Thursday, June 28, 2012

Explore Minnesota : Cupcake

Cupcakes - they're apparently really popular in the states right now. 
The cafe named after the sweet treat - Cupcake is now famous for 
winning Food Network's Cupcake wars. 
(Honestly, I didn't know the show existed until recently.)

This cafe has some delicious flavors of cupcakes from the "I Love Lucy" to "Paris Hilton".  
Prices range from $2.25 to $3.95 per cupcake.

We celebrated Father's Day with an assortment of cupcakes.

My favorite was the Lemon Blueberry.

The cafe also has a delicious breakfast and lunch menu including quiche and panini. 
3338 University Ave. SE.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone Number:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Explore Minnesota : Strawberry Picking

One of my home assignment desires is to reconnect with family. 
In June, I had the chance to go strawberry picking with family. Farms in Minnesota grow the berries and offer others the chance to pick your own berries and pay by weight for what you gather.

I went with my nieces, KG and OJ.

^My nephew, BA, was more interested in eating what he picked.
Caught red handed.

My dad picking berries for some pies.

BA, asking my sister, Jennifer, "Can we be done yet?"

We made strawberry pie with our berries. 
Some 9" pies and some mini pies. 

Strawberry Pie


  • 2 (8 inch) graham cracker pie shells
  • 2 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin


  1. In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and corn starch; make sure to blend corn starch in completely. Add boiling water, and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mix, and stir until smooth. Let mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. Place strawberries in baked pie shells; position berries with points facing up. Pour cooled gel mixture over strawberries.
  3. Refrigerate until set. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I've been in MN for almost a week here are some of the things I'm noticing.

  1. People come in all shapes and sizes and colors.
  2. Cheese is in abundance!
  3. Portion size in America: big, huge and humongous  (Lisa's beverage below was called a 'medium')

4.Some fast food places have lovely summer salads  options with fruits and nuts. (Wendy's got 2 thumbs up!)
5. You can throw away everything in the same trash bin.  (although I've seen people recycle cans, pet bottles, glass, and cardboard). 

6. Driving - adjusting to which side of the road to travel on, the windshield wipers  and turn signal are on the opposite sides,  I've gotten into the wrong side of the car frequently.

7. When walking towards someone people tend to pass on the right. I've 'danced' with a few strangers recently trying to pass on the "wrong" side

8. When purchasing things its more common to use credit cards than cash.

9. You don't have to pay for the bag for groceries.

10. Libraries are filled with books - in English (shocking I know!) You can even get ebooks.

11. Streets actually are labeled with names and are typically straight.

12. Trees are bigger than homes.

13. Gas is Cheap! Regular Gas is in USA $3.55/gal.  (in Japan 155Yen/Liter or  about $7.30/gal)
Actually most things here are cheaper than in Osaka - the worlds 3rd most expensive city.  
(Tokyo was #1)

14. Sermon topics at churches are different. My first week back I listened to a sermon called 

15. Clothing sizes in Japan I look for large or even extra-large clothes, in the States I fit into small or extra small. 

16. Tipping is expected of service personnel.  It flusters me trying to figure out how much and for whom  person.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Back in Minnesota

After 3 flights and 30+ hours of travel I'm back in Minnesota again. My parents and sister Lisa greeted me at the airport at 6AM.
^Nice "bag" Lisa!

^So what do you do at 7am in St. Paul, MN? Enjoy the local Famer's Market.
Breakfast of Bagels egg, ham, cheese and the fixin's.  
We got some flowers.

After Farmer's Market we went to another favorite East St. Paul place - Swede Hollow Cafe.
^Cafe Latte and yogurt, granola & fruit. YUM!

^My friend Lisa Sorley is in MN too- having just arrived yesterday.
 We are enjoying the free wifi at Swede Hollow! 

I have a ton of photos from the last week of events - not sure if or when I'll get a chance to post them but until then I'd appreciate your prayers for getting over jet lag and praising God for completing the school year. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tokyo Moves

Just discovered this video of Tokyo - creatively done by Leezy Productions.  I found myself recognizing many areas. I have lived in Tokyo or suburbs of it for 5 of the 8 years that I've been in Japan. I LOVE this city. I believe God has great things in store for this city.  Tim Keller has a lot to say about a biblical theology of the city. (Click here to read)

When I first moved from the Kanto to the Kansai region of Japan I commented to a fellow missionary, "We're not in Tokyo anymore, Toto!" It was a bit of culture shock to move away from the huge city of Tokyo (city population: 12 million, greater Tokyo area: 35 million) to historic Nara (population: 376,000).  I found myself visiting Osaka (Population 2.6 million)  to rekindle that city atmosphere.  Nara, where I live now (complete with rice paddies and deer parks) is a bit different! But I must admit I find the pace of life and the 'inaka' or rural feel of Kansai refreshing and easier for living. I grew up in Chicago (pop 2.6 million) and rural Minnesota (pop. 2,000). It seems God was preparing me for both city and rural life.

I Need More Hellos.

5 farewell or end of year parties in 7 days!

Aahh - Transition in a TCK world!

Today was our LAST Friday of the school year - my 1-2 grade students first showed sad faces, "NOOOooooo!!!" they wailed!
Others greeted that news with,  "Then we need to make it the BEST Friday EVER!" Love their enthusiasm! It was a great day!

Today was a special chapel celebrating the Seniors - each student read a Bible verse for the senior class and the 1-4 graders gave the class advice for life after graduation.  From "You should eat your vegetables." to "Don't bow down to idols." From "When you start your new school or job you should learn everyone's name" to " Don't frustrate your teachers." 

This evening was the KCS Staff BBQ - fabulous time of fun fellowship and fantastic food (BBQ RIBS _ and lemon meringue pie! WOW!)

Sunday is a potluck - send off party at church.

4 days left of school Including: 
Mon.: Spelling Bee
Tues.: Class party (Beach theme!) & Senior Farewell Dinner
Wed.: School Clean-up Day 
Thurs.: Spring program and Graduation

Behind the scenes there is a cleaning/packing/sorting  organized chaos in my classroom and at my house as the clock ticks down to my departure for the states.  I did a happy dance when paper recycling van took away some old books this morning and this evening friends at school took home some household items and food supplies I cleaned out of my cupboards. 

Quote from Charlie Brown:“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.” 
― Charles M. Schulz

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cute::: Not Cute

Right now my students get VERY excited anytime someone mentions anything with FISH.
We have a couple of Fish experts in the second grade class and they will try to put fish in almost every thing they draw or write. I have seen fish in places I never would have imagined. 
 Like in an illustration for  the word CUTE:
Not Cute::: Cute

Tale::: Beet
Ok, so some words still need a little meaning clarification. 
 Homophones make for interesting teaching!

Give::: Note
I just love the simple details in this kids work! 

Came from a worksheet the students did with long vowel sounds.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Keihana Baptist Church - (formerly Saidaiji /Ikoma  Baptist Church) is in the process of building a new Church.  

We're excited to be moving out of rental property! 
I found out today that the Ikoma church has been renting for 30 years.
The Saidaiji church has been renting for 20+ years.
Amazing to think this church has about 30 members and is building a building!
Plus they have more than half the cost of the building in savings which was started when the missionaries began planting the church. 

^May 13, I drove by the property.  I saw the foundation in place and scaffolding with purple netting ready to go up. 

^June 3, The walls and roof are up (netting too!) 
The netting keeps the materials from going into the neighbor's property. 

^ Can you see the door? The siding is on the left waiting to go up.

^To the left of the church is a animal clinic to the right and behind the church are homes.
One of the church members lives in the neighborhood and has been going to the construction site almost daily bringing treats and ice tea to the construction crew. 

Projected completion date is in August. Which means the builders still have rainy season and the HOT humid reality of August to work through.

^Sunday after church there was a cleaning "party".  Church volunteers sorted through the church storage room in preparation for the move in August.   There were 3 categories: Keep, throw away, put in the "bazaar"  (essentially = garage sale).

Watching this process was interesting to me since I'm going through the same process with my preparations for home assignment - packing up the house.  Only at church there are 15 people trying to decide what category an item goes to.  One man's garbage was another's treasure. Even the elementary students were giving their opinion, "But dad that's so cute - I think someone would buy that at the bazaar!"   In truth, process was made more enjoyable with the teamwork.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Jewel - BBQ

Our Church's children's Sunday School class is called Jewel.
As each child's life is a treasure that God is at work to bring to completion.
Below is the invitation.
 One of the church members is an artist and drew the cartoon on the invitation. Such talent!

The Jewel BBQ, May 27, was on a BEAUTIFUL afternoon
 spent at a park about 20 minutes drive from church. 

One match - that's all it took for this church member to start the fire.
Apparently she grew up in the country side and if she wanted hot water for the ofuro (bath) she would collect the wood and start the fire. She had amazing skills - too bad there isn't a "Survivor" Japan. 

We ate on picnic mats but everyone needed to take their shoes off before sitting on the mats.

The kids prayed for the food,

^and started with the onigiri (rice balls) and then yakisoba,
 while the veggies and meat cooked on the grill.

^Here you can see the sweet potatoes wrapped in wet newspaper and tinfoil under the grill.
I learned the wet newspapers are important so the skin doesn't burn - They tasted GREAT!

^Conversations took place around the fire as the veggies, meat and yakisoba, cooked. When you got hungry you simply pulled the food of choice right off the grill. 

^Loved the seafood in foil packets.

^The kids didn't stay seated for long. 
Squeals of delight could be heard as they played games in the field.

Fruit cups were on the dessert menu.

The kiddos LOVED them!

^ We sang a song with  "pianica" as our accompaniment.

Pastor Arakawa talked about how God created the world and cares for everything in it.
He dresses the flowers of the field and feeds the birds of the air, 
surely he will also take care of each of us - he knows what we need.

Here is the whole group.

Have you been to a church picnic? 
How does this compare to your Sunday School picnic in Japan, USA, or around the world? 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

All you can eat Naan! & Cupcake Lasagna

One of my favorite parts of my job is when I get to meet with and pray with students.
Bethany,  I met together during her last 2 years of high school and had sweet times of fellowship and prayer.  She graduated last year from KCS went with YWAM -(Youth With a Mission) on a DTS - Discipleship Training School to Eurasia where she got to show God's love to refugees and minister to others with a multinational team.

It's great to have her back in Japan for a few months before she heads to the states for college.
 Our relationship is changing now that she's out of school - I love hearing her call me Lori rather than Ms. Harms. She has a tender heart responding to what God is calling her to do. She challenges me to take more steps of faith in what God is doing around me. 

 We talked for hours over lunch at one of my  favorite restaurants in Nara - Shanti.  
They serve Indian food and have a lunch set with all you can eat Naan -  4 different flavors of Naan (sesame seed, sweet potato, plain, and garlic).

Recently Bethany has been helping with our Girl's Nights, too! 
In March she helped us make Lasagna cupcakes.
Chris found a great recipe using gyoza wrappers - or wanton wrappers.  

Cupcake Lasagna
Brown beef
In the cupcake pan layer the following:
  • gyoza wrappers (or wonton wrappers cut into circles)
  • meat
  • pasta sauce
  • Ricotta or cottage Cheese
  • shredded Mozerella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese 
Repeat layers.
Put into the oven at 375F/180C for 18-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. 

After eating some yummy lasagna Bethany shared photos and stories about 
her YWAM, DTS experience (sorry blurry photo).

And Praise God, Bethany has agreed to help with Girl's Nights over the summer while I'm on Home Assignment!