Saturday, October 29, 2011

O Happy Day!

Tomorrow I'll be singing with chorus group called the Flower Baskets. We are singing in Naramachi Onjokan  奈良町音声館 from 2-2:45pm.  (Its a 15 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.) The concert is free so if you live close - please stop by and enjoy the sounds of Japanese and English music.

Practicing all the Japanese songs feels like I'm in a Japanese Music 101 class as I'm learning some songs that are soundtracks to movies (Seikai no Yakusoku) and other songs that the Japanese members learned in elementary school (Furusato).  We'll do some songs from English musicals like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I Could have Dance All Night, too. I get to sing the solo for O Happy Day!  which is SUCH a wonderful upbeat song - we'll see if I can manage to get the words and notes right while clapping and dancing!  It promises to be a day of adventure with 7 other Japanese ladies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Energy in a Can

There are some days when I think if only you could capture the energy of a 1st and 2nd grader and deliver it to a tired grown-up (read: the teacher) in a consumable form with a great taste you'd have an amazing product that would keep education moving forward.

The Espresso Pillows from Trader Joe's are the aaaaamazing product that I think has figured out the formula.  Of course they don't  list "energy of a small child" on the ingredient list but that is what these fabulous bits of "crunchy toffeed espresso bits covered in dark chocolate" deliver!  

A big THANK YOU, to my supplier in Minnesota!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I was in my car on my way to church when I encountered this sight.  It's a bus on a two-way street within walking distance of my house. This is a narrow part of the road where there is a bus stop.  While people were getting off I snapped a photo.  During busy times of days there are "baton men" or traffic directing guys who stand at 3 different points of this narrow road. Using radio communication they help the traffic go smoothly and stop cars coming from the other direction when needed. Akishinodera (temple) is to the left just out of the picture and the bicycle racing stadium is about a block to the right.

I could have taken another route to church which has wider roads - but on that route I often get stopped at the train tracks.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Seeking Guidance

Ikoma and Saidaiji Baptist Church has been praying for God's provision for a new church location.
In recent weeks 2 plots of land have been found - located in the same block about 5 minutes from where we are currently renting some rooms of a building. (see previous post) 

^ One plot (between the parking lot and the white home) is owned by a housing contractor and would need to have a home that the contractor designs used for the building.  They have presented architectural plans to the building committee.

 ^ The other plot of land - the exact same size - (between an animal clinic and homes) is open for the purchase. This one is not connected to a builder and therefore the church has asked a Christian architect to draw up a plan for a building if we purchase this plot of land.

In either location the plan is for first floor to be used by the church and for the pastor and his family to live on the second floor of the building.

There are pros and cons to each choice but the location - in a neighborhood called 'Hikaridai' is a residential area filled with newly built homes.  There is ample parking for cars at a nearby community center and it is on a bus line that connects to the local train station. There is one other church, started by a pentecostal South African missionary, in this neighborhood.

Please pray for God to lead in a clear way as we seek to move the church where he would have us be.
A decision needs to be given to the builders within the next 2 weeks if we decide to purchase the land.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's at stake?

Recently I've been thinking about the idea that God's glory is at stake - in how I live my life. Will I add or subtract? It's a motivation for pursuing God and a heart check in the way I interact the people and events around me.

1 Peter 2:11-12
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

 October seems to be the reality check of the school year. - All my ideas and dreams for this year have hit the wall known as reality.  The energy I started the year with has fizzled.  Using strength to regain health from a cold, while juggling the responsibilities in the classroom, the communication with ministry partners, the responsibilities with my mission, and the "extra things" such as preparing for a choral concert and hosting gatherings. The blog is one of the many balls that was dropped during this juggling act. It's a lot all at the same time - but October always is.  It is filled with so many opportunities disguised as problems and challenges.

It is also a time of blessings . . .
*High school Worship team is coming together as a unit and putting focus in the right place despite obstacles.
*first and second grade Students are starting to show baby step progress in the topics learned (including English!)
*Drama Script has been selected for this spring.
* Ikoma/Saidaiji Church has found 2 plots of land and is in discussion over which to buy and build on for the new building.
*Fall weather change has brought cooler temps and a change of color in the leaves.

Praise God from whom All Blessings flow!

*Arriving home from school in time to watch farmers harvest rice by my house and have a 3 year old neighbor boy talk to me about all the big machines and show me the pretty flowers by the field.
*Getting to skype with family in Minnesota and hearing my 3 year old nephew ask, "Can I come over?"
*Hearing positive reports after my sister, Lisa's shoulder surgery.

Looking forward with hope to His future faithfulness . . .

* Exploring fossils and treasures at Osaka's Museum of Natural History at the All-school field trip this Friday!
*Celebrating God's faithfulness as we recognize the years of service of retiring missionaries when we gather at Missionary fellowship this Friday night at my place.
*Anticipating Jr. High Girl's night which is in it's 2nd month, meeting at my place Saturday.
*Encountering prospective students and parents on Monday the Open Campus Day - Where KCS parents and prospective parents of future students can visit school to see what we "do" from 8:30-3:15.  Hearing we'll have at least 4 visitors in our classroom in addition to KCS parents.
*Cheering the KCS boys in their first basketball game of the season.
*Singing "O, Happy Day" ad lib. solo in the Choral Concert. 10/30.
*Constantly reminding myself that God has called me to this place for this season - and he is writing the story of my life.
*Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is providing power and grace to meet the demands of opportunity filled days.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sport's Day

Shadow of students cheering at last years Sport's Day.
Today was Sport's Day or undokai.  Students in three teams: White, Yellow and Blue, participate in races and games and obstacle courses.  Each team also has a cheer which they perform for the audience.  All of the games and cheers not only build school spirit and cohesion but the teams receive points for them. At the end of Friday the points from the dress-up days and sports day are added together and the winning team receives the school trophy.

It's a busy week but a highlight of the year for many students.

I however was sick with a cold (it's been building all week) and instead of cheering on my team I visited an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor.  Interesting experience. I'm thankful for good healthcare, medicine and for my friend Chris, who was willing to guide me through the process and translate for me.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Food Day

Spirit Week! Each day we've had a different dress up theme.  However, since I'm not posting student photos it's a little difficult to show you what the outfits looked like. 
 Tuesday was a Prom Day and students dressed up in fancy dresses or suit and tie. 
Wednesday was Athlete day and we had everything from karate to rugby represented.  
Thursday was Food Day.  Instead of dressing up as a food item the students were asked to bring food. Each team put the food together to create something that represented their team.

I am the White team coach and we came up with the idea of using our school mascot: the Eagles!
I found this website which described how to make edible eagles. 
I created this one using a cookie, marshmallow, frosting, bread crumbs, cloves, and almond.

The students made their eagles from cookies, marshmallows, melted white chocolate(our "glue") rolled in parmesan cheese and candies and chocolate icing for the nose, eyes and eyebrows. 
My team created trees from broccoli covered with white radish as the snow. 
The nests were made from from white cake topped with various Japanese snack foods.
And then the little eagles on top. I really enjoyed seeing all the students from 1st grade up to 12 grade work together as a team to create this scene.

The Blue Team created a torch made from seaweed, cabbage, blueberries and candies. 

The Yellow Team made a rocket ship soaring to the stars and planet Y.


KCS Basketball season has started and one of the teachers at KCS has taken on the challenge or remaking the basketball hoops. They have been outside for years and were in need of repair.  On Thursday one of the hoops was completed and the boys enjoyed shooting some hoops after school.  The team uses the school outdoor and indoor hoops,  but we don't have a full court so they rent a gym near by for some practices and to host games.

Good Luck
 KCS Boys BasketBall team! 
Have a rocking good year!

Thanks to Mr. Hettinger for hours of work on the backboard and Mr. Dugan for coaching this year!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


On Wednesday, I had the privilege of having Wooddale Worldwide (Missions) Pastor  Richard Payne visit Kansai Christian School.  Richard Payne and I met in Minnesota, August 2010, during his first week on the job.  What a blessing to have a church send their a pastor to visit their global partners and see first hand what we do and the environment in which we work!

   Richard and his wife Darcie visited while the students were at Art class so I was free to give them a tour of the school and introduce them to just about every teacher before the end of the school day.  They left with the Chapmans (other Converge Worldwide missionaries that Wooddale partners),  while I went to a staff meeting.  We joined up again in the evening for dinner at a Japanese family restaurant and enjoyed hearing stories of how God is working through Global partners in other areas of Asia.

Side note: this week is Spirit week at school. Each day has a theme for the students and teachers to wear outfits matching that theme.  Wednesday was Extraordinary Athlete day. This photos doesn't show my whole outfit but I was dressed as a runner - hence the bright pink shirt and jogging pants.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A View of Harvest

As I drove home from school on Tuesday I decided to stop at one of the rice field along the way. The fields closest to me as I was taking the photo had been harvested but the fields farthest away had not.

As I walked around the field I greeted a women who looked to be one of the farmers on her way home.  She struck up a conversation with me, explaining some of the harvest process.  I didn't understand much of it but was delighted that she would take the time after a hard days work to talk with a stranger.

When she asked where I was from a conversation about her travels ensued.
I learned that she was 80 years old and that when she was 70 she traveled to about 5 countries in Asia and to Hawaii but she hasn't gone to America yet. (apparently Hawaii didn't count as America.) 
She was planning to go to America this year but her husband died, her passport expired and her traveling friend got sick.  So she decided to give up. She sounds like one spunky lady! And she was wearing the cutest sunbonnet - Little House on the prairie style.  I wish I would have had the guts to ask  permission to take a picture of her. I did take pictures of the rice fields.

  The rice was cut by hand, tied in bundles and then hung upside down on the stands to dry.  I have very little knowledge of rice harvesting process but think it is fascinating. And the fact that some 80 year old ladies are out in the field doing some of the heavy lifting just reinforces my view of the strength of obachans in Japan.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Aubreycadabra and the Munchkin

Today, Aubrey spent the day with me in first and second grade. 
I met Aubrey (from Indiana) during our August Mission trip to Tohoku.  
She is a teacher, living near Kyoto, and was interested in seeing what school life is like at KCS. 

When I introduced "Ms. Aubrey" to the students, one student said, "Aubreycadabra?"

And when they saw a picture (shown above) of when I first met Aubrey 
one student said, "Ms. Harms, you're a munchkin."

But when you see us in a group I don't look so short, right?!  
I'm on the far left and Aubrey is second from the right. 
Anyway . . .

Aubrey is such an encouraging and joyful person it is always a blessing to be with her.  I really enjoyed having her in our classroom and hearing her observations and insights over dinner. 
Aubrey has 6 months left on her teaching contract at an English school and 
is asking God to guide her in this next chapter and beyond.
  Please join me in praying for her as she seeks to follow God's leading in her life. 

(Sorry, no photos from today's visit all of these photos are recycled from the August Tohoku trip.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Harvest Time

Yesterday morning I looked out to the backyard and saw this.
The rice farmer must have harvested the field on Friday because this was the view earlier in the week.
 Yesterday afternoon while I was driving my friend Andrea (from Iowa) to the train station, I passed a combine on the street heading to another rice paddy.   We had a good laugh - as it made us feel like we were in Minnesota or Iowa - except this combine wasn't much bigger than a motorcycle with a side car. 
Rice harvest has begun in Nara.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Girls' Night

Friendships are important whether you are 15 or 35 or 75 years old.  And Christian friendships are especially rare gift when you live in a country with so few Christians. Reflecting on this, I asked God to open my eyes to specific people that he wanted me to invest in this school year.  
Was there a student to reach out to or a person with whom I should connect in a deeper way? 

As I was praying about it I felt led to start a "girls night" for the 7-12 grade girls from KCS and in the various Christian girls who are home schooled or attending Japanese public schools in our community.

The main purpose of girls night to give the girls a safe place to be together and
have some positive fun with a Christian influence. I hope some
learning takes place and some deep conversations too. 
  Also I want give the parents some adult
Christian women to invest in the lives of their girls.

But this wasn't something I could do by myself, so I talked to a few women to ask for their prayers. I asked my missionary friend, Chris, if she'd help me host the girls' night and be willing to invest in the lives of the girls with me.   She said yes! Which I'm excited about since she is not only a TON of fun to be with but I believe her gift set is a perfect match for this ministry!

One girl's creation - a pretty flower pizza!

October 1, was the 1st  Girls' Night at my house. 
What a fun evening it was!  Four girls came and I loved hearing the laughter fill the house and seeing the friendships develop.  The girls brought games and pizza toppings. Each girl made her own pizza and then we played board games and did mad libs.  During dinner an interesting discussion took place about birth order and their perceptions on how that effects their relationships with parents. These girls have a lot to say, it was a blessing to listen and a joy to get to know them better! 

 I'm looking forward to getting together for another Girl's Night in October!