
 I was very thankful when I realized we made it through with no injuries! 
As I watched from the wings today - I see areas to work on this week and also areas where the voices in songs are A-mazing!  Other parts where the littlest actors are just adorable! 

April 7

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Glimpses: You are what you eat

Have you seen the photo projects where someone takes pictures of the contains of refrigerator and you make assumptions of them based on their food?
"if we really are what we eat-then refrigerators are like windows into our souls."

1 & 2 grade teacher/missionary |Nara, Japan | 1-person household | 
1 week 1 day before the musical performance - feels the need to go grocery shopping! 

leftover stew (lunch), 6 types of cheese, 2 cherry tomatoes, salsa,  sliced ham, 2 packages of tofu, 1/2 head of cabbage, mushrooms.
In the door, fig jam, berry jam, chocolate syrup, eggs, 3.8% milk, BBQ sauce, pesto sauce, lemon juice and various salad dressings 

April 6

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Glimpses: Who what wear?

Yesterday orders of t-shirts for the HONK! Jr. costumes arrived. 

After drama practice I tried to organize all of the costumes. 
At least I got the process started.  
With 20 actors, some with 3 or 4 costume changes, 
 baby duckling to -> teenage ducking to -> goose to-> froglet to-> teenage duckling
getting all the beaks and webbed feet organized
 for each drama king or queen will take some time.
Each costume gets a bag, each actor gets a bag of bags of costumes.
 Very thankful we have wrinkle free fabric! 
The transparent bags are a time saving key - 
I don't have to open the bag to see what's inside!
 Made note of items we're missing and 
stopped to look for accessories at the recycle shop on the way home from school. 

I've also decided to try to get photos of the students in their costumes this week. 
Perhaps if I can post a photo of what they're supposed to wear in the changing room, the little chicks (and parent volunteers) won't be so confused as to who wears what when.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Glimpses: Mole Hills out of Mountains

Driving to school I see this dirt hill.
The road makes an S curve around the hill.

Soon when construction is done. There will be no hill.
One might say they're making a mole hill out of a mountain.

When they widened part of the road I had no clue that the hill would soon disappear.
 I just knew the S curve was a bit tricky to navigate.  

I miss the view of the grove of trees that used to cover the hill.
But I will be glad for the convenience of a straight road.

I see progress as I wait in the line of cars in the road construction zone. 
I wonder where they are hauling all of the the dirt off to. 

 Changes are sometimes simple like pulling out a plant - 
but sometimes something drastic is necessary - removing a hill. 

Makes me wonder what "hills" in my life need to be removed to make a straight path.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glimpses: Flute Recital

After church today I enjoyed the music of a piano and flute recital. 
 In the photo above Rachael is playing Riverdance duet with her flute teacher and Barb is playing the piano. Amazing performance! It gave me the chills.
Rachael is graduating from KCS this spring and heading to the states for college with a music major.