Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What if it doesn't fit?

You try on a pair of jeans that don't fit, what is your response?
A.) You try on another size
B.) You try on a different style or brand?
C.) You decide there is something wrong with you.  You need to change your body to fit into the jeans and make a plan to lose 10 pounds.
D.) You give up and wear jogging pants.

Today I started Japanese language study (after missing 3 classes due to influenza). I took a placement test last week and was placed in a class today.  It was level 4. (there are 10 levels, 1 being the lowest). The class started with a 漢字テスト。(Kanji test - recognizing a Japanese system of writing based on borrowed or modified Chinese characters). A test I tried to take - despite the fact that I'd never learned these kanji.  The class continued with 3 hours of worksheets, reading, listening, writing and tests covering material I have never studied.

I started with some great self-talk,
 "It's ok Lori, You just haven't learned this, YET!"
 "It's ok Lori, kanji is your weak area, wait until they get to the listening part, you can do this."
"It takes time to adjust to a new teacher and curriculum, this is just day one, give yourself time."
I even brought out my teacher voice, "Just do your best with what you do know, and be sure to preview the material for tomorrow."
But eventually it was like mental exercise just to stay positive, "I should know this. I've lived in this country long enough, I should know this by now."  I had to keep fighting negative thoughts and lies.

Eventually I realized - if I was trying on jeans I wouldn't try to jam my leg into a pair that was way to small. I wouldn't start a diet and try to fit into the jeans by the next day. And I wouldn't give up. I would look for a different size, a better fit for me.  So, after class I talked (in Japanese) with the head teacher about my impression of the level of class and made plans for tomorrow to try level 3.

 Language learning is not easy. The language I'm trying to learn is not easy (see chart below). As an adult, having your communication skills reduced to that of a child is a very humbling experience. But I desire to be able to participate in Japanese conversations. I want to be able to talk about the deep and surface topics in this land where I'm now living.  I want to be able to read my mail. I want to have conversations with my students' parents without a translator.  I need to remember my motivation as I combat the negative thoughts that creep in.  But, I think for now, I'll continue to pray that God would help guide my learning and guard my thoughts with this challenging task.

Via: Voxy Blog

Have you hugged a language learner, today?
 (Or at least said something encouraging to someone trying to learn a new language?)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Prayer Update

A six month stateside assignment met its purposes to refresh, retool and reconnect. But I know God has also used it to prepare me for the adventure ahead of me this term.

 The long-term substitute teacher that is filling in for me, teaching 1 & 2nd grade at Kansai Christian School, has graciously offered to stay for 2nd semester.  This is such a blessing and gives me the chance to spend the next 6 months doing a Japanese language refresher course in Osaka.  I'll continue living in the same mission home and commute about 45 minutes by train to take classes 5 days a week. I'm excited to be able to invest in relationships with students and staff at KCS while making new contacts with teachers and fellow students at language school. 

Just as I was getting over jet lag, I became ill and was diagnosed with Influenza A. Thankfully I was able to see a doctor quickly and medication kept things under control. Unfortunately I was contagious for a while and unable to leave my house for 5 days. I missed the first 3 days of the semester for language school and have some catching up to do. I'm now done with the medication, no longer contagious and energy levels are returning to normal.

Today was a Japanese holiday - so no language school - but Kansai Christian School had classes. So I was able to stop by and have lunch with the 1st and 2nd graders. It was wonderful to see so many KCS students and 
friends.  I'm looking forward to talking with them again to hear more stories of adventures they've had over the last 6 months!

Please pray for:
1. Praise God for the opportunity focus on language study. Pray for perseverance and understanding to take my language ability to the next level. 
2. Pray for wisdom and timeliness in maintaining and growing relationships in Japan and overseas. That I would be a cleawitness to Jesus' love.
3. Pray for adjustment to the culture and new roles this semester. 
4. Pray for the 2013-14 Kansai Christian School staffing needs to be filled with qualified Christian teachers. Positions open: 1st & 2nd grade teacher, and Principal with high school teaching responsibilities.  More information about applying is available at: http://www.kansaichristianschool.com/index.php?page=employment

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Settling in

So much has happened in 6 days since returning to Japan.

Settling in . . .
Unpacked my bags.
tried to re stock the refrigerator.
Asked the post office for mail delivery to resume.
Adjusted (somewhat) to "warm" temperatures outside and "cool" ones inside.
Planted some flowers. (Yes, in January!)
Greeted my neighbors.
Fought jet lag by visiting with friends in the evenings in person and by Skype.
Took advantage of jet lag with 5 am baking sessions.
Worshipped with Japanese friends at the new Keihana church building ( more on that later).
Visited my new language school (material for another post).
Survived the placement Test.
Remembered to sort the plastic from burnable garbage.
Drove on the left side of the road without accident.
And visited the doctor.

Yep, the day I was to start language school I ended up visiting a local hospital/ clinic and was diagnosed with influenza A. Thankfully it was diagnosed within 24 hours of symptoms showing up and the medication is working well. It seems to be a mild form of the flu and I'm seeing improvement by day 2 of the illness but am still contagious so will be staying away from people. The hardest part of the illness is longing to be reunited with friends and students after months apart but needing to postpone visits. I didn't realize I was such a people person until they said I couldn't interact with people for 5 days.   I'm trying to make the best of it with lots of rest, some reading and learning to wait on God's timing.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Tadaima or ただいま
Roughly translated from Japanese means - "I am home."

May be a bit weird to leave home and then after 3 plane rides totaling 23 hours say I'm home and be halfway around the world.

But I left home (Jan. 2 at 5:40pm (Central time) and returned to my other home (Jan. 4 at 6pm Japan time).
Working with the Delta Agents to iron out the complexity of my ticket and luggage.
at one point I even got invited behind the counter  - great service!

I safely arrived with all my luggage in Japan about 1pm.
Had a great welcome from the Masons - who also did a great job of keeping awake with a birthday celebration for Chris, and some grocery shopping for me, before I settled into my home.
I'm also thankful that the internet is up and running so I can let all ya'all out there know that I've arrived.

Flight arriving in Osaka, Japan
Thank you for your prayers!

*Keep praying for my adjustment to the time zone, culture and language.
*Pray for remaining details of language study to come together smoothly.
(I'm anticipating an entrance test in my near future.)
*Pray for relationships as I reconnect with friends, students, and neighbors.