Monday, August 26, 2013

Praise & Prayer

  •   For the opportunity to study Japanese full-time
  •   Blessings of new friendships during the last 7 months
  •   For boldness to use language abilities for His glory
  •   Diligence to continue studying Japanese as I return to teaching ministry
  •   Growth in my Japanese ability to pray and discuss matters of faith
  •   For preparations in my new role as middle school teacher at KCS - school starts the first week of September

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Highlights from Language School

Osaka, Arc Academy, January-June 2013

  • Building relationships with people from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, Australia, and U.K.
  • Discovering one classmate from Hong Kong is Christian and introducing her to and international church near her apartment
  • Answering the question, “Who do you pray to?” from a Buddhist/Catholic classmate
  • Exploring Osaka with a Muslim classmate
  • Receiving first place in a speech competition - talking about umbrellas
  • Excursions to a Ninja Museum and Mt. Wakakusa

Sapporo, OMF Japanese Language Center, July-August 2013

  • Spending a month in cool Hokkaido (northern Japanese island), escaping the summer heat of Nara
  • Taking 1-on-1 courses with a Christian teacher at a Christian school discussing the Bible
  • Learning to pray in Japanese
  • Fellowship with missionaries from around the world
  • Connecting with other TCK caregivers
  • Excursions to field of Lavender and a pro baseball game

Are you Fluent Yet?

*****This is something I wrote for my recent prayer letter.
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With 15 months of language study my first missionary term and now a “refresher” course of 7 months, it feels awkward to say - No, I’m not fluent. In the 8 years that I have lived in Japan I have come to realize there will always be more vocabulary to learn, more grammar forms to master, more kanji to study, more mistakes from which to grow. 

“So, what have you learned?” you ask. I’ve learned lessons in perseverance, humility, purpose, and perspective.  

Perseverance: Some days just showing up to class takes all the energy you have.  I’ve heard it said, “Anyone who wants to learn a language well must have a solid theology of suffering.” Language learning requires teachers repeatedly pointing out your errors and students fully absorbing the teaching without letting it impact your sense of worth.

Humility: Admitting in front of your peers you do not understand a concept requires the courage to be vulnerable. Language learning often causes you to question your intelligence and instigates a battle with pride.  Resisting the temptation to compare abilities with peers and accepting an honest view of personal learning growth is key.

Purpose: Is my main goal to get 100% on the test and become fluent in this language? OR To glorify God through the process of language learning? How can I use the language to share His love with others? How will I respond to what He’s teaching me through the language learning process?

Perspective: I grew in appreciation for the learner’s perspective and hope that will impact my interactions with students this fall as I return to teaching at Kansai Christian School (KCS). I have seen demonstrated how the things teachers say (and don’t say) shape what students learn, and the health of the learning community. 

As a teacher in an international school where English is the language of education, I realize it is a rare gift of time to step away from my teaching responsibilities to study the local language. I thank God for the people who have donated money and time to make it possible. I am also grateful for the teachers who have invested in the process over the last 7 months. I have a better understanding of my language abilities and new ‘tool box’ for future learning.

Join with me in prayer that God will give me boldness to use the language abilities I’ve gained for his glory, strengthening relationships with Japanese neighbors, friends, and parents of my students.
With gratitude,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Graduation Celebration

Recently OMF Japan Language Center celebrated Bel's graduation.
The students led the ceremony, prayers, speeches and songs all in Japanese.
One professor gave a creative speech,
 telling a story using Japanese words with the sound 'bel' or べる, in them.
Bel had completed 2 years of studying through the curriculum 
and is preparing to transition into ministry in Yokohama.

She was a delight to get to know! Loved her positive attitude!

We also celebrated the July birthdays of teachers and students. 

Here's a photo of me with my teacher, 
Motoko Sensei,
- since classes are one teacher to one student - 
you could also call this my class photo.
Such a delight to learn from and pray with this Christian sister!
I will remember her clear explanations, 
patient correction,  great sense of humor, 
deep understanding of Buddhist and Christian faith, 
gift of hospitality and love of all things PINK!