Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Walking and Leaping and Praising God!

I love LEAP DAY!
Once every four years we get an "extra" day in the month of February. 
I think it should be celebrated  and at KCS we did! As it fell on a Wednesday we celebrated at school.

In the classroom I kept the kids hopping with "brain breaks" - such as 30 seconds of jumping jacks which helped energize the seat work.  From Bible class through clean-up time I caught students singing "Walking and leaping and praising God!" 

Drama Club held an Ice Cream Social.   
Students came to the Hall at lunch time and loaded their ice cream with toppings: fruit, hot fudge, chocolate, whipped cream and sprinkles. 

Of course the students (and teachers) were leaping with the sugar overload for their afternoon classes but I think everyone had smiles on their faces!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Muffins, Perked Up

My mom sent me the January/February 2012 Cooking Light magazine.  It's filled with so many enticing recipes I'm hoping to try.  The first recipe that I attempted was the Chocolate Chip-Coffe Muffins.
Its a new favorite for this mocha lover! I recommend making a double batch - but be careful not to over cook them or they'll be too tough.

Chocolate Chip-Coffee Muffins


  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preparation
  2. 1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. 2. Combine first 5 ingredients.
  4. 3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.
  5. 4. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until done. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Kansai Christian School

 3 and 4 grade classrooms and 5 and 6 grade classroom building was remodeled on the inside over the summer.  But the outside needs some help.  We're working on raising money so that we can remodel the outside - the siding, insulation, roof and stairway.
To raise the money we had a walk-a-thon students received pledges for walking 5, 10 or 15 km.  
Our goal was about 1.7 million yen or about $21,000
My eight, first and second grade students raised 167,000 yen or about $2,000. 
So excited for their efforts!
All total the school raised 791,908 yen. Strong WORK!

On February 10 we walked various routes and received stickers when we hit each milestone.
^Here are the 1-4 grades walking 5 km.  They ditched their backpacks after the 1st lap.

^A few of the students ran most of the laps.

^The 5-8 graders had a 10 km route around the park that went past our route at various times.  Here are two 1st graders waving to the middle schoolers in the distance.
The 9-12 graders conquered a 15 km route.    

^The students completed the route so quickly we had ample time for playing at the park.
The kids loved the extra long slide on the hilltop.

^The teachers enjoyed the seesaw.

^Then we walked the last 1 km back to school (the 2 story building in the middle of the trees)
where we were greeted by some loving mothers with warm Tonjiru (Japanese soup), hot chocolate and corn soup.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Birthday Cake(s)

 My 36th birthday was February 7,  but the celebration lasted all week
as I had a piece of cake at least once every day of the week! 
Monday I received a chocolate cupcake from my friend, Shan.
Tuesday, my students helped me celebrate with surprise cupcakes that my friend Chris made.
Students made some sweet birthday cards for me - most of which depict me in a dress wearing high heels, I find it interesting since the footwear of choice at school is slippers.
I introduced my students to Skype as we called my twin sister in the States to sing Happy Birthday to her. Since she visited us last spring my students were excited to see her again. (Although the fact that it was still Monday in the States and Tuesday in Japan was a bit confusing to them!)

Wednesday was the staff meeting where we celebrated with Japanese chestnut filled cakes.
Thursday we had shortcake and berries in class.
After school one of my students delivered this beautiful sponge cake with strawberries. 

It was a good thing Friday was the school walk-a-thon! I needed to work off those calories!
I was also feeling spoiled with the fact that I received so many cards in the mail, letters through email, greetings on Facebook, and 4 boxes delivered for my birthday! 
Not to mention Skype calls with family that brought laughter and joy.

It's been a year filled with unexpected adventures and a deepening of friendships.  
The job I hold is different everyday and dull moments are few and far between.
I love the opportunity I have to influence so many young people for His Kingdom. 
God has shown himself faithful and his love unfailing despite my own failings. 

Next year will hold new adventures as I prepare to spend 6 months in the states for home assignment.
I'm looking forward to discovering the plans He has for me in the next 12 months. 

Taking a question from another cross cultural worker's blog, I'd love to have you comment with your answer to the question . . .

Where were you and what were you doing 
when you were 36 years old? 
(If you're not 36 yet, tell me what you think you'll be doing then.)   

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hot Cereal

When I was a child I often had Cream of Wheat cereal before heading out for a frigid walk to school durning those Minnesota winter mornings.

 Now I'm finding Oatmeal to be the hot cereal of choice.  I'm loving it mixed with dried fruit - blueberries, cranberries, mango, dates, etc, as well as fresh fruit!  Sometimes I'll throw in some nuts or honey.  My current pattern is to eat it in the Japanese winter evenings while I wait for the heater to work its magic in the living room.

Thankfully Costco sells a 10 pound box of oatmeal - which I use not only for cereal -but for muesuli cookies, Chocolate oatmeal cookies, energy bars, and Chocolate revel bars among others.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hot Drinks

Recently I've been enjoying the fact that Japanese vending machines sell hot as well as cold drinks.  Coffee, Cafe Late, Hot Chocolate, Hot Tea, Green Tea, there are so many good choices! The can/bottle also works well as a hand warmer when you're standing at a train station on a cold day waiting for your train!

 My current favorite hot drink is "Hachimitsu Yuzu",  which is basically a hot citrus drink with honey. It's a Coca Cola product.  Yuzu (Yoo-zoo) is a citrus fruit the size of a tangerine but quite sour.  It is used in various dishes.

Artists at Work

For Girl's Night in January (28) the creativity was pouring out in large doses! 

Waffles were on the menu.  (recipe here
The girls mixed them and baked them while I was driving to and
 from the train station to pick up other girls. 
We even added chocolate chips and/or walnuts to the batter.
Each of the junior high girls brought either a topping
 for the waffles (fruit, syrup, sprinkles) or a side dish (eggs, sausage, yogurt).
We had a feast!  

Even the 100 yen fresh pineapple was creatively displayed. 

For our evening activity the girls created their jewelry: necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
Chris, found a jewelry kit in the states over Christmas and it provided hours of entertainment.
We also did a Love Language Assessment for the teens using this online tool
It was exciting to learn more about the girls and to spend time with them creating.

^Earrings in the making

^Closeup on the earrings


We had 6 girls attend this month.  One gal was in town for the weekend and came after traveling 13 hours with her family from Tohoku (Northeastern Japan) where her family is doing ministry among the those effected by the March 11th Earthquake/Tsunami. We hadn't seen her since early fall. It was a joyful reunion.  For another gal it was a farewell party as she was heading back to Canada that week.  One girl was in the midst of studying for high school entrance exams yet took the evening off to join the creativity.  It is such a blessing to be involved in these girls' lives!