Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sapporo Station

I ventured into Sapporo and took some photos of the station entrance as I was waiting to meet friends before viewing some fireworks.

This structure looks like the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Inside was an escalator with access to the station and a shopping area.

This is the cities main railway station, located downtown Sapporo. 
The JR Tower building is to the right in the above photo. 
It has the T38 Observation Deck and holds various shopping areas and restaurants.

These baby buggies each carried 4-6 young children. 
Looked like they were preschool or daycare providers out for a stroll. 
The children were excited about the pigeons in the park. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cream Tea

cream tea
n. Chiefly British
A refreshment, consisting of scones, jam, and clotted cream served with tea, usually served in the afternoon.

After a morning of language study I enjoyed lunch at my Japanese teacher's home.
We ate cold udon (thick Japanese noodles) and then prepared for an afternoon tea party.

My Japanese teacher, Motoko Sensei, is married to John, who is British.
He helped me understand more about the tradition of tea parties and instructed me in how to make scones.

I helped Motoko-sensei make sandwiches with ingredients like cucumber & salmon.

Motoko-sensei's hobby is to host people at her home. 
She has a gift of hospitality! and is an amazing chef!
She enjoys introducing the missionaries she is teaching to the Japanese Christians and not-yet-christians in her community. She invited me and another church member invited 2 ladies she knew from her "dog walking" group.  At the end of our tea party we set a time to meet again before I return to Nara.

Sometimes I forget how simple outreach can be. 
Simply opening the home, and inviting a few people who have yet to meet can set in action what
 God uses to draw together relationships that bring people into worship.  

Here is Motoko-Sensei (red dress), John, and 3 Japanese women who were excited to get a chance to meet foreigners. It was a lovely afternoon of talking - mainly in Japanese. 

Thank you Motoko-sensei and John for teaching me something new
 and opening your home as a way to introduce new friends to one another and Japanese to Jesus.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lavender fields

Farm Tomita near Furano, Hokkaido.
Furano (marked with a red pin on the map) 
is in the geographical center of Hokkaido - which is the main northern island of Japan. 
Sapporo (marked with a green pin) where I'm doing language study this month,
is the capital of this island. 

July is the best time to visit the Lavender fields 
for amazing views of the purple flower 
as well as various other gardens in the area.  

I joined a group of short-term missionaries from the U.K. who are in Sapporo for a month with OMF missionaries to reach out to University students. 

The group enjoyed various lavender flavored treats in the shade on this warm afternoon.

Here's a photo of me with the Tokachi Volcanic mountain range in the background.
 (Yes, this is an active volcano and we saw smoke coming out of it.)

Karin (Germany) and Alyssa (USA) are missionaries with OMF.
Alyssa is from Kansas so she was really excited to see a field of her state flower.
I enjoyed talking with them during the car 2+ hour car ride about how they were called to minister in Japan and the blessings and challenges of their ministry.
There are so many opportunities to work with university students here but there aren't enough workers.
Pray that God would bring more workers to the field of Japan. 

A group of anime characters acting out a drama in front of a crowd at the Lavender festival,
reminding us - we're still in Japan.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Friends & Food

I'm staying at a guest house managed by the Schmidt family.

Another missionary staying at the guest house is Susan (second from the right).
She is moving to Saitama (outside of Tokyo) soon to work with a church plant. 
She is Australian and has been a delight to get to know. 

We've gone out to eat and enjoyed foods that I think of as "winter menu" items but the weather is cooler in Hokkaido so it seems there is no problems offering hot noodles in July.
 I ate the Sukiyaki Udon (with homemade noodles) So delicious!

Another dish I've eaten in Sapporo was Caprese Doria.
It had basil, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes over a meat sauce and rice.
Hokkaido is famous for its dairy products so I wondered if the cheese was made here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

OMF Japanese Language Center

I came to Hokkaido to study at the Japanese Language Center  (JLC) 
which is operated by the OMF International mission.  

Here's a few photos of the building . . .
The first floor is OMF Hokkaido headquarters.
Second floor holds the classrooms, student lounge and teacher's offices,
Third floor is a library, chapel and apartment.

It takes about 10 minutes by bike from where I'm staying to JLC. 

The Student lounge, with a map and photos of OMF missionaries. 

Lounge and doors to classrooms. 
We have "tea time" here between classes.
It's so encouraging to get to know other missionaries
 who are studying here from Australia, UK, Switzerland, and USA!

Each classroom is painted a different vibrant color, pinks, blues, greens, purple, etc.
Most classes are one teacher per student, others are small groups.
Class periods last about 45 minutes and most students take about 2 courses a day.

Once a week we have a class for everyone which is called "Orientation" 
- where we learn about some aspect of Japanese culture or language learning. 

Once a month there is a chapel, which I understand is put together by the students and done in  Japanese to give students the chance to use their language skills to lead worship, pray, read scripture, give announcements, share a testimony and give a message.  

The library on the 3rd floor is were I like to study,
 with lots of resources about Japan, Missions and language learning.

Here is my grammar book and a text which is helping me learn the books of the Bible in Japanese.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stopping to smell the flowers

My first full day in Sapporo I had one goal: explore my surroundings.

At the suggestion of the manager of the Mission Guest House (where I'm staying for the month)
I took a bike ride about the neighborhood and headed for the Lily Park. 
With the 75F weather on the national holiday was a beautiful day for a bike ride. 

This 'happens to be' the time for Lily's to be at their peak blossom!
What a delight!
(The lilies in my yard in Nara bloomed in early June.)

Hokkaido is also famous for fields of lavender. 
(I've even seen roads lined with Lavender).

And there were other gardens around the park such as rose gardens and rock gardens . . .

But the Lilies were at center stage  - and so beautiful!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Arriving in Sapporo

I flew on Peach airlines,which is a new airline with reduced price tickets. 
Purple planes and friendly service! 

Today was a National Holiday so I took the time to explore a bit.
Besides learning a bit about where I'm staying (grocery store, pharmacy, craft store, and train station)
I biked to a Lily Park with thousands of lilies in bloom.
Then I took the subway downtown and visited Odori. 

Sapporo's Odori ( big street) 

With the Sapporo TV Tower

In the winter, Odori takes on a different look as it is host to the snow sculptures for the 
Snow Festival in February.

The temps are in the 70's F with a nice breeze. 
When I left Nara it was about 91F with over 70% humidity!